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SkyblazerHere’s the latest on the Skyblazer XLT Flares (the original blog entry can be found by clicking here):

Since our last notification, we have conducted exhaustive testing of the Skyblazer both in terms of measuring the dimensions of the plastic parts as well as live firing. The dimensional testing did not reveal a change. More importantly, however, when the Skyblazers were fired holding the launch tube properly, we observed no injuries. Specifically, we hand-launched 500 signals from our current inventory with the following results:

1 All 500 signals launched properly, achieving desired height, candela and burn time

2 No injuries were reported during the launch process – 100% effective

3 The recoil from the launch caused the bottom of the launch tube to contact the lower hand (the hand pulling the ignition chain) in one instance but without the severity to cause injury (bruising or otherwise) – 99.8% effective

4 In 6 instances the launch tube body and sleeve separated in the upper hand but without effect – 98.8% effective

We also asked a USCG approved independent third party testing facility to hand launch signals they had warehoused from a variety of other lots to verify that the signals function properly and as expected if held properly and in accordance with use instructions. Of the signals fired, no injuries occurred, the launch tube did not recoil onto the top of the lower hand and no separation was observed as between the safety sleeve and the launch tube.

Based upon the foregoing, we do not believe anything has changed relative to the functionality of the Skyblazer signal when held properly. While this signal has a long and successful history with the current use instructions, we do believe the use instructions can and should be clarified to make it abundantly clear as to how the signal should be held during launch. To that end, we have developed new use instructions which will be incorporated into all new labels and packaging.

Based on the above information we are:

1. Working with the Coast Guard to reverse the current “Do Not Use” notification.

2. We will cause all product at retail locations to be stickered with a sticker notifying them of the revised Use Instruction.

3. We will update our website to reflect the new use instructions

4. We will notify the USCG Auxiliary, and Boat US, and work with them to get our new use instructions posted on their website.

5. For customers that are adamant that they do not want us stickering their current inventory, we will lift such stock and replace with new product once our testing is complete but we hope this is minimal since the product in the field is safe and fully functional when used as per the instructions currently on the package (and further clarified by the new use instructions).

In hindsight it may be that we acted precipitously in issuing the original Safety Notice and Product Quarantine however we wanted the time to fully investigate the matter and determine whether there was in fact a safety risk for the product end users. When held properly, we are fully confident the Skyblazer will function as intended and that the quarantine is no longer necessary.

To further augment the protections we are putting in place, we have instituted a mold change to create a more positive “lock” as between the safety sleeve and the launch tube. We are taking this action as a fail safe in the event users do not hold the signal properly despite the improved use instructions. We will be loading and launching parts from the new mold on Thursday (10/9) and hope to get to the USCG with third-party lab data within the next week.

As the plan develops to lift product, which we hope will be minimal, we will be issuing further updates. Any new orders for products containing XLT’s will be inputted to our system and put on hold. If you, or your customers have any questions, do not hesitate to contact your sales manager. We fully expect to have situation remedied prior to the 2009 season.


More information and current status can be found on the Orion Safety Products web site.