AADs: Which One To Buy?

Skydivers today have the widest choice ever in which Automatic Activation Device (AAD) to have installed in their reserve container as a backup safety device.

An AAD cuts the reserve container closing loop if the skydiver is exceeding a set speed at a set altitude. For most sport skydivers, the activation speed is the same (78 mph or greater), but activation altitudes vary from 750 to 840 feet. Regardless of the unit, it's a "last chance" deployment for a skydiver who has become incapacitated to deploy or has lost altitude awareness. For U.S. skydivers, there are four AADs that are in the majority of sport rigs world-wide. This article will focus on the CYPRES2, m2 Multi and Vigil Cuatro.

Each AAD manufacturer wants to prosper, and is doing everything within their means to put out a quality product that will only cut the reserve loop when needed. But keep in mind that all electronics can malfunction, and there have been technical issues and reports of misfires for all current AADs. Yet, this is uncommon.


Airtec, manufacturer of the CYPRES and CYPRES2 units, is today's industry standard for AADs. CYPRES units have been commercially available the longest of the three major sport skydiving AAD products. The original CYPRES is no longer manufactured, but is still supported for maintenance, service and parts. The CYPRES2 is the company's current product. One of the biggest selling points for the CYPRES2 unit is the history of the company. Many skydivers feel the units are more reliable than others because they have been producing units for the longest period of time. CYPRES is an acronym for CYbernetic Parachute RElease System.

Current CYPRES2 units manufactured January 2017 and later have a lifetime of 15.5 years (previous lifetime was 12.5 years). The units are water resistant, have a jump counter and the activation altitude can be changed from the factory setting. The CYPRES2 battery is designed to last the life of the unit and is checked/replaced during the maintenance checks.

As of January 1, 2016, CYPRES 2 units are no longer required to undergo maintenance checks, so the maintenance is now voluntary. Units manufactured prior to January 2016, retain a mandatory maintenance schedule. Units manufactured prior to January 2017 have a 4-year and 8-year maintenance schedule. For units manufactured January 2017 and beyond, the voluntary maintenance schedule is every 5 years. For the CYPRES maintenance, the units can be shipped to either SSK Industries in Ohio or Airtec in Germany and are tested/updated for a minimum of two weeks for $160 plus shipping costs. You can send your unit to ChutingStar to handle your CYPRES Service Maintenance through the info at this link.

The CYPRES2 unit is available in six different modes. The Changeable mode CYPRES2 allows the user to switch modes (Speed, Expert, Student or Tandem) as needed through the unit's lifetime. The CYPRES is also available as a set mode unit (Speed, Expert, Student or Tandem) that can not be changed by the user, but can be changed for free at any time at SSK or Airtec. The new WSC (wingsuit) CYPRES can be changed to either Expert or Speed for canopy flight.

Riggers can replace the CYPRES2 cutter as well as the water filter on the units. ChutingStar sells the single cutter/pin CYPRES2 units starting at $1200, any of which can be ordered from ChutingStar at this link. You receive an $65 credit with an expired CYPRES trade-in.

Advanced Aerospace Designs

Advanced Aerospace Designs currently manufacturers the Vigil Cuatro AAD. The original Vigil unit was the first "multi-mode" AAD commercially available to sport skydivers. It was followed up by the Vigil II, the Vigil 2+ and now the Vigil Cuatro. The Vigil Cuatro has a menu screen with a variety of options, including the ability to download detailed jump information from the unit for the past 16 skydives with the Vigil IR download box (available separately) connected to a computer. The Vigil was originally met with some resistance in the industry due to it being the new kid on the block as well as a management shakeup early on. The older units also had a plastic insert in the cutter that was susceptible to damage from container grommets (a stainless steel cutter without an insert is now manufactured with the current Vigil Cuatro).

The company released the Vigil 2+ unit in May 2014 with the first unit shipping in August 2014, and then released the latest Vigil Cuatro in April 2017. In July 2015, AAD came out with the single mode Xtreme unit for canopy swoopers. This unit fires at a higher speed, 96 mph, than the Pro mode on the Multi-Mode unit, 78 mph. In April 2017, Vigil added the Xtreme mode to the Cuatro unit, so that all new units now have 4 available modes: Pro, Student, Tandem & Xtreme.

All units with SN's 40,000 and above were manufactured with the latest 2+ hardware and units 52,000 and above came with the Cuatro firmware. Vigil II and 2+ units that have gone back to AAD for service with SN's 11800 and above are updated to the Cuatro firmware.

All Vigil AAD units have a lifetime of 20 years. The multi-mode Cuatro unit can be switched from Pro to Student to Tandem to Xtreme by the user. The first generation Xtreme  single-mode units cannot be changed. The Vigil battery is designed to last 10 years or 1500 jumps.

The Vigil II, 2+ and Cuatro battery is good for at least 5 years or 2000 jumps. The manufacturer requires the battery to be replaced every 10 years. All Vigil AAD batteries must be replaced by the manufacturer, per the January 2017 Product Advisory. You can send your unit to ChutingStar to handle your VIGIL battery replacement or any needed services through the info in this link.

There is no required maintenance on all Vigil AADs unless an error code is displayed during the startup. The control unit and cutter are field-replaceable on all Vigils.

The original Vigil AAD is not waterproof, but the Vigil II, 2+ and Cuatro AADs are waterproof. ChutingStar currently sells the Vigil Cuatro for $1190, and can be ordered from ChutingStar at this link.


The m2 is somewhat the new kid on the block, but the Czech Republic manufacturer, MarS a.s., has been producing AADs since 2003. The current m2 AAD units have been sold since June 2011. Since this time there have been thousands of jumps with m2 as well as numerous saves.

The m2 originally was available in versions of EXPERT, SPEED, STUDENT or TANDEM. The mode could be changed by the factory. Two of the units can be switch to other modes for a day of use, and then reverts back the next day. The EXPERT can be switched to SPEED, and the STUDENT can be switched to EXPERT.

In 2017, MarS release the m2 Multi, which includes 5 modes in 1 unit, including Student, Intermediate, Professional, Canopy Piloting and Tandem. The user can select any of those settings as well as change the activation altitude.

Other main features of the m2 are: Lifetime of 15.5 years, no scheduled service, battery life of up to 15,000 jumps, stores the flight record during active use, replaceable cutter and is able to be submersed under water.

ChutingStar currently sells the m2 Multi for $999 at this link.


Aviacom manufactured the Argus AAD, which was in production from 2005-2011. The Argus was the first to have a swoop mode that inactivates the cutter after the initial canopy deployment. It was also the first unit to have "over-the-counter" lithium batteries as its power source. The Argus is a multi-mode AAD, which allows the user to switch the unit from Swoop to Standard to Student to Tandem. The Argus is the smallest and most compact unit available. The unit had a plastic insert in its cutter for its first 200 units that were susceptible to damage from container grommets. The company replaced all those cutters free of charge and all new Argus units come with a stainless steel cutter. A service bulletin on the stainless steel cutter manufactured prior to September 2007 requires all Argus units to have the company's latest cutter manufactured September 2007 or later. The company and its service centers still support and service the Argus for parts/service. New units from the company's last production run in 2011 have sold out so Argus units are only available in the used market.

The Argus has an unlimited lifetime (as long as it passes each 4-year functional test). The batteries must be replaced every 6 months, or every repack. A functional test, inspection and download of information of the unit is required every 4 years ($140) and can be sent to a service center in the U.S. The unit has a menu screen with a variety of options. The unit is water resistant. The control unit, cutter, battery and water filter are field-replaceable by riggers. Users can access their jump numbers, freefall time and freefall speed on the Argus. ChutingStar currently sells used Argus units on our site when available, and are listed when in stock on our used gear section at ChutingStar.com. The Argus is currently not allowed to be used in a few rigs due to a recent issue with the cutter. Find out if your rig is affected by recent service bulletins before purchasing one. The Argus units can currently be used in the Mirage, Wings, Infinity, Basik and Next containers.


I get asked a lot about which AAD I recommend. I currently own 2 Cypres2 units, but I have also owned/used Vigil, Vigil II and Argus units in the past. I also own one rig without an AAD. I feel comfortable using any of the AADs, and at times, none at all. So, in the end, it's up to you. It's all up to what history, features and price you are most comfortable and happy with.