Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

Chapter 12 — Night, Abnormal, and Emergency Procedures


It is estimated that 85 percent of accidents occur during the takeoff process, 10 percent transpire during landings, and 5 percent happen in flight. The vast majority of these accidents are the direct result of complacency. The cause of this complacency is that the PPC is relatively easy to fly. Hence, if you find complacency setting in, you need to turn from outside distractions, and direct your attention to the immediate situational awareness of the aircraft.

The following are some reasons for PPC complacency during flight:

• The PPC does not require quick reactions.
• When compared to other light-sport aircraft (LSA), the PPC flies very slowly.
• The PPC has only two axes around which you can directly control (lateral-pitch and verticalyaw). Note: As there are no ailerons on a PPC, roll or movement around the longitudinal axis cannot be directly controlled. However, there is longitudinal roll invoked during a steep turn as the centrifugal force of the cart directs the cart to the outside of the suspension point of the wing.
• The controls are very intuitive (push right to go right, left to go left, more throttle to go up, and less to go down).

It is possible the outside environment can become a distraction to the necessary situational awareness of flying (i.e., situational complacency). Hence, in-flight accidents can be due to the pilot’s failure to see obstructions (power lines and tower cables) and to anticipate weather-related turbulence and its resultant negative effects on a PPC’s light wing (i.e., wind rotors or mechanical turbulence). Landing accidents are usually the result of porpoising (too rapid throttle movements), thermals, or unsafe field terrain. Takeoff problems can be caused by: (1) failure to get a wing LOC before adding airborne power; and (2) failure to take off into the wind.

Potential Hazards of the Standing PPC

Even while parked on the ground, high winds can pick up the wing of an unsecured powered parachute and begin carrying it away. To regain control of a freestanding PPC with a semi-inflated, dragging wing, rescuers need to grasp the steering lines—not the cart! Then with a steering line in hand, pull the line back toward the front of the cart (into the wind) and tie it off to any structured part of the PPC. This will keep the wing from gathering air and re-inflating. If you are by yourself, you do not have to do both lines simultaneously. It would be best to get both lines, but with a PPC that is dragging down the field, grab any steering line and get at least one line secured; then secure the second line. When you pull a steering line, the canopy will be pulled down on that side and the air in the wing will literally be pulled out, as the wing is hauled back and down.

The best safety procedure is prevention. To safeguard a PPC from high winds, immediately after landing, secure the wing. Even if you only intend to refuel, it is highly recommended to condense the exposure of the wing to the elements: the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun and those unexpected wind gusts. As soon as possible after landing, condense the wing by folding it on top of itself and put something on top of it to secure it. It is best to pack the canopy to keep it out of the sun and make sure the wind cannot inflate the wing and if possible, lean the nose wheel up, then place the fan guard of the cart back and down on the folded wing. Securing it this way will usually be adequate for short breaks when the make and model allows for this static positioning. [Figure 12-2]

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