Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

Chapter 1 - Introduction to the Powered Parachute

Powered Parachute Terms

Different terms have been used throughout the powered parachute community. [Figure 1-2] The terms standardized throughout this book are as follows:

• Powered Parachute – The complete aircraft.

• Cart – The engine and seats, attached by a structure to wheels; may also be referred to as the fuselage, cockpit, chaise, or airframe.

• Wing – Typically a ram-air inflated and pressurized wing including lines that attach to the cart. The wing is not in position to fly until the aircraft is in motion; when not inflated, referred to as a parachute or chute.

Introduction to the Powered Parachute

The powered parachute is a category of aircraft that flies in a manner unique among light-sport aircraft. Three significant differences separate the PPC from other types of light sport aircraft (LSA): [Figure 1-3]

1. The wing must be inflated and pressurized by ram air prior to each takeoff.

2. The aircraft uses a pendulum configuration, where the cart hangs about 20 feet below the wing, connected via flexible suspension lines.

3. The wing is at a relatively fixed angle with the suspension lines and flies at a relatively constant speed. Other aircraft categories allow pilots to change the speed of the aircraft, but the powered parachute airspeed remains within a very small range.

A powered parachute can be a single place ultralight flying vehicle, a single place light-sport aircraft, or a multi-place light-sport aircraft. The common acronyms for this vehicle/aircraft are PPC (powered parachute), PPCL (powered parachute land) or PPCS (powered parachute sea).

A light-sport aircraft PPC used for sport and private flying must be registered with an FAA N-number, have an airworthiness certificate, a pilot’s operating handbook (POH), and/or limitations with a weight and balance document aboard. The aircraft must be maintained properly by the aircraft owner or other qualified personnel and have the aircraft logbooks available for inspection. Dual controls are required in the aircraft for training.

Powered Parachute Pilot Certificate Eligibility Requirements

You may not act as pilot in command (PIC) of a lightsport aircraft powered parachute unless you hold a pilot certificate with a powered parachute rating issued by the FAA. At this time the only pilot certificates with powered parachute ratings are Student, Sport and Private. The FAA is empowered by the U.S. Congress to promote aviation safety by prescribing safety standards for pilots and the other civil aviation programs. The Code of Federal Regulations (CFRs), formerly referred to as Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs), are one of the primary means of conveying these safety standards.

Title 14 CFR, part 61 specifies the requirements to earn a pilot certificate. This regulation also states the pilot applicant must be able to read, speak, write, and understand the English language. The FAA Practical Test Standards (PTS) establish the standards for the knowledge and skills necessary for the issuance of a pilot certificate. [Figure 1-4] You should reference both these documents to understand the knowledge, skills and experience required to obtain a pilot certificate to fly a powered parachute.

Pilot applicants must have a valid U.S. driver’s license or a current third-class medical certificate issued under 14 CFR part 67. If you use your valid driver’s license to exercise the privileges of a Sport Pilot certificate, then you must also adhere to any restrictions on that driver’s license. You must hold a current thirdclass medical certificate to exercise the privileges of a Private Pilot certificate.

The process of learning to fly includes a combination of ground training (to include successful completion of the FAA Knowledge Exam) and flight training to include dual flights with a certified flight instructor (CFI), as well as solo flights under the supervision of your CFI.

To be eligible to fly solo in a PPC, you must be at least 16 years of age and demonstrate satisfactory aeronautical knowledge on a test developed by your instructor. You must have received and logged flight training for the maneuvers and procedures in 14 CFR part 61 for the PPC, as well as demonstrated satisfactory proficiency and safety. Only after all of these requirements are met can your instructor endorse your student pilot certificate and logbook for solo flight.

Once you obtain the required aeronautical knowledge and experience required by 14 CFR part 61, your flight instructor will endorse you to take a practical test (often called a “checkride”) with a sport pilot examiner (SPE) or an FAA inspector. After you’ve demonstrated satisfactory aeronautical knowledge and skill in the Areas of Operation and Tasks outlined in the PTS, this examiner or inspector will issue your temporary (paper) pilot certificate. You will receive a plastic certificate in the mail once the results of the practical test are received by the FAA Registration branch.

A sport pilot is certified to fly a light-sport aircraft. To be eligible for a sport pilot certificate with a powered parachute rating, you must be at least 17 years of age, complete the specific training and flight time requirements described in 14 CFR part 61 subpart J, pass the FAA Knowledge Exam, and successfully complete the practical test.

If you hold at least a private pilot certificate, but not a rating for the category and class of PPC LSA, you can operate the powered parachute with a logbook endorsement and passing a proficiency check. [Table 1] If you hold at least a private pilot certificate with a PPC category and class rating, and have a current third-class medical, then you may operate any PPC LSA in that category and class, and do not need to hold any of the endorsements required by Sport Pilots, nor do you need to comply with the limitations of a Sport Pilot certificate.

Note: If you hold at least a Private pilot certificate, but not a medical certificate, you may operate as a Sport Pilot and must comply with 14 CFR part 61 subpart J.

A Sport Pilot instructor can instruct, endorse logbooks for privileges, and give proficiency check flights in a LSA. To be eligible for a Sport Pilot instructor certificate, you must be at least 18 years of age and hold at least a current and valid Sport Pilot certificate with category and class ratings or endorsements appropriate to the flight instructor privileges sought. You must also pass the Sport Pilot instructor and fundamentals of instructing knowledge exams and meet the experience and knowledge requirements outlined in 14 CFR part 61.

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