Powered Parachute Flying Handbook

Although powered parachutes come in an array of shapes and sizes, the basic design features are fundamentally the same. All powered parachutes consist of an airframe (referred to as a cart) a propeller powered by an engine, and a ram-air inflated wing. [Figure 3-1]

The Airframe

Most powered parachute airframes are manufactured with aircraft-grade hardware. A few PPC manufacturers are building fiber-composite carts. The airframe’s tubular construction means light weight and ease of replacement if tubes are bent. The airframe includes one or two seats, flight controls, and an instrument panel. The airframe also incorporates the engine, the fuel tank, the propeller and points of attachment for the wing and steering lines.

Although side-by-side configurations exist, in most powered parachutes the pilot and passenger are seated in a tandem (fore and aft) configuration. Dual flight controls are required for training. Not all PPCs have full dual controls; depending on the configuration of the cart and added controls (that are optional from different airframe manufacturers) the flight instructor can adequately control the aircraft during training from the rear seat during takeoff, flight, and landing procedures with dual throttle controls. While in the rear seat, the flight instructor can have positive control of the aircraft at all times by physically pulling on the steering lines and using a dual control throttle. Like airplanes, not all powered parachutes are adequately configured to conduct flight training. The flight instructor with a powered parachute endorsement should determine his or her ability to control each individual PPC from the back seat with the dual controls for training purposes. [Figure 3-2]

The pilot flies from the front seat in order to reach the steering bars, throttle control, ground steering control and magneto switches, and to keep the CG in balance; you cannot fly alone from the back seat for this reason.

The cart by itself is not very aerodynamic because it does not need to be; it flies at slower airspeeds. However, without the wing attached and inflated to limit speed, the pilot needs to be careful to avoid high speeds, such as when taxiing to and from the hangar for canopy layout. The wheels, their bearings, and the cart suspension were not designed to handle high speeds.

Some manufacturers use an adjustable front seat to allow for the varied length of the pilot’s legs to comfortably reach the steering bars. Powered parachutes can be outfitted with a variety of seatbelts, including a four-point harness system that securely fastens each occupant into their seat. [Figure 3-3]

Most powered parachutes have three wheels, or a tricycle gear configuration, although some have four. Ground steering is typically a steering bar connected to the nosewheel that moves left and right. Some powered parachutes have a tiller device for ground steering. There are a number of ground steering designs that vary between manufacturer, make, and model.

Brakes are an optional piece of equipment on the powered parachute, as the square foot area of the parachute itself provides aerodynamic braking. Pilots should use smooth and controlled operation of the throttle on the ground to maintain safe and controllable ground speeds, particularly when taxiing with the chute inflated. Students should practice throttle control to learn how far the PPC takes to come to a full stop when the power is reduced to idle. However, for runway incursion prevention and general safety, brakes are advised and highly recommended so you can stop when you need to. Never use your feet as a form of braking, as physical injury is probable.

 ŠAvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                       Contact Us              Return To Books

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator