Powered Parachute Safety (PPCs)
PPCs are considered by many to be
safer than normal fixed-wing aircraft because of their inherent stability,
limited response to control inputs, and stall resistance. There are
two primary means to control a PPC: increasing or decreasing engine
power (which controls vertical rate of climb) and deflecting the right
or left trailing edge of the parachute—typically by moving the
steering bars with the feet—which turns the aircraft right or
left. If the trailing edge of the wing is pulled in on both sides at
the same time, the aircraft "flares," i.e., slows and temporarily
gains additional lift. The flare is generally used to make fine adjustments
in altitude when flying close to the ground and, in particular, when
The power-off glide ratio of a powered parachute ranges from 3:1 to 6:1. Glide ratio varies depending on the chute size and shape, and the weight that the chute is carrying, as well as the wind speed and direction during time of flight. Engine-off landings are generally safe, provided that the aircraft is within glide range of a suitable landing zone and the pilot is properly trained in the use of proper "Flare" technique. "Flaring", in terms of Powered Parachuting, refers to the usage of the steering bars pushed out simultaneously, causing the aircraft to "rock" forward. This is caused by the reshaping of the rear of the "Wing" or parachute, which is pulled downwards, this results in the entire aircraft rocking on the lateral axis. Thus slowing the aircraft momentarily, allowing an engine-out landing to become less brutal within the last few feet of the ground. Done properly, flaring will allow an engine-out landing to be much smoother than simply relying on the "Lift" of the Ram-Air to cushion the landing. Every tip and technique comes with experience, and differs with every pilot.
The main hazards one faces while flying a powered parachute are associated with wind and obstacles. Flight should not be attempted in winds exceeding 10–15 mph or in gusty conditions. Wind hazards include terrain-induced air disturbances called rotors (it is advisable to stay upwind of trees, mountains, and other obstacles that disturb the flow of the wind). Wake turbulence created by the passage of other aircraft (referred to as "Wingtip Vortices") especially aircraft that are heavy, aerodynamically "Dirty", and slow...pose another significant hazard. And since the slow-moving powered parachute (like the helicopter) is particularly well equipped to fly safely near the ground, however, special care must be taken to avoid power lines, trees, and other low-level terrain obstacles.