Paramotor Safety

Paramotor SafeStart Development

2009-Oct-25 Working to make powered paragliding safer | See all prop safety pages | Other Shutoff Ideas

My hat is off to those who do, those who achieve, those who get it done. The best ones usually work quietly and with little fanfare on efforts that will benefit the whole community. Christian Bultmann, Wayne Mitchler and Leon Whacker are three such individuals.

They are tackling the challenge of creating what I call SafeStart, a system that could dramatically reduce startup injuries on paramotors. No system is foolproof and a working brain is the best defense against malicious machinery, but for those moments of forgetfulness that might otherwise be catastrophic, this system could be a hand savior.

SafeStart May Become a Reality!

After testing a prototype, Scout Paramotors is making an initial batch of SafeStart devices that portend to revolutionize paramotor starting safety. I've tested their prototype it works brilliantly on the Miniplane albeit at too low an RPM -- a problem that will be solved on the production version by having a settable kill RPM. The one I tested did not work on the Black Devil 172 but, so far, that is the only engine it struggles with and the production version may solve that.

Mercury Switch SafeStart (called Emergency Shut Down) by Tom Scott

2009-11-28 Tom Scott of Olympic Paragliding contacted us to tell of their new Emergency Shutdown Switch, ESD, available now for $49.95 plus shipping. See the image below. According to their information:

Our ESD switch kit is easy to install and very reliable.  The kit comes with about everything you will need to complete the installation.  The design is based on an industrial mercury switch.  It can be mounted directly to the engine or to the frame.   When mounted correctly, the switch will shut off the engine when the frame of the PPG tilts back toward the operator at a preset angle determined by the installer.  A toggle switch is added to bypass the mercury switch after engine startup and before flight.

If the motor falls over, or is pushed over by a full-throttle startup, the mercury switch closes and the motor stops.  The system is very simple, and therefore, reliable and easy to use and maintain.

The kit comes complete with most everything needed for an installation, which should only require about 20 or 30 minutes of effort.  Complete instructions are included.

I hope to get one in for testing on a paramotor and report the results here on FootFlyer.

Micro Switch by Leon Whacker (original by Ken Morrison)

2009-11-26 Leon Whacker of Paracruiser came up with another implementation idea that is simpler and has most of the functionality of the electronic version. His idea, like Ken morrison's, is to put a limit switch on the bottom aft frame. If the machine is sitting on the ground, the limit switch is open (no contact) and start is possible. If the motor angles forward, a spring loaded piece moves so that a contact is closed, activating the kill circuit.

It uses the same SafeStart switch logic with a three position switch for OFF / START / RUN so that in the START position the microswitch will kill the motor but is bypassed in RUN.

The electronic version is still better because it shuts off the motor before it has a chance to produce enough thrust to overpower the pilot. But the microswitch is much cheaper and doesn't require any power whatsoever so there are advantages. Again, tradeoffs. Leon is going to make one and send it to us for testing.

Scout Paramotors succeeds with SafeStart!

Electronic Version by Christian Bultmann & Wayne Mitchler

Wayne has created another version that uses a key like what comes on some exercise treadmills. The key must be in to run the unit at normal power but, when you pull the starter rope, it pulls the key out and the motor can't go much above idle. To fly normally, you put the key back in. This has its limitations, but its a great start and they're working on a solution which involves a timer which won't require pilot action.

We're anxiously awaiting other results and will put updates when they come in. Wayne plans on selling the system to makers and, hopefully, for retrofit on individual machines. Hopefully paramotor manufacturers will incorporate the system into their units if and when it is made available.

Go here to see an animation of one idea for SafeStart.

Keeping our fingers crossed and out of the prop!

Here's a video of the device.

Wayne idles his paramotor and shows how the limiter prevents it from going above 3000 rpm until he reinserts the key.


© 2016 Jeff Goin & Tim Kaiser   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!