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Load test and wing loading information for PPG wings

The following is a caution for all paramotor pilots, with regard to weight ranges and DGAC certification. 

To verify the structural strength of a paraglider or paramotor wing, the larger sizes of each model may be subjected to the EN 926.1 load test. This test is comprised of two parts; a static shock test, and a sustained load test. First, using at least a 1000 kg weak link (higher for tandems) the wing must survive a brutal static shock test without any visible signs of damage to the lines or sail. The same wing then performs a sustained load test, inflated and pulled along a runway by a large truck until a three second average value of 8G is achieved without breaking. 8G is the minimum accepted load factor for EN certification, calculated by 8 x maximum permitted weight.

In addition to EN 926.1 some paramotor wings are also recognised by the DGAC, an entity  responsible for Microlight (ULM) and lightweight powered aircraft (Paramotor) certification in France. Using the EN load test results, the DGAC accepts 5.25G as the maximum acceptable load factor. Both the 8G EN and 5.25G DGAC values, along with the recommended PG (free flight) and PPG (powered) weight ranges are indicated in the specifications of most paramotor wings, for your reference. Participation in the DGAC limit recognition varies by manufacturer. 

We consider the DGAC load factor limit of 5.25G acceptable for “normal” PPG use – circuit flying, XC, adventure flying, Slalom racing, wing overs etc. Some rapid descent maneuvers fit into the “normal” definition: spiral dives with descent rates of ~10m/s are considered generally safe.

However, in our testing at Ozone we have recorded loads of up to 5.25G during fully engaged, nose-down spiral dives, at all parts of the weight range. Theoretically, it should not be possible to break a wing whilst flying at the maximum PPG weight of the larger sizes (smaller wing sizes have an inherent safety margin due to the fact that the same number & type of lines carry a lower max weight), but when you consider:

a) the natural weakening of lines with age; 

b) the potential of accidentally damaged lines during normal use;

c) and that during a spiral dive or other aggressive acrobatic manoeuvre the load is not distributed as evenly across the span as it is during a physical test,

there is significantly less structural safety margin in paramotor wings when flying close to the maximum DGAC weight. 

For this reason, our recommendation to all PPG pilots is that when flying at high wing loadings (above the middle of the recommended PPG weight range) deeply engaged, nose down, high-G spirals and other aggressive aerobatic manoeuvres should be avoided. Doing so poses the risk of line failure with potentially fatal consequences. 

Choosing Your Wing Size

The most suitable size wing for you depends on how you intend to use it. If you will be flying solely with a motor, aim for the middle of the PPG weight range (all up weight with wing, motor, fuel etc).

However if you intend to also free fly with the wing, consider your all up free flying weight  and aim for the top of the PG weight range.

Never fly above the recommended maximum PPG weight.

FAQs: 

Ok, so when am I “too heavy” on a PPG wing? 

Never exceed the DGAC weight range. 

What should I “not do” if I’m near the top of the DGAC weight range? 

We recommend that pilots avoid all high-G manoeuvres, such as acrobatics and deeply developed spiral dives when flying above the EN range. 

What is the purpose of a DGAC weight range if maneuvers are limited above the EN weight range?

Leisure flying without any advanced manoeuvres, high-G spirals, or acrobatics, is acceptable.