An exemption to the Air Navigation Order (ANO) 2016 has been issued to allow foot-launched self-propelled paragliders (more commonly known as paramotors) or self-propelled hang-gliders to be fitted with devices to support weight during take-off (e.g. wheels), with no change to the applicable regulatory requirements. Previously such aircraft could only be ‘foot-launched’, since the addition of wheels to a paramotor chassis would have seen the aircraft classified as a microlight aeroplane, therefore needing a pilot’s licence to fly.
In order to meet the conditions of the exemption, the aircraft must have an unladen mass (including full fuel), of no more than 70 kgs. An additional 5 kgs is permitted if the aircraft is equipped with an emergency parachute. To limit the performance of the aircraft, the chassis and wing combination must have a stall speed or minimum steady flight speed in the landing configuration of no more than 20 knots. This is to ensure that the overall performance and kinetic energy of the aircraft is kept similar to existing foot-launched aircraft. The exemption is also limited to single occupancy. It will be issued for a 12 month period and the impacts carefully monitored in co-operation with the GA community.
A number of factors are behind the decision to issue this exemption. In the past, the CAA periodically received enquiries from people who were unable to foot-launch paramotors due to physical injury or disability. Normal policy would have been to recommend they obtained a National Private Pilot’s Licence (NPPL) with microlight class rating and fly an aircraft fitted with wheels, even if the aircraft was otherwise identical to a foot-launched variant that could be flown without a licence.
We have a duty to make our regulations proportionate and we believe this exemption offers a more equal access to the activity while retaining appropriate limitations. Pilots wishing to fly aircraft not covered by the exemption (for example two seat aircraft) or the existing ‘self-propelled hang-glider’ definition in the ANO, must obtain an NPPL for the relevant aircraft category.
All aircraft must comply with the Rules of Air, as set down by in the Standardised European Rules of the Air (SERA) and the UK Rules of the Air 2015. It is the responsibility of pilots to familiarise themselves with these rules and not endanger other airspace users or third parties on the ground in the course of their flying activities.
Aircraft flying in accordance with the exemption must also be insured in accordance with the applicable European aircraft insurance regulations, Regulation (EC) No 785/2004, since they will no longer by covered by the exclusion for foot–launched aircraft. Pilots should ensure their insurance meets the requirements applicable for the mass of their aircraft and carry their certificate while flying. We will be working with the GA community to ensure this is fully understood. As the responsible authority for the European Regulations, the CAA also reserves the right to inspect insurance documentation and verify that the aircraft is appropriately insured.
The full text of the exemption can be found in ORS4 No. 1224