ePPG Reliability & Safety

Since reliability is a fundamental thing which affects safety, I’d like to ask about how reliability of an ePPG like SP140 compares with that of gas-powered paramotors.

Most people will always fly a 2-stroke while being constantly ready for an engine-out to happen at any time. They’ll always have an exit plan / landing plan ready, in case their engine quits on them. Those are probably safe practices no matter what kind of aircraft you fly.

But in terms of actual reliability of the propulsive hardware, then in what ways can comparisons be made?
What are the do’s and don’ts to maximize reliability during flight, and to avoid propulsion hardware failure?

2 Likes

Due to the fact that electric motors are inherently more reliable because they have less moving parts and are not working under dirty explosive(literally) high temperature conditions make them more reliable.

That being said, their are a lot of shitty electronics out there. The highest point of failure I would wager is going to most likely be the controller if the motor/controller combo are sized properly, sized being that you are not overdriving the motor to burn it out.

Running out of battery power is akin to running out of gas, so you cant count that.

The only advantage ICE has currently is its range – ICE are not more efficient by a long shot(28%vs 95%) - ICE can just carry more fuel in the tank - Batteries are an gas tank equivalent.

Once out electric battery tanks are improved, there will be no discussion as to which is better. So to that point you have to choose longer range with less reliability over shorter range over higher reliability.

Cheers

2 Likes

I will take the later any day😃

2 Likes

I want to ask - are there any flight conditions that might be particularly risky for electric paramotors? I’ve seen people flying regular paramotors in rainy weather – but would electrical paramotors like X4 or SP140 be particularly at risk? Also, is there any risk of being hit by lightning?

Furthermore, we all know that batteries don’t hold as much charge in the cold. Therefore how will the colder temperatures affect flight time, etc?

I don’t have any issues being around or foot dragging a typical paramotor in shallow water close to shore, but I would never get anywhere close to water with an E-ppg. Other than that one scenario, I think that E-ppg can be just as safe if not more than gasoline paramotors.

I think if you were flying in the vicinity of a potential lightning strike you would be at more risk of being sucked up to 30,000 feet in the associated cumulonimbus cloud and spat out the top as a block of ice.

2 Likes

At least at one point, the X4 was using a motor designed for boats, so I presume it is fairly well weatherproofed. Rain obviously does add some risk (including to the part of the wiring you did yourself), but it also adds some risk to a combustion motor, and a combustion motor is much harder to (turn off and) restart while flying.

There are conditions, such as crossing to an island on a windy day, where you may need some of your reserve energy for a safe landing, and it is easier to carry extra fuel than it is to add extra batteries. Note that this is largely a problem you can plan for by not taking trips that are near the top of your range, but that isn’t as convenient as just adding some extra fuel. (On the other hand, adding the extra fuel may not actually be legal, particularly in the US.)

Since the high current draw through the battery tends to heat it, the effect of low ambient temperatures should be limited. There’s nothing magical about an electric battery and motor that would attract lightning any more than gasoline and an ICE would do, and no one in his right mind would be flying a PPG kite near lightning anyway. Forget the lightning danger; it is the high-powered gusty winds of the clouds that produce lightning that’ll kill ya’. A bit of light rain poses a degree of shorting risk if your wiring and connectors are not well sealed. I don’t know about the waterproofing of the motors themselves if water were splashed or sucked into them. Related questions might be asked about accidentally falling down while landing near the shore of a body of water. Would immersion short the battery, possibly causing explosion? Would the current distribution from a shorted battery through the water electrocute the pilot or be localized between the battery terminals limiting any surrounding effects? At some point, this sort of safety testing could be worthwhile.

1 Like

True for this discussion but creates a bit of a misunderstanding in general. I tend to think of the battery as analogous to an engine and fuel system together. It’s storing and delivering the power. I think of an electric motor as a power converter (electrical to mechanical).

Apparently survivable. The pilot that died in that incident was apparently hit by lightning. Both were glider pilots. Us motor pilots tend to stay out of IMC! :slight_smile:

I would gather the later would be the case especially since this is DC only. What kills people if an appliance is dropped into a bathtub is that the current is alternating. If you got really close to the terminals I suspect you might get some sensation for sure. Easy solution - don’t fall in the water.