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Paramotor Thrust and Noise Test

Testing performed by Pat Barton (no dealer affiliation), Bruce Brown (Ohio Powered Paragliding) and Mo Sheldon (Airparamo)

Methods:
Fourteen paramotors were tested for static thrust and "loudness" (sound pressure) between about 2:00 and 3:30 pm Sunday February 8, 2004 at the Paratoys Convention (held at the Salton Sea, CA). Mo Sheldon directed the thrust testing and provided the thrust test rig that included a commercial quality digital scale. The scale was zeroed before each thrust measurement.

Mo Sheldon and Bruce Brown each provided a Radio Shack dB (decibel) meter.
All data was measured and recorded by Mo, Bruce, Pat Barton, Francesco "Check" De Santis (Powerglider/U-Can-Fly-2) and Jose Casaudoumecq (Aerolight USA). Sound pressure levels were made using "A" weighting on the dB meters.
The environmental conditions were approximately 71 degrees F., and 1021 mbar barometric pressure.

Four sound pressure measurements were made on each motor:

  1. Approximate center of the pilot's head at full power
  2. Approximate center of the pilot's head with motor producing 50 lb thrust (simulation of level flight power)
  3. 15 feet to starboard and 3 feet forward of the prop hub, 3 feet above ground
  4. 15 feet to starboard and 3 feet forward of the prop hub, 3 feet above ground, with motor producing 50 lb thrust (simulation of level flight power)

It is important to note that the sensitivity of the human ear is in the range of 2-3 dB. In other words, a sound increasing in loudness from say, 80 to 81 or 95 to 96 dB will generally not be noticeable. A sound increasing from say, 80 to 83 dB will on the other hand be (just barely) noticeable louder to an average listener. When evaluating motor "loudness" data, it is practical to say that a difference of 1 or 2 dB between one motor and another is not significant. A motor that is on average, say 5 or6 dB "louder" than another motor is in fact significantly louder, and will be noticed by most listeners. Note that these rough observations do not, however, address frequency response and the human perception of which sounds (frequencies) are more pleasing (or displeasing) - these perceptions are quite complicated and to some extent subjective.

The following is a rough guide to sound pressure in decibels:

Results:
Table 1 presents the thrust results for each motor unit along with prop style and pilot name (owner); these results are listed from highest to lowest measured thrust. The average thrust for all fourteen motors was 113 pounds (+20). The Simonini powered units generally produced more thrust than the other units, and if the Simonini motors are removed from the data set, the average thrust for the remaining ten units was 103 pounds (+10).

For each motor unit the four sound pressure measurements were added to yield a "thrust score": a simplistic representation of overall motor unit "loudness". Table 2 presents the sound pressure ("loudness") data for each unit, ranked from "quietest" to "loudest" based on the calculated thrust score.

Table 1: Paramotor Thrust Summary

Unit Brand/Model Prop Type Thrust in lb Engine Type Owner
Walker Jet RR 51" 3-blade comp 160 Simonini Dell
Sky Cruiser 200 46" 2-blade wood 138 Simonini Steve
Fly Power Gold 130 51" 2-blade comp 133 Simonini Mo
Fly Power Plus 48" 2-blade wood 124 MZ 34 Dan
Fly Power Gold 115 48" 2-blade comp 109 Solo Hans
Homebuilt 45" 2-blade wood 114 Kaw 80 Alex D
Fresh Breeze 122 48" 2-blade comp 109 Solo Hans
Homebuilt 48" 2-blade wood 105 Rotax 125 Alex B
Fly Power Flash 48" 3-blade comp 100 Sky 100 Javier
SD 48 48" 2-blde wood 98 Solo Bob
Powerglider iFlyer 49" 2-blade wood 98 Top 80 Check
Fly Power 130 50" 2-blade wood 95 Solo Pat
MiniPlane 125 49" 2-blade wood 90 Top 80 Scott
Sky Cruiser 100 48" 2-blade wood 93 MZ 100 Tony

Table 2: Paramotor "Loudness" Summary

Unit Brand/Model Full Power Pilot Full Power 15 ft 50lbs Thrust Pilot 50lbs Thrust 15 ft Score
SD 48 115 98 99 86 398
Sky Cruiser 100 115 96 103 87 401
Fly Power Flash 116 97 104 86 403
Powerglider iFlyer 116 95 107 87 405
Walkerjet RR 118 96 100 88 411
Miniplane 125 118 96 108 89 411
Sky Cruiser 200 120 104 106 89 416
Fly Power 130 119 99 109 90 417
Homebuilt - Rotax 119 103 105 90 417
Homebuilt - Kaw 116 103 107 91 417
Fly Power Gold 130 121 106 108 92 427
Fly Power Plus 122 122 106 107 92 427
Fly Power Gold 115 123 105 111 95 434