As paramotoring becomes more popular in Australia, we’re seeing a massive rise in the number of visitors coming to our site from down under, so it’s about time we start paying attention and give you guys a break down of how to get into this amazing sport. From training and buying equipment, to paramotor airspace and flight rules, let’s find out what it takes to start flying in the beautiful Straya!
Who are the civil aviation safety authority in Australia & what is SAFA?
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is a government body that regulates aviation safety in Australia. Paramotoring is classed as a sport aviation, and operates under a scheme of self-administration. This means that CASA set out the regulations, and then self-administering organisations apply and enforce them.
Many members of self-administering organisations operate under exemptions from the Civil Aviation Regulations. The oversighting organisations must develop a specific rule set to enable their operations.
Sport aviation pilots wanting to learn paramotoring must:
- First become members of a self-administering organisation
- Always operate in accordance with the organisation’s rule set.
Without membership, you are not legally allowed to take part in the sport of paramotoring.
Who is the CASA self-administering paramotor organisation?
CASA currently oversee the Sports Aviation Federation of Australia (SAFA), who have developed a training syllabus for paramotor pilots that all approved paramotor training schools must follow.
The Powered Paragliding certification course is the first step to becoming an SAFA licensed PPG pilot. You must hold an intermediate paragliding pilot certificate before undertaking any paramotor training. In addition to completing your paramotor training, you will also be required to have a VHF radio operators rating to be fully endorsed to fly a Paramotor unsupervised.
How long does paramotor training take in Australia?
As previously mentioned, you’ll need to get your PG4 Intermediate paragliding rating before progressing to powered flight. The easiest way to do this is to look for a school that offers a ‘straight through’ paramotor course, this will normally take around 14 days to complete, and will cost around $4500.
This will take you from a complete beginner, to accumulating at least 20 hours of supervised powered flight time, with a minimum of 30 flights. Training schools should also offer the required VHF radio operators accreditation as part of the course. As a bonus, on completion of a straight through course you’ll also get your full paragliding free flight endorsement.
WHERE TO FIND AN INSTRUCTOR
Always train with a SAFA approved school to ensure you’re receiving the appropriate training, and to get the required paramotoring certification. The easiest way to find an approved instructor is to click here, this will show you every SAFA approved school in Australia, but be sure to check that they offer paramotor training, as many on the list will only cater for paragliding or hang gliding.
Australia paramotor flight rules and regulations
Australian airspace is divided into 5 different classes: A, C, D, E, & G. Classes A to E are controlled airspace, and you will not be able to fly into classes A, C & D without obtaining special clearance.
Class G airspace is uncontrolled airspace, and this makes up the majority of the airspace over Australia with no restrictions for hundreds of kilometres. These is the airspace you’ll mainly be paramotoring in while following visual flight rules (VFR).
While Class G airspace is uncontrolled, there are still some rules and restrictions that apply. For example, aircraft operating in Class G airspace are required to fly at an altitude that ensures separation from other aircraft and terrain.
Pilots must also maintain a minimum distance from clouds and be able to maintain visual contact with the ground at all times, see the chart below in the VFR section below.
One of the benefits of Class G airspace is that it provides greater freedom and flexibility for pilots to operate their aircraft. Paramotor pilots can fly in Class G airspace without the need for a flight plan or permission from air traffic control.
Although you’ll have a lot of freedom flying in class G airspace, it’s still important to be aware of any temporary airspace restrictions or special procedures that may be in place by checking NOTAM (a notice to airmen) information before every flight, click here to learn more about NOTAMS.
For a flight into Class E airspace, a VFR aircraft does not require an air traffic control clearance provided they have two way communications.
VFR flights entering and operating in Class E airspace should:
- Avoid published IFR (instrument flight rules) routes, where possible
- Monitor the appropriate Class E frequency and announce if in potential conflict
- Take appropriate action to avoid potential conflict
- Avoid IFR holding patterns.
CASA have put together a VFR guide explaining everything you need to know to fly safely here. Bare in mind that in Australia, a paramotor is classed as a 103 aircraft, this is because paramotor regulations are mentioned here in part 103 of the civil aviation safety regulations, so you’ll need to study both documents.
Important things for paramotor pilots to note from the document
Part 103.045 Minimum height rules – OTHER THAN over populous areas or public gatherings.
The aircraft must be flown 500 ft above the highest feature or obstacle within a horizontal radius of 300 m of the point on the ground or water immediately below the aircraft unless taking-off or landing.
Part 91.265 Flying over populous areas and public gatherings
If flying over a town or populated area, a 300mt (1’000ft) clearance of Buildings should be maintained within a horizontal radius of 300 m of the point on the ground or water immediately below the aircraft.
You’ll also need to check the appropriate airspace map, and familiarise yourself with any restrictions in the area you plan to fly over. Unfortunately Australia does not publish sectionals covering the whole country, but they do publish Visual Terminal Charts (VTC) for each large metropolitan area which are a mercator projection at 1:250,000.
There are also Visual Navigational Charts (VNC) which mostly encapsulate the VTCs and are at 1:500,000. As VTC/VNCs cover only largely populated areas, for printed chart long VFR route planning, you will need to revert to the World Aeronautical Charts (WACs), pronounced ‘whacks’.
WACs are essentially a topographic map with features that are easy to spot from the air, but WAC’s do not contain airspace boundaries.
You can get a really good phone app called OzRuways that contains all of these maps and charts, and the ‘Hybrid VFR Map’ provides a single Australia-wide VFR map, zooming from the WAC to VNC / VTC.
It’s important to always have good visibility while paramotoring, and to remain visible to pilots of other aircraft. The CASA visual flight rules lay out a few conditions to ensure you’re seen during reduced visibility, or while flying near to clouds. Basically, the weather must be better than the VFR weather minima.
In visual meteorological conditions (VMC) The pilot must be able to operate the aircraft with visual reference to the ground, and by visually avoiding obstructions and other aircraft.
|A, B, C, E
|At or above
10,000 ft AMSL
1,000 ft vertical
|A, B, C, E
|Below 10,000 ft
1,000 ft vertical
|G||At or below
whichever is the
3,000 ft AMSL
1,000 ft AGL
|Clear of cloud||In sight of
ground or water
Radio must be
carried and used
You can fly your paramotor above more than scattered cloud, provided that VMC can be maintained during the entire flight, including during your climb, cruise and your descent.
Buying a paramotor in Australia
You’ll find plenty of dealers in Australia selling brand new paramotors, and these will typically cost in the range of $10,000 – $13,000.
You’ll also need a wing, and these will cost you about $6000 new. You’ll need to check out our wing guide here to learn all about the different types of wings, ratings, certification, and how to look after them.
The cost of paramotoring will keep many aspiring pilots out of the sport, so we created a second hand paramotor guide here to help you find an excellent used machine.
When you’re ready to buy, you’ll want to check out this guide on how to choose the correct paramotor, as they do vary considerably and there are many things to take into account before handing over your hard earned money.
Where to paramotor in Australia
One of the great things about paramotoring in Australia is the country’s diverse and stunning natural landscapes, which provide plenty of opportunities for pilots to explore the countryside from the air. From the rugged coastlines of Western Australia to the majestic peaks of the Great Dividing Range, paramotoring enthusiasts in Australia have access to some of the most breathtaking views in the world.
You can find pilots in your local area by asking on forums, or by joining Facebook groups like PPG Australia where pilots are more than willing to help you find a place to fly.
If you’re looking to travel with your paramotor, some of the popular paramotoring destinations in Australia include:
- Byron Bay – Located in New South Wales, Byron Bay is a popular spot for paramotor pilots due to its stunning beaches and coastal landscapes.
- Yarra Valley – The Yarra Valley in Victoria offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and vineyards, making it a popular destination for paramotoring enthusiasts.
- Uluru – Located in the Northern Territory, Uluru (also known as Ayers Rock) is one of Australia’s most iconic natural landmarks and offers a unique and unforgettable paramotoring experience.
- Gold Coast – The Gold Coast in Queensland is a popular destination for paramotoring due to its warm weather and stunning beaches.
- Barossa Valley – The Barossa Valley in South Australia is known for its world-class wineries and rolling hills, making it a popular destination for paramotoring pilots looking to explore the countryside.
Ready to learn more?
Becoming a safe proficient paramotor pilot starts in the field, but doesn’t end after you’ve completed a few days training. There’s a lot to learn from the theory of flight and meteorology, to avoiding dangers and accidents and handling emergencies.
Pilot error accounts for most accidents in the sport, and this can be avoided with proper knowledge, that’s why we created the paramotor pilot’s book of knowledge that you can get here. The book does lack an airspace section for Australian pilots, but don’t let that put you off as there is still a lot of valuable information spread over 150 pages that applies to pilots worldwide, and we have sold a lot of books to Australian pilots.