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Paramotoring is the of sport of powered paragliding, where participants strap a 2 stroke motor to their back and a parachute, which they dub a wing, in order to fly.

Blackhawk Paramotor, America's (self proclaimed) largest paramotoring company claims on their FAQ Page that

… In fact, it’s the safest form of personal aviation bar-none.

Is this claim true, for example, in terms of the following:

  • Fatalities per user.
  • Overall fatalities.
  • Injuries per user.

Some other forms of aviation to consider.

  • Gliding
  • Hang gliding
  • Paragliding
  • 1 and 2 man small-aircraft flight
  • Ultralight flights
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    Would be interesting what they meant by "personal aviation". I wouldn't be surprised if they could find some way to justify their argument (say, "risk per flight with a single pilot and no copilots/passengers", assuming that paramotoring is a generally recreational thing with short trips under controlled conditions) – Ben Barden May 30 '17 at 20:41
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    @BenBarden actually, paramotoring can be done in tandem (pilot / passenger) – tuskiomi May 30 '17 at 20:53
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    I'm under the impression that flying in general is very safe. It's botched landings and tradeoffs that lower the safety rates. – fredsbend Jun 29 '17 at 15:12
  • @fredsbend but the safest? – tuskiomi Jun 29 '17 at 15:41
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+100

Summary: I can find information about the total number of fatalities, but I don't find anything on the number of paramotoring trips taken. Without that, I cannot make any fair comparison to any other form of personal aviation.

The US Powered Paragliding Association has publicly available records listing 27 fatal paramotoring incidents going back 20 years or so. Looking around their website did not give me the impression that this was rigorous or high-quality data. Although they have an accident investigation team, it seems woefully underfunded. I am willing to believe that they have missed some number of fatal incidents.

A 2015 fatality report lists 10 paragliding fatalities. This was put out by the US Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. Although it isn't about paramotoring, I think their numbers are more reliable.

There should be some similarities between accident rates. This study looked at the first data set I linked and found that the engine caused 11% of all incidents. I assume that a large fraction of the other 89% could happen on an unpowered paraglider. I can also assume that having an engine can save you from certain types of accidents.

You asked about the rate of fatalities, not just the number. I cannot find any estimates of the number of trips taken each year, or even any information on the number of members the USPPA has.

If you can find some information on the number of trips taken every year, you can compare those numbers to the rate for personal planes, which cause fatalities at a rate of 2 deaths per 100,000 pilot hours (Page 41).

  • Given this is just the numerator, and not the denominator, is it really an answer? – Oddthinking May 30 '17 at 9:33
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    @Oddthinking I am up front and honest about the poor quality and incompleteness of my answer. I hope that my answer may be useful to someone who can make a more complete answer. – BobTheAverage May 30 '17 at 15:34
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    +1. While it's a partial answer, good information constitutes a positive contribution to this site and benefits readers. Related Meta. – Nat May 31 '17 at 15:59

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