Energy efficiency of paramotors

Updated Nov 24, 2020

We estimate that a record-breaking two-person paramotor:

  • covered around = 0.36 m/kJ
  • and moved mass at around 0.058 – 0.10 kg⋅m/J


Paramotors are powered parachutes that allow the operator to steer.1

Distance per Joule

The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) maintains records for a number of classes of paramotor contest. We look at subclass RPF2T—(Paramotors : Paraglider Control / Foot-launched / Flown with two persons / Thermal Engine)—which is appears to be the most recent paramotor record for ‘Distance in a straight line with limited fuel’.2

The record distance was 123.18 km.3 The FAI rules state that no more than 7.5 kg of fuel may be used.4 We will assume that in the process of breaking this record, all of the available fuel was used. We will also assume that regular gasoline was used. Gasoline has an energy density of 45 MJ/kg.5

Distance per energy = 123.18 km / (7.5 kg * 45 MJ/kg)

= 0.36 m/kJ

Mass.distance per Joule

The weight of an entire paramotoring apparatus appears to be the weights of the passengers plus motor plus wing plus clothing and incidentals, based on forum posts.6 These posts put clothing and incidentals at around 8kg, but are estimates for single person flying, whereas this record was a two person flight. We guess that two people need around 1.5x as much additional weight, for 12kg.

Wikipedia says that the weight of a paramotor varies from 18kg to 34 kg.7 However it is unclear whether this means the motor itself, or all of the equipment involved.

The glider used appears to be MagMax brand, a typical example of which weighs around 8kg, though this may have been different in 2013, or they may have used a different specific glider.8 To account for this uncertainty, we shall add the glider weight to the high estimate, and so estimate the weight of the glider and motor together at 18-42kg.

We will assume that the apparently male pilots weighed between 65 and 115 kgs each, based on normal male weights9

Thus we have:

weight = motor + wing + people + clothing and incidentals

weight (low estimate) = 18 + 65*2 + 12 = 160kg

weight (high estimate) = 42 + 115*2 + 12 = 284kg

High efficiency estimate:

284kg * 0.36 m/kJ  = 0.10 kg⋅m/J

Low efficiency estimate:

160kg * 0.36 m/kJ  = .058 kg⋅m/J

This gives us a range of 0.058 – 0.10 kg⋅m/J

Primary author: Ronny Fernandez


  1. Powered paragliding, also known as paramotoring or PPG, is a form of ultralight aviation where the pilot wears a back-mounted motor (a paramotor) which provides enough thrust to take off using a paraglider. It can be launched in still air, and on level ground, by the pilot alone — no assistance is required….Powered paragliders are smaller, use more efficient (but more difficult to manage) paraglider wings, and steer with brake toggles like sport parachutists.”

    “Powered Paragliding.” In Wikipedia, October 31, 2020.

  2. Recent paramotor records for distance in a straight line with limited fuel:

    “Records | World Air Sports Federation.” Accessed November 18, 2020.

    Details of Mark Morgan’s 2013 record:

    “Mark Morgan (GBR) (16956),” October 10, 2017.

  3. “Mark Morgan (GBR) (16956),” October 10, 2017.
  4. “Special rules for distance in a straight line with limited fuel…

    The aircraft must carry no more than 7.5 kg of fuel which may be used as required.”

    FAI. “FAI Sporting Code: Section 10 – Microlights and Paramotors,” 2017.

  5. “Energy Density of Gasoline – The Physics Factbook.” Accessed November 18, 2020.
  6. “You are 102kg, the motor is probably 25kg, wing weight say 5kg, clothing and incidentals about 8kg. So you total is 140kg.” “Is This Wing for Me.” Accessed November 24, 2020.

    “Wife at 59kg, plus a 20kg motor (light) plus clothing and instruments say 7kg plus weight of wing (should be included) 5.6kg, that equals 91.6kg.” “Roadster 3 Weight/Sizing Question.” Accessed November 24, 2020.

  7. “A typical paramotor will weigh on average around 50 lbs. (23 kg) with some models as light at 40 lbs. (18 kg) and some models as high as 75 lbs. (34 kg.)”

    “Paramotor.” In Wikipedia, October 1, 2020.

  8. “Aircraft  Mag Max”

    “Mark Morgan (GBR) (16956),” October 10, 2017.

    “Glider Weight (kg) 8 8.4”

    Ozone Paramotor. “MagMax.” Accessed November 18, 2020.

  9. Pilots appear to be male in this picture:

    10th to 90th percentile male weights, from:

    DQYDJ – Don’t Quit Your Day Job… “Weight Percentile Calculator for Men and Women in the United States,” February 13, 2019.

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