Bailey Aviation has been tweaking their 4-stroke paramotor for at least 5 years and has made some noticeable improvements. Addressing some shortcomings that arose on their previous engine, this one has a number of innovations that affect thrust but, even more, reduce maintenance. They are more expensive and have more moving parts but so does a Chevy engine and look at which one is more reliable. 4-strokes are heavier, have more moving parts and cost more but offer potential reliability improvements, lower fuel burn, and a far more pleasant sound.
The test flights were done under 1000′ elevation, in light winds at about 70 degrees.
Weight: I didn’t get to weigh it but BaileyAviation.com lists it as 61 pounds (27.5 Kg) which, hopefully, includes everything you need to fly but gas. Fuel economy is further improved by the fact that 2% of the fuel’s weight is not used up in oil.
Although heavier than its two-stroke cousins, if you account for the decreased amount of fuel you start with, it’s not as big a difference. You’ll notice the difference on landing, of course, when landing on an empty tank.
Harness & Suspension: Low hook-in geometry employs a slight goose neck that gets the hang point up higher and a bit closer to the thrust line. Like the Miniplane, this reduces the amount of fore-aft tilting that happens with thrust changes. It’s well enough padded quite comfortable.
Starting (-): The standard top mounted pull start was easily accessed and the motor started easily. Its long pull is especially helpful since it fires only every other compression stroke.
Ground Handling & Kiting (-): Very comfortable. Well balanced. It was as easy as any to kite the wing while wearing the motor. I was impressed with how comfortable it was so apparently the engine placement keeps the weight reasonably close to your back.
Launch(-): Easy and typical. Smooth cage rim edges would make forward inflations easy although I didn’t get to try it. It’s a single hoop design so you probably don’t want to do power forwards with a big wing. I do them even on my Miniplane but have an 18 m² wing. A bigger wing might pull the hoop in if you really hit it hard during a forward.
Flight (-): It was very comfortable in flight with appropriate harness adjustments. Throttle response was exceptional, smooth and linear throughout.
Weight Shift (-) Great — probably 6 inches of travel.
Climb & Torque (-): Getting seated was easy and torque was not a problem, I’d call it average, probably about what you would expect from a machine of this thrust.
Thrust (-): This felt distinctly more powerful than its predecessor. I’d say it was in the 115 Lbs of thrust range for an average. Thrust is hugely dependent on propeller (mostly size) and conditions so this is just an average. I consider the Miniplane, for example, with a Top 80 engine, to average about 100 pounds of thrust with the mid-length prop.
Endurance (-): It shines here — THIS is part of the reason you buy one of these things is that it has very good endurance on not a lot of gas.
Vibration (-): Slightly less than average and at a more pleasing (lower) frequency, no doubt because the power pulse is happening less often.
Sound (-): I love its sound! Instead of a screaming 2-stroke you’ve got what sounds more like a regular airplane. The volume seemed lower but it was probably due more to the less annoying frequency than actual sound intensity. But it sure does seem quieter.
Safety (-): Like many machines, there is no significant hand protection for a pilot starting the machine on the ground which most will. It would benefit from the safety ring. There is good enough clearance on the gas tank that the prop should not puncture it in a crash. Generally speaking it should offer average protection in this regard with less than some for hand protection (without a safety ring).
Construction (-): It looks very well built with high-end fit and finish. Polished. Lightweight construction will probably leave it damaged a fall (most are).
Mr. Bailey has spent a lot of time on the new engine making improvements that should make it easier to care for, namely having an oil filter so that oil changes are reduced to one in 25 hours instead of every 8.
Reparability (-): As with most machines, if you need something on the frame fixed you’ll need a welder. Replacement parts will have to come from England since, at press time there no U.S. Importer. Same with the engine itself — it looks easy enough to work on but you might have to wait for parts for probably a week or two.
Transport (-): It’s a pretty standard 4-part cage that comes apart easily, leaving just a 40″ tall frame.
Cost: Technology comes at a price so expect to pay a premium. Plus, as of this writing there is no U.S. Importer so you’ll have to deal with shipping an individual motor which adds to the cost.
Overall: For a pilot looking to cruise on his second motor this will be an awesome ride. I don’t see it as a beginner machine owing mostly to the heavier weight (than similar thrust machines) and relative fragility. I really enjoyed flying this machine and hope they eventually get a beach hold in the U.S.