Another major improvement to safety can likely be realized with a simple throttle change. Most of the injuries happen while a pilot, facing his motor, gets surprised by high power while starting. It’s almost always caused by an undesired throttle input. SafeStart would be ideal (because it’s passive) but manufacturers have, so far, been unwilling to implement it, probably due to expense. Here’s another approach.
Have a simple device that prevent the throttle from moving more than a small amount until the pilot is ready for takeoff. It must work whether or not the pilot has his hand in the throttle because several accidents have involved accidental power ups where the pilot was not holding his throttle. Here are the traits of a good throttle.
- Must be ergonomic and provide linear motion of the carburetor/controlller arm (primary purpose).
- Should have a kill switch that is easy to use with the pilots thumb but resistant to accidental activation. Having it recessed but with an opening towards the thumb is the best implementation I’ve seen of this.
- Have an idle stop as shown in the animation below and images at right. This device, when extended in the “safe” position, prevents the pilot from throttling up more than 20% power or so until he’s got the motor on his back. He then retracts it into the “flight” position. It should not be required for the pilot to be holding the throttle — most of the accidents have happened in that scenario. The motor powers up and within 1 second the damage is done. Even thought the pilot had a kill switch available it just happened too fast.
- Lightweight, inexpensive & durable.
- Unable to get cable through cage regardless of arm position.
As always, nothing is idiot proof. A working pilot brain is still required but this gives that brain one more line of defense when. And whatever design is used, it’s equally important that it not be easily activated in flight where it would unexpectedly prevent throttling up. There are likely better designs and I welcome anyone who actually implements this or anything else to send me pictures and/or video.