It’s always been a crap shoot to check paramotors on airliners but even I didn’t realize how bad it could be.
A pilot had shipped his paramotor for an overseas adventure and when he got back the paramotor arrived sans its engine. Then, some weeks later a letter arrived from the FAA. They were handing him a noose.
The letter (shown below) asked for information “about a potential violation of 49 CFR Section 171-178” and further said that the paramotor engine is regulated and should have been presented as “Engines, internal combustion, flammable liquid powered, Class 9, UN3166”. The letter was redacted to remove information that could identify the pilot. He was gracious enough to let me publicize this affair so others could learn from it.
I recommended an aviation attorney in this case, especially since he has a regular pilot’s license. Hopefully I’ll get updates and share what happens. He gave me permission to share his story.
The most obvious takeaway is don’t check paramotors as luggage. I’ve advised people to take the motor apart so it can justifiably be called parts but this episode makes me even wonder about that.
2014-June 15 Chris, the pilot who helped pack this engine, offered some details. He explained that they cleaned and packed the engine separate from the frame, using the same box the engine was originally shipped in. Chris added that he had a similar problem with a chain saw in about 2012. One TSA returned it to the airline for pickup by Fed Ex. It all depends on the individuals involved.
As an aside, if there are fumes or liquid gasoline, like in the carb, it *IS* hazardous materials (HAZMAT) and cannot even be shipped via Fedex without acknowledging that fact. It may still be able to be shipped but at a much higher cost.