Taking paramotor kit on an international flight is a common headache for many a budding Icarus Trophy pilot. This month, we're sending our crash test dummy Mr Simon Walker to recce the Icarus Trophy route. He's flying from London to South Africa, so we asked him to share what he’s learnt about flying with a motor. Here's what he's learnt so far:
The good news is, you can check your motor as baggage, as long as you follow the airline's rules.
The IATO carriage of dangerous cargo rules say that you can check in small engines so long as they are free of fuel and you document how you cleaned then with an ‘A70’ declaration.
If you want a dry read, check out IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) 59th Edition with effect from 1st January, 2018
Prepare your motor
Your motor needs to be totally free of fuel and oil (if you have a 4 stroke). Your target is to be totally fuel-smell free. Here's what we did:
- Took off the fuel tank and washed with soap and water.
- Replaced all fuel hoses (including the ‘clunk’ filter in the tank) with brand new
- Replaced primer bulb with new
- Removed and washed airbox and foam
- Ran engine until it stopped
- Removed and cleaned carb with carb cleaner
- Removed spark plug and cranked engine a few times
- Left spark plug out and left engine in ventilated place for minimum of 6 hours
- Generally deep cleaned the engine with a rag and carb cleaner
- Wrapped engine in cling film before packing
- Placed vanilla scented air fresheners in with engine too. No whiff of fuel whatsoever, but we do all smell like a mini cab.
Pack your motor
Some motors are designed for easy travel. Some, like our Parajet V3’s need a bit more effort.
We bought some closed cell polyethylene foam to pack our frames and motor into a cuboid shape and then commissioned a bag maker to make a coverall padded bag. Foam was about £50 online, the bag was £85 from bags2cover.co.uk
Ensure you fit with the oversize baggage rules. Max 32kg
With the weight of the bag and foam, We had to remove harness and reserve to come in at 31kg
Choose your airline
We’ve heard some are better than others.
Virgin have a good reputation for taking motors so we chose them. It would be a good idea to check on Facebook groups and learn from others experiences about which airlines are paramotor ‘friendly’.
Make sure to check the dangerous cargo rules for your airline.
Check out your airlines rules for checked luggage on the airlines website.
If you can, call their cargo desk (you can usually find the number in the dangerous cargo section of the airlines website) and make friends. We spoke to Virgin Cargo at London Heathrow, explained what we were doing, how we were cleaning and packing our motors, and he was very happy. He said that the check in desk should ring them if there was any query.
Gather the right paperwork
A condition of carriage is that you have have an A70 declaration that outlines how you ensured your engine is free of fuel. Our A70 looked like this:
A70 Declaration (Internal Combustion engines in checked baggage) in accordance with IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR) 59th Edition with effect from 1st January, 2018
I Simon Walker, confirm that I have followed the listed procedure to ensure the internal combustion engine is safe for air travel in checked baggage.
Disconnected fuel and ran engine until it died
Drained (for at least one hour) all flammable liquids from the engine
Removed,drained, washed and ventilated fuel tank. Plugged and sealed all vents.
Removed and discarded all fuel lines, primer and filters. Fuel lines primer and filters are brand new and have never held fuel
Disconnected spark plug
Allowed the engine to be open to the air to ventilate for at least six hours
Removed, cleaned and ventilated (for at least six hours) carburettor
secured engine in packing foam and cling wrap
NOTE: This is a 2 stroke motor that does not have any oil
This procedures meets and exceeds IATA Packing Instruction 950
Date procedure completed: 4 March 2018
We also took a printout of the airlines policy on their website (and the number for their cargo colleagues)
Allow loads of time for check in
Make the day of it and allow lots of time to check in just in case you bump into a jobs-worth.
We used sausage bags which protect mylar amd ribs, but pack down small. Then we put into vacuum bags (used to store duvets!) to create an incredibly small and dense pack.
Keep your eyes peeled for updates from the recce later this month.