x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Paragliders not regulated

Many people fly paramotors without proper training because the practice isn't regulated by the Government, aviators say.

ABU DHABI// Many people fly paramotors without proper training because the Government does not regulate or license the practice, according to local aviators.

Paramotors, also called powered gliders, are flexible wings with engines attached. They are easy to buy online, said one aviator, who declined to give his name. At most, they cost Dh50,000, he said.

The man who crashed a paramotor into football fans in an Al Ain stadium on Wednesday was an experienced aviator -- but others who fly the machines are not. "These guys, due to the lack of regulations, don't approach instructors," the aviator said. "They just take their equipment, go to the beach and start training themselves."

The aviator said he had campaigned for government regulations to no avail.

"The country should come up with rules and regulations," he said. "It's not something that we can just close our eyes and say it doesn't exist."

Johan Vercruyssen, the chief flight instructor for paramotorists at Jazirah Aviation Club, said it takes about 40 hours to teach someone to fly a powered glider.

"There is no official license that is applicable throughout the country," he said. "It is not available. There is only a permit from the club that can be obtained to fly in the club environment."

A spokesman for the General Civil Aviation Authority said officials would not be available to comment until Sunday.

vnereim@thenational.ae