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Old 07-08-2021, 11:06 PM   #1
FWSPT
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Training new pilots and planes with SAFE and flight stabilization installed


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Its been some time since we have had students pilots at our club but we have recently had several newcomers to the hobby join with all of them needing to earn their wings. Great to see new people get interested! However one of the problems we noticed as instructors is a lot of the new foamie trainer airplanes are coming with SAFE enable receivers and automatic flight stabilization and disabling that feature is not as easy as flipping the switch. The gyro aspect remains present even with SAFE turned off or to its lowest setting.

While i can appreciate the safety it provides someone that has never flown a plane before i feel these systems are actually making it harder for a student to truly experience the full flight envelop of their aircraft and tends to become a crutch for some. Our club rule is that the student pilot must be able to handle all aspect of the flight without the use of SAFE however i found it can get pretty hard to prevent the stabilization system from still kicking in and giving a false perception for the student that they are truly in control.

I would like to know what has been your experience with this technology and training. In my day there was no SAFE, no gyro, just your brain and thumbs.
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Old 07-08-2021, 11:45 PM   #2
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Re: Training new pilots and planes with SAFE and flight stabilization installed

SAFE isn't safe at all. Makes the plane uncontrolable at times.

In our club, if you cant shut off SAFE and AS3X, you need to install an "normal" receiver. before we will train you.
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Old 07-09-2021, 12:52 AM   #3
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Re: Training new pilots and planes with SAFE and flight stabilization installed

We initially use the safe system if using Spektrum radio systems ; but as the student progresses it is shut off . Testing is done without safe as really it is not the new flyer controlling the aircraft , totally .
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Old 07-09-2021, 07:31 AM   #4
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Re: Training new pilots and planes with SAFE and flight stabilization installed

The safe systems were designed for the solitary guy learning to fly on his own without the benefit of a club or an experienced flyer. Seeing as this type of activity is pretty much now illegal world wide or at least most developed countries I see no purpose or use for it now.

Yes those systems in my experience actually inhibit and lengthen the learning process by giving the beginner a false impression of being in control.
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Old 07-09-2021, 09:22 AM   #5
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Re: Training new pilots and planes with SAFE and flight stabilization installed

My 10 (or at least 2) cents, if I may.
While I do agree with you guys on some parts of this, insisting on changing the RX to get rid of AS3X is overdoing it. This technology makes smaller planes "fly big" and removes some of the weather, but not all of it and not all of the time.
Your resistance to change reminds me of fuel injection being introduced to cars, ABS comming to world of motorcycles and so on and so forth. These things are becoming standard and it would be better to embrace them than to create ortodoxy that prevents them.
As for SAFE, in our club there are a few kids, age 7-8 I guess, that can find a faster path to flying "solo" (buddy box) doing takeoffs, circuits and landings and getting the visual orientation thanxs to this technology. All this without destroying a plane each weekend. I myself am a little jealous (as my learning included crashing) of the new generations, but we should let them learn in their own context with technology they have at their disposal.
I'm pretty sure first aviators frowned upon enclosed cockpits (BTW, I hear FAA wants to change this into something PC), use of windshields and such, eh
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Old 07-09-2021, 09:41 AM   #6
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Re: Training new pilots and planes with SAFE and flight stabilization installed

The student needs to learn to fly... the computer in those receivers already know how to...once they get their wings, they can install whatever flying aid they desire.

Its not resistance to new tech, its a requirement to learn basic control.

This quote from OPRN says it best..

"Yes those systems in my experience actually inhibit and lengthen the learning process by giving the beginner a false impression of being in control."
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Old 07-09-2021, 10:05 AM   #7
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Basically all the gyro function of AS3X does is smooth out turbulence. Makes it possible & even enjoyable to fly lightly-loaded planes in windier conditions. It will not save a pilot from mistakes.
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Old 07-09-2021, 10:10 AM   #8
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Re: Training new pilots and planes with SAFE and flight stabilization installed

Rare to see most posts disagreeing with AS3X and SAFE but I guess we are only at 7 posts.
While I find the technology fascinating, I don't like it and I discourage its use.
Some guys use SAFE to practice difficult stunts and I think that might be a good use of it.
Problem is, it's hard to get to the switch in time, maybe a foot switch would help?
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Old 07-09-2021, 10:19 AM   #9
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Re: Training new pilots and planes with SAFE and flight stabilization installed

Another issue , not mentioned, with the extensive use of using the SAFE system is the servos are always working rather than going with the flow (airflow-turbulence) so eventually the cheap servos they use in all of the foamy ARF’s will wear out and at some point fail and at that point could very conceivably cause an accident . How serious , one doesn’t know. SAFE run servos can easily be working 4 or more times as much as a flyers use as they are always compensating for level flight caused by any little gust or thermal ; but the flyer using full control just flies thru it with much less input .

As for practicing difficult flying maneuvers ; the only way to really learn is to make “mistakes” ...wilh altitude....and learn that correction the next time . If the corrections (safe-AS3X) are automatically being made , there is no way of really learning .

Not saying it is a totally useless learning help but should not be use extensively after the first few outings .

Last edited by stegl; 07-09-2021 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 07-09-2021, 12:41 PM   #10
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That’s an overlooked point, Stegl. What’s really funny is, if you look in the manual for any AS3X-capable receiver, they strongly recommend digital, (and I think metal gear) servos. Yet I’m pretty sure HH’s own ARFs come without metal gear servos. But at least they are digital!

I keep forgetting that SAFE includes a “bail out” or “panic” button. That is a feature I can see being handy when practicing new maneuvers. Or maybe even when one loses orientation? Push a button, buy some time to sort things out.

As far as the subject line goes: I see AS3X as a tool that allows more flying opportunities for the student. It’ll allow for useful training in conditions that would normally be too much for the plane. Personally I don’t think SAFE holds a lot of value for someone learning via buddy box. Maybe the first or 2nd time they have the sticks, to help build confidence? But the panic button is superfluous when there’s an instructor there, ready to take over.
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