Pilot Briefing – Failsafe and Flyaways

There seems to be a lot of confusion about flyaway and failsafe. In this short briefing, we are going to discuss preventive measures, the proper flyaway emergency procedure, the required failsafe tests for every plane, and BRCM reporting requirements.


A flyaway is caused by either loss of signal to the model and/or a loss in effective control leading to the model moving ever distant from the pilot/field. In most cases, a flyaway is created or exacerbated by pilot error.

Failsafe is a safety feature designed into receivers that drives the servo positions to a pre-set location if the signal is lost.

Normally you have complete control of your plane and keep it well within the flying area or zone. However, there are many complications that can cause loss of control, including wind conditions, mechanical failure, loss of signal, perception, orientation, incorrect inputs, pilot error, and so on.

Identification Requirements

Every aircraft should have an identification label. This is not just good sense; it’s hard to get a plane back to the pilot if you don’t know who the pilot is. It is also a MAAC regulation (MPP10). The label must contain your MAAC ID, MAAC email and MAAC phone number.  It is optional to include your name and contact information.


To minimize the opportunity for a flyaway we highly recommend the following standard operating procedures:

  1. All BRCM pilots adhere to the failsafe requirements below.
  2. Pilots lacking overall or recent experience fly with a spotter capable of flying the model. This practice should be continued until the pilot can always keep the model within the field boundaries.
  3. Pilots moving to a faster, higher performance model use a spotter until full comfortable with the new operating envelope.

Flyaway Emergency Procedure

If you have attempted to return your plane to the flying zone and cannot do so, then you should perform the flyaway emergency procedure without delay. Do not wait until your plane is no longer visible.

If your plane leaves the dedicated flying zone for any reason:

  1. Immediately reduce the throttle stick to zero.
  2. Watch where your plane is going and call out “Dead stick” or “Flyaway” to ask for assistance.
  3. Turn off your transmitter (to activate failsafe).
  4. Continue to watch your plane looking for helpful direction and distance clues for recovery.

This simple procedure is designed to bring your plane down as quickly and safely as possible. It will keep your plane closer to the flying area to minimize damage or injury and maximize recovery efforts.

Required Failsafe Tests

Before any maiden flight, or whenever receivers are changed or damaged, you should take sixty seconds to perform a failsafe test…

  1. Secure the plane mechanically or have a helper hold your plane.
  2. Be extremely cautious and mindful of the dangerous propeller. Remove the prop for even greater safety.
  3. Run your engine at half throttle. For failsafe control surfaces, also apply aileron and elevator (hold the stick to any corner) .
  4. Shut off your transmitter. Some models may take a few seconds to complete the shutdown process.
  5. Note what happens to your engine speed and control surfaces in failsafe mode.
  6. Reduce the throttle and turn your transmitter back on.

Failsafe Engine Test

If the engine shuts off when your transmitter is off, you have passed. If your engine stayed running (hold/increase/decrease) you have failed.

Failsafe Control Surfaces Test

If the control surfaces center, you have passed. If they held position, you have failed.

Do not fly your plane until failsafe is programmed properly and works as expected. Some receivers only need re-binding (some include flap and landing gear positions), while some transmitters can program failsafe. Consult your receiver instructions to program failsafe as the steps vary by manufacturer and model.

Reporting Requirements

If your plane is within the flying zone and caused property damage or personal injury…

or landed or crashed outside of the flying zone (North or East of King Road, South of the chimney stack, West of the tall trees beyond the runway)…

…immediately contact your Safety Director, your President, or any board member. They will expect model details, direction and distance estimates, and will guide you with any further requirements as per MAAC and/or Transport Canada.

Note that if you followed the Flyaway Emergency Procedure, it is highly unlikely that your incident will require a report.

Hopefully, you can locate your plane, repair any damage, retest your failsafe, and get back to having fun flying.

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