Anti-Crash Technology: Inside The HobbyZone Firebird Commander 2

8/24/2005 by

Copyright:© 2005 Horizon Hobby, Inc.

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Anti-Crash Technology: Inside The HobbyZone Firebird Commander 2

One of the biggest concerns for anyone starting to fly is crashing. If you look at the time and money that you can invest in the hobby, it’s an understandable concern. But what if it were possible to greatly reduce the potential of a crash while still making a plane easy to fly? Well, now that possibility is a reality with ACT (Anti-Crash Technology™) which has been incorporated into the HobbyZone Firebird Commander 2™. Improving on Smart-Trak™, where the original Firebird Commander® left off, ACT truly protects your investment and gives you more confidence when flying.

How It Works:

Two separate sensors have been built into the fuselage of the Firebird Commander 2, one directed towards the sky while the other is directed towards the ground. The receiver analyzes the information read by the sensors to keep the Firebird Commander 2 flying level. In the event that the plane is placed in a steep dive, the top sensor will tell the on-board receiver and speed controller unit that the plane is aimed towards the ground. The receiver and speed controller make the appropriate flight corrections to pull level the Firebird Commander 2. These corrections include the motor being cut and the opposite input being given to the control surfaces. Those changes make the nose come up and allow the plane to become level. Once the Firebird Commander 2 has returned to level flight and the pilot briefly returns the right st ick to neutral, the control is returned to the pilot so normal flight can resume.

How Does ACT Differ From Smart- Trak?

Smart- Trak was, and is still, revolutionary, and there are still pilots taking their first flights with Smart-Trak equipped planes, such as the Firebird Scout ™. Smart- Trak prevents pilots from “over controlling” a plane by reacting to stick inputs, but ACT actually “sees” the sky and ground and makes the appropriate control surface adjustments. While Smart-Trak helps keep beginners out of trouble, there isn’t much that can help pull a plane out of a death spiral, unless the pilot releases both sticks, allowing the plane to return to normal level flight. One can think of ACT as a “smarter” Smart-Trak. Anti-Crash Technology actually works to pull a plane out of a dive that could potentially lead to a crash. In the event that the Firebird Commander 2 is placed in a steep nosedive or death spiral, ACT will not only reduce the throttle input, it will add opposite rudder input to help level the plane out. These changes cause the nose of the plane to rise, pulling the plane out of a dive. When the plane has returned to a level flight path and the pilot returns the steering stick to neutral, control of the plane is returned to the pilot. This is the major difference between Smart-Trak and ACT. Where Smart-Trak tried to predict and react to conditions, ACT “sees” what’s going on and responds. While it all sounds complicated, it works flawlessly.

Advanced Flying:

As pilots gain confidence and experience, ACT can be disabled for more aerobatic flying, as is possible with planes that are equipped with Smart-Trak. Additionally, the Firebird Commander 2 has improved maneuverability over the original Firebird Commander. The tail control surfaces have been made significantly larger to make the Firebird Commander 2 turn much sharper than the original Firebird Commander. The Firebird Commander 2 also accepts the full line of X-Port™ accessories, including the Night Flight Module™ (HBZ3510), the Aerial Drop Module™ (HBZ6023) and even the Sonic Combat Module™ (HBZ4020). And with the additional control provided by the larger control surfaces, dog fighting with the Firebird Commander 2 is more interesting and intense.

But Does It Really Work?

Several people from Horizon, including HobbyZone Product Manager and experienced pilot Eric Johnson, had a chance recently to spend some time flying the Firebird Commander 2. Eric, who worked on the development of the Firebird Commander 2, hand-launched the plane as the group played “pass the transmitter.” Gary Katzer was the first person at the sticks, and while he doesn’t have a ton of flight experience, he does have quite a bit of RC car experience. Once Gary got used to using the throttle to control the altitude, he was able to fly without any major issues. Next up was LD Stephens, a more experienced pilot who has progressed to larger scale aerobatic and sport planes. LD tried to get the Firebird Commander 2 into a situation to put the ACT through its paces. Regardless of how hard he pushed the sticks, the ACT worked each and every time to keep the plane level and flying safely.

What Are People Saying About ACT?

Gary Katzer, Web Content Editor, Horizon Hobby, Inc .—On first flight experiences.

The Firebird Commander 2 was one of the first planes that I had a chance to fly. My background is pretty well rooted in cars and trucks, and flying seemed a bit intimidating. Anti-Crash Technology gave me the confidence to fly the Firebird Commander 2 and not worry about crashing. If I pushed the Firebird Commander 2 too far, ACT took over, straightened the plane out, then returned control to me. It was pretty slick. I need to get a Firebird Commander 2 of my own.

L D Stephens, Copy Editor, Horizon Hobby, Inc .—On the reliability of ACT.

I was a little skeptical at first. I flew the Firebird Commander 2 a few mistakes high and then gave it full left rudder. It started to dive. Then, just as ACT caught it, I slammed the stick to the right in an attempt to simulate a panicked pilot. The plane turned right but wouldn't over correct. ACT stayed active and kept things smooth and stable until I settled down and quit slamming the stick around. I guess you could say ACT really is "foolproof".

Eric Johnson, Product Manager, Horizon Hobby, Inc .—On developing the ACT.

The reason we developed ACT was so that people could enter into the hobby and feel they would have success right away. For someone trying to fly for the first time, or for the first several flights, much of their time can be spent focusing on trying not to crash instead of enjoying the fact that they have taken to the sky. ACT helps to eliminate this fear, and since ACT can be turned off for full control after they have become more capable and comfortable, they will have an airplane they can enjoy for some time, and then move up to other electric airplanes!