If you are a beginner rc pilot and heard about the risks of an rc plane flutter, you should know that this problem is not as serious today as you might think. In this article, we will make you familiar with flutter phenomenon, tell you what causes it, and explain why you shouldn't worry about it once it happens to your radio-controlled aircraft.

Explaining flutter in simple words

While flutter is a complex aerodynamics phenomenon, we will try to give a simplified definition that would be easy to understand for all users of rc planes. Well, flutter is an instability in the wing or tail of the plane that leads to uncontrolled oscillations. Flutter happens when the flying object cuts into the airflow at high speed, redirecting it and causing it to generate an opposition force that presses upon the structure of the plane.

An important thing to mention is that rc plane flutter is likely to happen only with vehicles that have a weak structure, made of weak materials that are not meant to resist the powerful airstream. In this case, it would be considered an engineering fail, because the manufacturers are supposed to make the structure of the plane as strong as to resist the most powerful airflow possible.

Some manufacturers take only half of this rule, making the plane resistant only to an average-power airflow which is typical of a sunny day. But they don't consider windy weather, where the plane encounters an aggressive headwind which can cause tail's or wing's flutter. This is made either because of the low qualification of the engineers or because of the desire to save money on materials.

Additionally, there is another category of manufacturers that choose to use lighter materials to make the rc plane easier to fly, pick up height faster, and reach a higher speed. By making the plane lighter, the manufacturers not only save on materials but also save them on the power of the motor. They can choose a less powerful and less expensive motor since less effort is required to put the light vehicle into action. However, these measures are extremely risky, as they make the plane unstable and increase the likeability of crashes. This is why there are few manufacturers on the market today that risk producing such unstable structures.

What are the risks related to the flutter phenomenon?

So, flutter is dangerous for rc planes that are made of incredibly poor materials. Once the flutter happens, the tail or wing oscillate up and down until the plane escapes the powerful headwind. You would be lucky if the wind lasts just some seconds and the shaking ends soon. However, the plane can sometimes fly through a harsh airflow for a long period of time. In this case, the unstoppable oscillations will damage the structure at a steady pace up until the wing or tail undergoes a fatigue failure, which will obviously end up in a crash.

If you happen to buy a low-quality plane, the best way to escape flutter and to prolong the longevity of your aircraft is to fly it only in calm and sunny weather, where the airflow exerts a low pressure on the structure.

Is rc plane flutter a matter of concern for high-quality aircraft?

There is little chance nowadays that the rc plane you buy is vulnerable to flutter. There are flutter tests made before launching each plane on the market to ensure that even the most powerful headwind is not able to cause structure oscillations. However, there is still a small number of manufacturers that take the risk of creating planes from low-quality and poor materials, hoping to save money.

To avoid them, you are recommended to keep yourself from buying rc vehicles that seem suspiciously cheap for their size and design. Most probably, their interior structure is weak and not reinforced with additional elements meant to keep the wings and tail strong and stable. You will be always better off to pay some extra bucks and get a higher-quality device. An rc plane from a reputed brand will cost you more, but at least, you will make sure that you will not have to deal with flutter and will always enjoy a stable flight.