Advanced Helicopter (AH)


The Achievement Scheme is run by the MFNZ as a National Scheme and it is open to all model flyers. Where a non-member wishes to participate in the achievement scheme the examiner who will be conducting the test must inform the MFNZ office via email or telephone no later than the day prior to the test being carried out of the non-member’s full name, address and the date that the test will be conducted. This enables the MFNZ to extend insurance at suitable levels for the day of the test. If this procedure is not followed the test will be invalid. 

The candidate must successfully complete the test schedules in one attempt. A maximum of two attempts at the examination are permitted in any one day.

The test schedule is split broadly into five areas; the pre-flight safety checks, moving from the pits/start-up area to the take-off/landing area, the flying manoeuvres, the recovery & return to the pits, and the questions.  

The Advanced Certificate
The Advanced Certificate is “designed to recognise the pilot's more advanced ability and a demonstrated level of safety.

As an Examiner, therefore, the level of competence required from a candidate should firstly be based on the question; 'has this person demonstrated their flying ability and safety to me in a satisfactory manner’ and, secondly, ‘how do I feel about them appearing in public, possibly at a large display, on the strength of the certificate which I may be about to award them'.

The aim of the Advanced certificate has always been to give the club flyer a personal attainment goal beyond the Basic Certificate; a demonstrated level of competence and safety which is attainable by the average pilot with a little thought and practice.

The long term strategy behind this is that if enough club flyers qualify for their Advanced certificates then the general standard of flying both within your club and nationally cannot help but rise.

A candidate wishing to take the Advanced must already have passed the Basic in that discipline. 

The Model 
The test can be performed with virtually any model helicopter, fixed pitch or collective. The helicopter may be internal combustion engine powered or electric powered. The only exception to this is that helicopters with contra-rotating main rotors are not permitted for the Basic and Advanced tests, the reasoning being that is these models are generally too stable to provide an adequate test of a candidate’s abilities.

Whatever model is brought by the candidate, it must be suitable to fly the manoeuvres required by the test they are taking. You do not have the authority to alter the required manoeuvres to suit a model and if, in your opinion, the model is unsuitable for the test then you should explain this to the candidate and tell them that they cannot use that model. The selection of the model to do the test is the responsibility of the pilot and it is their ability you are testing, not the model.
On no account may the candidate use defects or limitations in the performance of the model as an excuse for poor performance on their part and you should make no allowance on this point. The type of model presented cannot be used as an excuse for not completing certain manoeuvres.

Electric Powered Models must be treated as LIVE as soon as the main flight battery is connected, irrespective of radio state and great care must be demonstrated by the  candidate. The arming sequence should be clearly understood and discussed/demonstrated to  you by the candidate. 

Gyros, Electronic Stabilisation and GPS 
Where a fly bar is fitted, it is acceptable to use an electro-mechanical or solid state gyro in a helicopter being used to take the test although electronic stabilisation is restricted to a single sensor acting in rotation around the yaw axis only. This allows a range of gyros to be fitted, from simple yaw dampers to solid state heading lock units but only acting on the tail rotor.

If the helicopter does not have a fly bar fitted it is acceptable to use extra electronic stabilisation, however the extra electronic stabilisation must only be acting as a fly bar replacement system and must not take over control from the pilot or achieve automated  flight.

The use of any autopilot and/or artificial stability features which are (or may be) designed into such units beyond definition above is not acceptable during the test for the Basic and Advanced certificates and is not permitted.

Candidates should be prepared to explain the capabilities of the system they are using and show that it does not take over control from the pilot and that automated flight will not be achieved during the test.

GPS must not be used during any test.  

There is no requirement for the fixed positioning of manoeuvres relative to the wind direction in the Helicopter tests and you will find no reference to the wind in the text of either the test or this Standards Document. 

This makes it absolutely ESSENTIAL that you discuss this with the candidate at  length so that you are both aware of exactly how you want the manoeuvres to be presented and what limitations will be accepted if the wind direction is not  favourable.   

Ground Positioning 
When taking a helicopter test, it is your responsibility as the Examiner to lay out a series of ground markers to assist both the candidate and yourself to assess the manoeuvres being flown. Small cones or any other similar marker may be used as long as they don’t interfere with the flying of the model. However, it is vital that the marker used for the take off/landing point (TOLP) does not affect the model at all and probably the best marker in this case  would be something like the fluorescent discs that lay flat on the ground. Alternatively, you could use some of the biodegradable ground marker spray paint that is readily available.

The layout of markers required is shown below and it must be emphasised that absolute accuracy of distance is not required when setting them out. Pacing will be quite accurate enough. It is essential, though, that the centre marker, the TOLP and the pilot’s position are in line.

Heli Ground Positioning

The general positioning of the markers will depend very much on the geography of the flying site and safe operation of the model and you should set them out with these factors in mind. 

It is not a requirement that the markers in the cross bar are used by the pilot but they are there to help. However, the centre marker, the takeoff/landing point and the pilot’s position must be used with some accuracy. 

Landings should generally be no more than a metre from the takeoff/landing point and the pilot is expected to stay close to the selected pilot’s position mark although it is not required that they ‘plant’ their feet. If you feel that the pilot is starting to wander, you should stop them and insist that they stand near the pre-selected mark. 

Remember that it is a requirement that ‘all manoeuvres are carried out in front of the pilot’ so the use of the pilot’s position point will be important.

General Manoeuvres and Hovering 
All take-offs and landings should be smooth, without undue oscillations, and lifts and descents should be straight and controlled with the model a comfortable and safe distance in front of the pilot. In any stationary hovering the model should remain steady and should not oscillate unduly.

The standard ‘brief’ hover time is about five seconds. You should discuss this with the candidate before the test so that they know that you will want to see a positive stop with the hover long enough to show that the model is well controlled and steady with little wandering or oscillation. Stopwatch accuracy is not required.

The candidate should also be aware that the decision to move on is theirs and that you will not be asking them to commence with the next manoeuvre. However, during your pre-flight briefing, they may ask that you indicate when you are satisfied that they have completed their ‘brief’ hover times to help them decide when to move on. This is quite permissible if requested by the candidate.

Circuit and other ‘flying’ manoeuvres should be performed at the heights mentioned in ‘Height and Speed’ above. Movement of the model from one point to another whilst in the hover should be done at a steady walking pace. 

Care should be taken in the flying manoeuvres that the line of approach and height each time is consistent and you should take particular note of performance in this area.  

Intermediate Landing
Exceptionally, at a pre-determined point in the flight an intermediate landing may be permitted for the sole purpose of the fitting of a freshly charged flight battery. This landing may only be made with the prior consent of the Examiners. The pre-determined point may  be either after a specific manoeuvre or at a specific time of flight, whichever is requested by the candidate and agreed by the Examiners.

Full pre and post flight checks are not normally required during an intermediate landing and takeoff unless the model suffered a hard landing. However, the candidate should give the model at least a quick visual examination whilst on the ground.

The Advanced Test

Carry out pre-flight checks as required by the MFNZ Safety Codes.

The pre-flight checks are laid out clearly in the MFNZ Members Manual. The candidate should also go through the pre-flying session checks, also laid out in the MFNZ Members Manual. Ask the candidate to go through their checks as if the test was their first flight of the day.

Points to look for are that the candidate has a steady and regular ground routine, especially when starting and tuning the engine. Nerves should not play a part in the pits, and you  should satisfy yourself that the candidate is in full control of what they are doing whilst preparing the helicopter for flight.

A tidy flight box and a neat ground layout makes a good impression and is to be expected from Advanced certificate candidates

A poor performance in this area is not direct grounds for failing the candidate but it is inevitable that you will be making mental notes of all aspects of the candidates performance and this is one that may have an effect on a real ‘borderline’ case.

Pay particular attention to the way the candidate uses the local frequency control system  and make sure that they fully understand it and use the correct sequence appropriate to their model. For 35 MHz, this is usually 'get the peg, Tx on, Rx on'. For 2.4 GHz, the candidate should be aware of any local transmitter usage limitations and if a flight peg is required, it must be obtained before the usual Tx on, Rx on sequence. Some radio equipment and, occasionally, a specific model requirement requires that the Rx be switched on first and, if this is the case,  the candidate should explain this clearly to you.

With electric powered models, take note that the candidate is aware that the model is ‘live’ as soon as the flight battery is plugged in and that they take appropriate safety precautions. If a separate receiver battery is fitted, the candidate should have the opportunity to check the operation of the radio equipment before the flight battery is plugged in.

Watch carefully and take note that the transmitter controls, trims and switches are checked by the pilot.

All candidates are required to be aware of the local the frequency control system and  anyone who is required to use it but switches their radio on before doing so should be failed on the spot.

With i/c powered models, it is important that the candidate is seen to hold the rotor head securely during the starting procedure, and until the model is past the flight line.

Electric powered models must be carried out from the pits area to a safe point before the flight battery is connected and they MUST be considered live as soon as the flight battery is plugged in. Great care should be taken at this point and any help available to the candidate should be used in the interests of safety.

If there is no one else available then there is nothing to stop you aiding the candidate by, for instance, carrying the model to the test pad, etc., but any such actions must only be performed by you directly on the instructions of the candidate, you must not prompt them or carry out any actions of your own accord.

It is important that you talk these points over with the candidate in your pre-flight briefing.

Perform one hovering bow tie

All sections of the manoeuvre are numbered and referenced to the manoeuvre drawing. The manoeuvre as described is flown anti-clockwise. However the direction of the flight may be either clockwise or anti-clockwise, at the discretion of the Examiner.
Heli-B-Hovering Bow Tie

At all times in the manoeuvre, the model must be facing forward.

The model starts on the TOLP, takes off and flies to a position over the centre marker where it is hovered for about 5 seconds.
The model then hovers sideways to the left for about 5 metres to a position over the left inner marker where it is held and hovered for about 5 seconds.
The model then hovers backwards for about 5 metres to a position immediately behind the left inner marker and level with the TOLP where it is held and hovered for about 5 seconds.
The model then hovers diagonally forward and to the right to a position over the centre marker where it is held and hovered for about 5 seconds.
The model then hovers diagonally backward and to the right to a position  immediately behind the right inner marker and level with the TOLP where it is held and hovered for about 5 seconds.
The model then hovers forwards for about 5 metres to a position over the right inner marker where it is held and hovered for about 5 seconds.
The model then hovers sideways to the left for about 5 metres to a position over the centre marker where it is held and hovered for about 5 seconds.
This completes the manoeuvre.

Hover height must be consistent throughout the manoeuvre and there should be minimum wandering away from the straight lines between the designated hovering points as the manoeuvre is flown.

  Perform one 4-point pirouette
From the previous manoeuvre, the manoeuvre is begun with the helicopter hovering over the centre marker, tail-in to the pilot and it is held in that position for about 5 seconds. The model is then rotated 90 degrees and held in the hover, sideways on to the pilot for about 5 seconds.
The model is then rotated a further 90 degrees in the same direction to be nose in to the pilot and hovered in that position for about 5 seconds.
The model is then rotated a further 90 degrees in the same direction to the sideways on position to the pilot  and hovered in that position for about 5 seconds
The model is then rotated a further 90 degrees in the same direction to the tail-in position to the pilot and hovered in that position for about 5 seconds.

The model is then hovered backwards for approximately 5 metres and landed on the TOLP. This completes the manoeuvre.
The helicopter must rotate either clockwise or anti–clockwise for the entire manoeuvre. The Examiner will state which direction he wishes to see. The clear inference is that the  candidate must be competent to perform the rotations in both directions prior to the test.
Hover height must be consistent throughout the manoeuvre with minimum wandering away from the Centre marker. The landing must be within the 2 metre diameter circle centred on the TOLP.  

Perform one ‘Top Hat’
The pilot should now take off and hover the model to a position either hovering over the appropriate outer marker or approaching it at hovering pace along the line of the cross markers at eye level height. The model now moves forward at the normal hovering pace for  ten metres, stops and hovers for about five seconds then climbs vertically for four metres before hovering again for about five seconds. The pilot will now hover the model forward for ten metres so that the model passes the pilot sideways on to them. The model again hovers for about five seconds and the pilot now causes the model to descend four metres until the skids are once again at eye level where it again hovers for about five seconds. The model now moves forward for another ten metres and passes over the opposite end outer  marker  which concludes the manoeuvre.

The model, still with skids at eye level, must then be hovered back to the take off/landing point and landed smoothly and steadily.

The speed during the top hat should approximate to a normal walking pace, and the heading is constant throughout. The entry and exit to the manoeuvre is a test of the pilots ability to correctly position the model. The model should not drift away from or toward the pilot significantly and the model should be under accurate control for the whole manoeuvre.

The manoeuvre may be flown either from left to right or from right to left and the direction is decided by the Examiner.

Heli-B-Top Hat-2





Take off and climb to a safe altitude.
The pilot must ensure that the route of his proposed flight path is clear before taking-off; watch for head movement as they scan the area. On taking-off, the helicopter will lift to a brief hover at about half a metre high. After again checking for obstacles and obstructions the pilot then climbs out at an angle greater than 45° to his selected safe height. When reaching this height the model can be transitioned into forward flight and the pilot can now position it for either a left or right hand circuit as he pleases.

During the climb out you will be looking for a positive approach to the manoeuvre, a constant angle and velocity. the pilot will also be looking for other traffic along the intended route. 

Fly a left hand rectangular circuit. 

Fly a right hand rectangular circuit.
The pilot can elect to fly these manoeuvres in either order. The circuits should be rectangular as shown in the manoeuvre diagrams. the longest legs of the circuit must extend over at least fifty metres. It is important that the initial turn on each circuit is made away from the flight line and the model must never pass behind the pilot.

On the run in to the first circuit and on completion of it, the model will be flying past the front of the pilot, and, for safety reasons, twenty or thirty metres out from the take off pad. Tell the candidate prior to the flight the line you wish them to follow.

You must ensure that the candidate is clear on this, the line will be set by the model flying in front of them on a heading which will be agreed before the flight (and this will not always be into wind), and pa
ssing over a set point. The first pass in front of the pilot is extremely important as it sets the standard height and line for the rest of the ‘flying’ manoeuvres.

Fly a Figure of Eight at circuit height with crossover in front of the pilot

This should be flown as a banked circuit manoeuvre (not from the hover) and as shown in the diagram. The crossover point must always be in front of the pilot and, after a run in at standard height and line, the model MUST be turned through ninety degrees in the first turn so that it is flying exactly away from the pilot.

The first circle must also end with the model flying exactly away from the pilot, through the crossover point before it is turned into the second circle. Both circles should be of the same diameter as seen from the ground.

The main problems with this manoeuvre nearly always happen on the circle that is upwind of the pilot and if they do not adjust the angle of bank/turn rate to compensate they will either miss the crossover point by being a good way downwind, fly too near the pilots line, fly circles that are distorted or panic as the model accelerates towards them as it begins to come downwind and pull far too much bank (vertical!) to get the crossover point correct. This is not a sign that they have thought about the manoeuvre or practised it.

The second circle (3/4 circle actually) is rarely a problem. The manoeuvre finishes with the model flying at standard height and line across the front of the pilot, not with another turn away.

The initial run-in to the manoeuvre may be either from left to right or from right to left and the direction is decided by the Examiner.

FW-A-Figure 8-2



Perform one twenty second nose-in hover.

The model must now transition from forward flight to the hover in a safe and steady manner and position for the nose-in hover.

The pilot should position the model over the centre marker, hovering at a height of approximately three metres. After a brief hover, the model is turned so that the nose is towards the pilot and held steadily in the nose-in hover for at least 20 seconds, then turned back, climbed away and transitioned to forward flight.

Heli-B-Nose In-3

When the model is in the nose in position the tail boom should not be visible to the pilot. If the model is not completely nose in you should ask the pilot to correct it’s position before starting the twenty second count. The helicopter should not drift significantly in any direction and height control should be good. 

j)     Perform one double stall turn. Note that the stall turns must be performed with opposite rotation i.e. first one to the left, second one to the right or vice versa.

This manoeuvre is flown as one continuous manoeuvre. During the first element, the model should be flown in, on standard height and line, across in front of pilot to a point between thirty and fifty metres past the pilot. The model should then be pulled into a near vertical climb. At the top of the climb the model must stop (still pointing upwards) before being turned 180 deg about it’s vertical axis (a half pirouette). The model should  descend  approximately down the same path in a diving attitude and should pull out of the dive and exit the manoeuvre at about the same height as it started but on a reciprocal heading.

The second element is flown after the model has flown back down its original entry path and is performed approximately as far to the side of the pilot as the first element was to the other side. The description of the second element is exactly as for the first except that the pull-out and exit from the manoeuvre takes the model back along its original entry path to the manoeuvre.

Both of the stall turns should be away from the flight line. That is, if the initial entry to the manoeuvre is from the left to the right of the pilot, the first stall turn will be to the left and the second stall turn will be to the right (fly it with your hands and all will become clear)

You should look for accurate positioning of the model between the stall turns, that is at a constant height and along the same line. The model should not be allowed to skew off it’s intended route, and should be corrected if it does. Clearly, wrong control inputs in this instance will indicate a lack of competence at the required level

The initial run-in to the manoeuvre may be flown either from left to right or from right to left and the direction is decided by the Examiner.

Heli-B-Double Stall Turn 2






(k)       Perform an approach at 45° to the vertical, landing within a pre-determined two metre square.

It is difficult to judge the angle of descent unless the model is almost sideways on to the  pilot. For this reason the pilot should consider the planned approach path carefully and  agree it with the Examiner during the pre-flight briefing. The direction of approach is the pilot’s decision and everyone concerned with the test should be very clear exactly how the pilot will be attempting to fly the manoeuvre.

It is not a requirement that this manoeuvre should be entered from full forward flight so the pilot may set up the model in a steady hover or be moving forward in steady hovering flight at a minimum height of fifteen metres and at an appropriate distance away from the TOLP. The model should then sink at a constant rate with constant forward movement at an angle near to 45o, heading down towards the TOLP. Finishing this descent exactly over the TOLP is not required but the model should be no more than a metre or so out. The candidate is allowed a short hover at a height of around half a metre to make minor corrections before
settling the model on the ground.
The landing should be made with the model on the same heading as on the 450 descent.

After landing, the candidate should shut down the engine and allow the rotor blades to stop turning before collecting the model to return to the pits.




Complete post flight checks as required by the MFNZ Safety Codes.

These are clearly set out in the MFNZ Members Manual, but you should pay particular attention to the correct Rx off, Tx off sequence and ensure that the frequency control system in use is cleared correctly.

All manoeuvres must be carried out in airspace and orientations pre-determined by the Examiner and Candidate prior to the commencement of the test flight. The test must be completed in one flight.

The Questions (advanced)
The candidate must answer correctly a minimum of five of the Mandatory Questions (Annex I, questions 1-15; attached to this document) on safety matters, based on the MFNZ Safety Code for general flying and local flying rules.

The candidate must also answer correctly a minimum of eight questions from the General and Specific Discipline Questions (Annex I, questions 16-29 and 64-72; attached to this document) on safety matters, based on the MFNZ Safety Code for general flying and local flying rules.

It is suggested that the ‘questions’ are asked before the flying test.

Prior to the ‘flying test’ the examiner should also ask a minimum of three ‘Local site/club Rules’.

Such questions should query the maximum altitude models can fly over the flying site as well as the boundaries of the site together with site ‘etiquette’ and pilot safety.

Remember, the Proficiency scheme is a test of both flying ability and knowledge. It doesn’t matter how well the candidate can fly, if they cannot answer the safety questions they should not pass.

As an examiner however, you should prepare yourself thoroughly for any testing that you do and you may wish to sort out your own personal and private list of sensible questions. Don't forget that you can use any local rules which you know and which the candidate should be aware of. Remember that the majority questions you ask are to be BASED on the MFNZ Safety Code; you are not expected to ask them 'parrot fashion' and the candidate is not expected to answer that way either.

This opens up the possibility of asking a candidate if they can think of reasons behind specific rules. For instance, why is the club frequency control system operated as it is and what might go wrong? Why operating transmitters should not be taken out when retrieving models from an active flying area? Or why should models not be flight taxied in or out of the pits area?

PDF downloads

Examiners Checklist
- click to view/download PDF

Also see