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Old Jan 05, 2013, 07:11 PM
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What is the problem with e-Flite?

What is the problem with e-Flite?

I was the happy recipient of an e-Flite Carbon Cub for the holidays. I had been eying them previously, but the LHS continually sold out.

Just as background: I am an experienced pilot (5 years). I fly everything from sailplanes to EDF. As a matter of fact, I have the e-Flite UMX MiG 15. I am very impressed by its handling of 15+ mph winds. I also had the chance to fly another pilot's Carbon Cub and it proved to be docile, with enough performance to carry out aerobatics with confidence. That Carbon Cub was a great plane.

The Carbon Cub I received is not the same plane as my friends. My Carbon Cub is not a great plane. Sure, they are both gray and cost too much, but that extra price is for product support, or so I thought.

I started the first flight with initializing the ASX3 system. The near sunset weather was fairly calm, maybe 5 mph at the most. I had just flown the HZ Champ with no problems. I had launched the Carbon Cub and it went vertical with no inputs. I quickly chopped the throttle, let it go through a tail slide and then began to climb out, assuming it was a problem related to trim or my flying. The plane when level began to bank left, and then suddenly rotated violently to inverted. Completed a split-s, then brought it in for a power off landing in a grass field. Checked the control surfaces, which were at neutral and tried again. Plane required a fair amount of down elevator and right elevator to fly level. Trim on radio would not effect much change, as the plane continued to roll violently without warning. Hands off flying results in a increasingly tight left turn, usually followed by the abrupt roll to inverted. Turn does not happen immediately, but is without warning and regardless of trim.

This has continued for 10 flights over several days. I tried to trim it via radio, placed the battery so it was tail heavy all the way to nose heavy. Flown in winds from 0 (sunrise) to 15 mph. No crashes in spite of bad behavior.

Useful Troubleshooting stuff: Rebound TX to Rx, initialized AS3X indoors, TX is DX6i used with five other planes, placed tested CG from tail heavy to nose heavy, used different batteries all fully charged, hands free flying results in erratic behavior, throw controlled in radio from 100% to 80%. Exponential used at 5 rudder, 10 elevator, 15 aileron (which is near what the MiG-15 requires). LHS owner agrees that there is a problem.

I called customer support and asked for advice. This was over five days or so. First customer support was polite and suggested I send the plane in for work. I looked at RCGroups to see if it wasn't a simple fix (it's not) and saw that others had received a return number and prepaid postage. Called customer supports Two and Three (different people, same attitude). They were less than polite, if not rude. They also stated that postage is only included if the situation/problem was exceptional. They stated it may be covered under warranty, but made it a point to say the repair costs and shipping return would be born by me if not a warranty issue.

I can understand that. What I cannot understand was their hostility. It's pretty clear that the AS3X isn't working properly. However, I was treated like an idiot by customer supports Two and Three. The plane is clearly not working, especially when I fly a known good Carbon Cub as a reference, then fly mine with radically different results.

What confuses me is how e-Flite behaves relative to ParkZone. My Radian Pro was prone to tail heavy behavior. Within the first couple of minutes with the ParkZone customer support I was being offered a new replacement Radian Pro at no cost to me. I declined, and we figured out the problem together. ParkZone also replaced my T-28's bad ESC at no cost to me. I offered to mail it back, as I assume they needed proof. I was told not to. You pay extra for ParkZone because they treat you properly if customer service is needed. Polite, technically competent and customer oriented.

e-flite does not treat customers as such. Most of the postings regarding the early Carbon Cub headaches showed that e-Flite was serious about fixing their problems. Unfortunately, I get customer service that is on par for a Chinese Hobby distributor, but at three times the price.

What really confusing is that that Horizon Hobby provides the customer support for many brands, including e-Flite and ParkZone. Does each company set the return/service policies? Do only certain techs work on certain product lines?

I know this was long, but I need some advice. If anyone can give me some insight I would appreciate it, as I don't have $70 to fix a new $170 plane I would appreciate it.

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