RC Helicopters are fun, and if you are someone who loves RC Helicopters, you probably like to travel with them. But if you are used to travelling by plane, you have probably heard of the restrictions of packages you can carry with you. So you might be asking, “Can you take an RC helicopter on a plane?”
An RC helicopter can be taken on a plane, but remember, the airplane authority will check your baggage before giving you a pass to travel with your RC helicopter. Lipo batteries must be taken on as hand luggage and must have less than 30 per cent charge. RC helicopters can legally travel on a plane in checked bags. RC helicopters that weigh over 250 grams must be registered by the FAA. Check the rules regarding how RC helicopters should be packed, rules can vary in different states.
Although I have specified that it is legal to take an RC helicopter on a plane that does not apply to every case. To know if you are really able to take an RC helicopter on a plane with no worries, read the whole article. I will discuss the topic in detail so you won’t have any doubts in your mind at all.
Are RC Helicopters Allowed on A Plane?
Yes, RC Helicopters are allowed on a plane. Although the Transport Security Administration asks you to put the RC helicopters in checked bags, you can legally travel with them.
Back in 2007, the authorities asked the airport security scanners to take special care of remotely controlled devices. That is because terrorists can use remote control explosives for their criminal operations. Even a child is able to trigger an explosive without knowing. So the Transport Security Administration sees remote-controlled devices as a danger.
However, as you are carrying an RC helicopter and not a bomb, you should be ok with it. You may need to face additional screening with a remote-control device. But other than that, there won’t be a problem. Just don’t carry your RC helicopter in your carry-on bags. RC devices are supposed to be in your bags that are going to be checked in.
The transport security administration takes terrorism very seriously. Remote control helicopters or any remote-control devices can trigger a detonator, so the TSA is bound to take additional security measures. Other than the extra security scan, it’s completely fine to carry an RC helicopter.
But anyways, RC helicopters are not illegal. You can happily carry your RC helicopter on a plane and it should not be a serious issue. Just don’t try to hide your stuff from the airport security scanners and carry it just like the other stuff in your luggage. Also, you might need to register your RC helicopter in some cases. I will explain that in the next section.
Do I Need to Register My RC Helicopter?
Yes and No. Since the summer of 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a new rule regarding the registration of RC helicopters. You need to register your RC helicopter only if your helicopter weighs more than 250 grams. Other than that, you can use it without registration.
The federal aviation administration has a website for registration. If you are an RC hobbyist and have an RC helicopter, calculate the weight of your device. If it weighs more than 250 grams, go to the website of the federal aviation administration, enter your personal information, and register as soon as possible. Remember, these rules are for RC helicopters and not drones.
See my related article: Are RC helicopters Considered As Drones?
The Academy of Model Aeronautics has issued some rules, regulations, and safety guidelines before flying an RC helicopter. Registered or not, you must follow those rules before flying your RC helicopter.
Even after registration, you need to put the FAA and the registration number on your helicopter. In that way, others would know that your helicopter is a registered one and you can fly it without restrictions.
You might think why do you need to register a toy after all? In the past, there were no issues regarding RC helicopters and you could fly them freely without the hassle of registration. These days, however, RC helicopters have become more popular than ever. Some reckless RC pilots are flying their RC helicopters into buildings and other aircraft.
There are illegal sporting events taking place here and there. Thus the federal aviation administration had nothing to do but to ask the owners of the RC helicopters to register. Small RC helicopters that weigh less than 250 grams are not likely to harm anyone. So you can fly those helicopters without registration.
Can RC Helicopter Batteries Cause You Trouble With the TSA?
Yes, RC Helicopter batteries might cause you trouble with the TSA. RC Helicopter uses lithium polymer batteries which are prone to electrical and chemical hazard. You must check in those batteries as carry-on items.
Lithium polymer batteries are common, and they are used in a lot of rechargeable mobile devices. These batteries are very delicate, and if they are not handled correctly, they might cause explosions. Unfortunately, most of the RC helicopters use lithium polymer batteries. So, they can cause you trouble with TSA.
You remember the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, right? That phone used to explode because of the lithium polymer battery inside it. Now the Transport Security Administration does not allow these batteries in the cargo hold. Moreover, you shouldn’t charge the battery more than 30% to carry with you. Overcharged batteries are more prone to fire.
The cargo area of an aircraft is often exposed to a pressurized and unstable environment. This can cause lithium polymer batteries to explode. As safety is the primary concern, you cannot keep your RC helicopter batteries in the cargo. However, you can travel with a lithium polymer battery if you keep it in your carry-on bag.
Check out this post: RC Helicopter Channels: A Helpful Guide
If a lithium polymer battery explodes, the fire spreads faster than anything and can damage the whole aircraft in some cases. Cargo areas are less accessible. So stopping the fire can be really hard. But if you keep them in your carry-on bag, they will be kept in a more battery-friendly environment.
How to Pack an RC Helicopter for Air travel
Packing an RC helicopter for air travel is not complicated. All you need to do is to follow the TSA guidelines and safety protocols.
RC Helicopters are not allowed in carry-on bags. Therefore, you need to keep them in your luggage. The airport authority will check the luggage and then allow you to travel with it. Try to make your RC helicopter as portable as possible. Disassemble the helicopter parts if you can and put them in different pockets.
Also, you must detach the lithium polymer battery and keep that in your carry-on bag. The battery is the only part that will go to your hand luggage. Everything else needs to be checked by the TSA. Try not to hide the RC helicopter from the airport authority. If you make your luggage easier to check, it will bring less hassle to the authority and you.
If you can’t detach the parts of the RC helicopter, you must keep the registration number visible in order to travel with it. Always check the state rules as some states have their own rule regarding the packing of remote-controlled devices. If you follow their guidelines, you can be 100% sure that your RC helicopter causes no trouble in your journey.
For more information about travelling with RC vehicles, check out my related post: How To Travel With RC Vehicles: The Ultimate Guide
Now, you know whether or not can you take an RC helicopter on a plane. As you can see. It’s totally fine if you do. Just remember to pack appropriately and make it as easy as possible for the TSA agents at the checking booth if they wish to check your helicopter. Thanks for reading and wish you a safe flight.