The FAI / CIAM class F3P is an aerobatic event for radio controlled model aircraft flown inside sporting arenas. Competitors fly a predefined sequence of manoeuvres to the highest degree of precision possible. Judges are positioned immediately behind the competitor and evaluate the quality of each manoeuvre. The manoeuvre sequences are designed to be flown in spaces like a small sporting arena, but for national and international competitions typically bigger arenas are selected but this is not affecting the set of manoeuvres.
F3P models are allowed to be up to 1,5 meters in wingspan and length, but cannot exceed 300 grams weight. Any powerplant may be used as long as it does not generate any kind of emissions, or exceeds 42 volts. Construction materials generally used are foam, carbon fiber, and mylar. At World Championships level, the quality of the models is exceptional and you can see models with weight close to 40 grams or even less. Two or even one-cell lipos are used by all competitors for power supply, with the top models using counter-rotating coaxial motor systems.
In F3P World Championships there is an individual and team classification. FAI member countries may enter a team of maximum 5 competitors as a national team provided that at least one is a junior (age limit 18 years in the year 2023) and at least one is a woman. Team results are the sum of the three best competitors' scores at the end of the contest.
Even though takeoffs and landings are not judged, F3P models must takeoff and land on the “runway” without assistance. After takeoff, a maximum of two 180 degree turns are permitted prior to commencing the aerobatic sequence. An F3P sequence consists of manoeuvres which include elements and combinations of lines, loops, rolls, knife-edge, stall turns, torque rolls, and tail slides.
Each competitor will be entitled to four preliminary flights, of which the best three normalized scores will determine his placing. For each flight, the highest score will be set equal to 1,000 points, and the remaining competitors scores will be equate to a percentage of the highest score. For preliminary flights, the “AP-23” sequence is flown.
At World and Continental championships, the top 25% of pilots (minimum of 10) complete three additional finals flights using the F3P-AF sequence. The total of the best three preliminary flights is normalized to 1,000 points and counted as a single score. This single score and the three finals scores give four normalized scores. The sum of the best three normalized scores is used to determine the final placements. The fourth score is only utilized in the case of a tie.
The competitor's performance is assessed by a panel of judges who will award marks, independently from each other, between 0 and 10 for each manoeuvre. Manoeuvres are assigned a difficulty factor (K-factor, which is a multiplier applied to each manoeuvres) depending on the complexity of the particular manoeuvre. Judging is based on four basic criteria: precision (or geometry), smoothness and gracefulness, positioning (display), and size of manoeuvres. Points are subtracted for various types of defects observed by the judges, the severity of these defects, and the number of times these defects are observed. Should the aircraft touch the walls, floor, or ceiling, the manoeuvre being performed is scored a zero.
Note: The manoeuvre is finished when the aircraft has crossed the center line.