Flight Part 2 - Operation

Make sure you understand Astro's Emergency Procedures and understand how to operate the drone in Manual Mode before taking flight.

Astro Checklist

Below is our recommended Astro flight checklist, which covers the main considerations you need to be aware of before, during, and after operation.

We also offer this checklist as a Google Sheet template to allow for a more customized experience. For example, you might want to add specific items to better reflect your company's safety procedures, workflow, payload, or region.

Before Flight

Powering On and Checking Battery Level

To power on the Astro, connect at least one SL8 battery by sliding it along the rails on top of the aircraft until you hear two clicks. Press the button on the battery twice.

To power Pilot Pro, press and hold the small black button on the edge of the tablet. To power the Herelink, press and hold the power button below the screen until you see the Herelink logo appear. The AMC app indicates Astro's battery level and the battery level of the handset in the top menu bar.

Issues Preventing Arming

You may occasionally encounter issues that will prevent Astro from arming:

Compass Cal

If AMC asks you to calibrate the compass and won't allow you to take off, follow the instuctions to recalibrate sensors in an area without significant magnetic interference (far from large metal structures or magnetic/electric installations).

Everything else

Check if the AMC message you're encountering is on our Error/Warning Spreadsheet and follow the associated instructions. If you're still experiencing the issue, please reach out to support@freeflysystems.com for further troubleshooting.

Arming and Disarming

Astro's propulsion system has two fundamental states: Disarmed and Armed.





Safe mode, no spinning propellers

Boom LEDS dim


Aircraft will spin propellers, ready to fly

Boom LEDs bright (100% or user specified level)

Astro can be armed with or without GPS.

Pro Tip: Wait for GPS lock even if you don't plan to use Position Mode because Return Mode relies on GPS.

Before arming, ensure people and other obstacles are clear of the propellers. Be prepared for Astro to take off.

The manual method of transitioning between armed and disarmed states is via the pilot handset throttle stick. (The pilot's handset default configuration is Mode 2.)


Arming (Mode 2)

Hold the throttle stick down and right for 2 seconds.


When the aircraft has landed, continue holding the throttle stick down for 2 seconds.

It is not possible to disarm via the normal method while in flight.

To disarm during flight, perform an Emergency Stop.

Use only the throttle stick to Arm & Disarm. Astro will not respond to two-stick input (i.e. DJI arming gesture).

Missions may Arm and Disarm the aircraft automatically. For example, if a mission is started while the aircraft is disarmed on the ground, the aircraft will arm and take off.

Automatic Disarm Methods

Under these conditions, Astro will automatically disarm.


Astro behavior

Ground timeout before taking off

If Astro sits on the ground at idle throttle for 10 seconds, it will automatically disarm.

Land mode

If Astro is in Land Mode, and detects a landing, it will disarm after 2 second. For example, this applies if the last command in a mission is "Land".

Taking off

Position Mode is best for taking off in most cases, as it offers the most stabilization. However, it is certainly possible to take off in Altitude, Manual, and Mission modes as well.

For 5 seconds after takeoff, the maximum pitch and roll angles are reduced to 12 degrees.

After takeoff, promptly climb out of ground effect (i.e. to 3 meters / 12 feet of altitude) to avoid snagging landing gear on the ground.

After arming, allow the throttle stick to return to the center. The propellers will remain idle. When ready to take off, raise the throttle stick. The propellers will spin up and the aircraft will take off.


Position Mode is best for landing in most cases, as it offers the most stabilization. However, it is certainly possible to land in Altitude and Manual modes as well. The aircraft behaves a little differently in each mode.

Do not hand catch Astro. The aircraft is designed to be landed on hard flat surfaces. Hand catching can result in serious injury or death.

In Position and Altitude Modes, at altitudes below 7 meters, the maximum vertical speed is reduced to 0.7 m/s (from the normal value of 2 m/s).

Astro will disarm automatically after the autopilot detects a landing. Landing detection brings together input from several sensors to determine when it is safe to disarm.

If the landing is not detected (i.e. the props do not stop after touchdown), perform the Emergency Procedure for Landing Detector Failure.

Bring the aircraft to a hover > 2 meters over the spot where landing is desired. Pull the throttle stick straight down as far as it goes, without any pitch, roll, or yaw commands. Astro's landing sensor will manage the speed of your descent. After touchdown, hold the throttle stick down until Astro disarms and the propellers stop.

At altitudes below 2 meters, the maximum pitch/roll angle is reduced to 12 degrees. This prevents abrupt maneuvers that might cause a tip-over.

Pitch, Roll, or Yaw commands very near the ground can cause crashes or tip-overs.

Battery Changes / Hotswaps

While Astro will recognize that the battery is low and perform a failsafe action (return to launch by default), the aircraft has no context of situations that might prevent a safe landing before the battery is exhausted. For instance, if the aircraft is several miles away from the RTL point when the failsafe is triggered, there is a chance that there won't be enough battery life to return. It is the pilot's responsibility to determine the appropriate time for a battery change and to ensure the aircraft is safely grounded.


The pilot may activate Return Mode or manually fly the aircraft to a place where a fresh set of batteries can be hotswapped in. To hotswap batteries, remove one discharged pack from the drone and replace it with a charged pack. Enable the pack by pressing the power button twice, then replace the other discharged pack. Enable the second charged pack if it does not show "Hotswap" on the battery display screen.

The pilot may also adjust the Low Battery Failsafe settings to activate Return Mode automatically at a level appropriate for the mission.

Upon landing, AMC will offer an option to "Resume Mission from Waypoint #". This will modify the mission by removing the waypoints already visited.

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