Updated: A closer look at DJI's no-fly zones

A few days ago, I already wrote an article about our "Apple of the drone manufacturers", DJI and it's new no-fly zones. Now it's time to have a little more detailed look at their idea.

What DJI did was introduce no-fly zones of 8km (5 miles) around "major airports". I already noted, that their list includes "major" airports, such as Kuusamo, Finland (population 16177), Kittilä, Finland (population 6315) and even the closed and not even usable as emergency landing site due to used car lots on the runway, Raadi airfield at Tartu, Estonia.

Here is now a look at Finland and the impact of those no-fly zones (I couldn't resist to include Tartu, Estonia too). Finland is just an example for the consequences . In essence, especially in smaller towns with regional or local airfields which have only minimal movement and very often are used by local RC-clubs at the weekends, not only the (legal) use of the airfield is impossible but due to the unreasonable large zone, basically, operation in the whole town isn't possible.

Read the full article: http://stefan.gofferje.net/uav/195-a-closer-look-at-dji-s-new-no-fl...

Update:

I have removed the total block of Apple devices from my website for now after Chris told me that about 1/4 of all DIYD users actually are on Apple. I did remove it to prevent backfire and unrest at DIYD, not because I think, it's wrong!

Here is a video from DJI explaining the system in detail:

Views: 8785

Comment by Jethro Hazelhurst on April 12, 2014 at 5:20am

It looks as though they simply addressed a 'table of Airports' and did not put any real thought into. A bit like using Google translate and not checking if your sentence makes sense, except with more sinister connotations.

Comment by Stefan Gofferje on April 12, 2014 at 5:31am

They didn't think the whole thing through and I predict that they will get in hell's kitchen with that!

Funny thing about Europe... Consumer protection. When a product you bought suddenly "loses" a major characteristic, you are entitled to reduction of price or even to return the product, as long as this feature was not removed directly based on a law. Even if it's older than 2 years... Sony had to experience this when they removed the Linux boot support from the PS3...

And if I would own a DJI copter and that copter suddenly after a software update would refuse to fly where I live, I would most certainly go to the dealer to return the copter and get my money back.

And my Finland maps are only the tip of the iceberg... In Malta e.g. the no-fly zone covers half the island... Where should the Maltese go to fly? Drive out to the ocean with a boat?

DJI should be boycotted - but unfortunately, that's as little gonna happen as a major boycott of Apple...

Comment by Jethro Hazelhurst on April 12, 2014 at 5:58am

Ultimately the responsibility should be with the pilot, the person with the transmitter in their hands.

This 'no-fly zone' gives the impression that the DJI system is infallible and that the responsibility no longer rests with the user, a dangerous way to market this product to the masses.

them: Used as the direct object of a verb: We saw them at the conference.

Comment by Oliver on April 12, 2014 at 8:21am

It's too bad that this thread got tangled in off-topic stuff. Some of us are keenly interested in the maneuverings of DJI. Will somebody who has knowledge of this topic and can present it without off-topic complications please start a fresh thread?

Comment by MarcS on April 12, 2014 at 9:58am

Did anybody, including the thread starter, even watch the video linked in the post?

The actual "no fly zone" is 1.5 miles with a cone going higher from there to the 5 mile ring.

On smaller airports its 0.6 miles.

Not that I would welcome this "feature" (For some flights, it would even strike me).

But the post looks too much like DJI bashing...

I would say if it is an opt-out feature, it would make unknowing people aware of their being close to an airport and others could deactivate it.

Just my thoughts as user of many systems including DJI and open source...

Comment by Stefan Gofferje on April 12, 2014 at 10:07am

Yes I did know it before and yet, the DJI website show the same 8km zone for Helsinki-Vantaa (huge international) as for Kittilä (6700-something people smalltown). And in the smaller airfields in my article, still the whole or a major part of the town is even within the 0.6 mile zone.

But my point is anyways that it's in general not DJI's business to make those kind of decisions, which I explain in the article.

This kind of anticipatory obedience can only be bad because it's "poking the lion", inviting politics which is anyway already running circles under the ceiling to ask even more and at the same time confirming those politics to be right.

In my homecountry Germany, there is a saying - translated literally something like "give somebody a little finger and he will ask the whole hand". This is especially true for politicians.

Comment by Flying Monkey on April 12, 2014 at 10:17am

Another good reason to hold onto my "dumb" KK boards :D

Comment by Gary McCray on April 12, 2014 at 10:24am

Although there are many here, even developers who disagree with it, It is my firm belief that the firmware should never attempt to restrict the capabilities of the user.

At least not in such a way that the restriction cannot, itself, be easily disabled.

As soon as you put responsibility for the making of safety decisions in the hands of the firmware writers, they also in no small part assume liability for the consequences of those things.

And, as is clearly the case here they often make arbitrary and universal decisions rather than appropriate ones.

Basically, the user is responsible for his own actions, just as he is when he gets behind the wheel of a car.

And that is the way it should be.

Comment by Nigel Cartwright on April 12, 2014 at 10:49am

DJI are stuck between a rock and a hard place. If everyone who bought a Phantom played by the rules then we wouldn't have a problem. As things stand we do. Doing what DJI have done isn't perfect, but it at least they are trying. Ultimately, much like the OPs Apple/others argument, people have a choice. Buy DJI with the restriction in place. Or don't...

Comment by Gary McCray on April 12, 2014 at 11:14am

It should be pointed out, at least from my understanding, they are not actually stopping you flying in these areas, they are simply not allowing you to set mission waypoints inside of them.

Basically you can still fly manually wherever you want even with GPS stabilized Loiter you just cant set automated mission waypoints inside of the exclusion areas.

If I'm wrong, please let me know.

I wonder how they handle an RTL that cuts through one of these zones? - Probably don't pay any attention to it at all. - And that could come back to bite them.

DJI isn't stuck anywhere, they sell a product and it is the responsibility of the user to use it in a "responsible" manner.

They should probably include adequate instructions to that effect, but so does everybody for everything these days and nobody reads them anyway, basically they are just sheets of paper the lawyers felt compelled to include to distance themselves from any perceived liability.

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