Drone Maker DJI Adds D.C. No-Fly Zone
HONG KONG—The DJI Phantom will soon land itself in downtown Washington, D.C., if it happens to lose GPS contact long enough to get in. DJI, maker of the popular Phantom drones, added Washington, D.C., to its list of restricted flight zones after one of their devices landed on the White House lawn this week.
“We are updating the no fly zones to include the D.C. metropolitan area in accordance with FAA guidelines,” said Michael Perry, spokesman for the company. “This was in the works for a while along with a larger push for airport no-fly zones. We are pushing this out a bit earlier to lead in encouraging responsible flight.”
The company announced Wednesday that it would release a “mandatory firmware update for the Phantom 2, Phantom 2 Vision, and Phantom 2 Vision+ to help users comply with the FAA’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) 0/8326, which restricts unmanned flight around the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.”
The firmware update, vers. 3.10, will be released in the coming days and will add a 15.5 mile no-fly radius around downtown D.C. Phantom drones will not be able to take off or fly in the restricted airspace, DJI said. The system relies on GPS tracking to determine its airspace location.
“We have developed a flight-limitation system, that will prevent your Phantom from flying in restricted areas such as airports,” Perry said in a YouTube video post last April, when DJI announced the system. “The update will download a global GPS database of restricted locations into your Phantom. This feature will only be active if your Phantom has a sufficient GPS signal, regardless of what mode you’re flying in.”
The no-fly zones mostly comprise airports divided into two categories. Category A encompasses large international airports. Airspace around Cat A airports is restricted within a five-mile radius, with takeoffs completely restricted within 1.5 miles. From 1.5 to five miles, an increasing height limit is imposed, starting with 35 feet at 1.5 miles and rising to 400 feet at five miles. The Vision or Ground Station app warns pilots if they are within 330 feet of a Cat A no-fly zone.
Category B comprises smaller airports where the restricted zone is 0.6 miles.
If the Phantom loses the GPS signal and flies into a zone restricted for takeoff, it will land immediately once the GPS connection is restored. The pilot will be able to control the drone until it’s on the ground, except for flying it higher. It will also automatically descend to the approved height when in a height-restricted area. The default height (above ground) limit of the Phantom is 1,300 feet with GPS; 394 feet without. The default distance limit is one mile. These can be adjusted for local flight regulations.
“These extended no fly zones will include over 10,000 airports registered with the International Air Transport Association, and will expand no-fly zones to ensure they cover the runways at major international airports,” the company said.
DJI said it continues to update the no-fly zone list according to local regulations, and is adding data to prevent drones from crossing international borders. Perry told The Wall Street Journal that the border restriction arose from a news story last week about Mexican authorities finding one of DJI’s drones crashed in a supermarket parking lot carrying 3 kilos of meth. (The same story describes a different incident where a drone was found outside of a prison fence in South Carolina laden with cellphones, marijuana and tobacco.)
A DJI Phantom was found on the grounds of the White House early Monday morning after an enthusiast crashed it there. The pilot, an employee of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, according to WSJ, called the Secret Service and explained the crash was in intentional, The Washington Post said. President Obama nonetheless said more drone regulations were needed.
“The drone that landed in the White House you buy in Radio Shack," he said in a CNN interview.
Drones are currently regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration as model aircraft and legally cannot be used for commercial purposes. Congress has ordered the FAA to craft specific rules for commercial drone applications by September. Several exemptions have already been granted, including use in TV and film production (though not specifically covering television news). Based on these exemptions, the rules may require a licensed pilot at the controls, much like manned flight.
January 23, 2015
“Drone Shooter Q&A: Todd Thorin of Prairie Aerial”
The Prairie Aerial team didn’t intend to make a viral video, but their drone footage of a tech changing a light bulb on top of a 1,500-foot TV tower drew more than 1.8 million views on YouTube as well as the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration.
January 21, 2015
“NAB Show to Feature Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion”
The new exhibit area, located in the South Upper Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center, will feature dozens of aerial robotics companies, a flying cage, demonstration area with seating, and daily sessions.
January 15, 2015
“Media Groups to Test Drones With Virginia Tech”
Ten news media companies announced a partnernership with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to test newsgathering with drones.
January 12, 2015
“CNN Gets FAA Clearance to Test Drones”
CNN said federal regulators have cleared it to test newsgathering with drones.
January 7, 2015
“Dronecam Captures Tech Changing Bulb at 1,500 Feet”
Some tower techs in South Dakota have created a viral drone phenomenon with footage of climber Kevin Schmidt changing a light bulb at 1,500 feet above ground. The footage depicts surreal perspectives of Schmidt from close-in, overhead, and right next to him.
November 11, 2014
“First Annual NYC Drone Film Festival Planned”
A film festival dedicated exclusively to drone cinema, NYCDFF will showcase the most famous viral drone videos alongside original content, offering the only opportunity to see the “best of the best” in drone and unmanned aerial vehicle cinema on the big screen.
November 6, 2014
“RTDNA Needs Journo-Drone Stories”
The organization representing broadcast news operations is itself seeking stories about newsgathering drones. The RTDNA is urging members to “send us examples of drone uses,” so the organization can take them before the FAA in its bid to get a waiver for their use.
October 24, 2014
“Video Production With UAVs: A Conversation With Tom Hallman”
The FAA recently cleared the way for six companies to use unmanned aerial vehicles for shooting film and television projects. Pictorvision was one of the companies that received approval from the FAA for commercial drone applications, so BE Extra thought it would be good to find out what this means to film and television producers.
September 29, 2014
“Wristband Drone Prototype Unveiled”
A team of devs have created a wristband drone. The Nixie wearable drone targets folks who want to capture themselves doing something amazing, or at least not captureable in the normal selfie mode.
June 12, 2014
“FAA Approves First Commercial Drone Flight Over Land”
The FAA has given approval for energy corporation BP and unmanned aircraft systems manufacturer AeroVironment to fly an AeroVironment Puma AE for aerial surveys in Alaska—the first time the FAA has authorized a commercial UAS operation over land.
April 24, 2014
“Choppers v. Drones for ENG”
The double-fatality crash of the KOMO-TV news helicopter in Seattle in March is just the latest in a series of deadly news helicopter crashes in recent years. At least 18 people have died in U.S. news copter crashes since 2000, with another 19 injured, according to data compiled by New York Magazine.
April 17, 2014
“Drones Over NAB”
Every year at the annual gathering, one or more technologies create a significant buzz among attendees. This year that buzz could be heard loud and clear--coming from four (or more) propeller blades attached to a flying drone, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAVs, as they are known in the industry, with miniature HD cameras on board.
May 29, 2012
Matt Waite, a professor of journalism at the College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is one of a handful of journalists studying the concept of drone journalism, and recently established a “drone journalism” lab in late 2011.
The latest product and technology information
Future US's leading brands bring the most important, up-to-date information right to your inbox