May 24, 2021 – See my update at the bottom of this post.
My condolences to your investment in DJI products costing tens of thousands of dollars. The plug has been officially pulled by DJI on a number of products.
This has been a problem brewing for at least a year. My advice was to avoid the expensive products and wait for the new crop of airworthy drones. For all the departments that blew the budget on these models and accessories, it will not be long before they are worthless.
The airworthy drones will have a longer shelf life and will be more prone to having aftermarket parts produced for them.
After you finish reading this post, here is the follow-up.
Aftermarket Parts Outlook
The most concerning issues are that while aftermarket manufacturers might try to produce parts for the aircraft, they will not reproduce the software and the electronic components inside the aircraft. If DJI will not update the software or license the designs to an aftermarket manufacturer, these aircraft are essentially dead aircraft flying.
An aftermarket product is a better investment for an Airworthiness Certified drone because the manufacturer can apply with the FAA for a supplemental type certificate (STC). An STC is issued after the FAA has approved the modification to the original design.
Since DJI never applied for any airworthiness certification, there are no manufacturing standards, specifications, or reviews of the drones.
And because the aircraft were never certified for safe flight, there are no Parts Manufacturers Approvals (PMA) available. A PMA authorization is only available to be issued on type-certified aircraft.
The current crop of drones is built to nothing more than any piece of consumer electronics. Because the manufacturers have not completed an Airworthiness Certification there is no motivation or investment in continuing the product line. Models will change at the whim of the manufacturer.
I’ve heard from some people that drones will be more expensive if they earn or achieve an Airworthiness Certification. That is true. However, those drones are less likely to be abandoned by the manufacturer and better protect the investment in those aircraft by departments. But compare that with how much is a used drone worth when the manufacturer abandons development and support for it?
Without any ongoing manufacturer support, development, or service for any drone model, it would not be prudent to fly it. Unsupported drones will have significant safety risks and the Pilot-In-Command will have to operate the aircraft at their own personal risk.
It would not be unreasonable for those aircraft to not be insurable as soon as the insurance companies catch on they are unsupported.
The damage from DJI comes in two primary flavors: End of Development and End of Service.
The End of Development designation means DJI will no longer produce software updates.
End of Service means maintenance and technical support will be discontinued by DJI.
The listings I found the most troublesome are shown below.
|Product Name||End of Production||End of Availability||End of Development||End of Service|
|Matrice 600 and Accessories||December 2016||EOA||EOD||TBD|
|Matrice 600 Pro and Accessories||May 2021||As stock runs out||TBD||TBD|
|Matrice 200 Series and Accessories||February 2019||EOA||EOD||December 31, 2021|
|Matrice 200 Series V2 and Accessories||March 2021||EOA||EOD||TBD|
|Zenmuse XT||June 2019||EOA||EOD||December 31, 2021|
|Zenmuse XT2||March 2021||EOA||EOD||TBD|
|Zenmuse Z30||By end of 2021||By the end of 2021 or as stock runs out||EOD||TBD|
|Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual||May 2021||As stock runs out||TBD||TBD|
|Mavic 2 Enterprise||May 2021||As stock runs out||TBD||TBD|
May 24, 2021 Update
Some people have a strong opinion of the information in this post and are reacting to it from a point of view I don’t think is correct from an FAA certificated pilot mindset.
The general consensus is the aircraft will still fly and manufacturers routinely discontinue products and move on.
The discontinuance of a product, like a consumer electronics device, is normal and manufacturers routinely do that for a number of reasons. Parts might not be available for your old remote control truck or the manufacturer doesn’t supply support anymore for that old television. They might want to drive you into new models to purchase.
But that is not what we are talking about here. These are aircraft flying in the National Airspace System. As pilots, we have a continued responsibility to exercise good Aeronautical Decision Making and Risk Management strategies to meet the aviation regulations.
Having the incorrect point of view would be like saying Cessna could discontinue support for the 172P model as soon as the 172Q version is rolled off the line. Aviation doesn’t work like that.
For a drone aircraft that has reached the end of development or end of support, how is the pilot going to be aware of new or ongoing issues regarding the aircraft if the manufacturer is not looking at or dealing with them anymore?
How much risk are you will to take on as the Pilot-In-Command (PIC) to put a non-certified and no longer supported aircraft in the NAS and still not violate CFR 91.13 or CFR 107.15?