Aviation Investigators Unload on DJI Drones

I’ve been saying for a long time now that the problem with the current crop of drones flying in public safety is that since they have not obtained an Airworthiness Certification, they are not built to any standard greater than a toy.

In writing about some recent drone accidents, I came across this statement by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

“Despite their use in commercial operations, it is acknowledged that many small UAS fall into the category of consumer electronics, which are not required to be certified and have product life cycles much shorter than those of manned aircraft.”

This is the first time I remember that a government aviation authority has come out and said this so clearly.

The report’s Safety Recommendation is stated as “It is recommended that DJI introduce an effective system for providing timely technical support to State safety investigations.”

This resulted from the poor ability of DJI to provide post-crash analysis and assessment to assist the investigators.

In the case of the ParaZero accident where DJI-approved staff worked on the aircraft before the flight, the report states, “The UAS manufacturer advised that it is sometimes necessary to remove hardware associated with parachute systems when aircraft are repaired or serviced. It stated that its repair staff are not qualified on such external elements and cannot therefore guarantee the airworthiness of such external systems after repair.”

That leads to a logical conclusion that a DJI drone fit with any aftermarket part can’t be determined safe to fly.

This has become a growing issue following a series of DJI Matrice 200 series aircraft accidents involving ParaZero parachute systems. We had a report of one here that I covered in detail. See DJI Matrice 200 V2 ParaZero – Accident – 2020-10-09 – Analysis

You can see the new published reports here and here.

Another AAIB accident investigation report showed the issues that can be related to manufacturing by an experienced company that demonstrates poor manufacturing quality.

More specifically, the drone was not designed or constructed to meet any airworthiness standards. You can see past posts on the importance of aircraft achieving an Airworthiness Certification before being safe to fly.

About Steve Rhode

The Public Safety Flight website is dedicated to news, honest information, tips, and stories about the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), UAVs, aircraft, and drones in the fire service and other public safety niches.The site was founded by Steve Rhode, an FAA-certificated airplane commercial and instrument certificated pilot and a very experienced Part 107 UAS commercial pilot. Steve is the Chief Pilot with the Wake Forest Fire Department and the North Carolina Public Safety Drone Academy. He also provides expert advice to drone pilots through Homeland Security Information Network and he is an FAA Safety Team drone expert. Steve loves to work closely with public safety pilots to answer questions and share information, real-world truth, and drone operation advice. You can contact Steve here, learn more about Steve here, or join his public safety pilot private email list here.

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