DJI to Add ADS-B Receivers to New Drones

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DJI has announced a commitment to install airplane and helicopter detectors on new consumer drones.

All new DJI drone models released after Jan. 1, 2020, that weigh more than 250 grams will include AirSense technology, which receives ADS-B signals from nearby airplanes and helicopters and warns drone pilots if they appear to be on a collision course.

AirSense can detect airplanes and helicopters from miles away – farther than a drone pilot can hear or see them – and displays their locations on the screen of the pilot’s remote controller. It has previously been available only on some professional-grade DJI drones.

“DJI leads the drone industry in developing safety technology and education, and we continue that tradition today by setting higher expectations for ourselves, our competitors and regulators,” says Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president for policy and legal affairs. “DJI was the first company to offer geofencing, automatic altitude limits, return-to-home technology and other safety features to the world’s growing community of personal and professional drone pilots. We believe our efforts have helped drones attain their enviable safety record, and we expect our new agenda will further improve safety even as more drones take to the skies.”

DJI’s AirSense commitment is the first of 10 points in “Elevating Safety,” a new plan for how DJI, other drone manufacturers and government officials around the world can maintain drones’ safety record. The company lays out the following 10 points:

1) DJI will install ADS-B receivers in all new drones above 250 grams.
2) DJI will develop a new automatic warning for drone pilots flying at extended distances.
3) DJI will establish an internal Safety Standards Group to meet regulatory and customer expectations.
4) Aviation industry groups must develop standards for reporting drone incidents.
5) All drone manufacturers should install geofencing and remote identification.
6) Governments must require remote identification.
7) Governments must require a user-friendly knowledge test for new drone pilots.
8) Governments must clearly designate sensitive restriction areas.
9) Local authorities must be allowed to respond to drone threats that are clear and serious.
10) Governments must increase enforcement of laws against unsafe drone operation.

According to DJI, “Elevating Safety” is based on an evaluation of available drone safety data, which concludes that most drone incident data collected by government regulators is “misleading or useless,” and shows that many media accounts of midair drone incidents are false or unproven, the company says.

“When the public, media and regulators focus on outrageous incidents that did not occur, it draws attention away from risks that are less sensational but more prevalent,” Schulman adds. “There has never been a confirmed collision between a drone and an airplane, but drones have struck low-flying helicopters at least twice. This led us to focus on AirSense as the next opportunity to make drones safer and to embrace the challenge of adding ADS-B receivers to consumer drone models that are already in development.”

DJI notes that its commitment aligns with the FAA’s upcoming requirement for essentially all airplanes and helicopters to be equipped with ADS-B transmitters in controlled airspace starting Jan. 1, 2020.

“Expanding the availability of AirSense to DJI pilots is a meaningful step forward in safely integrating UAS and reducing conflicts with manned aircraft,” comments Rune Duke, senior director of airspace and air traffic at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

“AAAE is pleased with DJI’s decision to equip nearly all of its drones with ADS-B In capabilities,” notes Justin Barkowski, staff vice president for regulatory affairs at the American Association of Airport Executives. “Providing users with better situational awareness of nearby air traffic will only increase safety in the national airspace, particularly around airports, where these measures are needed most.”

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