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DJI tightens drone flight limitsDJI tightens drone flight limits

‘Accountable’ flight technology introduced ‘Accountable’ flight technology introduced

DJI will update software and firmware for models like the Phantom quadcopter seen here to limit where and when they can fly. AOPA file photo.

A leading drone manufacturer has unveiled technology that it says will help operators of unmanned aerial vehicles make “smart, educated decisions” about where and when to fly their aircraft.

DJI, headquartered in Shenzhen, China, said the new version of its “geofencing” system, to be launched in December in North America and Europe, features continually updated airspace information, including up-to-date guidance on flight restrictions and locations where drone flight would raise safety concerns.

“For the first time, drone operators will have, at the time of flight, access to live information on temporary flight restrictions due to forest fires, major stadium events, VIP travel, and other changing circumstances,” the company said in a news release.

The system, which DJI calls Geospatial Environment Online, “will also include for the first time restrictions around locations such as prisons, power plants and other sensitive areas where drone operations raise non-aviation security concerns.”

By default, drones using the system would not fly into, or take off from, locations that raise concerns. However, users with “verified DJI accounts” would have the capability to self-authorize some flights to accommodate “the vast variety of authorized applications.” That function would not be available in Washington, D.C., and other prohibited areas, DJI said.

The improvements to DJI’s two-year-old geofencing technology combine enhanced safety with “accountable self-authorization,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI’s vice president of policy and legal affairs, who led its development.

“We believe this major upgrade to our geofencing system will do even more to help operators understand their local flight environment, and to make smart, educated decisions about when and where to fly their drones,” he said.

AOPA has long emphasized that safety for all users must be the highest priority as the integration of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System is addressed.

“AOPA supports the safe integration of drones into the airspace system, and it’s up to the broader aviation community to identify the best ways to provide operators the tools and information they need to do that,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “Technology advancements will provide thousands of pilots the situational awareness they need to make smart and accurate decisions when flying their drones.”

The technology, which employs geospatial data from Santa Monica, California-based AirMap, will be available via an update of DJI’s Go app and drone firmware, the announcement said.

Dan Namowitz

Dan Namowitz

Associate Editor Web
Associate Editor Web Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 30-year AOPA member.
Topics: Airspace

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