DJI equipping new consumer drones with airplane and helicopter detectors



As part of a 10-point plan to “ensure the world’s skies remain safe in the drone era,” DJI has announced that it will install airplane and helicopter detectors in new consumer drones.

AirSense technology, which receives ADS-B signals from nearby airplanes and helicopters and warns UAS pilots if they appear to be on a collision course, will be integrated into all new DJI drone models released after January 1, 2020 that weigh more than 250 grams. According to DJI, this will be the largest single deployment of ADS-B collision awareness technology to date, and will set a new standard by putting professional-grade aviation safety technology in drones available to everyone.

“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 vice president for Policy & Legal Affairs.

Capable of detecting airplanes and helicopters from miles away—farther than a UAS pilot can hear or see them— AirSense displays their locations on the screen of the pilot’s remote controller. This technology has previously only been available on some professional-grade DJI UAS.

DJI says that other aviation organizations agree that installing AirSense in mainstream consumer UAS is “an important step” for protecting airplanes and helicopters and the people who fly in them.

DJI notes that its schedule aligns with the FAA’s upcoming requirement for essentially all airplanes and helicopters to be equipped with ADS-B transmitters in controlled airspace, starting January 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,” says Rune Duke, senior director of Airspace and Air Traffic at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

“ADS-B In is used daily by thousands of pilots to increase their situational awareness and ensure safe operations. As the general aviation fleet further equips with ADS-B Out and other NextGen technology, enhancements like AirSense will allow all pilots to maximize their investment. All of aviation will benefit from the incorporation of this technology into DJI's large fleet.”

DJI’s AirSense commitment is the first of 10 points in “Elevating Safety,” which is DJI’s new plan for how it, along with other UAS manufacturers and government officials, around the world can maintain drones’ admirable safety record.

The 10 points are:

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