DJI, the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, is monitoring reports that a drone may have collided with a sightseeing helicopter over the island of Kauai in Hawaii. In other incidents, early reports of drone involvement have turned out to be false, and reports from Hawaii do not indicate what type of drone may have been involved. DJI stands ready to assist aviation safety authorities as they investigate what happened.
DJI strongly condemns the unsafe use of drone technology in areas that conflict with normal operations of traditional air traffic. DJI believes the best way to integrate drones into the skies is to educate drone pilots about how to fly safely and responsibly and develop new technological solutions to help them do it. Most recently, DJI required all United States customers to pass a built-in Knowledge Quiz about drone safety rules, developed in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration.
DJI’s GPS-based geofencing system helps warn drone pilots not to fly near airports or other sensitive locations without authorization. DJI was the first civilian drone manufacturer to incorporate an advisory geofencing system in its products, in 2013. DJI also provides best practices for UAV operators via our FlySafe website, as well as links to country-based regulatory sites via dji.com. We also provide warnings in the flight control apps that operate our drones, reminding users about basic safe flying practices.
With millions of drones in the air around the world already, DJI is continuing to innovate with new technology to further enhance aerial safety. These efforts include:
- The Knowledge Quiz built into DJI’s flight control apps that requires new drone pilots to successfully demonstrate their knowledge of the rules for safe drone use before their first flights, including questions about operations in proximity to airports and aircraft.
- Mandatory altitude limits built into DJI’s drones.
- Automatic return-to-home features designed to safely return drones to their launch point if they lose contact with their controllers or reach low battery levels.
- AirSense receivers in DJI’s newest professional drones to receive ADS-B signals from passenger aircraft and warn drone pilots of potential collisions.
- DJI’s new AeroScope system that allows authorities to identify and monitor airborne drones, providing immediate and actionable information at sensitive locations like airports.
Drone pilots are always responsible for operating their equipment safely and legally wherever they are, and we expect all our customers to fly responsibly and respect the safety and security needs of sensitive locations reflected in DJI’s geofencing systems.
There has been only one confirmed case of a modern civilian drone colliding with a traditional aircraft anywhere in the world, when a drone collided with a U.S. Army helicopter in New York in September 2017. No one was injured in that incident and the helicopter landed safely. At the request of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), DJI used sales records to trace a fragment of the drone, allowing the NTSB to identify the drone pilot and conclude he failed to follow safe operating procedures and flew his drone beyond his line of sight.
News reports in several other locations around the globe have claimed that drones have collided with aircraft, but no evidence has emerged to confirm that they involved a drone. Some of those alleged incidents resulted in no visible evidence of a collision, and in others, investigators failed to perform basic techniques such as DNA swabs to rule out bird strikes. In still other cases, incidents first reported as drone collisions turned out to involve a bat, an internal malfunction and a plastic bag.
DJI will continue working with regulators to help our users understand the safe and legal operation of aerial technology. We also continue to support governments in creating a regulatory framework that promotes safe skies that are open to the innovative potential of unmanned systems.