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DJI Airsense technology with ADS-B may have saved the day

DJI Airsense technology with ADS-B may have saved the day

DJI Airsense technology might have well saved the day. In this video below you can see the shadow of a rapidly approaching airplane over the treetops as the drone pilot brings his DJI Mavic Air 2 down quickly. Moments earlier he had received a warning in the DJI Fly app of the approaching plane.

DJI Airsense technology with ADS-B In may have saved the day

About a year ago, DJI introduced their DJI Airsense technology in Washington, D.C., and announced that as of 2020 all, new DJI drones weighing more than 250 grams would have this technology onboard.

After a number of close calls with helicopters, DJI realized that being able to warn a drone pilot of nearby or approaching manned aviation would go a long way to make drones even safer.

The first drone to include this new tech is the DJI Mavic Air 2 that was launched earlier this year. DJI’s Airsense technology uses ADS-B In to receive notifications from manned aircraft that have (and use) ADS-B Out.

In this video that was shared on YouTube, you can see how the drone pilot quickly brings down his DJI Mavic Air 2 after having been notified through the DJI Fly app of a quickly approaching airplane. You can see the shadow of the plane around the 17-second mark over the treetops on the right.

Here’s what Yakima Gem shared on the DJI Forum about the drone incident and the DJI Airsense tech.

Hi. Here is a video clip of an incident I had today. had just taken off about two minutes earlier at a local park (it is in an authorization zone with a 197-foot drone maximum altitude limit) and was flying about 50 feet up and 200 feet distant when I was alerted by the ADS-B [DJI Airsense] to an aircraft in the area. I did not hear any airplane noise. Indeed a swiftly moving plane was visually spotted immediately maybe a mile away and was flying straight toward my flight area. I would estimate the height of the plane at about 175-200 feet and it later appeared to be some kind of small jet (not a commercial jet). As it got closer I got new warnings (both audible and prompts) saying that an aircraft was in the area and was too close (you don’t say). After the first warning and after spotting the jet I immediately lowered my altitude to about 25 feet. That plane was moving pretty fast and definitely flying lower than it should have been ( this park is about 3 miles from the local airport). From the initial visual spotting of the plane to when it flew over was about 30 seconds time. I was very happy I had ADS-B because this jet flew right over the top of where my drone was and on the drone video you can briefly see the shadow of the plane on the nearby trees. See the plane shadow going across on the trees on the right middle portion of the video at about 17 seconds into the video. It’s good to know the Air 2 has this technology.

He later added:

Hi. I’ve had phone conversations and e-mail chats with the local airport authorities about flying a drone around here (both airport manager and control tower personnel) and from what they told me aircraft are supposed to be at no lower than 400 feet altitude at that distance from the airport. I’m wondering if the airport control tower has any telemetry logs that monitor aircraft that are flying in the area (for instance telling flight path and altitude and speed at various locations of the flight path)? This incident was indeed scary.

And:

If the ADS-B didn’t alert me and I was flying the drone at say 175 feet I really can’t say if I would have avoided hitting that plane as it really wasn’t very loud. After the 4th of July weekend coming up I think I will contact the local airport and tell them about this.

And:

Hi. It was kind of a coincidence today that Pappy3 made that post. Earlier today I called the local airport manager and told him about the incident and all he basically said was that the height of the airplane which almost hit my drone might of been ok if it was approaching the airport for a landing. I told him the plane’s flight path was in a northerly direction and if it was going in for a landing it would have been travelling easterly. He kind of brushed off that fact. I forget to ask about whether flight logs of local air traffic were kept and could be looked at. The recent post above could definitely point me toward getting some info about that low-flying plane. Thanks are definitely in order. Thanks.

DroneXL’s take on the incident and DJI Airsense

Luckily, it all ended well. However, this incident shows just how alert as a drone pilot you have to be to be able to get out of the way quickly for approaching manned aviation (the FAA requires you to give way). We have seen a number of other cases where helicopter appeared seemingly out of nowhere and flew right by a drone. Currently, drones are by far the safest form of aviation and we sure would like to keep it that way. I do applaud DJI for being pro-active and making DJI Airsense technology (ADS-B In) available in their drones to help make the skies safer. Good work!

Btw – this incident happened close to an airport and eventhough manned aviation is not supposed to fly below 500 feet they often do, especially police and news helicopters. Click here for a list of recent incidents.

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  • ADS-B In, is a brilliant technology. Why would a pilot not want it? It should be on ever aircraft. I do have a question though. If one is flying BVLOS is the UAV picking up the signal or is it the remote controller?

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