In a world where drones have become more than mere recreational devices, DJI, a leading name in the industry, recently launched its latest model – the DJI Mini 4 Pro. And while innovations should ideally be met with applause, this was not the case for DJI's new release.
The 120-Meter Controversy
Fresh out of the box, early users of the DJI Mini 4 Pro made a startling discovery: the drone was capped at a flying height of 120 meters from the take-off point. In many regions, this might not sound like a major hurdle.
But picture this explains Wiebe de Jager from DroneWatch: you're in rugged, mountainous terrain, wanting to launch from a valley and fly seamlessly alongside the imposing cliff faces. At 120 meters, you've hit your ceiling, and any obstacle taller becomes a problem.
Responding to the outcry, DJI quickly released a software update. Just like other DJI drones, the maximum flight altitude of the Mini 4 Pro can now be set up to 500 meters. A sigh of relief for many.
EU Regulations Weigh In
But here's the catch: the European aviation authorities, focusing on maintaining the sanctity of their airspace, set a directive. Drones tagged with a C0-label, which includes the DJI Mini 4 Pro, are restricted to 120 meters above their take-off point, explains De Jager. The EU regulation 2019/945 states the maximum altitude above the take-off point is limited to 120 m. Whether in valleys or alongside mountains, the rule is clear.
What Lies Ahead for DJI Mini 4 Pro Users?
While DJI currently enjoys some leniency, allowing users to set their altitude limits, a looming date might change that. Post January 1, 2024, the DJI Mini 4 Pro, which is marketed as C0-compliant, might once again be chained by an unalterable software update, reinstating the 120-meter altitude restriction.
A tricky situation for drone enthusiasts? Definitely. Your only workaround, according to DroneWatch to ensure your takeoff point is as elevated as possible. While this method might give you a few extra meters, flying further from the peak will quickly breach the 120 meters above ground level.
There's a silver lining for DJI Mini 2 or Mini 3 (Pro) users. You could choose to overlook any retrofit upgrades aiming to make the drone C0-compliant. Post-2024, drones weighing under 250 grams can operate in Open subcategory A1 without a Cx-label. In an era of rapid technological growth, it seems the European skies are not so limitless after all.
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