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DJI Crashed my Drone and DJI won't take responsibility.
302 12 2020-12-22
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topquarkpc
lvl.1

United States
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I just heard back from DJI saying that they aren't going to take responsibility over crashing my drone over seawater.  
  
What say you pilots!?
  
  
Background info:
  
I work for one of the biggest aircraft manufacturing company and I try to adhere by rules & regulations in accordance to FAA's guidance.  
  
I had applied for LAANC airspace authorization the day prior to my scheduled flight and launched my drone off a seashore without any issues at the time (I did have to click on the check box on DJI's standard cautionary statements / agreements operating the a/c over "authorized zone" given that I'm very close to major Airport) and flew the drone over the water (~2-3 m or 8-10 ft) to capture this scenery about ~200 m (or yards) out towards/over water from where I was controlling the a/c on the shoreside.
  
As I headed towards the subject of my photo/video shoot, about 8-9 sec after takeoff, DJI S/W hits me, apparently, with “Autolandin in 15 sec” commend.  At the time, I was focused on getting the drone to the shooting location and was focusing on visual flight and didn’t realize the S/W was commanding forced-land (with meager 15 sec to land the craft safely)… with 2-3 sec remaining I noticed this message and I panicked… I tried to pull the control back towards the shore with no luck…it crashed on its way back to me…my jaw dropped and I couldn’t believe it.  As I said, I was focused on visual flight of the aircraft and didn’t realize that the DJI S/W triggered the forced-land.  DJI says that the forced-land was due to no-fly zone but this no-fly zone is nowhere near where I was flying and it shouldn’t have triggered this forced command.  
  

Below is what DJI says:
  
1. The aircraft worked in GPS mode responded to the pilot’s control well;
2. Flight Time T=00:25, Relative Height H=2.7 m, Distance to home point D=47.6 m, the aircraft flew forward as the pilot moved pitch stick forward, and landing was triggered by no-fly zone;
3. Flight Time T=00:29 s, Relative Height H=-0.1 m, Distance to home point D=66.9 m, the aircraft flew backward while landing as the pilot moved pitch stick backward, and it crashed into the water;
4. Last coordinate: 47.4123366 -122.3432444; Home point: 47.4128448 -122.3427854;

According to the analysis, the incident was caused by an operation error of the pilot. Please fly with caution and do not fly too close to sensitive areas.
  
If you could not recover the product and consider purchasing another one, we can offer you a 15% off discount for Mavic 2 Zoom without the charger and remote controller. Please kindly send us the following information if you would like to accept the offer:
  
Shipping address:
  
Contact name:
  
Phone number:
  
Of course I couldn’t recover the aircraft under seawater (very cold one at that) and I hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else…  My Skydio would never do such a thing and it baffles me that DJI would induce such command without Pilot’s consent.  
  
I hope DJI makes the right decision to replace my drone.
  
2020-12-22
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JohnLietzke
First Officer
Flight distance : 3105915 ft
United States
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topquarkpc,

Sorry to hear about your crash.  The response from DJI does not surprise me nor do I feel it was inappropriate initially.  For whatever reason your drone initiated a forced landing.  You had 15 seconds to cancel it or take an appropriate action based on the prompts on the DJI app.  

A challenge with modern drones is balancing the camera and controller data with visual flight.  But that is the pilots responsibility to manage the information and flight.

I do think that it is a design flaw that with the drones that use the DJI Go 4 app, like the Mavic 2 Pro & Zoom, when entering a No-Fly Zone it initiates an Auto Landing.  On the Mavic Mini, Mini 2, Mavic Air 2 that use the DJI Fly app when it enters a No-Fly Zone the drone just stops and will not let you proceed any further but you are still able to turn the drone and fly out of the zone.  

While I would say this is completely pilot error I do find a disparity in the DJI Fly Safe Database map.  No where in the SeaTac area is there a No-Fly Zone over the water.  DJI needs to explain how a forced landing occurred in a No-Fly Zone that was not on the maps.

Map from DJI's Fly Safe Database


It would be helpful to upload your log file txt for others to review.
2020-12-22
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Labroides
Captain
Flight distance : 9991457 ft
Australia
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I just heard back from DJI saying that they aren't going to take responsibility over crashing my drone over seawater.  
What say you pilots!?

I would say that DJI are usually pretty good with the data analysis but not always very good at explaining things clearly.

about 8-9 sec after takeoff, DJI S/W hits me, apparently, with “Autolandin in 15 sec” comment.
I don't like to make decisions without examining the recorded flight  data for myself to see what actually happened, rather than what someone  thinks might have happened.
But I will add this.

If you launch from outside an NFZ, you cannot fly into it.
If you try to launch inside, you cannot launch .... provided the drone has good GPS location data and knows where it is.
But I've seen a couple of cases where flyers have been impatient and launched before getting good GPS location data.
And when their drone gets GPS a little later inside the NFZ, they get the 15 second warning you described.
Not so bad on land, not so good over water.
So the question is .. did you launch prematurely?
Your flight data will show the answer.
2020-12-22
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DJI Susan
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I am sorry for the accident that happened to your drone, topquarkpc, I understand that must be frustrating. I will check your case again with our analyst and will keep you updated via email.
2020-12-22
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topquarkpc
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United States
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JohnLietzke Posted at 12-22 17:36
topquarkpc,

Sorry to hear about your crash.  The response from DJI does not surprise me nor do I feel it was inappropriate initially.  For whatever reason your drone initiated a forced landing.  You had 15 seconds to cancel it or take an appropriate action based on the prompts on the DJI app.  
That’s a good point.  NFZ is no where to be found on the map and if it exists, I wouldn’t know where it would be from the map on the screen thru DJI App on my iPhone X.  Plus if it really exists over the water, then I would seriously question of its existence in the first place... why would there be a NFZ over water?  Had I known that there was NFZ and if it was clearly indicated on the map, I would have definitely avoided the area even during my LAANC airspace authorization request.  I use the Kittyhawk App that I’m a participant of beta testing and that app doesn’t have this NFZ either.

DJI, sounds like you need to explain where this NFZ is and why it triggered forced Autoland on my flight.
2020-12-22
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topquarkpc
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United States
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Labroides Posted at 12-22 20:07
I just heard back from DJI saying that they aren't going to take responsibility over crashing my drone over seawater.  
What say you pilots!?
I would say that DJI are usually pretty good with the data analysis but not always very good at explaining things clearly.

I believe I had good GPS signal.  I’ve flown my 3 (now 2) drones here 30 plus flights since I got my first drone in Sep ‘20 and never had this type of issue... I’ve always had a good GPS lock rather quickly on every power-on & launch...including my preflight exercise.  
I’ll have to figure out getting the data off the app and post it so you folks can see & comment for sure.
But I think this is a philosophical issue on DJI’s software to force land the aircraft in any case other than if you’re outside the VLOS range which this instance was clearly not the case.  It could have been the case where my aircraft is operating, with visual line of sight still maintained, over a large body of water more than 15 sec away from my location and away from any land mass and this forced Autoland is triggered?  What then?  
It’s pretty ludicrous too for DJI to offer me 15% discount for a replacement drone..if it was something like $150 (which care refresh costs for the 2’s) then I may have thought hard.
2020-12-22
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Labroides
Captain
Flight distance : 9991457 ft
Australia
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topquarkpc Posted at 12-22 21:40
I believe I had good GPS signal.  I’ve flown my 3 (now 2) drones here 30 plus flights since I got my first drone in Sep ‘20 and never had this type of issue... I’ve always had a good GPS lock rather quickly on every power-on & launch...including my preflight exercise.  
I’ll have to figure out getting the data off the app and post it so you folks can see & comment for sure.
But I think this is a philosophical issue on DJI’s software to force land the aircraft in any case other than if you’re outside the VLOS range which this instance was clearly not the case.  It could have been the case where my aircraft is operating, with visual line of sight still maintained, over a large body of water more than 15 sec away from my location and away from any land mass and this forced Autoland is triggered?  What then?  

I’ll have to figure out getting the data off the app and post it so you folks can see & comment for sure.

There's a problem with the website today but for when it's back online, here is how to post your recorded flight data.
Go to: https://www.phantomhelp.com/LogViewer/Upload/
... where you'll find instructions.
That will give a report you can post a link for the report here.
Or just post the .txt file.
2020-12-22
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JohnLietzke
First Officer
Flight distance : 3105915 ft
United States
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The NFZ is a DJI proprietary map that limits where a drone can fly.  DJI uses these maps to restrict where drones can take off and fly for safety.  But you were certainly outside that area.  I was unable to enter the specific locations coordinates into the DJI web based map so I used the name of the park and the blue pin is in a blue Authorization Zone which you described the authorization prompt prior to taking off.  

The best way to bolster your argument for DJI to replace your drone is to post your logs.  Labroides is one of the gurus on here with logs.  More than likely a reason for the Auto Landing will in the logs.  Without the logs DJI's stance will remain the same.

You can sync your logs using https://app.airdata.com/main?a=home to your DJI account after which you can post a link and the log files can be viewed and downloaded by others.  This will be your best chance of getting documentable data from DJI to base your argument off of.  I think DJI expects you to prove your claim.  The sooner you understand the reason the better chance you have of getting DJI to remedy the problem.
2020-12-22
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topquarkpc
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United States
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Yep... I’ve looked at the instruction to upload the data... I’ll just have to get to it when the website is back up and running.
DJI did take a look at the data that I’ve sync’d and responded with above response... but again, NFZ is not apparent in any of the maps I have access to...meaning from the DJI apps I have on my iPhone (DJI Fly & Go 4)... or from Kittyhawk app... certainly doesn’t help anyone trying to navigate already busy airspace around where I exclusively operate during this recent pandemic era...
Hopefully DJI makes the right decision.

And I appreciate your insights & help into this matter... I was frustrated with their decision and decided to post it here so that it is out there for mine and others’ benefit if at all applicable...  it certainly is devastating to lose $1K plus asset so helplessly... definitely wish I was flying my mini rather than my M2Z for sure...
2020-12-22
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Lucas775
Captain
Flight distance : 12685266 ft
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United States
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Just reading the title.  First DJI didn't crashed your drone, because they were not there at the time holding the remote!

“Autolandin in 15 sec” commend.  At the time, I was focused on getting the drone to the shooting location and was focusing on visual flight and didn’t realize the S/W was commanding forced-land

Pilot error, you don't get into your car and ignore any warning lights do you(I hope not)  Sorry to hear about this situation.
2020-12-23
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kyalami
Second Officer
Flight distance : 4787884 ft
Sweden
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Many people like you are looking at the drone itself, so when a message comes up on the screen, you are not aware of this. Would it not be nice to hear a voice or a tone giving alarm signal?
2020-12-23
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topquarkpc
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United States
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Lucas775 Posted at 12-23 11:46
Just reading the title.  First DJI didn't crashed your drone, because they were not there at the time holding the remote!

“Autolandin in 15 sec” commend.  At the time, I was focused on getting the drone to the shooting location and was focusing on visual flight and didn’t realize the S/W was commanding forced-land

Thanks for your opinion...I can’t agree with it tho.
You should train the potential operators and pilots of this function before they ever have their hands on the remote...don’t ask me how I would know this but trust me I do...
I believe it’s also a philosophical & therefore fundamental issue / approach implementing a function or feature on the product as well...  like I mentioned, Skydio doesn’t have this “uh...you’re in a NoFoyZone so I’m going to land the drone for you in 15 sec” built into their control logic.  
2020-12-23
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topquarkpc
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United States
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kyalami Posted at 12-23 11:49
Many people like you are looking at the drone itself, so when a message comes up on the screen, you are not aware of this. Would it not be nice to hear a voice or a tone giving alarm signal?

And they, the pilots, should have their eyes on the drone rather than keep your eyes on a screen 100% of he time because the Visual Line of Sight is what FAA stresses to the drone operators to maintain.  Thus my comment about DJI’s philosophical & fundamental approach to their control software logic... sounds like DJI missed something from basic requirements development thru verification and validation “V” diagram of the Systems Engineering approach.
2020-12-23
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