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Spark Flyaway, or pilot error?
358 13 6-25 06:28
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djiuser_j56kfvX8H7dg
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Flight distance : 107070 ft
United States
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Since I lost my spark a few days ago I've been doing a lot of digging and I've found several examples of other pilots losing their spark after noticing compass/speed/yaw errors. I've also seen a lot of folks suggest that those situations are often pilot error or flying in unsafe conditions. I'd like to know if I screwed up by flying when and how I did, because if I'm ever to get a new drone I'd like to prevent this from happening. As it stands now I don't have a clear understanding of why the drone flew off. Note that I have opened a case with DJI, I'm told it'll be reviewed in 3-5 days. We'll see what they determine I guess, but I'm interested in the opinion of the community here as well.

A few things to note, there was no noticable wind at ground level, but it's possible there was wind at 150ft.
I calibrated the compass at this location less than three hours prior to this flight.
I had updated the safe fly database at the beginning of this flight
I was not able to recover the drone

flight logs can be found here: https://www.phantomhelp.com/logviewer/DHSHAA029SM79ZLTUP9L

I put the drone up where I wanted it and started a pano. In the middle of the pano the app displayed a compass error and by the time I had looked back up and the drone I couldn't see it anymore. I was flying above small clearing in the woods, not intending to go outside about a 20foot area, but the drone had other ideas. I attempted to pilot the drone back using the video feed but every time I'd move the stick I'd see a yaw error on the screen and the video feed would cut out.

I feel confident there's nothing I could have done to prevent this other than not flying, but I'm here to learn how I screwed up and I'd like your help with that.
6-25 06:28
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DJI Stephen
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Hello there. I am sorry to read and to know what happened to your DJI Spark and it is good to know that you are already communicating with out DJI support team. Rest assured that after the analysis on what happened to the said drone the best resolution will be provided. Please keep us posted on the said issue for us to be able to assist you further. Thank you.
6-25 22:47
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Wolferl
Captain
Flight distance : 22615 ft
Austria
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Hi there,

Sorry for your loss.
DJI drones have always and still do sometimes suffer from the dreaded compass error. When it does that (sometimes for no apparent reason), the bird cannot hold its position and drops to ATTI mode. That's exactly what happend to you.
I fly several DJI drones for many years and they all have that problem, and DJI does absolutely nothing about it.

Judging from the flight logs, after 5 minutes you got the error message and the pano shot ended prematurely. At that point you should have piloted the Spark back, but you didn't. There is no stick movement recorded at that time. It took you more than 30 seconds to react on the sticks. The Spark subsequently drifted with the wind eastwards in the meantime.

I think you can find your bird just short of the little L-shaped lake east of the last recorded coordinate. I hope it didn't took a swim....

Have a look at this thread and learn how to fly your drone in ATTI mode.

Cheers,
Wolferl
6-26 01:40
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djiuser_j56kfvX8H7dg
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Flight distance : 107070 ft
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I just want to make sure that I understand, there is a known issue that DJI doesn't seem to want to address. This issue causes drones to fly out of control, and people are still okay with buying drones from them?

I get that you can still fly in ATTI mode. I've recovered from situations like this in the past and been able to return the drone. The problem is, in this case, I didn't try to pilot it back because I couldn't see it anymore and I didn't want to fly it into a tree. When I finally did try to fly it back it didn't respond in a way that would have brought it back successfully anyway so I'm not convinced that it would have worked if I'd have tried it sooner. In the past when I've been able to fly back in ATTI mode it's never given the YAW errors and cut out the video.
6-26 05:47
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djiuser_j56kfvX8H7dg
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Flight distance : 107070 ft
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DJI Stephen Posted at 6-25 22:47
Hello there. I am sorry to read and to know what happened to your DJI Spark and it is good to know that you are already communicating with out DJI support team. Rest assured that after the analysis on what happened to the said drone the best resolution will be provided. Please keep us posted on the said issue for us to be able to assist you further. Thank you.

This seems unlikely considering the best solution for me would be to fix the bug that caused the flyaway in the first place. This has been happening for so long that I have very little faith that the issue will be resolved. Best case scenario here DJI agrees to replace my drone and even in that case I don't know that I want it if it's just going to fly away again.
6-26 05:50
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JJB*
Captain
Flight distance : 3257408 ft
Netherlands
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Hi,

Sorry for your loss!  Your type of loss is the same reason why i sold my Spark last year.

Sometimes out of the blue this type of errors pops-up, and if the 'pilot' is not fast enough it will loose the craft, drifing away in ATTI.
Flying in ATTI is difficult, for sure if you do not have the drone visual.

During your PANO, at 5.5 meters away from your starting point the sh*t hits the fan.
Craft started to drift away from postion at 4m57s.
2 seconds later a error in the log : SpeedErrorLarge, this error seen when the actual position is not the same as the calculated IMU postion.
This error followed by a Compass error, yaw error ; Spark in ATTI mode.

You could have seen mayby the start of the drifing away from postion, as the drone was so closeby.

Problem with these errors is that they are not shown in the APP, so no pre warning that ATTI will be there.....

Yaw, compass, speed errors often seen in a random sequence, most likely that a compass error is the cause of this ATTI drift away.

Hope that DJI will help you out. IMO DJI should change the information they present the pilot, not ATTI mode now  but a pre-warning for ATTI.

See the charts.

cheers
JJB
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6-27 06:11
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A J
Captain
Flight distance : 12810843 ft
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United Kingdom
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JJB* Posted at 6-27 06:11
Hi,

Sorry for your loss!  Your loss was the reason why i sold my Spark.

This is exactly why I sold mine back in 2017 after flying it for just 6 weeks.
6-27 09:09
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Tomasz Laptas
Second Officer
Flight distance : 680702 ft
United Kingdom
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I remember getting a care refresh replacement drone, it was a nightmare. Going into ATTI mode all the time. I had to send it away and apparently there was no fault with the drone, but they replaced GPS module just in case.  I had to basically ,,fight" with DJI to prove my point. After all the replaced the aircraft. New bird flies like dream, no ATTI for almost a year. I have to admit, DJI does great job product wise, but their customer service is utter shamble.
6-27 09:42
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NRRTRAINS 85
Second Officer

United States
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don't beat your self up the Spark is just like the $2000 and $3000 drones all have flyaways . it's just something that happened to some drones  . remember you are flying a $300 mass produce small drone . im sorry for your loss hopefully DJI will do the right thing .
fly safe   
6-28 17:00
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djiuser_j56kfvX8H7dg
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Tomasz Laptas Posted at 6-27 09:42
I remember getting a care refresh replacement drone, it was a nightmare. Going into ATTI mode all the time. I had to send it away and apparently there was no fault with the drone, but they replaced GPS module just in case.  I had to basically ,,fight" with DJI to prove my point. After all the replaced the aircraft. New bird flies like dream, no ATTI for almost a year. I have to admit, DJI does great job product wise, but their customer service is utter shamble.

The first thing the support rep told me was flyaways like this aren't covered by care refresh. Which was frustrating because two years ago I had a spark fall into a river (my fault) and when I talked to DJI support to understand the logs the rep told me I should have bought care refresh because they would have sent me a new drone.

Knowing what I now know about DJI Care refresh I know that was a lie, just wish I'd read about it before I purchased DJI care refresh.
6-29 07:20
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djiuser_j56kfvX8H7dg
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Flight distance : 107070 ft
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NRRTRAINS 85 Posted at 6-28 17:00
don't beat your self up the Spark is just like the $2000 and $3000 drones all have flyaways . it's just something that happened to some drones  . remember you are flying a $300 mass produce small drone . im sorry for your loss hopefully DJI will do the right thing .
fly safe

This is kinda what I was worried about to be honest. If this is expected behavior I just won't be getting another drone from DJI, or maybe anyone else for that matter.
6-29 07:21
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djiuser_j56kfvX8H7dg
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Well DJI decided to send me a new one. When I asked what caused this and how to prevent it I was told:

"The flyaway case may happen due to different reasons under different circumstances. For your case, this incident is caused by a possible compass error, it is not a common issue, no worries. From the user's perspective, please avoid flying over near obstacles, crowds, high voltage power lines, trees or bodies of water and do not fly near strong electromagnetic such as powerlines or base stations which may affect the onboard compass."

I don't know why they bother to have a list of things that I'm not supposed to fly over. Feels like what they're really saying is don't fly over anything at all. There isn't a promotional video for a DJI drone that doesn't include video of the device flying above these things, in stunning HD quality, so this advice falls a little flat IMO.

I'll be getting a new spark according to support, which I'll probably sell immediately.
7-1 12:33
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MKPSG12
Second Officer
Flight distance : 304032 ft
United Kingdom
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Flying over things isn't a problem, flying/taking off from what looks like a clearing in the middle of a small wood is as the trees will limit home many satellites that can be picked up.

This seems like one of the VERY rare occasions where it was actually the wind that carried it off after the compass error and not the Spark flying itself
7-2 01:33
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JJB*
Captain
Flight distance : 3257408 ft
Netherlands
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djiuser_j56kfvX8H7dg Posted at 7-1 12:33
Well DJI decided to send me a new one. When I asked what caused this and how to prevent it I was told:

"The flyaway case may happen due to different reasons under different circumstances. For your case, this incident is caused by a possible compass error, it is not a common issue, no worries. From the user's perspective, please avoid flying over near obstacles, crowds, high voltage power lines, trees or bodies of water and do not fly near strong electromagnetic such as powerlines or base stations which may affect the onboard compass."

Hi,

DJI acted good to replace your SPARK, but ofcourse they will not give a honest answer what caused this fly-away.  It just happens to a SPARK sometimes....

So clever to sell this replacement and my advice: go fo a Mavic Air 2.

cheers
JJB
7-6 04:34
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