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DJI's new restricted areas are arbitrary.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Rmag, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. Rmag

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    I am a pilot in the US. So my post is primarily from a US point of view. The US follows ICAO airspace designation which consists of:

    Class A: Instrument Flight Rules, air traffic controlled above 18,000 feet.

    Class B: Nation’s busiest airports. Requirements to enter: Pilot certification, air traffic control clearance, Mode C transponder. A list of these airports can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cl ... ted_States

    Class C: Similar to Class B but on a smaller scale. Still very busy airports. Requirements to enter: Established communication with air traffic control, Mode C transponder. A list of the airports can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Cl ... ted_States

    Class D: Smaller airports than B and C but has Tower control. Requirements to enter: Two way communication with air traffic control.

    Class E: Controlled airspace other than A, B, C, D. These are smaller airports that do not have tower control and most start at 1,200 feet AGL (Above Ground Level). You do not need a radio or a transponder to fly in this airspace.

    Class G: Uncontrolled Airspace: As the name implies, this is uncontrolled airspace. There are no requirements to fly in this airspace. This airspace even exists over most Class E airports below 1,200 feet AGL or in some cases below 700 feet AGL.

    Now for the arbitrary nature of DJI’s flight restrictions… If you look at DJI’s restricted zones found at http://www.dji.com/fly-safe/category-mc

    It looks like most of DJI’s Category A restrictions are over airports with Class B airspace, which are our nation’s busiest airports and the airspace is highly regulated.

    However DJI’s Category B restrictions are arbitrary. For example in the New York City area, you can find JFK, Newark, and LaGuardia in Category A, but just go West of these in Category B you find 6 airports:

    Allentown (Class C Airspace)
    Wilkes-Barre (Class D Airspace)
    Stewart (Class D Airspace)
    Binghamton (Class D Airspace)
    Harrisburg (Class D Airspace)
    Sullivan County (Class G Uncontrolled below 1,200 feet AGL, Class E above 1,200 feet AGL)

    It is ridiculous to include an airport like Sullivan County which is uncontrolled airspace below 1,200 feet AGL and not have a restricted area at all around busy airport like Syracuse which is Class C Airspace!!! Or an airport like Danbury or Oxford, CT which are Class D Airspace that are completely unrestricted.

    It appears that DJI only looked for airports that put the name “International” in the name of the airport. So airports that say “International” even if they are a small airport like Sullivan County with uncontrolled airspace gets a restricted area, while you have a large Class C airspace Syracuse that does not put the name “International” in its name and it’s a completely unrestricted.

    DJI starts at the top of the aforementioned page, “All unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operators should abide by all regulations from such organizations as the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) and their own national airspace regulations.” If DJI wants to reference ICAO airspace, they at least ought to apply their restrictions according to ICAO airspace, and not some arbitrary word in the name of the airport.
     
  2. ElGuano

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    It's possible they approached it exactly as you describe. There are already a ton of restrictions on the GS blacklist, I imagine they wanted to get something workable as a first cut to be able to make an already-late release. I bet the list gets refined and expanded in future updates (and they said they may restrict GPS take-off in the no-fly zone at a later date :shock: )

    Edit: looks like there may be some kind of no-arm no-fly in later fw? Is this for phantom-Naza only?
     
  3. OI Photography

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    I've been watching to see if this may end up on WKM too (beyond the independent GS restrictions), haven't found indication one way or the other yet.

    @Rmag: Notice too how many "large but not largest" US airports are on DJI's "Class B" list, which only has an exclusion zone of 0.6mi...smaller than many runways.
     
  4. SilentAV8R

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    DJI's Class A and B do not correlate to FAA Class A and Class B. DJI Class A = FAA Class B. DJI CLass B = FAA Clas C. DJI places no restrictions on FAA Class E, D, or G airspace in my neck of the woods, but they do in others. Go figure.

    So around me in southern California only LAX and John Wayne (SNA) are restricted in the DJI software. Long Beach, Van Nuys, Los Alamitos, Fullerton, Whitman, Bracket, El Monte, Torrance, Corona, Chino and oddly, Burbank which is Class C airspace, are all NOT on the DJI list.

    The no start ring around LAX is 1.5 miles from airport center. Around John Wayne it is 0.62 miles, so the north end of the terminal is OUTSIDE the DJI no start ring.

    People need to actually look at the DJI info on this. Page 37 of the v1.16 manual explains it better.

    I'll add that the DJI list still is odd to me, but in the end I do not see it as a real burden and i live under some of the busiest airspace in the US.
     
  5. Rmag

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    @ SilentAV8R, You're post is incorrect. While DJI Category A = ICAO Class B Airspace, DJI Category B is arbitrary (although many are Class C Airspace). You are entirely incorrect that when you say "DJI places no restrictions on FAA Class E, D, or G." Since you are looking in California, look at Palm Springs (Class D) restriction and Calexico (Class G or E based on attitude) restriction. As you point out Class C Burbank has no restriction.

    So like I pointed out in my original post DJI Category B does not restrict all Class C (ie Burbank, Syracuse), and it has restrictions on other Class, D (many), E, and G airspaces (ie Sullivan County and Calexico) . It is arbitrary and senseless.
     
  6. SilentAV8R

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    Fixed mine. As you note, outside my little neck of the woods they do get a bit more arbitrary. I had already noted the Burbank weirdness, and Van Nuys for that matter. But VNY has a long established RC model field ony 1.7 miles off the departure (noraml) end of their longest runway. So go figure. But my point stands. DJI's Category A and B do not correlate in any way to our Class A and B airspace.

    So we basically agree, don't we.
     
  7. ianwood

    ianwood Taco Wrangler
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    Yeah, I don't get it either. I also thought it was DJI cat A = ICAO class B, and DJI cat B = ICAO class C. That would make a lot of sense. But, Burbank is not on there while John Wayne and Ontario are. I don't get it. Someone suggested they just took the airports with the word "international" in it. Seems ridiculous but maybe that's what they did?!? I am seriously hoping not as it doesn't make any sense.
     
  8. SilentAV8R

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    Sure seems to look that way.
     
  9. Jermz

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    I thought it was odd, the only places listed in the Dallas area are Meacham and DFW, and both have International in the name. Left out is Love Field, which is an airport that airlines actually fly to (Meacham mainly tends to be cargo and flight schools). There are a few others around as big as Meacham (Addison most prominently) that didn't make the list either. Only the one with "International" in the name made the list.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  10. LuvMyTJ

    LuvMyTJ ADMINISTRATOR
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    My local airport is an "international" airport that is listed as a B class on the DJI site. I was expecting it to be a class A listing as it is big enough that the Concord has made landings there even if it is a low volume airport. The ground station DJI site shows the larger restriction while the new page shows the smaller restriction. Seems as though they are trying to head of future issues but have not put a lot of thought & time into a solid plan.
     
  11. MrC

    MrC

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    I would guess it the volume of traffic. My local airport that doesn't have any restrictions at all on the dji site has landed concorde, Airbus A380, that massive Russian cargo thing etc etc. It hosts an airshow every two years (Farnborough airport UK).

    The Airbus is amazing, look how it takes off and manoeuvres while in the air. - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giEFOBlV2a4
     
  12. MikeySoft

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    I'm not a pilot but I notice dji has the Niagara Falls International airport, NY, USA as a class A airport. It only has two small airlines with flights for snow birds mostly to Florida. It had "international" in the name even before it had commercial flights because it is so close to Canada.

    While the Manchester, NH airport with 4 larger airlines with flights to several cities in the eastern USA is not a dji A or B airport.
     
  13. macheung

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    DJI or any other manufacture should not even bother putting theses type of restrictions on as rules change across times and places. In fact putting some restriction on may open them up to more liability as people think the craft is smart and will stop their silly behavior when it clearly wont. We need to use our judgement when acting, and the ability to choose is important aspect of freedom, even when that includes the ability to choose wrongly.

    How would you like it if Toyota trucks can go max 100hm/h or uses the GPS to limit your speed to exactly the speed limit?
    Where do u think DJI will stop? Will downtown flying be banned? How about over roadways?

    On a more practical side, it is likely that the Phantom FC has limited memory and there is a finite number of restricted points that can be programmed. That is why the restricted zones are circular and not polygonal and there is a limited number. I can see that the GS app include a lot more restrictions as one can have almost unlimited storage on an app/pc software.

    I am torn between staying on v1.08 forever and not having GS function or "upgrading" to v3 now before more restrictions come to play. Then again, v3 may be buggy and i'll be forced to v3.x with perhaps even more restrictions.
     
  14. HexCam

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    It is odd in the UK as well.

    My flying field is just within 8Km of Norwich International Airport in the UK. DJI have classed it as class B. There is about 1 flight to Amsterdam an hour + various small commercial and private flights.

    So obviously I could fly the Phantom to within 0.6 miles under the Class B rules (which I think would actually be within the boundaries of the airport!)

    However, we set up a Wookong with waypointing the other day and discovered that the field is just on the edge of the restricted airspace. So waypointing won't work up to 8Km from any restricted area regardless of whether it is Class A or Class B.

    I find it funny that Norwich is restricted but the various RAF bases in Norfolk UK (in fact all of the UK as far as I can see) are completely unrestricted.

    What bugs me is that I am a registered commercial operator so could (with permission from ATC) fly at Norwich Airport (perhaps for a photography or video project). As a result, by implementing these restrictions DJI is actually preventing me from carrying out my lawful business.

    I can understand why DJI might want to implement a degree of protection (covering their backs!) but they are going to upset a lot of people too.
     
  15. MikeySoft

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    DJI has downgraded the Niagara Falls "International" airport from class A to class B. Maybe because of posts like this including my post back in March wondering why the smaller NF airport with the 5 mile limit was included but not larger airports: http://phantompilots.com/viewtopic.php?p=95962#p95962

    If dji is updating airports based on comments posted in forums like PhantomPilot, it shows how arbitrary the no fly zones are. I know nothing about US ICAO airspace designation. I just have common sense when I'm near airports.

    I also posted complaints how the no fly zone limits flying in Boston Common, a park in Boston, to tree top level while buildings around the park are a lot taller. Looking at dji no fly map again, I see Revere Beach, which is in line with a very active Boston runway, has higher height limits because it is farther away from the center of the airport (according to dji). It is really CLOSER to the active runway then the park in Boston.). You almost always see big Boeing and Airbus airplanes flying over Revere Beach but never over the park in Boston.

    This is ridiculous !!!
     
  16. Drone Camera Films

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    Isn't it inevitable that the first release of a database that is global in coverage is likely to contain errors and omissions? Perhaps I'm being a bit naive but this seems to be the first step in a series of updates and improvements. There are thousands of airports and the whole subject is complicated by the fact that each ICAO member state has its own airspace definitions, rules, and regulations.

    I see this as something that can be used alongside other forms of flight planning, like aeronautical charts, pilot guides etc so that the UAV pilot knows about the airspace and likely aircraft activity in the intended flight zone, but might be also able to prevent accidental infringements by using a UAV that has a no fly zone feature enabled.

    It's a good start but it'll probably need improvements and it will definitely need updates to keep current with airspace changes.
     
  17. CRankin

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    DJI's arbitrary and capricious restrictions are preventing a lot of lawful business from being carried out. Take the case of homes that are located near airports, for example. What about people who use their products to take aerial photos of real estate listings from low altitudes? There are also people who use this product to assist with home inspections (roofs and chimneys).

    I applaud DJI for creating this feature. Encouraging safe use of products like this should be a priority for all involved in this industry, especially when misuse of these products can result in considerable risk. The issue here is how DJI implemented it. As we can see, some of their "Category A" and "Category B" decisions make little to no sense. And we can also see that responsible people with legitimate uses inside of DJI's arbitrarily determined boundaries are impacted.

    DJI should have done the intelligent thing here, and added the capability to turn these restrictions off in advanced settings. That would satisfy the need to ship something RTF for novices to keep them out of "trouble" while accommodating the needs of others with legitimate concerns.

    Of course, all of the above is trumped by yet another factor for me... it might be a bit more of an "American" perspective, and I certainly don't expect all to agree with it. When someone buys a product, it should be that person's right to determine for themselves how and when and where they will use it. If their choice violates a law, regulation, or just general safety principles which results in them getting into trouble, that's their problem and their responsibility to deal with the consequences.

    Those who manufacture product have the obligation of providing a safe product for use, but such responsibility should never extend to artificially created limitations on product use. DJI's decision with v3.0 of their firmware crosses the line here, and those who have "upgraded" their quads with this firmware now have a product with significantly diminished value. I know I wouldn't buy one of those on the open market today, as long as a choice to buy one with an older firmware existed.
     
  18. MikeySoft

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    Drone Camera Firms, While dji does have a repetition of introduction bugs in new firmware, sometime catastrophe bugs, are you saying the database will be updated to include flight paths and common sense that airlines don’t fly below the height of tall city buildings? This DB will take up all the memory of the product.

    According of a dji video, the no fly zone feature is always enabled no matter what mode the phantom is in. Unless it does not have the number of GPS satellites needed (does not have to be in GPS mode). Once it has the number of satellites needed, it will take no fly zone action, including landing if it “thinks” it is in a no fly zone.
     
  19. Drone Camera Films

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    MikeySoft, I've no idea what they may have planned. I was simply pointing out that there seems to be a lot of expectation about a new feature that is complex and difficult to be comprehensively accurate and always up to date. I agree it's highly unlikely that all controlled airspace in every country will be listed. This is not a substitute for accurate flying which is why I suggested that flight planning with more conventional methods is needed.
     
  20. MikeySoft

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    OK, Thanks for the reply. So I think you agree that the no fly zone should be optional and should be able to be disabled at the owner's risk. I hope they do that.

    There is some confusion if the no fly zone only works in GPS mode. A dji video said it is enabled in any mode. While someone in a different thread thinks it only works in GPS mode.

    Edit to add the following:
    A interview with Colin Guinn stated that the Chinese Government had dji put in a no fly zone around an area in China. Colin did not state where this area was. But Colin stated it only worked in GPS mode. He also stated dji may do that for other governments if they felt it was reasonable. Colin also said it should be a tool to guide users, not an action for dji to police laws and governments regulations. However, that was last year and Colin Guinn is no longer with dji. I'll post a link to the video when I find it.