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Flyaway handled by DJI in first-class manner

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by KenKopter, Apr 4, 2014.

  1. KenKopter

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    Hi to all,

    This is just to thank DJI for truly outstanding customer care after a flyaway, as well as to leave a "status check tip" before taking off for a full flight.

    --

    A bit of background. My daughter and I are newbies who are doing drone videos of Anguilla for her website about Anguilla. They've been very well received by her audience. Here are two examples...

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=796988976997615

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=792131294150050

    Folks love them and we're having a blast making them. This is a great hobby, but it's even better when you can use it in some productive way such as promoting our teeny home country.

    --

    We had a "flyaway" on our very first practice outing, but that was all my fault. I panicked, totally forgetting their instructions not to panic. ;-)

    So I got all mixed up on what sent it where and before you know it, connection was lost as it kept going farther away. And then, a great thing happened...

    "Return to Home" kicked in and all was well with the world. It's wonderful when things work out.

    I had heard of flyaways, but figured (based on my own experience) that pilot error and panic was the cause.

    Since then, I've become a pretty decent pilot and can't wait to get Fatshark's new goggles for much better visualization of where I'm going (the phone is tough to see in the bright sun). And when the Rotorpixel arrives, we'll really be cooking!

    Anyway...

    Today, we headed out to Rendezvous Bay for another series of flights First flight was uneventful. It handled perfectly and I got all the footage that we wanted.

    My confidence in piloting is high, so we don't worry that I'm over water most of the time. This is incredibly fun as you get better at it.

    The second flight?

    It was all wrong from the get-go. I'm hesitant to publish exactly what it did, since DJI was such a great company about this. I suspect that she must have described a flyaway pattern that had nothing to do with pilot error. It was totally different than my first one.

    I can say that the big difference is that it simply leaves, impervious to non-panicky moves to bring it home. What it does is bizarre and the flight pattern was very particular.

    And, in this kind of event, RTH will NOT kick in once connection is broken. It simply ended up in the Caribbean.

    We searched for it by dingy, but to no avail. I'm not sure what would have worked if we had found it, but we were ready to find out if we could locate it.

    My daughter emailed DJI support, cc to the sales team, detailing exactly what happened and describing the pattern in detail until it finally hit water, very far away.

    She had bought it at Amazon, so asked what her options are, worrying about a repeat performance...

    A reasonable worry, but it DID indicate that she was ready to buy another. THAT was not to be, though. Sales answered first. Their reply...

    Wow! What a company. No denial of a problem. No shirking. They simply did the right thing when a product malfunctions (which is why I don't want to describe the pattern of a flyaway in detail).

    Even though it was outside of Amazon's window for returns, they too were very good about it due to DJI's reply. They provided instructions on how to return everything (minus the drone, obviously), and that she would get a full refund.

    All's well that ends well.

    And what I've learned as a lesson? Here is my suggestion...

    Even if you're a highly confident pilot, don't rapidly climb and go forward. I'll also stand further back from the shoreline, will only climb a few feet and then hover. I'll take it forward, then backward, move it left then right. Then rotate.

    If everything is working fine, off we go. If I have any doubt about it handling perfectly, we'll cancel the session and take it home to try again in a large nearby field (better to have a small crash than plunk it into salt water). If a problem persists, we'll figure it out with the manual and DJI support.

    It may never happen again. But a very small "status check flight" at a very low altitude only takes a few seconds and could prevent a complete loss, given the particular flight pattern that we observed.

    I hope this is useful to someone. And to DJI....

    Thanks very much. You are one heck of a classy company!

    All the best,
    Ken
     
  2. Boozshey

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    That's awesome that they took care of you.

    I wouldn't think it's hurting them by describing the pattern you described. I would think it would be more educational for others.

    You said it wasn't pilot error, but also said that you would do a small flight check before a flight. Even if it was fine during the check wouldn't it still fly away if those same conditions existed before the fly away happened? I'm not trying to blame you or anything, just trying to learn the events that took place before it happened to educate myself for later events. :)
     
  3. KenKopter

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    Hi Boozshey,

    About your 2 comments...

    Honestly, if it was my company, I simply wouldn't/couldn't afford to replace every flyaway, especially when most are likely pilot error (as our very first flight was, when I was focusing on the drone-not-the-phone and got mixed up about which lever to push where). My daughter researched flyways and our feeling is that true flyaways are probably over-reported. But, within the reports, there were a very few that matched ours -- there's a rather consistent wording and pattern.

    Now, most people are pretty honest, but faced with a flyaway of a $1200 product, some would be tempted to copy a very precise explanation. Since my goal was to call out DJI for superb customer care, I'd rather not repeat the exact pattern.

    Regarding the flight check and "wouldn't fly into the sea anyways" - I had become confident in handling the drone, so my usual start was just a quick rise up to around 50 feet while moving forward past the shoreline plus another 100 feet or so over the sea. From there, I'd rotate 180 degrees to get some full footage of the beach, but mostly just to get some landmarks firmly fixed in my head, tying that into the original plan of what we wanted to capture with my daughter.

    I'm not even sure at what point the drone stopped "listening" to me, but I know that as it was moving up and over the shoreline it just started doing its own thing. Now, if those very first few seconds were not of my doing at all, you're right. We'd probably lose it anyway. But if the flyaway started at the higher elevation as it was moving away from us fairly quickly over the sea, which is what I suspect, then no -- a simple, quiet, low (a few feet off the ground) "controls check" (probably a better term for it) would not likely go into the deep blue sea.

    I'm not sure, though, but it would certainly have a better chance. The idea is that, if it behaves oddly, my best chances of stopping it are when it's as close as possible and that, worst case, since it's only a few feet off the ground and set far back from the shore, it would most likely end up on the sandy beach rather than in the ocean.

    Like I said, true flyways seem to be rather rare. Given that you were the only one to respond, that's another sign of how rare they must be, which is a good thing. This thread is obviously irrelevant to everyone who feels they have good control skills (most seem to be pilot error by those getting used to the controls).

    There's no excellent documentation on them online, nor what causes them, none that my daughter found in any event. So I can't be sure of what it would do exactly, but a quick "controls check" is what I'll be doing, given my own experience, even if for no other reason to let me know that all systems are "go." :)

    All the best,
    Ken
     
  4. Boozshey

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    Thanks for the response and glad everything worked out!