The world’s largest maker of recreational drones will install ADS-B In receivers in all of its models weighing more than 0.55 pounds by 2020. China-owned DJI said it will install AirSense ADS-B technology in all of those models. AirSense can detect manned aircraft well beyond visual line of sight and display the potential traffic conflict on the drone pilot’s control display. The system has been available on some of DJI’s professional models.
“DJI leads the drone industry in developing safety technology and education, and we continue that tradition today by setting higher expectations for ourselves, our competitors and regulators,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI vice president for policy and legal affairs. “DJI was the first company to offer geofencing, automatic altitude limits, return-to-home technology, and other safety features to the world’s growing community of personal and professional drone pilots. We believe our efforts have helped drones attain their enviable safety record, and we expect our new agenda will further improve safety even as more drones take to the skies.”
Installing AirSense in recreational drones is part of DJI’s new 10-point “Elevating Safety” plan that includes developing a new automatic warning for drone pilots flying extended distances, establishing an internal safety standards group, and encouraging the implementation of safety policies including; incident reporting standards; mandatory geofencing, remote identification, and drone pilot knowledge tests; clear designation of restricted areas; increased enforcement against unsafe operators; and empowering local authorities to respond against drone threats.
DJI’s Schulman said most drone safety data is misleading and sensationalized. “When the public, media, and regulators focus on outrageous incidents that did not occur, it draws attention away from risks that are less sensational but more prevalent,” he said. “There has never been a confirmed collision between a drone and an airplane, but drones have struck low-flying helicopters at least twice. This led us to focus on AirSense as the next opportunity to make drones safer and to embrace the challenge of adding ADS-B receivers to consumer drone models that are already in development.”
DJI’s ADS-B decision drew praise from a variety of aviation organizations including NBAA, AOPA, and the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE). “AAAE is pleased with DJI’s decision to equip nearly all of its drones with ADS-B In capabilities,” said Justin Barkowski, the organization’s staff vice president, regulatory affairs. “Providing users with better situational awareness of nearby air traffic will only increase safety in the national airspace, particularly around airports where these measures are needed most.”