Nowadays the majority of drones are designed to be user friendly and safe for beginners. Still, these UAVs can still be crashed. In this article we will highlight the top 10 causes of drone crashes. We will show you how you can avoid this to happen. Also to prevent a deep hole in your pocket for the repair.
#1 Pre-flight checklist
Going through a basic pre-flight checklist you can assure yourself that everything is fine before you lift of. You should pay attention to the following:
- make sure your props are on correctly
- use prop guards to reduce the damage of crashing if you do bump into something
- put your landing gear down and don’t take off from grass or sand
- make sure your battery is clicked in place
- check that your battery is fully charged
- point your antenna in the right direction
- set your controller to P mode and turn on multiple flight modes
- make sure that your max flight altitude is set correctly and if it can help enable the max distance so that you don’t fly to far away accidentally
- set return home altitude just higher than trees and buildings around you
- after take off hover in place and make sure everything looks and sounds good
#2 Not to wait for a GPS lock
It is very important that before flight to have enough GPS satellites, because that’s how the drone knows where it is on the planet. If it starts of with a weak signal it could end up drifting somewhere. Or the signals could bounce around and it might not have a reliable signal. That can mean it could be moving when it thinks it’s still. Also make sure that the home point is locked because hopefully you won’t have to use that home point, but if it does return home that’s where it’s going to. Sometimes the drone won’t lock into a home point until it gets up in the air and is away from you. So when it returns it’s gonna be returning to a weird place.
#3 Focusing on the screen instead of the drone
A lot of people want to make sure that the shot is well framed to get the perfect shot. So you spend a lot of time just looking at the screen. But you need to keep your eyes the drone because when you’re looking at the screen you’re only seeing forward. You have tunnel vision, so you might fly sideways into something or might decide you need to back up to give yourself a little more clear framing around your subject and you’ll just back into a tree or building or a person or something. If you need to look most of the time in your screen then have a second visual observer there who can keep their eyes on the drone and just give you a heads up if you’re about to crash into something.
#4 Not maintaining a visual line of sight
Not only that it is illegal, it is also a great way to crash your drone if you are flying out there chasing the shot or trying to get closer and pretty soon you can’t see it at all. Even if you can technically see it, you will not be able to know how it is oriented. You could feel you can pilot it because you’re watching the camera on your phone’s screen. But what if your phone dies which happens all the time. Then people have no idea how to fly their drone because it is to far away to see it and don’t know how to get it back. That’s dangerous and will crash your drone.
#5 Using any automated flight modes
That means automatically taking off because it can crash into something that’s above it because there is no upwards facing sensors. Also those quick shots where it does a nice little orbit around you or like that cool asteroid look are great ways to crash your drone too because your drone will fly in directions where it doesn’t have sensors. Like it will fly sideways or backwards or upwards those are great opportunities to hit things. Instead of using all those, just fly your drone, know how to fly it. You can do all that stuff manually and it’s way safer to do it that way.
#6 Use sport mode
When you switch to sport mode on DJI drones, they turn all their obstacle detection. The obstacle detection isn’t 100% and you shouldn’t rely only on it, but is a pretty good backup. Be prepared to switch to it. We will explain you a little bit later why. That means the drones will fly much much faster so little twitches on the sticks can put it into a dangerous situation.
#7 Run out of batteries
Your drone will want to land when it’s around 30%. So it’s not like a car, but with a car you get to E and still have 20 miles left or something. At 30% you need to be coming down to the ground and once it gets to 15% it’s gonna force you to land. So what happens to a lot of people is that they fly all the way out and say alright my battery is at 50% now I need to start coming back I still got plenty of juice. Guess what? you probably don’t have enough juice. Because at 30% it’s gonna start coming down. That means it might be stranded in the water or some place where you can’t safely land.
#8 Flying downwind during high winds
If you have to fly on a windy day you might upwind first. That way if you’re running a long battery the wind will actually be helping to push your drone home. If you fly out upwind you can maybe have 75% battery life left and still not be able to get home. It’s gonna take way more power when it’s coming up. When you’ll see the drone it will be flying at a steep angle and it might not be making any progress. It can be still where you are and be very windy someplace else.
At ground level it could be still, but at 50 or 100 feet you might encounter 30 or 40 mile/h winds. The same could happen flying near cliffs or around buildings and cities. They’ll be setting guts of wind if you fly over water especially over ocean. It can be so much windier over there so you have to anticipate this and you have to notice is right away.
What to do?
If you see that your drone is being caught by the wind get it back and if you are flying in a potentially windy conditions stop every now then and make sure you can still make it home. If you do run into problem where you can’t get your drone upwind the first thing is to switch it into sport mode. That’s why I told you earlier to be ready to switch to it. Because that’ll let you draw and go faster. This way you might be able to get it home better. Sport mode basically lets the drone fly at a steeper angle. The props might get into the shot. But you’ll get home safely and that’s what really matters.
Also don’t hit the return home because it will make your drone fly higher and winds tend to be higher up higher. So you will want to get your drone down lower closer to the ground potentially even below the tree level where some of the wind is going to be blocked. The means you’ll be able to fight the wind a little bit better
#9 Forgetting about interference
These drones use radio signals and a lot of them use WI-FI signals just like smartphone’s, just like your computers. There is a limited number of frequencies for WI-FI. So if you are flying your drone and you know you got a smartwatch, this could might interfere with the drone’s signals. Even a smartphone you have in your controller is probably always sending out WI-FI signals that are interfering with your drone itself. So if possible put your smartwatch into airplane mode. Put your smartphone into airplane mode too if you don’t absolutely need it to fly. Eliminate any other potential sources of interference.
There are also passive sources of interference like any sort of metal building or dumpster cars. You might try to fly these things around car lots and you’re standing near the cars that can be a real problem. This cars are really reflective and they’re bouncing signals all around. If you lose that signal you lose control of your drone. This happens to people all the time. It’s not just metal. If you fly near concrete bridges, if you try to go underneath a cool concrete tunnel you’re gonna lose signal and you’re not gonna be able to get your drone back. So prepare yourself for this.
What to do?
If you loose signal try to physically move yourself. Try have a clear line of sight of the drone. Just get closer to it and check orientation of those antenna on your controller and make sure that they are sending the signals directly out towards.
Earth is a huge source of interference to. If you try to fly your drone behind a hill or a mountain or something you’re gonna lose your signal. And guess what. You’re drone will not come back to you. You will have to move yourself around the hill so that you have a line of sight again. If you’re flying from a boat or near a boat that radar from the boat itself can completely wreck your signal. So be aware it can be especially dangerous if the boat you are on has radar.
#10 Freak out when things are going wrong
It is going to be some point when you lose control. If you don’t know what’s going on, at that point people start to get nervous. They get anxious and they just start jerking the control sticks. They actually over steer a little bit and pretty soon it’s spinning out of control and they will make this situation worse.
If stuff starts going wrong just let go of the sticks. Hit the Pause button on your controller if you have that and make sure that you’re calm. Check the drone’s orientation. Spin towards you because that’s easiest to control that way and the fly yourself actively to safety and land. Let your nerves settle down a little bit. So just many people become upset. This ends up crashing their drone. To get over that its by spending a lot of time flying your drone. Pretty soon you’ll become bored of it. You won’t get nervous anymore.
Fly your more in ATTI mode without any GPS or any other obstacle avoidance system. Practice flying around obstacles safely getting yourself into potentially dangerous situations and getting yourself out that way. When an unexpected dangerous situation comes up you don’t freak out.