dji phantom

Earlier this week there were reports of a drone crash landing in the gardens of the White House which, as you might have imagined, caused widespread panic amongst the Secret Service as they scrambled to secure the area and prepare for any threats to the President of the United States. Fortunately it turned out to be nothing more than an out of control DJI Phantom drone controlled by someone who had a little too much to drink.

In response to this accident, President Obama called for more regulations to be put in place for drones, and as a result Chinese drone maker DJI will reportedly be disabling its units from flying over the DC area, an area that according to the FAA, was already against federal regulations to fly in that region. As you might have guessed, it also wasn’t the best idea to tell the Secret Service that he had also been drinking that night.

DJI had previously revealed that they’ve programmed their drones to stop flying when they reach a certain distance from airports. They do this by using GPS data to determine where the drone in located, and avoids flying near zones that are off limits. This would mark the first time, however, that DJI is preventing flight over a metro area.

“DJI will release a mandatory firmware update for the Phantom 2, Phantom 2 Vision, and Phantom 2 Vision+ to help users comply with the FAA’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) 0/8326, which restricts unmanned flight around the Washington, DC metropolitan area,” the company wrote in a press release this morning. “The updated firmware (V3.10) will be released in coming days and adds a No-Fly Zone centered on downtown Washington, DC and extends for a 25 kilometer (15.5 mile) radius in all directions. Phantom pilots in this area will not be able to take off from or fly into this airspace.”

 DJI also said “the restriction is part of a planned extension of DJI’s No Fly Zone system that prohibits flight near airports and other locations where flight is restricted by local authorities. These extended no fly zones will include over 10,000 airports registered with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and will expand no fly zones to ensure they cover the runways at major international airports.”
It seems both the President and the drone industry are in agreement that more regulation is needed as the more affordable drones become, the more the average Joe and more are going to consider themselves everyday aerial photographers flying over areas they really shouldn’t be.

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