DJI Fights Back Over Sensationalist Drone Reporting

Over the past few years the number of reported near misses between multirotors, or drones as they are popularly referred to, and aircraft has been on the rise. While evidence to back up these reports has been absent time and again.

We’ve looked at incident reports, airport closures, and media reporting. The latest chapter comes in the form of a BBC documentary, “Britain’s Next Air Disaster? Drones” whose angle proved too sensational and one-sided for the drone manufacturing giant DJI. They have penned an acerbic open letter to the broadcaster (PDF link to the letter itself) that says that they will be launching an official complaint over the programme’s content. The letter begins with the following stinging critique:

As the world’s leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, we feel it is our duty on behalf of the millions of responsible drone users around the globe, to express our deep disappointment at the BBC’s negative portrayal of drone technology and one-sided reporting based on hearsay.

It then goes on to attack the tone adopted by the presenter in more detail : “overwhelmingly negative, with the presenter frequently using the words ‘catastrophic’ and ‘terrifying’.“, before attacking the validity of a series of featured impact tests and highlighting the questionable basis for air proximity incident reports. They round the document off with a run through the safety features that they and other manufacturers are incorporating into their products.

DJI have pulled no punches in their condemnation of the standard of reporting on drone incidents in this document, and it is a welcome and rare sight in an arena in which the voices of people who know something of multirotors have been rather lonely and ignored. The BBC in turn have responded by saying “its investigation had shown positive uses of drones and that its programmes were fair“.

Over the past few years we have reported on this issue we have continually made the plea for a higher quality of reporting on drone stories. While Britain has been the center of reporting that skews negatively on the hobby, the topic is relevant wherever in the world there are nervous airspace regulators with an eye to any perceived menace. These incidents have pushed the industry to develop additional safety standards, as DJI mentions in their letter: “the drone industry itself has implemented various features to mitigate the risks described”. Let’s hope this first glimmer of a fight-back from an industry heavyweight (with more clout than the multirotor community) will bear the fruit of increased awareness from media, officials, and the general public.

If you’d like to see the BBC documentary in question it will be available for the next few weeks to people who see the Internet through a British IP address.

Thanks [Stuart] for the tip!

69 thoughts on “DJI Fights Back Over Sensationalist Drone Reporting

    1. Unfortunately anything that gets people talking or clicking on websites is the goal of the media these days…sensationalist and biased seem to be considered good journalism these days.

      1. – Yep, it’s ridiculous – and only serves to desensitize everyone to media in general, and if anything actually important happens, it’s lost in a sea of other over-sensationalized B.S. that already has the volume turned up to 11. Or assumed it’s just being dramatized / sensationalized.

        1. Nope, they are funded by law.
          You MUST have a TV licence in the uk to watch tv – if you don’t, the government will back up the bbc in prosecuting you.

          It stinks, the bbc is out of date, poor value for money and usually biased.

          Very few people in the uk actually support the way the bbc is funded.

          1. Actually, that law was changed recently. You may own a TV, but not watch the BBC now and will have no need for a licence. When they altered the law to include other devices it clarified the law regarding TVs.

          2. Brit here who hasn’t had a TV for the last 5 years and hasn’t paid for a TV license in that time. You just go on to the TV license website and declare that you don’t require a TV license and they stop hassling you for 3 years I think, at the end of that time if you still don’t require one you just do the same again. All perfectly legal if you are genuinely not watching TV or using iPlayer.

          3. “Very few people in the uk actually support the way the bbc is funded”
            Source ?

            As a counterpoint, I am very happy with the way it is funded and the easy way for people to opt-out. Shipping forecast and Radio4 is worth the entrance price alone.

        2. This is why there is a growing movement to stop paying the TV license.
          The channels are full of adverts. For other shows on other BBC channels, but adverts none the less.
          We get crap like so called celebrities dancing on ice. FIne the viewing figures may be large but that’s not what the license is about, let the commercial stations show the gutter programs.
          Where are all the science programs we enjoyed growing up?
          The audience is devolving because the media is devolving. That’s why the TV license is supposed to be there, to ensure high quality educational content. Not trash TV.

          And a growing bias in political and social issues where they should remain netural.
          Their claim to not be a “fake news outlet” yet stories like this appear.
          And they make and sell content around the world and operate a commerical arm in the UK which the TV licnese revenue is used to pay for programs to be made. That’s a clear conflict of interest.

          Their model is broken and they are clinging on.
          Dont pay it.

  1. Quality of BBC reporting has really been falling in the past few years, totally unwilling to say anything on any issue that doesn’t match wth the government line. And thesedays always so happy to empathise with “big state”, authoritarian, “it’s the little subversive guy who is dangeroud not the organisation in power” ways of thinking. They have come to happily ignore facts and reasoning, their editorial guidelines even say they should give weight to opinions based on how prevalently they are beleive as opposed to how credible the logic behind them is. “The Register” “The Guardian” and “The Independent” are much better UK news sources thesedays than the BBC, Channel 4’s news can also be pretty decent. The BBC is too scared of the government tweaking laws and thereby cutting off it’s licence based funding method for it to be willing to tell the full truth nowadays.

    1. From a distance – and I’m not even a drone owner or much interested otherwise – it sure seems like the government wants more regulatory power, and is using BBC (otherwise known as “Big Bag of Crap”) to promote fear of them to make getting their little laws easier. The BBC has been toeing the government line even when it’s much more ridiculous than this. Including horribly misreporting US politics – and don’t even think about Brexit. I guess they’re just part of that “controlling the narrative” project that got funded awhile back. Makes me glad I don’t live there. At least I can refuse to support “national public” media where I live.

      1. They don’t normally need this kind of thing, so why should this be any different. If they wanted the laws they’d just do them.

        No, this in my view is simply the usual of never attributing to intelligence what can be explained by incompetence. It’s a perfect storm of inept and incompetent agencies and news agencies, all competing to make more of a cock-up.

    2. I want to see the Brits privatize the BBC and end their TV and radio license fees. Then if The Beeb cannot survive in the free market, good riddance.

      Over here one o the most annoying things about them is seeing *American* TV shows on BBCA. Why the ever lovin’ pluck would I turn to the BBC’s channel in America to watch American TV? It’s like going to a Chinese restaurant and ordering a bacon cheeseburger.

  2. I’ve not seen it, but naming the documentary “Britain’s Next Air Disaster? Drones”, to shows that is it clearly biased against drones. It is just meant to bring in viewers with fear, and instead of being helpful, it just creates terror in the people who are already uneasy about flying, but worse than that, might inspire the wrong kind of person in the wrong direction.

    I call this “cheap journalism”.

    How about an educational documentary where it shows the great and useful uses of drones. The BBC themselves uses them for reporting. How about the Police, who uses them to find criminals and lost people without calling out a helicopter. And then the other commercial uses for them such as estate agencies, HV line inspection, and many other uses that today can even save lives.
    What about then ending the documentary advising the viewers and potential future users, not to fly close to airports as that could be very dangerous for who is on an aircraft.

    Sorry for the rant.

      1. There have been studies showing sounds in the purring frequencies help with bone density, and healing. I suspect the cancer thing has been tacked on at some point as the villain of the day.

    1. I agree “Britain’s Next Air Disaster? Drones” as a title is like a lawyer in a spousal assault case starting out asking the defendant “When did you stop beating your wife?”

    2. Estate agencies have few legitimate uses of drones. Any of the shots I’ve seen where they used a drone could be taken with a camera on a long pole and add very little to the normal street level shots. In an urban setting is exactly where you DON’T want drones to be used for a multitude of reasons. Lets not confuse actual legitimate and useful reasons for drone use by adding one whose only added value is beauty shots of questionable added worth.

  3. I wonder if DJI and other manufacturers would agree with laws for hefty fines to drone pilots AND manufacturers/importers in case of real accidents ….

    Since they state the dangers are low, then no problem with a new law with some fines, like, 10 Million Euros or the like.

    1. DJI is the main bad-boy drone manufacturer, though the try not to market as such, their products are the perfect fit for those who have no intention of following rules, use common sense, or care about consequences. Most hobby fliers respect the line of sight rule, and there is never a need for a 2 mile video range, one of DJI’s main selling points. My eyes aren’t perfect, but most sunny days, I barely can keep track of my Q500 at 600-700 feet out, which is also about the limit of my live video stream. Not hard to find bad-boy videos on YouTube or any place else, and they mostly are using DJI products, to do risky things. A camera and a relatively small screen, outdoors won’t always give you enough information to avoid disaster. Even FPV flyers are built to be easily rebuilt, and designed to minimize damage to the expensive parts, for the anticipated crashes. Professional used drones should be kept separate from hobby/toy use. Most people will test the limits of their craft, but there is always a group, who will test to see what they can get away with. I don’t doubt there are some who try to get up close and personal with commercial aircraft, which I’d expect to be fatal to the drone, much turbulence. I doubt if many of the UFO/Drone sightings are drones either, too small, too quick. Put cameras on commercial aircraft, and catch something on video.

      News, hasn’t been journalism for a long time, stories are deliberately incomplete, biased, subjective, usually supporting an agenda. A lot of it leans far to the political left anymore, really pretty much useless for staying informed on any topic. I don’t think more laws and regulations are really going to solve any problems. The few that feel a need to show off for social media, will continue to do so. We already have too many restrictions on our lives, and yet people still ignore what’s written on paper, sort of a challenge, can they get away with it. DJI just makes it too easy, and affordable too…

      1. “I don’t need it so no one else should have it” is a terrible argument for anything. DJI making, advertising, and selling a product on the international market shouldn’t restrict functionality to the lowest common denominator. Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Fords, and Teslas all reach speeds well above the speed limits of some roads, yet the blame for speeding is rightly put on the driver, not the manufacturer. Just because where you are has limits, doesn’t mean they should be applied wholesale to everyone.

        I was recently reading a post on Reddit of a fellow trying to make agricultural maps for local farmers. He had technical questions and mentioned he planned to fly at 150-175m above the ground. People asked if he knew he had to stay below 400ft, and he pointed out that in his country, they didn’t have any height limits, or any UAV laws. He just wanted to make sure people would have food, as they’ve had some bad weather kill off crops for the past few years. Folks gave him the assistance he asked for and now, hopefully he can help folks get some food.

        Not everyone with a drone is trying to use it for likes on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

        1. Commercial drones should be for commercial users. Nobody can see a drone from 2 miles away, just flying FPV, not to mention battery life, flying out so far, can you be sure to make it back? Line of sight keeps a lot of trouble from happening. If you have to keep it relatively close, it’s not like you are hiding, while flying. People know that most drones have cameras these days, and it’s a little troublesome not knowing who or why they are recording. When people do sneaky things, it’s usually not good.

          Fly FPV has it’s place, but it shouldn’t be the normal, or done around people, or their property, without consent. Lot of stuff can take down a drone, that you won’t see on screen, or not until it’s to late to do anything. I fly slow, and narrowly missed a few things, but I don’t watch the screen, quick glance to check battery, and a few things. The screen is more like a viewfinder, and that’s how I use the streamed video. There are a lot of commercial and professional applications for drones, but I don’t think hobby/toy drones should have the same function and range. You give them to a ‘kid’, he’ll do bad things to the limits of the toy. By your logic, we should also have all the functions and features available to the military’s drones. And yeah, I don’t see much point in having a car that can do double the speed limit anywhere, on public streets. I’ve had quite a few speedy cars over the years, and quite a few tickets. You have to do an engine check occasionally, you know, to blow out the carbon deposits… Just a little over a month ago, kid ran his graduation present Mustang into a business in Orlando, all the way through a block wall. Surprisingly, walked away, car didn’t look too bad either, but he was flying though. Most high speed crashes don’t end happy.

          1. I feel like this is more a monologue than dialogue.
            But I’ll still try to chip in.
            It seems to me that your are doing quite a lot of judgement on what should be normal and what not.
            While I don’t own a drone (yet), I don’t mind people flying in safe manner and make interesting or entertaining videos. As long as they keep the rule “don’t do to others what you don’t want to be done to you”, I believe we are quite OK.
            You don’t need a drone to secretly film someone.
            You don’t need a drone to harm planes (remember laser-pointers?).

            So making judgement of what should be allowed and what not just based on your personal experience and capability seem a bit harsh to me.

            I have my own level of respect for people willing to risk their $1000+ machine on long flight, especially FPV, close to battery limits etc. I would not be willing to do so, that does not mean I would like to prohibit it.

            And I certainly would not like to say what should be allowed for so called “commercial use” and what not.

            A little less judgement would be in place here, I think. Such strong statements and judgements actually support such low-quality journalism as the famous BBC produced here :(

          2. “Commercial drones should be for commercial users.”

            Yes, lets restrict the consumer to only being allowed to buy the more expensive version which is defeatured.

            You are an apologist for DRM

      2. “Sightings” of drones have been reported by pilots flying thousands of meters up and/or many kilometers out to sea. Both are impossible for pretty much any commercially available drone not produced for government / military operation.

        1. I would distinguish here between multi-rotors and drones. There are quite some projects of long-range, long-duration airplanes with FPV capabilities, GPS navigation, autonomous raising air detection to increase range and even flexible solar panels on wings to help recharge batteries while in flight.
          I don’t doubt they can fly high/long.
          I remember at least one video of a guy who built his DIY plane, modified the flight controller to work autonomously under specific conditions (making it a drone by definition) and flew up. He only stopped flying as he was bored after 4+ hours. On landing, the batteries were still close to full charge thanks to the solar panels.
          I’m not stating the sights were all such hobby-level drones (especially considering the size of the vehicle and the ability to see it while flying multiple hundreds of km/miles per hour, but at least some of them might have been non-goverment/non-military.

    2. Kneejerk-reaction laws based on fears shouldn’t be created or we end up with half-cocked ‘solutions’ that don’t improve anything and generally only make things worse. Likewise, fines should be reasonable and payable; some countries scale fines based on financial means (so a millionaire and a broke college student may not be find the same amount), otherwise some people’s live go through financial run, while others don’t experience anything more than mild annoyance.

      That being said, DJI sells the most drones and really does have a strong interest in keeping it that way, so they have pushed for more restrictive, “safer” laws that limit users actions in many countries and impose fines in some cases. Often, they mostly fight for the rights of commercial drone operators (even if it negatively impacts consumer drone users/sales) as that is the sector that will provide them with the most future profit.

      1. We are not even holding them accountable for the poor security which is allowing so many to be stolen.
        The quite obvious flaw of not requiring the key to be inserted into the dash board or continuously polled, as to not inconveniece the car owner having to take it out of their pocket.
        Thus RF relay attacks work thanks to marketing to lazyness.

  4. Yall know that i love to see this false reporting to pad their pockets through fear, and the reason i love this it shows how many people don’t have a brain or the intelligence to see a lie. There are certain companies who are trying to get drones out of the hands of common people so businesses have to pay their outrageous fees for the service and or trained personnel for their own services.

  5. The UK is pushing hard for a ban on drones in my opinion with most of our media being biased against them, the BBC especially so.

    After living for 10 plus years without a TV, I have been amazed at the drop in the level of quality and the even more blatantly obvious pushing of agendas (drones for example, attacking certain politicians in the run up to key events) when seeing TV at friend and families houses the last year or so. I am glad I still do not have a TV.

  6. You can do and put in place all the rules and laws that you want.
    But if I want to fly I will fly. And there is nothing you can do about it unless you catch me. HA HA.
    That is what will happen and is happening.
    But I would really like to see thoughs $999 store bought Quads. Fly that high and fast to do what they said they did in The UK.
    So in Ontario (correct me if I’m wrong please.) you can not fly any remote controlled craft with in 10km of any landing pad or airport that can fly over 100′.
    Do you have any Idea how many there are in southern Ontario. So lets say you live in Toronto, you have to drive over 100km to get into a area so you can fly. And you still have to ask the owner of the property if you can fly there. And you still have to let the people living in the are know that you are flying.
    There is a web site (sorry cant remember the name.) were they show all the registered landing sites and most but not all the privet landing sites in North America.
    Sorry venting off steam.

    Mind you I am getting great deals at the used store. Getting over $1000 quads for less then $20.
    But you should check your local bylaws they will make you sick.

    Me I think that thoughs UFOs were plastic bags.

  7. Drones have turned out to be a perfect example of the dangers of a sensationalist know-nothing media stirring up paranoia in a take-matters-into-your-own-hands know-nothing public. I built a few drones to learn the electronics and how to fly them, bought a few photography-focused quads, but have pretty much stopped flying any of them after increasingly worrying reactions from strangers. Some guys in large pickups with blinding light bars started to show up at the local field as soon as I’d start flying after work/around dusk, park across the field and blind me with their lights. A few times, they’d follow me for miles when I’d leave, and I’d have to just drive around to avoid leading them to my house. There’s no doubt that these incidents were going to lead to some altercation at some point. The troubling part is that those individuals probably came away from the situation with their actions reinforced by having accomplished their goal.

    Like a previous comment, I too stopped paying for/watching TV/news as it has all become garbage.

      1. Yea, not really, but thanks for the demo of false equivalence. Don’t believe I remember ever reading about anti-gun nuts ominously following gun owners home from the shooting range or flying drones around capturing video of people at shooting ranges. But how many times have we seen gun owners not just threatening, but actively shooting down drones?

        It’s typical rampant modern hypocrisy – I’ll shoot your drone down, they should be illegal, government should regulate them, require registration, throw people in jail for violations. What? Register my gun? SECOND AMENDMENT, SECOND AMENDMENT!! FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS! SECOND AMENDMENT!!!

  8. I’ll just leave this here. Given when and where it was said, it’s kind of unflattering to know that most people still “don’t get it”.

    The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

    H. L. Mencken

  9. This sorta biased fearmongering exists toward dang-near everything… yet, rather’n these essentially-ostracized groups’ [which, realistically, pretty much accounts for everyone] working together to put and end to it, as a whole, or even educate folks to be critical of these comparatively-tiny and deceptive details in this bigger-picture, these comparatively-small groups tend to fight toward their own ends. That means, when it attacks some organization’s profit-margin, the organization can justify expensive campaigns against… whereas when the fearmongering targets e.g. a subculture, who within it can afford [time and money! Nevermind organizing, etc.] to fight for their own cause? And, when they do, it often serves to further isolate these groups as “them” [vs. us].
    If, instead of fighting against their own being-ostracized, they instead recognized the artificial-divisiveness it creates, and fought against *that*, the numbers would be tremendous, and change might occur.
    Instead of fighting for human-rights [of all forms], here we’re worried about our quadcopters’ rights. Hopefully some privileged-folk learn something about the bigger picture of being singled-out, and begin to apply that lesson toward their interactions with [better yet *for*] our fellow human-beings.

  10. USA. Since the mid 70’s have lived RIGHT at an airport just a couple blocks off to the side of the main runway but close in line with the smaller runway used by light aircraft traffic, and they go right overhead regularly.

    I was very much into R/C aircraft at the time, and a neighbor of mine was flying a quads since they first became available and wanted a good close up pic of a plane in flight. News reports say he got the pic…. the pilot saw the drone and filed a complaint, a public record exists of this online and states a fine was assessed. A couple years later he went and did it a second time and was caught again… and he moved away rather quickly after that.

    The online official report of the first event was easy to find online… the second event I didn’t bother to look for when I heard about it on local television. It seems there are those whom will continue to think it is harmless or some kind of right they have and wish to continue enjoying despite having been informed it is totally illegal.

    Worldwide there are multiple similar incident reports over the years and they continue to happen. Threat of prosecution seems to not be quite enough to solve this problem but it is all we have.

  11. You are incredibly naive if you don’t realise that this fuss is really at its core about the Chinese Communist Party (dictatorship)’s interests vs UK Government (democracy)’s security concerns, just like similar matters such as 5G. The CCP has filled the world with a sophisticated and very easily weaponised technology infrastructure that when used in combination would do significant damage to a target economy. But but the USA does the same you whine, well yes perhaps it does, but who do you want to trust to not use it against you? DJI has not handed over to the UK an unhackable “kill switch” that would take all drones off line in a crisis (brick them). Why? Because they know those drones have a strategic military value so long as DJI and the CCP can reconfigure them whenever they please. Wake up kiddies.

  12. “Drones” are a perfect example of “tragedy of the commons”. We, the RC nerds, lived peacefully with authorities for decades. It was perfectly fine to fly an RC plane in park, no one complained or acted with hostility. Then early 2010s happened, cheap ready to fly multicopters appeared in supermarkets all over the world. You didn’t need to acquire any skill or understanding of flight, just whack the stick on a controller and the “drone” flies itself.

    Few years later all those uneducated jerks with ready-to-flight toys caused regulations to appear that essentially f***ed people who enjoyed the hobby for decades. Now you need to register, sometimes purchase insurance, avoid populated areas, watch out for no-fly zones, have your ID card ready at all times… and the worst thing: instead of admiration like it used to be, others are often openly hostile to RC planes users.

    1. “The internet” is a perfect example of “tragedy of the commons”. We, the nerds, lived peacefully with authorities for decades. It was perfectly fine to go on the internet, no one complained or acted with hostility. Then early 90s happened, cheap ready to go online PC’s appeared in supermarkets all over the world. You didn’t need to acquire any skill or understanding of the internet, just whack the the modem in the wall and browse away.

      Few years later all those uneducated jerks with ready-to-surf toys caused regulations to appear that essentially f***ed people who enjoyed the hobby for decades. Now you need to register, sometimes purchase insurance, avoid populated areas, watch out for no-LOL zones, have your ID card ready at all times… and the worst thing: instead of admiration like it used to be, others are often openly hostile to internet users.

  13. I think the BBC is in step with the general consensus of the US, and any other government that desires absolute and complete control over their citizens.
    ” Drones ” , or more precise , quadcoptors were never really a big issue or threat until they became readily available, affordable and able to film, record and transmit pictures and video in real time.
    When the average person became able to watch or view TPTB and their ilk, these toys or hobbiests’ vehicles become a bone of contention . Yeah, when WE gained the ability and technology to do to THEM what they do to us, they decided these were a ‘ threat ‘. When these devises leveled the field , they first began with rulrs. Then legislation and registration . Next will be PERMITS and an ok to fly.
    Wait and see. The day will come when airborne video recording without a license/permit is not allowed. Already HUGE fine result in the event of an accident .

      1. Maybe that too, but I have to say that the BBC’s science/tech reporting is often overly speculative. Whenever I see an article about ‘flying cars will be parked in your garage tomorrow’ I’m pretty sure that I’m on BBC tech.

        But the UK, and to some extent the US, is in the middle of a wider societal drone panic. It’s spillover. It’s not journalistic malpractice to believe that drones were sighted when a major airport closes due to “drone sightings”.

        The fact that none were actually proven to be there, is a news story that’s underreported, IMO. (Excepting Jenny’s stuff here at Hackaday, of course.)

    1. The internet happened and then everyone realised they the only people saying that the BBC produced high quality journalism were the BBC. In other words, we all grew up.

  14. Yes all this is just junk reporting and thank god really. That aside how about mandating that a gps chip is built in to controllers and limits their ability to take off when within a buffer zone near an airport/defense facility etc? A simple list of all city and country airports could be loaded onboard as a file of coordinates or some such mechanism…… because you or we really really do not want to see such a thing as a commercial flight downed no matter how remote the chance may be. No doubt there are many kids and dodgy adults out there not understanding that many people’s lives would be lost including theirs… in jail. So let’s just build in some safety mechanisms and move on. Yes, the media is crap but I just can’t see that changing….

    1. This is exactly what DJI **does** to it’s GPS enabled drones.

      I’m sure you can bypass the system somehow, but by default you can’t fly too close to an airport, and sports arenas. It even defaults to an (easily) overridable hight limit.

      All logged to DJI’s cloud (by default) so they can see if you’ve been naughty.

    2. DJI already have this built into their software (at least on my Mavic). The software can of course be hacked, though not easily, and you can submit a request to fly also

  15. I wish DJI had said that they still place the highest priority on safety, just as all civil and commercial aircraft makers have done since the dawn of the industry, except Boeing who decided that managing quarterly results was the highest priority, and safety was somewhere down the list, after getting softer toilet paper in the executive washrooms.

  16. Public hysteria is being whipped up to manufacture consent for regulation, just as the US great Christmas drone apocalypse prediction which never materialized was used to fool even those within the RC hobby that ACCIDENTAL collisions with RC aircraft was some huge threat when it could easily be statistically proved through analysis of the FAA’s huge, 25 year data base and study of an actual threat, bird strikes, that the probability of ACCIDENTAL collisions of drones with manned aircraft would be minuscule and the likelihood of injury even lower.

    But ACCIDENTAL collisions aren’t what they’re worried about as can easily be determined by searching in the 2015 web content for relevant keywords. You will see a sudden, official awakening to a new threat immediately prior to the sudden “need” for RC pilot regulation in the US. As a further hint to their true motives, note that ALL RC flying within 30 miles of Washington DC was banned immediately after RC pilot regulation was implemented in the US, and later lifted.

    So if you wonder why the threat of accidental drone collision is being ridiculously overblown and why airports are shut down if someone even thinks they’ve seen one, now you know. Always looking for a sensational story to hype, the technically clueless (beyond playing with their iToys) journalism mayors are eager to promote that mythical accidental collision threat.

  17. I offer the thought that most of this boils down to commercial interest. While I understand this is relating to the BBC and the UK, similar things are also going on in the US. The commercial drone lobbyists including Amazon, Google, and many other companies who want to use drones for commercial purposes, are leaning heavily on the media and regulatory agencies to try and kill or significantly cripple the R/C hobby as it operates in the same airspace (below 400 feet) that they want to use for their commercial ventures. I’m guessing this will eventually bleed over to the ultra-light flyers (para-motors, para-sail, hang gliders, etc) as well.

  18. The BBC has lost the plot in the last 10 years and it’s been getting worse. It started with them saying any hacker is a bad hacker. Then moved on to attacking drones, they reported that a police commissioner said that paedophiles would be using drones to look into bedrooms. Seriously, they did! And in the last three years they have been shown to be heavily against brexit. The list just goes on, ask Robert Llewellyn on their coverage on electric cars (they got caught out faking an EV battery going flat)

    There was a time they were needed, that time has gone. Time to sell whilst they still have value.

  19. Reading this type of article reminds me not everyone that reads and comments on HaD are versed in technology and that not everyone with a technical or engineering degree have common sense or could even be considered intelligent.

    I fly “drones” and RC aircraft both. All of my “drones” were built from the ground up piece by piece and I use open source flight controllers, none of them are made by DJI. They can all autonomously fly to waypoints, altitude hold, return to home, etc. Some of them a multirotors, others are fixed wing. Some are “freestyle” drones – I would love to let some of you ace RC plane pilots try to fly and let you tell me that its all just “press a button, do a trick” – pffftttt!

    Here are the problems that the media and the uneducated out there don’t seem to be aware of…

    Battery life – Ok so you want to park your drone on a glide path… Good luck getting to a decent altitude that no one is going to notice you and loiter long enough to be a real threat… shutting down Heathrow for HOURS? I want those batteries!

    Oh, and there is a good video out on youtube where a professional drone pilot shows off everything from a DJI consumer grade drone up to a full blown government grade “surveillance” capable drone with FLIR and what all you can see with each, plus the noise generated. Prepare to be underwhelmed… Even if your local pervert could afford a cinema level drone and camera, the sound of the thing is going to give them away if they are window peeping because (drone vibration + zoom = terrible, blurry shot) – its why a lot of drone cameras are fixed even if they are stabilized.

  20. Yup, that’s what happened here. Two AMA R/C clubs were affected. After the airport/quad events I mentioned (above) the county shut down our use of county property for our AMA flying field some 6 miles away from the airport, but they were nice and gave us a replacement flying field 20 miles away and it’s still up and running GREAT. The other AMA club’s flying field was farther away from the airport and flying on land owned by the city, but after several more years they too lost their flying field WITHOUT a replacement, and were forced to eventually find a private land owner that would RENT use the land to them… (watch out for cows on the runway and no glow or gas engines allowed). Those quad “events” had gained too much attention and both AMA clubs lost out, the dominoes were all set up and that neighbor pushed the first domino over. Most of us were already flying pontoon planes quite a bit so a bunch of the better pilots simply moved to the water which has no restrictions as strangely enough, falls under Coast Guard oversight, but isn’t patrolled, and worked out well for the tiny few of us that were willing to get a canoe or rowboat in order to continue flying. Some did… but it got OLD as it was many times more effort and cost with a boat.

    When one goes out now to look at the activity at the two flying fields, there isn’t even 20% of the activity there was “back in the day”. But I’ve visited clubs in a few other states and there are still places with a good level of activity. The hobby is not dead… but it is wounded… and healing.

  21. Watched the BBC program, and it was a total joke. The impact tests where they broke up a drone into its component pieces, binded it together and shot it out of a canon at a section of wing which was already structurally damaged and weakened was beyond stupid and totally non scientific. I did actually watch it with an open view to the findings, but turned it off as the whole program was biased.

  22. The culture within the BBC itself seems to have gotten very toxic. I just read an article within the last year about women complaining about wage inequality. When it was investigated and the wages of both women AND men were adjusted to their proper level, the same group were up in arms because they didn’t want the underpaid men to get a wage increase as well. The UK is becoming more and more somewhere I don’t even want to visit, let alone move to.

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