‘No-fly Zone’ On The DJI App

The DJI GO 4 app for your device allows you to view a live feed from the camera on your DJI product. Without this app, you would not be able to link your controller to your drone and take off. The app has many useful features such as an editing suit, a platform similar to that of Instagram for creators to publish their work among numerous others. One feature of the app that I use most frequently is the No-Fly zone option. This feature allows you to check the location of your flight and ensure that you are not entering areas where drone flights are restricted. The images are screenshots from the DJI Go 4 app and show what the features look like.

The problem with the app, is that many individuals check this section of the app before a flight and assume that their flight plan is acceptable and proceed with it. The issue with this however, is that in South Africa specifically, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) states that no one may fly within a 10km radius of any airport or airfield. The app however, does not set its no fly boundaries for this 10km law that is specific to South Africa. Therefore many individuals take flight under the assumption that they are permitted to fly in a certain area, and can end up facing possible jail time or a fine of up to R50,000 for their negligence.

In my opinion the app needs to be adjusted for the country that it is being used in, so that the laws that it is promoting are in accordance with the laws that the country specifically stipulates.  A positive to the feature is that when inside the red no-fly zone’s the drone will not take off, regardless if you are flying by sight or by GPS tracking. When within fields such as zones that require authorization, flight may only be unlocked through an authorized individual using a DJI verified account. Instances where this may occur is when taking part in model aircraft flying clubs within close proximity to an airport or power plant etc. Further information regarding such rules is available on the DJI Go app under the No-Fly Zone section.

Regardless of the amount of hours I have spent flying the drone, I continue to worry that I may be breaking a certain rule that I am unaware of. Despite reading CAA guidelines and checking the No-Fly Zone on the app, I am usually still concerned that there is a rule somewhere that I am in violation of. It is good that South Africa has drone laws as it ensures the safety of the general public, however in my opinion, the amount of laws and different ways that they can be interpreted is a deterrent from drone flight. Due to the fact that drones are still up and coming in South Africa, drone flight is still regarded as a gray area. As a creator, this is infuriating as my creativity is limited by laws that are unclear at best. The No-Fly Zone feature helps alleviate some of that stress, but also adds extra work as I have to continuously read existing laws to ensure that the information that the app is producing is intact current for the country that I am flying in. Despite all of this, drone flying continues to be a passion of mine because the videos and photos that you are able to produce are second to none!

(The picture of UCT is my own. The two screenshots come from the DJI app. This app can be found on the Apple Appstore: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/dji-go-4-for-spark-p4-series-mavic-and-inspire-2/id1170452592?mt=8)

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