Are DJI mini drones now non-compliant for commercial use? [FAQ]

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DJI Mini 4 Pro

DJI/ZDNET

Several readers have instructed me DroneXL The article reports that the latest firmware update for certain drones “unscientifically made these devices illegal for commercial use” in the US.

The drones in question are DJI’s popular lightweight models, DJI Mini 3 And DJI Mini 4 Pro.

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To understand the problem, we need to check both the firmware updates that DJI has released for the drones in question as well as the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). Drone Regulations.

First, about the firmware update: a release note for the DJI Mini 4 Pro update will be available on December 2, 2023. hereAnd DJI Mini 3 update notes available on January 25, 2024 here.

Update details of cause for concern are as follows:

Added support for automatically activating US Remote ID only when used with an aircraft Intelligent Flight Battery Plus.

At first glance, this is just one line, but — to understand its importance — there is significant context to the revelation.

With the growing number of drones buzzing around the skies, the FAA determined the need for a system that would enable drones in flight to broadcast detection and location information to various parties, including but not limited to other pilots, the FAA and the law. Enforcement and other federal agencies.

The Mandate for Remote ID was enactedwith a compliance deadline of September 16, 2023. Registration is required for drones, used for recreation, business or public safety, to comply.

Newer drones came with built-in remote ID capabilities, while Older models require additional modules consent

However, due to a number of factors, such as the limited availability of Remote ID-compatible broadcast modules for existing drones lacking Remote ID, the FAA acknowledges that some drone operators may struggle to meet the requirement. As a result, It issued a notification Noting that for remote ID violations occurring on or before March 16, 2024, it will “consider all circumstances… when exercising its discretion in determining whether to take enforcement action.”

Therefore, if you are forced to use Remote ID and fly without it between September 16, 2023 and March 16, 2024, you should be reasonable enough.

But which drones need a remote ID? The answer is not straightforward.

Note that both the Mini 3 and Mini 4 Pro are sub-250-gram drones when equipped with standard batteries. DJI also offers a larger, heavier Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, which increases the drone’s weight by over 250 grams.

Revising the wording in the release notes:

Added support for automatically activating US Remote ID only when the aircraft is used with an Intelligent Flight Battery Plus.

This means recreational pilots flying a Mini 3 or Mini 4 Pro with a standard battery don’t need Remote ID. However, the introduction of a large battery automatically triggers the remote ID.

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It is acceptable for recreational use.

Problems arise for commercial pilots. When flying with standard batteries, the drone still needs Remote ID for commercial purposes, but there is no manual activation option, as it is controlled automatically, rendering the drone non-compliant.

Bottom line, commercial pilots operating under Part 107 flying the Mini 3 or Mini 4 Pro must kit their drones with an Intelligent Flight Battery Plus to stay legal.

If flying without the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, then yes.

It seems likely. I’ve reached out to DJI for a statement and will provide an update upon response.

My advice is to buy one Intelligent Flight Battery Plus And install it on your drone to enable Remote ID. The extra battery life alone is beneficial, especially for commercial pilots.

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Note: Make sure you buy an original DJI battery. Savings from a cheap, low-quality alternative will be negligible if battery failure causes your drone to fail.

Alternatively – but remember I’m not a lawyer – you can continue flying as usual until March 16, 2024 and hope that the FAA exercises its discretion if you’re caught.

No.

If you fly with standard batteries your Mini 4 Pro will be under 250 grams of Mini 3 and you don’t need Remote ID. If you fit a larger battery, Remote ID will automatically activate for you.





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