It’s old news now, dubbed “Dronegate” by some. The inebriated intelligence employee who flew a friend’s DJI Phantom out the window and over the fence at the White House in D.C. The friend and DJI owner reportedly blamed a “glitch with the quadcopter’s controls, known as a ‘flyaway’ ” according to a CNN report, claiming that the DJI suddenly climbed to a high altitude and then “zoomed away”, eventually to appear over the fence of the White House. Here’s the obvious problem – We have to assume that this nocturnal drone operator, “under the influence”, starting the DJI inside a building, likely lacking satellite reception, and didn’t notice that it was not daytime, who still had the foresight to await the satellite sync signal and set the “home lock”? Not at all likely, so blame it on the hardware, right?
So, are fly-aways as common as claimed by the unnamed DJI’s owner?
“…this is not a common occurrence. Most of the instances we’ve seen of this kind have been a result of pilot error,” said Jon Resnick, DJI’s Policy & Marketing Representative. (Source: CNN report).
The problem is that while more experienced UAV/drone operators have no problem figuring out is most likely to have happened, the realities of the event will likely be lost to the general public, and more importantly, to those who like to make up laws (while simultaneously promoting the benefits of “deregulation”). Another logical but unlikely response would be for the government department heads take the logical step of familiarizing their own employees with the drone version of the facts of the life.
Don’t hold your breath on either count.
We can only hope that logical and realistic NPRMs will be forthcoming from the FAA sooner rather than later .There have been rumors that such rules actually exist and are under “review” prior to beginning the comment process. Don’t hold your breath on that either. Like Charlie Brown and the football thing, we’ve been fooled so many times before.
As I was recently quoted from my eBook, “The Droner’s Guide“, – “…the danger for FAA in taking too long to get it all right could result in the situation going all wrong.” (Flash-back: FCC and CB radios)