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USA Experience flying in DJI "Restricted Zone"?

Joined
May 19, 2017
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#1
Hello,

I fly commercially in the US, and was looking to see if anyone has flown in a DJI Geo-Zone "Restricted Zone". These zones are shown in red on this map DJI - The World Leader in Camera Drones/Quadcopters for Aerial Photography. They require special unlocking from DJI to fly there. I understand the unlocking process but I would appreciate hearing people's experience on going through the process with DJI, and then how the aircraft and Ground Station Pro behaved in the field in that restricted zone.

For context, we're attempting to use Ground Station Pro to conduct a mapping flight with our M600 (or P4P if it behaves better) at an airport. We will have written approval from both the airport and the folks who contracted us to fly.

DJI has a disclaimer on the Custom Unlocking page of their Fly Safe page that reads. "1. Custom Unlocking may disable certain autonomous features like waypoint navigation. Please plan to fly your equipment manually." This is a bit concerning to getting proper spacing of images and flight lines, but not a deal breaker. Any experience with this would be appreciated to hear about as well.

Thanks!
 
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
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Canada
#2
I fly commercially in the US, and was looking to see if anyone has flown in a DJI Geo-Zone "Restricted Zone".
We have flown in the Red Zone twice.
It was such a hassle we always double check the presence of a RED ZONE well in advance.
We took our Inspire to the site the day before to check if the usual 3 day Fly Safe unlock worked. IT did not and the bird would not start up. A prompt to request "Restricted Zone unlock" appeared. That was new as we fly inside international tower control zones frequently. We were 1.6 km from the foot of runway and the recent GeoZone update triggered a new restricted zone and process which took several days and required a dossier of info we would not normally share with anyone.

Actual flights were in DJI GO as Litchi and others would not work.

To unlock the aircraft must be inside the red zone and GO app needs to see the permission grant (Internet).

If you try to unlock outside the red zone you will start up in the yellow zone with its own separate restrictions and when attempting to fly into the Red Zone will be force into a landing.

Flying the edge of the Red Zone is unpredictable at best as it seems to try to decide which rules to enforce. BTW we requested a much larger area for the full duration permitted, so the edge should not have been there as we had it extended to cover our entire flight area.

During one flight, deepest into the red zone, the bird jumped into ATTI which was startling considering the location and started to execute a forced landing. We were able to bring it back to our landing zone but it was quite the struggle. Typically ATTI does not force a landing immediately where ever the bird is at the time.

We did complete the two day mission and have some great footage that shows the Airport Towers in the background.

All in all be very careful and plan long in advance. Alternative machines would be a wise consideration.
 
Joined
May 19, 2017
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#3
We have flown in the Red Zone twice.
It was such a hassle we always double check the presence of a RED ZONE well in advance.
We took our Inspire to the site the day before to check if the usual 3 day Fly Safe unlock worked. IT did not and the bird would not start up. A prompt to request "Restricted Zone unlock" appeared. That was new as we fly inside international tower control zones frequently. We were 1.6 km from the foot of runway and the recent GeoZone update triggered a new restricted zone and process which took several days and required a dossier of info we would not normally share with anyone.

Actual flights were in DJI GO as Litchi and others would not work.

To unlock the aircraft must be inside the red zone and GO app needs to see the permission grant (Internet).

If you try to unlock outside the red zone you will start up in the yellow zone with its own separate restrictions and when attempting to fly into the Red Zone will be force into a landing.

Flying the edge of the Red Zone is unpredictable at best as it seems to try to decide which rules to enforce. BTW we requested a much larger area for the full duration permitted, so the edge should not have been there as we had it extended to cover our entire flight area.

During one flight, deepest into the red zone, the bird jumped into ATTI which was startling considering the location and started to execute a forced landing. We were able to bring it back to our landing zone but it was quite the struggle. Typically ATTI does not force a landing immediately where ever the bird is at the time.

We did complete the two day mission and have some great footage that shows the Airport Towers in the background.

All in all be very careful and plan long in advance. Alternative machines would be a wise consideration.


That's really valuable feedback. Thank you for taking the time to respond. That sounds like a huge headache overall, but also a good opportunity if you're willing to deal with the hoops you have to jump through.


Were these flights recent? I know updates happen fairly frequently, so it's hard to say how something a year ago may square with the same variables today.

In the past (~4 months ago), I've received some correspondence with DJI saying the P4P would be a better option than the M600, as it would work with GS Pro in the restricted area. Based on your experience, it sounds like that's not necessarily the case. I know the P4P and Inspire are different, but it would reason that they're more similar in app support than the P4P vs the M600. I think the DJI representative that emailed me may have not fully understood that I need the autonomous control that keeps the drone on a flight line.
 
Joined
May 14, 2015
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Location
East Sussex, UK
#4
I flew in a UK red zone last September using the Go App and Inspire 1, the unlock procedure worked just fine. Just make sure you provide all the information they require.

These are the instructions I received from DJI Flysafe after my request was authorised (suggest you allow at least a week for authorisation):


Below is the unlocking procedures for your reference:
1. Please first upgrade the firmware of both the aircraft and transmitter (RC) to the latest ones.
2. Launch the DJI Go app on your mobile device using the DJI account ID you provided to us.
3. Make sure your mobile device has internet access to download the license available on the app after clicking upper right corner (General setting->Unlimit Area)
4. Click on the license then switch to "unlock" once you are in the specified zone to enable flight.

Kindly note:
1. Only when the aircraft is placed in the specific zone with good gps signal, the 'enable unlock' button at DJI Go app's Unlimit Area page can be turned on.
2. Before every flight, pilot need to turn on the unlock button in DJI Go app.
3. Intelligent Navigation Modes including Point of Interest, Follow Me and Waypoint will not function in no-fly zones even after unlocking.



Only comment I have is that ref. 'Kindly note 2' - I only needed to unlock before the first flight, after that it wasn't necessary.

Simon
 
Joined
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#5
Were these flights recent?
They were last October and November 2017
I have flown the M600P as well but not in a Red Zone.
P4P uses Go 4 so different app. We fly a Mavic Pro as well but have not ventured into a RED ZONE with it either.
I tested the geoFence in GS Pro with all three machines and it did nothing to stop the bird flying out the zone. It's just a visual reference as far as I can see. Looks like there are better tools than GSP in my view.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 26, 2015
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Location
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#6
Only comment I have is that ref. 'Kindly note 2' - I only needed to unlock before the first flight, after that it wasn't necessary.

Simon
In our case we had to UNLOCK with every motor start! In cold weather all that fussing with the iPad challenges the battery temperature so have to work fast.
 
Joined
May 19, 2017
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#7
They were last October and November.
I have flown the M600P as well but not in a Red Zone.
P4P uses Go 4 so different app. We fly a Mavic Pro as well but have not ventured into a RED ZONE with it either.
I tested the geoFence in GS Pro with all three machines and it did nothing to stop the bird flying out the zone. It's just a visual reference as far as I can see. Looks like there are better tools than GSP in my view.
Gotcha. Thanks again for the quick response.
GS Pro meets our needs pretty nicely when it comes to photogrammetry flight purposes. We use a 3rd party camera + PPK corrections on the images, so not many other apps allow for the UAV to fly on a calculated route like that without a DJI native camera. I was hoping to continue to use it in the restricted zone (since it was made by DJI), but seems like we'll have to consider something else!
 
Joined
May 19, 2017
Messages
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#8
I flew in a UK red zone last September using the Go App and Inspire 1, the unlock procedure worked just fine. Just make sure you provide all the information they require.

These are the instructions I received from DJI Flysafe after my request was authorised (suggest you allow at least a week for authorisation):


Below is the unlocking procedures for your reference:
1. Please first upgrade the firmware of both the aircraft and transmitter (RC) to the latest ones.
2. Launch the DJI Go app on your mobile device using the DJI account ID you provided to us.
3. Make sure your mobile device has internet access to download the license available on the app after clicking upper right corner (General setting->Unlimit Area)
4. Click on the license then switch to "unlock" once you are in the specified zone to enable flight.

Kindly note:
1. Only when the aircraft is placed in the specific zone with good gps signal, the 'enable unlock' button at DJI Go app's Unlimit Area page can be turned on.
2. Before every flight, pilot need to turn on the unlock button in DJI Go app.
3. Intelligent Navigation Modes including Point of Interest, Follow Me and Waypoint will not function in no-fly zones even after unlocking.



Only comment I have is that ref. 'Kindly note 2' - I only needed to unlock before the first flight, after that it wasn't necessary.

Simon
Thanks for the info!
 
Joined
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Location
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#9
We use a 3rd party camera + PPK corrections on the images, so not many other apps allow for the UAV to fly on a calculated route like that without a DJI native camera.
Ah, I understand! The M600P we use has the DJI D-RTK package and the x5/xt. I might want to compare notes with you after a meeting tomorrow!
 
Joined
Mar 16, 2015
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Miami, Florida USA
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www.ExpertAerialSolutions.com
#11
My experiences with both yellow and red no fly zones is that the system is not reliable. These jobs are usually very time sensitive and may require direct coordination with local ATC during the operation. Not knowing for sure if the bird is going to fly or what it will do once airborne is unacceptable and is why operators who regularly fly in these zones no longer use DJI drones. The unreliability and not being able to use any 3rd party apps is a huge problem. Also DJI taking control of the aircraft and landing at random times makes operating in these areas hazardous possibly landing on critical equipment, in water or even on flight crew.

A notarized profesional unlock form with licensing documentation that grants a licensed pilot an unlock key they can use to unlock the drone to fly anywhere is needed. Real aircraft far more capable of doing harm do not require permission from the manufacture to start the engines or control where a pilot can fly.
 
Likes: eldorado
Joined
Mar 18, 2015
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#12
Would the Matrice M210 RTK be better for red zone flying than the Inspire 2? I have both.
I’m wondering if my Z30 Camera would work for this. I have the X7 on the Inspire 2 but if the Z30 isn’t suitable but the RTK is, then I would have to get the X5S for it as the 200 series Matrice birds don’t take the X7.
 
Joined
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#13
Another thing is that would you not have to have a tablet with internet all the time, whether it be the Crystal sky or iPad? Even if you tested the red zone the day before and it was fine, I don’t want to be faced with a firmware update required last minute before the flight.
 
Joined
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#14
I have flown in a red zone after requesting an unlock via the DJI app. The phantom's unlock was more reliable and seemed to stick even after the drone was landed and launched again. The inspires were a little trickier. Each time we landed (turned off the rotors) the unlock had to be resent to the drone via the DJI Go App. It isn't hard, but it's something to remember if you are pressed for time or trying to conserve battery. Lastly, we were unable to fly waypoint patterns with the inspire inside the unlock-zone. Everything had to be done with manual flying of the drone.
 
Likes: eldorado
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#15
I recently purchased a P4P, I live within the NFZ and work at a local airport that is class D when tower is in operation. Had to unlock area to fly anywhere near my house or work. Getting the unlock from DJI was simple. I have had no problems flying in NFZ, however today I had an odd experience, I started up drone and took off in NFZ when I tried to fly out of custom unlock zone (into no restricted zone), I got a warning saying I was trying to fly out of custom unlock zone and my drone stopped. It was geofences inside the unlock zone, I guess because I started flight inside area.
 
Joined
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#16
I recently purchased a P4P, I live within the NFZ and work at a local airport that is class D when tower is in operation. Had to unlock area to fly anywhere near my house or work. Getting the unlock from DJI was simple. I have had no problems flying in NFZ, however today I had an odd experience, I started up drone and took off in NFZ when I tried to fly out of custom unlock zone (into no restricted zone), I got a warning saying I was trying to fly out of custom unlock zone and my drone stopped. It was geofences inside the unlock zone, I guess because I started flight inside area.
Yes, when you unlock an area the drone uses a location and radius as the flyable region and everything else becomes locked. To fly outside the unlocked area simply deselect the unlock.

It’s the reason why I always specify a larger unlock radius than I expect to require so I don’t hit the edge.
 
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#17
I have flown in a red zone after requesting an unlock via the DJI app. The phantom's unlock was more reliable and seemed to stick even after the drone was landed and launched again. The inspires were a little trickier. Each time we landed (turned off the rotors) the unlock had to be resent to the drone via the DJI Go App. It isn't hard, but it's something to remember if you are pressed for time or trying to conserve battery. Lastly, we were unable to fly waypoint patterns with the inspire inside the unlock-zone. Everything had to be done with manual flying of the drone.
So to clarify - in the RED/Restricted zone with GS Pro, you were able to pilot with it but not fly autonymously, is that correct? I have a potential mapping mission with large part of area in restricted (very near airport) so looks like will be a manual flight, which to be fair isn't unreasonable of DJI.
 

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