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Some DJI Phantom Users are Experiencing Flyaways Resulting in Lost/Damaged Units and Cameras
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June 11, 2014
7:05 am
madgadget
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June 11, 2014
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Apologies for this long post (which I also posted on the DJIGuys.com forum as well), but I have just experienced an altogether shocking situation with DJI and the more I think about it, the more something is seriously wrong with the Phantom platform. I'm not trying to scaremonger people, but the experience I had over the past few days has left me wondering....

A bit of background first, as when all this happened, I did think for one moment I was going mad. I've been flying RC Heli's in stunt and scale form for 20 years, member of the BMFA and pride myself with being able to fly carefully and safely. I still fly a range of Align and Century Heli's (electric and glow fuel) and also have some of the smaller drones such as the Hubsan H107C/D and the Parrot Ar Drone. I've flown both FM and currently fly the Futaba FASST 2.4Ghz platform and never ever had any control or signal problems. The only time in 20 years that I crashed a Heli was because I was getting far to confident in new stunts and pushed the limit, that said, I've only crashed twice.

So, watching the Phantom platform with great interest, I was about to buy the P2V when they announced the P2V+. Great, I managed to find one last wednesday via a dealer and bought it and it arrived on Friday.

On Saturday morning, I went through all of the usual inspection checks and I also hooked up the Phantom to the computer and uploaded the latest firmware (v3.04), checked calibrations etc. Everything was good and the battery was freshly charged. A short preflight in the garden went well and confirmed that it could get a lock for GPS etc.

So, Saturday early evening, I took the P2V+ out into the garden and did all the normal preflight checks, switches correct, controller on, Wifi extender on, iPhone on Airplane mode but with Wifi on and connected to the range extender and the iPhone app started up. 

I then checked all the props and removed the camera gimbal stabiliser and switched on the Phantom and carried out the compass calibration. Then placed it on the ground and waited whilst watching the satellite acquisition. Finally, 7 satellites signalled by rapid green flashing of the rear LEDs and then onto slow green flashing meant that it has a GPS lock and also recorded it's home position (according to the manual, website etc).

I lifted off and the phantom hovered, went up to 100ft above and in front, tail in, point away from me. Then all of a suddenly it started to climb and the controls become unresponsive, I then tried to dump it by shutting down the motors but no response, although the iPhone app was still receiving telemetry, the controls were not working. I then turned off the controller to initiate the return to home and that did not work. The last I saw of the phantom and the last the iPhone app saw was it climbing past 248ft at a speed of 24.8mph and flying away. 

I live on the edge of the salisbury plain and it went off towards woodland and acres of rape seed crop (which are about 4 ft tall and very thick). A search party over the saturday evening and sunday failed to find it. I have since had to work with the Police and the MOD (as it's on the edge of the salisbury plain) just in case it is found.

Now here's where I get to the really shocking and concerning part.

I was under the impression from forums, DJI's good website, marketing etc that the Phantom is failsafe, reliable, trustworthy and more importantly, safe. But, I do not believe that is the case. I really don't. Whilst I still have my Heli's and other drones, they have never, ever lost control, if they have, that would be down to me and that is important if and when you fly near to other people, property etc, which I try to avoid as much as possible.

I do believe however, that the fact that this drone is hooked up to a computer and GPS, that somewhere in there is a fundamental flaw that a) caused this to occur and to fly away, but more importantly causes me to completely scrap any idea that using this platform could be a good business venture. 

OK, so it could be said that the majority of people have never experienced a loss of control or fly away, fine. But given that since Sunday (4 days ago) when I started looking into 'Phantom flyways' as they have been coined, I found 5 other people in the last few days who have experience this, any degree of 'unsafe' around this platform should put a big black flag onto it, until it can be guaranteed to be reliable and safe, especially given it's size.

I have since written to DJI on several occasions, but so far not heard anything. I followed all of the pre and during flight safety checks, but still this flyaway occurred and to watch something like £900 fly away without your control inputs working is, well, gutting. Fortunately, it did not fly into one of the neighbours houses, cars etc.

There are numerous websites where people are contributing to this problem:

https://www.facebook.com/djiflyaway , 
http://www.photographybay.com/2013/07/2 ... d-cameras/

that second page shows that this was kicking off mid 2013 as well, so this is not unknown to DJI.

and there is another flyer Eric Riemer (eric@architech3di.com) who is pulling together a list of any of those people who experience this problem. 

I really really didn't want to criticise this platform, I was hoping to do great things with it, the photo/video quality is simply awesome. But, with this fundamental design flaw, it is more of a random, incredibly dangerous drone and I could never trust it near people. Great design but flawed execution.

I hope that something good comes of this and that others do not experience what I and a growing number of other flyers out there are also experiencing.

Sorry for the long and windy posting, but hopefully, you will see that this is not just a sad issue, but it is a dangerous issue :)

June 11, 2014
10:17 pm
eriemer
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David said
I Have had the same issue happen yesterday - I have been flying for many months and this is the first time this has happened....
Heres the video http://youtu.be/tlX2kg9deAw

I am getting a lawsuit together. Many of us have had the same problem and the lack of response from DJI is sad. I have a growing group of individuals who had the same experience and we are filing a lawsuit. We will be filing in the next week or two, so please contact me if you would like to join.

Eric

Eric@architech3di.com

June 11, 2014
10:18 pm
eriemer
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madgadget said
Apologies for this long post (which I also posted on the DJIGuys.com forum as well), but I have just experienced an altogether shocking situation with DJI and the more I think about it, the more something is seriously wrong with the Phantom platform. I'm not trying to scaremonger people, but the experience I had over the past few days has left me wondering....

A bit of background first, as when all this happened, I did think for one moment I was going mad. I've been flying RC Heli's in stunt and scale form for 20 years, member of the BMFA and pride myself with being able to fly carefully and safely. I still fly a range of Align and Century Heli's (electric and glow fuel) and also have some of the smaller drones such as the Hubsan H107C/D and the Parrot Ar Drone. I've flown both FM and currently fly the Futaba FASST 2.4Ghz platform and never ever had any control or signal problems. The only time in 20 years that I crashed a Heli was because I was getting far to confident in new stunts and pushed the limit, that said, I've only crashed twice.

So, watching the Phantom platform with great interest, I was about to buy the P2V when they announced the P2V+. Great, I managed to find one last wednesday via a dealer and bought it and it arrived on Friday.

On Saturday morning, I went through all of the usual inspection checks and I also hooked up the Phantom to the computer and uploaded the latest firmware (v3.04), checked calibrations etc. Everything was good and the battery was freshly charged. A short preflight in the garden went well and confirmed that it could get a lock for GPS etc.

So, Saturday early evening, I took the P2V+ out into the garden and did all the normal preflight checks, switches correct, controller on, Wifi extender on, iPhone on Airplane mode but with Wifi on and connected to the range extender and the iPhone app started up. 

I then checked all the props and removed the camera gimbal stabiliser and switched on the Phantom and carried out the compass calibration. Then placed it on the ground and waited whilst watching the satellite acquisition. Finally, 7 satellites signalled by rapid green flashing of the rear LEDs and then onto slow green flashing meant that it has a GPS lock and also recorded it's home position (according to the manual, website etc).

I lifted off and the phantom hovered, went up to 100ft above and in front, tail in, point away from me. Then all of a suddenly it started to climb and the controls become unresponsive, I then tried to dump it by shutting down the motors but no response, although the iPhone app was still receiving telemetry, the controls were not working. I then turned off the controller to initiate the return to home and that did not work. The last I saw of the phantom and the last the iPhone app saw was it climbing past 248ft at a speed of 24.8mph and flying away. 

I live on the edge of the salisbury plain and it went off towards woodland and acres of rape seed crop (which are about 4 ft tall and very thick). A search party over the saturday evening and sunday failed to find it. I have since had to work with the Police and the MOD (as it's on the edge of the salisbury plain) just in case it is found.

Now here's where I get to the really shocking and concerning part.

I was under the impression from forums, DJI's good website, marketing etc that the Phantom is failsafe, reliable, trustworthy and more importantly, safe. But, I do not believe that is the case. I really don't. Whilst I still have my Heli's and other drones, they have never, ever lost control, if they have, that would be down to me and that is important if and when you fly near to other people, property etc, which I try to avoid as much as possible.

I do believe however, that the fact that this drone is hooked up to a computer and GPS, that somewhere in there is a fundamental flaw that a) caused this to occur and to fly away, but more importantly causes me to completely scrap any idea that using this platform could be a good business venture. 

OK, so it could be said that the majority of people have never experienced a loss of control or fly away, fine. But given that since Sunday (4 days ago) when I started looking into 'Phantom flyways' as they have been coined, I found 5 other people in the last few days who have experience this, any degree of 'unsafe' around this platform should put a big black flag onto it, until it can be guaranteed to be reliable and safe, especially given it's size.

I have since written to DJI on several occasions, but so far not heard anything. I followed all of the pre and during flight safety checks, but still this flyaway occurred and to watch something like £900 fly away without your control inputs working is, well, gutting. Fortunately, it did not fly into one of the neighbours houses, cars etc.

There are numerous websites where people are contributing to this problem:

https://www.facebook.com/djiflyaway , 
http://www.photographybay.com/2013/07/2 ... d-cameras/

that second page shows that this was kicking off mid 2013 as well, so this is not unknown to DJI.

and there is another flyer Eric Riemer (eric@architech3di.com) who is pulling together a list of any of those people who experience this problem. 

I really really didn't want to criticise this platform, I was hoping to do great things with it, the photo/video quality is simply awesome. But, with this fundamental design flaw, it is more of a random, incredibly dangerous drone and I could never trust it near people. Great design but flawed execution.

I hope that something good comes of this and that others do not experience what I and a growing number of other flyers out there are also experiencing.

Sorry for the long and windy posting, but hopefully, you will see that this is not just a sad issue, but it is a dangerous issue :)

I am getting a lawsuit together. Many of us have had the same problem and the lack of response from DJI is sad. I have a growing group of individuals who had the same experience and we are filing a lawsuit. We will be filing in the next week or two, so please contact me if you would like to join.

Eric

Eric@architech3di.com

June 11, 2014
10:20 pm
eriemer
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valcalepi said
March 27th 5:20pm EST I had the same fly away issue and I spent 2 days in the forest, marsh, river and landfills trying to find it.

Had  a brand new Mobius Camera mounted on my DJI Phantom FC40. $660 invested, it seems after reading all these posts that this is a wide spread problem. I also had issues after performing firmware update, the software changed the config to another transmitter(one I do not have). I have to wait 90 minutes on hold for DJI to tell me the fix. Why not send a new firmware out that corrects the bug. Clearly they have issues with their products. I am on hold to speak to someone I was caller 42 but got down to 22 so far and waiting.

 

When I called earlier I was caller 9, I should have stayed on the call then ;-(

 

With that many support calls, it shows there is an issue and their firmware has a bug!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!ConfusedFrownYell

I am getting a lawsuit together. Many of us have had the same problem and the lack of response from DJI is sad. I have a growing group of individuals who had the same experience and we are filing a lawsuit. We will be filing in the next week or two, so please contact me if you would like to join.

Eric

Eric@architech3di.com

June 11, 2014
10:21 pm
eriemer
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john uk said
i had the same problem yesterday i flew mine set the compass corectly took the model to near enuff 400ft" i lost control of it as it said conection failed, so i decided to switch off the transmitter and let it return to home' after switching off the transmitter it did say going home on my iphone" but after 5 seconds after powering of that transmitter it said conection faild" however i remember looking at my phone screen i was conected to 9 satelites" the model had a mind of its own it just start flying away" i realised it was not responding to return to home my camra switched off i tryd turning my transmitter back on to regain control but by that time it had flown so far away i was unable to get it back" battry was also fully charged this happened with that latest phantom vision 2" £850 loss in under 2weeks model was never to be seen or heard from" 

 

dji need to fix up and get this dam robot workjng properly as its an expensive thing to loose" :( good luck everyone 

hope this does not happen to others

 

I am getting a lawsuit together. Many of us have had the same problem and the lack of response from DJI is sad. I have a growing group of individuals who had the same experience and we are filing a lawsuit. We will be filing in the next week or two, so please contact me if you would like to join.

Eric

Eric@architech3di.com

June 11, 2014
10:22 pm
eriemer
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Railhound said
I had flown my Phantom 2 about 10 times. Everything seemed to work just fine. On my last flight everything started normally the lights were green indicating ready to fly with GPS support. I was connected with the camera and could see the ground on my smartphone.

As soon as I spun up the rotors, I began as normal with a slow ascent and then all of a sudden the Phantom 2 just shot straight up in the air and flew away over my house. I attempted to bring the aircraft back down but it appeared that I had no control of the aircraft at all. The connection to the camera was also lost almost immediately after take off.

I quickly lost sight of the aircraft. I turned the controller off assuming it would return to home but it did not. I walked around my neighborhood searching for the aircraft and trying to see if I could reconnect somehow to the camera and aircraft or spot where it was.

The aircraft is now lost. This is a very dangerous situation as it could have crashed and hurt someone. I have no idea where the Phantom 2 landed or if it crashed. However, I am uncertain that I want a replacement unit now as obviously there is a serious flaw in the manufacture of this product (or this particular unit was defective.) In any case, this created an extremely dangerous situation.

It is obvious that this had nothing to do with WIFI signals in the area. The fail safe should have return the unit to home. Judging from the rest of the posts here this design flaw was carried over from the Phantom to the Phantom 2.

I have emailed both the dealer and DJI but haven't heard from them yet. My advice - don't but this device. It is dangerous - never mind costly.

I am getting a lawsuit together. Many of us have had the same problem and the lack of response from DJI is sad. I have a growing group of individuals who had the same experience and we are filing a lawsuit. We will be filing in the next week or two, so please contact me if you would like to join.

Eric

Eric@architech3di.com

June 12, 2014
9:09 pm
learj25
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I've had mine about 2 weeks and today the thing went straight to the ground. It was like I had full down with the gains why up "wobbling " very fast. I was about 200-300 ft away and 100 ft high. Luckily, I jumped on my golf cart and found it sitting upright with the battery tossed out. Brought it home put a new battery in and everything appeared to work fine. I am very concerned that this thing can be dangerous. It happened when I shut the radio off to return home then trying to regain control. I went to att mode then it happened. Very concerned! 

July 8, 2014
11:54 am
jensjk
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I have been flying the Phantoms for more than a year, and think I know the stuff about RTH. Nevertheless, I have recently lost my Phantom Vision.
I was about 150 m away from me, height 30-35 meters, when I lost visual contact (against the sun) and due to nearby heavy machinery I couldn't use my hearing neither. And the display on my phone reported "control signal lost". Believeing in RTH I waited a few minutes - but no, it never turned up. In "Find my Phantom" I could see the last position in a completely wrong direction. Followed that track - nothing. And I did have a good GPS fix before starting out.

The other loss was of a Phantom 1.2.1, equipped with Ground Station and FPV. Admittedly, I had been flying in an altitude of 100 meters, when I lost contact, Again, RTH didn't work, and I could hear it flying off, some high treees barring me from seeing it and giving bad FPV. I could just hear the sound getting more and more remote, fading out - there was plenty of battery (equipped with 2x2.8 A). Not recovered, probably lost in a barley field.

My suggestion is loss of GPS-signal, making the P sensitive to the prevailing wind. But I think I am done with DJI - at least for some time - losing two (and two Gopros)

July 12, 2014
2:59 pm
ricky6120
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Brand new! 1st Flight a flyaway, found it, found your blog Im in on any lawsuit. My teenage son was wanting me to help him with his movie making and i was going to shoot some arial footage and surprise him. Isnt that how dji phantom advertises? Extremely disappointed!!

August 7, 2014
7:15 pm
JK
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I'll make a long story short as I can.  Flew friends Phantom 2 no Gimbal or Camera attached over 100 times with no issues.  Purchased my own a week ago with Gimbal H3-3D.  Flew it about 10 times prior to Gimbal install, no issues.  Installed Gimbal w/GoPro 3+ Black edition, have had 4 "flyaways" out of 6 flights.  Preparing video for youtube within a few days.  Battery dislodged on 2 of those flights and unable to find one as may have got stuck in trees/bushes.  Luckily had ordered an extra for more flight time.  First time flying Quad, however 5+ years exp flying RC choppers small and big. Did everything by the book, I mean look, I invested in a $700 dollar Quad, $300 Gimbal, $400 camera, does someone or some company really genuinely believe that anyone would invest this kind of money just to open up turn on and fly, seriously?!  I have all my flyaways recorded and am lucky enough that my GoPro was not damaged in any of them, very lucky, even after it hit a roof and smacked the concrete.  After that Gimbal damaged pretty bad, Phantom 2 scratched up pretty good, prop's all but one broken.  That is what did it for me, I have returned it to Amazon and they are sending me a new one.  My claim is it was a defected unit, but it appears that many units may be defected if not all.  They said they will send it the the manufacturer and see what they say.  Well it looks like we know what they will say.  I'm sure Amazon will do the right thing by recognizing that there are a multitude of these issues and the negligence by DJI to rectify/respond/Recall.     

August 17, 2014
6:54 pm
john
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Had intentions on buying a phantom2+ not so sure now after reading about all the flyaways, will start looking at other quad drones now. Thank you to everyone that posted about the issue, hope you get your lawsuit up and running.

September 16, 2014
11:45 pm
opwan
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Yep me too, spent 40 plus hours researching a drone build using DJIs NazaM V2 control system. Flew fantastic for 20+ flights, then one evening away it went. $3000 gone. At 150 meters, no control whatsoever. DJI says the battery wasn't charged. I check each cell before every flight, 4.2 per cell. 10 minutes in the air out of a 34 minute capable quad and by by!  I have 35+ years in every aspect of RC and everything was in spec. I even had an Electrical Engineer inspect my solder joints to be sure. I also used to solder guided missile eyes and radiation detector parts. DJI has some issues. Anyone up for a class action suite? I will be pursuing legal action within this month if they keep giving me the run around.  DJI even sent me a Fly Away form to fill out and yes I did print it out!

September 18, 2014
7:38 pm
Eric Reagan
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Hey opwan,

Do you have a copy of that Fly Away form still?

If so, could you email it to me contact@photographybay.com?

September 26, 2014
3:56 pm
gerrymac
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Looks like I am the latest victim of a flyaway. Had fc40 dji phantom for a week. Really love it and thought I was getting quite proficient. However today decided to try out on windy day. Setup normally and took off in GPs mode.  All was well for about 2 minutes. Was rock steady in high wind at about 20 feet. Then all of a sudden it took off and I tried to regain control it I lost sight of it and by time I got within view it had disappeared either miles away or into the nearby jungle of grass and trees. Spent 3 hours looking for it without success guess what I am doing tomorrow. Possible cause is fact that I did not notice a phone mast 100 yards away, otherwise would not have flown in the area. For what it's worth I was also flying with bran new battery having purchased a 2700mAh instead of standard 2200mAh. Luckily was not a vision 2 with gimbal and go pro etc but still hurts.  

Good of news after a 3 day search found my drone in trees. Lessons learned are :

1. Don't fly near phone masts. 

2. I have now marked switch settings on transmitter as when I panicked brain went dead and could not remember switch positions. I may have been in course lock mode instead of home lock. Therefore in pulling direction stick towards me was actually sending it away from me. 

3. Going to fit an audible alarm that goes off 20 minutes after take off so that I can locate drone more easily in woods. 

4. Looking at getting GPS tracker also. 

October 6, 2014
12:51 am
Eric Reagan
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Just wanted to pass along this latest tip on getting and setting up a GPS tracker for your Phantom as I know that has been a hot topic among drone pilots lately: 

http://www.photographybay.com/.....y-defense/

October 25, 2014
11:36 pm
gmcbay
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October 25, 2014
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Lost a Phantom 2 w/H3-3D gimbal + Hero4 Black today in the Anza Borrego desert.  Looked on in horror as about $1500 worth of electronics sailed high into the sky and away from me.  

First flight of the day went off without a hitch after a successful gps calibration... battery drained, landed copter with no problem, put in second battery (fully charged) took off as usual, gained altitude, went into a hover so I could adjust the gimbal pivot, a second later the Phantom 2 started climbing on its own and then started moving directly away from me.  Tried S1 failsafe, nothing, tried resetting the controller for failsafe, nothing.  Chasing the copter down wasn't much of an option given the terrain.  Waited around for half an hour in hopes of a return-to-home that I really didn't expect to happen, could not locate my phantom using app or searching the area I saw it fly towards (not that surprising since the desert is very, very big).

Seemed like it was some sort of flight controller glitch since the movements were not erratic (like you would expect if experiencing radio interference), seemed like it was in a return-to-home mode except I have no idea where it thought home was (certainly not where I launched it from).

I will miss you, Phantom 2 and GoPro HERO4, but I will probably never buy another DJI product.

bleh.

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