DJI, a leading name in consumer drones, continues to innovate, particularly with their Mini series. These drones, weighing under 250 grams, offer immense potential, but their small size is a double-edged sword.
The Mini series, with its compact build, has become increasingly popular across the UK. However, this raises concerns about their visibility to manned aircraft, especially near unlicensed or unprotected airfields. To explore this issue, we conducted a practical test using a MK5 Sea King Helicopter stationed at Portland and our own DJI Mini 4 Pro.
During the test, the helicopter and drone maintained a distance of about 180 meters. Both sets of pilots struggled to spot the drone against a grey sky, and it was even more challenging to detect when the drone was below the horizon. To replicate human vision as closely as possible, we set the camera to a focal length of 50mm. Though our test was not rigorously scientific, it highlighted the significant challenge in detecting small consumer drones in flight.
For drone operators flying near unlicensed airfields, it’s prudent to notify the airfield of your drone’s presence. Should you encounter a low-flying aircraft while operating your drone, the safest course of action is to either move your drone to a secure location or land it immediately. Given the difficulty pilots face in spotting small drones, taking such precautions is crucial for safety.