How To Prevent Drone Flyaways And Avoid Drone Crashes

A silhouette of a drone in the sunset. featured image from drone photography bible article titled How To Prevent Drone Flyaways And Avoid Drone Crashes

There’s nothing worse for a drone owner than a flyaway or crash. They can incur severe damage to your drone and equipment or even an outright loss. Still, while both are often avoidable, unforeseen circumstances, oversights, and plain human error may always cause one. As such, today, I’d like to explore the most common ways to prevent drone flyaways and avoid crashes.

Which are the most common causes of drone flyaways and crashes?

As outlined above, some of the most common reasons for both are human error and unpredicted circumstances. Of course, there are others, like software glitches, which are not in the user’s control. However, merely exercising caution and taking some proactive measures should minimize the risk. In a very condensed form, the three main reasons tend to be the following.

Inexperience and risky behavior

Such events are never intentional; all drone owners should want to prevent drone flyaways and avoid crashes. Human error that causes them often boils down to inexperience, which is by all means natural. Thus, you should be fully aware of the level of your piloting skills, weather conditions, and other factors, and restrict your flights accordingly.

Moving to different countries or terrains

A similar factor that can disorient drone owners is changing countries or terrains; inexperience with one’s surroundings can also increase the likelihood of accidents. Sadly, drone imports are subject to regulations and limitations; Bahrain is one of the countries that restrict this, for example. Regardless, whether you move or simply look for a change of pace, you should always keep your surrounding terrain in mind.

Poor maintenance

Finally, proper maintenance can help prevent drone flyaways and avoid crashes. As with similar marvels of technology and vehicles, drones require adequate care to secure optimal functionality. It may sometimes seem cumbersome or costly, but rest assured that most maintenance tasks are easy and affordable. Plus, they may save you from higher costs down the line.

How to prevent drone flyaways

With the above in mind, let us begin with the most common steps towards avoiding drone flyaways. Unsurprisingly, all five closely adhere to the points above.

#1 Keep your drone within your line of sight

As the first precaution, you should scout your immediate terrain and ensure that your drone will always be within sight. Plan your flight accordingly so that it always remains within your line of sight; this way, you can react to potential issues in time.

An aerial drone photograph of a cityscape.
While longer distances can produce some magnificent photography, remember to keep your drone within your line of sight.

#2 Calibrate your drone’s compass

This may seem like a natural step, but surprisingly it’s often overlooked. Inaccurate compass calibration can cause flyaways, so you should always take the time to check it before every flight. The process never takes too long, and it can help prevent accidents.

#3 Scout the area for signal interference

Similarly, on the subject of terrain awareness, you should ensure there will be no signal or compass interference throughout your flight. Ensure you don’t fly near any of the following potential obstacles:

  • Tall structures and buildings
  • Antennas and trees
  • Power lines

Naturally, you’ll inevitably need to fly in such terrains, especially in urban environments. Nonetheless, you should ensure no such obstacles get between you and your drone – as previously discussed.

#4 Update your home point

Another factor that can often cause flyaways is an outdated home point. The Return-to-Home (RTH) function is a vital safety measure towards ensuring your drone has a set point to return to if need be. However, it’s not uncommon that drones will fly away to a previously set RTH location – and usually result in a flyaway. Thus, you should update your RTH site before every flight.

#5 Set an appropriate RTH altitude

Finally, remember to check your safety settings. A strong GPS signal aside, ensure your RTH altitude is set higher than any surrounding objects so that your drone doesn’t fly close to them and loses signal or crashes.

How to avoid drone crashes

On the subject of crashes, then, similar causes apply. However, human errors tend to play an even larger role here. 

#1 Avoid flying indoors, or outdoors in adverse weather

First and foremost, avoid flying indoors. From a loss of signal to obstacle sensor interference, it’s a hazardous activity prone to avoidable crashes. Similarly, adverse weather can endanger your drone; never underestimate the effects of rain and wind on your drone and piloting.

A black and orange drone flying indoors.
While prudent indoor flights are generally safer, you should generally avoid them.

#2 Avoid flying backward and similar maneuvers

Similarly, especially for drone photographers, risky maneuvers can incur serious danger. Unless you’re highly experienced and confident it’s safe, avoid flying backward and similar maneuvers; a great shot isn’t worth crashing, and you don’t need such risks to get the most out of your drone.

#3 Be mindful of your drone’s stopping distance

On the subject of piloting, an equally common human error comes with neglecting to account for your drone’s stopping distance. Even the best models are not immune to inertia and physics; your input won’t be immediate. You should thus be mindful of a few factors that affect your control:

  • Flying speed
  • Wind speed and direction
  • Obstacle sensors or temporary lack thereof

As you grow accustomed to your drone’s behavior and stopping speed, this factor will naturally phase out over time. But until then, precaution is always warranted. 

#4 Be mindful of warning messages

On this topic, warning messages are among the easiest ways to prevent drone flyaways and avoid crashes. Sadly, a lack of caution or risky piloting can cause one to ignore or miss warning messages. Thus, you should always keep all app feedback and information in mind. Apart from RTH and similar settings mentioned above, and including many more, consider the following:

  • Battery levels
  • GPS signal and potential interference
  • Obstacle detectors
  • Remote controller connection

As technology advances, such warnings will only improve, but it’s equally vital that we always take them seriously to avoid accidents.

A closeup of a person’s hands holding a gray DJI drone controller.
Keeping a mindful eye on your app and controller indicators can help prevent drone flyaways and avoid crashes.

#5 Repair or replace loose or damaged props

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, make sure your props are tight and undamaged before each flight. Proper maintenance includes much more, of course, but props are among the easiest and most affordable components of your drone to inspect and replace. It should go without saying that losing a prop midflight can be catastrophic, so you should avoid this risk at all costs.

About the author – Alexander Anderson

Drone Photography Bible would like to thank Alexander Anderson for submitting this guest article. Alexander Anderson is an amateur photographer and hiker, as well as a digital marketing enthusiast and a copywriter by profession. When he doesn’t write on matters of SEO, PPC, and digital marketing, he enjoys the great outdoors with his trusty drone.

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