Firmware Update Turns DJI Mini Drones Non-Compliant for Commercial Use

Estimated read time 4 min read

Unintended Consequences of a Firmware Update

Surprisingly, the latest firmware updates for the popular DJI mini drones, specifically the DJI Mini 3 and DJI Mini 4 Pro, have inadvertently rendered these devices illegal for commercial use by Part 107 drone pilots when flown with standard batteries.

This issue was initially brought to light by James van Booven of Delightful Lunatic Photography and has since been confirmed through our further investigation.

The Core of the Issue: Remote ID and Weight Limitations

The heart of the problem lies in the drones’ Remote ID (RID) functionality, the impact of the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus, and DJI’s latest Firmware Update for these mini drones.

Before the update, both models supported RID, a feature crucial for compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations.

However, post-update, RID activation for the DJI Mini 3 and the DJI Mini 4 Pro is now contingent on using the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus.

While this larger battery extends flight time, it also increases the drone’s weight beyond the 250-gram limit. This weight gain necessitates RID under FAA rules.

DJI appears to have assumed that only recreational pilots would use the mini drones with the standard, lighter battery, thus eliminating the need for automatic RID activation.

Commercial Pilots Left in a Regulatory Bind

This firmware update places commercial drone operators in a difficult position.

To comply with FAA regulations without the automatic RID broadcast, pilots must either switch to the heavier ‘Plus’ batteries, thus activating the RID broadcast or install one of the still hard-to-obtain RID modules.

This situation raises questions about the DJI Mini drones’ continued compliance with FAA Declaration of Compliance (DoC) requirements, especially with the RID compliance deadline looming.

Awaiting Resolution for DJI Mini drones from DJI

With the critical date of March 16th fast approaching, DJI is now under pressure to resolve this hopefully unforeseen complication.

The drone community eagerly awaits a firmware update to rectify this issue, ensuring that the DJI Mini 3 and the DJI Mini 4 Pro can continue to be used legally by commercial drone pilots under FAA regulations.

Potential FAA Action: The Need for Swift Resolution

The possibility of FAA intervention further heightens the urgency of the situation.

If DJI fails to issue a corrective firmware update promptly, the FAA may have no choice but to rescind the Declaration of Compliance for these mini drones.

This action would have significant repercussions for DJI and commercial drone operators relying on these models for their work.

The potential withdrawal of the FAA’s Declaration of Compliance underscores the critical need for DJI to address this issue swiftly, ensuring that their mini drones remain viable and Legal tools in the commercial Drone Industry.

How do DJI Mini series users comply with the Remote ID rule?

As per the FAA Remote ID rule, all drone pilots required to register their UAS must operate their aircraft in accordance with the final rule on and after the second compliance deadline. According to FAA requirements, drones that weigh 0.55 pounds or less (less than 250 grams), and are flown exclusively under the Exception for Recreational Flyers, do not need to be registered. Therefore, if you are operating a drone with a take-off weight of 0.55 pounds or less (less than 250 grams) for purely recreational purposes, you do not need to register your drone and comply with the Remote ID rule. Here are additional notes on the Remote ID functionality for the DJI Mini series.

DJI Mini 4 Pro & Mini 3: These aircraft support the FAA Remote ID functionality. However, for the latest aircraft firmware (v01.00.03.00 for Mini 4 Pro and v01.00.04.10 for Mini 3), the Remote ID will only be activated when the Intelligent Flight Battery Plus is used.

From DJI Support.

According to DJI, the DJI Mini 3 Pro supports the FAA Remote ID functionality regardless of whether an Intelligent Flight Battery Plus or Intelligent Flight Battery is used. The DJI Mini series (e.g., Mini & Mini SE) and DJI Mini 2 series (e.g., Mini 2 & Mini 2 SE): These drones have a nominal take-off weight of less than 249 grams (including a battery, propellers, and a MicroSD card), and do not support FAA Remote ID functionality.

Firmware Update Turns Dji Mini Drones Non-Compliant For Commercial Use.

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