DJI recently came out with its new Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) 2 system. What prompted DJI to come out this new geo-fencing system? Does DJI’s Geo 2 place greater restrictions on drone pilots? Will GEO 2.0 lead to safer skies? In this blog post, I discuss each of these points. Read on to learn more.
What Does FAA’s Reauthorization Act of 2018 State with Regards to Flying Your Drone in Close Proximity to Airports?
SEC. 384 of FAA’s 2018 Reauthorization Act is titled, “Unsafe operation of unmanned aircraft”. These are the particulars of this section-
(b) Operation of unmanned aircraft in close proximity to airports. —
“(1) IN GENERAL. — Any person who, without authorization, knowingly operates an unmanned aircraft within a runway exclusion zone shall be punished as provided in subsection ©.
“(2) RUNWAY EXCLUSION ZONE DEFINED. — In this subsection, the term ‘runway exclusion zone’ means a rectangular area —
“(A) centered on the centerline of an active runway of an airport immediately around which the airspace is designated as class B, class C, or class D airspace at the surface under part 71 of title 14, Code of Federal Regulations; and
“(B) the length of which extends parallel to the runway’s centerline to points that are 1 statute mile from each end of the runway and the width of which is ½ statute mile.
The need to define runway exclusions has prompted DJI to come out with a more refined geo-fencing system called Geo (Geo-spatial Environment Online) 2.
DJI’s Geo 2.0 Refines No Fly Zones Around Airports
Geo 2 sets Geo Zones around airports and other critical institutions like prisons and nuclear power plants. For airports, GEO 2 has three different designs — high, medium and low risk.
Initially Airmap was the chosen data provider for DJI’s GEO 2. However, DJI dropped Airmap for PrecisionHawk. This is what Brendan Schulman from DJI has to say about partnering with PrecisionHawk.
DJI is pleased to partner with companies that support our vision of safe skies that are open to innovation…PrecisionHawk shares DJI’s commitment to ensuring that safety technology enhances the ability of recreational and commercial drone pilots to fly.
If you may recall, PrecisionHawk was a part of FAA’s Pathfinder Program along with CNN and BSNF. And they were the first ever organization to receive a Part 107 BVLOS waiver.
DJI’s Brendan Schulman insists that Geo 2 is a “refinement” and not an expansion over Geo 1. According to Brendan, DJI’s older geo-fencing system, Geo 1 placed circles around airports — which was an inaccurate reflection of risk involved. In order to better mitigate risk, it is necessary to introduce a longer protective safety zone around runways. It is worth noting that while runway exclusions have been introduced, drone pilots will enjoy greater flexibility around runways.
Understanding the Different Geo Zones or Safety Zones in DJI’s Geo 2
Geo 2 uses “bow-tie” shaped Geo zones in the area approaching the runway. And instead of simple circles, this new geo-fencing system makes the use of complex polygonal shapes around the runway. There are 4 types of Geo Zones-
· Restricted Zone (Red)
· Altitude Zone (Grey)
· Authorization Zone (Blue)
· Enhanced Warning Zone (Orange)
This is what you CAN do and CANNOT do in each of these zones:-
Restricted Zone (Red)
· Flights are NOT permitted in the red zone
· A 1.2 km wide rectangle covers the entire runway
· This zone extends 3 km on either side of the runway
Altitude Zone (Grey)
· This zone can be divided into two parts
· The first part has a height restriction of 60 m. This part extends 3.6 km on either side of the restricted zone
· The second part has a height restriction of 120 m. This part extends 8.4 km on either side of part one
Authorization zone (Blue)
· These oval shaped semi-circles can be self-unlocked with a DJI verified account
· For high risk airports, authorization zones are 4 km semi circles surrounding the restricted zone
Enhanced Warning Zone (Orange)
· This zone extends 2 km beyond the Authorization zone
· You will receive a warning and can then commence flying
What happens if you fly your drone into a Restricted Zone or above the height restriction in the Altitude Zone?
If you attempt to fly your DJI drone into a Restricted Zone, your drone will decelerate and then hover. If, somehow, you have lost your GPS signal and then you enter a Restricted Zone, you will automatically land on regaining signal.
If you are flying towards an altitude zone and are flying at higher than the ceiling, you will decelerate and then hover.
If you are flying beneath the ceiling, you won’t be able to breach the ceiling once you enter Altitude Zone.
So, does DJI’s GEO V 2.0 place greater restrictions on drone pilots? If we consider the area, then certainly there are more restrictions on areas leading to the runway. But to offset this, areas surrounding the runway are defined by polygonal shapes rather than circles spread over a 5 miles radius.
Another factor that might be upsetting to lot of drone pilots is that now along with LAANC approval, authorization will be required from DJI as well. To learn more about getting LAANC approval, check out our latest podcast, “How to get speedy airspace approval using LAANC”.