DJI is battling it out again with sensational reports on the supposed dangers of off-the-shelf camera drones. The company was part of a recent BBC documentary titled “Britain’s Next Air Disaster? Drones.” Yeah, that sounds unbiased. DJI has already fired back at BBC and lodged a formal complaint against the broadcaster for factual inaccuracies.
You can read the company’s letter and the BBC’s response here and here.
I want to focus on a three-minute segment from the documentary which not only wholly discredits the entire piece from the BBC but also endorses an action which will endanger lives on the ground. The BBC can be on the defensive all it wants. Its footage shows the irresponsibility of the network and the documentary producers.
Shooting Drones is Grossly Negligent
Yeah, they really titled the video Sniper vs. Drone! First, the rifle. The star of the documentary, Aldo Kane, is a former sniper for the Royal Marines and opts to use a bolt-action .308 with an attached suppressor. He’s not using subsonic rounds. Each shot, you can hear the crack of the round as he tries to shoot a Phantom 4 at around 300 meters.
A quick primer on the .308 round has the maximum effective range around 915 meters or 1000 yards according to the United States Marine Corps. He’s well within the effective range as he continually misses the drone shot after shot.
Mr. Kane knows precisely where the drone is as a member of the production staff places it against a green hill (the drone is white) to stop the rounds from continuing and endangering the residents of the surrounding area. That’s an important point.
He says within the clip, responding police to the airports would likely deploy designated marksmen with the same caliber of weapon. Kane and BBC love bringing up the Gatwick incident, so let’s take a look at where the missed shots would be heading. Firing on a suspected drone would mean shooting up into the sky, causing the bullet to tumble when it reaches its maximum effective range.
Inside of 2000-4000 feet of Gatwick are at least two schools, residential areas, hotels, and restaurants. The round would travel further endangering more people as what comes up, must come down. His solution is to fire a high caliber rifle at a drone in the air which he just demonstrated he couldn’t hit at 300 meters. In a densely populated area. Head over to Google Earth, and you’ll see why shooting a drone out of the sky with a scoped .308 rifle is insane.
If the documentary had no other factual errors, the sniper vs. drone segment alone disqualifies the BBC documentary. It works as a tacit endorsement of an act which would endanger the lives of innocent people who live, work, or go to school near airports.
The BBC and Kane try to disclaimer it at the end, but it’s more of a shrug to the audience. Instead of saying the technique won’t work, Kane simply says it’s not the best option. Actually, it’s not an option. All parties involved in the documentary should know better.