We have some good news for owners of the Matrice 200 and/or the Inspire 2. After reports of battery failures causing sudden crashes, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority issued a statement effectively grounding drones using TB50 and TB55 batteries.
In a statement on October 31, the CAA issued the following warning:
“A small number of incidents have been recently reported where the aircraft has suffered a complete loss of power during flight, despite indications that there was sufficient battery time still remaining. In each case, this resulted in the aircraft falling directly to the ground due to the immediate loss of lift with the remote pilot unable to control its subsequent flight path. The small unmanned aircraft (SUA) was damaged upon impact, but the CAA has not received any reports of injuries to people or property.”
The CAA urged users to update all batteries to the latest firmware and refrain from flying over people out of an abundance of caution.
DJI acknowledge the problem after the warning from the CAA with its own statement:
“DJI is investigating reports that a small number of TB50 and TB55 batteries have shown incorrect power levels that have led to a loss of power mid-flight. Flight safety and product reliability are our top priorities, and we are advising customers to fly with caution when operating their drones equipped with these batteries. In addition, DJI is working on a firmware update that will provide improvements to flight safety for the affected drones.”
DJI Battery Firmware Update
Today brings news the company will release new firmware for both batteries which should rectify the issue. DJI also promised to work with its battery manufacturers going forward to avoid any quality control issues from entering the consumer and enterprise markets.
Eduardo Rodriguez, DJI’s Enterprise Product Manager, released a statement on the upcoming fix:
“The battery team is working round the clock to find the solution as soon as possible, and we will do everything in our power to get these aircraft back in the air again. We know that the majority of UK emergency services which use these aircraft have grounded them as a result of what has happened. It is now confirmed that it is a software issue: the battery capacity calculation algorithm is sending wrong information to the aircraft.
The problem will be fixed in two stages. First, we will release a firmware update late next week making sure that drones can be flown safely again.
However, this firmware update is just a workaround, as it won’t fix the root of the problem. For this purpose, as we do not manufacture, neither this component nor its algorithm, we are working with our supplier to come up with a solution. As of today, there is not a timeline for this, but as soon as there are more details, everyone will know.
Additionally, we are working with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and providing continuous updates about our research and development process.”
DJI also promises a detailed post-mortem report on the battery problem which will be available to all enterprise customers as well as public safety officials.
In the interim before the firmware is fixed, DJI has issued special safety instructions for those who can’t wait on the firmware. If you can wait, it’s best to let the firmware get into the wild and update all TB50 and TB55 batteries you own.