DJI AirSense Explained For Beginners

Flying drones involves a certain amount of risk, so ensuring your safety and that of those around you is a high priority. Having your drone in the skies can be exciting, and sometimes you also feel like you are flying.  However, it comes with the risk of low or reduced situational awareness. This happens when you’re caught up with what you’re doing, and forget to pay attention to what’s happening in the surroundings where your drone is flying. This can be among the significant causes of drone accidents. If there are other aircraft flying near you and you’re not paying attention to them, this can be catastrophic.

AirSense is a DJI technology that detects nearby manned aircraft such as airplanes and helicopters and notifies the drone pilot. All DJI drone models released after 2020 incorporate the AirSense technology, except for the DJI Mini 2. 

In this detailed article, I will discuss which DJI drones have AirSense, what it is, and how it works. Also, we will highlight how AirSense helps pilots, and what to do if you get an AirSense alert, among other related topics. But first things first, let’s go over what exactly AirSense is.

What is AirSense?

AirSense, a proprietary technology developed by DJI, is an alert system that incorporates ADS (automatic dependent surveillance) technology to provide drone pilots with detailed situational awareness, specifically, with the location of other nearby manned and unmanned aircraft.

Data from nearby aircraft is sent via ADS-B transmitters and the AirSense system collects this data and immediately notifies the user about it through their DJI user app or flight controller. The drone pilot can then take the necessary action to avoid a possible collision.

DJI has incorporated this technology into many of their drones, and it’s a great safety feature to look for in your next drone.

How does AirSense work?

AirSense technology is standard on most of the newer DJI drone models with a weight of 250 grams or more. It was launched in 2020 and has been included in most DJI drones since that time. The AirSense system depends on signals and satellite information sent from the nearby helicopters and airplanes. This data transmission is done through the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B), a signal identification system.

The AirSense sensors on DJI drones monitor the signals from nearby aircraft traffic, thus ensuring you know exactly what aircraft are operating in your area so that you can be sure to avoid them. Through the DJI 4 app, the drone user is notified whenever there is an airplane near the drone, and that way, you can take the necessary precautions to avoid the nearby aircraft.

How does DJI AirSense help drone pilots?

The DJI AirSense technology has been a great safety feature added to DJI drones to help drone pilots in a number of key ways. Here are some of the benefits that drone pilots stand to gain from AirSense.

Improvement of drone features

Adding a new technology such as AirSense helps the drone to function more efficiently in terms of its other features. The ADS-B technology offers improved functionality to DJI features including Return to Home, Geo-fencing, Altitude limit, and obstacle avoidance, among others. The technology ensures the drone’s automated features take into account what’s happening in the air and what action to take.

Better safety outcomes

With the incorporation of AirSense, safety in the air has reached a new level. This is because the drone pilots are made aware of any risks, and this helps them return their drones home for safety, thus preventing accidents like aircraft collisions. Additionally, it’s not always about the drones; with AirSense, the safety of manned aircraft operators and passengers is also improved.

Prevention of loss

The thought of a drone crash is something every drone pilot dreads. These devices are not cheap, and having to buy another one without having planned for it can be frustrating. With so many drones flying around, there can be a significant risk of a drone collision.

However, the DJI engineers came out with AirSense at the right time. Airsense has improved the safety of drones, thus reducing the risk of the drone being destroyed in crashes. This gives DJI drone pilots peace of mind knowing that their devices are less likely to crash and thus need to be replaced.

What should you do if you get an AirSense alert?

If you get an AirSense alert, the best thing to do is either hit the return to home button, or land the drone in place. If you have a visual observer, they can also direct you where to land if returning to home doesn’t seem like the best course.

Which DJI drones have AirSense?

Most of the DJI drones without AirSense are either older models, or the ones with a weight of less than 250 grams. Here is a list of the DJI drones that do have AirSense, and those that don’t.

DJI drones with AirSense

  • DJI Mavic 3
  • DJI AIR 2S
  • DJI Mavic Air 2
  • DJI Matrice 200
  • DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise
  • DJI FPV

Which DJI Drones Do Not Have Airsense?

  • DJI Mini 2
  • DJI Mavic 2 Pro/Zoom
  • DJI Mavic Pro
  • DJI Phantom 4
  • DJI Phantom 3
  • DJI Phantom 2
  • DJI Phantom 1
  • DJI Inspire 1
  • Tello drone
  • DJI Spark drone
  • DJI Matrice 600
  • Phantom 4 RTK
  • Mavic Pro Platinum
  • Mavic Pro 4K drone

Should you buy a Mavic Air 2 without AirSense?

AirSense technology has been applied to all DJI drones manufactured for export to the USA, and therefore it is well-known to drone fliers in those regions. But here comes our question. If you have an option to buy a Mavic Air 2 outside the US, and without AirSense wise? While having a Mavic Air 2 with AirSense is a good idea, it might not be a big deal if it doesn’t have the technology, and here are the reasons why.

Flying Low

According to the nature and design of Mavic Air 2, its meant to be used for recreational and content creation activities. It’s designed for users who want to get the best landscape photos or footage. And for almost all of the operators of this drone, you will need to observe drone flying laws in your region anyway, one of the most important being that you must not fly it above 400 feet.

The 400 feet is critical because crewed aircraft are supposed to be flown at least 500 feet above ground level. This prevents close encounters between drones and manned aircraft, so if you’re flying below the height of manned aircraft operations anyway, it shouldn’t be that important to have AirSense telling you where the aircraft are.

Conclusively, you shouldn’t need AirSense technology for your Mavic Air 2 drone so long as you adhere to the drone laws.

Airsense technology doesn’t prevent drone to drone collision

This is another reason why AirSense is not a do-or-die thing. The technology will alert you as to the presence of manned aircraft, but not other drones, and so is limited in its ability to prevent drone to drone collisions.

This technology transmits information from aircraft to drones. Therefore, it is not beneficial between two drones because none will send a signal to the other. Additionally, the technology is not made available to all drone models.

So the AirSense technology is limited to help prevent collisions between Mavic Air 2 drones and manned aircraft when flying at low altitudes. The best option to prevent collisions with other drones is to depend on the other safety features of Mavic Air 2 such as obstacle avoidance.

AirSense can’t be added retroactively outside the USA

Even though AirSense technology is not a must-have for a midrange drone such as the Mavic Air 2, it is still an incredible feature.

However, the main challenge if you decide to buy a Mavic Air 2 outside the US, is that you can’t add the technology to your drone through a firmware update. The process requires additional hardware, thus limiting those outside the USA from enjoying the AirSense technology.

It looks like this will remain the case for awhile, as DJI has not yet developed a program to offer the additional hardware. This means that Mavic Air 2 with AirSense technology might not be reaching regions outside the USA anytime soon.

Why the USA?

There is a reason why the DJI Mavic 2 with AirSense technology is available only in the USA. First, it’s because the DJI manufacturers were limited to expanding the technology to other regions, primarily because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was not intentional for other areas to be left out, and they aimed at having all markets satisfied.

The other reason is that the US has the most considerable number of human-crewed aircraft that are permitted to fly below 400 feet.  This isn’t the case in Europe, where the number of manned aircraft is less. Additionally, there is a significant demand for manned aircraft in the US, especially in the agricultural sector. This is because the farms are big and can’t be managed by the common human labor. This explains why AirSense technology is essential for the US market, where the risk of collision between drones and unmanned aircraft is higher.

Whether a Mavic Air 2 has AirSense or not, it is still one of the best drones from DJI you can invest in. This is because it boasts several safety features, including all-direction obstacle sensing, Geo-fencing, and the Advanced Pilot Assistance System. The combination of all these features makes the drone safe and stable offering the user peace of mind.

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