The DJI Mavic 3 drone will be getting a firmware update later this year that could make it much easier to fly the popular UAV in the European Union.
The update codifies the C1 certificate status that has been conferred onto the UAV by the EU and is based on the EU’s new five-tier CE class drone regulations which were passed in December of 2020 and go into effect at the end of 2023.
DJI is the first drone manufacturer to qualify under the new scheme and the Mavic 3 is the first drone to receive the C1 certificate status.
The new CE class system, which has tiers from C0-C4, will provide greater freedoms for drone owners based on what certification they receive. C0 is the most restrictive, while C4 offers the least amount of restrictions for UAV flights.
By applying for the update, Mavic 3 owners will be granted an A1 Open certificate opening up greater flying freedoms including operating in environments that currently require special permission after an additional lengthy administrative process.
The new certification will also eliminate the need for passing a test and securing a costly A2 remote pilot license. Users will have to pass an online exam to obtain a basic drone operating certificate.
In addition, the firmware will also disable Active Track automatically. If turned on, Active Track will require filming people or objects from over 50 meters away. The drone’s positioning LED lights will turn on or off depending on the flight conditions.
Except for the front LEDs, which will be set to blink by default so that people can see the drone more easily. One added benefit, however, is that the drone’s noise level will be reduced to 83db to comply with the EU’s regulations on noise abatement.
The downside though is that once the firmware update is installed, there’s no turning back. The drone will not be able to downgrade. But that’s a small price to pay for expanding the pilot’s flight envelope with greater freedoms.
It’s important to note, however, that this firmware update makes changes for only the European Economic Area (EEA) which includes the EU Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. Thus, this has no direct impact on drone flight rules in the United States or any other country. The update also only currently applies to Mavic 3 drones.
DJI has said in the statement that it is “committed to complying with the new European Drone Regulation for other existing and future drone models, and it will work with notified bodies to obtain additional drone certificates over the coming year.”
There are some older drone models, however, which may require a hardware fix to bring them under compliance with the new CE Class regulations.
Sub 250g drones like the DJI Mini3 Pro and DJI Mini 2, do not require a remote identification system which includes a reliable data link and data interface for a geo-awareness system to comply with airspace limitations. Without these added on, the models will likely fall under the more restrictive C0 tier.
The Mavic 3 update will be made available starting in the fourth quarter of 2022, with owners applying for a new C1 class identification label for the Mavic 3 series. Users will be required to provide their drone serial number and confirmation that they have updated the firmware needed to obtain C1 certification. The application process will be free and completely voluntary.
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