Sb-dji.com, a platform for drone lovers, has since 2013 witnessed 1,800 posts on crashed drones, most of which were DJI products. Additionally, in July of 2016 alone, 24 of the 47 crashes posted on the site were DJI drones.
DJI is a Shenzhen-based drone maker who has about 70% of the commercial market worldwide, with an even larger share in the consumer market, according to Reuters.
But why do most of the complaints of domestic drone crashes seem to come from DJI users? Does that mean the leading drone maker – now valued at USD 12 billion – is not living up to its name?
“Statistics from our after-sales department show that over 85% of the crashes were a result of the users’ inappropriate operations,” Wang Fan, spokesman from DJI, told The Beijing News. “The rest were probably due to malfunctions of certain components, as well as uncontrollable factors such as the sudden rise of a strong wind or the collision with a bird.”
Aside from this, Wang suggested that users with zero drone experience should read the instructions closely before flying a drone, or it would be dangerous.
Chen Zhang, founder of Sb-dji.com, agrees that users’ lack of experience is a large contributor to drone crashes. He pointed out that before there were drone makers like DJI, drone lovers do most of the assembling themselves, and only those who have at least studied model airplanes can do that; whereas today, almost anyone has the chance flying a drone.
Indeed quite a few users on Sb-dji.com complained that it was difficult and inconvenient to fly a drone, or at least not as easy as operating a smartphone.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China does not regulate drones under seven kilograms; although the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of China (AOPA-China) has been in charge of qualifying drone fliers, since April 2014.
Data from AOPA-China shows that, until the end of 2015, China had over 20,000 drone fliers, among whom 2,142 were licensed fliers. In other words, about 90% of drone users in China at present are unlicensed.
In addition, a damaged or crashed drone costs dear to be repaired. For example, a user posted on Sb-dji.com that he bought a DJI drone with RMB 4,999 (USD 753) and spent RMB 1,189 to repair it – that’s 23.8% of a new drone.
A report from iResearch predicts that China is to see a drone market of RMB 75 billion by 2025, so it might be wise for all drone makers targeting the consumer market to find the right balance between safety and market share.
(Top photo from Baidu Images)