Drones have become incredibly popular in recent years, offering users plenty of fun, entertainment, and even commercial or professional opportunities. But, they are not altogether simple to operate and care for, and enthusiasts do encounter various issues that may get in the way of enjoying the use of their drone. One major issue is a drone that won’t take off, so what should you do if your quadcopter won’t take off?
Some reasons drones may not take off are due to issues with the power supply, propeller positioning, compass calibration, or the flight location. Other cases are more complex, and relate to the drone’s inner workings. These cases may require professional intervention to be fixed.
It can be alarming and concerning to get ready for a fun-filled session with your drone only to discover that it won’t take off at all. But, rest assured, there are plenty of simple reasons you can check into as to why it’s not springing enthusiastically into the air as it should. Join us as we discuss some of the most common causes for quadcopters not taking off for flight, as well as what you can do to address the issue and get your drone into the air sooner than later.
Why Won’t My Quadcopter Take Off?
Countless diverse drone models and situations hold the potential for various issues during take off, many of which involve the drone being powered and seemingly ready to go. These cases can be aided by the use of a particular drone model’s app which allows the drone to communicate errors and problems to the pilot through messages to their smartphones, remote controllers, and other means.
But, there are some cases where the drone may not even turn on, indicated by the lack of transmission and inactive LED lights. These circumstances would make it incredibly frustrating and challenging for users to identify the problem at hand.
Here we consider some potential issues that lead the drone to not take off, and what you can do to fix it.
1. Needs a longer warm-up
If the drone is powered on and seems to be ready to go but won’t take off, it may simply require a little patience on the user’s part. There are LED lights, communicative messages, and other indications in more modern or advanced drones, which will inform users that it is still warming up and is not yet ready to be launched. Basic drone models, on the other hand, often lack this feature. In these cases, users need to be aware that they simply must wait a couple of minutes before launching.
The warm-up process typically takes anywhere from a minute to 3-5 minutes, depending on the drone model and various other factors. You need to allow the necessary time before attempting to take flight. In circumstances where the weather is cold, the drone may take longer than usual to start and warm-up before it will launch and operate effectively.
2. Problems with the batteries
Checking the batteries should be the first obvious step if your drone is not powering up and shows no signs of life. As obvious as it seems, it’s still essential when encountering issues with the drone. In some instances, there may be more severe problems concerning the drone’s inner workings and other components, but issues with the power supply are a typical cause of problems during take off.
The batteries will need to be charged before each use. Especially if they are new, be sure to charge before first use, as they are often not charged at all or are only charged to a slight degree when purchased. The battery needs to meet the drone’s requirements in particular as an inadequate voltage supply may cause various problems, so you also need to make sure the batteries are compatible with the drone.
In some cases, the battery may seem charged, but one may still experience issues when trying to take flight. These instances may indicate that you have a bad battery, resulting in the battery not being able to charge fully or the battery losing its charge very quickly, both of which will cause various problems concerning the required voltage for the drone’s operations. The age of the battery, the battery’s quality, the suitability of storage conditions, the battery’s manufacturer, and other influences will impact every battery’s longevity and functionality.
3. Compass requires calibration
Although this isn’t as common, it may still be a likely cause in your case. Quadcopters may not take off if their compass is incorrectly calibrated or overall lack thereof is detected, even if it is powered up and seems to be working just fine. Depending on the drone model, users should be sure to perform the compass calibration according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Calibrating your drone’s compass is particularly important when operating in new areas that are unfamiliar to your drone. When calibrating the compass, users should remove any jewelry and watches from themselves and the immediate area. These objects have been known to interfere with the calibration process in some cases.
4. Software problems
If the drone is powered up, but the propellers are not spinning, the issue may be related to the software. Such software problems are common with DJI drones and involve remote control settings since they may automatically switch between modes. Users can easily change any settings causing a failure to take off within the app’s remote control settings.
5. Improper propeller mounting
Improper propeller mounting may be the case if your quadcopter is powered up but isn’t launching, even if the propellers are spinning at full throttle. In some cases, the drone may appear to be lifting off the ground on some sides but not others. Drones require a particular kind of airflow for them to launch and take flight. Thus, inadequate or incorrect positioning of the propellers will inhibit the drone from lifting off the ground.
Users may need to switch propellers around so that the correct pattern is followed, and they should be tightly mounted so that they do not slip on the motor shaft. In addition to the propellers’ positioning, the engines need to follow a particular pattern for the drone to take off. They all need to exert the same amount of power and force for the drone to take off, fly, and maintain its balance while in flight. Thus, all motors and propellers will need to be turning in the correct direction as well.
6. Unsuitable flight areas and restrictions
It may appear to be a suitable area for drone operating, and the drone may show no signs of problems with the motor, batteries, propellers, or even the GPS. But, various inhibiting issues may have more to do with the location you are in than the workings of your drone. If you do not ensure that your drone is registered in the country or state you are situated in, or if the drone was registered only recently, it might be a potential cause for the drone’s inability to take off.
Users will need to ensure that their drone is registered appropriately, and also make sure that the control app is linked to their account and phone number. Drone pilots will have to practice some patience after registering their drone since it typically takes around a day before the system catches up, allowing you to fly with the newly registered drone.
With more advanced quadcopters and drones, manufacturers have made some adaptations within the actual software to inhibit drones flying in NFZ (No Flying Zones) or geofenced areas. These measures assist in ensuring all pilots meet all requirements of FAA drone laws. Sites such as these include military bases, large gatherings, historical or tourist settings, airports, power plants, schools, as well as areas posing other hazards or threats.
These areas are banned drone flight zones, and your drone may refuse to take off if it detects it’s within such zones. Drone pilots can use airmap.com, which offers a practical mapping tool that provides users with real-time information to ensure they are operating their drones within safe flight areas at all times. The app even allows users to be aware of various factors that change in real-time, such as crowds forming for events nearby and even wildfires in the area.
7. Defective components
Although manufacturers try their best to ensure that every single customer gets a perfectly uniform experience, there is still the chance that your quadcopter cannot take off for reasons related to defective units. In such cases, one would have to contact customer support and inform them of the situation. If the manufacturer confirms a faulty unit and there has been no breach in the terms and conditions of the warranty on the user’s part, one may be able to get a refund or a new quadcopter as a replacement.
Unfortunately, if you have defective units or components but have taken the DIY approach by buying a drone kit or building the drone yourself from scratch, it will be far more complex. One would need to disassemble the drone piece by piece and assess every single component in detail to identify the problem preventing the drone from taking off.
If all else fails, there may be more detailed and complex issues concerning the quadcopter’s inner workings, especially if the drone is not new or has experienced some bumpy rides. Such cases should be assessed by a professional for the problem to be diagnosed and solved accordingly. Thankfully, most instances of quadcopters not taking off are due to minor issues, which can be resolved at home with attention to detail and a thorough approach to problem-solving.