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How Often Do Drones Crash or Fly Away?

If you just crashed your drone or had a frustrating fly away experience, you might be wondering how often these kinds of things happen. Rest assured, you’re not the only one to experience this, and unfortunately, it may not be the last time this happens to you, either. How often do crashes and flyaways happen?

Over 60% of drone pilots report that they have crashed a drone, with many of those pilots experiencing a drone crash more than once. Drone flyaways are much less frequent, with nearly 75% of drone pilots reporting that they have never had a drone fly away from them. 

In this article, we will discuss how often drones crash, how often they fly away, what causes them to fly away, what causes them to crash, and how to prevent crashes and flyaways. So read on to find out more about all this. 

How often do drones crash?

It seems that well over half of all drone pilots will crash their drone at least once when it comes to drone flying. There are so many reports of drone crashes that it’s almost impossible to plan for and anticipate all possible scenarios.

The last thing you would ever want to happen after getting a brand new drone is to crash it. The sad news for any drone owner out there is that there are many causes of a drone crashing, so avoiding this can be quite challenging to achieve every single time. Some factors responsible for crashing drones are inevitably out of your control, you need to be aware of the things you can control and the mistakes you can avoid to ensure this doesn’t happen.

So it’s only natural to wonder how often drones crash. The problem with this question is that it takes stock of all drones and puts them into one category. The truth, however, is that different drones from different manufacturers vary greatly from each other. With this in mind, it is therefore hard to say how often drone crashes occur across the board. 

We conducted a brief survey of our audience of drone pilots and enthusiasts turned up the following results:

How many times have you crashed your drone?
1 to 5 times56.5%
5 or more times9.7%

Some other experts estimate that one-third of all drone owners will at some point crash their drones. For some people, for example, a crash can happen once every 3 years or even 5 years. Inexperienced pilots may crash their drones much more frequently than this. It all depends on the quality of the drone and the precautions the pilot takes to prevent the drone from crashing.

There are drones of all price ranges, and these come with corresponding levels of durability and flight features to prevent crash situations. Some of these drones, especially the cheaply priced ones, will crash more often than the rest, which usually has to do with the quality of the drone itself. 

In the case of reliable drones from well-known and trusted manufacturers (for example, DJI), the units themselves are quite reliable, and crashes are therefore much less likely to happen to you unless you’re being unusually reckless. 

How often do drones fly away?

One of the most frightening and heartbreaking things is watching your drone fly away while you can’t do anything about it. Despite advancements made in transmission technologies, drone flyaways still continue to happen. When it does happen, it inevitably leads to your drone crashing somewhere, maybe a few miles away from you or even more if you are unlucky.

A drone flyaway is essentially anytime you cannot fly your drone back to where you took off. This may mean you are forced to land the drone in an unknown location, or you may lose contact with your drone completely and not know where it has gone.

As is the case with drone crashes, it is difficult to tell exactly how often drone flyaways occur. Genuine flyaways aren’t that common, with some pilots saying they flew for 5 years before experiencing their first flyaway. Most of the time, drone flyaways are due to pilot errors and faulty systems. 

A survey of our audience of drone pilots and enthusiasts turned up the following results:

How many times have you had a flyaway drone?
1 to 5 times18.6%
5 or more times7%

These results seem to indicate that drone flyaways are more the exception than the rule, with an overwhelming majority of drone pilots never experiencing one. If you’re among the unlucky few that have had this happen to you more than once, it’s either a faulty drone to blame, or perhaps your own lack of caution.

So, all in all, the best thing you can do to avoid a flyaway is to make sure you do your due diligence as a pilot. Make sure you avoid making any mistakes that would cause your drone to fly away. Also, investing in a quality drone from a known and trusted manufacturer such as DJI will ensure there is a much lower chance that your drone flies away due to technical difficulties.

» MORE: How Close Can Drones Fly Next to Each Other? (Explained)

What causes a drone to fly away?

Some of the things that may cause a drone to fly away include:

1. GPS error

GPS errors occur as a result of electromagnetic interference, and they can cause drone flyaways. So it’s important to be mindful of any communication towers near where you are flying.

2. Battery failure

Battery failure resulting from a faulty battery that loses power too quickly can cause drone flyaways. Also, flying your drone too far out without enough power to fly back can cause flyaways.

3. Bad weather

Bad weather is one of the most common causes of drone flyaways. If your drone is caught in a wind channel, then chances are you will lose it. Torrential rain can also be responsible for flyaways.

4. Firmware update

A faulty firmware update on your drone or its battery can cause it to fly away. In some instances, the drone may signal that the battery is out of power even if it’s charged, making the drone attempt an emergency landing in an unexpected area.

5. Pilot error

This is especially common for beginners who push their drones to their limits and fly them too far away so that they experience a fly away. Lack of professional flying skills can cause this.

6. Magnetic interference

Flying your drone in an area near a power station or where there are electric poles can interfere with the radio signal transmission, and it can cause connection problems. This ultimately leads to flyaways.

It’s important to be aware of all these causes of drone flyaways to avoid them.

What causes a drone to crash?

Common causes of drone crashes include:

1. Poor weather

Heavy rain/sleet/ice/snow can damage the internal parts of your drone, causing it to crash. Also, flying your drone against high winds drains the batteries faster, not to mention fast winds can wipe your drone from the air. All these can result in a crash.

2. Flying past your line of sight

Not being able to see your drone while flying can be disorienting and cause confusion. Your drone may end up flying into an obstacle, be it tall trees, buildings, etc.

3. Pilot error

Even the most experienced drone pilots can make errors. These errors can often result in drone crashes. So to avoid this, it’s best to practice studiously until you are confident in your flying skills.

4. Skipping pre-flight checkup procedures

Before any flight, it’s important to ensure the drone is in top condition. You need to make sure the battery is secure, the compass is calibrated correctly, the firmware is updated, and you are receiving a proper signal. If you skip doing all these, then your drone may end up crashing.

5. Disconnected transmission

If the signal on your drone drops and you either stop receiving video feeds or the controller stops responding for whatever reason, you may end up flying your drone into obstacles or tall structures, causing a crash.

Knowing all these risks is important to avoid them happening to you.

How to prevent crashes and flyaways?

Preventing drone crashes and flyaways can pretty much be done with the same tactics. Follow these tips to ensure you avoid crashes and flyaways at all costs:

1. Fly the drone within your line of sight

It’s important to always be aware of the position of your drone when you are flying, and the best way to do this is to keep an eye on it. Your drone is less likely to crash or fly away if you can see it with your own eyes.

2. Recalibrate your drone’s compass

Don’t be overly dependent on GPS to guide your drone. Your drone also needs a compass so that it can orient itself properly in RTH mode. Recalibrating your drone’s compass can prove to be useful in avoiding crashes and flyaways.

3. Set a Home Point and RTH altitude

Before takeoff, make sure you set the Home Point where the drone will automatically fly back to if you activate Return To Home (RTH), the batteries get too low, or if your drone drops its signal. You should also specify a RTH altitude which should be higher than the highest buildings, trees, and objects in the nearby area.

4. Conduct a pre-flight check

Never fly your drone without conducting a pre-flight check. You should check that the batteries are secure and fully charged, that the controller works properly and links to the drone, and that all components are working as expected.

5. Avoid sources of signal interference

Electromagnetic interference from power lines, communication towers, or large industrial devices running on electricity can be responsible for drone crashes or flyaways. So you should steer clear of these structures when flying.

All in all, the best thing you can do to ensure your drone doesn’t crash or fly away is to practice flying often. Follow the tips in this guide, and you’ll be much more likely to avoid unfortunate accidents with your drone.