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How to Unlock Geofencing on Your DJI Drone (Step-By-Step Guide)

Flying a drone is a lot of fun, and observing the world from above gives you a great sense of freedom. When you use your aircraft as a tool for business, though, things change a little and flying in restricted regions might be difficult at times.

DJI’s geofencing technology makes it easier for drone pilots to safely fly within or around sensitive sites such as airports and prisons. You can easily plan your flying operations using the DJI GEO map without worrying about violating laws.

Unlocking certain geofenced areas is simple thanks to the convenient online request procedure. Depending on the type of zone that you are trying to unlock, this can be done from the DJI Fly/DJI Go apps, or on DJI’s FlySafe webpage, either using self-unlock or custom-unlock procedures. However, some restricted geo zones cannot be unlocked.

FlySafe GEO Map. DJI official website.

Today, we will show you how to unlock Geofencing on your DJI drone, so nothing can stop you from conducting your operations. Let us get started!  

What is geofencing?

We need to take a closer look at this system to completely comprehend today’s topic. DJI first announced No-Fly Zones in 2013, then, three years later, the GEO system, which was a more advanced version of the technology.

The determination of drone pilots to fly safely and responsibly, with a detailed guide to understanding where they may legally do it, was the driving force behind this innovation.

DJI’s Geofencing technology uses GPS and other navigational satellite signals to keep your drone out of restricted flying zones like airports, prisons, and other places where security is a concern. DJI drones are not allowed to take off or fly without permission in some regions, which are referred to as “geofenced.”

Local government clearance is required to unlock Geofencing, while some vital locations require extra measures. After completing an online application, DJI has simplified the procedure, allowing professional pilots to fly in safe areas by promptly getting unlocking codes.

With GEO 2.0, the specified borders are based on the standard 14th annex of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization), which regulates the safety of the airspace in proximity to airports’ runways.

DJI’s GEO system provides consumers with crucial information that allows them to make informed decisions about where they may safely fly. However, the pilot must be aware of and follow local rules.

Are you trying to fly in a geo-fenced area?

As we have discussed in previous articles, you should always double-check that flying drones in the region you want to operate is legal before proceeding. It makes no difference if you were employed to fly in that area.

The responsibility is solely yours to know if it’s legal to fly there.

Fortunately, you can acquire precise information on the area via satellite imagery with DJI’s Fly Safe Geo Map (link). This map not only shows you permanent no-fly zones such as prisons and airports, but also displays important temporary events such as stadium occurrences, forest fires, and other emergencies.

In certain areas, you will still be able to fly, but a warning will appear on your screen to warn you of potential risks.

Understanding DJI Geo Zones

DJI’s GEO fencing is divided into a total of 7 GEO zones, which are displayed by colors on the FlySafe map. Let’s have a look at what these are, but first, allow me to remind you to check the drawing below while reading every GEO Zone explanation.

Airport risk design. Image credit: DJI

RESTRICTED ZONES

A warning will appear on the screen in Restricted zones, preventing the user from flying. If you have permission to operate in these zones, you must email flysafe@dji.com or complete the online process to gain access.

These areas are the most restrictive and include, for example, airport runways.

ALTITUDE ZONES

Typically, these areas are extensions of the airport runways. As manned aircraft descend to land, they fly low in these altitude zones, which is why drones must comply with them. If they do not, they could cause a collision.

In high-risk airports, the drones have a 162 ft (60-meter) height limitation of 2.1 mi (3.4 km) in a straight line from the runway, and a 492 ft (150-meter) height limitation of 5.2 mi (8.4 km) in a straight line starting from the previous altitude zone area (check the image above for a better understanding).

A warning will appear in the DJI app when you enter an altitude zone, and the user’s flight height will be limited.

AUTHORIZATION ZONES

Depending on the risk level of the airport, the Authorization zone will vary. Taking again airports as an example, in high-risk airports, it is the area surrounding the runway. In low-risk airports, however, it is only the runway area.

The user gets a warning in these zones, the flight is limited by default, and to be unlocked it needs to be authorized with a DJI verified account.

WARNING ZONES

In DJI’s FlySafe GEO map, warning zones may be switched on and off. These zones normally encircle the authorization zones’ defined boundaries, preceded by an enhanced warning zone. An example of them is the Class E airspace.

When the user enters a warning zone, a message will pop up on the screen.

ENHANCED WARNING ZONE

On the GEO map, enhanced warning zones, like warning zones, may be turned on and off. In high- and medium-risk airports, these regions frequently come before warning zones. However, they can delineate the runway area in low-risk airports.

You will need to unlock these regions in the same manner you did the Authorization zone, but you will not need a DJI verified account to do so.

REGULATORY RESTRICTED ZONES

These are severely forbidden regions due to local regulations that cannot be unlocked. Prisons, military camps, government buildings, and similar locations are only a few examples of regulatory restricted zones.

RECOMMENDED ZONES

I looked for a recommended zone, but could not find one. According to DJI, these zones are displayed in green on the GEO map and we should choose them for our flight arrangements.

Geofence unlocking procedures

Each zone, as we saw in the previous part, has its own set of conditions for flying over it. To be able to fly in specific regions, such as restricted zones, you must first unlock them.  Nevertheless, we may temporarily self-authorize flights in the majority of these zones using DJI’s convenient system.

With an online request and verification of authorization, high-risk locations can be unlocked. The procedure of creating an unlock request takes a little longer, but any pilot, novice or skilled, should find the system to be fairly simple.

To unlock your drone to fly in a GEO zone, there are two unlocking procedures, depending on the type of zone.

  1. Self-unlock.
  2. Custom unlock.

Self-Unlock

This type of unlocking works for areas that can be self-unlocked, such as Authorization Zones, which only require the user to have a DJI account to have their identity verified.

Follow these steps to self-unlock your drone in the DJI app:

  1. When you take off inside or near an Authorization Zone, you will receive a flight restriction warning that will be displayed in the DJI app (both DJI Go and DJI Fly).
  2. Tap on yes, and choose “Phone (SMS)” for verification.
  3. Once you have completed the verification process, tap on the confirmation button to unlock the Authorization Zone.
  4. Make sure that the unlocking license appears on your app.

Alternatively, you can self unlock your drone on DJI’s website:

  1. Go to DJI’s FlySafe official website. Tap/click on this link.
  2. Visit the self-unlocking section (or tap/click on this link)
  3. Choose a zone to unlock and the product model.
  4. Input the drone’s serial number and fill out the identity verification.
  5. Once the verification has succeeded, launch the app and download the unlocking license.

Custom Unlock

If you already have the authorization to operate in a Restricted Zone, you can process a Custom Unlock on the DJI official website.

Take a look at these steps to complete the process:

  1. Go to the DJI FlySafe website.
  2. Select the area of your planned flights.
  3. Input your drone’s serial number.
  4. Submit the documentation that shows the proof of your authorization to fly in the chosen zone.
  5. Wait for approval, which will come in an email.
  6. Launch the app and download the unlocking license.

Note: The required documentation may differ depending on the selected zone and flight operation.

Downloading the License in DJI Go

When your unlock request has been approved, the license must be downloaded before flying.

Here is a guide on how to do it in the DJI Go app:

  1. Connect the aircraft and the device, then launch the app.
  2. Go to camera view and select General Settings.
  3. Tap on Unlocking License.
  4. Tap “App” and “Sync” to download your license.
  5. Tap on ‘Import to aircraft’ to update the license on your drone.
  6. Tap on ‘aircraft’ and then on ‘Sync’.
  7. Turn on or off the license.
  8. Once the unlocking license is enabled, the unlocked flight zone will be shown in the app.
  9. Turn off the license first if you need to fly outside of the zone.

Note: You can check your unlocking history by going to the home screen, Me, More, and My Unlock NFZ Applications. Tap Refresh to update the list to the latest version.

How to Unlock GEO zones

Enhanced Warning Zone

This is the simplest sort of zone to unlock. The only criterion is that you “accept to bear complete responsibility for your flight in this zone.” When your drone enters this region, a safety message will appear, and you will be permitted to fly after accepting the agreement.

Authorization Zone

Follow the five procedures outlined in the “Self-Unlock” section of this guide to fly in Authorization zones.

Restricted Zone

To unlock a restricted zone, you will need to present authorization to DJI. Use the following email address for that purpose:  flysafe@dji.com

Altitude Zones

There is no way to unlock these types of zones, so you will have to plan any operations in them according to the established fly limits.

Regulatory Zones

These regulated areas cannot be unlocked.

How to unlock your drone in the DJI Fly app

So far, we have looked at how to unlock your drone using the DJI Go app by downloading the license and the official DJI FlySafe website. Now I will teach you how to use DJI Fly to unlock your aircraft so that you may operate it in GEO zones.

Follow these steps before starting:

  1. Power on the drone and the remote controller, ensuring that they are connected to each other and ready to operate.
  2. Make sure that you are running the latest firmware and DJI Fly version, ensuring that FlySafe is up-to-date.
  3. The aircraft’s satellite indicator should display a minimum of 10.
  4. You must be connected to the Internet with a good signal.

Once you have completed those checks, it is time to unlock your drone in DJI Fly:

  1. In the DJI Fly app, go to your profile and log into your DJI account (the one that you have used to submit the custom unlocking request on the FlySafe website, as we did it in the “Custom Unlock” section).

2. While in camera view, tap on the ellipsis () located in the top-right of the screen.
3. In the Safety tab, tap on Unlock GEO Zone

4. In the “Account Unlocking Licenses” tab, tap on “Import to Aircraft” next to the “Flight Controller SN” text. A notification that reads “License Imported Successfully” will appear.

5. Tap on the section “Aircraft Unlocking Licenses” and slide the switch next to “DJI Fly_circle”.

6. Tap the two options in the windows that read ‘confirm the following statements‘ and tap on ‘Agree‘.  

7. Where you activated the switch, now it will appear as active in blue.

8. As you activated the unlocking button, now you should see a purple circle on the map indicating the unlocked area. On the bottom left of the screen, you can see the details of the license.

9. In the camera view, with the aircraft inside the unlocked region, you should see a message that states “takeoff permitted” in the upper left corner.

10. Verify the “Max Altitude” and “Max Distance” of the area you have unlocked, which will be displayed in a green circle. To do this, go to the settings by tapping on the three dots located in the top right corner of the screen. It will be displayed in the Safety tab under ‘Flight Protection.’

Image Credit: DJI

Note: You can only save a maximum of five unlocking licenses. In the Safety tab, remove any unneeded licenses to add more.

Image Credit: DJI

GEO Zone Unlocking Troubleshooting

Like every software or online application form, DJI FlySafe procedures can cause us some trouble. In this section, we are going to have a look at a few things we can do to ensure that our drone gets unlocked to fly in any GEO Zone.

Unlocking Failure

  1. If your drone will not unlock, make sure the firmware on both the drone and the remote controller is up to date, and that the DJI GO or DJI Fly app is running the latest version. If you do not do this, the drone might not be able to take off.
  2. If the drone’s firmware has been updated, connect the aircraft with the Fly app (DJI Go or DJI Fly), then log into the account which was used for submitting the unlocking application. The unlocking license can then be downloaded.  
  3. Make sure your device is connected to the Internet and that the connection is strong and steady.
  4. Try the process of getting your drone ready to fly again. This involves turning on the aircraft and the remote controller, as well as connecting them to the Fly app on your device.

Alternative solutions

  1. Sometimes, the account may not connect to the Internet properly. If you think this may be causing problems, log out and log in to your DJI account.
  2. Turn on and off the drone with the mobile device.
  3. Close the fly application, connect and disconnect the USB cable from your device, and run the application again.
  4. Uninstall and reinstall the app.
  5. If you still have problems, perhaps your device is not functioning properly. Try using another phone or tablet.

Are you still having problems? Contact DJI

If none of our suggestions have worked, you should contact DJI for help. This is the information that they will require:

  1. A video clip of your device’s screen when attempting to unlock your drone, from start to finish. If your phone does not have a screen recording feature, you may download a free app to do so.
  2. A screenshot of your device proving that you were logged in to your DJI account when you attempted to unlock your drone.
  3. The current flying coordinates as seen in a screenshot.
  4. A screenshot showcasing that the drone is connected correctly with the app and that you are in the right section: General settings > Unlocking List-APP/Aircraft.
  5. Again, while the drone is connected to the app, take a screenshot of the ‘about page’: General settings > About-Flight controller SN.
  6. As shown in the app, a screenshot displaying the no-fly zone.
  7. Your device’s specific model, as well as the operating system and version.

That is it for today, pilot. By now, you should be able to handle GEO zone unlocking on your own.

Are you still looking for more information? There is a lot more where this came from if you keep browsing Droneblog!