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Close encounter with an ultralight aircraft - ADS-B did its job

Steve F

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While flying my Mavic Air 2 drone a couple of days ago I received an ADS-B alert of a nearby aircraft.

I occasionally get these alerts and will typically pop open the map to get an idea of where the aircraft is if I do not have a visual on it. In this case I was flying fairly low at probably less than 100' at the time, photographing an oak tree, and ignored the warning at first. The alert continued and switched to the message that it was "Too close" and started flashing my screen red. Opening the map showed it to be very close and heading right toward me. At first I could hear it, but not see it. Just in case, I further reduced my altitude to about 50', and soon after this ultralight aircraft roared over me. I watched as it circled around me, and was able to capture a bit of video on its second pass after getting my wits about me again.

I will have to say, that the ADS-B receiver performed well and did its job! It is interesting to note that this ultralight even had a ADS-B transmitter.

 
Thanks for sharing. IMO this is yet another reason for using strobes during daylight. You never know when you're going to have such and encounter. And while it is the drone pilot's obligation to yield to a manned aircraft, I have to wonder, should a collision have occured with one of us flying in class G space at 100' would we be held "at fault", especially if we were just in a hover had this aircraft or one like it flown into us at that height?
 
While flying my Mavic Air 2 drone a couple of days ago I received an ADS-B alert of a nearby aircraft.

I occasionally get these alerts and will typically pop open the map to get an idea of where the aircraft is if I do not have a visual on it. In this case I was flying fairly low at probably less than 100' at the time, photographing an oak tree, and ignored the warning at first. The alert continued and switched to the message that it was "Too close" and started flashing my screen red. Opening the map showed it to be very close and heading right toward me. At first I could hear it, but not see it. Just in case, I further reduced my altitude to about 50', and soon after this ultralight aircraft roared over me. I watched as it circled around me, and was able to capture a bit of video on its second pass after getting my wits about me again.

I will have to say, that the ADS-B receiver performed well and did its job! It is interesting to note that this ultralight even had a ADS-B transmitter.

I'm very surprised an ultralight aircraft has an ADS-B transponder. Those aren't cheap to install, so it would be a substantial expense compared to the cost of the aircraft itself.
 
I'm very surprised an ultralight aircraft has an ADS-B transponder. Those aren't cheap to install, so it would be a substantial expense compared to the cost of the aircraft itself.
Survival mode. Might have had previous run-ins or a uav pilot himself.
Kinda like the Epirb I carry offshore. Not required but stupid not to.
 
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Now all that needs to happen is for the ADS-B information the MA2 provides includes altitude. If I'm at 100ft, I don't need to worry too much about an approaching aircraft at 600ft. I should be aware in case it descends, but not worry.
 
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Now all that needs to happen is for the ADS-B information the MA2 provides includes altitude. If I'm at 100ft, I don't need to worry too much about an approaching aircraft at 600ft. I should be aware in case it descends, but not worry.

I agree; I find myself temporarily switching to FlightRadar24 when I get the warnings in DJI Fly, only to see that the aircraft I'm getting alerts for is either far away or at a much higher altitude and is really nothing to be worried about. If we could see the altitude directly in DJI Fly, it would be great. (DJI currently has an option to only display more serious threats with AirSense, but I prefer to see any aircraft it can pick up)
 
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This may seem like a really silly question, but how do I go about downloading and installing these apps?
I live about 50 miles from an airport but sometimes get the odd small aircraft or even hang glider near by so would be good to see what’s near.
 
This may seem like a really silly question, but how do I go about downloading and installing these apps?
I live about 50 miles from an airport but sometimes get the odd small aircraft or even hang glider near by so would be good to see what’s near.
I use the app "Plane Radar". Works good, giving you a map of what is in the air around you.
 
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I agree; I find myself temporarily switching to FlightRadar24 when I get the warnings in DJI Fly, only to see that the aircraft I'm getting alerts for is either far away or at a much higher altitude and is really nothing to be worried about. If we could see the altitude directly in DJI Fly, it would be great. (DJI currently has an option to only display more serious threats with AirSense, but I prefer to see any aircraft it can pick up)
Note that FlightRadar24 has a delay whereas MA2 ADS-B does not or is a smaller delay.
So when MA2 says the plane is just about on top of you, FlightRadar24 shows where the plane was about 5 minutes ago.
 
This may seem like a really silly question, but how do I go about downloading and installing these apps?
I live about 50 miles from an airport but sometimes get the odd small aircraft or even hang glider near by so would be good to see what’s near.
They are all available in Google Play or Apple Store.
 
Note that FlightRadar24 has a delay whereas MA2 ADS-B does not or is a smaller delay.
So when MA2 says the plane is just about on top of you, FlightRadar24 shows where the plane was about 5 minutes ago.

I'm not sure the delay is actually 5 minutes, but yes there is a delay. In my experience it's more like 30 seconds. I actually run a ADS-B receiver at my home off my Raspberry Pi that feeds data to FR24. (they gift you a "free" business level account for doing so)
 
Can you get one here? Half of the planes flying over my house don't show up.
Heck FR24 won't even acknowledge the class D airport.
 
I'd love to have this technology on my M2P. I was six miles from the nearest airport, flying at about 350' to photograph a 230'-tall building last month when I heard a small plane. It was approaching from behind. I immediately started descending, only to realize that it was flying lower than I was. So I moved to the side and all was well. But much closer than I would have liked. Maybe a reason for buying a newer model.
 
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I've been using FlightRadar24 for about 8 years now and have watched the majority of planes go from a 5 minute delay to the live positioning. It has been my experience where I live that most are pretty close to where the map shows. The local university has a pilot training program so we have a lot of small planes flying by frequently and FlightRadar24 has been pretty accurate for me. That being said we are in the flight path of a medical helicopter that does not have or that doesnt have turned on its ADS-b so isn't visible on the app. So I always try to listen closely while flying.
 
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While flying my Mavic Air 2 drone a couple of days ago I received an ADS-B alert of a nearby aircraft.

I occasionally get these alerts and will typically pop open the map to get an idea of where the aircraft is if I do not have a visual on it. In this case I was flying fairly low at probably less than 100' at the time, photographing an oak tree, and ignored the warning at first. The alert continued and switched to the message that it was "Too close" and started flashing my screen red. Opening the map showed it to be very close and heading right toward me. At first I could hear it, but not see it. Just in case, I further reduced my altitude to about 50', and soon after this ultralight aircraft roared over me. I watched as it circled around me, and was able to capture a bit of video on its second pass after getting my wits about me again.

I will have to say, that the ADS-B receiver performed well and did its job! It is interesting to note that this ultralight even had a ADS-B transmitter.

I was accumulating some footage for an existing project (due to publication to this forum soon) above the waters of Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami. I was usually about 100-125 feet, or about as high as the top deck of one of the massive cruise ships berthed there. I had already brought my Mavic 2 Pro home and was packing it away when I heard and then saw a low flying helicopter in the exact area I had been flying just a few minutes previously!
 

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I’m not sure whether it’s COVID, the lower price of fuel, or possibly someone opened a flight school in the area, but I’ve seen 10X the small plane traffic above our property this year and occasionally I think they’re below 500’. It makes me uncomfortable to fly my MM and I’ve received no warnings. Helicopters are often well below 400’ checking power lines. Thanks for sharing about Flightradar, I’ve already put it on my phone.
 
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