Mavic 3 has made a name for itself as the longest-range drone — that much is very clear. But what that means, in terms of numbers and figures, depends on a large set of things. Let’s take a deep dive.
On the DJI website, the Mavic 3 is advertised as having batteries that allow for forty-six minutes of flight time and a maximum flight distance of thirty kilometers (about nineteen miles).
Factors that Determine the Range
When proclaiming the Mavic 3 as the longest range, people are usually referring to its technical abilities. Under the right conditions, even though you can probably fly the drone comfortably to upwards of ten kilometers, in no way does that mean you can.
Due to guidelines, safety procedures, and technicalities not mentioned by the drone manufacturer, the maximum range of the Mavic 3 (or any other drone) is severely limited.
VLOS(visual line of sight)
The US and EU (along with numerous other countries) all adhere to the rule stating that drone owners should always keep their drones in their visual line of sight (VLOS).
All legal drone flights fall under this rule, which means that the differences in maximum range mean very little, given that most popular drones have long-range flying capabilities that far exceed your ability to keep the drone in your view.
It is already very challenging to keep an eye on a drone flying more than five hundred meters on a clear day far from the city, mountains, and trees. When harsher weather conditions are added to the mix, the issue is further complicated. On a foggy day, for instance, due to this rule, the range of the drone will be extremely limited.
But, of course, it goes without saying that the rule should be followed at all times as it was created for safety purposes.
FCC and CE Regulations
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), an independent US federal government agency, oversees the regulation of all radio signal communications. The Conformité Européenne (CE) is the European equivalent of the FCC.
The process of controlling and authorizing all devices that emit radiofrequency is a rigorous one for a reason: it makes sure that the radio signals do not cause interference that results in harm. Therefore, the FCC/CE is responsible for setting the limits of emission and absorption as well as the enforcement of this rule.
The consequences for not abiding by their regulations are hefty, to say the least. As the famous instance of the retail site HobbyKing — where the total fines the site was required to pay totaled about three million dollars for the sale of uncertified drone transmitters— demonstrates, this is a very serious crime.
Until recent times, regulations were put in place by altering the hardware of the devices that emit radiofrequency. These days, however, it is in the firmware that the limitations are put.
Due to this, newer drones can simply switch from FCC restrictions to CE restrictions (and vice versa) depending on what regulations ought to be followed in the current location. The fact that it is all done on the software has also opened up the possibility of people hacking the firmware to make alterations, which is illegal.
People do this because there is a surprisingly significant difference between the FCC and CE restrictions. The differences are primarily in three things: the drones’ range, top speed, and EIRP (Equivalent, Isotropically Radiated Power).
For Mavic 3, the differences these two regulations make are summarized in the following table.
|75 km/hr (46.6 m/hr)
|68 km/hr (42.4 m/hr)
|EIRP on 2.4Ghz and 5.8Ghz
|33dBm on both frequencies
|20dBm and 14dBm
|Maximum Range on 2.4Ghz
|~14 km (~8.6 miles)
|~8 km (~5 miles)
It is safe to say that the Mavic 3 batteries are very impressive. While marketed as being able to power the drone for forty-six minutes, the Mavic 3 batteries not only come with extra power, but they also have a set of automatic features that ensure that the batteries have longer lifetimes.
The reason these batteries can afford a higher-than-average flight time is that they have a 5000 mAh capacity. Meeting the forty-six-minute mark is not feasible, as, in real-life conditions, there are always external factors that cannot be accounted for by the manufacturer when testing the drone. You can still be sure that the Mavic 3 will fly for more than half an hour, though.
It is critical to keep in mind that the drone should be recalled while there is still more than half of the battery power remaining because it’ll take more than half in order to return the drone to the place it initially took off from if unforeseen factors are involved (say the wind has suddenly grown much stronger, for instance).
The decision to push it close to the 50% battery level just to see how far the drone will go comes at great peril as the droves of ‘gone wrong’ drone range test videos on YouTube show.
The transmission protocol Mavic 3 is known as Ocusync 3.0. Unlike its predecessors, the relatively new Ocusync 3.0 is more powerful. It is capable of allowing around fifteen kilometers of range — that is, of course, under ideal conditions.
But even in rougher circumstances, Ocusync 3.0 tech allows for better penetration than other transmitters.
However large the range the hardware and software of Mavic 3 are capable of giving is, under real-life circumstances, the fifteen-kilometer mark is hard to reach. The biggest obstacle, apart from legal concerns, in getting a significant range is interference.
The closer the drone is to a city, the less the range gets, as there would be more and more radiofrequency signals to compete against. According to the DJI Mavic 3 specs page, it is difficult for the drone to reach three kilometers in heavily urban areas.
In suburban conditions, the maximum range extends to about nine kilometers. It is when flown in rural areas where is there very little interference that the drone can potentially reach fifteen kilometers.