3 Things That Can Happen If a Drone Battery Dies Mid-Flight

drone flying

Drone owner’s first concern usually is what happens if their drone’s battery dies while flying, after some research and a couple of experiments here is what I found-

When a drone battery runs low the controller will notify you, if you decide to ignore the notification and keep flying the battery will eventually die and the drone will automatically return to home. some lower-end will land directly below where it was flying or some might even crash.

knowing what will happen if your drone runs out of battery mid-flight relieves some stress, so you can do a little experiment in your backyard flying your drone till the battery runs out.

If you have a DJI drone rest assured the drone will automatically activate RTH(return to home) when the battery is below the threshold.

What Happens When My Drone Battery Dies While Flying

There are three possible outcomes if a drone battery dies mid-flight: it lands directly below the ground, it returns to the controller, it falls out of the sky like a brick

Higher-end drones like drones from DJI, will return to home unless they are within 60 meters radius from the controller.

Drone manufacturers made an assumption that when a drone is flying within a 60 meters radius from the controller there is a high chance it will land on a safe surface, so they made it that when your drone is flying within a 60-meter radius it will land directly below where it was flying.

What if it is not within a 60-meter radius? in this case, the outcome can be different but usually RTH mode activates.

  • Return to home– Return to home is a common feature in most higer end drones, it can be activated when a drone is out of range, when the controller or drone battery runs low or the pilot can mannually activate it. If this feature is present in your drone it will automatically activate once the battery runs low and the drone will track its way home. However, older drones like DJI spark are not good at avoidng obstacles when they are in RTH mode.

*Also note– in urban areas where there are a lot of tall structures this feature might not work properly due to signal interference *

Cheaper drones usually don’t have the return to home function, so what happens when they are out of battery while flying?

  • Landing directly below– This is the most common thing with a lot of cheap consumer-level drones, once the drone is out of battery the drone will land directly below where it was flying and it will not allow another lift-off until it is charged again. let us hope you were not flying over a water body because the drone will also try to land on the water and there goes your drone.
  • Crash– crash is common with cheap drones. cheap drones will also notify you once the battery is on a critical level if you decide to fly them longer the propellers will stop and the drone will free fall to the ground. you have to be really careful when flying cheap drones, they will literally free fall to the ground just like a brick. make sure you are not flying over people or over any damageable private property.

What happens if the controller battery dies while flying

drone controller (1)

Just like a drone battery, a controller battery can possibly die mid-flight, I also did some research and experiments to find out what would happen if a drone controller battery dies or disconnects mid-flight-

If a drone controller battery dies or if it disconnects from the drone, the drone will return to home, or the drone can land directly below and shut off the propellers while waiting for reconnection, in some cases the drone will hover in the air while waiting for reconnection.

If the drone was out of sight and it lands directly below where it was flying it can be hard to find your drone which is why it is wise to carry an extra battery for your controller.

If you are carrying an exchange battery for the controller you can change it and the drone will reconnect without any problem.

What Happens If Your Phone Battery Dies While Flying Your Drone?

My last question before I decided to write this article was what happens if your phone dies while flying your drone, so to try this I turned my phone off while flying the drone and this is what I learned-

It doesn’t matter if your phone battery dies or if the app crashes while flying a drone, as long as the controller is still functioning the drone will continue to fly normally.

However, if your drone is out of sight when your phone dies it can be hard to relocate your drone because there is no way to see the drone’s pov with your drone screen.

But you can relocate your drone by activating Return To Home feature till the drone is visible, but not all drones have RTH that is why it is good to carry a power bank for your phone.

How long can a drone fly without recharging

With more expensive drones you can get a flight time of around 20 to 30 minutes, while cheap toy drones will have flight times of 5-15 minutes.

However, both internal and external factors can affect the flight time of your drone. factors such as the battery’s age and external factors such as weather conditions and how you are using the drone. 

If you add any additional payload, like propeller guards, fishing kit, and such that can significantly reduce your battery life.

What should I do if my drone dies during a flight?

I know this sounds corny but prevention is the best cure, so always keep your drone in a safe range especially if you are a beginner operator you should keep your drone vlos(visual line of sight) that way if the drone is out of battery you can easily relocate it.

Not only that but FAA clearly states that your drone should be kept in sight all time.

other methods of loss prevetion

  • Put a tracker on your drone- If your drone run out of battery and land in the middle of nowhere a tracker can be benefical, especcially people with more expensive drone like phantom 4 and such can really benfit from a GPS tracker.
  • Don’t fly it over a waterbody- If you are running low on battery don’t fly it over water, cause it might try to land on it which will be a disaster
  • Change your drone battery- If you have been using your drone for a long time the battery performance will significantly decrease so changing it will add some extra flight time.
  • If the drone is about to die and it is not on sight take screenshots from your receiver that would assist you later on if the drone lands to a place you are not sure where

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