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What Causes Drone Flyaways?

What Causes Drone Flyaways?

A drone flyaway is a nightmare for drone owners around the world, especially if the drone wasn’t equipped with a tracker. You just broke the bank to get your first drone, but the drone decides to just leave on its own. Worse, it was a drone without a GPS tracker. Drone flyaways can happen anytime for various reasons. Here are the common ones.

What Causes Drone Flyaways?

The FAA defines flyaway as “an interruption or loss of the control link, or when the pilot is unable to effect control of the aircraft, and as a result, the UAV is not operating in a predictable or planned manner.” In simpler terms, flyaways are when a drone starts exhibiting erratic movement. Users either end up damaging their drones after it crashes from the sky, or they could end up losing the drone for good.

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3D Insider

3D Insider

For pilots, drone flyaways are extremely difficult to deal with. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing their expensive investment malfunction midair. Other than pilot error, there are so many factors that contribute to drone flyaways.

Equipment failure

Machines can malfunction at a split second. Drones are no different. If a single part of the drone’s electronic manufacturing fails or if it starts to experience a connectivity issue, you could unfortunately bet that drone flyaways could happen anytime. It was just not your day.

Electromagnetic fields

Flying near power lines and cell phone towers can have a huge electromagnetic interference effect on your drone. It is extremely likely to cause drone flyaways and to lose your drone if you do this.

Compass calibration failure

Entering different locations means that your drone also enters a different electromagnetic field. That said, failing to recalibrate your compass each time almost ensures that the whole machine will end up malfunctioning. Failure to calibrate your compass is the number one sin made by people who travel often with their drone. Sure, you can get away with not calibrating your compass once or twice, but if you are traveling often, your drone compass is going to get unaligned with the electromagnetic field of different areas.


The drone’s built-in GPS system may drop the signal and provide inaccurate positioning. GPS glitches are likely to happen in areas where a GPS signal bounces around several paths before reaching the receiver. Weather has hardly anything to do with glitches, as these errors can even occur on a sunny day. To prevent this from happening, you better equip your prized drone with a GPS tracker.

Drone Flyaways Causes


RTH altitude

Make sure you set the RTH (return to home) altitude for your drone at a decent altitude, well above any potential obstructions from obstacles like trees, buildings, and hills on the way back. If you fail to do this, your drone might crash into an obstacle on its way back, especially if it doesn’t have a full obstacle-avoidance system.

Home point

Most drones set the home point automatically for the return to home function. However, you should make sure that the particular model that you own has this feature. If not, make sure you set it up correctly. If you are going to be on the move while flying your drone (being on a boat, for example), make sure you have dynamic home point set up.

Atti mode

Flying far away and switching GPS off (Atti mode) is the best way to lose your drone, unless you absolutely know what you are doing.

Controller misconfiguration

If you are building your own drone or you are assembling one from a DIY kit, make sure your flight controller is configured properly. If you don’t, this surely causes drone flyaways (among many other things that may go wrong).

Worry no more about drone flyaways by getting yourself a GPS tracker.

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