The DJI Mavic 3 has just received a significant certificate that will loosen restrictions on where you can fly the drone in the EU – and other DJI drones will likely follow suit.
The DJI Mavic 3 has received the first ‘C1’ certificate to fly in the EU, which owners will be able to apply for via a firmware update later this year. This is great news for drone owners, but also a major milestone for all current and future DJI drones.
Class CE certificates are part of the new European Drone Laws that actually started in December 2020, allowing drones with the new labels (ranging from C0-C4 depending on the drone) to benefit from greater freedom of flight. Unfortunately, the standards for these certificates had not yet been set in 2022, which has left most current drones in limbo – until now.
For Mavic 3 owners, the arrival of a ‘C1’ certificate will bring some immediate benefits. After the update, you will be able to fly the drone in the new ‘Category A1 A1’, which means being able to fly over people (if not “assemblies of people” like sports teams) instead of having to maintain a minimum distance of 50m. You won’t need the expensive A2 remote pilot certificate either, just the basic ‘proof of competence’ theory pass.
But the advantages compared to a similar drone without CE-class marking really starts after December 31, 2023. From that date, upgraded Mavic 3 drones will be able to continue flying in the A1 Open category, rather than being downgraded to the A3 Open Category. The latter would have restricted you to flying in areas free of people and at least 150 meters away from properties.
Naturally, this new C1-compatible firmware will make some changes to the Mavic 3, which DJI says cannot be rolled back and will kick in whenever you fly in the European Economic Area (EEA). That’s why DJI has made the “application process” for the new C1 class seal, which will open “starting Q4 2022”, voluntary and not mandatory.
These changes include ActiveTrack subject tracking automatically turning off when filming people or objects more than 50m away, and the drone’s LEDs automatically turning on or off during the fight depending on the environment. The LEDs on the drone’s front arms will also flash by default whenever it’s powered on, and the Mavic 3 will also achieve a noise reduction level of 83db.
The bigger question, though, is whether the new CE-class markings will make it to DJI’s other drones like the DJI Air 2S, Mavic Air 2, and DJI FPV? DJI wasn’t able to say for sure. He said that “in addition to the C1 certification for the Mavic 3 series, DJI is committed to complying with the new European Drone Regulations for other existing and future drone models, and will work with notified bodies to obtain additional drone certificates in the coming year.” .
While this is a bit elusive, there’s good reason to believe this is the start of a process that will finally see all current DJI drones achieve the CE class markings we’ve been waiting for years.
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This long-awaited update to the DJI Mavic 3 answers one of the big questions surrounding DJI drones in the EU – will it be possible to get new CE class markings via a firmware update, or do they need a more hardware update? complex to qualify?
For the Mavic 3, the answer is that a simple firmware update is all that’s needed – and that’s great news for owners of that drone or potential buyers. But what about the other DJI drones?
While DJI could not comment, a source told us that the company was aware of the European Drone Regulation requirements for the new CE class markings during the manufacture of all of its current drones. That means it’s very likely that other models could follow the Mavic 3’s lead and get their certification through a firmware update rather than a hardware fix.
The issue has been less pressing for drones below 250g, such as the DJI Mini 3 Pro and DJI Mini 2, as they will be able to continue flying in the A1 subcategory from 2024 onwards even without the new CE Class markings. But these two drones will likely qualify for the so-called C0 class, which allows you to fly over people (including “uninvolved” ones), as long as it’s not a large group.
While EU drone laws remain quite complex, this DJI Mavic 3 news is the start of a much-needed simplification process that marks the end of a long period of limbo – and should soon make it possible to buy the best drones from DJI or otherwise, with the certainty that they will not be brought down by future restrictions.