Why Wouldn't My Drone Fly And How To Fix It

Why Wouldn’t My Drone Fly And How To Fix It

The perfect weather for a drone flight became frustrating when my drone refused to take off. At the time, I had no idea why wouldn’t my drone fly and how to fix it!

I was stumped and hesitant to tinker with the expensive machinery. What followed was a deep dive into understanding why drones don’t fly and how to troubleshoot these issues.  

I found that a combination of factors is responsible for drones not taking off. It could be calibration issues, propeller positioning, battery problems, flight location, or some complex inner malfunction.

Rest assured, there are some simple fixes to these annoying problems, which I will discuss in the ensuing paragraphs. Let’s get started!

Identifying Reasons For Drone Flight Issues

Identifying Reasons For Drone Flight Issues

Before we discuss the fix to drone flight issues, let’s understand common reasons that prevent your drone from flying.

A. Power Problems In Drones

 i. Battery Levels and Connections

The four propellers of a quadcopter consume significant battery power. Even if your drone took a short flight last time, it needs to be charged! Very often, low battery is a major reason why drones do not fly.

If you haven’t flown your drone for a long time, it is possible that it may be in hibernation mode. To remedy this, just charge the drone for a few hours.

 ii. Assessing the Battery Health

Sometimes, the battery may be damaged or not functioning properly. You must periodically check battery health using the drone’s app to ensure it stays in good shape.

Also, ensure you use compatible batteries with adequate voltage supply and that they fit snugly into the designated slots to avoid loose connections. Here’s a link to the detailed DJI manual on battery care.  

B. Calibration and Sensor Problems

Calibrating your drone ensures that the internal systems are communicating effectively with each other. Calibration errors in drone flight will make your drone behave erratically or not take off.

The Compass and IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) are the sensors that require calibration.

Together, they control the drone’s navigation prowess, positioning, and stability. Without these parts working correctly, your drone is a confused craft!

C. Propeller And Motor Concerns In Drones

The drone’s propellers are needed to produce the thrust that makes it fly. And the motors rotate them. A direct result of any issues with the propeller or motor is that your drone won’t take flight. Some common propeller and motor issues are:

–       Loose propellers

– Propellers fitted on the wrong motor

–       Damaged propellers

–       Debris in motor

–       Bends in the shaft

When powered on, unusual sounds from the drone are generally signs of motor or propeller damage.

A propeller that is bent out of shape will not fit securely with the motor. Similarly, any cracks or chips hamper the aerodynamics and make it tough for your drone to take flight.

D. Environmental Factors

External conditions play a pivotal role in the drone’s flight. Whether it’s a commercial or professional drone

i. Wind

While flying drones in windy conditions might not prevent take-off, it can certainly cause them to crash! Drones have limits when it comes to flying in strong winds.

Take-off, in particular, is dangerous as the drone hasn’t picked up speed and can easily be displaced by strong winds.

The general rule is that wind speed should be two-thirds or less of the drone’s maximum speed to fly safely. So, never underestimate the weather impact on drone flight.

ii. Rain/Fog

Flying a drone in any form of precipitation is a strict no-no. This is because the moisture can wreak havoc with the drone’s sensitive machinery.

While most of us probably wouldn’t fly during rain or snow, fog is often considered fair game.

But don’t make that mistake. There are several serious repercussions of flying your drone in fog and you must be well-informed.

E. Software and Firmware Issues

Once the drone is powered up, the propellers must spin automatically. If that doesn’t happen, then software glitches in drone flight are the reason.

From my experience, I’ve seen that DJI drone owners frequently face this issue. The reason is that DJI drones automatically switch mode settings.

If that happens, then you may be using the incorrect control stick to make it fly. More on this in the subsequent paragraphs.

Troubleshooting and Fixing Drone Flight Problems

Troubleshooting and Fixing Drone Flight Problems

I’ve found some straightforward fixes for all the above drone flight problems. Some of these are from online research, and others are from watching expert drone flyers. Let’s dive in.

1. Calibrating a Drone

Calibrating a drone helps it make sense of its surroundings. Besides periodic calibration checks, one must always calibrate the drone when flying in a new location. I’ve discussed drone calibration in detail in my previous article.

Once the drone is calibrated, the next step is to check the GPS connectivity. A weak GPS signal will inhibit the drone from accessing accurate location information.

2. Propeller Plight

The simplest way to prevent propeller issues is to carry out regular visual inspections. Here’s how to do it:

–       Run your fingers gently on the propeller’s surface to detect any unevenness. Also, look out for any chipping, bends, or cracks.

–       Prior to each flight, ensure that the propeller is firmly secured to the motors.

–       Gently spin the propellers and check if they spin freely without noise or resistance. If you feel any obstruction, then examine the propeller shaft carefully.

If, during the inspection, you notice bends in the shaft or cracks in the propeller, then replacement is the safest solution.

Post-inspection, always take a test flight in controlled conditions.

3. Motor Inspection

Regular motor maintenance will contribute significantly to increasing its life span. Like propellers, motors too, must be visually inspected to check for damage or debris.

Another essential step is to lubricate the motors frequently. This will reduce friction and ensure smooth rotation.

4. Updating Software

Drone manufacturers periodically release software updates for drone models. These updates are to fix bugs, enhance safety, or improve functionality.

If your drone isn’t updated to the latest software release, it may refuse to take off.

In fact, I’ve seen that installing the latest firmware updates automatically solves many drone issues. You can check for software updates on the drone app and follow the installation steps.

Additionally, as mentioned above, for DJI drones, an incorrect mode setting will deter flight. To address the issue, go to the remote control setting in the DJI GO app.

Here, you will see different modes for the master stick. Select the one that you prefer and click apply.

5. Error Messages

If your drone cannot take flight, check for any error messages flashing on the app or controller. Most consumer drones have apps that provide real-time information about their functioning.

Besides the error messages, keep an eye out for the colors of the LED light. Sometimes, a different color than usual denotes an error in the machinery.

The drone’s troubleshooting manual clearly lists LED indicator colors and troubleshooting drone error messages. So, read the manual thoroughly before taking your drone for a spin.

Drone Won’t Fly Troubleshooting

Drone Won't Fly Troubleshooting

Sharing a few scenarios that have happened with me or fellow enthusiasts. These might come in handy if you are facing similar issues.

1. Drone is powered on, but the propellers are not spinning

Check the remote control setting to see if the mode setting is accurate. The other thing to do is run the propeller checks I’ve outlined above.

2. Drone won’t fly after a crash

Drone crashes are scary, but sometimes not in our control! After a crash, check your motor and propellers for damage. Also, see if the battery is sitting snugly in its slot.

3. Drone won’t power on

Usually, batteries are the culprit here. Check to see if they are fully charged and undamaged. If the batteries are all right, then an internal malfunction could be the cause.

I had to return my drone to the manufacturer once because it would not start. Turns out the issue was a faulty internal wiring.

4. The drone won’t fly in certain areas

When this happened to me, I was perplexed! My drone was working perfectly in one location and not in another. That’s when I learned about geofencing.

Most manufacturers install geofencing in drones, which prevents them from flying in restricted areas. You can use the FAA’s B4UFLY app to understand where you can and cannot fly.

Preventive Maintenance Tips

Preventive Maintenance Tips

Heard the saying, prevention is better than cure? It certainly applies to your precious drone. 

By following these basic care tips, you can prolong the life and performance of your drone.

–       Never overcharge or undercharge the batteries.

–       Steer clear of using puffed batteries.

–       Propellers must be visually inspected after each flight.

–       DJI recommends changing propellers after 50+ hours of flight time.

–       Lubricate the motors with a good quality lubricant.

–       Keep the motors clean using canned compressed air.

–       Wipe the drone body, sensors, and camera with a soft microfiber cloth regularly.

–       Store the drone in a cool and dry area without any magnetic interference.

–       Update the software regularly.

–   Utilise the manufacturer resources for fixing drone flight problems.

Conclusion

Most times, the reasons for a drone not flying are easily fixable. The problem usually lies in the motors, propellers, batteries, or software.

The key is to practice regular drone maintenance to keep it in top shape. It also helps if one is proactive in addressing any concerns. For this, the manufacturer manual and the customer service are extremely helpful.

I hope your drone flies without a glitch, but if it doesn’t, you know what to do! 

FAQ

1. Why won’t my drone take off, even with a fully charged battery?

It is possible that the battery is damaged or not fitted properly in the slot. It could also happen if you are using an incompatible battery.

2. What role does calibration play in drone flight? How can I ensure it’s done correctly?

Calibration ensures that your drone is acquainted with the surroundings and flies accurately. Calibration can be performed by following the instructions on the drone app.

3. How do I assess if propellers and motors cause my drone not flying?

If the propellers are not spinning after powering up the drone, the likely cause is propeller or motor damage.

If your drone is vibrating too much or not evenly balanced, check if the propellers are in their proper slots.

4. Can environmental factors like wind and weather impact drone flight?

Yes. Environmental conditions like wind, fog, snow, and rain can cause drone machinery to malfunction.

5. What should I do if my drone displays error messages during flight?

Promptly land your drone and address the error message before flying it again.

Author
Diptesh Das

Diptesh Das is your friendly ‘content maniac’ and drone enthusiastic! Being passionate about content writing. He is a firm believer of the power of words and thereby ended up leveraging them to create an impact by sharing his drone knowledge and experiences.

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