Oh no. This is not how you wanted to spend your time at the end of 2016. After unwrapping a brand new drone less than a week ago and enjoying a few days of blissful aerial photography, the worst has happened. Your drone has decided (it’s got a mind of its own, after all) to crash. It’s broken and in pieces. Or it’s just stopped working. Maybe it was your fault, maybe you have no idea what happened. It doesn’t matter; the result is the same. Your Christmas bubble of aerial photography has well and truly burst. So what now? What can you do once your drone has crashed?
Here are a few options…
Are you covered?
During the purchase of your drone, many of the top manufacturers offer extended warranties or care programs. These are targeted at both new and experienced pilots, and usually mean you can get your crashed drone repaired by the manufacturer or a certified contractor should anything go wrong.
The first thing you need to do in the event of a crash is find out what level of coverage you have. If the drone was a gift from an obscure relative, this means getting back in touch with them. Sorry about that.
If you’re with DJI and purchased ‘DJI Care‘ then you’ll probably be okay. The plan offers peace of mind by covering any damage to your drone, gimbal or camera sustained during normal use. During the cover’s period of validity, repair fees and related costs, including shipping, will be covered by DJI. The price of the care plan depends on which DJI drone you are flying, but you’re looking at between $99 and $200 per year.
Other manufacturers, including GoPro and Ehang, also offer comprehensive cover in case things go wrong. Ehang’s one-year ‘no-hassle’ warranty, available with the Ghostdrone 2.0, is as competitive as any policy on the market.
My drone has crashed and I’m not covered
If you’re not covered by any kind of care policy and the damage to your drone isn’t under the warranty, you will have to pay to have it repaired. Your best bet is to look for an authorized repair centre. If you’re flying with DJI, the company provides a list of recommended repair centres you can contact. Even if your crash has resulted in minimal damage, it’s a good idea to get your drone checked out. Any crash could have caused internal damage that isn’t apparent until you next fly.
UK pilots can try out HeliGuy for quick repairs and US pilots can search on Expert Drones for approved technicians around the country.
The obvious benefit of using an independent repair center is the turnaround time. Manufacturers are often faced with huge demand, so you could save time going elsewhere, even if it costs more.
DIY Drone Repair
While we don’t recommend it, sometimes a bit of drone DIY is your only option. Several manufacturers sell individual parts separately, so if the damage is minor and all you need to do is replace a busted propeller or camera component, you might be in luck. Several manufacturers also offer instructional videos online for minor repairs, such as this from Parrot:
But please be aware that, more often than not, any DIY will render your warranty void – worth bearing in mind in case you need it in the future.
My drone has flown away
Random flyaways are a common occurrence with new drone pilots. Maybe you went a little out of range, maybe there was a technical fault. Either way, your drone has flown off and you have little chance of finding it again. Apart from putting together a bunch of “have you seen this drone” flyers, plenty of the newer models across the industry come with a built-in GPS tracker that should help you find your drone even if you lose sight of it. If your drone doesn’t have this capability consider attaching a tracker, such as the Trackimo, which offers a small and powerful solution the problem of flyaways.
Organize some insurance
If you’ve had to go through the expensive process of sending your broken drone to a certified repair center, consider arranging some basic insurance for the future. Even experienced pilots have accidents, and if you’re flying for professional purposes you’ll be keen to get flying again as soon as possible. There are plenty of insurance providers willing to cover the cost of repairs and help out with your crashed drone. Check out DronesEtc or Neary Aerial Media for more information.