Friday, June 04, 2021

DJI Matrice 300 RTK: Accident occurred May 06, 2021 in Young Harris, Towns County, Georgia

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration;  Atlanta, Georgia
Da-Jiang Innovations; California 

Location: Young Harris, GA 
Accident Number: CEN21LA224
Date & Time: May 6, 2021, 11:00 Local
Registration: FA3HW43WTF
Aircraft: DJI Matrice
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 107: Small UAS

On May 6, 2021, about 1100 eastern daylight time, a Dà-Jiang Innovations (DJI) Matrice 300 RTK small unmanned aircraft system (sUAS, commonly known as a drone), registration FA3HW43WTF, was involved in an accident near Young Harris, Georgia. The remote pilot in command (RPIC) sustained serious injuries. The flight was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 107 demonstration flight.

The purpose of the flight was to demonstrate the drone capabilities for a potential customer with a payload that consisted of a Zenmuse H20T camera and a Wingsland Z15 spotlight. The flight location was very close to a DJI GEO Zone designated as a “Restricted Zone.” According to DJI, in Restricted Zones, which appear red the DJI GO application, users will be prompted with a warning and flight is prevented. GEO Zones that prohibit flight are implemented around locations such as airports, power plants, and prisons. 

After the accident, the RPIC stated that he was initially unaware of the Restricted Zone and never saw a notification on the remote controller during the flight. He added that he only discovered the Restricted Zone after a discussion with the NTSB. The RPIC stated that he performed a normal takeoff and flew the drone to the west over a wooded area about 393 ft above ground level (agl). He stated that during the spotlight demonstration the drone was unresponsive to control inputs, so he utilized the return-to-home (RTH) function. During the RTH descent toward the home point the drone hovered about 7 ft agl over a vehicle in the parking lot and was still unresponsive to any control inputs. When the drone would not land, the RPIC grabbed onto the landing gear and attempted to physically move the drone away from the vehicle. The drone resisted the physical displacement and maintained its position over the vehicle. The RPIC requested assistance from a demonstration attendee and handed him the remote controller. With guidance from the RPIC, he attempted several times to shut down the motors while RPIC held onto the landing gear with both hands. Finally, the RPIC attempted to remove the drone batteries when a propeller blade struck his right hand several times, which caused tendon and nerve damage.

After the injury was sustained, the RPIC continued to hold onto the drone for several minutes until the batteries were exhausted and the motors stopped.

The accident flight logs and data were retrieved from the drone and will be analyzed. A preliminary review of the flight logs showed that the RTH function was initiated about 7 minutes into the flight at 393 ft agl. A Restricted Zone notification was issued two times on the remote controller during the RTH procedure.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: DJI
Registration: FA3HW43WTF
Model/Series: Matrice 300 
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC 
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KDZJ,1909 ft msl
Observation Time: 10:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 11 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C /8°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 330°
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 7 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.14 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Young Harris, GA
Destination: Young Harris, GA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 34.984329,-83.829269 


  1. I am A r.c airplane and helicopter pilot also full scale pilot and aircraft owner. These drones are bad news they are cool but the owners are dangerous grabbing the drone and trying to pull the batteries wow what A stupid thing to do. And then having to have the FAA involved wow! Learn to fly it before you hurt somebody or yourself or dont buy one of these dangerous toys! and yes they are A toy. Unlike the models flown at r.c clubs that are custom built expensive and flown at AMA clubs with training. FAA DONT PUT US REAL MODELERS IN THE SAME RULE BOOK AS THESE CRAPPY QUAD COPTERS PLEASE.

    1. You do realize this is one is not a "toy". It's a $13,000+ commercial UAS, commonly used for law enforcement. It was equipped with a spot light and a FLIR camera and was being demonstrated at a jail.

    2. Clearly you don't have experience with these things. The drone was UNRESPONSIVE TO CONTROLS. It can happen and even the return to home can fail with GPS lockout. And DJI is one of the most expensive manufacturers out there used by professionals in every industry from film and TV to real estate photography to law enforcement. I've been an RC hobbyist since the 1980s and and a full scale licensed pilot nearly the same many years. I only in the last 3-4 years got in to UASs for photography. This level of drone is for business operations as clearly referenced in the report - it is not used for a hobby and has nothing in common with the cheap $50 Wal Mart toy quads you are thinking about that kids and backyard drunk rednecks play with. If anything is a toy, it's the R/C aircraft hobby.

    3. Etac67 if DJI is one of the most expensive manufacturers out there then this incident reflects poorly on the quality and level of safety they afford the user.

      However, there's no reference to the RPIC trying the 'kill switch' function, and the drone was clearly at least somewhat responsive to control inputs because it did respond to the RTG function.

      The pilot stated he was 'unaware' of the restricted zone... right, this is also the kind of operator who doesn't know not to grab onto a flying object with lots of really fast spinny things on it.. I mean, give me a break.

      This operator had no certificate, and from what it sounds like, not much training. The Zenmuse H20T has a thermal camera as well as regular camera. Perhaps for surveillance/law enforcement use? Given the level of competence, it may be a possibility

    4. @Anon - I'm not dismissing the operator's stupidity. I'm challenging the original commenter's ignorance that ALL of these drones/UASs are nothing more than toys for kids an man-children. As if there's no operator stupidity in full scale aircraft that we read about here on KR on regular basis.

  2. Would have been easier to move the vehicle and then throw a towel in to it.

  3. Not a toy; the DJI Matrice weighs 14 lbs, will lift 6 lbs, can fly 50 mph, has a 55 min endurance, and as one poster mentioned, can cost up to $13k. It also has downward facing propellers, which makes an attempt to remove the batteries highly dangerous while the vehicle is hovering. Although I doubt that the drone was completely unresponsive, move the car and let the batteries die. As many drone operators have discovered, getting hit by a sharp propeller turning about 8,000 rpm will result in serious injuries.

  4. He tired to remove it's batteries.
    "I'm sorry Dave I'm afraid I can't let you do that"

  5. He tired to remove it's batteries.
    "I'm sorry Dave I'm afraid I can't let you do that"