So you got a new drone and it won’t fly. BUMMERRRR…. But don’t worry as there are a few common reasons for your drone to not take off and we will discuss them one by one. You don’t need any special tools or testing equipment to carry out these drone troubleshooting steps. All you need is some patience and a bit of luck.
If your drone won’t take off, it is probably due to any of the following reasons:
- Your battries might be out of charge or damaged.
- There might be a damaged internal component like a faulty battery connector.
- The propellers might not be tight enough.
- You are trying to fly inside a gen-fenced & prohibited area.
- Your drone compass/gyroscope is not correctly calibrated.
- Your drone is not properly connected to your controller/phone.
- Your drone firmware is not up to date.
- Your drone is not warmed up (battries need to warm up a bit to discharge at rated capacity)
Let’s discuss these troubleshooting points one by one and see what we can do to solve each of them.
1. Drone will not turn ON
There are three possible reasons your drone won’t turn on: it doesn’t connect with the app or controller, it’s not recording any footage, etc.
Insert the batteries in the correct slots
Most drones have removable batteries and they usually come separately inside the box. Take the batteries out, follow the manufacturer’s manual and insert them properly inside the correct slot or slots. If the batteries are incorrectly inserted, your drone might not turn on at all. So, make sure you don’t overlook this simple but very common mistake.
Check if the batteries are fully charged
Although it may seem obvious, this is actually quite common. Many people assume that the batteries will be fully charged when they receive their drone. Some manufacturer put their batteries in sleep or hibernation mode during shipment. [Read my blog on why Mavic Air battery not charging after shipment received]. We recommend that you fully charge your drone batteries before taking off.
Make sure the batteries are not damaged
You’ve had your drone for some time now. Perhaps your drone has been crashed multiple times. This could be the problem. Try a new battery to see if it fixes the problem.
Also, flying around with a damaged Li-Po battery is itself a bad idea as they are a sitting fire hazard. Change them as soon as you can and dispose of the damaged batteries properly.
Check internal components for any damage
This is the last thing you want. You will need to send your drone back to the manufacturer in order to have it repaired or have a technician take a look. Before you send your drone back to the manufacturer, be sure to try out all of the other options in this guide.
2. Drone is ON, but won’t take off
Your drone’s battery has been charged, the live stream is available and the drone is glowing. It’s not crashed in recent times, the propellers may even be spinning, but the drone just won’t lift off the ground.
These are five common errors that can be causing problems. Let’s look at them one by one to troubleshoot our drone.
Propellers not tight enough
This is usually because the lock nuts don’t fit tight enough. The propellers slip onto the motor shaft.
Here’s the solution
- By tightening the locknuts, ensure that your propellers are in a tight position. Do not tighten the locknuts too much. This could cause damage to the threads of the locknuts.
- Lift off now.
Try the next step if it doesn’t work.
Are you located in a geo-fenced area?
Many drone companies use geo-fencing software to program areas around the drone’s flight path where drones are not allowed by law. These areas are sensitive or prohibited by FAA drone laws.
These areas include but are not limited to:
- Power plants
- Military bases
- Events of national security
- Large crowds
- Tourist and historical destinations (like national parks)
To check if you are in a prohibited area, use airmap.com. Their mapping tool allows you to check if your area is subject to geo-fences and banned drone flight zones. You can even get real-time updates to the map that provide information about wildfires, large events gatherings, and national security events.
Is your drone still warming up?
Many drones, like the Phantom, will send you a message telling you that your “drone is still heating up.”
Check your app or controller to verify that this message is being displayed. Although the warming process shouldn’t take long, it can take longer in colder areas.
Your drone compass is not calibrated
The majority of smart drones will automatically calibrate their compass. It’s worth it if your drone is flying in unfamiliar terrain.
Sometimes, when you fly your drone in a different location, your drone’s compass calibration is lost and you have to recalibrate it.
When calibrating a drone make sure to remove all jewelry and watches. Even your Apply watch. This can affect the calibration.
3. Drone is ON but propellers won’t spin
This is a common problem with DJI drones. The DJI remote control software may cause the software to switch between mode 2 and 1, or vice versa, depending on the reason. Sometimes, the modes could not be selected at all.
This is because the modes were automatically switched, so chances are that you’re not using the correct control stick to lift off.
It’s easy to fix this: reselect which mode you are most comfortable with. Here’s how it works:
- Connect your drone to the DJI Go app
- Get the app
- Go into remote control settings
- Choose the control stick mode that you are happy with
- Click on Apply
4. Your drone firmware is not up to date
Drone manufacturers regularly update their firmware to make flying easy, safe and secure for all parties (owners, public, the FAA etc.). On some models, an older firmware might limit the drone flight and will require an update.
Connect your drone to your phone and check for firmware updates.
Some manufacturers like the DJI also require you to sign up for an account with them to fully enable your drone. If you don’t have a DJI account, you might not be able to fly your drone or it might fly but to a very limited distance.
You might also need to register your drone with the FAA before you can fly it.
4. Drone flies but tilts to one side and flip over
Do you find this scenario familiar? If so, your propellers may not be on the correct motor.
How to fix this problem:
- Gently loose drone. Lift off your drone and check which side stays on the ground.
- Swop propellers which stay on the ground. Take the propellers that remain on the ground. If your drone’s left side is stuck on the ground when you attempt to take off, swap the propellers.
- Now your drone should be able fly smoothly.
It seems so simple! It is simple! This issue has stumped thousands of novices. You can fix it in just a few minutes.
This is the second most common problem we see today with drones.
5. Drone crashed and won’t fly now
If you are a drone owner for some time, you might have crashed it at least once. If not, you might have ran it into some tree and stuck it at least. I don’t know how many times my drone has crashed and I remember holding my breath every time I tried to take it off again. It’s terrifying but its part of the game.
These are the problems you need to solve after your drone crashes.
Dron won’t turn on at all
If your drone is not turning on at all after a crash, you probably broke something inside. If it crashed in water body (lake etc), it is possible that the main board is shortcircuited as drones are usually not waterproof.
Carefully open the drone using the correct set of screwdrivers and see for any broken or out of place parts. If you find the issue, check if you can repair it or send it back to the manufacturer for repair or possible replacement.
Propellers spin but don’t take off
First, check your propellers. This could indicate a problem. It’s easy to fix. Replace them and then try again.
Even if the propellers are in good shape, it is possible that the crash may have caused damage to your motors and shafts. There is not much you can do except send the drone back to its manufacturer.
Drone flew again but crashed down after only a few seconds.
It’s not likely to be your motors. Your battery latches are more likely to be the culprit. It could also happen that the battery latches break and the battery is dislodged.
You can tape it with duct tape but it is not recommended that you do so. Instead, contact the manufacturer to have it repaired.