Scottish police chiefs have been slammed earlier this month after purchasing £60,000 ($83,000) on drones that aren’t waterproof. The purchase of multiple DJI Matrice 210 drones was criticized after 16 of them crashed over the last few years during rain-related flights.
The almost $83,000 worth of Matrice 210s was purchased to help locate missing people and allow police to lower response times. However, the Matrice 210 isn’t designed to fly in the rain.
Harry Fone of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said:
For too long Scots have suffered repeated failures when it comes to public procurement. Urgent overhaul is needed to ensure wasteful spending like this doesn’t happen again. Taxpayers will be livid their hard-earned cash has been squandered.
The police force have shared that it will only use the drones when it isn’t raining. This clearly isn’t the best as a drone might be required while it’s raining.
Chief Superintendent Louise Skelton followed up with:
To ensure maximum safety of the public, Police Scotland has taken the decision not to operate the M210 in rain.
The crash report
A report by UK‘s Air Accidents Investigation Branch found that DJI Matrice 200 drones used by police were falling out of the sky in the rain due to a technical fault. The drone pilots lost full control and power of the drone causing it to fall straight down to the ground while in use by police.
In one case, the AAIB found that moisture on the drones speed controllers caused a fault resulting in the drone losing power and falling from the sky. Fifteen other drones were also reported falling from the sky in three years.
The AAIB recommended that the CAA should notify users of the possible moisture issues that could occur as well as safe conditions that the Matrice 200 should be flown in.
Firstly, it is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority notify users of the DJI Matrice 200 series of the possibility of moisture entering the aircraft when operating in rain and that this could result in a sudden loss of control of the aircraft. Secondly, it is recommended that the Civil Aviation Authority specify the conditions that must be met for an unmanned aircraft to be flown safely over people.
DJI told CNN, the drones are independently certified and have an IP43 rating, meaning that the drone can handle water spray up to an angle of 60 degrees, which is lighter than raindrops.
The DJI Matrice 200 Series has been independently certified by a third party that it has an IP43 rating. This certifies that “water falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect.” However, the M200 is not suitable, and should not, be operated in conditions or precipitation greater than those stated by the certification. All users of M200 series drones should refer to our current maintenance guidelines and safety information here to help manage their aircraft and maximize flight safety.