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DJI Criticizes BBC for Negative Portrayal of Drone Technology

BY Isabella Lee
12 July 2019

DJI has published an open letter denouncing public service broadcaster BBC for its negative, one-sided portrayal of drones in two recent programs—“The Gatwick Drone Attack” and “Britain’s Next Air Disaster? Drones.”

DJI Open Letter

The Gatwick Drone Attack,” which aired on April 15th, focused on the shutdown of Gatwick Airport caused by reported drone sightings. Unbeknownst by the program’s title, no evidence was provided to confirm the sightings and neither the drones nor their pilot(s) was found.

Britain’s Next Air Disaster? Drones” aired on July 1st and investigated the purported “dark side” of increasing drone use. In the documentary, a former Marine assess the risks associated with drones near airports and in military settings.

DJI Expresses Disapproval Over BBC’s One-Sided Reporting

DJI’s main gripe with the BBC drone programs is their unbalanced, one-sided reporting. The programs excluded information on the safety features drones have to mitigate the risks talked about in the programs.

“The BBC ultimately preferred to boost viewing figures by focusing on sensational, high-risk scenarios that are vanishingly rare or almost impossible, while ignoring evidence that drone technology is safe and that the drone industry itself has implemented various features to mitigate the risks described,” stated DJI in their open letter to BBC Director-General.

These programs failed to align with the BBC’s ultimate mission to provide impartial reporting that educates and informs the public. Written in the Royal Charter, the BBC’s mission “is to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.”

DJI expressed that these negative portrayals of drones are not only inaccurate but harmful to the public. Specifically addressing “Britain’s Next Air Disaster? Drones,” DJI believes these programs could have dangerous consequences:

“They harm the process of improving safety, because they focus attention on outrageous events that didn’t happen, instead of on aviation risks that may be less sensational but much more prevalent. They also lead to stricter regulation, which curtails drone operations, and results in fewer lives saved using drone technology. Quite literally the BBC’s sensational false reporting on drone risks could itself cost lives.”

—DJI, Open Letter to the BBC

Read DJI’s open letter to the BBC.

What is DJI Doing to Promote Drone Safety?

DJI has taken it upon themselves multiple times to come to the defense of the drone industry when it comes under scrutiny by media. As the self-proclaimed ‘world leader in civilian drones,’ the company feels it is their ‘duty’ to address misrepresentations of drone technology and to safeguard the continued development of the industry.

In their letter to the BBC, DJI made sure to outline their many efforts to ensure the safe and responsible use of drones. These include geofencing, obstacle sensing technology, knowledge testing, a return-to-home feature, remote ID solutions, and ADS-B receivers. All of these features work to prevent drone accidents, particularly manned and unmanned aircraft collisions.

DJI also recently released Government Edition to address privacy concerns associated with their drones. According to DJI, drones sold through Government Edition will be constructed so that any data they capture while in flight—including photos, video, and locational data—can never be shared with unauthorized parties, including with DJI itself.

DJI’s Government Edition received independent validation from the U.S. Department of the Interior. The approval was received after a more than 15-month rigorous assessment of the flight, payload, and data management assurance performance of DJI Matrice 600 Pro and Mavic Pro drones equipped with Government Edition firmware and software.

DJI’s open letter shows their desire to use their voice to inform and educate a global audience on the valuable and beneficial uses of drone technology.  The letter concluded with an offer to work with the BBC on a ‘Drones for Good’ documentary in order to bring light to positive applications of drones. Let us know what you think about DJI’s letter and the BBC’s drone reports in this thread on our community forum.

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