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Deliberate Drone Shut Down At High Altitude

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Has any drone pilot flown his drone to a high altitude (above 500') then killed the power, let the drone fall, and then powered up to see if he could regain flight? I have been with a private pilot who did this shutdown deliberately and then restarted his plane's engine. What a rush!

Jim, New Pilot

 

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While that is a great emergency situation practice i would suggest sim training prior to heading out to do this your self as a drone in free fall from 500 feet is a deadly weapon ( let alone the fact that you are 100 feet above the altitude cap in the US).  While the blades should auto-rotate which will marginally slow the fall, when you restart the motors they now have a large load already on the blades that they must over come prior to creating lift again, in theory this shouldn't take long but if even one set of motors cant handle the burst in load you could kill a motor mid fall which would at best make for a very unstable flight down, and at worst create a much more dangerous situation.

In Manned aircraft this is actually a common training procedure as this situation can very well happen, and since there is life on board getting back to powered flight is critical in times of engine shutdown.   With a drone you are much more likely to end up buying a new one or trying to explain to your insurance provider why it was put into free fall. 

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You'd be nuts to try this with a drone. Fixed wing doesn't lose control with the engine off.  A drone does and would likely flip making regaining control impossible.

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1 hour ago, RemotelyPossible said:

While that is a great emergency situation practice i would suggest sim training prior to heading out to do this your self as a drone in free fall from 500 feet is a deadly weapon ( let alone the fact that you are 100 feet above the altitude cap in the US).  While the blades should auto-rotate which will marginally slow the fall, when you restart the motors they now have a large load already on the blades that they must over come prior to creating lift again, in theory this shouldn't take long but if even one set of motors cant handle the burst in load you could kill a motor mid fall which would at best make for a very unstable flight down, and at worst create a much more dangerous situation.

In Manned aircraft this is actually a common training procedure as this situation can very well happen, and since there is life on board getting back to powered flight is critical in times of engine shutdown.   With a drone you are much more likely to end up buying a new one or trying to explain to your insurance provider why it was put into free fall. 

Actually, we do not "shut down" the engine during flight training, but merely bring the throttle back; no sane pilot ever intentionally cuts the ignition to a good engine( what if it doesn't start again?)

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Correct, that is why it is a training procedure  (throttle down reduces lift to imitate the situation of an actual engine malfunction) and not a full engine shutdown. Though as stated above: "Since there is life on board getting back to powered flight is critical in times of engine shutdown"  The engine shutdown here is referring to a critical engine failure not to a pilot induced engine kill.

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Gentlemen, while your responses to my query are most admirable, one of you chastised me for inferring that my drone would fly over a town or people. My flight path is over 376 acres of remote farmland. 

Now, I will grudgingly admit that my expertise in drone flying is admittingly still amateur, but I wish to push the physical limits of my drone's capabilities. And then, are all of you such experts that you are afraid to experiment with your drones to see what they can do in such a situation?

If you don't know what they are capable of why so " preachy "? 

Jim, New Pilot

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Re-read what I posted, wasn't preaching; just clarifying a term. I have no real interest in what you do with your UAV, it's not my $$$.

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18 hours ago, New Pilot said:

Gentlemen, while your responses to my query are most admirable, one of you chastised me for inferring that my drone would fly over a town or people. My flight path is over 376 acres of remote farmland. 

Now, I will grudgingly admit that my expertise in drone flying is admittingly still amateur, but I wish to push the physical limits of my drone's capabilities. And then, are all of you such experts that you are afraid to experiment with your drones to see what they can do in such a situation?

If you don't know what they are capable of why so " preachy "? 

Jim, New Pilot

376 Acres of farm land! Lucky, that sounds like some great open skies to fly in. Not sure to whom you are referring about the chastising, and i don't actually see any explicit or inference made as to your flight area of operation, i would say absolutely test what your bird can do but also be prepared for what it can not do. You sound like you are in a great location with minimal risk to damaging property so your situation should allow you to push a little further with a lower risk if something does occur. A note on the engine kill, it would most likely be easier to gain control if the bird had some lateral momentum to maintain as opposed to a straight free fall, but i could be wrong on that. If you do carry out these experiments it would be great to know the results and what you have learned from them. Keep flying and keep us up to date!

 

Cheers!

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On 5/10/2016 at 0:15 PM, Uaviator53 said:

Actually, we do not "shut down" the engine during flight training, but merely bring the throttle back; no sane pilot ever intentionally cuts the ignition to a good engine( what if it doesn't start again?)

There are a few on the airshow circuit who cut their engines, and Bob Hoover was famous for his energy management displays with his twin engine airplane and both engines secured, but yes, in normal single engine operations, it's absolutely reckless to do it on purpose. In twins, you train to shut one down, but hope you never have to do it in real life. 

Edited by Txpilot
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I'd have to vote for the "it might flip over" worry. If one engine came on a little stronger than the others, it could easily go end over end.  If your drone has return-to-home capability, loss of control would be a much better simulation to practice. We did an RTH for the first time today and it was fun, and nerve-racking at the same time. We had to stand idly by as the drone zoomed up to safe RTH altitude and slowly descend on the home point. It was a little off of our small landing spot so we had to take control and land manually, but the concept worked as advertised. :)

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On 10/5/2016 at 1:10 PM, New Pilot said:

Gentlemen, while your responses to my query are most admirable, one of you chastised me for inferring that my drone would fly over a town or people. My flight path is over 376 acres of remote farmland. 

Now, I will grudgingly admit that my expertise in drone flying is admittingly still amateur, but I wish to push the physical limits of my drone's capabilities. And then, are all of you such experts that you are afraid to experiment with your drones to see what they can do in such a situation?

If you don't know what they are capable of why so " preachy "? 

Jim, New Pilot

To answer your question plain and simple... It depends on the drone you are using, since many of it require the compass and IMU to be stable to turn your engine on (they wont start if you are moving the drone, for example). If you want further information about this topic, let us know about the drone you are flying.

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