Your drone not taking off can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you have limited battery life and want to get some quick shots in before it runs out.
In this post, we’ll walk you through some of the most common reasons why your drone isn’t taking off and the steps you can take to resolve the issue.
Drones are complex pieces of kit and because of this they sometimes run into technical glitches. Your drone could be turning on and powering up but just not taking off.
Sometimes your drone may take off but then flip and crash back down a couple of seconds later.
Perhaps there’s a power issue. Or, if you’ve been in a crash, this could affect the drone’s ability to take off again.
Certain brands of drones have common reasons why they don’t take off. DJI, for example, can sometimes encounter ‘location’ and ‘beginner mode’ issues with their drones, which we discuss later in the post.
So, let’s take a look at the main reasons your drone isn’t taking off.
6 of the most common drone take off issues
- My drone is taking off but then flipping to one side
- My drone is powered on and connected but just doesn’t take off
- My drone won’t turn on
- My drone is powered on and connected but my propellors won’t spin
- My DJI drone won’t take off
- My drone won’t take off after a crash
6 of the most common drone take off issues
Why does it do this?: There are several reasons why your drone may do this. If it’s always flipping to the same side, it could be an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC) issue. Alternatively, it could also be a motor issue and the propellors may be on the wrong motor. The gyro calibration could also not be working correctly.
Resolutions: Firstly, to see if it’s a motor/prop issue, you’ll need to turn on the drone and raise it off the ground very slowly. You’ll notice that one side will stay on the ground. For example, if this happens on the right side of the drone, switch around the front and back propellors on the right side.
If the above doesn’t work, you can try to calibrate the gyros to see if this solves the problem. To do this, lay your drone on a flat surface and link the remote with the controller. Once this is done, bring both the joysticks together at an angle; so the left joystick will be around a 5 o clock position, and the left joystick will be at a 7 o clock position.
Hold the position for a couple of seconds. You’ll see the lights on your drone flash if you’ve done it properly. You may want to repeat this action two or three times.
If this doesn’t work either, it could be an ESC issue. If this is the case, contact your drone’s support unless you’re comfortable with drone parts.
Why does it do this?: There are a bunch of reasons why this may happen. First off, you should check for any physical damage. If everything looks fine, it could be that your propellers aren’t tight enough or they’re not mounted properly. You could be in a GEO-Fence area (AKA a no-fly zone), it may just be loading up slowly (this happens in cold temperatures), or, the compass or IMU may need to be calibrated.
Resolutions: If your propellors feel a little loose, they could be slipping on the motor which will cause your drone not to take off. Give the locknuts a quick tighten to see if this resolves the issue.
If you’re in a cold area. Give the drone an extra minute or two to ‘warm-up’, if the drone still isn’t taking off, try some other steps in this list.
If you’re flying close to any of the following areas, it’s more than likely that you’re in a no-fly zone and you won’t be able to take off:
- Power plants
- Military bases
- Events with large crowds
- Tourist locations
- Historical attractions
Many drone manufacturers build in these no-fly zones into the software to protect any major accidents from happening. If you’re needing to fly your drone in such areas, you’ll need to apply for permission first.
Sometimes your drone will have a compass calibration issue that prevents takeoff. If this happens you’ll get a notification in the drone’s app that you need to calibrate it. It usually just involves turning the drone a few times in different positions, but the app will take you through this step by step – it’s very simple.
Why does it do this?: There can be some more serious reasons behind a drone not turning on, but more commonly it’s just a battery issue. If the battery is too hot or too cold (especially in DJI drones) it won’t work. Similarly, if it’s damaged or if it’s old it’s not going to work anymore.
Resolutions: Take the battery out of the drone and put it back in to give it a reboot. Do a quick inspection of the battery and check for any major signs of damage. If you can, check the battery’s status on the controller. Next, put in a different battery and see if that works. If it does, you know it’s a specific issue with the battery. We always recommend using the manufacturer’s original batteries as universal ones have a much shorter shelf life.
Why does it do this?: This is a common issue with drones and is usually to do with the software. It tends to happen a lot with DJI drones specifically. However, it can sometimes be due to damage to the propellor, a tangled motor, or even broken wires.
Resolution: Give the drone a quick once over to check that there is no damage to the propellor itself. If there is, replace it.
Next, check for a tangled motor. All sorts of things can get stuck in the motor; from grass to hair and all other kinds of debris. If you see something, gently ease the obstruction out using tweezers or a small hook.
If everything is looking good, it’s time to check any software issue. DJI drones specifically have a habit of automatically switching your settings. So, when you think you’re trying to take off, you’re not. To fix this go to the app and click on remote control settings. Look at the different remote control options and select the mode you’re happy with. Click apply and see if you can now take off.
Why does it do this?: Many of the reasons we listed above could be the cause of your DJI drone not taking off. However, there are some reasons specific to DJI that could be affecting your ability to fly your drone. These are:
- The aircraft isn’t activated
- No GPS in beginner mode
- Hardware damage from a crash
- Firmware updates are required
To activate your drone, you’ll need to ensure everything is fully charged and that you have an account setup on the app. DJI has support videos to walk you through activation for your specific model.
On DJI drones, if you’re in beginner mode and there’s no GPS your drone won’t take off. This is to prevent flyaways and the drone not returning home. If this happens, wait a few minutes for the drone to pick up your location.
If you’ve recently been in a crash you may get a notification saying ‘cannot take off’. Click on this notification and check to see if there are any error messages next to specific components. Next to Compass, IMU, ESC Status, and Vision Sensors, it should say ‘normal’.
If you cant take off suddenly, after flying your drone for a while with no issues, check to see if there’s a firmware update available. Similarly, if you’ve just updated the firmware and it’s your first flight and you can’t takeoff, you may need to roll it back to the previous version. This tutorial will help.
Why does it do this?: Usually, there’s damage to the hardware.
Resolution: Start off by thoroughly inspecting the drone. Some of the locknuts could be loose so give them a tighten too. If you do see that the propellors look damaged, it’s best to give them a tighten. . The battery latch is also commonly damaged in a crash. If it becomes dislodged you’ll need to send it off to the manufacturer for repair.
We hope that this article has helped get your drone back in the air. However, if you’re still facing issues, it may be time to reach out to your drone’s customer service team. They’ll have brand-specific troubleshooting techniques and may even be able to send replacement parts if there’s a hardware or propellor issue.
Most drones also come with some form of warranty. Especially if you’ve purchased it within the last 12 months.
We’ve linked out to a few of the more popular drone brands below if you still need help: