FAA Certified Drone Operator, still photographer, & creative professional.
Not necessarily. If the battery is critically low, it just lands. But, it is warned against to fly the drone at critically low battery levels because of the propensity for the battery to shut off. That's well known and is why most experienced operators leave a cushion and land with reserves. Batteries are not perfect. You can get a reading that says it has more life than it does. It is your job as an operator to know that's a possibility and take steps to prevent the drone from crashing. The thing that people don't seem to understand is that EVEN IF the drone is faulty, it is up to the person operating to take every possible precaution to "mitigate risk" and that means not blindly trusting the equipment.
#1 is clear and obvious pilot error. #2 is probable pilot error (just look at how he's holding the remote) #3 His kids were operating it and had flown 7 times... Maybe #3 is more "didn't properly install & check the battery before flying" than it is "poor manipulation of the drone in flight" but with something like a battery being lose that's "pilot/human" error because it happened during flight.
It's the operator's job to check and ensure the drone is free of damage and fit to fly before taking off. Simply taking hold of the battery and manipulating it to make sure there was no play can help determine that. The father, a self-proclaimed "experienced pilot" made no mention of having done a pre-flight check nor of the fact that he taught his girls to perform one and making sure that they did. So...who knows?
The point of this whole piece is that far more-often-than-not, claims of poor manufacturing are dubious and are found to be human error. We saw the same thing with the Phantoms "fly aways" and the Mavics having purported battery problems (found to be caused by improper installations by the operators).
Why does this matter? Because headlines that come out saying "drones are falling out of the sky" create fear and uncertainty around a nascent and promising industry that will do far more good than harm as long as inflammatory headlines and dangerous operations don't spawn over-regulation.
Samsung's latest recall was a systemic problem acknowledged by the company as such. Not a handful of anecdotal instances in dubious circumstances.
*AMENDMENT* Contrary to my assertion in the article, example #2 is probably not a case of the drone returning to home because as seen in the video, the drone is flying backwards and it would not fly backwards in return to home. However, looking at the way in which the operator is carelessly holding the remote and not looking at where his hands & fingers are, it is quite possible he inadvertently gave the drone a command that initiated the "fly away".
This article was based on and maintains one central assumption: "It's more likely that people who are not used to or trained in using this kind of technology don't take the time to learn or fully understand how to operate and maintain it. Therefore, it's far more likely that users are causing these problems than the equipment. The examples in this article illustrate behavior ranging from outright-reckless to complacent and when you apply that kind of approach to sophisticated technology, bad things happen.
Good add!! I forgot about the Alta 8!!
The FAA has had A protocol in place for certifying commercial drone operators since August. I was one of the first to get mine and since then there have been thousands more.
That's a shame... I didn't speak to anyone there, I just bought it through the app store so I can't really attest to their customer service. Hopefully the app you got is just as good. Best of luck on the exam!