DJI Matrice 600 – Accident – 2019-09-11

Drone Manufacturer: DJI
Drone Model: Matrice 600
Country: United States of America
Type: Accident
Date: 2019-09-11
Applies: Daytime
Pilot Qualifications: Unknown Status
Pilot Flight Experience: Unknown Hours
Link to External Information About This submission:
File Uploaded: None


Remote pilot {RP}: During a proficiency flight I lost spatial awareness/depth perception of the drone in relation to a stand of trees. While flying manually in a descending left hand turn in preparation for landing I clipped a stand of trees at approximately 70ft agl. The tallest trees in the area are approximately 90ft high.

I was positioned roughly 325ft north of the drone close to the lz when it struck the tree{s}.

For 6 minutes prior to impacting the trees I`d been performing various maneuvers at approximately 175ft agl. My intentions were to descend in a wide corkscrew type pattern and bring the drone to the lz on a gradual approach slope. However, I misjudged the distance between myself, the drone, and the trees. The tree height wasnt the problem as I knew I was dropping down below it. The challenge I had was judging the distance between myself, the drone, and the wall of trees.

After contacting trees, my initial attempt to shut the motors off by pulling the throttle back didnt work and the propellers continued spinning in the trees, likely causing further damage.

Due to my familiarity with the 3DR Solo my fall back method to shut the m600 down was to look for and press a-b-pause, which doesnt exist.

A short time after impact the drone engines stopped but I believe it was due to two batteries falling out. Visual observer {VO}: Nearing the end of flight, the RP started bringing the drone back to the launch area along the margin of the treeline / parking lot and well above the canopy.

After returning partway to the launch area, RP began descending in a corkscrew pattern: I felt a bit concerned due to the proximity to the trees but assumed that the RP was well aware and would bring the drone out of the corkscrew toward the open space of the parking lot.

At this moment I probably should have verbalized a warning. Even though I had been concerned about proximity, the impact still surprised me, which suggests a difficulty in judging distances / depth perception when the aircraft is directly between VO / RP and an aerial hazard, and/or in judging distance linearly from RP to aircraft and beyond.

Reported Cause

Pilot error.