26 January 2024



DJI, the world’s leading drone manufacturer with over an estimated 70% global market share, recently released a DJI Fly app update which has removed map flight restriction zones (FRZ) and Geospatial Environment Online (GEO) Zone restrictions.

Whilst causing some controversy amongst drone pilots across the UK, the app updates pose some threats to certain locations such as prisons and airports, by no longer making DJI Fly app users aware of these FRZ’s, despite the restrictions still being in place.


How did the DJI fly app used to work?

Looking back to how the app operated before the latest update was released, all FRZs and GEO Zone restrictions within the UK were visible within the DJI Fly app.

These GEO Zone restrictions limited a drone pilot from freely flying around sensitive locations such as airports, stadiums, prisons, nuclear power plants, and high-profile events.

Instead, the DJI Fly app provided operator accountability, in the form of being able to live unlock the zones by entering their phone number, receiving a confirmation code to enter in the app, and the zone is then unlocked.

However, all formal exemption requests still needed to be made by completing and submitting a notification form on the Civil Aviation Website notification form.

A custom unlock certificate could also be received through the Fly Safe portal.

Historical view of zones in the DJI Fly app.

How does the DJI Fly app work now, after the update?

The DJI Fly app no longer shows any FRZs or GEO Zones.

To check for any FRZs, an alternative airspace alerting app must now be used to ensure all airspace restrictions are adhered to.

FRZ exemption requests should still be made via the Civil Aviation Website notification form, selecting ‘Airspace Restrictions (including exemption requests)’ from the activity category.


What do drone pilots think of the new DJI Fly app update?

The news of the app update has caused quite a stir online, amongst DJI Fly app users. Many are saying that the lack of visible FRZs within the app now poses more of a threat to restricted areas, with novice drone users potentially being unaware of any airspace restrictions they must adhere to.

Another suggestion among the DJI pilot community, is for the manufacturer to enclose an information guide within the packaging of all new DJI drones. This has been recommended to include information about FRZs, airspace restrictions and the need for drone pilots to observe CAA laws and regulation within the UK.


What risks does this update pose for FRZ locations such as airports and prisons?
  1. Airport Operations Disruption: Drones flying near airports can lead to the suspension or disruption of airport operations. Authorities often close airspace in response to unauthorised drone activities, causing delays and inconvenience to travellers.
  2. Prison Security Risks: Drones flown near prisons can be used for illicit activities, such as dropping contraband or communication devices into prison yards. This poses a serious security threat and challenges prison staff in maintaining control over the facility.
  3. Regulatory Non-Compliance: The lack of FRZs may result in increased violations of drone regulations, as novice pilots may be unaware of or disregard airspace restrictions. This non-compliance undermines the effectiveness of regulatory measures designed to ensure responsible drone use.
  4. Unauthorised Filming and Photography: Inexperienced drone operators may inadvertently violate privacy by capturing images or videos in private spaces or during events where filming is restricted.


New legislation

As of 25 January 2024, new drone-only restricted airspace legislation for Prisons and Young Offender Institutions in England and Wales, came into effect.

Under new legislation (SI 2023/1101) restricting the flying of drones within a 400m vicinity of closed prisons and young offender institutions in England and Wales; anyone wishing to fly a drone within the restricted airspace will now require an exemption.

Exemptions should continue to be applied for via the Civil Aviation Website notification form, where exemptions for approved requests will be issued by His Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) and will detail the conditions under which flying can take place.



In conclusion, DJI’s recent Fly app update, eliminating map FRZs and GEO Zone restrictions, has sparked controversy and raised concerns among the UK drone pilot community.

The additional number of risks brought to sensitive locations such as prisons, may increase significantly since the app update.

Despite the new legislation being put in place, many drone users tend to rely solely on their drone manufacturer’s app for guidance on FRZs and notifications about flying their drones safely. With these features being removed, does this now pose a greater threat to these sensitive locations, especially where novice drone pilots are concerned? Should additional legislation now be passed, to allow these sensitive locations to protect themselves against drones?

If you have any questions or would like to know more about what we do at Drone Defence, please get in touch with us. info@dronedefence.co.uk

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