DJI Mavic Air - practical range according to FCC (USA) and CE standard (Germany)

The good range of the Mavic Air is based on improved WiFi transmission technology.

The DJI Mavic Air is an impressive drone that inspires people with 12 MP photo resolution and 4K video resolution as well as various smart modes and panorama functions. According to DJI, it has a maximum range of 4 kilometers. If you look at the technical data of the Mavic Air, you will notice that several details are given here or that DJI has a footnote on the product page:

Unobstructed, free of interference, when FCC compliant. The max transmission distance is 2 km when CE compliant.

We find this a little more precise in the technical data:

Operation via WLAN frequencies with a maximum range of 4 km (FCC) or 2 km (CE, SRRC, MIC) over 2,4 GHz or 4 km (FCC), 2,5 km (SRRC) or 500 m (CE)

OcuSync scores not only with a large range but also with a low latency, which helps with precise filming.

OcuSync scores not only with a large range but also with a low latency, which helps with precise filming.

These are all theoretical values ​​that sometimes have little to do with practice. For this reason, people often ask in forums how far the actual range is before buying the Mavic Air.

The good range of the Mavic Air is based on improved WiFi transmission technology.

The good range of the Mavic Air is based on improved WiFi transmission technology.

Short and painless: the practice range of the Mavic Air

I have summarized some interesting comments and calculations on this in this post, but if you are too lazy to read the sources and reasons and just want the information, you can get it here:

  • Range in Germany (CE) in densely populated areas (with tall buildings and the like): up to approx. 500 m (if there is no building between the drone and remote control)
  • Range in sparsely populated areas (small towns): at least 500-800 m without problems
  • Range in open field: approx. 1600 to almost 3000 m
  • The range in the 2,4 GHz range is noticeably higher than in the 5,8 GHz range.

The best values ​​were achieved in all tests when you go to the Wifi settings in the "DJI GO" app, select "Custom" and then select a two-digit channel (two-digit: 2,4 GHz band / three-digit: 5,8 , 5,8 GHz band) that is not marked in red. A setting to "Auto" or in the XNUMX GHz band only makes sense if you are in an area where you have to reckon with a lot of interference (city centers, etc.).

Update 27.02.2018/XNUMX/XNUMX: My experiences so far

I've been using my Mavic Air for a good two weeks now and have already flown a number of batteries empty. To make a comparison with the Spark in terms of range is totally absurd. The Mavic Air has a very stable radio signal and I have not yet managed to get a signal interruption. For safety reasons, I am not doing a range test, but 200-300 meters had run without any warning so far. Even flying over trees (shading) has so far not disturbed the signal.

So DJI has really made an improvement in the wireless signal that deserves the name "Enhanced Wifi". I am totally happy with the small plane and can only recommend the Mavic Air!

Another tip: If you are equipped with a smartphone and smartwatch: Switch both to flight mode and connect the remote controller to the smartphone via a USB cable. The closest "jammers" are switched off and cannot influence the transmission.

If you are satisfied with these values ​​and want to buy the Mavic Air now, you can do so via this link:

» DJI Mavic Air in the DJI Store «

If you want to know a little more about the differences in range (USA and Germany) and the source of my data, just read on.

Range test of the drone in Texas.

Range test in Texas: Despite the brief warning message, the Youtuber still manages a distance of about 2 kilometers until the connection breaks off completely and RTH is initiated.

What do FCC, SRRC, MIC and CE mean?

The various abbreviations stand for facilities that, among other things, define the regulations for devices that use radio. If you have a drone on the market in Germany, for example, it has to comply with the CE standard and comply with the restrictions that define the frequencies and the transmission power, for example.

Here is a brief overview of what the abbreviations stand for:

  • FCC: Federal Communications Commission (responsible for the United States)
  • CE: Communauté Européenne (ie "European Community"; therefore responsible for all countries that belong to the EU)
  • SRRC: not known (China)
  • MIC: Ministry of Information and Communications (Asian countries)

We are actually interested in the FCC and CE standards. FCC covers all YouTube videos that were filmed in the USA. Here you can often see ranges of 3 to 5 km and more in range tests (see . or .). Since Germany belongs to the EU, Mavic Air has to limit the radio connection in this country more strongly (for legal reasons). Therefore, the ranges that German test pilots achieve are often less.

The specs of the remote for the Mavic Air. You can see in the 2,4GHz range the range is higher than in the 5,8GHz range.

The specs of the remote for the Mavic Air. You can see in the 2,4GHz range the range is higher than in the 5,8GHz range.

The math behind it

I have in the Kopterforum an interesting post read about the theory behind the reach. The author goes from the technical data of the Mavic Air and calculates the theoretical range in CE countries. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the author for his comments and to adopt them:

According to the DJI website, the transmission power (EIRP) is:

2.400 - 2.4835 GHz (2,4GHz)
FCC: ≤28 dBm
CE: ≤19 dBm

5.725 - 5.850 GHz (5,8GHz)
FCC: ≤31 dBm
CE: ≤14 dBm

2,4GHz:
FCC: 28dBm = 10 ^ (28/10) = 631mW transmission power
CE: 19dBm = 10 ^ (19/10) = 79mW transmission power

5,8GHz:
FCC: 31dBm = 10 ^ (31/10) = 1259mW transmission power
CE: 14dBm = 10 ^ (14/10) = 25mW transmission power (unfortunately the legal limit in Europe)

The specification is "EIRP" (equivalent isotropic radiation power…), which means uniform spherical radiation in all directions is assumed. The surface of a sphere increases with the 2nd power of the diameter and the received power decreases with the 2nd power of the distance from the transmitter. In German this means: 4 times the power for double the range, 9 times the power for 3 times the range, 16 times the power for 4 times the range, etc.

This results in the following calculation of the "theoretical" range in Germany (and other CE countries):

If 4km are possible in FCC country, significantly lower ranges are possible in CE country.

5,8GHz:
(RangeCE / RangeFCC) ^ 2 = (PowerCE / PowerFCC)
RangeCE ~ = RangeFCC * sqrt (ServiceCE / ServiceFCC) = 563cm

At 2,4GHz it looks a bit better for CE users:
(RangeCE / RangeFCC) ^ 2 = (PowerCE / PowerFCC)
RangeCE ~ = RangeFCC * sqrt (ServiceCE / ServiceFCC) = 1415cm

As I said, these are theoretical calculations, ideally isotropic radiation and a range of exactly 4km in FCC country.

Experience from "Tom's Tech Time"

This means that the author of the forum post mentioned above is relatively close to the experience that the Youtuber from "Tom's Tech Time" Tom has in his Q&A post for Mavic Air.

He says on the question of the range in CE countries:

"DJI really enhanced the wifi signal ... I was able to hit the 1,6 km mark in a ce-standard country ... in the middle of nowhere. When I was flying downtown, like heavily downtown, with many, many, many other wifi signals around ... I easily hit the 500 meters mark. "

Tom David Frey answered questions from his viewers about Mavic Air in his video. In addition to the range of the drone, many other points that should be of interest to potential buyers are also discussed.

Tom David Frey answered questions from his viewers about Mavic Air in his video. In addition to the range of the drone, many other points that should be of interest to potential buyers are also discussed.

He tells a little more about it and in summary you can say the following:

  • In an open field you can reach 1,6 km.
  • In city centers you can reach 500 meters without any problems despite many disruptive WiFi signals.
  • With the DJI Spark it was seldom possible to reach 500 meters in the open air.
  • If you fly behind houses or other buildings, the radio connection breaks off relatively quickly.
  • In "normal" areas you can reach a range of 500 to 800 meters.

In my opinion, Mavic Air is in a good range in terms of possible flight range. In the DJI Spark I already had frequent breaks that disturbed the recordings (see also mine DJI Spark Test). With the Mavic Air you don't have to worry about that.

Update 07.02.2018/XNUMX/XNUMX: Range tests / range rest in CE mode

There are now other Youtubers who have carried out range tests with their Mavic Air models in Germany, Great Britain or other CE countries. As mentioned, the drone in the EU countries switches to the aforementioned "throttled" CE mode, so tests in the UK are also of interest to us.

If you want to watch a few videos in this regard, you will find some in mine Youtube playlist for DJI Mavic Air reviews, tests and information :

Enhanced Wifi against OcuSync

The results of the range tests linked above made me feel very positive and ultimately moved me to order the Mavic Air as well. Even if the Mavic Pro is equipped with OcuSync (see data sheet) certainly still has many advantages in signal transmission compared to the "enhanced wifi" of the Mavic Air, so I think that I can live with the disadvantages. With OcuSync, the Mavic Pro has a real range of 7 to 8 km. A distance that you will certainly never fly in Germany (unless you want to travel completely illegally).

OcuSync scores not only with a large range but also with a low latency, which helps with precise filming.

OcuSync scores not only with a large range but also with a low latency, which helps with precise filming.

But OcuSync also has another advantage that should not be underestimated when filming: The image signal has a very low latency. This means that the delay between the live image and the real "view" of the drone is extremely small. This means that you can fly very precisely because the camera image shows the steering movements directly. The enhanced WiFi has a noticeable latency that was also noticeable with the Spark. Unfortunately, I cannot express it in numbers as I could not find any measurements on it, but it can be felt.

This is no reason for me to forego the Air, but it should be kept in mind when deciding between the Mavic Pro (2?) And the Mavic Air.

As I said: I got the Mavic Air because for me it is the best "always with me" drone. I know that because of its size, I just didn't take the Mavic Pro with me on hikes as often as I would have if it was smaller. The Air jumps into this gap. And it doesn't rule out the possibility of using the Mavic Pro 2 for customer orders, which will certainly come with a better sensor and hopefully also with OcuSync 2.

You want to get the Air too? Then support my blog by shopping via this link (thanks!):

» DJI Mavic Air in the DJI Store «

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6 comments

  1. Ralph Matthews says:

    Thanks for the detailed description of the pros and cons of both drones. I now see confirmation of my purchase of my DJI Mavic Air. My understanding of drones has expanded significantly through your contributions.
    Many Thanks. Keep it up.

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Ralph! Thanks for your comment. I will certainly write more. My Mavic Air has only been in use for a short time and there are definitely still a few tips and accessories that are worth a contribution. :) LG! Jens

  2. Georg says:

    There are now very good instructions on the Internet on how to easily convert the Mavic Air to FCC.

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      You already know that the change from CE mode to FCC mode in the EU violates applicable law and is therefore a criminal offense ??? I will definitely not make such recommendations ... apart from that, they are totally unnecessary with the Mavic Air, since the range is absolutely fine.

  3. Holsteiner says:

    So with my Mavic Pro I managed about 3050m in the open field, without any buildings and standing on a hill. This of course with OcuSync. But I've never tried flying with WiFi, although I don't understand the point ... why should I use WiFi when I have OcuSync.

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Well, you won't have flown without direct line of sight?!? ;-) But yes, with the Mavic Pro it is pretty pointless to be able to switch. From my point of view, there are no advantages to flying with WiFi. Except that you then have to adhere to the rule of visual contact. Because it certainly doesn't get you any further. : D

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