After a small Phantom drone circumvented White House radar detection and crashed into a tree on the presidential South Lawn this week, the China-based Phantom manufacturer DJI has announced plans to disable its devices from flying in Washington, D.C.
The move comes not a moment too soon for the Federal Aviation Administration, which already stipulates that it is illegal to fly in the region. DJI is able to track drone locations using GPS, which means that making certain areas off-limits is a simple matter of tweaking the software.
“DJI will release a mandatory firmware update for the Phantom 2, Phantom 2 Vision, and Phantom 2 Vision+ to help users comply with the FAA’s Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) 0/8326, which restricts unmanned flight around the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area,” DJI wrote in a press release. “The updated firmware (V3.10) will be released in coming days and adds a No-Fly Zone centered on downtown Washington, D.C. and extends for a 25 kilometer (15.5 mile) radius in all directions. Phantom pilots in this area will not be able to take off from or fly into this airspace.”
This week’s drone incident was significant because of the security risk it presented to the U.S. president. In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, President Obama admitted that the government was not up to speed with the number of hobbyist and commercial drones in existence.