Standard P3S Crash into Ocean- possible hardware malfunction

Jan 30, 2016
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Last week on the fourth I was out at the beach flying my P3S that I've had for about 18 months. The drone seemed to be working fine and I had just taken it out on another flight. The wind was gusty, as you'd expect from the coastline, but nothing worse that what I've flown it in before.

As I was about 13min into my flight, I stopped the drone, rotated it slightly, when it suddenly began a counter-clockwise spiral 100m down into the ocean below at a vertical speed of 8-10m/s. Connection was constant the entire flight including during the crash. Thankfully, a few paddle boarders were nearby and dove down to retrieve- I was extremely grateful for their help, but also concerned for their safety having been so close to where the drone went down. When I found them, the drone had only been underwater for a few minutes at most and all four props were attached and intact.

Here is a link to the video streamed back to my phone: Dropbox - Video Jul 04, 3 54 08

I cannot stress this part enough: there was nothing else in the air with me and no obstacles that I could have hit. Based on this, I'm confident that the crash was due to hardware/software problems and not pilot error.

I immediately washed the drone and battery in a freshwater bath in order to get as much salt of as possible. I have yet to turn on either the P3S or the battery, as I'm waiting a few more days/weeks for them to dry.

Does anybody know of any issues with P3S falling out of the sky? My running theory is that the drone lost one of its left motors, pushing it into that spiral. Have there been hardware or software problems that could explain this crash?

Also, I'm currently in the process of filling out a DJI repair form. Is this worth it to try to do? I'm really cautious of the bit at the end that says "DJI might charge a damage assessment fee of 65 dollars per hour if you refuse to repair your aircraft after being quoted."

Any help is appreciated. Thanks.


Premium Pilot
Sep 28, 2015
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San Francisco, CA
This is definitely not a battery issue but points towards failure of one of the props/ motors. This conclusion is purely based on the attached video.

If we have more data, we can analyze it better.

Once the drone is fully dry, power it to check if all the motors spin. I'm surprised that you didn't notice any ESC issue.

You enjoyed it for 18 months, that's good to hear as that shows you are careful pilot or you hardly fly.

It's time to move onto a new generation drone :)

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