Flying in high latitudes or poor magnetic environments

Learn how flying in close proximity to the earth magnetic poles can affect your compass and how to ensure safe operation in emergency landing mode.

    Some regions which lie close to the magnetic north or south pole create a challenging environment for the magnetic compass measurement. The reason being that the magnetic field in such regions is close to vertical, drastically limiting the usefulness of a compass measurement.

    Which are the most-affected regions?

    The most affected regions are the areas with a magnetic inclination above +/- 80 degrees.  Specifically, these are the following areas: Far north of Canada, northern Greenland, Northern Russia, Eastern Antarctica.

    How does the WingtraOne currently handle these conditions?

    • Once flights in these regions are detected, the WingtraOne will automatically switch to a special flight control configuration, which considers these effects during cruise flight. The biggest challenge for the flight controller remains for the period between the take-off and forward cruise transition.
    • After take-off, if the compass delivers bad data before reaching the forward transition, the WingtraOne will automatically enter Emergency landing mode or hover down on spot.

      During this Emergency landing mode, the WingtraOne will abort the mission and start descending automatically in hover mode to land. The difference to a normal landing is that it will not counteract the wind because the drone doesn't have a location, so it is susceptible to drifting horizontally with the wind while continuing to descend until it reaches the ground.

    How can you as an operator increase the safety of your flight?

    1. Low transition altitude 
    To minimize the chance of entering Emergency landing mode, the best method is to set the forward transition as low as possible. A transition at 20m altitude is highly recommended. The higher the transition the higher the probability of triggering emergency mode. A lower transition altitude will also place the UAV closer to the ground so it can land quicker and not drift as far if the drone enters the failsafe mode.

    2. Check the indicated compass direction
    Before taking off, visually verify that the virtual WingtraOne icon on the planning page of WingtraPilot is pointing with the nose in the correct direction. If the direction is different by approximately 90 degrees or more from where the camera on the WingtraOne is pointing, reboot the WingtraOne and check again. If rebooting does not correct the issue, it is not safe to fly and you should contact support before proceeding. 

    3. Check your surroundings

    Try to take-off with a large safety distance from adjacent obstacles. In the very worst case, if a 'safety landing' is necessary, combined with high winds, the WingtraOne might be forced to land up to 150m downwind of the take-off point. Check that downwind of takeoff is clear of obstacles up to this distance.

    4. Response in case of a 'safety landing'

    In the rare situation that an Emergency landing is triggered, the WingtraOne will start to descend, while drifting horizontally with the wind.

    - If there are no obstacles downwind of the drone, DO NOT intervene with the safety landing. It is expected to land safely within approximately 25 seconds.

    - If the drone is drifting in the direction of a distant obstacle and you have time to react, you can take over in Assisted mode and manually counteract the wind. Make sure that you continue descending, by holding all the way straight down on the left stick of the RC.  Be aware of which direction the drone is facing to orientate correctly. 

    - If the behavior is out of control and you can't ensure a safe landing, trigger the emergency shut down sequence. This will terminate the flight by shutting off the motors mid-air, the plane will fall down to the ground immediately for safety purposes.

    5. Send back data to the Wingtra team!

    You can help the Wingtra team further improve the safety and reliability in extreme conditions on future software updates! If you fly in these regions, please send in your flight logs and we will utilize the data to enhance the performance.