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DJI is well known for their consumer drones and in recent years, they have developed some very capable drones, offering excellent image quality and, in the case of the DJI FPV drone, high speeds.
The DJI FPV drone was introduced to bring the rush of fast-paced FPV flight to the masses, whilst offering longer flight times and better video quality than its competitors, to provide a more immersive experience.
The fastest DJI drone currently available is the DJI FPV. The new DJI Avata can’t match it. The DJI FPV drone has a maximum speed of 87 mph.
The speed of the DJI FPV drone makes other DJI drones, like the Mini 3 Pro, seem pathetically slow. In fact, the Mini 3 Pro is significantly slower, with a reported top speed of just 35 mph.
Even the DJI Inspire 2 can’t keep up even at an eye-watering 58 mph, falling just behind the top speed of the new DJI Avata at 60 mph.
However, as many pilots will know, DJI drones flown exclusively in line of sight, such as the Mini 3 Pro or Mavic 3 or the like, can still shift and could quickly get you into some bother.
By contrast, flying the DJI FPV drone or DJI Avata with first person view (FPV) goggles lets you fly like you are piloting from in the drone.
This method of flying helps you handle the drone and keep track of its surroundings at the higher speeds.
A low latency video feed from a camera on the drone is received by the goggles so that the pilot can view a clear image from the drone in almost real-time.
Other camera drones do not have low latency video feeds, making them unsuitable for FPV flying.
Flying FPV drones is exhilarating, especially when flying closer to the ground.
The speed and agility on tap with FPV drones, like the DJI FPV, make them fantastic for soaring through stunning landscapes, diving cliffs and mountains, or exploring abandoned sites and buildings.
**The DJI FPV and Avata drones also have normal and sport modes to help you rein them in further, with manual mode unlocking their full capabilities. **
As many pilots will know, top speeds are capped in certain operation modes for DJI drones such as normal and cine modes, with speeds and controller stick response increasing in sport mode (and manual mode if available).
These restricted speeds also apply in normal and sport modes for the DJI FPV drones.
Why can’t other DJI drones go as fast as the DJI FPV? #
Line-of-sight DJI drones can’t go as fast as the DJI FPV because of their powertrain and their limited range of tilt.
For example, the DJI FPV drone runs on 25V (6S) whilst other drones like the Mavic 3 only run on 17V. However, it is the range of tilt of DJI’s line of sight drones that is their most significant limitation.
In order to drive the drone forward in flight, the pilot must tilt the drone, making the drone move faster as the amount of tilt increases.
The DJI FPV drone can be tilted at a much greater angle of tilt than DJI’s line of sight drones, allowing it to travel much faster in forward flight.
The Mavic range of DJI drones can reach a maximum of around 35 degrees of tilt, whereas the DJI FPV is capable of tilting up to around 60 degrees whilst still being able to maintain altitude.
However, tilt the drone too far forward, and there won’t be enough lift to keep the drone from descending.
DJI Avata can’t quite reach the top speeds of its bigger brother because of its smaller propellers, but it wasn’t designed to match it. Its smaller size and propeller guards make it well suited to flying in proximity to people and indoors.
How can I reach these top speeds with my DJI FPV drone? #
As noted above, to unlock the full potential of the DJI FPV drone, you will need to fly in manual mode. This mode allows full dynamic movement but requires more piloting skill and input to keep it under control.
Manual mode provides very little assistance to the pilot, similar to the unrestricted “Acro” mode of other FPV drones.
In this mode, the drone will not hold itself at altitude or hold itself in position without fine control inputs from the pilot.
In manual mode, your stick inputs cause the drone to move, but if you re-center the sticks, the drone won’t level itself. It will keep flying at the tilt and direction you’ve set it to until you provide further input or switch modes.
Many pilots use a simulator to practice flying manual or Acro mode before taking on this challenge in real life. DJI has its own simulator to practice with, but there are several other simulator options available on multiple platforms.
» MORE: 9 Best Drone Flight Simulators (FPV and Commercial)
Once mastered, you can take to the skies like a bird and experience almost unrestricted flight at breathtaking speed and acceleration.
What alternatives are there to the DJI FPV drone? #
You do tend to pay a premium for DJI drones, and the DJI FPV isn’t cheap. In fact, digital FPV drone equipment isn’t cheap, but analogue video transmission systems can take the sting out of investing in FPV gear, albeit at the cost of image quality.
For top speed and flight characteristics, drones like the iFlight Nazgul Evoque or GEPRC Mark 5 are good alternatives to the DJI FPV and are more robust due to their carbon fibre frames.
Whilst these so-called “freestyle” FPV drones are easily as fast as the DJI FPV, these drones won’t get the flight times attainable with the DJI FPV, nor do they have the rock-stable flight modes that the DJI FPV drone has built-in.
DJI Avata is also a great alternative to the DJI FPV, particularly if you’re looking to fly in proximity to people. As already noted, Avata is not as fast as the DJI FPV drone but its top speed of 60 mph is not to be scoffed at.
Considering its indoor flight performance, its certainly a better all-rounder.
There are also cheaper alternatives to DJI Avata, like the GEPRC Cinelog series of drones. These fall into the “cinewhoop” drone category and are designed for flying in close proximity to people and indoors.
A downside to the alternative drones described above is that they need to carry an additional HD camera to record high quality video.
At present, the GoPro Hero 10, GoPro Bones, or DJI Action 2 are generally considered the best HD cameras for mounting to an FPV drone of this calibre.
By contrast, DJI Avata and DJI FPV both have 4k 60 fps cameras built in.
However, video quality from the cameras built in to the Avata and FPV drone seems to be lower quality than the video quality attainable from the external cameras named above.
How can I go even faster? #
The DJI FPV is fast but is by no means the fastest drone out there. Some privately built FPV drones can reach speeds in excess of 150 mph.
The Drone Racing League built and flew their Racer X to an average top speed of over 160 mph using a 10S (40V) powertrain.
Top speed isn’t the be all and end all though. Top level FPV racing drones are lightweight to improve agility and acceleration but getting drones to reach over 120 mph requires a lot of power and is not really needed, even for racing.
Fixed-wing drones, with their aerodynamic designs, can reach higher speeds again.
Developments to rotary drone aerodynamics could improve both the top speed and efficiency of drones, and frame manufacturers have been experimenting with this.
In summary, the DJI FPV drone is the DJI drone to get for going fast, but the non-DJI alternatives are more robust and generally cheaper (comparing drone price alone).
In addition, to get the most out of the DJI FPV you need to fly it with FPV goggles, which presents additional challenges.
For example, many jurisdictions, the US, UK and European countries included, require you have a spotter when flying using FPV goggles.
This makes the faster line of sight DJI drones more convenient because they can be flown without a spotter, and they’re still fast enough in sport mode to get some adrenaline flowing.