If you’re the owner of a DJI Mavic 3 or Mavic 3 Cine drone and are based in Europe, you can get C1 Certification. Even better, it can be obtained at no cost and relatively easily.
As of Dec. 9, 2022, DJI made it possible for its users to request a C1 certificate for free. You’ll need to have on-hand your drone serial number, and you’ll also need to have completed the latest DJI firmware update.
C1 Certification is potentially a big boon for owners of the newest line of Mavic drones. Benefits of holding C1 certification include:
- Ability to fly in the new A1 Open Category
- No need to pass the complex and costly A2 “Remote Piloting License” exam, which is otherwise required
- More freedom to fly in environments they have been restricted from without the C1 certificate or otherwise going through length paperwork processes of obtaining special permission
The C1 certificate is a relatively new concept. The latest set of rules for flying drones in the EU divides drones into classes between C0 and C6. C0 drones are small and have relatively little complexity. All drones in the C0 category must weigh less than 249 grams, such as the DJI Mini 3 Pro and the DJI Mini 2. As the numbers following the C get higher, so comes the power of the drones. Most camera drones are considered class C1.
In August 2022, TÜV Rheinland, which is an official ‘Notified Body’ allowed to certify drones for classification according to the requirements of the new EASA regulations in August granted C1 certification to DJI’s Mavic 3 drone. Basically, the TÜV Rheinland certification means the Mavic 3 drone has certified features like a remote identification system, a reliable data link, and a data interface for a geo-awareness system to comply with airspace limitations.
From there, DJI used the time to develop the process of getting that C1 Certification label, which is where we are today.
The process of getting C1 Certification for the DJI Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine
For now, the C1 class identification label is only available for Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine drone owners to apply for. But if you have one of those drones, here’s what you need to do to get the certificate:
- Go to the DJI Fly app (it must be updated to at least version 1.9.0).
- Connect your Mavic 3 or Mavic 3 Cine and update it to the latest firmware version (01.00.0900 or above).
- Tap apply on the pop-up for the C1 label application.
- Fill out a short, virtual application form, which asks for some basic identifying info such as address.
- Wait for your C1 label to arrive by snail mail. DJI says delivery time depends on local factors.
- Once the label arrives, attach it and upload a photo of your drone with the label on it to the DJI Fly App. Find it by navigating to Profile > Service and Support > C1 Class Identification Label.
You should also keep your documentation on hand while flying.
Obtaining a C1 certificate is voluntary. But if you choose to go for the update and then update your firmware, all future firmware updates of the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine will include the technical changes required by the C1 certificate and cannot be reversed.
But once you have the C1 certificate, it’s valid across the European Economic Area (EEA, i.e. EU plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and applies to all hardware and C1-updated-firmware of the DJI Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine.
Should you get C1 certified?
As mentioned, C1 certification is voluntary, and not everyone is opting to go for it. DJI put together a table spelling out the main differences between flying the Mavic 3 and Mavic 3 Cine with or without C1 certificate. While there are some benefits, there are also tradeoffs, depending on how you view flying.
Here’s that table, provided by DJI:
|Operating Area||Operational Restrictions||Pilot Competence|
|With C1 certificate and C1-compliant firmware (flying in the A1 Open Category from now on and after 31 December 2023)||– No flying over uninvolved people (if it happens, should be minimized)
– No flying over assemblies of people
|– Read user manual
– Obtain A1/A3 “Proof of Competence” basic drone certificate by taking an officially-recognized theoretical online exam with no limitations on attempts before passing
|Without C1 certificate and without C1-compliant firmware (flying in the A2 Open Category until 31 December 2023; or in the A3 Open Category after 1 January 2024)||– No flying over uninvolved people
– Keeping a minimum 50 m horizontal distance from people until 31 December 2023 – After 1 January 2024, flying in areas free from people and 150 metres horizonal distance or more away from properties
|– Read user manual
– Obtain A2 “Remote Piloting License” by taking an officially- recognized theoretical online exam, and declaring self-practical training. When failing, the customer has to reapply for the exam with possible additional costs involved
But with the benefits come some tradeoffs. For example, if you rely on using DJI’s ActiveTrack Intelligent Flight Mode to film people or objects, you’ll be limited to flying within 50 meters from the subject, which might limit the types of shots you can take (for flights beyond 50 meters, ActiveTrack will be automatically disabled). Other changes include adjustments to LEDs in terms of when they turn on or blink.
Though, those changes are only activated whenever a C1-certified DJI Mavic 3 or Mavic 3 Cine is flown in the European Economic Area (EEA), so you could bring a certified drone to the U.S. and it wouldn’t apply.
It remains to be seen when other drones will get similar certifications, but it’s likely DJI will push for more of its drones to be eligible for certification just as easily as it is for the Mavic 3. And other drone companies will likely soon follow DJI’s lead. We’ll be watching.