A drone enthusiast was arrested in Israel for flying a DJI drone dangerously close to the Sde Dov Airport. The drone pilot filmed the airplanes as they were approaching the landing strip at the Airport and then proudly posted the video on Youtube.

The video shot on 14th July shows Stobenzki, launching his Mavic Pro drone while being seated in an outdoor bar located half a mile away from the Sde Dov Airport in Tel Aviv. He then used the drone to capture footage of several airplanes as they approached to land in the airport, filming all of it from just 90ft away.

According to Israeli National News, upon receiving several reports, Niv Stobenzki, 20, was interrogated and then placed under house arrest for five days. The drone along with his smartphone and personal computer have been confiscated by the authorities.

The drone pilot appears to be quite proud of his video and towards the end also requests viewers to like the video and subscribe to his channel on YouTube. As of now, the video has achieved over 102,500 views on YouTube and has been shared close to 700 times.

As shown in the video, the Sde Dov Airport is located on the coastline and is close to the Tel Aviv Sea Port. Stobenzki can be spotted in the video sitting at the outdoor bar near the port and even identifying himself in beginning of the video.

Airplanes from Arkia and Israir Israeli Airlines can be clearly seen in the video as they fly very close to the Mavic Pro drone filming them.

Community backlash

Contrary to his expectations, the video received widespread criticism from the drone community around the world, and led other drone users to report him to the authorities resulting in his arrest during the weekend.

Israel Ministry of Transport and Road Safety (IMTRS) issued a statement on 15 July: “This is a disturbing and serious incident, and we must raise awareness before a disaster occurs.”

Some of the negative comments received from drone users on the video such as:



Possible hack

DJI’s Go App is a mobile app that is used for controlling the DJI Phantom series of drones. The app contains a geofencing system called ‘GEO‘ that sends drone pilots real-time information about temporary flight restrictions, as well as cautions about flying drones in restricted areas around airports, prisons and power plants. If a user attempts a take off in a restricted area, the geofencing will prohibit the drone from doing so.

The Go App prevents any of its drones from performing a take off in the restricted no-fly zones, such as airports and military bases. Due to the extent of the flight path of aeroplanes taking off and landing around airports, the app will also restrict the user from taking off in the immediate areas surrounding airports.

DJI also claims that it would be impossible to take off right next to an airport unless the user has tampered with and hacked the firmware to circumvent DJI’s geofencing systems.

While DJI remains adamant about the fact that the geofencing was hacked, the drone community seems divided on whether the drone was actually hacked or that DJIs geofencing was limited in capability such that it might not have taken into account the approaching airplanes flight paths around the airport.

With ready-made hacks such as the NFZ mod being developed for the DJI drones and made easily available for purchase to drone users. DJI needs to come up with innovative ways to circumvent such hacks.