The Air 2S ATTI mode – everything you need to know

Flying the DJI Air 2 relies on understanding all the different flight modes the drone can switch between. Not many drone pilots are aware of a flight mode that your drone can enter automatically. ATTI mode is something that every single pilot should be aware of.

The DJI Air 2S will change to attitude (ATTI) mode when the vision systems are unavailable or disabled and when the GPS signal is weak or the compass experiences interference.

I have only had my drone change to ATTI mode once in the ten years I have flown a drone. However, it was scary because the drone started shifting and moving with the wind, and it took a lot of concentration to bring the drone back to the landing spot safely.

I highly recommend learning to fly your drone manually so you can be assured of a safe return if your drone enters  ATTI mode.

Otherwise, you may have a flyaway or crash. Here are the reasons why your DJI Air 2S ATTI mode is activated.

What is ATTI mode?

ATTI stands for attitude mode.

In this flight mode, the GPS sensors and Global navigation satellite system (GNSS) are disabled. The aircraft uses an onboard barometer to maintain altitude and keep level.

The aircraft will be much more affected by its surroundings in ATTI mode.

Wind can shift the drone’s position, which will be particularly dangerous if you are flying in confined spaces or close to trees and other obstacles.

This mode is used for capturing smoother footage, flying indoors, or preventing flyaways in the event of GPS signal failure or compass errors.

Why the Air 2S enters ATTI mode

There are a few warning signs that your drone will enter ATTI mode. Ensuring that your GPS signal is strong and that your sensors are clean will go a long way in ensuring that ATTI mode doesn’t cause your drone to crash and drift with the wind.

Manually

You can turn on anti-mode manually, and some drone models have a physical switch on the remote control to switch between position, ATTI and sports mode.

You can select the mode which is best for you depending on the type of mission you are flying and what your intended outcome is for the flight.

GNSS signal is lost or weak

ATTI mode can be triggered automatically if your DJI drone’s GPS signal is lost and the vision system cannot function.

This is true if the drone is in a capture mode such as tripod mode. If this happens, the flight speed will increase and the aircraft will not be able to hover in place. So use tripod mode carefully only if you have got a great GPS signal.

Forward and downward vision system is affected by a surface

The visual character of certain materials can affect the forward and downward vision systems.

The sensors may not be able to accurately measure distances when operating above materials that reflect light or change (such as water)

If you are operating the aircraft over these types of surfaces proceed with great caution:

  • flying over monochrome surfaces (pure black, pure white, pure green, pure red)
  • flying over highly reflective surfaces such as metal roofs
  • flying at high speeds of over 22 mph at 2 m in height or over 11 mph at only 1 m of height
  • flying over water or transparent surfaces
  • flying over moving surfaces or objects
  • flying in an area where the lighting changes frequently or drastically
  • flying over extremely dark or extremely bright surfaces
  • flying over services that can absorb sayings for example thick carpet or dense grass
  • flying over surfaces without clear patterns or texturing
  • flying over services with repeating patterns or textures such as tiles and brickwork
  • flying over inclined surfaces that will deflect sound waves away from the aircraft.

If you are flying your expensive DJI drone and you are a beginner this can be incredibly scary and is a big contributor to drone incidents resulting in drones becoming broken beyond repair.

Compass interference

Compass interference can be another reason why your drone enters ATTI mode.

Compass interference can occur from metal objects, firmware updates, or any nearby smart devices containing a magnet.

You may also be asked to significantly recalibrate your compass after changing your altitude or location.

Most commonly, I have compass interference when flying or taking off on or near metallic objects. Sometimes the metal is hidden in the concrete as reinforcement.

For example, I always look for a flat concrete area to take off on. If this is a path, there is not normally too much of an issue. However, I find that sometimes the concrete area has metal reinforcement in the concrete, and therefore I get a compass error and a prompt to recalibrate.

How to avoid ATTI mode being triggered

There are several ways that ATTI mode can be triggered. Therefore we can be proactive and stop the Air 2S from entering this mode by always flying with a strong GPS signal, keeping your sensors clean and regularly calibrating your drone to avoid navigational errors.

Fly with a strong GNSS signal

The first thing is to ensure that you are always flying in a location with a strong GPS signal. On the DJI FLY app, there is a little satellite signal indicator.

This indicator tells you how many satellites provide information to the drone to keep it stable.

The drone will not enter GPS mode until it reaches eight satellite signals.

I would not take off if I only had eight GPS satellite signals. If you lose one of the signals, your drone could quickly go into ATTI mode. I do not take off unless I have at least 12 to 14 strong satellite signals.

This number of satellites gives me enough of a buffer if a number of the satellite signals are lost and gives me a piece of mind while flying.

Keep your sensors clean

It would help if you cleaned the sensors using a small microfibre cloth and only use very light rubbing to dislodge any dirt or grime.

If you need a little help with cleaning, use a small amount of isopropyl alcohol to remove any dirt or grime that fingerprints have lefts.

Regularly calibrate your drone

Regularly calibrating your drone will keep you safe as possible. My drones often require calibration for compass errors, and I also recently had to calibrate my vision sensors on my DJI air drone. It was a very simple process, and I could do it using the DJI assistant.

You should also consider calibrating your drone if you notice any of the following or your drone has been subject to any of these:

  • if you see your drone is drifting significantly while flying you may need to recalibrate the compass to provide stability.
  • When you hit the automatic land and return to home function and your drone flies the wrong way you need to recalibrate the GPS and compass immediately.
  • If you notice that your drone does not hold its altitude very well, you will need to recalibrate your inertial measurement unit so the barometer can function properly.
  • If you have moved a significant distance since your last flight you may find that your compass will need to be recalibrated.
  • You need to recalibrate your drone after every significant impact or crash (as long as the drone is not damaged beyond repair).
  • After a significant time in transit. I have found that during a long car journey or a significant plane journey my drone needs to be recalibrated and will prompt for it. The differences in temperature that are experienced during a road trip combined with the constant vibration of travel can confuse the accelerometer.

Wrapping up

In this article, we have covered all of the aspects of the DJI air 2S ATTI mode being triggered and how you can avoid the drone entering this mode.

This mode can be very scary if you are unsure of what happened and have no experience flying a drone manually.

Practice flying in ATTI mode if you want to be sure you can handle this flight feature, and always keep your compass, GPS, and sensors calibrated and functioning at their best.

The Author

Dr Andrew Stapleton is a writer and YouTuber with a PhD in science. His drone footage has been featured on TV and he has written and/or produced videos for Science Alert, COSMOS magazine, and Australia's Science Channel among others. He has been a drone pilot for many years and has flown many types of drones. His favourite is still the DJI Mavic Air for the portability and functionality packed into a small and portable drone!