This message discusses two main aspects of the batteries for the Mavic Air:
- Replacement by DJI
All three of my Mavic Air batteries supplied in the FlyMore kit in March 2019 had suffered the classic swelling commonly reported all over:
The one on the left has managed to pop the casing off, and the other two have significantly swollen bellies.
Although they can fly for 14-18 mins, they could only just about fit into the battery compartment. The standard advice, here and everywhere else, is not to use them in this condition - there is significant risk to both the aircraft and the public (since they can pop out of their plastic locks).
Whilst this risk can be mitigated with sufficient strapping, the general consensus is to replace the batteries. These seem to be hard to acquire in the UK, with many suppliers showing no stock, and those with stock being of dubious virtue (eBay, “Drones Planet UK”) , and highly priced - for example, £124 each.
In a posting (that I have not been able to find) on this site, (or possibly on MavicPilots), someone discussed the fact that DJI had replaced their Mavic Air batteries after the 12 month warranty. The poster said it was a consumer law issue, and the batteries were not of merchantable quality.
I thought it was worth trying this method. I went on the DJI website, explained that the batteries were beyond the 12 month warranty, and DJI asked me to send pictures and serial numbers. After a few days I got an email from DJI Support with their conclusion: the batteries are out of warranty. Since I had stated that from the outset, I wasn’t too surprised…
However, I’m a persistent person, and looked up UK consumer law on the interweb. It’s relatively unspecific, but does imply some responsibility for quality and durability in proportion to price. It also implied that you have to do everything you can to seek redress with the company before even thinking about legal measures.
So I wrote back to DJI to check on how long they considered was the reasonable lifespan for their batteries. They wrote to ask me to specify the “UK Consumer Law” that I was referring to, which I did, and then wrote back to say that since the batteries were more than 24 months old, they would not replace them.
I replied to this email, asking them to confirm that they did not expect their batteries to last longer than 24 months.
This latter resulted in DJI agreeing to replace the batteries. They came fairly quickly and in consumer retail boxes:
They look and feel brand new, with fresh DJI stickers on them, and have a marking:
“IN TW RU”, perhaps implying Indonesian or Indian, Russian and Taiwan markets?
Also, they appear to be fairly new - produced in March 2021?:
So: some kudos to DJI for replacing them after 30 months, but perhaps they could admit to a production error since this problem is so widespread?
With the confidence of having three new batteries, I looked again into how I could fix the bloated ones. Even in their dangerous state, they keep the Mavic Air flying, and AirData estimates their Efficiency at 16-18 minutes:
Airdata suggests they are not too damaged:
Also, what ever “Life” is, this battery has a fair amount left:
If it wasn’t for their swelling (and the consequent risk), I would have been satisfied by their longevity.
I consulted YouTube and got a mixture of opinions on fixing methods:
• “nothing works” (Puffed and swollen DJI mavic pro batteries opened up to reduce swelling. DO NOT DO THIS YOURSELF! - YouTube)
• “this works, but requires cutting tools” (DJI MAVIC AIR BLOATED BATTERY WORKAROUND - YouTube)
• “this just works” (EASY WAY TO FIX YOUR BLOATED BATTERY AT HOME ( MAVIC AIR DRONE) - YouTube)
So I decided to try the latter, with nothing to lose (battery-wise). The method given in the video required just two bits of kit (a small screwdriver and a pin) and simple method (prise open case then pierce battery pack). I decided to add a face mask, gloves and protective goggles to the required kit, and ensured the battery was not fully charged. I also did the job outside, (and still had fewer ants involved than the guy in the video).
It really was a very quick procedure: my battery was very keen to open, and the pin prick was even smaller than the one in the video. I didn’t have to squeeze it as much as the video showed. Nothing visible exited the battery at the rear end, and I could find no residues on the battery case, gloves or face mask. No noxious smells. I didn’t go green and explode either.
The initial result was impressive:
It “feels” flat, is not spongy in any way, and sits on the table as a perfectly flat object, rather than an object that rolls. It also charged back up to 100%.
I have used it three times in the last two weeks, and noticed:
• it fits nicely (and safely) in the battery compartment - no squeezing or hoping for the battery to lock, and no strap required
• no decrease in flight time
I’m feeling much happier about flying and my DJI purchase than I did two weeks ago. A large part of this was the battery replacement by DJI.
However, for those who have exhausted the DJI route, or who are not able to pursue them, there is the repair to consider… Whether this is a long-term fix for the issue, I cannot say - two weeks isn’t enough. But if you were thinking of abandoning your aircraft and batteries due the safety issues around otherwise powerful and effective batteries, this is perhaps worth trying if you observe all safety precautions?