Types of drones

Drones are classified into the following categories and sizes (types).

A model aircraft is a drone or remote controlled aircraft, flown for sport or recreation – for fun.

A remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) is a drone flown for business or as part of your job – commercially.


Multi-rotor helicopter

image of a multi-rotor helicopter type of drone

This type has more than one power-driven engine (rotor) that rotate or turn vertically. It takes off, lands, flies and hovers like a traditional 'single rotor' helicopter but has more than one rotor.

Single-rotor helicopter

image of a single-rotor helicopter type of drone

This type has one power-driven engine (rotor) and looks a bit like a traditional helicopter. It usually also has another rotor on the tail or end of the aircraft.


image of an aeroplane type of drone

This type looks and flies like a regular plane – it has fixed wings. It also takes off and lands horizontally and usually can't hover.


image of a powered lift type of drone

This type can take off and land vertically (straight up and down) like a helicopter, but can then move into forward flight like a traditional plane.


image of an airship type of drone

This type is engine powered and is 'lighter than air' - it can be filled with a buoyant gas and usually 'floats' in the air. A blimp is a good example of an airship.

These are plain-English descriptions. The definitions for each type are available from:

Sizes (types)

MicroUp to 250 grams
Very smallBetween 250 grams and 2 kg
SmallBetween 2 and 25 kg
MediumBetween 25 and 150 kg
LargeMore than 150 kg

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Last updated:
25 Jul 2023
Online version available at: https://www.casa.gov.au//drones/drone-rules/drone-safety-rules/types-drones
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