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Types of drone
Drones are classified into the following types and size categories. You may need a remote pilot licence (RePL) to fly some drone types or sizes.
A model aircraft is a drone 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 represent simplified 'plain-English' definitions. You can find the official technical definitions for each RPA in the locations below:
- Multi and Single-rotor helicopter - Civil Aviation Regulations 1988, Volume 1, Part 1, 2 Interpretation (both covered by the common 'helicopter' definition)
- Aeroplane - Civil Aviation Regulations 1988, Volume 1, Part 1, 2 Interpretation
- Powered lift and Airship - Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998, Volume 5, Dictionary, Part 1 - Definitions.
|Micro||250 g or less|
|Very small||250.01 g to 2 kg|
|Small||2.01 kg to 25 kg|
|Medium||25.01 kg to 150 kg|
|Large||More than 150 kg|
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