Drones – Four Categories

A drone is an aircraft without a pilot. Drones can be used for many applications such as photography, mapping and topography, in warfare for spying and the actual bombing. Multi-Rotor Drones. These can be used by professionals and hobbyists alike, for photography, racing or just for pleasure. These can have three rotors and up to eight rotors. These types of drones are limited by speed and endurance. This is because of the energy needed to lift the craft against gravity, and the limitations of the batteries which give an average of 25 minutes flying time.

Fixed Wing Drones. These are fluttering wings, and they use very little power in take-off as they are aerodynamically designed, and the shape gives lift as in an aircraft, but they cannot hover. Their forward motion and banks and turns are pre-programmed or controlled by remote manned by an operator and will fly until their energy is depleted. They can, mostly, stay airborne for up to and beyond 16 hours and are more suitable for photography and warfare. These drones are more costly, and training is far more extensive. Other necessities are a runway for take-off, and a parachute (or a net) is needed to land the craft.

Single Rotor Drones. Similar to a helicopter in design, i.e. a single large rotor on top to provide lift and motion, and a small directional rotor on the tail. They outdo multi multi-rotor drones inefficiency, flying time and even use gas-fuelled engines. Like helicopters, they are complicated and expensive to operate. The main blade con causes significant injuries or fatalities have been recorded. Extensive training is needed to produce a single rotor drone.


Hybrids are a combination of fixed-wing and rotors. They can, therefore, have more extended rangeability and don’t need runways or slings. They operate on the same concept of autopilot as their gyros and accelerometers keep the drone straight and level (stabilised) in flight. The forward movement is remote controlled.

The legislation is needed to control the use of drones. Although the FAA has come up with rules, these do not suit scenarios. Airspace must be managed as with aircraft, but this is not possible with the number of amateurs increasing and flying as they choose without understanding the problems they are causing. Property rights of individuals have to be protected also. Drones can even impinge on individuals by crossing over private property and photographing the secret life of residents, etc. Courses for drone pilots are available wherein the subject matter is the same as with a private pilot’s license – without the practical.

To avoid mid-air collisions, drones will have to be fitted with “sense and avoid” systems as with human-crewed aircraft. Drones can also be used by terrorists to fly over airports to disrupt traffic or even close down the airport.