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We are often asked by many prospective customers and existing customers, What drone flies the longest? So we have put together a guide to give you a better idea of what drone flies the longest and what to look for when purchasing a drone for endurance. In this article we discuss two types of commercially available drones, fixed wing drones and multi rotor drones and which drones in each category fly the longest.
The key advantage of the Fixed Wing Drones is the ability to achieve longer range flight than is generally possible than it’s drone rotor-copter counterparts. Both Fixed Wings and multi-rotor drones can achieve extended flight range and time, however the advantage with fixed wings is the efficiency of transport. Fewer moving parts in the fixed wings expends lower energy, and results in further flight range. Once airborne the fixed wing is very efficient aerodynamically.
The drone that flies the longest is the X8 Long Range Ready To Fly Drone with over 1 hour of flight time depending on the configuration. This drone is unlike the typical DJI Phantom drone quadcopter drone, and is in a category of its own called “Fixed Wing Drones.” The fixed wing design is much more efficient once airborne and allows the drone to carry a large battery, use a single motor and utilize gliding for much of its flight. A more typical drone such as the DJI Phantom 4 is what is called a multicopter design. These drones tend to use much of their energy to travel vertically, and balance out the gravity forcing them down. This is ideal for short hops, but for longer flights where greater endurance is required a fixed wing drone is much more efficient.
When is comes to the multi rotor designs then, what drone flies the longest? There are three answers to this question, the first being much more high tech and much less commercially viable with the second and third being commercially viable off the shelf offerings.
The DJI Matrice 100 attained a two hour flight time when using a Hydrogen fuel cell rather than the traditional lithium batteries. This technology is still in its infancy for drones, but the ability to increase the flight time by over 4 times already using hydrogen is very promising for the future. At the bottom of this page we have attached a video showcasing the DJI Matrice 100 with its hydrogen fuel cell modification.
Second is another less than conventional offering but one that is commercially available, and can be bought from us. This drone is the 3D Robotics Solo and it stays airborne forever. Using an optional tethered add on, the drone can fly while connected to a long wire that connects to a power source on the ground. The drone unfortunately is limited in the distance it can fly due to this, but in theory it can stay airborne forever as a result.
Finally, if you are looking for a more conventional drone, the DJI Phantom 4 has an excellent flight time. When turning off the many advanced features that come with the drone you can achieve a 28 minute flight time. While by no means an earth shattering flight time, it is leaps and bounds better than the flight times where only a few years ago and is enough to capture a good amount of aerial photography or video.
The video below details the DJI Matrice 100 with the hydrogen fuel cell modification, allowing it to fly the longest of any multi rotor drone that is not tethered to the ground.