Long Endurance Drones & UAVs

Find suppliers and manufacturers of Endurance Drones and long endurance fixed wing UAVs and quadcopters, including HAPS, HALE and MALE UAVs
Overview Long Endurance Drones & UAVs
By Technology Editor Last updated: May 10th, 2022

Endurance Drones

Long endurance drones provide a flight time greater than that of typical quadcopters and small fixed-wing UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles), which typically can only stay in the air for times ranging from half an hour to a couple of hours. Their enhanced flight time allows them to cover long ranges, unlocking a variety of applications.

Propulsion

SKELDAR V-200 Long Endurance VTOL Drone by UMS SKELDAR

SKELDAR V-200 Long Endurance VTOL Drone by UMS SKELDAR

Long endurance fixed-wing and multirotor UAVs need to be large enough to carry the propulsion systems required to provide the additional flight time. Batteries have a relatively low energy density, meaning that they deliver less flight time for the extra weight they take up compared to other power sources. Endurance UAV therefore typically require an additional form of power, such as a hydrogen fuel cell or petrol-powered internal combustion engine. These drones may also utilise a hybrid power system that combines batteries with another power source.

Types

Long Endurance Fixed Wing UAV

Albatross long endurance fixed wing UAV by UAVOS

Albatross long endurance fixed wing UAV by UAVOS

Small fixed-wing UAV design typically enables greater endurance than quadcotor drones, with the ability to cover further distances, faster. Small fixed wing UAVs can be launched by hand, whereas larger fixed wings are usually launched via catapult or runway. Hybrid fixed-wing UAVs combine VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) capability with fixed wing design, enabling long flight times with minimal launch footprint.

Quadcopters, Multirotors & Unmanned Helicopters

Endurance LT – Professional Multirotor Drone by Hitec Commercial Solutions

Endurance LT – Professional Multirotor Drone by Hitec Commercial Solutions

Endurance multirotor drones require a hybrid power system or hydrogen fuel cell, as batteries alone are too bulky to provide significant mission endurance. For long-range applications requiring the manoeuvrability of rotorcraft, unmanned helicopters are more common due to their superior carrying capacity.

Tethered UAVs

Orion 2 UAS Persistent Tethered Drone for 24-Hour Surveillance by Elistair

Orion 2 UAS Persistent Tethered Drone for 24-Hour Surveillance by Elistair

Tethered drones are ideal for long endurance applications that only require the aircraft to remain in one spot, such as persistent surveillance, event security and communications relays. Tethered drones are powered from their ground station, which may be connected to a generator or mains power supply, effectively giving unlimited flight time.

High and Medium Altitude UAVs

HALE (high altitude long endurance) and MALE (medium altitude long endurance) platforms tend to be fixed-wing UAVs. MALE UAVs fly at altitudes of 10,000 to 30,000 feet, while HALE drones can operate even higher and are often capable of faster speeds. Both types are used by militaries for applications such as persistent ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) as well as providing strike capabilities.

Pseudo-Satellites

HALE UAVs may even operate in the stratosphere. These drones, also known as HAPS (high-altitude pseudo-satellites), can utilise solar power more effectively, as they are operating far above the clouds, and use solar panels during the day to recharge batteries that can power the aircraft at night. HAPS UAVs can stay aloft for days at a time, and one of the goals of the industry is to produce a platform that can fly persistently, only needing to descend every year or so for maintenance. Applications for this emerging drone technology include long-term surveillance, as well as the provision of mobile phone and internet connectivity to areas that were previously lacking.

ApusDuo High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite by UAVOS
ApusDuo High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite by UAVOS

Applications

Long endurance fixed wing UAVs and multirotors are used for a wide range of applications in the civil, commercial and defense sectors.

Military Long Endurance Drones

BRAMOR C4EYE Fixed-wing UAS for real-time ISR by C-Astral

BRAMOR C4EYE Fixed-wing UAS for real-time ISR by C-Astral

Endurance drones are used to carry out a variety of missions for military forces. They are used to gather both land-based and maritime ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance), providing situational awareness for improved decision-making. They can also be used to provide a strike capability, launching attacks without needing to put pilots and operators in harm’s way.

Law Enforcement and Public Safety

Sentaero BVLOS Hybrid Fixed Wing Endurance Drone by Censys Technologies

Sentaero BVLOS Hybrid Fixed Wing Endurance Drone by Censys Technologies

Law enforcement and first responders use endurance drones to provide a persistent surveillance capability that gives an overview of the area, allowing better tracking of persons of interest as well as visibility of hazards. Search and rescue (SAR) can also benefit from these platforms, as large areas of land or water can be covered in much less time than using other methods.

Surveying & Industrial Inspection

Long endurance drones can cover large areas in a single flight without having to return to base, making them highly cost- and time-effective for a wide variety of commercial and industrial applications. These include mapping and surveying, aerial inspection of roads, railways and powerlines, precision agriculture, and fault-finding in wind farms and offshore energy platforms.

Black Swift S2 Long Endurance Fixed Wing UAV
Black Swift S2 Long Endurance Fixed Wing UAV
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