UAV Launch & Recovery Systems

Find UAV Launch and Recovery System companies and suppliers of drone catapult launchers, for pneumatic, hydraulic or bungee-assisted launch of drones and fixed-wing UAV
Overview UAV Launch & Recovery Systems
By Staff Writer Last updated: April 29th, 2024

Launch and Recovery of Drones and UAVs

The launch and recovery of a UAV are potentially the most critical and demanding phases of the aircraft’s operation. For the largest fixed-wing UAVs, these operations will be limited to takeoff from and landing on a runway of sufficient length, constructed either on suitable ground or the deck of an aircraft carrier. Small to medium-sized fixed-wing aircraft have a wider variety of options, and multirotor/VTOL UAVs require very little space and usually no equipment at all to take off.

TruLaunch-T pneumtic launcher

CIRCOR TruLaunch-T Pneumtic Launcher

UAV Launchers

Fixed-wing UAVs generally need to be accelerated to a minimum controllable airspeed before achieving takeoff. Various launch methods can be employed that do not require the use of a fixed runway or large cleared area. The smallest and most lightweight UAVs can be thrown by hand, or launched with a handheld device, whereas larger aircraft will require a fixed rail launcher.

Pneumatic UAV Launching System
UKRSpecsystems Pneumatic UAV Launching System

Recovery Solutions for UAVs

Methods of recovering drones include net systems suspended between poles and attached to a system of purchase lines and shock absorbers. These are simple but risk damaging the UAV due to sudden deceleration. They are also unsuitable for UAVs with unshrouded propellers, as entanglement of the net may lead to damage of the net or to the propellers and engine of the aircraft.

To minimize the effect of impact with the ground or a body of water, UAVs may also be fitted with inflatable airbags or crushable “crumple zone” structures.

Protect UAV Parachute

Skygraphics Protect UAV Parachute

Parachute Recovery Systems

Parachute systems are a common recovery solution for UAVs, assuming sufficient space and carrying capacity to contain the packed parachute and deployment mechanism. Drone parachutes need to deploy to a sufficient distance so that they do not get entangled, especially on multicopters which may tumble on rotor failure due to inherent instability.

Drone parachute systems can be automated or pilot-triggered. Automated parachute systems need to detect the conditions required for deployment quickly and then trigger rapidly, especially those intended for flight over people. They will typically monitor for conditions such as freefall acceleration as well as low voltage.

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