How Far Can Drones Fly and What Happens When They Go Out of Range?

To perform a drone mission correctly, it is paramount to choose a drone with sufficient autonomy and remote control range. In this article, we dive further into how far drones can fly.
how far can drones fly

Whether you are a recreational user or you use a drone for professional purposes, it’s good to know how far can drones fly from the controller. How far can drones fly from the remote is determined by several factors. A toy drone will fly up to 100 meters, a hobby drone can reach 4 km, multi-rotor drones can fly up to 15 km, while fixed-wing drones have a significantly longer range – up to 600 km.

How Far Can Drones Fly – Understanding the Controller Range

When it comes to drones and their ranges, we should understand that there is no one-size-fits-all conclusion. Drones have a variety of sizes and shapes and thus have a different range they can reach while flying away from the controller. While a toy drone doesn’t have a great range, and it can not go farther than, let’s say, a football field, a mid-level commercial drone will cover a greater range.

Mid-Range Drone Distance Coverage

With the greater price range, the flight range increases exponentially. It is due to the signal strength of the controller, and you can expect a drone ranging from €150 to €500 to fly up to 4 or 5 km. However, their flight time can also significantly vary due to the material used for their build and the battery life. For instance, the DJI Phantom 3 Standard has a smart battery and a lightweight carbon fiber frame that allows for about 25 minutes of flight time.

So how far can drones fly when it comes to high-end models? Such drones offer serious capability in both flight range and flight times. A drone that can maintain a signal with its transmitter for 4 to almost 8 km costs between €800 and €1,500. That is likely much above the range at which you can often maintain a clear visual of the drone. This includes agriculture drones, different types of delivery drones, and a variety of search and rescue drones.  

A man holding a drone and its controller determining how far can drones fly

How Far Can Drones Fly – Examples

If you’re wondering how far can drones fly away from you when it comes to some of the more known models, here are some examples of the controller range in the table below.

Drone NameDistance CoverageDuration of Flight
Holy Stone HS210 Mini Drone50 meters7 minutes
SIMREX X300C Mini Drone45 meters8 minutes
Altair Outlaw SE400 meters15 minutes
Holy Stone HS720 Foldable GPS Drone1,000 meters26 minutes
DJI Mavic Mini4,000 meters20 minutes
DJI AGRAS T305,000 meters20.5 minutes
Autel Robotics EVO Drone7,000 meters30 minutes
DJI Matrice 307,000 meters41 minutes
DJI Phantom 4 Pro V2.08,000 meters30 minutes
Autel Robotics EVO II9,000 meters40 minutes
DJI Mini 210,000 meters31 minutes
DJI Mavic 2 Pro10,000 meters31 minutes
DJI Mavic 315,000 meters46 minutes
DJI Matrice 30015,000 meters55 minutes
WingtraOne Gen II2,500 meters54 minutes
AgEagle eBee55,000 meters90 minutes

Safety Protocols for Drones in the EU

Understanding the physical limitations of your drone model isn’t the only thing crucial for its flight limits. It’s also important to consider drone regulations, namely JARUS SORA when operating beyond visual line of sight, and everything that is implied when it comes to safety, privacy and security. 

The cornerstone of the EASA regulation is the emphasis placed on the Visual Line of Sight (VLOS). The regulation states that a drone operator must maintain direct visual contact with their drone throughout the flight in the EASA open category. This measure ensures that the drone avoids potential aerial collision while safeguarding individuals and properties on the ground.

Long-Range Drones and Their Different Uses

There is a wide variety of applications for long-range drones that can fly many kilometers away from the controller and out of the pilot’s line of sight. Due to the growing commercial demand for such drones, licensed operators can apply for a  SORA authorisation from the civil aviation authority to operate BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) drones. In this process, EASA may need to verify some aspects of the drone operation according to the EASA Drones Means of Compliance.  These long-range models offer several benefits, including the following:

  • In the agriculture sector,agriculture drones equipped with long battery life can handle field scouting using pre-planned flight paths. These drones are capable of covering distances several kilometers away from the controller in a single journey, ensuring that the entire field is covered without the need for multiple flights.
  • When it comes to mapping, drones prove to be incredibly efficient in covering large territories. They are capable of generating detailed three-dimensional maps, which can be a vital resource in various sectors.
  • Safety and security management are also greatly enhanced with the use of drones. They are optimal for overseeing large areas such as construction sites, prisons, or commercial warehouses. Additionally, they have become an essential tool for search and rescue operations .
  • The package delivery industry is also benefiting from the advancements in drone technology.  Delivery drones, such as the new DJI FlyCart 30, now can cover several miles, making the concept of drone deliveries a reality. The incorporation of automated flight planning has significantly reduced the necessity for constant operator surveillance.

Additionally, long-drone usage isn’t only limited to commercial purposes because hobbyists find great value in using them for recreational purposes. These drones offer a stronger and more reliable signal reception, even at closer ranges. It means they provide reduced video latency and stutter, which enhances the overall user experience.

Drone Autonomy and Its Impact on Flight Distance

It’s also important to mention the advancements in drone autonomy which is reshaping the landscape of how far drones can fly. These drones are equipped with intelligent navigation systems that allow them to follow predetermined flight paths without human intervention. They are programmed to analyze their surroundings, adapt to changes, and make decisions in real time.

In terms of regulations, the autonomy of drones is a fresh territory. As autonomous drones might fly Beyond the Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS), the existing guidelines might evolve to incorporate rules that specifically address the operation of such drones.

A drone flying over fields

Consequences of Drones Exceeding Their Operating Range

One of the more important questions, besides how far away can drones fly is what happens when they get out of range. When a drone goes out of range, it loses the connection with its controller, which can result in several possible outcomes. The most sophisticated drones are equipped with fail-safes, such as automatic return-to-home features. They will activate to bring the drone back to its launch point or another pre-determined location.

However, in cases where drones are not equipped with these features or if the fail-safes do not activate correctly, a drone going out of range can result in a crash or loss. Potentially, it could lead to property damage or other safety hazards. That is why maintaining a drone within its designated operating range is crucial for safe and responsible operation.

The following video might aid you if you find yourself in a situation where the drone goes out of range.

Taking Your Drone Operations to New Heights with UASolutions

If you’re gearing up to elevate your operations to the skies and require assistance with the authorization process, look no further. Contact UASolutions today – we can help you in regards to compliance with the open, specific or certified category, or crafting the necessary documentation. We are committed to democratizing access to the skies and fostering value for drone enthusiasts and professionals alike. Let’s venture into this exciting aerial frontier together – your pathway to seamless skyward expansion awaits.