The drones are one of the earliest aviation invention that goes back to Pre-World War when Austria used it to drop incendiary bomb on Venice. Since the introduction of drones to consumer market, we have witness rapid advancement in several aspects: size, portability and of course features. They are becoming easier to control, friendly and affordable. The likelihood of drones replacing helicopters and jets are becoming possible. Features such as control distance and intelligent flight modes are getting upgrades. All of these fancy tidbits are what transforms the drones that we see and know.
As the number of drones are being flown in the sky, it is imperative that we take measures to ensure flight safety for both unmanned and manned pilots. Federal Aviation Administration expects at least 1,600,000 commercial drones registered by 2021. Drones are one of the most affordable and accessible option for beginners to professionals. They are being used in for business purposes and of course in the law enforcement fields.
This spurs out a question whether the drones will replace helicopters and jets. The rapid technology advancement in drones suggests that it is likely. Because they are portable, cheaper, easy to control and you can turn them into anything you want. But, you will be surprised to learn that there are some aspects the helicopters and jets still have that the drones don’t. Despite the contrary belief that the drones are the future of modern world.
Some of the industry fields where the drones will not replace helicopters and jets for certain purposes that they can’t perform the tasks adequately. Of course, as long as the technology continue to evolve, we might see the drones becoming more and more capable of replacing their counterparts. But, like I said, there will be still uses for helicopters and jets, especially for firefighting and law enforcement. In this article, I am going to tell you reasons why the drones will not replace helicopters and jets. Once you see these reasons, I am going to provide you with counter points why drones will replace helicopters and jets in certain areas.
As of current, the farthest distance you can fly with a drone is limited at 4.3 miles. That the best drones you can buy such as Phantom 4 Pro (See Price), DJI Mavic Pro (See Price) and Inspire 2 (See Price). They all go up to 4.3 miles. But, anything beyond it and they stops right there. Suppose that you are engaged in a police car chase and the suspect happens to leave the precedent. Drone can’t follow that far due to signal limitations. So, you are pretty much stuck right there.
Although, the distance for drones will continue to improve. DJI, the top leading drone manufacturer recently announced Mavic 2 drone that has an incredible control range up to 5 miles. Which means the pilot can fly over larger area at great distance. But the drones will not replace helicopters and jets.
You know why?
The helicopters and jets have advantage over those who use drones for aerial overview. Controlling the drones are limited by several factors. What we are talking about: Line of Sight, Obstacles and Signals Interference. They are the enemy of remote pilots. Helicopters and jets don’t experience the same kind that remote pilots faces.
In a situation where a remote pilot is flying above the forest area, their range gets limited because the signals are bouncing off the trees. As of result, the drone gets less focused signals and that makes it harder to communicate with the remote controller.
Interference is another major factor that determines how far you can fly your drones. Some countries have developed laws that restricts how far you can fly. For instance, in the United States you are allowed to fly up to 4.3 miles. I am certain that distance will change once DJI Mavic 2 releases. In Europe countries, you only can fly up to 2 miles. Furthermore, the signal interference is much more common in Europe cities because they are more developed and concentrated.
Using the same signal frequency increases the likelihood of signal interference. So while the drones have limited flight range, the helicopters and jets can fly for miles free of interference and obstacles.
Long Flight Time
The best drones you can buy usually have a flight time between 25 to 30 minutes. These batteries uses Li-Po that operate with limited capacity. Like I mentioned that the drones don’t have far control range, the drones are also limited by its battery capacity. The remote pilot will need to bring at least few additional batteries to keep the drone running if the mission is going to take at least few hours or so.
What does that means for helicopters and jets? They operate on a large capacity of fuels that gives them hours of flight time. They can fly over great distance without the need to land and refill. Both can continue to provide aerial overview. But the drones have advantage over them.
The drones by nature are easy to control and they can stay in one spot. Which makes it very easy for them to provide a full and focused aerial overview of the mission. A helicopter that is flying over the building will have to make another circle in order to reacquire its target. With drones, you can easily keep track of the subject.
Delivers Larger Payload
The main difference between the drones and helicopters are its capability to carry payload. While it is a fact that the drones only can carry so much payload and still sustain itself. A helicopter can easily carry a large bucket filled with water and dump it over the wildfire. A jet can carry a truckload of sand and spread it across the forests to contain the wildfire.
But drones? They are amazing at performing search and rescue. In fact, they are being widely used in the law enforcement field to help police officers find missing people. A drone can easily navigate through forests and detect subjects quickly thanks to its nimble and easy to control features.
Furthermore, they can carry rope ladders, swimming tube and any support device to provide the person something to hold on until professionals arrives to rescue them. Doing with a helicopter is much more difficult. Consider the fact that it takes to start up a helicopter and requires high level of skill.
With a drone, it only takes few seconds and attach the supporting device. When it comes to comparing these aircraft capabilities to deliver the payload, the drones are much more successful at performing close range search and rescue missions. While helicopters and jets are much more successful at performing wide-range missions.
Better Resistance Against Winds
Most of the top-end drone models have a wind resistance up to 22.4 miles per hour. However, in certain cases if you push the drones into overdrive mode. They can slice through the winds with ease. But I don’t recommended you doing so because they are not built to withstand high wind speed due to its light weight. It also has less propulsion force compared to helicopters and jets.
As of a fact, the drone runaways are number one mistake a remote pilot can make. They decide to fly the drone too high. All of sudden it gets carried away by the wind. These type of situations can happen, but they are rare. With helicopters and jets, they are well designed and built to withstand heavy winds especially at high altitude and turbulence.
As I mentioned previously that it is possible to improve the drones resistance against winds. You will have to be willing to make at least few investments to upgrade your drones. That means, you will need to purchase high altitude propellers, improve the speed and power and of course adding few more weight onto the drone. Once you tweak it around, you are all set and it depends largely on your piloting skill to navigate the sky safely.
Takes You Anywhere You Want to Go
Everyone wants to have an aircraft that will takes them to places they want to go now. The helicopters and jets are already doing what the drones are still behind. In fact, there are several prototypes that are being developed to provide people an alternative methods to go to different places.
It will be at least few years before we see first commercial drone being used for transportation purpose. While they will be only able to carry few people, they are nowhere that close to carry that much people in the same space that helicopters and jets can do.
Furthermore, the chance that drones being used for transportation will be limited by how long it can run. So it is likely it only can run for few hours before the pilot needs to land and recharge. Moreover, it requires a lot of power to support the drones to maintain it at stable level. Especially for multi-rotor commercial drones.
The Uber’s flight plan to introduce drones for commercial purpose looks like it will be a new way to get across at cheap and affordable rate. It will takes at least few years before the drones will replace helicopters for low-level flight transportation.
Will Drones Replace Helicopters and Jets?
If these reasons are good enough to convince you that the drones will not replace helicopters and jets. You might want to take a look at how the drones will replace helicopters and jets in different aspects. As more industries are starting to use drones to achieve their goals at an affordable rate. The drones are cheaper, easier to use and very adaptable.
In fact, the drones can basically be used for any purposes. Whether it is the farmers who needs help managing their crops. There are certain drones that are built and capable of handling these tasks. In the business world, some companies hire private guards with security drones which is capable of flashing light and have enhanced zoom camera.
The possibility of drones replacing the helicopters and jets are limitless. What we can’t do with helicopters and jets, we use them on the drones. In this part, I am going to tell you how the drones will replace helicopters and jets. As I mentioned previously, these aircraft comes with their own advantages and disadvantages. Yet, the drones are showing no limitations as they are being continued to improve each year.
Drones Are Adaptable
Whether you need a drone for farming purpose, inspecting the roof or to capture beautiful aerial photography. Powerful camera drones such as Inspire 2 (See Price) comes with a wide selection of mountable cameras. You can even choose type of camera you need for certain missions.
For instance a firefighter will need a drone with thermal camera that can see through the smoke. The drones are perfect choice because they are smaller and can stay in one spot. Which means the drones will be able to continue providing a complete focus of the mission. The remote pilot will be able to communicate and rely all the information back to the ground-based units so they can make critical decisions.
Helicopters on the other hand are limited. They can locate and track the building. But they can’t stay at one spot. So if they happen to make a circle, they will have to go back and relocate the subject. Not to mention that hiring a helicopter pilot is much more expensive and ineffective compared to a remote pilot. A helicopter might not have everything that a drone can do.
Having drones means the remote pilot can actually get up close and provide way more details with precise. The cameras mounted on the drones are incredible powerful and can catch every little bit of details possible. Furthermore, there are apps that can transform these drones into powerful tool for data gathering and mapping the area. The apps can be easily download on your smartphone and you connect it with your drone. Moreover, these apps only takes few seconds to start up to what will make the drones an indispensable flying tool for many fields.
Easier to Control
Another great reason why the drones will replace helicopters and jets. A brief history lesson for you. When the drones were first introduced to the consumer market. They were very expensive and were widely purchased by the rich and professional pilots. Also, not to forget to mention that the old model of drones were much harder to control. They weren’t designed to be used for beginners in mind. But with the recent technology advancement, the drones are designed to be used by both beginners and professionals.
They are becoming increasingly friendly with professional appearance. Yet, they are easy to fly thanks to built-in flight safety controls. Over the time, the drones have significant upgrades that determines how easy it is control. For instance, a drone with builtin 6-axis gyro stabilization system and a GPS/GLONASS system is easier to control than a 4-axis gyro drone. The drones that takes advantage of GPS/GLONASS system helps with its stability.
The change in the way how the drones are being flown has impact on several industries. Furthermore, the fact that they can be easily controlled makes it appealing for many purposes. They are safer to fly. They don’t pose any threats and reduces the likelihood of mistakes. Moreover, they gives amazing opportunities for remote pilot to perform at much close range with precise and accurate that wasn’t possible with helicopters and jets.
The drones are truly an amazing piece of technology that have incredible capability to bring a lot of features. Today drone technology is focused on making the drones smaller, portable and compact enough to be carried around. When foldability was first introduced, some people were skeptical that portable drone will come at the cost of reduced features. However, DJI, the lead drone manufacturer has been proving them wrong every time.
The DJI Mavic Air (See Price) is the perfect example of a drone with amazing set of features. You can perform intelligent flight modes and preset flight paths. It is portable and advanced enough to fly almost on its own. Moreover, it comes with built-in flight navigation safety system such as smart return to home and automatic landing / takeoff.
Each little part of features that helps the drones automates, gathers data and deliver at pristine quality is what makes them incredible tool. As long as the drones continue to get upgraded with more and more features. It is possible that we will see drones replacing helicopters and jets in most aspects. Such as for instance, a drone might be useful in a hostage crisis due to its ability to map out the building and develop route for the team. Also, the drone will have the option to be equipped with a zoom camera for close view at a stationary position.
Did I mentioned that the drones are affordable? You would be surprised to see how much they cost when shopping for the right drones. Depending on what type of drones you are looking for. If you are looking for specifically toy-grade drones, good quality ones such as MJX Bugs 2 (See Price) and HS160 Shadow (See Price) usually goes under $100 to $200. But for more advanced drones such as Autel X-Star Premium (See Price), they can cost just a shy above $1,000.
That comes with camera, a huge amount of features and set of accessories included. Some of them also come with a hard case, which is definitely a nice bonus! Basically if you are looking to start your own aerial business. You don’t need to own a helicopter in order to do so. In fact, you actually can start off with a low-priced drone but quite powerful like the famed DJI Mavic Air (See Price).
With the right skill set and efforts, you can turn the drones into money-making generator. Best of all? They don’t require that much of resources to maintain and to start flying. Whenever you see something that you want to capture, all you have to do is press power on and start flying. Simple as that it is.
Drones Are The Future
While there are definitely at least some aspects that the drones will not replace helicopters and jets. The drones have several advantages in terms of features, portability and low price tag. Introduction of drones are making the ways for several major industries to incorporate them into everyday business operations.
The rapid technology advancement of drones have led to some people thinking that they will replace helicopters and jets. But in reality, we will still have to use helicopters and jets at least several more decades before they become obsolete to another rising technology. To put this in a certain way, the drones are great for short distance, the ability to operate remotely and provide additional performance capabilities that otherwise isn’t available.
Helicopters and jets are great for covering long distance and carrying more payload to provide support such as clearing the wildfires with bucket of water. Even though so, the drones are slowly becoming the future of industries. Thanks to their incredible features and several tools that turns them into automated device that performs the job for the pilot.
Do you think drones will ever replace helicopters and jets anytime in the near future? If so, let us know in the comment section below. We are looking forward to having a conversation with you.