In vast and rugged environments, tackling mapping or surveillance on a large scale can be quite a challenge. What you need is a professional drone that can endure harsh conditions, offer stability, and cover long distances without breaking a sweat. 

That's where fixed-wing drones step in, providing the ultimate solution for professionals seeking reliability and high-flying performance.

In this article, we'll be your expert guide to fixed-wing drones. We'll explore their unique features, advantages, and disadvantages, as well as their components and efficient designs.

Alright, let’s jump right into it.

JOUAV CW-15 - Best fixed wing drone for mapping and surveillance

JOUAV CW-15 UAV

What is a Fixed Wing Drone and How does it Work?

What is a Fixed Wing Drone and How does it Work?

Let's start with the basics. A fixed-wing drone is basically an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with wings that stay fixed during its flight, just like a regular airplane. Instead of relying on rotating propellers like those quadcopters, fixed-wing drones use their aerodynamic wings to generate lift passively.

How Fixed Wing Drones Stay Airborne?

Now, what makes fixed-wing drones soar gracefully through the skies is the unique shape of their wings, known as an "airfoil". The magic happens when the drone moves forward. The wings create a low-pressure area on the upper surface and a high-pressure area on the lower surface, generating a lift that lifts the drone up into the air.

During the flight, there are four crucial forces at play: lift, gravity, thrust, and drag. Lift is what counters gravity, while thrust counters drag, creating a state of equilibrium that keeps the drone airborne.

How fixed wing drones stay airborne?

How Fixed Wing Drones Maneuver?

But flying isn't just about going straight ahead - it's also about maneuvering in different directions. That's where the three primary movements come into play: roll, pitch, and yaw

  • Roll tilts the wings right or left
  • Pitch changes the nose angle for climbing or descending
  • Yaw turns the nose right or left.

These movements allow the drone to navigate through the skies with precision and finesse.

To pull off these maneuvers, fixed-wing drones use three control surfaces: Aileron, rudder, and elevators

  • Ailerons are responsible for managing the roll
  • The rudder controls the yaw
  • Elevators handle the pitch

With this well-coordinated aerodynamics and control system, fixed-wing drones can perform a variety of tasks with ease, from mapping large areas to carrying out important rescue missions.

How fixed wing drones maneuver

Fixed Wing Drone vs. Rotary UAVs

Fixed Wing vs. Rotary Drones

Now, you might be wondering, how do these fixed-wing drones compare to those fancy rotary UAVs we often see? Well, it's like comparing apples and oranges – they both have their strengths and quirks!

A comparison between fixed-wing and multirotor UAVs:

CapabilityFixed-wing UAVsRotary UAVs
SpeedHighLow
Flight timeHighLow
CoverageLargeSmall

Object

resolution

Cm/inch per

pixel

mm per pixel

Take-off and

landing area

LargeVery small

Landing in case of power

failure

Can land safely without power

Can result in complete damage

of UAV

Wind resistanceHighLow
Skill required to flyHighLow
ProjectsLarge area mappingSmall area mapping, Machine and industrial plant monitoring, Indoor inspection
ApplicationsLand surveying, Agriculture, Mining, Environmental, Humanitarian, etc.Inspection, Urban survey, Construction sites, Emergency response, Law enforcement, Transport of medicines and light goods, Cinematography and videography, etc.

Anatomy and Flight:

Fixed Wing Drones: Fixed-wing drones resemble miniature airplanes with wings that remain stationary during flight. Their design enables them to generate lift, allowing for sustained and efficient forward motion. They require a runway or a catapult launch for takeoff and typically land with the aid of landing gear or a parachute.

Rotary UAVs: In contrast, rotary UAVs, also known as multirotor drones, employ multiple rotors (usually four, six, or eight) to achieve lift and control. The rotors create lift and enable vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), allowing them to hover in a stationary position and maneuver with greater agility in confined spaces.

Endurance and Range:

Fixed Wing Drones: One of the significant advantages of fixed-wing drones lies in their exceptional endurance and range. Their aerodynamic design and energy-efficient flight allow them to cover vast distances for extended periods, making them ideal for mapping, surveying, and surveillance missions that demand long-duration flights.

Rotary UAVs: While rotary UAVs offer versatility and agility in short-range operations, their endurance and range are limited due to the power required to maintain hovering flight. They are better suited for tasks that involve closer inspection, real-time monitoring, or operations in confined environments.

Payload Capacity:

Fixed Wing Drones: Thanks to their larger size and efficient lift capabilities, fixed-wing drones boast higher payload capacities. They can carry advanced sensors, high-resolution cameras, LiDAR systems, and even scientific instruments, making them indispensable tools for various professional applications.

Rotary UAVs: Rotary UAVs have relatively smaller payload capacities compared to fixed-wing drones due to their design limitations. While they can still carry lightweight cameras and sensors, their carrying capacity might be more limited for heavy or specialized equipment.

Skill Requirements:

Fixed Wing Drones: Operating fixed-wing drones often requires more expertise and piloting skills, especially during takeoff and landing. Pilots need to be well-versed in flight planning and navigation, ensuring smooth missions over long distances.

Rotary UAVs: Rotary UAVs are generally easier to fly and do not require as much space for takeoff and landing. They are suitable for pilots with varying skill levels, including beginners and hobbyists.

Environmental Adaptability:

Fixed Wing Drones: Fixed-wing drones perform exceptionally well in open areas and high-altitude regions. They are ideal for missions in challenging terrains and adverse weather conditions, such as windy environments.

Rotary UAVs: Rotary UAVs shine in urban environments and areas with limited space for takeoff and landing. They excel in tasks that involve close proximity to structures, making them preferred choices for inspections and search-and-rescue operations in confined spaces.

Fixed-wing drones offer superior endurance, long-range capabilities, and larger payload capacities, making them ideal for mapping, surveillance, and large-scale applications. On the other hand, rotary UAVs provide agility, VTOL capabilities, and ease of operation, making them suitable for close-range inspections and maneuvers in urban environments.

Pros and Cons of Fixed Wing Drone

Pros and Cons of Fixed Wing Drone

Right now, let's break it down to the good stuff and the not-so-good stuff about these fixed-wing wonders.

AdvantagesDisadvantages

1.  Long Endurance: Fixed-wing drones can stay airborne for extended periods, making them ideal for missions that require vast area coverage and prolonged flight times.

2. Efficient Flight: Their efficient aerodynamics enable high-speed flights and reduced energy consumption, maximizing flight efficiency.

3. Payload Capacity: Fixed-wing drones typically have a higher payload capacity, allowing them to carry advanced cameras, sensors, and equipment for specialized applications.

4.  Stability: Fixed-wing drones offer superior stability during flight, providing smooth and steady footage for aerial photography and videography.

5.  Long Range: With their high speed and endurance, fixed-wing drones can cover large distances in a single flight, opening up possibilities for various applications.

1.  Runway or Launcher needed for Take-Off and Landing: To launch and land fixed-wing drones, you'll require a runway or a catapult to send them into the sky, and for safe retrieval, either a runway, parachute or net can be used at the end.

2. No VTOL or Hovering Ability: They lack vertical take-off and landing capabilities and precise hovering, making them less suitable for tight spaces or tasks requiring hovering.

3. Steep Learning Curve: Flying fixed-wing drones can be more challenging, requiring more training and practice for smooth and stable flights.

4.  Higher Cost: Fixed-wing drones are generally more expensive than rotary UAVs, especially with advanced features and long-range capabilities.

While fixed-wing drones excel in certain areas, such as extended flight times and efficient coverage of large areas, they might seem limited when it comes to vertical takeoff and landing. However, the JOUAV CW-15 bridges this gap with its innovative VTOL capabilities. With the ability to transition smoothly from fixed-wing flight to vertical takeoff, the CW-15 offers the best of both worlds – allowing it to access even challenging or confined spaces.

The Perfect Fusion of Versatility and Endurance in a Drone

Meet the JOUAV CW-15, a drone that seamlessly blends the strengths of fixed-wing and rotary models. With vertical takeoff and landing capability, you enjoy the agility of rotary drones without compromising on endurance. Picture 180 minutes of uninterrupted flight covering an expansive 50 km range – ideal for extensive survey missions. Carrying up to 3 kg, this drone effortlessly handles your payload needs.

No need to worry about complexity; the JOUAV CW-15 retains the user-friendly nature of multi-rotors. Whether navigating tough terrains, windy conditions, or urban environments, the JOUAV CW-15 excels.

Don't hesitate - inquire today and elevate your operations with JOUAV!

Key Components of Fixed-Wing Drones and Their Functions

Key Components of Fixed-Wing Drones and Their Functions

The key components responsible for their efficient flight and propulsion are crucial to understanding. In this part, we will delve into the fundamental propulsion components of fixed-wing drones and their functions.

Propellers

Propellers are one of the primary components of fixed-wing drones. These rotating blades are responsible for generating thrust by creating a pressure difference between the front and back surfaces of the blades. The propellers convert the rotational motion of the motor into forward thrust, enabling the drone to move through the air. The size, pitch, and number of blades significantly impact the drone's performance, including its speed, payload capacity, and flight endurance.

CW-30E fixed wing propellers

Motor

The motor is another crucial component of fixed-wing drones. It drives the propellers by converting electrical energy from the battery into mechanical energy, resulting in the rotational movement of the propellers. Choosing the appropriate motor is essential as it affects the drone's power output and overall flight characteristics. Factors like motor type (brushed or brushless), kV rating, and efficiency are important considerations when selecting a motor for a fixed-wing drone.

ESC (Electronic Speed Controller)

The Electronic Speed Controller, or ESC, acts as an intermediary between the flight controller and the motor. It regulates the speed and direction of the motor by adjusting the current flow based on the flight controller's instructions. ESCs play a critical role in ensuring smooth and precise control of the drone's propulsion system. They also contribute to energy efficiency, as they help optimize the motor's power consumption during flight.

ESC for fixed wing drone

Flight Controller (FC)

The flight controller is the brain of the fixed-wing drone. It is an onboard electronic device equipped with sensors, gyroscopes, and accelerometers that continuously monitor the drone's orientation, position, and movement. The flight controller processes data from these sensors and, in real-time, makes adjustments to stabilize the drone, maintain level flight, and execute flight commands. It also enables advanced flight modes and autonomous operations, making it a critical component for both manual and automated flight.

JOUAV Flight controller

Radio Transmitter

The radio transmitter is the handheld device used by the drone pilot or operator to control the drone remotely. It sends radio signals to the drone, relaying flight commands such as pitch, roll, yaw, throttle, and auxiliary functions. The transmitter communicates with the drone's radio receiver, allowing the pilot to maintain full control over the drone during its flight. Range, signal strength, and the number of available channels are essential factors to consider when selecting a suitable radio transmitter for a fixed-wing drone.

Radio Receiver

The radio receiver is a component installed on the fixed-wing drone that receives signals from the radio transmitter. It relays these signals to the flight controller, which then interprets the pilot's commands and adjusts the drone's flight accordingly. Reliable communication between the radio transmitter and receiver is crucial to ensure safe and precise control of the fixed-wing drone, especially when operating over long distances or in challenging environments.

Battery

The battery serves as the primary power source for fixed-wing drones. It provides electrical energy to the motor, flight controller, and other electronic components. The choice of the battery directly impacts the drone's flight endurance, payload capacity, and overall performance. Lithium polymer (LiPo) batteries are commonly used due to their high energy density and power-to-weight ratio.

CW-15 smart battery

Payload

The payload refers to any additional equipment or sensors carried by the fixed-wing drone for specific applications. This can include cameras for aerial photography, LiDAR systems for mapping, multispectral sensors for agriculture, and more. The payload capacity of a fixed-wing drone depends on its design, motor power, and aerodynamics. Proper consideration of the payload is essential to ensure the drone's flight stability and performance while carrying the additional weight.

Frame and Shell

The frame and shell form the physical structure of the fixed-wing drone. The frame provides the necessary support and stability to house all the components securely. It is typically constructed from lightweight materials such as carbon fiber or durable plastics to minimize weight and enhance aerodynamics. The shell, also known as the fuselage, not only protects the internal components but also contributes to the drone's aerodynamic efficiency.

GPS Technology

GPS (Global Positioning System) technology plays a crucial role in fixed-wing drone navigation and position tracking. GPS modules provide accurate positioning data, allowing the flight controller to implement waypoint navigation, return-to-home functions, and geofencing features. This technology enables autonomous flight, precise surveying, and mapping applications. It is particularly valuable for fixed-wing drones that cover large areas and require precise location information during their missions.

Fixed-wing drones consist of vital components for smooth operation. The JOUAV CW-15 takes it a step further with an open architecture and unified application control interface. This enables customizable load applications for various purposes. The CW-15 is more than just a drone; it's a versatile partner with obstacle avoidance, ensuring safety from takeoff to landing. This advanced system helps the CW-15 navigate, avoiding hazards in real time for secure operations. Additionally, a binocular intelligent landing.

General Fixed Wing Designs and Shapes

General Fixed Wing Designs and Shapes

Fixed-wing drones come in various configurations to suit diverse needs and applications. Here are some of the popular drone types available in the market:

Conventional Fixed-Wing Drones

These drones have a familiar airplane-like appearance with a fuselage, wings, and a tail section. The fuselage is usually tubular or streamlined, housing the payload, avionics, and propulsion system. The wings are typically long and straight, attached to the sides of the fuselage, and they provide lift. A horizontal tailplane with elevators and a vertical tail fin with a rudder are located at the rear of the drone. This design offers stability and control, making it a popular choice for various applications.

Conventional fixed-wing drones are versatile and used in a wide range of applications, including aerial photography, surveillance, agriculture, mapping, and even cargo delivery.

Flying Wing (Delta Wing) Drones

Flying wing drones have a unique appearance, with no distinct fuselage and the wings blending seamlessly into the body. The wings are often swept back in a delta-wing configuration, resembling a triangle. These drones lack a tail fin and horizontal tailplane, instead relying on advanced flight control systems for stability and maneuverability.

These drones are commonly used for high-speed reconnaissance, surveillance, and research purposes. Their streamlined design allows them to achieve higher speeds and longer ranges. They are also explored for their potential in autonomous cargo delivery due to their efficient design.

Canard Wing Drones

Canard drones have a distinct layout with a smaller wing, called a canard, positioned near the front of the aircraft, followed by the main wing closer to the middle or rear. The canard provides stability and control, while the main wing generates lift. This design allows for better maneuverability and control authority.

Canard drones are useful for tasks such as combat missions and target designation due to their improved agility and responsiveness. They are also seen in research and experimentation, where unique aerodynamic behaviors are of interest.

Blended Wing Drones

Blended wing drones have a more integrated and smooth design, where the fuselage and wings blend into each other, creating a seamless shape. There might not be a distinct boundary between the fuselage and wings. This design reduces drag and increases overall aerodynamic efficiency.

Fixed Wing Drone Tail Design

Fixed Wing Drone Tail Design

The tail design of a fixed-wing drone plays a crucial role in its stability, control, and maneuverability during flight. There are several common tail designs used in fixed-wing drones, each with its own advantages and applications. Let's explore some of the most popular tail designs:

Conventional Tail 

The conventional tail design is the most widely used tail configuration in fixed-wing drones. It consists of a vertical stabilizer (vertical fin) and a horizontal stabilizer (horizontal tailplane) attached to the rear of the fuselage. The vertical stabilizer helps stabilize the drone's yaw (left and right) movement, while the horizontal stabilizer controls its pitch (up and down) movement. This design offers good stability and control and is commonly used in various fixed-wing drone applications, from hobbyist models to professional surveying drones.

Fixed wing conventional tail design

V-Tail or Butterfly Tail

The V-tail, also known as a "butterfly tail," combines the functions of the vertical and horizontal stabilizers into two diagonal surfaces that form a V-shape. The V-tail serves as both rudders (for yaw control) and elevators (for pitch control). This design simplifies the drone's structure and reduces drag, making it popular in fixed-wing drones designed for speed and efficiency, such as long-endurance drones and military reconnaissance UAVs.

V-tail fixed wing drone

T-Tail

The T-tail design positions the horizontal stabilizer at the top of the vertical stabilizer, creating a T-shaped configuration. This design keeps the elevators away from the propeller's airflow, reducing turbulence and ensuring better control authority during flight. T-tails are commonly found in fixed-wing drones intended for long-range missions, as they provide improved stability and control at higher altitudes.

CW-20 fixed wing T-Tail design

Cruciform Tail

The cruciform tail design, showcased in JOUAV's CW-15 and CW-007 drones, merges conventional and T-tail designs to enhance stability and efficiency. This exclusive layout not only lessens stress on the fuselage but also boosts aerodynamic efficiency. This results in effective lower tail performance even at steep approach angles, ensuring superb stability and control. This configuration is favored in fixed-wing drones crafted for aerial photography, surveillance, and mapping.

CW-007 fixed wing tail design

Twin Tail or H-Tail

The twin fin tail design features two vertical stabilizers placed at the outer edges of the drone's tail section. This configuration enhances yaw stability and control, making it suitable for fixed-wing drones operating in challenging and windy conditions.

CW-15X Twin Fin Tail Design

Common Applications of Fixed Wing Drones

Common Applications of Fixed Wing Drones

As technology continues to advance, fixed-wing drones find applications across various industries and sectors. In this section, we will show the most common applications of fixed-wing drones.

Aerial Surveying and Mapping

Fixed-wing drones have revolutionized the field of aerial surveying and mapping. With advanced features such as high-resolution cameras, LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) sensors, and GPS capabilities, these drones are capable of collecting precise geospatial data for cartography, land surveying, and 3D mapping

The efficiency of fixed-wing mapping drones allows surveyors and cartographers to cover vast areas quickly and accurately, making them ideal for large-scale infrastructure and environmental assessments.

Fixed wing drone for mapping

Surveillance and Security

Fixed-wing drones have become invaluable tools for surveillance and security applications. Equipped with high-quality cameras and video transmission systems, these drones can monitor large areas from the sky, providing real-time situational awareness to security personnel. Their ability to fly at higher altitudes for extended periods makes them effective for border patrol, critical infrastructure surveillance, and monitoring of public events.

Fixed wing drone for surveillance

Construction and Infrastructure Inspection

In the construction and infrastructure industry, fixed-wing drones are utilized for conducting aerial inspections of buildings, bridges, pipelines, and other structures. Their stable flight characteristics allow for detailed and stable imagery or video capture, enabling engineers and inspectors to identify potential issues, monitor construction progress, and assess the condition of hard-to-reach assets safely and cost-effectively.

Fixed wing drone for construction

Agriculture and Crop Monitoring

Fixed-wing drones have found essential applications in modern agriculture for crop monitoring and management. Equipped with multispectral or thermal sensors, these drones can assess plant health, detect pests or diseases, and optimize irrigation and fertilizer usage. The efficiency and coverage capabilities of fixed-wing agriculture drones make them particularly useful for monitoring large farms and optimizing crop yields.

Fixed wing drone for agriculture and crop monitoring

Search and Rescue

High-endurance fixed-wing drones, including advanced thermal drones, play a critical role in search and rescue operations. These SAR drones can cover large areas and remote terrains, aiding search teams in locating missing individuals or assessing disaster-stricken areas. Equipped with thermal imaging cameras and other sensors, fixed-wing drones can spot heat signatures and provide vital information to rescue teams, improving the chances of successful outcomes.

Emergency Response

Fixed-wing drones are increasingly deployed in emergency response scenarios. During natural disasters or other emergencies, they can provide real-time aerial imagery and data to first responders and aid agencies, facilitating better decision-making and resource allocation. Their rapid deployment and ability to operate in challenging conditions make them indispensable tools for disaster management and relief efforts.

Fixed wing drone for emergency response

Wildlife and Environmental Monitoring

Conservationists and environmental researchers utilize fixed-wing drones to monitor wildlife populations and assess environmental changes. These drones can survey remote and sensitive habitats without causing a disturbance, helping to study animal behavior, track migratory patterns, and monitor the impact of human activities on natural ecosystems.

Fixed wing drone for wildlife monitoring

Fixed-wing drones find applications across industries, from agriculture to surveillance. The JOUAV CW-15, with its user-defined load application development and open architecture, becomes an adaptable solution for a wide range of tasks.

Revolutionize Industrial Operations with the JOUAV CW-15 VTOL Drone

Fixed-wing drones find their place in numerous applications, but few can match the versatility of the JOUAV CW-15.

Whether it's rugged terrain inspections, agricultural monitoring, or search and rescue missions, the CW-15's adaptive design opens doors to a plethora of possibilities. Its VTOL capabilities, combined with the ability to define custom load applications, make it a go-to solution for professionals seeking flexibility without compromise.

Maximize your efficiency and accuracy – inquire about the CW-15 today!

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Fixed Wing Drone

Key Factors to Consider When Choosing a Fixed Wing Drone

Choosing the right fixed-wing drone can be a daunting task, given the variety of options available in the market. To ensure you make an informed decision, it is essential to consider several key factors that align with your specific needs and requirements. 

Flight Range and Endurance

The flight range and endurance of a fixed-wing drone are crucial for maximizing its efficiency and productivity. A long-range drone allows you to cover more extensive areas without interruptions, while increased endurance ensures longer data collection or exploration sessions. This is particularly beneficial for aerial photographers, surveyors, and mappers who need to cover vast territories or conduct prolonged missions.

Prioritize fixed-wing drones with a flight range of at least 10 kilometers and an endurance of 1 hour or more to get the most out of your aerial operations.

Payload Capacity and Versatility

The payload capacity of a fixed-wing drone determines its adaptability to different tasks and industries. A drone with suitable payload capacity ensures you can integrate the necessary sensors and cameras without compromising flight performance.

Opt for fixed-wing drones with payload capacities ranging from 1 to 5 kilograms (2.2 to 11 lbs) to accommodate a wide range of sensors, cameras, and other payloads required for your specific tasks.

Payload for fixed wing drone

Fixed Wing Frame and Shell Materials

Durability and aerodynamics play a crucial role in the overall performance and longevity of a fixed-wing drone. Robust frame materials, such as carbon fiber or composite materials, ensure that the drone can withstand accidental impacts and challenging weather conditions. Aerodynamic designs contribute to improved stability and fuel efficiency during flights, enhancing the drone's overall performance.

Opt for fixed-wing drones featuring carbon fiber or composite frames and aerodynamically optimized designs to ensure long-lasting and efficient operation.

Autonomous Features

Automation is a game-changer in the world of fixed-wing drones, simplifying operations and enhancing flight precision. An autonomous drone with advanced features like GPS-based waypoint navigation, follow-me mode, and return-to-home functions not only makes flight planning more straightforward but also adds an extra layer of safety to your missions.

Choose fixed-wing drones equipped with comprehensive autonomous features to streamline your flights and ensure a secure experience.

autonomous fixed wing drone

GPS and Navigation

GPS technology is fundamental for accurate positioning, stable flight paths, and precise mapping. It's a critical component in fixed-wing drones that ensures the UAV stays on course and returns safely. A high-quality GPS system, coupled with integration with other sensors, contributes to the drone's overall reliability and performance.

Verify that the fixed-wing drone has a reliable GPS module and supports dual-frequency GNSS for the most precise positioning and navigation.

Hybrid VTOL Capabilities

For those who require the flexibility of vertical take-offs and landings, fixed-wing drones with hybrid VTOL capabilities are the ideal solution. These drones combine the advantages of both fixed-wing and multirotor UAVs, making them versatile for various missions, especially in confined spaces.

When it's time to select the perfect fixed-wing drone for your needs, factors like endurance, range, and payload capacity naturally come to mind. The CW-15 VTOL drone from JOUAV, with its impressive 180-minute endurance, 50km range, and 3kg payload capacity, easily checks all the right boxes.

Examples of Fixed-Wing Drones

Examples of Fixed Wing Drones: Hobby and Professional Use

The fixed-wing drone market offers a wide array of options designed to cater to both hobby flying and professional applications. Here's a comparison table highlighting the key differences between hobby fixed-wing drones and professional fixed wing drones:

AspectHobby Fixed-Wing DroneProfessional Fixed-Wing Drone
FocusFlight range and timeData collection and analysis
Typical UseAerial photography, FPV racing, etc.Mapping, surveying, agriculture, etc.
Flight TimeLimited (around 20-30 minutes)Extended (often exceeding an hour)
Payload and SensorsBasic cameras or action camerasAdvanced cameras, LiDAR, specialized sensors
Stability and AutonomySimplified flight control systemsAdvanced flight control and navigation
CostMore affordableMore expensive due to advanced features

Hobbyist fixed-wing drones are designed for recreational flying and typically have a user-friendly setup. They are commonly used for aerial photography, video recording, and exploring scenic landscapes. Popular brands in this category include the Parrot FPV Disco, DJI fixed-wing drone series, and the Hubsan H301S Spy Hawk fixed-wing drone. These drones offer an excellent entry point into the world of fixed-wing flight.

Professional fixed-wing drones, on the other hand, are geared towards industrial applications, including surveying, mapping, agriculture, and surveillance. Brands such as the Sensefly eBee X are prominent in this segment. These drones boast advanced features, higher payload capacities, and increased endurance for extended flight times.

However, the hand launch process of professional fixed wing drones can be risky, especially for inexperienced users, and may result in accidents that could harm both the operator and the drone itself. Additionally, the belly taxiing landing approach might cause potential damage to the drone and its camera during landing operations.

Transition to a VTOL Mode from Fixed Wing

Transition to a VTOL Mode from Fixed Wing: VTOL vs. Fixed Wing Drone

The changing conversation in the drone industry has shifted toward VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) drones as a compelling alternative to traditional fixed-wing drones. VTOL drones offer several advantages that bridge the gap between fixed-wing and multirotor drones, expanding their potential applications.

One major advantage of VTOL drones is their ability to operate in confined spaces without the need for runways. They can be deployed in mountainous areas, complex mines, and dense forests, where fixed-wing drones would face challenges.

The hovering capabilities of VTOL drones such as JOUAV CW-15 are particularly beneficial for industries like construction and infrastructure. They can safely inspect dangerous spaces without risking human lives, using video cameras or other sensors for detailed inspections.

Rapid deployment is another key strength of VTOL drones, making them invaluable in emergency response scenarios. These drones can quickly take off and reach inaccessible or hazardous areas, providing vital information and support.

VTOL drones are also more maneuverable than fixed-wing counterparts, thanks to their ability to adjust rotor speed, thrust, and torque. Even novice pilots can gain confidence in flying VTOL drones after minimal training.

Now, let's dive into a product comparison to give you a better idea of what's out there. We have two specific drones on the table: the JOUAV CW-15 VTOL drone and the Sensefly eBee X fixed-wing drone. 

JOUAV CW-15 VTOL drone vs. eBee X fixed wing drone

Comparison of Hybrid VTOL Fixed Wing Drones with Other Types

Comparison of Hybrid VTOL Fixed Wing Drones with Other Types

Hybrid VTOL fixed-wing drones, quadcopter and multicopter drones, and single-rotor drones all have their unique advantages and are suited for different applications. Let's compare them in terms of certain key factors

Comparison of Hybrid VTOL Fixed Wing Drones with Other Types

VTOL Fixed Wing Drones vs. Quadcopter and Multicopter Drones

Quadcopter and multicopter drones have gained widespread popularity due to their ease of use and stability during flight. However, they are often limited in terms of flight duration and payload capacity. This limitation stems from the energy-intensive nature of maintaining a multi-rotor configuration airborne.

VTOL fixed-wing drones, on the other hand, strike the perfect balance between the advantages of fixed-wing and multi-rotor drones. They inherit the efficiency of fixed-wing flight for long-range missions while retaining the ability to hover and maneuver in confined spaces. This makes VTOL drones ideal for applications such as aerial surveys, mapping, and search-and-rescue operations, where flexibility and endurance are paramount.

VTOL Fixed Wing Drones vs. Single Rotor Drones

Single-rotor drones, often referred to as helicopter drones excel in their ability to hover and perform precise maneuvers. They find applications in various industries, including aerial photography, filmmaking, and surveillance.

Nevertheless, VTOL fixed-wing drones outperform single rotor drones in terms of speed and range. Due to their fixed-wing design, they can achieve higher cruising speeds, making them more suitable for covering expansive areas quickly. Additionally, their vertical takeoff and landing capabilities allow them to operate in challenging terrains and tight spaces, further expanding their usability in a wide range of scenarios.

Different Types of Hybrid Fixed Wing Drone

Different Types of Hybrid Fixed Wing Drone: Quadplane vs. Tail-Sitter

When it comes to hybrid fixed wing drones, there are two popular types that stand out: quadplanes and tail-sitter UAVs. Both have their own unique features and advantages for different applications.

Quadplanes are drones that combine the flight capabilities of quadrotors and fixed-wing aircraft. One major advantage of quadplanes is their ability to perform belly landings. This means they can land on their belly, which improves stability during takeoff and landing, especially in windy conditions. This feature allows them to maintain a stable position close to the ground, reducing the effects of wind gusts. It also reduces the risk of damage to the drone, making quadplanes a reliable choice for windy environments.

CW-25E

Quadplanes also have great maneuverability and control due to their quadrotor configuration. They can hover in a stationary position, which makes them versatile for different flight scenarios. At the same time, their fixed-wing mode ensures improved efficiency and longer flight times, enabling them to cover larger distances.

In contrast, tail-sitter UAVs have their own advantages and considerations. However, compared to quadplanes, they may be less maneuverable and more easily affected by wind during takeoff and landing. Their vertical orientation during these phases makes them sensitive to crosswinds, which can impact stability and require careful piloting.

WingtraOne Gen II tail-sitter VTOL drone

Here's a specific product comparison table between the JOUAV CW-15 quadplane and the WingtraOne Gen II tail-sitter:

JOUAV quadplane VTOL vs. Tailsitter VTOL

Best Fixed Wing Drone for Mapping and Surveillance

Best Commercial Fixed Wing Drone for Mapping and Surveillance

Are you looking for a long-range fixed-wing drone with a camera? The JOUAV CW-15 is your best choice. This VTOL drone features vertical take-off and landing capability, long endurance, long transmission range, heavy load flight, and a rugged carbon fiber body, which is ideal for harsh environments and large-scale surveillance and surveying.

JOUAV CW-15 - Best fixed wing drone for mapping and surveillance

Interchangeable and high-resolution payloads

The CW-15 can deeply integrate and carry 61MP full-frame aerial camera, 500MP oblique camera, dual RGB/thermal sensor, multispectral camera, and hyperspectral imaging spectrometer for multi-purpose. All payloads are modularly interchangeable.

With a CA-103 61MP full-frame aerial camera and multi-frequency PPK GNSS receiver, the CW-15 provides best-in-class absolute accuracy of up to 3 cm for vertical positioning and 1 cm for horizontal positioning in an optimistic situation. When this drone is equipped with LiDAR, the CW-15 reaches down to 2cm vertical accuracy without GCP.

Long endurance and range

As a battery-powered drone, the CW-15 has an optimized powertrain and customized high-energy density cells to further improve the system's range, which boasts more than 180 minutes of flight time under 2kg load conditions. With a control range of up to 50km and a cruising speed of 61km/h, you'll be able to get the job done faster and easier than ever before.

Easy and safe operation

The CW-15 uses pins, snaps, and self-locking devices to make it possible for the entire system to be easily assembled and dissembled in less than 3 minutes. Flying the CW-15 is fully automated and requires no piloting skills and very little training. Flight planning is done through a very intuitive application. You can have various ways to prepare the flight plan as well as monitor and modify the mission in flight.

For comprehensive flight safety, CW-15's robust troubleshooting system supports system self-detection, automatic return function in case of system abnormality, automatic obstacle avoidance function, etc.

Robust and siteproof

The CW-15 is made of carbon fiber material and operates and delivers results to the highest quality standards. It has been tested in different harsh environments, from the large deserts of Taklamakan to the high altitudes of Tibet, to the high salt and humidity of Qinghai, and the heavy rains of Zhengzhou.

Real-World Use Cases of JOUAV CW-15
Real-World Use Cases of JOUAV CW-15
Still not convinced? Let's take a look at real-world use cases of the JOUAV CW-15 in action. From agricultural surveys to infrastructure inspections, this drone is a force to be reckoned with. Its adaptability and endurance make it an invaluable asset in a wide range of industries.
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On May 16, 2023, Beijing Anzhou Technology Co., Ltd. conducted a flight test in an agricultural demonstration area in Yanzhou District, Jining City, Shandong Province. The goal of the flight test was
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DMCR made use of JOUAV CW-15II VTOL drone and conducted a Proof of Concept (POC) test, where they achieved outstanding results. This case study will outline the solution and the outcomes that DMCR achieved.
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Weinan City, located in the eastern part of Shaanxi Province, China, launched the Weinan Xueliang project in 2016. The project aimed to improve urban public security and build a safer, more convenient
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Home to an estimated population of 99.41 million residents, Zhengzhou is the capital and largest city of Henan, China. Between 17 and 31 July 2021, Zhengzhou experienced catastrophic flooding as a res
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During the deep Qinghai autumn, telltale plumes of smoke rise from the grassland in the east.  Qinghai is a landlocked province in northwest China. Its eastern region is highland pastoral areas i
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To improve the lean management system of power grid equipment and power line inspection technology, JOUAV joined hands with power grid companies around China to carry out application experiments
FAQ

FAQ

Are Fixed Wing Drones More Efficient?

Yes, fixed-wing drones are generally more efficient for long-distance flights due to their airplane-like design that enables gliding. They require less power to stay airborne compared to quadcopter-style drones.

How Long Can Fixed Wing Drones Fly?

The flight time of fixed-wing drones varies. Smaller ones might fly for 1 to 2 hours, while larger models could achieve 4 to 6 hours or more. Actual flight time depends on factors like size, battery capacity, and design.

How Much Does a Fixed Wing Drone Cost?

The cost of fixed-wing drones can range anywhere from around $200 to several thousand dollars, depending on the specifications and features of the drone. The cost for entry-level fixed-wing drones typically falls in the range of $200 to $1,000. These drones are usually more affordable, suitable for beginners, and come with basic features and capabilities.

The cost for high-end professional-grade fixed-wing drones can vary significantly, ranging from around $50,000 to $200,000 or more. These drones are designed for advanced users and professionals, offering advanced features, longer flight times, higher-quality cameras, and more precise control.

What Type of Drone is More Common Fixed Wing or Rotary?

You know, it's interesting. Both fixed-wing and rotary drones have their own sweet spots. But if we're talking about what you see more often, it's usually the rotary drones – you know, the ones with those spinning propellers. They're really versatile and can hover in one place, take off and land vertically, which makes them super handy for things like photography, surveillance, and even delivery. Fixed-wing drones, on the other hand, are more common in applications where covering larger areas or longer distances is needed, like agricultural surveys or pipeline inspections.

Are VTOL Fixed Wing Drones More Expensive Than Traditional Fixed Wing Drones?

VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) fixed-wing drones typically feature a hybrid design that combines both vertical takeoff and landing capabilities with fixed-wing flight. Due to their added complexity and additional components, VTOL fixed-wing drones tend to be more expensive than traditional fixed-wing drones.

How Much Does a Fixed Wing UAV Weight?

The weight of a fixed-wing UAV can vary significantly depending on its purpose, size, and configuration. However, here is a rough data range to give you an idea:

  • Small fixed-wing UAVs: 2 to 5 kilograms (4.4 to 11 pounds)
  • Medium-sized fixed-wing UAVs: 5 to 25 kilograms (11 to 55 pounds)
  • Large fixed-wing UAVs: 25 to 150 kilograms (55 to 330 pounds)

Are Fixed Wing Drones Suitable for Indoor Use?

Fixed-wing drones are generally not suitable for indoor use due to their need for a runway or open space for takeoff and landing. Their design requires a forward motion to generate lift, which makes them more suitable for outdoor applications with ample airspace.

How Hard Is It to Fly a Fixed Wing Drone?

Flying a fixed-wing drone requires some knowledge and experience, as they typically require manual takeoff and landing and rely on control inputs for maneuvering. However, with proper training and practice, flying a fixed-wing drone can become relatively straightforward.

Are Fixed Wing Drones Suitable for Beginners?

While fixed-wing drones can be more challenging to fly compared to their multirotor counterparts, they are still suitable for beginners. Starting with a smaller, entry-level fixed-wing drone and receiving proper training and guidance can help beginners learn to fly and gain proficiency.

Can Fixed Wing Drones Hover Like Multirotor Drones?

Fixed-wing drones are not designed to hover like multirotor drones. They require constant forward motion to maintain lift and control. However, some advanced fixed-wing drones may have built-in stabilization systems that allow them to fly in relatively tight circles or perform specific maneuvers.

How are Fixed Wing Drones Controlled?

Fixed-wing drones are controlled through a combination of manual inputs from the pilot and an onboard flight controller. The pilot's inputs, usually transmitted via a remote controller, control the drone's direction, altitude, and speed. The flight controller interprets these inputs and adjusts the drone's control surfaces (ailerons, elevators, rudder) accordingly.

How to Fly a Fixed Wing Drone?

Flying a fixed-wing drone requires proper training and knowledge of aviation regulations. It is crucial to understand the principles of flight, practice takeoff, and landing techniques, master control inputs, and familiarize yourself with relevant local laws and regulations. Building your own fixed-wing drone requires expertise in electronics, aerodynamics, and design, as well as knowledge of the necessary components and assembly processes involved. It is recommended to consult guides, online resources, and experienced individuals to ensure a successful build.

What Procedures can a Fixed Wing Pilot use to Avoid Colliding with a Drone?

When it comes to avoiding collisions with drones, pilots of fixed-wing aircraft have a few procedures they can follow to ensure safety in the skies. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Stay Alert: Keep a keen lookout for any drones nearby while flying. Scan the sky for potential hazards.
  2. Follow Regulations: Adhere to aviation rules and regulations set by your aviation authority. These often include altitude restrictions and no-fly zones for drones.
  3. Maintain Altitude: Fly at a higher altitude to minimize the risk of encountering drones, as most drones operate at lower altitudes. Click to see how high can a drone fly.
  4. Communicate: Use radio frequencies to communicate your location and intentions, if applicable. Drones usually don't communicate on these frequencies.
  5. Use Spotter: If possible, have a second set of eyes on the lookout for drones while you focus on flying.
  6. Avoid Urban Areas: Drones are more common in urban and populated areas. Plan routes that minimize exposure to these zones.
  7. Keep Distance: If you spot a drone, maintain a safe horizontal and vertical distance from it.
  8. Report: If you encounter a drone flying near you, report the incident to air traffic control or relevant authorities.
  9. Be Predictable: Fly predictably and avoid sudden maneuvers, giving any nearby drone operators time to react.
  10. Technology: Some aircraft have collision-avoidance technology. Utilize onboard systems that help detect and avoid potential collisions.
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