The popularity of commercial drones has been steadily increasing over the past few years. From high-resolution cameras to logistics and transportation, drone technology has evolved to the point where it is no longer a fragile camera that cannot raise payload items.

Heavy lift drones are large drones with the ability to carry and operate 10 pounds and more of heavy payloads used to transport cargo, packages, food, medical supplies, etc. These drones are not only designed to lift cargo and materials but also heavy-duty cameras used for photography and videography.

If you are looking for such a heavy-duty drone that can carry weight or things, you are just on the right page. Below, we review the best heavy lifting drones in the market. We'll also look at how a heavy payload drone works and how much weight a drone can carry.

Heavy lift drone

How much weight can a drone carry?

How much weight can a drone carry?

Asking how much weight a drone can carry is like asking how fast a car can go. The short answer is that how much a drone can carry depends on the type of UAV and the purposes for which it is designed.

The function of amateur drones is not to carry extra loads, but to take pictures and help beginners learn the basics of flying. They can usually only hold 500g, or even less than 100g in some cases.

Heavy lifting drones are different in that they are specifically designed to carry weight, such as those used for drone delivery. The technology behind these is quite impressive, and they can generally handle payloads of 20 kg to 220 kg. Some drones have the ability to carry more than 50% of their original weight as an additional payload.

Types of heavy lift drone

Types of heavy lift drone

The nature of the missions required for these drones, such as surveillance, filming, surveying, and inspection, lends itself to vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing drones and multi-rotor drones with hover-in-place capabilities.

Multi-rotor drones, such as heavy quadcopters, heavy hexacopters, and octocopters, are characterized by their simplicity of assembly and deployment, while VTOL drones have a larger payload capacity and longer flight times.

CW-40 VTOL large drone

What are heavy lift drones used for?

What are heavy lift drones used for?

Many companies have identified commercial and military applications for heavy payload drones and are taking advantage of the opportunity to use drones for multiple purposes to effectively manage their workflows.

Engineering projects

Engineering companies can make good use of heavy-duty drones carrying high-quality cameras, which they can use for in-depth projects such as maintenance inspections, transmission cables, and oil pipelines. A drone in construction can also help engineers perform various critical activities such as airport planning and road maintenance, making efficiency exponentially higher.

Cargo and delivery

Drone delivery is one of the fastest-growing and most popular applications of drones. Cargo drones are being used to deliver medical and healthcare supplies such as medicines, blood, and vaccines. Heavy lift delivery drones can also deliver goods and mail to remote communities, which is both faster and cheaper than transitional transportation methods.

Heavy lift drone for cargo and delivery

Agriculture sector

Farmers can reap multiple benefits from heavy-lift agricultural drones, which they can use for spraying fertilizer or pesticide. Using this technology to perform these time-consuming tasks can help farmers save significant amounts of overhead and time.

Disaster relief

Heavy lift drones are also used for emergency response, which can bring food, fuel, water, supplies, medicine, communications, and even electricity to areas hard hit by natural or man-made disasters - and can do so faster and more efficiently than any other platform.

Military service

Military heavy lift drones have improved military capabilities around the world in many ways; they are used for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and transporting materials such as explosives and heavy weapons. They can also deliver equipment to areas that are too dangerous for manned flight, such as resupply in frontline areas, and casualty evacuation.

Components of a heavy payload drone

Components of a heavy payload drone

The average heavy payload drone is made up of three important parts. Below is a list of the parts that make up a heavy lift drone and what they do:

Heavy lift drone motors

Taking off with heavy weight is not an easy task. The heavy lift drone motors must generate a lot of upward propulsion. Generally, larger and heavier drones use brushless motors because they can carry the extra weight of the electronics. In addition to this, innovative counter-rotating drone motors are becoming popular, offering greater thrust and higher efficiency than standard single-rotating motors.

Heavy lift drone propellers

Constructed of carbon fiber, which is lighter than plastic, the propellers of heavy-duty drones provide better flight performance. Typically, heavy lift multi-rotors have greater than four propellers, their longer blades give the stability and balance needed, and the smaller pitch easily carries the extra weight associated with the longer blades.

Heavy lift drone gimbal

Gimbals for heavy-duty UAVs are designed to accommodate a wide range of cameras, sensors, and payloads, providing stable footage for numerous industrial applications, such as mapping and surveys. With the gimbal attachment, the concern that the pilot must keep the drone stable while flying is eliminated because the gimbal's sophisticated technology allows for an almost completely automated process. There is no need to worry about the drone's lens wobbling.

Factors to consider before buying a heavy lift drone

Factors to consider before buying a heavy lift drone

Before purchasing a heavy lift drone, it is important to consider the features and functions that the drone has to ensure that it will do its job.

Purpose

The first thing you need to consider before buying a drone is "why should I buy it?" because this will determine how you use the drone and whether it needs to carry additional cameras or sensors.

Flight time

Since you will be using these types of drones to lift objects, you must consider the battery life that will allow you to stay in the air for longer. If a drone can carry 20 kg but can only stay in the air for 5 minutes, it is useless because it can't even reach the set destination.

Type of payload

We recommend buying a drone with a built-in camera, but not every drone is equipped with one. You need to be aware of the mechanism you will use to allow the drone to carry a payload. Can it be carried with a traditional connection, or will you need to customize a solution for your specific situation?

PH-25 Multi-Rotor Drone

Price

Another key factor is whether the price of the drone fits your budget. Drones range from entry-level to high-end drones, with all the bells and whistles. Before spending any money, you need to think about the drone model and features you really need.

Comparison table of 7 best heavy lift drones

7 Best heavy lift drones for sale

We have ranked the eight finalist large UAVs from the smallest payload to the largest. For convenience, here's a comparison table:

Model

Max lifting weight

Drone type

Flight time

Range

JOUAV PH-20

10 kg (22 lbs)

Hexacopter

70 min

30 km

JOUAV CW-30E

10 kg (22 lbs)

VTOL

600 min

100/200 km

Freefly Alta X

15 kg (35 lbs)

Quadcopters

20 min

5 km

JOUAV CW-80E

25 kg (55 lbs)

VTOL

840 min

100/200 km

DJI FlyCart 30

30 kg (66 lbs)

Quadcopter

18 min

28 km

Ehang 184

100 kg (220 lbs)

Octocopters

23 min

30 km

GRIFF Aviation 300

227 kg (500 lbs)

Octocopters

31 min

15 km

PH-20

JOUAV PH-20 - Best LiDAR drone that can carry 22 lbs

Engineered with a hexacopter design, the PH-20's prowess lies in its ability to effortlessly carry payloads up to 20 pounds, making it an ideal carrier for high-quality LiDAR equipment. Its impressive 70-minute maximum flight time and swift 18m/s maximum flight speed allow you to cover vast areas with unparalleled agility.

PH-20 Large payload Multi-rotor UAV

Crafted from a blend of aluminum alloy and high-performance composite materials, this LiDAR drone seamlessly integrates an intelligent flight system, a triple redundancy IMU, and adaptive controls for ultimate precision. Its onboard microcomputer effortlessly manages a diverse array of data types.

Additionally, fail-safe measures provide an extra layer of security, including automatic return in cases of data link loss or low voltage. Featuring obstacle avoidance radar, IP55 protection, a wind resistance rating of 8, and an impressive maximum altitude of 4,500 meters, the PH-20 thrives in the face of challenging environments.

Key specs:

  • Max lifting weight: 10 kg (22 lbs)
  • Flight time: 70 min
  • Max speed: 64.8 km/h (no wind)
  • Max transmission distance: 30 km
  • Box Dimensions: 1057×605×630(L×W×H, mm)
  • Max take-off weight: 29.2 kg
  • Max wind resistance: Level 8
  • Protection level: IP55
JOUAV CW-30E

JOUAV CW-30E - Best surveillance drone that can carry 20 lbs

As a very versatile and efficient VTOL fixed-wing drone, JOUAV CW-30E is one of the most effective autonomous security drones on the market. The CW-30E features a flight time of 400 minutes, a maximum flight speed of 90 km/h, and a transmission distance of up to 200 km.

CW-30E heavy lift drone

With the built-in MG-170E dual EO/IR gimbal camera, the CW-30E can perform AI automatic identification, tracking, and positioning of people and objects, and transmit real-time video to the command center. This thermal drone has been widely used in border patrol, emergency response, energy inspection, fire fighting, search and rescue, etc.

The CW-30E large drone with a camera is very easy to use thanks to a fantastic autopilot system and excellent obstacle avoidance system that allow the device to take off capture data, and land on its own.

Key specs:

  • Max lifting weight: 10 kg (22 lbs)
  • Flight time: 600 min
  • Max speed: 90 km/h
  • Max Transmission Distance: 100/200 km (optional)
  • Size: Fuselage - 2300 mm, Wingspan - 4600 mm
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 45 kg
  • Operating temperature: -20° to 55°C
Freefly Alta X

Freefly Alta X - Best cinema drone that can carry 35 lbs

With an impressive lifting capacity of 35 lbs (15 kg),Freefly Alta X redefines what's possible in cinematography. Whether you're aiming to capture breathtaking landscapes, dynamic action sequences, or intricate aerial shots, the Alta X empowers your creative vision like never before. Its robust design and cutting-edge engineering ensure stability and precision, even when carrying heavy camera setups, making it the go-to choice for professional filmmakers who demand unparalleled performance.

Freefly Systems Alta 8 heavy lift drone

Equipped with a remarkable flight time of 20 minutes, the Alta X doesn't just stop at lifting capacity – it combines endurance with power. Thanks to its adaptable design, flight time can vary based on payload and environmental conditions, providing flexibility for a range of shooting scenarios. With a top speed of 95 km/h, you can effortlessly track fast-paced subjects, achieving stunning cinematic sequences that were once thought impossible. 

Key specs:

  • Max lifting weight: 15 kg (35 lbs)
  • Flight time: 20 min (Depending on payload & environment)
  • Max speed: 95 km/h
  • Max Transmission Distance: 5 km
  • Unfolded Diameter: 2273 mm×877 mm×387 mm (Including Props)
  • Typical standard empty weight: 10.86 kg
  • Operating temperature: -10° to 40°C
JOUAV CW-80E

JOUAV CW-80E - Best mapping drone that can carry 50 lbs

The CW-80E can stay afloat for more than 840 minutes at a maximum speed of 135 km/h. With a payload capacity of up to 25 kg, the long range drone allows the flexibility to carry large high-end sensors, such as hyperspectral and bathymetric LiDARs, and SAR radar for large-area surveys.

CW-80E heavy lift drone

Combined with the RTK and PPK modules, this big drone with camera not only provides highly accurate data but also ensures that you get the maximum possible coverage. In addition, the CW-80E RTK drone completes its mission completely autonomously from takeoff to landing, even out of communication range.

The CW-80E drone is equipped with built-in software, FlightSurv, for easy management of data acquisition. This intuitive application allows you to automate your UAV flight planning, data acquisition, and image transmission. In addition, it helps you create detailed and accurate 2D and 3D visualizations.

Key specs:

  • Max lifting weight: 25 kg (55 lbs)
  • Flight time: 840 min
  • Max speed: 135 km/h
  • Max Transmission Distance: 100/200 km (optional)
  • Size: Fuselage - 3000 mm, Wingspan - 5200 mm
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 110 kg
  • Operating temperature: -20° to 55°C
DJI FlyCart 30

DJI FlyCart 30 - Best delivery drone that can carry 50 lbs

The DJI FlyCart 30, boasting a maximum payload of 30 kg, 18 minutes of flight time with dual batteries, and a delivery range of 16 km at a top speed of 20 m/s, provides a dependable and efficient solution for aerial deliveries. Its robust design enables the drone to withstand extreme conditions, ensuring reliable performance even in challenging environments.

DJI Fly Cart 30 heavy payload drone

Designed to meet diverse delivery needs, this heavy payload drone supports two payload configurations: cargo mode and winch mode. The winch system facilitates safe deliveries in areas lacking a secure landing site, ensuring precise and controlled drops with intelligent payload sensing.

Equipped with advanced technologies such as DJI O3 transmission, 4G enhanced transmission, and an FPV gimbal camera, the FlyCart 30 ensures clear and stable live feeds in various operational scenarios. Additional features like dual-operator mode, front and rear active phased array radars, a dual binocular vision system, and multi-directional obstacle sensing enhance safety and operational capabilities.

Key specs:

  • Max lifting weight: 30 kg (66 lbs)
  • Flight time: 18 min with dual batteries
  • Max speed: 72 km/h
  • Max Transmission Distance: 28 km
  • Size: 2800 mm x 3085 mm x 947 mm (arms extended, propellers extended)
  • Weight: 42.5kg (without batteries)
Ehang 184

Ehang 184 - Best large drone that can lift a person 200 lbs

The Ehang 184 is the world's first electric passenger-grade autonomous extra large drone that can accommodate a person weighing up to 220 lbs(100 kg) in its small cabin. Its technology for autonomous flight avoids the possibility of malfunctions or failures due to human error. Passengers can just sit back and enjoy the ride without worrying about controlling or operating the aircraft.

Ehang 184 large drone

Using 4G/5G as a high-speed wireless transmission channel, the giant drone can communicate smoothly with the command and control center, thus enabling remote control of the aircraft and real-time transmission of flight data.

Key specs:

  • Max lifting weight: 100 kg (220 lbs)
  • Flight time: 23 min
  • Max speed: 100 km/h
  • Max Transmission Distance: 30 km
  • Size: Fuselage length - 4000 mm, wingspan 4000 mm, overall height 1400 mm
  • Weight: 260 kg
GRIFF Aviation 300

GRIFF Aviation 300 - Extra large drone that can carry 500 lbs

Designed with an 8-propeller, the Griff Aviation 300 is the heaviest lift drone that can carry a payload weight of approximately 500 pounds (226 kg) and sustain 31 minutes of flight time. The modular design enables rapid swapping of payloads and batteries in seconds.

Griff Aviation 300 large drone

This huge drone is waterproof and designed to carry advanced optical systems for industrial, military, law enforcement, and search and rescue applications. Compliant with all European UAS construction safety regulations, the GRIFF Aviation 30 is fully customizable, including the UAS and payload.

Key specs:

  • Max lifting weight: 227 kg (500 lbs)
  • Flight time: 31 min
  • Max speed: 60 km/h
  • Max Transmission Distance: 15 km
  • Size: Length: 3400 m, width: 1200 m, height: 600 m
  • Maximum takeoff weight: 235 kg
FAQ

FAQ

How much does a large drone cost?

The average cost of a large drone ranges from $48,000 to $80,000, depending on the configuration required. Yep, they are so expensive! The batteries alone to run such a heavy drone are very expensive. Not to mention, they require expensive power-hungry motors to spin the large propellers that provide enough thrust to overcome gravity.

Can you buy a drone that can lift a person?

Yes, certain large commercial drones can lift and carry a person, like Ehang 184 and GRIFF Aviation 300. Their lifting capacity depends on the power, dead weight, type of propeller, and the number of motors.

In the past, the batteries were too heavy to carry enough energy to create enough lift to get off the ground. The motors were not efficient enough to convert enough power to the blades. However, with the development of brushless motors, LiPO batteries, and gas powered drones these conditions have changed.

Nowadays, many giant drones can lift more than 400 lbs, which means they can easily lift a person as well.

What is the largest drone you can fly without a license?

According to the FAA Small Drone Rule Part 107, for drones weighing more than 250 grams, you need a license or permit, even if your drone is just for fun.

How far can a large drone fly?

It depends on what the large drone is designed for. Delivery and passenger drones generally have a range from 500-1800 km. But efficient surveillance drones needs need a range of 10-150 km, and for mapping drones a range of 4-8 km is sufficient.

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