The maximum distance a drone can fly depends on which model you purchase. High-end consumer drones can fly up to 11 miles away, while mid-level drones fly between 400 meters to 2 miles away.
Hi, my name is Larry. I’ve been flying drones since 2013, when DJI released the Phantom 1. Since then, I’ve flown dozens of different drones and have created hundreds of videos.
In today’s in-depth guide, I’ll explain how far a drone can fly. I’ll also discuss what happens if your drone goes out of range and which drone has the longest flight distance.
Keep reading to learn more!
What Is the Maximum Distance a Drone Can Fly?
As I mentioned earlier, every drone has its own maximum flight distance. You can find the exact flight distance of any drone by looking at the advertised “flight range”. The flight range is how far the drone can fly away from the controller.
Therefore, the specific range of each drone depends on the strength of the controller signal and the drone’s transmitting technology. It should come as no surprise that more expensive drones often have greater ranges.
In general, premium consumer drones ranging from $800 to $200 can fly up to 18 kilometers or 11 miles away. A mid-level consumer drone ranging from $150 to $500 can typically fly up to 2 miles away.
On the other hand, you can expect hobby drones that cost less than $100 to fly between 20 and 100 yards away.
Drone Regulations: What You Need to Know
There are important drone regulations instated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) you must follow when piloting your quadcopter. First of all, if your drone weighs more than 250 grams or 8.8 ounces, you must register for an FAA identification number.
For a $5 fee, your FAA identification number lets you own and fly as many drones as you want. You’ll need to place the sticker on the exterior of your drone, which is a change from earlier rules that allowed you to put the sticker inside the battery compartment.
Although most consumer drones need to be registered, the DJI Mini 2 and DJI Mavic Mini weigh 249 grams, so they’re exempted.
After registering your drone, you’ll need to abide by the FAA drone laws.
Here are the rules of the sky you must follow when piloting your drone:
- Keep your drone within your line of sight
- Fly at or below 400 feet
- Don’t fly in restricted airspaces
- Don’t fly near other aircraft
- Don’t fly near emergency response situations
- Don’t fly over sporting events or stadiums
- Don’t fly under the influence
- Don’t fly over groups of people
It’s also important to note that you are not allowed to fly drones at National Parks. Furthermore, since you must keep your drone within your line of sight at all times, this can significantly impact your maximum flight distance.
Unless you are in a completely open space, flying your drone several miles away will be difficult without it leaving your line of sight.
What Happens if Drone Goes Out of Range?
Most consumer drones have two ranges to consider: the video signal range and the controller range. The controller typically operates on a 2.4GHz range and offers more distance than the live video feed signal, which works on a 5.8 GHz range. Therefore, you will likely lose your video feed before your controller loses connection with the drone.
The video feed on your controller will stutter and ultimately go blank when you lose your live video feed. However, this doesn’t mean you have lost control of your drone. Since the controller range is longer than the video signal range, you can still operate the drone with the controller.
This is another reason why you should make sure your drone stays within your visual line of sight. If your drone goes out of range, you can simply hit your controller’s return to home button. You can also bring your drone closer to you until the live video feed appears again.
Here’s what usually happens if a drone reaches the outer limit of the controller’s range:
- The drone automatically returns to you. Most GPS drones have a built-in failsafe that automatically returns the drone to the controller.
- The drone stops and hovers in mid-air. You can move closer to the drone to find the controller signal again.
- The drone lands wherever it is. This is typically safe unless you fly over the water or a difficult-to-reach terrain.
However, rather than finding out what happens if your drone goes out of range, it’s best to know your drone’s limits and take a preventative approach. This way, you can guarantee your drone’s safety and that you are following the mentioned drone laws.
What Drone Has the Longest Flight Distance?
If you’re looking for a drone with the longest flight distance, I’ve got you covered.
Here’s a closer look at which drones have the furthest flight range:
|Drone||Transmission System||Video Transmission Range||Maximum Flight Range|
|Mavic Air 2||OcuSync 2.0||6.2 miles (10 km)||11 miles (18 km)|
|Mavic 2||OcuSync 2.0||6.2 miles (10 km)||11 miles (18 km)|
|Mavic 3||O3+||9.3 miles (15km)||9.3 miles (15km)|
|Mavic Mini 2||OcuSync 2.0||6.2 miles (10 km)||6.2 miles (10 km)|
Here are a few common questions I receive about drones that can help clarify how far a drone can fly.
What determines the range of a drone?
While a drone’s controller signal and transmission technology primarily determine how far a drone can fly, there are a few other factors to consider. First, the size and weight of a drone can decide its range. Drones with a lighter density can typically fly further than heavier drones. Flight conditions and battery capacity also impact a drone’s maximum flight range.
Can I fly my drone out of sight?
The drone laws written by the FAA state that you must fly your consumer drone within your visual line of sight at all times. Therefore, you cannot fly your drone out of sight.
What is a drone transmission system?
The drone transmission system is what connects your drone to your controller. Depending on your drone’s transmission system, it impacts the flight range, latency, live video feed, and control frequencies.
Flying a drone opens up a whole new world of photography and videography. Shots that would have been impossible to capture before can now be effortlessly recorded from the comfort of your drone’s controller.
Although pushing your drone to its range limits is unimaginably tempting, I recommend following the drone laws mentioned earlier and keeping it at a safe and viewable distance.
Nonetheless, high-end consumer drones from DJI can fly up to 11 miles or 18 kilometers away from the controller. This gives you plenty of room to record different terrain and scenery for your amazing drone videos.