Drone payload

onyxstar_hydra-12_12kg_payload_heavy_lifter_lift_drone_uas_uavOne of the reasons explaining why the drone market is experiencing a rapid growth is their lifting capacity. Thanks to that, they are able to carry a broad range of sensors, from the tiniest pocket camera to the heaviest measuring devices.

Therefore, knowing precisely the lifting ability a drone possesses is fundamental.

That technical specification is often given under the “Payload” term. However, it seems that not everybody is using this word for the same meaning.

Aeronautical background

To understand better this misconception, let’s have a look at the classical aeronautical terms referring to this subject. As closely related to the commercial drone world, the aviation industry is a perfect guideline for this kind of matters.

Here is a list of the useful terms related to aircraft weights:

Empty weightWeight of the aircraft without fuel, passengers and cargo
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)Maximum weight authorized for an aircraft while taking-off
Useful loadTotal weight of fuel, passengers and cargo carried
PayloadTotal weight of passengers and cargo carried

Drone industry particularities

onyxstar_fox-c8_xt_red_dragon_6k_cinema_camera_drone_uav_uasThis distinction between payload and useful load is necessary: an aircraft burns fuel while flying, making it lighter for the landing phase. Therefore, the useful load varies during the flight while the payload remains the same.

Today’s drones are most frequently powered by Lithium-ion polymer batteries which weight doesn’t vary¬†while flying. This also explains why the Maxiumum landing weight is useless there: the take-off and landing weight are equal.

A quick look at some drone datasheets reveals that the term payload is often misused: “Payload” is frequently used while the weight given is closer to the “Useful load”. Indeed, manufacturers in such cases are including the batteries in the payload.

OnyxStar choice

As OnyxStar aims at providing professional solutions, we decided to give these characteristics in a different way. As a Payload is literally what makes operating the drone profitable (pay), the characteristics we provide about our drones are displaying the real lifting ability (batteries are already counted apart).

This choice allows our customers to have a clear and useful information about what can be done with OnyxStar drones: weight of sensors and mount that can be carried.

Here is the list of the terms we decided to use:

Empty weightWeight of the drone without batteries, sensor and mount.Give an idea of the drone weight for transportation
Maximum Recommended Payload (MRP)Maximum recommended weight for sensor and mountMore weight can be carried but performance won't be optimal
Maximum Effective Payload (MEP)Maximum weight for sensor and mountLimit that can be carried by the drone
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)Empty weight + MEPGive an idea of the overall maximum weight