What Are Quadplanes? Hybrid Fixed-Wing/VTOL UAVs Explained

Quadplanes are some of the most popular types of hybrid fixed-wing/VTOL unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

There have been many quadplanes manufactured and available for purchase for all markets and there are most likely many more to come for good reason.

What are quadplanes?

Quadplanes are hybrid fixed-wing/vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) with vertical facing propellers for vertical takeoff and landing along with fixed wings and horizontal propellers for horizontal flight.

How Do Quadplanes Work?

Quadplanes are a sub-type of hybrid fixed-wing/VTOL UAVs.

Check out our full article on what hybrid fixed-wing/VTOL UAVs are where we dive into how they work, their types, applications, parts/components, advantages/disadvantages, and some examples:

Related Post: What Are Hybrid Fixed-Wing/VTOL Drones (UAVs)?

Quadplanes incorporate features found in both fixed-wing UAVs and rotary-wing UAVs, blending them together into one single design.

To fully understand how quadplanes work, we quickly have to go over how both fixed-wing and rotary-wing UAVs work individually.

Fixed-wing UAVs use wings/airfoils that are sized and shaped in a way that captures the flow of air as the aircraft’s airspeed increases which thus produces lift. We go into more detail in our article on what fixed-wing UAVs are.

Rotary-wing UAVs use one large main spinning rotor (typically with an anti-torque device/tail rotor) or multiple smaller rotors all spinning at a rapid speed. The propellers act as small airfoils capturing airflow and generating lift.

The direction of the UAV can be changed by altering the angle of the prop/s.

Quadplanes use vertical facing propellers for vertical takeoff and landing, deactivating these devices when transitioning into horizontal flight using horizontal facing propellers and fixed-wings once enough forward speed and altitude has been achieved.

They typically differ from other types of hybrid fixed-wing/VTOL UAVs in shape and in the way they transition from vertical to horizontal flight and vice versa.

Check out our full post on the types of hybrid fixed-wing/VTOL UAVs:

Related Post: Types Of Hybrid Fixed-Wing/VTOL UAVs Explained (+Pictures)

There can actually be quadplanes that incorporate other key features found in different types of hybrid fixed-wing/VTOL UAVs. For example, a quadplane could have tilting rotors placed on the tips of the drone’s wings along with its fixed vertical facing propellers.

What Are Quadplanes Used For?

Here are 5 applications for quadplanes:

  • Search and rescue operations
  • Long pipeline inspections
  • Ocean surveys
  • Surveillance operations
  • Wildlife monitoring

These are some common applications that are beneficial to these types of UAVs as they can both hover in place and can cruise for extended periods of time.

We have a full article that goes into applications for fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and applications for rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

What Parts/Components Make Up Quadplanes?

Quadplanes are typically made up of a fuselage, wings, tail assembly/empennage, and landing gear/undercarriage.

The wings typically include control surfaces such as ailerons and flaps to aid in controlling the vehicle’s pitch and roll.

A conventional tail assembly/empennage is made up of elevators and a fin acting vertically, and a rudder and tailplane acting horizontally.

The landing gear/undercarriage can be made up of various devices such as retractable wheels, skids and even skis for land-based operation, or floats for water-based operation.

Typical components include a transmitter, receiver, servos, lights, inertial navigation system (INS), electronic speed controllers (ESCs), and flight controller.

We have a full post that goes into the main fixed-wing UAV parts and components and the main rotary-wing UAV parts and components.

What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Quadplanes?

The advantages and disadvantages of quadplanes include mixtures of the advantages and disadvantages for both fixed-wing UAVs and rotary-wing UAVs.

There are many benefits and drawbacks to fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as well as benefits and drawbacks to rotary-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Quadplane advantages

Here are 5 quadplane advantages:

  • They have a much safer method of transitioning from vertical to horizontal flight compared to other hybrid fixed-wing/VTOL UAVs
  • They enable the drone to benefit from the advantages of both fixed-wing and rotary-wing UAVs
  • They can efficiently fly for long distances reducing the number of times they need to land and expanding the area they can cover
  • They can hover in place for extended periods of time
  • They can reach very high altitudes compared to basic rotary-wing UAVs

Quadplane disadvantages

Here are 4 quadplane disadvantages:

  • The added transition mechanisms (rotors/wings) weigh down the UAV making them less efficient overall than the basic fixed-wing or rotary-wing configurations
  • The transition from vertical to horizontal flight can be very challenging to get right every time and can be dangerous for the drone
  • They typically cost much more compared to basic configurations due to these often complex softwares and mechanisms enabling them to smoothly and safely transition in flight
  • The transition between vertical to horizontal flight requires the UAV to have reached a suitable altitude

Check out our full article on the advantages and disadvantages of hybrid fixed-wing/VTOL unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs):

Related Post: 11 Hybrid Fixed-Wing/VTOL UAV Advantages & Disadvantages

What Are Some Examples Of Quadplanes?

Here are 7 examples of quadplanes:

HeliplaneDrone Volt
SkyProwler 2Krossblade
DeltaQuad ProDeltaQuad
SP9 VTOLTT Aviation (TTA)
PD-2 (VTOL Config)Ukrspecsystems
G1Vayu Aerospace Corporation

If you’d like to discover who the best drone companies are in the world for the consumer, commercial and military drone markets and some fun facts about them, we have a full post on this topic below:

Related Post: Top Drone Companies/Manufacturers In The World [History, What They Offer, Popular Drones And More]


We highly recommend you check out our main article on what hybrid fixed-wing/VTOL UAVs are to learn more about these incredible types of drones.

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