Home Robotic Process Automation What Is A Remotely Piloted Aircraft: The Definitive Guide

What Is A Remotely Piloted Aircraft: The Definitive Guide


Welcome to this comprehensive guide where we delve into the fascinating world of remotely piloted and unmanned aircraft here. If you’ve ever been intrigued by drones, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), then you’re in for a treat! We will demystify these terms and uncover the world hidden behind them. Sit tight as we embark on this journey!


Before we dive deep into the details, it’s essential to lay a solid foundation by understanding the basics. The core idea behind remotely piloted aircraft is that they are operated without a pilot physically present in the aircraft. Instead, they are flown by pilots who are at a remote location, usually on the ground, with close air support but sometimes in another aircraft or even in space.

The use of RPAs for delivery purposes is expanding, with some companies testing drone delivery services. Drones in delivery can cover distances of up to 10 miles or more, potentially revolutionizing logistics and last-mile delivery services.

What Is A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA)

A Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is, as the name suggests, an aircraft piloted from a remote station. This might sound similar to a drone, and while there are similarities, the two are not entirely the same. A drone refers to any unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), whether it is autonomously flown through pre-programmed flight paths or controlled remotely by a pilot. RPAs, on the other hand, are always controlled by a remote pilot. They have the advantage of being integrated into the nation’s air defense and traffic management system just like manned aircraft.

Understanding The Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)

Now that we know what an RPA is, let’s look at the bigger picture—the Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS). The RPAS isn’t just the aircraft—it’s a complete system that includes the remotely piloted aircraft, the remote pilot stations, command and control links, and any other system elements required for operation of specialized aircraft. This comprehensive system allows remote pilots to operate the aircraft safely and efficiently.

The term “Remotely Piloted Aircraft” (RPA) is commonly used interchangeably with “drone,” and the global drone market is expected to reach a value of approximately $50 billion by 2025, highlighting the widespread use and economic significance of RPAs.

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Unmanned Aerial Systems: The Definitive Guide

A remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) is an unmanned aircraft system (UAS) that plays a vital role in various military operations. The Air Force, responsible for conducting strategic air strikes, employs RPAs for a range of missions, including providing close air support and engaging in weapons employment operations. Unlike manned aircraft, RPAs operate without a physical onboard pilot, and their activities are controlled from a remote pilot station.

The specialized aircraft grows increasingly crucial in modern warfare, with RPAs operators utilizing advanced technology to navigate through air traffic control and execute missions with precision. Unmanned aerial vehicles, as part of the broader RPA operations, have proven to be effective tools in enhancing military capabilities and expanding the scope of strategic initiatives.

Overview Of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) is another term you’ll frequently come across in this field. Like RPAS, UAS refers to the aircraft controls the entire system—not just the aircraft. However, the difference between UAS and RPAS lies in the level of human involvement. While RPAS always involve a human pilot controlling the aircraft, UAS can be either remotely piloted or operated completely autonomously through pre-programmed flight paths. This makes UAS a broader term that encompasses both RPAS and autonomous drones.

RPAs vary in size, and miniaturized drones can have a wingspan as small as 6 inches, whereas larger drones used for industrial and military purposes can have wingspans exceeding 50 feet, showcasing the diverse range of sizes in the RPA category.

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Preparation For Licensing And Certification

FAA Part 107 Exam Requirements

If you’re interested in becoming a remote pilot, it’s important to understand the licensing and certification process. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires remote pilots to pass the Part 107 exam to become certified. This certification ensures that remote pilots have the knowledge necessary to operate RPAs safely and responsibly. The exam covers topics such as airspace classification direct navigation, emergency procedures, FAA regulations, and more.

Knowledge And Skill Development For Remote Pilots

Becoming a successful remote pilot involves more than just passing an exam. It requires developing a deep understanding of how RPAs operate, how to handle different weather conditions, how to respond in emergency situations, and much more. Practical hands-on experience with flying RPAs is also invaluable. Many aspiring remote pilots find it helpful to practice with smaller drones before moving on to larger, more complex RPAs.

The number of registered RPAs is on the rise, with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reporting over 1.7 million registered drones in the United States as of 2021, reflecting the increasing popularity and adoption of these aircraft for manned aviation in.

Practical Knowledge And Professional Approach To UAS

1. Comprehensive Coverage Of UAS Concepts

There’s a lot more to UAS than just learning how to pilot a drone. A comprehensive understanding of UAS involves knowledge of the various types of drones, their applications, the underlying technology, regulatory considerations, and safety practices. Whether you’re an enthusiast looking to dive deeper into your hobby or a professional seeking to use UAS for commercial purposes, a thorough understanding of these concepts is crucial.

RPAs are used in various industries, and estimates suggest that the commercial drone market will witness a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 19% from 2022 to 2027, emphasizing their increasing role in business and industry.

2. Differentiating UAS From Radio Control Toys

It’s important to understand that while small drones can be great for recreation, UAS and RPAS are much more than just toys. They are sophisticated pieces of technology used in a wide range of industries, from agriculture and real estate to emergency response and defense. Recognizing this distinction is essential for anyone looking to get serious about learning UAS.

3. Guiding Towards A Successful Career In UAS

The world of UAS offers numerous career opportunities for qualified pilots. With the right knowledge and skills, you can become a remote pilot, a drone engineer, a UAS operations manager, and many other roles. To succeed in these careers, it’s not enough to just know how to fly a drone—you need a deep understanding of the entire UAS ecosystem.

RPAs equipped with high-resolution cameras can capture detailed imagery, and some drones offer camera resolutions of up to 100 megapixels, facilitating applications in aerial photography, surveillance gathering intelligence, and mapping.

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Flight Training And Pilot Ratings For UAS

Private Pilot And Instrument Rating For UAS

If you’re looking to fly UAS professionally, getting your private pilot and instrument ratings can be beneficial. These ratings demonstrate that you have the skills and knowledge to operate an aircraft safely and effectively. While not always required for flying UAS, they can make you more competitive in the job market.

Commercial And Flight Instructor Ratings For UAS

For those interested in using UAS for commercial purposes or teaching others how to fly UAS, getting your commercial and flight instructor ratings can be a great next step. These ratings show that you have advanced flying skills and the ability to instruct others, making you a valuable asset in the rapidly growing UAS industry.

The average flight time of an RPA depends on its size and purpose. Consumer-grade drones typically have flight times ranging from 15 to 30 minutes, while larger industrial drones can stay airborne for several hours.

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Final Thoughts

Entering the world of UAS and RPAS can be an exciting journey. Whether you’re an enthusiast looking to turn your hobby into a career, a professional seeking new opportunities, in pilot training or simply interested in learning more about this fascinating field, there’s a place for you in the world of UAS. Remember, patience, thoroughness, and a commitment to learning are key to success.

Last Updated on December 2, 2023 by Parina


  • Parina

    Parina Parmar is a full-time dog mom with a knack for content, editing & advertising. She has years of experience in the communication industry, and her dedication to maintaining the integrity of the author's voice while ensuring clarity and coherence in the text sets her apart in her field. She is dedicated to immersing her love for culture, music, and the advertising industry in her works.


    • Bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communication
    • Specialization in SEO, Editing, Digital Strategy, Content Writing & Video Strategy


    • Bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communication
    • Diploma in Fashion Desgining
    • Performance Marketing by Young Urban Project