Skilled Flyer

The 3 Types of Drones Explained


Drones have become so common that you can walk into most stores and buy one off the shelf. And just like most things in life, there are many different types of drones.

Each drone type varies in cost and your ability to fly. If you’re going to make flying quadcopters your new hobby, then you need to understand these types as well as their benefits and drawbacks.

For example, have you ever heard/read the acronym “RTF”? How about “BNF”? And finally, “ARF”?

If you have and you don’t know what they mean, then this article was designed for you.

We’ll dedicate this article to talking about all three types as well as what they mean for the average flyer. Sit back, relax, and let’s get started.

Types of Drones – RTF

Types of Drones

RTF stands for Ready-to-Fly. It means that the drone can be ready to fly in a matter of minutes (there’s no pre-assembly required).

When we say ready to fly, we don’t mean that the drone is going to come flying out the box. That won’t happen.

Instead, it means you’ll able to fly it more or less after removing it from the box. More times than not, the only thing you’ll need to do is insert the battery.

Other times, you might need to charge up the battery. But other than that, there isn’t too much else that you’ll need to do to get into the air.

These types of drones are great for beginner flyers. That’s because they require no complex setup or programming.

Just keep in mind that they can be more expensive than the other types we’re going to talk about in this article.

Here’s an example of an RTF drone. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about the next kind: BNF.


BNF stands for Bind-N-Fly. This means that the drone doesn’t come with a transmitter (the Blade 200 QX is a perfect example).

So if you already have a transmitter at home then this can save you a lot of money by not having to buy one. This is why BNF drones tend to be cheaper than what you might expect.

These drone types are better-suited for experienced flyers who may have already invested in a quality transmitter.

While it’s not guaranteed, you might be able to use transmitters from old quadcopters to fly your new BNF model. So in theory, you’d be able to use the same transmitter forever, but there’s no way to know for sure until you try it.

Since a beginner flyer probably won’t have a transmitter at home, it wouldn’t make much sense for them to buy a BNF model.

These models are better for people who have already flown before. Now let’s talk about the final type of quadcopter that you’ll encounter: the ARF.


ARF stands for Almost Ready to Fly. As you can probably guess, it means that this quadcopter comes almost ready to fly.

Typically, there will be something you’ll need to do first before getting into the air.

It’s hard to say what that “something” is considering that the word “almost” can be quite subjective.

One example of an ARF drone is one that comes with some parts missing. The parts missing can be the motors, body, or any number of things.

The point is, these drone types aren’t really designed for beginners. They are better-suited for people who understand how quadcopters work and how to build them.

If you want to experience the thrill of learning how to put together your own machine, then the ARF model is the way to go.

You would also opt for an ARF drone if you’re an existing flyer who wants more customization.

Picture it like a go kart racer: beginners typically buy stock go karts while more experienced riders build them from scratch. The drone community isn’t any different.

Types of Drones – Bottom Line

We hope that this article on types of drones has helped clear up any confusion that you may have had. We highly recommend memorizing these acronyms as you’ll be seeing them a lot.

Whenever you shop for a drone online, it will usually tell you whether it’s an RTF, BNF, or ARF. If you’re a beginner, it’s a good idea to start with the RTF models.

They come with everything that you need to get in the air quickly (check out this page for an extensive list of RTF models).

The BNF models are designed for people who have their own transmitters, and finally, the ARF models are for people who want more customization freedom.

If you have any questions about these 3 drone types, leave a comment below. Thanks for reading! Good luck and fly safe.

About the Author David

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