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3 Types of Drones: RTF, BNF, and ARF

Drones are now common enough that there are stores that stock them and, of course, online shops such as ebay that sell diferent types. The differences can be as obvious as cost and manufacturer, but more importantly affect how much work you have to do. You’re not likely to ever be able to fly a drone home straight from the shop. There are some that need assembling, and some that need their batteries charged first.


RTF means Ready To Fly. It means that you’ll be able to fly it more or less straight out of the box. You will need to charge up the drone’s batteries and perhaps put on the rotor blades and bind the drone with the handset.

RTF-Drone-Yuneec-Q500-Typhoon 3 Types of Drones: RTF, BNF, and ARF

RTF Drone Yuneec Q500 Typhoon

Binding is like the pairing you do with Bluetooth devices. Nonetheless, RTF drones are a good choice for beginners. They can be more expensive, though, as they’re aimed at a broader range of users and are capable of doing lots of things.


This stands for Bind-N-Fly. These drones are sold as complete quadcopters or UAVs, but they don’t include the controller. That’s the key diference between an RTF and a BNF.

BNF-Drone-Chroma™-Camera 3 Types of Drones: RTF, BNF, and ARF

BNF Drone Chroma™ Camera

You need to buy a separate handset controller, but you might be able to use your old controller. That’s not guaranteed but, in theory, you could keep the same controller and use it with diferent drones. They’re not always compatible, but you could easily buy alternative ones.


This stands for Almost Ready to Fly. You will need to work on the drone before flying. This can mean as little as assembling it, but you might not get a controller or the transmitter/receiver for the drone to be controllable, or the light control computer that makes flying the drone physically possible.

ARF-Drone-Hurricane-Mk2-Racing 3 Types of Drones: RTF, BNF, and ARF

ARF Drone Hurricane Mk2 Racing

This isn’t really aimed at a beginner. You’d choose an ARF drone if you’re an existing drone user and already have parts and know how to transfer them to the machine.

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