Drone Industry Acronyms and Abbreviations

Drone Industry Acronyms and Abbreviations2019-08-03T23:37:17+01:00

Drone Industry Acronyms, Abbreviations and Industry Terms

For many people out side the drone industry it can often be difficult and confusing when reading industry specific acronyms, abbreviations and terms. So DSR have published a list of the most popular or regularly used for your information.

Drone Acronyms


Autonomous Collision Avoidance System (ACAS).  This allows the drone to detect obstacles and reroute or hold position to avoid them.




Altitude Above Ground Level


Air Navigation Order. An Act of Parliament detailing the law as it relates to civil aviation.


Aerial Photography


Air Traffic Control


Battery Elimination Circuit.  A circuit designed to deliver electrical power to other circuitry without the need for multiple batteries.


British Model Flying Association.


Beyond Visual Line of Sight.  Usually a pilot has duty to keep their craft in their line of sight, ie visible to the pilot with the naked eye.  Legislation enabling them to fly beyond their line of sight is forecast to be passed in the UK shortly and will unlock services such as drone delivery.


Civil Aviation Authority.  The UK’s governing body for aviation law.


Civil Aviation Publication. Items published by the CAA, all referenced with a unique number.


Carbon Fibre.  Commonly used material in drone construction because it is strong but still remains light in weight.

CG / CoG2019-04-20T09:35:37+01:00

Centre of Gravity.


DJI – not so much an acronym but the leading manufacturer of drone technology, based in China and producing brand names such as Mavic, Inspire, Phantom and Spark amongst others.


European Aviation Safety Agency. Responsible for safety legislation in civil aviation across Europe.  It carries out certification, regulation, and standardisation, and also performs investigation and monitoring.



Electronic Magnetic Interference.  When an electronic device enters the vicinity of an electromagnetic field in the radio frequency spectrum of another device that can cause EMI.  These disturbances can affect the control of the UAV by the pilot on the ground – power lines and mobile phone towers can be examples of this.


Electronic Speed Control.  The device for controlling how fast the craft’s motors spin.


Extended Visual Line of Sight.   A distance of over 500 metres but with the pilot still able to see the craft with the naked eye.


Federal Aviation Administration.  The USA’s department of transportation agency that oversees civil aviation.


Flight Controller.  The brain of the drone which stabilises and controls the drone mixing signals from the on board computer with input signals from the pilot.


Flight Information Region.


Flight Level.


Field of View.  How much environment you can see through the camera lens.


First Person View.  A forward facing camera on the drone allows the pilot to fly as though they are on board – commonly used in drone racing.


Flight Restricted Zone.  Areas that require special or additional permissions in order to be able to fly.


Geographic Information System.  The system that captures and stores geographical data and allows it to be manipulated and presented.


Global Positioning System.  A collection of satellites that allow the position of a drone to be calculated.


High Intensity Radio Transmission Area. An area that can interfere with your drone electronics.


International Civil Aviation Organisation. United Nations specialised group that codifies the principles of civil aviation and creates plans for safe and orderly growth.


Instrument Flight Rules. There are two sets of regulations controlling civil aviation with the other being VFR (Visual Flight Rules).  IFR means that the pilot can fly without visual data and rely on the craft’s instruments.


Light Detection and Ranging.   A surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with pulses of light and measuring the reflected pulses with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital representations of the target.  It’s commonly used in mapping of sea floors, forests and in precision agriculture.


Lithium Ion Polymer Battery.  This is the most commonly used type of battery used in a drone because of the high transfer rate allowing fast energy release.  They need proper care and storage as they have the potential to be highly flammable.


Line of Sight. Being able to see your drone with the naked eye while you are flying – a requirement under current UK law – under 500m.


No Fly Zone.  Areas where drone flight is restricted according to government law.


Nautical Mile. Equivalent to one minute of latitude which you sometimes see this used in aviation.  For example you’re not permitted to fly  within 3.5nm or an aerodrome without permission.


Notice to Air Men.  A CAA time sensitive notice to all pilots in an area to make them aware of potential hazards or unusual conditions.


National Qualified Entity.  This is an organisation that has been assessed by the Civil Aviation Authority and given the authority to make recommendations for a Permission for Commercial Operation which allows you to use drones commercially.


Obstacle Avoidance System. 


Operations Manual.  The document that a pilot needs to produce and submit to the CAA annually in order to obtain their Permission for Commercial Operation.


Operating Safety Case.  An additional set of CAA permissions given to a pilot to allow them to operate their craft outside of standard permissions, often referring to reduced distances.


On Screen Display.  A screen that shows telemetry or flight data on the pilot’s monitor while they are in flight.


Permission for Commercial Operations.  The CAA granted for a drone pilot to undertake UAV activity for commercial purposes and a legal requirement in the UK.


Pilot in Command.


Remotely Piloted Aerial System. Another term for a drone.  This is the one that is the official term of the CAA.


Revolutions Per Minute.  The amount of times a drone motor shaft rotates per minute.


Ready to Fly.  A drone that is already assembled and configured so you can fly it with minimal extra steps.

RTL / RTH2019-04-19T13:32:53+01:00

Return to Launch / Return to Home.  A setting which means that the drone can be recalled to its starting position at a single command.


Speed Over Ground.  This can be different to air speed.


Small Unmanned Aerial System.  An alternative term for a drone.


Transmitter / Transmission

UAS / UAV2019-04-19T13:37:04+01:00

Unmanned Aerial System / Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.  Alternative names for drones or remotely piloted craft.


Visual Flight Rules. There are two sets of regulations controlling civil aviation with the other being IFR (Instrument Flight Rules).  VFR applies to drones currently as it means that the pilot can only fly using visual data (ie being able to see the drone) and not solely rely on instruments.


Video Receiver


Vertical Take Off and Landing.  One major advantage of multi rotor craft over fixed wing drones which require a runway and so extra space to take off and land.

Drone Abbreviations & Terms

2.4 Ghz2019-05-30T13:58:31+01:00

Frequency used by digital radio communications, more commonly used in hobbyist drones.

3D Mapping2019-05-30T14:05:51+01:00

Software that allows you to create 3d maps and models from inputting a number of drone pictures from varying altitudes and angles.

Autonomous Flight2019-05-30T13:55:20+01:00

A drone flight that is pre-programmed by the pilot to follow a path dictated by various waypoints. Once the flight commences, the pilot does not intervene, the drone simply follows the path and comes to land at a predefined point.

Autonomous Flight2019-04-23T13:58:22+01:00

UAVs always fly autonomously to some degree as they are not controlled by a pilot on board but by a pilot on the ground sending signals to the craft.  However, some drones can fly autonomously without intervention of a ground based by following a predetermined flight from waypoint to waypoint using it’s GPS system.

Brushless Motors2019-04-23T13:59:40+01:00

These motors use magnets rotating around a fixed armature making them efficient, hardy and less prone to wear and tear damage so perfect for controlling gimbal movement.

Collision Avoidance2019-05-30T13:56:51+01:00

Also known as Sense and Avoid, this is a system that allows a drone to sense the presence of an obstacle and either reroute to avoid it or hold its position in the sky and wait for the pilot to intervene.

Commercial Flight2019-04-23T14:02:57+01:00

Commercial Flight in terms of drones (those flights for which you need CAA approval and insurance) is defined as any flight by a small unmanned aircraft in return for remuneration or other valuable consideration.  This means that pilots that fly in return for money or other gifts require the relevant permissions, qualifications and insurances (all Drone Safe Register professional members hold these permissions and so are available for commercial flight)

Commercial Grade2019-05-30T13:41:11+01:00

There are various levels of drone craft – toy grade, hobby grade and commercial grade. Commercial grade drones will have a raft of features that allow them to be used in a business environment, such as flight stabilisation, mounts to allow cameras to be changed, return to home and sense and avoid systems.  They will be more rugged in construction, often contain multiple batteries to extend the flight time and of course be more expensive.


Software that controls the operation of the device loaded into read-only memory on the hardware.

Fixed Wing2019-05-30T14:09:32+01:00

A fixed wing drone will have wings that are permanently extended in the style of an aeroplane.  A multi rotor drone has a series of propellers in the style of a helicopter.


A virtual geographic boundary that is placed around a sensitive area such as an airport or airfield.   A response is triggered when a drone enters an area and that is usually to ‘push’ the drone out of the area.


A series of brushless motors that work between the movement of the drone and the camera to smooth and stabilise the image.


A range of small and lightweight cameras that can be mounted onto a drone (or almost anything else for that matter).  Despite their small size, they are capable of recording high quality images and video and they are also waterproof and extremely rugged.


A device to measure the movement of the UAV and keep it stable in the air.  Most advanced drones have triple axis gyroscopic stabilisation meaning that the craft is stabilised on yaw, pitch and roll.

Headless Mode2019-05-30T14:16:39+01:00

A mode in which the craft will follow the pilot’s joystick movement regardless of the orientation of the craft.


A Hexacopter is a craft that uses six propellers working in pairs, with one spinning clockwise and one anticlockwise at varying speeds to generate directional movement.

Hobby Grade2019-05-30T13:21:47+01:00

There are various levels of drone craft – toy grade, hobby grade and commercial grade.  Hobby grade drones have more sophisticated sensors and the ability to perform tasks based on location as well as replaceable parts such as propellers.  As they are not designed for absolute beginners, a hobby grade drone may require some flying experience.


The effect of vibration when viewing a video – think of a subtle wobble like jelly on a plate.  It can usually be controlled with a suitably high quality gimbal.

Landing Gear2019-05-30T14:07:23+01:00

Just like on a plane, most drones also have landing gear., In some models, the landing gear retracts so it doesn’t get in the way of the camera during the flight and descends again when it is time for the craft to land.


A multicopter is a mechanically simple aerial vehicle whose motion is controlled by speeding or slowing multiple downward thrusting motor/propeller units.


A drone classified in the nano category will have a weight less than or equal to 250 grams.  It will be small in size of course, usually smaller than the palm of your hand.


A Octocopter is a craft that uses eight propellers working in pairs, with one spinning clockwise and one anticlockwise at varying speeds to generate directional movement.


What the drone carries with it into the air in order to perform a function.  Most commonly it is a camera, but can also be items such as chemical sprayers, items for delivery or armaments in the case of the military.


Pitch rotation is a movement around the lateral axis of a rigid body that changes the direction it is pointing, up or down of its direction of motion.

Yaw Pitch Roll Diagram


Abbreviation for propeller.


A Quadcopter is a craft that uses four propellers working in pairs, with one spinning clockwise and one anticlockwise at varying speeds to generate directional movement.


Roll is a movement around the horizontal axis of a rigid body , for example in the case of an airplane running from nose to tail.

Yaw Pitch Roll Diagram

Sense and Avoid2019-05-30T13:44:10+01:00

This can also sometimes be called Autonomous Collision Avoidance System (ACAS).  This allows the drone to detect obstacles and reroute or hold position to avoid them.

Toy Grade2019-05-30T13:38:33+01:00

There are various levels of drone craft – toy grade, hobby grade and commercial grade.  Toy grade drones are harder to distinguish now as the technology is so advanced however, a toy grade drone is likely to be cheap, not have any replaceable parts and not be fitted with any GPS system, or any return to home features.  This can make them a cheap and excellent way of honing your flying skills as you cannot rely on any flight assistance features.


Setting that is adjustable to affect how a drone hovers and holds its position in the sky.

Video Latency2019-05-30T14:18:29+01:00

The lag or delay between what the camera is capturing and what the pilot can see on the monitor.


A set of co-ordinates that can be combined to form a path for autonomous drone flight.


Yaw rotation is a movement around the yaw axis of a rigid body that changes the direction it is pointing, to the left or right of its direction of motion.

Yaw Pitch Roll Diagram