2.14. Drone catapults

Fixed-wing drones need horizontal space for takeoff and landing, unless they have vertical takeoff and landing capability (VTOL). Catapults are sometimes used to get drones airborne quicker and without need for an airfield.


  1. Catapults handled without care cause injuries to operators or bystanders.
  2. Rapid acceleration damages the drone or its payload, if the catapult is configured wrongly or drones are not built to withstand the stress of catapult starts.

Audit Steps

  1. Physically inspect drone catapults and assess potential risks associated with their operation.
  2. Review the catapult manufacturers manuals for usage restrictions and warnings and assess compliance therewith.
  3. Assess the minimum number of people required to operate a catapult safely and review common practice.
  4. Conduct interviews and ask about accidents in the operation of drone catapults in the past to better understand risks.
  5. Analyse risks and limitations of different catapult types in regards to mission types and verify that necessary restrictions are in place.


drone audit program index