Abstract The rapid expansion of the market for remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) includes a particular interest in 10-25 kg vehicles for monitoring, surveillance, and reconnaissance. Power-plant options for these aircraft are often 10-100 cm3 internal combustion engines. Both power and fuel conversion efficiency decrease with increasing rapidity in the aforementioned size range. Fuel conversion efficiency decreases from ∼30% for conventional-scale engines (>100 cm3 displacement) to <5% for micro glow-fuel engines (<10 cm3 displacement), while brake mean effective pressure decreases from >10 bar (>100 cm3) to <4 bar (<10 cm3). Based on research documented in the literature, the losses responsible for the increase in the rate of decreasing performance cannot be clearly defined.