Passenger plane sales may be slumping, but drones – or unmanned aerial vehicles to give them their proper name – are starring at this year’s Paris Air Show.
Big companies like Boeing and EADS make the pilotless aircraft, along with smaller firms like Austria’s Schiebel. CEO Andreas Schiebel explained that they are not just for military use: “Customers divide actually into civilian industrial security applications like pipeline security and so forth, all the way to governmental military like border security and general reconnaissance and surveillance.” Governments are cutting their defence budgets, but spending on unmanned aerial vehicles is up; by 18 percent in the US this year as they prove themselves in places like Iraq and Afghanistan. The CEO of EADS Defence and Security, Stefan Zoller said: “On one side we have crisis, on the other hand we have defence spending that is by nature very long term. We have long lead times, we have long engineering production cycles, that is for a fighter aircraft many, many decades, which means a crisis as such won’t impact these long cycles.” Boeing estimates the UAV market could be worth 115 billion euros over the next 10 years And for the first time a drone – Schiebel’s Camcopter S-100 – was included in the official flight displays at the Paris Air Show.