Total orders at the end of day one of the Paris air-show might have topped $30bn, but sales are not restricted to manned aircraft alone.
The drone has long been the public face of Barack Obama’s national security strategy and if this edition of Le Bourget is anything to go by, their popularity is on the rise.
This year the Italian company Piaggio unveiled the P.1HH Hammerhead surveillance drone, a derivative of their Avanti II model. And as CEO Alberto Galassi explained, it is a product with many features: “It has a system that allows you to watch, check, listen and see. It’s primarily a maritime patrol. The Allied Nations, the Nato countries, are our main target.”
Whilst the market for remote-controlled aircraft is overwhelmingly dominated by the United States and Israel, many European companies, such as France’s Safran, are looking to muscle in.
Vice-President of Sales at Sagem-Sagram, Patrick Durieux, showcased their own, new unmanned model: “It is 100% European, with a system design that is made by Sagem-Safran Group, the cell is manufactured in Germany by the Stemme company, and the aircraft is equipped with sensors that come from France, England and Germany.”
Thousands flock to Le Bourget to see the magnificent flying machines every year, but for punters at the Parrot booth, there were not only sophisticated unmanned military machines on show, but also sophisticated unmanned toys.
As Parrot CEO, Henry Seydoux explains, the technology is largely the same, albeit for different purposes: “Above all, the technology of both professional and consumer drones is all about software – image processing and automatic control. This is the same basic software used to make a professional drone and a consumer drone. One of the goals of a professional drone is the aerial photo, to make excellent aerial photos with an accuracy of few centimetres in order to produce maps very quickly; like, for example, after the natural disaster in Haiti we were able to make an extremely precise map, 3 hours after the disaster.”
Other choice pieces on display included a dancing troupe of drones, which can be remote-controlled from a smart-phone, come with in-built cameras capable of taking panoramic photos, and can be programmed to swing, rock, rave or jive in perfect unison.