Tag Archives: FAA


The use of drones (how unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, are commonly called) in military operations has been very criticized in the past years, partly due to the collateral civilian casualties from such operations (close to 300 just in Pakistan in the past years). Nevertheless, the use of drones is here to stay. The US Department of Defense includes as part of its budgetary information an “Aircraft Procurement Plan FY2012-2041” [PDF, 332KB], see in the graphic below how it is planned to almost duplicate the drones in the fleet along the next decade:


Unammned aerial vehicles in DoD inventory.

The civilian use of drones has been lagging behind these years mainly due to its integration in the air space. To that respect, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced last month an initial plan for integrating unmanned aircraft  into U.S. airspace by September 2015.

There are plenty of possible civilian applications that have been raised; from monitoring crops, to pipelines, oil rigs, forest fires, photography… to the dispatching of personal packages being announced recently by Amazon (Prime Air). The Economist issue of this week includes an article, Game of drones, which estimates that by 2017 there could be up to 10,000 drones flying in the USA and by 2025 the civilian drone market could have a size of up to 82bn$ per year, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI).

In this general picture Europe has been left behind.

European air forces are still relying on US and Israeli drones (just this week France has received its first 2 MQ-9 Reaper from the USA). That is why I hope that the conclusion at the recent EU Council  (see here a post I wrote about it) in relation to the launching of a European Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) drone programme helps to put an end to that situation and enables Europe and its industry to bridge the gap:

[…] the development of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) in the 2020-2025 timeframe: preparations for a programme of a next-generation European Medium Altitude Long Endurance RPAS; the establishment of an RPAS user community among the participating Member States owning and operating these RPAS; close synergies with the European Commission on regulation (for an initial RPAS integration into the European Aviation System by 2016); appropriate funding from 2014 for R&D activities; […]

The bridging of that gap would not only ensure the security of supply of such drones for Europe but would help develop critical technologies to maintain the industrial base, its growth and employment; apart from the fact of being many of such technologies of dual use (as recognised in the EU Council conclusions) they would help Europe to access the market for civilian use of drones.

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Boeing 787s parked in Paine Field

During our visit to Boeing wide-bodies final assembly lines in Everett, one thing was striking to the eye: the amount of Boeing 787s that were parked all around Paine Field. This is a view I was expecting to see since (a) at the time we travelled there (May 2013) the final fix to the 787’s batteries problem had not yet been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) nor implemented in the already built aircraft, and (b) Boeing had kept churning 787s out of the assembly line thus provoking the mounting of them around the place.

See some of the pictures I took of them (not many pictures, nor very good ones as within the factory limits photo cameras were prohibited):

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A collector’s gallery of a (luckily) rare event.

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