Business booms at Bordeaux drone show

The global market for drones is expanding rapidly and they are increasingly being used for non-military purposes, industry leaders at Europe's second ever drone show said Thursday.

Business booms at Bordeaux drone show
Photo: Flickr user Dysanovic

The UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicle) Show Europe in the French city Bordeaux drew a swathe of heavyweights who said the market would expand further as people realised that drones were a far cheaper surveillance option.

"The drone has opened a new industrial and aeronautical era," said Francois Baffou, director at Bordeaux Technowest, which organised the two-day show that opened on Wednesday.

"The drone will not replace either the helicopter nor the plane but it will be used for missions that cost a lot… like surveillance of railway lines, pipelines, wind turbines or the seas," he said.

"A helicopter costs €1,000 ($1,300) an hour. With a drone one pays 1/12th the cost," he said, adding that the drone needs to be "demystified from
the perception that it is a 'Big Brother' with cameras to survey everything."

The military market for the unmanned crafts is also growing said Jean-Noel Stock, vice-president for UAV surveillance and intelligence systems at Thales.

"For the period from 2005-2015, the military market for drones — dominated by the United States at 50% and Israel at 25% — is estimated at €100 billion," he said.

France's Dassult Aviation said its experimental nEUROn military drone being developed along with Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland at a cost of €406 million, was nearly ready.

"It will fly in a few weeks," said Executive Vice-President Eric Trappier.

Thales has developed a drone named the Watchkeeper, which is being used by the British army for weather, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

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UPDATE: One killed and 10 injured in France garage blast

An 88-year-old woman was killed and her 89-year-old partner was seriously hurt during an explosion in a garage in the French city of Bordeaux on Saturday, firefighters said.

UPDATE: One killed and 10 injured in France garage blast
Firefighters work at the site where a large explosion in a garage destroyed the building as well as two neighbouring ones on February 6, 2021 in Bordeaux' Chartrons district. Photo: AFP

Initial investigations suggest gas was the cause of the blast, which destroyed the small building and seriously damaged two neighbouring buildings.

The woman had been listed as missing after the blast at around 8am (0700 GMT) in the Chartrons district of the western French city.

Firefighters said they found her body under rubble at around 4pm.

Her partner, the 89-year-old man, had been fighting for his life in hospital before his condition later improved, according to officials.

A second person initially named as missing has since come forward.

So far nine other people have been identified with minor injuries following the blast.

A member of the dog-technical team arrives at the site of the explosion. Photo: AFP

About 70 firefighters were on the scene.

Emergency services used sniffer dogs and equipment to clear the debris in their search.

The explosion destroyed a car park and garage on the ground floor and lodgings on the floor above.

The windows of several nearby shops were blown out by the force of the blast.

Lucie Perrouault, 21, said she was scared when the windows “exploded”.

“The glass from our window was blown onto us, we stepped on glass and my boyfriend was injured,” she said.

The large explosion destroyed the building as well as two neighbouring ones in Bordeaux' Chartrons district. Photo: AFP


Mael, 38, said she “was sleeping and I heard a great 'boom' — my bay window exploded”.

“I went outside and saw that an apartment had been blown up”.

While gas supplies to the district have been cut, “we don't know yet whether it was the gas network or canisters” that caused the explosion, said Eric Destarac, a spokesman for gas distribution company Regaz.

Firefighters recovered some gas bottles from the garage, he added.