Attrition: Predators Dying From Data Starvation


November 28, 2007: In the last year, six U.S. Predator UAVs crashed or suffered major damage, all due to engine problems. So far, the U.S. Air Force has lost about a third of the Predators it has received. One of the common factors in all these incidents is poor error reporting. For a four million dollar aircraft, the Predator does not provide the operator (at a base back in the U.S.) with as much data as the pilot in a four million dollar commercial aircraft (about the same size as the Predator.) For example, a Piper Warrior has a wingspan of 35 feet, is 24 feet long and seats four. It weighs a ton, like the Predator (which has a 49 foot wingspan, is 27 feet long and seats none.) A Piper Warrior pilot not only gets instant alerts on the instrument panel when something is wrong, but can also feel the engine, or aircraft, behaving strangely. Predator operators are finding that the flight control software on Predator does not transmit "instrument panel" alerts immediately, and when that data is sent to the operator, it is often too late. Because the Predator has no pilot on board, who can literally feel, or see, some flight problems, the UAV operator needs more data coming back via the satellite link. The air force is learning this the hard way, and is scrambling to give the operators more awareness of what's going on up there.


Article Archive

Attrition: Current 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close