This paper presents the design of a state observer which guarantees quadratic boundedness of the estimation error. By using quadratic Lyapunov stability analysis, the convergence rate and the ultimate (steady-state) error bounding ellipsoid are identified as the parameters that define the behaviour of the estimation. Then, it is shown that these objectives can be merged in a scalarised objective function with one design parameter, making the design problem convex. In the second part of the article, a UAV model is presented which can be made linear by considering a particular state and frame of reference. The UAV model is extended to incorporate a disturbance model of variable size. The joint model matches the structure required to derive an observer, following the lines of the proposed design approach. An observer for disturbances acting on the UAV is derived and the analysis of the performances with respect to the design parameters is presented. The effectiveness and main characteristics of the proposed approach are shown using simulation results.