Ordnance Survey captures change from the skies

If you are in the East Midlands area and watch or listen to local news, hopefully you’ll have heard from us today about the work that our Flying Unit undertakes capturing change through aerial photography.

We have two aircraft which fly the length and breadth of the entire country during the flying season which lasts from March till November each year. From 2012 for the next three years they are going to be based at East Midlands Airport and today we’ll be showing the media what we do, what data we capture using aerial photography and how that information is included into our database to update our mapping.

We hope they’ll feature us on local news bulletins through the day and this evening, so if you’d like to see our aircraft in action, look out for East Midlands Tonight or ITV Central.

We have two aircraft which will be based at East Midlands in a brand new hangar built by RVL Group who maintain and manage the aircraft for us.  They are a Cessna 404 called G-TASK and a Cessna 402 called G-NOSE.  All aircraft based in Great Britain start their name with a ‘G’ and then four letters. There’s no particular relevance to our names, but once they are named they are very rarely changed – much like a car registration plate!

We use an amazingly detailed digital camera – probably one the highest resolution cameras in the country with 196 megapixels. This allows us to take high resolution images even from the skies.

For the techies among you who want to know more, it’s a:

  • Microsoft UltraCamXp
  • Large-format digital aerial camera
  • 196 megapixels
  • Multi-spectral capability
  • Panchromatic and 4 colour channels R,G, B and NIR (red, green blue and near infra red)

Getting aerial photography is obviously dependent on the weather and clearance from Air Traffic Control and we rely on making the most of any bright, clear days to enable us to collect data.

Last year, we had 154 target areas where we wanted to capture aerial imagery showing change that was happening on the ground. Of those, 14 were Olympic sites and we made sure we captured the amazing amount of change that’s happening on those sites as a priority, especially as it’s not always easy to get access while sites are still in development.

Overall in 2011, we met 90% of the targets and captured over 51,000 frames, flying on 103 days during the period.

Let’s hope it’s another good summer in 2012 for the Flying Unit and we can continue to get our aircraft in the air recording change and updating our mapping.


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