I Have Flown 500 Hours

by | Mar 19, 2018 | Company News

Steve Case

Collections Manager at 2Excel Geo

 

Steve is highly experienced specialist camera operator and and electrical design engineer having spent 34 years in the BBC.

Steve is the most experienced operator of Hyspex cameras in Europe having flown over 500 hours. Steve also designs and manufactures bespoke equipment to facilitate ground collect.

 

In the role of Collection Manager for 2Excel geo I have amassed over 500 hours experience as an Airborne Sensor Operator. The vast majority of these hours have been in support of hyperspectral campaigns with the remainder made up in support of 3XL operations (Supporting British Army with Close Air Support). However, the role of Collection Manager starts well before the flying begins.

At the very outset, I was involved in rapid development of our hyperspectral remote sensing payload. This was successfully accomplished in just 10 weeks using 2Excel’s proven Concept to Capability process. Our hyperspectral collection capability utilises one of 2Excel Aviation’s ten modified Piper PA31 Navajos and is equipped with NEO (Norsk Electro Optic) VNIR1800 and SWIR384 sensors along with a PhaseOne IXA-180 80 mega pixel RGB aerial survey camera.

A campaign starts with a conversation. One of our strengths is the integration of collection, processing and analysis capabilities. With an understanding of the client’s requirement, the factors affecting processing and analysis and, as a qualified pilot, I can develop a collection plan that ensures that we get the very best outcomes. Operating in restricted airspace is not a showstopper as we can negotiate with the relevant authorities in advance.

Mission Plans are shared with the customer, project team and pilot to ensure that everyone understands the plan and contingencies. Typically, I will plan collection at multiple heights to accommodate cloud conditions on arrival at the target location.

Figure 1

In my office.

Figure 1

In my office.

With an endurance of 5hrs 30mins and transit speed of 150 knots, we can collect very large areas or multiple smaller areas around the country. One example was a collection we conducted in which we took off from our home base of Sywell, flew to Northern Ireland, collected for a couple of hours then returned home to Sywell, landing 5 hrs 15mins after take-off.

In flight, I continuously monitor data quality to maximise signal-to-noise ratio and ensure ground coverage. On a cloudy day, we have the endurance to hold-off collection to avoid shadow over the target area and the flexibility and speed to re-order the sortie to accommodate changing weather conditions. On some occasions I have even planned new lines in flight. I can only imagine having to repack a UAV into a van and travel by road to a better collection, this must be a nightmare.

 

Figure 2

Collecting for Oil Spill Response Ltd.

Figure 2

Collecting for Oil Spill Response Ltd.

 

Once the flying task is complete, I transfer the recorded data from the 2TB SSDs onto the server and complete a Mission Report. Importantly I provide my immediate feedback on the success of the collection and any likely data quality issues. It is also when I transition from my Collection Manager role to my data processing role. But that’s another story…..

Hall Farm 2
Sywell Aerodrome, Sywell
Northamptonshire, NN6 0BN

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