Photogrammetry - Aircraft Platforms

Our pioneering aerial photogrammetry research began with the use of manned aircraft in 1979, and since 2014 we have primarily adopted small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

Hughes 500D helicopter Fixed-wing airplanes like the NOAA Twin Otter and the Observer Partenavia have proved reliable for making photographic passes over marine mammals on haul outs or at sea. For inaccessible study sites away from airstrips, we have used helicopter platforms: launching a Hughes 500D helicopter from the NOAA Ship David Starr Jordan to survey dolphin schools hundreds of miles offshore in the eastern tropical Pacific and photographing killer whales at the Antarctic ice edge from a H65 flown from McMurdo Station by the US Coast Guard.
de Havilland Twin Otter in flight Our use of UAS platforms has greatly increased the range of studies when we can collect aerial images. We now use small multi-copter vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) drones, flying hundreds of flights per year from a variety of boat and shore stations. The quiet sound footprint of these small aircraft enables permitted flights at lower altitude than manned aircraft with no disturbance to cetaceans at sea. As a result, we can collect more images of higher quality at decreased cost with increased efficiency and safety.
Last modified: 2/26/2018