Takeoff Clearance Challenges
The challenges we face when planning flights include the weather; we need clear skies, no visual obstructions like clouds, fog or smoke. Seasonal climates can also present challenges, especially with cloud and rain in sub-tropical regions during the wet season, or the southern regions mid-winter.
Just like the equipment on board the aircraft, our flight plans are all about precision. Our pilots have to directly follow, and maintain, the GPS-guided flight-plan. Turbulence can affect their ability to remain directly on course, so clear, turbulent-free skies are needed for the pilots to be able to skilfully compensate for roll, pitch and yaw. If the sun is below 30 degrees in the sky, we will wrap up our capture, to avoid long shadows in photos. With Nearmap, it’s all about the detail.
The crucial underlying factor behind flights in controlled airspace is the need for clearance from Air Traffic Control — different locations have different air space restrictions, and we must work with those requirements. We fly 364 days a year: the only day we know our cameras are going to be on the ground with their shutters closed is Christmas Day.
A Brief Glossary of Terms
A flightmap is a section of area that we cover, and it is the boundary of the aerial ‘footprint’ that our pilots follow. Our coverage areas are broken down into survey regions. For example, in Australia, we cover 118 different survey regions between one and six times per year, with population density a major factor determining capture frequency. These survey regions can be broken into several flightmaps, depending on the overall survey region size and shape. There is no standard size or shape of a flightmap, each is uniquely designed for the most efficient flying for our aircraft and systems.
2021 Aerial Map Capture Program Update
We recently completed captures along the Queensland and West Australian north coasts – up to Cairns in QLD and all the way up to Broome in WA. These are two areas that can be tricky to capture due to their tropical latitudes and heavy rain or turbulent conditions during the wet season.
Since those first captures in 2007, we have expanded our coverage considerably.