Ordnance Survey to Fly and Map the Entirety of Great Britain

Great Britain’s national mapping agency, Ordnance Survey is pleased to announce that its Flying Unit will be based at East Midlands Airport with two aircraft which will fly the length and breadth of Great Britain to capture aerial photography.

Ordnance Survey will be based at the airport for the next three years and its two aircraft will be using it as a base to capture high-quality aerial imagery from the highlands of Scotland to the south coast. The mapping agency uses the aerial imagery to update the master map of the country, which records over 5,000 changes every single day.

Having relocated from Blackpool International Airport for the 2012 flying season, Ordnance Survey has used aircraft to record changes to the landscape for over fifty years. In the early days, it operated from a number of different bases across the country, but the move to East Midlands brings together all the Flying Unit resources in one place. The two aircraft, a Cessa 402 and Cessna 404, carry cameras which record change at a highly detailed level.

The Ordnance Survey aircraft could be in the sky any time from March to November capturing some 50,000 high resolution images which are used to update the mapping database of the country, update our aerial photography mapping products and capture change which is included in our most detailed mapping. They use cameras which are among the highest resolution in the country recording 196 megapixels on each image. Over the course of the 2011 flying season, the cameras captured over 51,000 useable frames including those covering all the Olympic sites and 140 other target areas.

Tony Mabey, Head of Remote Sensing at Ordnance Survey, said: “We are delighted to be making use of the first class facilities which East Midlands Airport has to offer. We have moved to make commercial and operational efficiencies connected to the current contract with the aircraft service provider, RVL Group, who has recently opened a new purpose-built hanger at East Midlands Airport. As a world-class mapping agency, it is important for us to be making the most of the technology and the opportunities to update our mapping as cost effectively and efficiently as we can.”

The Flying Unit team have been filmed for many television programmes such as Countryfile and Coast and have featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles showing the countryside from the air.