Seabird aims for aerial mapping market

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Australian manufacturer Seabird Aviation is targeting the aerial mapping market for the latest version of its SB7L-360 Seeker-2 surveillance aircraft.

The fixed-wing, two-seater Seeker, which is powered by a Lycoming 0-360 engine, features a helicopter-style cockpit, has a 880km (475nm) range and can fly at low altitude and slow speed.

The aircraft's slow speed, docile handling, long endurance and vibration-free characteristics make it ideal for aerial mapping operations, law enforcement patrols, roads and infrastructure surveys, the Hervey Bay, Queensland-based manufacturer believes.

The operating costs of the Seeker-2 also means it is far better suited than an expensive helicopter platform, the manufacturer adds.

The company's latest project will see airborne laser terrain mapping equipment integrated into the Seeker. "The current aircraft configuration allows us to integrate up to 120kg of payload. The platform is able to supply up to 2.5kW of electrical power. Typical corridor mapping flights would be conducted at 65kt airspeed, allowing us endurance in excess of 6h," says Peter Adams, Seabird managing director.

The move is in response to numerous requests for information for aerial mapping from potential customers in Australasia, says the company. It follows development of a fire-spotting version and the recent completion of the first aircraft fitted with the Cineflex high-definition camera system. Seekers are in operation in Australia, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Jordan, South Africa, Tanzania and the USA.