Recently, the German photogrammetry company GeoFly purchased two camera systems. With the Vexcel Imaging Eagle Mark 3, they will be able to work more efficiently and take on different assignments.
GeoFly has been in the market for twelve years. The recent transaction marks the sixth UltraCam purchase for GeoFly. Currently, they operate three Vexcel UltraCams. Aicke Damrau, General Manager of GeoFly, looks back on their history with Vexcel. “We are proud to be clients of Vexcel Imaging for all these years. We started out in 2008, and by 2009 we were buying our first camera system. That was the X Prime, which has been a good decision. The second one we bought was a Falcon Prime, which we purchased five years ago. We will replace these two cameras with the new Eagle camera systems, because those new camera systems are more efficient.” The UltraCam Eagle Mark 3 is Vexcel’s flagship large format aerial . It’s cameraproviding an ultra-large image footprint of 26,460 pixels across the flight strip at a collection rate of 1 frame per 1.5 seconds.
In its first years of its existence, GeoFly was a local company, but soon they took on projects from all over the world. “We are equally an international company as we are a local company. We have projects for State survey agencies in Germany, but we also work in the Philippines, Sudan, Turkey, Greenland and South America.” For these overseas jobs, the deployment of airplanes and cameras differ. “It depends on the country. For example: in Cuba, it’s not allowed to fly your own aircraft, so there we had to use a state aircraft. In the Philippines, we only sent our camera system and took a plane on site.” Damrau explains: “During the main season we operate six aircrafts. We own two aircrafts ourselves, the others we are hiring from providers on-site.”
The system features an exchangeable lens system, allowing customers to take advantage of optional lens kits at different focal lengths.This comes in handy for missions requiring specific flying altitudes. The Mark3 has a distinct advantage: when placing a 210 mm lens, it can obtain very high resolutions, even on high altitudes. Says Damrau “Thanks to this, we will now have the possibility to also fly difficult areas where before, we were having some trouble with the ATC. We fly higher now.” The market GeoFly is entering now, asks for 1 cm resolution. Normally, the plane needs to be at an altitude of 300-400 meters to accomplish the needed pixel densities. “Now we are at a 1000 metre. This is going to be difficult as well, but at least it’s possible.”
New clients, new applications
With the decision to aim at higher resolutions, new markets appear for GeoFly. The company stands for a different task now. New clients are deploying aerial photos for different applications. With this, Damrau agrees: “We might have a technical task to do, like a motor way survey, or a power line survey. There the customer will really need the high-resolution images.” Things will change as well for GeoFly’s regular customers, like national mapping agencies and municipalities. “If we want to cover a complete country, or do a state survey where we are flying 20 cm resolution, we can now do it on an altitude around 30,000 to 40,000 feet. This will make it easier to do. We will be much more efficient with these new cameras.”
Additionally, GeoFly is operating three lidar systems from RIEGL. Integration of photogrammetry and lidar is possible. It depends on the aircraft. “If we are to use the double hedge aircraft, we can deploy the Lidar system and the UltraCam together in one flight. Of course, if a client wants to obtain both lidar and photogrammetric images, we will be flying with GPS and IMU as orientation. This way, the delivery process will be a combined product. But, if you fly separately, it will result in separate products.” Coming back to power lines projects, for these it might be interesting to have both scans and orthophotos. “Well, that depends from the type of power line service provider. Some of these companies only want to have aerial photos. To them, digitization is based around the images, mapping the assets. Others may want to have a point cloud.”