Col-East International Ltd., a provider of aerial photogrammetric services in the Northeast U.S., has been contracted to perform an airborne survey and vegetation mapping project at New Bedford Regional Airport in Massachusetts. Col-East, which was acquired by Bluesky International of the United Kingdom earlier this year, will deploy its new Vexcel UltraCam Eagle digital camera for the project.
“The digital camera will enable us to conduct this project faster and with greater accuracy than previously possible,” said Col-East General Manager Mark Thaisz. “Weather permitting, aerial collection will be finished this month.”
Airport Solutions Group of Burlington, Mass., selected Col-East to map the treetop canopy around the general aviation airport as part of an FAA-mandated obstruction evaluation for New Bedford’s secondary runway which is being certified for instrument approaches. The two firms teamed for a similar mapping project on the airport’s main runway in 2012.
“Airport surveying requires a specialist, and there are just a few companies that know how to do it,” said Robert Mallard, President and CEO of Airport Solutions Group. “We selected Col-East for their experience and quality of work.”
In the past 65 years of capturing and processing aerial photography, imagery, and LiDAR throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic, Col-East has emerged as an expert in airport mapping projects. When the FAA launched its Airports GIS (AGIS) program in 2007, Col-East was among the first to complete a vertical obstruction survey certified by the FAA under Advisory Circular 150/5300-18. At New Bedford, Col-East will establish GPS survey control points on and near the airport before collecting digital aerial imagery covering an approximately 80-square mile area with its UltraCam Eagle camera. The color imagery will be captured when the trees are in full leaf-on condition for accurate mapping of vegetation canopy. Spatial resolution of the imagery will be 12 cm.
“The airborne GPS in the UltraCam will save time and expense on the ground because we can set up fewer survey control points. Furthermore, the digital imagery is so sharp that our photogrammetrists can extract more accurate elevation points from the imagery in less time,”” said Thaisz.
Working in its North Adams, Mass., headquarters, Col-East photogrammetrists will extract accurate elevation measurements for all trees and other vegetation, creating 3D models of natural and man-made obstacles in the airport runway approach path. Col-East will submit plans, reports, imagery package and final obstacle survey to the FAA’s AGIS website.
Investment in the Vexcel UltraCam imaging system was the first major advancement made at Col-East since its acquisition by Bluesky International this year, Thaisz explained. He added that clients can expect several new mapping services developed and refined by Bluesky in the UK to be introduced in the coming months.