The Probe Aircraft Platform
The ideal carrier aircraft for hyperspectral instruments should exhibit all the following characteristics:
- Variety of Flying Speeds – 100 to 280 knots
- Stability – weight and high wing designed for short strip performance
- Long Range – custom extra 600 gal. tanks to provide a 3200 nautical mi. range
- Fuselage Instrument Openings – 2 large holes with electric doors plus 2 smaller ones.
- Advanced Electronics – GPS navigation with heads up display for tracking
- All Weather Protection – Full Load De-icing
These superior characteristics are all displayed in Earth Search’s PROBE-1 platform, a turbo-prop Aero Commander 690-B registered as N330ES. (see picture)
N330ES is equipped with Garrett type331-5 turbo-prop engines and was a custom aircraft manufactured for the New Zealand Aerial Mapping Survey. The previous owner used it to map the Antartica continent. The aircraft is fitted with four openings in it’s fuselage to allow it to fly with a suite of different remote sensing instruments. Its turbo-prop rapid speed and its ability to land in remote locations allow fast data collection in outlying sites. It also shows excellent performance at 120 knots, a slower speed ideal for collecting 5 meter data.
A similiar aircraft is pictured flying over the Challenger launch pad