Aerial survey is a method of gathering geometrics or other imagery by using airplanes, helicopters, UAVs, balloons or other aerial methods. Typical types of data collected include aerial photography, Lidar, remote sensing (using various visible and invisible bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, such as infrared, gamma, or ultraviolet) and also geophysical data (such as aeromagnetic surveys and gravity. It can also refer to the chart or map made by analyzing a region from the air. Aerial survey should be distinguished from satellite imagery technologies because of its better resolution, quality and atmospheric conditions (which can negatively impact and obscure satellite observation).

What are the main uses?

Archaeology Fishery surveys Land survey Mining and mineral exploration

Reconnaissance Wild life monitor Transportation projects regarding ground surveys 

Aerial survey systems are typically operated with the following

  • Flight navigation software, which directs the pilot to fly in the desired pattern for the survey.
  • GNSS, a combination of GPS and inertial measurement unit (IMU) to provide position and orientation information for the data recorded.
  • Gyro-stabilized mount to counter the effects of aircraft roll, pitch and yaw.
  • Data storage unit to save the data that is recorded.

Elite Examples

  Vexcel UltraCam (Eagle, Falcon, Osprey, Condor)

  • Leica ADS100
  • WaldoAir XCAM
  • RIEGL LMS-Q780
  • Trimble AX80

Today, aerial survey is sometimes recognized as a synonym for aerophotogrammetry, part of photogrammetry where the camera is placed in the air. Measurements on aerial images are provided by photogrammetric technologies and methods. Aerial surveys can provide information on many things not visible from the ground.