Airborne Scientific’s CessnaCam is a fully portable underbelly sensor/camera pod approved for use on Cessna 172, 182, 170, and 180 series aircraft.
This pod enclosure is suitable for small and medium format camera systems including 5 camera oblique systems, compact lidar systems, thermal systems, and custom sensor systems.
The pod requires no modification to the airframe and utilizes existing inspection covers for cable and control connections.
This sensor pod is approved in many foreign countries, for those that permit U.S. STC parts to be installed on US certificated aircraft.
Yes. The CessnaCam is STC approved on the entire series of fixed gear Cessna 172 and 182 aircraft, from the 1950’s to today’s newest models, as well as out of production 170 and 180 aircraft with conventional gear. The CessnaCam is not approved for any retractable Cessnas (RG models), nor Cessna 206’s, 185’s, 175’s, 150’s or 152’s.
No, the CessnaCam can be installed without any modification to the aircraft, provided that no antenna is mounted on the belly between the lift struts. If antenna’s are present in this area, they will have to be relocated if they interfere with the CessnaCam mounting.
Yes, installation and removal requires a licensed aircraft mechanic. Allow an hour or more for first time installations which will require a weight and balance amendment and a FAA form 337. Subsequent installations or removals can be done as quickly as 15 minutes for the pod itself, not including any sensor equipment. Optimizing the cabling connections between sensor mounted pod and the aircraft cabin can speed installation and removal.
No. The CessnaCam can be installed in all models of approved aircraft without any flight manual, airspeed, or restricted category limitations. The installed Pod slows the aircraft minimally depending upon model, generally less than 5 knots on a C172.
Yes, individual CessnaCams have been flown for over a year of continuous use and more than 300 hours of aerial data collection, remaining on the airframe full time for aerial data collection, as well as transition flights in rain and snow with the sensors installed. It can also be removed for each flight.
Yes, the CessnaCam can be used on rental aircraft and a mechanic can install and remove the CessnaCam for each data collection flight. You will have to coordinate with the aircraft owner or operator to determine if their individual requirements permit use of the CessnaCam (many club aircraft prohibit commercial use of the aircraft).
Scuffing is eliminated with rubberized cushions between the pod and airframe, and the pod is attached with a 3/16 steel cable rated at 4400 lbs, the wings will fall off before the pod falls off. The CessnaCam is STC approved, it is not an experimental device.
Since the CessnaCam is set below the belly and exhaust outlet of the airframe rather than flush with the belly, it is less susceptible to rock chips, exhaust, and engine oil than a camera mounted in the cabin of a single engine aircraft. The recessed glass port on the CessnaCam 150 dramatically limits any port glass contamination during flight. Most aircraft can fly dozens of hours between port glass cleanings without any noticeable contamination (although you should always clean the glass between data collection flights). The CessnaCam 470 is equipped with a low profile wind deflector to greatly reduce contamination.
Yes. The CessnaCam comes standard with a glass port, although the port glass is optional and removable permitting one to shoot through open air. Optical glass or custom glass with customer specified optical properties are also available.
No, the CessnaCam does not have volume or weight capacity to fit these cameras. The standard CessnaCam has a sensor payload capacity of 60 lbs, and an approximate volume of 4800 cubic inches. However, new large format digital metric cameras could be adapted to the CessnaCam, such as a Dimac.
Yes, we can accommodate custom sensors into the CessnaCam housing, as well as preconfigured systems. Additional costs may be incurred in engineering approved mounting for custom sensors, but this can often be done economically. We typically mount sensors from the top, using mounting tracks attached to the roof of the CessnaCam enclosure. This permits easy adjustability of the location of the sensor, and offers the capability to mount multiple sensors and easily incorporate shock and vibration isolation.
The CessnaCam STC includes approval for cabling going from the cockpit to the inside of the camera pod, via an inspection port under the copilot seat and then another inspection port adjacent to the camera pod. The cabling and connectors must fit through a standard 1.5 inch wiring grommet on the CessnaCam, unless a larger hole is specially requested. Sensor power can be supplied via the aircraft’s cigarette lighter, or have a mechanic add a circuit breaker and dedicated power plug to supply sensor power. Most Cessna 172 and 182 prior to 1979 are 12 volt, and most 1979 and later are 24 volt, (but variations occur in 1978 and 1979). The OSAC system can use either 12 or 24 volt input, but other systems may require DC voltage converters to convert from 12V to 24V, or vice versa. Wireless transmitters can also be used for sensor triggering or other camera control.
GPS or other antennas can be accommodated by a variety of methods. Simplest is putting the antenna temporarily on the glareshield, identical to portable aviation GPS antennas. For better reception, we offer a portable mounting bracket which locates the antenna inside the cabin but at the very top of the cabin windscreen, while still being portable. These trays can accommodate a variety of antennas including dual frequency GPS L1/L2 aero antennas for survey grade GPS. Antennas can also be permanently mounted on the airframe by a licensed aviation mechanic.
Not on a properly installed camera with vibration damping. We can supply a sensor mount which features vibration and shock dampening to isolate the camera from direct contact with the airframe, removing any image loss of sharpness due to vibration. For custom mounts, the vibration environment in the pod has been measured and found to be in the range of 60 to 250Hz when measured flying in a Cessna 172, very similar to the vibration in the cabin of the aircraft. This higher frequency vibration can be vastly minimized with proper mount design and the use of vibration isolation in the design of the sensor mount.