APEM has become the first company to successfully register to operate under the new Part-SPO regulations, allowing the company to carry technicians and task specialists on board our aircraft during surveys.

Part-SPO is a major update to the way that aerial surveys are regulated, signalling both a significant tightening of requirements and a new approach by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Part-SPO applies to specialised operations using a complex motor-powered aircraft and covers activities from aerial photography to aerobatics, parachuting, cloud seeding and animal herding. APEM is registered for aerial photography, surveying and calibration.

APEM’s managing director, Dr Keith Hendry, said, “We’re focussed on operating at the highest standards of health and safety, as well as giving our clients as much flexibility as possible.

“That’s why we made a major commitment to securing our Air Operator Certificate in 2013, fully authorised and audited by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. It means operating to the same rigorous standards demanded by the likes of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

“Our new Part-SPO and our Air Operator Certificate together give us the flexibility to carry staff from client companies and organisations in our survey aircraft. Going forward this will be a requirement for all aerial survey operators.”

Part-SPO APEM aircraft
Above and top: APEM’s aircraft on aerial survey missions. From April 2017, the company will be operating under Part-SPO.

APEM has flown more than 1,000 aerial bird and mammal surveys for the offshore wind industry in the UK, Germany and the USA. These include the world’s largest and most detailed digital aerial surveys of offshore wildlife, currently underway off the coast of New York state.

Along the way the company has worked with most of the major wind farm developers operating in the UK and internationally.

Developments in ultra-high resolution digital cameras have allowed aircraft-mounted cameras to photograph huge areas more quickly, cost effectively and safely than ever before, while providing data that can be independently verified.

Last year APEM’s in-house development team deployed a ground-breaking new camera system, Shearwater III. This next-generation system was developed to push image resolutions to as high as 0.5 cm per pixel ground resolution.

The new Part-SPO regulations covering aerial surveys come into force in the UK from April this year.

APEM aircraft Part-SPO

Case study
Aerial Survey of East Coast Bathing Waters

In a pioneering project Anglian Water contracted APEM to carry out ultra-high resolution aerial surveys of the entire east coast of the UK from the Thames Estuary to the Humber Estuary, searching for signs of potential pollution.

Almost 600 potential sources were identified, with 65 highlighted as high risk sources. These previously unknown sites would have been difficult, time consuming and costly to identify on the ground and Anglian Water’s pollution teams were able to quickly prioritise them.

The coastal survey required around 25 hours of flying time, collecting tens of thousands of images that were examined by APEM’s experienced image analysts. Signs of both direct and diffuse pollution were recorded.

Potential sources of pollution included slurry from farms, animal waste from fields, sediment from river dredging, fouling from roosting sea birds, trade waste and poorly maintained private cess pits.

  • 440 km of coastline surveyed
  • Almost 600 sources of potential pollution identified
  • 65 high risk sources identified
  • Ground teams able to prioritise the sites and investigate them
  • 3,000 km of flight lines flown for the survey
  • 30,000 high resolution images gathered and analysed.
One of APEM’s images has been chosen for the calendar of camera company Leica! More here