Helicopter and imaging equipment

Our Air Operations team uses high-definition, resilient imaging equipment to survey the rail network

Find out more about the Air Operations team and its work

Thermal imaging

For thermal imaging, the team uses the Star SAFIRE 380-HD system Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) equipment (pictured below).

This is a full high-definition system that provides a gyro-stabilised image, with metadata embedded in the digital video.

The Star SAFIRE 380-HD is fully hardened for fixed-wing and helicopter operations so it can operate continuously in all conditions, even while sitting on the tarmac.

It comprises two main components: the Turret FLIR Unit (TFU) and Universal Hand Controller (UHCU).

The observer controls the TFU with the UHCU and can target faults with the laser range finder mounted in the TFU.

Visual imaging

The team uses a gyro-stabilised system (GSS) to stabilise the image on the on-board Canon camera.

The camera itself can be fitted with a variety of lenses depending on what it's being used for.

The 600mm lens (shown in the photograph) allows close-up photography of the infrastructure. It will allow the identification plates of equipment to be read from the helicopter at normal operating altitudes (1000 feet).

The 300mm lens is more useful for inspecting lineside buildings and structures.

The 85mm lens is likely to be used for RouteView imagery.