Ever wanted to explore a research aircraft? Find out how we are creating a virtual tour of our airborne laboratory.

A person adjusting a camera at the top of a flight of stairs overlooking the wing and fuselage of a large research aircraft.

Why create a virtual tour of our atmospheric research aircraft?

We want more people to be able to learn about and experience our world-leading atmospheric science research aircraft, a modified and unique-to-us BAe 146-301.

We know that scientists who are planning to use our facility will benefit from “getting to know” the aircraft before they make an in-person visit, and a virtual tour will help them to explore the aircraft inside and out. 

An electric ground power unit in front of a large blue and white research aircraft which is parked in a hangar.

It will highlight all of the aircraft’s different features, even those that scientists would not normally get to view – like the top of the fuselage and wings where some of our light-sensing equipment and broad band radiometers are located. 

How is the aircraft scanned for a virtual tour?

It takes just a single camera to take each image that will be used to create the tour – but this is not your standard smartphone camera. 

This camera has LiDAR and photography capabilities, so it can provide measurements of the space being scanned. It also takes a 360° image, which means it will be possible to pan around and look in any direction on the virtual tour

In total, we took 79 images of the aircraft that will be stitched together to create the virtual tour. You will be able to look inside our cargo hold, explore the cockpit, and see where our scientists operate the atmospheric instruments during a flight.

We are delighted that we could collaborate with the British Antarctic Survey, and make use of their creative services team and camera equipment. Thank you for visiting the FAAM Airborne Laboratory and creating our virtual tour for us. 

We are also looking forward to seeing an additional 3D scan of our research aircraft, which was taken by a team visiting from UK Research and Innovation. They will use the scan to build a scale model of the aircraft, and this will be exhibited for people at events where it is not practicably possible or environmentally sustainable for us to showcase the aircraft.  

A specialist camera on a tripod in the doorway to the cockpit of an aircraft.