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25m to 7km altitude

up to 7 hours

and 1000km



focus on science applications

collaborating and sharing


Remote Sensing

Bathymetric and topographic LiDAR

(532, 1064, 1550nm)

VNIR/SWIR hyperspectral


Hi-res spectral

Thermal IR


(active, passive, InSAR, L-,P-,Ka, Ku)


Aerial Photography

and Video

Flying for science ... not for profit
... probing the environment using the least intrusive and
         cost-efficient state-of-the-art airborne technologies ...




(wind, turbulence, air temperature, humidity,

eddy fluxes, ...)


(fine, ultra-fine,

sampling, ..)

Trace Gases

(CO2, CH4, NH3, ...)





Third Party Sensors 

Image Gallery
Airborne Platforms
Unrestricted research flight operations Australia-wide - day and night - over water and land.
We understand your research requirements, because we are scientists ourselves.

Browse our projects to see our expertise

and see the Earth and our Environment as you have never seen it before

Or click here to see -
  • Who we are
  • What we do, and
  • How we do it

Data from many of our projects is available for download on request:
     Most/all ARA data available         ARA data may be available           Data usually not available    


Methane Emissions from CSG operations,
Surat Basin, Qld


Airborne Measurements for Estimating Methane Emissions in the Surat Basin, Qld, Australia

One of the key tools of this international study are the airborne measurements using the ARA research motorglider instrumented with a Los Gatos UGG methane gas analyser together with atmospheric sensors. UNSW and MetAir in Switzerland are partners in this project.

Funded by the UN Environment Programme

Cudlee Creek & Kangaroo Island


Bushfires in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island

In late Dec 2019 and Jan 2020, large bushfires devastated areas in the Adelaide Hills and on Kangaroo Island in South Australia. To assist in the recovery process, we are mapping specific areas using high resolution LiDAR, VNIR hyperspectral scanning and high resolution RGB imaging.

Data from the flights is available for download.

Funded by the Hackett Foundation and ARA 

Iron Range Rainforest, Cape York

Recently, the Iron Range Research Station (IRRS) in collaboration with Airborne Research Australia (ARA) gathered airborne lidar data of the largest contiguous block of lowland rainforest remaining in Australia.

Iron Range Rainforest

Cape York


Funded by the MAXIM Foundation
and ARA

Northern Connector

Changing Landscapes
Northern Connector

Construction of a new 4-lane expressway through areas of mangroves, saline ponds, saline creeks and former market gardens North of Adelaide.  

Walking with Dinosaurs

The coastline of the Dampier Peninsula, Western Australia, is one the largest stretches of dinosaur track-sites in the world. The aim of this project is to map the tracksites utilising aerial photography with both manned and unmanned aircraft, airborne and hand-held LiDAR imaging, and digital photogrammetry.

Walking with Dinosaurs


ARC Discovery Project

Nullarbor Cliffs

During a ferry flight from Adelaide to NW-Western Australia, a Riegl VUX-1UAV was tested flying along the near-vertical cliffs of the Nullarbor Coast - the "Edge of Australia". 

"We actually flew about 170km(!) along the cliffs, from the Head of the Great Australian Bight to close to Eucla.

Nullarbor Cliffs


Changing Landscapes
Pond XB8A

The coastal landscape to the North of Adelaide where a vast area of no longer used industrial salt producing evaporation ponds is being converted into a variety of other landscapes, such as conservation parks, wildlife refugees (especially for birds) and also for the development of alternative industrial uses.

Pond XB8A


Pinery Fire in SA

In late November 2015, a large bushfire destroyed more than 80,000ha of prime agricultural land to the North of Adelaide.

Pinery Fire


Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Cattle Feedlot


Greenhouse Gas Emissions from a 17,000+ cattle feedlot near Charlton, VIC.  using airborne technologies

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from
Cattle Feedlot


Mangrove Dieback
Gulf of Carpentaria

The project’s purpose was to map the sudden and widespread dieback of the mangrove forests along the coast. ARA mapped more than 3,000km of coastline around the Gulf of Carpentaria using airborne LiDAR and RGB-imagery. 

Mangrove Dieback
Gulf of Carpentaria


Deep History of Sea Country

This is a pioneering, multi-disciplinary study of submerged landscape archaeology in Australia designed to investigate the records of the now-submerged Pilbara coast (spanning 50,000 to 7000  years ago). Information from drowned contexts will help address critical debates in Australian prehistory relating to past sea-level rise, population resilience, mobility and diet.

Deep History

of Sea Country


ARC Discovery Project

Airborne LiDAR of 35 of the more than
150 small islands along the Pilbara Coast
Western Australia

Studying the effects future cyclones may have
on the shape of these islands.

Pilbara Islands


Bathymetric Lidar Toolkit

Description and Brochure

Bathymetric Lidar Trials


Airborne Lidar of Evaporation Ponds


Airborne Lidar of Evaporation Ponds

near St. Kilda

South Australia

Trans-Australian Railway

This is probably the most boring LiDAR data set in the world - about 600km of nearly straight railway line through a pretty featureless landscape - the Nullarbor Plain.

Trans-Australian Railway


Ultrafine Particles
from Coal-fired Powerstations

The study indicates modern coal-fired power stations equipped with flue gas cleaning and NOx reduction are the biggest individual sources of ultrafine particles (UFP) and can have considerable impacts on climate in several ways. 

Ultrafine Particles
from Coal-fired Powerstations


Lidar Bathymetry

of Ningaloo Reef

Ningaloo Reef is one of the most pristine coastal areas in Australia. We flew our two Riegl Lidars over the Tantabiddy Section of the reef to derive the structure of the seafloor. The results are nothing short of spectacular. 

Lidar Bathymetry of Ningaloo Reef



Combining the most modern in-situ and remote sensing technology with the most flexible, affordable and versatile aerial platforms, we carry out our own research and make our toolkit available to the Australian and international science and R&D community.


Our approach utilises the best features of both worlds of research aviation,

- the flexibility of UAV-like technology and instrumentation, and

- the versatility and unrestricted operations of small, modern manned aircraft,

giving us the capability to cost-efficiently and rapidly integrate sensors into our airborne platforms and deploy them anywhere in Australia (and even overseas).


We are an independent certified Not-For-Profit Approved Research Institute (ARI) with strong links into the science networks nationally and internationally.


We have a long-standing solid track record of involvement and leadership in a large number of Australian and international science-based projects where the use of airborne technologies were essential. 




Most of our work is done in collaboration or partnerships with Universities, public entities or Industry.


As an ARI, our policy will continue to keep our work as transparent and traceable as possible manifested through the use of open source software, open and free discussions with collaborators and other specialists in the field about methodologies and procedures, and by making the data collected during science-based projects available to the relevant communities through open data repositories and archives - whenever possible and controlled by appropriate procedures.


We have a policy of sharing our airborne technology, data and expertise - in particular with students, scientists and small groups and businesses such as ours.


To facilitate airborne data capture and/or trials in the context of student projects, small scientific projects and projects in collaboration with other Not-For-Profit entities, we maintain a register of desired locations and types of data on the basis of which we may then propose to combine them to make them feasible.


As our aircraft are based on advanced gliding technology, they have the capability to glide for long distances in the event of an engine failure allowing us to operate safely far out over water and over unlandable areas.


Our airborne systems do not require any airport infrastructure for their operation which makes deployment very flexible.


As we operate two nearly identical airborne platforms, there is the ability to fly a large number of sensors in tandem, or if required, identical sensors simultaneously at different altitudes.

The environmental impact of our research platforms in terms of


- carbon dioxide footprint

- exhaust pollution

-noise pollution

- visual impact


is far smaller than that of any other airborne research platform in operation today.


This has enabled us to operate over the most environmentally sensitive areas, such as flying at low altitudes over the protected coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef or in the wilderness areas of Southern Tasmania.



airborne and ground-based



METpod, BATprobe and Z-Probe

(Air Temperature, Humidity, 3D-wind vector, Air Pressure)



(for airborne flux measurements of heat, H2O and CO2)




Meteorological trace gas, particle and aerosol sensors

Aerodyne Quantum-cascade laser gas analysers (2)

(for methane, ammonia, nitrous oxide in ppb-range)

Los Gatos uGGA gas analyser

(for methane, ammonia, nitrous oxide in ppb-range)


Other more specialised instrumentation

(radon sampler, trace gas sampler, etc]




Full waveform scanning LiDAR RIEGL Q560

(up to 240kHz pulse rate, operating at 1550nm)


Full waveform scanning LiDAR RIEGL Q680i-S

(up to 400kHz pulse rate, operating at 1064nm)


Bathymetric scanning LiDAR RIEGL VQ820G

(operating at 532nm)



Several high-precision IMU/GPS systems

Novatel SPAN with LITEF LCI, Novatel SPAN with LITEF ISA

3 x OXTS RT4003 L1/L2/dual antenna MEMS-based
(3D-position and inertial speed;
attitude angles, accelerations, rates)


Laser Altimeter

(Riegl LD90LR)


BATprobe and Z-Probe

(Air Angles, dynamic pressure)


Comprehensive on-board infrastructure

(PCs, Ethernet/wireless throughout, Internet connection,
flight tracker, external science power - uninterrupted
switching from ground- to aircraft power, etc.)



Thermal Infrared imager

(FLIR A615 & S60)





Hi-res still and video cameras

(Canon 1D, 5D; GoPro, other)



Hyper-spectral scanner SPECIM EAGLE II

(optimised ARA version, VNIR 400-1000nm, up to 488 bands, 1024 pixels/line)


Hyper-spectral scanner SPECIM HAWK

(optimised ARA version, SWIR 970-2500nm, up to 254 bands, 320 pixels/line)


Tri-spectral imager MosaicMill CANON 6D

(red, green, nir - mainly for ndvi - 21 MPix)


Tri-spectral scanner ARA/AWI TSLS

(red, green, nir - mainly for ndvi - 2048 cross-track pixels, 50lps)


Single Band line scanner RUNNER

( single band btw 390 and 1050nm - 2048 cross-track pixels, >1KH lps )




Passive microwave L-Band radiometry

(for soil moisture, sea surface / river salinity)


Passive microwave P-, Ka- Ku-Band radiometry

(for soil moisture, sea surface / river salinity)


Active L-Band microwave SAR, InSAR

(for high-res soil moisture, salinity, vegetation)



GPS Basestation


Spectrometer ASD


10m high mobile Flux Tower

Riegl VZ400i Terrestrial Lidar (collaboration with MAXIM Foundation)

What we do
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