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VTOL UAV tackles difficult Sichuan survey

The P330 takes off. (Photo: CHC Navigation)

The P330 takes off. (Photo: CHC Navigation)

The CHCNAV P330 vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) UAV has been deployed to complete orthophoto acquisition with a resolution of 15–20 centimeters of the city of Xichang in the Sichuan Province, China. The project involved a series of technical and operating challenges: several no-fly zones, a 700-meter flight ceiling by airspace control, tricky winds, and a total area of 900 square kilometers — all within a tight schedule.

The project involved 15 people, a fleet of four P330s and the set up of 200 ground control points.

The hybrid P330 was selected for its ability to combine the advantages of a fixed-wing UAV with extended flight time with a rotor-based VTOL UAV, which enables aerial survey missions on complex terrain.

Project area. (Photo: CHC Navigation)

Project area. (Photo: CHC Navigation)

Each P330s was fitted with a Sony A7R2 camera and high-accuracy GNSS positioning system. Because of its innovative design, the P330 can be assembled in less than five minutes without tools, saving the survey crew considerable time. Plus, basic operation training was completed in 2 hours.

The P330 also has one-click take-off and landing, support for breakpoint flight resuming after temporary return to base, and self-diagnostic of all sensors before take off. It has dual-rotor and parachute protection in case of emergency landing.

Other features include take-off and landing positioning accuracy within 20 centimeters and automatic return to base in case of a data communication failure. It offers survey-grade PPK accuracy.

The P330’s battery life lasts up to 2.5 hours. It will operate safely under Class 5 wind conditions at an altitude up to 4,000 meters, providing stable attitude under bad weather conditions. It also meets imaging constraints under low-light conditions.

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