Aerial photography flight quality assessment with GPS/INS and DEM data


Zhao, H., Zhang, B., Shang, J., Liu, J., Li, D., Chen, Y., Zuo, Z., Chen, Z. (2018). Aerial photography flight quality assessment with GPS/INS and DEM data. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, [online] 135 60-73.

Plain language summary

In aerial photography flight missions, flight quality assessment is needed in time to ensure post-flight data processing and fulfill predefined mapping accuracy. This article presents a novel approach for flight quality evaluation of frame cameras using navigational and DEM data, through rigorous geometric calculations instead of conventional image analysis methods. The new approach is based on collinearity equations in photogrammetry to derive flight quality indicators, such as flight altitude, ground coverage and photo overlap etc. The approach is tested on both assumed scenarios and actual flight missions. A tool is developed for quick onsite assessment of flight quality for decision making.


The flight altitude, ground coverage, photo overlap, and other acquisition specifications of an aerial photography flight mission directly affect the quality and accuracy of the subsequent mapping tasks. To ensure smooth post-flight data processing and fulfill the pre-defined mapping accuracy, flight quality assessments should be carried out in time. This paper presents a novel and rigorous approach for flight quality evaluation of frame cameras with GPS/INS data and DEM, using geometric calculation rather than image analysis as in the conventional methods. This new approach is based mainly on the collinearity equations, in which the accuracy of a set of flight quality indicators is derived through a rigorous error propagation model and validated with scenario data. Theoretical analysis and practical flight test of an aerial photography mission using an UltraCamXp camera showed that the calculated photo overlap is accurate enough for flight quality assessment of 5 cm ground sample distance image, using the SRTMGL3 DEM and the POSAV510 GPS/INS data. An even better overlap accuracy could be achieved for coarser-resolution aerial photography. With this new approach, the flight quality evaluation can be conducted on site right after landing, providing accurate and timely information for decision making.

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