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ASOG 2019 Focus Areas: Professional Development, Trending Technologies

As promised, ASOG is going to track Viking Air’s Special Mission Guardian 400 Twin Otter (C-GVKI) world tour for members and future ASOs to tour an aerial remote sensing platform, i.e., learn what makes a multi-mission aircraft (flight crew to the mission equipment).

Currently, C-GVKI is in Wiener Neustadt at Airborne Technologies preparing for the Paris Airshow and the start of the world tour. Since I live near Wiener Neustadt, my son and I took the opportunity to checkout the bird in person. The folks at Airborne Technologies were super helpful in allowing us to climb-around C-GVKI…Danke Schon Katrin Gruber (ASOG member). Overall, the bird looks great. My son loved the paint design. He said it looked like something out of Minecraft. If you’re interested in knowing what systems are integrated onboard C-GVKI, here’s an overview:

• Aircraft: Viking Air (Twin Otter Guardian 400 series)
• Design System Architecture: Airborne Technologies (Airborne Linx)
• EO/IR Turret: Hensoldt (Argos II HD)
• Radar: Leonardo (Osprey 30)
• Camera Vision: Sentient (ViDAR)
• Moving Target Indication: Kestrel (MTI)
• S.C.A.R – Pods: Airborne Technologies
• Pylons: Alkan
• Tactical Workstation: Airborne Technologies
• Mission Computer: Galleon
• Augmented Reality System: CarteNav
• Downlink System: ECS
• AIS: CNS Systems
• Training & Simulation Equipment: Aero Simulators
• Mission Seat: Ikhana

According to Katrin and the C-GVKI aircrew, they plan to fly to Paris this Friday (tomorrow). So, if you’re planning to attend the Paris Airshow next week, checkout C-GVKI at the Viking Air Static Display B4. Regarding the rest of the world tour, Peter Walker (ASOG Member and lead Viking Air Tour Planner) will start publishing the schedule next week. Again, from an ASOG perspective, this is a great professional development opportunity for all ASOs (commercial, public safety & defense) and for young STEM students and teachers.

More too follow!

ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)

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Full time role, providing logistical and planning support to a Data Operations Team.

Based in Chester, UK.

Please e-mail CV and cover letter to:



Full time role, Task Specialist/Sensor Operator required to undertake survey flying, data handling and processing and operating Sensors.

Based Chester, UK. overseas work will be required.

Please e-mail CV and cover letter to:

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This might be of interest to the Public Safety ASOs in our group and/or someone looking for best practices regarding their specific ASO community. The Airborne Public Safety Association (APSA) published several excellent articles in their May/June Air Beat magazine regarding the airborne law enforcement Tactical Flight Officer (a.k.a. Airborne Sensor Operator). From an ASOG perspective, the articles really covers the spectrum of being a TFO and in many ways an ASO.

• Technology Changes, Basic TFO Skills Don’t
• Tactical Chess: TFO Selection, Training & Performance
• Position to Mission: More Than Just a TFO
• Air Support Choreography: What Does a Tactical Flight Officer Do?
• The Mighty TFO: Riverside’s Task-Saturated Aviation Job Requires Tactical Tenacity
• TFO Intelligence: Controlling Tactical Operations From Above

If you have access to the magazine, I highly recommend you give it a read. For more information, checkout APSA website:

ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)

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Can You Identify the Sensors?

Here’s a new challenge for the group. Can you identify the sensors below? The winner or winners will get the honor of being ASOG’s “Top Sensor” for June 2019! So, do you have the right stuff to take this challenge on?

Sensor - A:

Sensor - B:

Sensor - C:

Sensor - D:

Bonus Point – What WWII Allied camera?


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ASOG in action at PAvCon 2019

Top Photo: George welcomes Jason Wig field, very recent ASOG member, @PAvCon19 conference in Amsterdam.

Bottom Photo: From L2R: ASOG members Dave Martine of Artworks Unlimited introducing soon-to-be member Grace Orate of Macro-Blue displays during her first participation @PAvCon19. O'...with ASOGs roving ambassador George.

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NAV/OPERATOR WANTED - freelance assignment in Australia. If interested, please e-mail for more information.

NAVIGATOR/OPERATOR WANTED – Freelance assignment in UK-Europe. If interested, please e-mail for more information.

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ASOG network, one of our members (Peter Walker and his Team from Viking Air) is planning a world demo tour with one of their newly configured Special Mission Guardian 400 Twin Otter variants. From an ASOG perspective, this is a great opportunity for both the general public to learn more about our aerial remote-sensing community and for the individual ASO/aircrew members to engage fellow professionals.

If you’re a new or a season ASO but want to expand your knowledge of current capabilities and mission sets, this is a great opportunity to make time and intercept the tour near you. Additionally, if you’re a STEM teacher or professor and looking for an opportunity to expose your students to leading edge technology and how to apply it, plan a fieldtrip accordingly.

ASOG plans to regularly track the progress of this tour and provide updates on their agenda. According to the Tour Team planners, a schedule is forthcoming. For more information on this world tour, checkout Peter’s press release:

Viking Plans World Demonstration Tour for Guardian 400 Twin Otter Special Missions Variant

More too follow!

ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick Ryan)

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ASOG 2019 Focus Areas: Career, Professional Development, Trends

For those ASOG members who are currently engaged in changing jobs, the following are some 2019 trends that might help you with your resume writing. Since ASOG came about, I personally (besides other ASOGer’s) have reviewed a good number of members resumes and CVs with an eye on current trends, I think the following are just a few major trends to take note of:

2 x Resumes: Plan to write two types of resumes. 1 x resume for humans and 1 x resume for machines. You want to have one resume that is graphical & hip and one that looks like it came from the 90s. Your initial mission is to influence both fronts. Have a resume that you can give to someone within your network or at a trade show etc. and one that will feed into an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). You’ll see many mid-size to large-size companies and organizations use ATS, especially if you’re applying directly to a job posting online.

3 x Resumes: After you’ve setup your 2 x basic formats and if you have more than one qualification, i.e., ASO, Instructor, Operations Manager, Analysis, Business Developer, etc., plan to develop a specific resume for that qualification.

4 x Plus Resumes: Now that you have your templets ready. Plan to edit and target those resumes to your specific audience or job postings. Ensure you research each company/job posting and identify the specific requirements or verbiage when doing this.

Right Up Front: As early as possible in your resume (after “Profile”) you want to show the reader 3 to 4 milestone achievements that relate to the job and not scattered around in different sections. What I’ve been recommending is this formula:

Formula: Qualification / Skill + Project + Results = Accomplishment.

Format: “Proven Training Manager - Coordinated ten advanced Airborne Sensor Operator training events for Acme Aerospace which saved over $80,000 (20% under budget) and certified over 50 students to safely and effectively conduct global aerial remote-sensing operations.”

Don’t Cram: This long recommended trend is still relevant, don’t cram every detail of your career into two pages. A stuffed resume is hard to read and navigate, which means it’s never going to communicate the information that the hiring manager wants to see in a quick scan. Focus your information to the specifics of the job you’re targeting and the benefits you’ll bring to the hiring organization.

Match Pair: If you have an online profile, e.g., LinkedIn, make sure there’re no major mismatches of information, i.e., past experiences, dates, profile header, etc. If there’s any mismatch of information, it might cause confusion or red flags for the person interested in you…” Clarity & consistence is a good thing.”

Again, this is just a quick note on a few current resume writing trends that might help you navigate the job search terrain and land that dream job. If you’ve seen other trends, speak up, that’s why ASOG exist, i.e., share current trends from technology, aerial remote-sensing application to careers.

Happy hunting & fly safe!

Author: ASOG Career Center (Patrick Ryan)

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ASOG – Your Ice Breaker

ASOG network, one reason for ASOG is to make it easier for people who are stakeholders in the aerial remote-sensing profession to connect, be it commercial, public safety, defense, aircrew, manufactures, integrators, trainers and service providers. The overall goal is to make our profession more universal, effective, and safe.

Regarding trade shows, conferences, and social events, use ASOG as that initial reason or topic to personally meet people of the same feather. For example: “I see you’re connected with ASOG, I’m also connected with ASOG!”

O.K., I’ll get off the box.

ASOG Desk Editor (Patrick)

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What makes a good crew debrief?

ASOG 2019 Focus Area: Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures

This is a small ASOG post on a big tool in the average ASO’s kit. This tool is the “Post Flight Debrief.” For the senior ASOs, a debrief after an aerial remote-sensing flight is probably standard procedure. However, what if you’re new to the profession and haven’t had the exposer to this useful procedure which positively builds your knowledge from the first hour of your ASO career to 10,000 hrs. Building the discipline of debriefing every flight with your crew will only strengthen or improve your chances of success on the next go-around.

What is a debrief? In general, and from an aviation perspective, it’s the procedure of sharing and discussing information after a flight, training, or project event which leads to process improvement for both the individual and the group.

However, debriefs in many ways doesn’t get the same attention as pre-flight briefings do, unless your organization directs debriefs. If not directed, there’s a certain human habit, once your skin is back on terrafirma and safe, to overlook it and head to the parking lot and drive away. Try to build the professional habit of making serious time debriefing every flight and project. Once you get into a good rhythm of doing this, you’ll start to see the positive effects of doing debriefs.

So, with that said, what makes a good debrief? Without getting into specific line-by-line debrief items, I’ll leave that up to you regarding your specific operational needs & wants, here are the main elements of what I think makes a good debrief:

  • Plan – Plan a debrief for each flight or project. Make debriefing an equal step to all the other steps in each operation. You could say the mission is not complete until the debrief is complete.
  • Timing – Conduct the debrief soon after the event. Every hour and day that goes by, important details are forgotten (human nature) that could make a difference for the next go-around.
  • Evaluate performance – Review the overall profile of the flight or project with a focus on purpose and objectives, what intended outcomes and outputs, what data was to be collected, who was involved and how they performed, what were the guidance and standards for the flight or project, and what were the conditions of the operation (environment, technical, bureaucratic etc.).
  • Identify key events - Identify what went well and why and what can be improved on and how. Discussing and knowing what went well is just as important as what went wrong. By understanding why and how actions or equipment worked well or failed will strengthen or improve those things.
  • Rules-of-Engagement (ROEs) – Last but not least, create a positive and professional atmosphere and conduct in chronological order of events. Additionally, use open‐ended questions, support self‐debriefing, point out underlying principles that lead to misconceptions/errors, use visual aids, and show alternatives. Again, concentrate on a few key learning points, and point out the good parts of the mission.

Bottomline, the debrief after a specific event or operation is a smart thing to do if you care “not” to repeat the negatives of history. Besides applying this useful concept or procedure to your ASO career, you can even apply it to your everyday life.

Fly Safe!

Author: Patrick Ryan

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Top Photo: USCG Chief Petty Officer Froberg, future ASOG member, being introduced by George at the Maritime SAR conference this week in Estonia.

Bottom Photo: From L2R: ASOG member Peter Myers introducing future members Jens Schinköte from Aerodata, and Urs Kunz from Hensoldt/EuroAvionics, flanked on the right by Maritime SAR organizer and ASOG member Maxwell Field.

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By: Patrick Ryan

Benjamin Kabelik
Dept. Head of Remote-Sensing Services & CIO at Airborne Technologies GmbH, Austria

Last month, I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down with a fellow ASOGer, Benjamin Kabelik, at Airborne Technologies (ABT) on one of my consulting office calls. I thought it would be great to take a moment to capture and share his thoughts on the Airborne Sensor Operator profession and the industry ASO’s work in, in this case, aerial mapping and surveying.

What is your job and how did you end up in this career field / position?

I’m the Department Head of Airborne Technologies data-solutions and airborne surveillance services. I’ve been working for ABT over 10 years with ever growing opportunities and responsibilities. I never pictured myself being in this position when I was at University. However, I’m very happy with how my career has progressed in this field. I started my career studying mechanical/electrical engineering and geomatics at several schools in Austria. During the end of my studies, I was hired by ABT to establish their information systems and data-processing programs. Over the years I added more and more skills and duties related to aerial remote-sensing. One of the most exciting skills or duties was getting qualified as an Airborne Sensor Operator flying small to mid-size manned aircraft. Once I became an ASO, my knowledge of how aerial remote-sensing works from clients’ needs to product delivery took-off.

What do you think is the general role of an Airborne Sensor Operators in today’s Aerial Mapping & Surveying Sector?

I think the role of an ASO, especially in a small to mid-size company, is just not operating a sensor during flight but participating at some-level in the planning, maintenance of systems and processing of data for each project. Because small to mid-size firms don’t have endless resources, it’s critical that ASO’s support as much as possible each step of a project. One benefit from this is QA. With ASO’s in the loop from start to finish in a collection project, it increases the chance that errors, or mistakes are caught early. From my point of view: 1 x mistake in collection = 10 x problems in data processing. Again, the ASO is an important part of this process.

What do you look for when hiring an Airborne Sensor Operator?

I know this might sound funny, but I first look to see if a new ASO candidate likes to fly or still wants to fly before going further with the hiring process. We regularly take interested candidates on test/calibration flights to see how everything goes for them and us. Also, other things I look for is an individual who can speak English, has good situational awareness and can solve technical problems in a creative and resourceful fashion. Again, as a small mid-size firm, it’s critical to have self-starters and individuals who can work independently around the world in remote locations.

What would you recommend to future ASOs regarding type of training and education to pursue?

First, I recommend those who are interested in becoming an ASO in the aerial mapping and surveying sector develop a knowledge of mechanical and electrical principles and systems, understand how IT networks operate, and a basic knowledge of aviation, i.e., aircraft systems to airmanship. After that, I recommend individuals expand their knowledge around specific disciplines like GIS or specialized applications.

What are the general trends you see in the Aerial Mapping & Surveying sector or markets?

Overall, and from my experience, the want for data has doubled in the last 5 years. We’ve seen an increase in the number of firms approaching us who 8 years ago would’ve never reached-out and sought our services. Because of the tech revolution, organizations can get good quality and cost-effective data from drones, manned aircraft and satellites that wasn’t available 10 years ago.

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Can You Identify the Aircraft?

Can you identify the aircraft associated with these Airborne Sensor Operator crew positions?

The winner or winners will be honored in the May 2019 ASOG newsletter.


Aircraft - A:









Aircraft - B: 









Aircraft - C:








Aircraft - D:





Image Source: Airborne Technologies; Wikicommon – MilborneOne; Wikicommon - 0airborne; Wikicommons – US Navy

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How it Really Happened!

ASOG 2019 Focus Areas: #Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures #Safety

Have you ever had a problem or an accident (small as a sensor malfunctioning to an aircraft incident) that made you think “What Happen?” Well, here’s one method that might help you understand what happened. This method is called the 5-M Model.

The 5-M Model comprises of Man, Machine, Medium, Mission and Management which are five core areas that failing factors of malfunction or incidents may appear in. This model is one of the most common used methods in the aviation industry to examine aviation accidents and incidents. However, besides accident incident investigations, it provides the individual ASO up to managers with a systematic way of focusing and analyzing areas that errors mostly occur within the structure of specific technical problem sets, operations and organizations, for example, analyzing a small problem that took place during a flight etc.

If you’re interested in learning more and how to apply it to your everyday ASO professional kit, read the sources below. After reviewing the material and examples, give it a try and break down a past problem you had and find out what happened.

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Here are some great reasons to pursue an Airborne Sensor Operations job and career:

The Pay – If you’re looking for a great opportunity for fresh out of high school, technical or trade school, an undergraduate or graduate program, second career, and military transition, there is very likely a flavor of Airborne Sensor Operations that is right for you! The field, and therefor pay and benefits is greatly varied, however, you can anywhere from a livable wage (at a minimum) to 6 figures depending on what you bring to the table, and what your risk tolerance is. I will say, if you’re in it mostly for the cash, then you will likely be disappointed. This mentality and others will show through eventually in the profession that is both demanding and team driven, and you’ll likely not hit this success criteria if it is your primary motivator.

The Intrigue – Most people, at the minimum understand that you can put a camera on an aircraft, or in space, or on a boat, and these days a drone, to collect information, or at least a picture. You will be on the forefront of data collection, and the genius of hopefully important and valuable information. It may be something that most people are not familiar with these days you can point to Google Earth, and say you do something similar, or talk about the aircraft that spot hotspots for fire fighting efforts. Unless your acquaintances have lived under a rock for the last 20 years, you can relate your work to them. Also, many of us, cannot talk about work, so if you like to keep things short and mysterious, there’s a ASO job for that!

For the Pride – Airborne Sensor Operations are nearly never an end-in-themselves, there is a reason, and usually a pertinent, timely, and valuable demand is driving the requirement to get information. Rarely mindless, always relevant; there is a true satisfaction to understand the work would you do have value, sometimes economic, sometimes tactical, sometimes strategic, but again always valuable.

For the Schedule – The bane and beauty of most ASO work is the time on/time off schedule. The job is typically demanding, and employers are often balancing either have too many staff with the risk of having some sit out unpaid or having to little and countering attrition. Lots of firms will schedule week on/week off, or when OCONUS, 6 months onsite, then name your time to return. For those looking for high investment in you, a year in, year out schedule may look like one month on, one week off. The firms that will work with you on an individual level or have so strict of policies that both mutually benefit (cost) and lose (opportunity) in step with one another, can be the easiest to work scheduling with. Look for a firm that values resources, your time, and their own time, and you will be set up for a winning opportunity. Think travel, fishing, hiking, exploring, additional training and education, and side hustles, ASO schedules can enable these schedules.

The Travel – There are a few services related, and business-related fields that can support regular, regional, national, and global travel. Almost no other profession will couple travel with time on/time off scheduling for you to take advantage of where you are. Company paid travel can be one of the great beauties to ASO employment. Most firms will allow you to save yourself money by piggy-backing on your work travels and using that as a launching point for your own personal exploration and travel. You’ll typically be paid to go to the work, to the bird, that’s waiting for you.

The Complexity and Challenge – Airborne Sensor Operations are always evolving and are notoriously challenging for a variety of reasons. Let it be said, if you are looking for simple work, someone is looking to automate that work and your place in it. Airborne Sensor Operations both embraces the complexity involved with a variety of situations, with an aircraft or platform that has its own eccentricities, with a demand that must be met, typically for stakeholders that need it NOW! Dealing with these challenges, doing this job, will make you a better resource and person for it.

The Enabling Perspective – There are few professions that touch on so many others and have a state of excellence within them. As an ASO, you can develop skills in operations, negotiations, project management, aviation, and a variety of engineering disciplines. Are you an engineering student that does not know which way to jump into a tighter discipline, come into the field with sensors and instrumentation that leverage mechanical, electrical, optical, electro-optical, aeronautical, thermodynamic, damage tolerance, human-machine interfacing, software and control engineering, and many more disciplines. Are you an intel professional that wants to understand source data? A GIS grad that wants some adventure before you take the desk job? How about international affairs that what’s to travel? How about a veteran looking for great work and previous experience, at lower risk? The beauty of ASO as a career choice is that there are many points of entry, many flavors of employment, and usually something for everyone.
Author: Mark Smits, PMP, CGP-G, Geospatial Program Director

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