In the 1940s and early 1950s the measurement of takeoff and landing
performance for aircraft was still something of a novelty. Many
accidents were, however, being caused by pilots misjudging their aircraft's
performance and so Civil Aviation authorities around the world began
to take an interest in the more precise definition of aircraft performance
as part of the type certification process.
DCA was at the forefront of defining
the performance of civil aircraft and, in fact, produced Flight Manuals
for Australian-registered light aircraft up until the 1990s. DCA was
also concerned with the measurement of performance of airline aircraft
from a point of view of both improving operational safety and such other
areas as airport planning.
to produce the required data economically, DCA engineers devised the
Operational Research Camera, seen in the photo above at the Commonwealth
Aircraft Corporation and Government Aircraft Factory's Melbourne/Fisherman's
Bend aerodrome, c.1950 (click here to see another
and use of the Operational Research Camera was explained in an article
in the June 1950 issue of the Civil Aviation Journal:
methods for measuring aircraft performance are liable to error and
expensive to operate and maintain. The Department, faced with the
necessity of using such methods, had to devise an inexpensive but
accurate camera to record aircraft takeoff and landing performance.
was designed to record statistically basic aircraft performance and
all significant variables and atmospheric conditions at the time of
observation. In addition it would determine position error corrections
using the fly-past method. From these the computation of normal rates
of acceleration and deceleration during take off and landing, together
with the normal unstick and touch down speeds could be computed.
recording of large numbers of take-off and landings is necessary so
as to give proper and accurate emphasis to variations in pilot technique
when devising performance standards for these two most important flight
operations. I.C.A.O. realizes
the importance of having statistics on a large scale when devising
airworthiness standards and member States have been requested to obtain
such statistical records with details of significant variables.
consists of a sighting head fitted with a 16 mm cine-camera free to
rotate in azimuth and elevation and whose motion is transmitted by
an autosyn transmitter to a compass repeater on an instrument panel.
A second 16 mm cine-camera, synchronized with the first, photographs
the instrument panel which records the track of the sighting head,
wind speed and direction, time on a stop watch, air pressure and air
temperature. The wind speed and direction finder is a separate unit
consisting of an arm bearing an anemometer and director vane, each
operating an autosyn transmitter which records on a dual compass repeater
on the instrument panel. The arm is supported on a pole 6 feet above
ground level and is placed about 20 feet from the observer.
feature is the fitting of a command radio receiver to enable the camera
operator to receive the "ready" signal as the aircraft to
be observed reports to the control tower or to the operator direct.
for the complete unit is supplied by two 12-volt heavy duty accumulators
which, with continuous operation, can be expected to give full power
for 1 hour. However, when the unit is operated intermittently for
statistical observations, a period of operation of up to 8 hours can
operation the unit is set up about 200 yards from the runway. This distance
varies with the runway length required to be covered by the camera,
and it is estimated that the maximum usable field of a single camera
is 2500 linear feet of runway length.