Racing against time 9000 metres above Namibia

Photo: COWI A/S
A mapping project in northern Namibia literally took COWI to new heights with aerial photos being taken from an altitude of nearly 9000 metres in order to beat the weather.

Racing against the incoming wet season, COWI's airborne photographers in the late 2007 had less than two months to map an area of 275,000 square kilometres and keep an EU aid project on track. To accomplish the feat, it was necessary to fly at a height of 8900 metres (29,200 ft), a record for a COWI project.

The mapping project was a necessary part of the Namibian Government's Rural Poverty Reduction Programme, which was being funded by EU. The programme aimed to develop the outlying regions of the country through a wide variety of activities, for example by establishing better infrastructure and by creation of cadastral and land registration databases. As a base for such activities, accurate and updated maps were essential.

Six times the size of Denmark

Flying so high allowed aerial survey cameras to capture larger areas of data and thus speed up the process, which was necessary because we had not more than six to seven weeks to map an area more than six times the size of Denmark before the rainy season started.

 "Another week's flying weather and we would have made it" said Project Manager Jakob Riise. Only 12% of the area was missing, when the rain started and made it impossible to continue.

The aircraft had to be docked in Namibia for the winter until the weather permitted the completion of the remaining part of the area.
Those situations are impossible to control, but luckily the already acquired aerial photos could be processed in the meantime, giving no considerable delays to the Reduction Program's progress.

LAST UPDATED: 14.02.2017