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Overkill at the Olympic Games

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Overkill at the Olympic Games

Old 7th Aug 2008, 15:13
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Overkill at the Olympic Games

The last time I posted here was in August 2004 when I received some very interesting information about helicopter operations at the Athens Olympics.
I am now in Qingdao for the sailing regatta of the Beijing Games.

The TV guys here seem to be using a pair of AS365s for filming and microwave linking. One is fitted with a gyro-stabilised HD camera and the other appears to be purely for link purposes. This looks like overkill to me. The hourly cost of a 365 can't be cheap.

Can anyone throw any light on why they are using such heavy aircraft for a seemingly simple job (Athens was a mixture of 206s and AS355/350s)? Are they civilian run or military in civilian paint?
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 15:51
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Agree they are big machines, but it could be that one is doing up and downlinks (rebro) for any on board cameras, or gyro mounts on camera boats. If they are running a lot of channels, the rebro machine could be full of link kit that wouldn't leave much room for a camera op and the associated gear. In the UK, Link XP make a kit that will do all of that from one box, so it is possible to receive three ground cameras I believe and rebro them with the on board heli camera too. And it will go in a 44.

Also, a linking machine will traditionally work higher or in a different position to the needs of the camera ship.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 16:13
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The Chinese Army and Police certainly operate plenty of licence built/copied* AS365s: Z-9.

Knowing how paranoid the Chinese are, I imagine that you are right when you say "military in civilian paint".

*Delete as applicable.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 20:37
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It will be interesting to see what does get into the skies over Beijing. As you may be aware the Chinese have bought a number of police ahelicopters to kick start air support from cold. With the generals controlling the skies will they be able to launch a police mission quickly enough in an emergency? The Beijing police fleet is AgustaWestland based.

Back to your specific post though, a press release was recently issued by...
Axsys Technologies, Inc. announcing that the Bush Administration issued a waiver authorizing the use of Axsys Technologies’ stabilized camera systems at the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games to be held August 8-24, 2008. President George W. Bush has waived the so-called “Tiananmen Square sanctions,” thereby allowing Aerial Camera Systems (ACS) Ltd, an Axsys Technologies customer based in the United Kingdom, to use Axsys Technologies’ V14 High Definition camera systems to provide state-of-the-art footage to viewers around the world. The temporary waiver allows the HD camera systems, which incorporate military-grade stabilizing components, and therefore are normally banned from entering China, to be used during the games.

You may or may not know that there are very strict controls on technology leaving the US and that is why at many 'open' airshows US based manufacturers have to put up with displays of 'empty' sensor pods on booths and seperate secure viewing areas for the 'right' people. It actually gives a degree of advantage to non-US manufacturers that they rarely seem to pull off.

It continues...
During the upcoming Olympic Games, Axsys Technologies’ gyro-stabilized camera systems will be mounted on helicopters, boats, and other vehicles to provide television viewers with a unique perspective of the Olympic proceedings, including the opening and closing ceremonies and a variety of sporting events such as rowing, cycling, and the marathon.

Whether that is what you have seen on that 365 we will have to await. I would have expected that the games will generate more than just a couple of camera ships when it kicks off for real.
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Old 7th Aug 2008, 21:06
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And no doubt "knock-offs" will be on the market within 3 months.....
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Old 8th Aug 2008, 10:54
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Hi Nipper2,

may be it has to do with endurance, especial for the link helicopter.
Flying at Vy the bigger brother, the EC155, can fly up to four hours on the fueload.
Greetings Flying Bull
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Old 8th Aug 2008, 11:49
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Don't forget there are civil operators like COHC operate 365N2 or N3 I believe

And China Flying Dragon Service also fly them as well
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Old 8th Aug 2008, 18:06
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It wouldn't have been military. There are quite a few helicopters in China that do media work. I have done it myself on occasions and the big advantage is that can you ask for a clearance from ATC and if they give it to you you are fireproof. Down to thirty metres in Shezhen? Great fun. You can look at your reflection in the tenth floor of an eighty floor office glasshouse quite legally. In Wenzhou I had a TV crew doing a railway station opening. They bigwigs were in convoy in the right hand carriageway and we were filming them at twenty-five feet in the other one with me watching out for overhead traffic lights just in case I got a red and had to stop.

Legalised hooliganism, basically.
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Old 8th Aug 2008, 22:26
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My "source" in Beijing tells me the pilots are military, if not the aircraft.


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Old 8th Aug 2008, 22:30
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When my colleagues flew out 10 days ago to China for the sailing events, they were expecting to use military helicopters flown by military pilots.

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Old 8th Aug 2008, 23:27
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has anyone seen an A109 about, big camera and downlink installed????
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 01:54
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My "source" in Beijing tells me the pilots are military, if not the aircraft.
He is probably right. They are not letting civilian helicopters anywhere near the Olympics. During the equestrian events in Hong Kong we have been rerouted to give us an another ten miles seperation.
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 02:09
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Overkill what? In Iceland we use Super Pumas for traffic watch and highway patrol
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 03:09
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Originally Posted by fareastdriver
During the equestrian events in Hong Kong we have been rerouted to give us an another ten miles seperation.
Wow you are fast, the equestrian events started at around the same time you made your post. What were you flying and what was your route?
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Old 9th Aug 2008, 14:12
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Give me time. The new route goes over a completely different version of China than the last pictures I posted. When the visibility gets up to decent photo standard you will see a totally different world.
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Old 11th Aug 2008, 12:08
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As a matter of interest I have just been watching CCTV1 on Chinese television where a sweet young reporter was giving us the lowdown on the helicopter shots of the games. I know what the inside of a military Z9/365 looks like because the company I work for does their major servicing. This was not a military one. The aircraft interior trim was full civil and both pilots had white shirts and lightweight headsets. I don't think that they would civilianise to that extent.
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Old 11th Aug 2008, 13:51
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You may be aware that the Olympics equestrian cross-country took place in Hong Kong today.

There was an AS355N B-KHS circling 1,000 ft AGL with a gyro-stabilised camera specially attached out front for the entire 3.5 hours of the event. A hire from HeliServices, the local commercial monopoly.
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Old 11th Aug 2008, 14:13
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1000' agl ? for 3.5 hours. do they have aux tanks in that thing now ?
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Old 11th Aug 2008, 14:48
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Someone must be having a sore left arm and backside tonight with all that HOGE.

Besides, I bet the noise really pissed off the horses !

Last edited by ReverseFlight; 11th Aug 2008 at 15:11.
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Old 11th Aug 2008, 16:32
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Thanks for all your responses guys. I now have more information myself having been able to speak to the technical staff operating the cameras.

Surprisingly I was able to get right up close and look in detail at the aircraft and installations.

The aircraft are Chinese Navy owned and flown, though in civilian uniforms. They have been painted in the 'Look of the Games' colours. The paint job is pretty rough and ready (over-spray on the transparencies etc.) and the camo-seats and drab harnesses are a dead give away as to the origins of the aircraft. I assume that the deck-lashing eyes are only fitted to naval varients of the type!

I rather got the impression that the guys running the cameras wished they had more experienced aerial filming guys up front.

The endurance is not actually adequate and the aircraft have to return to their operating base for a refuel halfway through the detail. Why they don't have a bowser at their forward operating base in the Olympic marina seems to be a mystery to all concerned.

One aircraft is fitted with a Scorpio Ball. Basically a standard shoulder-mount HD camera fitted into a gyro mount. Nobody seemed to have very much good to say about that one.

The other aircraft has a Cineflex Gyro unit which as discussed above provides some security entertainment. The unit is not allowed to overnight on the Chinese navy base and has to be fitted and removed each day. It is allowed to go back to base for refueling but only on condition it is under watch at all times.

The footage goes via a direct microwave down-link. This link seems quite robust, but the ones from the various boat-mounted cameras are very flaky. There is some speculation that this might be due to interference from military radar.

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