AEROBUREAU™ is a revolutionary development in news, information gathering and disaster assistance. Its design concept is simple: when major events occur on a scale and in locations that prevent traditional news gathering techniques and organizations from covering them adequately, AEROBUREAU™ uses a high tech system known as STARS (Strategic Television Airmobile Reports-via-Satellite) to provide a self-sufficient, fully mobile information gathering, processing and disseminating platform. By using state-of-the-art but off-the-shelf technology AEROBUREAU™ can get the raw information--and immediately begin processing and providing the powerful documentation including video--of events that are too big, too distant, too complex or too dangerous for ordinary information gathering organizations.
The heart of the STARS system is the AEROBUREAU-1™ Lockheed L-188C Electra aircraft dubbed "The Amazin' Lady"™. The four engine, turboprop airliner was selected because of its reliability, 458 mph speed, 4,250 mile range, large cargo capacity, and great loiter time. The aircraft also has four electrical generators capable of producing 90KVA each, plus both a turbine Auxiliary Power Unit and a small backup diesel generator for ground power. The ground generators use the aircraft's on-board fuel supply for up to 2 weeks of full power operation without refueling.
AEROBUREAU-1 also has a hotel module which contains living, food preparation, sleeping, and lavatory facilities.
The AEROBUREAU-1 aircraft can operate from a short, 3,000-foot, unimproved airstrip near a breaking event and deliver complete network-quality video and data streams right from the action. It can orbit over inaccessible terrain for up to twenty hours, uplinking directly to a Ku-band satellite, or downlinking to an airlanded Ku-band ground station.
It can deploy a small helicopter or launch Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) over denied or dangerous areas to gather video or other kinds of data. Onboard the aircraft are three complete roadcast-quality edit suites and a studio set. The aircraft has several remote sensing systems that allow AEROBUREAU to gather data that ordinary information gathering organizations can not.
The Amazin' Lady mounts four fixed and four mobile cameras for internal views; another four which are gyro-stabilized and remotely controlled to allow camera operators inside the plane to "lock" a camera onto an object on the groud even as the aircraft manuvers.
The external cameras include Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) and Stabilized Low-light Optronic System (SLOS) television cameras. All of the video and sensor information are fused in real-time onboard the aircraft into broadcast-quality video and/or data streams which are uplinked directly or downlinked for terrestrial turnaround. This means that AEROBUREAU can go on air, live, as events unfold, not hours after the video gets turned in from the field and produced in the studio.
The Side Looking Airborne Radar, mounted on the belly of the aircraft, can scan up to 100 miles on either side, and display the results in a format that can be included in a broadcast. This allows Aerobureau to show the extent of oil spills, locate ships at sea, show a "weather map" of the area at any time, and aid in damage assessment in urban areas after natural or man-made disasters.
Example SLAR image, showing terrain and man-made features
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV)
AEROBUREAU-1 carries two AAI-designed Cyclone-class UAVs. These small pilotless aircraft can be launched and guided to areas that are too dangerous for the mother aircraft. The UAV carries gyrostabilized video or FLIR cameras and its built-in, GPS-aided autopilot is capable of flying to a specified location and returning without ground control. Under remote control it is extremely versatile and can be used to augment or relay video, communications or information streams to and from the mother AEROBUREAU-1 aircraft or its ground-deployed crews.
Broadcast CapabilityThe production facilities on the aircraft include:
Aerobureau is currently conducting a feasibility study to go all-digital, while retaining an analog pathway in case of lightning or High Energy Radio Frequency (HERF) generated failures.
- Three complete, nonlinear, multi-format edit suites;
- A broadcast-quality production suite for live uplinks;
- A Ku-band uplink that can operate while the aircraft is flying;
- An integrated computer system that allows ground teams to access scripts, video and audio clips from the ground or air;
- A compact, but fully-functional broadcast studio;
- Multi-format capability to take source video in PAL, PAL-M, SECAM or NTSC or newer HDTV formats.
- Redundant equipment for the edit bays (also act as Field Replaceable Spares).
UplinkAEROBUREAU-1 is equipped with a multi-band C, Ku flyaway uplink that can be
airlanded and operated globally in commercial satellite footprints. The AEROBUREAU-1 aircraft also has a dedicated, on-board, directional C-band transmitter and groundbased receiver that is linked to the satellite uplink and can thus transmit video and datastreams from the aircraft, live, through a distance in excess of 150 miles while the aircraft is in flight. The aircraft is also equipped with a special Ku uplink which is capable of uplinking directly to a satellite while the aircraft is in flight. This is especially advantageous over ocean areas, where an airlanded terrestrial uplink cannot be deployed. The aircraft can transmit to satellite via the direct or terrestrial turnaround paths, simultaneously.
StudioThe studio aboard AEROBUREAU-1 is compact and complete, with lighting and
robotic cameras to take advantage of every inch of space available in the cabin of
the aircraft. It is sized to allow for two correspondents behind a desk or for an interview situation to be fully covered by three remotely-controlled cameras. In addition to the studio many of the crew positions on board the aircraft have cameras available, allowing the crew to report on sensor findings and situations. For example, the chief pilot can report from the cockpit and then switch or splitscreen to the SLAR or FLIR operator who in turn, can present his sensor video or switch or splitscreen to a live uplink from the reporting team on the ground.
VehiclesAEROBUREAU-1 carries a small Schweitzer 300-type helicopter and number of
support vehicles that can be deployed once on the ground at the site of a story. The helicopter can be disassembled and stored on a pallet in the aircraft and can be then
re-assembled in 30 minutes. Other vehicles include two light, amphibious, All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and up to six light motorcycles.
de Caro, founder and CEO of the AEROBUREAU Corporation.
He is a former CNN Special Assignments correspondent who specialized in combat reporting from Nicaragua, Grenada and Surinam; investigative reporting on illegal drug operations, foreign espionage and criminal gangs; and defense reporting on US and foreign military activities. He has written front page stories for the New York Daily News, the Providence Journal Bulletin, the Colorado Springs Gazette-Telegraph, the New Orleans Courier and Army Times. He has also written major stories for the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, Defense News, and Air Progress.
He is a technical advisor to TV magazines such as Hard Copy, Sightings, and Encounters, as well as to dramas such as Magnum, Quantum Leap, and J.A.G.
Mr. de Caro was educated at the Marion Military Institute, The US Air Force Academy and the University of Rhode Island. He is an experienced parachutist and a rated pilot in single- and multi-engine aircraft and gliders.