Multi-Mission Aircraft

What are Multi-Mission Aircraft? Multi-Mission operations fly everything that General Aviation (GA), the airlines and air charter operators don’t. This includes civil aircraft used for specialized services in many industries.


How to Select the Right Manned Aircraft for Multi-Mission Operations

Italian Military Surveillance Helicopter
Fast Facts

1. Weigh up the performance and capability characteristics when choosing your Multi-Mission aircraft.

  • Although some aircraft types can be modified for multi-mission operations, there are several aircraft performance and capability characteristics you’ll need to weigh-up when choosing the best one for your operation…
  • If the aircraft you’re considering has yet to be modified, you’ll need to consider the impact on the aircraft’s performance.
Multi-missions adapted helicopter hovering

2. Weight and balance, structural integrity and fuel capacity matter...

  • Equipage and configuration changes can impact the weight and balance, structural integrity and fuel capacity of an aircraft.
  • In other words, an aircraft’s speed, range, climb rate, payload capability, runway requirement and altitude limitation could be changed by the modification.
Diamond DA42 modified for multi-mission operations

3. Know the regions and airspace you intend to fly within...

  • Aircraft should also be equipped to fly in the specific airspace of the intended region of operations.
  • If you’re buying a pre-equipped, pre-owned multi-mission aircraft, will additional avionics be required?
Aerial Surveillance Operator working in modified Beech Bonanza cabin

4. Consider the aircraft's performance, based on its payload.

  • When choosing the right aircraft, it’s useful to consider performance based on its payload.
  • If multiple roles are to be performed with the aircraft, assume a worst-case performance scenario to determine if the aircraft will really be the best fit for your operation.
Sensors and cameras installed on aircraft underbelly

5. Speak to a qualified modification shop

  • A modification shop with an STC to undertake the necessary conversion will be able to discuss the impact on the aircraft.
  • And the equipment manufacturers and turnkey solution providers will advise you of the aircraft their equipment and packages are ideally suited to.

FAQ: Multi-Mission Aircraft

Your questions about in-flight connectivity answered with the help of experts at
  • What do Multi-Mission aircraft do?

    Manned and unmanned multi-mission aircraft cover a wide range of roles.

    These include air ambulance; aerial mapping; aerial photography; aerial survey; air pollution monitoring; agricultural and forestry applications; border and maritime surveillance; environmental monitoring; fishery patrols; geophysical and mineral surveys; intelligence gathering; powerline and utility routes monitoring; and security.


  • Which aircraft are used for Multi-Mission roles?

    There is a new generation of factory-modified survey airplanes available from some OEMs.

    In terms of pre-owned aircraft, unless you’re looking at an older (pre 1970s or 1980s) platform, the number of fixed-wing airframes available for multi-mission roles are restricted to those that either have factory modifications or third party STCs available to modify them. By contrast, helicopter usage can be more easily facilitated as they can be fitted with certified sensor housings.

    Companies throughout Europe and North America offer STCs to modify older airframes (including adding camera hatches and other sensor housings).

  • Where can I buy Multi-Mission aircraft equipment?

    You can find multi-mission surveillance equipment on AvBuyer’s Surveillance Equipment services page.

    Several companies produce cameras, searchlights, sensors, radars and other equipment for installation in multi-mission aircraft, including Airborne Technologies; Flir; Hensoldt; Hexagon Geosystems; Leonardo; Reigl; Safran Electronics & Defense; Thales; TrakkaSystems; and Vexcel.

  • How can I get a Multi-Mission aircraft?

    You can either buy an airplane for multi-mission use, or you can hire or contract a service provider.

    Companies such as UK-based DEA have an equipped fleet of aircraft, trained pilots and technicians available for ISR operations, for example. RVL has a fleet of modified airplanes for hire, and Trackair Services Ltd has an international network of survey modified platforms covering most of the world.

Industry Experts

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