18 May 2021
By Mary Bermingham
Based at the Atlantic Flight Training Academy, on the Cork Airport campus, a €1.5m small plane arrives will generate terabytes of high-quality imagery for ecological surveys
The first digital aerial ecology surveys of Irish coastal waters to be undertaken by a domestic company are about to begin following the arrival of a new special mission aircraft owned by Green Rebel Group into Cork Airport. The company is leading efforts to establish Cork Harbour as a Green Energy Hub, beginning with a new partnership between Green Rebel Group, Cork Airport, the Atlantic Flight Training Academy (AFTA) and Weston Aviation.
Green Rebel Group acquired the aircraft to undertake ecological assessments as part of the planning process for marine renewable energy projects, including offshore wind farms. The new €1.5 million twin-engine Diamond Air DA42 aircraft will be used to survey thousands of square miles of ocean. The aircraft – with tail registration EI-GRM – will be permanently based at Cork Airport.
With the purchase of this aircraft, Green Rebel Group will be the only domestic Irish company offering digital aerial surveys for ecological assessments associated with marine renewable energy projects. Green Rebel has partnered with AFTA, which will be the specialist operator (SPO) for the aircraft. The aircraft will be based at the Weston Aviation hangar at Cork Airport. Its arrival has resulted in the creation of 15 direct jobs, and there are plans for further job creation over the coming years, which will ensure Cork is one of the leading players in the green energy sector.
Each aerial survey flight will generate terabytes of high-quality imagery. In order to store, process, and backup this data, Green Rebel Group has also built a world-class marine data centre. The high-spec server and supporting IT infrastructure are housed in a secure location at the Cork Airport Business Park. The data will be used to map the abundance of marine wildlife, which is critical to ensure wind farms are built in the most suitable locations.
Sarah Kandrot, Head of Aerial Surveys with Green Rebel Group said: “This aircraft will help us to compile information that will ensure offshore wind farms are built in the best locations to protect the ecology of the ocean. We are delighted that our aircraft has arrived in Cork, which means we can now begin conducting these important surveys. With this aircraft, large sections of the ocean can be surveyed over a shorter period of time than can be achieved with traditional boat-based surveys. Thanks to the ultra high-spec of our camera equipment, our aircraft will be flying at heights that will not cause any disturbance to birds or marine megafauna while at the same time allowing us to collect the highest-quality digital imagery.”
Mick Horgan, CEO of Green Rebel Group said: “I am hugely proud of the Green Rebel team and what they have achieved. We have put together an amazing team of data acquisition specialists and data scientists who are all experts in their respective fields. I have every faith that our aerial survey division will be second to none.”
Mark Casey, CEO of AFTA said: “AFTA are delighted to have been chosen as the SPO operator for the specialist air survey delivery for Green Rebel Marine. It is fantastic to see local investment by GRM in aviation and marine infrastructure creating high quality local jobs for the Munster region. The Special Mission DA42 NG is an environmentally friendly low impact survey and reconnaissance and survey platform. The aircraft is powered by the AE300 aero diesel power plant and can run on 100% Algae based Biofuel. AFTA are proud to be a part of Green Rebel’s mission to reduce the dependence on energy from fossil fuels and move towards a sustainable offshore wind energy solution.”
CEO of Weston Aviation, Nick Weston said: “We are delighted to be working closely with the Green Rebel Team in this exciting new venture adding to the rapidly developing offshore operations that both Weston Aviation and Cork Airport can offer in the region. Our ideally located FBO and hangar at the airport is a perfect base for aircraft and passenger processing for these highly complex missions.”