Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics
Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics offers large-scale regional airborne surveys not only in Africa and the Middle East but also globally.

Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics offers a number of different airborne geophysical services that includes gradient magnetic and radiometric, time-domain electromagnetic (EM) and gravity surveys as well as value-added data processing and interpretation.

Having been in operation since 2003, Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics has an excellent safety record while collecting more than 4.7 million line-kilometres of data for a client base across the majority of Africa as well as in the Middle East and Canada that includes most major mining companies, many junior exploration companies, government departments/ ministries and NGO’s.

“Safety, efficient operations and excellent data quality are all of utmost importance, representing the foundation and key values that underpin all aspects of the company,” emphasises Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics MD and commercial manager Simon Bosch elaborates.

The company’s fleet of aircraft comprises seven turbine Air Tractors (six 502B’s and a 504) and two PAC P-750 XSTOL aircraft.

All aircraft are carefully prepared and equipped with the latest state-of-the-art instrumentation to enable the acquisition of the best quality data in challenging environments at the lowest safe ground clearance, down to 20m.

The PAC P-750 has eXtremely Short Take-Off and Landing (XSTOL) capabilities and a proven track record of good geophysical survey performance which provides superior stability even at low-speed. This allows the aircraft to even undertake survey roles usually reserved for helicopters.

Meanwhile, the Air Tractor crop duster excels in all aspects as a rugged and very reliable performer on geophysical surveys owing to its ability to operate out of short poorly maintained airstrips, salt pans and farm roads, which makes it a direct competitor to helicopters in the survey environment.

The aircraft is optimally suited to operations in remote areas with long ferries and rugged landing strips and also has a similar wing-span to the more commonly used Cessna Caravan, but a larger load capacity and an endurance of up to 12 hours.

Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics have a Class II and Class III Aircraft Operating Certificate with N1, N2, G3 & G16 Type Air Services licenses.

Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics also maintains its own aircraft as an approved Aircraft Maintenance Organization (AMO 1301) and prides itself on taking a proactive approach to aircraft safety as well meeting all Civil Aviation requirements, both local and in the countries in which it operates.

Servicing Central Africa’s mining industry

Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics’ latest large project – covering approximately 75% of Angola and comprising 1.2 million line-kilometres – was awarded in 2014, and forms part of the Angolan Ministry of Mines’ country-wide Planageo mapping project.

The project is already showing fascinating new insight and understanding of the geology and mineral prospectivity hidden beneath the extensive Kalahari sand cover in Angola.

Similar regional-scale projects are being planned in other African countries.

Meanwhile, Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics has also recently signed an agreement with the Democratic Republic of Congo government to map large areas within the country and this data will become available to the public in the near future.

Why undertake geophysical mapping?

Because spatial resolution and signal-to-noise ratios improve dramatically when flying height is reduced, low-level data provides significantly better information for kimberlite detection, base and precious metal exploration, litho-structural and geo-hydrological mapping, as well as for mine planning or sterilisation of exploration blocks.

For the same reason, regional surveys are typically planned at the same height as more detailed work, to facilitate later fill-in and data merging, and thus avoiding duplication and keeping costs low.

Large-spacing tie-line surveys have also been flown with multiple base stations and ultra-long continuous lines, to tie in different historical and industry airborne survey data sets. Illustrating this is the 10 km grid flown over Botswana – a project undertaken for the government of Botswana.

Increasing and improving its service offering

Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics offers standard gravity surveys with its PAC P-750 aircraft equipped with GT-2A gravimeters and wing-tip mounted magnetometers. The company will soon also offer full-tensor Lockheed-Martin airborne gravity gradiometry (AGG) services.

A basic off-time, time-domain EM system is also being developed on the robust, efficient and safe Air Tractor platform. The development program is ongoing and early tests are now being flown to fine-tune the system, which will ultimately be well-suited to cost-effective large-scale geo-hydrological mapping of groundwater resources to aid regional and local water supply and management in remote areas such as southern Angola.

As a value add, the advanced data processing and interpretation work offered by Xcalibur Airborne Geophysics’ very experienced geophysicists, ranges from basic first-pass data enhancement and integration, through litho-structural mapping, to more detailed 2.5D and 3D modeling and exploration targeting using state-of-the-art software.