At the time Mid-Canada Mod Center (MC2) (then Kitchener Aero) performed this mod, CTV, the Canadian news outlet wanted to strengthen its breaking and morning news gathering capabilities, and traffic reporting in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), and other markets. To achieve this goal, four Bell 206 Helicopters were eventually equipped with specialized avionics systems including a News Talent Suite, aft, and cockpit modifications forward.
Why the Operator Selected MC2
MC2’s extensive experience specifying, installing and certifying critical avionics systems on special missions aircraft were well recognized. Scott Gibson, then manager of engineering projects at CTV, had confidence that that the MC2 team would provide the most effective system for gathering and live transmission of HD (high-definition) video and audio required for their reporting demands.
Installing forward, aft Talent Suite and tail cameras, plus the microwave transmission system, gave CTV the ability to gather on-the-fly, report and transmit breaking news and traffic conditions in and around the GTA. Enhanced audio and video quality, with the transmission equipment enabled truly live reporting—a game changing upgrade to the helicopters, which put the News organization at the forefront of live aerial reporting.
About the Mods
Special mission aircraft mods can be complex, because of space and weight restraints. Like every modernization MC2 takes on, the CTV News Helicopters left the hangar with a fully-certified system onboard. In addition, this modification required custom-built cabinetry to house the News Talent Suite. Key modifications, state-of-the-art at the time of these upgrades, included:
News Gathering and Reporting Mods
- FLIR HD Camera, MRC Strata PTX-PRO Microwave System, NAT AA97-CTV Custom Audio/ICS System, three Iconix HD Cameras (Forward & Aft Talent plus a Tailcam) and two Motorola 2-Way Radios.
- Garmin G500H FDS (Flight Display System): This 6.5” dual display allows pilots to see in reduced lighting situations, displaying key flight parameters, and it displays the video being collected by the cameras, to ease Pilot workload.
- Garmin GNS 530W WAAS GPS/Nav/Com: This component is an all-in-one GPS/Nav/Comm solution. It features a WAAS-certified GPS, comm, ILS/VOR with localizer and glideslope.
- King (BendixKing) KY-196A VHF COM: This small, lightweight addition to the cockpit digitally displays active and standby frequencies at the same time in clear, distinct windows, so you can select standby frequency while monitoring the active frequency.
- Garmin GTX 327 Transponder: is a panel-mounted GTX 327 is a TSO-certified Mode C digital transponder.
- L3 Skywatch Traffic Systems, NAT AMS-43 Panel, and FreeFlight TRA3000 Radar Altimeter System
MC2 performed all engineering and design too.
The upgrades to CTV’s Bell 206 Helicopters provided better range for live transmission of HD video and audio, which was important in a highly competitive news market. The cameras delivered better quality product, both video recorded outside the aircraft, and in the Talent Suite. The cockpit mods help to enhance the operational safety of the helicopters while reducing pilot workload.
What the Operator Says
“This has been an important enabler for CTV. We’ve continued to perfect the equipment installed to increasingly improve our news team’s ability to report live and inflight, with progressively better-quality audio and video.”
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