Right now (28 May 2020, 0910 UTC) this Partenavia P-68 is repeatedly flying, alternately, northbound and southbound over Rome, Italy, in regular straight paths about 45 km long, some 400 meters apart. Flightradar24 gives for it just the model (no callsign, not anything). Yesterday morning it was doing the same, for at least six or seven runs.

What might it be doing? Is this the same kind of flight as in this other question? I can't say, since the flight pattern is somewhat differen: for one, the parallel paths there are some 4-5 km apart, while in this case they are less than 0.5 km.


  • $\begingroup$ @J.Hougaard: I don't actually know. There are some similarities, but also significant differences: for one, the parallel paths in the other questions are some 4-5 km apart, while in my case they are less than 0.5 km. And since I don't know about this kind of flights, I don't know whether these difference are significant. $\endgroup$ – DaG May 28 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ Also, Google Earth imagery, the really hi res stuff, is partly based on aerial photography, not satellite imagery. $\endgroup$ – John K May 28 at 15:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DaG No it's definitely the same. Different aerial photography missions are flown at different altitudes and with different distance between tracks depending on the desired image resolution. The goal is the same. $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent May 28 at 15:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This question is answered here. It actually appears to be one of the exact same aircraft from the exact same company. What is the purpose of grid-like pattern route for small aircraft? $\endgroup$ – Dean F. May 28 at 17:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Company info here. cgrspa.com/en/chi-siamo/la-flotta $\endgroup$ – Dean F. May 28 at 17:06

According to the pattern and altitude, this aircraft is probably doing aerial photography or 3D mapping (or both !) for services like Google Maps or Apple Plans.
The Partenavia P-68 Observer is actually made for this kind of missions. According to this link, the Italian State Police uses it too.

Since it's happening over Rome, it could be on an archeological mission too, but that is speculation.

| improve this answer | |

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.