Division of National Mapping (Australia)

Operator Profile


Narrative Summary

Before and during World War Two, mapping photographic surveys were performed by the RAAF. The war had highlighted the lack of comprehensive maps of Australia, and in 1945 the need for a dedicated Government department to produce maps and geophysical surveys resulted in the establishment of the National Mapping Council (NMC). A National Mapping Section of the Department of Interior was created in 1947 to actually carry out the tasks defined by the NMC. From 1954 RAAF aircraft were replaced by civilian contractors in the mapping role.

By 1956 the work had expanded sufficiently to justify the creation of the Division of National Mapping (Nat Map). For the next thirty years Nat Map conducted geodetic, topographic and other mapping tasks within Australia and also in Antarctica and Papua New Guinea. Aircraft operations were normally conducted by civilian contractors, but in 1978 a dedicated Aviation Section was formed to take over some of these tasks.

In 1987 Nat Map became AUSLIG – the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group – formed from the merger of the Division of National Mapping and the Australian Survey Office. In 1995 the Aviation Section was closed down. In 2001 AUSLIG was merged with the Australian Geological Survey Organisation (AGSO) to form Geoscience Australia

Key Dates

March 1945    National Mapping Council (NMC) established.
1947    National Mapping Section of Department of Interior created.
1951    National Mapping Section becomes National Mapping Office.
1954    First use of contracted civil aircraft.
2 August 1956    Division of National Mapping first formed.
1978    Aviation Section created.
24 July 1987    Division of National Mapping merged into AUSLIG.
1995    Aviation Section disbanded.
September 2001    Geoscience Australia established.

Current Status

The Aviation Section was disbanded in 1995.

Future Plans

Not applicable.


Special Markings

National Mapping aircraft operated in a wide variety of colour schemes. It appears only the Cessna 421 carried any service titles, i.e. ‘Department of Resources & Energy – Division of National Mapping’, which were displayed on the fuselage.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

National Mapping aircraft carried standard Australian civil aircraft registrations, e.g. Cessna 421 VH-DRB.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used.


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Not applicable.

All-Time Aircraft Used List

(Nat Map owned only – excludes chartered and ANARE aircraft).

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Cessna 170A 1 1978 1982 USA
Cessna U206F Stationair 1 1982 1987 USA
Cessna 337 Super Skymaster 1 1987 1995 USA
Cessna 421C Golden Eagle 1 1982 1995 USA
GAF N22B Nomad 1 1976 1982 Australia

Aircraft NOT Used

No false reports known.

Aircraft Losses and Incidents

None known.


Main Headquarters

Division of National Mapping, Belconnen, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.

Organisational Structure

There are no sub-units to the Nat Map Aviation Section.

Current Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

Not applicable.

All-Time Air Bases Used List

To be added.

More Information


To be added


To be added


Geoscience Australia – Our History

Any photographs illustrating this operator would be welcome.