Institut Geographique National

Operator Profile


Narrative Summary

The Institut Geographique National (IGN) was established in June 1940, shortly after the French surrender to Germany. The intention was to replace the previous military mapping service with a civilian organisation which was outside of the remit of the German occupying forces. The IGN survived the war and in 1947 was tasked with making new maps of war damaged France and its colonial territories. To accomplish this huge task, the IGN obtained a number of war surplus B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft from the USAAF to carry out a comprehensive photographic survey of the entire country. IGN maps have been continously updated ever since. In 2012 the IGN was merged with the Inventaire Forestier National to form the Institut National de l’Information Géographique et Forestière (National Institute of Geographic and Forestry Information), but keeping the IGN acronym.

Key Dates

1887    Service Géographique de L’Armée (SGA) created
1940    SGA disbanded.
26 June 1940    IGN established as civilian replacement for SGA.
1947    IGN tasked with making new maps of all of France.
1948    Aircraft fleet greatly expanded.
1 January 2012    IGN merges with Inventaire Forestier National.

Current Status

The IGN aircraft are used for photo surveying and map making.

Future Plans

No plan known.


Special Markings

Early IGN aircraft operated in a natural metal colour scheme. This was later refined with addition of a white upper fuselage and a red and white IGN insignia on the nose and fin. More recently, aircraft have adpted an overall white colour scheme with a blue fuselage cheatline and blue/white/red fin markings. The blue IGN logo appears on the fin.

Aircraft Serial Numbers

IGN aircraft carry French civil registrations, e.g. Super King Air 200 F-GALP.

Unit/Base Codes

Coding system not used


Aircraft Designations

None – Manufacturers designations used

Current Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Type Total Del’d Total Active Still on Order Role
Beech King Air 200T 4 2 0 Mapping

All-Time Aircraft Used List

All-Time Table of Aircraft Used

Aircraft NOT Used

The IGN was interested in operating the Sud Est SE.1010, but the prototype was lost in a fatal crash in 1949.


Main Headquarters

IGN, 73, avenue de Paris, 94165 SAINT-MANDÉ CEDEX.

Organisational Structure

All aircraft are operated by the flying unit of the IGN.

Current Unit Assignments

Not applicable

Historical Unit Assignments

Not applicable.

All-Time Flying Units List

Not applicable.

Air Bases

Current Air Bases

All IGN aircraft are based at Creil (BA110), but this airfield will close as a military base in October 2016, so a move may be necessary

All-Time Air Bases Used List

As above.

More Information


French Aviation Bibliography – to be added


No feature articles known.


Official Website
wikipedia: IGN IGN
B-17 Flying Fortress

Unresolved Research Issues

It is not clear what aircraft, if any, were operated between 1940 and 1946.

Any further photographs illustrating this air arm would be welcome.

All-Time Aircraft Used List
French Mapping Agency

Aircraft Type Quantity Service Entry Out of Service Origin
Aero Commander 680FL Grand Commander 3 1965 1985 USA
Beech Super King Air 200T 4 1977 current USA
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress 14 1948 1957 USAAF
Cessna L-19 Bird Dog 1 1979 1984 ALAT
Dassault Falcon 20 2 1972 1993 ex-civil
Fokker F27-100 Friendship 1 1986 2004 ex-civil
Hurel-Dubois HD.34 8 1957 1985 France
Liore et Olivier LeO 455 8 1949 1956 France
SNAC NC.701 Martinet 6 1946 1959 France
Sud Aviation SA 319B Alouette III 1 1976 1984 France