Seabird Seeker

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Seeker at Bundaberg Airport
Role Light observation monoplane
National origin Australia
Manufacturer Seabird Aviation Australia/Jordan
Seeker Aviation Australia
First flight 1 October 1989 (SB5)
Primary user Royal Jordanian Air Force

The Seabird Seeker is a light observation aircraft built originally by Seeker Aviation Australia and Seabird Aviation Jordan. Since 2016 it has been manufactured in the US by Seeker Aircraft (US)/Erickson. It is powered by a Lycoming O-360 engine. The aircraft is marketed as a low cost alternative to observation helicopters for the military and civilian sectors. It can be used in roles such as pipeline inspection, coast watch, environmental duties, aerial photography and security. The Seabird Seeker has had some export success, and is operated by the Iraqi Air Force.

As of 2016 Seekers are currently flying in Australia, Jordan, Azerbaijan, South Africa, Tanzania, UAE, and the US with the New Mexico State Police, among other operators.[1]

US acquisition and manufacture[edit]

In March 2014 Seeker Aircraft (US), a subsidiary of the global aviation company CSI Aviation, acquired Seabird Aviation, the Australian manufacturer of the Seabird Seeker, with plans to eventually move Australia-based manufacturing operations to the United States[2] In March 2016 Seeker Aircraft (US) announced that Erickson Inc. of Portland, Oregon, would begin manufacturing the Seeker aircraft in the United States[1] In the US the Seeker aircraft has FAA Part 23 Normal Category certification, allowing use for commercial operations.[citation needed]

Operational history[edit]

Two SB7L-360A Seekers were purchased by the United States in 2004 in response to an initial requirement for eight fixed wing observation aircraft to equip the new Iraqi Air Force under the command of the Coalition Provisional Authority. The aircraft were received into service on 29 July from Seabird Aviation Jordan, and from 7 August Iraqi pilots received initial training on the Seekers.[3] The two aircraft were airlifted by the United States Air Force to Basrah Airport on 18 August. The post-invasion IqAF's first flying squadron, No. 70 Reconnaissance Squadron was raised to operate the Seekers[4] on patrol missions to monitor critical infrastructure such as oil pipelines and electricity transmission assets, as well as national borders. Initial missions saw coalition personnel accompany Iraqi pilots in a training capacity. On September 15, the Iraqi Air Force flew its first solo mission, crewed by two Iraqi pilots to provide intelligence on an oil pipeline spill.[5] Although further procurement of the type did not eventuate after the selection of the SAMA CH2000, Seekers YI-101 and YI-102 continued to operate throughout the conflict successfully, providing capabilities, including real-time feeds of observations to ground forces, night surveillance and carrying digital video equipment to assist with target identification. The Seekers remained in service when the squadron relocated to Talil Air Base in 2010.[6]


Initial prototype equipped with Lycoming O-235. Only one aircraft built.
Lycoming O-360 powered production variant.
Lycoming IO-390 210 hp variant[7]
Short for Remote Observation Automated Modelling Economic Simulation. Two Lycoming IO-390-A1B6 powered variants built for Ergon Energy featuring upgraded avionics, Garmin G500 EFIS cockpit. The aircraft is capable of fully automated flight, with the pilot able to intervene at any time. Marketed by Seabird as a transitional "optionally piloted" aircraft as an alternative to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.[8]



 South Africa
 United States
  • New Mexico State Police - Seeker Aircraft America donated one aircraft for law enforcement duties. As of 2014, under the agreement, this Seeker is used to demonstrate real-world applications to potential buyers.[12]


Jordanian Seeker
  • Tanzania Air Force Command - An unconfirmed number of Seekers (believed to be between 1 and 4) are operated by the Tanzania Air Force Command. The aircraft are equipped with an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turret for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.[13]
  • Yemeni Border Guards - Acquisition of 12 Seekers as part of an assistance package from the United States, used for border protection duties to prevent drug and arms smuggling, as well as illegal border crossings by terrorist militants.[14]

Specifications (Seabird Seeker ER SB7L-360A)[edit]

Data from [15]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 23 ft 0 in (7.01 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 4 in (11.07 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 2 in (2.49 m)
  • Wing area: 141 sq ft (13.1 m2)
  • Aspect ratio: 9.36:1
  • Empty weight: 1,301 lb (590 kg)
  • Gross weight: 1,997 lb (897 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Lycoming O-360-B2C , 160 hp (119 kW)


  • Cruise speed: 129 mph (202 km/h, 112 kn)
  • Range: 517 mi (832 km, 449 nmi)
  • Endurance: 6.9 hours


  • 2 × underwing hardpoints
  • 2 Rocket pods (/ rockets each)
  • 2 12.2 gun pods

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "Seeker Aircraft to Begin Manufacturing in U.S." (PDF) (Press release). Albuquerque, NM. USA: Seeker Aircraft. 2 March 2016.
  2. ^ "Seeker America acquires Seabird Aviation" (PDF) (Press release). CSI Aviation. 8 April 2014.
  3. ^ "SB7L-360 Seeker". Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  4. ^ a b "(New) Iraqi Air Force (IqAF) and Iraqi Army Air Corps". MILAVIA. 11 February 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  5. ^ Zabaldo, J (16 August 2004). "Iraqi Air Force Conducts First Solo Operational Mission". Multinational Security Transition Command, Iraq.
  6. ^ "Iraqi Air Force". Scramble - Dutch Aviation Society. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  7. ^ "Seeker Aircraft Delivers First SB7L-360A2". Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  8. ^ Creedy S (25 February 2011). "Seabird Aviation upgrades as it seeks a higher profile". The Australian. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  9. ^ "Seabird Aviation ROAMES Seeker for Ergon Energy". Australian Flying. Archived from the original on 23 March 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  10. ^ "Tanzania flying Seeker observation aircraft". defenceWeb. 4 December 2012.
  11. ^ "Paramount donates aircraft to combat rhino poaching". defenceWeb. 12 January 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Seeker America acquires Seabird Aviation" (PDF). General Aviation News. 30 April 2014.
  13. ^ Jennings, G; Peacock, L (7 January 2015). "Tanzania shown to be operating Seabird Seeker ISR aircraft". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  14. ^ Coombes, C (9 September 2013). "U.S. Boosts Counterterror Ops In Yemen". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
  15. ^ Taylor 1996, p. 381


External links[edit]