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NSF-Sponsored Research Aircraft Deployment Planned for Love Field

The Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Meteorology Department is planning a two-week flight research program with the University of Wyoming King Air in the spring semester. Student training in Airborne Research and Technology or START is being funded by the National Science Foundation Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences. The University of Wyoming King Air is an instrumented research aircraft providing atmospheric measurements and flight safety data, and will be based at the ERAU Flight Center from March 24 until April 8, 2014. Students from multiple courses will be directly involved in flight missions, instrument system training, flight forecast simulations and follow-up data analysis. Project activities will blend flight management, atmospheric measurement technology, airborne monitoring, instrument design, aeronautical engineering, aviation safety and global security applications.

As electronic sensor systems and increasingly unique aircraft designs are developed, aviation professionals will be expected to support complex flight objectives, collect datasets that serve multiple purposes, and adapt to unexpected contingencies and opportunities. The lead faculty for the START project, Dr. Melanie Wetzel and Dr. Dorothea Ivanova (Department of Meteorology), are preparing multiple flight missions with application to aviation weather forecasting and weather hazard avoidance for conditions such as wind shear, turbulence, aircraft icing, and restricted visibility due to smoke or dust.

The process of research flight coordination will be presented in open seminars with the King Air pilot and flight scientist to discuss topics such as FAA restrictions for flight close to terrain, limitations for science-driven flight track scheduling, forecasting requirements, engineering aspects of adding new instrumentation, formulating scientific objectives, time/space sampling protocols, in-flight communications and coordination with other aircraft. Selected faculty and students will serve onboard during the flights to monitor data collection in flight, and will conduct weather balloon launches on campus to provide atmospheric profile observations.  Coordination is also planned with the National Weather Service (NWS) office for flight briefings, use of the NWS Doppler weather radar data, and verification of their Terminal Area Forecast products for Love Field. Announcement of opportunities to participate in the START program will be posted to campus news in the coming months.

 

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