The NASA Airborne Science Program aircraft list provides unique NASA aircraft and commercial aircraft that benefit the earth science community. These manned and unmanned aircraft carry the sensors that provide data to support and augment NASA spaceborne missions.
Reminder: All investigators with approved or pending proposals from the Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) announcements that have a requirement for a NASA Airborne Science platform/instrument, must submit a Flight Request. The Flight Request is also the method to acquire an estimate if your proposal requires a cost estimate for Airborne Science support. However, for investigators proposing to participate on large, multi-aircraft experiments, such as the ROSES Call 2015: KORUS-AQ (Korea US- Air Quality), a single Flight Request will be submitted for each mission by the Project Manager or Project Scientist. The Science Operations Flight Request System (SOFRS) can be reached directly at http://airbornescience.nasa.gov/sofrs.
For all "Commercial" aircraft, in addition to filing a Flight Request, investigators are responsible for contacting vendors to determine if the platform meets the requirements of the proposed scientific investigation. It is the responsibility of the investigator to ensure that before any preliminary test flights or actual data collection flights utilizing NASA personnel, instruments or funds occur, all vendors successfully complete a NASA airworthiness/flight safety review in accordance with NASA Aviation Safety Policy for Non-NASA Aircraft.
The NASA Langley Beechcraft B200 King Air (NASA 529) is an all-metal, twin-turboprop research aircraft. NASA Langley acquired this aircraft in 1996 for program support. The aircraft has been modified with two nadir-viewing ports: 29.5 x 29.5-in. in the forward section of the passenger cabin and 26.75 x 22.5 in. in the aft section. These downward-looking portals allow the use of a wide variety of optical, laser, or R-F based devices that might require a nadir look angle out of the aircraft. Research-supporting subsystems, such as electrical power distribution, TCAS, GPS and satellite phone communications also have been installed. The crown of the aircraft has been structurally modified to accommodate atmospheric sensors, such as an isokinetic aerosol inlet. Finally, a pylon has been mounted beneath each wingtip. These pylons are suitable for carrying aerosol probes with weights of up to 50 lbs. In its current configuration, the aircraft serves as the primary flight platform for a suite of aerosol and cloud remote-sensing instruments, including the NASA Langley High Spectral Resolution LIDAR (HSRL). The aircraft is fully IFR capable.
The research power system contains three 50-A AC inverters which supply up to 4200 W of research power. An Iridium satellite phone system has been installed to facilitate both remote voice communications as well as data modem transfer.
This aircraft nominally flies mission profiles up to altitudes of 28,000 ft, but with prior coordination, is capable of conducting operations in the National Airspace System up to the aircraft's service ceiling of 35,000 ft. Typically, the aircraft can carry a 1000-lbs payload, three crewmembers (two flight crew and one system operator) and remain airborne for four hours covering approximately 800 n.mi. The aircraft is limited to a maximum certified takeoff weight of 13,500 lbs. The aircraft has successfully operated in both domestic and international deployments. In summary, the NASA Langley B200 aircraft and its flight team provide an efficient and effective operational platform for small to medium-sized science payloads, especially those requiring or desiring unique integration, dedicated flight profiles, coordinated flights with other platforms, or flight patterns in congested airspace.
Page Last Updated: February 3, 2015
Page Editor: Katja Drdla
NASA Official: Mike Craig