Aircraft List

The NASA Airborne Science Program provides a unique set of NASA supported 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, 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

Non-NASA Aircraft
NASA instrumentation may fly on non-NASA Federal aircraft as well as academic and commercial platforms for which agreements for access by SMD investigators are in place, in process, or have recently been approved by NASA Aviation Management as airworthy and safe to operate. For more information, please review the current ASP Call Letter for further requirements and guidance. Please note that in addition to filing the required Flight Request, investigators are responsible for contacting vendors to determine if the platform meets the requirements of the proposed scientific investigation. It is also 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 Lockheed C-130 “Hercules” aircraft is a four-engine, medium-size utility aircraft that has proven to be one of the most well-known and versatile aircraft ever built. The NSF/NCAR aircraft is a model EC-130Q, similar to the more common model C-130H model except for electrical and air-conditioning modifications. The aircraft is an all-metal, pressurized, high-wing monoplane powered by four Allison T-56- A-15 turboprop engines. It is equipped with dual-wheel, tricycle landing gear with the main gear wheels arranged in tandem and the nose gear arranged side-by-side. The C-130, maintained and managed by EOL, was placed into service with the NSF in 1992.

The NSF/NCAR C-130 is ideal for studies of the middle and lower troposphere. In a typical research configuration, it carries 13,000 pounds of payload with 8 to 9 hour endurance, and there is considerable flexibility in adjusting payload and range to meet specific mission requirements. It also has the capability to extend a ramp in flight (unpressurized), which allows for the deployment of specialized equipment such as ocean buoys. The C-130 performs a variety of research missions at altitudes below about 26,000 feet. With its excellent low altitude performance and heavy lift capabilities, the C-130 is ideal for studying the planetary boundary layer and lower to mid-tropospheric chemistry missions. In addition to NCAR’s standard thermodynamic, wind and turbulence, microphysics, radiation, and trace gas instruments, the C-130 has a roomy fuselage payload area that can accommodate many rack-mounted instruments with access to several inlets and optical ports. Several wing pods for external instrument stores of varying sizes are also available.

For more information see:

National Science Foundation
Fixed wing, quad turbo propeller
9.0 hours (payload and weather dependent)
Useful Payload: 
13,000 lbs
Max Altitude: 
Point(s) of Contact: 

Pavel Romashkin