Originally developed for business use, the aircraft was selected by the center for its altitude and distance ranges, payload, and engineering features. Its flight range of a quarter of the earth's circumference will enable scientists to carry modern, complex instruments to remote regions important for climate studies, such as the Arctic Circle and the central Pacific Ocean. The plane's ability to take complex instrumentation to 50,000 feet will open the door to long-term storm forecasts and allow scientists to investigate flight- level turbulence and aviation safety, the impact of aircraft emissions, the cooling effects of high-altitude cirrus clouds, and other research areas.
"We can now investigate essential questions concerning the earth's changing climate that have been beyond our grasp. These involve clouds, greenhouse gas concentrations, aerosol plumes, temperature, and other factors," says NCAR director Timothy Killeen. "It's exciting to be able to make such a highly efficient aircraft available to researchers around the country."
Named HIAPER, for High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research, the new aircraft is expected to be on site at NCAR's aviation facility by 2003 and ready for its first research flight by 2005.
NCAR led a multiyear effort within the atmospheric research community to plan and develop specifications for the new airplane. The center provides aircraft, instrumentation, and supercomputing facilities to atmospheric researchers nationwide. It currently maintains and operates a Lockheed C-130, owned by NSF and fully equipped for atmospheric research. The C-130 can fly 3,100 nautical miles (3,500 miles) without refueling and has an altitude maximum of 35,000 feet.
NCAR is managed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, a consortium of 66 universities offering Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related sciences.
Visuals: Color photos of Gulfstream V are available at
ftp://ftp.ucar.edu/communications. Filename(s): gulfVa.jpg;
Caption: Gulfstream V.
On the Web: www.ncar.ucar.edu,