Air New Zealand launches cooperation with NASA

Johanna Koyser
2 minutes

In the last few weeks we have witnessed storms that have also caused problems for air traffic. Just yesterday, a sandstorm called “Calima” paralysed air traffic on the Canary Islands. As a result, researchers all over the world are constantly looking for new and more reliable methods to be able to predict such weather phenomena more accurately. This includes the announced cooperation between Air New Zealand and NASA, in further collaboration with the University of Michigan and New Zealand’s Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Employment.

Since the 1990s, NASA has been working with its Global Navigation Satellite System, GNSS for short. Roughly explained, it is a system consisting of 8 satellites which measures the wind speeds over the oceans. The information gained can be used to detect weather phenomena, such as severe storms, at an early stage. Air New Zealand will now provide this project with a Q300 aircraft. Equipped with GNSS receivers, practically scientific black boxes, the Q300 will further enrich the data collection of the satellites. The data collected by Air New Zealand will be evaluated by the University of Auckland. In addition to the goal of better forecasting storms, the university will also investigate the influence of climate change.

But why do NASA satellites need support from a relatively small aircraft like the Q300? Simply, the much lower flight altitude will improve the resolution and quality of the data. In addition, as already mentioned, NASA’s GNSS can currently only measure wind speeds over the oceans. All in all, it is hoped that the Air New Zealand – NASA cooperation will lead to a gain in knowledge that will also make measurements from land possible in the future.

A very exciting project, as we find at WingMag. Maybe we will see small scientific black boxes flying in local airspaces in the future. In any case, we will continue to keep you up to date and will report about any news concerning this project.

Picture © James Coleman

by Johanna Koyser

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