Planning an Aircraft Intercomparison Flight
In this picture, Rob and the other aircraft scientists are planning the seventh VOCALS research flight, which will happen early on the morning of Halloween.
Part of the reason for this flight is to compare the NSF/NCAR C-130 and the FAAM Bae-146 aircraft. This is called an intercomparison flight. We refer to an intercomparison flight when two or more research aircraft fly wing tip to wing tip measuring similar data with their instruments. Because these data are collected in the same airspace but with different instruments, researchers can learn how accurate their measurements are and whether or not they are experiencing any data biases that require correction during the data processing stage.
Intercomparison flights can be quite challenging for our pilots. Similar to formation flying, they have to carefully plan each maneuver, and determine well in advance at what altitude, speed, and separation they will be flying together.
Postcards from the Field: Climate Science from the Southeast Pacific