6 May 2011 • “There’s always something you like better on the other aircraft,” says Katrin Witte (German Aerospace Center, or DLR). On 17–18 January, Witt and eight of her colleagues got to compare their new Gulfstream G550 jet, dubbed HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft), with its closest counterpart—the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream V called HIAPER (High-Performance Instrumented Airborne Platform for Environmental Research), which debuted in 2005.
HALO stopped in Boulder for two days after a maintenance visit to the Gulfstream facility in Savannah, Georgia. It was the first time the planes were on the same runway, which gave scientists, engineers, and pilots from both labs a chance to meet and share notes. HALO is slightly larger than HIAPER, with an extra window and advanced avionics, but overall the planes are quite similar. Both of them went through extensive multi-year conversions from business to research use.
“DLR has incorporated a very comprehensive set of modifications to its aircraft,” says Jeffrey Stith, director of NCAR’s Research Aviation Facility. “I’m especially impressed by the type and quality of instrumentation that is planned for HALO.”
HALO was acquired to replace the DLR’s Falcon 20E, which has been retrofitted several times over the last 35 years. The plane’s first field campaign is slated for late 2011. “We’re definitely hoping to collaborate closely with NCAR,” says chief technical officer Oliver Brieger. According to Stith, “Future campaigns will benefit greatly from the global-scale capabilities of these two platforms.”