ARISTO Instrument Test Flight Program

Background of the Program

The Airborne Research Instrumentation Testing Opportunity (ARISTO) is a NSF-sponsored flight test program that is conducted annually on one of the NSF/NCAR aircraft. The purpose of the ARISTO program is to provide regular flight test opportunities for newly developed or highly modified instruments as part of their development effort. The program was created in response to a critical need, expressed by the NSF community, for regularly scheduled flight-testing programs to be able to not only test instrumentation, but also data systems, inlets and software well ahead of a field campaign in order to maintain cutting-edge and vibrant airborne research.  Click here to view the original ARISTO proposal.

EOL can provide some resources to ARISTO participants in the form of engineering expertise, fabrication or aircraft interfaces and travel support. Larger efforts are treated as collaborations; we will work with each investigrator to determine the support model necessary for successful implementation of every approved experiment.

NSF PIs with active instrument development grants who didn't budget for travel or shipping instruments or equipment in order to participate in ARISTO should contact their Program Officer to discuss a possible supplement to their grant.

Who is eligible to participate in ARISTO?

All instrument PIs who propose to test instruments to support an existing NSF grant or a proposed NSF grant are eligible. Investigators selected for instrument testing are required to provide appropriate details on their instrument and comply with EOL/RAF certification requirements.

Please note that this flight-testing program is not intended to provide flight opportunities for commercial instrument builders or for the collection of proprietary data for commercial instrument development. Test flight opportunities can be opened to investigators with instrument developments funded by non-NSF U.S. agencies, however those arrangements will have to be negotiated between the cognizant Program Officers.

Proposals will be ranked and instruments will be selected for testing based on the following prioritized criteria:

Priority 1: Instrumentation that is essential to a NSF field campaign that is already approved or has had its SPO / EDO approved.

Priority 2: Instrumentation that has recently been developed or is being modified as part of a funded NSF grant or cooperative agreement.

Priority 3: Instrumentation that has a high likelihood of being routinely used by the NSF community in future field campaigns.

Priority 4: Instrumentation that is of high relevance to unmet needs in the LAOF and/or in the US airborne research fleet.

Priority 5: Instrumentation that has a high likelihood of being ready for flight-testing and complies with all EOL/RAF certification guidelines (as determined by NCAR/EOL).

Note: This is current prioritization effective 2016. Priorities 4 and 5 were changed places based on a peer review input in 2016.

If you you would like to discuss whether or not your instrument development may be eligible for ARISTO, please contact a RAF Project Manager (

How do I Submit a Proposal for ARISTO?

In the application form linked here you will enter basic information about your experiment, aircraft preference and availability dates for participation. Shortly you will be contacted to discuss the time frame for your participation in one of the upcoming annual ARISTO phases. The ARISTO Program is an ongoing process of solicitation, evaluation, acceptance and flight testing of airborne instrumentation, so you can apply for the next upcoming ARISTO project or for another one at a later date.

List of past ARISTO Annual campaigns

2015 2016 2017