NSF/NCAR C-130 Request Guidance

NSF/NCAR C-130 Overview

The NSF/NCAR C-130 is a four-engine, medium-size utility aircraft that has been extensively modified for research applications. The C-130 has a 10-hour flight endurance, a 2,900 nautical mile range at up to 27,000 ft, and a payload capacity of up to 13,000 lbs. This versatile research platform has a roomy fuselage that can accommodate payloads across an area of 414 square feet. In addition to standard thermodynamic, microphysics and radiation sensors, the C-130 has a range of inlets and optical ports. The Earth Observing Laboratory operates the aircraft within the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Configuration: Airborne research platform

Number of available systems: 1

NSF/NCAR C-130 Contacts

Dr. Pavel Romashkin / pavel@ucar.edu / (303) 497-1027 (Requests & Schedules)

Airborne Instrumentation

Each research payload is unique and will typically consist of some combination of EOL, ACOM (Atmospheric Chemistry Observations & Modeling) and user-supplied instrumentation. The tables on airborne instrumentation list available airborne sensors and measurements, and indicate on which aircraft they can fly. 

RAF can supply several types of trace gas and small aerosol inlets (HIMIL unheated, HIMIL anti-iced, HIMIL aft facing, Solid diffuser SDI aerosol inlet, and the SMAI aerosol inlet, all with PFA or stainless steel tubing, with or without sample line heating.)


Prior to submitting this request, it is required to communicate with the appropriate airborne instrumentation contact(s) about the instruments listed below to determine if the basic payload request can be supported and/or if it will require additional resources.

[EOL] Dr. Julie Haggerty / haggerty@ucar.edu / (303) 497-1090 

[ACOM] Dr. Sam Hall / halls@ucar.edu / (303) 497-1899

In building an aircraft payload, note that the payload consist of:

  1. Standard instrumentation: This is a suite of instruments that is permanently installed on the NSF/NCAR C-130 airplane, and these instruments provide data on all airborne projects. See the table below.
  2. Requestable instruments: This an extensive list of instruments that are requestable to fly on the NSF/NCAR C-130, and are provided by NCAR/EOL and NCAR/ACOM. See the table below.
  3. User-supplied instruments: PIs may request to include their own instruments in the payload that complement the NCAR part of the payload. See the LAOF Aircraft User-Supplied Airborne Instrumentation Form that is uploaded in PRESTO in the facility request form.

Project-specific limitations of the capabilities of the standard instruments and requestable instruments will be identified by EOL and ACOM at the time of the feasibility study and will be discussed with the requesting investigators.

Payload Limitations

The number of requested instruments routinely exceeds the available space on the aircraft. We, therefore, ask PIs to indicate the priority of each measurement in addressing their research goals. The rating to be used is as follows: 

Mission Critical

Useful / Desirable

Not Requested 

Wing Store Configurations 

Basic information on possible wing store configurations, rack space requirements, and operator status is included in the tables. There are a total of 10 wing pod canister positions, three on each of the large C-130 wing pods, two on each wing tip.

User-supplied Instrumentation 

Detailed information on specific systems and platform infrastructure related to mounting user-supplied equipment can be found in the C-130 Investigator Handbook. All user-supplied equipment must meet RAF safety and design specifications.