September 17, 2013 to October 18, 2013
Project Location: 
Jeffco, Broomfield, CO
Project Description: 

NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory and the University of Wyoming have been conducting a three year program to provide opportunities for flight testing of improved instrumentation for airborne research. The program is called Instrument Development and Education in Airborne Science (IDEAS) and its goal is to improve the capability of instrumentation for future National Science Foundation (NSF) airborne deployments and to provide opportunities for students to learn about observational science.

IDEAS includes three phases for instrumentation testing on three research aircraft: the NSF/NCAR C-130 (2011),  the University of Wyoming King Air (2012) and the NSF/NCAR GV aircraft (2013).

This solicitation is for IDEAS-2013 Phase III on the NSF/NCAR Gulfstream-V.

Program Timeline (Phase III)

1 May 2013 Deadline for receipt of proposals
1 June 2013 Selection of instruments announced
1 July 2013 Installation documentation for wing-mounted instruments provided to RAF
1 July 2013 Installation documentation for cabin-mounted instruments provided to the RAF
1 August 2013 Instrument upload begins on the GV
17 Sept. – 18 Oct. 2013 Instrument testing flights
1 May 2014 Final archive data from IDEAS-2013 distributed to web site.

Program Description

The GV will measure state parameters (temperature, pressure, humidity), winds, aircraft position and attitude, cloud particle spectra and other ancillary parameters in addition to the data collected by the instruments undergoing testing. These data, as well as the data from participating instruments if desired, can be displayed in real time in flight. Investigators can have access to position and state parameter variables for recording on their own systems. Data recorded on the RAF data system will be processed and preliminary data will be made available shortly after a flight. Many of the measurements can also be relayed to the ground during the flight for display in real time via a satellite link. Real-time communication between investigators on the ground and the aircraft, as well as remote control of instruments from the ground is also possible. The combination of real time data access and communication between the GV and ground based support teams enables wide participation of remote researchers in the conduct of flights.

Some of the flights may take place in the vicinity of the CHILL radar, which would allow coordinated flights with the radar, providing additional opportunities for radar and instrument comparisons and student projects involving both in situ and remote sensing measurements.

Eligibility and Instrumentation

Due to the limitations on the use of the NSF funded aircraft, flight testing for the primary purpose of developing commercial instrumentation is excluded. Exceptions can be made if the instrument is being tested for the purpose of evaluating its performance for purchase by NCAR or UW or to determine the instrument’s suitability for a specific planned NSF field deployment. In any event, the primary purpose of the testing must not be for commercial development purposes. Requests for instrument testing and student participation will be evaluated by a panel of specialists in airborne measurements and approved based upon the feasibility of the installation and the criteria listed below. More information is available by contacting the RAF facility manager.

Instruments proposed for IDEAS will be selected for testing based upon how well they meet the following criteria:

  • Need for this instrumentation for specific NSF field campaigns. Preference will be given to instruments for field projects that are approved or well along in the review/planning process.
  • Likelihood of instrument’s use by the community in future NSF campaigns.
  • Likelihood of the instrument being ready for testing, such as addressing how the RAF certification guidelines will be handled.
  • Demonstrated benefit to an existing NSF grant.
  • Relevance of instrumentation to unmet needs in the US airborne research fleet.
  • Willingness of the requestor to provide unrestricted data from the instrument to a public data archive upon completion of data QC. Preliminary data will be shared among IDEAS participants.
  • Broader impacts of the instrument request, such as benefits to education of students in new technologies.

Limited support for installation on the aircraft can be provided by NCAR. The proposing institution is responsible for assuring that the instruments meet the RAF installation guidelines. Please also familiarize yourself with the scale of the effort to comply with certification requirements by reviewing the sample documentation packages. These documentation packages are required for both the GV and C130 aircraft.

Student Participation in Flights

Student participation in general is targeted at higher education students, especially those who may have an interest in a career related to airborne science. Other student participation will be considered on a lower priority basis. Faculty members teaching related classes (e.g., instrumentation, air pollution, meteorology, etc.) are welcome to propose measurement needs for class projects using data collected for students during IDEAS.

A limited number of instrument operators can be accommodated on each flight, depending on the final payload configuration. However, due to the limited cabin space on the GV, it is expected that remote participation in flights and hands-on work on the instruments between flights will be most typical.

In-flight participation for the students is also part of IDEAS, provided the student is able and willing to operate instrumentation and data systems after suitable instruction by NCAR scientists and technicians. The purpose of the student participation is to learn about the operation, maintenance, calibration and data processing techniques from the instrumentation. NCAR instrumentation specialists and others participating in the program are expected to serve as mentors for student participants for this purpose.

How to Apply

To submit a proposal for the GV IDEAS 2013 instrument testing fill out the Application Form; to apply for student participation, fill out the Student Request Form. Send the forms via E-mail or postal service, and contact Jeff Stith (IDEAS PI) or Pavel Romashkin (IDEAS Project Manager) by phone (303-497-1032 and 303-497-1027, respectively) by May 1, 2013.


This program provides a no-cost flight time to selected instrument developers. No other support is provided or implied.

Reimbursement of travel costs and instrument construction costs is not provided by this program. It is expected that such costs will be covered by the institution applying for inclusion in the test flights. No funds from the IDEAS program are available for student support. Participating students must arrange their own transportation, lodging, etc. through their educational institution.