Rules for Determining Project Feasibility
The process for requesting one of the NSF/NCAR aircraft platforms in support of a scientific field project and the deadlines for filing such a request can be found on the EOL web site. Large projects with budgets exceeding $1M require the submission of an Experimental Design Overview (EDO) 2 years prior to project start for an advanced evaluation of the project, followed up with a specific Facility Request 1 year prior to the project start for final review and allocation of resources. Projects projected to cost less than $1M only need to submit the Facility Request.
As much information as possible on all user supplied instrumentation to be included in a specific research payload must be provided as part of the EDO. Lack of information at the EDO stage may lead to serious inaccuracies in EOL's assessing the feasibility of an EDO and result in deeming a project unfeasible. The complete and final information on all user instruments must be included in the Facility Request. Any special instrument integration requirements should be noted at this time. Prior to a scientific review by NSF and the OFAP panel, EOL conducts a thorough feasibility review to determine if the research payload is compatible with the aircraft, if the operations location is adequate and safe and if the requested flight operations can be supported in a safe manner.
In the EDO and Facility Request feasibility review processes, field program payload requests will be evaluated on the basis of "required" versus "optional" instruments. During the interactive communications prior to the submission of a formal request for support, PI-s will be asked to denote which instruments are "required" to meet the scientific goals of their project.
If a New Instrument (EOL or User supplied, that has not previously demonstrated scientific performance in a relevant environment) is included in the list of required instrumentation for an EDO and there is no plan in place for a functionality flight testing of that instrument, the project may be only determined to be "Provisionally Feasible". This is because per EOL policy, all instruments must demonstrate a suitable level of performance in flight and deliver science quality data prior to deploying on an actual research project. EOL will be offering flight opportunities to test new instrumentation prior to being available for actual research; contact the RAF manager or Airborne Project Office for more information on these opportunities.
If a New Instrument is included in a Facility Request and has not completed the functionality flight testing by the time of the relevant OFAP meeting, the request will be deemed to be "Unfeasible" until the required instrument can demonstrate the required level of performance.
Optional instruments are not required to pass in-flight performance testing prior to deploying on a research projects. However, failure of an "optional" sensor to comply with the airworthiness requirements will result in the removal of that system from the overall research payload.