Funded by UK Met Office & NERC
In June 2003, the operating Company of Airtask Group, Directflight was awarded a 10 year contract by BAe Systems to operate a BAe 146-301 Atmospheric Research (Jet) Aircraft (ARA) commencing in June 2004. The contract was re-awarded in April 2014 and subsequently in April 2019 for a further 5 years, with an option to extend out further.
Funded through the University of Leeds, it is managed by the Facility for Airborne Atmospheric Measurements (FAAM) and based at Cranfield Airport in Bedfordshire. The aircraft is configured as a highly specialised meteorological research platform and carries 3 flight crew, 1 mission scientist, 1 systems manager and 16 instrument operators.
Uniquely, Directflight conducts all atmospheric research operations in the BAe 146-301 ARA in full compliance with Public Transport Regulations. The various research communities that utilise the aircraft are categorised as "passenger" status and are afforded equivalent levels of safety commensurate with industry standards. The aircraft regularly flies at 50ft above sea level (amsl) and 250 ft above ground level (agl), deploys drop sondes at altitude and flies in formation with other participating atmospheric research aircraft.
The aircraft is operated worldwide in accordance with Public Transport regulation. Since operations began, meteorological research campaigns have included detachments to the Arctic, North and South America, the Caribbean, North and West Africa, the Far East, Europe and the Western Pacific. Currently campaigns are planned for Canada, Sweden and India. In addition to operating the aircraft, we are also responsible for the provision of maintenance at home and overseas which includes the reconfiguration and installation of atmospheric research instrumentation.
Recent developments include the use of an Inertial Reference System (IRS) for operations in Polar latitudes and a pilot situational awareness upgrade program utilising iPads.
Maintenance at Home and Overseas
Reconfiguration and Installation