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WP-3D Platform Info

NOAA WP-3D Lockheed Orion Aircraft

NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill AFB, FL maintains and operates NOAA's aircraft assets. Among them are two Lockheed WP-3D Orion, four engine turbo-prop aircraft, which are mainly used for severe storms and other weather related research. Starting in 1994, these aircraft have been temporarily converted into highly sophisticated airborne air chemistry and aerosol research platforms. This aircraft is one of the ICARTT 2004 Mobile Platform sites.

Specifications and Operational Parameters

ParameterSpecification
Length116' 10"
Span99' 8"
Fuselage Diameter11' 3"
Ceiling25,000 ft
Research Speed200 knts IAS
Range1600+ nm
Fuel Burn4500 - 6000 lbs / hr
Fuel Load58,000 lbs (48,000 lbs usable; 10,000 lbs reserve)
Max Science Payload~ 5000 lbs inside fuselage; plus additional instruments in external wing stores

The operating range will suffice to investigate the suspected primary pollution source regions in the Ohio Valley region and along the eastern seaboard and follow the transport and transformation of their emissions across New England toward the North Atlantic. We estimate the range of the WP-3D operating out of Pease International Tradeport Airport for two different scenarios of 800 and 1000 nautical miles action radius, that is assuming a flight with return to Pease. Actual range will finally be determined by how much fuel can be loaded within the maximum aircraft gross weight limit of 135,000 lbs. We anticipate the aircraft to be 'max zero fuel weight' limited, that means the fuselage is loaded to capacity and additional instrumentation is operated in external stores (pods) under the wings.

The WP-3D aircraft are operated by an AOC crew of seven (aircraft commander, pilot, flight engineer, navigator, flight director who is also the flight meteorologist, and two technicians) and can carry in addition several science personnel. By minimizing this number we can install more instruments. The planned payload relies on the full space and payload weight capacity.