Friday, 11 June 2010

New Instrument Cleared to Fly

There is a group in Italy led by Piero Di Carlo and based in the physics department at the University of L’Aquila that make measurements of reactive nitrogen species in the atmosphere using laser induced fluorescence (LIF). They have agreed to be part of the BORTAS project and have their instrument installed on the UK BAe 146 Atmospheric Research Aircraft. The operation of this instrument and analysis of the data it produces are the parts of the project I was employed to carry out so developments on this new instrument (well new to me anyway) are quite exciting! It was intended that we would use this nitrogen dioxide (NO2) LIF instrument to measure NO2 and through thermal decomposition also the sum of alkyl nitrates and the sum of peroxyacyl nitrates (PANs) during the BORTAS aircraft campaign this summer. Because this instrument has not been used on the research aircraft before it needs to go through testing and certification to allow it to fly. The schedule for this from our point of view is not so urgent any more but since the instrument is intended to fly on another campaign that is now taking place in the UK this summer this process is still taking place. So earlier this week we had brilliant news that on 9th June the instrument passed the BAe inspection and so will be installed on the aircraft, hopefully, next week.

Later this month I should be able to travel down to the airport at Cranfield to see the instrument on the aircraft and help with some operational testing. Then test flights start early July… fingers crossed the instrument is a good flier and there are no major hiccups. I’ll let you know how it all goes.

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