Move over, ‘Kermit’ and ‘Miss Piggy’

Ad Blocker Detected

Our website is made possible by displaying online advertisements to our visitors. Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker.

Anticipated missions for the extended-range, twin-turboprop King Air include photographic surveys after earthquakes, oil spills, blizzards, tornadoes, floods, and named hurricanes. The $11.8 million addition to the Lakeland, Florida, fleet doubled NOAA’s King Air resources that are tasked with coastal mapping, snow and soil moisture surveys, and emergency response missions. The agency has operated one King Air 350CER since 2009, and the aircraft registered as N68RF was instrumental in providing key infrastructure damage reports after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico and Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport in 2017.

The new King Air is configured with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turboprop engines and Hartzell four-blade propellers, a Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion digital avionics suite with touch-screen controls, an optional cargo door for enhanced mission flexibility, and a pair of optical glass sensor ports for aerial research.

Standard specifications call for a 35,000-foot ceiling, a 2,400-fpm climb, a cruise speed of 245 knots, and a useful load of 6,033 pounds. The extended range version of the aircraft can “collect critical information while remaining airborne for 7 to 8 hours depending on fuel and payload,” NOAA reported. Normal aircraft configuration includes seating for two pilots, a sensor operator, “and 1-2 additional crew members, depending on the amount of sensor equipment installed.”

The King Air’s two large downward-facing glass ports can support a wide variety of remote sensing systems including digital cameras, multispectral and hyperspectral sensors, topographic and bathymetric light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems, and gamma radiation detectors, the administration noted. The dual-sensor port modification allows simultaneous data collection from multiple sensors and enhances the aircraft’s research capabilities. The glass plates in the sensor ports allow the cabin to remain pressurized but can be removed “and the aircraft operated unpressurized, if required for science,” NOAA said.

“We are honored the King Air 350CER aircraft continues to be the aircraft of choice to fill a variety of critical mission needs for NOAA,” said Bob Gibbs, Textron Aviation vice president of special mission sales. “The aircraft’s custom sensor port modification, combined with its extended range performance features, makes it a powerful and reliable platform to carry out the agency’s unique missions during critical times.” 

NOAA moved into the Lakeland Linder International Airport facility in 2017 and is expanding the existing operations building from 99,000 square feet to 156,043 square feet to accommodate additional aircraft and other improvements.

In 2019, the agency ordered a $40.7

This post was originally published by AOPA on . Please visit the original post to read the complete article.

Leave a Reply