As part of a world-first project, Lufthansa Group and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology are equipping an Airbus A350 with the necessary instruments to turn it into a real airborne climate research laboratory.
Lufthansa Airbus A350 to collect atmospheric data
Starting next year, the A350-900 registered D-AIXJ and christened “Erfurt” will collect atmospheric data for the first time. The data, which will be collected on selected scheduled flights around the world, will be used for the European atmospheric research initiative IAGOS-CARIBIC.
Lufthansa experts recently attached the measurement probe system specially developed for the project to the lower fuselage section of the aircraft. In addition, the company successfully completed a series of flight tests with this equipment. The operations were conducted in coordination with the certification authorities in the airspace over southern Germany.
Lufthansa CEO Jens Ritter remarked that the company has been involved in such initiatives for three decades. “The conversion of our Lufthansa Airbus A350 into a climate research aircraft is a globally unique project”, he said. “Our aim is to make a valuable contribution to climate research”, he added.
How it works
The measuring system now being tested is the most complex of its kind. In addition to the air intake function, it has sensors for high-frequency measurements and precise pressure and temperature parameters.
The equipment continuously records more than a hundred different trace gases, aerosols and cloud characteristics. The technology makes it possible to obtain relevant parameters at the altitude at which the aircraft flies, with extreme precision and significantly higher temporal resolution than is possible with ground-based or satellite-based equipment.
In the coming months, a specially designed measurement laboratory with some twenty instruments and a weight of around two tonnes will be built. It will then be installed in the cargo hold of the aircraft and connected to the measurement system in the fuselage.