Cobham SATCOM's AVIATOR 700 Used Aboard NOAA Hurricane Hunter Case Study
Responsible for closely monitoring the Earth's ever changing
environment, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) plays a vital role in assisting forecasters to accurately
predict when and where a hurricane is likely to strike.
The NOAA currently operates three 'hurricane hunter' aircraft
which are affectionately named after Jim Henson's lovable Muppet
characters Kermit, Miss Piggy and Gonzo.
Flying around and through deadly hurricanes, the 2WP-3 Orions or
P-3 aircraft Kermit and Miss Piggy are used to gather essential
hurricane research and reconnaissance.
Providing the critical link between aircraft and ground control
stations, Cobham's cutting-edge satcom solutions such as the
AVIATOR 700 have become fundamental to the success of many of the
Electrical Engineer for the NOAA Jeff Smith is responsible for
the integration of new systems including satellite communications
onto aircraft such as the P-3 hurricane hunters.
He explains: "It's a common misconception that the P-3 aircraft
are only used to research hurricanes, in fact, as well as hurricane
research they are used to track and research atmospheric events
across the globe.
"By tracking winter storms rolling across the Pacific while
based out of Japan and Hawaii, NOAA is able to greatly improve
forecast capabilities in the U.S.
"This development has enabled us to accurately predict winter
storm weather up to ten days in advance, where previously it has
only been possible to produce six day accurate forecasts."
Mission Critical Equipment
The aircraft carry exceptionally sophisticated equipment
including radar, computers and weather instruments that determine
characteristics such as temperature, air pressure, wind speed and
wind direction inside the hurricane.
During a mission, which can often last up to ten hours, the crew
onboard release instruments to measure temperature, air pressure
and wind at varying levels as the devices drop through the
hurricane towards the ocean.
Once the data is gathered, it is critical that it is
communicated effectively to control stations on the ground to be
analysed by scientists responsible for predicting the storm's
The development of satellite communications as an instrumental
technology to transmit data to the ground has become critical in
the success of the NOAA's hurricane hunter missions.
Within the advancement of severe weather event prediction, the
capability to send larger quantities of data, at a faster speed has
"The launch of Inmarsat SwiftBroadband has provided a huge step
forward for us as it has offered the capability to send more data
"With the use of Cobham's AVIATOR 700 SwiftBroadband solution we
can now send forecasters full resolution radar images, as well as
stream live video images, which will be useful for news & other
TV programmes to show the public what is going on."
Jeff concludes: "The more information we can send from the
aircraft, the more accurate the NOAA forecasters' prediction is
likely to be. The Cobham AVIATOR 700 system has become a vital
instrument in performing our missions, allowing us to significantly
expand our capabilities."