NOAA’s newest aircraft, a Beechcraft King Air 350 CER turboprop, aircraft has arrived at the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center in Lakeland, Florida.
The new aircraft, designated N67RF, is outfitted with remote sensing equipment that will measure the water content of snow and soil — data that is used for flood, river level and water supply forecasts. The King Air can also be configured to support other NOAA missions, including coastal mapping and aerial surveys of damage in communities after a storm landfall
The twin-engine aircraft was built at Textron Aviation’s factory and instrumented by Avcon Industries in Wichita, Kansas, as part of an $11.8 million contract to Textron Aviation, Inc.
“This new, high-performance aircraft will greatly enhance NOAA’s ability to collect data vital to forecasters, researchers and emergency managers,” said NOAA Corps Rear Adm. Michael J. Silah, director of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO) and director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps.
The aircraft joins NOAA’s fleet of specialized environmental data-gathering aircraft, which includes another King Air 350 CER. The new aircraft will eventually replace NOAA’s aging Gulfstream Turbo Commander after many years of service.
NOAA’s aircraft fleet is operated, managed and maintained by NOAA Corps officers and OMAO civilians.