Resource Data

An Air New Zealand Q300 now collects atmospheric data for NASA

  • Air New Zealand, Boeing 787, paint problem
    Air New Zealand

    IATA/ICAO code:
    NZ/ANZ

    Airline type:
    Full service carrier

    Hub(s):
    Auckland Airport, Christchurch Airport, Wellington Airport

    Year of foundation:
    1965

    Alliance:
    star alliance

    CEO:
    Greg Foran

    Country:
    New Zealand

With its strong commitment to sustainability, it’s no surprise that Air New Zealand is actively involved in climate science research. The airline is working with the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to collect environmental data using one of its turboprop aircraft.


A Dash 8 at the forefront of NASA research

The first Air New Zealand DHC-8-Q300 flight for NASA climate science missions. Data: Flightradar24.com

This week, Air New Zealand became the world’s first passenger airline to join a NASA ground mission. When flight NZ8844 took off from Christchurch International Airport (CHC) at 11:49 a.m. Tuesday, it was carrying a NASA next-generation satellite receiver to collect unique environmental data. The data will be used to better predict storms and for further research on climate change. The NASA satellite was on board an Air New Zealand De Havilland DHC-8-Q300, registration ZK-NFA, delivered in March 2008. Air New Zealand operates a fleet of 23 Dash 8 Q300s, each 50-seat aircraft performing about 50 services per week. to 19 domestic destinations.

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The onboard Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver uses direct and reflected GPS and Galileo signals to collect data. The airline and NASA have been working together since 2020 on the design, installation and certification of the receiver on board the Q300. Air New Zealand (ANZ) believes that climate change is a common challenge, and Chief Operational Integrity and Safety Captain David Morgan said the airline is not shy about fulfilling its responsibility to deal with it.

“With a network stretching from Kerikeri to Invercargill and flying at an altitude of approximately 16,000 feet (4,900 meters), the Q300 was the perfect aircraft to fly this mission. sea ​​than NASA satellites, our aircraft can collect a daily stream of high-resolution, high-quality data, with significant potential for the scientific community.”

Data collected aboard the ANZ turboprop will be transmitted to NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), a constellation of eight small satellites that measure wind speed over oceans. The system measures GNSS signals, such as GPS, reflected from the ocean surface, which helps scientists understand and predict cyclones. Reflections can also track soil moisture, monitor droughts and floods, and track coastal and wetland conditions to monitor coastal erosion. These events are impacted by climate change, so the data collected will also be used for research in this area.

ANZ contribution could inspire other airlines

Air New Zealand is applying its resources on a NASA ground mission to understand patterns of weather and climate change. Photo: Air New Zealand

The University of Auckland is also involved, which has established a Science Payload Operations Center to receive and process data from the aircraft. This has the potential to become New Zealand’s largest source of environmental data, and project leader Professor Delwyn Moller says the collaboration will put Kiwi scientists at the forefront of this emerging field. “Air New Zealand’s commitment to the success of the project will hopefully inspire other airlines around the world to use their own aircraft to benefit science.”

All data collected will be publicly available and used in areas such as flood risk management, agriculture and resource planning. A side benefit is that the receiver on board the ANZ Q300 has advanced capabilities and can be used for space missions, which will also be tested. In true Kiwi spirit, the project was given the name Rongowai, combining the Maori words rongo (meaning) and wai (water).