Near Real Time Review of Instrument Performance using the Airborne Data Processing and Analysis Software Package

Thursday, 18 December 2014
David J Delene, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND, United States
Research aircraft that conduct atmospheric measurements carry an increasing array of instrumentation. While on-board personnel constantly review instrument parameters and time series plots, there are an overwhelming number of items. Furthermore, directing the aircraft flight takes up much of the flight scientist time. Typically, a flight engineer is given the responsibility of reviewing the status of on-board instruments. While major issues like not receiving data are quickly identified during a flight, subtle issues like low but believable concentration measurements may go unnoticed. Therefore, it is critical to review data after a flight in near real time. The Airborne Data Processing and Analysis (ADPAA) software package used by the University of North Dakota automates the post-processing of aircraft flight data. Utilizing scripts to process the measurements recorded by data acquisition systems enables the generation of data files within an hour of flight completion. The ADPAA Cplot visualization program enables plots to be quickly generated that enable timely review of all recorded and processed parameters. Near real time review of aircraft flight data enables instrument problems to be identified, investigated and fixed before conducting another flight. On one flight, near real time data review resulted in the identification of unusually low measurements of cloud condensation nuclei, and rapid data visualization enabled the timely investigation of the cause. As a result, a leak was found and fixed before the next flight. Hence, with the high cost of aircraft flights, it is critical to find and fix instrument problems in a timely matter. The use of a automated processing scripts and quick visualization software enables scientists to review aircraft flight data in near real time to identify potential problems.