WP-3D Orion

NOAA WP-3D Orion In Flight

The renowned NOAA WP-3D Orions, participate in a wide variety of national and international meteorological, oceanographic and environmental research programs in addition to their widely known use in hurricane research and reconnaissance. These versatile turboprop aircraft are equipped with an unprecedented variety of scientific instrumentation, radars and recording systems for both in-situ and remote sensing measurements of the atmosphere, the earth, and its environment. Obtained as new aircraft from the Lockheed production line in the mid-70's, these robust and well-maintained aircraft have led NOAA's continuing effort to monitor and study hurricanes and other severe storms, the quality of the atmosphere, the state of the ocean and its fish population, and climate trends.

With their worldwide operating capability, they have participated in numerous research experiments from the Indian Ocean, Australia and the Solomon Islands to Ireland, the North Sea, and the Alps. On a national scope, they have operated from the Arctic Ocean and Alaska through most regions of the U.S. and into the Caribbean. Hurricane and tropical storm research have taken place in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Eastern Pacific. Estimated useful lifetime for these two research platforms is another 10 to 15 years.

NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory
Conventional Aircraft
12 hours (payload and weather dependent)
Useful Payload: 
62,000 lbs
Gross Take-off Weight: 
135,000 lbs
Onboard Operators: 
20 (Including Flight Crew)
Air Speed: 
250 knots
3,800 Nmi