Last change of this page: 19 Feb 2019  

HALO news

Most recent news are copied also to the front page. Please find below all previous news items (but going back to 2015 only). The history page lists some of the key events and milestones in the HALO past. Furthermore, there is a list of links to press releases, stories, reports and media concerning HALO follow on the Press releases, reports & stories page.



Happy new HALO year!!!

A happy new year 2017 to everyone! The HALO schedule in 2017 is crammed with activities including three more major science missions somewhat later in the year. Please check out the mission dates listed further above, the HALO calendar and the mission information pages.

Right now, HALO is away from home. The aircraft left for Geneva on January 5 for regular maintenance to be done at the facilities of the company Jet Aviation there. Besides mandatory maintenance work HALO will also receive a new Iridium satcom system. The new system will fulfill requirements with respect to CPDLC (Controller–pilot data link communication) according to the FANS-1/A standard. For the scientific data communication the new Iridium system will offer a dedicated second channel, but still with much lower bandwidth than the onboard Inmarsat system. The big advantage of the Iridium system however is the availability at very high latitudes.

A couple of updates have been made in the last days on the homepage here. There is now a new mission information page on the 2014 ACRIDICON mission with HALO. Furthermore, information on forthcoming events and meetings related to HALO has been updated. Please note in particular the announcement of the 1st HALO Symposium in March. Deadline for the submission of abstracts is on January 30. Links to further information about the symposium can be found at the top of this page. There are still a couple of empty or old pages on this site which need input and updates. This is planned to happen in the next months. Please notify us of any problems you find with these pages and in particular let us know of any information which you would like to see added on this site. To contact us please check out the contacts page.


Workshop in Oberpfaffenhofen for the upcoming HALO "CoMet" Mission

Scientists from 8 countries came together at the DLR Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Oberpfaffenhofen from November 30 until December 2, 2016, to discuss and plan the next major science mission with HALO: CoMet (Carbon dioxide and methane mission for HALO). CoMet is coming up in spring next year with the actual 4 week mission phase starting on April 18. For this to happen, the integration of the scientific instrumentation into HALO will have to start on March 13, 2017. A report (in German) about the CoMeT workshop can be found here in the DLR news.

For more information on CoMet please visit the CoMet mission section here on the HALO homepage. Before CoMet, in January and February 2017, HALO will be in regular yearly maintenance in Geneva, followed by some flight tests from Oberpfaffenhofen.


WISE mission in 2017

Information about the WISE mission with HALO planned for autumn 2017 is now online and can be found here. The mission is currently in preparation. It is planned that HALO will operate for five weeks out of Shannon airport in Ireland in September/October next year. The payload will not be exactly the same, but very similar to the previous POLSTRACC mission.


And the next mission successfully completed: 13 HALO flights for NAWDEX

HALO returned from another very successful science mission from Keflavik in Iceland, the North Atlantic Waveguide and Downstream Impact Experiment (NAWDEX). Altogether 13 full-blown science flights were performed, including the transfer flights from Oberpfaffenhofen to Keflavik and back, plus one short initial instrument test flight before setting out to Iceland. Nearly 100 flight hours were flown with HALO. Flights were aimed to intensively investigate storm systems over the North Atlantic region. Other research aircraft were involved in NAWDEX as well: the German DLR Falcon, the French SAFIRE Falcon, both operating also from Keflavik. Furthermore, the British FAAM BAe-146 joined in from the UK in some coordinated flights. And some of the weather systems which were measured with HALO over the Atlantic were investigated earlier on closer to their origin ant therefore nearer to the North American continent with the NASA Global Hawk.

Some press statements, reports and links to further information about the NARVAL 2 mission can be found on the reports page and on the NARVAL 2 mission page. See for instance this press release about NAWDEX by DLR and the Ludwig-Maximilian-University in Munich.


NARVAL 2 mission: Successfully completed!

Yesterday evening HALO returned from Barbados (image above shows HALO on the apron at Grantley Adams International Airport at Bridgetown on Barbados) and landed safely in Oberpfaffenhofen at 21:52 local time in Germany. This concludes the NARVAL 2 mission with HALO, but the scientific analysis of the wealth of data will keep many scientists busy for a lot of time. Altogether 10 science flights were performed: 8 local flights from Barbados and the two transatlantic transfer flights, which were also used for measurements, of course.

Bjorn Stevens, one of the mission's PIs stated: "We had 10 very successful research flights. Some of the initial analysis suggests that the techniques we were developing worked well beyond our expectations, and may help pioneer efforts to use HALO (or other aircraft for that matter) to better show how clouds and cloud properties link to circulation - these measurements were the first of their kind, and a breakthrough in aircraft based sampling of the atmosphere. We also sampled a wide range of conditions, in around and across the ITCZ (Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone), extending well up through the summer trades into regions of more uniformly stratiform (stratocumulus) clouds."

Some first press statements and stories about the NARVAL 2 mission can be found on the reports page and on the NARVAL 2 page.

Next plans for HALO: The NAWDEX mission will follow up using the same scientific payload of NARVAL 2. This mission will be conducted from the airport in Keflavik, Iceland. The transfer flight to Keflavik is planned for September 15. Until then, a few of the instruments have to undergo mainenance and some repairs, so the two weeks until the next mission will be well used.


HGF-Präsident Prof. Wiestler zu Besuch in Oberpfaffenhofen (DLR News in German)

Vor knapp einem Jahr wurde Prof. Otmar Wiestler zum neuen Präsident der Helmholtz-Gemeinschaft Deutscher Forschungszentren (HGF) ernannt. Um die Mitglieder der Gemeinschaft besser kennen zu lernen, ist er auf Antrittsbesuch beim Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR). Über die Missionen des Forschungsfliegers HALO konnte sich Prof. Wiestler im Hangar des Fliegers informieren. Auf einen Blick in das Flugzeug musste er jedoch verzichten, da HALO zurzeit unterwegs für eine Forschungsmission ist. HALO, eines der modernsten Flugzeuge für die Atmosphärenforschung, ist bereits seit fünf Jahren im Einsatz und ist ein wichtiges Instrument für die Arbeit von DLR-Wissenschaftlern und Forschern der beteiligten Mitglieder des HALO-Konsortiums.
Weiterlesen .. (auf deutsch)


NARVAL 2 mission: First successful HALO flights from Barbados

As of today, HALO has already done 4 successful science flights from Barbados, each typically of 8 hours flight time. One of the methodological approaches of NARVAL 2 is to probe the atmospheric conditions below the aircraft intensively with meteorological dropsondes. Using a data link via the HALO satellite communication system the dropsonde data are directly fed into the weather prediction models of the German Weather Service (DWD). The image on the right shows one of the flight tracks of HALO into the Atlantic east of Barbados along with the positions where dropsondes were released (triangle symbols).


HALO is on its way to Barbados for the NARVAL 2 mission

After many weeks of preparations for the aircraft, the instruments, certifications and flight permissions, HALO is today on its way to Barbados for the NARVAL 2 mission. Take-off from Oberpfaffenhofen was at about 10:14 local time (08:14 UT), a few minutes earlier than planned because of some headwind expected enroute over the Atlantic. Expected flight time is 10 hours 15 minutes.

Update: And HALO did arrive well in Barbados after a flight time of 10 hours 37 minutes.


Preparations for NARVAL 2 HALO mission nearly completed

Only one week to go, then HALO will set out on its mission to Barbados, where the NARVAL 2 mission will be based for a bit more than three weeks. HALO can do the ferry flight from Oberpfaffenhofen to the Grantley Adams International Airport in Bridgetown on Barbados direct, without refueling. Planned flight time is about 10 hours and 15 minutes. Takeoff time on Monday, August 8, 2017, is currently planned in the morning, shortly after 10 o'clock local time. The scientific instruments are all tested to the satisfaction of the scientific groups. Some minor repairs had to be performed for some instruments in the last few weeks. One flight test was performed from Oberpfaffenhofen on July 19. The flight formally served to show that there are no critical elecromagnetic inference problems in the current scientific payload configuration. But the flight was also useful to test the functionality of all instruments. NARVAL 2 has now its own brand new campaign logo (shown above).

Remaining days until the ferry flight will be used for final instrument tests, for preparing the aircraft, some tests of the scientific satellite communication system and - last but not least - for finalizing the paperwork for the airworthiness certification of the present aircraft configuration.


HALO time table and homepage updated

A few updates have been implemented into the HALO time table, mainly concerning the flight tests and some other details towards the end of this year and spring time next year. Please check the HALO calendar page for further information.

Many pages here on the HALO web site are still in the process of being overhauled. We appreciate your patience. We have added in the last weeks a couple of more pages on the HALO scientific missions, both forthcoming and already completed, but we are not yet done with all missions. Furthermore, the next homepage updates to be tackled will concern the information sections ("About HALO").


Instrument integration into HALO for NARVAL 2.0 and NAWDEX missions just started

The HALO missions NARVAL 2.0 and NAWDEX are the next two big projects on HALO in summer and autumn this year. Both missions have different scientific focus (see links), but share the same scientific payload. Integration of the scientific payload has just begun this week. The first instruments to be installed are two remote sensing instruments, specMACS (operated by the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) and SMART (University of Leipzig). Integration work includes the installation of the instruments itself, tests and approvals of the installation (both mechanically and electrically), EMI (electromagentical interference) testing (including a test flight), functional testing and finalisation of the relevant certifcations. The integration phase will take altogether 7 weeks time before HALO is to set out for Barbados for the actual scientifc NARVAL 2.0 mission.


HALO flight test – turbulence, vibration and new techniques

Aircraft should normally avoid turbulence and wake vortices. But test pilots and researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) have deliberately flown into turbulence during flight experiments designed to test numerical models and a new real-time evaluation method that enables the instantaneous review of aeroelastic stability. In Project iLOADS (integrated Load analysis at DLR), the load limit of HALO (High Altitude LOng Range Research Aircraft) is being investigated to explore its capacity to carry scientific instrumentation. With these results, future research missions will be able to be carried out to even better effect.
Read more..   |   Deutsche Version hier..


EMeRGe Kick-off Meeting in Bremen successful

The kick off meeting of the HALO-Mission EMeRGe (Effect of Megacities on the Transport and Transformation of Pollutants on the Regional to Global Scales) took place last Thursday (April 28, 2016) at the Institute of Environmental Physics of the University of Bremen with the participation of the partner institutes in Germany and DLR-FX. One of the objectives of this get together was the discussion of the technical main features of the instrumental payload as a preparation of the cabin layout for the first installation exercise at DLR-Oberpfaffenhofen in June 2016. Communication and scientific aspects of the project were also briefly taken into consideration during the discussions.


iLOADS mission completed successfully

The iLOADS mission was completed successfully last week. Altogether 5 flights were performed with a total of 12.9 hours flight time (13.7 hours block time). Scientists reported to be very happy with the outcome of the measurements.


1st iLOADS test flight

HALO took off today from Oberpfaffenhofen for the the 1st iLOADS test flight. The measurement systems and the sensors worked very well during the three hours flight.


iLOADS taxi vibration test

Another step to be ready for the first iLOADS flight is the conduction of a Taxi Vibration Test (TVT) that has been invented by DLR Institute of Aeroelasticity. During this test aircraft eigenfrequencies, mode shapes and damping ratios can be determined by just rolling on taxi ways. This time the TVT was used to identify undesired interferences between electrical signals and air traffic control radio.

The analysis of the one hour continuously acquired data showed no interference and a very good quality of the measurement signals. The flight test researchers inside the aircraft already used the possibility to setup the analysis parameters for the online identification during flight.


iLOADS static and ground vibration tests successful

A static test within iLOADS was carried out to calibrate the strain gages placed on the HALO DLR PMS carrier. With the strain gages, loads acting on the DLR PMS carrier during the flight can be observed. In the static test, various simulated loads were applied with the help of sandbags. The calibration using the collected data was conducted successfully.

The following Ground Vibration Test (GVT) using a single electrodynamic shaker connected to the left wing was used to check the correct installation of the flight test equipment. During this test the aircraft was excited with random and swept-sine vibrations. The analysis of the data showed that measurement system, flight test sensors and analysis software give reasonable results.


Call for proposals of new HALO missions (2019-2022).

The HALO-WLA and the DFG-SPP coordinators call for HALO mission proposals for the time period 2019-2022. Decisions will be made after a two-stage selection procedure. Read more ..


HALO iLOADS mission has started

Integration for iLOADS mission has begun today. The DLR Institute of Aeroelasticity and the DLR Flight Experiments facility will install 51 acceleration sensors and 16 strain gauge sensors. The sensors will be distributed all over the aircraft and at the additional wing stores. The aim is to measure global as well as local aircraft vibration. Three distributed measurement systems placed in both wing stores and inside the cabin acquire time synchronized acceleration and strain data from all sensors. The computer connected to the master system inside the cabin distributes the data on several analysis computers for online data analysis.


Höher, Weiter, HALO – Betreiberkonsortium tagt erstmalig unter neuem Vertrag (DLR Press release in German)

Es war einmal am 20. August 2012, als das Forschungsflugzeug HALO (High Altitude and Long Range Research Aircraft) feierlich der Wissenschaft übergeben wurde. Bei einem Treffen des Betreiberkonsortiums wurde nun im Deutschen Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) in Oberpfaffenhofen auf sehr erfolgreiche Einsatzjahre zurückgeblickt. Read more ..


POLSTRACC/GW-LCYCLE/SALSA mission about to finish

About 5 months ago the integration of the scientific payload for the HALO POLSTRACC/GW-LCYCLE/SALSA mission began. After many successful research flights the instruments will be dismounted this week to make way for the next HALO campaign, the iLOADS mission. The freight containers from Kiruna returned today as well, so the HALO hangar was crammed with boxes (and some airplane).


POLSTRACC/GW-LCYCLE/SALSA mission in Kiruna ongoing

HALO take-off from Kiruna airport for the 17th mission flight. All is going well so far. Today's flight will take HALO over Greenland far west from Kiruna to the Arctic Baffin Island, Canada. A refueling stop will be made for the way home in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland. We are looking on one or two more scientific flights from Kiruna before HALO will return to Oberpfaffenhofen on March 13 or 14. Possibly two further science flights will be conducted from there.


Messkampagne POLSTRACC: Starker Ozonabbau über der Arktis möglich
(KIT Press release in German)

Die arktische Stratosphäre war in diesem Winter bisher außergewöhnlich kalt, damit sind alle Voraussetzungen für das Auftreten eines starken Ozonabbaus in den nächsten Wochen gegeben. Diesen Schluss legen erste Ergebnisse der vom Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) koordinierten Messkampagne POLSTRACC nahe, die seit Ende 2015 in der Arktis läuft. Read more .. (Photo by Laila Tkotz, KIT)


Preparing for the next mission ongoing

HALO got some fresh air these days and parked outside of the hangar for EMI testing and checking satcom functions in preparation of the POLSTRACC/GW-LCYCLE/SALSA mission. The first flight dedicated to final EMI testing of the instruments in flight as part of the certification process is planned for next week on December 3 or 4.


Instrument integration for next mission nearly completed

Instrument integration for the POLSTRACC/GW-LCYCLE/SALSA mission hase been largely completed today. Next step is the electrical and mechanical checks of the installations.


GLORIA installation

Installation of the GLORIA instrument is underway. This is a slighly larger effort. The GLORIA instrument is mounted in the HALO belly pod while electronics componenten are installed also in the cabin. To connect the devices the HALO floor needs to be opened.


Instruments arrive for the next HALO mission

The POLSTRACC/GW-LCYCLE/SALSA mission is about to start soon. Preparations are underway. Instrument integration into HALO will start next week. Today the GLORIA instrument arrived at DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen.


GLORIA flight tests on HALO successful

In the past 9 weeks a series of certifcation flight tests for the GLORIA instrument, for the new KIT dropsondes and for the POLSTRACC exterior aircraft configuration have been successfully performed with HALO.

GLORIA is a complex remote sensing instrument developed and operated by KIT and FZJ which is mounted in the HALO belly pod. The flights for the GLORIA instrument aimed at finding a belly pod configuration which mimimizes vibration and acoustic effects for the benefit of the instrument's scientific performance. Furthermore the flight tests were needed to demonstrate the absence of significant electro-magnetic interference effects as well as any adverse aerodynamic or aeroelastic effects, a prerequisite for the final airworthiness certifcation of the GLORIA belly pod configuration. GLORIA was also fully tested with respect to its scientific operation. Altogether 10 flights were performed with full success regarding all of the objectives.

The POLSTRACC exterior aircraft configuration consists of the combination of the GLORIA belly pod configuration with six trace gas inlets (TGIs) on the upper fuselage of the aircraft. Two certifcation flights covering handling qualities and performance qualification were also successfully performed. This is a prerequisite for the POLSTRACC/GW-LYCLE/SALSA scientific mission with HALO starting in December 2015.


First news entry

The HALO homepage will be updated and restructered in the course of the next months. Please bear with us. Any ideas or suggestions are always welcome.

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