PHOTO: Hawaiian Airlines is the first U.S. carrier to join the international scientific project. (Photo via Flickr/Bill Abbott)
Hawaiian Airlines announced Monday that it will become the first U.S. airline to join a global climate change monitoring project.
The European-funded In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS) program studies atmospheric data in an effort to gain a better understanding of transcontinental pollution and substantiate air quality and climate models.
The carrier recently had the IAGOS instruments installed under the cockpit on one of its Airbus A330-200 aircraft. The instruments will be attached to probes in the front-left fuselage allowing them to take atmospheric air samples from take-off to landing as well as record important high-altitude greenhouse gas measurements.
The airline said it's awaiting Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification but expects the system to be up and running around April.
According to scientists, Hawaiian Airlines' participation will be valuable because of the carrier's unique positioning in the Pacific and its expansive network of non-stop flights offered from destinations throughout Australia, Asia and North America.
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"Instrumenting commercial airliners is a cutting-edge approach and cost-effective for obtaining large amounts of high-quality data about our atmosphere," National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Global Monitoring Division director and IAGOS Science Advisory Board chairman James Butler said in a statement.
"Scientists around the world will increasingly use data from IAGOS flights to help improve weather forecasts, climate models, and our overall understanding of the Earth system."
Butler called it a "great step forward for science."
Later this year, Hawaiian Airlines will add 18 new fuel-efficient Airbus A321neos to its fleet in an ongoing effort to reduce the impact of aviation on the environment.