European Facility For Airborne Research

European Facility For Airborne Research June 6, 2023, 22:54


Stratospheric platforms accessible to the European science community!

The use of stratospheric aircraft has been successful in the last 15 years in terms of technical developments, achieved scientific results in various fields and community-building, and important scientific topics in atmospheric and climate research have been identified for the short- and midterm future which require the use of a high-altitude carrier with a ceiling higher than 15km. At the moment, there is no stratospheric platform in the fleet of aircraft open to transnational access and eligible for fully funded-flight hours under the current EUFAR project, however the availability of a such an aircraft in the future is important to fill in the gap in this area of research.

The EUFAR activity dedicated to the Future of the Fleet, led by Francesco Cairo (CNR, ISAC) has been investigating interim solutions for the European science community working on stratospheric research for the environment and has identified 3 stratospheric platforms, currently in operation, that are available for scientific use:

  • Airborne Research Australia (ARA) sold the EGRETT aircraft back to GROB Aerospace in 2014. It is now operational and has flown several demonstration tours to Southeast Asia, South America and other places. ARA still has the capability to access the EGRETT for scientific purposes, but all operations are conducted through GROB in Germany. For more information, the best way would be to contact the chief scientist of ARA, Jorg M. Hacker (, who is happy to send out more details about the aircraft and instrumentation involved in various scientific field experiments worldwide. For information on the aircraft's specifications, click here.

    G520T EGRETT aircraft operated by Grob Aircraft (previously called Grob Aerospace


  • M55 Geophysica aircraft was developed by Myasishchev Design Bureau. The aircraft is a all-metal single-seat subsonic air vehicle and is designed for high-altitude flights carried out during both day and night, VMC and IMC conditions, in different climatic zones and in any geographical latitudes in accordance with ICAO flight regulations. To date, the M55 aircraft is the only subsonic aircraft in Russia and Europe performing long endurance flights at altitudes up to 20,5km. Complete information can be obtained from the "High-altitude M55 Geophysica aircraft. Investigators Handbook". Interested scientists are invited to contact or Gennady Belyaev ( For information on the aircraft's specifications, click here.

M55 - Geophysica aircraft operated by Myasishchev Design Bureau


  • The NASA WB-57 Programme provides 3 unique, high-altitude airborne platforms to US Government agencies, academic institutions, and commercial customers in order to support scientific research and advanced technology development and testing at locations around the world. Mission examples include atmospheric and earth science, ground mapping, cosmic dust collection, rocket launch support, and test bed operations for future airborne or spaceborne systems. For more information, please contact the WB-57 Programme Office.

WB-57F operated by NASA - Johnson Space CenterWB-57F operated by NASA - Johnson Space Center

Originally published on April 11, 2017
Last update on May 22, 2017

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