November 28, 2023

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NOAA Deploys New Black Swift Drone into Hurricane Tammy – Hurricane Research Division

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NOAA hurricane researchers successfully deployed a new uncrewed aircraft system (UAS) into Tammy to measure parts of the storm too dangerous for humans to go. The Black Swift Technologies S0™ UAS was launched from the NOAA WP-3D Orion Hurricane Hunter aircraft by scientists from NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory during missions into the storm as it strengthened and headed closer to the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean.

Jack Elston (Right), CEO and founder of Black Swift Technologies and Joe Cione (Left), NOAA Lead Meteorologist for Emerging Technologies, standing in front of the NOAA WP-3D Orion Hurricane Hunter aircraft, holding a Black Swift S0 model.

NOAA researchers collaborated with Black Swift to develop an instrument capable of sustaining tropical cyclone conditions, the S0. This UAS can operate in low- and medium-altitude maritime environments conducting atmospheric profiles as low as 50 ft. and up to 15,000 ft. above ground level. It also features various payload instrumentation that are capable of measuring atmospheric pressure, temperature, moisture, and 3-dimensional wind profiles. These actions are controlled through onboard programming and/or by aircraft-based operators.

Features on the Black Swift S0 (courtesy Black Swift Technologies).

On October 19, 2023, the Hurricane Hunters transected Tammy to gather critical data from tail doppler radar and dropsondes as usual, but this time the crew also successfully launched the 2.6 pound drone. Flying as low as 100 ft above sea level, it completed a one-hour and 11-minute mission, the second longest air deployed UAS mission ever. 

NOAA WP-3D Orion Hurricane Hunter aircraft flight pattern in Tammy from 19 October, 2023. Barbs show wind speed and direction; long barbs are 10 kt, short barbs are 5 kt.

The goal is to continue to deploy Black Swift S0 UAS alongside other uncrewed aircrafts, like the Altius-600, into active tropical cyclones from NOAA operational P3 missions and provide NOAA scientists with real-time, near-surface atmospheric data in and around tropical cyclones. The data collected will one day be integrated into NOAA’s National Weather Service to improve future hurricane models by understanding the storm’s track, intensity, and structure. 

AOML’s Hurricane Field Program and Black Swift Team after successful launch of the S0 into Tammy (19 October, 2023).

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2023-10-23 15:46:27

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