Hurricane hunter plane failed three times in 8 days; has no backup

Steve Miller

Owner Emeritus
Staff member
Jun 14, 2004
Moore, OK
A Gulfstream jet, which collects critical data for hurricane forecasts, was flying through Hurricane Maria’s swirling winds Monday when the seal on the cabin door failed, emitting a loud noise. The mission was aborted, and the crew returned to NOAA’s Aircraft Operations Center — wearing oxygen masks.

It marked the third aborted or scrubbed flight of the aircraft, known as Gonzo, in the past eight days in the midst of the most severe month for hurricanes ever recorded. Lawmakers and hurricane researchers have expressed deep concern about its tenuous condition.

The data obtained by the aircraft improves hurricane track forecasts by about 20 percent on average, according to NOAA. But there is no backup aircraft to gather this information if and when it experiences technical issues.

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