NOAA Twin Otter Aircraft to Support West Coast Ocean Research, Management

Highly capable plane will be based in Monterey, Calif.

January 12, 2009

Twin otter plane.
A NOAA Twin Otter will provide aerial support for marine research and management on the West Coast. 

High resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Senior federal officials today dedicated a specially equipped twin-engine NOAA aircraft that will support ocean research and management along the West Coast. The NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations is basing the plane and flight crew in Monterey, Calif., to meet the needs of NOAA programs and national marine sanctuaries.

NOAA will use the DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft to observe marine mammals and other living ocean resources, conduct offshore and coastal surveys, and support emergency response and enforcement missions.

“The highly modified aircraft is well-suited for offshore and coastal surveys and marine resource management,” said John H. Dunnigan, NOAA assistant administrator for the National Ocean Service. “We are pleased that this valuable asset will serve the West Coast.”

Built by de Havilland Canada, the Twin Otter is a maneuverable, versatile aircraft that can be flown at slow speeds and in tight circles. The NOAA version of this high-winged turboprop plane is equipped with color weather radar, dual GPS/Loran-C navigation systems, radar altimeter, and camera ports in the nose and belly areas. A standard flight crew consists of two pilots and up to six scientists.

By basing the aircraft in Monterey, NOAA will have the ability to quickly monitor and protect the waters off the West Coast and Alaska, including five national marine sanctuaries that encompass more than 9,000 square nautical miles of open ocean and remote, rugged coastlines from Washington to the Mexico border. They include Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in Washington, Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine sanctuaries off San Francisco, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary off Santa Barbara.

As part of the NOAA fleet of research and survey ships and aircraft, the NOAA Twin Otter will be operated, managed and maintained by NOAA Corps officers and civilians with the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center. Specific research instrumentation or remote sensing technologies will be supplied by program scientists.

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.