Lonely Planet Writer

How taking a flight with this airline can help the battle for climate change

A new initiative has been launched by Hawaiian Airlines that sees one of the fleet’s aircraft using specially-designed equipment to track climate change and help gather data on air quality during flights to and from the Hawaiian Islands.

The aircraft was fitting with the technology earlier this year.
The aircraft was fitted with the technology earlier this year, but only began gathering data at the end of October. Image by Andrew Xu

Launched recently as part of a partnership with In-service Aircraft for a Global Observing System (IAGOS), the project sees one of Hawaiian’s A330 wide-body aircraft using scientific instruments to monitor the health of the Earth’s atmosphere while carrying guests on its scheduled routes. The equipment enables scientists to access real-time information on pollution levels in vast expanses of the Pacific where air quality samples have proved more difficult to collect. According to IAGOS, Hawaii’s key location and largely healthy environment has already yielded valuable data related to the natural levels of harmful air pollutants. A research facility at the top of the Hawaii Island volcano called Mauna Loa Observatory has been gathering data on greenhouse gases since the 1950s, and in addition to its findings, scientists will be able to cross-reference air samples captured by Hawaiian Airlines flights to validate and build weather models.

According to IAGOS, Hawai‘i’s key location and largely healthy environment has already yielded valuable data.
According to IAGOS, Hawai‘i’s key location and largely healthy environment has already yielded valuable data. Image by ©Pung/Shutterstock

“Climate change carries significant consequences, particularly for Hawaii and our Pacific Island neighbours, so we are honoured to join this important research project,” said Jon Snook, Hawaiian’s chief operating officer. “As we continue to introduce millions of guests each year to Hawaii’s spectacular beauty, it’s gratifying to know our flights are also providing crucial data to the scientific community and meteorological agencies so we can better understand and address weather changes.”

The equipment enables scientists to access real-time information on pollution levels in the Pacific.
The equipment enables scientists to access real-time information on pollution levels in the Pacific. Image by Aero Icarus / CC BY-SA 2.0

The aircraft was outfitted with the specialised equipment earlier this year by technicians in Brisbane, Australia, which was activated on 23 October. The system is located under the cockpit, with probes in the front-left fuselage performing atmospheric air sampling from take-off to landing, while also recording high-altitude greenhouse gas measurements. The system will generate data on non-stop flights from Australia, New Zealand, and Tahiti in the South Pacific to China, South Korea, Japan and the United States.