A Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 has been equipped with a belly-mounted air collection probe to enable the aircraft to participate in a German atmospheric research project.

Weighing 5kg (11lb) and made from aluminium, Teflon and stainless steel, the 550mm (21.7in) -long probe was designed using computational fluid dynamics modelling and incorporates an anti-ice heating system.

Air is channelled by the inlet to a freight container in the forward cargo bay where measuring devices check for ozone, aerosols, water vapour and 50 different gases.

The programme, called the Civil Aircraft for the Regular Investigation of the Atmosphere Based on an Instrument Container, will collect data on the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere.

"The inlet will be used on aircraft on various routes, but we are not sure for how long. We will probably decide next year. For now it is just an [inlet] test," says Heggemann Aerospace, the German company that manufactured the probe system.

Source: Flight International