NOAA 00-R802
Contact: Jeanne Kouhestani

Aircraft Operations Center is located at MacDill AFB in Tampa

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has awarded its Bronze Medal to the Systems Engineering Division of NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center for outstanding achievements in instrumentation, modification and calibration of NOAA's three heavy aircraft to meet urgent scientific requirements, despite a tremendously compressed time frame for the work that had to be completed.

Sean McMillan, who, as an electronics technician for the Systems Engineering Division, was instrumental in the planning and execution of the re-configurations, was presented the award on behalf of the division on Dec. 14 by NOAA Administrator D. James Baker at a ceremony in College Park, Md.

The Systems Engineering Division has unmatched expertise in outfitting aircraft for weather reconnaissance and scientific inquiry, and NOAA programs have come to rely heavily on SED to ensure that scientific instrumentation is safely installed aboard NOAA's aircraft and functions properly. This complicated process involves aeronautical, electronic and software engineering and calibration of readings to required standards; re-instrumentation of the Gulfstream IV and P-3 Orion "hurricane hunters" typically takes a period of weeks or months to complete, and only one aircraft is done at a time. However, due to unusual circumstances this past year, all three had to be re-instrumented nearly simultaneously during a brief time span, providing an extremely difficult - but successfully completed – challenge for SED.

The NOAA Aircraft Operations Center and Systems Engineering Division are located at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. During non-hurricane season months, the P-3s and G-IV are tailored by SED engineers for use in other severe weather and atmospheric research programs, and flown by NOAA Corps pilots worldwide in a variety of weather conditions.

The Bronze Medal is the highest honorary award given by NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. It is granted by the Administrator for a significant contribution to NOAA or the Department.