The use of commercial aircraft for obtaining weather and climate change related information is beginning to accelerate at a rapid pace. A brief history of the use of commercial aircraft for these purposes is provided along with a discussion of the factors that are responsible for the current growth. A major federal program to provide profiles of winds, temperatures, and water vapor is described, along with a description of the new formats and information that will be available to the scientific community. Further details on the water vapor measurements, those expected this year and potential future upgrades, are provided. The advanced technologies that are now available on the aircraft, new advances in in situ and remote sensing, and an entrepreneurial spirit of some package carriers will combine to provide new kinds of measurements via commercial aircraft. A brief review of these factors and a vision of future environmental measurements is provided.
Current affiliation: Visiting Scientist, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado