Research Runway: accessible opportunities for new facility users

To help early career researchers and new facility users to take advantage of FAAM Airborne Laboratory, we are providing funding for small-scale, stand-alone projects via a scheme called Research Runway.

Your project should use our existing instrument fit which, for this year’s flying period, will enable meteorology, chemistry, cloud physics and basic aerosol measurement.

Your project can consist of up to 10 hours flying on board the FAAM Airborne Laboratory, based out of FAAM’s home base at Cranfield, Bedfordshire, in July and August 2023. Up to 20 hours are available in total.

As this is a pilot scheme, there should be no expectation that this scheme will run again, or that it will replicate this pilot.

Our Capabilities

FAAM Airborne Laboratory maintains a diverse suite of core instrumentation to measure a range of atmospheric variables including fundamental meteorology, chemistry (e.g. carbon dioxide and methane), aerosol properties, cloud physics and remote sensing, and has a knowledgeable team of experts available to assist users.

You can explore our measurement capabilities and different ways to use the facility for science flights

Our Research Runway scheme may help to, for example, generate preliminary data in advance of a full research grant, or providing proof of concept for a fellowship proposal, such as when it is necessary to demonstrate the applicability or the technical feasibility of new techniques.

Project Scope

We recognise that it can be daunting to plan even a small-scale project for users without prior experience with the FAAM Airborne Laboratory.

We are available to offer support at every stage of your Research Runway application and project – from helping to work out how many flying hours a project might need, addressing accessibility concerns, to helping access data after a flight has been completed. 

Every successful project will benefit from access to our logistical support, the aircraft and a range of core services including measurement science expertise.

Successful applicants will be able to take part in an experience flight prior to their own funded flights, and will have opportunities to network with our existing user community.

Successful applicants will be required to report publications or other outputs arising from work conducted at the facility in line with our standard terms and conditions.

Training and experience flights will be available in June 2023, and your project should be undertaken in July and August 2023.

Applications are for up to 10 flying hours and up to £250 travel and subsistence, rather than costs to undertake a project (i.e. salary costs will not be covered).

Who Can Apply?

As FAAM Airborne Laboratory is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Research Runway is specifically for researchers within NERC’s remit, based at organisations eligible to apply for NERC funding.

Applications from early career researchers and/or new facility users will be prioritised.

Applicants should make clear that their work is within NERC’s remit and contributes to NERC’s Delivery plan.

Applicants should also outline how the proposal would promote their transition towards being an independent researcher, develop their career or provide pilot data that will lead to further work and/or proposals for future funding.

For this call, we define an early career researcher as a non-independent Postdoctoral Researcher (e.g. a PDRA), an independent Postdoctoral Researcher (e.g. a research fellow) or an individual with a technician background, such as research or instrument technicians currently employed in a research capacity within the UK in an environmental science discipline relevant to NERC’s remit.

We define new facility users as researchers of any career stage who have previously not been named on a successful grant application to use the FAAM aircraft.

Applicants do not need to be employed on a NERC grant or fellowship.

Non-independent researchers and those with a technician background should confirm that their line manager has understood the time commitment required for the project and is willing to make this available.

How to apply

To apply, please email a short summary of your project, and any questions, to

We will provide you with our application form, help develop your ideas, and advise on the technical capabilities and resources you may require.

You must email us by 5th April 2023.

You should then submit your application form, a short CV (NERC standard format) and a short statement of support from your line manager or supervisor. Only one project per applicant will be considered.

You must submit your full application form by 3rd May 2023.

We anticipate that applicants will be informed of outcomes within one month of the closing date. Successful candidates will be expected to provide feedback on the benefits of the scheme.

Applications will be graded by a panel at FAAM, with particular reference to:

  • feasibility, including compatibility with planned flying programme
  • scientific excellence
  • the likely importance of the pilot data to a full grant or fellowship proposal
  • the scientific novelty of the proposed study
  • the ‘added value’ arising from the project e.g. opportunities for networking and public engagement  

Applications are particularly welcomed from a broad range of backgrounds. NERC is committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and will actively pursue reasonable adjustments to support researchers with specific needs to benefit from the facility.

For any enquiries, or to discuss Research Runway, please contact

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