Published on Wednesday, May 8, 2013

EasyJet flies in volcanic ash to test its new detection technology

EasyJet has flown a tonne of volcanic ash from Iceland to the UK as it gets ready for the final testing of its ash-detection technology, known as AVOID.

With its partners Airbus and Nicarnica, it plans to carry out a major experiment this summer to put the new technology to the ultimate test.

The ash will now be flown to an Airbus base in France and in August the tests will be carried out at an unconfirmed location.

An Airbus test plane will disperse the ash into the atmosphere, creating an artificial ash cloud for a second Airbus test aircraft, fitted with AVOID technology, to detect and avoid at over 30,000ft.

The experiment is being timed to coincide with the alignment of the Seviri and Calypso satellites, so they can image the ash cloud from space, helping to prove the accuracy and effectiveness of the AVOID technology.

"The threat from Icelandic volcanoes continues and so finalising the approval of the AVOID technology is as crucial now as ever to ensure we never again see the scenes of spring 2010 when all flying ceased for several days," said Ian Davies, easyJet's engineering director.

The AVOID system uses infrared technology, developed by the US military, to supply images to pilots and an airline's operations control centre.

The images will enable pilots to see an ash cloud up to 100 km ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft, allowing them to make small adjustments to their plane's flight path to avoid any ash cloud.


by Bev Fearis

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