Volcanic ash detection system
Easyjet is testing a volcanic ash detection system called AVOID. The objective is to be able to detect whether an aircraft can fly or not in the conditions experienced in the past due to volcanic eruptions blowing ashes in the sky. Remember the unpronounceable Icelandic volcano that paralyzed half Europe two years ago ? Well, many airlines lost too much money as regulators said they could not fly when airlines themselves estimated they could do so. Now to prevent further discussions in the future, Easyjet, along with with Airbus and Nicarnica Aviation, is preparing for a volcanic ash detection system. The trial will involve two Airbus aircraft, one of which carries equipment to inject the ash into the atmosphere, creating a real ash cloud, and an A330 fitted with an AVOID wingtip pod to enable the crew to detect and avoid it at more than 30,000ft (9,150m). The experiment will be conducted when the Seviri and Calypso satellites are aligned so that images of the ash cloud can be captured from space, to gauge the accuracy and effectiveness of the AVOID technology. EasyJet likens the AVOID system to “a weather radar for ash”. Created by Dr Fred Prata, chief technology officer at Nicarnica Aviation, the system comprises infrared technology, developed by the US military, to enable supply of images to pilots and an airline’s operations control centre. The images allow pilots to see an ash cloud up to 100km ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft, enabling them to make small adjustments to the flightpath to choose airspace that is free of ash.