Belfast Telegraph

Volcanic ash radar will assist aircraft

By Peter Woodman

Technology to help aircraft detect volcanic ash is to go into commercial production, with easyJet planning to be the first airline to use it.

Effectively a weather radar for ash, the Avoid system has been supported by easyJet and should reduce the chances of a repeat of the Icelandic volcanic ash-cloud crisis of spring 2010.

The crisis came following the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull and led to days of no flights into and out of the UK in April and May 2010, with the whole of Europe affected.

Created by Dr Fred Prata, of Nicarnica Aviation, the system utilises infrared technology fitted to aircraft to supply images to pilots and an airline's operations control centre.

The images will enable pilots to see an ash cloud up to 60 miles ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000 and 50,000ft, thus allowing them to make small adjustments to the plane's flight path to avoid any ash cloud.

The concept is very similar to weather radars which are standard on commercial airliners today.

Belfast Telegraph