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easyJet to trial ash detector to end large-scale disruption

7-Jun-2010 10:24 AM

easyJet announced (04-Jun-2010) it will be the first airline in the world to trial new technology, known as AVOID (airborne volcanic object identifier and detector). The system is essentially a weather radar for ash and involves installing infrared technology on an aircraft to supply images to pilots and the airline’s flight control centre. The images will enable pilots to see an ash cloud up to 100km ahead and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft. This allows pilots to make adjustments to the flight path to avoid the ash cloud. The concept is similar to weather radars which are standard on commercial airliners. On the ground, information from aircraft with AVOID technology would be used to build an accurate image of the ash cloud. The first test flight is to be carried out by Airbus, on behalf of easyJet, within two months using an A340 test aircraft. Subject to the results of these tests, easyJet intends to trial the technology with a view to installing it on enough aircraft to minimise future disruption from ash. easyJet hope to fit the devices  to a dozen aircraft in its fleet by the end of 2010. The trails will be supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and will cost easyJet approximately GBP1million. [more]