As scientists worry about the prospects of another Icelandic volcano erupting—with the potential to cause serious disruptions to air travel— is moving forward with an effort to place ash-cloud detection equipment on its aircraft.
is moving forward on another front, adding an airborne weather detection kit to its aircraft that will also provide the carrier’s aircraft Iridium-based satellite voice and data connectivity. The Flybe effort, due to begin in May with 20 modified aircraft, relies on an unusual financing model. AirDat is funding the sensor and connectivity upgrades to gather real-time data, and Flybe will use the equipment to provide enhanced passenger connectivity.
Using the airborne installation will give AirDat more measurement points than traditional weather balloons. The Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting system on the aircraft will gather more than 1,000 weather observations daily. The goal is to expand the installation to more than 100 aircraft.
EasyJet next summer expects to install the radar-based ash-cloud detection equipment it has been working on in cooperation with Nicarnica Aviation. The Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector (Avoid) uses infrared detection to alert pilots about ash density and help them circumnavigate areas with hazardous density levels.
The Avoid system recently underwent trials to validate the technology in the area surrounding Mount Etna, Sicily; it next goes to thefor certification.
EasyJet says the system enables ash-cloud detection from a distance of 100 km (62 miles) and altitudes of 5,000-50,000 ft.