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Published on : Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Generated an artificial ash cloud over the bay of Biscay by releasing a tonne of volcanic ash using an Airbus A400M aircraft.Measured the ash concentration with a small aircraft flying through the ash cloudFlew an Airbus A340-300 fitted with the AVOID sensor towards the ash cloud and successfully identified the ash from distances of 60km as well as accurately measuring its concentrationeasyJet plans to continue development with a view to mounting stand-alone units on some of its current fleet of aircraft by the end of 2014 thereby providing a solution which would mean we should not encounter the widespread air space closures of 2010 again.
easyJet, the UK’s largest airline, along with its partners Airbus and Nicarnica Aviation, has successfully completed the final stage of testing for the AVOID volcanic ash technology through a unique experiment involving the creation of an artificial ash cloud.
An A400M Airbus test plane dispersed one tonne of Icelandic ash into the atmosphere at between 9,000ft and 11,000ft thereby creating conditions consistent with the 2010 eruption. A second Airbus test aircraft, an A340-300, with the AVOID technology fitted, flew towards the ash cloud identifying and measuring it from around 60km away. The experiment also used a small aircraft, a Diamond DA42 from Duesseldorf University of Applied Sciences, to fly into the ash cloud to take measurements which help to corroborate the measurements made by the AVOID system.
The ash cloud produced during the test was between 600ft and 800ft deep measuring 2.8km in diameter. To be begin with the ash cloud was visible to the naked eye but dissipated quickly becoming difficult to identify.The AVOID volcanic sensor detected the ash cloud and measured its density which ranged from 0.1 to 1 g m-2 – or concentrations of 100 to 1000 μg m-3. This is within the range of concentrations measured during the Eyjafjallajokul ash crisis in April and May 2010.
Ian Davies, easyJet’s Engineering Director, commented:
“The threat from Icelandic volcanoes continues and so we are delighted with the outcome of this unique and innovative experiment. Finding a solution is as crucial now as ever to ensure we never again see the scenes of spring 2010 when all flying ceased across Europe for several days.
“This is a key step in the final journey of testing the technology and moving towards commercial certification. easyJet will now work towards a non-integrated stand-alone system which we aim to fit onto a number of our current fleet of aircraft by the end of 2014.”