easyJet and Nicarnica Aviation today revealed that successful testing has taken place of its unique ash radar technology AVOID (Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector).
The AVOID system involves placing infrared technology – developed by the US military – onto an aircraft to supply images to the pilot of ash in their flight path. The technology will enable pilots to see an ash cloud up to 100 km ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft, and allow them to make adjustments to the plane’s flight path to avoid any ash.
Analysis of two recent Icelandic volcanoes shows that the majority of flight cancellations would have been prevented with AVOID technology. And with Katla – the next Icelandic volcano likely to erupt, on a scale 10 times bigger than the last two – the new technology will open up larger areas of airspace that would otherwise be closed during a volcanic eruption, therefore reducing future disruption to air travel.
Testing of the new technology took place during a two week period over Sicilian volcano Mount Etna, and the airline says the AVOID system is on schedule to be in commercial use by summer 2012.