Those magnificent men and their ash cloud machines
A LUTON airline has been taking part in tests of equipment to detect volcanic ash in the atmosphere.
easyJet teamed up with Airbus and Nicarnica Aviation for high altitude testing of ash detection equipment on an A340-300 test aircraft at the speed and altitude of commercial airliner.
A first phase of testing of the Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector (AVOID) equipment took place from July 4 to 14. easyJet says initial test flights at altitudes of up to 40,000ft have been successful.
It is, essentially, a weather radar for ash. Images 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,
The flights have been performed near Airbus’ home base at Toulouse, France.
Ian Davies, easyJet engineering director, said: “The threat of major volcanic eruptions disrupting air travel remains as real as ever.”
The testers are confident that AVOID would give information on the actual amounts of ash in the atmosphere in the event of a volcanic eruption sending ash towards UK airspace. This, they say, could enable aircraft to fly safely to and from London and the rest of the UK.
Axel Krein, SVP research & technology at Airbus said: “The infra-red technology being developed in AVOID could prove to become valuable in terms of safely managing air transport in EU, and also optimising flightpaths.”
Padhraic Kelleher, the Civil Aviation Authority’s head of airworthiness said: “If AVOID can deliver the capability promised, then the amount of airspace airlines need to avoid would be reduced.”
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Weather for Luton
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 10 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: South west