Soon, airlines could fly through volcanic ash cloudsPublished On: Fri, Dec 9th, 2011 | Technology | By BioNews
A new weapon will soon allow aeroplanes to fly through volcanic ash clouds and combat unnecessary disruptions.
A group of scientists working for the Norwegian Institute of Air Research has unveiled their newest tool to keep flightpaths open.
The Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector (AVOID) was introduced in Sicily, Italy, with a test flight over Mt Etna, the active volcano that casts its shadow over the Mediterranean island.
Designed by British scientist Dr Fred Prata, the system uses heat-detecting cameras, combined with satellite data and atmospheric modelling, to inform pilots where an ash cloud is and where it could be heading.
The easyJet testing technology makes it feasible for pilots to identify an ash cloud ahead at altitudes between 5,000 and 50,000ft
Dr Prata told the Guardian that AVOID uses ‘two fast-sampling thermal infrared cameras’ that make images of anything that is in front of the aircraft.
“The two cameras have been tuned to see the signature of silicates, which are the components that make up volcanic ash,” the Daily Mail quoted Dr Prata as saying.
“They’re able to see silicates up to 100km – maybe more – away if you’re flying at 33,000ft, and that information can be relayed straight back to the pilot in the cockpit and he’s able to see volcanic ash in the atmosphere ahead of the aircraft and manoeuvre around it,” he added.