EasyJet (UK) (easyJet.com) (London-Luton) has issued this statement:
During the experiment the test team successfully:
- 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 cloud
- Flew 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 concentration
- easyJet 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 (Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector) volcanic ash technology through a unique experiment involving the creation of an artificial ash cloud.
An A400M Airbus test plane (below) dispersed one ton of Icelandic ash into the atmosphere at between 9,000 ft and 11,000 ft 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 60 km away. The experiment also used a small aircraft, a Diamond DA42 from Dusseldorf 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 600 ft and 800 ft deep measuring 2.8 km in diameter. To 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.
Copyright Photo: Airbus.