New device helps aircraft avoid ash clouds

New device helps aircraft avoid ash clouds

AVOID system detects volcanic ash and helps plot alternative route

AVOID system detects volcanic ash and helps plot alternative route

The AVOID system attached to the Airbus A340
The AVOID system attached to the Airbus A340

Airbus has unveiled a new device that will help airlines avoid volcanic ash clouds.

The new Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector (AVOID) technology, which was developed by Airbus in tandem with easyJet and Nicarnica Aviation, identifies potential risks to an aircraft and allows pilots to safely navigate around them.

In tests, the AVOID system was attached to an Airbus A340-300 aircraft, and managed to detect an artificial ash cloud from a distance of 60km, accurately measuring its concentration.

Airbus hopes the new technology can help airlines minimise disruption and losses during a volcanic eruption, such as the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland which led to the closure of swathes of European air space.

“Airbus, since it was first formed more than 40 years ago, has supported and performed many test programmes both independently and also in collaboration with other organisations,” said Airbus’ executive vice president of engineering, Charles Champion. “With AVOID, we wanted to prove that the ash-detection concept can work and this has been demonstrated in the test. Now we need to analyse all data gathered.”

UK-based easyJet plans to be the first airline to deploy the system following further testing.

Mark Elliott
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Mark Elliott
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