VIDEO: EasyJet puts ash detection technology through its paces

UK low cost carrier easyJet is developing technology which would enable aircraft to avoid the worst concentrations of volcanic ash.
The system called AVOID allows a pilot to see an ash cloud ahead of the aircraft at altitudes between 5,000 and 50,000 feet and has been tested on a microlight aircraft over Mount Etna.
The carrier said it now hopes to install the equipment on its fleet next year.
Since April 2010 when the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökul volcano in Iceland crippled aviation across Europe, airlines are now permitted to make a safety case to fly through low and medium concentrations of ash, subject to the approval of their respective national civil aviation authority.
Dr Fred Prata, who invented the system, said that installing the equipment on 100 commercial aircraft would provide enough information to enable European aviation to continue operations.
“Safety is at the heart of the aviation industry which is why we saw the blanket shutdowns in reaction to volcanic ash over the past two years,” said Ian Davies, easyJet’s head of engineering.
“In the absence of proven technology thousands of flights were grounded. This large scale grounding of flights should not happen again, thanks to both satellite and airborne technology which can be used to accurately predict not only the dispersal of ash from volcanic eruption but also crucially the levels of concentration.”