Willis Research Network partners with MITIGA on volcanic ash, sandstorms

The Willis Research Network (WRN) is to partner with Mitiga Solutions to provide leading-edge volcanic ash cloud and sandstorm forecasting to aviation and aerospace clients to optimise air traffic management.

The research arm of global risk advisor Willis Group, members of the WRN include UK and international universities: Oxford, Exeter, Imperial College, UCL, Reading and Princeton. The network has relationships with bodies such as the Met Office and NASA and funds 15 multidisciplinary research programmes, looking at a variety of natural hazards such as flooding and hail damage, as well as the largely unmodelled risks of volcanoes and landslides.

This new partnership will enable airlines, airports and associated organisations in both the public and private sectors to predict and mitigate the impact of natural hazards to air traffic management and aviation operations. Volcanic ash, sandstorms and mineral dust are key hazards for airlines, which affect flight safety, aircraft routes, infrastructure and engine lifetime.

Mitiga Solutions will assess the extent and height of the impact of those hazards in near real-time, at each stage of an aircraft operation and ongoing emergencies, prior to an event for early warning and for efficient management during an emergency. These modelling capabilities can also be used to test and enhance preparedness. Such advances in modelling are expected to help airlines and associated organisations mitigate their exposure, re-route planes, minimise delays and cancellations, and related economic losses.

Andrew Hall of Willis Towers Watson said: “This is a tremendous example of collaborative investment and innovation, and the determination by Willis Towers Watson to understand the risks associated with such a perpetual threat. Most importantly, how to reduce the impact and cost to the aviation eco-system and to increase the safety, efficiency and confidence of such a strategically important but fragile sector.”

Dr Rosa Sobradelo, senior research manager for earth risks, WRN said: “We are delighted to partner with Mitiga Solutions on this important initiative, which provides valuable data insight to our aviation and aerospace clients. It puts the WRN at the forefront of applied research for volcanic risk and reflects Willis Towers Watson’s commitment to delivering bespoke risk management solutions.”

Dr Alex Martí, Mitiga Solutions chief executive, added: “In a short period of time, Mitiga Solutions has been able to disrupt the aviation industry by providing real-time and predictive solutions to mitigate the impact of atmospheric hazards to different aviation stakeholders. Partnerships are at the heart of what we do and working with Willis Towers Watson enables us to scale our work and build the case for the standardised use of scientific predictive models to strengthen aviation safety worldwide.”

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