The return of Eyjafjallajokull: Easyjet to drop a tonne of Icelandic volcanic ash into the air in bid to test flight warning system

Low cost carrier Easyjet plans to disperse ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which caused travel chaos in 2010, later this year and carry out tests using an aircraft warning system designed to detect ash clouds

A tonne of Icelandic volcanic ash has been flown to Luton airport in preparation for an experiment designed to test a warning system which detects ash particles in the air.

Low cost carrier Easyjet plans to disperse ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano, which caused travel chaos in 2010, and carry out tests using an aircraft warning system designed to detect ash clouds.

The company teamed up with Nicarnia Aviation and Airbus last year in order to prepare to test the AVOID (Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector) system.

The cost of travel disruption resulting from the Eyjafjallajokull eruption in April 2010 is estimated at between 1.5bn and 2.5bn euros (£1.3-2.2bn). It led to the largest closure of European airspace since World War II.

The ash, which has dried to create the consistency of fine talc, will be used in what Easyjet describe as a 'unique experiment' in August. The company says the ash will be dispersed in 'controlled conditions' in a as yet unspecified airspace.

The test will take place when the two satellites, Seviri and Calypso, are aligned and will involve two Airbus test planes, one to disperse the ash and another fitted with the AVOID technology to detect it.

Ian Davies, easyJet's Engineering Director, said: "The threat from Icelandic volcanoes continues and so finalising the approval of the AVOID technology is as crucial now as ever to ensure we never again see the scenes of spring 2010 when all flying ceased for several days."

"Transporting a tonne of volcanic ash from Iceland is an important step in the final journey of testing the technology and moving towards commercial certification."

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