News In Brief

EasyJet tests radar detecting volcanic ash

Daryl Paranada Jun 4, 2010

Call it the Iceland addition. Low-cost, European airline EasyJet said it will team up with an investor to test a radar that can detect volcanic ash. It’s called Avoid, or airborne volcanic object identifier and detector, and will help provide data to authorities that may enable pilots to spot ash clouds up to 62 miles away at altitudes between 5,000 and 50,000 feet.

From the Wall Street Journal:

The technology, designed to work like weather-detection systems already in use for spotting thunderstorms, is the brainchild of Fred Prata, senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, one of Europe’s leading environmental and air-pollution research laboratories.
Mr. Prata, who has been researching the technology for some 20 years, said that before the eruptions of the volcano in Iceland two months ago, there wasn’t a business case for the device.

Iceland’s volcano – Eyjafjallajokull – erupted on April 15, spewing an ash closed that closed much of Europe’s airspace for days and disrupted millions of travelers. The Wall Street Journal says the shutdown of Europe’s airspace for six days “is estimated to have cost the industry as much as $2 billion, with airlines, airports and travel companies around the world affected.”

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