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Earth of fire

Actualité volcanique, Article de fond sur étude de volcan, tectonique, récits et photos de voyage

The eruption of Eyjafjalajökull in the spring 2010 created an indescribable chaos in air traffic ... a hundred thousand flights were canceled, which cost 1.5 billion to airlines, the most affected being the European.

17.04 Bryniar Gauti
                Plume of the eruption of Eyjafjalajökull - Photo Brynjar Gauti / AP 17.04.2010

forecast flights 786 21april 2
Forecasting map of 27.04.2010 - extension of the ash cloud in red - sky roads borrowed from aircraft in blue . - doc.Sabre Flight Explorer
                      Airliners grounded in Germany - Lufthansa Photo / via Reuters 2010

At the end of the eruption , otherwise considered small, the airlines have emphasized the need to develop onboard detection systems, that allow planes to divert in the presence of a cloud of volcanic ash.

The system AVOID - Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector, developed on the basis of studies of the American defense dept. in 1993 , is designed around two infrared cameras, installed either at the end of the wings or on the fuselage, capable of detecting ash clouds at an altitude between 1,500 and 15,000 meters .

This technology will enable pilots to divert to avoid ingestion of ash reactors, or deposits on the windshield, and maintain open the airspace , normally closed during an eruption .

                        Testing of aircraft in 2011 over Etna - Doc. Easy Jet / Aviation Nicarnica

Nicarnica-Aviation - AZ Forum aviation
             Test AVOID on an Ultralight Flight Design CT aircraft over Mount Etna - doc . Nicarnica Aviation / AZ forum

NUAGE CENDRES Ian Davies with the pod-52c27                                             Ian Davis / Easy Jet with a prototype of the AVOID sensor ( in wing-tip )

After trials in 2011, a passenger plane in flight over Mount Etna, and in 2012 over the Moroccan coast, using the air laden with sands of the Sahara, detection devices have been validated by a experiment over the Bay of Biscay in 2013 through cooperation between the low coat airline Easy Jet , Nicarnica Aviation and Airbus.

1200022656 Foto MASCLET Philippe - MasterFilmsAirbus A400M loose the Icelandic ash over the Bay of Biscay in the context of testing the AVOID system - TU Photo / Phil . Masclet / Master movies / NILU - Norwegian Institute for Air Research.

To carry out this experiment, the Norwegian Institute for Aerospace Research ( NILU ) has collected a ton of volcanic ash on the slopes of Icelandic volcanoes. They were released by an Airbus A400M to recreate an artificial cloud similar to that generated by a volcanic eruption.

A small device Diamond DA42, from the University of Applied Sciences Dusseldorf, will penetrate the cloud to take action, which may corroborate that taken by the AVOID system.

Graphic of demonstration test on October 30 - Photo Nicarnica Aviation / NILU - Norwegian Institute for Air Research

An airliner Airbus A340, equipped with the AVOID system, then approached the ash cloud, and was able to detect at a distance of 60 km. and to change its flight path. Data collected by the aircraft in flight are transmitted in real time to the control center of the flights, to produce accurate maps of dispersion.

Easy Jet could equip its airliners of this detection system in 2015, if the project is finalized.

Small problem however , no advance in the subject amounts of ashes "digestible" by a reactor in case of entry into an ash cloud ... no threshold concentration has been defined to date !


Sources :

- Easy Jet plc - Easy Jet, Airbus and Nicarnica Aviation successfully create first ever significant artificial ash cloud for test purposes - link

- Mail on line 11.2013 - Finally, a sensor that can detect ash clouds ! Easy Jet tests "AVOID" system that will allow pilots to fly during volcanic eruptions - link

- Air Journal - Volcans : Easy Jet va créer son propre nuage de cendres

- NILU - Norsk Institutt for luftforskning - link

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