Science is developing Sensors that will Detect Ash Plumes as Aviation Safety Threat

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Wind shear, clear air turbulence and now the threat of volcanic ash are all invisible threats to aviation. Over time, scientists and engineers have developed or are designing sensors which will identify these phenomena, as the below article demonstrates.

There are two ways to detect volcanic ash plumes—airborne and spaced-based detection systems. Both are being advanced—one as shown by the above graphic and the other using infrared sensors.

Hans Schlager, head of the Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the German Aerospace Center, said in a statement : “The key issue for us is to develop an integrated monitoring and response system for future volcanic crises that can be used to respond quickly in the event of the formation of an ash cloud from Iceland.” The new models are being used to avoid the current Icelandic eruption. Predictions as to the complex movement of ash through the air and refinements of the algorithms for routing aircraft around these plumes, they have been able to double the Transatlantic ATC capacity during this most recent eruption day.

The second, redundant is good in aviation, is being developed by Nicarnica Aviation in Kjeller, Norway. That machine is an on-board ash detector which warn the pilot in time to adjust the original flight route. Iceland’s Holuhraun eruption is serving as a real ground-based laboratory for the new technology. The sensors have also received air trials from Airbus and EasyJet.

Once again, science and engineering are producing important safety advances.

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