EasyJet Pioneers Ash Cloud Detector

Airlines hopeful new technology will spell the end of widespread ash chaos

With so many European flights grounded recently because of ash cloud problems, EasyJet has announced it will trial an ash radar appropriately named AVOID (Airbourne Volcanic Identifier and Detector).

The technology will be fitted on planes and be able to detect ash clouds so that pilots can fly around them if necessary.

Airlines are hoping AVOID could mark the end of the disruption caused by the Eyjafjallajokull volcano and pioneer of no-thrills flights EasyJet is to be the first to test it out.

The technology works like a weather radar and uses infra red technology which sends images to pilots and flight control centres allowing them to see an ash cloud up to 62 miles ahead.

Invented by Dr Fred Prata of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, it could mean huge areas of air space which would have been shut down may now remain open.

EasyJet chief executive Andy Harrison said: "This pioneering technology is the silver bullet that will make large-scale ash disruption history. The ash detector will enable our aircraft to see and avoid the ash cloud, just like airborne weather radars and weather maps make thunderstorms visible.”

Only last week airlines were calling for the new UK government to compensate them over lost earnings during the ash cloud crisis, claiming mishandling and exaggeration of the situation by the CAA.

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