UK carrier Easyjet is preparing to introduce a new cockpit system that could help its pilots avoid dangerous concentrations of volcanic ash. The Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier and Detector (Avoid) is a type of weather radar developed by Dr. Fred Prata of the Norwegian Institute of Air Research. Within the next two months, the equipment is due to undergo initial testing by Airbus on an A340 airliner and Easyjet has already committed to introducing the new system.
According to Dr. Prata, Avoid uses infrared technology to show volcanic ash concentrations between 5,000 and 50,000 feet and at a distance of up to 62 miles. These images will also be relayed to the airline’s ground operation to help plan for any rerouting that might be necessary. According to Easyjet chief executive Andy Harrison, Avoid will prove to be a “silver bullet” in allowing airlines to operate when volcanic ash might otherwise have disrupted flights. The UK Civil Aviation Authority has given the flight trials its blessing, while reserving judgment on how successful they will be.