Airplane-Mounted Camera Detects Presence of Volcanic Ash

** The new AVOID system may help pilots
detect the presence of ash and maneuver
around it.**

Last year thousands of flights were brought to a standstill for days on end when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted, scattering thick clouds of ash over much of Europe. To prevent a similar recurrence of events, Dr. Fred Prata of the Norwegian Institute of Air Research has developed a technology aimed at alerting pilots of the presence of ash in the air.

Prata’s system, funded by the British airline EasyJet and known as the Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector (AVOID), relies on two thermal infrared cameras to detect the presence of silicate ash particles in front of an aircraft. At an altitude of 33,000 feet, the system can reportedly detect silicates up to 100 km away, allowing some time for pilots to maneuver around it.

To date the technology has logged 30 hours strapped to the wing of a Flight Design CT as it flew over Sicily’s Mount Etna, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. While AVOID has not yet been tested on a larger aircraft, EasyJet has reportedly been so satisfied with the results so far that the company plans on installing AVOID on 20 of their Airbus aircraft in the coming year, pending approval of the system.

Check out the video below from The Guardian to see AVOID in action.


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