It now seems that well-known budget airline easyJet is asking the European Union to fund a new volcanic ash detection system for planes. Apparently this new technology, which will be developed by the Norwegian Institute for Air Research, is going to be designed to do what radars simply cannot do.
This new system called AVOID, which stands for Airborne Volcanic Object Identifier, is suppose to be able to detect the presence of dangerous dust particles and volcanic ash in the air. This system can identify these problem ahead of time, giving pilots a chance to readjust their course to avoid problem areas. With a system like this, the volcanic ash crisis that shut down much of Europe’s airspace may have never happened.
The system would still function about the same way that radars do. They will be able to detect volcanic ash from up to 100 km away. They will also be able to detect it between 5,000 and 50,000 feet of altitude. Of course, all of this information can be sent in real time to all air traffic controllers so that they can monitor ash cloud movements as well. This would give air traffic controllers helpful information that they can use to aid the pilots.
The reason why easyJet is pushing for this so much is because they have some 500 routes in Europe, meaning that if the European airspace gets shut down because of volcanic ash again, then it cost the company a lot of money. easyJet has proposed that 100 planes in Europe should receive the AVOID system so that the entire continent will have adequate coverage in the event of another crisis – 20 if these systems should belong to easyJet.