Nicarnica secures AVOID ash cloud tech production deal

p8 AVOIDNicarnica Aviation and Israel’s Elbit Systems have agreed to incorporate the AVOID based ash detection technology into Elbit’s EVS solution.

Production will start in 2015 and UK airline easyJet aims to fit the first unit onto one of its aircraft to be the first airline equipped with the volcanic ash avoidance system.

Ian Davies, easyJet’s engineering director, said:”This deal signifies a tangible and significant step forward in bringing this technology from conception into reality.

“easyJet has supported the development of this innovative technology since the 2010 volcanic eruption which brought aviation to a halt in Europe. We look forward to being the first airline to fit this technology on our aircraft.”

Dr Fred Prata, chief technical officer, Nicarnica Aviation and inventor of the AVOID technology, said: “A significant step forward has been taken in realising the first commercial offering of the AVOID system on board easyJet’s aircraft fleet. Nicarnica Aviation’s business relationship with Elbit Systems, a large avionics supplier, ensures that the AVOID system will meet industry standards and will accelerate its commercial development.

“Integration of the system onto the aircraft is the last technical challenge and we expect to see the first easyJet aircraft flying with the system in the very near future.”

The AVOID system can be likened to a weather radar for ash. Created by Dr Fred Prata of Nicarnica Aviation, the system utilises infrared technology fitted to aircraft to supply images to pilots and an airline’s operations control centre.

The images will enable pilots to see an ash cloud, up to 100km ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft, thus allowing them to make small adjustments to the plane’s flight path to avoid any ash cloud. The concept is very similar to weather radars which are standard on commercial airliners today.

On the ground, information from aircraft with AVOID technology would be used to build an accurate image of the volcanic ash cloud using real time data. This could open up large areas of airspace that would otherwise be closed during a volcanic eruption, which would benefit passengers by minimising disruption.

The technology was tested by Airbus last November through a unique experiment which involved the creation of an artificial ash cloud.

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