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easyJet to be the first to use new ash cloud detection system

An ash cloud rising from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano which forced airlines to ground their planes in May 2010. Credit: Press Association Images.

A Luton-based airline is set to become the first to use new technology designed to help aircraft detect volcanic ash.

The AVOID system is a radar for ash and aims to prevent a repeat of the Icelandic volcanic ash-cloud crisis of spring 2010.

The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull led to days of no flights into and out of the UK in April and May 2010, with the whole of Europe affected.

The new system has been created by Norway's Nicarnica Aviation with the support of Luton-based easyJet.

It uses infra-red technology fitted to aircraft to supply images to pilots and an airline's operations control centre.

It will enable pilots to see an ash cloud up to 60 miles ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft.

The technology was tested by European planemaker Airbus last November. It will now go into commercial production.

Today, easyJet's engineering director Ian Davies said that move was "a tangible and significant step forward in bringing this technology from conception into reality".

He added: "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."