It is just "a matter of time" before another volcano in Iceland erupts - disrupting flights over here in the UK, and the rest of Europe once again That is the view of experts from the South who are developing a system for aeroplanes that will detect ash in the sky.
Back in 2010, most airline services in the region, and much of the UK were grounded because of a drifting Icelandic ash cloud following a volcanic eruption. Mike Pearse reports.
EasyJet and its partners Airbus and Nicarnica are planning the final stage of testing for the AVOID technology. Over the weekend they flew back a tonne of volcanic ash from Iceland collected by the Institute of Earth Sciences in Reykjavik. It will be used for testing by Airbus & Oxford University.
The ash, dried to create the consistency of fine talc, will be used in a unique experiment which is planned for this summer. T
The next phase of testing will involve two Airbus test planes, one of which has the ability to disperse the ash into the atmosphere, thereby creating an artificial ash cloud for a second Airbus test aircraft with the AVOID technology fitted to detect and avoid at over 30,000ft.
The threat from Icelandic volcanoes continues and so finalising the approval of the AVOID technology is as crucial now as ever to ensure we never again see the scenes of spring 2010 when all flying ceased for several days.
Transporting a tonne of volcanic ash from Iceland is an important step in the final journey of testing the technology and moving towards commercial certification
Experts say it is just "a matter of time" before another volcano in Iceland erupts with the potential to cause major disruption to flights like in 2010. Then most services in Europe were grounded for a total of eight days causing misery to millions of people.
The problem is that when a volcano explodes it can send millions of ash particles into the air causing a cloud. If a plane flies into it engines can be badly affected and even stop.
So now Easyjet and Airbus are developing a system called AVOID that would better detect ash in the sky. Planes would be fitted with sensors that detect it and they would be directed around the ash by air controllers.
Airlines say it is a much better alternative to the current system which is to ground flights over a wide area. The sensors feed back information from the system which is added to data from satellites.
The aim is to keep more planes flying and reduce the type of disruption in 2010.
Since then easyJet have been leading the industry research into the problem. They say by developing a system that identifies where the ash is in the sky will enable planes to keep flying without the need to close larger areas of our skis to planes.
Instead airspace closures could be targeted to where the clouds of ash are rather than the current system of closures over a wider area. Meanwhile experts at Oxford University are researching the effect of the ash and why volcanos are erupting more frequently than ever before.
Global warming is thought to be part of the reason. Ash brought back from Iceland at the weekend will be analysed as part of the research.
The first ever flights from Gatwick to Moscow have been launched by Easyjet. The move gives the region's travel industry a vital boost after thousands of job losses in recent times.
Easyjet who are now the biggest airline at Gatwick won the right to operate the route, over Virgin Atlantic. Businesses from Kent, Sussex and the Thames Valley joined the maiden flight in an attempt to boost trade with Russia. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse reports from Moscow.
The interviewees are Carolyn McCall, Easyjet Chief Executive; Kendal Evans, Cabin Crew from Crawley. Maria Pasholok, a passenger from Oxford; and Ray Johnson, Chairman, Kent Chamber of Commerce.
Along with the first passengers flying to Moscow for a city break, there are also representatives from a dozen companies onboard who are taking part in a trade mission to the Russian capital.
easyJet Chief Executive, Carolyn McCall, a graduate of Kent University in Canterbury, told ITV News why the route is important to her company and to the UK balance sheet.
This is a historic day for easyJet, not only are we launching flights between London Gatwick and Moscow but it is also the first day our shares are traded on the FTSE 100. Russia is the world’s largest country with a growing economy. Offering frequent and affordable flights enables easyJet to play a key role to aid trade links between the two countries.
I am pleased to have around a dozen UK companies travelling with us today aiming to start to build relationships in Russia. These companies are spread across Britain and represent many sectors including food, technology and manufacturing.
The new London Gatwick to Moscow service is easyJet's 100th route from the airport in West Sussex. The expansion into Russia is possible after the airline successfully bid for routes that came available when BMI was bought by BA's parent company.
Under a bilateral agreement between the UK and Russia only two airlines from each country between the two capitals. easyJet beat Virgin Atlantic Airways in getting permission to fly the route.
This is the first time Moscow has been served from London Gatwick airport with the airline expecting to fly more than a quarter of a million passengers between London Gatwick and Moscow annually.