A plane has flown through the first-ever artificial ash cloud created in a bid to see how a passenger aircraft can cope with volcanic eruptions.
The experiment by easyJet, who plan to have volcanic sensor detection equipment fitted on its planes, saw one Airbus disperse a tonne of Icelandic ash into the atmosphere at between 9,000ft and 11,000ft.
This created conditions similar to the 2010 eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajokull - an event that caused widespread travel chaos across Europe.
A second test aircraft with volcanic sensors fitted to it then flew towards the cloud, identifying and measuring it from around 40 miles away.
A third small plane flew through the artificial ash cloud to take measurements and see how they compared with the data gained by the volcanic sensor detection equipment.
The technology detected the cloud and measured its density which showed that it was within the range of concentrations measured during the ash crisis in April and May 2010.
A technical issue on the easyJet website has meant travellers are unable to use the online check-in or booking facilities. There are reports of long queues at airports as all passengers are forced to manually check-in.