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Ash detector hopes to reduce chaos and crashes due to volcanoes

December 8, 2011, 06:22 pm

In 2010, Iceland experienced a volcanic eruption that filled the skies with ash clouds, making it nearly impossible for pilots to navigate the skies. To prevent planes from having to battle through such treacherous flying conditions, the Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector was created.

The Guardian reported the first test flights with the device were recently conducted, giving hope that a similar natural occurrence will result in fewer crashes and casualties. According to the device's creator, Dr. Fred Prata, AVOID uses infrared radiation to locate an ash cloud, enabling the pilot to fly around it. The device uses its own measurements, satellite data and atmospheric modeling to create a comprehensive picture of where the clouds are and what direction they are moving.

The Huffington Post reported the device can be used at altitudes up to 50,000 feet, and can help determine the density of an ash cloud and locate safe pathways pilots can take through the clouds. The technology is expected to reduce the number of canceled flights and enable more pilots to navigate through tough conditions safely. Combined with pilot insurance, the tool could make the skies much safer.

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