Scientists have created the first ever man-made volcanic ash cloud to test how passenger planes can cope with future volcanic blasts.
The eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down most of Europe’s airspace for six days, leaving millions of passengers stranded, and costing airlines 1.3 billion euros.
The team led by Airbus and Easyjet threw out a tonne of ash over the Bay of Biscay, off western France. The ash had been collected and stored by Reykjavik scientists from the Eyjafjallajokull eruption.
An Airbus plane with specially fitted detectors was flown close by to the ash cloud. Scientists found the sensors did successfully detect and measure the ash.
Easyjet says it now plans to fit the detection equipment on some of its planes by the end of 2014.