A number of incidents have highlighted the impact of volcanic activity – specifically volcanic ash – on aviation. We talked to two companies recently that are working to keep planes flying during weather events such as these.

The eruption of  Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 caused a shut-down of European air space. The disruption is estimated to have cost the industry billions.

In November 2017, Mount Agung on Bali erupted. This forced the island’s only airport to close and saw the cancellation of hundreds of flights.

Ash clouds pose risks to aircraft engines, sensors and pilot visibility.

Rolls-Royce and Hexagon Geospatial are two companies using data in different ways to enable planes to keep flying even during events such as a volcanic ash cloud.

Understanding the engine

Outlining how Rolls-Royce’s IntelligentEngine vision is translating into real-world benefits, the company’s Richard Goodhead explained that a smarter engine provides the ability to better understand how the released particles in volcanic ash can affect the engine.

“Without compromising safety we can actually fly in certain conditions using these techniques,” he said.

Optimising routes

Using airport data and flight plans etc., as well as weather data, Hexagon Geospatial uses analytics to compute the best flight routes.

Bart Adams, Hexagon, explained:  “The system that Lufthansa has allows them to re-route flights in real time taking into account, for example, a volcanic ash cloud prediction.”

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