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Weather hazards for aeronautics

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Planning research for aircraft hazards

Europe's air traffic is vulnerable to volcano eruptions and other natural occurrences. An EU project is mitigating the risk, having devised plans for three priority areas of future research into better detection and avoidance systems.

Climate Change and Environment

Eruption of the Icelandic volcano in April 2010 drastically affected European air traffic, with 100 000 flights and 10 million passengers affected over 1 week. The incident also showed the industry's vulnerability to natural events, of which volcanic eruptions are but one example. The EU-funded project 'Weather hazards for aeronautics' (WEZARD) aimed to provide a roadmap supporting preparation for future research and development. The focus was the robustness of air transportation systems in the face of weather hazards, specifically volcanic ash and icing. The 13-member team planned to detail the effects of such hazards on aircraft. In addition, the most useful technological results from other relevant projects would be selected for adoption in comprehensive risk management systems. The consortium ran over two years from July 2011. Initially, the project organised a workshop to present a preliminary roadmap, and to receive supervisory board recommendations about prediction, aircraft systems and other topics. The roadmap led to several further applications for Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) funding. The context of anticipating regulatory changes also led to submission of proposals for at least two other projects, one of which will involve North American authorities. WEZARD identified a further three high-priority research areas, consisting of ash detection and avoidance systems, and icing scenarios. The work resulted in a number of project proposals submitted or yet to be submitted. Research team members conducted a workshop to present the final roadmap. A further workshop was planned to prepare for an upcoming project and to strengthen exchange with North America. The WEZARD project laid the foundation for a multi-year research plan, addressing key priorities and gaps. The resulting roadmap provides a set of recommendations to interested industry players, helping to identify and plan for appropriate responses to atmospheric hazards.

Keywords

Aircraft, air traffic, avoidance system, weather hazard, aeronautics, volcanic ash, icing, risk management, ash detection

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