EMMA KELLY / PERTH
An Australian company is hoping to launch an airborne volcanic gas and ash detector next June, promising to imp- rove safety and reduce aircraft engine maintenance costs.
Tenix hopes to commercialise technology developed with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The ground-based infrared sensor would be installed at airports near volcanoes, providing early warning and data about ash and sulphur dioxide clouds.
A volcano erupts somewhere in the world about once a week, says Tenix, causing an estimated $180 million of damage to aircraft every year. Silicate ash particles can enter aircraft engines and melt, leading to serious damage, and can also cause windscreen scouring and affect instruments. Images of the volcanic ash and gas would be sent via the Iridium satellite network to a server in Adelaide, South Australia, for subscriber viewing online.
The launch follows a series of single-camera tests this year near Guam, Hawaii, and Sicily, Italy. More tests, involving a three-camera system, are planned for April in Japan, Mexico City or Montserrat. Work is progressing on an airborne system, although certification issues mean this is unlikely to reach the market for a few more years.