Herman De Wulf/Brussels

The European Commission (EC), Airbus Industrie and five European airlines have restarted the MOSAIC scientific programme, initially launched in 1995 to measure ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere.

It is estimated that air transportation is responsible for 2-3% of all air pollution and, while the industry is succeeding in building cleaner engines, the EC wants to continue monitoring the situation for at least another two years.

The EC is providing half the funding, while the remaining cost is shared by Airbus (which provides and installs the equipment) and the airlines, which carry the instruments free of charge on scheduled flights. The carriers involved are Air France, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and Sabena, each making one Airbus A340 available for the programme. A fifth, development, A340 is also being flown by Airbus from its Toulouse base.

Each of the five aircraft carries an Aircraft Research Global Observation system - a special 120kg instrument rack under the avionics bay, incorporating an ozone analyser, a flowmeter, a ventilator, a smoke detector and supporting electronics.

Air enters through two inlets under the aircraft nose, and ozone and air-humidity measurements are taken every 4s - a total of 200,000 measurements per 12 flying hours. Parameters include altitude, speed, outside air temperature, aircraft position, quantity of ozone and air humidity. The results are stored by an on-board computer and downloaded onto a diskette after each flight. The diskettes are then sent to Meteo France, the French national meteorological organisation, for translation into a more coherent form, after which the measurement data are made available to scientists on the Internet for general use.

With four of the aircraft flying long-haul routes, the EC and Meteo France hope to use the data to build a better picture of the global ozone situation. Engine companies such as Snecma have also shown considerable interest.

Source: Flight International