Lufthansa is carrying out a test flight using a specially-equipped Airbus A340-600 to collect data on the concentration and distribution of volcanic ash across Europe.
The German carrier has teamed up with scientific research organisation Max Planck Institute to send up an A340-600 which has been equipped with an atmospheric research container known as CARIBIC.
The flight took off from Frankfurt at 15.43 local time and is scheduled to fly for six hours. A Lufthansa spokesman says the flight path will take the aircraft over Scandinavia, across the North Sea and back to Frankfurt.
Lufthansa describes the flight as being "the first wide-scale measuring flight to be carried out in European airspace".
An air inlet system on the A340's fuselage will channel air into the measuring device, which will then provide data on how the volcanic ash above Europe is concentrated and distributed in the atmosphere. Lufthansa's spokesman says it will take "a couple of days" to obtain the results of the measuring flight.
The A340-600 in question is normally deployed on passenger flights to Boston, but it had previously been adapted to carry out climate research for the carrier.