Airline Hopes To Avoid Volcanic Ash Clouds With New Technology

volcanic ashVolcanic ash is something commercial airliners want nothing to do with. When Alaska’s Cleveland volcano erupted not long ago, shooting low levels of ash into the atmosphere, many airlines were concerned. Another blast could send ash higher, directly into their flight path between Asia and North America, causing major flight schedule disruptions. But while most airlines watch and wait, one is taking some proactive steps to deal with volcanic activity.

Ash clouds are a major problem for commercial airliners, which can literally fall out of the sky if they attempt to fly through one. The problem is the tiny volcanic ash particles. If they get into a jet engine, ash particles can block the ventilation holes that let in air to cool the engine. Accumulate enough of them and engine heat can transform the particles back into molten lava, something you don’t want in your jet engine. In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano ejected an ash plume 30,000 feet into the sky, crippling airlines in northwest Europe for days as nearly 20 airports closed their airspace.Looking for ways to minimize the effect of volcanic eruptions, EasyJet has partnered with aircraft manufacturer Airbus and Nicarnica Aviation, a company that specializes in remote sensing technology to detect ash at the speed and altitude of commercial aircraft. To do that, EasyJet will fly a ton of volcanic ash from Iceland to an Airbus base in France where it will test the new uses for infrared technology-based Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector (AVOID) equipment in August.

During the test, an Airbus plane will disperse the ash into the atmosphere and create an artificial ash cloud. A second Airbus test aircraft equipped with AVOID technology will (hopefully) detect and avoid the artificial ash cloud at over 30,000 feet.

Want to see an ash cloud up close, as it is being created? Check out this video:



[Image credit – Flickr user coolinsights]

If easyJet goes under, you’re not screwed

If easyJet were to go insolvent before you could take a package you’ve booked online with the company, fear not: you’re insured. Since the beginning of the month, the European low-cost carrier has arranged with credit protection company International Passenger Protection to make sure customers don’t lose out if the airline as a whole takes a nose dive.

According to Paul Phillips, group treasurer of easyJet:

“We pride ourselves at being one of the leading and most innovative airlines in the UK and, despite our strong financial standing, we recognise that we have important legal obligations to adhere to under the UK Package Travel Regulations. We acknowledge our continued duty to give passengers financial peace of mind when buying travel packages online from us.”

Paul Mclean, director at IPP, said:

“The travel industry and travelling public have suffered a surge of financial collapses in the last two years and headlines of passengers losing their holidays are becoming commonplace. We are delighted to be working with easyjet to ensure its continued compliance with the relevant consumer protection legislation in place.”

So, if nothing else, you have one less worry when booking our next trip!

[photo by WexDub via Flickr]

easyJet founder tells airline to be more punctual or change its name

Back in the late 90’s, easyJet triggered a new era of low cost carriers. Founded by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the airline went from just 2 planes to over 175.

As one of the largest airlines in the United Kingdom, easyJet has had a lousy track record of on time departures and arrivals. In a recent report, the airline actually managed to score lower than Air Zimbabwe.

This bad PR is not only bad for the airline, it also got the attention of the easyGroup, who lease the “easy” name back to the airline. Lawyers for the Easy empire have given easyJet just 90 days to gets its act together, or to lose the rights to the name, which would force them to change it.

A full name change would cost millions, and given its strong brand protection, it is even unlikely that easyJet would be allowed to keep its orange livery.

[Photo from:Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]

Easyjet’s jilted in the sky

easyJet was ready to help passengers walk down the aisle while walking down the aisle. The airlines plans to conduct mile-high marriage ceremonies, however, were stymied by local British bureaucrats who said they couldn’t give the airline permission. Under this unusual program, pilots – like captains at sea – would have facilitated the swapping of vows.

The relevant officials in Luton, which is north of London, has refused to extend these powers to the airline, claiming that it’s not permitted under the law. The airline, of course, is “very disappointed,” as are the imaginary masses ready to run the security gauntlet to seal the deal.

EasyJet tells six year old girl that her teddy bear has to travel as excess baggage

It’s amazing what a total lack of common sense can do for your company.

Take for example the story of a check-in agent at Glasgow airport responsible for helping Easy Jet passengers. When 6 year old Amparo Peris-Bordes approched the desk with her mother, this EasyJet staffer told her that she’d have to pay 9 pounds, and send her teddy bear onto the conveyor belt, and into the hold as excess baggage.

For some reason, her mother refused to pay this, so they boxed the bear up, and sent it home with the mail.

EasyJet has of course announced that they’ll review their internal procedures, because nothing says “bad PR” like a smiling girl in the news reporting how mean your airline is.