Aer Lingus plane taking off - air travel disruptions avoided

The eruption of the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier caused massive disruption to flights throughout Europe but an Oxford University scientist believes that the infra-red system, or “Ashcam” will mean that this never happens again.

The “Ashcam” allows a pilot to steer around volcanic debris. They will receive warnings of ash clouds in the sky up to 60 miles away. The data is also transmitted to control centres on the ground, where it can be shared with other planes and other airlines.

It is believed that the volcano in Iceland could continue to erupt for up to two years. Finding a way to get around grounding flights is integral.

Fred Prata, an Oxford University educated scientist, came up with the idea 20 years ago while working for the Australian government. The budget airline Easyjet have now taken on the technology and hope to have the radar system fitted on 12 planes by the end of 2010.

“It is wonderful seeing science that I did all these years ago finally being of use to society. It is every scientist's dream,” said Prata.

The Irish Airport Authority calculated that 4,743 flights were coming in and going out of Ireland were cancelled during the period of April 15 to May 10. It cost the Authority over $9.5 million.

Through out Europe 104,000 flights were cancelled.