A Flight Design CT was recently pressed into service, to provide airborne ash measurement, after the latest eruption of the Grimsvötn volcano in Iceland.
Airborne ash from these volcanoes represents a major expense for airlines and airports, plus inconvenience for passengers. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption, in April 2010, caused the largest closure of European airspace since World War II, with losses estimated at between 1.5 and 2.5 billion euros. How does one determine the extent of the problem compared to last year’s eruption? The answer: Very economically, with a Flight Design CT.
The Laboratory for Environmental Monitoring of the Fachhochschule Düsseldorf (FHD) lead by Prof. Dr. Konradin Weber conducted volcanic ash test flights over northern Germany, especially in the region of Bremen, Hamburg and Schleswig, Holstein. The London Volcanic Ash Advisory Center had predicted significantly increased volcanic ash concentrations for this region due to the eruption of Grimsvötn causing airport closures as a safety precaution.
The test flights were carried out on behalf of the Deutscher Wetterdienst (German Weather Forecast, the federal German organization responsible for measurement of airborne radioactive particles etc.). The aircraft selected for this measurement was a Light Sport Aircraft called the Flight Design CT fitted with a laser-based particle spectrometer (GRIMM OPC). The aim of the 2011 testing flights over northern Germany was to obtain data regarding the volcanic ash cloud, and in particular to gain data on the level of concentration and the distribution of volcanic ash. During the flight, ash particles were collected from the air for later examination using electron microscopy.
The research aircraft operated by Professor Weber and his team detected structures of the volcanic ash cloud at an altitude range 2.300 to 3.200 meters. At this altitude, the volcanic ash cloud was observed as a horizontal gray-brown seam. The volcanic ash concentrations measured in the Bremen-Hamburg area proved to be comparatively low. The cost to determine this was a fraction of the expense if large aircraft were used for this investigation, according to company officials.
The next use of this equipment is planned for early July. “The measurement campaign will run to July 10 at Etna volcano in Sizilia, Italy,” stated spokesman Uwe Post.
“We are proud to help aviation safety in airliners through the very economical use of our CT aircraft,” reported Flight Design GmbH CEO Matthias Betsch. “While we enjoy flying our aircraft, our personnel also use airline travel and we are pleased to help ensure their safe travel.
Flight Design is a 24-year-old air-sport products producer based in Germany. The company remains the worldwide market leader thanks to its CT series of light aircraft. More than 1,700 of these aircraft are flying in 40 countries. One of the first aircraft certified under ASTM International standards in 2005, the CT (“composite technology”) remains the top-selling LSA in America through six consecutive years. Flight Design sold the first LSA to India and was the first LSA to earn Chinese Type Design Approval.