March 25, 2011

Results of volcano ash measurement flights published

The results of volcano ash measurement flights with the DLR
research aircraft Falcon 20E in April and May 2010 over Europe are now published in the scientific journal “Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics” after a thorough reviewing process.

Until the eruption of the Icelandic Eyafjalla volcano on 14 April 2010 it was internationally agreed that flights through an air space with increased ash concentration have to be avoided. This regulation led to severe restrictions of the European air traffic. Initially, there was a lack of observing data to validate the predictions of the position and concentration of the ash clouds. Only one week after the eruption, beginning with 20 April 2010, air traffic was allowed under condition in European regions with concentrations lower than 2 milligrams per square metre. This new definition of an allowed limit was inter alia based on the results of the measurement flight with the DLR research aircraft Falcon 20E.

The results of the ash measurement flights will be used in future to validate and to improve prediction models. As a consequence of the past events the exchange of information has to be significantly improved. The aviation industry is urging to take over the operational decisions after volcanic eruptions in the future. This requires procedures for risk analysis and necessary information. The DLR with its expertise in atmospheric physics, aeronautics, research aircraft, lidar and in-situ instruments, satellite data and simulation tools can contribute to this. The now published results are a solid basis. One should use them to learn from the overcome crisis.


German Aerospace Center
Institute of Atmospheric Physics
82234 Wessling
Telephone: 08153/282520
Telefax:     08153/281841