Commercialisation success in spite of CSIRO

Posted on July 17, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The following article appeared on the http://www.news.com.au website today.  Dr Fred Prata is a former CSIRO researcher who developed the technology for detecting volcanic ash clouds to permit commercial aircraft to continue flying in conditions where flights have previously been grounded (in recent years due to volcanoes erupting in Iceland and Indonesia).  The technology also has the potential to be used in the detection other potentially hazardous materials in air such as chemical and nerve agents.

The CSIRO sacked Dr Prata as he was in the latter stages of perfecting the technology but prior to completion of his research and before the technology was suitable for commercialisation.

This is another example of the CSIRO Senior Management’s complete lack of forethought which has inevitably led to a highly skilled atmospheric researcher leaving Australian shores to work with a research organisation who actually values it’s employee’s contributions to science, rather than thwarting their best efforts at research through petty squabbles and political power play.

The proverb “Cutting off ones nose to spite ones face” comes to mind!

The success of Dr Prata is particularly timely as the CSIRO moves to decimate its ranks of scientists engaged in important research such as atmospheric and marine science, climate science, sustainable ecologies and renewable energy sources in favour of extending the life of fossil fuels, promoting GMO’s and chemical pest control instead of sustainable farming techniques and remaining politically sensitive to the climate change views perpetuated by its major stakeholders.  It is a dark period for Australian science in deed!

We congratulate Dr Prata on his outstanding achievements despite the best efforts of the CSIRO to derail his research and hope that this serves as a reminder of just how critical and valuable such areas research are to Australia’s national interest and its future.

Ash detection system to help planes

TECHNOLOGY to help aircraft detect volcanic ash is to go into commercial production, with British carrier easyJet planning to be the first airline to use it.

EFFECTIVELY a weather radar for ash, the AVOID system has been supported by easyJet and should reduce the chances of a repeat of the Icelandic volcanic ash-cloud crisis of spring 2010.

The crisis came following the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull and led to days of no flights into and out of the UK in April and May 2010, with the whole of Europe affected. Created by Dr Fred Prata of Nicarnica Aviation, the system utilises infra-red technology fitted to aircraft to supply images to pilots and an airline’s operations control centre. The images will enable pilots to see an ash cloud up to 60 miles (96.54km) ahead of the aircraft and at altitudes between 5,000ft and 50,000ft, thus allowing them to make small adjustments to the plane’s flight path to avoid any ash cloud. The concept is very similar to weather radars which are standard on commercial airliners today. On the ground, information from aircraft with AVOID technology would be used to build an accurate image of the volcanic ash cloud using real-time data. This could open up large areas of airspace that would otherwise be closed during a volcanic eruption, which would benefit passengers by minimising disruption. The technology was tested by European planemaker Airbus last November through a unique experiment which involved the creation of an artificial ash cloud. EasyJet’s engineering director Ian Davies said the AVOID production deal, between Nicarnia and avionics supplier Elbit Systems, was “a tangible and significant step forward in bringing this technology from conception into reality”. He went on: “EasyJet has supported the development of this innovative technology since the 2010 volcanic eruption which brought aviation to a halt in Europe. We look forward to being the first airline to fit this technology on our aircraft.”

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