On April 14th, 2010, the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano and the accompanying cloud of volcanic ash forced most countries in northern Europe to shut their airspace, grounding more than 100,000 flights. This affected an estimated 10 million travellers and had a financial impact of 5 billion US$ over a seven day period. This event revealed to what extent our society and economy rely on the availability of a safe and efficient air transport system and how fragile it still is when faced with the complexity of atmospheric conditions.
WEZARD aimed to support and contribute to the preparation of future community research in air transport system robustness when faced with weather hazards. It focused on hazards which can be spread over large areas such as volcanic ash clouds or severe atmospheric conditions including icing.
The WEZARD consortium::
- took stock of the current knowledge of weather hazards affecting airframes, engines and systems and identified the needed technology and capability development pathways;
- compiled knowledge on the collection, processing and communication of meteorological data and investigated what research was needed on observation, forecasting tools, data assimilation and broadcasting;
- investigated the existing and needed safety standards and procedures;
- modelled the capacity of the scientific community to better understand, observe and simulate hazardous particles.
These activities resulted in a R&D roadmap identifying research gaps and priorities and provided recommendations to the main stakeholders of the aeronautical community. The WEZARD consortium consisted of 3 air framers, 2 engine manufacturers, 1 system supplier, 1 network of meteorological offices, 4 research centres, 1 provider of test facilities and 1 civil aviation authority over 2 years. An Advisory Board gathering a panel of international experts in relevant domains was set up to provide advice on the vision, priorities and directions proposed by the project.
Eight workshop sessions were organised to assimilate advisory board opinions and recommendations on specific topics, including observation and prediction, on-board systems and research instrumentation. At the start of the project, the preliminary Wezard roadmap had spawned three proposals for Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) funding with active participation by the Wezard consortium.
Identification of the need to anticipate regulatory changes and develop effective means of compliance led to submission of the proposal for the 'High Altitude Ice Crystals' (HAIC) project. This was successfully funded and investigated mixed phase and glaciating conditions, in particular as related to heated probes and engines.
Wezard identified an additional three high priority topics. These consisted of developing an integrated observation system to monitor volcanic eruptions and an onboard volcanic ash detection and avoidance system. In addition, enhanced knowledge and tools for accretion and shedding were deemed critical for maintaining robust air transport under icing conditions. Two more proposals were submitted to address these issues.
The Project's outcomes served as a foundation for a consistent multi-year research plan addressing relevant priorities and gaps. As such, Wezard aimed to contribute further to the next generation of icing and volcanic ash air transport protection systems through focused input to and guidance of related research projects.
- An interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral network comprised of expertise from observation and measurement, aircraft manufacturers, engines manufacturers, system suppliers, scientists, network managers, risk management specialists and aircraft operators.
- A state-of-the-art review of the research actions related to weather hazards for aeronautics.
- An in-depth analysis which identified the shortcomings in the available knowledge, the areas for improvements and the type of activity needed to develop a safer air transport system and limit the effects of disrupting events caused by hazardous weather conditions. A consolidated recommendation and roadmap report validated by the main stakeholders of the aeronautics community.
Innovating for the future: technology and behaviour
A European Transport Research and Innovation Policy