Research Plane Flies into Volcanic Ash

FRANKFURT, Germany, April 20 (UPI) — The German airline Lufthansa said it would send a research plane into the volcanic ash cloud covering much of Europe to determine ash concentrations.

The aircraft will carry a container from the Max Planck Institute that will collect precise data about the volcanic ash cloud that is being emitted by Iceland’s erupting Eyjafjallajoekull volcano. Officials said the flight is the first such wide-scale scientific measurement carried out in European airspace.

Lufthansa said the project utilizes a specially equipped Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 carrying a 1.6-ton container that is able to obtain precise data on the make-up of the atmosphere. A dedicated air inlet system feeds ambient air into the container, which is then evaluated by the flying laboratory’s diverse measuring systems.

Britain Tuesday night removed a ban on air traffic after starting the day as a nearly flight-free zone, officials said.

A new ash cloud spewed from a volcano in Iceland forced Britain to ground flights late Monday — intensifying the air travel crisis that afflicted much of Europe during six following last week’s volcanic eruption.

An estimated 95,000 flights have been canceled and it could take days or weeks for airlines to untangle the backlog, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

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