Air pollution emitted by anthropogenic and/or natural sources constitutes a significant risk factor for a number of severe health conditions, e.g. lung cancer and stroke. According to a 2014 WHO report, air pollution caused the deaths of 7 million people worldwide in 2012. In Europe, air pollution is estimated to cause more than 300,000 premature deaths each year. The total annual economic cost of air pollution-related helath impacts is estimated to be in excess of US$ 1.5 trillion.
Today, significant effort is devoted globally to improve air quality through land-use planning strategies, replacement of fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and lower levels of industrial emission, for example. In order to be successful, these measures need be accompanied by large scale air quality monitoring to ensure compliance with air quality legislation, but also to provide information for political decision-making regarding air quality and safety. This is particularly challenging outside the dense urban network of air quality monitoring stations. With the sensor being mounted on a remotely controlled medium size UAV (operational range 80 km, max. ceiling altitude 4,000 m), FLAIR provides large scale, pervasive air-quality monitoring data. Monitoring targets include industrial infrastructure, maritime and land-based traffic, landfills and agriculture. Importantly, due to its high sensitivity and selectivity, the FLAIR sensor will not only provide information about a single molecular species or contamination but is capable of identifying a priori unexpected substances. With its additional sub-micron fine particle detection capability (enabled via a hybrid-approach), FLAIR aims at generating a complete picture of air quality.