In order to achieve quantitative measurements of the Earth's surface radiance and reflectance, it is important to determine the aerosol optical thickness (AOT) to correct for the optical influence of atmospheric particles. An advanced method for aerosol detection and quantification is required, which is not strongly dependant on disturbing effects due to surface reflectance, gas absorption and Rayleigh scattering features. A short review of existing applicable methods to the APEX airborne imaging spectrometer (380nm to 2500nm), leads to the suggested aerosol retrieval method here in this paper. It will measure the distinct radiance change between two near-UV spectral bands (385nm & 412nm) due to aerosol induced scattering and absorption features. Atmospheric radiation transfer model calculations have been used to analyze the AOT retrieval capability and accuracy of APEX. The noise-equivalent differential AOT is presented along with the retrieval sensitivity to various input variables. It is shown, that the suggested method will be able to identify different aerosol model types and measure AOT and columnar size distribution. The proposed accurate AOT determination will lead to a unique opportunity of two-dimensional pixel-wise mapping of aerosol properties at a high spatial resolution. This will be helpful especially for regional climate studies, atmospheric pollution monitoring and for the improvement of aerosol dispersion models and the validation of aerosol algorithms on spaceborne sensors.