Saturday, April 17, 2010

What's the Danger?

With such a large scale disruption in Europe caused by an isolated volcano more than 1,500km away, you may wonder: "what's the danger?" Well, the simple answer is that the ash (even if it is invisible) could cause catastrophic engine failures on jets. There have been two cases in the past (BA through Indonesia, KLM to Alaska) where the planes flew into ash clouds, suffered engine failures, but were able to start them up again. The European Air Traffic Control, Eurocontrol, is taking these drastic steps to prevent air disasters.

Look at this news feed from AP:
A Finish F-18 Hornet jet had a scare, overheating even on a short flight as the ash blocked its cooling ducts. Air Force spokesman Joni Malkamaki says the Hornet "flew for about an hour" on a regular training flight in clear weather and the pilot saw no signs of any volcanic cloud.

The airspace closures seem a bit more justified now...

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