This morning the airline industry is dumping on the EU nations for shutting air space because of the danger to plane engines from volcanic dust. Among other things,the media is citing the damage to the diamond and flower industries as indications of growing economic travail.
Several test flights show no danger to aircraft engines,according to the airlines that fly in Europe.
In 1989, a commercial flight nearly crashed over Alaska when it flew through volcanic ash and its engines temporarily stopped working. See my previous post.
On its web site,Boeing in its Aero Magazine states:
In the past 30 years, more than 90 jet-powered commercial airplanes have encountered clouds of volcanic ash and suffered damage as a result. The increased availability of satellites and the technology to transform satellite data into useful information for operators have reduced the number of volcanic ash encounters. However, further coordination and cooperation, including linking operators and their dispatchers to the network of government volcano observers, is required throughout the industry. Boeing has always advocated that flight crews avoid volcanic ash clouds or exit them immediately if an encounter occurs. The company also recommends specific procedures for flight crews to follow if they cannot avoid an encounter.
Tucked into a BBC story this morning is this cryptic sentence:
A build-up of glass has been found in the engine of a Nato fighter jet in Europe, a US official says. Further details were not immediately available.
Later in the day Reuters reported US military officials confirming ash buildup in military jets:
“Allied F-16s were flying and they did find glass build-up,” the U.S. official said, adding that the glass had been found in the engine of one plane that had flown in European airspace.
“So this is a very, very serious matter that in the not too distant future will start having real impact on military capabilities … if the … issue doesn’t disappear.”