Study: Ash Cloud Flight Grounding Was Right

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Study: Ash Cloud Flight Grounding Was Right

Post by Guest on Wed Apr 27, 2011 8:28 am

Aviation authorities were right to ground commercial jets for a week after last year's volcanic eruption in Iceland, a study has found.

Particles from the ash cloud travelled as far as Russia

Researchers say fine-grained ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano - which blew across flight paths over large parts of Europe - could have caused an air disaster. The decision to halt flights disrupted travel for 10 million passengers and cost between £1.3bn and £2.2bn, leading some critics to question whether it was justified. But samples of ash from the volcano were analysed for the scientific report published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The report revealed fragments from the ash remained "sharp and abrasive" even after attempts to blunt the particles by stirring them in water.

It said they would have sandblasted aircraft windows, making them impossible to see through, and had the potential to stall engines. Fears over volcanic ash arose after debris from the eruption of Mount Galunggung in Indonesia caused three engines on a 1982 British Airways 747 flight to temporarily fail. Laboratory tests carried out on the ash from the eruption on April 14 last year suggested a similar event could have happened again. The researchers, led by Dr Sigurdur Gislason from the University of Iceland, wrote: "The very sharp, hard particles put aircraft at risk from abrasion on windows and body and from melting in jet engines.

The number of flights grounded caused major disruption for passengers

"In the lab, ash particles did not become less sharp during two weeks of stirring in water, so airborne particles would remain sharp even after days of interaction with each other and water in clouds. Thus, concerns for air transport were well grounded."

The scientists said the results of the study could form the basis of a safety protocol for rapidly assessing the risk from future volcanic eruptions.

I was one of the passengers whose plans were disrupted although I was lucky, I travelled one week later and didn't lose my holiday. I often wonder how long this would have taken to resolve had there not been the huge commercial pressures involved? Is this volcano still erupting? confused


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