Aviation authorities 'right on ash'

28 April 2011 12:37

Aviation authorities were right to ground commercial jets for seven days after last year's volcanic eruption in Iceland, a study has claimed

Aviation authorities were right to ground commercial jets for seven days after last year's volcanic eruption in Iceland, a study has claimed

Researchers who analysed samples of volcanic ash from last year's eruption in Iceland have claimed that the particles were capable of causing an air disaster.

In a report, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the experts conclude that the decision of aviation authorities to ground commercial jets for seven days after the eruption at Eyjafjallajokull was justified.

The scientific study claims that the "sharp and abrasive" fine-grained ash particles had the potential to sandblast aircraft windows, restricting visibility, and could have also stalled engines.

Safety concerns after the eruption on April 14 last year led to the decision to ground flights, disrupting travel for 10 million passengers and costing between £1.3 billion and £2.2 billion - highlighting the need for adequate travel insurance to avoid inconvenience.

The explosive nature of the eruption was caused by glacial meltwater coming into contact with hot volcanic magma.

Tiny pieces of extremely hard, abrasive material were ejected to heights of more than nine kilometres and carried as far as Russia.

Fears over volcanic ash arose from a previous incident in 1982 when a British Airways 747 flew through debris from the eruption of Mount Galunggung in Indonesia.

The pilot reported sparks from the windows and wings, and all four engines failed when melted ash coated their interior.

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