Indonesia Fights Volcanic Risk To Air Travel.
The Indonesian archipelago, sitting on the southwestern edge of the Pacific Ring of Fire, is one of the most volatile volcanic regions in the world. Air travellers have on several occasions in the past year been held up due to eruptions of her active volcanoes. Volcanic ash ejected into the atmosphere by explosive eruptions, even several hundreds of kilometres away, has known damaging effects on aircraft. Ash particles can abrade forward-facing surfaces, including windscreens, fuselage surfaces, and compressor fan blades. Ash contamination also can lead to failure of critical navigational and operational instruments. Moreover, the melting temperature of the glassy silicate material in an ash cloud is lower than combustion temperatures in modern jet engines; consequently, ash particles sucked into an engine can melt quickly and accumulate as re-solidified deposits in cooler parts, degrading engine performance even to the point of in-flight compressor stall and loss of thrust power. A Compilation of Known Incidents (1953-2009) documents 79 damaging ash/aircraft encounters. Twenty-six of those involved significant to very severe aircraft damage, including nine encounters where engine failure occurred during flight. Fortunately, in each of the engine-failure cases, at least one engine was able to be restarted or did not fail, and hence there have been no known crashes as a result of volcanic ash ingestion. (Credit: Volcanic Ashfall Impacts).
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