The largest active volcano in the world has been erupting since Sunday (27)! Have you ever stopped to think that a volcano affects dozens of domestic flights if it is on trade routes? That’s exactly what’s happening: Mauna Loa, in Hawaii, has erupted for the first time after nearly 40 years and it’s worrying businesses, professionals and commuters in the area.
That’s why the US Department of Transportation recommends that people check the status of flights at Hilo and Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airports.
The recommendation is a safety measure, as soot from volcanoes can cause serious damage. Although the US Federal Administration monitors volcanic eruptions to issue air traffic alerts, aircraft encounters with the smoke cloud can still occur.
This is because, according to the US Geological Survey, soot clouds are difficult to detect due to their resemblance to normal clouds either visually or by radar.
Why does volcanic ash affect flights?
In addition to obstructing vision, these clouds can cause numerous damages, such as damage to windshields, engines, ventilation systems, and aircraft hydraulic and electronic systems. For this very reason, for Airbus, the airline Between clouds of soot are not directed.
This is because the particles in the clouds that are expelled by volcanoes have a melting point much lower than the temperature at which engines reach. Upon contact with it, it instantly melts. In a turbine, this material cools, hardens, and sticks to the blades, impeding the flow of high-pressure combustion gases.
There is history supporting this concern of the company and the authorities. Near-fatal accidents occurred due to soot. In 1982, a flight departing London, United Kingdom, towards Auckland, New Zealand, encountered a cloud of ash emanating from a volcano on the island of Java, Indonesia. The confrontation resulted in the failure of all four of the aircraft’s engines. Fortunately, the situation was managed and the plane was able to land safely at that time.
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