April 15th, 2010
02:56 PM ET

Explainer: Why ash cloud endangers aircraft

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/TRAVEL/04/15/volcanic.ash.aviation.explainer/t1larg.jpg caption="Each year millions of passengers fly over volcanically active regions such as Iceland and the North Pacific." width=300 height=169]


Volcanic ash clouds are a serious hazard to aviation, reducing visibility, damaging flight controls and ultimately causing jet engines to fail.

Encounters between aircraft and volcanic ash can happen because ash clouds are difficult to distinguish from ordinary clouds, both visually and on radar, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Ash clouds can also drift great distances from their source. The recent volcanic eruption in Iceland sent a huge plume of ash moving across the Atlantic, disrupting air traffic across Western Europe.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Swithin Chandler

    The ash has very fine perticles that are hazardous to the engines they go through the filters and cause the engines to fail, same to autus that drive through these cloids.

    April 15, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
  2. beckybrown

    its rather a pity that the aviation sector has been plagued by both human and natural disaster. haven said that countries should join interlectual forces and find solutions to our ever increasing aviation problems. this is not a usa problem alone.she can't think foreveryone. becky from nigeria

    April 15, 2010 at 3:14 pm |