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Why They Stopped Flying

The risk to airplanes from the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland was more than just the danger of jet engines shutting down in flight. The ash could also have led to long-term damage that's harder to spot. After a NASA DC-8 flew through a volcanic ash cloud in 2000, researchers...

Eyjafjallajökull the Unpronounceable, as seen by GeoEye's IKONOS satellite.


The risk to airplanes from the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland was more than just the danger of jet engines shutting down in flight. The ash could also have led to long-term damage that's harder to spot. After a NASA DC-8 flew through a volcanic ash cloud in 2000, researchers found that:
...some of the particles we flew through were less than one micron in diameter, and even at those limits we didn't experience any engine parameter failures or any indications whatsoever, but the engine manufacturer who did the work specified that we probably would have started seeing performance degradation in some of the engines in as little as 100 flight hours because of the loss of cooling and other things...
Read more about the 2000 research flight here.

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