With flights only now just starting to takeoff again in Western Europe, it might be a good time to revisit past incidents involving aircraft and volcanic ash which illustrate just how dangerous volcanic ash can be to aviation under certain circumstances. Both the Airline Biz Blog and Flight Blogger have recalled a 1982 incident involving a British Airways Boeing 747 that flew through volcanic ash over Indonesia while in route to Perth Australia. All four engines failed but the captain was eventually able to land safely in Jakarta and the incident eventually led to a network of volcanic ash advisory centres being set up to monitor and track volcanic ash clouds. You can learn more about the incident on Wikipedia plus the The Times of London has recently interviewed the Pilot of the aircraft for his thoughts and there is also an episode of “Air Emergency, Air Crash Investigation” that recreates what happened.
In addition, another incident that involved a KLM Boeing 747 flight that flew through an ash cloud from a 1989 eruption of Mount Redoubt in Alaska is told on the website of the Aviation Safety Network. Luckily, the aircraft was also able to land safely with only minor damage.