How to fly through a volcanic ash cloud

If you are one of our pilot readers in Western European, we will assume that you are still probably grounded due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland. However and in case you have wondered how you might be able to fly through a volcanic ash cloud, Jon Ostrower has posted a link on Flight Blogger to a 1999 article in Aero magazine – Boeing’s technical magazine. According to Jon’s summary of the article, the following nine procedures are general recommendations for an encounter with a volcanic ash cloud:

    1. Reduce thrust to idle immediately.
    2. Turn the autothrottles off.
    3. Exit the ash cloud as quickly as possible. 
    4. Turn on engine and wing anti-ice devices and all air-conditioning packs.
    5. If possible, start the auxiliary power unit (APU).
    6. If volcanic dust fills the flight deck, the crew may need to use oxygen.
    7. Turn on the continuous ignition.
    8. Monitor engine exhaust gas temperature (EGT).
    9. Fly the airplane by monitoring airspeed and pitch attitude.

Jon includes further details with his summarized recommendations as well as pictures. However and if you want to see just what type of damage volcanic ash can do to an aircraft engine, commenter AirShowFan has posted a link to a Discovery News article that includes inspection images of DC-8 engines and F-18 engines after a flight a volcanic ash cloud. After taking a look at all the pictures, all that we can say is that its probably a good idea to stay on the ground for the time being.

Volcanic Ash Damage to an Engine

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