Volcanic Ash and Aviation Safety

The ever-growing reliability of the turbojet engines of air transport aircraft today allows twin engine extended range operations globally on routes where previously only three- and four-engine aircraft could travel. Threatening that reliability, however, is a hazard capable of silencing these engines under the worst of conditions—volcanic ash.

There are 1,500 known volcanoes around the world, and 600 of them are currently listed as active. Collectively there are 55 to 60 volcanic eruptions annually, and monitoring records tell us that some of these explosive eruptions are propelling volcanic ash to the thirty- and forty-thousand foot flight levels traveled by the airlines. Commercial aircraft encountering ash spread by such eruptions have experienced multiple engine flameouts.

ALPA Safety, through its Volcanic Ash project under the Air Traffic Services Group, has devoted several years to expanding the database of operationally relevant information on this potential hazard and improving the warning system necessary to reduce unplanned encounters of hazardous ash clouds.

The information under this Banner may be useful toward understanding the hazard; understanding recommended practices for avoidance, if possible; achieving survival in the event of an unexpected encounter; and finally, reporting the experience.

A recommended starting point is the video, “Volcanic Ash: An Aviation Hazard of Explosive Proportions.”

§ Watch the video

§ Boeing Volcanic Ash Avoidance Flight Crew Briefing
   Watch the video: DSL/Cable | Dial-Up

§ NASA DC8 - Ash Damage

§ Loss of 4 Engines - Volcanic Ash

§ Maps of Volcanoes - Alaska

§ Maps of Volcanoes - Kamchatka

§ Maps of Volcanoes - Kurile Island

§ Effect of Volcanic Ash on Airports

§ Volcanic Activity Report Form (VAR)

§ FCM-P35-2007 National Volcanic Ash Ops Plan

§ Alaska Plan for Volcanic Ash Episodes

§ Doc 9691 Manual ICAO - Vol Ash & Radioactive Material

§ Kurile Island - Open File Report 2008-1162