News Why can’t planes fly through the volcanic ash cloud?

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Why can’t planes fly through the volcanic ash cloud?

Even though Iceland’s volcano is more than 1000km from UK soil, its ash cloud has closed almost all UK airspace.

Even though Iceland’s volcano is more than 1000km from UK soil, its ash cloud has closed almost all UK airspace for the last five days.

But why can’t planes just fly through the cloud?

The problem is the tiny volcanic ash particles. If these are ingested into a jet engine, they accumulate, melt and form molten glass inside causing damage which can lead to the engine cutting out completely.

The ash particles also erode the body and windscreens of the plane and can clog the fuel system.

None of which is something you want to happen when cruising at thirty thousand feet.

Though some airline bosses have criticised the closure of airspace which is causing losses of millions of pounds a day, there have been historical cases of plane engines failing after flying through ash clouds.

Get volcano travel advice: Skyscanner has set up a dedicated forum for anyone who may have questions about travel during the ash cloud situation.

More information at the BBC

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