Top Hazards of Sand and Volcanic Ash for Aircraft

In 2010, the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland was responsible for the closure of European airspace for almost two weeks, and coverage was worldwide. For those in the aviation industry, sand and volcanic ash have always caused shivers down the spine, and this incident demonstrated the reasons for this. There have been more high profile incidents in recent years, including the 2017 volcanic eruption in Bali and the eruption in Hawaii earlier this year, and these have highlighted the need for a high spec, easy to use solution to inspect engines in extreme heat and in close proximity to sandstorms and volcanoes.

When a large scale incident occurs, it is vital that all planes are inspected in both hot and cold latitudes. Sand and ash present similar hazards to one another, both having the potential to ground planes and cause substantial damage to aircraft. The danger posed by volcanic ash occurs after the ash particles are melted by the engines, at which point they can solidify in cooler parts of the engine and disrupt the airflow. Many of the sensors on the plane can also be affected by ash particles, as well as visibility and air quality inside the aircraft.

Sand can cause major problems for aircraft, including:

  • Engine ingestion. Sand that gets into the engine itself can lead to cracks in crucial components, including the combustion chambers. Essential inspections and maintenance should be carried out in a controlled environment, and this is the great benefit of using the IglooMX® in such circumstances.

  • Erosion. Sand can cause erosion to any exposed systems within the aircraft, including rotor blades. Sand can also become lodged in crevices and corrode the exterior surfaces of the plane. Essential maintenance and repairs such as repainting, modifying the way in which paint is applied, and washing aircraft more often can be carried out as routine MRO in an IglooMX® for ease and speed.

  • Damage to the windscreen. Sandstorms are notorious for causing scratches and indentations to the windscreens of aircraft, and this is another scenario that is best resolved in a controlled environment such as an inflatable hangar.

  • Sand accumulation. When aircraft frequently fly in desert conditions such as in the Middle East, sand can build up inside electronic components, on lubricants and in the aircraft itself. This can present many issues, including raising the dry operating weight of the aircraft, and aircraft must be regularly inspected and maintained to prevent such problems developing.

IglooMX® offers Aircraft Engine Protection

The good news is that no accidents, injuries or fatalities have occurred as a result of volcanic ash in the air, despite several potentially dangerous incidents. Protocols that ground planes may seem overblown, but they are put in place to save lives, and they do just that.

The IglooMX® can be used to transform aircraft inspections and maintenance, in extreme climates and at remote locations. The Igloo MX can be brought to an aircraft in trouble, making repairs possible without putting engineers in danger of difficult conditions. Our range includes diverse and custom made options that can improve the way you maintain and service your aircraft, and we will be happy to talk to you about the solutions that suit your business best.


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