Unlike ash from burning wood, volcanic ash is literally liquid rocks that quickly cool to tiny fragments of rock and glass when exposed to the air. National Geographic remarks that ash clouds form when these liquid rock particles and fragments of rock chambers released in the initial violence of an eruption mix together in the air.
The fact that the violence of an eruption can easily propel these tiny particles several miles into the air (the eruption Krakatau in 1883 sent volcanic ash 50 miles into the air, according to The History Channel), can pose issues for airplanes, just as the distances volcanic ash can travel, thousands of miles from the eruption site is equally of concern for aircraft flying in that airspace.
Volcanic Ash and Commercial Airline Travel
Volcanic ash presents more of a challenge for larger aircraft with limited landing options. The best thing for jets to do when faced with a mountain of volcanic ash distributed, by wind and shear force, to the four corners of the earth, is to land quickly and safely and ride out the storm.
Flying through an actual ash cloud should be avoided at all cost as it presents the following risks:
- Low or no Visibility
- Damage to Craft Windshields
- Equipment Malfunctions
- Loss of Power
- Damage to Craft Surfaces
- Contamination of Aircraft Systems (ventilation, hydraulic, and air data systems specifically)
Aside from the immediate dangers presented by flying through volcanic ash, the ash itself can have a sort of “sand blasting” effect on the inside of an engine causing them to run less efficiently, burn more fuel, and potentially breaking down.
Benefits of Private Jet Charter Flights when Volcanoes Erupt
Flying by private jet charter offers several benefits over commercial airline flights when eruptions do occur.
First of all, if a plane is already in the air when eruptions occur, the plane can be easily rerouted to another airport in the vicinity that is not impacted (or predicted to be impacted) by the volcanic ash.
This is not possible with airliners that have a more limited number of airports in the world that can accommodate them or their passengers.
Additionally, once the air clears, there are many people waiting for delayed flights, postponed landings, and canceled flights for commercial airlines leaving a long waiting list of people trying to reschedule flights and connecting flights in order to reach their destinations. Schedules for private charter aircraft are fluid and can be changed with very little notice. This also means that you can get back in the air more quickly and reach your destination much faster than those waiting it out in the airport to jockey for limited seats on available flights.
Chances are also good that there is another airport within easy driving distance from which private planes can take off without worries over volcanic ash, simply because there are so many regional airports that can accommodate private jets. This means you have more options available to you in reaching your destination.
Presidential Aviation takes great pride in our record of private jet charter safety and are here to answer all your questions and concerns. Call us today at to schedule your private jet flight so you can fly with greater peace of mind.