Fighter Jets Suffer Volcanic Damage: Why Resume Flying?

London, UK - 19th April 2010, 23:15 GMT

Dear ATCA Open & Philanthropia Friends

[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]

Military jet aircraft conducting operations, since the most recent Icelandic eruption began on Wednesday April 14th, have reported internal engine damage as a result of volcanic ash. Glass-like deposits have been found inside the planes' engines after they patrolled over European airspace. The danger of flying through volcanic ash is significant as evidenced by damage sustained to NATO fighters and Finnish Air Force fighter-bombers in recent days.

Damage caused by volcanic ash to jet engine of Hornet F-18 - Images 1 & 2 - Finnish Air Force

The Finnish Air Force has released photos of engine damage sustained by a Boeing F-18 Hornet fighter jet that flew through the ash plume just hours before the imposition of airspace restrictions. The engines have been inspected using a borescope, with melted ash clearly visible on their inside surface. Although the exposure to the ash was short, “the images show that short-term flying can cause substantial damage to an aircraft engine” according to the Finnish air force. Continued operation could lead to overheating and potentially pose a threat to the aircraft and its pilot, it adds. While there is no eye-visible damage to the internal components of the aircraft engines, some of them have been taken off the aircraft and sent to specialists for further investigation.

NATO, the world's biggest military alliance, has pre-emptively shifted two AWACS radar planes from Germany late last week to Sicily, southern Italy from where they are able to operate. NATO officials have said that volcanic ash is a very, very serious matter. In the not too distant future, it may start having real impact on military capabilities. Some allied F-16s that are flying through ash are finding glass build-up inside the engines. Ash from volcanoes can be turned into a glass form at high temperatures when it passes through a jet engine, potentially causing excessive wear-and-tear of critical machinery.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen states, "Our airforces ... have taken the necessary steps and they will take the necessary steps to ensure that our territorial defence is intact and that we can conduct all our operations." A senior US official has said that some military exercises in the United States have already been scaled down while the real impact of the volcanic ash on equipment is studied. He underlined that the problem highlighted the urgent need to finalise a transit agreement with Russia on the over-flight of materials and troops into Afghanistan.

The ash plume from the Icelandic volcano has continued to spread and has resulted in the grounding of flights in nearly 20 European nations. Satellite images released by NASA and the ESA clearly show the ash, even from space. Volcanic ash restricts air flow and heats up the engine, leading to engine failure. Volcanic ash presents a major danger to airplanes and is the reason much of the airspace over Europe has been closed. If the ash is ingested into an engine, it tends to stick to a jet engine's interior parts, such as the turbines, where it melts to form a glassy coating. This restricts air flow and results in a heat build-up that eventually leads to engine failure.

Facing mounting financial losses due to the dangers presented by volcanic ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano, civilian airlines continue to push to resume their flight schedules. Dutch KLM, German Lufthansa and British Airways have all said that the results of test flights they conducted showed no damage sustained to their aircraft from the volcanic ash plume now in the atmosphere over Europe. They are pressing civil aviation authorities to open European airspace to commercial travel after having been shut down in recent days. Why do civilian airline and military aircraft test-flights reveal different results?


We welcome your thoughts, observations and views. To reflect further on this subject and others, please respond within Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn's ATCA Open and related discussion platform of HQR. Should you wish to connect directly with real time Twitter feeds, please click as appropriate:

. ATCA Open

. @G140

. mi2g Intelligence Unit

. Open HQR

. DK Matai

Best wishes

ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 to resolve complex global challenges through collective Socratic dialogue and joint executive action to build a wisdom based global economy. Adhering to the doctrine of non-violence, ATCA addresses asymmetric threats and social opportunities arising from climate chaos and the environment; radical poverty and microfinance; geo-politics and energy; organised crime & extremism; advanced technologies -- bio, info, nano, robo & AI; demographic skews and resource shortages; pandemics; financial systems and systemic risk; as well as transhumanism and ethics. Present membership of ATCA is by invitation only and has over 5,000 distinguished members from over 120 countries: including 1,000 Parliamentarians; 1,500 Chairmen and CEOs of corporations; 1,000 Heads of NGOs; 750 Directors at Academic Centres of Excellence; 500 Inventors and Original thinkers; as well as 250 Editors-in-Chief of major media.

The Philanthropia, founded in 2005, brings together over 1,000 leading individual and private philanthropists, family offices, foundations, private banks, non-governmental organisations and specialist advisors to address complex global challenges such as countering climate chaos, reducing radical poverty and developing global leadership for the younger generation through the appliance of science and technology, leveraging acumen and finance, as well as encouraging collaboration with a strong commitment to ethics. Philanthropia emphasises multi-faith spiritual values: introspection, healthy living and ecology. Philanthropia Targets: Countering climate chaos and carbon neutrality; Eliminating radical poverty -- through micro-credit schemes, empowerment of women and more responsible capitalism; Leadership for the Younger Generation; and Corporate and social responsibility.

Intelligence Unit | mi2g | tel +44 (0) 20 7712 1782 fax +44 (0) 20 7712 1501 | internet www.mi2g.net
mi2g: Winner of the Queen's Award for Enterprise in the category of Innovation

mi2g is at the leading edge of building secure on-line banking, broking and trading architectures. The principal applications of its technology are: 1. D2-Banking; 2. Digital Risk Management; and 3. Bespoke Security Architecture. For more information about mi2g, please visit: www.mi2g.net

Renowned worldwide for the ATCA Briefings. Subscribe now.
Home - Profile - Values - People - Careers - Partners - Contact Us
D2 Banking - Bespoke Security Architecture - Digital Risk Management - Tools

Intelligence Briefings - Brochures - Case Studies -
SIPS Methodology FAQ (pdf)
Keynote Speeches - Articles - News Feeds - Glossary (pdf)
Terms and Conditions - Privacy Policy