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Old 19-04-2010, 04:12   #1
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Volcanic Ash and the Med

To those who are currently cruising the Med, I was curious if there are negative effects from the Volcanic cloud that is presently covering Europe, from the cruising perspective? (Besides the total disaster which has become of the air and ground transportation systems!)

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Old 19-04-2010, 06:32   #2
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So far, currently in Rome, we have seen no impact at all - but we are not trying to fly anywhere. I suppose we could say there seem to be far fewer flights out of Fiumicino and as they are leaving towards the south, we see them a bit more. But that's it.

It would be interesting to know if anyone in southern France or even Corsica has had any more effect, as yesterday the maps showed the cloud reaching that far south. But right now it's blowing NW here which would bring us ash if we could sense it - but we can't! Certainly there's no shortages in the shops or anything like that.

If the volcano goes back to sleep it seems that the crisis is easing - but it could easily continue erupting, or set off the big one right next door!
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Old 19-04-2010, 07:06   #3
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I'm in Germany at present, underneath the "cloud". Clear skies, I can see crisp outlines on the cirrus clouds and nothing else. Occasionally Saharan sands get dumped up here that are more solid than this purported ash cloud.

So far the worst effects I've seen on sailboats are on ones that got too close and on the wrong side of Montserrat...
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Old 19-04-2010, 08:33   #4
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Here in the UK skies are clear and the sun is shining.

I was caught in Europe last week with all flights cancelled and had to make expensive alternative arrangements. Now it seems that airlines are questioning the scientific advice and continuing closure of airspace - possibly governments and their agencies are over reacting?

If I was real cynic I would start think conspiracy theory!
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Old 19-04-2010, 08:49   #5
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You can't usually see the planes up there either - it doesn't seem logical that just because you can't see the ash on the ground that there isn't up there to f--l up the planes. Nats are quoted on the BBC as saying "If volcanic ash particles are ingested into a jet engine, they accumulate and clog the engine with molten glass, which can cause the engine to shut down." - which makes perfect sense as far as I can.

Conspiracy of whom against whom?

Sure - transport around/into/out of Europe is extremely difficult for a few days. But the OP asked about the impact on cruising and that's non-existent unless you're actually trying to get between a Med sailing base and northern Europe.
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Old 19-04-2010, 08:51   #6
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... Now it seems that airlines are questioning the scientific advice and continuing closure of airspace - possibly governments and their agencies are over reacting?

If I was real cynic I would start think conspiracy theory!

Encounters with volcanic plumes are rather like in-flight icing. The pilots may be unaware that they've penetrated an ash cloud, and the effects can range from immediate to delayed. The physical effects include erosion of paint and windscreens, eroded leading edges of engine fan blades, clogged cooling holes in engines, buildup of a glasslike material in the hot section (engine core temperatures being hot enough to melt the ash), and clogged pitot tubes (with conflicting/erroneous airspeed readings), failed flight management computers, electronic engine control failures, cockpits filled with volcanic dust, and multifarious other effects. For example, repeated exposure to volcanic gases, such as sulfur dioxide, can create acids when combined with water vapor that adhere to the aircraft's skin and penetrate microcracks in the metal, causing structural deterioration. Ash particle in the air conditioning system can abrade ductwork and clog filters.

In the worst case, engines can fail outright. Capt. Eric Moody of British Airways [BAB Flight 9] was the first to experience a total engine failure from volcanic activity on a night flight on June 24, 1982. On his four-engine B747, Moody had five engine shutdowns in 20 minutes (having to shut down one badly damaged engine after a successful in-flight restart). Moody said the sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide in an ash cloud could starve the engines of oxygen, the ash can make the air less compressible, and the glasslike contamination can gum up the inner works. After an unpowered glide to an altitude below the bottom of the ash cloud, Moody was able to restart his engines and make a successful emergency landing at Jakarta.

Two other B747s have experienced total engine loss and last-minute recovery from encounters with ash clouds, and seven cases of partial temporary engine failure have been recorded. Repairs have been costly, to include total engine change-outs costing millions of dollars per engine. So far, no aircraft have crashed from these ash cloud encounters. Better yet, since the early 1990s there have been no cases of in-flight engine failures from ash encounters. Faster alerting has helped. Today, a worldwide network of nine volcanic ash advisory centers (VAACs) provides warning of eruptions, and these are translated into reports of significant meteorological activity (SIGMETS).

Here's what Airbus has to say on the subject
http://www.airbus.com/fileadmin/medi..._ENV-SEQ06.pdf
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Old 19-04-2010, 09:35   #7
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Originally Posted by edsailing View Post
Here in the UK skies are clear and the sun is shining.

I was caught in Europe last week with all flights cancelled and had to make expensive alternative arrangements. Now it seems that airlines are questioning the scientific advice and continuing closure of airspace - possibly governments and their agencies are over reacting?

If I was real cynic I would start think conspiracy theory!
the longer the volcano continues and the more money the airlines lose the "safer" it will be to fly. count on it.
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Old 19-04-2010, 09:45   #8
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I found this article really interesting, especially since I live about 40 miles ESE of the volcano in question. It's the one that Zanshin mentioned, Montserrat's Soufriere Hills. The photos of the eruption are spectacular.

Montserrat: Soufriere Hills volcano erupts on Caribbean island | Mail Online

At the end of the article is a bit on the incident that Gord noted, where all four engines shut down.
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Old 19-04-2010, 10:07   #9
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Wonderfully quiet in London without the aircraft!

Travel by boat instead!
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Old 21-04-2010, 08:43   #10
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I found this article really interesting, especially since I live about 40 miles ESE of the volcano in question. . . .
(tongue in cheek & yank your chain a little) Wow, that last eruption at Montserrat must have been a whopper! If it moved Montserrat 75 nm northwest of its previous location so that now Nevis is "40 miles ESE" of Montserrat.
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