With thousands of airplanes grounded across Europe due to the eruption of a volcano beneath Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull glacier yesterday, we’ve reached out to two GE teams to help explain the danger that volcanic ash presents to jet engines. In the audio clips below, we first get the perspective of GE Aviation’s Leslie McVey, an engineer and one of our commercial flight safety investigators working on everything from bird strikes, to weather events to the rare cases of volcanic ash. We also talked to Narendra Joshi, who works on advanced propulsion systems at GE Global Research, to get a perspective from the lab.
As Leslie says about the ash in the audio clip below: “It goes through the combustor and it melts — becomes a liquid — and as it exits the combustor, it starts landing on metal surfaces and re-solidifying.”
“Ash can [also] clog up the very fine cooling holes that are used in the turbo-machinery to keep the components cool in a very, very aggressive, hot environment,” says Narendra in the audio clip below. “So if you plug up those holes, then there’s a second level of problems… that will affect the machinery down the road.”