It is possible that aero planes throughout Europe may have to make emergency landings as a result of the residual volcanic ash, according to a Leeds University lecturer.
The threat comes from the aircraft air conditioning systems which could prematurely fail the coming months as planes begin to ‘hoover up’ the deposits of ash in the atmosphere.
Air Craft air conditioning systems are usually checked every 18 months due to the high levels of debris they collect which can block the heat exchangers. Wright said that aircraft air conditioning units will now be faced with a cumulative build-up of ash as well dirt which could bring planes to a halt.
‘The air con systems are usually buried in various parts of the aircraft,’ he said. ‘To get into them for maintenance requires several men and a lot of man hours. Not many people are going to have a complete unit, my worry is that if you get enough planes flying up there you’re not going to have enough spares for when they do run into issues.’
Wright added that overheating could be serious as in most cases the air conditioning units are fitted underneath the central fuel tank. While these systems have built-in safety controls, in theory they could catch on fire and ignite the fuel onboard.
‘It is correct to suggest that the presence of the ash in the atmosphere has a chance to marginally reduce the life of air conditioning system,’ it said. ‘In any case, any degradation of the air conditioning system performance can be detected and, although a descent to a lower operating level may be required, the aircraft can still continue with its intended flight so in most cases the issues should go unnoticed’
This is where air conditioning maintenance is absolutely crucial. Unfortunalty Air Con 365 does not carry out maintenance for air conditioning systems on planes.