While all of Europe grounded their planes during the Eyjafjallajökull eruption, Honeywell was purposefully flying jets through the ash cloud to test what damage ash actually does to engines.
In a statement from the company to the media, Honeywell says it will be analyzing the effects of ash ingestion in two of its TPE331 turboprop engines used to gather scientific data during recent volcanic eruptions and flights into the subsequent ash cloud over Europe.
“The industry has little information on the effects of volcanic ash ingestion in turbine engines and we hope the data we gain from this effort will help define operational impact to the engine and any damage to components,” said Ron J. Rich, Vice President, Propulsion Systems, Honeywell Aerospace. “These volcanic eruptions give us an opportunity to systematically analyze volcanic ash impact to our engines and this examination could yield a basis for future turbine engine performance and maintenance service data.”
It is hoped – well, at least here at the office anyway – that the results report that volcanic ash doesn’t do nearly enough damage to warrant grounding airplanes unless you’re flying directly above the volcano. Results from the tests are still pending.