BRUSSELS — A major US jet engine maker said yesterday it will investigate the effects of volcanic ash on the engines of aircraft.
Honeywell Aerospace’s engines powered several planes sent up to collect scientific data after eruptions of the volcano in Iceland in April and May suspended European air travel.
The two TPE331 turboprops that powered one plane have been returned to Phoenix where they will be disassembled and analyzed in detail, said Ronald J. Rich, vice president of propulsion systems at Honeywell.
The unprecedented five-day closure of European airspace caused direct losses of more than $1.3 billion to the airlines affected. Few doubt that flying a plane directly into the plumes of a volcano could disable the aircraft. But it remains unclear whether the abrasive particles present a hazard to the jets outside the immediate area of the volcanic plume, once it is dispersed by high-altitude winds.
Airlines have blamed European regulators for overreacting to what they say was a manageable threat and have demanded that internationally recognized standards be set.