La Palma Airport Shut Down Amid Volcanic Eruption

In Spain’s Canary Islands, La Palma Airport (SPC) was shut down on Saturday because of an ash cloud…

La Palma Airport Shut Down Amid Volcanic Eruption

In Spain’s Canary Islands, La Palma Airport (SPC) was shut down on Saturday because of an ash cloud spewing from an erupting volcano. The Cumbre Vieja volcano, which began erupting a week ago, has intensified recently with another volcanic vent opening up.

La Palma Airport is closed because of volcanic ash. Photo: Getty Images

The volcanic eruption on La Palma, which has a population of 85,000, is the first since 1971 and has caused the evacuation of around 7,000 people. Spanish airport operator Aena decided to close the airport following an accumulation of ash on the airport’s runway.

Some flights to the Canary Islands have been suspended

In a statement on Aena’s website and postings on social media, the airport operator says that other airports in the Canary Islands are still open. However, some airlines are suspending flights to La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife Norte, and Tenerife Sur due to the danger posed by volcanic ash.

Airport workers were kept busy trying to sweep volcanic ash off the runway as people came to the airport only to find that their flights had been canceled. With the airport closed, La Palma’s main port in Santa Cruz de la Palma was busy with people trying to escape to other islands. When speaking to a reporter for Reuters, 47-year-old Carlos Garcia said:

“I am going to Barcelona. But because we can’t fly, we are taking the ferry to Los Cristianos (on Tenerife island), and from there, we will go to the airport and fly to Barcelona.”

While the airport does get some charter flights from Germany, Holland, Scandinavia, and the United Kingdom, it is mainly served by inter-island flights operated by Binter Canarias and CanaryFly.

La Palma Airport
Airport workers are clearing volcanic ash from the runway. Photo: Aena

The lava is two kilometers from the sea

On Friday, emergency crews were forced to move back as the erupting volcano spewed molten rock and ash over a large area. In the southwest of the island, rivers of molten lava have destroyed hundreds of homes with about two kilometers left before the lava reaches the sea.

Once the lava reaches the sea, a thermal shock will be caused by the vast temperature difference between the molten lava and the seawater. When the two combine, it will create acid clouds and gases that can be fatal to humans and animals. When being interviewed by Spanish newspaper Dario AS professor of Geology at the University of Las Palmas, José Mangas said:

“It’s like mixing boiling oil with water.”

Of more immediate concern for the residents of La Palma is the vast ash cloud rising from the volcano. Volcanic ash can damage people’s airways and lungs, and eyes. The authorities on the island are telling people that if they must leave their homes, they should wear goggles and masks to protect themselves.

The eruption has entered a new phase

According to vulcanologists, the eruption has entered a new phase following the opening of a second vent with drones showing that the volcano’s cone had broken.

CanaryFly connects La Palma with Gran Canaria. Photo: Lasse B via Wikipedia.

In a news conference reported on by Reuters, the director of volcano response committee Pevolca, Miguel Angel Morcuende, said:

“It is not unusual in this type of eruption that the cone of the volcano fractures. A crater is formed that does not support its own weight and the cone breaks.”

La Palma is one of the eight main islands that make up the Canary Islands archipelago. Located in the Atlantic Ocean 62 miles off the coast of Morocco, Spain’s Canary Islands are a popular vacation spot due to year-round spring-like weather.

Has the volcanic eruption on La Palma changed your vacation plans? If so, please tell us about it in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Lost Communication Over Germany

Flight KQ118 is a regularly scheduled service between Nairobi (Kenya) and Amsterdam (Netherlands). Operated by a Boeing 787-8, the…

Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Lost Communication Over Germany

Flight KQ118 is a regularly scheduled service between Nairobi (Kenya) and Amsterdam (Netherlands). Operated by a Boeing 787-8, the September 20th flight of this service had lost communications with air traffic controllers over Germany, prompting two fighter jets to be dispatched.

Kenya Airways uses the Boeing 787-8 for its long-haul operations. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Near the end of an eight-hour flight

Flight KQ118 had departed Nairobi seven minutes after midnight on September 20th. The flight is technically scheduled to depart at 11:59 on September 19th but took off slightly late.

Destined for Amsterdam, this flight will pass through several countries on its way to the Netherlands. After leaving Kenyan airspace, the aircraft will overfly countries like Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt, and a number of European nations. The last country to be overflown before entering Dutch airspace is Germany.

KQ118 flight
The last portion of the aircraft’s flight path. Photo:

Supersonic wake-up call

The incident occurred in Germany when the Boeing 787-8, registered as 5Y-KZE, could not be contacted. Unable to be reached, The Aviation Herald reports that German forces dispatched two Eurofighter jets to intercept the airliner.

En-route at a typical cruising altitude of FL400 (approximately 40,000 feet), communication with the aircraft was lost. WIth the two Eurofighters dispatched to intercept the aircraft, the sonic booms caused by the supersonic fighter jets also acted as unintended “wake-up” calls to many German residents. The Aviation Herald notes that disruption was reported from Landshut to Frankfurt/Main.

Since flight tracking data from has the aircraft as flying over Germany, between the two areas, from 04:06 to 04:26 UTC, we can assume that the incident took place within this window of time. With a two-hour time difference from UTC, we can see that sonic booms would have been experienced sometime between 06:00 and 06:30 local time on a Monday morning.

Given the location where communication loss was experienced, many have speculated that the crew of the aircraft failed to switch frequencies when moving from Austrian airspace to German airspace.

Two German Eurofighters were dispatched to check on the aircraft. Photo: Krasimir Grozev via Wikimedia Commons 

With the fighters able to intercept the 787 and get their attention, communication was restored. The Dreamliner then continued on to Amsterdam for a safe landing approximately 30 minutes later.

Why are fighter jets in particular dispatched?

There are multiple reasons for dispatching or ‘scrambling’ fighter jets in particular.

The first is that the jets and their pilots are most able to respond in a reasonable amount of time if there is an emergency or situation onboard the non-responsive aircraft. Indeed, many countries have quick-reaction forces on standby for situations such as these- with supersonic fighter jets best able to reach a commercial aircraft in a short amount of time.

Secondly, and more seriously, fighter jets will be able to potentially shoot down the aircraft. As the Telegraph notes, however, “such a decision would have to be taken at the highest political level.” The ability to ‘down’ a commercial aircraft full of civilians has become more of a possibility since the tragic events of 2001, over two decades ago, where hijacked commercial jets themselves were used as weapons of destruction.

Ultimately, the goal of scrambling any type of aircraft for a non-responsive flight is clear: Re-establish communications and make sure everything is operating as usual with the flight. Jets scrambled to check-in can ensure that pilots haven’t fallen asleep, the flight hasn’t been hijacked, and that radio communications are actually working (and on the correct frequency).

Let us know what your thoughts and reactions are to this incident by leaving a comment!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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