Statistically, an aircraft flying into a cloud of ash spewing from a volcano was a rarity—until April 2010, when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull erupted. The ash cloud closed airspace over Europe for days, canceling more than 100,000 flights and incurring airline losses approaching $2 billion. The disruption exposed how little the industry comprehended the effects of volcanic ash on aircraft and engines. It was known that ingesting volcanic ash could damage engines, but the ...

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