Air-Travel Disruptions Could Last for Days Due to Volcano

Severe disruptions in air travel across the Atlantic and within Europe, caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland, could continue for days, U.S. government aviation officials say. Authorities in Britain closed five major airports, including London's Heathrow, and the governments of Ireland, France, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway reportedly were taking similar precautions. Safety officials are concerned about the threat of mechanical breakdowns posed by a huge cloud of ash generated from the eruption of a volcano under Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull Glacier. Experts say that because the superheated lava and vapor from the volcano have to pass through hundreds of feet of ice before reaching the atmosphere, the resulting ash cloud contains particles of glass. The bits of glass are particularly hazardous to jet engines and could cause them to shut down in midair, according to aviation experts.

Although news reports said that Heathrow might reopen on Thursday night, a senior American aviation-safety official says that the earliest that traffic will resume is Friday morning. However, the same official said air traffic could be halted for several days. "It depends on how strong the wind is, which direction it's in, whether there are wind shifts, and whether the volcano keeps erupting," the official said.

Air-Travel Disruptions Could Last for Days Due to Volcano | World