Iceland Eruption Has Different Effect on Windows

 - May 19, 2010, 12:48 PM

While pilots need to be careful not to fly through heavy concentrations of volcanic ash from the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in Iceland, the glass particle-laden ash clouds don’t have the same effect on acrylic windows as other volcanic eruptions. According to Bob Cupery, who founded Torrance, Calif.-based Aircraft Window Repairs 31 years ago, volcanic eruptions that are more gaseous pose a bigger problem for aircraft windows. Eruptions in Mexico (1982) and the Philippines (1991) sent clouds of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere, which turned into sulfuric acid after mixing with air. The acid etches plastic windows, which can cause stress risers that can lead to window failure. “If you catch it early, you can probably save the window,” he said. But the Iceland volcano’s particles, mostly glass, pose a problem when they land on aircraft parked outside. It’s important to clean off any residual ash with clean water before polishing windows. Glass windshields aren’t as vulnerable, Cupery said, but some are coated with special sealants that can be damaged by ash, so removing ash from any window is a good idea. “If you polish the ash, you’ve created sandpaper and you’ll grind ash into the window.”