Indonesia has nearly 130 active volcanoes. One particular volcano, Mount Sangeang Api, located on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa is disrupting air traffic between Australia, Singapore and Indonesia. The ash plume has reached heights in excess of 50,000 feet and has created chaos with flight cancellations.
At the moment, the airport in Darwin (DRW) is closed and and many flights to and from Denpensar Ngurah Rai Intl Airport (DPS) are disrupted. The ash cloud is causing flight disruptions from as far away as Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) for flights to parts of Indonesia and Australia.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin has indicated the volcano continues to erupt. As the plume continues to spread south, it has the potential to impact flights across Australia including routes between Melbourne (MEL), Sydney (SYD) and destinations in Indonesia and as far north as Singapore (SIN).
As a result of the ash plume height, it will likely take days for flights to return to normal.
Volcanic Ash Impact on Aircraft
First and foremost, it’s of utmost importance to keep aircraft clear of volcanic ash. Composed of pulverized rock and accompanied by a number of gases which are then converted into droplets of sulfuric acid, it is a significant hazard to aircraft. In June of 1982 a British Airways Boeing 747 was involved in a near accident — after flying through ash from Mt Galunggung in Indonesia, all four engines flamed out. Some engines were re-started at the last minute allowing the plane to land safely in Jakarta.
Simply put, volcanic ash is dangerous to aircraft engines.
Flights Cancelled from Volcanic Ash
As Darwin’s Airport is closed, all flights there are cancelled. Many flights between Australian Airports and Denpensar (DPS) in Bali are likewise cancelled or delayed as they must fly around the ash cloud.
With Darwin being closed, numerous individuals are stuck in nations such as Singapore and Indonesia – many being Darwin residents while others individuals with flight plans which take them through Darwin.
Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister is already on the record and has indicated other airports may be closed as the plume moves south towards Alice Springs. Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss, has said, “Depending on wind and other weather conditions, the ash has the potential to affect flights to and from other airports, including Brisbane, during coming days. This is currently being fully assessed,” according to a report in theHerald Sun.
Contact Your Airline
If you have travel plans soon within Northern Australia or between Australia and Indonesia, Malaysia, or Singapore, we suggest you monitor the status of your flights.
A variety of airlines including AirAsia, AirNorth, Jetstar, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, SilkAir, TigerAir, and Virgin Australia operate flights to and from Darwin.
As long as the volcano continues to erupt, passengers will encounter problems.