A Sight on European Defence

The Icelandic volcano has put such a mess in the European airspace that nobody can ignore it. Having heard on the radio about their F-18s damaged by the particles of the cloud, I paid a visit to the website of the Finnish Defence forces. There I could find a press release dealing with this incident. Unfortunately this press release is not available in English. Therefore I translated it for one or the other who would read this post.

As I haven’t worked on my Finnish for while, there could be some mistakes. With my most sincere regrets.

There are some words that I am not sure of. For instance: “jäähdytysilmakanava”. Directly translated, it would mean: channel for cold air. According to the context I have translated it as the exhaust. A second difficult word was ‘näytteenottosäiliö”. My understanding is that this is a pod designed for gathering particles in the air.

I suppose that Finavia is the Finnish air traffic office.

Text of: “Tuhkahiukkasista konkreettista vaaraa lentoturvallisuudelle Suomen ilmatilassa”

The Air Force has investigated on the damages that occurred on Thursday and Friday on the F-18 of the Lapland squadron. The aircraft took off on Thursday morning for an air exercise in the North-Finland airspace. Then the airspace was still fully open.

After they had landed, the aircraft were checked and volcanic slag was found in the air inlets of the engines. Both engines of one of the Hornet were investigated with a fibre optic camera. On the pictures one could observe, that even with a short flight that smoke particles could cause significant damages to the aircraft engines.

Pictures of engines have proved that the particles accumulated in the combustion chamber, where they melted approximately at a temperature of 1000°. Melting ashes accumulate in the cooler engine exhaust and provoke overheating of some parts and weaken some metal. Weakened metal generates for the rotating parts of the engine the danger of cracks. In extreme cases some parts could break and destroy the engine.

The Hornets exposed to the ashes are scrutinized carefully. In any case some engine parts will be replaced and running tests will be conducted at he Patria workshops. Damages parts are to be taken down as far as deemed necessary in the engines, in which we would observe anomalies because of the smoke particles. This will apply for instance if particles are detected in the exhaust.

Operational flights will be operated as usual.

Despite the particle cloud, an Air Force Hawk training jet, equipped with a pod conceived to take samples, is ready the period the airspace will remain closed. The aircraft will fly anywhere on request of the civilian authorities.

On the basis of the information gathered by the aircraft, we will be able to determine how much smoke particles are in the air. The results will be forwarded to the civilian authorities, which will make out of the results of the gathered knowledge their decision as for the use of the Finnish airspace refers.

The reconnaissance aircraft will fly at a defined altitude and will gather in a filter the particles it will cross. After the landing of the aircraft, the samples are sent to the National Defence Research Centre in Lakiala. To get the results we need about two hours, which are then sent to Finavia. When deemed necessary pilots will report in real time their direct observations. The observation aircraft is operated by people from Kauhava Air Force school.

Despite the smoke cloud the Air Force operates as usual the operational flights, like activities linked to the preservation of the sovereignty of our area.

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