Encounters of Aircraft with Volcanic Ash Clouds: A Compilation of Known Incidents, 1953-2009 [open pdf - 723KB]
"Information about reported encounters of aircraft with volcanic ash clouds from 1953 through 2009 has been compiled to document the nature and scope of risks to aviation from volcanic activity. The information, gleaned from a variety of published and other sources, is presented in database and spreadsheet formats; the compilation will be updated as additional encounters occur and as new data and corrections come to light. The effects observed by flight crews and extent of aircraft damage vary greatly among incidents, and each incident in the compilation is rated according to a severity index. Of the 129 reported incidents, 94 incidents are confirmed ash encounters, with 79 of those having various degrees of airframe or engine damage; 20 are low-severity events that involve suspected ash or gas clouds; and 15 have data that are insufficient to assess severity. Twenty-six of the damaging encounters involved significant to very severe damage to engines and (or) airframes, including nine encounters with engine shutdown during flight. The average annual rate of damaging encounters since 1976, when reporting picked up, has been approximately 2 per year. Most of the damaging encounters occurred within 24 hours of the onset of ash production or at distances less than 1,000 kilometers from the source volcanoes. The compilation covers only events of relatively short duration for which aircraft were checked for damage soon thereafter; documenting instances of long-term repeated exposure to ash (or sulfate aerosols) will require further investigation."
United States Geological Survey: http://pubs.usgs.gov/