Chile volcano Calbuco causes flight problems

The eruption on Thursday created a cloud of ash that went up 20km (12.4 miles) into the air.

Volcanic ash can be extremely dangerous to aircraft as the fine particles can damage engines.

Many international flights have been affected in the last few hours, with one forced to turn back to Australia.

Qantas flight QF27 was five hours into its journey to Santiago when it had to turn back to Sydney late on Friday.

A Qantas spokeswoman in Sydney said it returned because of concerns over the ash cloud.

Two flights from the United States to Buenos Aires, one with Delta Air Lines and one with American Airlines, had to return to their departure airports.

One Air France flight from Paris to Santiago had to land in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and another destined for Buenos Aires landed in Rio de Janeiro.

All the passengers are likely to have to remain in Brazil until at least Saturday, a spokesman for Air France said.

The spokesman said: “We don’t want to take any risks as safety is our main priority. At this time, we’d advise anyone travelling with us to South America to keep on monitoring the situation. We will decide what happens to any other flights.”

Buenos Aires is about 2,000km (1,243 miles) from the volcano, but Air France said their own control centre in Paris had warned of a potential risk to flights in the area.

In March, the Villarrica volcano, 200km (124 miles) south of Calbuco, erupted in the early hours of the morning, spewing ash and lava into the sky.

While some flights in Chile and Argentina were cancelled after that eruption, there was very little effect on international flights.

Flight cancellations depend on the density of the ash emitted by a volcano.

Dense ash can clog a jet’s fuel and cooling system and lead to the failure of an engine.


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