Costa Rica: Los efectos de la ceniza en la aviación

Last Updated: 19 October 2016
Article by Marielos Bogarín

Debido a las erupciones del Volcán Turrialba dos de nuestros principales aeropuertos se han visto afectados por la caída de ceniza. Muchas operaciones han debido ser reprogramadas o canceladas por razones de seguridad ya que operar en esas condiciones supone un riesgo para la vida humana. Lo anterior ha ocasionado que los pasajeros afronten un cambio de planes inesperado que los ha llevado a permanecer en el país más de lo previsto o a no poder ingresar hasta que se reanuden los vuelos. Asimismo, la cancelación de operaciones de carga ha tenido repercusiones en la exportación de productos, especialmente agrícolas y plantas, generando un aumento en los costos y retrasos en sus entregas.

El mayor impacto lo ha sufrido el Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaría por concentrar la inmensa mayoría de las operaciones diarias en el país. Quizá a simple vista no se perciba gran cantidad de ceniza en la pista o sus alrededores pero basta menos de un milímetro de acumulación de ceniza para que sea necesario tomar la decisión de cerrarlo. Es de destacar la rápida reacción del operador de dicho aeropuerto, en realizar las labores de limpieza de la pista y las calles de rodaje logrando que el impacto en las operaciones aeronáuticas sea menor, ya que permite que las mismas se reanuden tan solo unas horas después de que la ceniza ha llegado a sus instalaciones.

De igual forma, la Dirección General de Aviación Civil (DGAC) ha reaccionado oportunamente para que el Aeropuerto Internacional Tobías Bolaños Palma retorne a la normalidad después de los cierres forzosos. Dicha institución, además, ha venido trabajando en un plan para utilizar el Aeropuerto Internacional Daniel Oduber Quirós, como un aeropuerto alterno que permita atender las operaciones que deben desviarse de la ruta prevista por la presencia de ceniza.

Por otra parte, la efectiva labor de monitoreo que realiza el Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica (OVSICORI) permite conocer en tiempo real cuándo ocurren las erupciones, la trayectoria de la nube de ceniza y los niveles de vuelo que pueden verse afectados. La observación continua y permanente del Turrialba por parte del OVSICORI hace posible que los operadores aéreos estén informados y puedan coordinar con los aeropuertos para adoptar las correspondientes medidas de seguridad o poner en marcha los protocolos respectivos.

No somos el primer país cuyos aeropuertos se han vuelto vulnerables al impacto de la ceniza. A nivel mundial países como México, Guatemala, Argentina, Filipinas, Italia e Islandia han debido enfrentar situaciones similares por la actividad de sus volcanes. Si bien las erupciones que han ocurrido en los últimos días no son de la magnitud de las acontecidas en dichos países, lo cierto es que la ceniza puede ocasionar los mismos daños. Por su composición, la ceniza es sumamente abrasiva lo que puede dañar partes sensibles del motor a reacción, acumularse en el interior de las turbinas, limar el fuselaje del avión cuando éste se expone a ella a altas velocidades, y actuar como lija en los parabrisas de las aeronaves impidiendo la visibilidad a los pilotos.

Los pasajeros deben tener presente que al tratarse de un acontecimiento de fuerza mayor la responsabilidad por la cancelación de las operaciones no se puede atribuir a las aerolíneas, quienes también se ven perjudicadas al tener que lidiar con la alteración de su actividad de transporte aéreo a nivel local e internacional.

No sabemos si la actividad volcánica del Turrialba disminuirá o irá en aumento, por lo que Costa Rica debe estar preparada para reaccionar de forma efectiva ante nuevas erupciones y enfrentar adecuadamente estos fenómenos naturales que impactan no solo nuestra vida cotidiana sino también actividades como la aviación y el turismo que tanto contribuyen a la economía del país.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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