Is there any other effect besides low visibility?

Both seem to show very similar conditions.


1 Answer 1


Effects from the pilot's perspective are roughly the same. The difference between snow and sand is mostly due to the abrasive effects of sand/dust on rotor blades and especially engines.

A helicopter operating in the desert will have a much shorter engine life from sand erosion of compressor/turbine blades, and shorter main and tail rotor blade life, compared to one operating in the arctic that is physically unaffected by snow crystals. Add to that all the other things sand can abrade and jam up. Desert operations are the harshest environment for aircraft.

  • $\begingroup$ Can/how can these be mitigated? For example, I've read accounts of helo pilots in Afghanistan saying that the particle separators of the engines were unable to deal with Afghanistan's "moondust" (sand there can be even 1 micron) $\endgroup$ Oct 18 at 12:33
  • $\begingroup$ PS's are designed for much larger particles. They just live with low engine life and try to avoid it if possible. Airliners operating in desert environments tend to have lower engine life as well, as in 50% reductions in life before temperature margins are reached from comp/turb erosion. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Oct 18 at 13:55

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