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Eyjafjallajökull ash: phased opening of UK airspace from 2100 GMT today 20 April 2010

Posted by admin in eruptions, Eyjafjöll, Iceland.
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The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority has announced a phased re-opening of UK airspace from 22:00 BST (21:00 GMT) today.  To quote from the CAA press release:

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK’s independent specialist regulator with oversight of aviation safety, today issues new guidance on the use of airspace. This is issued in conjunction with the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and covers the Anglo Irish Functional Airspace Block (FAB).

The new guidance allows a phased reintroduction from 2200 tonight [i.e. 21:00 GMT] of much of the airspace which is currently closed due to the volcanic ash plume over the UK. There will continue to be some ‘no fly zones’ where concentrations of ash are at levels unsafe for flights to take place, but very much smaller than the present restrictions. Furthermore, the Met Office advise that the ‘no fly zones’ do not currently cover the UK.

An answer to the vexed question of how much ash is too much ash seems to have been agreed between the CAA, the Irish aviation authorities, the airlines and the aerospace industry:

The major barrier to resuming flight has been understanding tolerance levels of aircraft to ash. Manufacturers have now agreed increased tolerance levels in low ash density areas.

Our way forward is based on international data and evidence from previous volcanic ash incidents, new data collected from test flights and additional analysis from manufacturers over the past few days. It is a conservative model allowing a significant buffer on top of the level the experts feel may pose a risk.

If the authorities have this right, an end to the Great European Aviation Lockdown may be in sight.

UPDATE: UK air traffic authority NATS promises a statement by 22:00 BST tonight. British minister of transport has announced that all UK airports will re-open from 22:00 BST, says the BBC.

For all our Eyjafjallajökull coverage: Eyjafjöll « The Volcanism Blog.

The Volcanism Blog

Comments

1. Russell Lundberg - 21 April 2010

Thanks for the cxontiniue great coverage!

Personal anecdote alert! I’ve a pal who found himself in the UK last week and has been struggling to fly back to the US. Today (Tuesday) he took the Eurostar through the Channel tunnel, thence onto Paris. With luck, he hopes to fly from Paris Charles de Gaulle.

Apparently the ash cloud is not so bad there. That, or French authorities are more willing to confound Eurocontrol, http://www.eurocontrol.int/corporate/public/subsite_homepage/index.html

Best regards,

Russell

2. admin - 21 April 2010

Well, I hope the UK and other European authorities have got this right. It was certainly a very abrupt change: at 20:00 yesterday the ash was dangerous and everyone had to be grounded, at 21:00 the ash was safe and everyone could take to the skies. That’s some about-face.


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