Latest statement on the volcanic ash situation

Wednesday 5, May 2010


Latest statement on the volcanic ash situation


The no-fly zone imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority continues to move further south and west in line with the high density area of the volcanic ash cloud. According to latest information from the Met Office, Edinburgh Airport will come out of the no-fly zone and become available for operations from 1900 (local).


All other airfields currently within the no-fly zone remain within it from 1900 to 0100 tomorrow (Thursday). During this period the no-fly zone extends over most of Ireland and clips the west coast of northern England and Wales; however, most of Wales, England and eastern Scotland are now outside the high density area.


Met Office advice suggests that the cloud will continue to move southwesterly overnight and we therefore hope that fewer restrictions will be necessary tomorrow (Thursday).  NATS continues to maintain close dialogue with the Met Office and with the CAA, which is responsible for imposing no-fly zones.


Commenting on the situation, Andrew Haines, CAA Chief Executive said:

"The situation for UK airspace, particularly over the North and Scotland, remains unprecedented. Volcanic ash is a known hazard to aircraft and the previously accepted procedure adopted all over the world was to avoid ash completely. For the first time an ash cloud is affecting airspace where there is not the room to do this. So the CAA had to develop new safety procedures enabling flights to continue whilst flying close to or through the ash cloud. We were able to reopen the skies last month having secured agreement from manufacturers on safe levels of ash tolerance.


Scientists are tracking the cloud's movements constantly but its location changes frequently, depending on the strength of eruptions and prevailing winds. When the ash level exceeds that agreed as safe by the industry we have to restrict flights accordingly. This decision is not taken lightly and we appreciate the huge inconvenience and disruption this causes to the many people and businesses affected.


Ash is likely to continue to disrupt UK air travel for the foreseeable future and our advice to passengers is to listen to updates and contact their airline before leaving home if they are concerned their travel plans may be affected. The CAA is continuing to lead international efforts to develop more detailed scientific understanding of the situation to minimise disruption without compromising passenger safety."




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