Published on Wednesday, April 21, 2010

ASH UPDATE - As UK airspace re-opens the inquest begins


Flights from UK airports were able to resume from 22.00 last night but airlines led by British Airways questioned whether the six day no-fly ruling was necessary at all.

As IATA estimated that airlines lost $1.7 billion in the crisis, BA chief executive Willie Walsh said: "I do not believe it was necessary to impose a blanket ban on all Uk airspace last Thursday." 

Much of the UK airspace is re-opening in phases, the Department for Transport said.

"Most of the skies over the UK has been closed to commercial airliners 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 these will be very much smaller than the present restrictions."

The Civil Aviation Authority made the ruling to lift restrictions following increasing pressure from increasingly frustrated airlines - who will now loom for answers from regulators about the need for all flights to be grounded.
Compensation calls are also being made to cover millions of pounds lost by airlines and tour operators due to the airspace shutdown since last Thursday.
The CAA will continue to monitor the situation with tests both in the air and on the ground.
"It will take time for flights to settle down to normal timetables. If you are hoping to travel, you should contact your airline before travelling to the airport," the DoT said.
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, according to the CAA.
But the Met Office advice is that ‘no fly zones’ do not currently cover the UK.

“Making sure that air travellers can fly safely is the CAA’s overriding priority," the authority said in lifting the ban.

“The CAA has drawn together many of the world’s top aviation engineers and experts to find a way to tackle this immense challenge, unknown in the UK and Europe in living memory.
"Current international procedures recommend avoiding volcano ash at all times. In this case owing to the magnitude of the ash cloud, its position over Europe and the static weather conditions most of the EU airspace had to close and aircraft could not be physically routed around the problem area as there was no space to do so. We had to ensure, in a situation without precedent, that decisions made were based on a thorough gathering of data and analysis by experts.
"This evidence based approach helped to validate a new standard that is now being adopted across Europe.

“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." 
 by Phil Davies

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  • bloody public servants should butt out !!!

    & let the airlines do their job. BA & Ryanair know what they are doing without any interference !!!

    By Craig Mathews, Thursday, April 22, 2010

  • civil servants can't make decision-they r 2 scared 2 !!!

    Seriously, airspace should NOT HAVE BEEN CLOSED at all. Airlines don't want to kill passengers & they wouldn't have. It seems we are letting lawyers run things, which is a disaster waiting to happen. IATA says some airlines will close. If I ran those airlines I'd want to take out the idiots who made those stupid decisions !!!

    By Craig Mathews, Thursday, April 22, 2010

  • CAA or Micheal O'Leary

    So Craig Matthews would like individual airlines to take decisions on when to fly. I would never want to put my life in Willie Walsh's or Michael O'Leary's hands - I'd stick with a more conservative bunch of civil servants thank you. I am conservative about putting my life on the line.

    By Ravi Ravinder, Thursday, April 22, 2010

  • apply rule 303 !!!

    If ever there was a time to apply rule 303, this is it. The incompentent fools at CAA should not have powers to close airspace. If airlines want to fly, let them. Killing passengers never good for future sales !!!

    By Craig Mathews, Thursday, April 22, 2010

  • Hey Airlines...Stop Whingin...

    The Aviation Authorities of Europe handled this situation perfectly considering the info they had to work with....the airlines need to get over themselves...

    By Brent Morris, Thursday, April 22, 2010

  • I think that the CAA's decision was the correct one.

    Travellers' travel plans would have been "stuffed up" considerably more if their aircraft had fallen out of the sky. It was known that a volcanic plume damages engines, but it wasn't known at what concentration. I think that the CAA's decision was the correct one. I also think that all concerned have done a remarkable job in collecting and analysing data and determining a safe operation limit in less than a week. An independent body with the power to say "No" is necessary.

    By Lesley Hunt, Wednesday, April 21, 2010

  • Yes privitise the CAA

    the current people are obviously totally incompetent. Actually can any country afford any public servants anymore ? They are incredibly inefficient. Hasn't Canada privatised their Air Nav system ?

    By Craig Mathews, Wednesday, April 21, 2010

  • Privatising CAA

    So privatising the CAA is the path to impartial decisions, is it? Or do you mean they would cave in to the 'commercial imperative' faster?

    By Daniel Wrightson, Wednesday, April 21, 2010

  • airlines should decide if & when they want to fly

    CAA is certainly not up to the task. Privatise the CAA before another incredible stuff up like this occurs & air travellers have their travel plans stuffed up by idiots who can't make decisions & airlines go broke for no good reason.

    By Craig Mathews, Wednesday, April 21, 2010

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