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Icelandic volcanic ash affect UK & Ireland airspace

May 23, 2011

Last week’s Icelandic volcano is spewing ash that is being blown towards the British and Irish air-spaces. This has caused one airline to cancel nearly all its flights and officials to warn of possible further flight disruptions.

The disruption from the Grimsvotn (GREEMSH-votn) volcano is not expected to be as great as that caused by a different volcano last year that led to the grounding of almost all air traffic in Europe for several days amid fears that the ash could cause engines to stall. Systems and procedures have been improved, and the ash is currently not expected to move into continental Europe.


Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said it now appears that ash could reach Scottish airspace from Tuesday onwards and affect other parts of UK and Ireland later in the week.

Glasgow-based regional airline Loganair canceled 36 flights scheduled for Tuesday morning. It said its flights between Scottish islands would be unaffected.

Huffington Post reports that CAA spokesman Jonathan Nicholson said authorities this time would give airlines information about the location and density of ash clouds. Any airline that wanted to fly would have to present a safety report to aviation authorities in order to be allowed to fly. He said most British airlines had permission to fly through medium-density ash clouds, but none had asked for permission to fly through high-density clouds, classified as having over 4,000 micrograms of ash per cubic meter.

Even at that concentration of volcanic ash, experts said the air would not look much different from airspace unaffected by the ash, but officials say the tiny particles in the ash can sandblast windows and stop jet engines.



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