UK airspace reopens to commercial traffic

UK. A huge and unexpected breakthrough in the volcano ash crisis that has paralyzed European airspace in r.ecent days happened earlier today as the Civil Aviation Authority allowed a phased reopening of British airspace.

Flights have been landing at several UK airports for the first time in six days following the lifting of restrictions imposed after Mount Eyjafjallajökull erupted in Iceland.

The Civil Aviation Authority said it was allowing the phased reopening of airspace after a reassessment of the risk to aircraft.

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It said: The new guidance allows a phased reintroduction from 2200 tonight [21 April] 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.

“Making sure that air travellers can fly safely is the CAA’s overriding priority,” it added.

Putting its decision in the context of the past week’s events, the Civil Aviation Authority said: “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.”

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