The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the UK’s independent specialist regulator with oversight of aviation safety has opened the airspace over Great Britain and parts of western Europe. The reason is both the lessening of the concentration of volcanic ash, and a change in the level that is considered acceptable.
Their press release notes: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.
For safety reason the previous standard had been zero-tolerance for ash. These new Revised Airspace Guidance is based on new engine ash tolerance levels. It will apply only to low ash density areas identified by the Met Office. Officials want to assure travelers that airspace where ash levels exceed this new limit will be no fly zones.
The new levels are based on evidence from previous volcanic ash incidents, new data collected from test flights and additional analysis from manufacturers.
It is said to still be a conservative model with a major buffer zone on top of the level the experts feel may pose a risk.
In the USA, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) supports this decision to resume air traffic in parts of continental Europe noting also that This gradual, cautious return of operations is reliant on the track of the volcanic ash cloud which is being monitored closely.
Of course, now authorities are being criticized for being too stringent all along, while others wonder if they aren’t being bullied into allowing planes to fly.
Flights to and from Albuquerque (through hub cities) were affected by the no-fly conditions.
The zero-tolerance policy started when several planes had flown through clouds of ash and the engines stalled. It was only after the planes had sank below the plume that the engines were able to be restarted. It is not known what level of concentration caused those potentially fatal engine stalls.
What do you think?
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