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No Fly Zone
UK Flights Grounded by Volcanic Ash
By Shane Clarke
London Correspondent
Spewing ash and smoke Smoke and steam rise from the volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in Iceland.

There will be no flights into or out of UK airspace between midday and 18:00 (BST) today (on April 15, 2010). This is because of an ash cloud from a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

The eruption, in Eyjafjallajoekull, is the second there this month, and has sent debris exceptionally high into the air. The resulting ash cloud is now drifting south, causing The Air Traffic Control Service (Nats) to temporarily suspend air traffic for safety reasons.

The particles in an ash cloud can wreak havoc with machinery and cause substantial damage to aircraft engines. In 1982, a British Airways 747 unwittingly flew into one which resulted in all four engines shutting down. Fortunately, the crew were able to restart them and avert disaster, but not before serious damage was done.

A spokesman for Nats said, “The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre has issued a forecast that the ash cloud from the volcanic eruption in Iceland will track over Europe tonight.

“Nats is working with Eurocontrol and our colleagues in Europe’s other air navigation service providers to take the appropriate action to ensure safety in accordance with international aviation policy.”

Eurocontrol, which is the European air safety body, has said that the ash cloud has reached 55,000 feet, and will move across Scotland and northern England by 1300(BST) today. Brian Flynn, the assistant head of operations of its central flow management unit said, “As it moves towards the Netherlands and Belgium it will dissipate and lose intensity, like any weather phenomenon. But we don’t know what the extent of it will be.”

According to the Met Office, the cloud could take several days to disperse. Philip Avery, one of their forecasters said, “It is showing up on imagery at the moment, extending down as far as the Faroes but it looks as though the wind will drag it a good deal further south.”

BAA, the UK’s main airport operator, has asked any travellers affected by this phenomenon to contact their carriers for more information.



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Shane Clarke serves as London Correspondent for The Seoul Times. He has been involved in humanitarian work for numerous years. He’s also a freelance management consultant. Having completed an honors degree in Law at Wolverhampton University, he then moved on to an MBA at Warwick Business School. He’s heavily involved in the fight against international parental child abduction to Japan.

 

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