Ash from Iceland volcano could affect UK flights

Thursday, April 15, 2010

According to the UK Air Traffic Control Service NATS, ash coming from an active volcano in Iceland could disrupt flights coming out of and into the UK.

NATS said that a decision had been made to prohibit flights coming out of northern Scotland; Aberdeen Airport in particular is expected to have "considerable impact". The move was made after the Met Office advised NATS that volcanic ash can damage a jet's engines.

A spokeswoman for Aberdeen Airport commented that "[t]he closure will come into effect locally at midnight and may also spread to other parts of Scotland. It has been ordered by the air traffic control service NATS — as a result of volcanic ash which is drifting towards the country from Iceland."

Officials suggest that passengers contact their airline to check whether their flights could be affected. A spokeswoman for the EasyJet airline said the volcanic ash "may cause significant disruption to flights [...]. easyJet passengers are advised to check the website before they leave for the airport for any disruption information."

Volcanic ash, if it comes into contact with an aircraft, can cause machinery to become stuck, and jet engines to jam and fail, or can possibly even enter the cabin and affect the passengers' air quality.

According to meteorologists, the ash clouds may take some time to clear. Matt Dobson, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, said: "The concern is that as well as the eruption, the jet stream passing through Iceland is passing in a south easterly direction, which will bring ash to the north of Scotland and Denmark and Norway. But it is impossible to say how much ash will come down. It could be a threat in these areas from now until tomorrow or Friday."


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