Volcanic ash halts air traffic

Volcanic ash halts  air traffic

Rising threat: A plume of steam rises 6,700 metres from a crater under about 200 metres of ice at the Eyjafjallajokull glacier in southern Iceland on Wednesday. REUTERS

Ash clouds drifted from Iceland’s spewing volcano under the Eyjafjallajokull glacier forcing forecasters to announce that air space had been closed over northern Europe “as volcanic ash represented a significant safety threat to aircraft”.

All the London-bound flights from India were also grounded leaving thousands of travellers criss-crossing the continents stranded at all major British airports including Heathrow and Gatwick.

More than 150 flights from Heathrow and another 138 from Gatwick were cancelled. In Britain, flights were suspended from the cities of Manchester and Birmingham as well as Northern Ireland’s Belfast and the Scottish Airports at Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The drifting ash clouds also paralysed all the airports in Norway and Sweden.

In Iceland, hundreds of people are fleeing rising floodwaters as the volcano under the glacier Eyjafjallajokull erupted yesterday again, for a second time in less than a month.
The National Air Traffic Controllers in UK and US said that flying ash compromise visibility and debris can be sucked into air plane engines.

In 1989, a Boeing 747 of KLM had a narrow escape when it flew into flying ash while flying from US to a Nordic destination, with the aircraft plunging from 25,000 feet to 12,000 in seconds before pilots could get the engine re-started.Almost all trans-atlantic flights were grounded and Iceland’s low cost airliner Ryanair cancelled all its flights to UK.
Almost all the airliners flying to UK including Air India, Kingfisher, Jet and Emirates had to cancel number of flights.“Due to ash, air traffic on the sea area between Scotland, Norway, northern Sweden, Britain, Norway and northern Finland is being limited,” Finland’s airport agency Finavia said.

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