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Anonymous17 Apr 2010
Uk airspace is apparently not as closed as we may think. I have been reliably informed that private and commercial flights can be arranged and I’m currently arranging for a trip to europe asap. Flights have to be VFR and non jet I.e. Piston. I would be interested to hear whether anyone else can verify this.
Amazing that even as a pilot I was not aware of this.
(Sent via blackberry, so please excuse any spellings)17 Apr 2010
Having spent most of the afternoon on the phone trying to get clarity regarding the lower level airspace, I am now more confused than ever. The situation, as I try to understand it is that jet aircraft cant fly because of an insurance issue (AS WELL AS A SAFETY ISSUE) with the ash. Correct call.
However, piston aircraft the situation is very different. There is no insurance issue with piston engined heli or fixed wing and up until yesterday, VFR flights into Europe with piston and some turbine heli’s were taking place (according to flight ops). The situation currently is that the French have now closed that door to VFR flights and i can not seem to get an answer whether Belguim or Dutch airspace is open.
I was also informed that the ash problem is becoming worse as it is now in the lower levels i.e. below 20000′. This basically means that turbines can not effectively climb out at lower levels until clear of the ash.
If anyone dounts the seriousness of the situation, dont, NATS are doing a wonderful job in ensuring ALL oiur safety and I support 100% the decision to close airspace.
However, i wish the reporting had provided far more clarity of exactly who it was affecting and when because had the information about VFR and piston flights been in the public domain (i.e. SKY NEWS) yesterday, may be some people could have found solutions.
Feet up for the rest of the weekend.17 Apr 2010
Am I being a bit simple here or does all this smack of over-reaction?? I am not a vulcanologist but BA9 flew straight through bthe plume and had its windscreen obscured, the landing lights dimmed and the paint removed but the engines did start again.
We are not directly under the line of plume, the airspace below @ 20K is not badly affected by ash/glass/rocks or whatever so why are we not flying at low level (ok so the fuel consumption will increase) and outside the plume??
The RAF will put up ADF aircraft if the Ruskies try and penetrate our airspace and the jolly old Puma’s, Chinooks and Merlins (not to mention Sea Kings) with their turbines are still airborne!!
Etna and Stromboli are constantly erupting and I have not noticed the Italian’s closing all the airspace over the Med!
However it has been very peaceful in the garden today – thank you NATS!17 Apr 2010
BA9 lost 25,000 feet of altitude and was preparing to ditch into the sea off the coast of Indonesia when they managed to get the engines started again. Just!
VFR isn’t suitable for any plane over 5,700kg and going further than 100m. You also can’t fly over large bodies of water VFR and the flight rules require you to remain in sight of the surface and clear of cloud. Separation from other aircraft, not that there would be any, is down to the pilot, once again, looking out the window. You would also need to be instrument rated to fly across the English Chanel. VFR is all about flying looking out of the window. You keep the horizon as a guide to your lateral pitch. Across a large body of water the horizon becomes blurred, you would have to rely on looking at instruments to tell you the plane is level.
There is lots of VFR flying going on from small airfields. The police and S&R helicopters can also operate. Taking a B747 low level out to Madrid with passengers on board just wouldn’t be practical.
NATS have said they will not issue a clearance to any aircraft that requires it to enter the ‘restricted zone’. That is the only way they can do this. Awful though it may seem.
Sometimes Mother Nature wins18 Apr 2010
Keep believing, yours is the only sane comment I have read.
I have followed the sat images since Thursday and the volcanic plume has never got anywhere near the U/K. Sounding a/c have been up looking for this ash over the U/K and they have made no significant finds. The a/c used was a gas turbine powered machine which suffered no ill effects, presumably, as it has made several flights. Had this eruption happened a year ago aviation would have continued normally here, as the ‘contingency’ plan had not been written. The eruption would have been back page news.
Another victory for interfering busibodies and computer modelling…18 Apr 2010
Since my last post I have been discussing the lockdown with a 747 captain who has made some interesting observations.
“Eric Moody’s exploits were the result of flying into a thick volcanic plume some 100 miles from the volcano, so dense it reduced visibility in the cabin. In daylight he would have avoided it. The engines restarted after the deposits had cooled down and enough broken free to allow a restart. The motors were started, obviously in the same locality but lower down, I’d bet my licence that there was still some volcanic debris in the air during the start. I hope NATS don’t get to hear about Stromboli which has been erupting for 20,000 years +, a real grown up volcano, not far from Etna and Vesuvius, both of which are usually smoking, presumably ash. We used to fly VFR from Kinston to Montego Bay, and more often than not at 5000′ from Manchester to Birmingham to save time – 747’s don’t turn into pumpkins VFR”.
Any more pilots out there want to add some reality checks?18 Apr 2010
Am I paranoid, or has anyone else noticed, that whenever the BBC show aircraft parked at LHR they do so in soft focus, giving the impression of a dust laden atmophere?19 Apr 2010
Today is Hitler’s birthday, April 20. Is the current Eurocontrol shutdown their cynical celebration of the day by succeeding in achieving air superiority over Southern England seventy years after he failed?
Airlines have proved beyond any doubt that the skies over W Europe and Britain are perfectly safe to operate through: so the closure cannot be considered an Act of God. The shut down is an act of David McMillan the head of Eurocontrol, insurance companies should pay out and hold him responsible.20 Apr 2010
While driving down the M4 to work at 0630hrs this morning I clearly saw a contrail over Reading – how is this possible if it is too dangerous to fly over UK airspace?- are European aircraft now immune to the effects of volcanic ash? Is BA going to get its hands on some of these super planes?
Incidentally the one great benefit of having the airports closed and a szeable proportion of the poulation stuck out of the country is that commuting is passably pleasurable!!20 Apr 2010
apparently the upper airspace has now been opened for overfly above 30000. Otherwise it could have been an RAF or US Military (who have open door to fly anytime!!)…………..
If you look lower down you will see VFR traffic as well.20 Apr 2010