UK eases airline ash restrictions

The United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced it will double the amount of ash deemed safe for flying in order to ease further disruptions to service from Eyjafjallajökull’s continuing eruptions.

The move comes after massive pressure from the airlines both during and after last month’s airport shutdown.

A CAA press release states, “A new area of operations can now be introduced that creates a ‘Time Limited Zone (TLZ)’ between the black ‘No Fly Zone (NFZ)’ and the red ‘Enhanced Procedures Zone (EPZ)’. Aircraft and engine manufacturers, based on new research and analysis, have agreed that it is safe to allow operations in the new zone for a limited time at higher ash densities than is currently permitted.”

Ash in this new zone can be 0.004 grams per cubic meter of air, twice the prior limit. The new regulations come into effect at noon today.

Airlines are, of course, happy. Jim French, chief executive at Flybe, said that if he new rules had been in place during the latest disruption of the past 48 hours, he would have only had to cancel 21 flights instead of 381.