back to article Ash cans flights for another day

Flights to and from the UK have been cancelled until at least 1am Tuesday. The Met Office will continue to issue updates four times a day but NATS is currently warning that the ash cloud remains dynamic. The air traffic organisation said it was working with airlines, airports, engine manufacturers and government to get planes …


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  1. Elmer Phud
    Big Brother

    Precious little things

    Donchya just love the way that the calls are now going out for 'something to be done', as if there is a huge Henry somewhere to suck all this dust up and make the planes run again.

    Get over it, it's just one of them things that some planets do - they fart every so often. Sometime they fart big-time and all the prayers and crucifixes and offerings to Offler won't do a thing, nor are they judgements from some deity who got out of bed the wrong side and fell out of the window.

    Now, if we'd had our nuclear-powered jet-packs (as promised many years ago) we wouldn't have all this fuss. As we haven't got them then the 'volcano' is a man-made thing from the GlobalConspiracy (pick yer own) designed to make people buy boats.

    ( I do know a few folks stuck elsewhere, some are moaning - some are happy with the extra stay as they can do absolutley bugger all about it)

    1. OffBeatMammal

      excellent Offler reference

      title says it all

    2. Richard Scratcher

      Not a Henry but a Dyson

      What we need is to fit cyclonic separation filters* to the front of the jet's engines. These would spin the volcanic dust out of the air intakes and allow it to pass harmlessly around the outside of the engines. There would be no extra moving parts or loss of suction.

      *Available in bright yellow or purple.

  2. Rocket

    cancel the election!

    By my reckoning this will turn into acid rain and lung burning fumes just in time for May 6th.

    Gordon will be forced to cancel the election and declare himself PM-for-life

  3. Chief Engineer

    Comandeering Commercial Ships

    bravo, hear hear....oh no wait we can only comandeer UK flagged vessels, we can charter other flagged vessels, better get the cheque book out given the systematic dis-assembly of the UK merchant fleet over the past 30 years.

    Anyway the pirates will be out in force so the 'elves and safety will say no

  4. Fred Flintstone Gold badge


    I like the generic clamouring for a change in methodology. This hasn't happened before on this scale, so the authorities played it safe. Now it's taken so long we have distributed test aircraft "having a go" and declaring it "safe" - if someone would actually try and do this a bit more systematic and with some science we might actually learn something.

    All we have at present is a few people that have managed to cross the road blindfolded declaring that that is a perfectly safe thing to do - everywhere. No thanks.

    There's also a chance that this isn't quite over yet. History shows that the volcano's neighbour tends to wake up afterwards, and that one dwarfs the current one by quite some measure. We need to *know*, with some rigour, what can be done safely.

    1. Tom 13

      Well, lets list off what we do rigourously know:

      1. This kind of ash cloud has not be tested in labs for its effect on engines or other critical airplane parts. Doing said tests would cost millions neither the airlines nor the airplane manufacturers can afford the tests (pounds or dollars, doesn't make much difference, that only changes the specific value, not the order of magnitude) and even if the tests could be started, they wouldn't produce data in sufficient time to be useful to the current circumstances.

      2. In addition to your note about the neighboring volcano "waking up" so to speak, we also know that we will never know EXACTLY when it will be waking up.

      So alerting and adjusting seems to be the order of the day. Given that alerting and adjusting seems to be the order of the day, the only SAFE thing to do is build more boats and/or make more teleconference calls.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    What BA should do ... encourage all the other airlines to start flying but stay grounded. Then, when they have to ground their planes because of non-crash inducing turbine damage, BA will have the skies to itself

    Bubba-Gump airways here we come.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quiet ?

    Those who live near airports - actually how much quieter is it ? Can you notice the difference or are you all so used to the noise it that you can't tell ?

    IMHO - we should tax the fuel for short haul flights - based on current population and energey growth rates we're going to run out of oil in 30 years time, we aren't innovating enough - we're always going to need it for long haul jets - save what we have. I'll drive an electric/hydrogen car when suitable infrastructure is in place.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Anonymous Coward

    a title

    Loved the expert on the news earlier,

    "the ash, can't be seen and doesn't show up on radar"


    I detect an opportunity for 'Ash Removal Service, Excellence', £1000 a home no job to small.

  8. Steve Brammer


    What the hell has this got to do with Mandelson? Why is he even involved?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You could say that of any issue that Mandy gets involved with.

  9. James 47
    Thumb Up

    They should do this more often

    No,not trigger volcanoes, but have a period (say 3 days or so) of no flights every couple of months.

    It's been surreal to be able to sit outside and not have to deal with 767s revving up as they approach Heathrow. It's actually weird.

  10. Dangermouse

    Peace in London

    I was out in the park on Saturday with the missus and we both remarked how quiet it was without aircraft coming over every 90 seconds. It was a completely different vibe and was really good.

    I really hope that this gives impetus for Boris Island rather than the third runway at Heathrow - it would make such a difference to London.

  11. Samo


    Is it just me, or does COBRA sound more like a Bond-esque villian group?

    Mind you, with "Dark Lord of the Sith" Mandelson, that would actually make sense!

    "No Mr. UK, I expect you to die!!!! Mwahahahahahahahaa!"

  12. MG

    Bliss ...

    From under the Heathrow flightpath in sunny 'ampstead - another day without a plane every 4 minutes - I hear birds - and the sky is clear of vapour trails.

    Not looking forward to the nose to tail 24/7 catch up when flights resume though.

    You really do have to wonder - particularly as EU ministers prepare to video conference (presumably instead of jumping aboard a private jet each) - are all these journeys really necessary?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Paris Hilton

      Don't be silly! Of course they are necessary.

      How else will the ministers get to see their mistresses in other countries?

      Paris, because she understands these things.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I would hope this shows certain activists at Plane Stupid just how economically damaging shutting down air flight would be.

    1. OffBeatMammal

      don't confuses a crisis with a plan

      this is an unplanned event... if we were to methodically cut back on air travel over a period of time it would permit alternatives (video conferencing, rail, airships even) to develop as patterns adapt.

      People would not be trapped, alternatives would exist and the system would not be as vulnerable as it is today

  14. Britt Johnston

    act of God?

    Time to look at this from the social science point of view.

    Interesting that all Europeans followed the GB initiative on the basis of their evidence. The trigger was safety, economic problems, medical need or inconvenience were not built into the model. None of the authorities had a plan to end the ban before they started it. Governments are left to balance the conflicting interests, and understandably cautious.

    The approach could the same as banning road traffic on rainy days, as there is a definite safety risk. The main difference in approach is that flying is completly regulated, and driving, while highly regulated, is also in the hands of drivers and insurance companies. One problem is the grey area of ash levels between safe and unsafe (see chemicals regulation). Another is finding safe ways round the ash.

    A further problem is finding workarounds to a ban in a regulated area. France has reduced road speed limits on rainy days, Moto-GP has wet and dry race rules. Denmark today permits flights above 35000 ft but not below - illogical for an interntional solution, but helpful in some cases.

    One conclusion might be to temporarily deregulate, leaving interested parties to find solutions to their problems. If necessary, the European airlines could force this through, since they have been made responsible for acts of God.

    Except of course, that this a catastrophe of committees, and very much an act of Man.

  15. Stratman



    Get the Navy to rescue stranded Brits. It's not quite the Falklands but I suppose it's the best Gordon can manage.

    In other news, all charges have bee dropped against a teenager who was due in court today charged with murder after a burglar was killed in his mother's house following a struggle. Nothing to do with the proximity of a general election of course.

  16. moonface

    Dunkirk spirit.

    Lord Mandelson surely knows a few yacht owners, that could also lend a hand.

    Gets flying jacket with slight traces of ash in pocket.

  17. David Adams

    It's negligence, pure and simple...

    ... if these countries can't be trusted to look after their Volcanoes, they shouldn't be allowed to have them in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not at all negligence, it's

      Icelands retribution for the UK ( and others ) reclaiming their finacial banking losses from the Icelanders.

      Blow the other one up, now, please.

  18. Steve X


    Fat chance if you want to go P&O

    All the website is saying today is:

    "We apologise for the inconvenience but our website is currently experiencing heavy traffic, therefore we advise calling our contact centre with enquiries or to book a crossing on any route."

    (on a premium rate number, of course). I don't even want to book for this month :(

    SeaFrance and Norfolk Lines sites seem to be bearing up OK.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Computer models

    Nice to have some quiet for those who live around the airports with the weather as it is am sure!!!

  20. Gianni Straniero

    NATS working with engine manufacturers...

    ... and suggests they fit filter tips to the air intakes.

  21. Big Irish Dave


    In case you don't know this site:-

    superb and sickening to see at the same time... this is all a joke.... stranded now 5 days.....

  22. gautam

    Id say Nuke it.

    It will seal the volcano or widen its mouth so ash can scatter locally. Make it low level (depleted Uranium- like we do in Iraq and Afganistan) and everything will be OK.

    I am also in the business of making Ash-proof jet engines. £30 million each. Any takers?

    Opportunity strikes. Golden lining to every ash cloud!

    1. Chemist

      Re : Id say Nuke it

      Good luck with the depleted uranium bomb - why didn't the Manhattan project think of that.

  23. Big Irish Dave

    Flight out of London

    FlightRadar is saying an Air Berlin A330 has just taken off from London.....

  24. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    European supplies of bubblewrap near *crisis* levels

    It takes a *lot* of bubble wrap to seal an engine.

  25. Bernd Felsche

    Zero tolerance for ash

    Met Office's VAAC London and the Eurocrats seem to be under the impression that aircraft can't fly as long as there's any ash. Not one microgram per cubic kilometre.

    On the 16th, they'd closed airspace where there was neither detected nor projected ash for the day.

  26. elderlybloke
    Dead Vulture

    Remember The Challenger Space Shuttle

    The launch of the Challenger was delayed by very unusually cold temperature for Florida.

    When the delay became a bil politically embarrassing the managers started putting pressure on the Engineers to approve a launch.

    Pushed them to reduce the temperature that was regarded a safe

    minimum, and a then a bit more.

    It was down a lot lower at the time they finally pushed the Engineers to approve the launch.

    Got a book about it, and it is very interesting how safety became a minor consideration in the political push to get things


    I do hope someone isn't pressured into saying "Yes OK, take off is approved (when you have loaded up a few hundred passengers)" to satisfy those concerned about money.

  27. VulcanV5

    @ guatam

    Your price is suspiciously low: I'd be thinking around $50m for something which wasn't vulnerable to this or any other kind of ingestion incident and didn't need tearing apart after every close-proximity ash flight to be boroscoped and reassembled. (Assuming it hadn't been subject to inflight failure on its way to maintenance, in which case it might not, er, have actually made it into maintenance anyway.)

    If you'd like to have a think about your costings, that would be good. Also: do you have a PayPal facility?

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