CAA launches Time Limited Zone to deal with Volanic Ash

Added 18/05/2010

Walking feet

After the recent closures to UK airspace that Sir Richard Branson deemed excessive, the Civil Aviation Authority has launched new rules regarding volcanic ash to avoid unnecessary disruptions to flights.

Airlines, regulators, and aircraft and engine manufacturers had serious discussions about the safety of flying through volcanic ash for short periods.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has come up with the term Time Limited Zone (TLZ) which enables aircraft to fly through denser ash clouds but for shorter periods of time.

The move should mean when no fly zones are put in place due to volcanic ash, certain areas of airspace will remain open. In order to take advantage of the TLZ, airlines must first present a safety case to the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Civil Aviation Authority has been strongly criticised for its severe response to the volcanic ash cloud that first affected UK airspace last month.

The Time Limited Zone was born as a result of test flights that have been conducted in ash affected airspace over the last month.

Scientists believe that it’s not practical to treat all ash clouds the same, as they will not all have the same affect on aircraft engines.

Andrew Haines, the chief executive of the Civil Aviation Authority, said: "It’s the CAA’s job to ensure the public is kept safe by ensuring safety decisions are based on scientific and engineering evidence; we will not listen to those who effectively say let’s suck it and see."

The Time Limited Zone will be based on Met Office forecasts and it should reduce the disruption to flights in the future.