Page Summary

Latest news and background information regarding the unprecedented Eyjafjallajokull volcanic ash situation

Main Content

The ash cloud from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökul volcano created an unprecedented situation for aviation. Because the standard procedure for aircraft to avoid ash simply does not work in Europe’s congested airspace, this situation is completely unique. The volcano's proximity to the UK, its continuous eruptions and the North Atlantic weather patterns are all factors that make this situation different to any previous eruption.

Because the situation is unprecedented, it required new measures to allow flying to safely continue. The challenge to implement those is immense - the CAA drove the initial work to allow operations in ash, but a long-term solution can only come from aircraft and engine manufacturers establishing what level of ash their products can safely tolerate.

We are encouraging and facilitating that process, and as soon as we see an evidence-based safety case agreed by manufacturers, we can safely open more airspace that is effected by ash. This work is ongoing and we will only allow more airspace to open when we have the hard scientific data to support the case that it is safe to do so.

The CAA places the public interest at the heart of all it does, and our priority is to keep flying safe whilst minimising the disruption caused by ash. As the independent regulator it's up to the CAA to make sure that public safety is everyone’s priority.