Planes can cope with new ash threat: expert

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Ash cloud from the volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupting in Iceland in 2010, rose into the air wreaking havoc in international flights: Shutterstock
08:49 CEST+02:00
The imminent threat of a volcanic eruption in Iceland causing an ash cloud may be less serious a problem for airspace traffic due to new plane technology, says a Norwegian aviation expert.

Jan-Gunnar Pedersen, a department head at Avinor, one of Norway's leading airport management firms, said to NRK: “The new airplanes can tolerate more ash and the airline companies today can choose to fly in conditions that resulted in cancellations in 2010."

A similar natural disaster, such as the Iceland volcano eruption of 2010 which emitted dangerous ash, may now have far less consequences for airspace traffic and will therefore less serious a threat.

The resulting ash cloud after volcano Eyjafjallajökull erupted four years ago, cost European airline companies 6.3 billion kroner. The Norwegian phrase “askefast” (“ash stuck”) became a new term characterising all passengers who could not travel due to the closed ash-filled airspace.
Airline companies fear that a new eruption will occur on Iceland, causing another ash cloud that might stop airspace traffic flow again. Recent study has revealed high-risk seismic movement under the volcano Bardarbunga. On Thursday Icelandic meteorologists increased the threat level for an outbreak to the next to the highest level - orange.
The Meteorological Institute of Iceland said: “There are no signs of an eruption now, but we cannot exclude that the ongoing activity will result in an explosive outbreak under the surface of the glacier, which can lead to “jøkulhlaup” and release of ash.”
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Jan Gunnar Pedersen said it is still dangerous to fly into areas with a lot of volcano ash, but airlines are better prepared today for handling such a situation. He adds: Now one will normally not close airspace affected by volcano ash."

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