Sunday, 18 April 2010

BA9156 Heathrow to Cardiff

Here's a rare least it is in UK airspace in recent days. This is a British Airways Boeing 747 which flew a test flight from Heathrow out over Ireland to about 15 degrees west, then turned round and landed back in Cardiff...needless to say the reason for the flight was to see if there was any significant ash at different altitudes. We were fortunate enough to see it as it flew over both westbound (at 30,000 ft) and eastbound some 2 hours later at 15,000 ft. The flight did not encounter any problems although the results are still being evaluated.

Other such events took place in Holland (KLM performed 7 flights today) and in Germany, where Lufthansa performed a number of test flights. None of these flights encountered any ash.

The UK authorities continue to keep our airspace closed, until at least 7pm tomorrow. Yet after the successful Lufthansa flights today, there were several revenue services performed out of Germany this evening to the US and Caribbean, all of which flew across northern France..strangely these weren't reported on the national news here.


  1. Ken, what I don't understand is why the various air forces did not go up to investigate the amount of ash in the atmosphere. Why did it need BA, KLM and Lufthansa to send planes up? Or were the RAF unwilling to take any risks as well? Let's face it, those guys have parachutes as a last resort.

    Seems like the main difference between Indonesia/Mt St Helens and Iceland is that in those cases there was a much higher density of ash in the atmosphere.

  2. The same questions are being asked here. Yesterday there were comments from the Government about sending the military up, but so far nothing has happened other than an extension on the no-fly ban until Tuesday morning.

    The only aircraft with precise atmospheric sampling equipment are the two Martin WB-57's operated by NASA. Now I am sure it would be in the US's interest to loan one of them to the UK?

    The amazing thing is that the authorities are taking advice from the Met Office. Now with the best will in the world, the Met Office are not experts on aircraft engines, and neither are the air traffic authorities or the various governments involed. The latter claim to be taking advice but the airlines alledge that no-one has actually spoken to them, their technical guys or the makers of the engines!

    I really think its a case of as no-one is prepared to say its safe, it must be dangerous! The problem is no one seems to know what acceptable levels are!