Saturday, 22 May 2010

Europe - Sources of Volcanic Ash Cloud Information and Potential Flight Delays

I doubt anyone, including the airlines, will be able to give you any information today relevant to flights on Tuesday. The earliest will be Monday Midday GMT.
During the last bout of ashitis, a couple of weeks ago, airports were being closed at 6 hours notice or less. In the first instance, you should really follow any changes on your airline's website.

You best bet is for general flight information is to follow Lisbon Airport Departures and Arrival page to be found through the following link here:

The whole site is under maintenance, at the moment, but real time departure and arrivals are working. However, information is only updated either when the flight is airborne or serious delayed, so this doesn't really help for forward planning.

As regards the volcanic ash cloud, the best option is to follow the periodic info issued by EUROCONTROL via Twitter.


A post last night from EuroControl stated that:

"Twitter-Facebook blackout til 25 May 09.00 CET: updates will be posted only if situation deteriorates". This suggests that all is clear, barring a major volcanic-type belch, until Tuesday a.m.

The British Met Office issues regular ash maps showing predictions up to 24 hours in advance:


What one has to do, is look, 24 hours before, at where the ash cloud is, the direction in which it is moving and figure out if it is going anywhere near the airport of departure or of arrival.

Having followed this over the last belch, it was possible to predict 24 hours before, that Lisbon Airport was more than likely going to be closed. This was 16 hours before the Portuguese Air Traffic control announced Lisbon was to be closed and the airlines made the announcements on their websites.

The critical map is the one showing FL000 to FL200. This covers from ground level up to 20 000ft and is the critical one for planes getting in and out of airports. If ash and particularly dense ash is anywhere near your destination airport 24 hours before, there will be a good chance it will be closed.