Helicopter flights resume off Europe

By OGJ editors
HOUSTON, Apr. 21
-- Helicopter service of oil and gas facilities off northern Europe resumed Apr. 21 as authorities began accommodating flight schedules to the volcanic ash that has grounded all but emergency aircraft since Apr. 15.

Aviation authorities in the UK and Norway were basing airspace decisions on 6-hr updates of the heavy ash cloud flowing from a volcano in Iceland.

At midday Apr. 21, Norway had no airspace restrictions. In the UK, all airspace was open except for an area of northwestern Scotland.

Oil & Gas UK said helicopter transfers of offshore workers resumed Apr. 21. In a statement likely to describe aviation until the ash is gone, the trade group said: “The helicopter operating companies are continuing to monitor Met Office reports concerning the path of volcanic ash clouds, and as new information becomes available throughout the day they will revise their flight plans and will suspend operations if atmospheric conditions oblige them to do so.”

OGUK said operators were moving offshore workers by boat to the extent possible. It was seeking ways to increase boat transfers.

At the group’s request, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency lifted restrictions on the number of passengers allowed on cargo vessels. The usual restriction is 12, even for vessels with capacity for more.

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