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15th of April 2010

After a second eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, a large part of the European Controlled Aerospace was closed for fear of the damage the volcanic ash could cause.

All the ash in the atmosphere gave for some stunning sunsets, as seen here from Amsterdam Schiphol Airpor, the Netherlands

To protect the aircraft from the forecasted (large) deposit of volcanic ash large areas of controlled aerospace over Europe were closed as volcanic ash and aircraft don't go well together. Flight after flight got cancelled.

On 16 April 2010, 16,000 of Europe's usual 28,000 daily scheduled passenger flights were cancelled and on the following day, 16,000 of the usual 22,000 flights were cancelled. By 21 April 95,000 flights had been cancelled.

IFR Airspace closure on the 18th of April

Green - Open Airspace

Orange - Partly closed Airspace

Red - Closed Airspace

The airspace closure and subsequent grounding of aircraft resulted in airlines having their aircraft (and crew) stranded all around Europe. All the grounded aircraft had to be protected from the ingress of the forecasted ash deposits. Engine and APU inlets and exhausts, Pitot-static systems, vent openings etc. all had to be sealed off.

Due to the huge amount of aircraft that required to be "wrapped up" there was a shortage of the regular covers and blanks.

Engineers had to get creative in protecting the aircraft due to this shortage. Binbags, hi-speed tape, streamers were drawn from stores in large quantities and used to protect the aircraft.

Binbags and hi-speed tape were used to blank openings, while the red-white streamers replaced the REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT flags.

After an initial uninterrupted shutdown over much of northern Europe from 15 to 23 April, airspace was closed intermittently in different parts of Europe in the following weeks, as the path of the ash cloud was tracked. The ash cloud caused further disruptions to air travel operations in Scotland and Ireland on 4 and 5 May and in Spain, Portugal, northern Italy, Austria, and southern Germany on 9 May. Irish and UK airspace closed again on 16 May and reopened on 17 May. IATA estimated that the airline industry worldwide would lose €148 million (US$200 million, GB£130 million) a day.

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