The BAe 146, which was unable to fly until last Tuesday because of a refit, was the only plane equipped with state-of-the-art laser measuring equipment, known as Lidar. Only once the jet had finally taken to the air was the Met Office able to map the full extent of the ash from Iceland.
The disclosure of the delay will add to questions about whether the no-fly zone over British airspace could have been lifted earlier. The authorities are already facing accusations that they overreacted to relatively low levels of ash in the atmosphere.
Yesterday, Sir Richard Branson, president of Virgin Atlantic, criticised the grounding of planes as an “overreaction” and “not the right decision”, adding that his airline had lost £50m as a result.
.......While its jet was incapacitated, the Met Office instead had to use a Dornier propeller plane that had less advanced technology and was unable to fly at high altitude.
Click source to read FULL report from Steven Swinford and Daniel Foggo