Remember the ash cloud from the Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano, which erupted in April 2010, disrupting air traffic and costing the global economy millions.
Since that volcanic eruption the aviation community has considerably progressed and is now prepared to face a major volcanic ash event.
Significant work was done
- to put in place a comprehensive framework of rules and guidance material addressing the volcanic ash so as to provide a structure for decision making in the European Environment
- to review the operational concept for flight into ash contaminated airspace and for closure of airspace.
- to improve the crisis coordination at European Level
- in research and innovation
Who is involved?
The main actors are: ICAO, EASA, Network Manager, Air Navigation Service Providers, National Aviation Authorities, Meteorological centres and Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAACs, London and Toulouse for Europe), Industry (operators, aircraft and engine manufacturers), scientific community.
EASA is playing an active role in the main international and European volcanic ash activities.
- Participation in International Volcanic Ash Groups
- Developing rules and guidance material
- Issuing safety information bulletin
- Crisis management through participation in the European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC) and through internal organisation and action plan
- Monitoring of safety of flight, especially through analysis of reported ash encounter occurrences
- Contributing to research, new developments or emerging technologies with reference to ash detection and avoidance
- Bringing together key stakeholders in volcanic ash workshops.
Volcanic Ash Groups
EASA has participated in the ICAO International Volcanic Ash Task Force (IVATF) to ensure harmonisation among authorities on the guidance material available to the international community. ICAO Doc 9974 “Flight safety and volcanic ash” is the baseline for the related EASA OPS rulemaking activity, aiming at publishing guidance for European operators to operate safely in airspace with known or forecasted volcanic ash contamination
The IVATF work is now being pursued with the International Airways Volcano Watch Operations Group (IAVWOPSG).
Rules and Guidance material
EASA has provided a framework of rules and guidance material that supports a safety management approach to volcanic ash for the aviation community.
Safety Information Bulletin
Rapid updates in policy and guidance have been provided by an EASA Safety Information Bulletin (SIB). The SIB is periodically reviewed and refreshed. EASA has recently issued a revision of the SIB on 24 June 2015, correction dated 02 July 2015.
- Safety Information Bulletin 2010-17 R7. Flight in Airspace with Contamination of Volcanic Ash.
This SIB revises and replaces EASA SIB 2010-17R6 dated 21 August 2014, including the correction dated 25 August 2014.
The objectives of EASA’s crisis management in case of a volcanic eruption affecting European airspace, are to:
- Ensure safety of flight, in particular maintain the assurance that the operational concept put in place since 2010 is safe. This objective drives in particular the need for EASA to collect information on ash encounters.
- Operators remain responsible to decide to fly in airspace predicted to be contaminated, based on a risk assessment, combined with the “Avoid” principle
- Continuous reporting from operators to ANSPs to VAAC and Met centers, and to EASA.
- Ensure efficient communication and information flows, internally to EASA, between EACCC and EASA, between EASA and key stakeholders, and towards the public.
Any encounter with volcanic ash or any other relevant maintenance and airworthiness related findings can be reported to EASA and sent to report [at] easa [dot] europa [dot] eu using the form Volcanic Ash Report.
Research & Innovation
EASA continues to monitor and assess volcanic ash risks and encourages further research activities that can contribute to a better understanding of volcanic hazards. A well-documented list of research projects and publications related to volcanic ash issues (volcanic event as such and the volcanic ash cloud dispersion as well as projects looking into the specifics of aviation) is available here.
Any questions related to volcanic ash activities please contact volcano [at] easa [dot] europa [dot] eu
Useful documents and links
- ICAO International Volcanic Ash Task Force IVATF (now closed)
- ICAOInternational Airways Volcano Watch Operations Group (IAVWOPSG)
- ICAO Volcanic Ash Contingency Plan – EUR and NAT Regions (December 2010)
- Air traffic management volcanic ash contingency plan template (First Edition – August 2012)
- ICAO Doc 9974 – Flight Safety and Volcanic Ash (First Edition – 2012)
- ICAO DOC 9691 Manual on Volcanic Ash, Radioactive Material and Toxic Chemical Clouds (Second Edition)
- Icelanding Met Office
- London VAAC
- Toulouse VAAC
- Eurocontrol/Network Manager (NM). Network Operations Portal (NOP)
- European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell ( EACCC)