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Volcanic Ash

Latest update 03/07/2017: please see below for more details.


In April 2010, the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull led to the closure of European airspace for six days, resulting in an unprecedented level of air travel disruption which was beyond the control of airlines.


In February 2012, ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) published the first edition of its Flight Safety and Volcanic Ash manual (Doc 9974).  Since January 2015, work has continued in order to produce a Volcanic Ash Contingency Plan (VACP) and this has now been published by ICAO, with the second updated edition of a manual for aircraft operators also available (please see the ‘downloads’ link on top of this page). The document provides guidance and recommendations for operators and regulators regarding the risk management of flight operations in areas of known or forecast volcanic ash contamination. 

On 15–16 November 2016, the Planning Meeting of the European and North Atlantic Volcanic Ash Exercise agreed that another ICAO EUR/NAT Volcanic Ash Exercise (VOLCEX 17) will take place and is planned for 29–30 November 2017. As part of exercise VOLCEX 17, a continuous eruption of a Portuguese (Azores) volcano will be simulated involving an ash cloud that will cover a large part of southwest Europe and extend to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.  Full details and instructions will be published in the Exercise Directive which is anticipated to be available by the end of September 2017. 

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