Latest update 14/12/2016: 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.
The ICAO European and North Atlantic (EUR/NAT) held a Volcanic Ash Crisis Exercise, called VOLCEX 16, on 11–12 October 2016. As part of exercise VOLCEX 16, a continuous eruption of an Icelandic volcano was simulated involving an ash cloud covering a large part of northwest Europe and extending to the Baltic Sea. The exercise is an annual event designed to test the reactiveness of all players involved in the industry that could be affected by a volcanic eruption in EU airspace. A copy of the VOLCEX16 meeting debrief, and accompanying Air Operators Report can be viewed in the downloads section on this page.
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