Paris, 13 May 2010 – The ICAO European and North Atlantic Volcanic Ash Task Force (EUR/NAT VATF) agreed yesterday on a common working agenda to improve contingency plans in the European and North Atlantic Regions. The group was convened to establish a coordinated region-wide operational approach by aviation to volcanic ash emergencies.
Existing plans proved effective in preventing accidents in the wake of the recent eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in Iceland, yet action taken resulted in unprecedented disruptions of service and severe economic impact to the airline industry, as well as to sectors relying on air transport services.
The Task Force identified key areas for improving the efficiency of responses to volcanic ash emergencies and will meet next from 8-10 June to finalize proposals to amend the current Volcanic Ash Contingency Plans, for subsequent endorsement by the European Air Navigation Planning Group and the North Atlantic Systems Planning Group.
Yesterday’s Task Force meeting was attended by more than 50 participants from States, the European Commission, the scientific community and industry organizations representing airlines, air navigation services providers, pilots and engine manufacturers.
“The fact that all concerned parties are involved in the discussions shows a high level of resolve to propose options that will significantly improve responses to future volcanic ash emergencies, with emphasis on both safety and efficiency,” said Karsten Theil, ICAO EUR/NAT Regional Director.
The results of the Task Force will be incorporated into the work of the International Volcanic Ask Task Force established by ICAO on 29 April 2010.