ICAO MOVES QUICKLY TO CREATE TASK FORCE TO DEAL WITH VOLCANIC ASH

In response to the unprecedented disruptions to commercial air traffic in Europe caused by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano on 14 April, ICAO has established an International Volcanic Ash Task Force to drive the development of a global safety risk management framework that will make it possible to routinely determine the safe levels of operation in airspace contaminated by volcanic ash.

The multidisciplinary team of experts from States and industry facilitated by ICAO will prepare by 1 August a report on lessons learned from the crisis and identify guidance material and contingency plans which need to be updated. Building on the report, a roadmap for establishing globally-harmonized ash concentration thresholds, options for improved detection systems of volcanic ash, as well as recommendations to improve notification and warning systems, will be completed by May 2011.

“Given the enormous economic impact of the volcanic ash clouds over Europe and untold inconvenience to millions of passengers, we are actively coordinating and promoting the creation of technical and operational guidelines that will help States react sooner and more effectively to this kind of situation,” said Raymond Benjamin, Secretary General of ICAO.

States invited to join the Task Force are those where the nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres of the International Airways Volcano Watch are located, namely Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States.  Brazil was added as another of the States where commercial aircraft are manufactured and Spain as the State currently holding the Presidency of the European Union. Fourteen international organizations will also be invited to participate.*

The International Airways Volcano Watch system was created in 1987 by ICAO, in coordination with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), to provide critical information to States, allowing them to exercise their responsibility as regards the use of their airspace.

*Airports Council International (ACI); Chairman of the International Airways Volcano Watch Operations Group (IAVWOPSG); Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO); European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA); European Commission (EC); European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL); European Space Agency (ESA); International Air Transport Association (IATA); International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA); International Coordinating Council of; Aerospace Industries Associations (ICCAIA); International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA); International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA); International Federation of Airline Dispatchers Associations (IFALDA); International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG); National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); World Meteorological Organization (WMO); World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO).