VOLCEX23 Preparatory Workshop (hybrid), Reykjavik, Iceland - 9 and 10 October 2023

The ICAO European and North Atlantic Regions (EUR/NAT) VOLCEX23 Preparatory Workshop was held in Reykjavik, Iceland with hybrid capabilities from 9 to 10 October 2023. The purpose of this workshop was to prepare for a simulated volcano eruption of Snaefellsjokull, Iceland that will allow aviation stakeholders to test their response to the resulting simulated volcanic ash plume that will impact a large part of the EUR and NAT Regions. This exercise called VOLCEX23 will take place on 21 November 2023 from 0800 to 1600 UTC.

The workshop reviewed the history and status of volcanic activity of Snaefellsjokull as well as the VOLCEX23 exercise scenario. The workshop also reviewed the Volcanic Ash Contingency Plan – European and North Atlantic Regions (EUR/NAT VACP) as well as proposed updates to this plan. Details on the production of Danger Areas, NOTAM, SIGMET (including cross-border SIGMET coordination) and special air-reports on volcanic ash were provided as well as an update to the Safety Risk Assessment approach in the EUR Region.

Other topics reviewed included: the draft VOLCEX23 Directives, EVITA (European crisis Visualisation Interactive Tool for Air Traffic Flow and Capacity Management) tool, relaxation of airspace restrictions, airport diversion capability information service, and the use of Dynamic Airborne Reroute Procedures (DARP). Testing of DARP will be applicable to NAT Oceanic FIRs upon request since there are datalink limitations in non-oceanic airspace in Europe. In addition, the workshop was provided a preview of the future Quantitative Volcanic Ash (QVA) information that is expected to be a recommended practice by all volcanic ash advisory centres in November 2025. QVA is based on certified engine susceptibility versus the current discernable ash criteria.

The VOLCEX23 Debrief and VOLCEX24 Planning Meetings as well as associated steering group meeting will be held in Santa Maria, Azores, Portugal from 22 to 23 January 2024.

The workshop was attended by 142 participants from 29 States, 22 Airlines and 4 International Organizations.

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