Grimsvötn Eruption Could Disrupt Air Traffic in Europe

The European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC), which was set up one year ago after the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull, was activated on Saturday following the eruption of the Grimsvötn volcano in Iceland. The EACCC held its first meeting two days ago, during which the participants–including European states, the European Commission, Eurocontrol, EASA, air navigation service providers, airlines and airport associations–shared information on the current situation in European airspace as well as how the volcanic ash might affect air traffic in the region. They also issued several recommendations for managing the potential impact on European airspace. One of these recommendations is to allow EU-wide use of an ICAO-sanctioned approach that permits aircraft operators to decide if they will fly in areas contaminated by ash, “on the basis of a safety risk assessment accepted by the relevant national supervisory authority.” This was tested during a volcanic ash exercise last month in Europe. Ash from the volcano will likely reach Scotland today, and then possibly Britain, France and Spain later this week, depending on the eruption’s intensity and the weather. Eurocontrol is not expecting the volcanic ash from Grimsvötn to cause widespread disruption as was seen in Europe last year from Eyjafjallajokull. When it became apparent that the eruption of Grimsvötn could cause danger to air traffic, Danish company Air Support released a tool that provides information about atmospheric conditions before a planned flight. The company is publishing a weather chart for each specific flight in the volcanic ash path. These charts are based on London Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres data and show the ash prognosis divided into zones in high-resolution format and with the specific flight’s planned route printed on the chart.

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