CAA conference secures industry support for new work to minimise future ash disruption
Saturday 15, May 2010
The CAA brought together leading international experts in meteorology and volcanology, alongside senior executives from the aviation industry and regulators, for its Volcanic Ash & Aviation Conference.
The single objective was to share the lessons learned over the past weeks to help find the most effective ways of maintaining safe air travel whilst mitigating disruption from the continuing eruptions of Eyjafjallajökul.
The disruption was created by an unprecedented combination of the nature and duration of the eruptions and weather patterns which pushed the ash cloud towards the UK's congested airspace. This situation was so unique that there was no international standard on aircraft tolerance to ash, because the existing guidance was to always avoid it.
Since the initial UK airspace closure, there has been massive effort from all parties to improve understanding of the situation, and develop methods to reduce disruption.
The conference was chaired by the Government's Chief Scientist, Professor John Beddington, and Industry leaders heard a thorough explanation of the underlying science. There was widespread recognition of the need to work together by all involved, including British Airways, easyJet, BAA, Rolls Royce, Virgin and Airbus. The session and proposals were also welcomed by the Department for Transport, the Met Office, air traffic services providers NATS and Eurocontrol, the European Aviation Safety Agency.
Closing the conference, Andrew Haines, Civil Aviation Authority Chief Executive, said:
"The CAA is here to protect the public interest. On their behalf, we have to get together to manage this unprecedented situation and minimise disruption from volcanic ash, whilst maintaining safety. The decisions we take must be proportionate and based on sound evidence and I am encouraged by the progress that has already been made and by the level of commitment that has been displayed."
Other participants in the conference included, the European Commission, the Scottish Government, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Irish Aviation Authority, BMI, Flybe, Monarch, Manchester Airport Group, Boeing, GE Aviation, Pratt & Whitney, BAE Systems, and Bombardier.
The CAA has agreed to facilitate a task force to provide aircraft and engine manufacturers with the opportunity to collaborate in their efforts to find ways to further mitigate disruption. In their work, they are being supported by experts from, among others, NATS, the Met Office and the airlines.
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