European Commission announced new guidelines (21-May-2010) to minimise airspace closures in the event of volcanic ash without compromising safety standards. The guidelines are a result of the European Commission, EUROCONTROL and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) working closely together with airlines, regulators, and aircraft and engine manufacturers over the past month. In addition, the EC and EUROCONTROL have decided to create a European Aviation Crisis Coordination Cell (EACCC) to ensure a timely response to any future pan-European crisis severely affecting aviation. The refined approach involves a safety recommendation (safety information bulletin) by EASA on the basis of four airspace zones defined by EUROCONTROL.
- White zone: Normal flight operations apply;
- Red zone: Some volcanic ash may be encountered but EASA considers that flights can take place;
- Grey zone: EASA recommends two approaches that allow flights under certain conditions;
- Black zone: EASA recommends banning flights because predicted ash concentrations exceed acceptable engine manufacturer tolerance levels. [more]