Greater safety oversight during volcanic ash cloud
Australia’s aviation operations were under heightened safety scrutiny during the passage of volcanic ash clouds in June 2011.
CASA was among other frontline government agencies that worked closely with the aviation industry to facilitate safe air travel during the period when the volcanic ash cloud passed over Australia.
CASA followed appropriate international practices for the management of aviation during volcanic ash clouds, by requiring each airline to use its approved Safety Management System to determine which flights should go ahead.
Further, CASA established a mechanism permitting the reclassification of airspace in emergency circumstances, which allows for the continuation of air traffic control services for aircraft avoiding ash-affected airspace.
Volcanic ash clouds have always been a factor to consider when planning airline operations. Australia is located in a region with a large number of active volcanoes, and the majority of international routes to and from Australia traverse regions of high volcanic activity. The presence of few monitoring facilities in the region limits the ability to determine the size and density of ash cloud events in a timely manner.
CASA is continuing its active participation in international forums such as the International Civil Aviation Organization’s International Volcanic Ash Task Force to develop global policies and procedures for dealing with volcanic ash events.