To ensure flight safety and in accordance with international recommendations, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi) has issued the following decision on aviation in areas affected by volcanic ash. The decision is in force until 6 June 2011.
The airspace is divided into three categories based on the amount of volcanic ash. These are known as the area of low contamination, area of medium contamination and area of high contamination. The area of low contamination is almost entirely free of ash, i.e. there is less than 2 mg of ash in one cubic metre of air. In the area of medium contamination, the amount can be twice as high. If the ash concentration is even higher, the airspace is classified as an area of high contamination.
Instructions to air operators
An operator may fly through or over areas of volcanic ash provided that it is safe based on the operator's risk assessment. Information and instructions received from the aircraft manufacturer shall be used for the assessment.
To fly in an area affected by volcanic ash, the operator is required to make a safety risk assessment in accordance with ICAO's draft recommendations, including procedures for ensuring the safety of flight operations.
The operator is responsible for ensuring that its staff is properly trained on the procedures. The Finnish Transport Safety Agency evaluates and approves the safety risk assessments made by Finnish air operators.
The restrictions apply to aviation on turbine-engine aircraft within the Finnish flight information region, as well as to flights of Finnish Air Operator Certificate holders and Finnish-registered aircraft even outside the flight information region of Finland.
Instructions to Finavia
Finavia shall ensure that air operators receive up-to-date information on contaminated areas and ash concentration levels (forecasts from the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, VAAC), so that they can take the above described requirements into account in their flight planning.
Finavia shall make sure that no air traffic control clearances are issued to areas with high concentration of volcanic ash. The Finnish Transport Safety Agency also urges Finavia to comply with Eurocontrol's instructions on the subject and to notify any hazards detected.
Central actors in issues concerning volcanic ash
The Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) in London uses a specific model to calculate and predict the movements of the ash cloud 24 hours ahead. At European level, the operations of authorities are co-ordinated by a Crisis Management Cell set up under the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, Eurocontrol.
In its decision-making, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency has followed the recommendations given by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi), Eero Kausalainen, Director of Flight Operations Department, tel. +358 40 741 4862