Ryanair Calls An End To Current VAAC Concentration Charts System <


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Ryanair Calls An End To Current VAAC Concentration Charts System

By Jim Douglas

May 18, 2010 - Ryanair, a United Kingdom passenger airline on Monday called for an end to the VAAC Volcano Concentration Charts which have over recent weeks used computer generated models to chart large black clouds over much of Ireland and the UK.

Ryanair was recently fined $4 million by Italy's aviation authority ENAC for not looking after stranded passengers during the recent Icelandic volcano crisis. ENAC pointed out 178 cases where Ryanair refused to help stranded passengers between April 17 and 22, 2010 when the ash cloud was most dangerous.

Ryanair questions why Heathrow and Gatwick airports were reopened on Monday morning, despite the fact that the VAAC charts showed photo imaginary of black clouds a no fly zone directly over Heathrow and Gatwick airports.


“It would appear that there is one model for air safety for all other UK airports, but when it threatens the opening of Gatwick and Heathrow, these VAAC charts are simply ignored”.

In recent weeks Ryanair has called for the UK to move to the US system of volcano monitoring under which a substantial “danger zone” with a radius of 60 miles is established around an erupting volcano. Outside of this “danger zone”, airlines are free to fly as long as there is no visible ash presence.  Airlines then comply with manufacturer guidelines, should they notice any ash particles on either the fuselage or engines of aircraft after landing.

“Recent weeks have shown that the UK VAAC system is not alone unreliable, but substantially fictitious. The theoretical plotting of imaginary black plumes of volcanic ash, many thousands of miles from Iceland, when thousands of flights taken by European airlines have repeatedly confirmed no presence of volcanic ash has reduced airline confidence in the VAAC charts to zero.


A Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) is a group of experts responsible for coordinating and disseminating information on atmospheric volcanic ash clouds that may endanger aviation. As of 2010, there are nine Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers located around the world, each one focusing on a particular geographical region. Their analyses are made public in the form of Volcanic Ash Advisories (VAA) and often incorporate the results of computer simulation models called Volcanic Ash Transport and Dispersion (VATD).

The worldwide network of Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers was set up by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), an agency of the United Nations, as part of the International Airways Volcano Watch (IAVW), an international monitoring system managed by the International Airways Volcano Watch Operations Group (IAVWOPSG) which replaced the Volcanic Ash Warnings Study Group (VAWSG). The individual VAACs are run as part of national weather forecasting organizations of the country where they are based, e.g. the US NOAA or the British Met Office.

“Today’s decision to reopen Gatwick and Heathrow airports, despite the fact that this imaginary black cloud or no fly zone is hovering right over Heathrow and Gatwick, proves that the VAAC charts no longer retains any credibility or confidence within the airline industry. Ryanair now calls on the CAA to do away with these VAAC charts and for European regulators to move towards the US system of limited no fly zones in the immediate vicinity of volcanoes, but not many thousands of miles away.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said, “reopening of Heathrow and Gatwick airports removes any shred of credibility that the VAAC charts may have had.  Airlines have known for some weeks now that there has been little evidence of any volcanic ash in the atmosphere over Ireland, the UK or Continental Europe (much of it, thousands of miles away from Iceland).  The fact that Heathrow and Gatwick airports have reopened this morning, despite the fact that the VAAC charts show this imaginary black plume (or no fly zone) directly over these major London airports shows that the VAAC charts have no credibility. There cannot be one safety model for busy London airports, and a different safety model for smaller regional airports.  It should and must be the one safety rule for all.

“It is frankly ridiculous that the flight plans of millions of air passengers across Europe are being disrupted on a daily basis by an outdated, inappropriate and imaginary computer generated VAAC model and it is time that these charts were done away with. If Heathrow and Gatwick are open today, when the VAAC charts clearly show they’re in the middle of a no fly zone, then the VAAC charts have no validity or credibility. It is time to do away with this model now and replace it with the US model which is a practical, safe and sensible response to passenger safety in the aftermath of further volcanic eruptions in Iceland”.

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