State ATM Corporation Holds International Volcanic Ash Exercise VOLKAM/19

The VOLKAM/19 volcanic ash exercise, which simulated the eruptions of Ushkovsky and Opala volcanoes in Kamchatka, took place on 18 – 19 April.

The VOLKAM/19 volcanic ash exercise, which simulated the eruptions of Ushkovsky and Opala volcanoes in Kamchatka, took place on 18 – 19 April. According to the exercise script, the ash plume from Opala volcano eruption, rising up to FL450, was moving southeast towards Trans-Eastern, NOPAC and PACOTS routes. The ash plume produced by Ushkovsky volcano eruption was shifting northwest to impact Trans-Eastern ATS routes up to FL250. The exercise practiced coordination between air navigation services during simulated parallel eruptions of two volcanoes (Ushkovsky and Opala); handovers between the three Volcanic Ash Advisory Centres (VAAC) of Tokyo, Anchorage, and Washington; and Dynamic Airborne Reroute Procedure (DARP) via satellite datalink (CPDLC). The exercise also involved a simulated emergency diversion of an American Airlines Boeing-787 (Dreamliner) aircraft, which was handled successfully. The transmission of PIREP/AIREP messages on ash plumes observed in flight via CPDLC was also tested. Over 40 airline flights were virtually rerouted as part of the exercise.

The exercise participants coordinated via teleconferences that were technically enabled by EUROCONTROL. The command centre was deployed at State ATM Corporation’s Main ATFM Centre, and Alexey Buevich, Head of Strategic ASM Planning division, became the exercise leader for the seventh time in a row. The command centre included Main ATFM Centre experts Vladimir Synnikov, Oleg Orlov, and Andrey Rukavishnikov; Head of MET Support Group Igor Arestov; ICAO representative Chris Keohan; and IATA representative Dmitry Kosolapov.

VOLKAM/19 involved experts from the Federal Air Transport Agency, Roshydromet, Aviamettelecom of Roshydromet, Kamchatka Volcanic Eruption Response Team (KVERT); FAA (U.S.), JCAB, Nav Canada; Tokyo, Anchorage, Washington and Montreal (observer) VAACs; Magadan, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Khabarovsk ACCs; Anchorage, Oakland, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Vancouver and Edmonton ACCs; as well as American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines (U.S.), Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airlines (Japan), and Eva Air (Taiwan).

Regular volcanic ash exercises in the Far East region, which is home to about 70 active volcanoes, ensure efficient coordination of international air navigation and significantly enhance civil aviation safety in case of real-life hazards during volcanic eruptions.

In accordance with COG 48/04 Decision, the Russian Federation has been holding regular volcanic ash exercises for the Far Eastern part of the ICAO EUR region (EUR (EAST) VOLCEX) since 2013. The exercises are annually attended by volcano observatories, volcanic ash advisory centres (VAACs), meteorological watch offices (MWOs), national ATM and aeronautical information centres, as well as airlines of Japan, China, Canada, and the U.S.