ASH CLOUD: IATA calls for Europe-wide agreement on risk assessment

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IATA is calling for a formal, Europe-wide agreement to allow airlines to carry out their own safety risk assessments in the event of future volcanic ash clouds.

The organisation said it is "encouraged by the improved co-ordination" of the European authorities in managing the airspace in response to the latest ash cloud, but is calling for a formal agreement that would lessen the risk of fragmented decision-making.

"European transport ministers should formally agree their determination to avoid a repeat of the 2010 chaos by embracing a common process based on airline safety risk assessments for determining whether and when it is safe to fly," said IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani.

Airline safety risk assessment procedures, whereby regulators accept the capability of airlines to conduct their own assessments prior to operating flights in ash-affected areas, have been accepted by the UK, Ireland, France, the Netherlands and Norway, said IATA.

It added that it is "working closely with the European Aviation Safety Agency to bring the remaining European states on board with this process, which has a proven track record in the US and elsewhere".