With several volcanoes currently active, including Kilauea in Hawaii and Fuego in Guatemala, NBAA is reminding operators of actions they can take to prevent damage from volcanic ash in the event that avoidance is impossible.
“If volcanic ash is encountered, be sure to advise ATC as soon as possible,” NBAA recommends. “You may be the first to encounter volcanic ash in that area.” Appropriate responses include reducing thrust to idle (altitude permitting) and reversing course out of the ash cloud. “Do not attempt to fly through or climb out of the ash cloud, as ash clouds can extend for hundreds of miles.”
Operators may be successful staying clear during flight but find ash has settled on runways and taxiways. “When landing at an airport with volcanic ash deposits on the runway, braking action might be degraded,” NBAA warns. “Pilots taking off from airports with volcanic ash deposits on the runway should wait for ash to settle before departing and might find it appropriate to delay flap extension.”
In addition to reviewing company procedures and aircraft manufacturer recommendations, pilots should consult several other resources, such as sigmets, notams, and volcanic ash advisory centers (VAAC) operated in the U.S. and seven other countries.