March 5, 2015

Recent volcanic activity around the world has provided visual spectacle, but has had relatively little impact on aviation.

In early March, the 9318-foot volcano Villarrica in southern Chile erupted, sending ash to FL300, according to the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. However, there were “no ash admissions after that,” according to the VAAC, and the “residual cloud dissipates rapidly while moving Southeast away from the summit.” However, the head of the national geological service, Setnageomin, said, “It’s an unstable volcano; all of its borders are altered.”

Also this month, a quick burst of ash from Russian volcano Shiveluch reached 30,000 feet, and winds blew the cloud across the Bering Sea, causing cancellation of several commercial flights between Anchorage and Bethel, Alaska.

The Sakurajima multi-peak volcano in Kaoshima Bay, Japan, saw two blasts and static lightning discharge on March 3. However, the Tokyo VAAC reported that no volcanic ash was identifiable from satellite data.

In Iceland, the “threat level of possible disruption to air travel has been downgraded” for the Bárðarbunga volcano, according to the country’s meteorological officials. The six months of eruption was characterized as nearly seven times larger than the infamous Eyjfjallajökull volcano that caused cancellation of more than 100,000 flights in 2010.

However, the ash cloud remained fairly low, and Chris Duffek of JPMorgan Chase’s aviation department said, “We had no disruptions due to this volcano.” Honeywell Flight Operations chief pilot John Tuten, NBAA’s International Operators Committee’s co-regional coordinator for Europe, added, “I personally crossed this region several times in recent months with no issue or concern.”

Even though recent eruptions have not impacted business aircraft operations significantly, operators are encouraged to review NBAA’s resources on volcanic activity. View NBAA’s volcanic activity resources.