The volcanic activity of Mt Ruapehu had a-significant impact on civil aviation in New Zealand during 1995 and 1996. Many flights were cancelled and many more diverted or rerouted. These episodes were the first impact of volcanic ash on modern aviation in New Zealand.

A targeted volcanic ash information system was implemented following those events. CAA recognises the aviation industry's ability to manage its operations in proximity to volcanic ash with the CAA's role being one of facilitation and oversight.

The Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), operated by MetService, provides meteorological information concerning volcanic ash, such as Volcanic Ash Advisories and Volcanic Ash SIGMET.  The VAAC is supported through the collaborative effort of MetService, GNS, Airways NZ and aircraft operators. The standards of the VAAC products reflect New Zealand’s ICAO obligations. This collaborative effort was initially called the Volcanic Ash Advisory System (VAAS), but more recently it has been incorporated into the operation of the MetService-operated VAAC and meteorological watch office responsibilities.

To contact the Manager, Wellington VAAC, email aviation.manager@metservice.com.

Living with Volcanic Ash Episodes in Civil Aviation [PDF 1.6 MB] 

New Zealand practices and procedures

The New Zealand Volcanic Alert Level (VAL) System [PDF 670 KB]
Volcanic Eruption – Recommended actions for airports [PDF 965 KB] 

Forms

CA010 Volcanic Activity Report [PDF 37 KB]

Reference information

WMO Aeronautical Meteorology Programme(external link)
ICAO Flight Safety and Volcanic Risk (Doc 9974)(external link)
IFALPA video: Volcanic Ash, an Aviation Hazard of Explosive Proportions(external link)

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If you have any questions about this topic, use our contact form, or email met@caa.govt.nz