Airline experts to assess volcano risks in Iceland

* Aviation bodies, aerospace firms to assess volcanic risk

* Will discuss how to shield industry from future eruptions

By Robert Evans

GENEVA, Aug 18 (BestGrowthStock) – Aviation and aerospace experts
will gather in Iceland next month to coordinate the global
response to future volcanic eruptions, Icelandic officials said
on Wednesday.

The conference follows an aviation crisis in April and May
when Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted, spewing vast
clouds of ash around Europe, grounding flights and leaving
thousands of passengers stranded, many for a week or more.

Experts from major governments, international organisations,
aerospace companies and airlines will meet in the town of
Keflavik from Sept. 15-16.

“This should produce some clear indication of where the
international community is heading to ensure the effects of a
big eruption are minimised in the future,” Henry Gaudry,
president of the European Volcanological Society, told Reuters.

The closure of most of Europe’s airspace cost airlines more
than $1.7 billion in lost revenue.

Specialists say even worse chaos could follow if a number of
other currently dormant or mildly active volcanoes in Europe,
Latin America, Asia and Far Eastern Russia were to erupt.

The conference organisers, Iceland’s Keilir Aviation
Academy, said the September meeting would try to determine who
should do what in the case of a volcanic eruption to minimise
harm to the aviation sector.

Airline and airport bodies complained bitterly about the
European airspace closure, a move they said was hasty and could
have been avoided.

Aviation specialists said the crisis was partly caused by
lack of coordination among several authorities on how to respond
to the Icelandic eruption.

Many experts, including Gaudry, said at the time that
European authorities had little choice but to act as they did to
avoid potential disasters from the clogging of aircraft engines
by the fine-glass dust.

Eyjafjallajokull is now calm, although it will not be until
September or October that it can be declared dormant again.
Initial fears that its eruption would bring its much larger
neighbour Katla to life were proven unfounded.
(Editing by Laura MacInnis and Nina Chestney)

Airline experts to assess volcano risks in Iceland