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The Government's main priority is to ensure the safety of aircraft and air passengers. We are also working to improve agreed international procedures for mitigating the potential hazards caused by volcanic ash. Following the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in April 2010, the UK has taken a number of additional steps to minimise disruption to passengers and airlines.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has worked closely with manufacturers and airlines to develop a better shared understanding of the ability of aircraft and their engines to tolerate volcanic ash. The CAA has issued revised guidance that enables airlines to operate in the medium and high ash concentration zones, provided an acceptable safety case exists.
The Government are also supporting the provision of new radar cover in Iceland to obtain more accurate data in the event of a future eruption and also the establishment of a permanent civil contingency aircraft for use by the Met Office to conduct atmospheric testing.
The impact of the Grimsvotn eruption in May 2011 was significantly less than last year's Eyjafjallajokull eruption. However, a number of further steps have been taken to address the lessons learned. The Government have established a Volcanic Ash Observations Group under the chairmanship of Sir John Beddington to look at ways of improving the input data for the Met Office volcanic ash dispersion model. In addition, the CAA has established a Volcanic Ash Advisory Group to improve the process for establishing high concentration danger zones.