The project EUNADICS-AV undertakes to develop and test a unique system to provide consistent and coherent information to aviation authorities, airlines and pilots in the event of a natural disaster affecting the airspace, which, if successful, would greatly enhance the resilience of one of the most critical infrastructures of the 21st century.
Aviation is and remains one of the key infrastructures of our modern world. Even short interruptions can cause economic damage summing up to the Billion-Euro range. As evident from the past, aviation shows vulnerability with regard to natural hazards. Safe flight operations, air traffic management and air traffic control is a shared responsibility of EUROCONTROL, national authorities, airlines and pilots. All stakeholders have one common goal, namely to warrant and maintain the safety of flight crews and passengers. Currently, however, there is a significant gap in the Europe-wide availability of real time hazard measurement and monitoring information for airborne hazards describing “what, where, how much” in 3 dimensions, combined with a near-real-time European data analysis and assimilation system. This gap creates circumstances where various stakeholders in the system may base their decisions on different data and information. The H-2020 project EUNADICS-AV (“European Natural Disaster Coordination and Information System for Aviation”) intends to close this gap in data and information availability, enabling all stakeholders in the aviation system to obtain fast, coherent and consistent information. This greatly enhances our capability to respond to disasters effectively and efficiently, minimizing system downtimes and thus economic damage while enhancing the safety of millions of passengers.
The operational meteorological community and infrastructure in Europe plays a decisive role in the effort to strengthen disaster resilience. To address this particular responsibility, the network of European National Meteorological Services (NMSs), EIG EUMETNET, has decided to develop this project. It is well recognized that hydrometeorological events constitute the large majority of all disasters that occur worldwide. In this area, a lot has been achieved under the EUMETNET umbrella, for example the establishment of the METEOALARM program. Additional work, however, is needed with regard to a hazard category that we refer to as “airborne hazards” (environmental emergency scenarios), including volcano eruptions, nuclear accidents, forest fires and desert dust events. Therefore, the logical next step is the expansion of EUMETNET activities into the emergency response coordination area.
Other aspects to be addressed in the project are the joint availability of hazard measurements performed at national level in near-real-time for the coordinated situation assessment, and the exploration of possibilities of civil-military cooperation, including flexible use of airspace and the utilization of military infrastructure to perform measurements.
It is not an objective of EUNADICS-AV to put in place a new pan-European forecast system for environmental hazards. Forecast systems do exist at national level as well as under international frameworks and responsibilities, for example operated by Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers (VAACs) and WMO Regional Specialized Meteorological Centres (RSMCs) with activity specialization atmospheric transport modelling. These Centers, as well as NMSs, are users of our system, which assures that all national and international downstream users continue getting their products through established and tested channels.