World Organization of Volcanic Observatories
Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre
Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand
Asteron House, 55 Featherston Street
PO Box 3555 Wellington, 6140
Telephone: +64 4 560 9593
Telefax: +64 27 523 6186 (mob)
Manager: Peter Lechner, Manager Meterological Authority, CAANZ
The Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) is one of nine VAACs that operate under an international system called the International Airways Volcano Wathc (IAVW), set up and co-ordinated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). More detailed information about IAVW can be obtained from the relevant ICAO web page.
The function of each of the nine centres under the IAVW is to respond to reports of volcanic ash within their region and provide forecasts to the aviation community of ash cloud extent and movement. Observations may come from ground stations and Volcano observatories, aircraft in flight or orbiting satellites. The ash warnings issued are in the form of Volcanic Ash Advisories and SIGMETs describing the current and future extent of ash. Volcanic ash constitutes a serious threat to aircraft operations primarily due to the effect of the corrosive gases and abrasive particles on aircraft engines and airframe. In addition to loss of engine performance or even flameout, ash effects may include instrument and radio failure, visibility problems and damage to other external flying components as well as contamination of the aircraft interior.
Such potentially serious and expensive damage is best prevented by avoiding flying through ash altogether. Over recent years, improvements in observation networks, satellite technology,computer modelling and our increased understanding of the phenomena have led to improved volcanic ash forecasting methods. The Wellington Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre area of responsibility covers an area southward from the Equator to the South Pole between 160E to 140W and southward of 10S between 140W and 90W.
The Wellington VAAC is operated by MetService on behalf of the New Zealand Meteorological Authority (CAA NZ), and is located in Wellington, New Zealand. The Wellington Meteorological Watch Office (MWO) is co-located with the Wellington VAAC. The Wellington MWO issues SIGMETs for the two New Zealand FIRs, NZZC (New Zealand FIR) and NZZO (Auckland Oceanic FIR). A local enhancement of the Wellington VAAC, the New Zealand Volcanic Ash Advisory System (VAAS) is primarily provided for the New Zealand FIR through interactions of aircraft operators, Airways NZ, Meteorological Service of New Zealand limited (MetService), GNS Science Limited and the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand (CAA).