Costa Rica News – As I headed back to Costa Rica from Houston on Friday, I stood in line listening to the people on the flight that were supposed to have flown out the night before but were bumped due to Turrialba ash. It got me thinking….what is the protocol for the Juan Santamaria Airport being shut down due to volcanic activity?
The Turrialba Volcano has been causing lots of problems recently. Schools have been closed, homes evacuated, and medical facilities handling tons of asthma and other respiratory problems. Additionally, some people have been stranded in Costa Rica as the airport was essentially shut down on two occasions due to conditions presented by the volcanic eruptions.
Following the recent eruptions, the authorities have come up with a protocol contingency plan for future eruptions. The Juan Santamaria Airport agreed to address the issue to ensure passenger safety.
Phase one is that the OVSICORI confirms the event and communicates with the airport. The control tower diverts aircraft to other airports. The airport closes all terminals.
Phase two is that if the eruption is already in progress and ash is detected on the airport runway the authorities and control tower operators are informed. If pilots detect ash they should report it.
Phase three is the cleanup of the runway with sweeping machines. Once the runways are clear and the OVSICORI has confirmed decreased volcanic activity the operators will inform airlines that travel may be resumed.
These are the phases that are followed and until it is safe to fly in Costa Rica is not willing to endanger any lives.