Tool 5 - Volcanic Ash Competency Assessment Tool: Workplace Observation Checklist


Note:  This tool for verifying competency in diagnosing and forecasting volcanic ash has been provided by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology.  It is an example of best practice and may be modified and used in other locations where this competency is required.  This is an example of a very rare but extremely important aeronautical meteorological phenomenon.  Demonstrating this competence would be virtually impossible using direct observation.  The tool uses a workplace situation in an experiential fashion.  The forecaster is expected to show what he or she would do.  Successful completion of the case study would satisfy the volcanic ash performance criteria.  As with many competencies, there is no guarantee that success on the assessment would transfer to a real-time situation.  Should deficiencies be noted later, corrective action would be required and should be described within the quality management system of the specific organization.  Human nature is such that, even for perfectly demonstrated competence, in a real situation, there is no absolute certainty that the individual will demonstrate the same competence on a different day.  There is a strong probability of continued competence but no guarantee.  For this reason, as part of a quality management system, ongoing competency demonstration is required. 

Instructions to Candidates

The assessor will sit with you during your normal aviation day shift for a period of between one and two hours, while the VAS (Volcanic Activity Summary) is completed. During this time the assessor will compile evidence to show that you meet the performance criteria that have been set as the standard.


The assessor will also ask a few verbal questions to delve evaluate understanding of the knowledge and skills required to be a volcanic ash forecaster and will ask a few ‘show me’ questions to see that you are familiar with relevant website locations.

Workplace Observation Checklist





Date of shift


Monitoring Competency Checklist:


Sufficient Evidence? Yes/No


Forecaster monitored satellite data every hour using appropriate satellites/channels/.sounders






Forecaster used volcano monitoring applications






Forecaster uses alerting tools



Forecaster monitors various messages including AIREPs, ASHTAMs, SIGMET or messages from volcanological agencies











Show me where you can find dispersion models other than in VAWS? 



When should volcanic ash SIGMETs be issued?

(When ash is observed or forecast to move into the FIR or according to local procedures)



Why are there different procedures for high-level ash clouds compared to lowlevel eruptions?

(higher priority to high-level because it is considered to be greater threat to Aircraft, large columns of ash, greater dispersion potential)



Describe the techniques used for forecasting motion of ash cloud.




What is the most critical effect of VA on aircraft?

(Flameout due to ash melting in the hot section of the engine and fusing to the engine. )



Why is it important to monitor satellite imagery closely for early initial detection of ash?

(successful avoidance of ash by aircraft relies on timely advice, first evidence of an eruption may be on routine satellite picture)



You observe a convective cloud over a volcano in a visible image. How do you determine whether it is volcanological or meteorological?

(loop images to see if it advected in, and look at other channels for volcanic characteristics)




Overall Competency:   Competent   /     Not Yet Competent