This paper analyzes the response to the Icelandic volcano ash crisis of 2010. We examine how the original response was determined by the formal organization of the European air traffic control system, how the crisis was defined, what characterized the or new regulatory regime, and how one can explain the development and handling of the crisis. The theoretical basis is a combination of instrumental organization theory and crisis management theories. The crisis is handled via established organizational arrangements and principles that impose limits on the scope of action. The response to the crisis involved fine-tuning in the form of an instrumental and incremental adaptation of policies, regulations and practices challenging core political values, which also exhibit elements of path dependency.