Safety is paramount

So the Icelandic volcano makes it impossible to fly in UK airspace. Hmm. The idea is that the volcanic ash, containing silica, turns to glass in jet engines and causes them to stop spinning.

Well I wonder how this one’s going to play out? Let’s see…

I’m sceptical that the ash is that much of a threat – jet engines do fly through dusty and sandy air. This dust seems to be fairly well dispersed (i.e. you can’t see it and radar, apparently, can’t see it). But even it does increase the risk, the “safety is paramount” argument just doesn’t hold water. If it really was the primary concern they’d stay on the ground instead of flying. Flying is more of a risk than staying on the ground, whatever the weather. They’re taking a risk by taking off.

So just how much risk is acceptable? Well when balanced against airline profits I’d say quite a lot. The volcano, by all accounts, shows no sign of slowing down and the weather system we have at this time of year aren’t likely to disperse the ash any time soon. Anyone who knows anything about weather isn’t going to put money on it, I assure you.

I’d give it two weeks – I doubt the cloud will disperse but by then the airlines will have put so much political pressure on NATS and the government (before an election) that they’ll decide that safety really isn’t paramount and start flying again regardless.

There’ll also probably be a big row.

There’ll also probably be a big scare as soon as someone finds a jet engine with glass in it, followed by an even bigger row.

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