More weird news concerning the volcanic eruption / air disruption which grounded about 7 million people:
It now appears that.... :
- The decision to close air-space over much of Europe was based on a computer model operated by the Meteorological Office's Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, which prompted a warning from the Met Office, which triggered the wider European ban, via Eurocontrol, the Brussels-based air traffic control centre.The warnings from the Met Office were not based on empirical scientific evidence, but on a “model” running on mathematical projections. (Telegraph)
- The European sky was partly re-open not because of scientific analysis of the cloud but because airlines conducted some 40 or so test flights of their own.... and it was fine! (So they say). (FT). Talking about empirical evidence!
- Well, there have definitely been some problems as some NATO F-16 fighter jets flying over Finland had serious problems with their engines. (Reuters), as did a Belgian F16.
"The slightest risk cannot be taken or someone might blame the regulators, whose job is not to assess risk but avert it. Even an airline company, with everything to lose, is not allowed to assess its own risk."
What is clear is that no one knows much about anything:
European authorities were not sure about scientific questions, such as what concentration of ash was hazardous for jet engines, or at what rate ash fell from the sky, Mr Ruete, the EU’s director-general for mobility and transport, said. “It’s one of the elements where, as far as I know, we’re not quite clear about it,” he admitted. (FT)Interestingly, the system is different in the U.S.
While the US system leaves air carriers with the responsibility to determine whether or not it is safe to fly “the American model is not a model of less safety”, he said. “You just need to look at the statistics to see that.”
Under European rules, member states have the power to decide whether or not their airspace should be open. But decisions during the past week have been guided by computer models from the Volcanic Ash Centre in London and Eurocontrol, an organisation that co-ordinates air travel. (FT)
The Germans seem to have started measuring the concentration of dangerous volcanic ash in the air.... It's about time, I'd say.
Meanwhile, this is far from over as a new ash cloud is coming towards the UK and probably to the rest of Europe. Meanwhile the Icelanders are relieved that this crisis is not of their own making.
NOTE : Yes, there could be dire consequences in the months to come or some good news in the short term but scary scenario in the long term.