So… we are cleared to fly again. European air traffic having been at a virtual standstill for the last week, it is now decided that all is well and we can resume flights.
Is the volcano finished then? – no its not… What’s changed? – not much really; the wind will change in a few days, but for now the situation is mostly as it has been for the last week..
The only thing that has changed is how governments are viewing the situation. There are about 200,000 people stranded – and frankly – many of them are voters.
The decision not to fly was based on theoretical models of ash drift (because as you may remember, the ash could not be seen or detected by radar), these ‘models’ are now being viewed as perhaps a bit over cautious and so the danger has been reassessed as being in the same category as ‘flying a plane near a flock of flatulent pigeons’.
Much of the advice not to fly came from our friends at the Met Office; yes, the same people who brought us last years’ Bar-B-Q Summer and then followed it up with the ‘warmer than average’ Winter we just enjoyed. Presumably they have been using the same computers for these ‘modeling’ exercises…
Whilst no one would argue with the need for safety we have to look at managing the risk; summarily closing down all flights across a continent also carries risks – as well as the considerable expense and inconvenience generated.
Was the Met office right to recommend total closure? – who knows, and any findings will obviously be ‘spun’ or massaged with words like ‘safety is paramount…’.
Apparently even the BBC is considering moving their weather information source to somewhere else (more here).
Perhaps they should just spend a fiver on getting some some seaweed sent up to London and hang it on the roof – it could hardly do worse.