It is appalling to see how the media and the airline industry lobbyists are blaming the scientists for the air traffic disruption from the volcanic ash
There are predictable calls for subsidies and Ryanair said it will not reimburse passengers costs beyond refunding initial fares.
Two thoughts come to mind
a) Why are mobile phones banned on planes even when they are on the ground? Apparently, the reason is – the equipment on planes has not been tested against mobile radiation i.e. in the strictest sense every component on a plane needs to be tested for impact of radiation from phones(which is not practical to do especially for older planes). Now, consider volcanic ash – a far more disruptive element especially considering the nature of the eruption.
Nothing has been tested under these conditions and there is a well known case of all four engines of a 747 stalling under similar conditions.
Hence, caution is justified. And yet, there are calls to say that the airspace should have been opened up sooner mainly from people who have a commercial interest with potentially little understanding of the science behind it
b) Secondly, in the recent Italian earthquake in La quila, a scientist had accurately predicted the earthquake almost to the hour by monitoring radon gas emissions.
These warnings were ignored with tragic consequences.
There is a lesson here ..
Don’t blame/ ignore the scientists just because the industry and the lobbyists can shout louder.
Yes, volcanic ash IS injurious to a plane’s health.
See pictures of damaged engine parts from BA 9 due to volcanic ash on display at Auckland Museum.
Think of this picture every time you hear the airline industry and media blame the scientists!
IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani said.
“For an industry that lost $9.4bn last year and was forecast to lose a further $2.8bn in 2010, this crisis is devastating,” IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani said. “Airspace was being closed based on theoretical models, not on facts.”
I would be interested to know what ‘facts’ IATA chief Giovanni Bisignani had about the impact of large scale volcanic eruptions on air traffic.
Meanwhile, the above image IS a fact! I will think of it on my next flight! So should you!
And here is an illustruation of the 747 in 1982 losing all four engines due to volcanic ash(the ‘fire’ around the plane is St Elmo’s fire effect)
and another image which shows the dangers to jet engines source BBC
Image sources: wikipedia