Monday, 19 April 2010

A Farce of Volcanic Proportions

It seems the Icelandic Ash Cloud farce is about to end, with flights due to hopefully resume tomorrow.

What has struck me during this debacle is the similarity with man-made global warming and the same twisting of scientific data.

For instance, the story goes that ever since 1984 when a Jumbo jet lost all its engines after flying through a volcanic ash plume, flights will will be diverted or suspended whenever an ash plume is present.

But what is never stated is what scientific basis this is based on. For instance, what density of ash plume did that 747 encounter. It was obviously thick enough to clog the engines and abrade the windscreen, but exactly how much ash does there have to be in order to cause that sort of damage?

The truth, which would shock and annoy most travelers grounded around the world is the authorities just don't know. So, without significant scientific data, they ground flights when there is even the slightest concentration of ash. Just to be safe. No data gathering to establish safe parameters, no test flights, nothing.

Now I must be thick, because I remember getting the car covered in Shaharan sand in greater concentrations than this weekends layer of dust brought over at great height by the jetstream, doesn't that affect jets in the same way? I remember Mount Saint Helens erupting, sending half a mountain into the air and causing red sunsets for months, but planes still flew across the Atlantic, and none dropped out of the sky because of  volcanic dust.

So, whats really the truth behind this debacle? Incompetance? Incomplete science? Lack of Data? Over -Protectionism? Over-reliance on computer models? All the above? In reality, the real story behind this misery has yet to be uncovered.

UPDATE: UK Airspace is being opened. However, whether that's by the government's choice or not is debatable is it appears flights started to land at Heathrow before the official opening time.

It appears now that officials have been very over-cautious in their approach. I've been saying for days that there's been no need to ground aircraft. If anything, they only needed grounding for the first day of the crisis, as there was visible ash in the air. After that, planes have been kept on the ground needlessly.

Conspiracy theorists may want to form an opinion as to whether this was used as an election strategy by Labour (you know, vote Gordon, the best man in a crisis, keeping our skies safe, etc.) but I couldn't possibly comment.

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