Tuesday, May 18, 2010

New rules to aid ash flight chaos.

I have been caught out a couple of times by the ash cloud and have had my travel plans curtailed. Like everyone else I have found this annoying and incredibly inconvenient, but I have always thought that safety first is a sensible policy, so I really don't get this:

New rules to allow planes to fly at higher ash densities for a limited time will be introduced at noon on Tuesday, the Civil Aviation Authority has said. To fly in the ash zone, airlines will need to get agreement from their aircraft and engine manufacturers. The authority's move has been welcomed by airlines, regulators and manufacturers. It comes after heavy criticism of the current no-fly zone system by airline chiefs.
It's as if the airlines are saying that it is becoming too expensive to put safety first and we are now searching for whatever they regard as an acceptable level of risk.

We all hate being inconvenienced, but they only need to get this wrong once and disaster will strike.

CAA chief executive Andrew Haines said "unprecedented situations" required "new measures" and the challenge posed by the volcano could not be underestimated.

"The world's top scientists tell us that we must not simply assume the effects of this volcano will be the same as others elsewhere.

"Its proximity to the UK, the length of time it is continuously erupting and the weather patterns are all exceptional features.

"The answer can only come, therefore, from aircraft and engine manufacturers establishing what level of ash their products can safely tolerate," he said.

It does seem to me as if we are now saying it is too damaging to profit to put safety first. That strikes me as a dangerous policy.

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