My last post warned against caving into airline bosses who want us to fly through ash choked skies. Pleased to see that pilots have expressed concerns that reflect my own. Fellow blogger Hythlodaeus predicted this in my comments section only yesterday. The European Cockpit Association, which represents 40,000 of the chaps (and chapesses) with the gold braid, told The Guardian today that any attempt to establish "safe flying corridors" through airspace where ash is present should not be rushed.
The pilots' intervention came as The Association of Airport Operators [AOA] put pressure on the Civil Aviation Authority to relax the no fly rules. The AOA chairman Ed Anderson said: "The cost of ongoing disruption for the airlines and airports industry alone is £130m a day. Add to that the cost to businesses dependent on flights to move goods and people and the effect on the wider economy is critical. The government is also losing £5.5m a day in air passenger duty."
Is this a good reason to play Russian - or Icelandic - Roulette 20,000 ft above the ground?
I prefer to trust the warnings of Martin Chalk, the professional pilot who heads the European Cockpit Association: "Were a plane to lose all power halfway across the Atlantic and have to ditch, tragedy is almost certain because of the temperature of the water."
Don't particularly fancy one falling on dry land either. I would also point to GK's comment in my Zig-zagging through the sky post: even if planes don't fail while flying through the ash, the engines could sustain damage that would take effect at some point in the future. Frequent fliers, careful what you wish for!
In the meantime, let's all take some consolation in how the crisis has cut Europe's carbon emissions - thanks to Bella Caledonia for flagging up this illustration.
Any sympathy I might have had for the beleaguered industry disappeared when I read this story in the New Scientist about an atmospheric physicist who developed a sensor that allowed planes to detect volcanic dust. He has been unable to develop it because the industry refused to fund it.