Depending on the outcome of the election next week, some of you may feel the need to hide away. If so I can recommend going underground on the island of South Uist. If you still have a job that offers paid holidays...
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.
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The great ash backlash has begun. Never mind that Dr Colin Brown of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers has explained very carefully (see video) how jet engines operating at extremely high temperatures can have their cooling systems jiggered by this fine dust. With airlines losing money and supermarkets running out of maple syrup, not to mention all those sun burned Brits moaning about the cost of hire limos from the Algarve to Madrid...we are all getting a bit bored with volcano stories now thanks very much. Time for the news agenda to move on. If only seismic activity would play the media game...
Our impatience is now being exploited by big business, principally the airlines, who would like us to think it's another ludicrous health and safety story, like kids being banned from playing conkers. There is, they assure us, "a way through the dust" Well I don't fancy zig zagging between killer clouds to keep airline shareholders happy. When the fly ban is lifted, we need to feel assured it's because the skies really are safe - not because experts have been leaned on. As Dr Brown explained on the news tonight,(the video above is earlier) it's no time for a "Let's give it a go guys!" approach. Granny stranded in Tenerife may be irritating, but if a plane's jet engines fail, it will fall from the sky. This means, says plain speaking Dr Brown, "everybody dies". There's just no way around it.
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One of my favourite radio presenters and bloggers Tom Morton has seen his Beatcroft in Shetland covered in a film of volcanic ash. Check out his pictures. Might this be what's in store for the rest of the country? I wonder if the ash is like Dead Sea mud, good for the complexion? And has anyone figured out how much these grounded flights have reduced our carbon footprint this week? I love this story because there is nobody to blame...
Andy Wightman Scotland's foremost authority on landownership has some thoughts on how much rental Scotland could earn from its seabed - answers on his blog, Land Matters. Needless to say it is quite considerable. He suggests we could set up a renewables fund that could rival the oil fund proposed by the SNP. What is stopping us?
A report by the UK Treasury Select Committee, chaired by Michael Fallon MP, has given a real boost to land campaigners who want the Scottish parliament to control the seabed around our coasts. In evidence to the committee, the Crown Estate admitted it did not own the seabed. The committee's final report says the current system doesn't work in the public interest. I recently filed a post called Who Owns Scotland's Seabed picking up on Andy Wightman'spoint that future marine energy developments could generate considerable revenue. But under the current system that money goes straight to London, and all decisions about rentals etc are made by the Crown Estate whose offices are in Kensington. In fact, there is no reason why it couldn't be administered in Scotland for the benefit of Scotland. Bizarre that the SNP in Holyrood hasn't made more of this. It's not often you get London saying Scotland should have more revenue raising powers!