The Volcanic Ash Cloud – Would you fly?

I am sure that many of us know people who have been affected by the Volcanic Ash cloud (thanks Iceland – I am also very sick of the “Cash/Ash” jokes that are wearing a little thin now) – indeed some of us will have had holidays cancelled. One of my colleagues was in the Isle of Man on Wednesday and finally got home on Saturday afternoon. Another friend of mine is stuck in Miami (nice place to be stuck – but when you’re going home you want to go home).

But is this blanket ban on air travel really justified or is this just another example of Media and Government fuelled hysteria?

The reason for the ban is what happened to a British Airways 747 in 1982 (The aircraft was called “City of Edinburgh”) which flew through a cloud of volcanic ash. All 4 engines failed and the plane became a huge glider with 350 people on board. The captain of that flight managed to get the engines restarted at about 10,000ft so disaster was averted. However that plane had flown directly over the actual volcano. This ash that is covering the UK is from over 1500 miles away and will be much less dense.

So should planes be allowed to fly? The problem is now there has been so much coverage in the media – just one problem/accident/incident whether related to the ash or not would cause total meltdown. On the other side of the coin we cannot continue to be grounded indefinitely – so it seems like one huge Catch 22.

Some airlines have conducted test flights which seem to have gone smoothly. Willie Walsh the CEO of British Airways was even on board their test flight to show he wasn’t worried. Would you fly if the ban was lifted? Are we the victims of media and Government hysteria (the same Government that predicted that hundreds of thousands of people would die from Swine Flu)?

Or are they correct in their caution?

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