Several airlines report success in flying jets without passangers through areas said to present a danger to planes. Clearly there are pilots and airline managements who think the total ban on flying goes too far. We hear the Met Office has been flying around the UK looking at ash. I can hear some light aircraft in the skies and I was told the Scilly Islands passenger air service is still in the air, flying at relatively low levels. The issue at stake is our old friend “the science” – exactly what concentration or level of ash in the sky represents a hazard to engines? Is there any truth in the alternative explanation that those planes which have in the past encountered difficulties near to a volcano have had engines fail owing to a shortage of oxygen in the local atmosphere, with the engines re starting as soon as they are out of the immediate vicinity and the high concentrations of other gases?
The authorities should consider relaxing the total ban on flights from UK airports to permit airlines to send up freight transport only planes where the pilots are volunteers who judge the conditions to be acceptable. If pilots want to do this and if this works without incident more thought could be given to the total ban. If any plane encounters ash sufficient to stop an engine the complete ban should be reimposed.
Meanwhile the idea of allowing many more flights from the rest of the world to Spain to get people home, with more surface transport of all kinds being laid on to get people back from Spain, is a good one. Let us hope this is adopted soon, so families can be reunited, students can get back to their studies and employees back to their jobs.
Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both of 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU