Flying – what a difference a day makes

So the authorities now think it might be safe to fly from Scotland. There is no sign the volcano has stopped or the dust plume has gone away, so there must be a change in the “science”. Or is it just a change in the government’s view, under pressure from the aviation industry? I repeat my advice – let them fly freight planes if they wish and if they think it safe, and see what happens.

Meanwhile the Met Office has its critics. Their BBQ summer was cold and very wet. Their mild winter turned out to be full of ice and snow. The early Spring I heard about on the BBC did not come to me – the daffodils in my garden were around three weeks later than usual. Now they are being asked why they rely on computer simulations rather than observations to estimate the ash cloud.

The announcements that the Navy are going to pick up people from the continent have all the hallmarks of the triumph of spin over reality. Apparently two of the ships do not have orders, and the third that is going to pick up troops is not advertised as a ferry for civilians at any stated time or place.

Please government, do make up your minds and tell us what you are doing. If there is insufficient commercial ferry capacity, then say how you will supplement it.

Promoted by Christine Hill on behalf of John Redwood, both at 30 Rose Street Wokingham RG40 1XU


  1. Antisthenes
    April 20, 2010

    Sound idea send up freight planes, good one.

    What will Labour not do to get plaudits for themselves, what a daft idea using the Royal Navy to ferry people from the continent to the UK. People if they are on mainland Europe are quite capable of getting themselves home or has it turned into a war zone since I last looked out of the window.

  2. Richard
    April 20, 2010

    Brown and Milliband D are milking the use of the Ark Royal and other warships for all its worth. This also gives Brown a chance to put on a sonorous 'I'm in charge' voice, deployed during the 2007 floods and again in the banking crisis. Its important to remind people that in fact they have done nothing at all.

  3. AndyC
    April 20, 2010

    The Navy announcement immediately struck me as implausible… what would these ships do, tour the ports of Europe looking for grateful Labour voters to bring home in time for May 6th? Still, you have to admit, it got a headline or two!

  4. Pauper
    April 20, 2010

    Perhaps the wind's changed.

  5. no one
    April 20, 2010

    a freight plane on your head will not be fun, especially if it sets your town on fire

    the only possible graduated response I can see would be to allow 4 engined planes to fly but keep 2 engined planes on the ground, and then maybe fly at low flight levels in Europe or similar

  6. oldtimer
    April 20, 2010

    That would be the same Met Office that spins us the line about global warming, also based on computer simulations of doubtful authenticity.

    It is clear that the present bans on flights is doing serious financial damage both to the travelling public and to businesses. But it will be as nothing when compared to the damage that will be wrought by the Climate Change Act – extimated at c£18 billion a year for year after year after year.

  7. Max Van Horn
    April 20, 2010

    I think the Treasury is going to have to revise the figures for tax take and GNP this month, or even longer.Whenever you walk a financial tightrope it's always the unexpected that takes you down.

  8. Gammidgy
    April 20, 2010

    No John, the "science" has not changed. But perhaps some fools are now willing to risk somebody else's jet engines to get the goods and people moving again.

    Flying a jet through an ash cloud is never going to be entirely safe. Even if the plane survives, even if there is no immediate noticeable effect on the plane's performance, the ash can do horrible damage to the engines that could cause a later failure.

    See this report for pictures of blasted engines, from back in 2000 and from this weekend.

  9. AJC
    April 20, 2010

    Very little traffic in UK airspace currently but quite a lot of overflights from the West Coast – LA, Vancouver, Denver etc. – earlier going to Frankfurt!

  10. pipesmoker
    April 20, 2010

    The anthropogenic global warming/climate change lot have been unusually quiet during this volcanic eruption to date and I wonder why?

    My bet is that it won't be long before they use it to explain some anomaly in their theories.

  11. Chris
    April 20, 2010

    Well worth a read regarding the ash problem and the European viewpoint. Also sheds some light on the "speed" of decision making and the EU – at one point 200 contributors to one decision making exercise.

  12. Chris
    April 20, 2010

    See also:
    for update on European situation. Meeting of Eurocontrol today – outcome not yet known. However, 14,000 flights expected today cf with 8000 yesterday.

  13. Jonathan Bryce
    April 20, 2010

    The map here shows that the dust cloud has blown away from some parts of Scotland and Northern England temporarily, and that is why flights were allowed. Details as at 4pm 20th April 2010, if you look at this page later, it may have been updated with the current situation.

  14. Chris
    April 20, 2010

    Maybe Nigel Farage's comments from The Independent today are not so outrageous. I must say when I went on to the Eurocontrol website referred to in previous posting I had some misgivings:

    "UKIP spokesman Nigel Farage lashed out at EU rules for "needlessly" grounding flights.

    He said the Single European Sky policy was preventing British authorities from taking their own decisions.

    "The volcano ash is a problem, but the frenzied desire of the EU for more centralised control over the aviation sector is an even greater one," Mr Farage said.

    "I hope that the many people stranded away from home, and the airlines which have lost many millions in this EU debacle will now put the blame for needlessly grounded flights where it belongs."

    He went on: "It is the EU institutions which need a 'no-fly' zone, not British airspace."

    Reply: When I suggested testing the airspace by alloiwng freight flights bloggers were largely negative. Now Mr Farage lashes out I see opinion is changing! Yes, Eurocontrol made a mistake. So did the UK's own CAA, which took the suspension off after other EU jurisdicitons, so some of it was home made.

  15. ps
    April 20, 2010

    Is busting the British airline industry going to be this Labour governments industrial legacy? Previous labour governments killed the British car industry, shipbuilding, Steel etc

    Is this how L***G Brown protects his economic recovery? Can DC not question whether he has lost his marbles. I think most of the electorate would probably agree. Labour are a bloody disaster.

  16. Smolt in Paris
    April 20, 2010

    1. See how people were successfully flying through abrasive airborne dust almost 70 YEARS AGO:

    (advert left out)
    In theory any aeroplane with piston engines (as opposed to jet/turbofan/turboprop) could be adapted. Perhaps a friendly aero-engineer could confirm this? And what about military helicopters in Afghanistan?

    2. Why all the pressure on Channel ports and Spain? On the doorstep of Paris, easily served by Metro, buses, trains and the motorway, is the Port of Gennevilliers on the Seine. It certainly takes medium-sized ships, there's about 15 km of quaysides and a Customs post. The Seine flows all the way to Rouen, Le Havre and the English Channel… Any entrepreneurs out there?

  17. Lindsay McDougall
    April 20, 2010

    So now we can ask the fundamental question: should the authorities have a right to prevent airlines from flying or merely a right to offer scientific advice? After all, would BA deliberately incur a significant risk of engine failure, given that they could be sued out of sight for negligence if an aircraft crashed?

    Let's switch to rail track maintenance. Notwork Rail spends three times as much as did Railtrack. Granted that Railtrack skimped on maintenance, is there not a happy medium? If you degrade safety from 100% to 99.9% by halving maintenance costs, is that a bad bargain? Just in passing, one of the reasons that Railtrack skimped on track maintenance was that the Department for Transport (our dear Stephen Byers) forced them to reduce their track access charges, denying them revenue.

    There has been a massive loss of individual and corporate liabilty LIBERTY under this benighted government. This is a subject on which John Redwood and David Davis could produce a well informed press release. Still no attack dogs? Does our leader still think that constructive engagement is enough? Negative campaigning works.

  18. The college tutor
    April 21, 2010

    I see the Rome embassy put Brits on coaches 24 hours ago for the channel ports, while Gordon put a carrier in the channel to gum up the ferry terminals. Give usprofessionals any time!

  19. no one
    April 21, 2010

    are they seriously expecting us to think the skys are safe suddenly?

    how not to support the people with substance this, politics at its very worst

    i wont be flying thats for sure

    shambles total and utter shambles

    i hope some politcian gets locked up if something goes wrong but we all know that never happens, power without responsibility

  20. no one
    April 22, 2010

    today RAF Typhoon fighters have been grounded due to ash deposits found in the engines, just out of interest what air cover does the UK have if the enemy has a more ash resistant fighter?

  21. George
    April 25, 2010

    Well worth a read regarding the ash problem and the European viewpoint. Also sheds some light on the "speed" of decision making and the EU – at one point 200 contributors to one decision making exercise.

  22. Nick
    April 25, 2010

    today RAF Typhoon fighters have been grounded due to ash deposits found in the engines, just out of interest what air cover does the UK have if the enemy has a more ash resistant fighter?

  23. freesoft
    May 5, 2010

    Thank you..really informative!!

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