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Give Me A Break… — Why Now?
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Give Me A Break…

The BBC says that the IATA is still kvetching and looking for a government hand-out: Ash cloud chaos: Recriminations over Europe flight ban

There have been bitter recriminations over the almost week-long closure of large parts of European airspace because of volcanic ash from Iceland.

Airlines are seeking compensation from governments over the unprecedented shutdown, which they say cost them $1.7bn (£1.1bn).

But scientists have said regulators had few options beyond flight bans.

Virgin Group chairman Sir Richard Branson meanwhile told the BBC that he believed governments would be unlikely to impose a blanket ban again.

“I think if they’d sent up planes immediately to see whether the ash was actually too dangerous to fly through or to look for corridors where it wasn’t very thick, I think that we would have been back flying a lot sooner,” he said.

The bans were imposed because volcanic ash – a mixture of glass, sand and rock particles – can seriously damage jet engines.

In the UK, training on Royal Air Force Typhoon jets was suspended on Thursday after ash deposits were found in one aircraft’s engines.

An RAF spokesman said Typhoons were “very high performance jets” and staff were “just being extra cautious”.

Meanwhile Boeing, the manufacturer of many of the airliners that IATA companies use, reports in their in-house magazine: “Boeing has always advocated that flight crews avoid volcanic ash clouds or exit them immediately if an encounter occurs.” This translates as “your warranty is void is you choose to fly through this crap.” They explain in the article all of the problems that can be caused by flying through the ash and dust.

According to Danger Room the US military is avoiding the ash.

So the military, which actually inspects its engines, continues to avoid the ash, while the airlines are acting like it isn’t a problem. The people who take off and land at airports where people are shooting at them, atmospheric scientists, and Boeing don’t think it’s safe to fly through the muck, but commercial carriers say “don’t worry, be happy”.


1 Steve Bates { 04.22.10 at 3:37 pm }

Oh, for Crist’s sake, as a few people probably still say in Florida. Volcanic ash is an “act of God” (i.e., an act of nature) and every insurance company I know of exempts those from coverage, on the simple grounds that there’s nothing anyone can do to prevent them, and the consequences are so awful.

So Virgin asks it customers to take that kind of risk? There’s a kind of corporate craziness in that request, yet another indicator that corporate dominance of damn near everything these days is just plain bad for people. A company not structured to be hellbent on profit and nothing else would be, I’m confident, more respectful of human life. Bryan, have you ever risked a business customer’s life for the sake of your profit? Me neither. And neither should the big guys.

2 Bryan { 04.22.10 at 6:13 pm }

Actually, it would be if it weren’t being tracked and mapped, which means the insurance companies will look upon flying through it as a willfully reckless act in the face of the evidence, and refuse to cover the airlines for any losses caused by it. Boeing has already essentially told them to forget warranties if they fly into it. The military has already reported that it messes up engines.

I just hope they are lucky and no one has to die to show how stupid the IATA members are.

3 Kryten42 { 04.22.10 at 8:47 pm }

Greed… It’s what makes the World turn baby!! Yeah!

The upside is that anyone who decides to take a flight is either a moron or loves high-stakes gambling. The stakes don’t get higher than ones own life. Either way… wouldn’t be much of a loss. *shrug* Unfortunately though, it’s usually the truly innocent that pays the price (like kids dragged along by their moronic parents.) So much for the vaunted survival instinct, and the supposed super mothers instinct to protect their children.

Oh well… and so, nothing changes.

4 Bryan { 04.22.10 at 8:50 pm }

At this point ocean liners are looking like a good investment. Of course, not so great during the hurricane season.

5 Badtux { 04.22.10 at 10:44 pm }

Long term, ocean liners are a good investment because of two words: Energy density. It takes a *lot* of energy to keep aluminium tubes full of sausage creatures aloft in the sky. It takes very little energy to push a boat along — indeed, the sun and wind provide plenty of energy for that purpose, albeit it’ll take the boat a leisurely while to get anywhere.

So why is that a big deal? Two words: “Peak oil.”

Take it from there :).

I am currently looking at houses. I am looking at houses close to old downtown areas where there are railroad tracks or mass transit corridors. My bet is that as energy becomes more and more expensive, what we’ll see is the United States developing the same sort of “donut” as the rest of the world, instead of the empty-middle donut that current U.S. cities resemble… i.e., the middle of the donut will be the juicy cream filled center of a tasty pastry where everybody wants to live, while around it will be just some stale tasteless dough that nobody really wants. Over the long term, I’m gonna make a killin’ ;).

6 Bryan { 04.23.10 at 12:03 am }

Airplanes were always about speed over efficiency, it is the only reason they are used, because they are many times more expensive that other forms of mass transit.

Housing near mass transit will definitely increase in the future as people finally accept that they can’t afford to commute to work in a car. I lived in Europe for years without a car and didn’t miss it.

Atrios keeps telling people this, but few really believe him. You are making a great investment.