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Too soon for European airports to reopen?

Britain sent warships across the English Channel on Monday to rescue Britons stranded by the volcanic ash cloud, wire services reported, while a few small European airports reopened and airline officials blasted widespread closures that they said were overzealous and costing airlines "at least $200 million a day." Read the full article.

By Jodi Westrick  |  April 19, 2010; 11:02 AM ET  | Category:  National Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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The ferry/test flights were done at low altitude, some over mountainous terrain and all under VFR (Visual Flight Rules). Unlike the BA 747 that lost all engines over the Indian Ocean at about 37K feet, following encountering volcanic ash, and recovered because they restarted the engines at 10,000 feet, engine failures over populated areas would be a multi-faceted disaster as those on the ground could be killed too. Add to this the "ash" damage found in the last few days on NATO F/16's flying surveillance flights and you have a recipe for a real tragedy. Only GA aircraft, flying at low levels, are currently free to move. This is not about economics, it's about safety. And, passengers should ALWAYS come first.

I vote to keep aircraft on the ground until they test them, with crew only, at normal altitude over the oceans and above cities.

Posted by: carolineC1 | April 19, 2010 1:20 PM

I was scheduled to fly from Dulles to Heathrow last night (arriving today), and while I'm very eager to resume my planned trip (my companion is meant to be joining me on a later flight from another location, so it's a complicated mess to try to make sure we're both in the UK on the same dates at this point) . . . I'm just not sure.

I'd like there to be some scientific basis, vs. the soundbites of "zero tolerance" and "$200 million a day" -- test flights should be flown at altitudes and under conditions that commercial aircraft would be flying. I'm not sure that the test flights that have been done accurately reflect the safety of flying through an area that might have a higher ash concentration.

Here's hoping I can even GET a rebooking, since at this point there's a week's worth of backup ahead of me!

Posted by: seven_jaguar | April 19, 2010 6:01 PM

They should have made better contingency plans for this sort of thing. If skies were closed due to terrorism then plenty of resources would be available. But that wasn't the cause.

Posted by: blasmaic | April 20, 2010 7:29 AM

I registered not sure, because I don't have that kind of engineering expertise, and this is either an engineering problem or a cost/risk analysis.

Posted by: Dpete1 | April 20, 2010 8:32 AM

Q: Is it too soon for European airports to reopen? A: Stupid question. Why would my opinion matter on this? Do you really think public opinion should be used to determine something like this? Leave it to those who have a clue as to what they're talking about!

Posted by: tomguy1 | April 20, 2010 10:31 AM

The loss of one plane and passengers and crew is one too many just to get back in the air. The United States needs to plan ahead for our own problems if we have a volcano erupt on our continent. What does the NTSA and FAA have in it's playbooks?

Posted by: bobbo2 | April 20, 2010 3:17 PM

Finnish Air Force planes were sent up to test what the cloud does to engines, and it does destroy them. The ash enters the engines, block air supply, melts inside the engines and overheat them. The planes now have to be repaired.

Flying through the ash clouds is clearly a big risk.

Posted by: asoders22 | April 20, 2010 11:14 PM

I awoke early today in hopes of reading that a plane had crashed.

Posted by: blasmaic | April 21, 2010 5:43 AM

Who is going to take reponsbility if an aircraft goes down?

Posted by: csintala79 | April 21, 2010 8:38 AM

So I should comment if I am undecided? OK. I do not have enough facts to make an informed decision.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | April 21, 2010 9:47 AM

"I awoke early today in hopes of reading that a plane had crashed."

Really?

I am not charmed.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | April 21, 2010 9:50 AM

What is the cost of lives (god forbid) something bad happens?? And doesn't matter to take precautions? Then why are we talking about loss of money instead of loss of lives!! Air authorities are needed now to act accordingly than ever.

Posted by: fridamulindayahoocouk | April 21, 2010 11:23 AM

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