The IATA is pissed about the airport closings in Europe, and they’re saying stuff like this:
Europeans are still using a system based on a theoretical model which does not work… instead of using a system and taking decisions on facts and on risk assessment.
Though flights are stopped, in part due to predictions from a computer model of ash spread, airlines are sending up test flights that aren’t being damaged.
If flights resume, expect a long-running wingnut global warming meme about the reliability of computer models and why, once again, we should never trust scientists.
The model they’re supporting is the model that values profit over human life. Brilliant.
I thought it was incredibly stupid that people would think that risk could be quantified as a mathematical formula, but this is exceeds even that.
Ya think? Personally, on the question of what happens when the engines of a jet aircraft flame out and stall, I’d have more faith in the equations of aerodynamics (i.e., thrust=0 => altitude decreases) than in the magic of the marketplace.
The difference of course, is the ash distribution model is rather easy to check, as the airlines are in fact doing.
If the model being used isn’t modeling the ash distribution correctly, then, well, it’ll be changed and it’ll do better next time. Thats how science works.
Any idiot that flies a gas turbine engine into volcanic ash gets exactly what he fucking deserves. I spent some time in a certain desert region on an turbine-powered M1A1 and know quite well what will happen to those stupid bastards. I spent 95% of my maintenance time banging out vpacks.
That ash will rip those engines to shreds and planes will literally fall out of the sky.
Aerodynamics is one thing, but I’ve yet to see predictions of winds being consistently accurate.
@Brick Oven Bill:
Haven’t you been banned yet, you sick racist fuck?
The unreliability of weather and climate computer models is actually the biggest problem with global warming theory. They really are basically guesswork.
It’s just that this fact is irrelevant. The details of what exactly climate change would do were always guesswork. They don’t affect whether it’s occurring, or whether it’s dangerous. Only how dangerous.
Please whoever it is stop your BOB crap. You’re not clever. It’s not funny. You’re just an ass.
In a true free market, consumers should be allowed to choose those airlines with routes through volcanic ash clouds, as long as their life insurance policies are canceled and they are barred from suing the airlines upon their deaths, and minors would not be allowed.
So is IATA offering such a risk assessment, telling airline passengers the probability that any given plane will run into trouble? … I didn’t think so.
Risk assessment? With an airplane full of people and topped off with the fuel tanks? They’re all for flying through the ash until a plane crashes, then they’ll all be “oh we didn’t mean for that to happen.”
Snarki, child of Loki
Hey, there would be huge support for “damn the ash, full speed ahead” flights.
As long as the passengers are all climate skeptics, republican Team Leaders, Teabaggers, and such ilk.
Straight through that wimpy ash cloud! GOP Jayzus will protect them, you betcha!
@El Cid: And they are forbidden to crash land on any other people or significant property.
@scav: Okay, good! Or the planes could be completely fitted all over with super-high-explosives which would be triggered if they were crashing, to avoid risk to other consumers!
And when some of the planes crash because their engines stop, you know what will happen. Hoocoodanode there was a problem, except that the government should have done something.
@Brick Oven Bill:
…you know that Plato was a dunderhead who liked to blather on and on about things he didn’t remotely understand, speculating with absolutely no evidence and claiming he was infallibly right? The absolute opposite of his mentor Socrates’s philosophy, by the way? And that Plato thought the butt prints of young boys in the sand was a social problem?
Hey, I’m just askin’.
@Brick Oven Bill:
I would never presume to speak for Plato or Socrates either, but I suspect that both of them would have thought you were a dickhead.
No, no, no, a thousand times no. The current flight restrictions are just the other side of the global warming “(mis)adventures in human decision-making”.
The problem here is that there are (apparently) essentially *only* the computer models to go by. That and two incidents of planes flying directly into high-density ash clouds. (High density as in passengers noticed the smell in the cabin.)
What is needed here is science, i.e. some kind of experiments or other direct evidence of what the situation really is. Presumably there is some data confirming that ash particles are where the computer models say they should be. However, do we know how dense the ash cloud is? Or what the maximum safe density even is? These are the critical questions it seems, yet very little has been done to gather empirical data on them. Well, actually, several major airlines decided to fly some empty planes up and look around. They reported no difficulties in the air, or even indications of ash scratching the fuselage or damaging the engines when back on the ground.
It’s the flip-side of global warming, because here we’re going nuckin’ futs over scant evidence & theory whereas the ample evidence & theory pointing to global warming disaster is just met with a shrug.
Brick Oven Bill
Work equals force times distance TattooSydney.
Last week I sold a vibrating butt plug, yesterday a complete set of lover’s restraints. The anticipation of what may come today, along with the fluid and sculpted figures of many of my female co-workers, bring dignity, and happiness.
This I know.
Hel-lo! Speaking as one of those persons unable to leave right now (Amsterdam: day 14), I am here to tell you, erring on the side of what science says might be unsafe over what the market says might be *costly*?
If those are the parameters, happy to go with science, every time.
@Tattoosydney: Whole paper (well, abstract of the paper at least) on BoB’s name in Mayan for you.
I wouldn’t get on a plane now, but I’m a cautious thing. I don’t care about test flights. The Titanic made it through it’s test just fine.
This is the same type of situation as the Titanic. Money motive above common, or not so common sense. One plane goes down and then the excuses will be all over the place.
As long as there is a chance of ash meeting up with a jet engine, the ground under one’s feet looks good.
There are little British craft sailing and picking up stranded airline passengers, like Dunkirk.
Caution is good, caution is great, but by god, lets get some actual data on this stuff!
And freaking out about the safety of air travel because of this is just incredibly stupid.
@Maude: My first thought was of Dunkirk when they announced that this morning. Go Royal Navy!
Bill E Pilgrim
The problem is that people can be far too theoretical in Europe (“That’s fine in practice, but it will never work in theory” is a local joke in France) so in this case some people suspect that they are being overly theorectical and too cautious.
And in this case, they’d be wrong. And that’s just part of it, the rest of it is just people freaking out about loss of revenue, and not giving a shit about safety.
It’s a boy crying wolf thing to some degree, though, is my point. Not so much about global climate change, though, they actually tend to believe the scientists about that in Europe.
I’ll bet that’s a tough situation being forced to bunker down for 14 days at a table at an Amsterdam “coffeeshop” surfing the internet while catching a buzz and a latte, and blogging about your contemplations of science, markets, and such. It would be easy for one in your position to conclude “I’ll go with the science that says it’s unsafe for me to leave here”.
The empirical model demands that we test the thesis that it’s not safe to fly through the ash cloud. So we really need to fly a representative, statistically significant sample of planes through the cloud. To control as many variables as possible, the planes should resemble normal traffic – that is stuffed full of passengers.
We’ll prove this theory one way or the other…
@cmorenc: Yeah, the unlimited per diem money being handed out to those stuck away from home is one of the conspicuous features of this event. Yee-haw!
It seems obvious that this is about the airlines jockeying for a handout. If they can cast some FUD on the shutdown, they may shake more cash out of the EU.
I doubt that they seriously want to send up planes and wait until one of them drops out of the sky. The PR would be disastrous.
It’s not just the morally prudent thing to do; those planes cost a hell of a lot of money.
And given how the airline industry likes to do the bare minimum on maintenance, I have zero confidence that the engines would be cleaned adequately.
Last night I heard some interview of people stuck at airports on the radio and before shutting off the engine and getting out of the car I heard somebody say she was “very very angry”, about the massive inconvenience this was causing her, and I wanted all those people to be rounded up for a plane that falls out of the sky. People are babies.
The last time this volcano erupted it did so for two years, so just waiting the ash cloud out on the precautionary principle is not going to work.
The airlines aren’t arguing to get their planes crashed; they’re arguing that there is much less ash than the authorities fear and it is at the wrong level to do anything to the planes.
Shut down all US air traffic on the “just in case” theory for a week and get back to me on how people feel about that. It’s chaos on this side of the pond. The folks commenting here appear to have zero understanding of what this is doing (e.g. 1 million brits stranded overseas) or why there is so much anger at the european governments (they shut down the skies over the continent and are getting around to their first collective meeting…today.)
David in NY
I thought the Cheney-ites were one-percenters. If there was a one-percent possibility of a guy knowing about a terrorist plot, then we should torture the bejesus out of him, etc. So I’d say there’s a vastly greater possibility than that of a plane flying through that ash cloud having its engines go out. So what’s the problem?
I would never presume to speak for Plato, but it is a pretty good guess that he would agree that there is dignity in work.
Ya know what? My go-to guy for opining on the dignity of labor would probably not be an aristocrat from a slave society.
WTF is the risk assessment supposed to be based on if not the model of the ash cloud? Or is he saying the airlines’ risk assessment (another computer model) does not pay attention to natural conditions at all? That’s encouraging!
Meanwhile, there’s no damage reported to real airplanes from the scientists’ imaginary ash cloud. What’s that? Oh.
I suggest that Europe open the skies to as many jets as the airlines want to fly…as long as they’re only ferrying airline executives around.
@cmorenc: Hee, yes; it could be much worse. There are people who are FRANTIC to get where they need to be [one guy checked out of the hotel and TOOK A CAB BACK TO SPAIN yesterday]; I can afford to ride it out a bit until the bosses decide what to do next, since they are paying for it. Point taken.
But do I really want to be a test case because industry is getting anxious about lost revenue? No. Not really.
@Phoebe: Someone should tell that woman to submit her complaints to the volcano. It is, after all, the guilty party.
Bill E Pilgrim
@Something Fabulous: Yeah it’s not all people stuck on vacation in Paris, there are also people stuck in the US from France, for instance. 4,000 of them in New York alone: (In French).
Considering what hotels in New York cost, that’s no laughing matter.
It’s a mess, no doubt about it, you can certainly see why people are anxious for it to be over. Have to get it right though, one plane falling from the sky with glass-fused engines is way too high a price to pay even for having it all up and running again.
@David in NY:
You misunderstand the Cheney doctrine. What it really means is that a Cheneyite will accept any evidence that supports his preferred course of action as proof that it should be followed. So a 1% risk that a country we want to invade is dangerous is enough evidence to support an invasion. But a 1% chance that global warning is not true is enough reason to do nothing about it.
Here’s something about the Finnish Air Force (Yes, it’s there). Seems like it’s not so unreasonable after all to be cautious.
In any case, if just one airplane went down because of the ash, all hell would break loose.
But the first problem here is that the airlines know that if an overly cautious line is taken, there’s a serious possibility of them going out of business, and not on a very long timescale either. That pretty much means that any market based safety correction is broken at this point and it’s not likely to be a good idea to trust their judgement.
Flying around one or two planes for an hour or so might be perfectly ok, but what about several flights a day for a month or two? If the engines aren’t designed to tolerate the long term low level damage that could be caused, we could see planes starting to fall out of the sky after the damage has started to accumulate. Is there a maintenance procedure for this sort of thing? I’m thinking not…
By the way, my sister and her family are currently stranded in Australia and will be there for probably a couple more weeks.
It might be possible to conduct systematic sampling of the atmosphere, possibly using propeller-driven aircraft, which may be less susceptible to damage from the volcanic ash. You could fly the planes at various altitudes, across different flight paths, with some kind of sequential dust sampler. You could thereby measure the amount, type and size of the particles found in a given, limited 3-dimensional region (packet of atmosphere). Doing that repeatedly, with many samplers spread over a large region, could give you good, actual empirical data on the cloud.
I am sure that somebody is thinking about this; on the other hand, the logistics of such a program would be formidable.
UGH! NOW THE LARGER volcano in Iceland has begun to erupt and spout a plume. If this turns out to be a larger, more concentrated version of the plume from it’s little brother that induced the shutdown of European airspace, it could be a very long time before ANY commercial passengers fly into, out of, or through European airspace.
We could have a new class of involuntary American expatriates living abroad, and vice versa European ones here.
@Maude: Ahem. http://bit.ly/9eFibd
@cmorenc: The second-volcano reports seem to be in error: http://twitter.com/search?q=breakingnews
do you have a source for that? I had heard that there was significant concern that what you reported might happen, but I can’t find anything confirming that it has yet. It would certainly be very bad…