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Europe Moves to Change Volcanic Ash Regulations after Another 1,000 Flights Grounded

May 17, 2010 at 5:00 PM | by | ()

Another weekend, another thousand or so flights grounded by Big Ash Problems in Europe. Two weekends ago, the mainland saw airport shutdowns from Austria to Ireland. This weekend, the big winners were clustered around London, with both Heathrow and Gatwick experiencing closures, in addition to Amsterdam-Schiphol.

In related news, the EU has proposed new rules for how thick ash clouds have to be before airplanes get grounded. The old regulations combined overcautious bureaucrats, poor coordination, and insufficient data - the result being an undenial overreaction to the original eruption. The new model is much closer to how the United States handles these things, costing that dramatic safety advances have been made in recent decades, and might avoid needlessly losing the airline industry billions of dollars.

Of course the changes might be too little too late, and anyway they're far from being implemented. Many airline officials thought that this weekend's closures—and the millions in revenue that they lost—were largely unnecessary. Apparently regulators are still working off the models that failed them during the initial panic, rather than actual measurements of actual dust. If that's true, and airline executives are claiming that it is, it would be pretty difficult to justify, on account of how those models were wrong.

The changes also come after European countries complained that the US airlines grounded by EU regulators should have had to cover the costs of stranded passengers. Very bold, indeed.

[Photo: NASA / Wiki Commons]

Related Stories:
· 1,000 flights affected due to volcanic ash [Toronto Sun]
· Airline Industry [Jaunted]
· Airline News [Jaunted]

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