The Great Debate UK
Within the space of just over a year, aircraft have now been grounded in Europe twice by ash blowing in from Iceland. This has caused many millions of pounds of disruption.
A key question uppermost in many minds is whether the frequency of eruptions in Iceland is increasing. The short answer here is ‘yes, probably’. But, it is not just the frequency of eruptions that matters. To impact the airspace of the United Kingdom and continental Europe, the ash has to be ejected high enough, and be fine enough that it can remain airborne for days. Then the winds have to conspire to push it towards Europe, and the winds blow over Iceland from the north only a small fraction of the time.
Studies by researchers at the University of Iceland have noted that the frequency of eruptions from volcanoes beneath the Vatnajökull ice cap (including Grímsvötn, which erupted in May this year) seems to wax and wane with a cycle of about 140 years.
Prior to the 1980s, there were no such eruptions from these volcanoes for over 40 years and there have now been four within 15 years. The reason for the apparent cyclicity is not established but, in any case, we appear very likely to have entered a phase of more eruptions.
-Professor Amir Sharif is professor of operations management and director of MBA programmes at Brunel Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.-
It will not have escaped anyone’s notice recently that volcanoes and aircraft do not mix. Six days of global flights being reduced by 30 percent of normal traffic volume amounted to a staggering $200 million per day loss (according to industry bodies such as IATA and the AEA).
from The Great Debate:
Philip Baum is the editor of Aviation Security International and the managing director of Green Light Limited, an aviation security training and consultancy company based in London. The opinions expressed are his own.
Whenever an individual manages to circumvent the security system designed to protect our airports, airlines and the people who use them, we ask why our countermeasures failed. And yet the real problem lies in our determination to screen everybody in exactly the same way using technologies that are not fit for purpose.
Airlines around the globe face losses of $11 billion in 2009, according to IATA. Margins are expected to fall this year and next, with analysts predicting carriers are likely to struggle for years to reach levels needed to produce an acceptable return for capital market investors.
Ryanair's warning that things are going to get worse in Europe's economies has understandably got investors in airline shares flustered. The airline's own shares fell by more than 8 percent.
The low-cost airline's finance director Howard Miller couldn't have been more stark in his comments: "There are no signs of recovery in any country across Europe. We think things are getting worse. There are no signs of green shoots so a tough winter for everyone".
- Rupert Darwall is a guest columnist. The views expressed are his own. A London-based strategist, he is author of Reluctant Managers, a study of Whitehall performance (KPMG, 2006) –
If April is the cruellest month, then July can be awful for people using Heathrow. Business travel is still humming and the holiday season is getting into full swing.
from The Great Debate:
Miles O’Brien is a pilot, airplane owner and freelance journalist who lives in Manhattan. His blog is located at www.milesobrien.com. The opinions expressed are his own.
Air France Flight 447 went down in a giant, dangerous, violent storm that might not have been survivable under any circumstances. But as the Airbus A-330 penetrated that huge system of thunderstorms, sensors, systems and computers on the plane started failing in a rapid cascade that would make any pilot’s head spin – even if he was not in the middle of extreme turbulence flying blind in the night.