The criticism with regard to the blanket ban is growing. KLM and Lufthansa made test flights on Sunday and found no evidence whatsoever that the current atmosphere over Europe is harmful to the machines operated by both airliners. The Dutch society for airline pilots (Vereniging Nederlandse Verkeersvliegers; VNV) has called upon authorities (NL) to restore scheduled flights, like, NOW!, saying that pilots are perfectly able to assess the dangers for themselves, thank you very much. And anyway:
If you go up now, you can see all the way to Denmark. No cloud to be seen.There are a couple of noteworthy aspects to this story. Readers of this blog (and blogs like it) will not find them particularly surprising. But all in all this episode is a nice illustration of what ails us, here in the EUnion.
First, there is the illusive ash cloud. Completely invisible to the naked eye, it is trotted out as being so severe as to completely paralyse air traffic. However, as Dr. North reports, the existence of the cloud, its density and the hazard it brings, has not been actually observed. Rather, the whole of the shutdown is based on a computer simulation at the Vulcanic Ash Advisory Center, itself a part of the UK Met Office, the very same that brought us computer modelled global warming.
The model used is called the NAME atmospheric dispersion model. This, and similar models are supposedly well proven and are used to predict the spread of pollutants following a chemical or nuclear leak or even the spread of airborne diseases. Not, however, the spread of vulcanic ash plumes, a different beast entirely. Thus a sizeable segment of the European transport sector is shut-down on the basis of a simulation model, with no observable data (through air sampling, as is customary in the US) to trouble the modellers. Much as is customary in climate science, you'll note.
However, in this case reality on the ground, or rather: in the air, is swiftly catching up. After Lufthansa made their test flights a spokesmen for Lufthansa said: “We found no damage to the engines, fuselage or cockpit windows. This is why we are urging the aviation authorities to run more test flights rather than relying on computer models.” Giovanni Bisignani, the head of IATA, accuses the Europeans of creating a “mess”, of banning flights without a proper risk assessment and of not showing leadership.
According to Bruno Waterfield, a big part of the problem is the powerful, deeply conservative and risk averse environmentalist strain in European politics. It looks as if the European Union’s famous precautionary principle is behind this absurdly risk averse air travel ban. Europe has lost its nerve. It relied on UN and British Met Office computer simulations rather than real science, that is testability, samples and experimental test flights. It took pilots (who led the fight back, first at KLM and Lufthansa, then at Air France and British Airways) and airlines to make the tests that could challenge the tyranny of experts who use theoretical models and the precautionary principle to make policy, this time at an obviously huge and unacceptable cost.
All this might be corrected swiftly, had we still been a collection of sovereign nations. As early as Sunday, Transport minister Camiel Eurlings was quoted as saying he wanted normal air traffic to resume as soon as possible. Eurlings being the minister in charge, you'd expect him to decide that at least Dutch air space could open up for traffic once more. However, that is not the case.
The NOS blandly reports that Eurlings will attend a video conference with other EUnion transport ministers to talk about relaxing the flying ban across the EUnion. But, even though bland, it gives us a glimpse of the starry blue elephant in the room that everyone in politics and MSM is doing its level best to ignore.
Via EURef we learn the plan we are working to comes within the EU's "single sky" framework and is dictated by Eurocontrol, on the back of IACO guidelines. This means that European ministers have very little discretionary powers. Eurlings can not unilaterally decide to open up Dutch skies to regular traffic, but will have to defer to the real bosses, our EUnion masters. But, as the MSM reporting over the last days has shown, neither Eurlings nor the MSM will point out that the very guidelines that have created this mess were brokered by the EU, under the aegis of Eurocontrol, and that we have very little room for manoeuvre.
That, in and of itself, displays the utter powerlessness that is our current government and political system. For any decision of importance, our ministers can do nothing, other then following orders from Brussels. This episode clearly shows who is running the Netherlands. It isn't us, nor is it our government. Is this a situation we accept?
Who *do* we want to run our country? With general elections looming in early June, I guess it is to much to hope for that this question will become a campaign issue. But it should!
[UPDATE001] Still more on the backlash building against the EUnions blanket ban on air traffic by Richard, who is suggesting:
The time has come, methinks, for a bonfire of computers.