The Ash cloud that spread across Europe was considered (by authorities) unsafe for flying for several days, resulting in a loss of $1 billion to airlines. The conclusion was based solely on one test involving simulated data.
This raises a few issues:
- Good sense has been ignored. If flights had not been canceled (except in case of one single major issue such as plane crash or engine failure or problematic plane damage), the loss would have been much less than $1 billion
- Flying was banned, but driving a car was not. However, during the time period in question, car fatalities in the quarantined zone was much higher than any fatalities that would have resulted from flying too close to the ash cloud (because, as I said, at the very first plane crash, authorization to fly would have been stopped)
- Shouldn't satellite image analysis be better at assessing the risks caused by ash clouds? And what about test flights?
- Agencies that monitor sky safety probably use outdated statistical models, and work with people who lack judgment (the decision makers, in particular)
- Populations will stop believing in what authorities say: in Europe in particular, they've already been misled by the H1N1 virus scare, now by the ash cloud. When a real threat will arise, nobody will take it seriously, not if the risk assessment come from authorities
- We leave in the world where more and more people seek total protection and insurance against all potential hazards. For the few who think differently, the rewards will be big. For most other people, life will not bring much fun.