Two interesting issues have arisen from the ash cloud debate, one connecting to the financial implications of the ash cloud event, the other being safety and whether governments waited too long before allowing flights to start. There are some accusations that indecision created an unnecessary delay, and it was only BA pressure that opened UK airspace when it did.
David Learmount on his blog placed a contrasting argument, explaining the difficulties in judging a "safe concentration level" of ash particles in the air but also the dangers to the engine of flying too early:
The first problem with making decisions about whether - or not - to fly in the volcanic ash cloud over Europe, is the lack of scientific data about the effects on aircraft of this type of very fine atmospheric ash, in this concentration. How much, if any, volcanic dust can an aeroplane fly through safely, and without causing progressive degradation that will gradually make its engines inefficient and uneconomic?The second problem is that, apart from the volcano’s core plume, which can be seen by satellite, aviation authorities have no active means of tracking the movement of the dispersing ash, which covers a wide area. The position of the dispersing ash can only be calculated using mathematical models, which are turning out to be fairly accurate, but not sufficiently accurate to enable aircraft to be tactically directed to safe sky sectors.
So were we all too cautious? Is it okay in hindsight to say we were when in safety critical situations its always better to be safe than sorry.
AirSpace - more than just hot air