Sunday, 18 April 2010

Now here's a thing

Re: this Icelandic volcano dust cloud. Test flights have been made through the dust cloud, and according to the Airlines, no engine damage occurred.
KLM, acting on a European Union request, flew a Boeing 737-800 without passengers at the regular altitude of 10 km (6 miles) and up to the 13 km maximum on Saturday. Germany's Lufthansa said it flew 10 empty planes to Frankfurt from Munich at altitudes of up to 8 km.

"We have not found anything unusual and no irregularities, which indicates the atmosphere is clean and safe to fly," said a spokeswoman for KLM, which is part of Air France-KLM. German airline Air Berlin said it had also carried out test flights and expressed irritation at the shutdown of European air space.

"We are amazed that the results of the test flights done by Lufthansa and Air Berlin have not had any bearing on the decision-making of the air safety authorities," Chief Executive Joachim Hunold said. "The closure of the air space happened purely because of the data of a computer simulation at the Vulcanic Ash Advisory Center in London,"
The dust cloud is a Computer simulation? Heavy sigh. That's like using Mystic Megs Newspaper Horoscope to predict the migration patterns of Geese. You mean to tell me no-one actually took a plane up there, took samples of the cloud mass at varying levels over Europe and tested them for density, hardness etc? Oh good grief.

H/T Richard North at EU Referendum.

Update; European 'No-fly' order from here. European Airspace restricted until Monday, 0700 1900 GMT at the earliest. Yet flights to the US and currently Norway from Iceland continue. H/T to An Englishman's Castle for that snippet.

Some news not yet in the news is the big Coronal Mass Ejection heading our way from the sun due to hit today. A big thank you to Piers Corbyn in the comments for that one. Predictions of associated weather events here. BTW Piers, if you read this, can you post the PDF in something a bit more backwards compatible?

What does this big solar eruption mean? Well to be truthful I'm not altogether sure. Big solar flares and CMEs tend to be associated with EM disruption, which traditionally means disrupted satellite communications and mobile phone outages. Nowadays systems tend to be better 'hardened' than few years ago, a spin off from 'cold war' technology. Like with all the warnings about volcanic glass abrading jet engines and scouring aircraft windshields, maybe our technology can cope better than we think. I'm just pleased that the acid rain thing hasn't come to pass.

Piers thinks that this CME may trigger changes in Earth's geomagnetic field which will in turn set off Earthquakes and additional volcanic activity. Well, let's do the old "We'll see" on that one. I'm not overly concerned myself, but will be giving major fault lines and volcanoes a wide berth for a few days, just in case.

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