The head of the Interrnational Air Transport Association, Giovanni Bisignani, has spoken breezily about the eruption of the Icelandic volcano and its consequences for aviation. The problem, Bisignani says, is Europe. 'The decision Europe has made is with no risk assessment, no consultation, no co-ordination, no leadership.'
Steady on. Volcanic ash is serious and dangerous: why would one of the heads of the aviation industry bet against its consequences? No risk assessment: has Bisignani overlooked the three military planes that sustained serious damage to their engines while flying through the ashen air over northern Europe these past five days? (See this story, which banishes details of these flights to its last paragraphs.) Or that a North Sea helicopter had its engines stripped down after encountering volcanic ash. There are, as we now know, 28,000 flights a day over Europe – more than 800,000 a month. That's a lot of flying, and only one in 28,000, or one in 800,000, has to sustain damage to its fuselage or engines (and – with luck – land) for Bisignani to sound as if he's trying to fill the shoes of the head of White Star Line who said the Titanic was unsinkable.