Wednesday 25 May 2011

How not to regulate the skies.

Mister ash cloud has, apparently, grounded everything for another day, following the debacle of last year's moronic closing of air space. The problem is, that the air space didn't need to be closed and despite evidently knowing nothing about the situation, regulators across Europe banned air travel. They are now at it again.

The guise of safety was once again thrown out, but what is the risk of flying around the edge of ash clouds or at the very least doing flight tests to find out whether it is safe to fly, before say, banning everyone from flying. As it turns out, both Ryanair and British Airways did test flights through the affected areas - reporting no damage. Why then, did the regulators decide to ban flights? It proved to be safe. The worst that might happen would be that air filters would have to be checked and possibly changed between 'risky' flights.

Let's be clear, the airlines are not going to run unnecessary risks with their planes and passengers. If they took a risk and a crash resulted, they would lose massive amounts financially. The cost of the plane alone would outstrip the benefits of the flight taking place, add to that the legal fees which would result and the loss of prestige and the airlines are going to be very careful with running flights. The regulators do not even need to intervene. The normal market costs were enough to ensure safety.

The situation, once again, was not left to the market. The regulators came to the rescue, and once again, went into overdrive. Of course, the government is not prepared to pay for the loss they caused the airlines. Whilst there is some risk to high density areas of ash, the overkill on the regulators part is simply destructive. In low density areas of ash, the ash will simply burn up in the engine, it is only when the ash in the air is dense enough that any threat of build-up inside the engine will take place. To achieve this, you have to be going through rather thick ash clouds.

Once again, regulators appear to be putting 'safety' fears above reality and common sense. The precautionary principle strikes again - and once again, it does a good deal of damage, and little to no benefit.