Archive for April, 2010

Every (ash) cloud has a silver lining

A week like no other has left everyone in the entire aviation industry reeling.  Whilst many controllers, flight attendants and pilots had very little to do, airport staff and management were working overtime.

It is probably still too early to be able to come to any definitive conclusions, but some issues are becoming clear.

First, much ink was spilt, and many fingers pointed, trying to find an appropriate scapegoat.  World champion contender blame-shifters at IATA blamed anyone but their airline members.  The fault was clearly that of the governments around the world.  This was a little disappointing; one might have hoped they had at least one attempt at pinning some of the blame on some sort of divine power.  Thor perhaps, or Vulcan himself.

Secondly, once it was clear that coordinated action was called for, the current system was found wanting.  The question that needs to be answered is what might be the right model.  That is hard.  Another question might be whether we have the collective courage to answer that properly.

Because the real answer might be Europe.  Or perhaps more accurately, a revised Eurocontrol, reporting to DG MOVE.  Not a committee of national administrators, not a committee of ANSPs, DG MOVE.  After watching national CAAs and ANSPs fail to find a means of coordinating, DG MOVE stepped in, with a video call hook-up.  The semiotics of that are delightful.

And one of the big questions that is starting to dawn is why is that not the case now?  It is impossible to explain to a lay-person why there are ANSPs for national airspace, when clearly this is not a national issue.

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