This is a story that needs to be covered properly, and thankfully Dr Richard North at EU Referendum has done so.
One of the many scoops broken by the EU Referendum blog was the story last year when we had the last Icelandic volcano eruption. Uniquely, Richard North identified that the situation had been made inestimably worse by the lack of real time direct ash monitoring, owing to the shortage of aviation assets.
As he recorded last May, the one and only aircraft capable of carrying out the necessary monitoring, a BAE 146 operated by FAAM, was in the hanger with its instrumentation stripped out, about to undergo a paint job.
Now, a year later, the airlines are disputing the severity of the situation, and Ryanair is disagreeing with the CAA about the extent (or presence) of any ash in Scotland. Once again, there is an urgent need to carry out monitoring to find out exactly what is going on, but history is repeating itself. The FAAM aircraft is currently engaged on a full flying programme and is not available for volcanic ash sampling.
While it is clear Ryanair’s test flight cannot gauge the extent of ash concentration in the air, a strip down and inspection of the engines on the aircraft used would provide much richer information about the risk to aviation. If the engines have been unaffected by flying through the ash particles the Met Office computer models say are there, then there is no reason to suspend flight operations.
Perhaps that is a point the media should be making, but thus far our intrepid newshounds have failed miserably to do.