Learning from Mistakes

The Economist has a nice piece about how European authorities did it right this time with volcano ash.  My previous two posts were about how last year’s closures were done without proper testing and my second post was about an article that seemed to justify those closures because of a detailed study of volcano ash.  I was afraid that it would lead to European authorities taking an even more conservative approach because of this study, overreacting without proper testing.  As I mentioned in the previous posts — I’m not arguing that the airspace shouldn’t be closed.  I’m arguing that it shouldn’t be closed without testing the actual ash – every time.  This new Economist article supports that view and states “The actual eruption of Grimsvotn a little over a month after the April 12 exercise shows that airlines, air traffic controllers, and governments appear to have learned the lessons of 2010’s Eyjafjallajokull-driven chaos.”

Now THIS is risk management.  Appropriate reactions by authorities to this new eruption is much more data-driven than the previous eruption.  An evidence-based approach to risk (heck, to everything) is a much better approach.  Arguably, when the last eruption started there was little evidence to go on.  In my view, that means it became imperative to collect the information as soon as possible.  This time around, it seems things are being done in a proactive way.  If it turns out that the ash really poses a risk, I’ll be the first one to support massive airport closures.  But massive airport closures without simultaneous verification should be criticized loudly.  I for one am glad they’re doing it right this time.


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