With so many flights grounded due to the volcanic ash over NZ, Tasmania and Victoria I'm wondering if anyone knows the technical issues relating to this?
We have Virgin saying they can fly safely at lower altitude. A rougher ride apparently and I'm guessing a bit slower, but they can safely get from A to B (well, that's what they're saying...).
Meanwhile Qantas and Jetstar have suspended all flights which, in Tas at least (and no doubt NZ and Vic as well) is causing outright chaos.
Looking at the sky yesterday I would have assumed a large burnoff or fire if I hadn't known about the volcano. It was that typical "bushfire" look with high cloud (ash, smoke) and a very red sunset. So there's certainly something up there that's for sure.
Does anyone know what the truth is with aviation? Are Qantas being sensible or have they over reacted? Are Virgin taking unnecessary risks with safety? Or is their approach of flying lower a safe way around the problem? Why can't Qantas just fly lower as well?
I'm not one to advocate government regulation of everything, but when it comes to safety it seems rather odd to me that of the two major airlines in Australia one is flying and one is not flying the exact same routes. Seems rather odd to me. Does anyone know the facts on this one?