Was the dangerous ash cloud that grounded all European flights and caused billions in losses and stranded passengers everywhere all a big load of nonsense?
Yes, says the Daily Mail newspaper in an extraordinary investigation that says European authorities, including Irish completely over reacted.
Among their findings were :
The main agency making the calls, the London Volcanic Ash Center, did not have any on-site observations as the only plane equipped had been stripped down and grounded.
Instead they depended on their British Met computer models, which last year showed a very warm summer and mild winter, both way off.
The models predicted heavy ash from Russian to Newfoundland, but on most of that area there was no ash at all.
When they finally got around to measuring the density of the ash using a second plane they found out it was only at the level of 1/20th the accepted dangerous dose.
"We never understood why a blanket ban was imposed" said one major airline executive."It was overcaution gone mad"
The level of ash was revealed to be 100 micrograms as against 2000 micrograms which is the maximum planes can fly at.
A reputable U.S. firm which monitored the ash felt it was perfectly okay to fly by avoiding the worst of it as most US airlines do as a matter of course when eruptions are reported.
The 747 incident which everyone was reporting in 1982 happened when a plane flew right into an erupting volcano and parts of rocks as well as ash clogged the engines. There was no possibility of such a repeat.
So was it all nonsense? Could well have been it seems.