How long do we have to wait before economics get the better of health and safety concerns, and more importantly who is doing the science?
I have no idea if it is being done, but after six days of the no fly zone I hope that someone, of preferably a number of different someones are flying balloons, propellor planes, drones and anything else through the Eyjafjallajokull ash cloud and sampling its density, size distribution and composition before using this data to simulate the effect on jet engines.
This may not be the last time we face a problem like this, so we really should be figuring out what steps need to be taken, something that London Mayor Boris Johnson is also concerned about. As a frequent flier rather than a pilot, I am aware that there are procedures to cope with a wide variety of incidents, from technical failures to foul weather, so we should be looking at adding one more to the list.
Is anybody doing anything? If we could collect micrometeorites by attaching double sided tape to 747s twenty years ago, sampling an ash cloud should be relatively simple.