Purdue Aviation Experts Explain Global Economic Impact of Iceland Volcano and Danger of Flying Planes too Soon

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The shutdown of European airways due to ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland will have global economic impact beyond airlines, but getting back in the air too soon could endanger lives, say two Purdue aviation experts.

The shutdown of European airways due to ash from a volcanic eruption in Iceland will have global economic impact beyond airlines, but getting back in the air too soon could endanger lives, say two Purdue aviation experts.

"U.S airspace was only closed for three days after 9-11 and became an impetus for an economic meltdown," says Purdue aviation technology professor Brent Bowen. "Not only did the U.S. government have to bail out our industry at a taxpayer expense in the billions, but other elements of the economy also were soon at risk."

Bowen, who co-authors the annual Airline Quality Rating (http://www.aqr.aero), has studied the airline business for more than 20 years. He says the European shutdown is more than a frustrating inconvenience.

"This could put the global airline industry in a tailspin and halt the global economic recovery," he says. "The unforeseen consequences are almost beyond comprehension, and without the example of Sept. 11 we would not have any predictors of what to expect."

Purdue professor Erin Block, an aviation psychology expert, says the shutdown's impact on airline workers is profound and long-lasting, especially as airlines rush to begin flying again.

"The stress levels of every airline employee - from the gate to the cockpit - are at an all-time high and will remain so far past the return to normal operations," Block says. "Until we can ensure the safety of every flight through the area, the stresses on airline employees will be tremendous."

Block says such stress levels may not only mean less friendly service, but also have the potential to impact performance of airline employees.

"As they move to return to service, airlines need to consider safety first and foremost over finances."

Writer:
Jim Schenke, 765-430-7307, jschenke(at)purdue(dot)edu

Sources:
Brent Bowen, bdbowen(at)purdue(dot)edu

Erin Block, 765-496-7710, eeblock(at)purdue(dot)edu

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