Safety is our primary concern

I have heard this assertion a lot in recent years, and especially in recent weeks, regarding the problem of the airspace closure over Europe, because of the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland.
This seems to be stressed even more, when Airlines claim that the restrictions are too tight. But you could argue that you shouldn’t believe airlines, as they are biased, and therefore not objective, while airspace agencies only worry about people’s safety.
However, probing at the details, I have become sceptical of the affirmation that safety is the primary concern here, and in many other cases where this is given as the reason for not providing a service.
I have become more and more convinced that the primary concern is not safety, but avoiding blame in case things go wrong.
Aviation authorities cite the “experts” as the source for their decisions. These experts seem to be a mix of scientists, aircraft engine engineers, etc. none of whom seems to have enough data or knowledge to determine what the risk actually is, and a response of the type “we don’t know” or “we do not have the data”, becomes “it is not safe”, going through the some sort of “we cannot take liability if something happens”.
So because nobody is taking the bother (i.e. spending the money) to get some proper assessment in place, everybody else has to live with the consequences of the drastic “safety” measure, which seems less concerned with actual safety, and more with covering somebody’s back.

What similar situations have you found where the same process “we don’t know” -> “we can’t take liability” -> “it’s not safe”, applies?


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