With smoke still rising from yesterday's crash site near Biggin Hill, it may appear a trifle unseemly to speculate about what might happen here in Kent's Ramsgate Peninsula should, heaven forbid, one of those 400 tonne lumps drop out of the sky on its way to or from RAF London Kent Ramsgate Manston International Airport. But people have been emailing me with that question. And you know me, I was never one to steer clear of controversy.
The houses that were destroyed in Farnborough, giving the unfortunate residents their very own unwelcome air show, were about six miles from London Biggin Hill Airport. Which is reassuring, since that would put any similar accident here well out to sea, or somewhere near Herne Bay.
However, only a couple of houses were destroyed by a five tonne Cessna Citation private jet, whereas the jumbos flying over the Millionaires' Playground weigh more than 70 times as much. Furthermore, Bromley Council limits movements at Biggin Hill to 125,000 per year, whereas dear old Thanet Council don't seem to give a flying whatsit. The current agreement governing Manston was drawn up with the now defunct Planestation in 2000, and the council's current line is that they don't need to do anything else until the present owners Infratil ask them to. Training flights a few hundred feet over Ramsgate every 8 minutes? No worries!
Of course, the chances of one of these 'modern and reliable aircraft' (©2008 Dr S Moores) dropping out of the sky onto 40,000 people and hundreds of fine Victorian buildings are pretty remote, aren't they? Well, one of the freight jumbos that flies into Manston belongs to MK Airlines. The people of Halifax, Nova Scotia got a rather rude awakening on 14 October 2004 when a Ghana-registered MK Airlines freighter crashed on take-off killing seven people. The crash investigators put that one down to overtired pilots, who mistakenly instructed the 747's speed and thrust measurements to handle the weight from a previous takeoff, when the plane was 100,000 kilograms lighter.
And, of course, even sophisticated BA 777's drop out of the sky, as we saw at Heathrow in January. I'm off to buy a hard hat!
Click here for report of MK Airlines 2004 crash in the Halifax Star
Click here for latest on Biggin Hill crash on BBC website