More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal
Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Friday, June 7, 2019

Paris bans electric scooters parking on pavement

Yahoo – AFP, June 6, 2019

Around 20,000 electric scooters have appeared on the French capital's streets
since last year (AFP Photo/JOEL SAGET)

Paris (AFP) - Paris authorities announced Thursday a ban on parking electric scooters on the pavement, in a new crackdown on the fashionable two-wheeled contraptions as pedestrians complain of growing safety risks.

Scooters "must be left in parking spaces designated for cars and motorised two-wheel vehicles", the city's mayor Anne Hidalgo said in a press conference.

She also banned scooters from parks and gardens in a string of measures which will start coming into force from next month.

Apps such as Lime, Bolt, Wind and Flash -- whose scooters have invaded streets in recent months -- should also cut speed limits to 20 km/h (12 mph) around the capital, or 8 km/h (5 mph) in pedestrian areas, Hidalgo said.

Around 20,000 electric scooters have appeared on the French capital's streets since last year, causing tensions that have also been seen in cities worldwide from Madrid to Los Angeles.

Fans have embraced scooters as a quick and cheap way to get around, since the "dockless" devices are unlocked with a phone app and can be left anywhere when a ride is finished.

That is exactly the problem, critics say, pointing to scooters strewn across the city's stately squares or abandoned in piles littering narrow sidewalks, to the bane of people hauling groceries or pushing prams.

Paris has already introduced fines of 135 euros ($150) for riding electic scooters on the pavement.

They have also been used as makeshift weapons by protesters who have hurled them at police in the weekly "yellow vest" protests which erupted last November.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

KLM to invest in major sustainable aviation fuel plant in Delfzijl

DutchNews, May 27, 2019

Photo: DutchNews.nl

Dutch flag carrier KLM is to invest millions of euros in the first European industrial plant to produce sustainable aviation fuel, also known as bio-kerosene. 

The production plan will be located in Delfzijl, in the north of Groningen, and will specialise in producing sustainable fuels using waste products such as used cooking oil as feedstock. 

The plant will open in 2022 and is a ‘concrete step towards fulfilling KLM’s sustainability ambitions and contributing to the broader industry plan,’ the airline said

The plant will be owned and operated by SkyNRG, which claims to be the global market leader in sustainable aviation fuel and was set up by KLM with partners in 2010. 

SHV Energy, global leader in LPG distribution, will invest in the facility and will purchase the bioLPG which the plant produces. Amsterdam’s state-owned airport Schiphol will also be investing in the development of the factory, KLM said.

‘By joining hands with other parties, we can build a plant that will accelerate the development of sustainable aviation fuel,’ KLM chief executive Pieter Elbers said. 

From 2022, the plant will produce 100,000 tonnes a year, of which KLM will purchase 75,000 tonnes. This, Elbers said, will reduce the company’s CO2 emissions by 200,000 tonnes a year, which is equal to the emissions released by 1,000 KLM flights between Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Boeing acknowledges flaw in 737 MAX simulator software

Yahoo – AFP, Luc OLINGA, May 19, 2019

Boeing has acknowledged for the first time that there was a design flaw
in software linked to the 737 MAX (AFP Photo/Jason Redmond)

Boeing acknowledged Saturday it had to correct flaws in its 737 MAX flight simulator software used to train pilots, after two deadly crashes involving the aircraft that killed 346 people.

"Boeing has made corrections to the 737 MAX simulator software and has provided additional information to device operators to ensure that the simulator experience is representative across different flight conditions," it said in a statement.

The company did not indicate when it first became aware of the problem, and whether it informed regulators.

Its statement marked the first time Boeing acknowledged there was a design flaw in software linked to the 737 MAX, whose MCAS anti-stall software has been blamed in large part for the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy.

According to Boeing, the flight simulator software was incapable of reproducing certain flight conditions similar to those at the time of the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March or the Lion Air crash in October.

The company said the latest "changes will improve the simulation of force loads on the manual trim wheel," a rarely used manual wheel to control the plane's angle.

"Boeing is working closely with the device manufacturers and regulators on these changes and improvements, and to ensure that customer training is not disrupted," it added.

Southwest Airlines, a major 737 MAX customer with 34 of the aircraft in its fleet, told AFP it expected to receive the first simulator "late this year."

American Airlines, which has 24 of the aircraft, said it had ordered a 737 MAX simulator that will be delivered and put into operation in December.

"As a result of the continuing investigation into both aircraft accidents, we are looking at the potential for additional training opportunities in coordination with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and Allied Pilots Association," it added.

Certification process

The planes have been grounded around the world, awaiting approval from US and international regulators before they can return to service.

Only Air Canada has a MAX simulator, industry sources told AFP.

Currently, there is only one flight simulator specific to the 737 MAX in the United States, and it is owned by Boeing, according to FAA documentation.

US airlines train their pilots flying the MAX on a simulator built for the 737 NG, the version preceding the 737 MAX in the 737 aircraft family.

Southwest said that's because during the certification process for the MAX, Boeing stressed that there were only minor differences with the NG and simple computer and online training could accommodate for the differences.

The FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Canadian regulators had approved those recommendations, Boeing stresses.

However, the 737 NG lacks an MCAS, specially designed for the MAX in order to correct an aerodynamic anomaly due to its heavier motor and to prevent the plane from stalling.

Pilot training will likely be at the heart of the meeting of international regulators in Forth Worth, Texas on Thursday when the FAA will try convince its counterparts of the robustness of its certification process for the modified 737 MAX.

The American regulator has maintained that training pilots on a simulator is not essential, a position with which pilots and its Canadian counterpart disagree.

Boeing said Thursday that it completed its software update on the 737 MAX.

The proposed fix, which addresses a problem with a flight handling system thought to be a factor in both crashes, must now win approval from US and international regulators before the planes can return to service.

US airlines have targeted August as the date they expect to resume flying on the 737 MAX.
Related Article:


Thursday, May 16, 2019

Flying cars mooted for Paris' public transport network

France24 – AFP, 15 May 2019

A flying car prototype, developed by Airbus and Audi seen at last year's Vivatech
fair in Paris A flying car prototype, developed by Airbus and Audi seen at last
year's Vivatech fair in Paris AFP

Paris (AFP) - European aerospace giant Airbus and Paris underground operator RATP will study the viability of adding flying vehicles to the city's urban transport network, the companies said Wednesday.

The firms will "explore the feasibility of urban air mobility services" in the French capital and the broader Ile de France region, they said in a statement.

"Airbus is developing demonstrators of autonomous and unmanned technologies," said the company's chief executive Guillaume Faury.

"This is not science-fiction any more, It is fact. Today we have all the technical tools. But they have to be integrated into everyday life without jeopardising our priority, which is safety," he added.

RATP is a good partner in such a project because of its knowledge of the associated needs and services," said Faury.

Chief executive Catherine Guillouard of RATP, which manages Paris' bus, train, and underground services, said mass transport remained the group's core business, but it also sought "to develop new modes of transport and new services for the smart city of the future".

There have been several attempts around the world to develop flying cars, such as the Transition made by US firm Terrafugia and the AeroMobil, produced in Slovakia.

Both have taken years and a lot of money to develop, and are yet to go on sale.

"Flying cars are definitely coming within the next two to three years. The regulation is in place and authorities are actively supporting the innovation," AeroMobil told AFP.

Levi Tillemann, author of the 2015 book: "The Great Race: The Global Quest For The Car Of The Future", said safety was a major challenge.

"The only thing that really makes the idea of a flying car even remotely viable is a new generation of autonomous driving technologies that will reduce the likelihood of catastrophic failure."

But he added that "from both a cost and energy consumption standpoint, ground-based transit generally makes more sense".

Flying car prototypes have become regular attractions at the annual VivaTech exhibition, which opens in Paris Thursday.

There are at least 20 flying car projects underway, and the Uber ride-sharing company is looking into "flying taxis".

Google’s StreetView cars will measure Amsterdam pollution

DutchNews, May 15, 2019

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Google StreetView cars are going to measure pollution in Amsterdam in a joint project with the city council and the University of Utrecht. 

Two cars will be equipped with sensors which will pick up the amounts of nitrogen monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, fine dust particulates and black carbon in the air in each street. 

Although the measurements only represent a single moment in the day, the combination with data from the twelve fixed GGD measuring stations will result in a clearer picture of the air quality in the capital, broadcaster NOS said. 

Google has carried out similar projects in London, Copenhagen and Mexico City.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Ticket tax won’t hit airlines, will cut CO2, says leaked Brussels report

DutchNews, May 13, 2019 

A plane landing at dusk. Photo: Depositphotos.com 

The introduction of a flight tax of €7.50 per ticket will not have a negative effect on the Dutch economy but will cut carbon dioxide emissions, according to a leaked report by the European Commission. 

The Dutch government plans to introduce a tax on flying in 2021. The Netherlands is one of 20 EU countries which levies little or no tax on airline tickets, apart from 21% value added tax on domestic flights. 

The report has been leaked by green campaign group Transport & Environment and shows that a tax on tickets similar to that which operates in Germany would lead to a 4% increase in ticket prices and a 4% drop in passenger numbers and flights. 

But the impact of this on the aviation sector will be ‘compensated by an almost equal increase in jobs in other sectors of the economy, so the net effect on employment is close to zero’, the report said. 

In addition, the  introduction of a tax on tickets would generate €324m for the treasury, cut CO2 emissions by 4% and the number of people affected by noise by 3%. 

The report, which has not been published by the commission, also shows that taxing kerosene in Europe would cut aviation emissions by 11% and have no net impact on jobs or the economy as a whole.

‘Aviation’s decades-long kerosene tax holiday needs to end now,’ said Bill Hemmings, aviation director of Transport & Environment. ‘This is essential to fight climate change and will help the millions afflicted by unbearable aircraft noise. Europe’s unique and deplorable status as a kerosene tax haven is indefensible.’

Monday, May 13, 2019

Myanmar plane in emergency touchdown as landing gear fails

Yahoo – AFP, May 12, 2019

All 89 people on board the Myanmar Airlines plane, including seven crew
members, were safe (AFP Photo/STR)

A Myanmar pilot saved the day after his aircraft's landing gear failed, safely putting the jet on the runway with no front wheels on Sunday, an official said.

The nail-biting touchdown -- in which no one was hurt -- was the second instance of a malfunctioning flight in less than a week within the country.

Myanmar Airlines flight UB-103 -- an Embraer-190 model -- touched the ground at around 9:00 am in Mandalay (0230 GMT), a city popular among foreign tourists. The plane carried 82 passengers and a crew of seven.

An unverified video circulated on social media showed a graceful landing before the plane's nose dipped gradually to the runway, and the craft slowly ground to a halt.

Ye Htut Aung, deputy director general of Myanmar's Civil Aviation Department, told AFP the pilot tried repeatedly to deploy the front landing gear -- first through its computer system, then manually.

"They tried hard twice by flying around twice and asked to check whether the nose wheel dropped or not," Ye Htut Aung said, calling it a "technical fault".

"So they had to land with the back wheels... The pilot could land it skillfully," he said. "There were no casualties."

Ye Htut Aung said engineers sent by Myanmar National Airlines would examine the aircraft, adding that all jets get a daily flight check.

For its part, Embraer said in a statement that it was "offering its full cooperation to the aviation authorities in order to aid in the investigation".

Passenger Soe Moe told AFP: "Smoke came out a little when we landed... All passengers are okay."

Sunday's incident came just four days after a Biman Bangladesh Airlines plane skidded off a runway while landing at Yangon airport in a storm, injuring 11 passengers.

Myanmar's monsoon season has caused problems for commercial and military flights in the past.

A military plane crashed into the Andaman Sea in 2017, killing all 122 people on board in one of the deadliest aviation accidents in the country's history. Authorities blamed bad weather.

And in 2015, an Air Bagan passenger plane veered off the runway amid bad weather and heavy rain. A passenger and a person on the ground were killed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Boeing knew of 737 MAX safety system glitch year before deadly crash

Yahoo – AFP, May 6, 2019

Engineers from Boeing, whose Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg is pictured here,
idenftified a fault with a pilot warning system on 737 MAX planes over a year
before deadly crashes that left nearly 350 people dead (AFP Photo/JOHN GRESS)

Washington (AFP) - Boeing engineers identified a fault with a pilot warning system on its 737 MAX aircraft in 2017, a year before the deadly Lion Air crash, the company said Sunday.

Boeing said that management was unaware of the issue until the crash in Indonesia, which killed 189 people, and the planes were not grounded until after another of the type operated by Ethiopian Airlines went down several months later, leaving a further 157 people dead.

According to Boeing, a supposedly standard piece of equipment that tells pilot about disagreements between angle of attack (AOA) indicators -- which measure the plane's angle vis-a-vis oncoming air to warn of impending stalls -- did not in fact activate unless an additional optional indicator was purchased by airlines.

That left airlines that did not buy the optional indicator -- including both Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines -- without the safety feature.

Faulty angle of attack indicator information may have played a role in both of the deadly crashes, causing the 737 MAX anti-stall system to unnecessarily activate and push the nose down toward the ground even as pilots fought to maintain altitude.

"In 2017, within several months after beginning 737 MAX deliveries, engineers at Boeing identified that the 737 MAX display system software did not correctly meet the AOA Disagree alert requirements," the aircraft manufacturer said in a statement.

"The software delivered to Boeing linked the AOA Disagree alert to the AOA indicator, which is an optional feature," it said. "Accordingly, the software activated the AOA Disagree alert only if an airline opted for the AOA indicator."

A Boeing review "determined that the absence of the AOA Disagree alert did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation," concluding that "the existing functionality was acceptable until the alert and the indicator could be delinked in the next planned display system software update," Boeing said.

"Senior company leadership was not involved in the review and first became aware of this issue in the aftermath of the Lion Air accident."

Boeing's entire 737 MAX fleet has been grounded since shortly after the Ethiopian Airlines crash in March, while investigators study the incidents and engineers work on solutions.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Amsterdam brings in ‘bizarre’ plan to ban all but electric cars by 2030

DutchNews, May 3, 2019

A charging station in Amsterdam. Photo: DutchNews.nl 

Amsterdam city council has published plans to ban all but electric cars from the city by 2030 in a move that officials hope will extend locals’ life expectancy by three months. 

From next year, diesel-powered cars which predate 2005 will be banned from the area within the A10 ring road and further restrictions will be brought in gradually as the plan is put into practice. The first evaluation will take place in 2022. 

Amsterdammers, says alderman Sharon Dijksma, have their lives cut short by one year because of airborne pollution. 

The most effective way to change this, she said, is to bring in emissions-free transport. ‘This is something the city council has a direct effect on, hence my mission to make Amsterdam the “world capital of emissions free mobility”‘.’ 

Last month junior environment minister Stientje van Veldhoven said she planned to give local authorities the opportunity to ban old diesel cars and vans by setting up ‘environmental zones’. Some 4,100 cars would be affected by the Amsterdam ban. 

Dijksma’s plan envisages this environmental zone being gradually extended and then, once it covers most of the city, bringing in a complete ban on petrol and diesel cars in smaller areas. Nine streets in the city currently break EU pollution standards. 

The city will need 16,000 to 23,000 charging stations by 2025 to make the project a success, she says. There are currently some 3,000 charging stations for electric cars in the city. Grants and subsidies will also be used to encourage motorists to make the switch. 

‘The switch to emissions-free travel will require everyone to contribute: companies, residents and visitors,’ Dijksma said. 

The city has already banned the most polluting vehicles from the area within the ring road and from 2022 buses and coaches will not be allowed in the city centre if they produce exhaust emissions. 

Bizarre 

Reactions to the proposals have been extremely mixed. The RAI Vereninging motoring lobby described them as ‘bizarre and impossible to put into practice’. 

However Maarten Steinbuch, a professor at Eindhoven University of Technology, told broadcaster NOS that the plan should be seen as something to aim at. ‘We’ve still got 11 years,’ he said. 

Electric cars are becoming cheaper and are already cheaper than petrol-driven cars to maintain, he pointed out. 

The plans still have to be approved by the full city council, and before that they will be put out to public discussion.

Related Article:


Friday, May 3, 2019

Canada's Bombardier says selling aerospace plant in Belfast

Yahoo – AFP, May 2, 2019

Bombardier is one of Northern Ireland's biggest employers with around 3,600
staff (AFP Photo/PIERRE VERDY)

London (AFP) - Canadian aerospace firm Bombardier said Thursday it was selling its plant in Northern Ireland, which produces wings for Airbus aircraft, as part of a reorganisation of the business.

"As the company moves to optimise its global manufacturing footprint, Bombardier haha aerostructures businesses," the company said in a statement.

"These are great businesses with tremendous capabilities," the Montreal-based firm said.

The company, which axed 490 people in Belfast last year as part of a global cost-cutting drive, is one of Northern Ireland's biggest employers with around 3,600 staff.

"We understand that this announcement may cause concern among our employees, but we will be working closely with them and our unions as matters progress, and through any future transition period to a new owner," it said.

Michael Mulholland, an organiser for the GMB trade union, demanded "reassurances" for workers.

"Our members -- and their families -- have already suffered a terrible year," he said.

"Bombardier jobs are absolutely vital to Northern Ireland's economy and it's time workers were treated with the respect they deserve."

The sale of the Belfast facilities was also deeply concerning to Michelle O'Neill, new head of the Sinn Fein party, who noted that the news added to economic uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Previously the company decided to give up control of its new C Series aircraft, now known as the A220, to Airbus in exchange for using Airbus's sales and marketing heft to lift sales.

Since then Bombardier -- which has 68,000 employees worldwide -- has refocused on business aviation and in particular on its new Global 7500.

David Coleal, the head of this division, will lead the new Bombardier Aviation division, which will have its business concentrated in Montreal, Mexico, as well as in Texas for the wings of the Global 7500, the company said.

Bombardier almost quintupled its net profit to 239 million US dollars in the first quarter, after revising down its profit targets for 2019 last week.

European alliance to invest up to 6 bn euros in electric car batteries

Yahoo – AFP, May 2, 2019

EU political leaders have long called for a coordinated effort for homemade batteries
that would free carmakers from relying on China (AFP Photo/Manjunath Kiran)

European governments and companies will form an alliance for developing next-generation batteries for electric vehicles, investing five to six billion euros ($5.6 to $6.7 billion) in the project, the French and German finance ministers said Thursday.

France's Bruno Le Maire said a maximum of 1.2 billion euros in public subsidies would be granted to the alliance, at a press conference with his German counterpart Peter Altmaier.

"Other member states have already expressed interest in joining this project," Le Maire said, including Italy, Belgium, Poland, Austria and Finland.

He said at least four billion euros would come from private companies, citing automaker PSA and the French battery maker Saft, a unit of French oil giant Total.

"Today we are seeing more interest than ever" in the project, Altmaier said, adding that 35 companies had already pledged to sign up, including Europe's biggest automakers.

Political leaders across the European Union have long called for a coordinated effort for home-made batteries that would free carmakers from having to rely on Chinese batteries as the industry shifts away from combustion engines.

A pilot factory with around 200 employees will be opened in the coming months in France, with a goal of opening two production sites, in France and Germany, that would generate 1,500 jobs at each.

European automakers have been ramping up electric vehicle production after years of scandals over diesel pollution and as tougher rules on cutting carbon emissions come into force.

But EU carmakers buy cells from foreign manufacturers, mostly in Asia, which they use to build the high-capacity batteries needed to power electric vehicles.

Germany and France in particular have been pushing for a pan-European consortium to develop new battery technologies that would be built domestically, along the lines of the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

Related Article:


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Ryanair ordered to pay Dutch pilots up to €480,000 Business

DutchNews, April 23, 2019

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Budget airline Ryanair has been ordered to pay eight Dutch pilots between €380,000 and €480,000 by a court in the Netherlands, as a bitter dispute over contracts ends. 

The court also agreed to dissolve the eight pilot’s contracts from May 1, arguing that there is no likelihood of a ‘purposeful continuation’ and that Ryanair is to blame for the current situation. 

The dispute dates back to last year following Ryanair’s decision to close its base at Eindhoven airport where pilots had twice gone on strike in protest at changes to their pensions and other benefits. 

The district court in Den Bosch then ruled there was no business case to shut the base and said the decision had ‘all the appearance of a sanction following the earlier strikes.’ 

DutchNews.nl has asked Ryanair to comment on the court ruling.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Stints will be allowed back on Dutch roads after technical upgrade

DutchNews, April 17, 2019

Two stints in action. Photo: Stintum.nl
MPs have approved changes to the law which will allow electric wagons known as ‘Stints’ back onto the Dutch roads in time for the next school year. 

The Stints, which were used by hundreds of daycare centres to ferry children around, have been banned since a fatal crash last year in which four children died. 

The new rules include tougher safety specifications and technical requirements and the company which makes the Stint has said it will upgrade all 3,000 vehicles. The wagons will also be allowed to carry 10 rather than eight children, after MPs urged transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen to rethink her plans for fewer seats. 

Last September a wagon ploughed into a train at a level crossing after the brake apparently failed, killing four children. However, the cause of the accident has not yet been determined. 

Last December, research institute TNO said the wagons can only be allowed back into traffic after modifications have been carried out. In particular, there are problems with the braking system, the report said. 

Stints made their debuts on the Dutch roads in 2011 via legislation covering ‘special scooters’ – a new category of road transport introduced to cover Segways. 

MPs and ministers were keen to encourage new forms of transport and did not introduce extra safety measures so as not to dent innovation.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

German prosecutors charge ex-VW boss Winterkorn with fraud

Yahoo – AFP, April 15, 2019

German prosecutors say former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was as
 "guarantor" to authorities and customers that the group was not selling cheating
vehicles "even after he knew about the illegal manipulations" (AFP Photo/Tobias
SCHWARZ)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - German prosecutors said Monday they had charged former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn and four other managers over the group's "dieselgate" emissions cheating scandal.

They "are accused of multiple crimes realised in a single criminal action, especially a particularly serious case of fraud and an infraction of the law against unfair competition," the prosecutors said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether the other accused -- who were not named -- still work at VW or have since left the company.

Winterkorn has been singled out for his role as a "guarantor" to authorities and customers that the group was not selling cheating vehicles "even after he knew about the illegal manipulations" -- knowledge the prosecutors said he had "from May 25, 2014".

That date was more than a year before VW publicly admitted to fitting 11 million vehicles with software to make them appear less polluting in the lab than in real driving conditions.

"In the end, this resulted in the imposition of higher fines against Volkswagen AG in Germany as well as the USA," the prosecutors said.

As well as failing to inform authorities of the cheating, VW "with the knowledge and approval of Winterkorn" issued a software update in November 2014 whose only purpose was to cover up the so-called "defeat devices" that enabled the cheating, said the statement.

VW shares were little moved by the charges, gaining 0.4 percent to trade at 154 euros around 1:15pm in Frankfurt (1115 GMT), slightly outperforming the DAX blue-chip index.

The Wolfsburg-based group has so far suffered costs of 29 billion euros ($32.8 billion) related to dieselgate, much of it in fines, compensation and buyback schemes in the United States.

In Germany, the group has paid 1.8 billion euros spread over two fines.

Aftershocks from the scandal have been serious enough to change the gigantic firm's course, with bosses now making a massive bet on electrification over the next decade.

But the legacy of dieselgate is still clinging to VW, with hundreds of thousands of customers in Germany bringing cases demanding compensation for their manipulated vehicles.

And investors have opened two court cases against VW and its holding company Porsche SE, saying bosses should have informed markets sooner about the likely financial impact of the cheating.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Dutchman ends 'world's longest electric car trip' in Australia

Yahoo – AFP, April 7, 2019

Wiebe Wakker took just over three years crossing 33 countries in his 95,000 km
journey by electric car (AFP Photo/PETER PARKS)

Sydney (AFP) - A Dutchman completed an epic 95,000 kilometre (59,000 mile) journey by electric car in Sydney Sunday in a bid to prove the viability of such vehicles in tackling climate change.

Wiebe Wakker drove his retrofitted station wagon nicknamed "The Blue Bandit" across 33 countries in what he said was the world's longest-ever journey by electric car.

The trip from the Netherlands to Australia took just over three years and was funded by public donations from around the world, including electricity to charge the Bandit, food and a place to sleep.

Wakker drove across a variety of countries and environments including Turkey, Iran, India, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia, with the route determined by the offers he received on his website.

"I wanted to change people's opinions and inspire people to start driving electric by showing the advantages of sustainable mobility," Wakker said.

"If one man can drive to the other side of the world in an electric car, then EVs (electric vehicles) should definitely be viable for daily use."

Wakker said before the car was modified, it would have used 6,785 litres (1,800 US gallons) of petrol to complete the journey.

The modified vehicle can travel 200 kilometres on a single charge, with Wakker saying he spent just US$300 on electricity, much of it in the remote desert Outback of Australia.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

BMW, Daimler, VW broke antitrust rules, EU says in 'preliminary view'

France24 –AFP, 5 April 2019

Exhaust from cars is a major source of air pollution in urban areas and numerous
cities have enacted or are considering restrictions on driving heavily-polluting
vehicles in city-centres dpa/AFP/File

Brussels (AFP) - The European Union warned German car giants BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen on Friday that a preliminary inquiry has concluded they colluded not to compete on emission control technology.

"As a result, European consumers may have been denied the opportunity to buy cars with the best available technology. The three manufacturers now have an opportunity to respond to our findings," EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The EU Commission has concluded that BMW, Daimler and the VW group -- Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche -- held so-called "circle of five" meetings to rig competition in emissions technology.

This allowed them to limit the introduction of "AdBlue" or urea to diesel engine exhaust gases, reducing its effectiveness as a way to produce cleaner emissions, the statement said.

The firms also -- "in the Commission's preliminary view" -- colluded to avoid or delay introducing OPF particle filters to reduce harmful particles in petrol exhaust fumes.

The findings form the basis of a "statement of objections" to which the firms will have a chance to respond before the Commission decides whether to pursue a case under competition rules banning cartel agreements.

A Damiler spokeswoman told AFP the firm was aware of the report but had already been cooperating with investigators and "does not expect to receive a fine in this matter".

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Germany finds truckers cheating to hide emissions

Yahoo – AFP, April 2, 2019

Emissions cheating in trucks is rampant and getting harder to detect (AFP Photo/
Christoph Schmidt)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - German authorities have identified hundreds of trucks "manipulated" to save their operators money by shutting off exhaust treatment systems, saying many more cheating vehicles could be at large on Europe's roads.

Of around 13,000 trucks whose "AdBlue" filter system was checked on German roads last year, 300 were "defective", a government answer to a parliamentary question from the Greens party seen Tuesday by AFP showed.

Of 132 such defects spotted since August last year, 84 could be traced back to deliberate manipulation rather than a technical fault, the government added -- a distinction not drawn in statistics collected before then.

Electronic devices available for around 100 euros ($112) allow users to deactivate the exhaust treatment system, allowing some trucking firms to make massive savings, daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported after revealing the scheme.

But with their catalytic converters switched off, the trucks spew far more harmful pollutants.

"The fact that we are finding more manipulated systems than faulty ones is an alarm signal," Greens MP Stephan Kuehn said.

With time, "the parts needed for the cheating are becoming smaller and smaller and more sophisticated, and therefore more difficult to find" during spot checks, the government added.

The SZ reported that operators can save up to one-third of the costs of running a truck supposedly meeting the Euro 5 or 6 emissions standard by installing one of the boxes or modifying software -- an even harder-to-detect option.

Devices or software changes can enable cheating in a number of ways.

Some fool the engine control software into thinking the catalytic converter is still working, preventing a warning to the driver or an automatic reduction in performance.

Others produce fake readings for the outside temperature, triggering a system that deactivates exhaust treatment at below -11 Celsius (12.2 Fahrenheit).

Clusters of similar rule-breaking have been identified elsewhere in Europe, especially in Spain.

Without exhaust treatment, trucks emit far more nitrogen oxides (NOx), which studies have shown is linked to various respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Since Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating emissions tests on 11 million vehicles worldwide, alarm has spread in Germany about levels of the gas in city air.

Federal, state and local governments are battling to prevent drivers of older diesel vehicles being banned from city centres as courts order a growing number of exclusion zones.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Boeing 737 MAX makes emergency landing during US transfer: FAA

Yahoo – AFP, March 26, 2019

Southwest Airlines cut its first-quarter sales forecast, due in part to the hit from
cancelled flights following the Boeing 737 MAX grounding (AFP Photo/Ralph Freso)

Washington (AFP) - A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by Southwest Airlines made an emergency landing Tuesday after experiencing an engine problem as it was being ferried from Florida to California, the US Federal Aviation Agency said.

"The aircraft returned and landed safely in Orlando," the FAA said in a statement, adding that no passengers were on board the aircraft, which was being transferred to Victorville, California for storage.

"The FAA is investigating," added the agency, which grounded the Boeing 737 MAX on March 13 following two deadly accidents involving Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air but continues to allow the planes to be ferried from airport to airport.

Southwest said the plane experienced an engine problem "shortly after takeoff."

"The crew followed protocol and safely landed back at the airport" around 3:00 pm (1900 GMT), spokesman Chris Mainz said.

"The Boeing 737 MAX 8 will be moved to our Orlando maintenance facility for a review."

It was the latest setback for Boeing's flagship narrow-body plane following October's Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Airlines accident earlier this month, which together killed 346 people.

The accidents, which shared similarities, led authorities across the world to ground the aircraft.

Boeing has since conducted test flights of its 737 MAX to evaluate a fix for the MCAS stall prevention system targeted as a potential cause for the deadly crashes, two sources familiar with the matter said.

The system has been criticized since it can malfunction and make it difficult for pilots to control the aircraft. Both of the recent crashes occurred moments after takeoff.

A Senate Commerce Committee panel will hold a hearing Wednesday to question FAA Acting Administration Daniel Elwell and Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel

The officials are expected to face questions from lawmakers on the FAA's certification of the 737 MAX and whether regulators have become too cozy with the company, and fast-tracked some approvals.

The session is expected to be followed by a second hearing at a later date with Boeing, airline pilots and other stakeholders, the committee said.