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. …

Monday, November 18, 2019

Climate protesters block Geneva's private jet terminal

Yahoo – AFP, November 16, 2019

The activists said they were protesting the 'absurd' mode of luxury transport
(AFP Photo/Fabrice COFFRINI)

Geneva (AFP) - Dozens of climate activists blocked access to the private jet terminal at Geneva airport Saturday, demanding a halt to the "absurd" mode of luxury transportation.

Around 100 people took part, organised by pressure group Extinction Rebellion, large groups sitting in front of three entrances to block access to the building for several hours.

Extinction Rebellion describes itself as an international movement using non-violent civil disobedience "to achieve radical change in order to minimise the risk of human extinction and ecological collapse".

As musicians played, protesters wearing armbands with the Extinction Rebellion logo sang songs and danced around with white, cloud-shaped placards and banners with slogans like "Be part of the solution, not pollution".

"We are facing a total climate emergency," Extinction Rebellion spokesman Micael Metry told AFP.

Activists block an entrance at Geneva airport's private jet terminal, during a protest 
by the climate change action group Extinction Rebellion (XR) in Geneva, Switzerland 
(AFP Photo/Fabrice COFFRINI)

"Private jets emit 20 times more CO2 per passenger than normal airplanes," he said.

"It is very important for us to denounce this completely absurd and unjust means of transportation, which is used by a tiny fraction of the population."

Sonia Ediger, who said she had come from Lausanne to take part in the protest, called on the "powerful people of the world" who fly private jets "to come down out of the clouds".

"We are seeing the world collapse around us, we see catastrophe after catastrophe, ever bigger, ever more frequent, all around us," she told AFP, insisting that "radical change" was needed.

A large number of Geneva police, some in riot gear, assembled to monitor the unauthorised protest, but kept their distance for several hours.

At mid-afternoon, police asked the demonstrators to identify themselves and then leave in small groups, which they did peacefully.

Police spokesman Silvain Guillaume-Gentil told the ATS news agency they had not yet decided whether to bring charges.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Promise and peril for German carmakers in Tesla's Berlin touchdown

Yahoo – AFP, Florian CAZERES with Yann SCHREIBER in Frankfurt, November 13, 2019

Tesla would be the first foreign car company to set up shop in Germany
"in decades" sector analyst Stefan Bratzel says (AFP Photo/John THYS)

Hopes are high that US electric pioneer Tesla's first European factory just outside Berlin will boost German carmakers, but it also ups the pressure on homegrown manufacturers to raise their battery-powered game.

Elon Musk's Tuesday announcement that his Californian firm is coming marks the first foreign car company setting up shop in Germany "in decades," said analyst Stefan Bratzel of the Center of Automotive Management -- "symbolic for the new world and the reordering of the industry."

Economy minister Peter Altmaier trumpeted "a great success," saying Germany had prevailed in "intense competition" with other European countries.

Musk unveiled Tesla's European touchdown at an industry event in Berlin, saying he had picked a site in Brandenburg for the factory, which is expected to bring roughly 7,000 jobs.

Slated for an area southeast of the German capital, the plant "will build batteries, powertrains and vehicles, starting with Model Y" SUVs, Musk later tweeted.

Production is to start in 2021 at the earliest.

"I think it's a good thing, it will create jobs and electric cars are good for the environment," said Mathias Wirth, who lives in Gruenheide, set to host the Tesla plant.

"It's a big opportunity for people living here," agreed fellow resident Iris Siebman.

Musk said the German state of Brandenburg offers "a lower than average paid workforce
 in the former East Germany" and space to expand (AFP Photo/Tobias SCHWARZ)

'Pressure on the Germans'

Tesla accounts for almost one in three electric vehicles sold in western Europe, and worldwide sales of its Model 3 have already overtaken those of BMW's 3 Series sedans, although "German sales remain disappointing", according to analyst Matthias Schmidt.

Electric vehicles more broadly have fallen short of ambitions, with Chancellor Angela Merkel this year targeting one million on the road by 2022 -- two years later than she had previously aimed for.

"Elon Musk's decision in favour of Germany... adds more momentum to electric mobility than 100 summits called by the chancellor," said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, head of the University of Duisburg-Essen's Center for Automotive Research.

"Competition has always made people better and faster, so it's good news for Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler too," he added.

But there is also no doubt Musk's move "puts pressure on the Europeans and the Germans," said Christoph Schalast, professor at the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management.

German giants are behind in adapting fleets to meet new European emissions limits, and have left it until late to commit to electric drive in a big way.

In the near term, bosses "won't be losing too much sleep, but the danger is if they wait too long with their own credible electric vehicle offerings, they may begin to lose some of their credibility," analyst Schmidt said.

A German car industry source told AFP they were relaxed about Tesla's announcement, hoping the competitor's arrival would accelerate the country's electric transition.

Elon Musk hailed hailed "outstanding" German engineering as a factor in his 
choice of a site near Berlin (AFP Photo/Jörg Carstensen)

'Made in Germany'

On stage Tuesday, Musk hailed "outstanding" German engineering as one factor playing into the choice for Berlin.

The capital can lend "creativity" and English-speakers, "the engineering and programming hipsters," while Brandenburg offers "a lower than average paid workforce in the former East Germany" and space to expand.

But Schmidt warned the Californian risks running into "bureaucratic hell" in Germany, with Musk's new site just a few kilometres (miles) from the Berlin-Brandenburg airport.

The planned hub is almost a decade behind schedule, largely down to problems with its fire suppression system.

Even without such dramatic delays, Tesla is unlikely to throw together a factory in the one year its new Chinese site required.

Work is to start in early 2020 with a budget of several billion euros (dollars), Brandenburg's economy minister was quoted by the news agency DPA as sayin

Daytime speed limit to be slashed to 100 kph to cut pollution: NOS

DutchNews, November 12, 2019 

Photo: Wikimedia Commons 

The cabinet is planning to cut the maximum speed limit to 100 kph nationwide between 6am and 7pm, in an effort to cut nitrogen-based pollution, sources have told broadcaster NOS.

 Higher speed limits of 120 kph and 130 kph would be allowed at night – on roads which currently have the higher speed limit, ministers are set to announce Wednesday. 

Ministers hope that cutting the speed limit will compensate for the extra pollution generated by the construction industry – particularly of new homes. A large number of building projects have been put on hold after the Council of State ruled current measures to reduce nitrous oxide and ammonia pollution are insufficient. 

Prime minister Mark Rutte has declined to confirm the speed limit cut, but says he aims to present the package of measures on Wednesday morning. 

Also on the table is a plan to add enzymes to cattle feed so they produce less ammonia in their manure, NOS said.

Ministers outline the government’s plans. Photo: Phil Nijhuis / HH

  • Stagnation of the current US Politics: Compassioned (US) leaders will arise in the future
  • Shortage of fresh/drinking water: Invention to make salt from salt water magnetic and remove it with water desalination process in high volumes
  • Pollution on Earth: 1 - Stop killing the environment! / 2 - The rise of temperature on Earth is “temporary” and is part of the "regular" Watercycle.
  • Replacement of current fossil energy source: Use of magnetics based (small/big) engines to produces electricity / free energy
  • Plastic pollution in the oceans: Invention to remove the plastics gradually from the oceans
Photo: The Ocean Cleanup

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Workers strike at Kuwait airport for better working conditions

Arab News - AFP, 11 November 2019

The right to strike is guaranteed for its citizens but foreign workers, who make up
a major portion of Kuwait’s labor force, do not have the right to strike. Above,
the Kuwaiti international airport. (AFP)

Monday’s strike by Kuwaiti staff did not affect flights, officials said

The right to strike is guaranteed for citizens in Kuwait, but such actions remain rare in the Gulf country

KUWAIT CITY: Hundreds of workers at Kuwait’s international airport held a one-hour strike Monday to demand better working conditions, threatening to stage longer walkouts in the coming days.

Ahmed Mohammed Al-Kandari, a union representative, said workers were calling for improved treatment and to be compensated for daily exposure to pollution and noise.

Monday’s strike by Kuwaiti staff did not affect flights, officials said.

The right to strike is guaranteed for citizens in Kuwait, but such actions remain rare in the Gulf country.

Foreign workers do not have the right to strike.

“Airport traffic is very normal,” Sheikh Salman Al-Hamoud Al-Sabah, head of the General Directorate of Civil Aviation, said.

Another official, Saleh Al-Fadaghi, the airport’s director of operations, also said flights were not affected.

“During the one-hour strike, 19 flights were operated as scheduled. There were five departures and 14 arrivals,” he said.

Kandari said the purpose of the strike was not to disrupt operations but “to make our voices heard.”

He added that Kuwaiti workers would hold a further two-hour strike on Wednesday and a 24-hour strike on Sunday if their demands are not met.

Of 4,500 civil aviation employees, 1,500 took part in Monday’s strike, he said.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Electric motorcycles ride to rescue in fuel-short Cuba

Yahoo – AFP, Carlos BATISTA, November 8, 2019

Electric motorcycle riders have come to the rescue of Cuban passengers
delayed by fuel shortages (AFP Photo/YAMIL LAGE)

Havana (AFP) - It is rush hour in Havana and the queue at the bus stop is longer than ever. Then a fleet of electric motorcycles appears, beeping their horns.

Surprised and relieved, passengers jump on the backs of the 50 or so electric mopeds.

It is a new solution for Cubans struggling with fuel shortages driven by US sanctions that have curbed oil imports.

Cuba has long been known for the classic American cars that people here lovingly maintain decades after they stopped being built.

But urban transport on the communist island is evolving.

The bikes' horns beep and some of the riders play reggaeton music -- but, being electric, their motors make hardly any noise.

A Chinese-made electric motorcycle costs between $1,800 and $2,300 in Cuba. A basic petrol-powered bike on the island can cost up to six times that.

Authorities estimate there are 210,000 electric motorcyles in use in Cuba 

Volunteer riders

The electric bikes -- with a maximum speed of about 50 kilometers (30 miles) per hour -- were first licensed for import in 2013.

They have multiplied in the streets since then -- and have come into their own with the recent fuel shortages.

"I really like this initiative, it helps a lot with the economy," says passenger Yanet Figueroa, 42, sitting on the back of one of the bikes.

"It really helps people who have great need of it."

Cuba plunged into a fuel crisis in September after Washington imposed restrictions on fuel shipments from Cuba's top ally Venezuela.

Cuba had to make do in September with just 30 percent of its usual fuel supply and the level has still not recovered -- it is forecast to reach no more than 80 percent this month.

With the public transport network badly hit, President Miguel Diaz-Canel has called on drivers to pick up passengers voluntarily.

The owners of electric bikes known as "motorinas" answered the call.

"We have volunteered to do this as a service to society," says one of the drivers, Javier Capote, 33.

"It is going very well. We are very happy about it."

The president himself during a televised address mentioned "those famous... what do you call them, the bikes? The 'motorinas', that have come out to help."

Mechanics have work to do servicing Cuba's fleet of electric motorcycles

Electric bike era

Cuban authorities estimate there are 210,000 electric motorcycles currently in use on the island.

That figure is expected to rise as the government in late October began to sell them with the price capped at $1,700.

Those who make a living servicing the bikes are pleased by that move as it will bring down costs.

"It seems like a very good idea to us mechanics," says one, Enrique Alfonso, 47, in his workshop.

He recalls the economic crisis of the 1990s that followed the end of cheap imports from the Soviet Union.

"That was the era of (affordable) Chinese bicycles. Now we are in the era of electric motorcycles," he says.

"With everything that is going on the country, they have become obtainable for a lot of people."

Members of the Electric Motorcycles of Cuba club ride passengers home


The electric bikes had a mixed reception at first. Silent and often inexpertly ridden, they are often involved in accidents in a country that already suffers from thousands of crashes a year.

Officials say that of the 7,000 road accidents recorded so far this year, a third have involved electric motorcycles.

Authorities have responded by insisting riders have a license and register their vehicles.

The flourishing of electric bikes follows several years of gradual opening-up of Cuba's state-run economy. It has also coincided with a digital mini-revolution.

Thanks to the availability of 3G-standard internet connections since last year, riders can network more easily.

The 3G connections helped spawn the Electric Motorbikes of Cuba online group, a club with more than 80 members.

It started out as a club for enthusiasts seeking to have "healthy fun and share the passion we all have for electric motorcycles and road safety," says its president Osdany Fleites, a 37-year-old taxi driver.

"The motorcycles do not pollute the environment, they do not make a noise," he says.

Now the club has evolved to have an environmental and "social purpose."

Along with another club, Eracing, its members take part in rescuing bus passengers stuck due to the fuel shortages.

They have also taken part in environmental clean-up jobs, helping eradicate an infestation of troublesome giant snails in Havana, donated blood and visited children in a cancer ward.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Pilot in Schiphol security scare was instructing a trainee at the time

DutchNews, November 7, 2019

Military police at Schiphol after the scare. Photo: AP Photo/Peter Dejong via HH 

The pilot who sparked a security scare at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Wednesday night was giving a trainee instructions when he accidently gave a hijacking alert, airline Air Europa has confirmed. 

The pilot activated the hijacking alert code as priority passengers were boarding, putting D pier into lockdown and launching a high-profile military police operation which generated news coverage around the world. 

No disciplinary measures will be taken against the pilot because there is nothing to blame him for, the airline told broadcaster NOS

Meanwhile, one of the 26 passengers on board the plane said they only realised the extent of the scare when they were allowed to leave the aircraft. 

‘My family rang when I was in the plane because they heard it had been hijacked,’ Javier Domingo told the Parool. ‘They had seen these messages about people with knives on board but none of it was true. We were just sitting talking. Some people were watching films on their iPad.’ 

Only on leaving the plane, where they were photographed and searched, did passengers realise what had been going on, he said. 

When the passengers were finally let back on board, the pilot was standing in the doorway. ‘He offered every passenger his apologies on behalf of Air Europa,’ Domingo said. ‘But he did not say that it was he himself who had caused it.’

Related Article:

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

E-scooter riders caught on Singapore footpaths may be jailed

Yahoo – AFP, November 4, 2019

The city-state is the latest country to introduce new regulations to cope with
a surge in the popularity of the contraptions (AFP Photo/Roslan RAHMAN)

Singapore (AFP) - Electric scooter riders in Singapore were banned from footpaths Monday and could face jail if they break the rule, after a series of accidents linked to the trendy two-wheelers sparked anger.

The city-state is the latest country to introduce new regulations to cope with a surge in the popularity of the contraptions, which many pedestrians view as silent menaces.

Tech-savvy Singapore has embraced the e-scooter craze but accidents -- including fires blamed on charging devices and the death of an elderly cyclist in a September collision -- triggered calls for a ban.

E-scooters were already banned from Singapore's roads but the Land Transport Authority said the two-wheelers were now prohibited on all footpaths.

They can only be used on cycle paths and a network of routes connecting parks.

The city-state is the latest country to introduce new regulations to cope with 
a surge in the popularity of the contraptions (AFP Photo/Roslan RAHMAN)

Most riders caught on footpaths until the end of the year will be given warnings but a strict approach will be taken from January 1, with offenders facing a jail term of up to two months and a maximum fine of Sg$2,000 ($1,500).

"This move is a necessary one to ensure pedestrian safety as incidents involving errant e-scooter riders continue to rise in spite of our heightened enforcement and education efforts," the authority said in a statement.

Singapore had already introduced other rules, including a requirement to register devices and speed limits.

France last week issued a series of rules on the use of e-scooters, including setting maximum speed limits at 25 kilometres (15 miles) per hour for riders who must be at least 12 years old.

Riding on sidewalks will be prohibited unless a city permits them in certain areas, and at walking speed only.

Supporters say the devices can plug gaps in public transport networks by helping commuters cover the short stretch from home to the bus or subway station, and can reduce dependence on cars.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Boeing CEO grilled on Capitol Hill after MAX crashes

Yahoo – AFP, Luc Olinga with John Biers in New York, October 29, 2019

Family members of those who died aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 hold
photographs of their loved ones as Dennis Muilenburg (R), president and CEO
of the Boeing Company, testifies before the Senate Commerce Committee

Washington (AFP) - Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg faced a barrage of criticism from US lawmakers Tuesday at a jammed hearing on the company's commitment to safety as family members of victims of two deadly MAX 737 crashes looked on.

In his first appearance before Congress since the 737 MAX was grounded in March, Muilenburg apologized for the crashes and acknowledged shortcomings, but broadly defended Boeing's development of the ill-fated aircraft.

Senators from both parties signaled clear dissatisfaction, bordering on rage in some cases.

"Boeing is the company that built the flying fortress that saved Europe," said Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth, a former National Guard helicopter pilot who lost both legs during the Iraq War.

"You have told this committee and you told me half-truths over and over again," said Duckworth, who represents Illinois, home to Boeing's corporate headquarters. "You have not told us the whole truth and these families are suffering because of it."

Muilenburg stuck to the company's longstanding stance that development of the MAX followed time-tested company procedures and defended it against charges that it cut corners on safety and was too cozy with regulators the Federal Aviation Administration.

Many analysts view the hearings as a can't-win situation for Muilenburg and expect him to exit the company in the foreseeable future, most likely after the MAX returns to service.

Asked by a reporter if he would resign, Muilenburg said, "That's not where my focus is. My focus is on the job at hand focused on safety. And we're going to do everything we can to ensure safe flight."

But Nadia Milleron, who lost her daughter on the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said the company needs a shakeup.

Muilenburg "needs to resign. The whole board needs to resign," she said. "I expect him to stop putting the blame on the FAA and other people because that is what they always do. They don't take responsibility."

Boeing president and CEO, Dennis Muilenburg arrives at a Senate hearing 
on the 737 MAX after two deadly crashes (AFP Photo/MANDEL NGAN)

Passing the buck?

Many of the questions focused on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, an automated system that Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines pilots were unable to control, resulting in crashes.

"We have learned from both accidents and we've identified changes that need to be made to MCAS," Muilenburg told the Senate Commerce Committee.

But Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, lambasted Muilenburg as he struggled to answer pointed questions about 2016 texts from Boeing pilot Mark Forkner to a colleague that discussed the "egregious" performance of the MCAS during a simulation test and said that he "basically lied to the regulators."

Muilenburg indicated that Boeing counsel shared the documents with the Justice Department in February, but that he did not see the specific exchange until it was reported by news media earlier this month.

"I was made aware of existence of this kind of document," Muilenburg told Cruz. "I counted on counsel to handle this appropriately."

"That is passive voice," Cruz shot back. "You're the CEO, the buck stops with you.

"How did your team not put it in front of you, run with their hair on fire and say 'We have a real problem here?' How did that not happen and what does that say about the culture at Boeing?"

Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat from Washington state where the 737 MAX is built, said the crisis showed that Boeing leadership was failing its employees.

"This isn't a question about line workers -- this is a question about the corporate view from Chicago, and whether there is enough attention to manufacturing and certification," Cantwell said. "You should take offense to the fact that people say, 'It's a great company that's not being run correctly.'"

Tuesday's hearing will be followed by a second session on Wednesday in the House Transportation Committee.

Boeing is still targeting regulatory approval for the MAX in 2019, a timeframe that many aviation experts still view as possible.

Senator Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican who chairs the Senate committee, told CNBC before the hearing that he intends to scrutinize Boeing's processes but said he did not see anything that would prevent the MAX from going back into service "fairly soon."

"I think this plane is eminently fixable," Wicker told CNBC. "I don't think it's a hopeless cause."

India's IndiGo makes $33bn mega-order of Airbus jets

Yahoo – AFP, October 29, 2019

With another 300 fuel-efficient planes on order, IndiGo will be able to reduce
fuel costs further in the future (AFP Photo/RAVEENDRAN)

Indian airline IndiGo has placed an order for 300 A320neo family aircraft, Airbus said Tuesday, in one of its largest-ever orders from a single firm, worth over $33.2 billion at catalogue prices.

The leading Indian airline said the order would help it to keep growing fast while cutting costs.

The Airbus order stands in stark contrast to the situation faced by its direct rival, Boeing's 737 MAX airliner, which has been grounded since March following two crashes that killed a total of 346 people.

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg was to appear Tuesday and Wednesday before US lawmakers who want to know among other things if Boeing cut corners to rush the MAX out to compete with the Airbus A320neo models.

"The fuel-efficient A320neo family aircraft will allow IndiGo to maintain its strong focus on lowering operating costs and delivering fuel efficiency with high standards of reliability," Riyaz Peermohamed, Chief Aircraft Acquisition and Financing Officer of IndiGo, said in a statement.

IndiGo is already the largest operator of Airbus's latest-generation single-aisle model, which have become a top seller as they offer airlines considerable savings in fuel, one of their biggest costs.

The airline currently operates 97 of the planes. Including the 300 ordered on Tuesday, it has ordered a total of 730 of the medium-range models.

India's market for aircraft is growing fast.

The number of passengers there has multiplied by six over the past decade as middle class travellers take advantage of better connections and cheaper flights.

"We are pleased to see our aircraft allowing IndiGo to take full advantage of the predicted growth in Indian air travel," Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury was quoted by a statement as saying.

An Airbus estimate of the need for new planes in India over the next 20 years foresees domestic traffic that is 4.8 times greater than at present.

The latest IndiGo order includes a mix of the A320neo, the larger-capacity A321neo and the A321XLR, with a range of 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 kilometres, 5,400 miles) that is to be unveiled in June.

"IndiGo has brilliantly demonstrated the relevance of the A320neo for leading low-cost operators, and the A321neo -- and now the A321XLR -- provide our operators with the logical next step in cost efficiency, passenger comfort and market coverage," said Airbus' chief commercial officer, Christian Scherer.

At the end of September, Airbus had recorded more than 6,650 firm orders from nearly 110 clients for planes from the A320neo line, while Boeing had booked 4,930 orders for the 737 MAX.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Toyota boosts presence in Poland on Brexit woes: media

RTL – AFP, 28 October 2019

'Brexit confusion' may have helped swing the decision Poland's way / GETTY

Toyota said on Monday that it would boost production of components for hybrid vehicles at its plants in EU member Poland, with local media reporting the choice of location was underpinned by uncertainty over Brexit.

Toyota Motor Europe said it would invest 140 million euros ($155 million) in Poland to increase production at its hybrid-oriented plant in the southwestern city of Walbrzych, according to a Monday statement.

"High interest in this (hybrid) technology in Europe, confirmed by rapidly growing sales, which now already amount to over 50 percent of the total volume of orders for Toyota models, resulted in the decision to locate two further investments in our Polish factory," Toyota said in a Monday statement.

Toyota chose Poland for its only other hybrid production and development facility outside Japan, it added.

Although the company made no reference to the challenges it faces in Europe posed by Brexit, Polish media were quick to underline that uncertainty over the terms of Britain's withdrawal from the EU meant the company chose not to expand production at its plants in the UK.

Several Polish media sources said that Toyota had initially planned to expand production at its Deeside engine plant in Britain, but changed its mind over concerns linked to Brexit.

"Although Toyota does not want to comment on this, the increase in investment in Poland was also affected by the confusion associated with Brexit," wrote Puls Biznesu, a leading Polish economic daily, on Monday.

Plans call for the new investment in Poland to be completed by 2022, giving Toyota's two plants in Poland the capacity to produce some 309,000 hybrid engines per year.

The engines are destined for Toyota, PSA and Lotus assembly lines in the Czech Republic, Britain, France, Turkey and Russia, as well as in South Africa and Japan.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

US makes history with first all-female spacewalk

Yahoo – AFP, Issam AHMED, October 18, 2019

This image taken from NASA TV shows astronaut Christina Koch during a
spacewalk outside the International Space Station on October 18, 2019 (AFP Photo/HO)

Washington (AFP) - US astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir on Friday became the first all-female pairing to carry out a spacewalk -- a historic milestone as NASA prepares to send the first woman to the Moon.

"It symbolizes exploration by all that dare to dream and work hard to achieve that dream," Meir said after the 7-hour, 17-minute spacewalk to replace a power controller on the International Space Station.

The mission was originally planned for earlier this year but had to be aborted due to a lack of properly fitting spacesuits, leading to allegations of sexism.

Koch and Meir began the walk with standard safety checks on their suits and tethers, before making their way to the repair site on the station's port side, as the sunlit Earth came into view.

In a call to reporters just a few minutes before, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine emphasized the symbolic significance of the day.

"We want to make sure that space is available to all people, and this is another milestone in that evolution," he said.

"I have an 11-year-old daughter, I want her to see herself as having all the same opportunities that I found myself as having when I was growing up."

Suit flub

The first all-female spacewalk was supposed to take place in March but was canceled because the space agency had only one medium-sized suit. A male-female team performed the required task at a later date.

This undated combination photo obtained from NASA shows astronauts 
Christina Koch (L) and Jessica Meir (AFP Photo/HO)

The failure by traditionally male-dominated NASA to be adequately prepared was denounced in some quarters as evidence of implicit sexism.

When Koch and Meir had been outside the space station for about five hours, President Donald Trump reached them in a video call and told them they had made history.

"You are very brave, brilliant women," Trump said.

"You represent this country so well," the president added. "We are very proud of you."

Meir, a 42-year-old marine biologist who was recruited by NASA in 2013, answered by paying tribute to female pioneers of the past.

"We don't want to take too much credit because there have been many other female spacewalkers before us," she said.

"There's been a long line of female scientists, explorers, engineers and astronauts. We have followed in their footsteps, to get to where we are today."

After the call, the astronauts got back to their repair work.

"That is a view," one of them -- it was not clear which -- said at one point, as the earth was lit up in bright light from the sun.

Koch, an electrical engineer who is leading the mission, was carrying out her fourth spacewalk and was hooked up to the station's robotic arm.

Meir, making her first spacewalk, carefully made her way using handles.

The two were working to replace a faulty battery charge/discharge unit, known as a BCDU.

The station relies on solar power but is out of direct sunlight for much of its orbit and therefore needs batteries. The BCDUs regulate the amount of charge that goes into them.

US President Donald Trump (C), Vice President Mike Pence (L), Advisor to the 
President Ivanka Trump (3rd R) and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (2nd R) 
speak to NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir during the first 
all-woman spacewalk (AFP Photo/JIM WATSON)

The current task was announced Monday and is part of a wider mission of replacing aging nickel-hydrogen batteries with higher-capacity lithium-ion units.


The US sent its first female astronaut into space in 1983, when Sally Ride took part in the seventh space shuttle mission, and has now had more women astronauts than any other country.

But the first woman in space was Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963, followed by compatriot Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982, who was also the first woman spacewalker two years later.

NASA acting associate administrator Ken Bowersox said he hoped that an all-female spacewalk would soon be a "routine" matter that would not require celebration.

Asked why it had taken so long -- Meir is the 14th US woman spacewalker -- he said men's added height provided an advantage.

"There have been a lot of spacewalks where very tall men were the ones that were able to do the jobs because they were able to reach and do things a little bit more easily," he said.

Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris said the spacewalk was more than historic.

"It's a reminder that for women, even the sky doesn't have to be the limit," she tweeted.

NASA plans to return to the Moon by 2024 for the first time since the Apollo landings of 1969-1972. The new mission is named Artemis, after the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology.

The mission will likely see the first woman set foot on the lunar surface, perhaps as part of a male-female combination, as the space agency looks ahead to a crewed Mars expedition in the 2030s.