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

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission
Analsyts say it is irresponsible to link the crash of a Ukraine International Airline Boeing 737-800 to the 737 MAX accidents (AFP Photo/INA FASSBENDER)

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. …

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

US names drone testing sites

Google – AFP, 30 December 2013

A drone is on display during the Unmanned Systems 2013 exhibition and
 symposium hosted by The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC, August 13, 2013
(AFP/File, Saul Loeb)

Washington — US aviation regulators on Monday released the names of sites picked to test civilian drones whose slated 2015 debut over American skies has sparked privacy concerns.

Testing of the unmanned aircraft is due to start within three months and could continue until February 2017, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement.

The FAA has said some 7,500 small unmanned aircraft can be expected in US airspace in the next five years -- provided regulations are in place to handle them.

As well as law enforcement, supporters say civilian drones could be used for a vast range of applications, including tracking the progress of wildfires, helping to find lost skiers, identifying criminals or mapping inhospitable terrain.

This photo released by Amazon on Dec.1,
 2013 shows a flying "octocopter" mini-drone
 that would be used to fly small packages
 to consumers (Amazon/AFP/File)
Data from the testing "will help the FAA answer key research questions such as solutions for 'sense and avoid,' command and control, ground control station standards and human factors, airworthiness, lost link procedures and the interface with the air traffic control system," the FAA said.

Operators include the University of Alaska, whose winning proposal covers seven climatic zones and foresees testing in the states of Hawaii and Oregon.

The state of Nevada will, among other things, focus on how air traffic control procedures will evolve with the introduction of drones.

New York's Griffiss International Airport, meanwhile, will study the integration of drones into the heavily frequented northeast airspace.

Another chosen operator, the North Dakota Department of Commerce, is the only one to offer testing in a temperate, continental climate and a variety of different airspaces, according to the FAA.

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi plans to develop system safety requirements.

The sixth operator, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, known as Virginia Tech, will conduct "failure mode testing," with sites in both Virginia and New Jersey.

The FAA said it had received 25 proposals from 24 states and made its selection following a 10-month selection process.

It noted in its announcement that, as laid out in November, test site operators must comply with federal, state and other privacy laws and have a "written plan for data use and retention."

Michael Toscano, president and chief executive of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, representing drone makers, welcomed the FAA's announcement, calling it "an important milestone on the path toward unlocking the potential of unmanned aircraft."

According to Toscano, the market for civilian drones will lead to the creation of 100,000 jobs over the first decade following their integration into US skies. That would generate more than $82 billion, he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union urged Congress to ensure the protection of privacy.

"We're pleased the FAA acknowledges the importance of safeguarding privacy in the testing areas where drones will be flying, but requiring test sites to have privacy policies is no guarantee that every site will put strong protections in place," Catherine Crump, the group's staff attorney, said in a statement.

"Someday drones will be commonplace in US skies and, before that happens, it's imperative that Congress enact strong, nationwide privacy rules."

About 80 law enforcement agencies currently operate unmanned aircraft under special authorization.

Earlier this month, Amazon head Jeff Bezos floated a futuristic mini-drone delivery plan that would drop small packages at doorsteps in just 30 minutes.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

15 Satpol PP Officers Named Suspects Over Forced East Nusa Tenggara Airport Closure

Jakarta Globe, Ezra Sihite & Farouk Arnaz, December 24, 2013

A Merpati Nusantara Airlines plane sits at an airport in Luwuk, Central
Sulawesi. (JG Photo/Erwida Maulia)

Police on Tuesday said 15 public order agency (Satpol PP) officers in Ngada district, East Nusa Tenggara, have been named suspects in an investigation after carrying out an order from the district head to forcefully close a local airport on Saturday.

Turelelo Soa Airport was temporarily shut on Saturday morning after Marianus Sae, the district head, ordered for it to be closed after he was denied a ticket on an fully-booked Merpati Nusantara flight. Airport officials said they could do nothing to end the blockade because they were outnumbered by Satpol PP officers enforcing Marianus’s wishes.

“Fifteen [Satpol PP officers] have been named suspects for violating the law and trespassing on the runway,” East Nusa Tenggara Police chief Brig. Gen. I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana told Indonesian news portal

He said it would need some time, though, before Marianus himself could be charged in the case.

“Our law specifies that questioning of district heads requires permission, a recommendation from the governor,” Untung said.

He added that Ngada Police were currently dealing with the case.

“[They] are investigating others first — those whose questioning doesn’t require a letter,” Untung said. “They need time. They’re working in stages.”

Separately in Jakarta, National Police chief Gen. Sutarman said Marianus allegedly violated Indonesia’s Aviation Law.

“Shutting an airport violates Article 421 of the 2009 Law on Aviation,” he said. “Blockading an airport is punishable by three years in prison and Rp 1 billion [$82,000] in fines.”

Sutarman added that police decided to commence the investigation into the case even though no one had filed a report against Marianus.

He added that anyone involved in the closure might face legal charges.

“There are three [alleged] perpetrators: those who did it, those who helped and those who ordered it,” Sutarman said. “The punishment will be the same. We will question [all of them].”

Aside from the Satpol PP officers, police said they have questioned officials from Merpati and airport operator Angkasa Pura, as well as airport security personnel, over Saturday’s incident.

Related Article:

Sharp rise in the sale of hybrid cars, Tuesday 24 December 2013

The increase is mainly due to 
changes in tax liability. (NOS/ANP)
There has been a sharp rise in the sale of hybrid electric cars over the past few months, according to new figures from the Rai motoring organisation.

So far this year almost 18,000 plug-in hybrids have been bought, compared with 5,100 in 2012 as a whole. The rise comes as buyers rush to beat the increase in tax on company electric and hybrid cars next year.

Company cars bought in 2013 will have a zero tax rate for the next five years, but electric cars and hybrids bought in 2014 will be taxed at 4% and 7% respectively.

The most popular is the Mitsubishi Outlander. Demand has been so great, dealers can barely keep up, the Rai organisation said.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

China sends Bolivian communications satellite into orbit

Want China Times, Xinhua and Staff Reporter 2013-12-21

The Bolivian satellite is launched from the Xichang Satellite
Launch Center, Sichuan province, Dec. 21. (Photo/Xinhua)

China successfully sent a Bolivian communications satellite into orbit with its Long March-3B carrier rocket from southwest Xichang Satellite Launch Center at 0:42am (Beijing Time) Saturday.

Bolivian president Evo Morales was present, the first time a foreign head of state has witnessed a satellite launch in China.

The satellite was produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) with a designed longevity of 15 years. It is Bolivia's first communications satellite and is named Tupac Katari in homage to an 18th century indigenous hero who fought Bolivia's Spanish colonizers.

China's president, Xi Jinping, sent a message of congratulations to President Morales, saying the successful development and launch of the satellite represents the latest achievements and level of cooperation between China and Bolivia in the field of science and technology.

"The satellite will play an important role for Bolivia to improve its broadcasting, education and medical services. It will make important contributions to promote cooperation between China and Latin American countries," Xi said.

Bilateral ties have been progressing smoothly while pragmatic cooperation in all areas are making steady headway since China and Bolivia established diplomatic ties 28 years ago, Xi said.

Xi said China hopes for more space collaboration with Bolivia, which will promote mutual beneficial cooperation and friendly relations, bringing benefits to the people of both countries.

In a speech made after the launch, President Morales thanked Xi for his congratulations and expressed gratitude towards the Chinese government, scientists and the people. He hopes that China and Bolivia will take the opportunity of the successful launch to deepen cooperation in all areas and bring bilateral ties to a higher level.

The satellite agreement was signed between the Bolivian Space Agency (ABE) and the Great Wall Industry Corporation of China, a subsidiary of CASC, in December 2010.

It is the fifth Chinese communications satellite for international users and the second in-orbit delivery for a Latin American customer. China launched a telecom satellite for Venezuela in 2008.

The successful launch will bring Bolivia into an age of digital economy and make its people more connected, said Ivan Zambrana, head of the ABE.

"We wish to launch a remote sensing satellite in 2017 and China is one of our best alternatives," he added.

Related Article:

Friday, December 20, 2013

Cuba lifts 50-year-old car import ban

End of the road for 1950s vintage cars as restrictions are lifted in Cuba

The Telegraph - AFP, 19 Dec 2013

Opening Cuba's domestic car market to imports is likely to have fateful
 consequences for the lovingly maintained 1950s cars on the island.
Photo: Getty Images

Cuba will allow unrestricted car imports for the first time in 50 years, marking the end of an era for the 1950s Chevys, Fords and Pontiacs that have survived the ban.

The decision to allow cars to be imported for sale at market prices on the island was taken on Wednesday by Cuba's council of ministers, according to the official newspaper Granma.

It said the decision will gradually free up retail sales of all manner of vehicles – automobiles, vans, trucks and motorcycles – and ends the practice of granting some Cubans special permission to bring in vehicles as a privilege.

Granma acknowledged the so-called "letters of authorisation" issued by the transport ministry had generated "resentment, dissatisfaction and, in not a few cases ... (were) a source of speculation and enrichment."

Holders of the letters, however, will still be first in line to buy cars while the new system is phased in, Granma said.

Related Articles

Opening Cuba's domestic car market to imports is likely to have fateful consequences for the lovingly maintained 1950s cars on the island.

But the changes are a long-awaited element of President Raul Castro's attempts to gradually liberalise Cuba's Soviet-style economy.

Separately, Mr Castro's brother Fidel praised his brief encounter and handshake with Barack Obama in South Africa.

"I congratulate comrade Raul for his brilliant performance, and especially for his firmness and dignity when with a friendly but firm gesture he greeted the head of government of the United States and said to him in English: 'Mr President, I am Castro.'"

Mr Obama stopped and shook hands with the Cuban president on his way to the podium December 10 to speak at a memorial in Soweto for the late Nelson Mandela.

Neither side made much of the exchange but Fidel's remarks, in an article published in Granma, made clear that he approved of his brother's handling of the moment.

The handshake was the first between leaders of the two Cold War adversaries since 2000, when then US president Bill Clinton shook hands with Fidel at the UN General Assembly in New York.

It was only the second time that American and Cuban presidents have shaken hands since the Cuban revolution in 1959.

Raul replaced Fidel as Cuba's president in 2006, but as the father of the Cuban revolution the elder Castro remains hugely influential.

Edited by Chris Irvine
Related Articles:

"Recalibration of Knowledge" – Jan 14, 2012 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: Channelling, God-Creator, Benevolent Design, New Energy, Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) SoulsReincarnation, Gaia, Old Energies (Africa, Terrorists, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela ... ), Weather, Rejuvenation, Akash, Nicolas Tesla / Einstein, Cold Fusion, Magnetics, Lemuria, Atomic Structure (Electrons, Particles, Polarity, Self Balancing, Magnetism), Entanglement, "Life is necessary for a Universe to exist and not the other way around", DNA, Humans (Baby getting ready, First Breath, Stem Cells, Embryonic Stem Cells, Rejuvenation), Global Unity, ... etc.) (Text Version)  

“…  I want you to watch some countries. I don't have a clock [this statement is Kryon telling us that there is no time frame on his side of the veil, only potentials]. I'll just tell you, it's imminent [in Spirit's timing, this could mean as soon as a decade]. I want you to watch some countries carefully for changes. You're going to be seeing changes that are obvious, and some that are not obvious [covert or assumptive]. But the obvious ones you will see sooner than not - Cuba, Korea [North]Iran, of course, and Venezuela. I want you to watch what happens when they start to realize that they don't have any more allies on Earth! Even their brothers who used to support them in their hatred of some are saying, "Well, perhaps not anymore. It doesn't seem to be supporting us anymore. "Watch the synchronicities that are occurring. The leaders who have either died or are going to in the next year or so will take with them the old ways. Watch what happens to those who take their place, and remember these meetings where I described these potentials to you. …”

Thursday, December 19, 2013

200 cars stolen in Germany 'now owned by Tajik elite'

Google – AFP, 19 December 2013

Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmon attends a regional economic summit
 in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on June 6, 2012 (Pool/AFP, Mark Ralston)

Berlin — About 200 cars stolen in Germany have been tracked down in Tajikistan, where most are now driven by family and friends of President Emomali Rakhmon, media and officials in Berlin said Thursday.

The case of the German-registered cars, including 93 BMWs located via GPS, has caused friction between Germany and the Central Asian country, mass-circulation daily Bild reported.

A German foreign ministry spokeswoman did not confirm the Bild report that former foreign minister Guido Westerwelle had called in the Tajik ambassador over the case this year.

However, she told AFP that "there have been talks with the Tajik side on cooperation in fighting organised crime".

The cars were located by the "Westwind" task force of German and Lithuanian investigators, mostly using the vehicles' GPS systems, said Berlin city justice department spokeswoman Lisa Jani.

When Tajik authorities failed to respond to requests to help in the investigation, Berlin's justice minister Thomas Heilmann wrote to Germany's then-foreign minister Westerwelle, she told AFP.

"Most of the vehicles are in the possession of people who have business or family ties with the family of the Tajik president," Heilmann wrote to the foreign minister, said Jani.

Tajikistan has to date not replied to the request for legal assistance or taken steps to return the cars, she added.

An official contacted at the Tajik embassy in Berlin said he could not immediately provide an official statement.

Brazil picks Sweden's Gripen for its air force

Google – AFP, Yana Marull (AFP), 18 December 2013

Brazilian Defense Minister Celso Amorim (L) speaks next to Air Force Commander
 Juniti Saito during a press conference in Brasilia on December 18, 2013 (AFP,
Evaristo Sa)

Brasília — Sweden's Saab edged out French and US rivals to win a multi-billion-dollar contract to supply Brazil's air force with 36 new fighter jets, Defense Minister Celso Amorim said Wednesday.

Saab's Gripen NG was in competition with the Rafale made by France's Dassault company and US aviation giant Boeing's F/A-18 fighter for the long-deferred FX-2 air force replacement program.

"After analyzing all the facts, President Dilma Rousseff directed me to inform that the winner of the contract for the acquisition of the 36 fighter jets for the Brazilian Air Force is the Swedish Gripen NG," Amorim told a press conference.

He put the actual value of the contract, earlier estimated at $5 billion, at $4.5 billion as Saab offered the cheapest price.

The announcement came after more than 10 years of discussions and repeated delays due to budgetary constraints.

It came as a surprise, as experts were forecasting a Dassault-Boeing duel.

Amorim said the Gripen, a state-of-the-art, multi-role fighter, got the nod based on performance, assurances of technology transfer and overall costs.

The Gripen, which was favored by the air force brass, is capable of performing an extensive range of air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions.

It can carry up to 6.5 tons of armament and equipment.

Munitions include various missiles, laser-guided bombs, and a single 27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon.

The Gripen is in use in the air forces of Britain, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Thailand and Hungary.

Rousseff had postponed a decision on the FX-2 replacement contract in early 2011 for budgetary reasons but air force chiefs made it clear that it was an urgent matter.

The air force said the new fighter aircraft were needed to maintain an adequate air defense as it is to retire its 12 Mirage jets in late December.

Brazil bought the refurbished Mirage 2000 C/Bs from France in 2005 for $80 million to fly for five years.

A key requirement for the sale was technology transfers so that the planes can be assembled in this country and give a boost to the domestic defense industry.

Amorim said negotiations with Saab would take 10-12 months, with the signing of the contract expected at the end of next year and delivery of the first aircraft 48 months later.

The defense minister said Brazil's top planemaker Embraer "will benefit greatly" from the deal.

The G1 news website quoted Air Force spokesman Marcelo Damasceno as saying the Gripen jets "will meet the operational needs of the Air Force for the next 30 years."

In 2009, then president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had expressed a preference for the Rafale but later backtracked and left the choice to his successor Dilma Rousseff.

A source close to Dassault in Paris said the Rafale was the most expensive among the three aircraft in contention.

"There is a prototype of the Gripen NG, which already has 300 hours of flight," said Brazilian Air Force Commander Juniti Saito.

"We are going to develop the plant jointly with Sweden. with Saab, to have 100 percent of the plane's intellectual property," he added.

"Within the Air Force, the Gripen was always seen as the favorite because, even though it has many US-made components, it is a project that will be developed jointly with Brazil," the daily O Estado de Sao Paulo said.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Delft develops 20 gramme flying robot which does not bump into walls, Monday 16 December 2013

The DelFly Explorer (Nos/TU Delft)
Researchers at Delft University of Technology have developed a tiny flying robot which is self-steering and weights just 20 grammes.

The DelFly Explorer, which resembles a dragonfly, is battery-powered and carries two tiny cameras and a computer. This not only allows the robot to avoid objects but allows users to monitor what it ‘sees’.

The university says the robot is unique because it is so light and because it is not controlled by an external computer.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Chinese spacecraft lands on moon

First soft landing since 1976 puts China alongside US and former Soviet Union in accomplishing such a feat, Reuters, Saturday 14 December 2013

A screen grab of live TV footage shows China's first lunar rover after it landed
on the moon. Photograph: CCTV/AFP/Getty Images

A Chinese spacecraft has landed on the moon in the first "soft landing" since 1976.

The event, broadcast live on Chinese TV, means the country has joined the United States and the former Soviet Union in managing to accomplish such a feat.

The Chang'e 3, a probe named after a lunar goddess in traditional Chinese mythology, is carrying the solar-powered Yutu, or Jade Rabbit rover, which will dig and conduct geological surveys. The mission is expected to last three months.

In China's most recent manned space mission in June, three astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with an experimental space laboratory, part of Beijing's quest to build a working space station by 2020.

State TV footage showing the Jade Rabbit moon rover
moving away from the Chang'e-3, Dec. 14. (Photo/Xinhua)

Related Articles:

Iran 'brings second monkey back safely from space'

Google – AFP, 14 December 2013

An Iranian scientist holds a live monkey at an unknown location on January 28, 
2013, which Iranian news agencies said returned alive after it traveled in a capsule to
an altitude of 120 kilometres (75 miles) for a sub-orbital flight (IRNA/AFP/File)

Tehran — Iran said on Saturday that it had safely returned a monkey to Earth after blasting it into space in the second such launch this year in its controversial ballistic programme.

President Hassan Rouhani congratulated the scientists involved in the mission, in a message carried by the official IRNA news agency.

The report added that the rocket reached a height of 120 kilometres (75 miles).

In January, Iran said it had successfully brought a live monkey, which it named Pishgam (Pioneer), back to Earth from orbit.

But the experiment's success was disputed, when a different monkey was presented to the media after the landing.

An earlier attempt had failed in September 2011.

Iran's space programme has prompted concern among Western governments, which fear Tehran is trying to master the technology required to deliver a nuclear warhead.

The Islamic republic insists that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

"By the grace of God and through the efforts of Iranian space scientists, the Pajohesh (research) rocket containing the second live space monkey, named Fargam (Auspicious), was sent into space and brought back to Earth safely," Rouhani said in his message.

State television broadcast footage of the rocket launch which state television said took place on Saturday morning.

A helicopter brought a capsule to the scene which the reporter said contained the monkey, and later footage of a monkey wearing a red shirt was shown.

Iran's space programme was heavily promoted by Rouhani's controversial predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who quipped in February that he was "ready to be the first Iranian to be sacrificed by the scientists of my country and go into space, even though I know there are a lot of candidates".

To the dismay of animal welfare groups, Fargam was following in the footsteps of a menagerie of dogs and monkeys that were among the early stars of the US and Soviet space programmes in the 1960s.

Earlier this year, Iranian space officials raised the prospect of sending a Persian cat into space.

"Iran's archaic experiment... is a throwback to the primitive techniques of the 1950s," People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals spokesman Ben Williamson said at the time.

The stated aim of Iran's programme is a manned launch by 2020.

The programme deeply unsettles Western governments as the technology used in space rockets can also be used in ballistic missiles.

The UN Security Council has imposed an almost total embargo on the export of nuclear and space technology to Iran since 2007.

Tehran denies its space programme has any link with its alleged nuclear ambitions.

Related Article:

Friday, December 13, 2013

Smog means pilots flying to Beijing need blind landing rating

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2013-12-13

The docking area at Nanjing Lukou International Airport. (Photo/Xinhua)

From the first day of the new year, pilots flying domestically to Beijing from China's top 10 municipal airports must be capable of performing a second-category blind landing. The requirement comes as the smog thickens around the capital, according to a decree issued by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

Spring Airlines, China's leading budget carrier, reported on Dec. 10 that 80% of its pilots are now proficient in such a landing, or landing via instrumental assistance at a time when visibility is poor.

Half of the pilots of China Eastern Airlines are capable of second-category blind landing, while the great majority of pilots for Juneyao Airlines have completed training. Most pilots flying large long-haul aircraft, such as A330 and B767, were originally required to possess the skills for a blind landing, though their is no national requirement to obtain a domestic flying license.

Pilots without the requisite skills are currently being asked to land at a standby airport during bad weather, which filters out a great amount of domestic carriers when compared to international flights.

Growing numbers of local pilots come with such capabilities, thanks to the provision of cram courses by domestic airlines. The punctuality of domestic flights has increased markedly, mainly by reducing the influence of smoggy weather.

With the exception of Shanghai Pudong Airport, Beijing Capital Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, most domestic airports are not equipped with blind-landing assistance facilities, which are quite expensive.

The CAAC, however, has planned to require eight airports with an annual passenger traffic exceeding 20 million passenger/trips and 18 airports with passenger traffic of 5-20 million to install second-category or third category-blind landing facilities.

GM Exodus Puts Australian Carmakers Step Nearer Extinction

Businessweek- Bloomberg, David Fickling, Michael Heath and Jason Scott, December 12, 2013

A vehicle bearing the GM Holden Ltd. badge stands parked at the company's
 headquarters in Melbourne on Dec. 11, 2013. Photographer: Carla Gottgens/Bloomberg

Australia’s century-old automotive industry is stepping closer to extinction after General Motors Co. joined Ford Motor Co. in deciding to stop making cars in the country.

Seven months after Ford announced it would pull out, GM said yesterday its Holden unit will cease production in 2017. That prompted the last holdout, Toyota Motor Corp. (7203), to say the move will place “unprecedented pressure” on parts makers and questioned the merits of remaining in the country. A stronger local currency and falling import tariffs have driven down sales of Australian-made cars by almost half since 2007.

The hollowing out of the nation’s auto industry has implications beyond the three companies as carmakers have about 150 suppliers that employ an estimated 42,000 people. The departure of Australia’s biggest carmaker also adds pressure on Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who’s facing rising unemployment and deteriorating consumer sentiment three months after winning an election by pledging to restore confidence in the economy.

“The Australian dollar has claimed an iconic brand of cars,” said Martin Whetton, an interest-rate strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc. in Sydney. “The announcement will be a major blow to confidence in the run-up to Christmas, as job losses will exacerbate an already heightened sense of insecurity.”

112 Years

Australia’s auto industry, which traces its roots to when land surveyor Harley Tarrant built an early petrol car with an imported Benz engine in 1901, won’t survive GM Holden’s departure, said Dave Smith, head of the vehicles division at the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union.

“A lot of older workers are going to be consigned to the unemployment scrap heap,” Smith said by phone. “This is what happens when you open up the borders” to imports, he said.

The flood of imports, mainly from Asia, has resulted in locally-made vehicles only accounting for 10 percent of total auto sales in the country this year, versus 80 percent three decades ago, according to data from Ford and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

For example, Holden’s Commodore was the country’s best-selling car for 15 consecutive years before it was overtaken by Mazda Motor Corp. (7261)’s 3 in 2011. Commodore sales point toward the vehicle’s ranking falling to third this year, behind the Mazda 3 and Hyundai Motor Co. (005380)’s i30.

Tariffs on South Korean auto imports, halved to 5 percent in 2010, will be scrapped under a free-trade agreement between the two countries announced Dec. 5.

‘Not Sustainable’

“Building cars in this country is just not sustainable,” Mike Devereux, managing director of the Holden unit, told reporters in Melbourne yesterday. “We have looked at every possible option.”

The decision to shutter Holden, bought by GM in 1931, was taken during a call with GM management on Dec. 10, hours after Devereux had told the government that the company was still assessing the unit’s future, he said. The timing of the Holden announcement came within a day of parent GM’s own disclosure that Mary Barra will succeed Dan Akerson as chief executive of the Detroit-based carmaker starting next year.

“Once companies have decided that their operations are not going to be viable for the long term, it’s very difficult to hold them,” Prime Minister Abbott told a media event in Canberra today. “The challenge now is to ensure that Toyota continue manufacturing in this country.”

Some attempts to reduce costs have failed. Toyota breached the Australian Fair Work Act with contract demands to employees, including a reduced Christmas shutdown period and the introduction of minimum overtime periods, Federal Court Justice Mordecai Bromberg ruled today.

Manufacturing in Australia has been a victim of the commodities boom that helped drive the value of the local currency to $1.11 in July 2011, the highest level in the 30 years since exchange controls were dropped. While the Australian currency has since depreciated to about 0.90 to the U.S. dollar, that’s still higher than at any point in the 23 years running up to 2007.

Costly Cars

“The Aussie dollar has been a major headwind for Australia’s trade-exposed sectors for a number of years,” said Tom Kennedy, a Sydney-based economist for JPMorgan Chase & Co. “When you combine that with Australia’s quite-high labor costs, it makes it uncompetitive to produce automobiles here.”

GM estimates it costs about A$3,750 more to produce a car in Australia than elsewhere. Ford said in May that its costs in the country are double those in Europe and four times those of its Asian divisions.

Such costs have made automakers depend on government aid to keep Australian plants running. Enter the new prime minster, who pledged to cut A$500 million from auto subsidies by 2015 instead of “waving a blank check” at carmakers before winning a general election in September.

The prime minister is now facing an unemployment rate that’s climbed to a four-year high and falling consumer confidence as the fading mining investment boom leads to slower-than-expected economic growth. Abbott’s ruling Coalition is trailing the Labor party for the first time in three years, according to an opinion poll published in the Australian newspaper Dec. 10.

‘Labor Gift’

“This announcement is a bit of a gift for Labor and its support in the union movement,” said Stephen Stockwell, a political analyst at Griffith University in Brisbane. Labor and the unions “will be making a big deal about this from now until the next election” due in 2016, he said. Ford’s plants will close during that year and Holden’s by the end of 2017.

The three carmakers’ suppliers, which account for the majority of the jobs in the country’s automotive manufacturing industry, are already planning for a future without their biggest customers.

“We’ve had this on our radar for a long time,” said Craig O’Donohue, managing director of Australian Arrow Pty., a wiring manufacturer in Melbourne’s western suburbs that’s supplied Toyota since 1975 and Holden since 1983. “You have to be realistic in this industry.”

Since 2011 the company has been trying to move into businesses such as wiring for slot machines, solar panels, and the military, using a government fund set up to support diversification. Toyota and Holden still account for almost all its revenue, O’Donohue said.

“If Toyota follows Holden, we would close,” said Pat Aughterson, managing director of Melbourne-based Excellent Plating Works Pty., which provides protective coatings to about 100,000 Toyota Camry bumpers each year. “If automotive goes, manufacturing is finished.”

To contact the reporters on this story: David Fickling in Sydney at; Michael Heath in Sydney at; Jason Scott in Canberra at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at

Glasgow crash firm grounds 22 helicopters

Google – AFP, 12 December 2013

Emergency services workers look on as the wreckage of a helicopter is winched
 from the collapsed roof of a pub in Glasgow on December 2, 2013 (AFP/File,
Andy Buchanan)

London — The British operator of a Eurocopter EC135 helicopter involved in a fatal crash in Glasgow said Thursday it had grounded its 22-strong fleet of the model after discovering a defect.

The "precautionary measure" by Bond Air Services puts one-third of Britain's police and ambulance helicopters out of action, according to the BBC.

But Eurocopter, which is owned by European aerospace giant EADS, said the decision to ground the helicopters was standard procedure, and stressed that no action was needed by other operators around the world.

The news came as authorities in Scotland said another person had died from injuries sustained in last month's crash of a Bond-operated police helicopter, bringing the death toll to 10.

"During normal operations yesterday, one of our EC135 fleet has experienced an indication defect that requires further technical investigation," Bond said in a statement.

"Therefore as a precautionary measure, we have temporarily suspended service operations whilst we undertake detailed diagnosis."

After overnight checks on the faulty air ambulance helicopter, the company carried out tests on each of the grounded aircraft.

In a statement, Eurocopter said: "The ongoing investigation follows a standard procedure initiated in case of a reported incident. Eurocopter is in close contact with Bond to fully support the activities.

"Eurocopter does not recommend any further action for the other EC135 aircraft in service around the world."

There was no indication of a link with the November 29 crash in Glasgow, when an EC135 apparently dropped out of the sky onto the roof of a crowded pub.

The cause remains a mystery, after investigators found no evidence of engine or gearbox failure and reported that all significant components were present when it crashed.

The 10th victim, 59-year-old Joe Cusker, died on Thursday in hospital in Glasgow, police said.