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, September 30, 2014

DAF Trucks signs deal to sell 700 vehicles to Russian transport firm, Tuesday 30 September 2014

Eindhoven-based car maker DAF Trucks has received an order for 700 vehicles from Russian transport group Monopoly, the company says on its website.

The order was placed at the IAA trade fair in Hannover. Monopoly is based in St Petersburg and specialises in transporting goods in controlled conditions.

Last week DAF announced an order for 1,000 vehicles from European transport group Waberer’s International. DAF is also setting up its own marketing and sales arm in Istanbul to strengthen its market position in Turkey.

Friday, September 26, 2014

C. Jakarta Starts Operating City’s First Parking Meters

Jakarta Globe, Lenny Tristia Tambun, Sep 26, 2014

One of the parking meters now in use on Jalan Sabang in Central Jakarta.
(Antara Photo/Vitalis Yogi Trisna)

Jakarta. Drivers looking to park on Jalan Sabang in Central Jakarta will now have to pay at one of eleven parking meters stationed on the road.

Jakarta Transportation Agency Deputy Chief Benjamin Bukit launched the system — the capital’s first — on Friday.

Eleven orange parking meters have been positioned along the road, and parking attendants will help drivers exchange notes for coins. The fare has been set at Rp 2,000 ($0.17) per hour for motorcycles and Rp 5,000 per hour for cars.

“There will be no additional fee for the coin exchange,” said Oje, a parking attendant. “You go press the green button, insert your car number and the machine will give you a ticket of your car number and how long you may park your car.”

The parking meters are the first that have been installed in Jakarta, where illegal parking is a massive business, which has traditionally been controlled by rackets.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

India wins Asia's Mars race as spacecraft enters orbit

Yahoo – AFP, Gulab Chand, 24 Sep 2014

Staff from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) celebrate after the Mars
 Orbiter Spacecraft (MoM) successfully entered the Mars orbit, in Bangalore, on
September 24, 2014 (AFP Photo/Manjunath Kiran)

India won Asia's race to Mars on Wednesday when its unmanned Mangalyaan spacecraft successfully entered the Red Planet's orbit after a 10-month journey on a tiny budget.

Scientists at mission control let up a wild cheer as the gold-coloured craft manoeuvred into the planet's orbit at 8:02am (0232 GMT) following a 660-million kilometre (410-million mile) voyage.

"History has been created. We have dared to reach out into the unknown and have achieved the near impossible," a jubilant Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) base near Bangalore.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (C)
 greets scientists after the Mars Orbiter
 Spacecraft (MoM) spacecraft successfully
 entered the Mars orbit, in Bangalore, on
September 24, 2014 (AFP Photo)
"The success of our space programme is a shining symbol of what we are capable of as a nation," Modi said, grinning broadly and hugging the ISRO's chairman.

The success of the mission, which is designed to search for evidence of life on the Red Planet, is a huge source of national pride for India as it competes with its Asian rivals for success in space.

India has been trying to keep up with neighbouring giant China, which has poured billions of dollars into its programme and plans to build a manned space station by the end of the decade.

At just $74 million, the mission cost is less than the estimated $100 million budget of the sci-fi blockbuster "Gravity". That figure also represents just a fraction of the cost of NASA's MAVEN spacecraft, which successfully began orbiting the fourth planet from the sun on Sunday.

India now joins an elite club of the United States, Russia and Europe who can boast of reaching Mars. More than half of all missions to the planet have ended in failure, including China's in 2011 and Japan's in 2003.

The PSLV-C25 launch vehicle, carrying the Mars
 Orbiter probe as its payload, lifts off from the
 Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota,
 on November 5, 2013 (AFP Photo/Seshadri 
No single nation had previously succeeded at its first go, although the European Space Agency, which represents a consortium of countries, did also pull it off at its first attempt.

NASA sends congratulations

Now Mangalyaan has reached Mars, the probe is expected to study the planet's surface and scan its atmosphere for methane, which could provide evidence of some sort of life form.

Mangalyaan is carrying a camera, an imaging spectrometer, a methane sensor and two other scientific instruments.

NASA congratulated India on its "Mars arrival", welcoming Mangalyaan, which means Mars vehicle in Hindi, in a tweet to "the missions studying the Red Planet".

Indian engineers employed an unusual "slingshot" method for Mangalyaan's interplanetary journey, which began when it blasted off from India's southern spaceport on November 5 last year.

Lacking enough rocket power to blast directly out of Earth's atmosphere and gravitational pull, it orbited the Earth for several weeks while building up enough velocity to break free.

Critics of the programme say a country that struggles to feed its people adequately and where roughly half have no toilets should not be splurging on space travel.

But supporters say it is the perfect opportunity to showcase India's technological prowess as well as a chance for some one-upmanship on its rival Asian superpower.

"It's a low-cost technology demonstration," said Pallava Bagla, who has written a book on India's space programme.

Visitors look at a scale model of India's Mars Orbiter spacecraft, at the Nehru
 Planetarium, as a special preview on the Mars Orbiter Mission, in Bangalore, on
September 23, 2014 (AFP Photo/Manjunath Kiran)

"The rivalry between regional giants China and India exists in space too and this gives India the opportunity to inch ahead of China (and capture more of the market)," Bagla told AFP.

The decision to launch the mission was announced in a speech an Independence Day 2012, shortly after China's attempt flopped when it failed to leave Earth's atmosphere.

India has so far launched 40 satellites for foreign nations, since kick-starting its space programme five decades ago. But China launches bigger satellites.

ISRO scientists said the Mars Orbiter Mission or MOM had "demonstrated and proved" India's "technological capabilities" and showed it was capable of venturing further.

"MOM is a major step towards our future missions in inter-planetary space," a beaming ISRO chairman K. Radhakrishnan told reporters.

The probe is expected to circle Mars for six months, about 500 kilometres (310 miles) from its surface. Its scientific instruments will collect information and send it back to Earth.

Indian mission on Mars beams back first photos

Related Article:

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Disaster management: India's big challenge

As Indian-controlled Kashmir reels from ravaging floods, India's disaster management authorities have come under fire yet again. Experts say that more efforts are required to minimize the impact of the future calamities.

Deutsche Welle, 22 Sep 2014

According to the Indian government's estimates, more than 2,500 villages in the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir have been destroyed by this year's floods, with approximately five million people – including 2.2 million children – displaced and are vulnerable to a looming epidemic.

PM Narendra Modi flew over the
region to take note of the situation
The flooding – worst in a century - began on September 3 due to heavy monsoon rains. Since then, the waters have been moving downstream from Indian-administered Kashmir through Pakistan's Punjab, inundating vast swathes of villages and small towns.

Many people in India now question whether the scale of the disaster could have been lessened had the authorities been more prepared. "There were warnings about an imminent flood which were never heeded," Valay Singh Rai, an official for the non-governmental organization Save the Children in India, told DW. "The intensity of the calamity could be attributed to poor resource management and lack of planning," he added.

The state's Flood Control Department said it had issued a precise warning of floods. India's Central Water Commission, which deals with flood forecasting, too, had warned of "immense flooding."

Effects of climate change

Rai, who has been part of the relief and rehabilitation work in Jammu and Kashmir, points to the" near absence of the government's agencies" when the floods swamped the Himalayan region.

"There was simply no disaster management. It was ordinary people who took part in relief efforts. The civil administration simply vanished. Surely, the army stepped in and air-dropped food supplies, but what happened to the state's contingency plans?" asked Amitabh Mattoo, a professor of International Studies in Srinagar.

Chandra Bhushan, deputy director general at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) - a research and advocacy organization – is of the view that the Kashmir floods are yet another harsh reminder that climate change is hitting the South Asian nation harder.

"India will be affected more severely by extreme rainfalls as the world continues to get warmer. India needs to be pro-active," Bhushan told DW.

No lesson learnt

According to the India Disaster Knowledge Network, the Indian subcontinent is among the world's most disaster prone areas. Almost 85 per cent of India's geographical area is vulnerable to one or multiple natural disasters – from wind storms spawned in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea to earthquakes in Himalayas and floods and droughts in the country's arid and semi-arid regions.

For instance, the 2005 Mumbai floods and flash floods in the Himalayan state of Uttarkhand in 2013 were all catastrophic and had killed thousands of people and incurred huge economic losses.

India was overwhelmed by
intensity of monsoon floods
Conservationists say that the magnitude of floods has increased over the years because of the development work on riverbanks.

"We have not learnt any lesson. The planners should take a closer look at the development programs in these areas," Jaya Iyer, an environment conservationist working for the non-governmental organization Vividhara, told DW.

But the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the top government body which formulates policy on disaster management, says it is better equipped to handle calamities than before. It, however, admits that there is a need for capacity building and better coordination.

"Our early warning systems are good but our state disaster relief forces are hampered by lack of human resources," argues Muzaffar Ahmad, an NDMA official.

Monday, September 22, 2014

India's jet-set tycoons crash to earth

Yahoo – AFP, Aditya Phatak, 21 Sep 2014

Force India-Mercedes Team Principal Vijay Mallya watches the big screen during a
 practice session of Formula One's Indian Grand Prix, at the Buddh International circuit
in Greater Noida, on October 28, 2011 (AFP Photo/Prakash Singh)

They were famed for their jet-set lifestyles and the names of their companies were emblazoned on airplanes, Formula One cars and the shirtfronts of cricket teams.

But now the debt-laden empires of three of India's best-known tycoons -- Vijay Mallya, Subrata Roy and T. Venkattram Reddy -- are crumbling before their eyes, downfalls that observers say stem from a climate of weak regulation and deference to conspicuous wealth.

"All too often, the banks are dazzled by the halo of personal fortunes," said Vishwas Utagi, a veteran campaigner for banking regulation.

India's Sahara group's chairman Subrata Roy (C),
 surrounded by bodyguards, leaves the Securities
 and Exchange Board of India head office in
 Mumbai, on April 10, 2013 (AFP Photo/
Punit Paranjpe)
Some of India's most successful businesses, such as the family-run Tata and Reliance conglomerates, have been led for years by men with little appetite for publicity and who prefer to operate in the shadows.

But Kingfisher boss Mallya and Sahara supremo Roy came to epitomise a new breed of tycoon, unafraid of trumpeting their achievements when they started making a name for themselves in the early 2000s.

Mallya -- the self-styled "King of Good Times" -- became something of an icon as he turned the United Breweries Group which he inherited from his father into one of the world's largest spirit makers.

As his core business flourished, Mallya branched out by launching the Kingfisher airline, named after his company's best-known beer. His profile rose further when he acquired a stake in the Force India F1 team and ownership of the Royal Challengers Bangalore cricket team.

Selling hotels for bail

But as the Indian economy began to slow sharply at the turn of the decade, with the aviation industry becoming one of the sectors to be worst hit, Mallya's fortunes nosedived too.

After selling the liquor business to Diageo in a bid to shore up his airline, Mallya looked on helplessly as Kingfisher continued to haemorrhagecash. The airline never took to the skies again after a pilots' strike over unpaid wages in 2012.

Having run out of patience over Mallya's failure to clear debts said to be in excess of $60 million, the United Bank of India this month declared him a "wilful defaulter", making it nigh impossible to access fresh loans.

While Mallya is fighting to keep his properties from creditors, Roy is trying to sell his portfolio of luxury hotels -- including New York's Plaza Hotel and the Grosvenor House in London -- to raise the $1.6 billion he needs to secure bail from Delhi's Tihar Prison.

While he has several media interests, including a Hindi TV channel and newspaper, Roy's profile was heightened by his co-ownership with Mallya of Force India and involvement in cricket.

T. Venkattram Reddy, seen during Farnborough
 Air Show, in England, on July 19, 2006 (AFP
Photo/Leon Neal)
As well as sponsoring the national side, Sahara set up a Pune-based franchise to enter the glitzy Indian Premier League (IPL).

The team's expulsion from the IPL at the end of last year's tournament in a dispute over finances hinted that all was not well.

Things dramatically worsened in March when Roy was detained after failing to meet a demand by regulators to pay back millions of small savers the $3.2 billion that Sahara raised via an illegal bond scheme.

Palatial splendour

While Roy owns homes modelled on the White House and Buckingham Palace, Reddy's penchant is for luxury cars with a fleet which reportedly included a Rolls Royce Phantom.

He also couldn't resist the glamour of the IPL, buying the Deccan Chargers franchise before it went bust in 2012.

While Roy's fortune was self-made, Reddy and his brother T. Vinayak Ravi Reddy inherited the ownership of the Deccan Chronicle from their father.

The Hyderabad newspaper's prestige enabled them to draw loans for riskier ventures including a chain of bookstores and a chartered jet company.

Even if the cricket team is no longer sucking money, the Reddys are struggling to keep the wolf from the door and lenders have already seized several of their properties.

Tamal Bandyopadhyay, author of a book on Sahara, said a weak regulatory framework enabled tycoons to build up debts that should never have been allowed.

The back of the Grosvenor House hotel in London, pictured on September 30,
2003 (AFP Photo/Joshua Roberts)

"Mallya is a case of over-stretching and over-leveraging, while Roy is the case of exploiting regulatory arbitrage or the loopholes in regulation," Bandyopadhyay told AFP.

Utagi, a retired bank worker who is vice president of the All India Bank Employees' Association, said there were too many "pliable people" in the industry who face little comeback if money they lend is not repaid.

"When it comes to credit appraisals for corporates, the rules are more often honoured in the breach than the observance," he said.

Bandyopadhyay said the ambitions of Indian tycoons were rarely held in check as they were "surrounded by sycophants".

"That makes it very difficult for them to stay in touch with reality," he added.

Related Article:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Easy Taxi Makes Local Inroads

Jakarta Globe, Vanesha Manuturi & Dion Bisara, Sep 15, 2014

Easy Taxi allows users to hail the closest taxi via smartphone. 
(JG Photo/Yudhi Sukma Wijaya)

Jakarta. Six months after launching operations in Indonesia, Easy Taxi, a cab-booking mobile application, has recruited drivers from Blue Bird and Express, the country’s two largest taxi operators, to use their app in a bit to boost the service’s local capacity.

Brazil-based Easy Taxi launched its service in Jakarta in April. The company says it helps its users find the closest taxi to their location. The app removes the inconvenience of having to stand on the side of the road looking for taxis, as the driver and the user can locate each other at an agreed meeting point through the app.

The Easy Taxi app — available in 162 cities worldwide, including Singapore and Kuala Lumpur — currently has 15 million downloads globally. The company is establishing its operational inroads by partnering with both companies and drivers.

Easy Taxi usually approaches taxi operators first to feel out the opportunity for partnerships. If such an arrangement can’t be reached, Easy Taxi works directly with drivers, managing director Usman Lodhi told the Jakarta Globe on Monday.

“We’re not trying to take something away. We’re just trying to offer an additional channel for drivers to increase their livelihood,” Lodhi said.

Easy Taxi claims taxi drivers who work with the application see up to 50 percent more rides, compared with those who use conventional ways of finding customers.

Although the company typically charges a small fee — either to the drivers or the passengers, depending on the market — Easy Taxi’s service is currently still free in Indonesia as the company attempts to build its base, Lodhi said.

Cab companies’ reactions to Easy Taxi are mixed, pointing out the app’s redundancy with their own booking apps.

“We don’t have a partnership with Easy Taxi,” Teguh Wijayanto, head of public relations at Blue Bird Group, told the Jakarta Globe last week.

Teguh said Blue Bird drivers are not supposed to use any third-party booking apps. “We have our own application and we have our own fleet. Logically, why would [our drivers] add more fuss into their operations and use another application when there’s already one?”

But Express Transindo Utama president director Daniel Podiman, said on Monday that Easy Taxi was just another way for customers for reach the taxi operator.

“Express drivers are free to use all the apps that are available. If it’s easier for customers to reach us, why not?” Daniel said.

Easy Taxi may face an uphill battle convincing Jakartans of the service’s value proposition, however, as the city’s apparent abundance of taxis, licensed and not, means residents seldom face Singapore’s substantial cab queues or Kuala Lumpur’s notoriously uncooperative drivers. The experience of other cities’ introduction to Uber, however, suggests Easy Taxi’s Indonesia rollout will be worth watching.

Related Article:

Monday, September 15, 2014

71-year-old flies self-made planes in China

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-09-15

Jin Shaozhi flying the White Swan in Zhejiang. (Internet Photo)

Unlike most people in their 70s, Jin Shaozhi, a native of Hangzhou, Zhejiang, is keen on flying with self-made airplanes.

Jin has invested over US$30,000 and countless time training to assemble and pilot planes over the last eight years. His latest work, the White Swan, can fly at an altitude of 1000 meters, according to media in Hangzhou.

Jin was a doctor before he retired several years ago. His penchant for planes started 30 years ago as a part-time model airplane trainer. The team he led won medlas at national amateur model airplane competitions.

"To a fan of model airplanes, the biggest dream is to actually fly a plane in the sky," said Jin, who finally had all the time in the world to immerse himself in the making and flying of airplanes after he retired.

Jin has received flight trainings in various models. He has bought two sets of Bee 3C model planes, one in 2007 and another in 2010. Bee 3C is mainly used for agricultural purposes.

Later, he started making his own planes from scratch. "If you know about model airplanes, it is not hard to make a real plane that can fly," he said. "All you have to do is just multiply the specifications of model planes by six and assemble the parts according to the drawing."

Jin now owns a self-assembled, US$16,000 gyroplane that he named the White Swan. "Most of the parts are from hardware stores except for the engine, which is a second-hand item purchased from overseas," said Jin. Theoretically White Swan can fly at an altitude of 1,000 meters. To ensure safety, however, Jin flies just around 500 meters.

According to Jin, only few out of the many people capable of making planes end up flying their own. There are only four in Zhejiang, and he is one of them.

A major challenge for amateur flyers is to find a proper site to practice flying. According to the aviation administration of China, private planes are not permitted to fly without approval, so pilots are often banned from flying.

"We would go to remote places, such as newly-paved roads not yet opened to the public, for test flights," said Jin.

Jin has had two accidents and was summoned to the Civil Aviation Administration of China for questioning. One happened in 2008, when his first Bee 3C broke down during a test flight and hit a small hill when landing. Fortunately, Jin was unharmed.

On the other test flight, he broke his leg. Nevertheless, his passion for flying has never diminished.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Sparks fly as Di Grassi wins first electric car race

Yahoo – AFP, Neil Connor, 13 Sep 2014

Lucas di Grassi drives during the Formula E race at the circuit near the Bird's 
Nest stadium in Beijing on September 13, 2014. AFP Photo / Wang Zhao (AFP Photo)

Beijing (AFP) - A spectacular crash at the last corner that ended leader Nicolas Prost's race and sent ex-F1 driver Nick Heidfeld flying into the fencing gave Brazil's Lucas di Grassi victory in the first ever Formula E electric race in Beijing Saturday.

The Frenchman, son of four-time Formula One champion Alain, led the gripping race until the final moments.

But Heidfeld made contact with the left side of Prost's E.Dams Renault shortly before the finish outside the Bird's Nest stadium in the Chinese capital and went barrelling into the air.

Lucas di Grassi of Brazil (left) celebrates
 after winning the Formula E race at the
 circuit near the Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing
on September 13, 2014 (AFP Photo/Wang
The German wriggled out of the wreckage of his vehicle and appeared to confront Prost, who looked to be gesturing his innocence.

Prost told AFP after the race: "I would not have expected for him to have attempted a suicide move at the end of the race.

"My victory was stolen. It is really hard."

Heidfeld, racing for the Venturi team backed by Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio, had clawed his way up from 17th on the grid to push Prost in the final few laps.

But the crash left the way open for Brazilian Di Grassi, who was racing for Audi Sport ABT.

"When I realised that they were off, yeah it was like a dream come true," he said.

"I was alone and have won the race, and I am really, really really happy to be in this position."

"I was very lucky, to be lucky you also need to be in the right place."

Frenchman Frank Montagny from the Andretti team finished second, while Briton Sam Bird of Virgin Racing, the team backed by British tycoon Richard Branson, took third.

Senna collides

Bruno Senna -- the nephew of Ayrton Senna, a huge rival of Alain Prost's -- suffered a miserable afternoon after the front left side of his axle appeared to give way after he collided with another car in the first lap.

He has earlier failed to record a lap time in qualification after having problems with his battery, and started the race near the back of the grid.

Lucas di Grassi of Brazil drives in the Formula E race at the circuit near the
Bird's Nest stadium in Beijing on September 13, 2014 (AFP Photo/Wang Zhao)

Chinese fans packed the main grandstands around the emblematic stadium that hosted the 2008 Olympics.

Some lined the tracksides, carrying children on their shoulders as the futuristic whine of the cars sounded across the track, and techno music added to the atmosphere.

Many fans were upset that Senna went out early.

"It is such a shame to see his car being lifted off the track," said one female fan, surnamed Zhao.

"Motorsport is not that popular in China yet, but a lot of people have heard of Ayrton Senna," she added.

The Formula E series will see 10 races on different street circuits around the world involving 20 drivers from 10 different teams.

Nelson Piquet Junior, also the son of a former motor sport great, finished eighth.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Schiphol airport tests cameras which can pick out unusual behaviour, Thursday 11 September 2014

An emergency room of the military
police at Schiphol (NOS/ANP)
The police at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport are to test out intelligent cameras which can pick up on unusual behaviour in travellers, the NRC reports on Thursday.

The cameras can not only identity obvious gestures such as wild arm movements or people who run through a departure lounge but more subtle behaviours such as ‘spending too long in the toilet, a group of people which divides up or someone who leaves a suitcase unattended,’ the NRC said.

This, the police hope, will allow them to trace criminals and prevent attacks.

The cameras are being installed by The Hague company Qubit Visual Intelligence using research carried out by the Dutch TNO institute.

US defence department

The NRC says TNO has been researching intelligent cameras for years on behalf of the US defence department. Neither company would comment on the reports.

Publically available information gives some insight into how the cameras work. ‘We know that pickpockets often hover at the back of the same queue at a ticket machine several times without ever buying a ticket,’ TNO has said in a paper.

TNO is also researching techniques to identify if people are nervous using heat sensitive cameras and radar – such as a raised heartbeat or cold nose. It is not clear if this technology will be used at Schiphol, a spokesman said.

The justice ministry would only state: ‘we are continually involved in improving monitoring and security together with Schiphol. We are trying to do this more intelligently so that staff can do their jobs better’.

A similar project is to start at another location in the Netherlands soon but the location is being kept secret, the NRC said.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Dutch preliminary report finds MH17 'pierced by high-speed objects'

Investigators from the Netherlands have released a preliminary report on the MH17 airliner crash in east Ukraine. The findings say the airliner was pierced by "high-speed objects," and cockpit activity "ended abruptly."

Deutsche Welle, 9 Sep 2014

Air crash investigators said on Tuesday that the plane was likely hit "by a large number of high-energy objects." Furthermore, the distribution of the wreckage over a large area indicated that the aircraft broke up in the air, according the report published on the website of the Dutch Safety Board (OVV).

The Malaysia Airlines flight went down over war-torn eastern Ukraine on July 17 while en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. All 298 people on board the Boeing 777 were killed, including 193 Dutch citizens.

The West has accused Moscow-backed separatist fighters of shooting down the airliner with a Russian-supplied surface-to-air missile. The Russian government has blamed the Ukrainian military.

The OVV report does not assign blame for the incident.

At the time of the incident, the Malaysia Airlines plane was flying at approximately 33,000 feet (10,000 meters), above the restricted airspace zone, according to investigators. The cockpit voice recorder "ended abruptly" and no distress signal was sent.

"Damage observed on the forward fuselage and cockpit section of the aircraft appears to indicate that there were impacts from a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft," the report said.

There was no evidence the crash was the result of a technical problem or pilot error.

Investigation difficulties

Dutch investigators have not been able to access the crash site, near the city of Torez, because of ongoing fighting in the area. They instead have had to rely on information about the scene of the incident from Ukrainian crash specialists.

Forensic experts were sent to the site not long after the crash, but their investigation was suspended do to the conflict. So far 193 of the victims have been identified.

The report's preliminary findings are based on information from the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder, otherwise known as the "black boxes." It also includes satellite and radar information, pictures and video taken at the scene and data provided by Ukrainian air traffic control.

The plane's black boxes were analyzed by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough, Britain.

Examination of "photographs from the wreckage indicated that the material around the holes was deformed in a manner consistent with being punctured by high-energy objects."

Further investigation

The OVV said a full report is expected in mid-2015.

The United Nations says more than 3,000 people have been killed, if the MH17 victims are included, since fighting began in Ukraine in April.

A tentative ceasefire between government forces and the pro-Russian separatists took effect on Friday.

MH17 is the second Malaysian Airlines plane to be lost this year. Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijjing disappeared from radar in March. It is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean west of Australia, killing all 239 passengers and crew.

Ryanair orders 100 Boeing 737 planes for $11 bn

Yahoo – AFP, 8 Sep 2014

Irish budget airline Ryanair agreed to buy 100 aircraft from Boeing for $11 billion, with an option to purchase another 100 planes from the aerospace giant, the companies announced Monday.

The order covers the 737 Boeing MAX 200, which Boeing touts as a fuel-efficient vehicle for the important single-aisle civilian market.

The planes will accomodate up to 200 seats, up from the 160 in other single-aisle planes.

Ryanair said the giant order will enable it to meet its growth targets, which calls for it to expand from 82 million customers in 2014 to more than 150 million in 2024, which marks the end of the delivery stream of the planes under Monday's order.

"It's going to change the game for low-fare air travel," Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said at a news conference. "It's also going to change the game in Europe."

O'Leary said Ryanair plans to use the jets to enter new markets in Europe and challenge incumbent carriers.

"I hope it will hasten a new era of price wars in Europe over the next 10 years," he said.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Russia unhappy about China's production of J-16 fighter

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2014-09-06

A J-16 fighter climbs during a test flight. (Internet photo)

After a satellite image revealed that Shenyang Aircraft Corporation has already produced eight J-16 multirole fighters, drawing complaints from the Russian aviation industry that its aircraft have been copied without permission, according to the Kanwa Defense Review published by Andrei Chang, a Canadian military analyst also known as Pinkov.

As the eight J-16 fighters in the image were all painted in yellow markings, the article said it remains unknown whether the aircraft will be turned over to the PLA Air Force or Navy. However, it is certain that J-16 multirole fighters will replace J-11B fighters designed for aerial combat.

China slowed down the production of fighters such as J-15, J-16 and J-11B because Russia refuses to sell more AL31F engines to Beijing, and this is the technology that China had been unable to reverse engineer. Without enough Russian-built engines, the PLA Air Force and Navy Air Force is unable to field such advanced fighters in large numbers. However, China has finally able to put its domestic Taihang engines into J-16 fighters since 2013. The reliability of the Taihang engine will be put to the ultimate test after the J-16 enters service.

Kanwa Defense Review also said reports that the J-16 is equipped with active electronically scanned array radar remain questionable. At the same time, a source from the Russian aviation industry said Russia is very unhappy about the development of the J-16 fighter as China did not gain permission from Russia to design the fighter based on the blueprint of the Russian Su-30MK2.

Related Article:

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Parts for 200th aircraft reach Airbus China assembly line

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-09-05

Staff inspect the A320 parts arriving at the Tianjin Assembly Line, Sept. 2.

The Airbus assembly line in north China's Tianjin has received parts for the 200th A320 family aircraft, which will be delivered to China Eastern Airlines in December, Airbus said Tuesday.

Sections including the forward and aft fuselage, horizontal and vertical tail, main landing gear doors, inner flaps and engine pylons reached the A320 Family Final Assembly Line China in Tianjin on Tuesday.

Those parts and components were produced at different Airbus sites in Europe and carried by a commercial cargo vessel from Hamburg to Tianjin, Airbus said.

The wings for the A320 Family aircraft assembled at the Tianjin assembly line are locally produced in Tianjin by Airbus's partner Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company, while the engines will arrive at a later date directly from the engine supplier.

The final assembly line in China is a joint venture between Airbus and a Chinese consortium including the Tianjin Free Trade Zone and China Aviation Industry Corporation.

It started operations in Aug. 2008, assembling A319 and A320 aircraft. So far, a total of 186 A320 family aircraft have been delivered from Tianjin.