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. …

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Airbus ups estimate of 20-year demand for new planes

France24 – AFP, 18 September 2019


Paris (AFP) - Airbus on Wednesday increased its estimate of the number of new aircraft needed over the coming two decades as airlines seek more fuel-efficient planes even as it trimmed its forecast for the increase in demand for air travel.

In its latest Global Market Forecast for the next 20 years, the European aircraft maker said it expects air traffic to grow by 4.3 percent annually, a drop from the 4.4 percent annual growth it forecast last year.

Nevertheless, Airbus now expects even higher demand for new aircraft than it did last year thanks to airlines increasingly retiring older planes for new ones that offer lower operating costs as they consume less fuel.

Airbus anticipates demand for new aircraft over the coming two decades at 39,210 planes, a rise of nearly 2,000 from its forecast last year, due a sharp increase in replacements. Unlike last year, it did not provide a cost estimate.

"Developments in superior fuel efficiency are further driving demand to replace existing less fuel efficient aircraft," said Airbus in a statement.

However, it scaled back the number of planes it expects airlines to acquire to meet growth in demand for air travel by more than 1,500 aircraft to 25,000.

Airbus said that nevertheless the annual growth of more than 4 percent reflects the resilient nature of aviation from economic shocks and its increasingly key role in the global economy.

"Economies thrive on air transportation. People and goods want to connect," said Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Airbus International.

"Globally, commercial aviation stimulates GDP growth and supports 65 million livelihoods, demonstrating the immense benefits our business brings to all societies and global trade," he added.

The firm also stressed that with its latest more fuel efficient models it will help the airline industry limit its environmental impact.

"Airbus believes it will largely contribute to the progressive decarbonisation of the air transport industry and the objective of carbon neutral growth from 2020 while connecting more people globally," it said.

The airline industry aims to freeze its carbon footprint at its 2020 level thanks to more fuel efficient aircraft and through offsets like planting trees.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Crisis-hit Nissan CEO resigns amid pay probe

Yahoo – AFP, Etienne BALMER, 9 September 2019

Reports in Japan say Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa will step down over
issues with his pay

Nissan's CEO said Monday he will step down next week, deepening the crisis at the Japanese car giant still reeling from the arrest and ouster of former chief Carlos Ghosn's over alleged financial misconduct.

It is yet another blow for the firm that has seen sales plunge and been forced to slash jobs since Ghosn's stunning arrest for allegedly hiding part of his salary from official documents to shareholders.

Hiroto Saikawa said he would leave the company on September 16, following the results of an investigation into excess pay he received after altering the terms of a bonus.

Saikawa is suspected of improperly adding 47 million yen ($440,000) to his compensation under a scheme in which directors can earn a bonus if their company's share price rises above a certain level in a set period.

Nissan officials were keen to stress that there was no illegality but that he should not have delegated the task to a junior executive.

"At the end of the day, the operation which should have been carried out by the president himself was... delegated to others, which is a violation of the rules," said Motoo Nagai, a board member.

Saikawa admitted handing the task to a company secretariat and said he was "not proud" of this but insisted it was not the same as the misconduct of which Ghosn is accused.

He was it was "totally different from the intentional wrongdoing that was uncovered" during the internal Nissan probe into Ghosn and his right-hand man, US executive Greg Kelly.

The controversial "share appreciation" scheme has now been scrapped, the Nissan board announced.

Current chief operating officer, Yasuhiro Yamauchi, will take over as acting CEO on September 16, when Saikawa officially leaves, and Nissan hopes to find a permanent replacement by the end of October.

Alleged overpayments

The carmaker is currently undergoing an overhaul intended to strengthen governance after the Ghosn scandal.

In June, Nissan shareholders voted in favour of various measures including the establishment of three new oversight committees responsible for the appointment of senior officials, pay issues and auditing.

They also approved the election of 11 directors as the firm restructures, among them two Renault executives as well as Saikawa.

The reforms were designed to put Nissan on a more stable footing after the arrest of Ghosn, who has been sacked from his leadership roles at the Japanese firm and others.

He is awaiting trial on charges of under-reporting millions of dollars in salary and of using company funds for personal expenses.

Ghosn has denied any wrongdoing and accuses Nissan executives opposed to his plans to further integrate the firm with France's Renault of plotting against him.

'Dark side'

Saikawa, a one-time Ghosn protege, turned sharply against his former mentor after his arrest, referring to the "dark side" of the tycoon's tenure and accusing him of accruing unchecked power that allowed his alleged wrongdoing to go undetected.

But the CEO himself came under pressure in the scandal's wake, facing calls to resign from shareholders who view him as too heavily associated with the Ghosn era.

And while he resisted calls to step down immediately, he has always said he planned to hand over the reins after Nissan is back on track.

The Ghosn scandal has proved disastrous for Nissan, which in July announced that net profit plunged nearly 95 percent in the April-June quarter, and confirmed it would cut 12,500 jobs worldwide.

The Japanese firm has also struggled to steady its relationship with Renault as part of a tripartite alliance with Mitsubishi Motors that Ghosn founded and once led.

Asked how he felt towards his once-mentor Ghosn and Kelly, Saikawa said he believed their actions had put the company in the difficult position in which it now finds itself -- with hardship for customers, staff and dealers.

"This is the biggest responsibility... and I think they should think about this, they should feel bad about this. But they haven't expressed any apology for creating this situation," said Saikawa.

"I want Mr Kelly and Mr Ghosn to feel bad about the situation they have created."

Monday, September 9, 2019

Stripped-back auto show mirrors German car industry gloom

Yahoo – AFP, Yann SCHREIBER, September 8, 2019

Major foreign carmakers are shunning Frankfurt's International Auto Show this 
year, but climate protestors plan to attend (AFP Photo/Odd ANDERSEN)

Frankfurt am Main (AFP) - Frankfurt's biennial International Auto Show (IAA) opens its doors to the public Thursday, but major foreign carmakers are staying away while climate demonstrators march outside -- forming a microcosm of the industry's woes.

"There have never been so many cancellations by carmakers," said Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer of the Centre for Automotive Research (CAR).

"The IAA is turning into a trade fair packed with problems," he added, in the image of the German manufacturers who host it.

Giants like Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen are seeing their engineering advantage and profit margins eroded -- even as the global economic outlook darkens.

The potential blow of US tariffs on European auto imports hangs over many carmakers, who have already suffered from an escalating Washington-Beijing trade confrontation due to their American factories.

Meanwhile three of the world's four largest carmakers will stay away from the IAA this year: the French-Japanese Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance, Japan's Toyota and US-based General Motors (GM).

Other heavyweights like Italian-American Fiat-Chrysler and France's PSA have also absented themselves, as well as some of the best-known luxury brands.

The remaining manufacturers huddled in Frankfurt's massive trade fair complex have one major priority: stoking enthusiasm for new electric models set for release this year, as new EU carbon emissions limits enter into force from 2020.

Porsche expects well-heeled clients to fork over a hefty sum for its new 
battery-powered Taycan model (AFP Photo/Patrick Pleul)

Pricey targets

If manufacturers cannot squeeze the average carbon dioxide (CO2) output of their fleets below 95 grammes per kilometre, they will be fined a hefty 95 euros ($105) per excess gramme on each car registered.

After years of delay, German manufacturers still lag foreign competitors like California's Tesla on the costly research and development for electric alternatives that can score in the mass market.

Even at the high end, Volkswagen subsidiary Audi has failed to dent Tesla with its e-Tron electric SUV.

And stablemate Porsche is betting buyers will be prepared to fork out a massive premium over the Californian brand's top models for its new battery-powered Taycan.

That makes VW's Frankfurt launch of its ID.3 -- a compact all-electric car that it compares to the legendary Beetle and Golf -- of vital importance, as the tip of the spear in the sprawling conglomerate's 30-billion-euro electric offensive.

The first model based on VW's modular MEB electric platform, ID.3 "is almost critical to survival" for the company, Stefan Bratzel of the Center of Automotive Management told AFP.

"It has to be a success, the shot has to hit home, because a lot is riding on it."

Climate campaigners inspired by Swedish militant Greta Thunberg plan to stage 
major protests at the Frankfurt auto show this year (AFP Photo/Oliver Berg)

Marchers expected

Where big international competitors will be lacking, climate demonstrators are planning to make up the numbers at this year's IAA.

Thousands are expected to hit the streets Saturday, reaching the trade fair on bicycles or on foot, while a blockade is scheduled Sunday amid calls for a "transport revolution".

After taking on coal mining over the summer, the environmentalists are turning their fire on a sector that long seemed untouchable.

As Germany's biggest manufacturing industry employing around 800,000 people, the car sector was also protected through deep connections to traditional political parties.

But the winds are changing in German politics.

Climate change has shot up voters' agenda after a fierce 2018 drought and months of "Fridays for Future" demonstrations by schoolchildren, while the Greens are polling at unprecedented levels and made big gains in this year's European elections.

Meanwhile a years-long diesel emissions cheating scandal rumbles on, as a case by 400,000 car owners against VW over "dieselgate" opens in three weeks' time.

And on September 20, all eyes will be on Chancellor Angela Merkel's beleaguered coalition government in Berlin, as it unveils a comprehensive new climate strategy ahead of a UN summit.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Aussie newbie pilot lands plane after instructor blacks out

France24 – AFP, 2 September 2019


Sydney (AFP) - An Australian man venturing into the skies for a first flying lesson has been forced to make an "amazing" solo landing after his instructor blacked out mid-flight.

Max Sylvester's wife and three kids watched from the ground as air traffic control talked him through safely landing the Cessna two-seater at Perth's Jandakot airport on Saturday.

The 30-something had issued a panicked mayday call from an altitude of 1,900 metres (6,200 feet), after his instructor slumped onto his shoulder and could not be woken.

"Do you know how to operate the aeroplane," the air traffic controller in Perth asked urgently, according to a recording of their exchange.

"This is my first lesson," Sylvester responded, adding that he had never landed an aircraft before.

Realising the enormity of the task at hand, the tower responded: "The first thing that we are going to do is make sure that the wings stay level."

He was instructed to maintain altitude and to make a pass above the runway to get a sense of the terrain and become more at ease.

"You're doing a really great job," the operator reassures the trainee as someone more familiar with the aircraft was rushed to the tower.

"I know this is really stressful. But you're going to do an amazing job and we're going to help you get down to the ground, OK?"

Some twenty minutes later, the plane made a heart-stoppingly bumpy landing.

"You did it mate!" exclaimed the air traffic controller. "Well done. That's amazing!"

The instructor was taken to hospital in a stable condition and Sylvester received his first solo flight certificate from the instructor's employer, Air Australia International.

"This could have gone way, way bad," Air Australia International owner Chuck McElwee said, according to public broadcaster ABC.

"But everything worked out right, and it worked right, mostly because of the cooperation of the tower."

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Utrecht station’s bike park is now the biggest in the world

DutchNews, August 19, 2019

Photo: CU2030.nl 

A major extension to Utrecht’s railway station bike park opens on Monday, making it the biggest underground garage for bikes in the world, with space for 12,656 two-wheelers. 

The first phase opened in 2017 with space for 6,000 bikes. 

The completed bike park, over three floors, beats the previous record of 9,400 bikes held by Tokyo. It includes 480 spaces for cargo bikes and other bikes which don’t fit into regular spaces. 

The first 24 hours is free to park, after that the cost is €1.25 per day. Cyclists can follow electronic signs to the nearest empty spaces. 

‘The Netherlands is a very mobile country and the bike plus train are a golden combination,’ junior infrastructure minister Stientje van Veldhoven told the AD. ‘Thanks to this park bike you can cycle practically to the platform. The size of this project shows how many people, primarily commuters, are discovering the bike as a weapon against congestion.’ 

The government’s coalition agreement included a pledge to invest €100m in fast bike lanes and better infrastructure, and this was increased by a further €75m last year.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Cathay Pacific shares plunge after China warning on protests

Yahoo – AFP, August 12, 2019

Cathay Pacific shares plunge after China warning on protests

Hong Kong (AFP) - Shares in Hong Kong's flagship carrier Cathay Pacific plunged more than four percent on Monday, after Beijing banned airline staff supporting Hong Kong protesters from flights going through the mainland.

Cathay shares lost 4.37 percent to HK$9.85 by the break in Hong Kong, with the carrier's parent company Swire Pacific Ltd. plunging 5.26 percent to HK$77.50.

The nosedive comes as the airline is caught up in pro-democracy protests that have rocked Hong Kong for more than two months.

On Friday, Beijing's aviation regulator ordered Cathay to submit a list of the identities of staff working on flights to the mainland or passing through its airspace.

It warned any staff members involved in "illegal protests" would be banned from such flights.

Cathay's CEO Rupert Hogg said in a message to staff on Saturday that the airline was obliged to comply with the new rules set out by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

"Cathay Pacific Group's operations in mainland China are key to our business. In addition to flying in and out of mainland China, a large number of our routes both to Europe and to the USA also fly through mainland China airspace," Hogg wrote.

"We are therefore legally required to follow CAAC regulations and, as is the case with any notices issued by any regulatory authority having jurisdiction over us, we must and will comply."

Cathay appears to have become a target of Beijing's ire after some of its crew joined protests and media reported one of its pilots had been charged with rioting.

The carrier's chairman John Slosar has defended his staff's right to freedom of thought, saying "we certainly wouldn't dream of telling them what they have to think about something".

But Hogg cautioned staff about their behaviour.

"Though people may share different views, it is essential that we all respect each other, our customers and members of the public," he wrote.

Cathay has suspended a pilot who has been accused of rioting after allegedly participating in the Hong Kong protests.

And it said Saturday that it had fired two airport ground staff, without specifying why. Local media reported that they were accused of leaking the travel details of a Hong Kong police football team that was travelling to the mainland.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Is Boeing too big to fail?

France24 –AFP, 4 August 2019

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg was strategic in his picks for the company's board
of directors, such as by naming former UN ambassador Nikki Haley (pictured
November 2018) - AFP/File

New York (AFP) - The grounding of the 737 MAX for more than four months after two deadly accidents has tarnished Boeing's reputation, but it still has the confidence of US policymakers.

This is despite the fact that one of the MAX flight systems, the MCAS, has been cited in both accidents.

Is this an indication that the American aerospace giant is too big to fail?

President Donald Trump, whose mantra is "America first," certainly criticized Boeing early in his administration over the presidential plane, Air Force One, but he has been largely silent about the recent woes.

The wave of negative press about the flaws that caused the deaths of 346 people did not prompt legislators to summon Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg before Congress to inflict on him the kind of humiliation Wall Street bankers were subject to following the global financial crisis.

"Boeing is one of the engines of the US economy, it's way too big and too important for the United States," said Michel Merluzeau, an expert at Air Insight Research.

Political ties

If American politicians were to attack the manufacturer, they would be shooting themselves in the foot, Merluzeau said, because "there are many jobs involved, a very, very numerous supply chain and it cannot be replaced with Facebook or Google that don't produce anything tangible."

Founded 103 years ago, Boeing employs more than 150,000 people around the world, the vast majority in the United States.

In addition to direct jobs, its subcontractors -- like General Electric (GE), United Technologies and Spirit Aerosystems -- are large US industrial employers.

The location of Boeing plants resembles a political campaign map, with facilities in Republican strongholds like Alabama, South Carolina and Texas, and Democratic areas like California and Washington, as well as states that helped Trump win the election: Pennsylvania and Arizona.

And Muilenburg has shown political savvy in his picks for the company's board of directors, naming Nikki Haley, former governor of South Carolina and Trump's former ambassador to the United Nations, and Caroline Kennedy, ally of former president Barack Obama and daughter of former president John F. Kennedy.

Air Force One

Boeing is a dominant player not just in civilian aircraft but in the defense and space industries, and is a major supplier to the Pentagon.

The company produced the famous B-17 and B-29 bombers of World War II and the B-52 used the Vietnam War. Today it produces a variety of aircraft including the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jet, Apache attack helicopters, the B-1 bomber and combat drones.

It also is part of SpaceX, which will manage travel to the International Space Station.

And Boeing manufactures the presidential plane, the iconic Air Force One.

But Boeing also "can be used as a strategic tool," said Arthur Wheaton, a professor at Cornell University in New York.

Chinese purchases of Boeing aircraft are part of trade negotiations with Beijing, according to a source, since that can be a fast way to reduce the US trade deficit.

US civilian aircraft exports fell 12 percent to $20.4 billion in May, due to the MAX crisis, which affected the GDP, according to government data.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The machine that made the Moon missions possible

Yahoo – AFP, Issam AHMED, July 12, 2019

The astronauts would input two-digit codes for verbs and nouns, to carry out
commands like firing thrusters, or locking on to a particular star to re-align
the ship (AFP Photo/Handout)

Washington (AFP) - We've all been there: you're working on something important, your PC crashes, and you lose all your progress.

Such a failure was not an option during the Apollo missions, the first time ever that a computer was entrusted with handling flight control and life support systems -- and therefore the lives of the astronauts on board.

Despite an infamous false alarm during lunar descent that sent Commander Neil Armstrong's heart rate racing, it was a resounding success that laid the groundwork for everything from modern avionics to multitasking operating systems.

Here are some of the ways the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), millions of times less powerful than a 2019 smartphone, shaped the world we live in today:

Microchip revolution

Integrated circuits, or microchips, were a necessary part of the miniaturization process that allowed computers to be placed on board spacecraft, in contrast to the giant, power-hungry vacuum tube technology that came before.

The credit for their invention goes to Jack Kilby of Texas Instruments, and Robert Noyce, who co-founded Fairchild Semiconductor and later Intel in Mountain View, California.

Integrated circuits, or microchips, were a necessary part of the miniaturization process
 that allowed computers to be placed on board spacecraft, in contrast to the giant, 
power-hungry vacuum tube technology that came before (AFP Photo/HO)

But NASA and the Department of Defense -- which needed microchips to guide their Minuteman ballistic missiles pointed at the Soviet Union -- greatly accelerated their development by producing the demand that facilitated mass production.

"They had these incredible, absolutely insane requirements for reliability that nobody could possibly imagine," Frank O'Brien, a spaceflight historian and author of "The Apollo Guidance Computer: Architecture and Operation," told AFP.

In the early 1960s, the two agencies bought almost all the microchips made in the US, roughly a million all told, added O'Brien, forcing the makers to improve their designs and build circuits that lasted longer than their early life cycles of just a few hours.

Multitasking

Modern computers, such as the smartphone in your pocket, are generally capable of doing a myriad of tasks all at once: handling emails in one window, a GPS map in another, various social network apps, all the while ready for incoming calls and texts.

But in the early era of computers, we thought of them in a fundamentally different way.

"There wasn't a lot they were asked to do. They were asked to crunch numbers and replace humans who would do them on mechanical adding machines," said Seamus Tuohy, the principal director of space systems at Draper, which spun off from the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory that developed the Apollo Guidance Computer.

That all changed with Apollo Guidance Computer, a briefcase-sized machine that needed to juggle an array of vital tasks, from navigating the ship to running its oxygen generator, heaters and carbon dioxide scrubbers.

Margaret Hamilton led the team that programmed Apollo's flight computer; their code
allowed the machine to prioritize crucial tasks over non-essential ones (AFP Photo/HO)

Instead of a computer operator giving a machine a set of calculations and leaving it for hours or even days to work out the answer -- all of this needed to be done in a time-sensitive fashion, with cut-offs, and the ability for users (astronauts) to give it commands in real time.

NASA felt it required an onboard computer to handle all these functions in case the Soviets tried to jam radio communications between ground control in Houston and US spaceships, and because Apollo was originally conceived to go deeper into the solar system.

All of this required a software "architecture," much of which was designed by engineer Hal Laning.

Real-time input

It also needed new ways for man to interact with machine that went beyond the punch-card programming of the time.

The engineers came up with three key ways: the switches that you still find in modern cockpits, a hand-controller that was connected to the world's first digital fly-by-wire system, and a "display and keyboard" unit, abbreviated DSKY (pronounced "dis-key").

The astronauts would input two-digit codes for verbs and nouns, to carry out commands like firing thrusters, or locking on to a particular star if the ship, which relied on an inertial guidance system to keep its pitch, roll and yaw stable, had begun to drift off course.

"The way that computer handled the overload was a real breakthrough" said Paul Ceruzzi,
a Smithsonian Institution scholar on aerospace electronics (AFP Photo/Issam AHMED)

O'Brien used the metaphor of a tourist who visits the US and is hungry but doesn't know much English, and might say "Eat pizza" to convey the basic meaning.

Passing the test

Apollo 11's most tense moment came during the final minutes of its descent to the lunar surface, when the computer's alarm bells began ringing and making it seem as though it had crashed.

Such an event could well have been catastrophic, forcing the crew to abort their mission or even sending the vessel spiralling out of control to the surface.

Back in Houston, an engineer realized that while the machine was temporarily overloaded, its clever programming allowed it to automatically shed less important tasks and focus on landing.

"The way that computer handled the overload was a real breakthrough" said Paul Ceruzzi, a Smithsonian Institution scholar on aerospace electronics.

O'Brien noted that while the AGC was puny by modern computing standards, with a clock speed of 1 Mhz and a total of 38Kb of memory, such comparisons belied its true caliber.

"With that terribly small capacity, they were able to do all the amazing things that we now think of as completely normal," he said.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Albert Heijn trials driverless robot that delivers groceries to your door

DutchNews, July 15, 2019

Coming soon: fresh ‘bezorgde burgers’. Photo: Albert Heijn

The largest Dutch supermarket chain, Albert Heijn, has begun a trial of a ‘delivery robot’ that sends groceries out to its customers without the need for a driver. 

The electric vehicle, which has a range of eight kilometres, is being tested within the confines of Eindhoven’s High Tech Campus as it is not allowed on the open road. The Aitonomi robot has been developed by the Swiss-German technology firm Teleretail. 

Staff pack the groceries into the ‘bezorgrobot’ before the vehicle makes its way to the delivery address using cameras and sensors. Customers will still need to step outside to collect their shopping. 

Andre ten Wolde, of pizza chain Domino’s, told NOS that previous test runs with delivery robots had been successful, although the vehicles struggled to get over high kerbs. 

Ten Wolde said the biggest challenge was finding a legal way to enable the vehicles to travel on public roads without compromising safety. 

‘Lawmakers will have to think carefully about it, I accept that,’ he said. ‘You don’t want accidents such as we’ve had with the Stint. Once legislators are ready for it, we’ll see them in the streets here.’

Saturday, July 6, 2019

No cause found for fatal Stint crash, says public prosecutor

DutchNews, July 5, 2019

Two stints in action. Photo: Stintum.nl 

Dutch public prosecutors have said that the woman who was driving an electric Stint vehicle when it crashed into a train at Oss, killing four young children, apparently did everything she could to stop the vehicle. 

Menno Buntsma, a laywer who is representing the 33-year-old woman from Heesch, told Oproep Brabant that she was ‘relieved and emotional’ at the announcement. 

The OM prosecution service said in a news release that nine months after the fatal accident, it has not been able to find a specific cause. It said that witnesses confirmed that the driver ‘had done everything possible to stop the Stint in order to stop a collision.’ 

A technical investigation has found no clues about what went wrong and the NFI Dutch forensic institute is currently investigating the vehicle’s motor controller. 

Two children of four, one of six and another of eight died in the accident in September last year. An 11-year-old and the driver were seriously wounded. 

Transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen immediately banned the electric wagons – used by hundreds of daycare centres to ferry children around. New tough safety regulations agreed by MPs this year mean Stints will need technical upgrades and will then be allowed back on the roads in autumn, carrying eight children rather than 10. 

The OM says, however, that until the investigation is fully complete, it has made no decision about whether or not to pursue a prosecution.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Bombardier sells regional jet division to Mitsubishi for $550 mn

Yahoo - AFP, June 25, 2019

Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier is selling its CRJ Series regional jet program
to Japan's Mitsubishi (AFP Photo/Eva HAMBACH)

Canadian manufacturer Bombardier announced Tuesday the sale of its CRJ Series regional jet program to Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) for US$550 million, effectively exiting the commercial passenger aircraft sector.

The deal with Mitsubishi, which has been seeking to break into aviation, comes after Bombardier recently sold a majority stake in its new medium-range C Series jetliners to Airbus, which has been renamed A220, and its Q Series turboprop line to a Canadian investment fund.

The sale of the 75- to 100-seat CRJ line -- along with its service and support networks in Montreal, Quebec City and Toronto; Bridgeport, West Virginia; and Tucson, Arizona -- is expected to close by the end of 2020.

In a statement, Bombardier said Mitsubishi will also assume liabilities totalling $200 million, and take over all maintenance, support, refurbishment, marketing and sales activities for the aircrafts.

Mitsubishi president Seiji Izumisawa said the CRJ will compliment the development and production of its SpaceJet family of commercial jets as it pursues future growth in this sector.

"This transaction represents one of the most important steps in our strategic journey to build a strong, global aviation capability," he said.

Bombardier chief executive Alain Bellemare, meanwhile, said the transaction represents "the completion of Bombardier's aerospace transformation."

The Canadian company, he said, would now focus on its global rail business and its last remaining aircraft -- business jets.

Its CRJ production facility in Mirabel, Quebec will remain with Bombardier, and the Canadian company will continue to supply components and spare parts for the CRJ as well as assemble the current CRJ backlog on behalf of Mitsubishi until the sale is concluded in the second half of 2020, subject to regulatory approvals.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Four charged over MH17, Russia slams 'unfounded allegations'

Yahoo – AFP, Charlotte VAN OUWERKERK with Danny KEMP in The Hague, June 19, 2019

The Joint Investigation Team named the four suspects who they said would be tried
for murder next year (AFP Photo/Robin van Lonkhuijsen)

Nieuwegein (Netherlands) (AFP) - International investigators on Wednesday charged three Russians and a Ukrainian with murder over the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, the first people to face justice over the tragedy five years ago in which 298 people were killed.

The trial of the four men with military and intelligence links will start in the Netherlands in March next year, although they are likely to be tried in absentia as neither Russia nor Ukraine extradites their nationals.

Moscow slammed the "absolutely unfounded accusations" over the downing of the plane, which was travelling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by a missile over part of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian rebels.

The Dutch-led inquiry team said international arrest warrants had been issued for Russian nationals Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, and Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko, all of whom are suspected of roles in the separatist Donetsk People's Republic.

Graphic showing previously established details about the shooting down of 
Malaysia Airlines MH17 in 2014. (AFP Photo/John SAEKI, Adrian LEUNG, Gal ROMA)

Dutch prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said the four were to be held responsible for bringing the BUK missile system from Russia into eastern Ukraine "even though they have not pushed the button themselves."

"We won't demand their extradition because Russian and Ukrainian law forbids the extradition of their nationals. But we ask Russia once more to cooperate -- many of our questions remain unanswered," he told a press conference.

The same investigation team said in May 2018 that the BUK anti-aircraft missile which hit the Boeing 777 had originated from the 53rd Russian military brigade based in the southwestern city of Kursk.

'Waiting for five years'

Relatives of those killed aboard MH17 welcomed the news.

"It's a start. I'm satisfied," Silene Fredriksz, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed in the disaster, told reporters. "I am happy that the trial is finally going to start and that the names have been announced."

Relatives of passengers and crew have waited for five years for a trial (AFP Photo/
MOHD RASFAN)

Asked if she personally blamed anyone for the crash, Fredriksz said: "Mr (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. Because he made this possible. He created this situation. He is the main responsible person."

Piet Ploeg, president of a Dutch victims' association who lost three family members on MH17, told AFP that it was "very important news".

"The relatives of the victims have been waiting for this for nearly five years," he said.

Girkin, 48, is the most high-profile suspect, having previously been the self-proclaimed defence minister in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine before apparently falling out with the Kremlin.

Girkin, who is thought to be living in Moscow, denied the separatists were involved. "I can only say that rebels did not shoot down the Boeing," he told Russia's Interfax news agency.

Dubinskiy, 56, who was formerly in the Russian military intelligence agency GRU, was head of the intelligence service of the Donetsk People's Republic, while Pulatov, 52, an ex-soldier in the GRU's Spetznaz special forces unit, was one of his deputies.

MH17 was travelling between Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by a missile 
over part of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russian rebels (AFP Photo/Menahem KAHANA)

Kharchenko was a military commander in Donetsk at the time, the Dutch prosecutors said.

During the press conference by the investigators, number of telephone intercepts were played that they said showed the four were involved.

'Absolutely unfounded'

Russia vehemently denied all involvement, and complained that it had been excluded from the probe.

"Once again, absolutely unfounded accusations are being made against the Russian side, aimed at discrediting Russia in the eyes of the international community," the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.

Russia insisted last year that the missile was fired by Kiev's forces, adding that it was sent to Ukraine in the Soviet era.

The war in eastern Ukraine and the MH17 disaster continue to plague relations
between Russia and the West (AFP Photo/Alexander KHUDOTEPLY)

Despite claims by Ukraine's government and Dutch media that senior Russian officers would also face charges, none were named by the prosecutors on Wednesday.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) probing the attack includes Australia, Belgium, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Ukraine, representing the countries hardest hit by the disaster.

The Netherlands and Australia said in May last year that they formally "hold Russia responsible" for the disaster. Of the passengers who died, 196 were Dutch and 38 Australian.

Australia said Wednesday's announcement was a "significant step" towards achieving justice, while NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said it was "an important milestone in the efforts to uncover the full truth".

A serial number on a part of the BUK missile that was fired (AFP Photo/Robin
van Lonkhuijsen)

Ukraine's foreign ministry urged Russia to "acknowledge its responsibility", while the office of President Volodymyr Zelensky's said he hoped to see "everyone who is to blame for the murder of innocent children, women and men" go on trial.

The war in eastern Ukraine and the MH17 disaster continue to plague relations between Russia and the West.

Since 2014, some 13,000 people have been killed. Kiev and its Western backers accuse Russia of funnelling troops and arms to back the separatists. Moscow has denied the claims despite evidence to the contrary.