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. …

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Boeing 737 MAX makes emergency landing during US transfer: FAA

Yahoo – AFP, March 26, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 22, 2019

After taxis, Uber to launch app-based freight service in the Netherlands

DutchNews, March 21, 2019

Taxi company Uber is bringing its trucking app Uber Freight to the Netherlands – the first foray into Europe for the two-year-old service. 

The launch will be made in the coming weeks when ‘local carriers and drivers will be able to book and move their first loads with Uber Freight’, the company said. 

Uber says it plans to expand the service from the Netherlands to other parts of Europe in the near future. Uber’s European headquarters are in Amsterdam. 

Uber Freight, launched in the US two years ago, is based on an app which connects trucking companies of any size with suppliers looking to deliver goods. 

Uber Freight has run into difficulty in the US because of a shortage of drivers and has increased incentives to get more takers. The unit was spun of into a separate unit within the group last August.

Related Article:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

US probing certification of Boeing 737 MAX

Yahoo – AFP, Delphine TOUITOU with Luc OLINGA in New York, March 19, 2019

Boeing's 737 MAX planes, including those owned by American Airlines, seen here in
March 2019, have been grounded following recent accidents (AFP Photo/JOE RAEDLE)

Washington (AFP) - Boeing and US aviation regulators are coming under intense scrutiny over the certification of the 737 MAX aircraft after news that two recent crashes share similarities.

On March 11, just a day after the Ethiopia crash left 157 dead, a grand jury in Washington issued a subpoena to at least one person involved in the plane's certification, according to a Wall Street Journal article citing people close to the matter.

The subpoena, which came from a prosecutor in the Justice Department's criminal division, seeks documents and correspondence related to the plane, according to the report.

A criminal inquiry is "an entirely new twist," said Scott Hamilton, managing director of the Leeham Company, who recalled a probe of a 1996 ValuJet crash as the only other aviation probe that was not a civil investigation.

"Unlike France, where criminal investigations into aviation accidents seems common, it is very, very rare in the US," Hamilton added.

The Transportation Department's inspector general also is probing the approval of the 737 MAX by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), The Wall Street Journal also reported. Neither department responded to requests for comment from AFP.

The probe is focusing on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, implicated in the Lion Air crash, which authorities have said shared similarities with the latest accident.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 came less than five months after a 737 MAX 8 operated by Lion Air crashed in Indonesia, killing 189.

While it may take months for definitive conclusions, Ethiopian officials said Sunday there were "clear similarities" between the two catastrophes based on information from the flight data recorder.

The two incidents have prompted air transport regulators to ground 737 MAX aircraft worldwide, a surprising setback for a line of jets that has been flying for less than two years and is Boeing's top seller.

An investigation by The Seattle Times -- in the city where Boeing has a large manufacturing presence -- showed numerous problems with the MCAS, including that it would repeatedly override a pilot's actions based on one faulty sensor. The paper asked for a response from Boeing and the FAA at least a week prior to the latest crash.

Shares of Boeing dropped another 1.8 percent on Monday to $372.28. The company has fallen about 12 percent since the Friday before the crash.

Maps and factfile on the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10, 2019 and 
the Lion Air crash on October 29, 2018 (AFP Photo/Gal ROMA)

FAA officials had no comment Monday on the investigations but reaffirmed that the certification for the plane followed standard procedure.

Boeing said it followed the rules in bringing the plane to the market.

"The 737 MAX was certified in accordance with the identical FAA requirements and processes that have governed certification of all previous new airplanes and derivatives," Boeing said.

"The FAA considered the final configuration and operating parameters of MCAS during MAX certification and concluded that it met all certification and regulatory requirements."

Later Monday, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg sought to reassure clients and passengers of the firm's commitment to safety in a video message.

"Safety is at the core of who we are at Boeing, and ensuring safe and reliable travel on our airplanes is an enduring value and our absolute commitment to everyone," Muilenburg said.

"Soon we'll release a software update and related pilot training for the 737 MAX that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident."


The 737 MAX was certified as a variant of the 737 Next Generation, the plane it replaced, despite major differences in the engine and the addition of the MCAS, according to documents available on the FAA's website.

The motors on the new plane are heavier than in the 737 NG, posing more of a risk of stalling, so the MCAS was designed to protect against the possibility. But the Lion Air accident showed the system can erroneously correct for a stall when the plane is taking off, based on one bad sensor, and continuously fight the pilot for control.

US pilots complained to Boeing about the issues following the Lion Air crash.

Because of budget constraints, the FAA delegated aspects of the approval process to Boeing itself, according to sources.

Under a program, known as the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA), employees of Boeing are accredited by the FAA to assist in approving the aircraft -- including design, production, flight tests, maintenance and other systems -- as well as signing off on the training procedures of pilots on new planes.

The FAA last week said it already had ordered Boeing to develop a fix for problems with the MCAS system. But the agency was not able to describe any changes in the plane implemented by Boeing after the Lion Air accident.

According to one aviation expert who requested anonymity, Boeing had readied some modifications for the system by the end of 2018 but the regulatory approval and subsequent installation of the changes were delayed by the five-week US government shutdown.

Legislators Peter DeFazio, chairman of the House of Representatives Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Ted Cruz, who chairs a Senate transportation subcommittee, have each called for hearings to look into the 737 MAX's certification.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Ethiopian Airlines crash: What is the MCAS system on the Boeing 737 Max 8?

Yahoo – AFP, Chris Lefkow, March 17, 2019

The crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane has put the spotlight on an anti-stalling
system used on the 737 Max 8 aircraft (AFP Photo/Michael TEWELDE)

Washington (AFP) - Similarities between the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes, confirmed by black box data, have focused attention on an anti-stalling system used in the new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) is an automated safety feature on the 737 Max 8 designed to prevent the plane from entering into a stall, or losing lift.

Both the Lion Air jet, which crashed in October, killing 189 people, and the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft, which went down a week ago Sunday, leaving 157 people dead, were fitted with the system.

Both planes experienced similarly erratic steep climbs and descents and fluctuating airspeeds before crashing shortly after takeoff.

A malfunction of the system was implicated in the Lion Air accident in Indonesia.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said findings from the crash site and "newly refined satellite data" warranted "further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents."

The 737 Max 8 and 9 have been grounded worldwide since the Ethiopia crash, and on Friday industry sources said Boeing plans to upgrade the MCAS system in the "coming weeks."

MCAS was introduced by Boeing on the 737 Max 8 because its heavier, more fuel-efficient engines changed the aerodynamic qualities of the workhorse aircraft and can cause the plane's nose to pitch up in certain conditions during manual flight.

Angle of attack sensors on the aircraft tell the MCAS to automatically point the nose of the plane down if it is in danger of going into a stall.

This is done through horizontal stabilizers on the plane's tail which are activated by the aircraft's flight control computer.

According to Boeing, MCAS does not control the plane during normal flight but "improves the behavior of the airplane" during "non-normal" situations.

These could be steep turns or after takeoff when a plane is climbing with flaps up at speeds that are close to stall speed.

According to the flight data recorder, the pilots of Lion Air Flight 610 struggled to control the aircraft as the automated MCAS system repeatedly pushed the plane's nose down following takeoff.

The pilots of the Ethiopian Airlines plane reported similar difficulty before the aircraft plunged into the ground shortly after takeoff.

Boeing was criticized

A preliminary report on the Lion Air Flight 610 accident blamed it in part on a faulty angle of attack sensor that triggered the MCAS system and automatically forced the plane's nose down.

Pilots flying the same Lion Air plane the previous day had managed to override the automated flight control system.

Boeing came in for some criticism after the Lion Air crash for allegedly failing to adequately inform 737 pilots about the functioning of MCAS or provide training about the system.

Following the Lion Air crash, Boeing issued a bulletin to airlines operating the 737 Max 8 advising pilots how to override the MCAS system.

The US aircraft manufacturer issued a statement on Monday saying it was too early to understand the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines accident.

Boeing also said it was working on software updates to the MCAS system which would be deployed across the 737 Max fleet.

It said procedures already exist to "safely handle the unlikely event of erroneous data coming from an angle of attack (AOA) sensor," the suspected cause of the Lion Air crash.

"The pilot will always be able to override the flight control law (MCAS) using electric trim or manual trim," the aircraft manufacturer said.

Boeing has described the Max series as its fastest-selling family of planes, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers.

But not since the 1970s -- when the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 suffered successive fatal incidents -- has a new model been involved in two deadly accidents in such a short period.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Train drivers on failing high speed line demand more training

DutchNews, March 14, 2019

A Dutch high speed train. Photo: Alfenaar via Wikimedia Commons

Train drivers on the Dutch HSL high speed train route say they are not getting enough training and are threatening to strike if the NS does not act, the AD reported on Thursday. 

The 400 train drivers currently employed on the HSL say their lack of adequate training is increasing the number of malfunctions on the Amsterdam to Antwerp route. Currently there are up to 10 breakdowns a week. 

This means the reliability of the HSL stands at 82%, which is below the legal standard. Other train services have a 92% reliability rate. 

The reason for the malfunctions is a not yet identified problem with the train’s software and, according to the drivers, a multitude of voltage and safety systems which they are ill-equipped to handle. 

Now the FNV train drivers union has drawn up a manifesto, which has been signed by 1,200 people and will be handed over to the NS on Friday. It calls for better training and a monitor on the trains. 

‘The NS has the world’s best drivers but they are given too little time to master the intricacies of the high speed line. And once they drive the train, the support they get is often far below par,’ union official Henri Janssen told the paper. 

The NS said it is taking the complaints of the drivers seriously. ‘Everything they say can be done to improve the situation will be taken into consideration,’ a spokesman said. ‘We have a help desk in place and a team of people to help on the ground. But the uncertainty among drivers shows how complex the line is. Not everything has been properly installed.’ The FNV said strike action may be on the cards if the NS does not listen to the drivers.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

More nations ban Boeing 737 MAX jets after Ethiopia crash

Yahoo – AFP, March 12, 2019

Boeing 737 Max planes are being suspended from airspace in countries including
Britain, France, Germany, Ireland and The Netherlands (AFP Photo/BEN STANSALL)

Paris (AFP) - The EU closed its airspace to Boeing 737 MAX planes on Tuesday, joining similar action by nations across the globe following a second deadly accident in just five months.

Fleets of the best-selling workhorse plane were also grounded by airlines as safety concerns swirled, sending Boeing shares tumbling another seven percent in Tuesday trading and wiping billions more off its market value.

On Sunday, a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 went down minutes into a flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board.

In October, a Lion Air jet of the same model crashed in Indonesia, killing 189 people shortly after takeoff from Jakarta.

The widening airspace closures puts pressure on Boeing, the world's biggest planemaker, to prove the MAX planes are safe.

The full extent of the impact on international travel routes was unclear, although there are some 350 MAX 8 planes currently in service around the world with more than 5,000 on order.

Factfile on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 (AFP Photo)

The EU aviation safety agency said it was closing European airspace to all MAX aircraft currently operating.

It noted that the "exact causes" of the Lion Air crash were still being investigated.

"Since that action, another fatal accident occurred," EASA said, referring to Sunday's Ethiopian Airlines disaster.

"At this early stage of the investigation, it cannot be excluded that similar causes may have contributed to both events," the agency said.

'Precautionary measure'

India late Tuesday joined the list of countries to close its airspace to the jet, a day after saying it had imposed additional interim safety requirements for ground engineers and crew for the aircraft.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 went down minutes into a flight 
to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board (AFP Photo/Michael TEWELDE)

Elsewhere, Turkish Airlines, one of the largest carriers in the world, said it was suspending its 12 MAX aircraft from Wednesday, until "uncertainty" was clarified.

Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle, South Korea's Eastar Jet and South Africa's Comair also said they would halt flights.

On Twitter, US President Donald Trump weighed in on the situation, writing: "Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly."

"Pilot are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT," he wrote, referring to the prestigious university in Massachusetts.

US carriers have so far appeared to maintain confidence in Boeing, which has said it is certain the planes are safe to fly.

The US federal aviation authority, the FAA, has not grounded the MAX but ordered the manufacturer to make design changes.

US President Donald Trump tweeted that modern planes are too complicated
for pilots (AFP Photo/Jim WATSON)

The move was not enough to reassure the UK Civil Aviation Authority, which said it was banning the planes from UK airspace "as a precautionary measure".

Global air travel hub Singapore, as well as Australia, Malaysia and Oman were among the other countries to ban all MAX planes from their airspace.

China, a hugely important market for Boeing, had already ordered domestic airlines to suspend operations of the plane on Monday, as did Indonesia.

Argentina's flag carrier also grounded five MAX 8 aircraft on Tuesday, as did airlines in countries including Brazil and Mexico.

'Significant industry impact'

Boeing has described the MAX series as its fastest-selling family of planes, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers.

Debris of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane strewn over a crash site outside Addis 
Ababa (AFP Photo/Michael TEWELDE)

But not since the 1970s -- when the McDonnell Douglas DC-10 suffered successive fatal incidents -- has a new model been involved in two deadly accidents in such a short period.

"I think the impact for the industry is significant," said Gerry Soejatman, a Jakarta-based aviation analyst.

"We have a new type of aircraft -- that type of aircraft has only been in service for two years -- and... we have two accidents with seemingly similar circumstances."

The plane involved in Sunday's crash was less than four months old, with Ethiopian Airlines saying it was delivered on November 15.

It went down near the village of Tulu Fara, some 40 miles (60 kilometres) east of Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian Airlines said the pilot was given clearance to turn around after indicating problems shortly before the plane disappeared from radar.

The doomed Boeing 737 MAX airliner was carrying passengers and crew from 
35 countries (AFP Photo)

Its chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam said the plane had flown in from Johannesburg on Sunday, spent three hours in Addis and was "dispatched with no remark", meaning no problems were flagged.

Investigators have recovered the black box flight recorders, which could potentially provide information about what happened, depending on their condition.

The crash cast a pall over a gathering of the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi -- at least 22 staff from several UN agencies were on board the doomed flight.

Kenya had the highest death toll among the nationalities on the flight with 32, according to Ethiopian Airlines.

There were also passengers from Canada, Ethiopia, Italy, the United States, Britain and France.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing crashes killing all 157 on board

Yahoo – AFP, Michael Tewelde in Bishoftu with Chris Stein in Addis Ababa, March 10, 2019

Red cross teams work through the debris after an Ethiopia Airlines flight to Nairobi
crashed shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 on board (AFP Photo/
Michael TEWELDE)

Bishoftu (Ethiopia) (AFP) - A Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines Boeing crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa Sunday, killing all eight crew and 149 passengers on board, including tourists, business travellers, and "at least a dozen" UN staff.

Ethiopia declared a national day of mourning for Monday amid a global stream of condolences for loved ones, many of whom gathered in tears at Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).

"The House of People’s Representatives have declared March 11, 2019, a national day of mourning for citizens of all countries that have passed in this tragic accident," Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's office said on Twitter.

Identities of the victims from 35 countries started to emerge as foreign governments and the United Nations reacted with shock.

"Deeply saddened by the news this morning of the plane crash in Ethiopia, claiming the lives of all on board. My heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims — including our own @UN staff — who perished in this tragedy," tweeted UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The passengers included "at least a dozen" UN-affiliated staff headed for an annual assembly of the UN Environment Programme, which opens in Nairobi Monday with some 4,700 heads of state, ministers, business leaders, senior UN officials and civil society representatives, a UN source told AFP.

Some of the UN staff were from the World Food Programme and UN refugee agency (UNHCR), the agencies said.

Rescue teams collect bodies at the crash site of an Ethiopia Airlines plane which 
came down near the capital Addis Ababa, killing all 157 on board (AFP Photo/
Michael TEWELDE)

Wife, son, daughter dead

Slovak MP Anton Hrnko was among the bereaved.

"It is with deep sorrow that I announce that my dear wife, Blanka, son Martin and daughter Michala, died in the air disaster in Addis Ababa this morning," he wrote on Facebook.

Flight ET 302 ploughed into a field 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of Addis Ababa on what the airline's CEO Tewolde GebreMariam labelled a "very sad and tragic day".

An eyewitness told AFP the plane came down in flames.

"The plane was already on fire when it crashed to the ground. The crash caused a big explosion," Tegegn Dechasa recounted at the site, littered with passenger belongings, human remains, and airplane parts around a massive crater at the point of impact.

"The plane was in flames in its rear side shortly before the crash. The plane was swerving erratically before the crash."

The Boeing 737-800MAX was brand new, delivered to state-owned Ethiopian Airways on November 15, said the carrier, Africa's largest.

The plane is the same type as the Indonesian Lion Air jet that crashed in October, 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

A Chinese group look at the arrivals panel in Nairobi airport as they await information 
on the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa which crashed Sunday with the loss 
of 157 lives. (AFP Photo/Yasuyoshi CHIBA)


Ethiopian Airlines said the plane had taken off at 8:38 am (0538 GMT) from Bole International Airport and "lost contact" six minutes later.

It came down near Tulu Fara village outside the town of Bishoftu.

The carrier, which changed its logo on Twitter to black and white from its trademark green, yellow, and red, said "there are no survivors".

"We can only hope that she is not on that flight," Peter Kimani, who had come to fetch his sister at Nairobi's JKIA, told AFP after news of the disaster reached those waiting in the arrivals hall.

Loved ones were later brought to the onsite Sheraton Hotel where they were debriefed and offered counselling. Journalists were not allowed in, but could hear sobbing from inside.

Ethiopian Airlines said Kenya had the largest number of casualties with 32, followed by Canada with 18, Ethiopia nine, then Italy, China, and the United States with eight each.

Britain and France each had seven people on board, Egypt six, and Germany five, according to the airline. France's government later said there were eight French victims though there was no explanation for the discrepency.

Twelve countries in Africa and 14 in Europe had citizens among the victims.

African Union commission chief Moussa Faki Mahamat spoke of "utter shock and immense sadness", while Mahboub Maalim, executive secretary of the IGAD East African bloc, said the region and the world were in mourning.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and his British counterpart Theresa May both described the news as "devastating".

The scene of devastation where the Nairobi-bound Ethiopia Airlines plane came
down (AFP Photo/Michael TEWELDE)

Sympathy messages also came from the governments of Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Britain, Germany, France and the United States.

Pilot had 'difficulties'

GebreMariam said the plane had flown in from Johannesburg earlier Sunday, spent three hours in Addis and was "despatched with no remark", meaning no problems were flagged.

Asked if the pilot had made a distress call, the CEO said "the pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and he wants to return. He was given clearance" to turn around.

Ethiopian and American investigators will probe the crash, said GebreMariam.

For one family member in Nairobi there was a happy ending.

Khalid Ali Abdulrahman was waiting for his son who works in Dubai and feared the worst when a security official told him the plane had crashed.

"I was shocked, but shortly after, my son contacted me and told me he is still in Addis and did not board that flight. He is waiting for the second one which has been delayed."

Related Article:

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Five years on, Uber settles Dutch UberPop case for €2.3m

DutchNews, March 8, 2019

Taxi agency Uber has reached a €2.025m out of court settlement with the Dutch public prosecution office for operating its illegal UberPop service in the Netherlands in 2014 and 2015. 

The UberPop option allows private individuals to operate as taxis, but this is illegal under Dutch law. 

The company has also agreed to hand over the €309,409 it earned from UberPop and the person responsible for the service in the Netherlands has accepted a 90 hour community service sentence, the public prosecution department said. 

‘A taxi licence is intended to ensure the safety of the customer,’ the department said in a statement. ‘A licence also imposes requirements on the vehicles, such as an on-board computer in the car, that makes it possible to check drivers’ driving and rest times.’ 

In addition, the department said, providing taxi services without a licence creates unfair competition. 

Uber launched UberPop in the Netherlands in July 2014 but finally suspended the service in November 2015 after several court cases and fines. The ban was finally upheld by the company court in 2017. 

Uber now only operates in the Netherlands with licenced drivers. ‘Today is an important day for us,’ the company said in an emailed statement. ‘This settlement allows us to formally close this chapter, shows we have learned from our mistakes and have changed as an organisation.’ 


Uber has also recently been under fire in Amsterdam after four fatal road accidents in six weeks involving Uber drivers. 

The company later announced that people under 21 would be banned from working for it, and that all of its drivers would have a minimum of one year’s driving experience. 

In addition, young Uber drivers now have to follow an obligatory driving course with road safety body VVN before they can start.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

China's Hainan province to end fossil fuel car sales in 2030

Yahoo – AFP, March 6, 2019

Beijing announced plans in 2017 to phase out petrol vehicles across the
nation (AFP Photo/STR)

China's southern Hainan island will end sales of fossil fuel-only cars in 2030, officials said, becoming the first province to announce a target end date for a transition away from gas guzzlers.

Beijing announced plans in 2017 to phase out petrol vehicles across the nation, but it did not set a date, as the country aims to cut pollution and reduce its dependence on imported oil.

Starting in 2030, sales of fossil fuel cars will be prohibited in Hainan, the provincial government said Tuesday, with officials saying they aim to hit President Xi Jinping's goal for the island to become a "civilised ecology test zone."

Known as China's Hawaii thanks to its resorts and tropical beaches, Hainan is set to become the country's largest free trade zone.

It also hopes to serve as a test area for some of Beijing's ambitious policies like fostering hi-tech industries and attracting international tourist dollars.

China remains at the forefront of the electric car revolution, with hundreds of homegrown electric automakers sprouting and ample government subsidies to push consumers into new energy vehicles.

New energy vehicles include fully electric cars, as well as plug-in hybrids and fuel cell vehicles, the government said.

Hainan will start its replacement policy by requiring 100 percent of retired government cars, public buses and taxis to be replaced with new energy vehicles. That will then extend to tourist buses, rental cars and light trucks.

The government said the ban on private fossil fuel vehicles will ensure consumers replace gas guzzlers with greener cars by 2030.

It also laid out plans to build a larger electric charger and fuel cell filing network.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

The Dutch bought one million bikes for a record €1.2bn last year

DutchNews, March 1, 2019

Electric bikes are popular with more than just pensioners. Photo: 

The Dutch spent a record €1.2bn buying new bikes in 2018 and the sale of electric bikes overtook those of traditional city bikes for the first time, according to new figures from the RAI association and Bovag. 

In total, the Dutch bought one million new bikes last year, a rise of 5.7% on 2017. The increase is partly due to the long, hot summer which encouraged more people to cycle, officials say. 

The sale of electric bikes rose a whopping 40% to 409,400, accounting for €823m of the total bill or an average of over €2,000 per bike. City bikes without electricity accounted for one third of the number of bikes sold, down from 42% in 2017. 

‘Electric bikes are becoming the new normal,’ the organisations said in a statement. ‘You can find electric bikes for all sorts of different target groups, from young to old. There are electric mountain bikes, transport bikes and cargo bikes so parents can move children around.’ 

Figures from research institute TNO show that people who buy a new bike tend to cycle more. 

Bovag and RAI expect that new rules for company bikes which are due to come into effect next year will boost bike sales by a further 150,000 a year. 

The rules involve encouraging more employers to pay their staff 19 cents a kilometre in travelling expenses if they use their own bike to get to work. The payment is part of the Dutch tax system but few employers use it.