Supersonic dream alive

first_imgWhile America’s government aeronautical agency NASA works on a Son of Concorde to overcome fast flight’s technological hurdles, a new American consortium is aiming to leapfrog other private developers and be first into the air with a new prototype promising affordable supersonic travel for the first time.With the backing of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic space travel venture, America’s Boom Aviation plans to fly a scale model of its 40-seat supersonic transport (SST) in 2017 in preparation for an entry into commercial service by a full-scale model in the early 2020s.“We have the simplest product we can bring to market quickly,” Boom’s founder, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Blake Scholl told from the company’s hanger in Denver, Colorado.“This whole program is geared around how do we make the problem as simple as it can be so we can get faster airplanes in people’s hands as soon as possible.”The Boom project is so pragmatic it doesn’t require a change in regulation – some say overregulation – that has banned supersonic flight over land for more than 40 years, following the emotive campaign by environmentalists against the Concorde in the 1970s.Its revolutionary pitch is to promise supersonic flight at existing business class fares – a quarter of what Concorde was charging before it was grounded in 2002.The Boom SST capitalises on advances in engines and construction materials since Concorde was designed 50 years ago that will enable huge savings in fuel consumption, flying at Mach 2.2 (about 2335 kmh), 10 per cent faster than Concorde.It also doesn’t try to significantly extend Concorde’s flying range, which would balloon the SST’s projected $US200 million purchase price and the fares that an operator would have to charge.Twenty seven years of Concorde…. That means longer trans-oceanic routes across the Pacific would require a Formula One-style pit stop for fuel to offer total trip times around half current subsonic times – six to eight hours from Sydney to Los Angeles, for example, instead of the current 14 hours.“The flight-time savings are enormous,” says Scholl. “If you go (from the US West Coast) to Tokyo, for example, with the stop included it’s about 4.7 hours, where today it’s 11 hours subsonic. It’s a huge speed-up.“We looked at what the aircraft would look like if we went for trans-Pacific non-stop and it becomes a much larger aircraft. It’s no longer 40 seats. It’s probably 60 or 80 and it’s much harder to get to the economics to let you price it for a large market. Concorde had “two really basic problems”, Scholl explains.  “One was the fuel economy was really horrible and that pushed the prices (fares) up. And, two, with 100 seats in the airplane, the prices you had to charge (were high). So the whole thing never found a market.”At current business class fare levels being promised by Boom – typically $US5000 one way from Sydney to Los Angeles – there is indeed a huge existing market.“If you look at long-haul business class there at 20 milllion passengers  a year who fly on routes that are mostly over-water trans-Pacific, trans-Atlantic. Plus Hong Kong to Sydney is a viable route,” Scholl says. “All of which is a huge market – big enough to justify the airplane. “And then, when the rules get fixed so we can do supersonic over land – this is really more about regulation than it is about technology – the market is three or four times larger. “But our philosophy as a company is to be very conservative – very conservative in technology and markets. We’re not assuming any market growth. We’re not assuming any price premium on supersonic. We’re not assuming any regulatory change.”In fact, regulation is a huge sore point among technologists as the overland flying ban that  killed off Concorde if anything has become worse. The US Federal Aviation Administration revealed in a public statement in 2008 that – worse than the restrictive standards of the 1970s – the US now has no supersonic noise standards at all.“Noise standards for supersonic operation will be developed as the unique operational flight characteristics of supersonic designs become known and the noise impacts of supersonic flight are shown to be acceptable,” the FAA said in the statement..“That’s the catch,” say George Mason University technology academics Eli Dourado and Samuel Hammond in a June 2016 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. “Without an official noise standard, how are America’s aviation companies to know what counts as acceptable? No company, they say, is going to spend millions of dollars producing a quiet supersonic aircraft behind “a veil of ignorance, only to discover later that the FAA does not find it to be quiet enough”.“A supersonic noise standard is the only way to create the policy certainty companies need to raise capital and design quiet supersonic aircraft to specification,” they argue. “More vague statements and delays will push the development of affordable supersonic transport even further out into the future – a future that seemed just around the corner over half a century ago.”Dourado and Hammond point out it was only after the 1970s anti-Concorde campaign panicked government into restricting supersonic flight that key allegations of the environmentalist lobby were debunked.“The Concorde was not, in fact, noisier than conventional jets upon takeoff,” they write, recalling one of environmentalists’ more emotive rallying cries. “And while a sonic boom near the ground can in theory cause structural damage, it was not an issue at the Concorde’s 60,000-feet cruising altitude.”The longer the delay in developing a successor to Concorde, the more pressure there will be for technological solutions to the tyranny of distance.However, the airline industry’s rejection of technology that would increase the retail price of travel means that price-conscious entrepreneurs like Blake Scholl are in the box seat. “The world is hungry for something like this,” he says. “The world is hungry for innovation in travel. The only innovation we’ve had in the past 20 years (of air travel) is mood lighting. We haven’t gone faster for 50 years – not in  a way that a lot of people can afford. “I started this company because I never got to fly on Concorde. Even if I could have flown, I couldn’t have flown routinely. And that’s what I want to bring to the world. “People forget what happens when you make the world a smaller place and how it changes business relationships, how it changes personal relationships.” Americans today who might holiday in Hawaii would, with a supersonic travel option, suddenly find it practical to vacation in Australia, Scholl says. “It’s hard to predict ahead of time how that would change the world,” he says, “but we know for sure that it will.”last_img read more

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma bids farewell to African Union

first_imgNkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s term as the head of the African Union has drawn to a close. No stranger to politics, she held the position for two terms. We look at her career highlights.Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is the first woman to head the African Union. Her term runs until the end of January 2017. (Image: African Union, Twitter)Brand South Africa reporterShe’s been a freedom fighter, a politician, a diplomat, a doctor and now her latest role as head of the African Union (AU) – the first woman to hold the position – has come to an end. As Chad’s Moussa Faki Mahamat takes the reins at the pan-African organisation, we look back at Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s career.On its website, the AU describes Dlamini-Zuma as “a lady of noble character; a visionary leader, with an incredible passion for the African continent, its developmental ambitions, and is a champion of the renewal of Africa”.She had shown depth and understanding about issues dealing with the African continent and had a great grasp of the dynamics of the AU, the organisation said.The strength of Africa lies in its unity and its Pan-Africanism.— Dr Dlamini Zuma (@DlaminiZuma) January 31, 2017Watch:Her early lifeDlamini-Zuma was born during apartheid, on 27 January 1949, in KwaZulu-Natal. But that did not hinder her academic ambitions. She went to the University of Zululand where she read zoology and botany. She graduated with a BSc degree and moved to the University of Natal to begin her medical degree. At the same time, she became involved in South Africa’s liberation struggle.In 1976, she became deputy president of the South African Students Organisation and went into exile. She still completed her medical degree, but at the University of Bristol in the UK.Dlamini-Zuma: the politicianAfter the first democratic elections in 1994, Dlamini-Zuma became South Africa’s minister of health in Nelson Mandela’s government.In that role, she:Successfully transformed a health system that was racially divided;Introduced anti-smoking legislation making public spaces and some private spaces such as schools, clinics, airports, hotels and offices largely smoke-free;Negotiated with pharmaceutical companies to provide generic, and often cheaper, medication to South Africa. “The successful settlement of the matter was hailed as a victory not only for South Africa, but also the poor around the world, particularly in the developing world,” reads her profile on the AU website, and;Initiated a pilot programme in which medical students and graduates participated in community service, often working in impoverished areas.From 1999 to 2009, Dlamini-Zuma was the minister of foreign affairs, during which time she actively worked towards peace, development and stability on the continent.In 2012, she was elected the chairperson of the AU, becoming the first women to hold the position.In a list of 2016’s most powerful women published by Turkey’s national public broadcaster, Dlamini-Zuma was number six.It was a list “not based on financial status, but rather skills, creativity and influence making a significant impact in various fields”, the article clarified.AU legacyWhen the AU marked its 50th anniversary in 2013, “Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want” was unveiled. Dlamini-Zuma was integral to its development.Agenda 2063 is the AU’s vision to build an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, and is viewed as a new phase in efforts by Africans to catalyse development of the continent and strengthen African integration and unity.“It is her biggest deliverable,” said the outgoing EU representative, ambassador Gary Quince. “For the first time, the AU has a blueprint and a vision.”I have no doubt that the in-coming Commission will continue to strengthen & build upon these foundations, just like the foundations we met.— Dr Dlamini Zuma (@DlaminiZuma) January 31, 2017She also focused on gender empowerment within the organisation, and for women in general.“For me and my fellow commissioners, wherever I shall be and in whatever capacity, I shall forever remain soldiers of the African cause,” she tweeted at the end of January.The new leadership of the AU comprises:Elected Leadership of the @_African Union Commission #28thAUSummit— African Union (@_AfricanUnion) February 1, 2017Source: African UnionWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Using data for scientific independence in Africa

first_img14 November 2014The Planet Earth Institute (PEI) has called for innovators to pitch ideas for data-driven projects that harness data to achieve real, practical, human impact in Africa, for entry in the first Africa Data Challenge. The challenge is part of the institute’s #ScienceAfrica UnConference, to be held at Impact HUB in Westminster, London on November 18. PEI is an international NGO that works for the scientific independence of Africa. The Africa Data Challenge is a groundbreaking competition. While the “data revolution” is a major theme in conversations on technology and business, there’s little discussion on how it can enhance Africa’s scientific development in a practical way. The Africa Data Challenge invites innovators from around the world to pitch their ideas for projects that can help translate and transmit the power of data to those on the continent. Projects are unlimited in scope and focus, but must be designed to have a practical, human application in the next 12 months. Contestants will present their project live in front of a panel that includes Beejaye Kokil, head of the economic and social statistics division at African Development Bank; David Tempest, head of director of access relations at Elsevier; Richard Pilling, director of professional services and analytics at Intel; and Marieme Jamme, entrepreneur and chief executive of SpotOne Global. The successful innovators will receive a cash prize of £7 000 (R124 000) and PEI’s support in rolling out their project. PEI’s second #ScienceAfrica UnConference is hosted by Lord Boateng and runs in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa, the World Bank and the European Commission. It brings together over 120 people who are passionate about and working in science, development and Africa for an interactive day of workshops and discussions. Participants come from diverse sectors, including international policy makers, academics, students as well as the general public. The UnConference will also be live streamed on the PEI website and people are encouraged to use the #ScienceAfrica hashtag on Twitter to engage in a robust discussion about science, technology and innovation in Africa. Dr Álvaro Sobrinho, chairman of PEI, said: “Data holds a huge amount of promise for scientific development in Africa, and for many different business sectors too, but we haven’t yet fully explored how it can be used at a local level to improve lives. As an NGO we are always looking for practical ways to support science and technology, and this Africa Data Challenge will help do just that – developing and incubating new ideas with real impact. “I’m looking forward to supporting the winning project over the next year, and to rolling out the competition across Africa. Working with our partners around the world, we are deeply committed to supporting innovations in this way, and strengthening the growing movement for scientific investment and development in Africa.” PEI is an international NGO and charity working for the scientific independence of Africa. While other emerging regions have invested heavily in science and technology, Africa is falling behind in the race for scientific development. All of the group’s work is built around three pathways it believes will help to lead Africa to scientific independence: higher education, technological innovation, and policy and advocacy. “In other words, we want to support and strengthen higher education institutions, help incubate and seed-fund technologies able to drive scientific advancement and campaign for a science-led development agenda for Africa,” the organisation says. The institute is headquartered in London and has regional project offices in Luanda, Angola and Kigali, Rwanda. Source: APOlast_img read more

Top 10 geocaching essentials

first_img10. First aid kit. Hopefully the only injury you incur while caching is a bruised ego from that DNF. But if anything more serious happens, make sure you’re prepared.But more than anything, make sure you always, always, ALWAYS bring a pen!Share with your Friends:More 5. Sunscreen. ‘Nuff said 6. Bug spray. NOT Travel Bug® spray! (You want to attract those). Repel pesky critters like mosquitos and ticks with insect repellent. The yuckier they think you are, the better! 3. Extra logbooks and pencils. Yes, it’s the cache owner’s responsibility to maintain their caches. But hey, if you find a logbook that’s full, or a broken pencil in a cache, do a good deed for a fellow cache owner. You can even let them know when writing your log or through the Message center. #WINNING Top 10 items to carry in your geocaching bagYou should always, always, ALWAYS bring a pen, but what else should you bring caching? Here are the Top 10 items to carry in your geocaching bag. What are your geocaching must-haves? 9. Flashlight. Ever put your hand deep into a tree hollow then feel around for a cache without being able to actually see where your hand is? Yeah. We did, once. Now we always bring a flashlight. 2. SWAG for trading. SWAG = stuff we all get. One golden rule about geocaching: if you take something, leave something of equal or higher value. Keep a few fun items in your bag to trade.center_img SharePrint RelatedGroundspeak Weekly Newsletter – March 23, 2011March 23, 2011In “Groundspeak’s Weekly Newsletter”Geocaching Shop Elves holiday gift guide!November 30, 2017In “Community”Groundspeak Weekly Newsletter – March 17, 2011March 17, 2011In “Groundspeak’s Weekly Newsletter” 7. Rain gear. So you suddenly see a bank of storm clouds headed your way just as you approach the cache, and you’re more than an hour away from your car. Always stay dry and bring a waterproof jacket or poncho. 4. Snacks and water. Looking for geocaches can be grueling work. Maintain your energy and stay hydrated to keep your caching game strong! 1. GPS/smartphone and extra batteries/charger. Don’t lose the juice. Keep your GPS or smartphone charged when going for hikes far away from any outlets. 8. Tools of the Trade — TOTT. Penlight? Check. Mirror? Check. Magnet? Check. Clampy-thing? Check. Pocket knife? Check. TOTT all accounted for. Let’s go!last_img read more

Player of the Week: Jayson Castro leads way after TNT’s 0-2 start

first_imgDon’t miss out on the latest news and information. Grace Poe files bill to protect govt teachers from malicious accusations Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting Jayson Castro. Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.netJayson Castro knew he had to take matters into his own hands after TNT opened the season with two straight losses.And with Castro showing the way, the KaTropa have strung up a couple of wins.ADVERTISEMENT Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town LATEST STORIES US judge bars Trump’s health insurance rule for immigrants MOST READ View comments Oil plant explodes in Pampanga town SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Lacson backs proposal to elect president and vice president in tandem ‘We are too hospitable,’ says Sotto amid SEA Games woes Mighty Sports faces Magnolia in tuneup ahead of Dubai tilt Castro was at his best on Sunday in a showdown against reigning four-time Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer.The 32-year-old Castro put up 24 points, 11 assists, five rebounds and four steals to lead the KaTropa past the Beermen, 104-93.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsHe averaged 16.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 6.5 assists and 2.5 steals in TNT’s last two games to nab the PBA Press Corps Player of the Week citation.Castro bested his teammate Troy Rosario and Ryan Reyes, Rain or Shine’s Gabe Norwood and Mark Borboran, along with Phoenix forward Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins and Matthew Wright for the weekly honor. PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krausslast_img read more