How blue whale evolved to size of a Boeing 737

Blue whales can grow to a length of 30m but they only started reaching such a gigantic size two to three million years agoALAMY

Millions of children have gazed up at the massive blue whale model in the Natural History Museum in London and wondered at the sheer size of the largest animal to have lived. Now scientists believe that they have discovered why whales became so big.

Blue whales can grow to 30m (100ft), the length of a Boeing 737 airliner, but such size is a relatively recent feature in their evolutionary history.

Thirty million years ago, similar filter-feeding whales were much smaller, typically a maximum of 10m long. Very large whales began appearing only about two to three million years ago, according to a study of fossil whale skulls by the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Researchers found that the increase in size coincided with the formation of glaciers in the northern hemisphere. Meltwater from the glaciers flushed nutrients from the land into coastal waters. The nutrients acted as fertiliser for phytoplankton at the base of the ocean food chain, resulting in periodic surges in the prey that whales feed on, such as krill and other small crustaceans.

Prey became less evenly distributed around the ocean and much more abundant at certain times and places. Larger whales could make more efficient use of the dense patches of food and were also better able to migrate thousands of miles to find those seasonally abundant supplies. They could survive for months without eating, thanks to their vast fat stores.

Nicholas Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian, said that studies showed that different species of whale all grew larger at around the same time. “We see the extinction of much smaller baleen whales and the sudden appearance of very large body sizes like the blue whales and fin whales that we see today,” he said.

Other species of filter-feeding whales, such as the humpback, gray and right whale, were also now “substantially bigger than anything we find in the fossil record”, he added.

“We live in a time of giants right now. Whales have never been as large as they are today.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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JetBlue paints Airbus A320 in colors of New York City police

, USA TODAY – JetBlue rolled out its newest special paint scheme Monday, unveiling a livery honoring the New York City Police Department. The Airbus A320 will begin flying through JetBlue’s 101-city network after Monday’s unveiling at New York’s JFK Airport, the carrier’s busiest base.

The “Blue Finest” livery features a bright blue fuselage before ending with the NYPD flag across the tail section. A smaller badge and shield will greet fliers by the jet’s forward boarding door.

The flag that was the inspiration for the aircraft’s tail design was adopted by the NYPD in 1919. Among its highlights are a field of 24 white stars, which represent the 23 separate towns and villages that eventually became a part of New York City. The 24th star represents New York City itself.

The "Blue Bravest" livery is to honor the Fire Department

The "Blue Bravest" livery is to honor the Fire Department

 

“As New York’s Hometown Airline, supporting our local public servants including the NYPD is part of our DNA,” Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue’s EVP for customer experience, says in a statement. “Our mission of inspiring humanity is brought to life each day through our crewmembers, many of whom are also former public servants. This mission also lives in the work the NYPD does to keep our communities safe.”

Adding to the poignancy for the carrier, JetBlue estimates up to 15% of its in-flight crewmembers have served in some capacity as public servants in positions ranging from law enforcement to first responders to military service.

“I want to thank everyone at JetBlue for honoring the hardworking men and women of the NYPD with this incredible symbol of partnership and professionalism,” NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said in a statement. “This aircraft, ‘Blue Finest,’ has the perfect name and appearance to represent those who have made it their lives’ work to fight crime and keep people safe. It is an impressive interpretation of NYPD hallmarks and will spread our commitment to public safety far beyond New York City.”

JetBlue’s “big reveal” of the aircraft came Monday morning at its hangar at JFK in front of employees, “many of whom previously worked with NYPD and were specially invited to the event.”

Also on hand were “Bobbies” from the British Metropolitan Police Department, who were competing in “plane pull” charity event against teams made up of JetBlue crewmembers and local authorities from the New York Police and Fire departments. The event was to raise funds for childhood cancer research. Also benefiting from the charity event is the J-A-C-K Foundation, a children’s cancer research fund established by officers from the British Metropolitan Police Department.

Tracking over the UK, US Air Force WC-135C Constant Phoenix Nuclear explosion ‘sniffer’ 62-3582 COBRA55

On Feb. 17, 2017, U.S. Air Force WC-135C Constant Phoenix Nuclear explosion “sniffer,” serial number 62-3582, using radio callsign “Cobra 55” deployed to RAF Mildenhall, UK.

As we have already reported the WC-135 is a derivative of the Boeing C-135 transport and support plane. Two of these aircraft are in service today out of the ten examples operated since 1963. The aircraft are flown by flight crews from the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron from Offutt Air Force Base while mission crews are staffed by Detachment 1 from the Air Force Technical Applications Center.

The WC-135, known as the “sniffer” or “weather bird” by its crews, can carry up to 33 personnel. However, crew compliments are kept to a minimum during mission flights in order to lessen levels of radioactive exposure.

Effluent gasses are gathered by two scoops on the sides of the fuselage, which in turn trap fallout particles on filters. The mission crews have the ability to analyze the fallout residue in real-time, helping to confirm the presence of nuclear fallout and possibly determine the characteristics of the warhead involved: that’s why the aircraft is important to confirm the type of explosion of today’s test.

 

Along with monitoring nuke testing, the WC-135 is used to track radioactive activity as happened after the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster in the Soviet Union in 1986 and Fukushima incident back in 2011.

One of these aircraft was deployed near North Korea in anticipation of Kim Jong Un rocket launches then was spotted transiting the UK airspace in August 2013 raising speculations it was used in Syria thanks to the ability to detect chemical substances down wind from the attack area days, or weeks after they were dispersed.

Although they cross the European airspace every now and then, their deployment in the Old Continent is somehow rare. As of yet, there has been no official statement from the U.S. military about the reasons why such nuclear research aircraft was deployed there. However, many sources suggest the aircraft was tasked with investigating the spike in Iodine levels detected in northern Europe since the beginning of January.

Iodine-131 (131I), a radionuclide of anthropogenic origin, has recently been detected in tiny amounts in the ground-level atmosphere in Europe. The preliminary report states it was first found during week 2 of January 2017 in northern Norway. Iodine-131 was also detected in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain, until the end of January.

However, no one seems to know the reason behind the released Iodine-131. Along with nuclear power plants, the isotope is also widely used in medicine and its presence in the air could be the effect of several different incidents.

Or, as someone speculates, it could have been the side effect of a test of a new nuclear warhead in Russia: an unlikely (considered the ability to detect nuke tests through satellites and seismic detectors) violation of Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Maybe the WC-135 will help authorities find out the origin of the Iodine-131.

Boeing vs. Airbus: Which Airplane Manufacturer Is a Better Buy?

In this clip from Industry Focus: Industrials, Sean O’Reilly and Adam Levine-Weinberg talk about which airplane manufacturer is a better buy for long-term investors: Airbus (NASDAQOTH: EADSY) or Boeing (NYSE: BA). Find out which has the bigger backlog (and why that isn’t necessarily a good thing), what’s coming around the bend for both companies, what’s going to be cutting into demand for the next few years, and, of course, which company is a better buy.

A full transcript follows the video.

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Sean O’Reilly: Let’s talk some numbers before we head out of here. Who sells more planes?

Adam Levine-Weinberg: As I said before, Airbus definitely has a lead right now in terms of the orders. Every year for the last few years, they have pretty reliably come in ahead of Boeing in terms of orders. On the widebody side, both companies had about 1,200 or 1,300 orders in backlog, and those planes tend to go for $100 million or more. So, between the two of them, that’s several hundred billion dollars of planes. On the narrowbody side, the numbers are actually even bigger. Boeing has over 4,400 planes that are in backlog just with the 737 and the upcoming 737MAX. Airbus has over 5,600. That’s quite a bit ahead.

O’Reilly: This is a lot of planes we’re talking here.

Levine-Weinberg: So there’s definitely an advantage for Airbus, but the fact remains that it’s going to take Boeing seven years just to build all the planes that it has. Airbus, it’s kind of overkill. It’s great to have that many orders in backlog; it means that you can survive a recession where you might have orders dry up suddenly for a couple years at a time. But unless that happens, it’s not going to really matter so much, because Airbus doesn’t have the capacity to build planes much faster than it’s already planning to build them, which is less than 700 a year. So it has eight or nine years of production already locked in. As a result, it’s just not going to sell as many planes in the future, or it’s going to have to figure out some way to build new factories or squeeze more planes out of the existing factories it has.

O’Reilly: So, obviously, this is The Motley Fool; we’re investors. What do you see coming around the bend for these guys, and what do you think of the valuations of these companies? I have looked, Boeing is long — I cannot believe this company’s return on capital and equity. It’s like in the 90s, some years, 90% return on equity in a year. It’s a fun balance sheet, and we can talk about that a little bit more another time. But it’s got a 12, 13 multiple P/E. Airbus, it’s a good business, but it’s inferior by every measure. They’re not free-cash-flow positive most years. Boeing just throws off money like it’s its job. Which stock do you like? What do you see coming around the bend for these guys?

Levine-Weinberg: I still like Boeing’s stock. It has run up quite a bit in the last few months. Early last year, about a year ago, it had dived down to the low hundreds, and it’s risen about 15% since then. But I still think that Boeing could continue to gain ground over the next few years. Right now, they have a little bit of a transitional period where a couple of their models, particularly their 777, which has been a big cash cow for them in the past few years, demand is really falling off. But the reason why is that you have a new version of that plane which is coming out in 2020.

O’Reilly: And they all know it, so they’re not ordering it.

Levine-Weinberg: Everyone knows; they announced it several years ago. It’s really hard to keep selling an old plane when everybody knows that a new, better model, more fuel-efficient, more range, is coming out not that far in the future. And it’s also true that right now, a lot of the developing world in particular has been having trouble both with a strong dollar, which makes it more expensive to buy these planes, and also just unsteady demand, especially in places like Russia and Brazil, where you’ve had big drop offs in GDP recently. So that’s definitely cut into the demand for these planes. But if you look out to 2020 and beyond, once that new version of 777 ramps up, Boeing is going to be, I think, in pretty good shape to continue growing its free cash flow.

Adam Levine-Weinberg owns shares of Boeing. Sean O’Reilly has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Disturbing Truth About How Airplanes Are Maintained Today

In the last decade, most of the big U.S. airlines have shifted major maintenance work to places like El Salvador, Mexico, and China, where few mechanics are F.A.A. certified and inspections have no teeth.

Thanks to offshoring, the number of maintenance jobs at U.S. carriers has plummeted. By Trey Ratcliff/StuckinCustoms.com.
Thanks to offshoring, the number of maintenance jobs at U.S. carriers has plummeted.
By Trey Ratcliff/StuckinCustoms.com.

 for Vanityfair –  Not long ago I was waiting for a domestic flight in a departure lounge at one of the crumbling midcentury sheds that pass for an American airport these days. There were delays, as we’ve all come to expect, and then the delays turned into something more ominous. The airplane I was waiting for had a serious maintenance issue, beyond the ability of a man in an orange vest to address. The entire airplane would have to be taken away for servicing and another brought to the gate in its place. This would take a while. Those of us in the departure lounge settled in for what we suspected might be hours. From the window I watched the ground crew unload the bags from the original airplane. When the new one arrived, the crew pumped the fuel, loaded the bags, and stocked the galley. It was a scene I’d witnessed countless times. Soon we would board and be on the way to our destinations.

As for the first airplane, the one with the maintenance problem—what was its destination going to be? When you have time on your hands, you begin to wonder about things like this. My own assumption, as yours might have been, was that the aircraft would be towed to a nearby hangar for a stopgap repair and then flown to a central maintenance facility run by the airline somewhere in the U.S. Or maybe there was one right here at the airport. In any case, if it needed a major overhaul, presumably it would be performed by the airline’s staff of trained professionals. If Apple feels it needs a “Genius Bar” at its stores to deal with hardware and software that cost a few hundred dollars, an airline must have something equivalent to safeguard an airplane worth a few hundred million.

About this I would be wrong—as wrong as it is possible to be. Over the past decade, nearly all large U.S. airlines have shifted heavy maintenance work on their airplanes to repair shops thousands of miles away, in developing countries, where the mechanics who take the planes apart (completely) and put them back together (or almost) may not even be able to read or speak English. US Airways and Southwest fly planes to a maintenance facility in El Salvador. Delta sends planes to Mexico. United uses a shop in China. American still does much of its most intensive maintenance in-house in the U.S., but that is likely to change in the aftermath of the company’s merger with US Airways.

The airlines are shipping this maintenance work offshore for the reason you’d expect: to cut labor costs. Mechanics in El Salvador, Mexico, China, and elsewhere earn a fraction of what mechanics in the U.S. do. In part because of this offshoring, the number of maintenance jobs at U.S. carriers has plummeted, from 72,000 in the year 2000 to fewer than 50,000 today. But the issue isn’t just jobs. A century ago, Upton Sinclair wrote his novel The Jungle to call attention to the plight of workers in the slaughterhouses, but what really got people upset was learning how unsafe their meat was. Safety is an issue here, too. The Federal Aviation Administration is supposed to be inspecting all the overseas facilities that do maintenance for airlines—just as it is supposed to inspect those in America. But the F.A.A. no longer has the money or the manpower to do this.

One of the fastest-growing of the offshore repair sites is on the perimeter of El Salvador’s Monseñor Óscar Arnulfo Romero International Airport. Named for the archbishop who was assassinated during Mass in 1980, the airport has become a busy hub, owing largely to a steady influx of foreign jetliners needing maintenance and repair. Jets flying the insignia of US Airways, Southwest, Jet Blue, and many smaller American carriers are a common sight as they touch down and taxi to the Aeroman complex at the edge of the field.

Aeroman was once the repair base for El Salvador’s modest national airline. It has mushroomed into a complex of five hangars, 18 production lines, and numerous specialty shops that perform virtually all phases of aircraft overhaul. The company has picked up the familiar multi-national technobabble, describing itself as a “world leader in providing aircraft-maintenance solutions.” About 2,000 mechanics and other employees work in the company’s tightly guarded airport compound, encircled by a fence and barbed wire.

The airplanes that U.S. carriers send to Aeroman undergo what’s known in the industry as “heavy maintenance,” which often involves a complete teardown of the aircraft. Every plate and panel on the wings, tail, flaps, and rudder are unscrewed, and all the parts within—cables, brackets, bearings, and bolts—are removed for inspection. The landing gear is disassembled and checked for cracks, hydraulic leaks, and corrosion. The engines are removed and inspected for wear. Inside, the passenger seats, tray tables, overhead bins, carpeting, and side panels are removed until the cabin has been stripped down to bare metal. Then everything is put back exactly where it was, at least in theory.

The work is labor-intensive and complicated, and the technical manuals are written in English, the language of international aviation. According to regulations, in order to receive F.A.A. certification as a mechanic, a worker needs to be able to “read, speak, write, and comprehend spoken English.” Most of the mechanics in El Salvador and some other developing countries who take apart the big jets and then put them back together are unable to meet this standard. At Aeroman’s El Salvador facility, only one mechanic out of eight is F.A.A.-certified. At a major overhaul base used by United Airlines in China, the ratio is one F.A.A.-certified mechanic for every 31 non-certified mechanics. In contrast, back when U.S. airlines performed heavy maintenance at their own, domestic facilities, F.A.A.-certified mechanics far outnumbered everyone else. At American Airlines’ mammoth heavy-maintenance facility in Tulsa, certified mechanics outnumber the uncertified four to one. Because heavy maintenance is labor-intensive and offshore labor is cheap, there’s a perception that the work is unskilled. But that’s not true. If something as mundane as the tray of a tray table becomes unattached, the arms that hold it could easily turn into spears.

There are 731 foreign repair shops certified by the F.A.A. around the globe. How qualified are the mechanics in these hundreds of places? It’s very hard to check. In the past, when heavy maintenance was performed on United’s planes at a huge hangar at San Francisco International Airport, a government inspector could easily drive a few minutes from an office in the Bay Area to make a surprise inspection. Today that maintenance work is done in Beijing. The inspectors responsible for checking on how Chinese workers service airplanes are based in Los Angeles, 6,500 miles away.

Lack of proximity is only part of the problem. To inspect any foreign repair station, the F.A.A. first must obtain permission from the foreign government where the facility is located. Then, after a visa is granted, the U.S. must inform that government when the F.A.A. inspector will be coming. So much for the element of surprise—the very core of any inspection process. That inspections have had the heart torn out of them should come as no surprise. It is the pattern that has beset the regulation of drugs, food, and everything else.

A facility in El Salvador By Rodrigo Flores/ImageBrief.
A facility in El Salvador
By Rodrigo Flores/ImageBrief.

What effect does all this offshoring have on the airworthiness of the fleet? No one gathers data systematically on this question—which is worrying in itself—but you don’t have to look far in government documents and news reports to find incidents that bring your senses to an upright and locked position. In 2011, an Air France Airbus A340 that had undergone a major overhaul at a maintenance facility used by U.S. and European airlines in Xiamen, China, flew for five days with 30 screws missing from one of its wings. The plane traveled first to Paris and then to Boston, where mechanics discovered the problem. A year earlier, an Air France Boeing 747 that had undergone major maintenance at another Chinese facility was grounded after it was found that some of the plane’s exterior had been refinished with potentially flammable paint.

 

In 2013, yet another Air France aircraft, this one an Airbus A380 en route to Caracas from Paris, had to make an unscheduled landing in the Azores when all the toilets overflowed and two of the airplane’s high-frequency radios failed. The Air France pilots’ union said the incidents occurred on the airplane’s first commercial flight after heavy-maintenance work in China. The company that performed the work also does maintenance for American. (Air France has denied that the problems were associated with maintenance done in China.)

You don’t have to look far to find incidents that bring your senses to an upright and locked position.

In 2009, a US Airways Boeing 737 jet carrying passengers from Omaha to Phoenix had to make an emergency landing in Denver when a high-pitched whistling sound in the cabin signaled that the seal around the main cabin door had begun to fail. It was later discovered that mechanics at Aeroman’s El Salvador facility had installed a key component of the door backward. In another incident, Aeroman mechanics crossed wires that connect the cockpit gauges and the airplane’s engines, a potentially catastrophic error that, in the words of a 2012 Congressional Research Service report, “could cause a pilot to shut down the wrong engine if engine trouble was suspected.”

In 2007, a China Airlines Boeing 737 took off from Taiwan and landed in Okinawa only to catch fire and explode shortly after taxiing to a gate. Miraculously, all 165 people on board escaped without serious injury. Investigators later concluded that during maintenance work in Taiwan mechanics had failed to attach a washer to part of the right wing assembly, allowing a bolt to come loose and puncture a fuel tank. China Airlines does maintenance work for about 20 other carriers.

Airline mechanics at U.S. airports who perform routine safety checks and maintenance tasks before an airplane takes off report that they are discovering slipshod work done by overseas repair shops. American Airlines mechanics contended in a lawsuit last January that they had been disciplined by management for reporting numerous safety violations they uncovered on airplanes that had recently been serviced in China. Mechanics in Dallas said they had discovered cracked engine pylons, defective doors, and expired oxygen canisters, damage that had simply been painted over, and missing equipment, among other violations. An American spokesperson denied the allegations, contending that the airline’s “maintenance programs, practices, procedures and overall compliance and safety are second to none.” Citing a lack of jurisdiction, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit. The F.A.A., however, is investigating the allegations.

With huge subsidies, the Chinese government has created an aircraft-maintenance industry almost from scratch—building hangars, hiring mechanics, and aggressively courting airlines to have work done in the People’s Republic. Even engine repairs and overhaul—the highly skilled aircraft-maintenance work that has remained largely in the U.S. and Europe—may follow heavy maintenance to the developing world. Emirates, the airline owned by the Gulf states, is constructing a $120 million state-of-the-art engine-repair-and-overhaul facility in Dubai.

A 2007 explosion, traced to maintenance in Taiwan By Yomiuri/Reuters/Landov.
A 2007 explosion, traced to maintenance in Taiwan
By Yomiuri/Reuters/Landov.

Not everyone in official Washington is oblivious to what has been happening. The inspector general’s office of the Department of Transportation has repeatedly called for the F.A.A. to demand more stringent reporting requirements. It needs to know where maintenance work is being done, and by whom. In 2003, the inspector general called on the F.A.A. to require drug testing of workers at foreign repair stations as a condition of F.A.A. certification. Twelve years later, the agency still has no such requirement. Similarly, there are no mandatory security checks for workers at foreign airplane-repair stations. In 2007, workers on a Qantas jet undergoing heavy maintenance in Singapore were reportedly members of a work-release contingent from a nearby maximum-security prison, though the airline denied the allegation.

In addition to sending work offshore, airlines are also outsourcing more maintenance work—including heavy maintenance—to private contractors in the U.S. Many of the issues that plague the foreign shops—unlicensed mechanics, workers who don’t speak English, and poor workmanship—are also present at some of these private American repair shops. The F.A.A. at least has the capability to inspect domestic facilities more frequently than it does those overseas. (Despite frequent attempts, the F.A.A. did not respond to requests for information or comment on the issues raised in this story.)

The reality is that from now on it’s going to be up to the airlines to police themselves. With the F.A.A. starved for funds, it will be left to the airlines to oversee the heavy maintenance of their aircraft. Have you noticed that this sort of arrangement never works? The F.A.A.’s flight-standards office in Singapore—the only field office it maintained in the entire developing world—once had half a dozen inspectors responsible for visiting more than 100 repair stations in Asia: not enough, to put it mildly, but they could accomplish something. By 2013 the number of inspectors was down to one. Now there is no one at all.

And I will confess that thinking about all this in the departure lounge puts the prospect of endless delay into perspective. Yes, I’ll happily wait a little longer to board my flight—and then hope for the best.

 

Does a Plane have a Horn?

Does a Plane have a Hornby   for KLM Blog – “Why on earth would a plane need a horn?” – that was my first thought when I read the above question, which came in via Twitter. Surely an aircraft doesn’t need to warn other vehicles to get out of its way? To get an answer to this question, I contacted a colleague at Engineering & Maintenance and arranged a meeting in the hangar. My mission: find the horn!Does a Plane have a Horn 2

It’s Tuesday morning and I hook up with Johnny, who is communications advisor at KLM Engineering & Maintenance. As we stroll through Hangar 14 together with his colleagues Fred and Jan, they tell me all about the functionalities of the aircraft horn.

Sounds like a steamboat

The signalling or warning system aboard an aircraft could be compared to a horn. When ground engineers are working in the cockpit, they can contact their colleagues on the ground using a signal. When I ask engineer Fred to point out the horn, he taps on a tiny button marked “GND” on the instrument panel in the cockpit. The button is hard to find, but when it is pressed it sounds as if three steamboats are passing under the plane.Does a Plane have a Horn 3

Hooting through the nose wheel

Sometimes engineers on the ground want to contact their colleagues in the cockpit. They can do so via a button located in a little compartment near the nose wheel at the front of the aircraft. By plugging a headset into this compartment, they can communicate directly with the cockpit.4 Does a Plane have a Horn

A siren in eighth gear

So the horn is primarily a means of communication, but the aircraft itself can also emit a signal to warn engineers when a system breaks down or when there is fire. This signal sounds like a siren running in eighth gear. This happens, for instance, 90 seconds after any problem arises in the system that cools the aircraft’s other systems, which is much like a computer’s cooling system. The signals vary so that engineers know exactly which system is under threat.

Functional technology

So, the signalling system aboard an aircraft isn’t really used in the same way as the hooters and horns aboard other vehicles and vessels. A pilot can’t hoot at other aircraft. In fact, the horn doesn’t work when the aircraft is in flight, because the signalling system is turned off.

Whereas horns in cars are mainly used as a warning system, the horn aboard an aircraft is primarily a form of functional technology, which is indispensable when the aircraft is undergoing maintenance in the hangar.

So does a plane have a horn? Yes it does!5 Does a Plane have a Horn

Is the New Chinese Airliner a Kind of Flying iPhone?

Is the New Chinese Airliner a Kind of Flying iPhoneBy James Fallows – Earlier this week China’s state commercial-aerospace company, known as COMAC, rolled out the new C919 airliner it has been working on for years. I noted at the time that the plane’s debut was of course a significant step in China’s aerospace ambitions, and a deserved source of pride. But I also tried to explain why concerns that this meant imminent doom for Boeing and Airbus, as with a recent Seattle Times headline that “China Targets Puget Sound With New Plane,” were over-wrought, or at least tentative and many years premature.

The long version of why that’s so is what I laid out in my book China Airborne, which was a study of the larger problems the Chinese economy may have in shifting toward “rich country” industries like aerospace. (And which, I have to say, has stood up pretty well in the 3 years since its appearance.) The shorter way to get the idea is to take a look at the illustration above.

It’s originally from the Chinese news service Sina, and it’s a couple of years old, so details may have changed. But its main message is that all the most valuable and complex components in the C919 come from somewhere else.

The engines are from the U.S.-French consortium CFM. Most of the electronics are from U.S. or European firms. I haven’t seen a detailed costing-out of the entire value of the airplane, and probably it’s confidential. But beyond doubt most of the value of the plane lies in imported components brought to China for assembly.

This is why I said in my book that the C919 could be thought of as a huge flying counterpart to the iPhone. Each of them is “made” in China; each has most of its technology and value coming from somewhere else.

You can see different corporate and national dynamics playing out here. On China’s side, the (rational) belief that the best way to get into the high-value industries is to begin by assembling them. On the U.S. and European side, the (indisputable) awareness that the Chinese government will require them to do work within China to get Chinese markets, and the (hopeful, and consequential) belief that they can keep out-innovating Chinese competitors fast enough to maintain a lead. Of course a lot of corporate and national economic welfare turns on the validity of this last belief.

[via theatlantic]

Watch two 'Jetmen' fly alongside an A380 superjumbo

A380 superjumboWell, this is insane. In this video, Jetman pilots Yves Rossy and his protegeVince Reffet fly wing-to-wing with an Airbus A380, the world’s largest airliner. It’s incredible.

The flight takes place at around 4,000 feet above Dubai—airspace that Rossy and Reffet are well familiar with. But this time round they have to share the air with the Emirates A380 and all the danger it brings: that’ll be four engines, each producing 70,000 pounds of thrust, which a man with a small wearable jet certainly doesn’t want to get in the way of.

These Jetmen are amazing. Insane, but amazing.

[XDubai via Engadget]

The 8 Most Unusual Airline Liveries

by   The colour scheme and stickers you see on an aircraft are referred to as the livery. Every airline has its own regular livery, but now and then you’ll see aircraft that have undergone a spectacular metamorphosis, usually to celebrate some unique event or occasion. Here are the 8 of most unusual airline liveries I could find:

1. Hekla Aurora

And the winner is Icelandair, which really has come up with a unique way of celebrating the magnificence of its home country. The Boeing 757 “Hekla Aurora” not only features the spectacular Aurora Borealis on the outside, but also has unique cabin lighting mimicking this natural phenomenon. Iceland is one of the best places on earth to see these Northern Lights, and it was a spectacular stroke of genius to display them on a plane!1 1. Hekla Aurora

2. Blue Delftware tiles

KLM’s Delftware Jet took to the air in 2011. KLM’s classic blue livery was covered in 4,000 blue Delftware stickers. These “tiles” featured the faces of KLM fans. During our Tile & Inspire campaign, we invited KLM fans on Facebook to create Delftware profile photos of themselves. These were used to decorate an aircraft for/with our fans, celebrating a popular part of our Dutch heritage. This livery is no longer around, but fortunately we still have the photos and movies!

3. Gotta catch them all!

I spent thousands of hours and way too much pocket money on Pokémon cards. These colourful Japanese characters were hugely popular in the Netherlands, as they were in the rest of the world. When the first Pokémon movie was released in 1998, All Nippon Airways cleverly picked up on this global hype, decorating a Boeing 767-300 and a 747-400 with a few of the 151 Pokémon characters. These aircraft proved so popular that, within a few weeks, the airline decided to transform another 767 into a Pokémon Jet. Today, there have been no fewer than nine of these Pokémon Jets in service!3. Gotta catch them all!

4. One livery to rule them all

During the filming of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies, Air New Zealand reinvented itself as the “Official Airline of Middle Earth”. This unique livery features heroes from the blockbuster movies. A logical choice, because they were all filmed on location in New Zealand. Don’t be surprised if you see Smaug the dragon floating in to land. It’s probably just a Boeing 777-300 in disguise.4. One livery to rule them all

5. All-Black

Air New Zealand regularly comes up with original ways to incorporate national pride in its livery. The regular livery features the Koru symbol of the Maori (the original inhabitants of New Zealand), but in 2014 an entire Boeing 787 Dreamliner was painted black, with a white fern on the tail, celebrating the success of New Zealand’s national rugby team, the All-Blacks.5. All-Black

6. D’oh!

Ai Caramba! How yellow can you get? Very yellow! In 1995, a Western Pacific Boeing 737-300 was used in an advertisement for the Fox Broadcasting Company, which decided there was no better way of “airing” The Simpsons. The whole family is there, with Marge Simpson bringing up the rear, probably because the tail was the only place that could accommodate her bright-blue beehive hairdo. Sadly, this livery has now been painted over.6. D’oh!

7. The Berlin Bear

Ever seen a flying bear? I have. Germanwings gave “paws for thought” or “pause fur thought” with this growling A319-122. The bear is the official symbol and ambassador of Berlin, which is why this Airbus became a “Bearbus”. 7. The Berlin Bear

8. Peace and love, bro!

The Swiss Hippy – that would be the best way to describe this Swiss A340. With a flower on its nose and fuselage full of peace and love, this groovy bird’s plumage celebrates direct service between Zurich and San Francisco. Far out, dude!8. Peace and love, bro!

[via KLM Blog]

Spain finds crashed helicopter cabin, 3 crew still missing

Spain finds crashed helicopter cabin, 3 crew still missingMADRID (AP) — Spain’s defense ministry says the sunken cabin of a military helicopter that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean has been found but it has no news on the fate of the three missing crew members.

Work on hoisting the cabin to the surface was expected to begin Thursday, depending on weather conditions.

A ministry statement Wednesday said an investigative judge monitoring the search operations reported that it was not yet known if the crew members were inside the cabin.

The helicopter ditched last Thursday about 280 nautical miles (320 miles, 520 kilometers) from its destination on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria, having set off from Mauritania.

Earlier, the ministry wrongly reported that the crew had been rescued by a Moroccan vessel.

The helicopter was initially found by a Dutch boat and was tethered to its side to try to keep it afloat but it later sank in water about 30-40 meters (100-130 feet) deep.

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This story has been corrected to show source is defense ministry, not defense minister.

source