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Category Archives: News

For news material.

FAA Flight Training Requirement

A six-fold increase in the number of training hours required before a pilot can fly a commercial airplane. Seemingly triggered by the Asiana Fligh 214 crash.

The Driverless Carriage

Great article in the Wall Street Journal on the ongoing development of self-driving cars. A couple points:

  1. The firsthand account from a reporter in 1897 of his first drive in a horseless carriage is priceless.
  2. Google is merely tinkering with self-driving cars… Ford, Volvo, Audi, Mercedes are already implementing this in Europe
  3. The US government needs to, at the very least, get out of the way of the automakers on this one. Ideally they’d be looking at ways to be steering our infrastructure spending toward the impending revolution of self-driving cars.

Make no mistake, self-driving cars are the way of the future. People aren’t going to give up the autonomy afforded to them by automobiles in favor of trains, planes, bikes, etc. Those modes of transportation serve their purposes, but day-in-day-out family life requires an automobile. Self-driving cars will reduce accidents, increase transportation network efficiency, increase fuel efficiency, and redeem millions of hours of lost commute time. It’s the natural next step for our transportation infrasatructure. Think about the movies “Minority Report” or “I, Robot” for a glimpse of the way automobiles will serve us in the future.

A final thought. I don’t trust Google on this one. They want to be at the front of the self-driving car market in America for ulterior motives. They aren’t trying to make the transportation infrastructure more efficient, they are trying to collect more data on your lifestyle habits so they can sell more advertising.

Asiana Flight 214 Too Slow

According to the NTSB, the Asiana flight was traveling significantly below the speed required to make the correct landing.

Asiana Flight 214 Crash

A Boeing 777 crashed upon landing at San Francisco International yesterday. 2 people died and there were numerous injuriies. This is the second crash of a 777 since it’s introduction in 1994 and the first 2 fatalities. Remarkable how safe aircraft have become. It will be interesting to watch the investigation unfold.

DHS Preclearance in Abu Dhabi

So the big todo lately, at least as it relates to my home country and my current city of residence, is the Department of Homeland Security’s new preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi. Full disclosure, I’ve got coworkers that are working on the upgrade projects to make this happen, so I’m a bit biased in my opinion on this one.

The article says that DHS is considering and planning this facility but the airport is already renovating their terminal to faiclitate this. The crux of the argument against it seems to be an unfair advantage for Etihad over the US air carriers. My opinion, let the American carriers start serving Abu Dhabi before they whine and complain.

FreightOS

Now this is cool! A website in a similar vein as Expedia or Kayak that let’s you find the best rates for freight shipping. It’s called FreightOS. It actually looks very well done. Freight shipping is an awkward and clumsy process for the one-off shipment… for instance when I shipped some of my belongings from the US to the UAE. I had to rely on a shipper who kept a lot of the details and pricing very opaque.

Hopefully a competitive bidding site like this will encourage more transparency and shippers being up front with hidden charges and costs. Perhaps not though… on Kayak and Expedia the prices you find are before taxes and fees.

Still a cool idea.

Hacking an Airplane

Eye-opening articles on a the ability of a hacker to gain control of an auto-piloted aircraft. Automated Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) protocols have no security and the hacker uses them to find targets, exploit the aircraft’s onboard computer, and break in.

Here are some of the functions Teso showed to the HITBSecConf Amsterdam audience:

  • Please go here: A way of interacting with the plane where the user can dynamically tap locations on the map and change the plane’s course.
  • Define area: Set detailed filters related to the airplane, for example activate something when a plane is in the area of X kilometers or when it starts flying on a predefined altitude.
  • Visit ground: Crash the airplane.
  • Kiss off: Remove itself from the system.
  • Be punckish: A theatric way of alerting the pilots that something is seriously wrong – lights start flashing and alarms start buzzing.

Scary.

Scale Models

I’m personally a big fan of fine scale modeling of anything related to transportation… trains, planes, cars, boats, etc. This 18-foot long model of the Titanic will blow your mind. It was actually commissioned by the original ship building company, Harland & Wolff.

Be sure to check out their trains and other models. That might be one of my dream jobs…

NTSB Li-Ion Review

NTSB has scheduled their review of the 787 lithium-ion batteries for April 23-24:

The hearing will focus on issues relating to the design, testing and certification of the battery system.

Boeing seems to think they are close to FAA approval of their proposed solution. Its seems like this workshop is entirely untethered from Boeing’s efforts to address the battery problem.

NTSB Li-Ion Review

NTSB has scheduled their review of the 787 lithium-ion batteries for April 23-24:

The hearing will focus on issues relating to the design, testing and certification of the battery system.

Boeing seems to think they are close to FAA approval of their proposed solution. Its seems like this workshop is entirely untethered from Boeing’s efforts to address the battery problem.