Travel

Akeem ReachnaijaMarch 11, 2019
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8min220

China grounds its 737 MAX fleet after latest-gen Boeing jet suffers 2nd crash in 5 months

Chinese airlines have been ordered to ground their Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes, after the modern jet suffered a second fatal crash in just five months – with its aviation watchdog noting disturbing similarities between the incidents.

“Given that two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737-8 planes and happened during take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity,” the Civil Aviation Administration of China said Monday, emphasizing its principle of zero-tolerance on any safety hazards.

All Chinese domestic airlines were requested to suspend operation of the 737-8s by 6:00pm local time (10:00am GMT) and, according to local media and flight tracking resources, on most routes the jet has already been replaced with older-generation planes.

With the first 737 MAX crash in late October still under investigation, the tragedy on Sunday that claimed 157 lives might well have been a coincidence, but security concerns and the potential grounding of the entire MAX fleet would severely impact Boeing’s business. A Boeing spokesman declined Reuters’ request for a comment.

Chinese carriers account for about 20 percent of the plane’s sales, with dozens of Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets already in operation and many more scheduled for delivery. China Southern Airlines Co. has the biggest fleet, with 16 of the aircraft, while Air China Ltd. currently operates 14 jets. China Eastern Airlines Corp. has 13.

‘Some degree of similarity’

While the US manufacturer continues to emphasize the jet’s “unmatched reliability” and to market MAX 8 as the customer’s preferred choice for “comfortable flying experience,” the latest generation Boeing 737 has a gloomy track record since its commercial debut in 2017, having been involved in two fatal crashes in the last five months.

On October 29, 2018, a two-months-old jet belonging to Indonesian low-cost airline Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea, just 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta. All 189 on board died. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, but early reports indicate that the pilots struggled to control the climb due to an autopilot system malfunction, which kept on forcing the jet’s nose to dive.

A similar fate was suffered by Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on Sunday when its 737 MAX 8 crashed some six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya. The aircraft was only four months old. All 149 passengers and eight crew members on board died.

The tragedy of a truly international magnitude on Sunday killed three Russians, eight Americans, four Indians and eight Chinese citizens – in addition to 18 Canadians, 32 Kenyans, eight Italians, nine Ethiopians, six Egyptians, three Australians, four Slovaks and five Dutch persons. Morocco and Poland each lost two of its nationals. Among the passengers were 19 UN Workers representing different nationalities.

While Boeing has sent an investigative team to get to the bottom of the tragedy, Swedish flight-tracking website flightradar24 said the jet displayed an “unstable vertical speed” during its takeoff. Despite worldwide concerns over the aircraft’s safety, Boeing has yet to make a decision on whether to ground the planes globally, pending investigation. Currently 350 units of the 737 MAX have been delivered worldwide. Another 4,661 are planned for delivery.

‘Safety precaution’: Ethiopian Airlines grounds Boeing 737-8s after deadly crash

Ethiopian Airlines has announced it will temporarily stop operating Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes as a “safety precaution” following a crash that killed all 157 people – and hours after China ordered its carriers to ground their fleets.

“Although we don’t yet know the cause of the crash, we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution,” the airline said.

The Ethiopian Airlines Group has four 737 MAX planes left in its fleet, and orders for an additional 25 placed with Boeing. The decision to ground the fleet until further notice came after Flight 302 crashed on Sunday morning, minutes after takeoff, killing everyone on board.

Concerned by similarities between two fatal incidents involving Boeing’s flagship plane during takeoffs, China’s Civil Aviation Administration also placed a temporary ban on MAX flights. Prior to Sunday’s tragedy, a two-month-old jet belonging to Indonesian low-cost airline Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea, killing all 189 on board. The cause of both crashes is still under investigation.

Boeing cancels 777X launch event after Ethiopian Airlines’ MAX 8 crash

The ceremonial debut of Boeing’s 777x wide body aircraft, planned for March 13 in Seattle, will be postponed indefinitely, the company said, following the second deadly accident in just five months involving its 737 Max 8 plane.

“We will look for an opportunity to mark the new plane with the world in the near future,” Boeing said in a statement Sunday night, emphasizing that at the moment the company was focused on “supporting” Ethiopian Airlines in the wake of the tragic air accident, which claimed 157 lives.

The unveiling ceremony at Boeing’s Everett Factory was supposed to be attended by top executives and numerous honored guests, who were more-than-eager to see the presentation of the “largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world.”

Designed to build on the success of the 777 and 787 Dreamliner series, the plane is being assembled to replace the current generation of retiring 747 fleets. Production of the first 777X test model began in 2017, with first deliveries scheduled for next year. Once operational, the plane is expected to sell for at least $360.5 million.

Boeing’s plans, however, were thrown into disarray on Sunday, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed just six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, Kenya. All 157 people on board, mostly foreigners, were killed in the incident. Following the tragedy, Boeing announced that it will dispatch an investigative team to the crash site to provide technical assistance. The 737 MAX was only four-months-old when the jet allegedly demonstrated “unstable vertical speed” during its takeoff. The official cause of the crash is not yet known.

Sunday’s disaster was the second recorded crash of the brand new Boeing narrow-body aircraft. In October, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Lion Air crashed minutes after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers and crew. That crash is also under investigation.

Despite the cancelation of the inauguration ceremony, the 777X’s development program will proceed on-schedule, the company said.


Akeem ReachnaijaMarch 3, 2019
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1min340

Congratulations are in order for a Nigerian Pilot identified as Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo, who is the First Nigerian Female Pilot at Qatar Airways likewise the First Nigerian Female Pilot on the Gigantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft.

According to reports, she is also the First Nigerian Female Pilot to fly the Boeing 767 Aircraft across the Atlantic.

It has been learnt that Adeola is now in the same league with Kenya’s Capt Irene Koki, Ethiopia’s Capt Amsale Gulau and a few other African women who fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Congratulations to her once more.


Akeem ReachnaijaMarch 1, 2019
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2min620

Recruitment is ongoing at the first state-owned aircraft in Africa, Ibom Air, for young, energetic youths who are interested in the aviation industry.

This was disclosed by the Commissioner for Special Duties and Aviation Development, Hon Akan Okon, while addressing newsmen during the arrival of the 3rd aircraft at the Victor Attah International Airport, on Thursday.

He said the recruitment process, ranging from aptitude test to oral interviews, is handled professionally, and that opportunities would be given to qualified applicants without any form of recommendation to get employment.

Then Commissioner added that the airline is properly and professionally managed in line with the code of governance in the airline industry, and that the highest level of professionalism is adhered to.

According to him, what makes the difference in any society is leadership, as there may exist the material resources but without a good leader, it would be impossible to manage it.

Hon Akan congratulated Akwa Ibom State for having a leader like Governor Udom Emmanuel who he said, has shown leadership qualities, adding that before the end of his eight years tenure, a lot of significant progress would be recorded in terms of other components of the airport.

The influx of passengers at the airport has been on the increase since the construction of the Uyo-Arochukwu road by Governor Emmanuel, which has saved the long hours of going through Port Harcourt.

Some of the vacant positions, according to the Commissioner, include Cabin Safety Crew, Flight Operations, Aerodromes, Airworthiness, Airport Engineers, Flight Attendants, Aviation Meteologist, and Airport Administrative Support among others.

Application form is filled and submitted online via www.ibomair.com

©Meflyn Anwana, Special Assistant on Digital Media to Governor Udom Emmanuel


Akeem ReachnaijaFebruary 22, 2019
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2min510

The National Union of Road Transport Workers has said that though it promised a 50 per cent transport fare slash for those who might be travelling for the rescheduled elections, only travellers who have their Permanent Voter Cards to show will enjoy the benefit.

The NURTW Lagos State chairman, Tajudeen Agbede, told the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday that the directive was to cushion the effects of last weekend’s election postponement.

“Our members have been directed, especially those plying inter-state routes, to give a 50 per cent discount to those travelling out of Lagos for the elections,” Agbede said.

He spoke to NAN after the union’s State Executives Meeting.

However, he stated, “To enjoy the 50 per cent discount, a prospective traveller is expected to show his/her Permanent Voter Card to the driver before he/she would be allowed to enjoy the discount.

“This is the directive from the national headquarters of our union.

“It will be carried out in all inter-state parks in the country which is part of our contribution to the electoral process,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Arik Air has also reduced its flight fare to N16,000 to ensure that eligible voters travel to cast their votes.


Akeem ReachnaijaFebruary 20, 2019
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3min470

The Vande Bharat Express made its first journey from New Delhi to the Hindu holy city of Varanasi on Friday after being inaugurated by Prime Minister Modi.

But on its return the following day it collided with cattle causing the brakes to fail, according to Indian Railways.

It comes after rail bosses were left red faced when they were mocked for altering footage of the train on social media to make it look twice as fast.

Soon after the collision with the cow, the drivers noticed smoke billowing from the last four carriages and the electricity stopped working.

‘The train later experienced technical issues and was stranded on the way to Delhi,’ Indian Railways spokeswoman Smita Vats Sharma told AFP.

The train reached the capital ‘safely’ ahead of its first commercial journey on Sunday, she added.

The accident is the latest controversy for the express train – touted as India’s fastest and a special project of Modi’s government.

Last week India’s rail minister Piyush Goyal was mocked after he tweeted a digitally altered video of the train zipping by a station at lightning speed.

He was later accused of altering the video to make the train appear faster, triggering widespread social media ridicule.

Soon after the collision with the cow, the drivers noticed smoke billowing from the last four carriages and the electricity stopped working

A member of a trainspotters Facebook group wrote under the Twitter post that the video appeared to be sped up footage he had taken in December.

The Vande Bharat Express, touted as India’s fastest train was built under the Modi government’s flagship ‘Make in India’ programme.

Cattle obstructions on roads and rail tracks are common in India, particularly in Uttar Pradesh state where Saturday’s collision happened.

Since coming to office, Modi’s nationalist party launched a crackdown on the slaughter of cows – considered sacred by many Hindus – which has led to crisis numbers of stray and unwanted cattle.

India is struggling to upgrade its colonial-era railway system, which relies on creaking and outdated infrastructure to transport 23 million travellers each day.

The locally-made express train has a rated top speed of 180 kilometres (111 miles) an hour, 20 percent quicker than the next fastest train in service.

Railway authorities say the train is expected to reduce the 850-kilometre journey between the two cities from 14 to eight hours.


Akeem ReachnaijaFebruary 18, 2019
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6min270

At a time when Africa nations are still battling with poverty, some are still planning to produce pencils, United States government is still battling its legislators over the Mexico wall which amounts into trillions of dollars, China is silently developing its nation and making it the eighth wonder of the world by building the largest airport in the world which will accommodate, wait for it, 72 million people, that’s about the combination of Ghana, Senegal, Benin Republic, and Niger. And someone will say these Chinese are human beings right? Let’s continue…

If you are always fond of getting lost in an airport or sprinting through long terminals to catch your flight, you’re sure to be out of breath when you visit the Daxing International Airport. Opening in 2019, and slated to be the largest airport in the world, China’s newest airport is designed to meet the country’s ever-growing travel needs, and become the new hub for China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.

Beijing is in desperate need of a second global gateway. The existing Capital International Airport is hitting full capacity, making it nearly impossible for airlines to add flights at desirable times.
In 2017, more than 95 million passengers passed through the three terminals of Beijing Capital, the world’s second busiest airport behind only Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.

The new Daxing airport, designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid and her Chinese partners, is built for the future, boasting four runways and a terminal the size of 97 soccer pitches upon opening of the first phase.

Nicknamed “starfish” by Chinese media for its shape of five concourses connected to the main hall, Daxing aims to reduce walking for passengers, long a complaint against many new mega-hubs.

Travelers can expect a spacious, open interior filled with civic gardens and other sustainable elements. These include shading strategies, high-performance glazing, and roof lights that will optimize the terminal’s energy performance. All of this is predicted to reduce overall energy consumption and CO2 emissions by 50%. “The overall symmetry of the airport,” says the website of Zaha Hadid, the airport’s late architect, “together with its flowing, interconnected forms, create a fluid composition which evokes the harmony and balance evident in Chinese landscapes.”

The airport aims to accommodate 100 million passengers a year, with a 700,000 square-meter energy-efficient terminal designed to make navigation as smooth as possible — or, as smooth as can be expected from one of the world’s busiest airports. With Beijing’s Capital International Airport currently recognized as the second busiest in the world, China’s new airport will play an important role in improving the travel experience to and from Beijing.

The first phase of the airport project is designed with a target of 72 million passengers, 2 million tons of cargo and mail, and 620,000 aircraft movements in 2025, with plans to handle 100 million passengers in the long term.


Akeem ReachnaijaFebruary 16, 2019
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4min640

When you are rich, you command and get luxury items at the snap of a finger. You have a good life and this includes hi-tech cars and a lot more.

People who run the risk of getting shot at in public often turn to companies that offer bulletproof mobility solutions. One such brand is AddArmor, founded by Special Ops and other law-enforcement veterans who specialize “in turning vehicles of all kinds and prices into mobile safe-rooms”, as they put it.

This particular example is a $350,000 (127million naira) Cadillac Escalade equipped with the Executive Protection Package, which adds further customization within the cabin, focusing not just on security, but luxury features, too. After all, those rich (and important enough to have such enemies) individuals appreciate their comfort.

“The AddArmor Executive Protection Package Escalade really represents the pinnacle of what we offer in terms of executive protection and comfort,” said the company’s president, Jeff Engen Anderson. “This truck not only features the best in lightweight, modern armoring alongside a host of other hidden countermeasures but also presents it all in a luxurious package.

The vehicle uses special 2-inch (5 cm) thick ballistic glass capable of stopping high-powered rifle rounds, not to mention 9 mm and .44 Magnum rounds. Opt for the Full Protection Package and you’ll get a windshield with anti-fog/de-icing elements, embedded antennas for GPS and radio, and solar coatings.

In order to make sure that performance doesn’t take a hit, AddArmor used carbon-composite panels that are said to be 10 times stronger than ballistic steel and weigh 60 percent less, offering the Escalade 360-degree protection. Its engineers then raised the SUV’s roof by 4.5 inches (11 cm) to increase headroom, before adding an Alcantara suede headliner and LED lighting.

Also available is a 32-inch smart TV integrated into the retractable divider, a 360-degree camera system, onboard Wi-Fi, DirecTV, Apple TV, and HBO, Sony surround sound system and iPod/iPhone compatibility.

Equally impressive are all the countermeasures that can be deployed if the vehicle comes under attack. For starters, you have access to gun ports so that you can retaliate if somebody opens fire on you. Then there is the anti-jamming satellite communications system, active mine/explosion detection, 360-degree night vision camera and a global ‘911’ phone and data system monitored by a Global Special Operations Command Center (GSOC), where highly trained personnel will stay with you on the line until the threat has been mitigated.

This particular Escalade is also equipped with red/blue law-enforcement emergency lights, a siren and PA system, hidden lockboxes, run-flat tires, a heavy-duty suspension and larger brakes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kBZaeZqoEwQ


Akeem ReachnaijaFebruary 6, 2019
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1min330
A recent discovery from an ancient castle in Austria has proven, that bras are not exactly new age.

In fact, the bras that they discovered, hidden in a vault of the castle, date back more than 500 years.

This is from the same period that Leonardo Da Vinci was still walking the Earth.

The discovery also revealed that not only is the undergarment older than previously thought but so is the ‘sexy’ This old-school bra were decorated with lace, proving Victoria had secrets half of a millennium ago.


Akeem ReachnaijaFebruary 3, 2019
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4min200

Pope Francis’s three-day trip to the United Arab Emirates Sunday marks the first time a pontiff has ever visited the conservative Muslim Arabian Peninsula, where over 2.6 million Catholics reside.

While the overwhelming majority of Catholics in the region are expatriates, according to the Apostolic Vicariates of southern and northern Arabia, the popes journey to the birthplace of Islam is another milestone in his efforts to boost interreligious ties.

Kuwait was the first country in the region to formalise relations with the Vatican in 1968. Yemen followed suit in 1998, Bahrain in 2000, Qatar in 2002, and the United Arab Emirates in 2007.

Saudi Arabia and Oman have yet to establish formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

Last year, Saudi Arabia, home to Islams holiest sites in Mecca and Medina, hosted a flurry of representatives of various Christian traditions, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman pushes for a more liberal kingdom.

In April 2018, Saudi Arabia hosted French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who headed the Vaticans Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Tauran, who died in July 2018, was seen as an energetic promoter of dialogue between the Catholic Church and Islam.

And in November 2017, the head of Lebanons Maronite church, Beshara Rai, paid an official visit to Saudi Arabia where he met King Salman and Prince Mohammed.

Overall, there are more than 3.5 million Christians in the Gulf, of which about 75 percent are Catholics, mostly migrant workers from the Philippines and India.

According to the Apostolic Vicariates, there are more than one million Catholics in Saudi Arabia alone, about 350,000 in Kuwait, 80,000 in Bahrain, and between 200,000 and 300,000 in Qatar, though no official figures exist.

Nearly one million Catholics live in the UAE, according to Bishop Paul Hinder of the Apostolic Vicariate of Southern Arabia, which encompasses the UAE, Oman and Yemen.

There are 22 Catholic churches in the region, where worshippers are welcome to visit and pray.

The UAE has the largest number of Catholic churches in the region with eight. Oman, Kuwait and Yemen each have four, while Qatar and Bahrain have one each.

Mass held in churches on Friday, which marks the first day of the weekend in the region, usually sees the biggest turnout.

In the UAE, mass is held at different timings during the week and in different languages — including English, Tagalog, Malayalam, and Urdu — to accommodate the different nationalities.

According to the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia — covering Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia — Catholics “enjoy freedom of worship within the confines of our parish compounds”.

Although in Saudi Arabia, all non-Muslim houses of prayer are banned.

The Apostolic Vicariate added that Catholics face some difficulties by the “restriction on the number of priests, too few churches and limited space in the churches”, especially during Christmas and Easter when mass attendance can reach up to 25,000.

“It is also forbidden (under threat of punishment) to engage in any public activity or display of religion, including proselytising (the act of attempting to convert people to Christianity),” says the Apostolic Vicariate of Northern Arabia.

While a majority of Christians in the region are migrant workers, there are a small number of local Christians in Kuwait, Bahrain and Yemen.

According to Father Emmanuel Benjamin Jacob Gharib, head of the National Evangelical Church of Kuwait, there are about 260 Kuwaiti Christians from eight extended families.

Unofficial estimates show there are 1,000 Christian Bahraini citizens and thousands of Christian Yemenis.