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Flights in America grounded with Southwest and Delta planes delayed

Flights across America have been grounded after nationwide technical issues.

Southwest and Delta airlines tweeted early Monday that flights across the country are experiencing delays due to technical difficulties.

Delta airlines tweeted: “We are currently experiencing a System-Wide Outage we are working diligently to get it back up and running. We do not have a specific time as yet.”

Southwest said on Twitter: “It’s affecting our flights system wide, and we’re working to see if it’s affecting any other carriers this morning as well.

“In the meantime, once more information has been made available our Agents at the airport will be happy to disseminate it to y’all.”

Both airlines are the largest carriers at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta.

Delta and Southwest combined make up around 90% of traffic at the airport.

United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and Alaska Airlines are affected, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, reports AJC.

Many passengers have reported being stuck at airports waiting for their flights, while others have sat on planes ready for take-off for up to two hours.

@ilasikorski said: “It’s been stressful sitting on a plane for 2 hours but your flight attendants are always A+ and we’re grateful!”

Southwest airlines had reportedly tried to reset the system, but the attempt had failed, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Neither airline have been able to give an estimated time as to when the system will be operating again.

The source of the technical glitch is understood to be a planning, weight and balance piece of software caused Aerodata.

One social media users claimed a pilot had said it was system that provides them with clearance paperwork to take off.

Nick Kuhn wrote on Twitter: “Sitting on a delta flight – with the same issue. Appears to be nationwide system that controls flight numbers. I suspect impacting all airlines.”

While Hillary Mintz tweeted a picture of a departure board at Mitchell Airport showing a number of cancelled flights.

Marcus Carey said: “There is a national airline flight planning system outage due to computer system problems.

“I’m in Orlando and all Southwest flights are grounded.

“The outage is affecting multiple airlines because the provider works with multiple airlines. Expect major delays nationwide.”

A statement from the Federal Aviation Administration said: “Mainline operations and regional operations are impacted to varying degrees.

“Airlines impacted included Southwest (SWA), United (UAL), JetBlue (JBU), Alaska (ASA) and Delta (DAL).”

United Airlines said: “It appears that we are experiencing an outage that is impacting our ability to create release paperwork, Katie. We know this is frustrating, and we will get you in the air as quickly as possible.”




Infighting hampers analysis of Ethiopian Airlines flight recorders

Fox News

Infighting among entities involved in the Ethiopian Airlines air disaster probe has hampered analysis of the plane’s damaged black boxes by France’s BEA air accident investigation agency, Fox News has learned.

Arguments broke out Thursday as the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder arrived at the BEA near Paris for analysis, according to a source who spoke to American investigators there.

The source reported being told that the American investigators left the BEA Thursday night after 12 hours of “doing nothing.”

FAA GROUNDS BOEING 737 MAX 8, 737 MAX 9 PLANES FOLLOWING DEADLY ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CRASH

The United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization has protocols for examination, custody and cooperation among the investigators involved in a civil aviation accident but those protocols are being ignored, according to the source.

The source who spoke to the American investigators also reported being told that the crash site in Hejere had been ransacked by locals before it was secured.

“The scene has been badly compromised,” the source told Fox News. “Positioning is important and that’s been disrupted.”

The report of friction comes as the BEA said Friday that its analysis of the flight recorders had begun.

French officials have said it was unclear whether information could be retrieved due to the damaged condition of the recorders. Ethiopian authorities are leading the crash probe and it will also include the U.S. National Transporation Safety Board.

ETHIOPIAN CRASH INVESTIGATORS FIND PIECE OF WRECKAGE SIMILAR TO ILL-FATED LION AIR PLANE, REPORT SAYS

Also Friday, The New York Times reported that the pilot requested permission “in a panicky voice” to return to the airport shortly after takeoff as the plane dipped up and down sharply and appeared to gain a startling amount of speed.

The report cited “a person who reviewed air traffic communications” from Sunday’s flight saying controllers noticed the plane was moving up and down by hundreds of feet.

Sunday’s plane crashed minutes after takeoff outside Addis Ababa, killing all 157 on board, including eight Americans.

It was the second crash involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet in six months. A crash just after takeoff in Indonesia in October killed 189 people.

The headquarters of the BEA is pictured in Le Bourget, north of Paris, Thursday, March 14, 2019. The French air accident investigation authority, known by its French acronym BEA, is now handling the analysis of the so-called black box flight recorders from the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed earlier this week. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

Countries — including the United States — have grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 as Boeing faces the challenge of proving the jets are safe to fly amid suspicions that faulty software might have contributed to the two crashes. The company on Friday announced a possible software fix to be complete within 10 days.

The decision to send the flight recorders from the Ethiopia crash to France was seen as a rebuke to the U.S., which held out longer than most other countries in grounding the jets, finally giving the order Thursday afternoon. Peter Goelz, a former managing director of the NTSB who is now an aviation consultant, said that late call by the Federal Aviation Administration may indeed have been a factor.

“I can’t speak for the Ethiopians,” Goelz said. “I’m sure that was under consideration that the FAA was adamant until they weren’t. I think Ethiopia wanted to choose an investigative partner that clearly didn’t have a dog in the fight.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.




Doubts Persist Over Trump Administration Groundwork in Urging Venezuela’s Military to Defect


MIAMI

Venezuela’s socialist President Nicolas Maduro had won a second term last year in an election that critics denounced as a sham. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido invoked constitutional provisions to declare himself the country’s leader last month.

Also ReadUS, Canada Recognise Juan Guaido, India Does Not

Maduro has the backing of Russia, India and China, whereas the U.S. along with many of Venezuela’s neighbors and most Western countries have recognized Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.

The U.S. President Donald Trump has offered his strong support for Juan Guaido.

Maduro, however, has the control of Venezuelan state institutions, including the security services.

The United States has had direct communications with Venezuela’s military personnel to initiate an effective mutiny in the ranks. Trump’s aides have been publicly predicting more defections.

But so far, military officers, by and large, have not gone against Maduro. Doubts persist whether the Trump administration has done enough groundwork urging Venezuela’s military to abandon Maduro.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday warned members of Venezuela’s military who remain loyal to socialist President Nicolas Maduro that they are risking their future and their lives and urged them to allow humanitarian aid into the country. As the toll of Venezuela’s political, economic and humanitarian crisis mounted, Trump sought to ramp up the public pressure on the current Maduro regime following a series of US-led sanctions and diplomatic maneuvers aimed at ousting Maduro.

Also Read: U.S. and Russia Propose Contrasting UN Steps on Venezuela

Speaking to a cheering crowd mostly of Venezuelan and Cuban immigrants in Miami, Trump said if the Venezuelan military continues supporting Maduro, “you will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You’ll lose everything.”

Trump, in his speech, branded socialism as a “dying” ideology in the Western Hemisphere and Maduro a “puppet” of communist-ruled Cuba.

Trump wants to boost support among Florida’s Hispanic voters as he looks ahead to his own re-election campaign in 2020, when Florida is again expected to be an important swing state.

Trump cautioned Venezuelan armed forces not to harm Guaido or other opposition politicians, urged them to accept the National Assembly leader’s offer of amnesty and demanded that they allow in food, medicine and other supplies.

Guaido, in a videotaped message to the crowd at Florida International University, called it a “decisive moment” to exert pressure on Maduro from inside and outside Venezuela.

In response, Maduro said late on Monday that Trump’s speech was “nazi-style” and said he acted as if he were the owner of Venezuela and its citizens his slaves.

Guaido has said that aid will enter Venezuela from neighboring countries by land and sea on Saturday.

The United States has sent tons of aid that is being stockpiled on Colombia’s border with Venezuela, but Maduro has refused to let it in.

Maduro calls the aid a U.S.-orchestrated show and denies any crisis despite many Venezuelans’ scant access to food and medicine.

“We will not make of the honorable Venezuela a Venezuela of beggars,” he said in televised comments on Monday. “We will not accept it.”

Maduro said Venezuela already received “humanitarian assistance” on a daily basis.

Russia, for example, was sending 300 tonnes of aid to the country by plane on Wednesday, he said, albeit clarifying this was not a donation but supplies for which Venezuela had paid.

“We seek a peaceful transition of power but all options are open,” Trump said. It was a further hint of Trump’s repeated insistence that military options remain on the table, though most Latin America experts believe such action is unlikely.

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Saudi Crown Prince unveils Aramco energy megaproject Spark



Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince HRH Mohammed Bin Salman unveiled Saudi Aramco’s energy megaproject Spark on 10 December, 2018 [image: Twitter/ksa_spark].

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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, HRH Mohammed Bin Salman, unveiled King Salman Energy Park (Spark), a Saudi Aramco megaproject, on 10 December, 2018. Spark will generate 100,000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute up to $6bn (SAR22bn) to the kingdom’s gross domestic product by 2035, in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 programme.

Located between Dammam and Al-Ahsa in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, Spark is a three-phase 50km2 hub for energy, industrialisation, and technology that will report Phase 1 construction completed in 2021. Phase 1 spans 12km2, with investments totalling $1.6bn (SAR6bn).

Construction work on Spark started in September 2017, as per a Saudi Aramco statement on 6 December, and engineering designs for the scheme are currently more than halfway complete. Investor plot allocations were carried out in Q3 2018. 

READ: Saudi Crown Prince attends Bahrain launch of Aramco-Bapco oil pipeline

According to an Arabic-language report by Saudi Arabia’s state news agency, SPA, the city features five major regions. Phase 1 will comprise general manufacturing, industrial facilities, a dry port area, a Saudi Aramco well-drilling and maintenance area, and a specialised training zone for 10 centres focused on enhancing Saudi citizens’ skills. The project also includes residential, commercial, and recreational areas. At maturity, the dry port will have a capacity of eight million metric tons of cargo, with high levels of automation. The completion of Phase 1 will see Spark attracting more than 120 investments, according to a separate, English-language report by SPA.

Spark will be operated and anchored by Saudi Aramco, which will build its drilling and workover headquarters within the city, as well as operate its procurement and supply chain management centre from the space. Aramco will develop, operate, manage, and maintain the park’s infrastructure in partnership with Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technological Zones (Modon). 

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According to Spark’s website, the project seeks to attract industrial investors across five major sectors, such as upstream, downstream, petrochemicals, power, and water and wastewater. In addition to work for Phase 1, also under way is the development of a regional logistics zone with customs that will link Spark to the rest of the kingdom and Gulf States along the region’s planned rail project.

On its Twitter account, Spark said that its first 10 investors and tenants include Baker Hughes, a GE Company, Borets, Valvo Spain, Schlumberger, Al Rushed Group, Halliburton, Emerson, University of North Dakota Aerospace, Oilfields Supply Centre Ltd, and NESR. On its website, Spark stated that interested investors can be offered land access as Phase 1 development work continues. Schlumberger signed on as Spark’s first investor in December 2017, with the firm to build a centre for manufacturing onshore oil and gas well platform, plus supply chain products, within the city, Aramco revealed earlier this month. 

In a statement on its website dated 6 December, Aramco said that Spark is part of its supply chain initiative, In-Kingdom Total Value Add (Iktva), adding that the energy city would house “manufacturing and service activities ranging from equipment for drilling, electrical services, and liquids treatment [and] exploration and production services; to pipes, vessels, tanks, valves, and pumps”. Spark’s location, Aramco added, facilitates its integration with Dammam’s Third Industrial City, and offers it access to power generation and water sources, plus logistical services.

Spark is the latest in a string of endeavours by Saudi Arabia to diversify its economy away from petrodollars. Its launch comes days after the Crown Prince accompanied Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, alongside other GCC leaders, at the launch of the Al-Turaif historical district in Diriyah. The tourism project encompasses Saudi Vision 2030’s ambitions and is expected to generate tourism revenue for the kingdom. 

READ: Saudi Crown Prince to attend Aramco megaproject launch

Additionally, Spark embodies Aramco’s ambitions to capitalise on its position as a global energy giant. The state-held firm has already noted progress on major projects this year, such as the Marjan and Berri oil fields. 

The involvement of global energy giants such as Schlumberger, Halliburton, and Baker Hughes builds on the memorandums of understanding (MoU) signed between the firms and Saudi Arabia at the Future Investment Initiative summit held in Riyadh this October. Saudi Aramco was a key signatory for many of the total 20 MoUs – worth a combined value of $50bn (SAR187.6bn) – signed on Day 1 of the summit, held on 23-25 October, 2018.

Construction Week’s video on Spark will be published at 9am Dubai time on 11 December, 2018. Set a YouTube reminder for yourself to receive an early notification to watch the video:

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BOC Aviation orders three 777-300ERs

BOC Aviation has ordered three Boeing 777-300ERs that will be delivered in 2020 to a leasing client.

The lessor disclosed the transaction in a stock exchange statement, but did not identify the client that will lease the aircraft, nor any other terms of the order.

The transaction is valued at $1.08 billion based on list prices, but it is likely that BOC Aviation will pay significantly less as the aircraft will be among the last -300ERs produced as Boeing transitions to the 777X series.

Flight Fleets Analyzer indicates that there are 10 -300ERs due for delivery in 2020, two of which are for Aeroflot Russian Airlines, while the other eight are listed as ordered by unidentified customers.

BOC Aviation manages 20 -300ERs, which are leased to Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways International, Turkish Airlines, Qatar Airways, EVA Air and Air China.




Growth & Jobs | Jamaica leads the Caribbean in renewable energy

Jamaica is now developing its renewable-energy potential at a leading pace among its Caribbean neighbours with support from private investment, says David Delaire, managing director, Germany-based MPC Capital.

This is demonstrated by its 170 megawatts of installed generating capacity and rapidly developing solar plants, he stated. The expansion under way in Jamaica

is based on the country’s appealing market conditions; robust regulatory framework, Government’s support for the development, and a utility company that is willing to work with private power producers.

“We are getting about 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour,” with respect to the price of electricity being generated by MPC’s Paradise Park solar plant being constructed in Westmoreland, Delaire said. He added, “We also have a 20-year agreement with the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) to purchase the power we produce.”

Most of the electricity produced across the Caribbean comes from diesel plants that are more than 50 years old, which produce electricity at a cost that is in “double digit” cents per kilowatt-hour, he said. Delaire declared that “these plants are obsolete.”

Delaine said that the low power-production cost that the Paradise Park plant can feed to Jamaica’s national grid and the fact that the national power utility company signed an agreement to take this electricity show the benefits Jamaica gets from having reformed its electric power industry to accommodate independent power producers.

He was speaking at an MPC renewable energy forum, mounted by JN Fund Managers, a member company of The Jamaica National Group, and MPC Capital at the Spanish Court Hotel recently. His audience consisted mainly of potential investors in the MPC Clean Energy Fund, which is financing regional renewable energy plant development.

“In 2015, CARICOM states agreed on a framework in which they outlined where each member state needed to have a certain amount of renewable energy installed by 2030,” he said, pointing out “Jamaica outlined its National Energy Policy 2009-2030, thus carving out a role for the development of renewable energy in the country’s future.

“You have taken the time to outline an integrated resource plan,” the engineer stated. “In terms of renewable energy, what I find is more appreciated by investors such as ourselves is that we would like to know that the Government is behind rules.”

The electricity sector development plan has involved regulators, the Government, JPSCo and the private sector, Delaire pointed out, declaring that “Jamaica has done an exceptional job.”

Looking at Caribbean counterparts, he said that Antigua has “a couple of projects installed or in development”, but others, such as Guyana, Barbados, and the British Virgin Islands, were all “a bit behind in terms of what they need to be doing”.

HIGH COST OF PETROLEUM

Milverton Reynolds, managing director of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), told the audience that the cost of imported petroleum was what prompted a change in Jamaica’s energy policies.

The DBJ participated in a government push to reduce the burden that energy placed

on the national economy. Subsequently, Reynolds said, “We ramped up our activities in our privatisation and public-private partnership programmes, and currently, we have two major active privatisation projects. We are indeed very excited about the possibilities they present.”

Jermaine Deans, deputy general manager, JN Fund Managers, is spearheading the team that is collaborating with the initial public offering of the MPC Clean Energy Fund and providing support for the debt refinancing of the state-owned Wigton Wind Farm

“Pension funds need sure and reliable returns,” Deans told the audience of leading financial-sector representatives. “Investing in cost-efficient renewable-energy projects provides this requirement, and most of the time, your cash flow will be indexed to the United States dollar.

“Assisting Jamaica to move the renewable component of its electricity consumption from less than 20 per cent currently to a targeted 50 per cent by 2030 offers excellent opportunities for portfolio managers,” Deans stated.