By Lily Hay Newman
Pods Make Sleeping At The Airport Much Nicer, Or Way Weirder
You know when someone gets up and you take their seat and it's still warm? And it's kind of gross? Or uncomfortably intimate or something? Yeah I'm worried about that times a million with these sleeping pods.
The Abu Dhabi Airport has installed 10 Go Sleep pods in terminals 1 and 3, with 35 more on the way, that provide a sleeping space for a little more than $12 per hour.
Go Sleeps, designed in Finland, have internet access, outlets for charging electronics and a secure place to store your luggage. And there's a shade screen you can lower partway or all the way for customizable privacy. The concept makes perfect sense. Offer travelers a comfortable place to nap and generally take a load off.
But what's the deal with maintenance and cleanliness here? What happens when people inevitably start cramming into the pods together to keep costs down? And won't that just lead to a lot of pod sex? Look, someone has to ask the tough questions.
Boeing 777X could spur 'mini-jumbo' battle with Airbus
(Reuters) — Boeing Co. has started offering its long-awaited 777X long-range jet, paving the way for a 'mini-jumbo' war with European rival Airbus, industry sources said yesterday.
The move backed by Boeing's board means that the commercial aircraft division can begin taking orders for a revamped version of its top-selling wide-bodied jet, the 777, which could include folding wingtips and new engines from General Electric.
Boeing declined to discuss the outcome of Monday's board meeting but said it was pushing ahead with the project to update the twin-engined jet, in service since the 1990s.
"We are taking the next step when it comes to engaging customers on the 777X," spokesman Doug Alder said. The company has "begun to discuss additional technical, pricing and schedule details with customers," he added.
Reuters reported on April 24 that Chicago-based Boeing was ready to go ahead with the project "within weeks," after one of its key customers, British Airways, placed a $6 billion order for A350-1000 jets from rival Airbus.
Until now, Boeing has enjoyed a virtual monopoly in the lucrative market for large twin-engined jets, boosting its margins, but Airbus has started challenging that position with its 350-seat A350-1000, due to enter service in 2017.
Boeing's response is a substantial overhaul in the design of the 777, expected to enter service around 2020.
BOOST FOR SUPPLIERS
People familiar with the matter said the Boeing board had approved the so-called "authority to offer," allowing sales to proceed. The people declined to be identified because they are not authorized to discuss actions of the board.
After attracting enough orders, Boeing would go back to the board for permission to start developing and building the jet.
If launched, the program would bring billions of dollars of business to suppliers of aircraft parts. In March, Boeing chose General Electric to develop the engines, renewing their exclusive partnership on the most recent 777s.
The 777X is a planned successor to the industry's most popular large twin-engined aircraft seating more than 300 passengers. The original 777 was introduced in 1995 and is the last new plane Boeing developed before the 787. Its most popular version is the more recent 777-300ER.
The 777X would compete from around the turn of the decade with the Airbus A350-1000 to carve up a potential market of at least 2,000 aircraft worth about $500 billion over 20 years.
The cost of the 777X development has not been disclosed but after industrial delays followed by a grounding of its 787 Dreamliner, Boeing will hope that upgrading a familiar jet costs significantly less than the $15 billion for an all-new aircraft.
"Boeing has been waiting to see what happened with the A350-1000, and the BA order clearly swung their decision," said Agency Partners analyst Nick Cunningham in London.
"It could be an awesome competitor, given the success of 777-300ER, but I suspect it will end up having most of the cost and risk of a complete new program."
Emirates, which runs the biggest fleet of 777s, is among those clamoring for the cost-saving 777X as early as possible.
Airbus says that its carbon-composite A350 is lighter and cheaper to run than the 777X, which will keep a metallic body. Boeing is expected to argue that an all-new wing and new engine will make the 400-seat 777X cheaper to operate per seat.
Industry sources say that Boeing has been offering the plane informally for months, while fine-tuning the design with focus groups of airlines and lessors. It has also been offering a stretched version of its 787 Dreamliner after a similar but unannounced board decision taken late last year, they added.
HEAD TO HEAD
Until this week Boeing had held off granting the formal "authority to offer" the 777X as it juggles the looming threat from Airbus with the need to avoid undermining the value of a large order backlog of existing 777s.
Now that the 777X is being offered to customers, the next move could begin within 12 months, making the end-of-decade timetable feasible, analysts said.
Timed to dominate discussion at the June 17-21 Paris air show, Boeing's decision allows the 777X to go head to head with the A350-1000 in contests at big hitters such as Japan Airlines or Gulf carriers led by Dubai-based Emirates.
After losing to Airbus on part of British Airways' fleet renewal plans, industry sources say that Boeing is already in informal talks to persuade the European airline to place a parallel order for the main model, the 777-9X.
The 777-9X would have about 406 seats and a range of more than 8,100 nautical miles, aiming to leapfrog the 350-seat A350-1000, two sources briefed on Boeing's plans said.
It would have a new carbon-composite wing and folding wing tips to increase wing span without needing more parking space, which would incur additional airport fees. Boeing also is thought to be considering a smaller, longer-range 777-8X.
The head of Qatar Airways said yesterday that he would be "very interested" in both models.
BA to buy 18 Airbus A350-1000s British Airways will add the Airbus A350 to its fleet, with the airline ordering 18 of the next-gen jetliners as part of a continuing upgrade which also includes the Airbus A380 and Boeing787 Dreamliner.
BA has agreed to buy 18 of the largest A350-1000 model, which carries a list price of A$308m per plane, in a deal worth a potential A$5.5bn.
Each jet can cater for up to 350 passengers across business class, premium economy and economy cabins. Although Airbus expects to debut the A350-900 in the middle of next year, with the smaller A350-800 in mid-2016 and the stretched A350-1000 following in mid-2017.
Like the Boeing 787, the A350 uses mainly composite carbon-fibre rather than metal in an attempt to reduce weight, increase fuel efficiency and also boost passenger-experience attributes such as providing lower cabin pressure, higher humidity and larger windows.
However, the supersized A350-1000 is a closer match to the Boeing 777-300ER which BA already operated and recently introduced on its Sydney-London route. Other airlines backing the Airbus A350 include launch customer Qatar Airways, which has signed up for 80 aircraft; Emirates Airline, which has inked a deal for 70 planes; and Cathay Pacific's pledge to buy 36 A350s.
BA also has 40 of Boeing's 787 on order, making it one of relatively few airlines in the world to adopt a mixed fleet of both 787s and A350s.
Airlines ready to restart Boeing 787 flights
Airlines are beginning to mark their calendars for the return of the Boeing 787, almost three months after the aircraft was subject to an unprecedented ‘global grounding’ following a series of critical overheating problems with the plane’s lithium-ion battery system.
United Airlines will reportedly bring the 787 back to the skies on May 31 with its domestic Houston-Denver route. International services are slated to recommence on June 10, with the Dreamliner’s debut on the Houston-Heathrow route as well as the postponed launch of United’s Denver-to-Tokyo service.
Japan’s ANA, which was the worldwide launch customer for the Boeing 787, has the Dreamliner back on the roster for June, although the airline is prepared to push that back yet another month depending on Boeing’s progress in fixing the crucial battery flaws. “We have not reached a decision to cancel 787 flights at this time, taking into consideration the progress of Boeing’s (battery) improvement plan” ANA said in a statement.
JAL remains uncertain of when to push its own 787s out of the hangers, but is unlikely to be far behind arch-rival ANA.
Qatar Airways is said to have pencilled in May 15 for the restart of Dreamliner flights from Doha to Heathrow, with Munich, Frankfurt and Zurich following from late May to early June, although a Qatar spokeswoman told Australian Business Traveller that "dates for the introduction of the Boeing 787 on routes across our network are yet to be confirmed."
That means there’s still no word on the planned daily Boeing 787 service from Perth to Doha, which was due to start on February 1 and would have been Australia's first scheduled Dreamliner service. Qantas still hopes to see its first Boeing 787 in August, although that Dreamliner and 13 more to follow are destined for Jetstar rather than Qantas’ own fleet.
British Airways and China Southern are also due to begin flying the 787 this year, with Air New Zealand following in 2014.
Boeing has now completed test flights of a modified 787 sporting an redesigned battery system and is awaiting approval from US and Japanese regulators air transport agencies so that the world’s 50-odd grounded 787s can return to the skies and delivery of new Dreamliners to airlines can recommence.
Flight diverted after family raises concerns over PG-13 inflight movie
A family's criticism of inflight entertainment allegedly prompted a United flight to be diverted over "security concerns."
In a story published in The Atlantic, one family recounts traveling from Denver to Baltimore with two young sons, ages 4 and 8. During the flight, the PG-13-rated detective film "Alex Cross" was shown on drop-down monitors across the plane.
The family worried about their young children seeing inappropriate content in the film.
"Alarmed by the opening scenes, we asked two flight attendants if they could turn off the monitor; both claimed it was not possible," the family said, according to The Atlantic.
After some back and forth between the family and the flight crew, the family reportedly relented to the movie being shown and did their best to engage their children to keep them from watching the movie.
"We asked if the captain has the authority to address this issue, but received no response," the family said. "Throughout these interactions the atmosphere was collegial, no voices were raised and no threats, implicit or explicit, of any kind were made. The flight continued without incident, while my wife and I engaged our children to divert their attention from the horrific scenes on the movie screens."
But shortly after that, the captain announced the flight was being diverted to a Chicago airport due to "security concerns."
When the family disembarked, they were questioned by law enforcement officials then booked on a new flight.
"United flight 638 from Denver to Baltimore diverted to Chicago O'Hare after the crew reported a disturbance involving a passenger," United Airlines told FoxNews.com. "The flight landed without incident and the customers were removed from the aircraft. We reaccommodated the customers on the next flight to Baltimore and have since conducted a full review of our inflight entertainment."
The family argues the captain overreacted to the incident.
"We understand that airline captains can and should have complete authority," the family said. "However, when this authority is used for senseless, vindictive acts, it must be addressed."
The family also contends that United should reassess the movies they screen to ensure they are appropriate for all audiences.
"Had this been in a cinema or a restaurant, we would have simply left if the content were too violent," the family said. "Cruising at 30,000 feet, leaving was not an option.
A Samoan airline that says it is the world's first carrier to charge passengers by their weight rather than per seat has defended the plan as the fairest way to fly.
The airline defended its decision by saying that in some cases flight costs ended up cheaper than conventional tickets.
"The industry has this concept that all people throughout the world are the same size," Samoa Air CEO Chris Langton told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday. "Aeroplanes always run on weight, irrespective of seats."
Though the airline instituted the plan last November, it caught attention last week when the carrier began international flights to neighbouring American Samoa.
'Concept of the future'
Samoa Air, which opened in 2012, asks passengers to declare their personal weight during booking, which is then charged per kg (2.2 lb) at a rate dependent on flight length.
"People who are up around 200kg recognise ... they're paying [for] 200kg, so they deserve to get 200kg of comfort"
- Chris Langton, Samoa Air CEO
The customers will also be weighed at the check-in counter.
"There is no doubt in my mind that this is the concept of the future. This is the fairest way of you travelling with your family, or yourself, " Langton said.
The Pacific Islands contain some of the world's most prevalent countries for obesity, many ranking in the top 10, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Samoa is ranked number four, with 59.6 percent of the population considered obese, said the most recent WHO report released in 2008.
According to Samoa Air's latest schedule, the airline charges up to WS $1.32 ($0.57) per kg for domestic flights and & WS $2.40 ($1.03) per kg for its only international flight to American Samoa, around 402km (250 miles). A 150kg person flying one-way internationally would be charged $154.50.
Children under 12 are charged 75 percent of the adult rate, with fares also based on weight. Any overweight baggage is calculated at the same rate as the passenger's personal weight.
The plan could actually prove cheaper in some cases, such as for families travelling with small children, and Langton said customer feedback has mainly been "amazingly positive".
"When the initial shock has worn off, there's been nothing but support," Langton said. "People who are up around 200kg recognise...they're paying [for] 200kg, so they deserve to get 200kg of comfort," he added.
Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies
X-Plane developer about Patent Trolls
(CBS News) It seems as if every time a high-tech company comes up with something new, another company files a patent lawsuit, saying they had it first.
Experts say all these lawsuits are significantly damaging the American economy by slowing innovation. But things may be changing. CBS News found a man who says he's willing to risk it all to fight for what's right. It's his battle in the wider patent wars.
Austin Meyer has always been fascinated with flying. He told CBS News, "I almost feel like I was born in a cockpit."
It was that passion that propelled Meyer to start writing X-Plane, a flight simulator program that grew into a successful small business.
Two years ago, Meyer made an X-Plane app for the Android smartphone. Things were going great. Then, this past summer, he received a letter. Meyer said a company called Uniloc was filing suit against him for patent infringement.
According to the lawsuit, Uniloc says it owns the idea of a computer program checking a central server for authorization.
It's a routine source code from Google that Meyer and many others plug in, simply allowing the app to confirm it was purchased legally.
Meyer said, "It is the technology upon which all Android apps are based."
Asked if that's all Android apps, Meyer said, "That I know of, everyone I know of."
So conceivably they could sue everyone who makes an app for Android? Meyer replied to that question, "It's my understanding -- based on that lawsuit and the patent and the way Android apps work -- the answer to your question is 'yes'."
It might sound hard to believe, but it's nothing unusual in the tech world these days. Companies like Uniloc are often called "patent trolls." They don't invent anything, or sell anything, they simply stockpile patents and make their money by threatening lawsuits.
Julie Samuels, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said, "What we see with the trolls is that they take advantage of someone -- you know, weaknesses in the system."
Samuels says patent trolls are badly hurting the American economy. Research shows this type of litigation has cost investors an estimated half a trillion dollars since 1990. Samuels said, "It's not what the Constitution intended when the Constitution talks about the progress of useful arts and science. The patent system is supposed to protect innovation. Or it's supposed to incentivize innovation. And right now, that's not what it's doing."
CBS News reached out to Uniloc repeatedly, but have not gotten a response, which is not unusual. Most of these companies seem to have no interest in publicly defending their lawsuits, even though they are legal.
Samuels said, "It's legal. Does that mean it's right? I don't think so."
And it's not just small companies like Meyer's -- Uniloc went after Microsoft. The software giant recently settled for an undisclosed amount after an eight-year court battle. More than 2,700 so-called "troll lawsuits" were filed this year. A decade ago the number was just 144.
Most everyone settles because it becomes so expensive. But Meyer says he'll go to the mat to fight back.
Asked how much he's willing to pay, Meyer said, "Everything I have, everything I will have until it gets to 12 people that will make a decision based on their best conscience."
If it went all the way to a jury decision, Meyer estimates it would cost him at least $1.5 million.
Asked whether he would rather spend $1.5 million to defend his case and win rather than spend $100,000 to settle it, Meyer said "Yes ... because I believe it's wrong."
Airbus' A350 website
For those of you who would like to follow the development of the Airbus A350, here is the place to go.