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100s of pages of damaging documents about the 737 Max released by Boeing

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100s of pages of damaging documents about the 737 Max released by Boeing | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Just one of many storage areas for the hundreds of grounded jets - YouTube
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Boeing has released more than 100 pages of internal company documents to the House and Senate committee, and media, further casting doubt about the company’s goodwill around the troubled 737 Max jet. The latest incarnation of the Boeing 737 was grounded last year after two fatal crashes which exposed weaknesses in the design development process and software systems.

400 of the planes, recently manufactured, remain gathering dust, unable to be delivered to their worldwide customers. Another 500, flying for airlines before the grounding, also remain on the ground. The documents were sent yesterday to the House and Senate committees that are probing Boeing’s design of the plane. Boeing’s release of the damaging documents also includes an apology, pertaining to the content of the documents.

“These communications do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable,”

“We regret the content of these communications, and apologise to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Congress, our airline customers, and to the flying public for them.”

Many pages of the documents relate to the development and qualification of 737 Max jet simulators during 2017 and 2018.

“These communications contain provocative language, and, in certain instances, raise questions about Boeing’s interactions with the FAA in connection with the simulator qualification process.”

Problems with the Boeing 737 Max resulted in two fatal crashes and the loss of 346 lives. One crash was in Jakarta, Indonesia and the other in Ethiopia. The model has been grounded since March 2019 and has cost the company billions of dollars, a loss of consumer trust, lost the Boeing CEO his job and cast doubt about the future of the 737 Max model.

The ‘mea culpa’ that was released by the company with the 100 or so pages of documents seems to reflect a more open stance with regulators, investigators and the FAA. A new CEO takes over the reigns of the beleaguered company today.

“We welcome, and will fully support, any additional review the FAA believes is appropriate in connection with any of these matters, as well as the continued involvement of the relevant congressional committees with these issues.”

Delays for any re-regulation of the 737 Max model, allowing it into commercial operation again, will now likely extend into at least the middle of this year, maybe longer. And there is even open speculation by aviation analysts if the model may be fatally flawed and may never fly again.

The latest version of the Boeing 737, the ‘Max’ is the fourth re-jig of a 1960’s single-aisle passenger jet that has been the workhouse for short to medium travel around the world for half a century. Boeing was forced into swift re-development its ageing 737 model after the success of the new Airbus 320neo model which was launched in 2014.

The re-jig allowed for the use of newer, lighter and more powerful turbo fan-jets (which would provide better performance and lower fuel costs). But the larger engines required mounting the jets further forward on the wings, upsetting the planes’ balance, and necessitating a software fix to control a possible nose-up tendency of the new model. It’s the over-reaction of the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) software, developed to help control the plane’s pitch, that is thought to have been behind the two crashes.

The 737 Max model can be identified with its larger engines and twin winglets at the end of the wings.

SOURCE: CNN

100s of pages of damaging documents about the 737 Max released by Boeing | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

An international Digital Travel Pass could be the magic bullet to restart global tourism

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An international Digital Travel Pass could be the magic bullet to restart global tourism | The Thaiger

A new international Travel Pass, a sort of digital health certificate, may be the way forward for countries to re-open their borders and international airlines to get their planes back into the air. The International Air Transport Association says the ‘digital’ certificate will support the safe reopening of borders.

As Covid-19 testing and the results becomes more reliable and nuanced, Governments are looking to testing as a means of limiting most of risks of Covid-19 when reopening their borders. The hope is that the new Travel Pass will replace the quarantine regime imposed by many countries and the hopes that a vaccine alone will solve the problems…

“IATA is calling for systematic Covid-19 testing of all international travelers and the information flow infrastructure needed to enable this must support:

  • Governments with the means to verify the authenticity of tests and the identity of those presenting the test certificates.
  • Airlines with the ability to provide accurate information to their passengers on test requirements and verify that a passenger meets the requirements for travel.
  • Laboratories with the means to issue digital certificates to passengers that will be recognised by governments, and;
  • Travellers with accurate information on test requirements, where they can get tested or vaccinated, and the means to securely convey test information to airlines and border authorities.”

IATA is calling for systematic Covid-19 testing of all international travellers. The concept was unveiled at at IATA’s 76th Annual General Meeting on November 24, which called on governments to reopen borders to travel. Of all the industries affected by lockdowns and the slowdown of economies, the airline and travel industry have been hardest hit.

IATA says that deep losses will continue into 2021, even though the situation is expected to improve over the coming months.

A net loss of US$118.5 billion is expected for 2020, while a net loss of US$38.7 billion is expected in 2021.

Improvements are expected in the second half of 2021 after a difficult first half. Aggressive cost-cutting may combine with increased demand during 2021 to see the industry turn cash-positive in the fourth quarter of 2021, which is earlier than previously forecast, according to the IATA.

“Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures. The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with travellers’ identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of the IATA Travel Pass.”

Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security, says that the main priority is to get people traveling again safely.

“In the immediate term that means giving governments confidence that systematic COVID-19 testing can work as a replacement for quarantine requirements. And that will eventually develop into a vaccine program. The IATA Travel Pass is a solution for both. And we have built it using a modular approach based on open source standards to facilitate interoperability. It can be used in combination with other providers or as a standalone end-to-end solution. The most important thing is that it is responsive to industry’s needs while enabling a competitive market.”

The IATA and International Airlines Group have been collaborating in the project and will arrange a trial to demonstrate that this pass, combined with Covid-19 testing, can reopen international travel and replace quarantines, which they say “essentially kill demand for air travel”.

The first cross-border IATA Travel Pass pilot is scheduled for later this year and the launch slated for quarter one 2021.

SOURCES: Reuters | IATA

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Tourism

Rejoice Thailand. 681 tourists will arrive in November!

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Rejoice Thailand. 681 tourists will arrive in November! | The Thaiger
PHOTO: You'll have all the beaches mostly to yourself, almost.

Rejoice, roll out the red carpet and sound the bells. Here they come! Thailand is about to be flooded with 681 tourists who have applied for, and received, the Special Tourist Visa. Ok, we’ll admit that’s the number is a bit down on last year’s monthly 3.3 million tourist arrivals (average). But, twisting the numbers like only the Tourist Authority of Thailand can, that’s more than DOUBLE last months’ total tourist intake.

The perpetually optimistic governor of the TAT announced the 681 tourists will be visiting Thailand during this month under the much-discussed Special Tourist Visa (STV) program.

263 of those ‘special’ tourists had already completed the 14 day mandatory quarantine, 134 were currently in quarantine and 284 would arrive before the end of November.

The TAT governor says that the TAT, Thai Airways and hotels associations had been working on what he called the “Amazing Thailand Plus Special Package”. This was a one-stop-shop service to make it easier for the tourists to get their air tickets, apply for their visa, find out about where to quarantine and book trips around the country once they finish their quarantine period.

Thailand would have normally be welcoming around 3.5 million tourists during November (according to 2019 data) but this year’s ‘disruption’, and the Thai government’s response to it, has all but closed down Thailand’s international tourism industry.

Whilst the TAT are painting a rosy picture of the November arrivals, the reality is the tourists have arrived at great costs, on a bankrupt airline, to a country where most of the tourist attractions are closed, and the streets of the tourist hot spots empty.

As of today, there is no plans to make it any easier for tourists to travel to Thailand beyond the current restrictions and visa offerings. The 14 day quarantine remains in play, although there will be a meeting of the CCSA on Wednesday this week to discuss, again, reducing this quarantine time to 10 days, for arrivees from low-risk countries.

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Tourism

Long weekend, busy roads and price gouging

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Long weekend, busy roads and price gouging | The Thaiger

Airfare and accommodation costs have skyrocketed over this long weekend, an artificially added 2 days of holiday by the Thai government to stimulate the local travel economy. Airfares, if you didn’t get the earlier ‘cheapies’, have risen to 2 – 3 times their ‘normal’ discount prices. And accommodation costs have followed suit (although the OTAs are still advertising plenty of cheap rooms around the country if you have time to search).

The Tourism Authority of Thailand is predicting 3 million Thais will travel during between November 19 – 22 with an expected 1.3 billion baht in revenue being generated for the industry.

The TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn is hoping the 4 day holiday will provide the same sort of revenue for the battered local tourism industry as the annual Songkran holiday (which was postponed last April amidst the ‘lockdowns’ in Thailand).

He noted that the revelation of a solitary case of Covid-19 in Krabi last week, an Indian expat, caused panicked hotel cancellations in the southern province. Similar responses have happened before, notably cancelations in Rayong province after an Egyptian military officer tested positive whilst staying there. The much-hyped “Phuket Model” was also shelved after local fears were expressed to Thai officials about the possibility of a second wave of cases.

A Phuket hotelier, who asked to remain un-named, said that they were hopeful of a surge in bookings but the response has been “mediocre”. Some Pattaya hotels are reporting high bookings but are still well under 50% occupancy. Bangkok rooms are still mostly 50% or lower than their advertised rack rate.

But it hasn’t been a long weekend for everyone. Many Thai companies, including The Thaiger, haven’t given employees the Thursday and Friday off, denting the expected revenue for hotels and transport businesses.

Typical discount fares from Phuket to Bangkok, usually less than 1,000 baht each way, are now selling for 3,000 – 5,000 per seat for the long weekend.

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