Posted by: Tim Lincoln | November 7, 2010

I’ve moved!

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have moved to a new location. You can now find me at ratherbflyin.net. I decided to make the move for a couple reasons. First, even though I have enjoyed working with WordPress.com, the options I have available to customize the site the way I want it are somewhat limited (free hosting does that to you). At the new site (which has everything you can find here, and hopefully will start growing again once I start working on it), my options are only limited by what I can do with the code. I am still using WordPress, so I don’t need to learn anything new, but since I am now paying for the hosting I can do whatever I want. Well, pretty much whatever I want.

The other reason is that I wanted to move is to use WordPress to create a site that I will hopefully be able to use to showcase some of what I am learning in school. Having the ability to dig down into the code and modify my site as necessary will be a great help in that regard.

The biggest change, at least for me, is that I will now have to pay for hosting services. As I’m sure anyone who has hosted a site knows, hosting isn’t exactly cheap. I am hoping that I can manage without any disruptions in service, but please bear with me if anything happens.

I look forward to seeing everyone on the new site, and please feel free to say hello once you get there!

Posted by: Tim Lincoln | March 24, 2010

WTO Rules on Airbus Subsidy Case

Yesterday, the WTO ruled on the dispute that Boeing brought against Airbus in 2004 regarding Airbus having received illegal subsidies. Predictably, both Boeing and Airbus wasted no time trumpeting success in the final result. Unfortunately, the final report will not be released to the public for another few months. Until then, all we will have to go on will be statements from PR personnel on both sides of the dispute. Since such statements will be arguably biased, they must be taken with a fairly large grain of salt.

Both Boeing and US lawmakers have stated that they are pleased that the WTO has ruled in favor of their accusation that Airbus received illegal subsidies while developing their products. Boeing states:

Government subsidies have been used to support the creation of every Airbus product… Those and other European government subsidies to Airbus have significantly distorted the global market for large commercial airplanes, causing adverse effect to Boeing and costing America tens of thousands of high-tech jobs.

US Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA), whose state houses most of Boeing’s manufacturing facilities, said This independent panel has concluded that Airbus could not have achieved the growth of market share – harming U.S. workers – without its pattern of illegal assistance.

On the other hand, Airbus has said that the WTO has rejected 70% of the claims presented by the US. They also state that the WTO ruled that the loans Airbus has used to fund development of their aircraft are legal, though past loans may have contained some elements of subsidies. There is also an assertion that research grants are not in compliance with international law, which does not bode well for the ongoing WTO case that Airbus brought against Boeing. Airbus also fires back at Boeing by saying:

Neither European RLI nor any other measure has caused “material injury” to any US interest. This means that the Panel has rejected the US claims that European measure caused job losses or lost profits in the US aircraft industry. Boeing claims of lost US jobs have now been judged and found to be false.

They also state Boeing’s recent WTO enthusiasm is unlikely to survive WTO confirmation that the B787 is the most highly subsidized aircraft program in the history of aviation.

Why can’t we all just get along? This constant bickering between Airbus and Boeing, and by extension between US and European politicians, has become extremely tiresome. Yes, fair competition is a good thing, but surely negotiation would be more productive than WTO dispute cases. Airbus even stated:

Airbus expects the WTO conflict to drag along for at least a few more years. As in all other trade conflicts, resolution will finally only be found in trans-Atlantic negotiations. Boeing’s repeated rejection of European offers for negotiation over years and again last night usurp the proper role of the US Government and contradict the US trans-Atlantic partnership with European nations.

In the meantime, China and Russia are developing new aircraft that will be aimed squarely at the bottom of the market that Airbus and Boeing have enjoyed to themselves for the past few years. China already has plans to aim higher as well. Brazilian and Canadian aircraft will also soon begin to nibble at the bottom of the narrow body market that has been the bread-winner for both Airbus and Boeing. Will this internecine legal bickering between Airbus and Boeing end up hurting them in the long run? I think that may be a very real possibility.

Posted by: Tim Lincoln | March 20, 2010

India Approves Death Penalty for Hijackers

The Indian Union Cabinet decided to take a hard-line stance on aircraft hijacking by approving the use of the death penalty for hijackers. I admire their determination to crack down hard on hijacking, but I am not sure the death penalty should be an option unless someone gets killed.

Posted by: Tim Lincoln | February 18, 2010

Are Small Aircraft Really a Security Risk?

By now, everyone has heard of the tragic event that happened today in Austin, Texas, and I do not have any intention of going over the story one more time. However, I just read an article published by The Christian Science Monitor that calls into question the security of General Aviation. I just wanted to make a few common-sense points that the article either leaves out, or simply does not consider.

First things first. Contrary to the caption on the picture on the article, that is not the wreckage of a Cessna aircraft. The picture appears to show the horizontal stabilizer of the aircraft that Stack flew into the building. The stabilizer in the wreckage is the trademark stabilizer that Piper used on most of their light single-engine aircraft. Since Stack owned a Piper Cherokee, it would make sense that this would be the aircraft he used on this particular flight. That has yet to be confirmed, but the wreckage certainly does not look like a Cessna aircraft.

The article goes on to quote Fred Burton, vice-president of intelligence and a counter-terrorism expert at STRATFOR, as saying “We need to rethink how we’re looking at this threat.” He is referring to the “threat” posed by General Aviation aircraft to be used in events like today’s in Austin. I am not sure what kind of “rethinking” he has in mind, but I’m sure whatever it is will not be beneficial to General Aviation. Even if General Aviation was under the same security restrictions the airlines operate under, that would not have stopped Stack from flying his aircraft into a building in Austin. No one would have stopped a certificated pilot from taking his own plane out for a flight. Once in the air, there is even less that could have been done to stop him.

The article also had this to say:

The crash was an obvious reminder of what a pilot with ill intentions can do with an aircraft, and it undoubtedly raises questions about the ability of the US military and Department of Homeland Security to respond quickly and effectively.

Thousands of civilian planes fly within the general aviation system every day. But there are few regulations, laws, or security procedures that would prevent a pilot with ill intentions from using the plane for evil purposes.

Seriously? Aviation is arguably the most regulated form of transportation in the US. That certainly does not mean it is infallible. As I said already, tighter security most likely would not have prevented this incident. However, allow me to play the devil’s advocate for a moment. What if Stack chose not to involve an aircraft today? What if he had walked into the building with a couple handguns and started shooting? What if he had waited outside in his vehicle for a large group of IRS employees to be entering/leaving the building and drove into them? General Aviation is not at fault here.

Stack could have expressed his anger with the IRS in any number of ways. He chose to use an aircraft, and unfortunately there was very little that could have been done today to stop him. Tighter security and more regulations are not the answer. What is the answer? I honestly do not know. Short of having US citizens spied upon 24/7, and a stranglehold put on an industry that provides thousands of jobs and millions of dollars to the economy, I don’t believe any amount of security and regulations could stop someone from doing something like this again. Stack was determined to make a statement today, and he succeeded. We must not allow his actions to result in the kinds of knee-jerk reactions that are so common when things like this happen. If more security restrictions and regulations are placed on General Aviation, it may severely damage the industry across the country.

*EDIT* The Christian Science Monitor has updated the caption of the photo to indicate that the aircraft is a Piper Cherokee. I doubt this blog post had anything to do with that correction.

*EDIT 2* AOPA has released a statement urging that we not overreact to this incident, and is staying in touch with the FAA, TSA, and DHS.

Posted by: Tim Lincoln | January 29, 2010

Russia’s Fifth-Generation Fighter Flies

Russia’s T-50 fifth-generation fighter logged its first flight this morning at 1119 local time from Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The new twin-engine aircraft features advanced low-observable technology in the infrared, optical, and radar spectrums.

As the flight testing progresses, I will not be surprised if the T-50 will give the F-35 a run for its money. In fact, I expect the T-50 will wind up somewhere between the F-35 and F-22 in total capability.

India is expected to be involved in the program, but only in the later stages. There is no indication that China is involved, though there may be some technology transfer as China is working on its own fifth-generation fighter.

Posted by: Tim Lincoln | January 24, 2010

Ethiopian Airlines Flight Crashes into the Mediterranean

A few hours ago, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 departed Beirut bound for Addis Ababa, then disappeared from radar a few minutes later. The aircraft, which had ninety people on board, apparently crashed into the Mediterranean.

Beirut was experiencing heavy rain from a thunderstorm at the time the flight took off, and there are apparently reports that some residents of a coastal Lebanese village south of Beirut saw a fireball falling into the sea. Few details are known as of yet, but hopefully the aircraft will be located quickly so the investigation into the accident can begin.

This accident occured mere days after Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines revealed an order for ten new Boeing 737-800 aircraft, worth $767 million at list prices.

*Update* At this point (1510 Zulu) thirty-four bodies have been located, and work continues to recover the wreckage of the aircraft.

*Update 2* As of 1600 Zulu on the 26th, the body count had been revised down to 14 due to confusion and double-counting initially. There are also reports that the pilot ignored the controller’s instructions to turn away from a strong storm cell.

Posted by: Tim Lincoln | January 24, 2010

The Other Side of the Coin

There are always two sides to a story, and after Jason Calacanis blasted Comscore yesterday, I was not surprised to find that the other side of the story soon followed. Michael Arrington posts part of a response from Fred Wilson (who was specifically named in Jason’s rant), as well as a response from Comscore’s CMO Linda Abraham.

While both sides of the story do appear to have merit, and I can’t fault Comscore for their business model, they do still have the appearance of telling webmasters “if you pay us, we will provide more accurate numbers.” In today’s world, perception is nine-tenths of reality. Until Comscore clearly outlines how their numbers are obtained, and why it costs them so much to obtain accurate numbers, they will be down towards the bottom of the list when it comes time for me to find a company to provide me with traffic numbers for my website.

Posted by: Tim Lincoln | January 23, 2010

Call to Boycott Comscore

Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo.com, has issued a call to boycott Comscore. I will be the first to admit that I am not terribly familiar with Comscore, but if half of what Jason mentions in his blog post is true, and I have no reason to believe that any of it is not true, then I whole-heartedly agree with boycotting them.

Posted by: Tim Lincoln | January 22, 2010

Boeing Reveals Unidentified Customer

Boeing revealed today that an order from an unidentified customer for ten 737-800 aircraft was from Ethiopian Airlines.  Worth $767 million at list prices, the order will more than double the number of 737s that Ethiopian Airlines operates.

Since its inception, Ethiopian Airlines has flown Boeing aircraft exclusively, and was the first African airline to order the 787 in 2005, as well as the first African airline to operate the 777-200LR in 2009.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737-800

Image courtesy of Boeing
Posted by: Tim Lincoln | December 28, 2009

Coding for Climate Change

A post today on the O’Reilly Radar blog by John Graham-Cumming provides an interesting look at the question of climate change. There is none of the tired rhetoric of whether global warming is occurring, or what is contributing to it. Instead, the author focuses on using real temperature data from 1850 to the present day and displays it in various visual formats.

This is actually quite refreshing. I appreciate having the data presented to me in a clear, understandable manner, then being allowed to reach my own conclusions. Obviously the data provided in the post is only part of the story, but it still speaks quite clearly that something changed in the last 40 years. I definitely recommend watching the video included in the post, since it does a great job of summarizing how the author got the output he did.

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