Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Snippets in transit

April 15, 2014

I am about half-way through my travels.

17,000 km by air, 600 km by car and about 6 km walking so far. With my knees lacking cartilage it was 2 of the 6 km walking which were excruciating – inevitably while changing flights.

Arriving is still fun and exciting. Traveling there is a hassle. Security checks are a pain. Swollen feet are an occupational hazard. Physical discomfort is used by the airlines to get passengers to pay more for every little extra.

The fracture of Ukraine – as a consequence of badly thought through EU  expansionism – continues.

MH370 remains invisible and all evidence has been disappeared.

Voting at the Indian elections is about 35% complete. Looks like Narendra Modi and the BJP. Results on May 16th.

The UN IPCC is getting more and more ridiculous and irrelevant to anything. Global temperatures have remained constant while carbon dioxide emissions have tripled. So emissions must be reduced!! Fossil fuels are wrong but fracking is OK! ????

Sri Lanka beat India in the finals of the T-20 championship. Holland beat England.

Liverpool are getting close. My son named his new dog Shankly.

About 14,000 km and 8 days to go.


Off on a break

April 1, 2014

Spring has sprung and we have shifted to summer time.

I have a month left to change to summer tyres.

Taking a break for most of April.

Places to go, people to meet, things to do.

Blogging will be very light – at best.

Lufthansa pilots are going on strike tomorrow for 3 days which may well affect some travel plans.

But the planned itinerary is:

itinerary 0


itinerary 1


itinerary 2


itinerary 3


itinerary 4

And then back home in good time for summer (and to cut the grass).

Itinerary 5

And so to bed…

July 15, 2013
Delhi street

Delhi street (Photo credit: April_May)

It has been a hectic week in Delhi.

A trip covering about 30 degrees of latitude and 60 degrees of longitude. From 58.7057° N, 15.7674° E to 29.0167° N, 77.3833° E and back.

I first lived in Delhi in the 1950’s and the city has grown out of all recognition. Size and population and traffic have exploded. The infrastructure has only just about managed to keep pace. (Considering the rate of growth that itself is no mean achievement.) Every home boiled water then and uses water purifiers today. You were subject to sporadic loss of power then and now put up with regular “load shedding” (as demand side power management is called). But inverters and generators are common and the urban Delhi dweller can “make do”. He has to – he has no choice.

Delhi Urban population –

The same “standard meal” (a bowl of rice, 4 chappatis, a bowl of lentils, 2 servings of vegetables and a small bowl of yogurt) costs Rs 30 ($0.50) from the street vendor, Rs 60 from the roadside dhaba, Rs 70 from the office canteen and about Rs 800 at an upmarket hotel restaurant. But mangoes from Uttar Pradesh were in season and mangoes and papaya everyday for breakfast was refreshing. And my hosts were kind enough to pack 10kgs of mangoes I could bring back with me.


New York is easy to love — and hate

May 20, 2011

After a rainy week in New York I am moving on to Boston today. Apart from the obvious about the vibrancy of the city, the variety of its residents, the convenience of the delis, diners and restaurants of every shape colour and cuisine, the steepness of the subway steps, the juxtaposition of luxury and dirt, the ridiculous stretch limousines, the fatigue of the subway travellers, a few other reflections crossed my mind:

  • Time itself seems to move to a faster beat,
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art is fantastic and enormous and why can’t the ticket be valid for at least 2 or 3 days to give the visitor a chance,
  • Most people are friendly but don’t have time to show it,
  • The ethnic origin of taxi drivers is changing and could be quite revealing about the development of the City. Russians, Serbs and Bosnians have joined the ranks. (This is a subject that is probably being studied in depth already)
  • The pavements (sidewalks) are uneven and play havoc with my ankles
  • Rubbish piled on the streets waiting for collection is no doubt a sign of a functioning infrastructure, but it does not enhance walking.
  • Image always wins at the expense of substance
  • Size is everything and quality is of dubious value
  • If it looks good it must be good
  • The bucks stop here

60 ships trapped in Baltic Sea Ice on Sunday: 5 icebreakers at work

February 28, 2011

The area of the Bothnian Sea.

Image via Wikipedia

Swedish Radio reports that some 60 vessels were trapped in the Baltic sea ice yesterday and that 5 icebreakers are working feverishly to clear their paths. The ships are trapped in the southern section of the Gulf of Bothnia known as “Bottenhavet”.

This problematic situation was not helped by the strong southerly winds which compressed the ice sheet. To the north of Sundsvall, ships cannot proceed without icebreaker assistance.
Most ships trapped on Sunday are now free but some yet have problems and are waiting for assistance from icebreakers.
“At all ports north of Sundsvall, it remains very difficult ” says
Johny Lindvall at FMA Icebreaking.
Last weekend 250 000 square kilometers of the Baltic Sea was  covered with ice, which according to SMHI was the largest area covered by ice since the winter of 1986-87.

The Swedish Maritime Administration warns:

The strong winds that we have had the last couple of days has resulted in a severe ice situation, mainly in the northern part of the Sea of Bothnia. This makes it hard to predict how long time each individual assistance will take.

Ice breaking vessels and their activities:

Ale: Assisting/supervising the traffic on Lake Vänern.
Atle: During the evening/night assisting Red Spirit from Karlsborg to Haraholmen and then Salsa out from Haraholmen.
Frej: Now assisting a convoy of four southbound ships , that were stuck on the finnish side, over to the channel that has opened up on the swedish side.
Ymer: Assisting/supervising the traffic in Ålands Sea
Baltica: Visit in shipyard
Scandica: Assisting and supervising the traffic in Kalmar Sound.
Fyrbyggaren: Assisting/supervising in Bay of Havringe.
Balder Viking: On her way with a convoy to Ornskoldsvik and Holmsund.
Tor Viking: Breaking loose Merwborg and then assist her to Holmsund.
Vidar Viking: Assisting/supervising on the northern Baltic Proper,  Bay of Havringe and Landsort.
STOCKHOLM 110223 Isläggningen i Bottenhavet och Östersjön är den mest omfattande sedan 1987, och det kalla vädret gör att isen fortsätter att breda ut sig, rapporterar SMHI. Foto: Kustbevakningen.

Ice levels in Bottenhavet are the most widespread since 1987. Photo Swedish Coast Guard

Rolls Royce engine failure will eat up $80 million of Qantas profits

February 17, 2011

Qantas half-year profits have already been hit to the tune of $55 million by the failure of the Rolls Royce Trent 900 and the subsequent grounding of their A380 aircraft in November last year. They also stated that there would be a charge of $ 25 million for the second half-year which gives a total cost to Qantas – for this financial year – of at least $ 80 million.

BBC News:

Qantas Airways said its first half net profits had risen four-fold, but it added that last year’s explosion in one of its Rolls-Royce engines had wiped off $55m (£34.4m). The breakdown led to the grounding of its A380 aircraft last year.

The Australian airline predicted 2011 full year profits would be much higher than last year. But it warned that these would be held back by high fuel prices and the recent floods in Queensland.

Qantas said there would be another $25m charge in the second-half results from the A380 problems.

Rolls Royce has already announced  a hit on profits for direct costs of £56 million (about $89 million) for the engine explosion and related events for the year till December 2010. No doubt the losses suffered by Qantas will be part of their compensation claim against the engine maker.

With compensation claims due also from Airbus (EADS), Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa and with the additional costs spilling over into 2011, the total cost of the engine mishap will likely exceed my estimate of  $300 million.

Estimated costs for Rolls Royce:

  • Direct costs $130 million
  • Indirect (servicing) costs thru 2011 – $50 million
  • Qantas claim – $70 million
  • Airbus claims – $50 million
  • Singapore Airline claims – $25 million
  • Lufthansa claims – $10 million

What impact the loss of potential sales could have is anybody’s guess – but it would be interesting to see if Pratt & Whitney shows a better than expected order intake.

Rolls Royce must replace 40 of 80 Trent 900 engines deployed

November 18, 2010

I posted a few days ago that Rolls Royce would need to change out about 40 of the Trent 900 engines on the A380’s in operation with Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.

Now -via Qantas and The Press Association – this number has been confirmed by Rolls Royce:

Up to half of the Rolls-Royce engines of the type which disintegrated on an Airbus superjumbo this month may need to be replaced by the three carriers in Australia, Singapore and Germany, Qantas’s chief executive has said.

Australia’s Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Germany’s Lufthansa fly A380s powered by four giant Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, with a total of 80 engines on 20 planes.

Qantas chief Alan Joyce said that Rolls-Royce had indicated that up to 40 of them may need to be replaced.

“Rolls-Royce are still working through the criteria for which engines need to be changed,” he said on the sidelines of an event in Sydney unrelated to the A380 incident. He said that 14 of the 24 engines on Qantas planes may have to be replaced.

Whether Rolls Royce knew about the engine fault and the consequent risk prior to the accident on QF32 remains unanswered and whether the European Regulator (EASA) relaxed its inspection frequency Directive in response to Rolls Royce representations also remains unanswered.

Rolls-Royce cancels Zhuhai Air Show press conference

November 17, 2010

Rolls-Royce, beset by criticism over its public handling of the uncontained failures of its Trent 900 and 1000 engines, has canceled its planned Airshow China show briefing.

The engine-maker offered no explanation for the cancellation, leaving media attending the show only to speculate on its sudden change of plans.

Qantas preparing for summer schedules without their A 380 fleet?

November 11, 2010

It seems that Qantas are preparing their summer schedules allowing for a potentially long non-availability of their A380s.

SMH (Business Day) reports that signs have emerged (that) Qantas’ flagship A380 aircraft may be out of service over the summer holidays, with its new schedule for international flights in coming weeks not including the A380.

Fairfax media says the airline’s A330 aircraft have replaced Boeing 747s on several Asian routes, freeing up the Boeing 747s to fly on the long-haul routes to Los Angeles and London. Fairfax quoted aviation insiders as saying that the Qantas A380 fleet was likely to remain grounded for weeks with the engine problem likely to be taking quite some time.

Qantas says it still hopes the A380s will be cleared within days, but at this stage it can provide no update and it won’t return the A380s to service until it can guarantee absolute safety.

Aviation Week reveals that all the changes and inspections of the engines on the A380s are straining the operations of Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa.

The decisions by Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Lufthansa to replace Trent 900 engines on parts of their Airbus A380 fleets indicates continued uncertainty over what prompted the uncontained engine failure on a Qantas Airways A380 and is highlighting the operational strains when one of the mega-transports is not available.

But the upheaval in A380 operations – the first significant disruptions for the Airbus flagship since it entered service in 2007 – also is highlighting the challenges airlines face when having to replace an A380 in day-to-day operations. To mitigate the effects, Lufthansa, for instance, is rushing to make its engine change so it will not have to miss another flight.

One issue for Lufthansa is that the latest engine change will consume its last available spare Trent 900.

With three of its 12 A380s grounded for engine changes, an SIA spokesman acknowledges that there will be flight disruptions to passengers. All three aircraft are displaced from the airline’s home base, with one located in London and the other two at Sydney.

The Age also reports that Airlines are frustrated with Roll-Royce’s reluctance to communicate publicly. Even Emirates – which uses different engines on its A380 – said it was worried that passengers might be frightened off.

“We really don’t want this aircraft tarnished with a reputation for failures in certain areas,” said Emirates’ president Tim Clark. ”One thing we will not allow is a contagion effect.”

Qantas pushes its Trent 900 engines harder than other airlines

November 9, 2010

It would seem that while there may well be a fundamental issue with the Trent 900 as used by Qantas, the manner in which Qantas operates the engines may be a significant contributing factor. Sources indicate that Qantas run their engines “harder” than the other Trent 900 users (Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa) primarily, it seems, for economic reasons. Competitive pressures on airlines as well as those on the engine makers may be coming into play.



Qantas cracking the whip too hard? (


Qantas Airways  is reviewing the way it operates its A380 planes after last week’s engine blowout, a source said on Tuesday, amid reports that it worked its Rolls-Royce  engines harder than other airlines.

Qantas operates its A380 engines at higher thrust levels, which could result in resonating vibrations that cause oil lines to crack, The Australian newspaper said. The higher maximum thrust setting is used on some Qantas A380 take-offs on long-haul routes between Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne than other operators such as Singapore Airlines, the daily said, quoting unnamed engineers. However, the extra thrust setting of 72,000 pounds remained 3,000 pounds below the engine’s design limits and within operating guidelines, it added.

Chief Executive Alan Joyce said on Monday that its engines had a “slightly higher level of power” than those used in Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa planes, but they were certified to operate at those levels. The way Qantas operated the engines was part of a wider review, said an airline source, who was not authorised to talk publicly about the matter. “The operations are one of the things Qantas are reviewing along with the components,” said the source.

Qantas, which declined to comment on the report, said on Friday it suspected a material failure or a design issue may have caused last Thursday’s engine failure over Indonesia which forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing in Singapore.

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