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May 5, 2010

Scottish airspace to be closed over volcanic ash concerns

Scottish airspace to be closed over volcanic ash concerns

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

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The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says it will close some airspace in Scotland, after meteorologists cautioned that ash from Eyjafjallajokull, an erupting volcano in Iceland, may make it unsafe for airplanes to fly.

The CAA announced that the airspace will be shut down from 07.00 (06.00 UTC) local time on Wednesday; travellers are advised to check with their airlines to see if their flights will be operating. A spokesman for the agency also added that “[t]he forecasts also show that it is likely that the ash cloud will continue to move south, potentially affecting airports in the north-west of England and North Wales.”

“Met Office forecasts show that levels of ash in the atmosphere over Scotland and Northern Ireland will exceed the concentrations that engine manufactures have agreed are safe for operations,” said a spokesman for the authority. “Unfortunately, this means that the CAA anticipates all Scottish and Northern Ireland airports will be closed from 7.00 am local time.”

The Irish Aviation Authority, meanwhile, warned that aviation in the vicinity could face a “summer of uncertainty” as the volcano continues to sporadically erupt. “We could be faced with this periodically [in] the summer,” said Eamon Brennan, the chief executive of the group.

The restrictions come a day after a temporary ban on flights in Ireland was implemented yesterday, from 07.00 to 13.00 local time (06.00 to 12.00 UTC); flights from there have now resumed. Flights going to and from locations in mainland Europe have not been affected thanks to new flight rules that allow planes fly through low-density ash clouds.



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January 20, 2009

Parajet Skycar expedition takes off from London to Timbuktu

Parajet Skycar expedition takes off from London to Timbuktu

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Waterman Aerobile #6, seen here in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, was an earlier attempt at a flying car.

Two explorers have set off from Knightsbridge, London Wednesday morning (0900 GMT) in a propeller-powered dune buggy heading for the Sahara. Giles Cardozo, age 29, from Dorset, with chief pilot and expedition leader Neil Laughton, age 45, an ex-SAS officer, will fly and drive the amazing two-seater vehicle more than 6,000-km (3,750-miles) to fabled Timbuktu on February 20.

“I just can’t wait to see their faces when we fly in and start playing football with them. I don’t think they will be able to believe somebody in a flying car has just visited them,” ‘extreme golfer’ Mr Laughton said before the departure. Timbuktu (Timbuctoo; Koyra Chiini: Tumbutu; French: Tombouctou) is an isolated city in Tombouctou Region, in the West African nation of Mali. They will traverse Europe and Africa about 42 days to arrive at the city in Mali, West Africa before returning home via Senegal.

The home-made 450-kilogram Skycar has been designed by Cardozo in just 18 months. It is the world’s first road legal bio fuelled flying car. It is a four cylinders modified Rage Motorsport off-road racing buggy which was approved by the government last month. It runs on bioethanol and is powered by a modified 140bhp Yamaha R1 superbike engine with a lightweight automatic continuously variable transmission from a snowmobile.

The team invested about £250,000 ($380,000) to make the 1000cc engine Skycar desert-proof. In its maiden voyage, the flying car will be escorted by up to 13 people convoy including an eight-wheel truck, two Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4s and several motorbikes. It has left London’s Sheraton Park Tower hotel, heading through the capital to Dunsfold airfield in Surrey.

Locator Map of Timbuktu city in Tombouctou Region, in the West African nation of Mali.

The team had initially planned to take the air route across the English Channel, but the 35km flight was vetoed by aviation authorities. Skycar is required by law to obtain a license from Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), including a permit from the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA). Skycar spokeswoman, Charlie Bell, however clarified that the team was “in liaison with the CAA and they are looking to finalize the permit,” adding that it is in order for the rest of the trip.

The Skycar will thereafter fly over the high-altitude Pyrenees near Andorra, and would cross over the 14-km (nine-mile) Strait of Gibraltar. The prepared journey also includes the route through Mauritania, Atlas Mountains in Morocco and into Mali. It will further cross the harsh environment of Sahara’s remote “Rub’ al Khali” (empty quarter), for up to two weeks amid real fears of terrorist attacks.

The expedition will not have an easy task, especially since the Skycar will be tested to the limits amid punishing operating environments and weather conditions. “Clearly the reliability of the car is crucial,” said Mr Laughton. “We’re going to have to cope with wind chill temperatures as low as -30 deg C and blistering heat of up to 50 deg C. But it’s been fully tested at a secret location and it 100 per cent works,” he added.

The Parajet Skycar is a prototype flying car. It was developed by British paramotor manufacturer Parajet. The flying car utilizes a paramotor and a parafoil attached to a modified dune buggy to achieve sustained level flight. Should the engine fail, the vehicle can glide back to the ground. Should the canopy rip, an emergency reserve parachute would be deployed. It requires three minutes to convert it from a car to an aircraft. The prototype runs on biodiesel and is fully road-legal.

In 2004 British engineer Giles Cardozo, a paramotor manufacturer, has invented a fan-powered flying car to prove the Skycar is real and works. “I started making a paramotor on wheels that you sit on and take off and it suddenly occurred to me, ‘Why not just have a car that does everything?’” Cardozo said. His Wiltshire-based company Parajet built the paramotor that the adventurer Bear Grylls did fly near Everest in 2008. In 1998, Grylls, aged 23, became the youngest British to ascend Mount Everest. In May 2007, Grylls and Cardozo departed from Pheriche, about 32 kilometres south of Mount Everest.

Cquote1.svg I thought this would be an interesting challenge… Timbuktu is an iconic and quirky destination. Cquote2.svg

—–Neil Laughton

Cardozo has claimed he may finally have made it. “I’ve been dreaming about making flying cars since I was a boy, thinking about all the ways it could be done and seeing how all the other people in the world have done it wrong. No one’s ever made one that really does work that you can go out and buy. But here’s the ultimate solution: it’s cheap, it’s safe, it works, all the technology’s already there. So I pushed ahead and thought, ‘We’ve got to do it’,” he said.

If the Skycar becomes successful, Cardozo’s company plans a limited production with a selling price of £35,000 to £40,000 for a standard model and £60,000 for a high-performance sports version. “It will be a serious aircraft but also a proper road machine, with acceleration to match your average sports car,” says Cardozo. “I’m not going to sell millions of them but even if we sell 20 we’ll be laughing,” he added.

The explorers, with the aid of sponsors, supporters and benefactor Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet OBE (known as ‘Ranulph (Ran) Fiennes’), have aimed to raise more than £100,000 for some charities including an African orphanage.



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September 13, 2008

UK\’s XL Leisure Group enters administration

UK’s XL Leisure Group enters administration

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

XL Leisure Group — the United Kingdom’s third largest tour operator — has collapsed and entered administration. About 85,000 passengers have been left stranded outside the UK as a result.

The Civil Aviation Authority is working to bring these people home, and Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing scheme stated that “repatriation aircraft” had been scrambled. Both flights chartered specially for the purpose and scheduled services with spare seats are being used.

XL operated a number of subsidiaries, including XL Airways, Travel City Direct and the Really Great Holiday company. Including parent company XL Leisure, 11 companies are effected. Their collapse has also left people stranded in UK airports and delayed other flights as airlines who had chartered XL aircraft for their services sought alternative planes.

Passengers booked with XL have been advised to keep away from their departure airports. Refunds will be available for most, but some who booked via XL’s website or call center and did not use a credit card or Visa debit card are not able to claim their money back.

Around 50,000 XL package holiday customers and 10,000 other XL Airlines passengers are stranded abroad. 25,000 people booked with other operators who had deals with XL have also been hit, and a total of 200,000 holidaymakers are believed affected. In addition, XL Leisure had 1,700 employees.

XL’s CEO Phil Wyatt blamed a combination of himself, high oil prices and economic instability for the problem. He said he was “devastated” and apologised to those affected, but said they were forced to give up after lenders pulled out.



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June 1, 2008

Silverjet ceases operations and enters administration

Silverjet ceases operations and enters administration

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Silverjet Boeing 767 departs Luton Airport.

British all-business class airline Silverjet has ceased operations and entered administration. The airline operated out of Luton Airport running services to New York and Dubai.

Passengers booked with Silverjet have been told to claim refunds from their credit card issuer or travel agent. The UK Civil Aviation Authority estimates that 7,000 UK travellers could be affected by the collapse.

The airline, which had hoped to secure an emergency US$5 million loan from Viceroy Holdings, was formed at the start of last year. It has now been put up for sale by administrator Begbies Traynor. It is thought that Middle Eastern company Viceroy may put in an offer, as might a group of former Silverjet managers who recently left the company. Included in the administration deal are Silverjet’s subsidiaries Silverjet Aviation Limited, Skylease Limited and Sky People Limited, all of which are wholly owned by Silverjet.

Silverjet shares are suspended from trading at the London Stock Exchange and it is feared that shareholders may receive nothing from their investments.

Silverjet is the latest all-business class airline to collapse recently. US rivals Maxjet and Eos Airlines have both been forced out of business by high fuel costs, driven by the rapidly increasing price of crude oil. Silverjet’s last flight left Dubai for Luton on Friday.



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July 18, 2006

Light aircraft makes emergency landing in major industrial estate

Light aircraft makes emergency landing in major industrial estate

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

BBC Wales and iPTV station VTV are reporting that a light aircraft made an emergency landing at 13:00 BST at Treforest Industrial Estate near Cardiff.

The aircraft, an orange-coloured single-engine model Fox home-built kit was carrying two people when it made a forced landing on a section of dual carriageway within the industrial estate.

It is not known how severely the man and woman on board were injured, a spokesperson for South Wales Police stated that both of the aircraft’s occupants sustained “non life-threatening injuries”.

Treforest Industrial Estate is one of the largest business parks in the south Wales valleys. Its location, just two hundred metres from the main A470 expressway could have resulted in a far greater tragedy.

VTV reporter and private pilot Craig Handley said that the location of the accident “would have been the most logical place to try and set the aircraft down as the dual carriageway, which runs through the estate, is clearly visible from the air and is almost completely straight and wide.”

Today’s accident comes less than a year after a similar-sized aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing less than two miles away from Treforest Industrial Estate. A Cessna 150 suffered a sudden loss of engine power during its approach to nearby Cardiff International Airport.

The Cessna in the earlier accident collided with a group of trees shedding its wings before coming to rest on a small country road. The two occupants of that aircraft received slight injuries.

South Wales Police have not confirmed whether any motorists or pedestrians were injured when the aircraft in today’s accident made its emergency landing. The aircraft did cause some structural damage to a factory unit on the industrial estate prior to coming to rest, inverted, on the adjacent dual carriageway.

According to one eyewitness, the aircraft appeared to have experienced an engine-related problem seconds before impact.

A spokesperson, for Cardiff International Airport said that the aircraft had departed from Cardiff at 12:43 BST and that the airport’s Air Traffic Control centre had lost contact with the plane.

The Civil Aviation Authority’s Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) have been informed and are due to begin their investigation into the crash.

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June 3, 2006

British police shoot man in anti-terrorism raid

British police shoot man in anti-terrorism raid

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Friday, June 2, 2006

At dawn this morning a team of 250 policemen stormed a building in Forest Gate, London, England. A part of the police teams were armed, while others were equipped with chemical weapons gear. Two men were arrested and one was shot in the raid made under the 2000 Terrorism Act.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Peter Clarke, the Metropolitan Police’s anti-terror chief, said he had acted on specific intelligence, “we planned an operation that was designed to mitigate any threat to the public either from firearms or from hazardous substances.”

The injury to the man who was shot was not life threatening and the Independent Police Complaints Commission, who have opened an investigation into the incident, say a single shot was fired. At Royal London Hospital where the man, later arrested, was taken armed guards were seen at the entrances.

The man, said to be 20 years old, who was not shot, has been questioned at Paddington Green police station. Others at the address have been moved out – two residents have been treated in hospital for shock.

The search at the house in Lansdown Road is said to be ongoing. Police have closed Lansdown Road, Rothsay Road and Prestbury Road and a blind has been erected around the premises. The Civil Aviation Authority report a four-day “no fly area” below 2,500ft is in force over east London.

The British intelligence agency, MI5, and the Health Protection Agency also had a role in the operation, which British Prime Minister Tony Blair had been told about. The raid is not thought to be linked to the London tube and bus bombings in July 2005.Saturday, June 3, 2006 Police say the raid was carried out in search of a ‘suicide vest’ that could be used to release poison gas. Police say MI5 believe there exists ‘firm intelligence’ that such a vest exists.

As of Friday evening, police had yet to discover weapons, chemicals or any other evidence of a planned attack.

The two men arrested are believed to be 23 and 20 year old brothers, Mohammed Abdul Kahar and Abdul Koyair, both of Bangladeshi origin. Abdul Kahar was shot in the shoulder during the raid, his injury is said to be non life threatening.

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