Kew’s tree library leads hi-tech war on illegal logging

Kew’s tree library leads hi-tech war on illegal logging

Logging in a teak forest in Myanmar – trading this wood is illegal, but teak from Thailand is allowed. Photograph: Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

The wooden blinds that lie crumpled in Peter Gasson’s laboratory in Kew Gardens are chipped and forlorn-looking. Their manufacturers had claimed they were made of pine but customs officers were wary. And their suspicions were well-founded. Gasson, Kew’s research leader on wood and timber, found the blinds were not made of pine but ramin.

“All ramin trees, which grow in south-east Asia, are endangered and trade in their wood is illegal,” said Gasson. “On this occasion, we got lucky and stopped people profiting from this trade.”

But elsewhere, illegal logging threatens to overwhelm the timber trade. It is estimated that almost 30% of sales are made up of illicitly sourced timber. More than 20,000 square miles of forest are being chopped down illegally every year, according to WWF, the wildlife charity, to provide furniture and flooring for people’s homes. The devastation is jeopardising the planet’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide and is destroying the habitats of endangered animals including orangutans and tigers.

As a result, researchers at Kew have joined conservationists, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), to set up the Global Timber Referencing Project to create a scheme to identify important forests and create a database for identifying timber sources. “A lot is being done to reduce illegal logging by setting up audit systems to certify timber supply chains,” said Roger Young of AgroIsoLab, another project partner. “But these efforts are compromised because paperwork systems are fallible, and until now there has been no way to verify the origin and species of timber once it has been harvested. The new project aims to put that right.”

The project has two arms. First, scientists working at Kew will confirm the exact species of tree from samples sent to it, said Gasson. “The laboratory already has many thousands of timber samples in its vaults but these will be increased with new samples for the new identification project,” he added. Once this has been established, other reference collections will be set up in other countries.

For example, Kew will receive more than 200 new samples, collected by the FSC, from commonly traded wood species in Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Peru this year. The aim is to create a massive tree reference library at Kew, whose samples and expertise can then be distributed to other laboratories. “This is a unique opportunity to develop a library of geo-referenced wood samples,” said Michael Marus of the FSC.

Scientists at Kew Gardens are working on a project to pinpoint where a wooden product originates. Photograph: Eden Breitz/Alamy

Being able to spot the species of tree is not sufficient to curtail illegal logging, however. The location of that wood’s growth is also crucial. “All ramin trade is illegal, so identifying the material in imported goods is sufficient to have them impounded, but other woods are more complex,” Young said. “It is different with teak. Trade from Thailand is allowed but the same wood from Myanmar is illegal. So we need to be able to spot where a sample of teak was grown.”

AgroIsoLab scientists will use patterns of isotopes of oxygen, nitrogen and carbon that are found in wood to pinpoint their exact places of growth. “Soil in an area produces a specific isotopic signature that we can recognise,” he told the Observer. “We already use this technology to pinpoint sources of food, such as bacon. We can tell from a rasher’s isotopic signature whether it comes from Britain or from Denmark.

“And that is important. Bacon from Denmark is cheaper because standards of pig care there are lower and so we can spot when cheap Danish bacon is being sold as the expensive UK variety.”

The new project aims to do exactly the same for wood. “We want to be able to take a sample – oak from furniture, beech from flooring or pine from a table – and provide its true identity and place of growth,” said Young. “If we can do that, we have a chance to halt illegal timber sales.”

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Dinosaur fossil collectors ‘price museums out of the market’

Dinosaur fossil collectors ‘price museums out of the market’

The skeleton of a tyrannosaurus bataar dinosaur was smuggled out of Mongolia by Eric Prokopi, of Florida. Photograph: Reuters

Leading US palaeontologists are calling for a worldwide halt to the sale of vertebrate dinosaur fossils. The booming market for specimens, driven by their popularity with wealthy private collectors, including Hollywood stars, is pushing up prices and putting them out of reach of museums and scientists, they say.

While the art market is organised around brand-name artists, dinosaur sales are all about celebrity species, with a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton fetching up to $10m, although the velociraptor is the most prized. The price tag for a triceratops’s skull is $170,000 to $400,000, and a diplodocus is $570,000 to $1.1m. Last year a complete egg of an aepyornis maximus, otherwise known as an elephant bird, sold for $130,000 – roughly five times what it would have gone for a decade earlier.

Jerry Smith, an expert in the evolution of freshwater fishes in the department of zoology at Michigan University, told the Observer: “When specimens go into a private home or collection, our understanding, interpretation or discovery of new information they contain will never reach the scientific community.”

Last year the US Society of Vertebrate Palaeontology (SVP) called on the Parisian auction house Aguttes to cancel a sale inside the Eiffel tower that contained just one lot: a 29-foot-long dinosaur of a yet-to-be identified species. The winning bidder paid $2.3m for the piece.

Executive members of the society drew attention to the claim that the winning bidder could name the species, calling that assertion “misleading because the naming of new species is governed by the rules of the International Code of Nomenclature”.

“The sale of all fossils is inappropriate,” says Catherine Badgley, former president of the SVP, which represents more than 2,200 international palaeontologists. “Many, particularly vertebrate fossils, are rarely common, and it’s certainly not the case for dinosaurs. The commodification is in principle inappropriate because it motivates unscrupulous people.”

Nicolas Cage. Photograph: Sascha Steinbach/Getty Images

As ARTnews magazine pointed out last week, we can thank Steven Spielberg’s 1993 film Jurassic Park for the surging dinosaur market. The initial phase peaked in 1997, just months after the film’s sequel, The Lost World, was released, when a 12m-long T rex named Sue was sold at Sotheby’s for a record-breaking $8.36m to the Field Museum in Chicago.

But the interest has hardly abated. The recent Art Basel Miami included a special project called DeXtinction, organised by two mining companies, Avant Mining and Interprospekt, that included a 120 million-year-old mother and juvenile allosaur and a well-preserved dinosaur egg set from the Cretaceous period, 75 million years ago.

According to the New York Post’s Page Six column, the exhibit drew the attention of Leonardo DiCaprio, who along with Nicolas Cage and Russell Crowe, has staked out a reputation as a collector.

And that’s what alarms palaeontologists who fear not only the loss of scholarship but also the diminution of appreciation for the work that goes into discovery, excavation and reconstruction of a dinosaur skeleton as they become fashionable objects of home decor.

Dinosaur fossil collection comes with risks. In 2013, the 67 million-year-old skull of a tyrannosaurus bataar bought by Nicolas Cage became the focus of an investigation into smuggling. Cage had bought it at an auction in California, beating DiCaprio with a $276,000 bid. It was later discovered that the skull was obtained from Eric Prokopi, a self-described “commercial palaeontologist” who had previously pleaded guilty to illegally importing fossils from Mongolia and China.

The looted skull was ultimately returned to Mongolia.

All of which still serves to alarm working palaeontologists, who express concern that institutions are being priced out of the market and important specimens lost to private collections. Badgley points to specimens dug from the Green River Formation in Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, which has some of the earliest bataar fossil specimens known. “Bat fossils overall are extremely rare, and even if half from this really early period are going into private collections, then that’s an enormous amount of really important information that’s being lost,” she says.

Badgley’s message to collectors, then, is simple: collect by all means but steer clear of unique specimens.

“There isn’t a strong link between expensive trophy specimens and an increase in the science of palaeontology. If anything, they’re seen more for their rarity and economic value than for their scientific information. It’s not necessary for people to become interested in palaeontology by having a unique specimen that’s theirs and theirs alone.”

In her experience, she says, “people are often just as happy with something that’s very common”.

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Interbrand India celebrates anniversary

Interbrand India celebrates anniversary

Anusha David, Director Interbrand Sri Lanka and Borja Borrero, Interbrand’s Global Head of Design, with Interbrand India team.

Interbrand, the world’s largest and most influential brand consultancy, has celebrates its 5th anniversary in India with a series of partnerships to secure its status as the country’s top brand consultancy.

Ashish Mishra, Head of Interbrand’s India office based in Mumbai, said, “Interbrand India is one of the youngest offices in the global network but the fastest growing. We have the top 5 branding assignments of the decade with Godrej Group, Mahindra Global, Reliance JIO, Infosys and Britannia Industries. In half a decade, we have built relationships with a third of the country’s 40 most valuable brands including Bajaj Auto, Dr Reddy’s, JSW and Ashok Leyland.”

Commenting on the India office’s exemplary growth, Gonzalo Brujo, Interbrand’s CEO EMEA and LatAm and Global Growth Officer, added, “We are delighted that the world’s leading brand consultancy is now also leading India. We recognize the growth potential of the market and are increasingly supporting the local team with global resources. Our Chief Creative Director for EMEA and LatAm Borja Borrero has already taken charge of Interbrand India’s creative function.”

Interbrand India’s combination of rigorous strategy, analytics and world-class design enables it to assist clients in creating and managing brand value effectively, across all touchpoints.

The Mumbai office also works across a range of the network’s global relationships, including Samsung, Renault and GSK. In 2015, the global giant entered the Sri Lankan market, launching its inaugural Best Sri Lankan Brands report in December 2018. Anusha David, Director, Interbrand Sri Lanka office and Borja Borrero, Chief Creative Director EMEA and LatAm attended the recent anniversary celebrations held in Mumbai.

Beautiful renovation on city fringe finds buyers after auction

Beautiful renovation on city fringe finds buyers after auction

8 Lonsdale St, South Geelong found a buyer on the weekend.Source:Supplied

INVESTING in a quality extension has paid off for the vendors of South Geelong period house which just sold for $1.12 million.

The beautiful character and handy location of the double fronted Victoria-era house at 8 Lonsdale St attracted two bidders at auction on Saturday.

The open-plan rear living area has jarrah floors.Source:Supplied

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Ocean Grove property on township border has plenty of potential

The property was passed in at the $1 million mark but sold soon after to a Melbourne buyer.

Hodges, Geelong West agent Marcus Falconer said the underbidder headed straight inside to negotiate the sale.

Hodges, Geelong West agent Marcus Falconer at Saturday’s auction.Source:Supplied

He said the location of the four-bedroom house, just a few doors down from GMHBA Stadium and near South Geelong train station, offered a fantastic lifestyle close to the CBD.

“I think what we are finding is people are searching in that 4km radius around the city, so East Geelong, South Geelong and, of course, Geelong West,” Mr Falconer said.

The house retains its period character.Source:Supplied

The property’s other major assets are rear access to a triple-car garage, an open-plan extension, outdoor entertainment area and a first floor parents’ retreat.

Jarrah floors, gas log fires and a security system are among the many quality inclusions.

“It’s a magnificent renovation, very highly finished and executed,” Mr Falconer said.

The median house price in South Geelong is $678,000, according to CoreLogic.

Originally published as Fringe benefits worth million-dollar price tag

Tech connection boosts NY vertical farmers

Tech connection boosts NY vertical farmers

A Bowery Farming employee inspects some of their greens grown at the hydroponic farming company in Kearny, New Jersey

Workers at Bowery Farming’s warehouse near New York have swapped out a farmer’s hoe for a computer tablet that takes real-time readings of light and water conditions.

Launched in 2015, Bowery is part of the fast-growing vertical farming movement, which employs technology in a controlled, man-made setting to grow fresh vegetables indoors all year long.

Champions of the practice see vertical farming as a key tool to meet the world’s food needs at a time when the population is rising and the climate is changing.

The company’s chief executive and co-founder, Irving Fain, said his company’s Kearny, New Jersey site uses fewer resources than traditional farms and does not employ pesticides.

“I have been a big believer my entire life in technology as being able to solve not only hard problems, but also important problems,” said Fain, who previously ran a company that provides data analysis for big companies on their loyalty programs.

Bowery employs more programmers than agricultural scientists. The company says its use of algorithms enables it to be 100 times more productive per area compared with a traditional farm and to use 95 percent less water.

Lower electricity costs

Vertical farming has long been practiced in Japan and some other places but it did not take off in the United States until recent technological leaps made it viable.

Irving Fain, CEO and co-founder of Bowery Farming, talks about his hydroponic grown greens

A key component has been LED bulbs, which have enabled indoor farmers to drastically cut electricity costs.

But Bowery is also making heavy use of robotics and artificial intelligence to keep prices under control.

The combination of these newer tools “is how we really rethink what agriculture will look like in the next century and beyond,” Fain said.

The company has also benefited from more than $120 million in funding from tech titans including Google Ventures and Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi.

The Silicon Valley connection has also boosted San Francisco-based Plenty, another prominent vertical farming company, which has garnered more than $200 million from Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, Softbank and others.

US-based Crop One and Emirates Flight Catering have launched a $40 million joint venture to build a giant vertical farming facility in Dubai.

Greens are grown at Bowery Farming, a vertical farming site founded in 2015

The world’s biggest vertical farm is in Newark, New Jersey and operated by AeroFarms.

The company, founded in 2004 and considered a pioneer in the sector, remains privately-held and does not disclose financial data. But the company says it is now profitable after a series of fumbles.

David Chang, founder of the noodle restaurant brand Momofuku, is an investor.

AeroFarms exclusively uses company-made technology that has now made its way to China, the Middle East and Europe, said its co-founder Marc Oshima.

In a warehouse that was once a steel mill with 40-foot (12-meter) ceilings, the company is growing kale and arugula leaves set in rows of 12 metal racks each. The roots are suspended in the air as they are intermittently irrigated while the leaves bask under LED lights.

Bowery makes heavy use of robotics and artificial intelligence to keep prices under control

AeroFarms experiments regularly with lighting and nutrients with an eye towards finding the optimal recipe for each plant and developing the best algorithm.

The company produces watercress that reminded a reporter of her grandmother’s soup, kale as tender as spinach and arugula with a hint of spice.

Basil from Bowery Farming was tinged with the flavor of lemon.

But it can take a while for vertical farms to find solutions that are viable.

“The big, big vertical farms are having a difficult time being profitable because they are so capital-intensive at the beginning,” said Henry Gordon-Smith, founder of Agritecture, a consultancy.

Large farms typically need seven or eight years before they are profitable, with smaller farms requiring perhaps half as long.

AeroFarms co-founder and chief marketing officer Marc Oshima looks at baby kale

But entrepreneurs in the business are confident in their prospects as more young people in cities express worry about climate change and pesticides.

“Vertical farming is not THE solution to food security,” said Gordon-Smith. “It is one out of the possible solutions.”

Critics of vertical farming say it has a large carbon footprint due to heavy use of lighting and ventilation.

But defenders say that this negative impact is more than offset from the benefits of lower water use, the location near population centers and the non-use of pesticides.

AeroFarms’s vertical grow towers in Newark, New Jersey

A bigger issue may be the limitations of the output itself, at least in terms of nutrition.

“You can’t feed the world with salad alone,” said Princeton University plant researcher Paul Gauthier, who says vertical farmers will need to develop more protein-rich offerings.

Gauthier—who grew spicier peppers in his own lab by subtly increasing potassium levels—said vertical farming could supply fresh food to so-called food “deserts” where it is absent and could in the long-term meet growing food demand as the climate changes.

Baby kale is grown at AeroFarms

Scan to Download UC News APP GST Rate on Affordable Housing Slashed to 1% From 8%: Arun Jaitley

GST Rate on Affordable Housing Slashed to 1% From 8%: Arun Jaitley

In a huge relief for home buyers, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced reduction in Goods and Services Tax (GST) for affordable housing to 1 percent, from the previous 8 percent, in the 33rd GST Council meet on Sunday, 24 February.

Residential property priced at Rs 45 lakh or below will now fall under the category of ‘affordable’ and will be taxed at 1 percent, the GST Council announced.

The criteria for affordable housing in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Mumbai MMR region, the finance minister said, will have carpet area of up to 60 square metres and will be priced up to Rs 45 lakh. As for non-metro cities, the criteria will be defined based on carpet area of up to 90 sq metres and cost up to Rs 45 lakh.

“The Council has expanded the definition of affordable housing so that aspiring people can buy better houses,” Bloomberg Quint quoted Jaitley as saying.

The council has also slashed tax on under-construction residential houses to 5 percent from 12 percent, Jaitley said.

The new tax rates are expected to be implemented from 1 April 2019.

Scan to Download UC News APP India vs Bangladesh is the new development model race in South Asia

India vs Bangladesh is the new development model race in South Asia

A garment factory in Bangladesh (Representational image) | Jeff Holt/Bloomberg

Text Size: A-A+

There’s an old theory that as an organism develops, it progresses through the same evolutionary stages traveled by its ancestors. Traditionally, economic development has worked in a similar way. When a country first shifts from agrarian poverty to industrialization, it tends to start out in light manufacturing, especially textiles. Later it masters more complex manufactured products, and finally it progresses to inventing its own cutting-edge technology. Thus, each country’s development tends to look a bit that of nations that already went through the process.

That certainly seems to describe the experience of South Korea and Taiwan, which reached developed-country status relatively recently. It’s also the path being followed by China. As these countries got richer and their wages rose, low-tech labor-intensive manufacturing industries tended to migrate to countries with cheaper workers.

Recently, one of the biggest beneficiaries of this process has been Bangladesh. The garment industry accounts for more than 80 percent of the South Asian nation’s export revenue, and about a fifth of its gross domestic product. In 2017, Bangladesh was the world’s second-largest apparel supplier after China, with 6.5 percent of the market, outpacing neighboring India despite the latter’s much larger economy.

This economic development path has no doubt come at a real human and social cost — Bangladesh’s workers suffer harsh working conditions and many industrial accidents, including a horrific factory collapse in 2013 that killed more than a thousand people. But overall, the tried-and-true industrialization strategy seems to be working. Real GDP per capita has doubled since the turn of the century, and Bangladesh appears to be on a similar exponential growth path as its neighbor India:

India, meanwhile, has generally underperformed in manufacturing. The country does have a few bright spots — for example, it’s now the world’s sixth-biggest auto manufacturer, with an immense factory cluster in Gujarat, and has been increasing its production of smartphones. But overall, manufacturing has declined as a share of the economy:

This isn’t to say that India’s leaders have ignored manufacturing — indeed, they have long called for a big effort to industrialize. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has courted foreign manufacturers, but so far the effect has been limited. Most observers agree that a lack of infrastructure and an excess of regulatory red tape are the reason India remains a difficult place to make things.

Despite its struggles in manufacturing, however, India is growing rapidly — even faster than Bangladesh, in most years. The reason has been the growth in service industries. India’s famous outsourcing companies are just the tip of the iceberg — software, finance, online services, tourism, logistics, media, health care, and other services have been the biggest driver of India’s impressive growth. Some have suggested that India has discovered a development model that could leapfrog manufacturing entirely, going straight from agrarian poverty to a post-industrial economy. Others are more skeptical.

This all leads to a very important question. Will Bangladesh, with its traditional approach to growth, catch up and overtake India? Or has India stumbled upon a new development model that cuts out the need for a country to do a stint as the workshop of the world?

This is a crucial question because as technology advances, there’s a concern that the traditional path out of poverty might be closing. Automation is making textile manufacturing less labor-intensive. For one thing, that means that poor countries might no longer be able to create mass urban employment in the garment industry. But even more troubling, it might cause the industry to migrate back to rich countries like the U.S., where labor is expensive but capital is relatively cheap. Some of this reverse migration might already be happening.

In other words, the developing world is at risk of premature deindustrialization. If Bangladesh fails due to competition from rich-world robots, it will bode ill for countries such as Ethiopia that are looking to hop on the escalator to prosperity. That would leave India’s service-centric development model as the only feasible path.

Some economists argue that automation hasn’t closed off the traditional path, and that there is still plenty of work for industrious people in poor countries. Bangladesh, meanwhile, is scrambling to diversify into more valuable manufacturing industries such as autos and electronics.

So although the leaders of Bangladesh and India have similar goals, the difference in the country’s development models is making for an interesting experiment. Countries in Africa hoping to follow these two South Asian giants’ growth trajectories should be watching keenly. If Bangladesh grows faster, it will suggest that manufacturing, starting with textiles, is still the ticket to industrialization; but if Bangladesh falters and India sustains its growth, it will imply that poor countries should look to services first.- Bloomberg

Why A380 couldn’t take off

Why A380 couldn’t take off

A dramatic change in the manner of flying doomed the superjumbo which some believed was the future of air travel. But it’s not an end for this engineering marvel

Make no mistakes about one fact: Airbus A380 is an engineering marvel, a plane unlike any other that mankind has ever produced. A fully-loaded Airbus A380 weighs 575 tonnes and the very fact that such heft can rise off the ground seems to defy the very law of physics. As someone who professes to be an aviation geek, every time this writer sees an Airbus A380, he feels rather awestruck. Flying on one of these aircraft is an amazing feeling. True, this writer admits, that the older Boeing 747 certainly looks more graceful with cleaner lines and in some paint jobs, is absolutely stunning. While the A380 is undoubtedly a remarkable feat of engineering, it is not what one would describe as a “looker.” But as the European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, announced that it is about to pull the plug on producing A380 by 2021, one felt a bit sad. In fact, it was an irony that Airbus announced the impending closure of the A380 line just as when Boeing 747 celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first flight. Indeed, the old queen might even outlast the behemoth on the production line as demand for Boeing 747 freighters has kept up slow with steady production.

But that does not answer the question as to why Airbus A380 failed in the pile of Airbus’ marketing hubris? Part of the answer is Airbus’ own manufacturing issues around the plane. Given the way Airbus is structured — it is a pan-European company with factories across France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom — different sub-assemblies of the aircraft were brought from different parts. This is standard practice for Airbus, which ferries fuselage sections between France and Germany and the wings are brought from Wales on a fleet of outsize and specialised airborne freighters. This works fine for the Airbus’ money-maker, the A320 family of narrow-body planes that power low-cost travel across the world, but A380 is a different scale. Even sub-assemblies are so huge that they have to be brought in on river barges and on oversize trucks through narrow passages. In order to keep various nations of the consortium happy, this was needed instead of the more logical solution of making everything at one place.

Of course, this is a logistical issue and even Airbus’ American rival, Boeing, went down this route when it came to Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which sees its parts flown from all over the world and across oceans on modified Boeing 747s. Logistical issues can be dealt with but engineering problems are a lot tougher and Airbus’ engineers made a huge mistake when they used two different versions of the same 3D modelling and simulation software to design the plane. While one may think that two different versions of the same software might not be a critical issue, think of it more on the lines of operating systems like Windows and MacOS. Things were completely incompatible and when translated into the real world, it meant that wiring harnesses and floor panels did not quite align perfectly.

For very good reasons, aviation is a safety oriented industry. Jugaad solutions elevated in India cannot work in a safety-oriented environment and fixes had to be made. Particularly, when you consider that Airbus A380 has over 530 km of wiring, this wasn’t easy at all. Although much of the wiring was not flight-related as Airbus managed to produce and fly prototypes by 2005, the wiring was essential for creature comforts of passengers for things like lighting, entertainment systems and for galleys where the food is prepared. While A380 was certified as a perfectly capable flying machine by the end of 2006, albeit with almost a year’s delay, deliveries were nowhere on the horizon.

Slippages happen on many major engineering projects — whether they are in civil, software or an aircraft. Even Boeing suffered multi-year delays on the 787 Dreamliner because it did not anticipate the scale of problems that it would face while moving from aluminum to carbon fibre. But delays also give buyers a second thought. When Airbus launched the A3XX, as it was called in 2000, it was surrounded by too much hype — it was this big, new, shiny aircraft that airlines just had to have. Think of it like when a car company launches a new product, the marketing machine hypes it up and even manufactures a case for one to buy that car. This was the case with airlines and A380. But if there is any delay, and there are minimal or no penalties for cancelling the order, airlines began, like normal consumers would, to sit back and think about the order.

Airbus’ logic was that A380 would be a perfect replacement for Boeing 747 and would continue with the airline’s policy of flying from one major city to another from where passengers could take connecting flights to their onward destinations. A few years, ago when one wanted to travel from New Delhi to Madrid, for example, he/she would have to fly to a major European hub, such as Frankfurt or London, transit through a massive airport while sleepy or dragging a child and then connect to a new plane. But that sort of travel vanished quickly, partially thanks to Boeing 787 Dreamliner; although the change had begun a few years before the Dreamliner entered production. Because twin-engined aircraft are so much more efficient and easier to maintain — their smaller size being perfect for what airlines call ‘thinner’ routes where demand is more limited — it can easily fit in a plane like Boeing 787 and this is what started happening. Today, for example, one can fly directly between New Delhi and Madrid on a Boeing 787.

Then there was another problem: Boeing 777 and Airbus’ new A350 aircraft, whose larger versions can carry almost 80 per cent of the Airbus A380’s load in terms of passengers and cargo, could do so at half the cost. Airbus A380 is a big, large plane with four engines while others are smaller (only just) and have just two engines. This in itself makes it more efficient. So, for the same cost of operating one A380, airlines could operate two flights on a 777 or A350, carrying half as many additional passengers. Also, these new planes could fly very far. While a flight between Mumbai and New York would have meant a stop or two a decade ago, today, there are two non-stop flights between the two cities. The same reason is also applicable to Boeing 747, whose latest passenger version has also stalled on the sales front. But since Boeing 777 and 787 are doing so well and because the latest version of 747 was a cheaper (relatively speaking) re-engineering job than the estimated $25 billion that the A380 cost to develop, it survived.

For sure, the end of production of Airbus A380 will not mean that the plane will stop flying. In some slot-restricted airports, such as Heathrow Airport in London, where one can see multiple A380s from different airlines, it will continue. Also Dubai’s Emirates airline, which is the largest operator of the plane with 110 flying and most of the remaining 20-odd deliveries going to that country, will continue to be a huge operator of this plane as that airline builds up its massive hub policy. It is very likely that some later-built A380 aircraft will easily fly on till 2030, so there is no rush to get on a A380 just yet.

In fact, Emirates flies A380 into Mumbai and Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines fly the beast into New Delhi. All the three airlines are expected to fly these aircraft into India in the foreseeable future. That said, as someone who has flown on the big plane, on demonstration flights when Vijay Mallya had brought one to India for the longest-scheduled A380 service in the world between Dubai and Los Angeles, and experienced the wonderful bar at the end of the upper deck, flying on this plane is an experience that one must put on his/her bucket list.

Top losers: EOS sees massive 14% fall in an hour; Litecoin [LTC], Bitcoin Cash [BCH] also register double-digit dip

Top losers: EOS sees massive 14% fall in an hour; Litecoin [LTC], Bitcoin Cash [BCH] also register double-digit dip

Source: Pixabay

The cryptocurrency market, on Sunday, saw a major crash as most of the top-10 coins went vermilion as a major sell-out hit the market. Though most coins dropped considerably, at press time, a market correction was underway. The sudden fall has resulted in EOS being the top loser, followed by Litecoin [LTC] and Bitcoin cash [BCH].


Source: Trading view

At press time, EOS was valued at $3.74, with a market cap of $3 billion. The coin noted a 24-hour trading volume of $2 billion while noting a fall of 2.82% over the past day. EOS reported a growth of 32.28% over the past seven days, but has seen a staggering fall of 14.32% in an hour.

The coin was trading high on OKEx with the EOS/USDT pair, reporting a volume of $257 million. The second position was taken by Huobi Global as it noted a volume of $181 million with the EOS/USDT pair. Huobi Global was followed by DOBI Exchange with a volume of $111 million with the EOS/BTC pair.

Litecoin [LTC]

Source: Trading view

According to the one-day chart of Litecoin, at press time, the coin was valued at $46, with a market cap of $2.7 billion. The coin registered a 24-hour trade volume of $1.5 billion, with a fall of 6.14% within a day’s time. The coin recorded an overall growth of 5.98% over the week and but fell by 11.89% in an hour.

The coin registered a maximum trading volume of $91 million on OKEx exchange. OKEx was followed by Huobi Global with $77 million in trading volume on the LTC/USDT pair. The third place was taken by Digi Finex, which recorded a volume of $76 million on the LTC/USDT pair.

Bitcoin Cash [BCH]

Source: Trading view

The third-biggest loser in the market was Bitcoin Cash [BCH], which recorded a fall of 4.41% over the past day. The coin, at the time of press, was valued at $136, with a market cap of $2.4 billion. It reported a 24-hour trade volume of $525 million with an overall growth of 12.11% over the past week. However, the coin faced a sudden fall by 11.12% in the past hour.

The coin registered a maximum trading volume of $42 million on the BCH/BTC pair on LBank. LBank was followed by Huobi Global, which registered a volume of $42 million on the BCH/USDT pair. The third place was taken by BitForex, with a trading volume of $34 million on the BCH/BTC pair.

Saudi Arabia to make India regional hub for oil supply

Saudi Arabia to make India regional hub for oil supply

FILE PHOTO: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir speaks during a news conference at a China Arab forum in Beijing, China, July 10, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir has informed that the oil-rich nation has an idea at making India a regional hub for the supply of crude oil and will invest billions of dollars in the country to build storage facilities and strengthen refineries. Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, will also invest in downstream assets in India besides helping the country boost its infrastructure in the petrochemical sector.

The foreign minister said his country looked at India as a rising economic power and was very bullish about its potential to grow further. Reflecting growing energy ties, it was announced recently that Saudi Aramco, the world’s top oil exporter, will be part of a joint venture project to set up a refinery in Maharashtra at a cost of USD 44 billion. It will be the largest greenfield refinery in the world to be implemented in one phase.

India is expected to increase import of oil from countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates if the US does not extend the six-month-long waiver it granted to New Delhi and several other countries to buy oil from Iran.

Saudi Arabia is also a key pillar of India’s energy security, being a source of 17%t or more of crude oil and 32% of LPG requirements of India.