Category Archives: Transportation

Updates from GE

Next Stop, Kyiv: Ukrainian Railways’ $1 Billion Deal With
GE Is Set To Dispatch Its Trains Into the Future

By Dorothy Pomerantz – Today (Feb 23, 2018), the Ukrainian government announced it will buy 30 new GE locomotives, which will be built in the U.S. and will arrive in Ukraine for final assembly by the end of the year. The framework agreement, which is valued at over $1 billion, also includes the modernization of existing locomotives in Ukrainian Railways’ fleet, plus additional new GE units over the next decade and a long-term service contract to help maintain them.

The deal is part of a rail-system upgrade the country is undertaking to make sure its $2 billion agricultural sector, which the U.S. Department of Commerce calls “the most promising sector” of the country’s economy, can continue to sell and export the food it produces.

Crucial to this plan: locomotives that work better and don’t break down.

Modernizing a locomotive is like gut-renovating a house, stripping it down to the bare studs and putting in all new walls, stairways and appliances. For Ukrainian Railways, the modernization process will start with the old Soviet-built locomotives that the national rail company has been using for decades.

Workers from GE and local companies will take out the locomotive’s insides, the control system, radiator and engine, until only the bare metal skeleton is left. Then each locomotive will be rebuilt with a shipment of GE equipment, known as a kit. more>


What Happens to US NewSpace Industry After ISS?

By Andrew Rush – Just as the early railroads transformed the American West and spurred an economic boom across our then young nation, commercial activity in space is blossoming. Expansion of these activities, especially in-space manufacturing, will expand human activity outward and lead to new American economic booms. While the promise of commercial activities in space may be as vast as the promise of the American West, actions must be taken now in order to stay on the path of converting this promise to economic value.

Much of our current progress in space-based operations such as manufacturing can be credited to the multibillion dollar investment in the creation of International Space Station (ISS) and the designation of the U.S. segment of ISS as a National Lab for conducting space-based research for economic development in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

With the direct U.S. support of the ISS proposed to end in the 2025 timeframe, there’s an industry imperative to scale up and accelerate planning for transition from ISS to commercial space stations or other Private-Public Partnership (PPP) models.

If action is not taken, investment in the ISS and the ISS National Lab, private investment in ISS-based activity, and budding space-based products and services will be wasted. more>


Updates from GE

Engine Czech: This University Partnership Is Set To Propel Turboprop Engineering To New Heights
By Tomas Kellner – GE has spent the last 100 years building GE Aviation into a leading force in the aerospace industry. Since it was founded in 1918, the business unit, which brought in $27 billion in revenue last year, has introduced key innovations: It built the first jet engine in the United States and the largest and most powerful jet engines in the world; supplied engine parts for the largest commercial jetliner; and pioneered new materials and technologies like composites and 3D printing.

But it’s been only in the last decade that its Business and General Aviation unit, which is building engines and other technology for private and business planes, decided to pay close attention to the multibillion-dollar turboprop market.

“The turboprop segment has been underserved for decades,” says Brad Mottier, who runs the GE Aviation division. “Airframe customers and operators alike complained about the lack of innovation.”

This week, Mottier and his business said they are inviting the sharpest young engineers in the Czech Republic to help them transform the way we power small aircraft. The company will partner with Prague’s Czech Technical University (CVUT) to help bring up a new generation of aerospace engineers.

Why Prague? The Czech capital is the place where GE decided to jump into the turboprop engine market in 2008, when it took a bet on a storied but struggling turboprop manufacturer, Walter Engines.

Just like the Wright brothers, founder Josef Walter started out fixing and building bicycles before venturing into aviation. Established in 1911, his company ran aviation factories in Italy, Spain, Poland and elsewhere in Europe that produced record-breaking engines for planes used by 13 sovereign air forces. more>


Stop Saying ‘Smart Cities’

Digital stardust won’t magically make future cities more affordable or resilient.
By Bruce Sterling – The term “smart city” is interesting yet not important, because nobody defines it. “Smart” is a snazzy political label used by a modern alliance of leftist urbanites and tech industrialists.

Smart-city devotees all over this world will agree that London is particularly smart. Why? London is a huge, ungainly beast whose cartwheeling urban life is in cranky, irrational disarray. London is a god-awful urban mess, but London does have some of the best international smart-city conferences.

The digital techniques that smart-city fans adore are flimsy and flashy—and some are even actively pernicious—but they absolutely will be used in cities. They already have an urban heritage. When you bury fiber-optic under the curbs around the town, then you get internet. When you have towers and smartphones, then you get portable ubiquity. When you break up a smartphone into its separate sensors, switches, and little radios, then you get the internet of things.

However, the cities of the future won’t be “smart,” or well-engineered, cleverly designed, just, clean, fair, green, sustainable, safe, healthy, affordable, or resilient. They won’t have any particularly higher ethical values of liberty, equality, or fraternity, either. The future smart city will be the internet, the mobile cloud, and a lot of weird paste-on gadgetry, deployed by City Hall, mostly for the sake of making towns more attractive to capital.

“Smart cities” merely want to be perceived as smart, when what they actually need is quite different. more>


The Two-Degree Delusion

By Ted Nordhaus – Forty years after it was first proposed, the two-degree target continues to maintain a talismanic hold over global efforts to address climate change, despite the fact that virtually all sober analyses conclude that the target is now unobtainable.

But it is worth considering the consequences of continuing to pursue a goal that is no longer obtainable. Some significant level of future climate impact is probably unavoidable. Sustaining the fiction that the two-degree target remains viable risks leaving the world ill prepared to mitigate or manage the consequences.

In reality, most of the climate risks that we understand reasonably well are linear, meaning that lower emissions bring a lower global temperature increase, which in turn brings lower risk.

There are a range of potential nonlinear tipping points that could also bring catastrophic climate impacts. Many climate scientists and advocates argue that the risks associated with triggering these impacts are so great that it is better to take a strict precautionary approach to dramatically cut emissions. But there are enormous uncertainties about where those tipping points actually are.

The precautionary principle holds equally well at one degree of warming, a threshold that we have already surpassed; one and a half degrees, which we will soon surpass; or, for that matter, three degrees. more>


Electric Vehicles Could Impact the Grid

By Kenny Walter – Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a new computer simulation to explore the impacts in-home charging could have on the nation’s grid.

“Previous research into the amount of energy required by homes hasn’t taken into account plug-in electric vehicles,” Matteo Muratori, a transportation and energy systems engineer at NREL said in a statement. “Given that more people are choosing to drive these types of vehicles and charging them at home, this additional demand should not be overlooked.”

According to the study, as more PEVs are added, the distribution infrastructure might no longer be able to reliably support the local electricity demand. more>


When exponential innovation meets the infancy of “Industry X.0”

Accenture – With everything from agriculture to aeronautics in the midst of paradigm shift, a cautious approach to adopting new technologies simply can’t keep pace.

Nor will adopting just one innovation suffice. Effective adaptation almost always involves a combination of innovations working together: a dash of machine learning here, a sprinkle of automation there.

As Accenture Chief Strategy Officer Omar Abbosh describes: “You’re combining a series of innovations, one on the back of the next, to do something fundamentally different… You’ve all heard about Big Data and artificial intelligence and internet of things… They are all very meaningful in their own right, but when they come together they can have a massive impact on business and society.”

The benefits of combination abound. For example, amalgamating just five technologies—autonomous robots, AI, 3D printing, big data, and blockchain—could save industrial-equipment companies a total of $1.6 billion. more>


The Right Kind of Stimulus

By Marc Scribner – Most politicians view infrastructure spending as a means to provide economic stimulus and bring home the bacon. As a result, public infrastructure investments are often poorly prioritized and needlessly costly. How to pay for it, where the money would be best spent, and even what “infrastructure” means are questions often left unresolved.

Infrastructure investment is essential to economic prosperity. To invest smartly, public officials must recognize important differences between asset classes, project types and questions of who is paying and how. That requires abandoning the urge to use infrastructure spending to boost growth and more deliberate decision making.

To jumpstart its stalled economy in the early 1990s, the Japanese government spent more than $6 trillion on public construction projects over two decades. That failed to increase economic growth, but it did send Japan’s gross debt soaring up to 245 percent of GDP by 2015, with debt-service payments accounting for a quarter of total government expenditures.

What can be done to improve infrastructure policy?

First, lawmakers should prioritize the highest-value infrastructure investments that are needed in their communities and eschew the next shiny object.

Second, federal lawmakers should incentivize local governments to invest in maintaining their surface streets, mass transit systems and water and wastewater networks.

Third, government leaders should remove barriers to credit for infrastructure projects, like the unfair tax advantage given to public infrastructure investment.

Finally, governments at all levels should learn from private infrastructure providers. more>


Updates from Boeing

Unlocking the Future of Flying
Boeing – Boeing is accelerating breakthrough advancements in autonomous air travel.

It recently completed initial flight tests of an electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing (eVTOL) unmanned cargo aerial vehicle (CAV) prototype. The innovative platform is designed to test and evolve Boeing’s autonomy technology for future aerospace vehicles.

In less than three months, Boeing engineers designed and built the CAV prototype, which stands four feet off the ground, measures 15 by 18 feet and weighs more than 700 pounds. It is outfitted with eight counter-rotating propeller blades and custom Boeing batteries that allow for vertical flight. more>


Updates from Boeing

Analyzing the 2017 Orders & Deliveries Race
By Randy Tinseth – For the 6th year in a row, Boeing out-delivered the competition and set a new industry record by pushing 763 airplanes out the door.

At the start of 2017, we set a delivery target of 760 to 765 airplanes. To land in the middle of that target speaks to the dedication of our employees and supplier partners to deliver on the commitments to our customers. You’ve heard me say it before—deliveries matter. It’s the true measure of success, and we nailed it once again in 2017 at the same time we went up on 737 production rate and introduced the MAX.

Our net order total of 912 commercial airplanes was the 7th largest yearly order book in Boeing’s more than 100-year history. Not only was our order book big, it was deep and broad. Our sales team took in orders from 71 customers across the globe. The 737 MAX had another strong year, fueled in part by the MAX 10 launch. And anytime you can book almost 200 twin-aisle airplanes with products clearly preferred by the market, it’s a good year. The sales success we had in 2017 once again confirms our strategy to raise production rates on the 737 and 787 programs. more>