Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A visit to Makoko, the Venice of Africa in Lagos

The choppy boat ride only lasted about 20 minutes to Makoko, but in that time, I considered whether I would need to paddle to shore. We were approaching a new locale. Houses ahead…on water.

A shout of “Yevo” was quickly taken up and chorused repeatedly at high volume like a rallying cry. Eyes everywhere were upon us. Children shouting, dancing, posing, pointing. People staring, some friendly, most curious, some suspicious, still others disdainful. Welcome to Makoko, the stilt village of Lagos.

A place almost of folklore, Makoko has existed as a fishing village for over a century. In fact, most of the fish sold in markets all over Lagos is caught by the Makoko fishing community. Sometimes ironically referred to as the “Venice of Africa”, it was once a target for demolition by the Lagos State government in 2012 to transform the slum village into luxury property.

After much public outcry and opposition, the demolition was halted as a regeneration plan was submitted to the State government, though it is unclear what steps have since been taken in implementing the proposed regeneration. With a population said to be over 100,000 mainly composed of Egun migrants from Badagry, but also of the Ijo from Ondo and some Beninoise, the diversity of the residents is heard in conversations as strains of French and Yoruba and other tongues are spoken.

Our guide was the brother of the local chief, Shemade Noah who welcomed us with refreshments. Cruising through the canals of Makoko was a fascinating experience. As we saw the large numbers of boats gliding up and down the waterways, I noted that Lagos’ trademark traffic is not confined to motor vehicles on land. It was remarkable to see very young children expertly navigate the waterways by boat on their own.

Someone in the group asked Mr Noah to confirm or deny the oft peddled anecdote that the people of Makoko would throw newborn children into the water. He laughed off the urban myth but explained that most of the kids from the age of 4 learn to swim by teaching themselves. Sadly, whilst the children seemed perfectly adept with navigating the waters and running their floating shops, there appears to be a very low percentage of those children who attend school on a regular basis.

This is due to a number of reasons including the fact that there is only one school in the stilt village with 249 students. Clearly with a population of over 100,000 there simply won’t be enough places for all the children. There is also a lot of suspicion of the schools on the land and parents are reluctant to send their young ones to schools on land due to perceived dangers.

That negative perception of the “land” and the “Yevo” (which means “white man”) was evident as we cruised through the “Venice of Africa”. Although I had been keen for a while to see this other side of Lagos and better understand my city, it quickly became apparent that most people and even the children had an aversion to cameras.

I could understand their unease particularly in respect to pictures as I have never and will never advocate poverty tourism. But at the same time, I do think it is important for Makoko to be seen and experienced and for awareness to be raised to support the needs of the local people. To that end, I tried to respect their privacy by mainly focusing my pictures on the buildings of the stilt village itself but I think as we left, the residents were glad to see the back of us. For my part, I had seen so many paintings of this particular locale and I am so pleased to now have finally been to the mysterious and intriguing waterworld of Makoko.

Regular trips to Makoko are organised by the Nigerian Field Society.  The monies from the trip fees go toward supporting the Makoko Floating School by paying two teachers’ salaries and the general upkeep of the village.

Source: ATQ News

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

United expands route network home and abroad

United Airlines is revitalizing its route network with more destinations, more flights and more convenient connections for customers in both domestic and international markets.

Subject to government approval, the carrier will add a seasonal route between San Francisco and Munich for the first time ever, and one of the carrier’s daily flights between Newark, New Jersey and Tel Aviv, Israel will be up gauged with the new Boeing 777-300ER. The airline is also growing its domestic network, adding even more connections and additional service to 30 destinations across the U.S.

“Starting this summer we’re offering more flights, to more destinations at more convenient times than in recent memory,” said Scott Kirby, president of United Airlines. “And with bigger and more modern aircraft for many of our flights, we’ll be getting you to the moments that matter most – relaxed and ready to go.”
New International Service

United’s seasonal flight between San Francisco International Airport and Munich Airport begins on May 24 with service from MUC to SFO returning the next day. The route will be operated with one of the most advanced passenger airplanes, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which delivers unprecedented operating efficiency, comfort and lower emissions.
Flight From To Departure Arrival
194 SFO MUC 2:05 p.m. daily 10:25 a.m. the next day
195 MUC SFO 12:10 p.m. daily 2:55 p.m. the same day
Beginning May 5, United will operate one of its Newark-Tel Aviv flights with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, featuring the all new United Polaris seats. This will be the second route – in addition to the carrier’s flights between San Francisco and Hong Kong – that will utilize the brand new Boeing 777-300ER.
Flight From To Departure Arrival
90 EWR TLV 11:45 p.m. daily 4:20 p.m. the next day
91 TLV EWR 11:10 p.m. daily 4:35 a.m. the same day
New Domestic Markets
United is growing its domestic network by improving connectivity through its hubs, offering better products and scheduling optimal flight times. The new routes bring non-stop service to more cities giving customers more convenient travel options to some of the country’s largest cities, and beyond. The carrier is adding service to thirteen cities, including four all-new destinations:
Champaign/Urbana, IL; Columbia, MO; Rochester, MN and United’s shortest flight to Santa Rosa, CA.
From To Frequency Start Date
DEN COU – Columbia, MO Daily Aug. 1
DEN SBP – San Luis Obispo, CA Daily June 8
EWR SMF – Sacramento, CA Daily June 8
IAH SGF – Springfield, MO 2 times Daily June 8
ORD CHO – Charlottesville, VA Daily June 8
ORD CMI – Champaign/Urbana, IL 3 times daily June 8
ORD COU – Columbia, MO 2 times daily Aug. 1
ORD RNO – Reno, NV Daily June 8
ORD RST – Rochester, MN 3 times daily June 8
ORD GEG – Spokane, WA Daily June 8
SFO CVG – Cincinnati, OH Daily June 8
SFO DTW- Detroit Daily June 8
SFO GEG – Spokane, WA 2 times daily June 8
SFO STS – Santa Rosa, CA 3 times daily June 8
SFO BDL – Hartford, CT Daily June 8
Expanded Domestic Service
United is also introducing daily summer service in six markets. Flights to Salt Lake City, Fort Lauderdale, Tucson and New Orleans not previously offered in the summer, will now move to year round service.

From To Frequency Start Date
DEN KOA – Kona, Hawaii Daily June 8
EWR SLC – Salt Lake City, UT Daily June 8
IAD FLL – Fort Lauderdale, FL Daily June 8
ORD TUS – Tucson, AZ Daily June 8
SFO MSY – New Orleans Daily June 8
SFO FCA – Kalispell, MT Daily July 1
Added Flight Frequencies
In an effort to increase customer choice in key business and leisure markets, United will add additional daily flights in 15 existing markets.
From To New Frequency
DEN ABQ – Albuquerque, NM 5 times daily
DEN FLL – Ft. Lauderdale, FL 2 times daily
DEN MCO- Orlando, FL 4 times daily
DEN TPA – Tampa, FL 2 times daily
EWR ATL – Atlanta 8 times daily
EWR DTW – Detroit 7 times daily
EWR PDX – Portland, OR 2 times daily
IAD JAX – Jacksonville, FL 3 times daily
IAD PVD – Providence, RI 4 times daily
IAD PWM – Portland, ME 4 times daily
IAD ROA – Roanoke, VA 3 times daily
IAH ATL – Atlanta 8 times daily
IAH CHS – Charleston, SC 3 times daily
ORD FLL – Fort Lauderdale, FL 3 times daily
ORD RSW – Fort Myers, FL 2 times daily
In total, United is adding 47 new daily round trips to its domestic schedule. The flights will be on a variety of mainline and regional jets that will add nearly 8,700 additional seats per day and approximately 90,000 new flight miles.

Culled from eTN
FAA certifies Kenya aviation as Category 1 safety compliant

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that Kenya complies with international safety standards and has been granted a Category 1 rating under the agency’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.

A Category 1 rating means Kenya’s civil aviation authority meets International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards. With the Category 1 rating, Kenyan air carriers that are able to secure the requisite FAA and DOT authority can establish service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers.

The FAA had not previously assessed Kenya’s civil aviation authority for compliance with ICAO standards. The Category 1 status announced today is based on a February, 2017 FAA assessment of the safety oversight provided by Kenya’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

As part of the FAA’s IASA program, the agency assesses the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that have applied to fly to the United States, currently conduct operations to the United States, or participate in code sharing arrangements with U.S. partner airlines, and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

In order to maintain a Category 1 rating, a country must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.

Source: Culled from eTN

Three dead, two injured as plane crashes into two houses in California

A Cessna 310 crashed into two houses shortly after it took off from Riverside Municipal Airport. The plane was heading to San Jose, a major technology hub in California’s Bay area.

According to reports, at least one person has died and five were injured. Fire Captain Tyler Reynolds of Riverside stated that there were four people on board. It was not clear if the person who died was in one of the houses or on the plane.

TTW gathered that a woman crawled from one of the houses with her clothes on fire, saying she was the pilot of the aircraft that crashed.

It is not yet clear what caused the crash. More details later…

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Ethiopian Airlines ranked 11th world’s most punctual airline

Africa’s largest airline group, Ethiopian Airlines, ranked 11th worldwide in flight on-time performance for the month of January 2017, according to FlightStats, the leading provider of real-time global flight data to companies and individuals across the travel ecosystem.

Of the almost 8000 flights operated by the airline in January, 81% arrived within 15 minutes of the schedule arrival. Not only did Ethiopian rank 11th worldwide, but it ranked #1 for airlines based in the Middle East and Africa.

Group CEO Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam said: “The Entire Ethiopian Airlines family clearly understands the importance of flight punctuality to our valued customers and every one of us is working very hard to make sure that flights depart on time and arrive on time.

“Although there are quite many factors which affect the on-time departure of flights, we will continue to do whatever it takes to please our customers with the best flight punctuality in the industry.

“To this effect, we are very happy that we have outperformed the industry in the Middle East and Africa and stood number 11th in the world. I take this opportunity to congratulate my 12,000 coworkers for their achievement.”

Mr. Tewolde added it is to the credit of the 12,000 committed men and women at the Ethiopian Airlines family that the airline is fast becoming a global winner.

 Ethiopian Airlines received numerous accolades in 2016. The airline was awarded Best Airline Staff in Africa by SkyTrax, and Airline of the Year for the fifth year in a row by the African Airlines Association, AFRAA. Ethiopian is fast becoming recognized worldwide for its service levels and employee dedication.

Ethiopian is implementing a 15-year strategic plan, Vision 2025 that will see it become the leading Aviation Group in Africa, offering passengers international standard services and products with five-star service delivery.

Ethiopian is currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan called Vision 2025 that will see it become the leading aviation group in Africa with seven business centers: Ethiopian Domestic and Regional Airline; Ethiopian International Passenger Airline; Ethiopian Cargo; Ethiopian MRO; Ethiopian Aviation Academy; Ethiopian In-flight Catering Services; and Ethiopian Ground Service.

World’s first pilotless aerial aircraft begins operation in Dubai

The world’s first pilotless aerial vehicle (AAV) aircraft capable of carrying passengers is set to fly across Dubai as early as July, the city’s transport body has announced.

Electrically powered by eight propellers, the aircraft, commonly referred to as an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) has already undergone test flights, according to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

Developed in collaboration with a Chinese drone maker, EHANG, the aircraft, called EHANG184, can carry a passenger for up to 30 minutes in the air. EHANG184 is fitted with a touchscreen in front of the passenger seat displaying a destination map.

Along the preset routes, the rider selects their intended destination. The vehicle will then start automatic operation, take off and cruise to the set destination before descending and landing in a specific spot. A ground control center will monitor and control the entire flight.

The craft will help Dubai achieve its goals of one in four journeys to be taken by driverless, autonomous transport by 2030, said Mattar Al Tayer, the RTA’s director-general and chairman of the Board.

Unveiled at the World Government Summit in Dubai, “the aircraft is a real version that we have already experimented the vehicle in a flight in the Dubai sky,” Al Tayer said.
“The RTA is making every effort to start the operation of the [AAV] in July 2017,” he added.

EHANG184 has been designed and made along “the highest levels of security,” the RTA chief added.

If any propeller fails, the remaining seven can help complete the flight and land smoothly.

The AAV is fitted with numerous basic systems all in operation at the same time, while all work independently.


“In case of any malfunctioning in one of these systems, the standby system would be capable of controlling and safely steering the [aircraft] to the programmed landing point,” said Al Tayer.

The aircraft is designed to fly for maximum 30 minutes at a maximum cruising speed of 160 kilometers per hour, with a standard speed of 100 kilometers per hour. It can take off at speeds of 6 meters per second and land at 4 meters per second.

The AAV measures 3.9 meter in length, 4.02 meter in width and 1.60 meter in height. It weighs about 250kg and 360kg with a passenger.

The maximum cruising height is 3,000 feet and the battery charging time is 1 to 2 hours, and can operate under all climatic conditions apart from thunderstorms.

Fitted with highly accurate sensors, the aircraft has a very low-error threshold and can resist vibrations and extreme temperatures.

“Dubai Civil Aviation Authority was a partner in our trials defining the safety criteria required, issuing the permits for trial and inspecting the vehicle,” said Al Tayer.

UAE telecoms giant Etisalat provides the 4G data network used in communication between the AAV and the ground control center.

Source: eTN
SAA deploys Airbus A330-300 on Washington DC route

South African Airways (SAA) has introduced its new Airbus A330-300 wide-body aircraft on the three-times weekly route between Washington, DC Dulles International Airport and Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International Airport via Dakar, Senegal.
In a statement issued today, SAA’s Executive Vice President, the Americas, Todd Neuman, said: “We are excited to introduce the Airbus A330-300 on the Washington, DC route to offer our customers a new and innovative Premium Business Class product and, a spacious and enhanced Economy Class cabin,” said Neuman.

According to him, the A330-300 has strong passenger appeal, which will enable SAA to continue providing a high-quality customer experience and the world-class service that has earned the airline Skytrax 4-Star rating for 14 consecutive years.

The latest and most advanced model of the Airbus A330-300 offers an increased maximum take-off weight of 242 tons and has an extended range of up to 6,350 nautical miles.  This superior combination of payload and range will enable SAA to expand its route network in Africa and beyond.  The A330-300 compliments SAA’s existing Airbus fleet of wide-body A340-600, A340-300, A330-200 and narrow-body A319 and A320 aircraft.

The interior design of the aircraft will surely provide a comfortable environment for long-haul travel with warm, neutral colors, textures and finishes that are inspired by the airline’s African culture and heritage.  In SAA’s seating configuration, the aircraft has the capacity for a total of 249 passengers, with 46 seats in Premium Business Class and 203 seats in Economy Class. 

With the launch of this new aircraft, SAA has introduced an upgraded Premium Business Class product that offers staggered seating in a 1-2-1 configuration, which provides every passenger the convenience of direct aisle access. 

The Premium Business Class seats recline into 180° flat-beds and offer increased privacy to provide customers with a restful flight.  Gourmet meals, award-winning South African wines, an improved on-demand entertainment system with extensive programming, noise cancelling headphone and PC power / USB ports available at every seat further enhances the inflight experience for SAA’s Premium Business Class customers.

SAA’s Economy Class customers will enjoy the spaciousness of the cabin with newly designed slim-line seats in a 2-4-2 configuration that offer spacious legroom and extra personal space.  Each seat is equipped with a USB port and access to PC power ports, an on-demand entertainment system with 10” screen to view, movies, television shows, interactive games or audio programming with over 170 music selections.
The experience for Economy Class customers also features a selection of freshly prepared meals, coupled with complimentary South African wines and bar service, and an amenity kit to freshen-up during flight.

South African Airways (SAA), is South Africa’s national flag carrier and the continent’s most awarded airline, serving over 75 destinations worldwide in partnership with SA Express, Airlink and its low-cost carrier Mango.

In North America, SAA operates daily nonstop flights from New York-JFK and direct flights from Washington D.C.-IAD (via Accra, Ghana and Dakar, Senegal) to Johannesburg. SAA has partnerships with United Airlines, Air Canada and JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and Virgin America, which offer convenient connections from more than 100 cities in the U.S. and Canada to SAA’s flights.

The airline also announced that from June, 2017, it will introduce daily service with the A330-300 on its Washington -- Accra, and Johannesburg.