SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) Most of Lufthansa's, Germany's national airline, domestic, European and long-haul flights have been cancelled due to strikes by ground personnel and cabin crews.
"Due to strike action announced for April 22, nearly all Lufthansa flights to German and European destinations must be cancelled," the airline announced in a statement.
The firm said it had scheduled only around 20 of its usual 1,650 short-haul flights for Monday, and warned that long-haul routes would also be seriously affected.
At Frankfurt airport, Europe's third-busiest hub, 46 out of 50 intercontinental flights would be scrapped, with long-haul flights from Munich also grounded.
Services union Verdi called the strike after three rounds of pay talks with management ended without agreement.
Verdi is demanding a 5.2 percent pay increase for 33,000 Lufthansa ground staff, plus employees of various subsidiaries, as well as cabin crew members who are Verdi members.
The escalating pay dispute threatens to cause transport chaos across Germany, Europe's largest economy.
It comes a month after Lufthansa cancelled nearly 700 out of a total 1,800 flights due to half a day of warning strikes.
Lufthansa board member Stefan Lauer said the action, described as a 24-hour warning strike, was "de facto an all-out strike" that was "a completely excessive measure that can in no way be justified in view of the current state of negotiations".
Verdi has accused management of "playing with employees' fears about their future and their jobs" in refusing to make any concrete guarantees.
The union has complained that the offer proposed by management represented an increase of less than one percent over a period of one year.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – A little over 50 years ago, no one on Earth knew what would happen when a human being was launched into space. That all changed on this day in 1961, when Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet military pilot and cosmonaut, hurtled into orbit aboard Vostok 1.
He circled the Earth once, reporting that he was feeling "excellent" and could see "rivers and folds in the terrain" and different kinds of clouds. "Beautiful" was his simple description of the view. Weightlessness, he said, felt "pleasant." (See pictures of Gagarin's flight.)
In the decades since Gagarin became the first person in space, what began as a politically fraught competition has yielded men on the moon, space walks, and visions of putting people on Mars. Here's a look at some of the important changes in space travel that occurred along the way.
Gagarin's flight represented a triumph for the Soviet Union during the heat of the Cold War, from which both the U.S. and Russian space programs were born. "The space race was partly about impressing the living daylights out of other nations because the science and technology are closely aligned with military capability," says Roger Launius, senior curator and space historian at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.
The Soviets, notes Launius, kept secret for years the fact that Gagarin had to bail out of his spacecraft with a parachute several miles above ground during the landing. The spherical Vostok capsule lacked thrusters to slow it down, and requiring Gagarin to eject before reaching the ground might have meant the mission didn't qualify as the first successful human space flight. "They had no idea what was going to happen—the capsule could have left a big hole in the ground," Launius says. (See pictures of space suit evolution.)
Nowadays the U.S. and Russia collaborate regularly, with cross-training and joint flights to the International Space Station (ISS). The launch pad from which Gagarin took off—Baikonur Cosmodrome in what is now Kazakhstan—is still used today, most recently to send two cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut to the ISS in March.
Gagarin's mission required a rocket that could propel his spacecraft fast enough to sustain a speed of some 17,000 miles per hour (27,359 kilometers an hour), known as orbital velocity. Less than a decade later, NASA's Saturn V rocket achieved escape velocity—the speed required to escape Earth's gravitational pull (25,039 miles per hour or 40,320 kilometers per hour). This milestone made it possible to put men on the moon.
Saturn V stood taller than the Statue of Liberty and generated more power than 85 Hoover Dams. It was a thing of beauty, and resulted in the first human footsteps on extraterrestrial terrain, when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon in 1969. More Apollo missions followed, and Saturn V took its final bow in 1973, when it launched the Skylab space station into orbit.
Gagarin traveled in what was essentially a giant ball and didn't have the capacity to control his spacecraft. If he were to take a tour of the International Space Station today, he might be impressed with the amenities: exercise bikes, barbeque beef brisket—even a choice of toilet papers.
"There wasn't a lot of interest early on in making cosmonauts comfortable—they were there to do a task," says Launius. "It's only with longer-term missions that you have to worry about comfort."
Hence the memorable shower aboard Skylab, NASA's space station during the 1970's and first attempt to test the ability of humans to work and live in space for extended periods. The weight of water and the large equipment required to recycle it, however, proved too much of a burden, says NASA spokesman Jay Bolden, leaving today's space dwellers resorting to "basic squirts of water and soap on washcloths for sponge baths."
Gagarin's mission lasted 108 minutes, so he didn't have to eat. But the cosmonaut who followed him into space, German Titov, went up for more than a day. People wondered: Would he be able to swallow food?
Today's big questions about space travel and the human body involve bone loss and radiation exposure, but fundamental questions existed even then, notes NASA's chief historian Bill Barry. "People asked if you could swallow without gravity. One of Titov's experiments was to eat something in space," he says.
Another mystery was "space sickness," involving severe nausea. Titov suffered a bad case of it, which worried the Soviets greatly, says Barry. Now it's known to be common among space travelers and even bears a medical name: space adaptation syndrome.
Modern studies focus on the effects of long-term space travel, as eyes turn to Mars and people spend months—even longer than a year in the case of cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov—working in space. "In less than a week we see signs of degradation in the human body," says Launius of the Smithsonian. "I would contend that the real challenge for space travel is biomedical, not technological."
Perhaps the most remarkable change in space travel since Gagarin's historic flight is how routine it's become—and possible for the right price.
Millions of dollars have landed private citizens a seat on Russian spacecraft, though Russia halted its space-tourism role in 2010. (It cited the need to devote its Soyuz capsules to ferrying ISS crew members after NASA ended its space-shuttle program.) Still, so-called space tourism remains on the map as companies like Virgin Galactic race to launch suborbital flights that skirt the edge of space and offer a taste of weightlessness. Virgin's ticket price: $200,000.
"Not all commercial space activities are about tourism," notes Launius. "Many are about communication, remote sensing, or other activities in which a profit may be made."
One thing that hasn't changed is the view from above. People may no longer stop to take in the video feed from spacecraft floating above Earth, but just listen to Gagarin's conversation with his ground control and you can feel the suspense and awe of seeing the planet from space.
No wonder a great window counts as a major creature comfort for the ISS crew. "The astronauts love to hang out in the station's cupola," with its panoramic views of Earth, says Barry. "I hear they moved an exercise bike there, and one guy likes to hang out and play his guitar."-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – An Air Canada flight with 24 passengers on board was forced to circle in the air for over an hour after one of its engines failed en route to Billy Bishop Airport in Toronto.
Rescue crews faced a tense scene shortly after 4 p.m. as the plane coasted safely onto the Toronto runway with only one propeller spinning.
“It appears that the plane has landed safely, that the emergency procedures that we had put into place were not needed, and that everything went as planned,” Peel police spokesman Thomas Ruttan told CP24.
Everyone on board was safe, Ruttan said.
The plane had apparently suffered hydraulic issues, which appear to be related to the engine malfunction.
The Air Canada Express flight reportedly left from Moncton earlier on Wednesday.-www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) –Boeing asked US aviation authorities to let them carry out 787 Dreamliner test flights after the planes were grounded worldwide following a fire risk linked to the plane's lithium batteries.
US and Japanese regulators grounded all Boeing 787 Dreamliners in mid-January until the problem can been resolved. Airlines around the world quickly followed.
"Boeing has submitted an application to conduct 787 test flights and it is currently under evaluation by the FAA," said Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel.
The test flights will gather data on the lithium ion battery system and test a possible fix, sources with knowledge of the matter told the Seattle Times.
Dreamliner flights however will likely remain grounded for weeks, even months: when Boeing manages to fix the problem its engineers will still have to design, build and fully test the solution, the newspaper reported.
The US National Transportation and Safety Board investigation into a Japan Airline Boeing 787 battery fire in January "is moving swiftly and investigators are making progress daily," said NTSB spokesperson Kelly Nantel.
The powerful lithium-ion batteries used on the Dreamliner have emerged as the focus of concern in light of the JAL incident and another on a All Nippon Airways, with smoke reported on both planes.
ANA has 17 Dreamliners and JAL has seven -- almost half the 50 planes currently in operation worldwide. Boeing has orders for nearly 850.
United Airlines, the world's biggest airline and currently the only US airline operating the 787, has six Dreamliners in service.
The new aircraft's flight systems rely heavily on electronics rather than the hydraulics used in older planes, and Boeing's use of lightweight composite materials is another breakthrough for airlines anxious to cut fuel costs.-www.shfaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) -- The Maritime provinces are being blasted by a winter storm that has shutdown air traffic at Halifax International Airport and is also causing flight cancellations and delays at St. John’s International Airport.
Environment Canada says Nova Scotia will get the worst of the nor’easter, with more than 40 centimetres of snow expected in parts of the province by later today.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)– "Here we go again."
That's likely to be a common refrain among air travelers this week as a new coastal storm is making a mess of air travel at some of the nation's busiest airports.
Airlines have already canceled more than 1,500 flights today (Nov. 7) and Thursday because of the new storm,according to flight-tracking company FlightAware. The company says 1,199 cancellations have been counted today with an additional 313 for tomorrow. Nearly half of grounded flights counted by FlightAware have come at Newark Liberty.
The spate of cancellations from the impending Nor'easter comes comes just a week after "superstorm" Sandy virtually shut down many of the same airports. That storm caused airlines to ground more than 20,000 flights during a 6-day period that began Oct. 27.
And, just like they did with Sandy, most big airlines are again waiving change fees for customers booked into cities likely to be affected by the storm. Generally, the weather waivers allow customers to make one change to their itinerary -- with restrictions -- with no fee.
As for flight operations, United Airlines – the nation's biggest carrier – has canceled 500 flights between noon Wednesday and noon Thursday as the mid-Atlantic braces for a strong "Nor'easter" winter storm. United's cancellations are mostly in the New York area -- including at its Newark hub -- but the effect will ripple to airports nationwide.
Delta, the USA's No. 2 airline, says it has canceled 150 flights today, with spokesman Morgan Durrant adding that the carrier is "monitoring conditions closely" as the storm develops. Delta says most of its cancellations are concentrated in New York -- where it has hubs at both LaGuardia and JFK -- and Philadelphia.
American, the third-biggest U.S. airline, will also see a significant disruption to its schedule. As of 10:30 a.m. ET, the airline had already axed 365 flights to and from mid-Atlantic airports over the next 24 hours.
"Due to severe weather projected for the Northeast this week, American Airlines and American Eagle are suspending operations on Nov. 7, in Philadelphia (PHL) at noon and at all New York-area airports by 3 p.m.," AA spokeswoman Andrea Huguely tells Today in the Sky. "Operations at these airports are expected to start up again the morning of Thursday, Nov. 8."
And, besides the 365 cancellations, Huguely warns customers that "additional delays and cancellations may occur as American resumes operations in New York and Philadelphia."
US Airways -- which operates one of its biggest hubs at Philadelphia -- had canceled a total of 93 mainline and regional flights because of the storm as of 9:30 a.m. this morning. Most of those have come at Philadelphia and New York LaGuardia.
Airline spokesman Todd Lehmacher says that number likely will increase if the forecast is accurate. Storm-related slowdowns also had begun to affect Philadelphia, with the Federal Aviation Administration's delay page showing delays averaging nearly an hour-and-a-half as of 8:55 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
As for some of the cancellations details, United announced late Tuesday (Nov. 6) afternoon that it "will suspend most service to and from the New York area between noon Wednesday, Nov. 7, and noon Thursday, Nov. 8."
So far, about 500 flights have been canceled Wednesday and Thursday because of the "Nor'easter," United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy says in an e-mail to Today in the Sky.
United operates one of its busiest hubs at Newark Liberty. At that airport, United says that "between noon Wednesday and noon Thursday, (it) intends to operate its long-haul international flights and flights to and from (its) other hubs, but will suspend most of its remaining services."
United also plans to suspend "all services" at LaGaurdia and JFK airpots beginning noon Wednesday and lasting at least through noon Thursday.
United hopes to resume operations at all three airports by noon Thursday. Even if it does, the cancellations already announced by the carrier will affect travelers at scores of the airline's destinations.
And, as it did during Sandy, United is waiving change fees for most customers ticketed to fly through the New York area between now and Thursday.
Delta also is waiving rebooking fees for many fliers scheduled to fly though the New York and Philadelphia airports today through Thursday.
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Airlines around the world have canceled flights to and from the northeast United States because of the growing threat from deadly Hurricane Sandy.
Middle Eastern, European, Asian and U.S. airlines have grounded flights in and out of America's eastern seaboard as 350-mile wide Sandy prepares to make landfall later Monday.
As Americans brace for the storm, airlines are preparing to take a financial hit, with the weather stranding their passengers in cities across the globe.
"Every day this goes on you're seeing combined losses to the airlines of roughly $10 million," said Simon Calder, travel editor of the UK's The Independent newspaper.
"The cost is actually much worse for European airlines like British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, because they have to pay for accommodation and meals for their customers who are stuck in the U.S. -- particularly in New York."
European Union law says airlines have a "duty of care" to take care of stranded passengers. There is no such law governing U.S. airlines.
"Delta and United can just say, 'Sorry, this is a weather event and you're not covered,'" Calder told CNN.
At least 50,000 travelers between the UK and U.S. have been affected by the storm, Calder estimates.
British Airways has now canceled flights to and from New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Baltimore.
A statement on BA's website said: "We understand that customers may be disappointed, however their safety is our highest priority. We are offering the option to rebook or receive a refund to those customers whose flights are canceled."
Britain's Virgin Atlantic also canceled all east coast flights, and London's Heathrow Airport is advising U.S.-bound passengers to check their flight status before traveling to the airport.
Karen Mackenzie from Essex, in southeastern England, was planning to fly Monday to New York on a Virgin holiday package, but the airline canceled her entire holiday due to the storm.
While Virgin Atlantic gave Mackenzie a full refund, the elementary school principal says her schedule means she won't be able to rebook the holiday until next year.
"I feel really horrible for those poor people in New York at the moment, waiting for the hurricane to hit. It's disappointing to lose our holiday, but for them it's a much more hideous situation," she told CNN.
Qatar Airways and the United Arab Emirates-based airlines Etihad and Emirates also canceled flights to the U.S. northeast. In a statement Emirates said the safety of their passengers "will not be compromised."
Some 50 million people from Virginia to Massachusetts are expected to feel the effect of Sandy, which is expected to land somewhere between Maryland and Pennsylvania late Monday or early Tuesday. New Jersey could bear the brunt of the Category 1 hurricane, according to a forecast map released by the National Hurricane Center.
The cost of potential wind damage alone from the hurricane could be up to $3 billion, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The storm has also prompted thousands of domestic cancellations across America.
While all American Airlines flights to the east coast are canceled, the airline is operating a normal service to other parts of the country.
Both companies are allowing some customers to change their flight plans without paying any fees due to the storm.
So how long will it take for airlines to get stranded passengers to their destinations once the hurricane subsides? Not long, according to CNN's Richard Quest, who said the problem should start being resolved from Wednesday.
Quest said: "All the airlines have exceptionally sophisticated recovery programs. What they do is they don't make the flight to the first place. They don't send the aircraft into the bad areas, so they don't get stranded. So they're now already starting to work out flights for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. You write off Monday and Tuesday, then you start to rebuild the schedule."
"After the [Icelandic volcanic] ash cloud two years ago, airlines were able to restore the schedule quite quickly, simply because people canceled their flights [and didn't rebook]. And that's what the airlines are banking on.
"I'm guessing by the weekend everyone's got where they need to be."
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — A Syrian passenger plane which was forced to land sits at Esenboga airport in Ankara. The plane was allowed to leave after a weapons inspection. .www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — On Sunday, Israeli fighter planes flew mock raids over Lebanese villages to show their muscle after an unmanned aircraft was discovered and shot down in Israel this weekend. The incident is being investigated, but Lebanon’s guerilla group, Hezbollah, is suspected of being behind the drone that was flying deep in Israeli airspace before being destroyed. Raids flew low over towns known to have Hezbollah ties, as Israel has done in past tense times. The drone was not carrying explosives, but could have been gathering intelligence. "It is an Iranian drone that was launched by Hezbollah,” asserted Israeli lawmaker Miri Regev, a former chief spokeswoman for the Israeli military, on Twitter. “Hezbollah and Iran continue to try to collect information in every possible way in order to harm Israel.” www.shafaqna.com/English
SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — The US Air Force confirmed on Wednesday that the test mission one day earlier of an unmanned hypersonic plane hoped to travel at six times the speed of sound was a failure.
The Pentagon revealed on Wednesday that Tuesday’s test run of the X-51A WaveRider aircraft was unsuccessful.
"It is unfortunate that a problem with this subsystem caused a termination before we could light the scramjet engine," Charlie Brink of the Air Force Research Laboratory at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, says in a statement.
The WaveRider was only scheduled to soar for around five minutes, and the military did not release any official comment on the status of the exercise until a full day later, only then finally acknowledging the failure.
Earlier in the day, Wired’s Danger Room reported that the WaveRider “failed its flight test” and suggested that “a fin problem caused a loss of control [before] the engine could kick in,” but did not cite where that information came from. According to a report also filed on Wednesday by AviationWeek.com, sources speaking with that outlet suggested that the test mission “was not a success.”
AviationWeek reports that they believe that a malfunction with the craft’s Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne SJX61 dual-mode ramjet/scramjet engine was not to blame. After being brought to an altitude of 50,000 feet with the assistance of a B-52 bomber, the scramjet engine is the fundamental component involved in boosting the craft to a speed that could coast it over the Atlantic Ocean in under an hour.
The Pentagon had hoped that the X-51A would be able to sustain around five minutes in the sky at a speed of Mach 6, or roughly 4,300 miles per hour. No craft of its type has come close to achieving that goal in the past, though. A WaveRider tested in June 2011 was only able to sustain a speed of Mach 5, and for only half of the time.
Once the WaveRider or a similar hypersonic craft has successfully completed testing, it could be used by the Air Force to send servicemen, supplies or even missiles to any part of the planet within moments.—www.shafaqna.com/english