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Ethiopia and Indonesia Crash Parallels Heap Pressure on Boeing

Investigators into the Boeing 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia have found striking similarities in a vital flight angle with an airplane that came down off Indonesia, a source said, piling pressure on the world’s biggest planemaker.

The Ethiopian Airlines disaster eight days ago killed 157 people, led to the grounding of Boeing’s marquee MAX fleet globally and sparked a high-stakes inquiry for the aviation industry.

Analysis of the cockpit recorder showed its “angle of attack” data was “very, very similar” to that of the Lion Air jet that went down off Jakarta in October, killing 189 people, a person familiar with the investigation said.

The angle of attack is a fundamental parameter of flight, measuring the degrees between the air flow and the wing. If it is too high, it can throw the plane into an aerodynamic stall.

“If that’s the case, that does raise the possibility that there is a similar occurrence between the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents,” said Clint Balog, a Montana-based professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Even then, it was too early to draw firm conclusions, he added.

A flight deck computer’s response to an apparently faulty angle-of-attack sensor is at the heart of the ongoing probe into the Lion Air crash.

Ethiopia’s Transport Ministry, France’s BEA air accident authority and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have all pointed to similarities between the two disasters, but safety officials stress the investigation is at an early stage.

“Everything will be investigated,” Ethiopian Transport Ministry spokesman Musie Yehyies told Reuters.

Both planes were 737 MAX 8s and crashed minutes after takeoff with pilots reporting flight control problems.

Under scrutiny is a new automated system in the 737 MAX model that guides the nose lower to avoid stalling, while Boeing has raised questions in the Lion Air case about whether crew used the correct procedures.

Lawmakers and safety experts are asking how thoroughly regulators vetted the system and how well pilots around the world were trained for it when their airlines bought new planes.

Boeing Plans New Software

Boeing Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg, facing the biggest crisis of his tenure, said on Monday the company understands that “lives depend on the work we do.”

Muilenburg also said a software upgrade for its 737 MAX aircraft that the planemaker started in the aftermath of the Lion Air deadly plane crash was coming “soon.”

The fix was developed when regulators suggested false sensor data could cause a system known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) to overreact and make the jet hard to control.

Canada is re-examining the validation it gave Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, following reports of a U.S. probe into the aircraft’s certification by the FAA, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Monday.

Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell said on Wednesday in a call with reporters that he was “absolutely” confident in the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX 8. The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Canada’s action.

The FAA finds itself in the hot seat, especially over its decision to certify the 737 MAX without demanding additional training. FAA and Boeing will face congressional questions about why the software upgrade took so long to complete and whether Boeing had too great a role in the certification process.

With the prestige of one of the United States’ biggest exporters at stake, Boeing has halted deliveries of its best-selling model that was intended to be the industry standard but is now under a shadow. Developed in response to the successful launch of the Airbus A320neo, some 370 MAX jets were in operation at the time of the Ethiopian crash, and nearly 5,000 more on order.

After a 10 percent drop last week that wiped nearly $25 billion off its market share, Boeing stock slid about 1.8 percent on Monday.

Weekend media reports intensified pressure on Boeing and its domestic U.S. regulator following a call last week by a U.S. flight attendants union for a “certification review.”

The Seattle Times said the company’s safety analysis of the MCAS system had crucial flaws, including understating power.

The Wall Street Journal reported that prosecutors and the U.S. Department of Transportation were scrutinizing the FAA’s approval of the MAX series, while a jury had issued a subpoena to at least one person involved in its development.

Boeing and the FAA declined to comment on that.

Last week, sources told Reuters that investigators found a piece of a stabilizer in the Ethiopian wreckage set in an unusual position similar to that of the Lion Air plane.

Future Orders at Stake

Ethiopia is leading the probe, although the black boxes were sent to France and U.S. experts are also participating.

Investigators were expected to select a handful of the roughly 1,800 parameters of flight data in their initial review, including those thrown up by the Lion Air investigation, before analyzing the rest in coming weeks and months.

Norwegian Airlines has already said it will seek compensation after grounding its MAX aircraft, and various companies are reconsidering orders.

Boeing’s main rival, Airbus, has seen its stock rise 5 percent since the crash, but cannot simply pick up the slack given the complicated logistics of plane-building.

For now, Boeing continues to build planes while keeping them parked.

Some airlines are revising financial forecasts, too, given the MAX had been factored in as providing around 15 percent maintenance and fuel savings.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. on Monday became the second Canadian carrier to suspend its 2019 financial projections, following Air Canada in light of the 737 MAX groundings.

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Paris Catches Asian Tigers in Most Expensive City Race

Paris and Hong Kong for the first time joined Singapore as the world’s most expensive cities to live in, a study revealed on Tuesday, with utilities and transport driving up the cost of living.

Zurich, Geneva and Japan’s Osaka trailed closely, with emerging market cities like Istanbul and Moscow plummeting down the ranking due to high inflation and currency depreciation, said the Economist Intelligence Unit’s bi-annual survey of 133 cities.

It was the first time in more than 30 years that three cities shared the top spot, a sign that pricey global cities are growing more alike, said the report’s author, Roxana Slavcheva.

“Converging costs in traditionally more expensive cities … is a testament to globalization and the similarity of tastes and shopping patterns,” she said in a statement.

“Even in locations where shopping for groceries may be relatively cheaper, utilities or transportation prices drive up overall cost of living,” she said.

Rising costs in cities are often driven by a vibrant job market attracting skilled workers with high wages, said Anthony Breach, an analyst with the British think tank Center for Cities — which was not involved in the study.

Urban planners need to plan ahead and build more housing to keep prices affordable and overall costs down, Breach told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

For the EIU survey researchers compared the cost of more than 150 items such as cars, food, rent, transport and clothing in 133 cities.

A woman’s haircut was about $15 in Bangalore, India, compared to $210 in New York, for example, while a bottle of beer was about half a dollar in Lagos, Nigeria, and more than $3 in Zurich.

British cities recovered a few positions a year after reaching the cheapest level in more than two decades due to Brexit uncertainty, with London ranking 22nd and Manchester 51st, up eight and five spots respectively.

Political turmoil in Venezuela plummeted Caracas to the bottom of the ranking, followed by Damascus, Syria, with Karachi, Pakistan, Buenos Aires, Argentina, and New Delhi also featuring among the 10 cheapest cities.

But a city’s drop in the index does not necessarily mean life automatically gets cheaper for people living there, as prices adjust to inflation often quicker than wages, said Gunes Cansiz of the World Resources Institute (WRI), a think tank.

“The cost of living in Istanbul, for example, might seem to have decreased, but since household expenses have increased, this has no positive reflection on the daily life of Istanbulites,” said Cansiz, director at WRI’s Turkey Sustainable Cities program.

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NATO to Receive First Northrop Surveillance Drone, Years Late

NATO is to receive the first of five Northrop Grumman high-altitude drones in the third quarter after years of delays, giving the alliance its own spy drones for the first time, the German government told lawmakers.

Thomas Silberhorn, state secretary in the German Defense Ministry, said the NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) drone would be delivered to an air base in Sigonella, Italy, followed by four additional systems, including drones and ground stations built by Airbus, later in the year.

NATO plans to use the aircraft, a derivative of Northrop’s Global Hawk drone, to carry out missions ranging from protection of ground troops to border control and counter-terrorism. The drones will be able to fly for up to 30 hours at a time in all weather, providing near real-time surveillance data.

Northrop first won the contract for the AGS system from NATO in May, 2012, with delivery of the first aircraft slated for 52 months later. However, technical issues and flight test delays have delayed the program, Silberhorn said.

Andrej Hunko, a member of the radical Left opposition party, called for Germany to scrap its participation in the program, warning of spiraling costs and the risk that it could escalate the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

“The drones are closely linked to a new form of warfare,” he said. “They stand for an arms race that will see existing surveillance and spy systems replaced with new platforms.”

Silberhorn, in a previously unreported response to a parliamentary query from Hunko, said NATO had capped the cost of the program at 1.3 billion euros ($1.47 billion) in 2007.

Germany, which is funding about a third of system, scrapped plans to buy its own Global Hawk drones amid spiraling costs and certification problems, and is now negotiating with Northrop to buy several of its newer model Triton surveillance drones.

Fifteen NATO countries, led by the United States, will pay for the AGS system, but all 29 alliance nations are due to participate in its long-term support.

Germany has sent 76 soldiers to Sigonella to operate the surveillance system and analyze its findings, Silberhorn said.

He said a total of 132 German soldiers would eventually be assigned to AGS, of whom 122 would be stationed in Sigonella.

NATO officials had no immediate comment on the program’s status or whether Northrop faced penalties for the delayed delivery.

No comment was available from Northrop.

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Гривня падає шість днів поспіль – НБУ

Гривня втратила 12 копійок стосовно долара, свідчать дані на сайті Національного банку України.

На 19 березня офіційний курс встановлений на рівні 27 гривень 13 копійок за долар. Таким чином, гривня падає шість банківських днів поспіль – з 12 березня.

Крім того, гривня впала на 25 копійок стосовно євро – до 30 гривень 79 копійок.

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Тимошенко пояснила, як планує знизити ціну на газ

Ціну на газ можна знизити, якщо продавати його з рентабельністю в 30%, заявила в ефірі Радіо Свобода кандидатка в президенти України Юлія Тимошенко.

Вона висловила своє схвалення з приводу того, що уряд не став продовжувати контракт із чинним директором «Нафтогазу» Андрієм Коболєвим, і пояснила свою позицію щодо підвищення ціни на газ (яке Тимошенко послідовно критикує).

Читайте також: «Газовий зашморг» як аргумент на виборах​

«Аксіома №1: в Україні не існує ринкової ціни на природній газ. Чому? Тому що не існує ринку. У нас на 100% монополія. І цю монополію створили вручну. Саме тому, коли ціна монопольна, вона не є ринковою. Якщо немає ринку, то ціну на газ «ринкову» встановив  уряд своєю постановою. При цьому, заклали для українського газу рентабельність між 200% і 300%, що саме по собі є економічним грубим безглуздям. Це корупція, яка прикрита непоганими гаслами. Ця корупція буде демонтована», – сказала лідерка партії «Батьківщина».

Вона також вчергове запевнила, що потреби населення повністю покриває газ власного видобутку. І додала, що ціну на газ можна знизити, якщо продавати блакитне паливо з прибутковістю в 30%.

«Тоді ми з вами чітко будемо розуміти, що ціна на український газ для населення і для бюджетної сфери буде формуватися так: видобуток, транспортування до споживача, безпосередньо до конфорок людей, далі – податки, 30% прибутки. І все це складає 3 гривні 50 копійок за кубометр. А сьогодні український газ людям продають по 8 гривень 55 копійок. І це не ринок. Це величезна прихована корупція», –  вважає Тимошенко.

Читайте також: Крим має бути темою переговорів ТКГ і підписантів Будапештського меморандуму – Тимошенко​

«Нафтогаз» вважає ринковою ціною газу 10 гривень 65 копійок за кубометр. Це, за підрахунками компанії, дозволило б «Укргазвидобуванню» упродовж п’яти років збільшити видобуток до 20 мільярдів кубометрів.

Обсяг видобутку газу в Україні державними й приватними компаніями у 2018 досяг 21 мільярда кубометрів. Водночас обсяг споживання газу більший – 32,3 мільярда.

Повне інтерв’ю з Юлією Тимошенко дивіться на сайті Радіо Свобода.

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UK Prime Minister in Last-Minute Push to Win Brexit Support

British Prime Minister Theresa May was making a last-minute push Monday to win support for her European Union divorce deal, warning opponents that failure to approve it would mean a long — and possibly indefinite — delay to Brexit.

Parliament has rejected the agreement twice, but May aims to try a third time this week if she can persuade enough lawmakers to change their minds. Her aim is to have the deal agreed before EU leaders meet Thursday for a summit in Brussels.

 

May’s goal is to win over Northern Ireland’s small, power-brokering Democratic Unionist Party. The DUP’s 10 lawmakers prop up May’s Conservative government, and their support could influence pro-Brexit Conservatives to drop their opposition to the deal.

 

Still, May faces a struggle to reverse the huge margins of defeat for the agreement in Parliament. It was rejected by 230 votes in January and by 149 votes last week.

 

Influential Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said he would wait to see what the DUP decided before making up his mind on whether to support May’s deal.

 

“No deal is better than a bad deal, but a bad deal is better than remaining in the European Union,” he told LBC radio.

 

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Monday he saw “cautious signs of encouragement” that the deal might make it through Parliament this week.

 

After months of political deadlock, British lawmakers voted last week to seek to postpone Brexit. That will likely avert a chaotic British withdrawal on the scheduled exit date of March 29 — although the power to approve or reject a Brexit extension lies with the EU, whose leaders are fed up with British prevarication.

 

May is likely to ask for an extension at the Brussels summit, and EU leaders say they will only grant it if Britain has a solid plan for what to do with the extra time.

 

“We have to know what the British want: How long, what is the reason supposed to be, how it should go, what is actually the aim of the extension?” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Brussels. “The longer it is delayed, the more difficult it will certainly be.”

 

Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders agreed, saying: “We are not against an extension in Belgium, but the problem is — to do what?”

 

Opposition to May’s deal centers on a measure designed to ensure there is no hard border between the U.K.’s Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland after Brexit.

 

The mechanism, known as the backstop, is a safeguard that would keep the U.K. in a customs union with the EU until a permanent new trading relationship is in place. Brexit supporters in Britain fear the backstop could be used to bind the country to EU regulations indefinitely, and the DUP fears it could lead to a weakening of the bonds between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.

 

Talks between the government and the DUP are aimed at reassuring the party that Britain could not be trapped in the backstop indefinitely.

 

May has said that if her deal is approved by Parliament this week, she will ask the EU to delay Brexit until June 30 so that Parliament has time to approve the necessary legislation. If it isn’t, she will have to seek a longer extension that could mean Britain participating in May 23-26 elections for the European Parliament.

 

May said in an article for the Sunday Telegraph that failure to approve the deal meant “we will not leave the EU for many months, if ever.”

 

“The idea of the British people going to the polls to elect MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) three years after voting to leave the EU hardly bears thinking about,” she wrote.

 

But May suffered a setback Monday when former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson refused to support her deal.

 

Johnson, a staunch Brexiteer, used his column in the Daily Telegraph to argue that the backstop left the U.K. vulnerable to “an indefinite means of blackmail” by Brussels.

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НБУ послабив гривню ще на 12 копійок щодо долара – довідковий курс

На українському міжбанківському валютному ринку триває зростання курсу долара США. Станом на 12:00 за результатами торгів Національний банк України встановив довідкове значення 27 гривень 12,85 копійки за долар, що майже на 12 копійок більше за офіційний курс, встановлений на 18 березня.

Минулого тижня фахівці відзначали, що на торги для придбання значних обсягів валюти виходила «Укрзалізниця», якій треба було погасити частину зовнішніх запозичень. Також були активними ще кілька покупців долара.

Експерти припускали, що цього тижня зростання долара може уповільнитися або й припинитися, адже для здійснення обов’язкових бюджетних платежів українські економічні агенти продаватимуть валюту.

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EU May Push China to Open Economy at April Summit

The European Union will seek Beijing’s agreement for deadlines to open up China’s economy at an April 9 summit in Brussels, according to a draft leaders’ statement, trying to coax it into making good on promises to deepen trade ties.

China and the EU will “agree by summer 2019 on a set of priority market access barriers and requirements facing their operators,” according to a six-page joint communique drafted by the EU, which still requires Chinese approval.

The statement, seen by Reuters, said the two trading blocs would set “deadlines for their swift removal by the next EU-China summit 2020 at the latest.”

The statement, which is likely to change, also sets 2020 as the goal for a special treaty to increase investment flows that has been under negotiation for almost a decade.

The communique reflects European frustration over China’s reluctance to allow foreign companies to set up without restrictions while taking full advantage of the EU’s openness, EU diplomats say.

A surge of Chinese takeovers in critical sectors in Europe and an impression in Brussels that Beijing has not kept its promise to stand up for free trade and globalization have given the April meeting new urgency.

Despite an agenda dominated by Britain’s imminent departure from the EU, leaders will use a March 21 summit to discuss China policy, a first for many years.

It is part of a flurry of high-level meetings before President Xi Jinping travels to Italy and France from this week and the bloc holds a summit with China on April 9.

The joint draft statement is set to be formally released at the summit between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk.

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