Friday, 27 January 2012

Cracks appear in the era of the A380

Having flown in this beautiful mammoth double-decker aeroplane of the sky before it was quite a shock to read about the Airbus A380 developing cracks in its wings. Airbus have blamed a combination of both design and manufacturing flaws.

Airbus A380
Image via Wikipedia

The European aircraft manufacturer have managed to establish a way to repair the cracks found on a small number of parts within the wings. This led to European safety authorities ordering safety inspections. The safety inspections are set to be carried out on almost a third of the A380 fleet.

The one-off inspections have not resulted in the grounding of aircraft pending checks but does involve the aircraft being out of service for 24 hours. The more heavily used aircraft which have already been through at least 1800 flight cycles are to be checked first. A flight cycle is one take-off and landing.

"The A380 is safe to fly," Tom Williams, executive vice president of programmes at Toulouse-based Airbus, said. He said engineers had ruled out metal fatigue on the youthful aircraft which first entered service in 2007.
English: ILA 2008: body of an Airbus A380 whic...
Image via Wikipedia
Airbus has blamed the cracks on three errors - designers' choice of aluminium alloy for some of the 4 000 brackets inside the wings, the use of a type of bolt that strained the metal and a way of closing tiny gaps that put more stress on a handful of parts.
The A380 has had a troubled entry to the market. There were a number of production delays which requires the A380 to be manufactured in various countries across Europe. In fact EADS only managed to achieve its delviery target for the first time in 2011. In November 2010 a Qantas A380 suffered an engine blow-out.

Just about all the operators of the A380 including the likes of Air France, Singapore airlines have declined to comment and have not mentioned grounding the planes. There are 68 A380's in service.

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South Africa tweets the most in Africa

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
Research released on Thursday into Tweeting found that South Africa tweeted the most on the African continent in the last three months of 2011. The study was performed by Portland Communications and Tweetminster.

According to the study South Africans tweeted over five million messages. Kenya was the next closest with 2 476 800 tweets. The next three countries to round off the top five were Nigeria (1 646 212), Egypt (1 214 062) and Morocco (745 620).

The study analysed over 11.5 million geo-located tweets originating on the continent and a survey of the 500 most active African tweeters. South Africa's result as the number one tweeting nation in Africa is a bit of surprise if you look at the Internet penetration in South Africa compared to other African countries.

South Africa surprisingly has a very low Internet penetration due to a number of reasons from its geographic location all the way to down to poor planning but thankfully it is slowly changing and the African powerhouse is getting back on track. So why is South Africa tops when Internet access is limited?

The answer presumably lies in the fact that 57% of the tweets were sent from mobile devices. South Africa has cellular coverage of something like 99% of the country. This means anyone with a mobile device capable of tweeting is accessible to the almost 43 million cellular enabled market in South Africa.

"One of the more surprising findings of this research is that more public figures have not joined Africa's burgeoning Twittersphere," said Mark Flanagan, Portland's partner for digital communications.

"With some notable exceptions, we found that business and political leaders were largely absent from the debates playing out on Twitter across the continent."

The seemingly large absence of political leaders on Twitter in Africa is interesting as most 60% of the users are aged between 20-29 years old. We have seen the world over how the correct use of Twitter can make a leaders campaign a success or failure.

"We saw the pivotal role of Twitter in the events in North Africa last year, but it is clear that Africa's Twitter revolution is really just beginning," said Beatrice Karanja, associate director and head of Portland Nairobi in Kenya.

"Twitter is helping Africa and Africans to connect in new ways and swap information and views. And for Africa, as for the rest of the world, that can only be good."

Why not have your say about the findings on twitter with hashtag #Africatweets

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