Tempers flared in Blacksmiths Lane, Seaforth just yards away from the polling station, as the Jamaica Labour Party’s James Robertson, who is vying for another term as the Member of Parliament (MP) of Western St Thomas, addressed a small group of community members. Robertson, who was being accused of being absent in the constituency, was assuring the people of the work that he had put in over the years. “I have been a father to this lane for almost 30 years, long before I was elected as MP,” he said. Robertson’s proclamation was met with shouts and nods of agreement from a few of the people who had gathered. However, one man, who was holding a cup of what appeared to contain alcohol, approached the candidate with slurs contrary to what he had proclaimed. Another resident of the community exclaimed that the man was drunk and asked him to move away. The accusing man refused, which escalated to a brief fist fight. Robertson ensured that the dispute was settled before leaving the location.
Following Concorde’s entry into service in 1976, the supersonic jet’s top speed of Mach 2.04 (1,354 mph), enabled passengers to cross the Atlantic Ocean in half the time it had once taken.This was until 2003, however, when economic and safety pressures forced the supersonic jet into retirement.A true beauty of the skies, Concorde’s retirement not only signalled the end of commercial supersonic flight but also the first time in aviation history that the progress towards ever faster speeds had gone into reverse.Concorde’s historyAfter over a decade of subsonic commercial flight, there is hope once again for jetsetters across the globe as NASA, in conjunction with Lockheed Martin and General Electric, is in the process of developing quiet supersonic technology.Known as QueSST, the technology is designed to reduce the deafening impact of a sonic boom to a muted thump, clearing the way for environmentally acceptable supersonic transport aircraft and, potentially, the birth of a new golden age of high speed travel.The ProcessTo realize this goal, NASA has contracted Lockheed Martin and General Electric to develop a preliminary design of a supersonic aircraft capable of proving to regulatory agencies that low level sonic booms are acceptable to people on the ground.The shaping of the 94 foot long, delta-winged aircraft is designed to create a sonic boom which would be audible as a soft rumble as opposed to a sharp crack. As Peter Iosifidis, Lockheed Martin Program Manager, explains, the QueSST demonstrator design (pictured at top right) attempts to “separate the shocks so that they don’t ever coalesce”.By distributing these waves across the length of the aircraft, the shock waves cannot become focused and instead, hit the ground intermittently, creating the soft rumble NASA is aiming for.Powered by a single General Electric F404 fighter engine, the specially designed demonstrator is expected to fly in late 2019 and will begin sonic boom experiments in 2020.The plan is for the aircraft to participate in a series of over-flight trials around 2022-2023 over four to six communities around the US. The results of these trails will be used to determine once and for all if the 1973 ban on supersonic overland travel can be overturned, potentially opening the door to follow-on commercial developments both domestically and internationally.Sonic Booms generally hit a decibel level of 106 PLdB. NASA’s demonstration began with an F/A-18’s level flight over the NASA Armstrong parking lot. The sonic boom created was 104 PLdB.Listen hereThen the NASA demonstrated the “thump” using an F/A-18 which only reached a level of 77 decibels, just 2 above their target of 75 at which they hope the International Civil Aviation Organisation will confirm to be acceptable to the public.The simulated low boom was achieved through a dive manoeuvre in which the F/A-18 accelerates to Mach 1.1 at an arranged altitude and distance from the targeted epicenter of the sound shockwave.Listen to the much quieter thump (sonic boom) here:The LynchpinThis monumental effort originates from a 1973 FAA and ICAO regulation prohibiting any flight that creates a sonic boom over land. As overland flight is imperative to the economic feasibility of supersonic operations, the entire market hinges on ICAO mandating a sonic boom decibel level that they deem acceptable to the public. This, in turn, is contingent on the success of NASA’s QueSST effort and its attempt to prove the technical viability of a low boom design based on principles that can be applied to aircraft ranging in size from a Mach 1.4 business jet to a 120-seat supersonic airliner.The ImplicationsShould commercial supersonic flight overland become acceptable, NASA forecasts a demand for over 500 civil supersonic airliners in addition to between 350 and 500 business jets. The advent of long awaited high speed transport will almost certainly revolutionize international passenger travel as well as the flying experience. With airlines desperate to gain a competitive edge on their rivals, the availability of a supersonic commercial aircraft would set a new standard for the premium commercial flight experience.Cavair at Mach 2A Team EffortWhile much of NASA’s effort stems from a desire to maintain American leadership in global civil aviation, NASA’s Dave Richwire, Commercial Supersonic Technologies Sub-Project Manager, admits, “We have got to engage the international community because if this aircraft is going to be successful it has to operate around the world.”Amongst the international research community the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) continues to pursue ambitious plans for a high speed trans-Pacific airliner while in Europe the nearer term focus remains on development of a new generation of supersonic business jets.It is also clear that supersonic transport will have to travel at high altitude for both operational and air traffic reasons. These aircraft will be travelling almost twice as fast as subsonic airliners and to avoid congestion in the lower levels of controlled airspace will be allocated to virtually traffic free zones at 50,000 feet or higher. As Ed Haering, NASA’s Aerospace Engineer and Sonic Boom specialist said, “It’s the fast lane!”.
3 December 2014Jobs have been created in the Western Cape coastal town of Hermanus in the specialised field of abalone farming, at Abagold Limited.The company has been able to expand through an agriculture incentive administered by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).“Abagold Limited, a company that farms in abalone in Hermanus, Western Cape, is one of the few companies that have already accessed the DTI’s Aquaculture Development and Enhancement Programme [ADEP] incentive and has already created 120 new jobs,” said departmental spokesperson Sidwell Medupe.Abagold’s managing director, Christo du Plessis, said the company, which applied for financial assistance with a vision to expand and at the same time create jobs for people in the Hermanus region, was realising its vision so far.“We have already created 97 new permanent jobs in addition to the 265 that we had. There are also 29 new fixed-term jobs due to the construction phase, which is likely to continue for more than a year. We are happy to be growing as a company. Our growth is not only for us but for the community and the town at large.”Du Plessis said the company acquired 25% black economic empowerment investors in 2010, which provided most of the capital for the Sulamanzi expansion project. The department partly funded this project through its ADEP incentive.Growth strategySulamanzi is Abagold’s biggest farm and will contribute to the company realising its growth strategy.“The investment in the project is budgeted to a total sum of R112-million and we have already received R5.6-million as a first claim from the DTI. Our maximum production per annum used to be 275 tons of abalone, and with the new project, it will grow to more than 500 tons per annum.”The company currently exported almost 100% of its abalone to markets in Hong Kong, Mainland China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Singapore and Japan, Du Plessis added. The product is exported in live, canned and dried formats under its own registered brand.Because of strict permit conditions in South Africa and the fact that abalone was not that well-known, the group did not have a large market locally.Abagold was expanding its footprint, he said, through the manufacturing and selling of specialised aquatic feeds, increased abalone production and wave energy generation.Skills trainingKwanele Tom, 20, who is employed on Abagold’s Sulamanzi farm, was happy with his new job, which helped him to support himself and his family of five.“Since I joined the company I have learned how to work with abalone and would like to attend the aquaculture training course and other skills training courses. I want to grow with the company,” he said.The objective of the ADEP is to stimulate investment in the aquaculture sector with the intention to increase production, sustain and create jobs, encourage geographical spread and broaden participation.It offers a reimbursable cost-sharing grant of up to R40-million qualifying costs in machinery and equipment, bulk infrastructure, owned land and/or buildings leasehold improvements, competitiveness improvement activities, as well as commercial vehicles and work boats.SANews