In a year of upheaval and discontent at least one story sparkled: “Air travel was a good news story in 2016,” asserts Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO of the International Air Transport Association. New routes and low fares helped prompt a record number of people to fly.“Three-point-seven billion of them flew safely to their destination,” says the IATA chief. Airlines forged some 700 new routes, linking the world ever more closely, this as average roundtrip airfares fell by US$44.And the show isn’t over yet. Juniac says,“Demand for air travel is still expanding. The challenge for governments is to work with the industry to meet that demand with new infrastructure,” Translation: we need more runways, new terminals and new airports to cover demand.By the numbers, total international passenger traffic skyrocketed 6.7 percent compared to 2015. Capacity—essentially seats and flights—rose by 6.9 percent. Load factors—the percentage seats filled by paying passengers—fell by just a whit, to 79.6 percent. Here is a breakdown of international activity by region:Buoyed by the likes of Emirates, Etihad andQatar the Middle East saw the most robust growth of all regions: 11.8 percent.As it has been for a while now, Asia-Pacific was robust. Demand there increased by 8.3 percent compared to 2015.Despite what IATA calls “some economic and political uncertainty” traffic was up by 7.4 percent among Latin American carriers, even as Latin airlines put on 4.8 percent in capacity.Not since 2012 has activity been as strong in Africa, where determined demand for seats to and from Asia and the Middle East means international traffic among that continents air carriers shot up 7.4 percent. Capacity precisely matched demand.In Europe, international traffic climbed by 4.8 percent in 2016, this while seat capacity gained 5.0 percentage points.Bringing up the rear in terms of international air traffic was North America, whose driving force was the United States. Traffic demand inched up by just 2.6 percent last year. Despite the ongoing consolidation of carriers in the region capacity rose 3.3 percent. Had it not been for strong passenger demand for seats on the transpacific the numbers here would have been even softer.That’s’ the scene as far as international air traffic is concerned. IATA says domestic air travel grew by a healthy 5.1 percent, on average. Interesting to note here that all major markets, save for Brazil, showed some growth.The International Air Transport Association represents some 265 air carriers all told. Together they account for 83 percent of global air traffic.
Africa is about to launch its first private satellite. It’s a unique achievement – not least because the engineers designing the satellite’s payload aren’t veteran astrophysicists, as you might expect. They’re teenage schoolgirls.South African schoolgirls taking part in an intensive one-week Medo Space Space Trek bootcamp in Worcester, Western Cape, in early 2016. (Image: Medo Space)Africa is about to launch its first private satellite.Scheduled for late 2016, the launch will make Medo – an acronym for the Meta Economic Development Organisation – the first private company in Africa to build a satellite and send it into orbit.It’s a unique achievement for two reasons. First, South Africa (where the company is based) has only ever sent three satellites into space. And second, the engineers designing the satellite’s onboard experiments aren’t veteran astrophysicists, as you might expect – they’re teenage schoolgirls.Medo Space has one aim: to equip school girls in Africa with the science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) skills they need to compete and thrive in our digital future. What better way for girls to learn that the sky is not the limit than to get them to build and launch space satellites that connect the continent?Why does Medo focus specifically on young women? The organisation discovered that while 80% of jobs are predicted to require a Stem-related education by 2020, less than 10% of young women are currently interested in studying science, tech, engineering and maths subjects in further education.Graphic: US Department of Education“Ten to eighty percent is a huge chasm to cross, and we knew we needed a compelling project,” Judi Sandrock and Carla de Klerk of Medo Space writes on the WEF Africa website. “Enter our satellite programme, designed to stir up young women’s interest in science by having them literally reach for the stars.”In the past three years, small-format satellites have come into their own as a means of collecting data about the planet quickly, cheaply and effectively. Medo Space aims to give young women a hand in the process, by having them design the payloads of private satellites.Watch Judi Sandrock and Carla de Klerk of Medo Space discuss their Girls in Space initiative at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Kigali, Rwanda on 13 May 2016:“Our motto, ‘Building the economy one job at a time’, is normally aimed at start-ups and entrepreneurs, but we soon realised we should be starting earlier than that,” say Sandrock and De Klerk. “To have any real effect on the economy, we found, we would need to engage with people at school level.”The aim is to inspire young women with a passion and excitement for Stem subjects. Medo wants them to go back to their schools as ambassadors for science and tech, and spread their enthusiasm to other students.Nwabisa Sitole, a Medo Space graduate and future electrical engineer, says: “I feel inspired. I never imagined a girl from a township doing these big and amazing things, learning from world-renowned astronomers.”Sometimes big things can start from something as small as a confidence boost, which in the long run will enable young women to take paths that have traditionally been dominated by men. Medo’s goal is to have every young woman leave their programme with confidence, passion and a sense of power.The Medo Space Programme is put together in three phases:First, Space Prep, is a series of one-day workshops at local high schools.Second, called Space Trek, is a one-week intensive bootcamp at which up to 30 young women build and launch their own small CricketSat satellites using high-altitude weather balloons.Third, the phase where Space Trek graduates and students design and implement payloads for satellites.Watch a Medo Space Trek satellite launch in January 2016:“We have found that participants at our workshops and bootcamps often return to school with renewed energy for their subjects and new goals for the future,” say the Medo team. “Most go on to enter Stem-related fields of study after high school.”While the ultimate goal is to produce a raft of female engineers, there is much work to do first, in both Africa and South Africa – especially when it seems the statistics are squared against progress.“We need to raise the pass rate of national exams, so we can start setting up young people for success, regardless of the subjects they pursue,” say Sandrock and De Klerk.“Our aim for the year is to help as many individuals as possible, so that we can create a generation of passionate young minds that contribute to the economy – not only with skills, but with solutions. We are definitely up to the challenge. This is our private-sector solution.”Edited and compiled by Mary Alexander
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Whether you are a longtime advocate of cover crops-or have never even considered using them-the Soil Health Partnership is encouraging all farmers to participate in the USDA’s 2017 Cover Crop Survey.In its fifth year, the survey helps the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program understand why farmers choose to use cover crops, or the reasons that they don’t. The information will help guide cover crop research, policy and education nationwide.“The experienced voices of all farmers are critical to the effectiveness of this survey,” said Nick Goeser, director of the Soil Health Partnership, and National Corn Growers Association director of soil health and sustainability. “We are encouraging our farmers enrolled in the Soil Health Partnership to participate in the survey, but all farmer views and experiences are relevant to USDA in understanding the real-life benefits and challenges of cover crops.”An NCGA initiative, the Soil Health Partnership is in its fourth year, working to quantify the benefits of improved soil health practices from an economic standpoint, showing how healthy soil benefits the bottom line in addition to the environment. Cover crops are one of the practices the SHP measures and encourages.What’s your cover crop story? Share it here! The SARE survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete, but ends in mid-May. SARE will issue a summary and report.The Conservation Technology Information Center and the American Seed Trade Association are partners in the survey.
Venus Williams of the United States pauses between points as she plays Spain’s Garbine Muguruza in the Women’s Singles final match on day twelve at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London Saturday, July 15, 2017. (David Ramos/Pool Photo via AP)NEW YORK — Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova and John Isner will headline World TeamTennis, which begins its 42nd season on Sunday.Williams, who finished runner-up at Wimbledon on Saturday, will play her sixth season for the Washington Kastles. She’ll travel to Philadelphia to face the Freedoms on July 24 and be home for the Springfield (Missouri) Lasers on July 25.ADVERTISEMENT Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Harden plans to be in Houston ‘forever’ Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Hotel says PH coach apologized for ‘kikiam for breakfast’ claim FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss PLAY LIST 02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet El Nido residents told to vacate beach homes Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant MOST READ National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress The six-team coed league also features Wimbledon semifinalist Sam Querrey and Australian Nick Kyrgios on the Kastles.Sharapova recently returned to the WTA after a doping ban and skipped Wimbledon because of a thigh injury. She plays for the Orange County Breakers, who face the defending champion San Diego Aviators on Sunday.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsIsner and Eugenie Bouchard play for the New York Empire.The WTT final is Aug. 5 in San Diego. Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ LATEST STORIES View comments