Dutch airline KLM is planning to use the leftovers of 50,000 airplane meals to produce electricity. The idea is to convert waste (refuse and food) into oil and then burn in a gas turbine at a new power station on Schiphol Airport grounds. A feasability study is currently being done and a decision will be made at the end of September.
With an investment of less than EUR 10 mln, the power station could process 20 tonnes of waste a day, which is enough to handle the leftover food. The turbine would then be able of providing electricity for 4,000 homes.
The vehicle pictured above consists of a kite, a cabin and a keel, and should be able to take you across the Atlantic Ocean. The 157 m2 kite should produce enough power to make you go 90 km/h, the cabin seats two, and the keel makes sure you can actually steer the thing. The only catch is that the Hydrokite so far only exists in the minds of former astronaut and kite nut Wubbo Ockels and ten of his students at the TU Delft.
At 90 km/h you should be able to reach New York from Amsterdam in four days and 1 hour, which would break the old record with three hours, although Kennislink doesn’t say what record that would be (sailing? flying? kiting?).
Laurens Alblas, one of the students, told Kennislink that it will probably “take a couple of years before a control system for kites is developed. But once we have such a system, and assuming we can find sponsors, we will build the Hydrokite and we will try and break the record.”
Ron Ledford, an American who survived the plane crash this week at Schiphol airport helped crash victims out of the plane and walked to the nearest hospital. As you may have read, it took the emergency services some 40 minutes to get to the crash for whatever reason.
When the emergency services finally arrived, the man decided to walk to the Lucas Andreas hospital to have himself checked out. He was asked to pay 250 euro for the visit, and since he didn’t have it on him, he claims to have gone to a coffeeshop to ‘self-medicate’.
The hospital is looking into this incident and says it will issue a statement. I should bloodly hope so. Amsterdam’s local TV station AT5 met Ron Ledford at a shop downtown where he was being fitted with a free new outfit, thanks to a shop owner who met him and obviously cared about his story (unlike the hospital). He was then brought for more help to the police.
The Westboro Baptist Church, an American sect known for promoting the Christian God’s stance on homosexuality (it would appear he frowns upon it), has announced (PDF) it will picket the funerals of Dutch persons “killed at [the] Amsterdam plane crash.” No divine inspiration there, I am afraid. Yahweh forgot to tell the church there were no Dutch nationals among the dead. But these statements appear par for the course for the devout, as the church has also announced Turks will get the same treatment (PDF).
Meanwhile the radio this morning reported (RTV-NH, no written story available, yet) that at least two so-called American ‘ambulance chasers’, lawyers who try to represent accident victims, have been harassing the victims of the Turkish Airlines plane crash.
There’s a phrase the Dutch use for the extravagances we associate with the USA: ‘Amerikaanse toestanden’ (American situations). And the reason we apply that label is because we want no truck with them. Rare though is the time the Americans actually try and export their ‘situations.’
On 16 January, two ‘poor students’ were at a congress called the Big Improvement Day in Amsterdam where Sir Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin Group was a guest speaker. Through a back channel screen and using text messages (and oddly enough not free Twitter), people could ask Branson questions. Two guys jokingly asked him, “Would you bring two poor students to Washington?” to which Branson answered “yes” right away. They actually got to jet off to see Obama live yesterday. Cliché number one: ask, and you shall receive. Cliché number two: it’s easy to be off the cuff when you’re loaded.
Branson dropped the guys off in Washington, while the organisers of the congress offered to pay for their accommodations. Not bad.
Dutch guitar giant Jan Akkerman, former astrounaut Wubbo Ockels and Delft University all worked together to come up with this tiny concert in the Stadspark of Groningen last year. The reason? The electrical power was delivered by a prototype of a so-called Laddermill, an invention by Wubbo Ockels that is currently being developed at the University of Delft, and that consists of a chain of kite-wings that act as kites when going up, and as wings when going down.
Laddermills should be able to deliver from kilowatts to megawatts of power, enough to provide neighbourhoods and cities with electricity. According to the Guardian, laddermills are especially useful in The Netherlands, Denmark, the UK and Ireland “thanks to the high-speed jet stream.”
If you’ve never heard of Akkerman before, check YouTube for “focus hocus pocus.”
British airline Virgin Atlantic has recently started testing biofuel on a 747 flight to Amsterdam. The flight from Heathrow to Schiphol is part of an initiative to apply profitable, alternative biofuel in commercial aviation. The flights are done in collaboration with Boeing and motor manufacturer GE Aviation.
Virgin Atlantic claims that it is the first time a commercial aircraft flies on algae-based biofuel, a fuel that does not pose a threat to the food market or fresh water reserves. The goal of the test is to reduce the CO2 emissions level of the aviation sector. The plane flew without passengers.
The reason I am on about this is because while on the motorway last Sunday, a Virgin Atlantic 747 flew overhead, which it apparently never does. Now I know why it did.
I went to pick up a friend at Schiphol airport and noticed they had a new shop called Planes@Plaza. It has all kinds of plane related knick-knacks, but the best reason to visit the shop is that it is physically built around a KLM DC-9 cockpit and cabin interior, with a huge engine on the other side of the shop. To sweeten the deal, you can have a digital picture of you and a friend taken in the cockpit wearing a cap and uniform, albeit a co-pilot’s one (three stripes for co-pilots, four for captains – the photographer knew that as well). And you can keep taking pictures until they get one just right. It costs EUR 5 and comes in a funny paper frame. Even better, while sitting in the cockpit you can have a look around all the buttons, levers and what not of a real cockpit, which does not happen very often. They had to almost drag me away!
The cabin features a film about Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and then there’s also a flight simulator game on one of the Playstations.
After some 85 years in the air with pregnant staff and thousands of babies later, stewardesses and pilots can now get time off to make babies at KLM. The so-called ‘ovulation leave’ (how very woman friendly) mainly applies to KLM staff who work on intercontinental flights.
As of January 1, 2008 it will be forbidden for pregnant staff to fly and anyone pregnant will have to be grounded. It’s apparently better for their health.
Pregnant staff have been up in the air for some 85 years, couldn’t they have figured this out a while back? What took them so long?
Yesterday Schiphol Airport began using new body-scanning machines at security checkpoints, becoming the first major airport to use the technology to find metals and explosives hidden under clothing.The “security scan” system, which uses harmless radio waves to display head-to-toe images of people, is also being used by other airports on a trial basis, but Schiphol is the only one to deploy the technology for regular use at its checkpoints. It takes three seconds to go through the scanner.
Schiphol is one of the world’s most modern airports, with flat-panel screens (as long as the info is somewhere), airport-wide Web access (totally overpriced BTW) and iris scanners already on offer to those who want to bypass passport lines (it’s the baggage check lines that are nasty).