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Friday,27-May-2022

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Air India among airlines skipping US airports over 5G safety dispute

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Air India joined at least nine other international airlines that have modified or cancelled flights to the US amid conflicting reports on what new 5G cell phone services can do to critical airplane technologies.

Carriers are taking a variety of approaches to the spiraling crisis. Air India, Emirates, All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Lufthansa and British Airways have announced changes to some of their flights.

Air India said it would suspend the service between Delhi and San Francisco, Chicago and JFK as well as a Mumbai to Newark flight. It will continue to fly into Washington Dulles.

Both ANA and Japan Airlines said they cancelled some flights scheduled to use Boeing 777 aircraft, but will operate some flights using Boeing 787s instead.

Emirates suspended flights into Boston, Chicago O’Hare, Dallas Fort Worth, George Bush Intercontinental in Houston, Miami, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco and Seattle.A

Emirates continued flying into New York’s John F. Kennedy airport, Los Angeles International and Washington Dulles.

Lufthansa cancelled a flight between Frankfurt and Miami and said it would swap Boeing 747-8 aircraft for 747-400s on flights from Frankfurt to Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco.

CNN Business quoted a British Airways spokesman that the airline “had to make a handful of cancellations” because a decision by telecom operators to delay activating the new 5G service at some locations didn’t cover all the airports the airline serves.

Virgin Atlantic and Air France-KLM said they had not cancelled any flights but were monitoring the situation.

Delta Air Lines said it is planning for the possibility of weather-related cancellations as early as Wednesday due to the new 5G service in the vicinity of dozens of US airports.

US air transport regulator, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has been concerned that the version of 5G that was scheduled to be switched on could interfere with some airplane instruments. Some aviation industry groups shared those fears. This is despite reassurances from federal telecom regulators and well as wireless carriers.

Specifically, the FAA has been worried that 5G cellular antennas near some airports – not air mobile devices – could throw off readings from some aircraft equipment designed to tell pilots how far they are from the ground.

The systems, radar altimeters, are used throughout a flight and are considered critical. (Radar altimeters differ from standard altimeters, which rely on air pressure readings and do not use radio signals to gauge altitude.)

In December, the FAA had forbidden pilots from using the potentially affected altimeters around airports where low-visibility conditions would otherwise require them.

That new rule could keep planes from getting to some airports in certain circumstances, because pilots would be unable to land using instruments alone.

“We are frustrated by the FAA’s inability to do what nearly 40 countries have done, which is to safely deploy 5G technology without disrupting aviation services, and we urge it to do so in a timely manner,” an AT&T spokesperson said.

Earlier this week, mobile carriers AT&T and Verizon agreed to pause the rollout of the new high-speed 5G wireless service near major airports.

The Biden administration welcomed the halt, saying this “will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations, and our economic recovery, while allowing more than 90 per cent of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled.”

“While this is a positive development toward preventing widespread disruptions to flight operations, some flight restrictions may remain,” Delta said.

In a Tuesday letter, CEOs from some airlines told the Biden administration to push back the already-delayed rollout.

Airlines estimate 1,000 flight disruptions per day because of possible interference with radar altimeters that pilots use to land in low visibility conditions.

The telecom industry has not commented on the CEOs letter, but has said fears are unfounded since there have not been problems in other countries where 5G is already deployed.

According to a service map by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), areas in California, Florida, New England, Texas and the midwest will gain 5G coverage. But aviation groups warn that it could jeopardize some of the largest airports, including in Los Angeles, New York and Houston.

The 5G signals will travel over radio frequencies that are collectively known as the C-Band. This band of airwaves is attractive to wireless carriers because it offers a good balance between cellular range and capacity – two key features of any wireless network. (Other sets of airwaves besides the C-Band are also used to carry 5G, but the current debate focuses on just the C-Band frequencies.)

On the spectrum of radio frequencies used for wireless communications, the C-Band sits right next to the band of frequencies used by the aircraft altimeters. The two are intentionally separated by a so-called guard band – essentially “blank” airwaves – to safeguard against interference.

To further address any aircraft risks, Verizon and AT&T have offered in November to limit the power of their 5G antennas and to take other precautionary measures.

But that hasn’t been enough to allay the concerns of the FAA, whose 11th-hour order would have “an enormous negative impact on the aviation industry,” the CEOs of Boeing and Airbus wrote in a letter Monday to the Department of Transportation.

The CEOs added: “We agree that 5G interference could adversely affect the ability of aircraft to safely operate.”

The letter cites an estimate published by the industry group Airlines for America, which predicts the FAA restrictions will disrupt 345,000 passenger flights, 32 million passengers and 5,400 cargo flights. The FAA’s own order estimates that 6,800 US airplanes could be affected by the plan, along with 1,800 helicopters.

Technology experts say that while 5G antennas could theoretically lead to interference around airports, the potential for interference is an ever-present feature of all wireless communications – not just 5G – and that so far regulators around the world have done a good job of handling it.

Business

Sacked fund manager slaps legal notice on Axis Mutual Fund

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Fund manager and Chief Dealer at Axis Mutual Fund, Viresh Joshi, who was sacked last fortnight, has served a legal notice to the company challenging what he terms as his illegal termination.

Joshi was first suspended and later relieved of his charge on May 18, as per a statement issued by the AMF on May 19, for his purported role against allegations of ‘front-running’ (or, tailgating) at the company which conducted an internal probe into the matter.

He has hired leading law firm, Mansukhlal Hiralal & Co. to challenge his termination order.

Confirming the development, lawyer Chirag M. Shah told IANS: “We are in communication with Axis Mutual Fund on behalf of our client Viresh Joshi and have duly replied to the unlawful termination notice.”

Shah added that AMF terminated Joshi unceremoniously on unsubstantiated charges of alleged ‘front-running’ and he has sent a notice to the company against the unlawful termination.

The AMF further stated that it had been conducting a suo moto internal investigation into the issue since February 2022 using a reputed external advisor to assist with the ongoing probe.

“Further to our investigation, his conduct and following the decision to suspend him, the employment of Mr. Viresh Joshi has been terminated with effect from May 18, 2022,” said the company.

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Business

Reliance subsidiary SankhyaSutra unveils ‘make in India’ software at Drone fest

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Bengaluru-based subsidiary of Jio Platforms, SankhyaSutra Labs, which makes high-fidelity multi-physics and aerodynamics simulation software, on Friday showcased its products and solutions at the ‘Drone Festival of India 2022’.

According to the company, achieving accurate simulation of turbulent flows often required in aerospace and defence designing is a challenging task due to the involvement of multiple scales of swirling motions, also known as vortices.

SankhyaSutra Labs said it develops next-generation high-fidelity CFD tools that do not use approximate turbulence models.

“When we speak about self-reliance in defence, we often tend to focus on the ability to manufacture various hardware components indigenously,” Dr Sunil Sherlekar, CEO at SankhyaSutra Labs, said in a statement.

“This journey towards self-reliance would be incomplete without indigenous design tools, which are the key enablers of this journey. At SankhyaSutra, we are developing deep technology for India and the world,” he added.

Incubated in 2015, SankhyaSutra Labs has its R&D centre in Bengaluru with target customers across the globe.

The company has planned a major product launch in October this year.

“Accurate and reliable simulations can potentially reduce the need for expensive and time-consuming experiments, such as wind tunnel experiments, which are used in the designing of aircrafts,” said Dr Vinay Kariwala, VP Business Development at SankhyaSutra Labs.

Reliance Industries Ltd had acquired an 83 per cent stake in SankhyaSutra Labs in 2019, with an investment of Rs 216 crore.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the two-day ‘Bharat Drone Mahotsav 2022’ in the capital.

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India Cements to monetise land, increase price by Rs 55 per bag

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Cement major India Cements Ltd will monetise some of its land to settle its debt and for capital expenditure, said a top company official.

He also said, in order to recover production costs that went up owing to drastic increase in coal prices, the company will be increasing the cement prices by Rs 55 per bag in three phases between June and July.

Speaking to reporters here on Friday N. Srinivasan, Vice Chairman and Managing Director said the company would monetise surplus land for repayment of loan and for some capital expenditure.

“We are not in distress sale mode. We have about 26,000 acres of land in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The lands are of different categories,” Srinivasan said.

According to him, the company has to repay about Rs 500 crore of its debt and to that extent land monetisation would happen.

India Cements total debt at the end of last fiscal was about Rs 3,000 crore.

The capital expenditure is not much except for some balancing equipment and waste recovery plant in Chilamkur in Andhra Pradesh.

Srinivasan said the company would increase the cement prices by Rs 55 per bag in three parts — Rs 20 on June 1, Rs 15 on June 15 and Rs 20 on July 1.

He said the company’s products are already premium priced.

According to Srinivasan, the consumer has a choice as cement bags are now available in the price points ranging between Rs 320-450.

When queried that other cement players had expressed their plans to reduce their selling prices Srinivasan remarked: “Don’t compare. All costs have gone up. If I don’t increase the prices, I will runup huge losses.”

With a slow recovery in the southern markets further affected by record rains and floods in the previous quarter, the selling price of cement was under constant pressure resulting in uncompensated increase in the cost of production.

This was further compounded by the reduction in volume as the company as a prudent policy withdrew from the far off markets to focus on home markets.

Meanwhile, the company closed last fiscal with a total income of Rs 4,729.83 crore (FY21 Rs 4,460.12 crore) and a net profit of Rs 38.98 crore down from Rs 222.04 crore logged in FY21.

The company Board has recommended a dividend of Re.1 per share of Rs.10 each.

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