Where are the drones? Amazon’s customers are still waiting

By David Koenig And Joseph Pisani

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Jeff Bezos boldly predicted five years ago that drones would be carrying Amazon packages to people’s doorsteps by now.

Amazon customers are still waiting. And it’s unclear when, if ever, this particular order by the company’s founder and CEO will arrive.

Bezos made billions of dollars by transforming the retail sector. But overcoming the regulatory hurdles and safety issues posed by drones appears to be a challenge even for the world’s wealthiest man. The result is a blown deadline on his claim to CBS’ “60 Minutes” in December 2013 that drones would be making deliveries within five years.

The day may not be far off when drones will carry medicine to people in rural or remote areas, but the marketing hype around instant delivery of consumer goods looks more and more like just that  hype. Drones have a short battery life, and privacy concerns can be a hindrance, too.

“I don’t think you will see delivery of burritos or diapers in the suburbs,” says drone analyst Colin Snow.

Drone usage has grown rapidly in some industries, but mostly outside the retail sector and direct interaction with consumers.

The government estimates that about 110,000 commercial drones are operating in U.S. airspace, and the number is expected to soar to about 450,000 in 2022. They are being used in rural areas for mining and agriculture, for inspecting power lines and pipelines, and for surveying.

Amazon says it is still pushing ahead with plans to use drones for quick deliveries, though the company is staying away from fixed timelines.

“We are committed to making our goal of delivering packages by drones in 30 minutes or less a reality,” says Amazon spokeswoman Kristen Kish. The Seattle-based online retail giant says it has drone development centres in the United States, Austria, France, Israel and the United Kingdom.

Delivery companies have been testing the use of drones to deliver emergency supplies and to cover ground quickly in less populated areas. By contrast, package deliveries would be concentrated in office parks and neighbourhoods where there are bigger issues around safety and privacy.

In May, the Trump administration approved a three-year program for private companies and local government agencies to test drones for deliveries, inspections and other tasks.

But pilot programs by major delivery companies suggest few Americans will be greeted by package-bearing drones any time soon. United Parcel Service tested launching a drone from a delivery truck that was covering a rural route in Florida. DHL Express, the German delivery company, tested the use of drones to deliver medicine from Tanzania to an island in Lake Victoria.

Frank Appel, the CEO of DHL’s parent company, Deutsche Post AG, said “over the next couple of years” drones will remain a niche vehicle and not widely used. He said a big obstacle is battery life.

“If you have to recharge them every other hour, then you need so many drones and you have to orchestrate that. So good luck with that,” he told The Associated Press.

Appel said human couriers have another big advantage over drones: They know where customers live and which doorbell to ring. “To program that in IT is not that easy and not cheap,” he said.

Analysts say it will take years for the Federal Aviation Administration to write all the rules to allow widespread drone deliveries.

Snow, the CEO of Skylogic Research, says a rule permitting operators to fly drones beyond their line of sight  so critical to deliveries is at least 10 years away. A method will be needed to let law enforcement identify drones flying over people federal officials are worried about their use by terrorists.

While the rules are being written, companies will rely on waivers from the FAA to keep experimenting and running small-scale pilot programs.

“People like DHL and the rest of them (will say), ‘Hey, we can deliver via drone this parcel package to this island,’ but that’s not the original vision that Amazon presented,” Snow says.

There is a long list of FAA rules governing drone flights. They generally can’t fly higher than 400 feet, over many federal facilities, or within five miles of an airport. Night flights are forbidden. For the delivery business, the biggest holdup is that the machines must remain within sight of the operator at all times.

In June, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine said the FAA was being overly conservative in its safety standards for drones. The group said FAA’s risk-averse attitude was holding back beneficial uses, such as drones helping firefighters who are battling a fierce blaze.

Even before the criticism by the scientific panel, the FAA had begun to respond more quickly to operators’ requests for waivers from some rules, says Alan Perlman, founder of the Drone Pilot Ground School in Nashville, Tennessee. He said it is also getting easier and cheaper to buy liability insurance.

Bezos was mindful of the safety issues, telling “60 Minutes” back in 2013, “This thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighbourhood.”

That didn’t stop him from predicting that drones fed with GPS co-ordinates would be taking off and making deliveries in  “four, five years. I think so. It will work, and it will happen.”

To Perlman, the billionaire’s optimism made perfect sense.

“When you’re in his world you think more about technology than regulations, and the (drone) technology is there,” Perlman said.

World’s first research centre to improve Canadians’ air travel experience

Air transport allows thousands of Canadians to connect with families and explore other parts of the world. It is also at the core of Canada’s economic future. To remain a leader in the aerospace industry and keep air travel safe and enjoyable for all Canadians, we need to invest in leading-edge technologies.

oday, the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced the launch of the new Centre for Air Travel Research. The new centre, managed by the National Research Council of Canada, is the world’s first and only facility to study the air travel experience from start to finish; from check-in to terminal, to security, boarding, flying, and deplaning.

All businesses involved in the air travel experience, including airlines, aircraft manufacturers, and cabin equipment and systems suppliers need the right research platforms and technologies to develop and test their solutions to real-world challenges. The Centre for Air Travel Research provides the aerospace industry with a flexible, collaborative space to develop, integrate, and evaluate aerospace technologies, systems and materials.

With expertise across a wide range of disciplines, the National Research Council supports the aerospace industry in tackling various air travel challenges. Located next to the Ottawa International Airport, this unique facility will allow companies to evaluate a passenger’s complete air travel experience to improve safety, efficiency and comfort for Canadian travellers and visitors.

Quick Facts

  • In 2017, over 140 million passengers travelled through Canadian airports.
  • Last year the aerospace industry made a significant contribution to Canada’s economy through more than 188,000 direct and indirect quality jobs and over $24.5 billion in gross domestic product.
  • The Centre for Air Travel Research has five laboratories that simulate and study a passenger’s complete air travel experience.
  • In addition to offering a realistic recreation of an airport terminal, the Centre for Air Travel Research also boasts the Flexible Cabin Laboratory, complete with an A320 aircraft cabin that allows for the study of passenger flight experience, human vibration, and more.

Quotes

“Canadians want safe, efficient, affordable, and comfortable air travel services. The National Research Council of Canada’s Centre for Air Travel Research – a research and development facility – will benefit travellers, airlines, and aircraft manufacturers from around the world.”
The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport

“Our government is working to make sure that the Canadian aerospace industry is in the best possible position to meet customers’ needs and remain competitive. By launching the world’s first and only centre dedicated to improving customers’ air travel experience, Canada is demonstrating that it’s at the leading edge of innovation.”
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“Using a holistic approach, our simulator draws from our team’s diverse knowledge base in areas like environmental controls, vibration, avionics, and human factors to help improve passenger comfort, safety and enroute efficiency. We are proud to be investing in technology platforms that will be critical for the long-term success of the aerospace industry.”
Iain Stewart, President of the National Research Council of Canada

Associated Links

SOURCE National Research Council Canada

 

Fly now, pay later: Are travel loans a good deal?

By Amrita Jayakumar

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dreaming of a spring getaway with white-sand beaches and a cool drink in your hand?

A search for airline tickets can bring your dream down to earth, if the steep fares charged by many airlines outstrip your savings.

What if you could book your trip today and pay for it later without maxing out your credit cards?

Major airlines including American Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines integrate buy-now-pay-later concepts into their online booking. Working with technology startups that provide the financing, they offer loans to travellers who would rather pay a fixed amount over time than dip into savings or use high-interest credit cards.

Financing a trip may be a reasonable option in a few situations for trips that are important and have inflexible dates, for example, or for emergency travel. But if you don’t know how you’ll pay, borrowing isn’t a good idea, experts say.

LOAN OR LAYAWAY

“We are trying to help people take the trips of a lifetime,” says Brian Barth, founder and CEO of UpLift, a Silicon Valley startup that gives travel loans through four major airlines’ websites.

Travel lenders say they appeal to people with average credit scores who may not qualify for travel reward cards that require excellent credit. The loans also can make sense for people who are building credit and prefer the discipline of fixed payments over credit cards’ revolving payments.

It’s not just airlines offering financing for travellers. Travel deal sites such as CheapAir.com, Expedia and Groupon Getaways offer loans through Affirm, a San Francisco-based online lender. Airfordable and FlightLayaway.com offer layaway-style plans, in which you pay off your ticket in online installments before you fly. Other sites like STA Travel market financing to college students.

Some experts advise against going into debt for travel at all, whether you use travel loans or credit cards. “Taking out debt (to travel) is risky and can be harder to pay off in the long run,” says Brett Snyder, president and founder of airline industry blog Cranky Flier.

THE COST OF CONVENIENCE

Even when a travel loan might make sense, know how you’ll pay it back, such as by carving money out of your budget or using a tax refund, Snyder says.

Before you choose a loan, understand all the costs, says Graciela Aponte-Diaz, director of California policy for the Center for Responsible Lending, a non-profit advocacy group.

The typical UpLift customer borrows $500 to $2,500, says Barth, and the company charges annual percentage rates from 8.99 per cent to 36 per cent, based on your credit profile. If you borrow $1,500, for example, and pay it back over 12 months at 17 per cent _ UpLift’s average rate for borrowers _ you’ll pay $137 per month and a total of $1,642.

Affirm charges 10 per cent to 30 per cent APR, and travellers borrow $1,400 on average, says spokesperson Elizabeth Allin. Airfordable charges a one-time service fee equal to about 13 per cent of the ticket cost, according to a calculator on the website.

Lenders may also charge cancellation and modification fees if your plans change, or try to sell you travel insurance.

THE CREDIT EFFECT

Both UpLift and Affirm say they perform soft credit checks _ essentially a background check of your credit report, which won’t hurt your score. If you are approved, the loan and your payment history will show up on your credit report. Paying on time can build your credit score; not paying will hurt it, and you may be charged late fees.

UpLift considers borrowers with average to low credit scores and looks at data beyond credit scores, such as the person’s travel history with an airline, says Barth. The lender has approved people with scores as low as 475, he says.

Affirm which targets those who are new to credit  says it may ask applicants for permission to scan checking account transactions to gauge financial behaviour. More than 70 per cent of Affirm travellers have credit scores between 620 and 729, says Allin.

ALTERNATIVES TO TRAVEL LOANS

Saving is the cheapest way to fund your dream getaway.

In some cases, charging the trip to your credit card and paying more than the minimum monthly payment may be cheaper than a travel loan with interest, as long as you pay it off within a fixed time frame, says Aponte-Diaz.

Still dreaming of that beach? Find an affordable version of it, says Snyder.

“You don’t have to go to Bali. Go to Florida without putting yourself into debt,” he says.

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Amrita Jayakumar is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: ajayakumar?nerdwallet.com. Twitter: ?ajbombay.

JLT CANADA appoints Steven Godfrey as National Aviation Leader

Press Release:

February 26, 2018 – Toronto, Ontario

Jardine Lloyd Thompson Canada Inc. (“JLT Canada”), a subsidiary of Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group plc. (“JLT”), one of the world’s leading providers of insurance, reinsurance and employee benefits related advice, brokerage and associated services, announced today that it has appointed executive Steven Godfrey as Aviation National Specialty Leader and Managing Director.

Steven is an accomplished executive with an illustrious background in aviation, having started his long-standing career as a pilot and flight instructor. He brings first-hand knowledge of ongoing issues faced by JLT Canada’s clients in that space and will help deepen the company’s expertise in this key specialty growth area.

“JLT Group’s strength within the aviation sector is unparalleled, making it the right time to hire someone like Steven to lead our Aviation business here in Canada,” said David Richards, Chief Executive Officer. “I am excited we were able to attract such impressive talent as we continue playing our part in becoming the leading global and specialty risk advisor and broker.”

JLT is currently one of the world’s leading aviation insurance brokers, representing 40 percent of the world’s commercial airline operators. Its Aerospace and Aviation team offers access to a one-stop shop for a wide range of risk management services, going well beyond standard aviation insurance provisions.

ENQUIRIES:

Chris Lapworth
Vice President, Manager, Marketing and Communications
416-941-9551
clapworth@jltcanada.com

So you have a drone: Does your insurance cover damage?

So you have a drone: Does your insurance cover damage?

Excerpted article was written by | By Elizabeth Dinan

PORTSMOUTH — State insurance regulators advise property owners who fly drones, or have family members who fly drones, to review their insurance policies to ensure they’re covered for liability, while some insurers are limiting or eliminating drone-related coverage.

“It is not unusual for the insurance market to develop forms to address new and emerging risks,” said Danielle Barrick, director of communications for the New Hampshire Insurance Department. “Drone liability would qualify as an emerging risk. To that extent, it is a new trend.”

Barrick said a standard homeowners insurance policy provides coverage for drone damage. What is new, she said, is that some insurers are adding an “exclusionary endorsement,” sometimes called a rider, that removes or limits coverage otherwise provided by the policy.

“Thus, if a drone user wishes to be protected or to have greater protection, the drone user should either have their current insurer issue a policy without an exclusionary endorsement related to drones, or find an insurer that will issue such a policy,” she said. “As the homeowners insurance market is a competitive one, the drone user should be able to obtain multiple quotes for the desired level of coverage.”

Professional drone photographer David Murray of New Castle said he has a specific insurance policy for his drone operation and thinks all drone operators should be responsible for any damage or injury they cause.

“Just like automobile operators,” he said.

But, Murray added he also thinks insurance companies shouldn’t back away from claims for damage caused by drones.

“I think kids playing in the back yard with a ball and bat can do similar damage,” he said, noting there aren’t insurance exclusions for those accidents. “Why one and not the other?”

Murray said there are insurance options that cover single drone flights and blanket policies to cover periods of time, like an auto insurance policy.
“Drones are new so people want to fixate on them and be afraid of them,” he said. “In terms of the danger they pose, you can do more damage with a car. And you certainly can do more damage with a gun. I think it’s appropriate to step back and reasonably look at it.”

According to the state Insurance Department, “the competitive homeowners insurance market allows residents to choose a policy that will provide coverage for drones.” Barrick said people with drones should ensure they have the coverage they want while the market also allows people without drones “to seek a policy that excludes liability coverage for drone use, which might result in a lower premium.”

“This is how a competitive market is designed to operate,” she said.

The Insurance Department does not collect data detailing how often an insurer includes “a particular endorsement,” like drone limits or exclusions, adding “exclusionary drone endorsements are a fairly new type of coverage form.”

Murray said drone hobbyists tend to fly small, lightweight drones and would “have to work pretty hard to cause some damage.”

“Most are made of toy-grade plastic and weigh less than two pounds,” he said. “Most have less mass than a seagull.”

He said some drone controls have more intelligence for piloting than others, meaning some require more work to control than others. He said it also takes many hours of practice to master drone flying.
“I think some people have a good experience when they start flying and get overconfident,” he added. Some insurance policies are also now citing exclusions of coverage for damage caused by drones that interfere with aircraft. Murray said that’s ”

Some insurance policies are also now citing exclusions of coverage for damage caused by drones that interfere with aircraft. Murray said that’s “a major source of potential concern” that could cause loss of life, but is highly unlikely to occur. He said anyone who flies a drone should know it’s prohibited within five miles of an airport or tower and that the law is printed on drone packaging.

He said that’s why the FAA requires all drones weighing more than a half pound to be registered and marked with identifying numbers.

“The department’s advice for drone owners and all insureds is to work with their insurer and/or insurance agent to ensure that they have the appropriate level of liability coverage and to not be reluctant to shop their insurance to find the insurer and policy that best fits their needs,” Barrick said.

Source: SeaCoastOnline

Lithium, Luggage and Airline Travel

New airline regulation on battery safety and carry-ons is challenging luggage brands to come up with smart luggage designs that go way beyond the regular road warrior duty.  Canadian travellers accustomed to judging luggage on the criteria of size, flexibility and weight must now ask themselves an all-important but simple question:  can the lithium battery be taken out?

Effective January 15, 2018 a handful of major U.S. airlines including American, Alaska, and Delta no longer allow passengers to fly with smart bags that contain non-removable lithium batteries.  This revised policy applies to both carry-on and checked baggage.  Some luggage manufacturers already sell smart luggage that comply with the FAA protocol, but the shift has ignited an industry-wide sweep of innovation as other firms move to regain compliance.

The policy stems from the safety concerns that lithium batteries are “susceptible to emitting smoke, catching fire, and even exploding”.  With 160 documented incidents, the new rules have come earlier than anticipated.  IATA (the International Air Transport Association) expects most carriers to follow the recommendations.  While most airlines will still allow lithium batteries in carry-on, American in particular is insisting that they must be removable.  The carrier will not require travellers to take out the battery if they are bringing the bag into the cabin.  But they must be able to check the bag if there is not enough space in the overhead bin and therefore they must be removable.

With standardized practices being the norm in the industry, Canadian airlines are sure to fall in line with the standards set by their American counterparts.  Globetrotters from both sides of the border should begin to re-evaluate their luggage choices or risk being denied boarding.

Luckily, there’s no better time than the present to invest in a new bag. According to a recent article in the Herald-Tribune, “Between now and March is an ideal time to purchase new luggage: Last year’s luggage is on sale, and the time frame is before the summer travel season – and price uptick.”

In recent studies and tests, Travelpro smart luggage has been found as not only one of the safest choices, but a top choice as the go-to and must have luggage for 2018.  Travelpro Crew 11 carry-on (CDN $269.99 at Hudson’s Bay) has pulled away from the pack as one of the Top Picks, boasting an affordable blend of size, reliability and durability, and sporting the newly-crucial removable batteries.

Travelpro Crew 11 carry-on with USB Port
SKU: 4071660
Sold on: Hudson’s Bay
Retail Price: $269.99 CDN
Colours available: black

https://www.holiday.ca/en/shop/products/travelpro-crew-11-collection-21-expandable-spinner-luggage/1882

For more information or high-res images, please contact Rebecca Cohen at rcohen@jessonco.com or Nicola Blazier at nblazier@jessonco.com.

SOURCE Jesson + Company Communications Inc.

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