Thursday, May 28, 2009

Airplane Tickets For $9?

Airplane Tickets For $9Flying is definitely the fastest way to travel these days. However, the rising price of tickets is causing many people to find an alternate means of transportation leaving many small to mid-sized city airports to lose revenue and flights. But a new, low-cost airliner is going to start serving these small U.S. cities that the bigger carriers have left behind.

JetAmerica, based out of Clearwater Florida, will be offering 34 nonstop passenger flights from Toledo, Ohio; South Bend, Indiana; Melbourne, Florida; Newark, New Jersey; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Lansing, Michigan starting on July 13. 28 flights will either start or end at Newark Liberty International Airport and JetAmerica will add six additional flights from Toledo to Minneapolis starting on August 14. The company is targeting small to mid-size cities like Lansing, who has seen a drop from 35 daily flights to 12 at it's Capital Region International Airport in the past five years.

JetAmerica will offer Lansing business travelers direct access to New York City and direct access to central Florida for leisure travelers according to the head of Capital Region Airport Authority Robert Selig, something they don't have access to aright now. "This will fill a major void in our schedule," says Selig.

But filling this void is not going to be cheap. The Toledo, Lansing, and South Bend airports are subsidizing JetAmerica with $867,000 in waived airport fees, $1.1 million in marketing and advertising assistance, and $1.4 million in grants for their first year. The grants were received from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Small Community Air Service Development Program which has awarded over $104 million to 223 recipients since 2002. All this is a part of an effort to restore services lost and to reduce the cost of air fares.

John Weikle, the Chief Executive of JetAmerica, says that the money given by the different airports will help insulate the new carrier against spiking fuel prices for jets. Four major airliners have failed since 9/11 due to the raising prices of fuel costs, which affects smaller carries just as much if not more.

Weikle also founded Columbus, Ohio-based SkyBus Inc. which was known for its super low ticket prices starting at $10. SkyBus Inc. was bankrupt last year due to high fuel prices costing 450 people their jobs. JetAmerica will offer a similar price with their ticket prices starting at $9 and going as high as $199. The $9 tickets only apply to the first 9 to 19 seats on the plane. Other costs include a $15 bag check and additional charges for in-flight meals, drinks and movies.

JetAmerica will start off their company with one Boeing 737-800 with expectations to add an additional jet in their first month and to have a total of four by July 2010. In addition to the Boeing 737-800's Weikle plans to have a 189-seat jet leased every four months. According to Weikle, each Boeing 737-800 can fly to a total of four cities in a single day.

According to Weikle, JetAmerica's estimated revenue for the first year should be around $50 million dollars increasing to $150 million dollars by year two. JetAmerica has big plans that could very well revitalize the small to mid-sized airports getting left behind by the larger ones. With Weikle's plan, air travel could once again become popular and affordable.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

United States GPS System Dead By 2010?

GPS Satellites FailingThe GPS, or Global Positioning System, used in America has become a vital tool in the lives of people all across the country. Paper maps have become outdated since the emergence of these electronic devices. Instead of unfolding this huge monster map and trying to decipher all the lines and markings on it to find your way you can simply type in the address on your GPS and presto! Everything is there for you in clear instructions and you even have a helpful little voice that tells you when and where to turn revolutionizing the way people travel.

But people today have become dependent on GPS devices, not only people, but the government and our military as well. We have been so comfortable using it that we fail to think about what would happen if we didn't have a GPS and we sometimes even struggle to remember what it was like before there was such a thing as a GPS. So what would happen if our national GPS system failed? What if we one day turned on our GPS and it didn't work?

Thanks to underinvestment and mismanagement by the U.S. Air Force, our National GPS system is at a high risk of failing, and sooner then we might think. Reports are in and it seems this problem could occur as soon as 2010, just under a year away!

"In recent years, the Air Force has struggled to successfully build GPS satellites within the cost and schedule goals." in a statement from the Government Accountability Office(GAO) report. "If the Air Force does not meet its schedule goals for development of GPS IIIA satellites, there will be an increased likelihood that in 2010, as old satellites begin to fail, the overall GPS constellation will fall below the number of satellites required to provide the level of GPS service that the U.S. Government commits to."

The failing of the GPS system impacts not only the millions of businesses and people that rely on the devices built into their boats, cars, and phones, but also impacts our military as well. The GA0 considers the GPS system "essential to national security." Being a nation with as many enemies as we do, a lapse in national security is definitley not something we need, especially with our current situation overseas in Iraq. Although America was the pioneer of the consumer satellite navigation system, we are not the only country with technology like this. India, China, and Russia all have their own systems which they are constantly expanding. A rival of the GPS, the Galileo System from the European Union is already expected to roll out sometime later this year.

The already delayed satellites and the looming threat of a failed GPS system would undoubtedly put the U.S. behind other nations in space advancement which, like most of us know, is something the U.S. Government and NASA won't accept.

The GAO report states that "Such a gap in capability could have wide-ranging impacts on all GPS users, though there are measures the Air Force and others can take to plan for and minimize these impacts." The first replacement satellite is said to launch this November, a mere three years late. If future launches are sped up, our problem of a failing GPS system could be solved, though speeding up the launch process would come at a high price.

How close we actually are to this happening is still not set in stone. The Air Force is likely to fix the problem before we have anything to worry about. Though this is potentially a major problem for the U.S. I don't think its anything to get too worked up about right now.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tesla Roadster Electric Car

Tesla RoadsterMost people these days love to travel. Going out with the family or going on vacation is one of the most enjoyable times you can have. With the recent drop in gas prices, people are starting to travel more and more. But all that may be dwindling as gas prices are unexpectedly going back up, and fast.

But, there is one way to counteract the rising gas prices, an electric car. Until recently, most electric cars were small and were only good for short distances. But now, Tesla Motors has created a new breed of electric cars, and they are something to look out for.

The Tesla roadster is an amazing little car. Its electric, so everything is designed around saving fuel and preventing pollution. It all starts with the design. First off, the Energy Storage System (ESS) is comprised of thousands of consumer-grade lithium-ion batteries. The high-tech ESS is essentially the roadster's heart. The Vehicle Management System continuously monitors battery conditions. This allows the roadster to precisely monitor your available energy, battery performance, and battery history. The motor is small and only weighs about 115 pounds. However, it produces horsepower the same as some heavier internal combustion engines and unlike gas engines, the motor does not sacrifice mileage for performance. The chassis is lightweight, made out of extruded aluminum, but is created into a stiff structure with rear and front crumple zones which are integral design features. The Power Electronics Module (PEM) contains high-voltage electronics which allow for integrated battery charging and which also control the motor. The roadster has a motor output of up to 165 kw thanks to a tightly integrated system design between the PEM and motor.

One of the biggest drawbacks of having an electric car is that the car makes driving feel like a necessity. You don't get the same enthusiasm of driving an electric car as much as driving a normal car. The best thing about a car that runs an electricity and not gas is that electric power can be derived from many different sources. Solar power, nuclear sources, natural gas, coal, and wind power can all be transformed into electric energy. This makes the car obsolete proof if we one day come to a point where we no longer rely on gas. Nowadays, if you wanted to get a car with ridiculously great gas mileage, you would go for the hybrid o something like that. But these cars go from 0 to 60 in around 10 seconds. You save gas but are robbed of the enjoyment of driving. On the other hand, if you wanted to get a car that goes from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds, you would opt for the $300,000 sports cars which only get like 9 miles to the gallon. With the roadster, you can put trade offs like these behind you. This car gives you the energy efficiency you desire right along with the power of a sports car.

The performance of this thing is also great. The car goes from 0 to 60 in under 4 seconds reaching a top speed of 125 mph. The battery is expected to last for 5 years or 100,000 miles. You can travel around 220 miles on a single charge and it only takes around 3.5 hours to get a full charge using the Tesla Motors High Power Connector. But this is considered the slowest time for somebody charging from a completely dead battery. After you take your car out on a 100 mile trip, you can fully charge your battery in less than 2 hours. The roadster is also able to charge at a variety of places. You charge at home with your Tesla High Power Connector or you can charge on the road. The Tesla also has an optional Mobile Connector that allows you to charge from most standard electrical stored away in the trunk. The battery is also deemed by the federal government as non-hazardous waste is safe to dispose of with the normal waste. But most of the components in the battery are valuable, even after the battery is completely dead. many materials can be recovered and sold back to recycling companies for some quick cash.

It almost seems to good to be true. The Tesla Roadster is a pretty amazing little car. Its energy efficiency is expected from most electric cars, but the real selling point is the performance. This car performs just as good as any other expensive sports car but with a lower price and greener specs. If you are in the market for an energy efficient green car, or even a nice sports car, then the Tesla Roadster is definitley the way to go. Tesla has 4 different models of electric car: The Roadster, Roadster Sport, Model S, and Model S Signature. The Model S is the cheapest model selling for $49,000, followed by the Roadster for $101,500, and then the Roadster Sport for $101,500 base price + %19,500. The Model S Signature price is TBD.