AOB – 2019

16 August 2019

All 233 people have survived after a Ural Airlines Airbus A321 was forced to make an emergency landing in a corn field when both engines failed shortly after takeoff.

Flight U6 178, operated by A321 VQ-BOZ, had just taken off from Moscow’s Zhukovsky airport bound for Simferopol in the Ukraine on Thursday (local time) when the aircraft flew through a flock of birds at about 750ft and ingested birds in both engines.

The flight crew told Russian media the problem began right after takeoff when a bird hit the left hand engine causing it to fail completely, shortly followed by another bird strike into the right hand engine which subsequently provided insufficient thrust to remain airborne. The captain took control and landed the aircraft in an open field.

As simple as that! Offically.

Unofficially. Great flying. Great instincts. Change of trousers.

6 August 2019

This from Jerome Taylor of AFP in Hong Kong is spot on:

“China has to blame “external forces” for Hong Kong’s protests because not doing so would recognise Hong Kongers can think for themselves and might actually have some legitimate grievances they’ve been trying to tell you about for quite some time.”

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The Hong Kong pro-democracy – anti-extradition bill protests are into their third month. Neither side looks likely to back down. Hong Kong’s government has all but disappeared – the police have lost the support and goodwill of the majority of the people through excess use of tear and pepper gas and an unprecedented level of concerted violence.

In a rare press conference today, Beijing sounded its strongest warning yet to protesters not to underestimate the power of the Chinese government.

Calling the demonstrators “brazen, violent and criminal actors”, Yang Guang, a spokesman for the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the Chinese government, said: “Don’t misjudge the situation or take restraint as a sign of weakness … don’t underestimate the firm resolve and tremendous power by the central government.”

Yang responded to questions about whether Beijing would deploy its military in Hong Kong by reiterating the Chinese government’s support of Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam. Yang said that with the backing of the Chinese government and the people of China, the Hong Kong government and police were “fully capable of punishing those criminal activities and restoring order”.

Yet, across the border in the city of Shenzhen, police took part in riot training in footage released by the state-run Global Times. Officers faced people dressed in black and wearing colourful hard hats – outfits that evoked those worn by Hong Kong protesters – throwing petrol bombs, pushing a trolley on fire towards police, and hitting officers with wooden sticks.

Earlier on Tuesday, masked protesters staged their first “civilian press conference”, in response to government and police press briefings.

Yesterday saw some of the worst confrontations between protesters and police, who clashed in at least seven districts of the city. Police fired teargas and rubber bullets at protesters who occupied roads and vandalised police stations and arrested 148 people aged between 13 and 63 on suspicion of assault and possession of offensive weapons.

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Other bits and pieces:

The Thai League messed up our visit to Chainat by moving their match against Chiang Mai from last Saturday to Sunday with just three days’ notice. Pathetic. How were people supposed to get back to Chiang Mai for work on Monday.

Apparently Chainat wanted more rest after a midweek match and the League said ok.

Trips to Ratchaburi and Chiang Mai for away games were fun visits – two defeats though. I liked Chiang Rai – cooler and not as humid as Chiang Mai.

17 July 2019

The world cup 2022 asian qualifying draw was completed today….some gems in this:

Iran v Iraq
Saudi Arabia v Yemen
North Korea v South Korea

And all of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam drawn in the same group with the UAE. That could actually be a really tough group.

Here are the groups:


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Emirates will launch daily flights from Dubai to Mexico City via Barcelona as of December 9, 2019.

Emirates will operate the route using 2 class B777-200LR. This includes 38 Business Class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration, as well as 264 Economy seats.

EK255 DXB0330 – 0800BCN0955 – 1615MEX 77L D
EK256 MEX1940 – 1325+1BCN1510+1 – 0045+2DXB 77L D

This has been under discussion and on again and off again for a few years. As a route it makes a lot of sense. But the fifth freedom rights will upset AeroMexico and Air Europa who currently fly this 11+ hour route.

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Tai is back at Cordon Bleu. And because this is the main assessment term she is focused.

15 July 2019

So England win the cricket world cup and it was wild….

A recap of the most dramatic match in cricket history
New Zealand made 241 for eight
England were all out for 241
The match was tied, which meant it went to a super over
England scored 15 in the super over
New Zealand scored 15 in their super over, which meant the super over was also tied
England won the World Cup on a technicality
That technicality, specifically, was that they hit more boundaries than New Zealand
England have won the World Cup

1 July 2019

22 years since the return of Hong Kong to China. That year has always been such a big part of my life.

26 June 2019

In the silly Chiang Mai news department:

“The Chiang Mai Walking Club has effectively been told to cease operations. It is – or rather, was – a social group who like to walk, a mix of Thais & foreigners. It’s a social thing. There’s no money, no charge to join a walk and always free. Apparently some officious jobsworth has said that any farang leading a walk is operating as a tour guide, which is not just work, but a prohibited occupation that can only be performed by a Thai. As such, the group has to disband.”

This is via Stickman Bangkok and Chiang Mai English News on facebook – so third hand news!

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Back from Bangkok and Buriram.

One all grown up; the other a small agricultural town made famous by its football club.

17 June 2019

Take that People’s Daily:

People’s Daily, China @PDChina

Surprise is the greatest gift 🎁

Robert Scott@rascottdotcom
Replying to @PDChina

No – freedom is.

14 June 2019

Am thoroughly depressed this week.

Disheartened by events in Hong Kong.

Restless. Aimless. Direction-less.

Tired.

Irritable.

Idle.

Unmotivated. Demotivated.

The sort of things that have been running through my head this week are not healthy….

And I am not entirely sure how to turn this around.

Not a cry for help – as I suspect no one ever reads this anyway.

12 June 2019

Massive protests in HKG against the proposed China extradition law….proud of the people.

Water cannon man became a symbol of Hong Kong’s new resistance.

6 June 2019

Anyone see a trend here:

There is a big royal wedding in the UAE today and which royals are celebrating their weddings? The Gulf News effuses:

The UAE is rejoicing over the Al Maktoum weddings this Eid Al Fitr, that are bringing double joy to the festive season.

Three sons of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, have married three women from the Al Maktoum family.

Sheikh Hamdan is married to Sheikha Sheikha bint Saeed bin Thani Al Maktoum

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, is married to Sheikha Maryam bint Butti Al Maktoum

Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, is married to Sheikha Midya bint Dalmouj Al Maktoum.

Keep all that power and wealth within the family.

5 June 2019

The Economist today : “Thais will discover the identity of their next prime minister today. It will hardly come as a surprise. The junta has all but ensured it will be the existing one: Prayuth Chan-ocha, the army-chief-turned-politician, who ousted an elected government in 2014. Mr Prayuth needs 376 votes, which equates to a majority in parliament. The body is composed of a 250-member appointed upper house, stuffed with regime loyalists, and a lower house, filled with elected politicians after Thais went to the polls in March.

Votes from pro-army parties in the lower house, with likely support from the royalist Democrat Party and the pragmatic Bhumjaithai Party, will put Mr Prayuth over the line. (ed A 19 party coalition with 254 of the 500 lower house seats). The endorsement of the former coup-maker as the first prime minister under the new king, Maha Vajiralongkorn, signifies that the military-royalist regime is determined to stay in power. Opponents of such a plan already face harassment and worse.”

30 May 2019

The Economist in a short note this week on the Thai economy:

Trade headwinds: Thailand:

South-East Asia’s second-biggest economy will report manufacturing data for April. The figures are likely to disappoint. The poor performance is a reminder that Thailand is among the world’s most trade-dependent countries. Trade amounts to 123% of GDP, and industrial goods count for 80% of total exports. But the US-China trade war, muddled domestic politics and a strong baht are hurting export-led growth, according to the Bank of Thailand. First-quarter GDP rose by just 2.8%, the slowest pace in more than four years. Public spending and millions of tourists keep things going (Thai consumers are highly indebted and most private investment is tied to trade). The forthcoming military-royalist government is hoping to move the country beyond its traditional strengths—such as agriculture, light manufacturing and heavy industry—to a new stage of economic development, which it calls “Thailand 4.0”. But unless it boosts the skills of the workforce, the upgrade will fail to install.

Precisely.

27 May 2019

F**k me. 62. Old.

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Now a few notes from the last few weeks:

A tip of the hat to Japan Airlines for 2-4-2 on their Boeing 787s. and 34 inches of legroom in their long haul version.

The regional version is still 2-4-2 in Y bit with less legroom.

Main meals are served on full size trays. Rare these days. Two let downs – one the IFE – which is just adequate – and two, which JAL has no say in the dreadful tinted windows….which were dark all flight despite being a daytime flight.

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So that is Olin done – Alex has been there for four years – and it has been good to get to know the college and the surrounding area a little.

But he has inherited the family restlessness and he knows that it is time to move on.

22 May 2019

Another cabinet resignation in the UK: From a distance I rather enjoy watching the Tory party tear itself apart – the trouble is none of the alternatives in or out of Parliament offer anything more than a power grab; not one has either the policy or the support to make the UK look like anything other than the fractious mess that it has become.

5 May 2019

Coronation weekend in Thailand as Rama X officially becomes the nation’s new monarch.

Though you would hardly notice in Chiang Mai where celebrations appear very muted and few people are wearing yellow as officially requested.

The main coronation ceremony was yesterday. There is the award of new family titles on Sunday morning followed by a parade around the old city.

And on Monday the new King meets with the foreign diplomatic community. No overseas dignitaries or royals were invited to the coronation.

Two days before the coronation there was the official announcement of the royal wedding to now Queen Suthida; who has been his companion for the last few years, but who is now officially recognised as Queen and becomes protected by the nation’s lese majeste laws.

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Local breaking news in Chiang Mai this morning: a tram carrying visitors at the Chiang Mai Night Safari flipped on its side while going downhill. There were 40 passengers on the tram and they were all injured. Busy night for the rescue foundations, police and hospitals sorting through the injuries and communication barriers.

Apparently the tram was going downhill when the brake failed. There are no seat belts in the trams.

2 May 2019

A new month. An hopefully a busy one. I need something that keeps me busy. Too many quiet days at the moment.

Have been watching some football – trouble is that ever team I go to see is losing at the moment. Lamphun lost at home to Phrae and the amateurs from Chiang Mai Dream lost 0-7 to Bangkok United.

Otherwise it is simply too hot to do anything or go anywhere.

The house at The Clifford is finished and being rented out from 1 May. So no more visits to check on progress. I wonder what it will look like in 9 and 1/2 years time when the lease arrangements end.


And then there are mother issues at home in England – and Vanessa is over there helping sort issues out alongside Tim.

30 April 2019

I have to confess that not working is bad. I have little to do. Especially in this heat. This is not go out and explore weather – this is hibernate weather. 42C or 43C at its hottest with high humidity.

I did go down to Lamphun on Sunday for their League 3 North top of the table game with Phrae United. Phrea won a surprisingly good game 3-2. It was hot!

23 April 2019

Oops. Distracted.

Quit my job – actually that was back on 29 March. Almost a month has passed. Six months work for three tee shirts is not much of a return.

I will probably write more about this at a future date. I hope the company does well. There are some genuinely clever people there.

But here is the problem. Being the guy who cleans everything up is ok – putting in place contracts where there are none – documenting deals that have been done but that have not been disclosed.

But when you lose respect for the leadership it is time to go.

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Meanwhile Watford did beat Wolves in a wonderfully dramatic semi final and will now play Manchester City in the FA Cup final on 18 May.

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Tai had a near four week break between her first and second terms at Cordon Bleu. I thought I would be working. Silly me. So Tai went on her own to see my sister in Turkey – and they appear to have enjoyed a great time in Istanbul, Cappadocia and Izmir.

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And we are just back from a weekend in Chonburi and Naklua – which included Chiang Mai’s 5-7 defeat to Chonburi FC. Great entertainment.

The Pullman G in Naklua is a bit of a dump and por in comparison to its sister hotel in Bangkok.

5 April 2019

The Guardian is getting ready for the weekend FA Cup semi finals:

Here’s Watford top dog Javi Gracia on the FA Cup semi-final, and again, not to sound like a tedious old bore, it is rather nice to hear someone talking so enthusiastically about this. Not just the FA Cup and tradition and all that whiffle, but about tangible achievement. Trophies and whatnot.

(Top man Gracia – modest and clearly highly capable. The players play for him.)

“I have never coached in a final. I have reached semi-finals in Russia (as Rubin Kazan boss) but a final I never played and it would be the best achievement in my career for sure.”

“It is something special this season because we worked really hard in pre-season and in all competitions and now we have the opportunity to enjoy with the supporters at Wembley one special game.

“It is very good for all the squad. We have 26 players who have all done well in different moments. It is a good reward for all of them, not just the 11 players who play the next game.

“It is something different for our supporters and I am happy they have the chance to enjoy going to Wembley.”

4 April 2019

Second away game of the season for me – Chiang Mai’s fifth game of the season and my third. Away at Suphan Buri – somewhere I would never have gone to if not for the football.

And we won 2-1 with goals from Eliandro and Azadzoy.

2 April 2019

Sorry there was no 1 April post! No April Fool here.

31 March 2019

It has been an interesting last few days

I quit my as yet unpaid job as acting CFO with a company in Chiang Mai. It is not appropriate to get into the details.

When asked I have only ever said for personal reasons.

Though one of the more astute of our advisors simply looked at me and said – inter-personal reasons.

Actually it is a shame on a number of levels. There are some really interesting people there either working in or connected to the company.

It is a start – up that may go far.

I was about to start being paid – and the extra cash would have been nice to have.

The job kept me busy and challenged. And there are few such jobs in Chiang Mai.

But what had started as 2 or 3 days a week had quickly become full time and more.

The trouble is at my age the work is good; the challenge is good; I just dont need any nonsense that comes with it.

So we move on. Disappointed.

21 March 2019

Two crashes of the Boeing 737Max jets have now led to the worldwide grounding of the airplane and to investigations into the certification process and into Boeing and the FAA’s response to the original crash at Lion Air.

There were 300 737Max in service and some 5,000 on order. The impact on Boeing will be long term and significant.

LionAir 601 crashed on take off from Jakarta in October last year. Last week Ethiopian 302 crashed on take off from Addis Ababa.

While this was not a 737Max incident 19th March was the third anniversary of the crash of FlyDubai FZ981 at Rostov on Don.

FZ981, operated with a Boeing 737-800 aircraft, had originated from Dubai International Airport, in the United Arab Emirates. The weather at Rostov was poor at the time. Flight 981 aborted its first landing attempt and went into a holding pattern for nearly two hours before making a second landing attempt. After aborting the second attempt, the aircraft climbed sharply then descended rapidly and crashed onto the runway. No final report has yet been issued.

Here is a thoughtful post from pprune after the Ethiopian crash:

What is described is actually classic ‘Automation Surprise’ (What’s it doing now?) that is followed by attentional (cognitive) tunneling as the human’s mind grasps at straws to try to understand what is going on.
The suggestion that the machine tells the pilot what is happening is good- except that if there is not sufficient thought a small subsystem like AoA used by a LOT of systems can result in alert messages scrolling on displays all sorts of sounds and alerts and haptics like stick shakers and pushers — all for just an AoA disagree. I think that there is a major human factors failure in modern aircraft where not sufficient thought has been given to the multiplicity of warnings that can come from a small event – and the warnings themselves create problems rather than assistance. There needs to be something like an Failure Modes Effects Analysis that flags up that at this point there are multiple separate warnings being displayed in various ways that will consume the entire cognitive resource of the pilot and not allow his primary AVIATE task any resource. This effect is often seen where something VERY obvious is disregarded as the pilot’s cognitive resources are completely saturated.
Another aspect of the automation surprise is that the workload can literally explode from routine to overload in a second. This takes a lot of training to cope with and an MPL with less than 100 hours live flying is not going to be of any use in one of these incidents and indeed may panic and make extra work for the experienced pilot – effectively the aircraft is being flown by one pilot,

There will be a raft of lessons to be learned from these incidents. Let’s hope that the beancounters learn them too.”

Makes a lot of sense.

20 March 2019

Apparently today is the International Day of Happiness, as proclaimed by the UN in 2012.

Tell that to the victims of Cyclone Idai, Ethiopian 302, the Christchurch killings.

Even anyone about to endure two more years of Brexit.

How about we are happy when we can be rather than when we are told to be.

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I am sorry that I have been ignoring this page. Work seems to have taken over. i get home and I am too tired to type anything.

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But I will try a quick recap of the month:

A dinner on 3 March for eleven of the folks from and connected to Nordic Lights. We took over the roof – and had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Some of these people are just so smart – nice to see everyone relax and be very casual.

We did another dinner on Friday 15th – but had to stay inside as the quality was so bad at the end of last week.

Tai was back from BKK for the weekend and cooked for eight people – chicken from her Cordon Bleu recipe book. Very successful. Had not seen James and Su for a while so it was good to catch up.

19 February 2019

Emirates announced today it will launch a four times weekly service between Portugal’s second largest city, Porto, and Dubai, from 2 July 2019.

18 February 2019

From the Economist:

And nearly five years into army rule, the concentration of power and wealth in the capital has worsened, to the resentment of the provinces. Credit Suisse, a bank, reckons that just 500,000 Thais control two-thirds of the kingdom’s assets. According to the World Bank, over 70% of the budget is spent on Greater Bangkok—the most extreme split between capital and periphery seen anywhere.

15 February 2019

Emirates Airline chief digital and transformation officer Christoph Mueller has apparently resigned from the airline and plans to return to Europe. Did he resign or was he pushed.

Mueller joined Emirates in September 2016; at that time he was both the great hope for change in the airline and also the presumed successor to Sir Tim Clark.

Yet Clark is still in charge and Mueller is out of the door. In little over two years it is doubtful if he has changed anything except the size of his bank balance.

The 57-year-old Mueller has held numerous senior executive positions in the airline industry. Among others he was CEO of Aer Lingus from 2009 until 2015 and joined Malaysia Airlines as CEO before moving to Emirates.

At Emirates, he was eventually tasked with a relaunch of the airline’s digital activities (not much evidence of that) and kept very much in the background, away from the daily running of the business.

I guess banging your head against a wall for over two years must take its toll. Hopefully wherever Mr Mueller goes to next he will have a greater impact and profile.

12 February 2019

Back from a couple of nights in BKK with Tai. Our little Bangkok apartment is a little cramped for two! But no regrets. It is a good development in a good location. And ideal for Tai while she studies there.

But traffic – even on Saturday night was horrible.

Went to the new Icon Siam mall on Sunday. Was surprised to find that I liked it more than I had expected to. There are some nice open public spaces overlooking the river. The sook thailand is well done – and there are new stores there making their debut in the country. Sadly no book store.

2 February 2019

The European Tour are playing golf in Saudi Arabia this week. They should not be. My comments can be read on twitter.

But his as reinforcement is Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee highlighting the Tour’s woefully bad call.

“I cannot imagine what economic incentive it would take to get me to go to a place that is so egregiously on the wrong side of human rights,” he said. “I don’t think they fully understand what they are doing.

“I don’t understand it from an economic point of view, I don’t understand it from a business point of view and I don’t understand it from a moral point of view. They are legitimising and enriching the rulers of this regime. I won’t even watch it on the TV. They should not be there. By participating, they are ventriloquists for this abhorrent, reprehensible regime.”

Exactly

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Qatar won the AFC Asian Cup beating Japan 3-1 in the final in something of a big surprise.

The tournament was of course held in the UAE who continue to choke on the success of the neighbours they have blockaded.

27 January 2019

A current entry on PPRUNE:

“As a recent leaver at EK I can categorically state that apart from most of your colleagues on the flightdeck the place is the most toxic, vindictive, uncaring excuse of an employer you will ever have the misfortune to be indebted too.
On the one hand you have expat management minions of all sorts spending the majority of their day ar$e covering their own incompetence whilst engaging in a b@stardised version of a sociopaths wet dream e.g. inventing new and idiotic edicts that rely on threats, punishment and financial consequences for the mildest infraction, inadvertent or otherwise.
All of this is directed by those from high above who view all staff as nothing more than replaceable and expendable and whom are their possessions to use and abuse as needed.
The palpable reality of no longer being under the heel of a despotic organisation is measurable, in my case my health and happiness. Anyone at EK who says they are even remotely happy and rested are either deluded, deceitful or have come from such beacons of freedom and joy like sub Saharan Africa, Central and South America or have been on the property for less than 5 minutes.”

Says it all really. Of course this applies to most companies operating in the UAE – not just Emirates.

The airline is papering over the pilot shortage cracks with local cadets who should still be flying Cessna 172s and not a Boeing.

A 21 year old local cadet first officer who asks her captain three times where they are on a flight to Europe is both a liability and unfortunately a protected species.

16 January 2019

The shambles that is Brexit:

The vote against the UK’s PM’s Brexit plan: 432-202.

Yet the UK government will win the no-confidence vote tonight.

The so-called meaningful vote was meaningless. Nothing changed.

Paralysis.

Parliament does not want No-Deal

But Parliament has not said what it does want – only that it does not want Mrs May’s deal.

And there are 70 days to go until 29 March – when there may by default be a no deal exit.

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Alex left yesterday after five nights in Chiang. Great to spend some time with him….he has a huge year ahead of him – life changing!

We did not stay away this year – just hung out on coffee shops – a visit to my office – drives to The Clifford and Lamphun etc. Relaxed.

Very enjoyable.

3 January 2019

Welcome to a New Year. Though it does not feel so different from the old year.

We can back to Chiang Mai on the morning of 30th December. The flights from London via Doha were on Qatar Airways – on time and decent flights. Just 5hrs 20 minutes from Doha. Quick!

New Year’s Eve was spent on our roof-top. Just two of us. Nice, sensible, quiet way to see in the new year.