News Briefs – February 8, 2017


Army to allow completion of Dakota Access oil pipeline

The Army has notified Congress that it will allow the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline to cross under a Missouri River reservoir in North Dakota, completing the four-state project to move North Dakota oil to Illinois.
The Justice Department filed court documents Feb. 7 including letters to members of Congress from Deputy Assistant Army Secretary Paul Cramer. The Army intends to allow the crossing under Lake Oahe as early as Feb. 8.
The crossing is the final big chunk of work on the pipeline.
The Standing Rock Sioux tribe worries a pipeline leak could pollute drinking water. It’s promised to continue legal challenges.
Dallas-based pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners says the pipeline is safe. AP

Putin scrambles Russian air forces to check readiness

President Vladimir Putin has put the Russian air force on high alert, the latest in a series of drills amid tensions with the West.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the drills launched Feb. 7 will check the air force’s readiness and its ability to repel an enemy aggression.
Shoigu told military officials that special emphasis will be given to practicing the deployment of air defense systems.
The maneuvers are the latest in a steady series of war games intended to strengthen the troops’ readiness. Despite Russia’s economic downturn, the Kremlin has continued to spend big on military training and weapons modernization amid tensions with the West over the Ukrainian crisis. AP

Taiwan seeks to revive aerospace fortunes with jet trainers

Taiwan is seeking to revive its long-dormant aerospace industry with a $2.1 billion investment in the production of supersonic air force jet trainers.
President Tsai Ing-wen presided over a ceremony Feb. 7 to inaugurate the project, which she hopes will aid Taiwan’s security and stem the flow of engineering talent overseas.
Taiwan has largely abandoned the industry since it developed an Indigenous Defense Fighter in the 1980s following difficulty obtaining such hardware abroad as a result of pressure from rival China.
Although Taiwan has since bought fighter jets from the U.S. and France, Tsai said failure to develop the domestic industry would be a “major disaster” for the island democracy’s security. She said the project would also help upgrade the island’s mechanical, materials, communication technology and other industries. AP

China’s first large homemade passenger jet to fly in 2017

After years of delays, China’s first large homemade passenger jetliner will take to the air for its maiden flight in the first half of this year, state media reported Feb. 6.
State-owned aircraft maker Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac, based in Shanghai, has nearly completed work on the 175-passenger C919, the ruling Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily reported.
The C919 was originally due to fly in 2015, but has been beset by delays blamed on manufacturing problems. It is now scheduled to enter service in 2019, aimed at competing with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, along with the Russian Irkut MC-21.
Airbus and Boeing say the market for new aircraft will be worth more than $5 trillion over the next 20 years. Industry experts say China faces a tough slog capturing a significant share of that market, even with government support. Comac has 517 orders for the C919.
Company officials couldn’t immediately be reached.
The C919 is part of China’s efforts to develop a homegrown aviation industry in one of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing air travel markets. China currently relies heavily on foreign-made aircraft.
Last June, the ARJ21-700, China’s first homemade regional jet, made its debut flight carrying 70 passengers. The jet is one of a series of initiatives launched by the party to transform China from the world’s low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology in aviation, clean energy and other fields.
The ARJ21, also made by Comac, is a rival to aircraft made by Bombardier Inc. of Canada and Brazil’s Embraer SA. AP