Sunday, August 26, 2018

Video: Emergency medical supply deliveries using drones

Direct Relief, Merck, AT&T, Softbox and Volans-i this week are piloting a test of emergency medical supply deliveries using drones to model an innovative approach to disaster response.

The organizations are testing drone flights and the coordinated processes needed to provide medical supplies by drone in a temperature-controlled environment with real-time monitoring. The long-distance deliveries must comply with U.S. and Puerto Rico laws and regulations for prescription drug delivery, including a documented chain of custody; Federal Aviation Administration approval for flight plans; and, for some products, must be consistently refrigerated to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the medicines.

The technology of the smart boxes allows for temperature-control when delivering products such as some of Merck's vaccines. The non-refrigerated cargo can carry medications for asthma and hypertension for instance.

Researchers estimate that most deaths from Hurricane Maria in September 2017, were caused by loss of access to medicines and health care, not by wind or water. As people were displaced from their homes, health centers lost power for weeks, and travel was extremely difficult. This likely contributed to an increase in deaths from chronic diseases that can be managed under normal conditions.
This week tests were conducted with drones flying in challenging terrain in remote areas impacted during Maria, beyond the line of sight. The drone deliveries extend to remote mountain villages that were cut off from electricity and road access for months after Hurricane Maria, some of them for a time accessible only by helicopter.
In upcoming tests, drones will fly over sea to deliver medicines and vaccines.


In this pilot program, each organization has brought something unique to the table to innovate the way medicines are delivered to people who need them:
  • Direct Relief is coordinating the effort, testing how such systems can be deployed in an emergency, and secured the participation of health centers in Puerto Rico.
  • Merck conceived of the project and is funding the tests and donating medications for delivery, using its Las Piedras facility as the departure point.
  • Softbox makes the small temperature controlled packaging system for transporting cold chain medications - those requiring constant refrigeration.
  • AT&T's Internet of Things technology is being used to monitor the temperature and location of Softbox's cold chain boxes.
  • Volans-i is providing the long-range delivery drones and is controlling the flights.

Monday, August 20, 2018

Technical glitch at Uber overpays drivers at Dulles Airport

A technical issue that went on for three months caused the transport company Uber to pay it's drivers an additional $4 for every trip starting and ending at Washington Dulles International Airport in Virginia.

“We recently discovered a technical issue that impacted trips to and from Dulles International Airport (IAD) from Saturday, May 5 through Friday, July 27,” the company said in an email to drivers on Monday. “During this time, driver-partners received an additional $4 for every trip starting or ending at IAD. This was an oversight on our end, but the additional payments are yours to keep. No further action is required on your part.

“The issue has been resolved and moving forward you will no longer receive the additional $4 payment."

Monday, July 9, 2018

Department of Energy replacing atmospheric research aircraft

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Atmospheric Radiation Measurement program is in the process of replacing its existing aircraft, and will be purchasing a replacement, used aircraft for atmospheric research. One of the following aircraft types (short list) is planned to be purchased, and therefore engineering modification will required on one of the following types:

Aircraft types: (only one aircraft will be purchased from this list)
Bombardier Dash 8 Q300
ATR 42-500/600
Bombardier CRJ 200
Bombardier Challenger 800/850
The purchased aircraft will need modifications to convert it into an aircraft that will be able to be fitted with instrumentation used for atmospheric research.
All original passenger seats (unless they have four or five point harnesses installed) shall be removed from the cabin. All overhead bins shall be removed except for the four bin spaces in the aft most section and the two bins in the forward most section of the aircraft. Quick connections for oxygen masks shall be installed. The cabin shall have a minimum of five and maximum of seven seats installed.
An atmospheric research aircraft rarely operates at designed cruising altitude and speed. The aircraft will routinely operate at altitudes between 1,000 feet to 5,000 ft above ground level. The aircraft will nominally operate at indicated air speeds of 180-190 knots with engines at 50 percent power. Ambient temperatures at these altitudes can often exceed 90 Fahrenheit.
The contractor shall design and install a cooling system that can keep the cabin temperature at or below 75F. The occupancy of the aircraft is a total of two pilots and seven operators. This requirement is both on the ground during taxi and in the air.

Pillsbury and Hungry Jack brands sold to private equity firm

Private equity firm Brynwood Partners of Greenwich, Conn., has signed a definitive agreement to acquire a portfolio of brands from The J.M. Smucker Company for $375 million. The portfolio includes the exclusive U.S. rights to the iconic Pillsbury brand's shelf-stable baking products along with the Hungry Jack, White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White brands. The Pillsbury brand license agreement is a royalty-free, perpetual agreement with General Mills, Inc. and encompasses all U.S. shelf-stable baking products, including flour, dry baking mixes and ready-to-spread frosting, in the retail channel. The transaction includes the 650,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Toledo, Ohio, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2018, subject to customary U.S. regulatory review.

Brynwood Partners created the Hometown Food Company to acquire the assets from Smucker. Hometown will be headquartered in Chicago, Ill., and will operate the Toledo facility. Pillsbury and Hungry Jack are leading national brands in the shelf-stable baking and breakfast categories. The Funfetti sub-brand is also included in the acquisition as are the strong regional brands White Lily, Jim Dandy and Martha White, which participate in the flour, corn meal and grits categories. Many of the acquired products are manufactured at the Toledo facility where approximately 255 full-time employees are employed.

"The iconic portfolio of brands and the company's strong Mid-Western manufacturing footprint will provide us with a solid platform to invest in and to grow,” said Henk Hartong III, chairman and CEO of Brynwood Partners.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

USGS plans airborne electromagnetic and magnetic survey in California

The U.S. Geological Survey is conducting a market survey to find companies eligible to compete for a contract to conduct an airborne electromagnetic and magnetic survey in San Joaquin Valley, Calif. The contractor will be required to provide digitally recorded and processed airborne geophysical and ancillary data.

“The USGS requests airborne geophysical data covering areas in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Calif., using magnetic and electromagnetic methods,” USGS officials said in contract documents released Sunday. “An electromagnetic system is required that can image lithologic variations, groundwater salinity variations, and structural controls on groundwater flow within agricultural and suburban areas. These data are intended for rigorous inversion and interpretation of the 3-D hydrogeologic conditions of the subsurface. These data will be used in aquifer and salinity mapping, the design of groundwater monitoring strategies, and the characterization of geologic structures.

“The goal is to provide high quality airborne geophysical data that will be used for quantitative hydrogeologic framework and groundwater salinity studies.”

Companies interested in competing for the contract must contact the USGS by July 16.

First Air merges with Canadian North airline

Makivik Corp. and the Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) announced Friday they have signed an agreement in principle to merge First Air and Canadian North in order to provide the best possible essential air services across the Arctic.

Following execution of definitive agreements and the receipt of applicable regulatory approvals needed to establish a strong new entity, the proposed Pan-Arctic airline will operate under the name "Canadian North" and aircraft will feature new First Air livery, including its Inukshuk logo. Headquarters for the proposed airline will be located in Ottawa. The parties expect to complete the merger by the end of 2018.

The companies believe this merger will:
  • Improve Arctic air services by offering customers greater reliability, better on-time service, and fewer interruptions;
  • Further enhance safety by enabling newer aircraft across the network, as well as specialization in maintenance of B737 and ATR aircraft;
  • Improve sustainability and efficiency of Arctic air services thus enabling the airline to more effectively meet demand across vast service areas while addressing challenges related to pilot shortages; and
  • Contribute to Northern and Inuit economic development by creating a wholly Inuit-owned, new airline focused on Canada's North.
"Air service is not a luxury for Northerners; it is a vital lifeline which requires ongoing investment," said Patrick Gruben, chair of the Inuvialuit Development Corp.

A report commissioned by the Government of Nunavut supports the need for more efficiency in Nunavut air transportation services; a merger of First Air and Canadian North is the only viable way to both meet and exceed these essential needs for Nunavummiut and all Northerners.

“Customers of First Air and Canadian North will not see changes to services, including fares and scheduling, while we work toward achieving regulatory approval and finalizing the merger,” Makivik said in a company press release.