Boeing wants to build its next airplane in the ‘metaverse’

Seattle, In Boeing Co’s (BA.N) factory of the future, immersive 3-D engineering designs will be twinned with robots that speak to each other, while mechanics around the world will be linked by $3,500 HoloLens headsets made by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O).

It is a snapshot of an ambitious new Boeing strategy to unify sprawling design, production and airline services operations under a single digital ecosystem – in as little as two years, Reuters said.

Critics say Boeing has repeatedly made similar bold pledges on a digital revolution, with mixed results. But insiders say the overarching goals of improving quality and safety have taken on greater urgency and significance as the company tackles multiple threats.

The planemaker is entering 2022 fighting to reassert its engineering dominance after the 737 MAX crisis, while laying the foundation for a future aircraft program over the next decade – a $15 billion gamble. It also aims to prevent future manufacturing problems like the structural flaws that have waylaid its 787 Dreamliner over the past year.

“It’s about strengthening engineering,” Boeing’s chief engineer, Greg Hyslop, told Reuters in his first interview in nearly two years. “We are talking about changing the way we work across the entire company.”

After years of wild market competition, the need to deliver on bulging order books has opened up a new front in Boeing’s war with Europe’s Airbus (AIR.PA), this time on the factory floor.

Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury, a former automobile research boss, has pledged to “invent new production systems and leverage the power of data” to optimize its industrial system.

Boeing’s approach so far has been marked by incremental advances within specific jet programs or tooling, rather than the systemic overhaul that characterizes Hyslop’s push today.

The simultaneous push by both plane giants is emblematic of a digital revolution happening globally, as automakers like Ford Motor Co (F.N) and social media companies like Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc (FB.O) shift work and play into an immersive virtual world sometimes called the metaverse.

So how does the metaverse – a shared digital space often using virtual reality or augmented reality and accessible via the internet – work in aviation?

Like Airbus, Boeing’s holy grail for its next new aircraft is to build and link virtual three-dimensional “digital twin” replicas of the jet and the production system able to run simulations.

The digital mockups are backed by a “digital thread” that stitches together every piece of information about the aircraft from its infancy – from airline requirements, to millions of parts, to thousands of pages of certification documents – extending deep into the supply chain.

Overhauling antiquated paper-based practices could bring powerful change.

More than 70% of quality issues at Boeing trace back to some kind of design issue, Hyslop said. Boeing believes such tools will be central to bringing a new aircraft from inception to market in as little as four or five years.

“You will get speed, you will get improved quality, better communication, and better responsiveness when issues occur,” Hyslop said.

“When the quality from the supply base is better, when the airplane build goes together more smoothly, when you minimize re-work, the financial performance will follow from that.”

Yet the plan faces enormous challenges.

Skeptics point to technical problems on Boeing’s 777X mini-jumbo and T-7A RedHawk military training jet, which were developed using digital tools.

Boeing has also placed too great an emphasis on shareholder returns at the expense of engineering dominance, and continues to cut R&D spending, Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia said.

“Is it worth pursuing? By all means,” Aboulafia said. “Will it solve all their problems? No.”

Juggernauts like aircraft parts maker Spirit AeroSystems (SPR.N) have already invested in digital technology. Major planemakers have partnerships with French software maker Dassault Systèmes (DAST.PA). But hundreds of smaller suppliers spread globally lack the capital or human resources to make big leaps.

Many have been weakened by the MAX and coronavirus crises, which followed a decade of price pressure from Boeing or Airbus.

“They not only tell us what hardware we can buy, they are now going to specify all this fancy digital junk that goes on top of it?” one supply chain executive said.

Boeing itself has come to realize that digital technology alone is not a panacea. It must come with organizational and cultural changes across the company, industry sources say.

Boeing recently tapped veteran engineer Linda Hapgood to oversee the “digital transformation,” which one industry source said was underpinned by more than 100 engineers.

Hapgood is best known for turning black-and-white paper drawings of the 767 tanker’s wiring bundles into 3-D images, and then outfitting mechanics with tablets and HoloLens augmented-reality headsets. Quality improved by 90%, one insider said.

In her new role, Hapgood hired engineers who worked on a digital twin for a now-scrapped midmarket airplane known as NMA.

She is also drawing on lessons learned from the MQ-25 aerial refueling drone and the T-7A Red Hawk.

Boeing “built” the first T-7A jets in simulation, following a model-based design. The T-7A was brought to market in just 36 months.

Even so, the program is grappling with parts shortages, design delays and additional testing requirements.

Boeing has a running start with its 777X wing factory in Washington state, where the layout and robot optimization was first done digitally. But the broader program is years behind schedule and mired in certification challenges.

“This is a long game,” Hyslop said. “Every one of these efforts was addressing part of the problem. But now what we want to do is do it from end to end.”

Source: Bahrain News Agency


China’s Alibaba sets $100 billion target for Southeast Asian e-commerce division

Shanghai, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has set a target for gross merchandise volume of $100 billion in gross merchandise volume (GMV), the total sum of purchasing transactions, for its Southeast Asian marketplace Lazada.

The goal, which was shared with investors on Thursday and later in a public online presentation, ups the ante for the company, which entered the region via acquisition in 2016 and competes fiercely with rivals, Reuters reported.

Lazada generated $21 billion in GMV from September 2020 to the same month in 2021, according to the presentation. It also hopes to serve 300 million customers, roughly double its current count.

By comparison, Sea Ltd (SE.N)’s Shopee, the market leader in the region, generated $35.4 billion in GMV for the full calendar 2020 year.

The division ranks itself the third-top player in Southeast Asia, behind MercadoLibre Inc (MELI.O) and Shopee, according to the presentation.

Lazada has undergone top personnel changes since Alibaba acquired it, with two CEOs stepping down before current CEO Chun Li took the helm in 2020.

Earlier this month Alibaba announced an executive reshuffling that saw Jiang Fan, who previously led the company’s main Taobao and Tmall divisions, appointed to head up a newly formed international digital commerce unit that will include Lazada and AliExpress, the company’s e-commerce site targeting parts of Europe and South America.

Alibaba will conclude its two-day summit for investors on Friday with the first major public remarks from Toby Xu, who is set to replace longtime CFO Maggie Wu. CEO Daniel Zhang will also speak.

Source: Bahrain News Agency


H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed attends graduation of ‘Golden Jubilee Cohorts’ of Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chairman of the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy’s (AGDA) Board of Trustees, attended the graduation ceremony of the 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 batches of AGDA students, which was held at the Academy’s new campus.

The ceremony, which coincided with the official inauguration event of AGDA’s new campus, located in the heart of the embassy district in Abu Dhabi, also drew the participation of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan the Advisor of His Highness the President, Dr. Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Diplomatic Adviser to the UAE President and Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, Cultural Adviser to the UAE President; Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology; Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bawardi Minister of State for Defence, Shamma Al Mazrouei Minister of State for Youth Affairs, Ahmed Al Sayegh Minister of State, Khalifa Shaheen Al Marar Minister of State.

In addition, the graduation ceremony was also attended by Khalid Abdullah Belhoul Undersecretary of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Omar Saif Ghobash Assistant Minister for Cultural and Public Diplomacy, Lana Zaki Nusseibah Assistant Minister for political affairs and the permanent representative to the UN, as well as Bernardino León, Director General of AGDA; and other senior officials.

H.H. Sheikh Abdulla bin Zayed happiness for attending the ceremony, and to celebrate the inauguration of the new building of the academy, one that holds a very precious name for the UAE diplomacy.

His Highness also thanked the team that has worked hardly to accomplish this project. He added: “I would like to thank my friend and colleague, Bernardino Leon, whom I was honoured to work with when he was representing the diplomacy of Spain.”

He also thanked Bernardino Leon for his efforts in the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy.

His Highness also congratulated the graduates on their academic achievements, stressing his full confidence that they will continue to raise the name of the UAE, serving as ambassadors of the UAE’s values of tolerance and understanding.

He also stated: “Today, we mark a pivotal milestone for aspiring diplomats – the sons and daughters of the UAE – who have gathered us to celebrate their success. The graduates are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime and join our line-up of elite diplomats, who are not only representing the UAE on the international arena, but also, helping our nation lead the way, across all fields.”

Sheikh Abdullah added: “The Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy continues to bring the vision of the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to life. Since its founding in 2014, the prestigious Academy has been generating dynamic diplomats, who are achieving the UAE’s foreign policy objectives, and serving the country on innumerable missions, near and far.”

“Our aspiring future delegates, envoys and ambassadors that have graduated today, must carry with them essential principles, to not only succeed as world-class diplomats, but to also protect the eminent reputation of the UAE. These principles are integrity, transparency, and loyalty to their homeland.”

His Highness concluded: “I am confident that the graduates of today, will become the righteous and respected leaders of tomorrow, who will convey our nation’s message of peace, tolerance and cooperation, across borders. They will help us continue building everlasting bridges of unity with the international community.”

Bernardino León said: “It is a great honour to witness another line-up of remarkable graduates of the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, this is a moment many of us have anticipated, and waited for.”

“As our world slowly and gently picks itself up from the disruption of the Covid-19 pandemic – which has reaffirmed that cooperation and diplomatic dialogue are key in overcoming global challenges – it is now more paramount than ever before, that diplomats and leaders unite with integrity and purpose. That is why we are proud that our graduates and aspiring envoys will convey this noble message to the world – a message of coalition and cooperation.”

He added: “The graduates – who now possess the key knowledge and skills that will allow them to effectively navigate 21st century diplomacy – will become the driving force of the UAE’s international strategic initiatives and will help the nation continue achieving its foreign policy ambitions.”

León said to the aspiring ambassadors: “Becoming a diplomat grants you a world of opportunities, due to the substantial duties that you will be commissioned with. I trust that you will take these opportunities and make a remarkable difference – not only in your life, but in the lives of those around you. Welcome to the world of diplomacy.”

This year’s ceremony, saw the graduation of the fifth and sixth cohorts of the Post-Graduate Diploma in UAE Diplomacy and International Relations, and batches three and four of the Master of Arts in Diplomacy and International Relations. While most of the graduates are currently working at MoFAIC, numerous graduates also represented several ministries, government and semi-government entities and public organisations.

Established in 2014, AGDA has been committed to providing future diplomats, foreign policy leaders and drivers with theoretical and practical expertise in the field of diplomacy, as well as the necessary guidance that allows them to explore regional and global challenges and work on consolidating the UAE’s position, all while strengthening its diplomatic presence on the international scene.

Reflecting on the importance of diplomacy and unity, AGDA’s new campus, which opened its doors to students earlier this year, was inspired by a traditional ‘agora’ from ancient Greece. An agora is a historical assembly place, often a plaza where people would exchange and discuss ideas and initiate new endeavours.

The state-of-the-art building, includes a group of sustainable design elements, as well as 18 classrooms, a 50,000 book capacity library, eight networking areas for students, a vast innovation hub, in addition to a cafeteria, a gymnasium, and a nursery.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation


Curtain comes down on Qatar National Day Close Padel Tournament

Doha: The Qatar National Day Close Padel Tournament was concluded at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex and Ali bin Hamad Al-Attiy Arena of Al Sadd Sports Club on Friday.

The event was organized by the Qatar Tennis, Squash and Badminton Federation (QTSBF) under the auspices of the State National Day Celebrations Organizing Committee and the QOC.

The QTSBF Secretary General Tareq Zainal crowned the winners. The medal ceremony was attended by the Tournament Director Sultan Khalfan and Assistant Tournament Director Abdulhadi Al Marri.

Jabour Al Motawa and Mohammed Al Khenji won the title of Category (A) after beating Abdulaziz Saadoun Al Kuwari and Abdullah Al Hijji in the final match.

Abdullah Kafoud and Ahmed Al Baker claimed the title of Category (B) after beating Fahad Al Thani and Mohammed Al Thani in the final match while Ahmad Al Mohammadi and Abdulaziz Zainal won the title of Group (C) following their victory over Abdulla Al Adsani and Hamad Al Hammadi.

Rashid Al Subaey and Fahad Al Thani hoisted the trophy of Juniors U18 Years Category after beating Abdullah Al Baker and Khalid Al Motawa in in the final match.

Rodha Al Thani and Maha Al Saadi claimed the title of Women’s event after beating Al Anood Al Mana and Maha Al Ghanim in the final match.

On this occasion, the QTSBF Secretary General Tareq Zainal, said “Qatar National Day Close Padel Tournament comes in light of the country’s national day celebrations. This type of events will help boost the togetherness of our beloved nation as they are bringing together the whole community not only professional athletes”.

Jabour Al Motawa who claimed the title of Category (A) thanked the QOC, the QTSBF and the State National Day Celebrations Organizing Committee for holding this tournament to mark our national day.

Al Motawa also lauded the huge success of the event and growing popularity of Padel and Qatar and whole world.

Abdullah Kafoud who hoisted the trophy of Category (B) said “I am very happy for winning the title of (B) category as this level of organization and support for Padel in Qatar is phenomenal and we look forward to many more such events for Padel in the future.”

The game of Padel is a sport that combines the best elements of tennis and squash, which turned out to be one of the fastest growing sports in the world, especially in Qatar after hosting the 2021 edition of World Padel Championship last month where Spain claimed the title of Men’s and Women’s events.

Source: Qatar Olympic Committee


Qatar confident ahead of third place play-off

DOHA: Qatar coach Felix Sanchez exuded confidence ahead of Qatar’s play-off match for the third place against Egypt on Saturday.

Despite the 2-1 semifinal defeat against Algeria, Sanchez reposed faith his squad as the reigning Asian champions look forward to end their campaign on a positive note.

“The team showed great fighting spirit against Algeria,” said Sanchez at the pre-match press conference on Friday.

With the game heading towards the extra time after both the teams were locked 1-1, Abdulaziz Hatem committed a foul against Yacine Brahimi that gave helped Algeria score the winner from the spot.

“I cannot blame the players as they made every effort in the match. An individual mistake cost us the penalty. I will tell them better luck,” added the Spaniard.

Egypt is going to be a difficult side, but still the highly-spirited performances of the Annabis in the tournament should bolster their confidence.

“Now we will focus on the third place match and give our best effort to finish the tournament on a high note,” said Sanchez.

Source: Qatar Olympic Committee