A slump in oil, gas and other commodity prices over the past two years has left lower helicopter prices in its wake. In economies like Brazil’s, which are heavily reliant on volatile commodities prices, demand for corporate use copters has grown soft. And while companies that extract natural resources often rely on choppers to survey prospective mines and oilfields, they’ve recently been warming to drones, which can be less expensive.
Now, a used 2010 Bell 407 helicopter, a mid-size model that can work for corporate use or for mining operations, is fetching $1.69 million this month, down more than 13% from two years ago, according to helicopter appraisal firm Helivalues.
“The civil and parapublic [helicopter] market still looks pretty awful,” Thomas Enders, chief executive of Airbus Group, said during an earnings call last month. Airbus produces about a quarter of the world’s rotorcrafts, according to Forecast International, an aerospace-market research firm.
Helicopters generally hold their value much better than cars. The latest downturn is notable because rotorcraft production has declined—an important gauge of demand, since producers often have buyers lined up when the parts come together on the factory floor. Global rotorcraft production will likely total just 1,050 in 2016, which would be the fewest in at least a decade, according to Forecast International.
But the cheaper helicopters could be a boon to companies that offer shared rides on the aircraft, like Uber and Blade. Not to mention for wealthy private citizens looking for new ways to travel.
Finding a helicopter is easy, if you have some money to burn. A 1981-made 109A by Italian manufacturer Leonardo, currently sells for just $220,000, down by close to 50% from two years ago, Helivalues data show. And for a rock-bottom $100,000 you can get the helicopter frame—but likely need to replace most of the parts.
The real hard part is finding a helipad. And a pilot. And a hangar. And a community that will allow for your noisy arrival.
“You can’t really land in your backyard,” says Ray Jaworowski, a senior aerospace analyst at Forecast International.
Author Cathy Davidson famously wrote in a book entitled "Now You See It" that 65 per cent of children will end up in roles that have yet to be created – and those jobs may be appearing far sooner than you think.
This outlook is by no means a new one. In 1930 one John Keynes wrote about a world where grandchildren would be richer than their grandparents – but thattechnological unemployment would be a "new disease as our discovery of means of economising the use of labour would outrun the pace at which we can find new uses for labour.”
But while many go on to divulge how numerous jobs will become obsolete as a result, author Cathy Davidson suggested it made room for new roles to be created – with some already on the verge of making an appearance. So for those curious to know what type of roles you'll soon be looking to fill, we tapped into Microsoft Surface and The Future Laboratory research – and here's what we found.
Human body designer
Engineering advances will extend the average healthy human life as the growth of replacement tissues and organs becomes an everyday and affordable proposition. HBDs will use bio-engineering know-how to create a huge range of customised human limbs.
Virtual habitat designer
By 2025, millions of us will spend hours each day working and learning in virtual reality environments. A VHD will design and create these worlds. “These designers will be the superstar pioneers of the industry, leaving behind game design and joining product teams to create exciting new entertainment, work and learning environments,” suggested Dave Miller, recruiter at Artefact.
Ethical technology advocate
There will be an extra 55,790 new jobs in the field of robotic engineering by 2018 alone, research by Recruiter.com has revealed. An ETA will negotiate our delicate relationship with the robots by setting the moral and ethical rules under which the machines operate and exist. Essentially, they'll ensure we don't have an "I, Robot" situation on our hands.
Digital cultural commentator
In ten years’ time, visual communication will dominate social media. This is already apparent with Instagram set to grow 15 per cent in 2016 compared to just three per cent for the wider social network sector. DCCs will effectively communicate entire stories through an image alone.
Terrible news shook the web the other day, as reports surfaced of a new ransomware virus circulating the web.
A new version of the infamous Locky ransomware has been unleashed upon users worldwide, affecting computers all across the globe from the USA to Mexico, Japan, Germany, and beyond. The unwelcome arrival of the new virus was first reported yesterday here and was later confirmed by another source.
It works like most ransomware does, seizing the files on a victim’s PC and encrypting them. Much like its predecessor, Locky, the new virus changes the name of the files to its own extension: .zepto, which is why it has now become known as the Zepto Virus.
Once the encryption process is complete, the virus then changes the desktop image to a ransom note, informing the affected user of the actions that had taken place and providing instructions as to how the victim can receive the decryption key. It also creates files with the same information in each of the encrypted folders titled “_HELP_instructions.html”.
The amount demanded by the hackers in exchange for the key is 0.5 Bitcoins, which is roughly the equivalent of $300; however, it is likely that that number will be substantially increased in the event large businesses or organizations are affected.
At this point, there is no known way of breaking the encryption, but cyber-security experts are already working on cracking the .Zepto code. As was the case with .locky, this new ransomware uses the strong RSA-2048 and AES-128 ciphers.
Users are advised to take extra precautions when browsing the web and especially when dealing with newly received emails. This is the way ransomware is most commonly distributed, so be especially critical towards spam emails, more so if they come with attached files.
If you have fallen victim to this rapidly spreading virus, it’s not advisable to give in to the hackers’ demands and pay the requested ransom. This practice is what stimulates the cybercriminals to continue with their illegal activities and there are no guarantees that you will receive any decryption key.
Instead, you can try using the following removal instructions that would hopefully help you locate and delete the .Zepto virus. Other than that, there is little else to be done than wait for a working decrypter to be released in order to recover your files.
These apps will show customers which banks may offer the best account, based on their own borrowing patterns.
Banks will also have to set maximum monthly fees for unarranged overdrafts.
However the CMA decided against a cross-industry cap, leaving individual banks to set their own charges.
And there will be further measures to encourage people to switch accounts.
"The reforms we have announced today will shake up retail banking for years to come, and ensure that both personal customers and small businesses get a better deal from their banks," said Alasdair Smith, chair of the CMA's retail banking investigation.
"Our reforms will increase innovation and competition in a sector whose performance is crucial for the UK economy."
The consumer group Which? welcomed the report, but said it was questionable whether the measures would be enough to promote more competition.
Under what the CMA calls its "Open Banking programme", banks will be required to make it possible to share customers' data on new apps.
Individual customers will have to give their consent before this happens.
The method of accessing their data - Application Programming Interface (API) - is used by the likes of Facebook and Uber.
It will enable customers to see information about prices, standards and the location of High Street branches.
Above all it will allow consumers to see which bank is cheapest, given their particular pattern of borrowing.
Mr Smith said: "Our central reform is the Open Banking programme to harness the technological changes which we have seen transform other markets.
"We want customers to be able to access new and innovative apps which will tailor services, information and advice to their individual needs."
The emphasis on new technology was welcomed by the banking industry.
"Customers and businesses have already found digital banking hugely convenient and have taken advantage of mobile technology that is allowing us to bank round the clock," said chief executive of the British Bankers Association, Anthony Browne.
"We are pleased the CMA has reflected that in its recommendations," he said.
However the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) warned about the dangers of sharing data.
Suren Thiru, Head of Economics and Business Finance at the BCC said the CMA should "tread carefully in the sharing of data by finance providers via the Open Banking programme, to ensure that businesses retain control over who has access to their data - otherwise any trust between lenders and businesses could be destroyed."
All the banks will be required to introduce a Maximum Monthly Charge (MMC) - set by themselves - to limit the costs of an unarranged overdraft.
At the moment most banks cap overdraft fees, but then add on interest payments.
The MMC will include debit interest - typically charged at up to 20% a year - and unpaid item fees.
The CMA said this would make different bank accounts easier to compare, and cut through the complexities of overdraft charges.
Media captionChair of the CMA Alasdair Smith outlines plans to create "open banking"
However Which? said banks would still be free to charge what they like.
"It is disappointing that the monthly charge cap is not actually a cap and banks will be allowed to continue to charge exorbitant fees for so called unauthorised overdrafts, rather than protect those customers that have been identified as among the most vulnerable," said Alex Neill, director of policy and campaigns at Which?
The CMA also ordered new measures to encourage more people to switch their accounts to other providers.
It said only 3% of personal customers move their accounts each year. Recent figures show the number of people switching actually going down.
As a result there will be:
a new regulator to oversee the Current Account Switching Service (CASS).
a longer period during which transactions will be redirected from the old account to the new - currently set at three years.
a "long-term" promotional campaign to encourage more switching.
Banks will also be required to send customers text alerts, whenever they go overdrawn - something which most banks already do.
A group of campaigners is concerned that Amazon drone tests will severely unsettle owls and other rare birds in the UK.
Amazon is quietly testing its 25kg delivery drones, which can fly at speeds of up to 50mph, at a historical site in the Cambridgeshire countryside, according to multiple reports.
The company's unmanned aerial vehicles are being flown over a 2,000-year-old road just outside Balsham, east of Cambridge, the BBC reported last week. The site — known as the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke trail — runs through an area that's home to a number of rare birds, according to The Mirror, including long-eared owls, turtle doves, buzzards, and hawks.
Julia Napier, secretary of the Friends of the Roman Road and Fleam Dyke group, told The Mirror: "We are absolutely horrified at the idea. There are dozens of protected species of flora and fauna and birds that will be severely affected by the noise and disturbance of drones."
Despite numerous drone sightings from land users and the Cambridge Aero Club, Amazon is refusing to confirm the exact location of its drone tests, which have been approved by the UK government. The company told the BBC that the testing site's location could not be disclosed for "commercial" reasons, adding that safety was a "top priority."
Jake Braun’s attempt to organise a fundraising event for Hillary Clinton at the world’s biggest hacking conference was looking like a bad move.
“I think I had maybe a dozen RSVPs,” Mr Braun told me.
"And then Trump made his comment about giving Russia a pass to hack our election - and our RSVPs hit the roof.”
Donald Trump’s call for Russians to "find the 30,000 emails that are missing” from Mrs Clinton’s private email servers was seen as astonishingly reckless - even if he later said he was only joking.
Image captionHackers have been coming to Def Con for 24 years
It was a moment that caught the attention of the traditionally apolitical hacker movement.
‘Fear of the unknown'
Mr Braun’s event took place during Black Hat, a serious conference in Las Vegas for cybersecurity professionals. It overlaps with Def Con, considered to be the decidedly less serious “underground” hackers’ event.
Jeff Moss founded both conferences. Known to hackers as “The Dark Tangent”, Mr Moss is highly influential and respected figure. He agreed to speak at the fundraiser, despite actually being an independent voter.
“Whoever the next president is they’re going to have big challenges in cybersecurity,” he told me.
"Hillary has talked more to these issues than Trump has.
Image captionSymantec set up a demo voting booth to show how the machines could be hacked
“If it wasn’t Trump, and the two candidates were similar, then this [event] wouldn’t have happened. Because the candidates are so different, I think that fear of the unknown is what’s driving a lot of this."
Mr Moss said he felt Mrs Clinton’s efforts to help dissidents in foreign countries gain access to the internet is a positive mark on her cyber CV, but he is yet to learn where Mr Trump stands on internet freedom.
But that’s not to say Mrs Clinton has the hacker vote tied up. One of the fundraiser attendees (who wanted to remain anonymous as he worked for a major social network) said he saw this election as a choice between “bad and evil”.
On the Def Con show floor, another hacker told me: “You’ve got one guy who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You’ve got one lady who knows what she’s talking about, but then she’s really not on our side."
Political parties aside, there are others who are concerned that the integrity of the vote itself may be at risk.
In many states in the US, electronic voting booths are used to cast ballots. Typically, voters will be given a smart card loaded with their details that they can use, just once, to place their vote.
Image captionVoting machines like this one could soon be considered critical national infrastructure
But security experts have long suspected that the system has several vulnerabilities.
“Some of the biggest concerns are manipulation of the cards used to vote, allowing people to vote multiple times,” warned Kevin Haley, from security firm Symantec.
"There’s also the collection of the ballots itself. The ballots sit on the electronic voting machines, unencrypted.”
Brian Varner, a Symantec researcher, demonstrated how a tiny card reading device costing around $10 (£7.70) could be potentially used to reset the card so it could be used multiple times by the same person.
Symantec stressed that the company had no evidence that the scenarios it put forward had actually been tried out for real - but its concern is echoed by many.
The US Department of Homeland Security is having high-level discussions over whether or not to designate voting machines as critical national infrastructure.
If that happens, it will mean a lot more investment in keeping them secure.
Mr Haley did offer another idea - why not vote using only a piece of paper and a pencil?
The impetus behind self-driving cars has come from the luxury brands, which have to be seen to offer the latest and greatest technology, but it may not necessarily be in their interests as car companies.
After all, why do people buy a BMW, Mercedes or Jaguar? Partly, it's for the badge as a status symbol and because they have the spare cash.
However, it's also because they are objectively better cars, for which it is worth paying a premium. They have bigger engines, better handling, faster acceleration and top speeds that may well exceed the motorway limit but make them more of a pleasure to drive.
So what happens when all cars are self-driving cars controlled by pretty much the same software and all driving in pretty much the same boring way?
Today's self-driving cars, it is said, drive just like a nervous grandmother: slowly, cautiously and fuel-efficiently. Acceleration is glacial and speed limits are diligently observed.
The self-driving cars of the future might be able to accelerate with a bit more haste than today's prototypes, but it's unlikely that they'll be allowed to break speed limits or even go round corners, mild or tight, in the same way you probably do now. That fun hairpin bend in Winchelsea? Forget it. They will all drive in exactly the same way.
My point, and I do have one, is that there will be scarcely any point in expensive cars in the future when even a Jaguar F-Type or Tesla Model S drives like a Nissan Serena.
Why lash out fifty grand for the pleasure of 550 highly refined charging horses under the bonnet of an F-Type when the only tangible differences between one car and the next is the comfort of the seats, the reliability of the internet connection and the entertainment it offers to divert passengers' attention while the car takes you to Morrisons?
Indeed, what would be the point of a Chelsea tractor if there's no pleasure to be had from looking down on the proles in their Skodas and Hyundais and intimidating them at mini-roundabouts?
And that's before the self-driving car concept makes the prospect of renting cars at the swipe of smartphone a more realistic prospect. If you really can ‘dial a ride' for pennies from someone who knows you won't be able to crash it, why pay thousands to own a vehicle outright?
In other words, self-driving vehicles will fundamentally change not just driving, but the car industry itself, removing individuality from purchasing decisions and turning the industry even further into a commodity producer.
Do the luxury car brands leading the charge into self-driving cars appreciate what they are letting themselves in for? If and when the shift happens, it will almost certainly hit them the hardest, and another round of industry-wide consolidation will be inevitable.