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World News

E&T's pick of engineering news from around the world.

1. China

China will build 11 new airports this year in the western region, at a total cost of US$13.4bn. The move is part of the government's plan to improve infrastructure and link less-developed regions to other parts of the country. The airports will each have a passenger-handling capacity of below five million a year.

At the same time, the budget for building a second international airport to serve Beijing has been increased by $4bn to $14bn. Construction will start in April with completion scheduled for 2016. Its capacity has been scaled up by a third, to 80 million passengers a year.

2. USA

Automotive manufacturers, electric equipment suppliers and utilities met in Washington DC to discuss requirements for a global roll-out of electric vehicles (EVs).

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and e8, a global organisation of 10 leading electricity companies, organised the round-table meeting to determine priorities for the development of EV-related standards, to define future needs, and to accelerate the broad adoption of the relevant international standards that will enable global interoperability and connectivity.

The participants confirmed that the IEC's existing and proposed International Standards for EV charging (on the charger side: plug, socket and cord; on the vehicle side: connector and inlet) satisfy their global needs.

3. USA

The first TETRA secure digital radio network in the US has gone live in a six-month pilot project. The demonstration system in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is intended to showcase the capabilities of the technology to prospective customers. TETRA networks are operating in 114 countries around the world, but type approval rules in the US and Canada have tended to favour analogue transmitters.

The pilot is a collaboration between radio supplier Sepura, infrastructure provider Rohde & Schwarz Professional Mobile Radio, and Nielson Communications, an American mobile communications business.

4. Egypt

The Egyptian government ordered the shut-down of Internet access and mobile phone services for several days to disrupt the organisation of widespread street protests.

In response, Google launched a 'speak to tweet' service, developed with Twitter engineers, that allowed people to send public messages by dialling a telephone number and leaving a voicemail. The message was automatically translated into an audio file that was posted on Twitter using the identifying tag #egypt.

5. Japan

MBE, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has delivered two tuned mass damper (TMD) vibration control systems for Tokyo Sky Tree, which will be the world's highest broadcasting tower when construction is complete. One unit, weighing 40t, will be installed at a height of 600m, with a second 25t unit at 625m. They will safeguard the antenna support tower from vortex excitation by wind.

The tower will provide a new landmark for Tokyo. It is due to be completed in December 2011 and to begin operation in spring 2011.

6. Australia

The Australian government faces an estimated bill of A$5.6bn ('3.5bn) to rebuild damaged infrastructure following January's devastating floods in Queensland, with the effects of Cyclone Yasi likely to push the figure even higher. The Queensland state government will need to find an additional $1.5bn ('940m).

Coal and agricultural production have been hard hit, with food prices rising across the country, and a survey by National Australia Bank suggests that the floods cut 5 per cent off the revenue of large and medium-sized businesses nationwide.

7. Saudi Arabia

The Railways Commission of the Saudi Arabian government has approved a regulatory framework designed by the Arcadis consultancy. The framework covers the complex organisation structure, best practice, economic and safety-related working procedures, as well as people management. Saudi Arabia is pushing through a major programme to enhance its railway network, building new lines and upgrading existing ones. The first phase of an elevated metro in the city of Mecca opened last year in time for November's Haj pilgrimage.

8. Malaysia

NTT Communications is developing a $430m submarine cable running from Japan to Malaysia and Singapore with links to the Philippines and Hong Kong. Telekom Malaysia will contribute $140m to the cost and own two of the six fibre-optic pairs.

Fujitsu and NEC will build the 7,200km link. It will use dense wavelength division multiplexing technology and is designed for a transmission speed of 40Gbit/s. It is expected to reduce latency by 25 per cent and also improve reliability of communications in the region by avoiding earthquake zones.

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