How aviation is being transformed by data science and predictive analytics. Also, safety implications of airline seat space, why the U.S. Air Force isn’t talking about a fatal plane crash, a recommendation to roll back the 1500 hour rule, and toes impact the passenger experience.
Andrew Kemmetmueller, VP Aviation at Uptake, a predictive analytics company.
Andrew Kemmetmueller is Vice President, Aviation at Uptake, a predictive analytics company that forecasts problems before they happen so industrial companies can prevent costly equipment breakdowns, improve productivity, and ensure safety and security.
Andrew talks about the impact of big data, machine learning, and the Internet of Things on aviation. We look at data science and how predictive analytics can improve flying for everyone involved, from the pilot to the passenger, the mechanic to the air traffic controller.
We discuss how the ability to record large volumes of sensor data in aircraft is facilitated by cost-effective connectivity. Benefits accrue to OEMs, airlines, and customers through the passenger experience. Predictive maintenance keeps airline operations running smoothly, reduces delays, and improves operating efficiency.
Andrew was previously Managing Director and Principal at AvIntel Consulting; he was Vice President, Connected Aircraft Services, at Gogo, the CEO of Allegiant Systems Inc.; and Service Director at ARINC.
When we talk about shrinking seat space on airlines, we usually think about passenger comfort. But the conversation is shifting to safety. In Flying Coach Is So Cramped It Could Be a Death Trap, the Daily Beast says, “No coach class seat meets the Department of Transportation’s own standard for the space required to make a flight attendant’s seat safe in an emergency.” Also, “Neither Boeing nor the Federal Aviation Administration will disclose the evacuation test data for the newest (and most densely seated) versions of the most widely used jet, the Boeing 737.”
The activist group Flyers Rights has taken the FAA to court and a U.S. Court of Appeals said there was “a plausible life-and-death safety concern.” The court ordered the FAA to respond to a Flyers Rights petition asking for new rules to deal with seat space safety issues.
Colgan Air Flight 3407, operating as a Continental Connection codeshare flight, crashed into a house in Clarence Center, New York in 2009, killing 50 people. The NTSB report faulted the pilots for responding improperly to the stall warnings. This led to a regulatory change requiring commercial pilots to have 1,500 hours of flight experience. In a recent report, the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee said the 1,500 hour rule “imposes costs that exceed benefits.”
The founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic explains commercial supersonic air travel. In the news, we look at a push out of FAA reauthorization, a court ruling on airline seat size, a NASA supersonic demonstrator, a couple of aircraft carriers, and United Airlines.
Blake Scholl is founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, the Denver startup seeking to build a commercially viable supersonic passenger aircraft.
We talk about the restrictions that have prevented supersonic flights over the United States, and how modern manufacturing methods allow supersonic airplanes to be built with much lower operating costs than was the case with the Concorde.
Blake describes how Boom aims to build a small supersonic airliner that is accessible and affordable, and not “a flying gas can with a billionaire in the front of it.” We look at the tradeoff between loudness and efficiency, as well as propulsion and airframe issues, and the objectives of the “Baby Boom” demonstrator. First flight of that ⅓ scale aircraft is targeted for late 2018.
Boom looks to have the full size 55-seat supersonic airplane in air at the end 2020, with first delivery to launch customer Virgin in late 2023. Blake tells us that Boom has 76 pre-orders across 5 airlines.
Prior to establishing Boom Supersonic, Blake held leadership roles at Amazon.com, and he was co-founder and CEO at Kima Labs, which was acquired by Groupon. Blake is an avid pilot and holds a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.
Isaac Alexander at Boom Supersonic HQ June 2017, looking through the aircraft in virtual reality.
The Flyers Rights passenger group asked FAA to write rules governing seat space. The FAA rejected the request, saying it was a comfort issue, not a safety issue. Now a three-judge federal appeals court in Washington has sided with Flyers Rights and it goes back to the FAA for a better response.
A small-scale model of the NASA/Lockheed supersonic jet was tested in the wind tunnel in June. NASA will take bids in August to construct a 94 ft. demonstration model, and expects to spend $390 million to build and test the demo plane.
The USS Gerald R. Ford launched and recovered its first fixed-wing flight, an F/A-18F Superhornet from the Air Test and Evaluation Squad based at Patuxent River, Maryland. The carrier employs new technology, including the advanced arresting gear system (AAG) and an electromagnetic launch system, (EMALS).
The USS George HW Bush is participating with the Royal Navy in the Saxon Warrior exercise. Lt Cdr Michael Tremel of the Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-87 Golden Warriors shot down a Syrian Su-22 Fitter, the first US air-to-air kill since a USAF F-16 shot down a Serbian MiG-29 in 1999, during the Kosovo campaign.
Dan Pimentel tells us about the #Oshbash social media meetup coming up at Airventure Oshkosh 2017. We also look into freelance writing for aviation publications and the Airplanista Aviation Blog. In the news, we talk about support for supersonic civil air travel in the FAA reauthorization bills before Congress, ATC privatization, United Airlines in the press again, and Turkey’s first female professional acrobatics pilot.
We also explore freelance writing for aviation publications, look at the process, and learn some tips for success. Along the way, we discuss ATC privatization, rivets and clecos, preserving EAA history, the importance of collegiate aviation programs, and how airshow performers physically and mentally prepare for the task.
Since 1973, there has been a ban on supersonic travel in the U.S. over land. However, both FAA reauthorization bills in Congress direct the FAA to revisit that restriction and determine if changes need to be made. An amendment to the House bill directs the FAA to “consider the needs of the aerospace industry and other stakeholders when creating policies, regulations, and standards that enable the safe commercial deployment of civil supersonic aircraft technology and the safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft.”
A middle school teacher traveling from Hawaii to a teacher’s conference in Boston purchased a ticket for herself, and one for her two-year-old 25-pound son. Waiting onboard the Houston to Boston leg, she was told another passenger had a valid boarding pass for the son’s seat. Rather than make a scene, the boy flew on her lap for the 3 ½ hour flight. According to a United spokesman, the boy’s boarding pass scan had been unsuccessful and he wasn’t logged in to the system. His seat was released to a standby passenger.
26-year-old Semin Öztürk is Turkey’s first female professional aerobatics pilot. She flew to great acclaim at a recent air show organized by the International Sportive Aviation Center and featuring 25 acrobatic pilots from Turkey. She began flying when she was 12 years old and her father was also an aerobatics pilot.
This episode, we have a number of interviews recorded at the 2017 International Paris Air Show by our reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari. We hear about the Antonov AN-132, Gore-Tex applications in aviation, an anti-drone gun, additive manufacturing with metals, and a really fascinating and detailed look at ejection seats. Launchpad also met up with Airplane Geeks listener Pauline.
In the news, we look at more evidence of the pilot shortage, FAA reauthorization bills in the U.S. Congress, ATC privatization, and security measures for commercial aviation.
Main features of the Antonov AN-130, presented at the Paris Air Show. Courtesy Antonov Company.
Regional airline Horizon Air is experiencing a severe shortage of Q400 turboprop pilots. They’ve recently canceled 318 flights, and more are planned. Managers are being used to fly the planes, pilots are being offered double pay, and hiring bonuses of up to $20,000 are available for Q400 pilots.
The Transportation Security Administration verified that the Department of Homeland Security measures have been implemented at Etihad Airways, so that airline is now exempt from the U.S. electronic device ban on flights from Abu Dhabi to the United States. The suggestion of a laptop ban on all international flights to the U.S. has been pulled back.
Jeanette Remak and Joe Ventolo Jr. from Phoenix Aviation Research tell the story behind the Lockheed A-12 Blackbird at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan. In the news, we look at FAA reauthorization bills and the battle shaping up in Congress, this year’s Paris Air Show, the Catalina Flying Boats’ DC-3 aircraft, the youngest pilot in Australia, and an Israeli court ruling on reseating women in the airplane.
Janet Remak and Joe Ventolo Jr. with the A-12 on the Intrepid.
Jeannette Remak is the owner of Phoenix Aviation Research. She’s a military aviation historian, a writer, author, artist, and photographic engineer. Her books include XB-70 Valkyrie: The Ride to Valhalla and A-12 Blackbird: Declassified.
In the mid-1990s, Jeannette worked as the volunteer Aircraft Historian for the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan. She performed research for maintenance and restoration, and worked on the aircraft under her control at the museum, including many U.S. Naval and U.S. Air Force aircraft on loan. Jeannette restored sheet metal, she controlled airframe titanium corrosion, and she appropriated parts and specialized equipment for work on A-12 aircraft.
Working with the US Navy’s Curator office, Jeannette is responsible for the rescue of the Sikorsky RH-53D that is the lone survivor of the failed United States hostage rescue mission in Iran. The CH-53D is now restored and on display at the JFK/ US Navy Seal Training School in North Carolina.
Jeannette has a degree in Commercial Photographic Engineering and obtained her Master’s Degree in Aviation Science in 2000. Jeannette also has a degree in Commercial Photography from the NY Institute of Photography.
Joseph A. Ventolo, Jr. is the former curator of the National Museum of the US Air Force. His career started in November 1959 when Joe joined the 269th Combat Communications Squadron of the Ohio Air National Guard. In 1965, he received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant as a communications officer. He left the Ohio Air National Guard in 1966 and transferred to the Air Force Reserve where he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and remained in the Air Force Reserve until 1970.
In 1962, Joe joined the staff of the U.S. Air Force Motion Picture Film Archives at Wright-Patterson AFB as a Motion Picture Archivist. In 1979, he transferred to the U.S. Air Force Museum’s Research Division as the Museum’s Historian. Two years later he became a Curator of Aeronautics. Joe has co-authored articles that appeared in such periodicals as Air Enthusiast, WW I Aero, and Friends Bulletin. In 1993 he was appointed Curator of the U.S. Air Force Museum and named Curator of the United States Air Force. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1995.
Joe is currently a co-owner/consultant with Phoenix Aviation Research. He has co-authored articles in the Atlantic Flyer, and written three aviation books, all with Jeannette Remak.
Their first book, XB-70 Valkyrie: The Ride to Valhalla was published in December 1998. Their second book, A-12 Blackbird: Declassified, was published in December 2000. And a third book, The Archangel and the OXCART: The Lockheed A-12 Blackbirds and the Dawn of Mach III Reconnaissance was published in 2008.
Boeing said it has 240 orders and commitments. Some orders are conversions from earlier orders for other MAX models. The MAX 10 is a stretch of the MAX 9 that seats up to 230 passengers and is designed to compete with the Airbus A321neo.
Airbus launched a new open aviation data platform called Skywise to support digital transformation of the industry. The Skywise aviation data platform was developed in collaboration with Palantir Technologies. See the video: Airbus launches new open aviation data platform, Skywise.
Test pilot Billie Flynn told Aviation Week, “After 10 years since first flight, with our first opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and the maneuverability of the F-35, we are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing,”
Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa. introduced a proposed FAA reauthorization bill in the House. The Bill prohibits passengers from being removed from a flight after they’ve boarded, privatizes ATC, and requires airlines to post resources for stranded passengers online when the airline is disrupted by a computer outage. It also calls for the faster development of a traffic management system for small drones, faster approval process for commercial drone operators, and a new certification system for small-drone commercial operators.
We cover the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s 2017 Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display with a series of interviews.
Max and David at the 2017 Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display. Photo by Brad Jefferson.
We participated in the National Air & Space Museum’s 2017 Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display. This annual event is held at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, adjacent to Dulles International Airport.
Innovations in Flight Interviews
We recorded a number of great conversations at the event. These follow, along with start times:
United States Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Nowland is Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. 2017 is the 70th anniversary of the USAF and the theme is Powered by Innovation. We talk about the shortage of pilots, the need to get more young people interested in aviation, and remotely piloted aircraft. [2:45]
Caroline Sheen is the Photography and Art Editor for Air & Space Magazine. We talk about finding photographs to support the articles. These come from many sources, such as archives, photographers, or Caroline herself. She gives us some tips for aviation photography and what she looks for as a photo editor. Be sure to look on newsstands for the special issue: 50 Greatest Moments of the Space Age. [15:16]
Christopher Watson is the FAA Emergency Communications Program Manager, Command and Control Communications Systems, under the Office of National Security Programs and Incident Response. Their emergency response vehicle was on open display and Chris describes how it responds to natural disaster relief, accident sites, and special security events. We also talk about the FAA’s B4UFLY smartphone app, a valuable resource for drone operators. [25:25]
Harry Hartfield with Amazon Prime Air described the company’s vision for package delivery: packages of five pounds or less delivered in 30 minutes or less. Amazon Prime has developed different drone models for different environments, and also sophisticated sense and avoid technology. [32:22]
Student Kathryn attended the event as part of a San Diego middle school trip to the East Coast. [37:58]
Hillel Glazer and his son Jacob flew their 1972 Piper Cherokee 180 to the event and had the aircraft on display. We talk about the flight in, the people who came by to look at the plane, and we watch the B-2 flyover. [41:05]
The CEO of Iridium Communications tells us about the satellites being placed into orbit and the services they’ll provide to aviation. In the news, airlines react to the laptop ban, a proposed TSA fee increase draws criticism, FAA forecasts slow growth for general aviation, and an engine manufacturer looks to expand. Also, interviews from the Heart of Texas Airshow.
Successful First Launch of Ten Iridium NEXT Satellites
Matthew Desch. Iridium photo.
Matt Desch is the CEO of Iridium Communications, a satellite communications company that offers global voice and data coverage through its constellation of low-Earth orbiting (LEO) cross-linked satellites.
Matt explains the company’s next-generation constellation, Iridium NEXT, with deployment expected for completion in 2018. We talk about how the satellites are placed into orbit with SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets, and what will happen to the old constellation being replaced.
Matt describes the capabilities of Iridium NEXT and the implications for aviation. That includes the Aireon service, a hosted payload that will listen for ADS-B signals and relay them in real time to air navigation service providers.
A long time telecom/technology executive, Matt started his career at Bell Laboratories, and was an early pioneer in the cellular phone business. He was involved with a number of high tech companies over the years prior to becoming CEO at Iridium.
Affected airlines have been quick to react to the PED ban. Royal Jordanian has continued it’s marketing campaign that pokes fun at the U.S. presidential election and recent government policies. Emirates started a service where you hand over your banned devices at the gate, which they package and place in the cargo hold. You get to work right up to boarding time. Etihad has a Make Flying Great Again video that illustrates the features of their IFE system. They also tout their seats that fully recline for sleeping, and their flying nanny to help keep children entertained.
The Trump administration proposes to increase the TSA fee that passengers pay. But the U.S. airline trade group Airlines for America says that each year, about $1.3 billion of the fees collected do not go to fund aviation security. Instead, they are allocated to overall deficit reduction.
In its 20-year forecast, the FAA estimated slow growth for general aviation. The agency sees a decline of 17,500 fixed-wing piston aircraft, offsetting a small annual increase in turbine aircraft and other segments, with a net annual growth rate of 0.1 percent.
The number of small commercial drones in the domestic UAS fleet is expected to grow from 42,000 at the end of last year to 442,000 by the end of 2021. FAA projects commercial U.S. passenger growth of 1.9 percent a year over the next two decades.
Continental Motors plans to break ground this year on a new $70 million manufacturing center and corporate headquarters in Mobile, Alabama. CEO Rhett Ross says, “We see that different power systems are going to be necessary. You’ll see much more electrified aircraft. This increases our flexibility for new designs.”
Airplane Geeks Reporter-at-Large Launchpad Marzari brings us interviews from the Heart of Texas Airshow, held March 18-19, 2017 Waco, Texas / TSTC Airport.
“Laser Dave” McConkey is a flight engineer for the B-17G operated by the Gulf Coast Wing unit of the Commemorative Air Force.
Nick “Bearshark” Green from the F-18 demonstration team.
Greg Howell, flying a Mig17 built in 1960 in Poland.
Air Refueling Specialist MSG Jerry Cummings from the KC-135 Air Refueling Wing.
Fly Like a Girl – Documentary Film – “Fly Like a Girl explores the courageous history of women in aviation. This feature-length documentary reveals the contributions women have made to aviation and brings to light the many women who are doing extraordinary work in aviation and STEM today. Fly Like a Girl also examines why many young girls don’t see themselves in aviation / STEM related fields and how society can begin to change this perception. Fly Like a Girl will inspire girls and women who no longer want to be passengers.”
We talk to the U.S. representative and importer for Shark Aero, and learn what it takes to bring a new airplane into the country. In the news, the House Aviation Subcommittee is holding hearings in advance of FAA reauthorization, a town targets a membership airline, a new online aviation video service launches, travel bookings to the U.S. slow down, and the former chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is sentenced. Plus, the story of memorable flights from a listener, and an Australia News Desk segment.
Shark Aero N235HK
Jonathan “JB” Baron owns the first and only Shark UL in the Americas, and is the Shark Aero US representative and importer. The Shark UL is manufactured by Shark.aero s.r.o. and type certified in Germany and the Czech Republic as an “Ultralight Aircraft.” It’s too fast and too complex to be a Light Sport Aircraft in the U.S., so the Shark UL is offered as the Shark US, an Experimental Amateur Built Kit with Builder Education and Assistance.
JB explains the process for importing an aircraft, including identifying the applicable certification type, obtaining an airworthiness certificate, transition training, registration, shipping and customs, and obtaining insurance.
JB recently retired from the Navy after two decades as a Naval Aviator flying Seahawks. He’s flown from every class of US Navy combatant including frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and aircraft carriers. In in the Navy, JB was a Fleet Replacement Instructor Pilot, a Weapons and Tactics Instructor, and the Commanding Officer of the West Coast Seahawk Weapons School. He holds a commercial airplane and helicopter pilot rating, is an avid first person video aero-modeler, and he currently works as a lead systems engineer in the Washington DC area.
Features of the Shark Aero include an aircraft parachute, a cockpit safety cell, and a wide, forgiving flight envelope. Able to cruise at 150 knots consuming just five gallons of unleaded gasoline per hour, it can easily fly from DC to Atlanta in about three and a half hours. Its tandem seat, dual controls, glass cockpit, and bubble canopy gives the Shark the feel of a modern “pocket fighter.”
Residents of San Mateo county don’t like the noise from the Surf Air Pilatus PC-12s. The County Board of Supervisors has proposed a new curfew ordinance limiting one takeoff and landings of “noisy airplanes.” A noisy airplane is defined a one with a certificated noise level above 74.5 dB. The quietest PC-12 is rated at 74.6 dB.
The new aviation video service Uflytv comes from Tom Poberezny and Jim Irwin. Poberezny was EAA AirVenture chairman from 1977 to 2011, and president of EAA from 1989 to 2010. Jim Irwin is president of Aircraft Specialty & Spruce. Currently offering 220 titles.
Dave said, “The thing that got me the most about the Spitfire was on the start up how hot and fumey the cockpit suddenly becomes, I’d seriously never thought about it before but wow there’s a wave of very hot air blasting you from the Merlin up front, and the fumes are choking and I gagged slightly. The first thought was oh no, is it going to be like this for half an hour? But no it quickly passed and you could breath again, plus with the canopy shut it was all good.”
Also, “The other sensation in the Spitfire was looking out at those famous elliptical wings and smiling so much, more than I’d done on any other flight. I also spent a bit of time thinking about all the amazing veterans I have met and interviewed over the years who flew these machines in combat. I had over time gathered a vivid mental impression of what it was like to fly in a Spitfire from them, but having the actual real opportunity with all the sounds, smells, vibrations, sights and other sensations absolutely took that appreciation to a whole new level.”
“In 2014 our Wings Over New Zealand Forum raised the money to take two wartime RNZAF veterans, Alan Peart DFC and Jim Robinson, up in that very same Spitfire. They had flown together in No. 81 Squadron RAF, the same squadron that the aircraft’s markings are in. It’s marked up as the personal aircraft of Wing Commander Colin Gray, New Zealand’s top ace, who was Alan and Jim’s boss on the squadron. That was very special indeed, but I never thought for a moment then that I’d be doing it myself 18 months later. Great memories!”
The Australia News Desk
Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron from the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast bring us a report from Avalon 2017, which saw the arrival of the first two RAAF F-35’s in Australia. Steve has been doing some reports for AOPA Australia Live:
This episode, we talk to the president of Dynon Avionics, a company that designs, builds, and supports glass cockpit avionics for builders and pilots of small aircraft. In the news, we discuss a celebrity landing on a taxiway, the 2017 General Aviation Awards, a capacity cutback on commercial flights to Cuba, a town that took a man’s Cessna, and the union representation vote at Boeing’s South Carolina plant.
Robert Hamilton, president of glass cockpit avionics company Dynon Avionics
Robert Hamilton is the president of Dynon Avionics. The company was founded in 2000 and is a leader in glass cockpit avionics for light aircraft. Starting with inexpensive AOA indicators, Dynon expanded the line to affordable Electronic Flight Instrument Systems (EFIS) and a full range of glass cockpit avionics products for pilots.
Robert Hamilton in the Sportsman
Robert learned to fly as a teenager in the family J-3 Cub in the 1970s. More recently he owned a glass panel Diamond DA-40, and built a SkyView-equipped Glasair Sportsman. Last summer Robert earned his seaplane rating.
Robert began his career as a Flight Controls Engineer at Boeing working on the 747. But to get more into the business side, he went to the Graduate Business School at Harvard then on to Fluke Corporation as a Senior Manager where he built their electrical power business and helped develop the unique Fluke brand. But aviation called to Robert and he joined Dynon Avionics in 2008 as head of Marketing, and then became company President in 2012.
As a volunteer, Robert was the president of the Washington Pilots Association at Paine Field, and is a member of AOPA and EAA.
Some Beechcraft, Grumman, Maule, and Mooney models are now eligible for the STC allowing installation of Dynon electronic flight information systems. The EFIS-D10A and EFIS-D100 can be installed in models on the Approved Model List, which EAA says will continue to expand.
When scheduled commercial service to Cuba was announced, we were pretty excited, and so were the airlines. Large numbers of flights were allocated to the airlines and some people wondered if the Cuban infrastructure would be strained under the influx of visitors. But it’s not turning out that way.
A 69-year old pilot gave up his pilot’s license in 2015 for health reasons. He had his Cessna 152 moved to his driveway in Long Island, but neighbors and the town of Oceanside didn’t think too much of that. When the man was out of the country, the town had the plane removed from the driveway, after disassembling the wings.
According to the NLRB, 74 percent of the 2,828 voting workers at Boeing’s South Carolina plant turned down representation by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
Flights Above the Pacific Northwest is a closed Facebook group, originally created with the intent of sharing pictures and videos of local flights around the Pacific Northwest. FATPNW has grown to become an active online community.
We look at specialty aviation marketing with Paula Williams from ABCI. In the news, we discuss President Trump’s meeting with airline and airport executives, and consider policies for ATC privatization, FAA leadership, airport infrastructure, and foreign carrier subsidies. Also, we look at 3D-printed turbine blades, a pilot melt-down, and Damian’s memorable flight, a creepy experience that saved his life.
Paula Williams, Aviation Business Consulting Inc.
Paula Williams and her husband John formed aviation marketing specialty firm Aviation Business Consulting Inc. (ABCI) to bring the discipline and technology from the finance and education industries to the aviation industry. ABCI assists aviation companies that sell complex, technical, or high-ticket products or services by helping them communicate with aviation professionals in a clear compelling way through written content, images, and video.
U.S. Aviation Policies
The Trump administration has given us a lot to think about this past week. We touch on ATC privatization, NextGen ATC, the FAA leadership, airport infrastructure improvements, foreign carrier subsidies, and even the effect on aviation businesses of the President’s time spent in Florida:
The captain for a United Airlines flight arrived out of uniform and proceeded to deliver a sharp monolog to the passengers, some of whom felt unsafe and left the airplane. The pilot also left the airplane and another flight crew arrived for the flight, which departed about two hours late.
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