London City Airport Operates By Remote Control

London’s City Airport has become the first major commercial airport in the world to become fully remote controlled. Normally, air controllers sit at the top of a tower at the airport. At City Airport they are operating take-offs and landings from 70 miles away. It is the first time remote-control technology is used at a commercial airport.

Air traffic controllers can see everything that happens from 14 cameras that sit atop a 50-m high tower. The cameras record everything that happens on the runways and can be set to pan around and zoom in on certain areas. Controllers also receive weather and aircraft information on their screens .

The technology was developed by a Swedish company and has been tested at Swedish airports. Several backup systems provide security in case the something goes wrong with the main computers. British authorities claim that the new technology is safe and will make operating an airport more efficient.

Aerial view of London City Airport
Ercan KarakaƟ (GFDL or GFDL), via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • aircraft = airplane
  • air traffic controller = someone whose job it is to give instructions to pilots by radio
  • atop = on top of
  • authorities = the people or organizations in control of something
  • backup systems = computers that start working when the main computers are damaged or don’t work the way they should
  • claim = to say that something is true
  • commercial = used by businesses, not military or private
  • develop = make something new for the first time
  • efficient = to work in a better way
  • fully = completely
  • major = important
  • pan around = to move around and follow an object
  • provide = give
  • receive = get
  • remote-controlled = operating or working on something from a distance
  • security = things that are done to protect something
  • set = here: instructed, programmed
  • several = here: a few

Portugal Opens World’s Longest Suspension Bridge

The world’s longest pedestrian bridge opened on Sunday in Arouca, in northern Portugal. The suspension bridge spans 516 meters across a canyon of the Paiva river. It hangs on steel cables connected to two massive towers. Tourists who walk on the bridge can watch the fast-moving river over 170 meters below them.

The mayor of Arouca hopes the new bridge will be an additional attraction to the Arouca Geopark, a region where tourists experience all kinds of outdoor adventures, including hiking , rafting, biking and other activities.

The bridge cost 2.3 million euros and was completed in 2 years. The previous record for the longest pedestrian suspension bridge was held by Randa in the Swiss Alps.

Arouca Geopark in Northern Portugal
Ricardo Oliveira, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • additional = extra
  • canyon = deep valley with very steep sides that has a river running at the bottom
  • completed = finished
  • experience = here: something great that happens to you
  • hiking = taking walks in the mountains
  • massive = very large and heavy
  • mayor = person who is the head of a city
  • pedestrian= someone who is walking
  • previous = earlier, up to now
  • rafting = travelling in a raft on a fast-moving river
  • span = distance from one side to the other
  • steel = very strong metal
  • suspension bridge = bridge that hangs from heavy steel ropes that are connected to towers

35 Years After Chernobyl Disaster

35 years ago, the worst nuclear disaster in history happened at the power plant at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. A failed safety test caused the nuclear reactor in Block 4 to become unstable. As a result a chain reaction caused the core to explode. Fire spread out over the entire compound. Two people were killed in the explosion, over 30 workers officially died of radiation sickness. It is not known how many people died in the months and years that followed.

The Soviet authorities hid the truth about the explosion and did not warn other countries. A nuclear cloud spread across Europe for more than a week. Almost half a million people had to leave their homes.

The accident led to a worldwide debate on the safety of nuclear energy. It may have also been one of the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union a few years later.

After the clean-up the remaining reactors at Chernobyl continued to produce electricity for some years before the whole power station was shut down by Ukrainian authorities in 2000. A sarcophagus was built around Block 4 to prevent radioactivity from escaping. In 2017 a new steel structure was built to ensure more safety. The whole site is expected to be completely decommissioned by 2065.

Today, the area is still affected by radiation. Even though there is a 30 km exclusion zone a special kind of tourism has emerged. People from all over the world are coming to see the remains of the catastrophe and observe the wildlife in the region. The Ukrainian government is planning to use the area as a site for nuclear waste.

Reactor 4 months after the disaster
IAEA Imagebank, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • affected = here: there is still dangerous radiation
  • authorities = the people who are in control of a certain part of a region
  • caused = led to
  • causes = reasons
  • chain reaction = event that produces more and more energy in an uncontrolled way
  • collapse = breakdown; if something does not exist anymore
  • compound = a set of buildings
  • core = the central part of a nuclear reactor
  • decommission = to stop using the power plant and tear it down
  • disaster = a sudden event that causes a lot of damage and kills people
  • emerge = come up, appear
  • entire = whole
  • exclusion zone = area that people are not allowed to enter because it is dangerous
  • failed = something that did not work
  • former = earlier, once
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • nuclear energy = the energy you create when you split atoms
  • nuclear waste = leftover material from nuclear reactors
  • officially = as said by the government
  • power plant = one or more buildings that produce electricity
  • prevent = stop
  • radiation sickness = illness that is caused when your body gets too much radiation
  • radioactivity = the sending out of radiation when an atom is split
  • remains = what is left
  • sarcophagus = here: a structure that is put over the reactor so that dangerous radiation cannot escape
  • shut down = to close something
  • Soviet Union = the largest communist country that existed between 1917 and 1991
  • spread = travel, move across
  • unstable = something that may suddenly change and become worse
  • wildlife = the animals that live naturally there