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Ampaire Conducts First Airline Flight Trials for a Hybrid-Electric Aircraft

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Electric aviation pioneer flies low-emission aircraft between Hawaiian island destinations demonstrating potential for sustainable aviation

Ampaire, a global leader in electric aviation, is the first to complete a demonstration flight of a hybrid-electric aircraft along an actual airline route. The company flew its Electric EEL aircraft on November 22nd on a 20-minute flight from Maui’s Kahului Airport across the island to Hana and back on a single charge.

Ampaire is now flying the route regularly in a one-month demonstration program with Hawai’i-based Mokulele Airlines, one of 15 airlines to have signed a Letter of Interest with the company. It is the first use of a hybrid-electric aircraft under the FAA’s Experimental-Market Survey category, allowing Ampaire to fly with their crew and essential personnel for crew training and other exploratory market activity. The flight trials are supported by Elemental Excelerator, a global climate-tech accelerator.

“We’re following the successful path of hybrid-electric automobiles in transforming ground transportation by taking that model to the sky, ” said Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker. “By upgrading current aircraft with hybrid-electric propulsion we can enter the market quickly and take advantage of existing infrastructure for fixed-wing aviation.”

The trials serve two purposes, according to Noertker: demonstrating electric aviation’s potential to reduce harmful emissions and evaluating the robustness of Ampaire technology. “We can take lessons from this series of flights and apply them to subsequent, larger aircraft designs already in the works.”

The Electric EEL technology demonstrator used in the Mokulele trials is an upgrade of the popular six-seat Cessna 337 twin-engine piston aircraft. The aircraft has a 300-horsepower piston engine in the rear and a 160 kW-capable electric power unit in front, plus a battery pack carried in an under-fuselage aero-optimized shell. Due to the contribution of the electric power unit, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced by approximately 40-50 percent.

For the flight trials, the only change to ground equipment was the requirement to wire a Mokulele hangar with a 208-volt 3-phase outlet. Ampaire has been working with the Hawai’i Department of Transportation and the Hawaiian Electric Company to explore longer-term infrastructure solutions to support a fleet of hybrid- or fully-electric aircraft.

“The future for regional airlines is electric,” said Stan Little, CEO of Southern Airways which operates one of the largest commuter airlines in the U.S. and owns Mokulele Airlines. “We expect to put hybrid- and all-electric designs into service as soon as possible, and we know other regionals are watching us with great interest.”

“We’re excited to partner with Ampaire to pave a path to electric aviation that unlocks more accessibility to rural and island communities and increases green jobs while invigorating the aviation industry,” says Danielle J. Harris, Director of Mobility Innovation at Elemental Excelerator. “Building a climate-positive aviation industry is about much more than just a plane. It requires rethinking everything from airport infrastructure to pilot behavior, and that’s what this project is really proving.”

“The market for electric aircraft will expand as airlines perceive that electric aviation is not only environmentally desirable but economically advantageous,” said Noertker. “Electricity cost is an order of magnitude less expensive in comparison to fuel, which is the largest cost item for airlines.”

“Ampaire is focused on the regional market where we can provide viable range for typical routes,” he said. “The average regional airline route in the U.S. is less than 500 miles. Upgrading today’s aircraft for electric power is a relatively low-cost, low-risk path to aircraft certification. Then we expect to move on to increasingly efficient and capable clean-sheet designs.” UBS, the Swiss investment bank, forecasts a $178 billion market for hybrid-electric aircraft.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Nigeria’s Broadband Penetration Stalls at 42.53% Amid Connectivity Challenges

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Nigeria’s broadband penetration has stalled at 42.53% as of January, according to the latest report.

Subscriptions currently stand at 92.19 million, indicating a significant gap in connectivity, particularly in rural areas.

The Nigerian National Broadband Plan 2020-2025 aims to increase broadband penetration to 70% by 2025, with the ultimate goal of achieving 96% mobile broadband coverage by 2030.

However, this ambitious target requires substantial investment—approximately $461 million, according to a recent report by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).

While the country’s major telecommunications companies, such as MTN Nigeria and Airtel Africa, have invested heavily in expanding their network infrastructure, much of this development has been concentrated in urban areas. Rural and underserved regions face a significant coverage gap, exacerbating the digital divide.

Despite these challenges, Nigeria has made progress in improving its broadband infrastructure. Since 2012, the mobile broadband coverage gap across Africa has decreased from 56% to 13% in 2022, due to significant investments in network capacity and new technologies.

Nonetheless, millions of Nigerians, particularly those in rural regions, remain without access to essential telecom services.

To address this issue, Nigeria’s government established the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF) in 2006, aimed at bridging the connectivity gap and expanding broadband access to unserved and underserved areas.

The fund provides resources for deploying telecommunications infrastructure in economically unviable regions.

The success of these initiatives, along with increased investments in broadband infrastructure and policies to incentivize internet expansion in remote areas, will be crucial in closing the connectivity gap and improving digital access for all Nigerians.

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iPhone Shipments Drop Amid Resurgence of Android Rivals

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Apple Inc. reported a significant drop in iPhone shipments during the March quarter, reflecting a downturn in sales across China amid the resurgence of competition from Android-powered rivals.

According to market tracker IDC, the tech giant shipped 50.1 million iPhones in the first three months of the year, a 9.6% year-on-year decline that fell short of the average analyst estimate of 51.7 million.

The steep decrease in iPhone sales marks Apple’s most significant quarterly dip since 2022, when Covid-19 lockdowns disrupted supply chains.

This time, the Cupertino-based company faces challenges from resurgent competitors such as Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp.

These firms have rebounded strongly in recent quarters, and their innovative product lines have begun to reclaim market share from Apple in China.

Samsung Electronics Co. regained its position as the top smartphone supplier globally, while Apple ranked second. Xiaomi closed the gap on Apple, shipping 40.8 million units, an impressive 33.8% increase year-on-year.

Transsion Holdings, another key player in the budget smartphone segment, nearly doubled its shipments, showcasing the competitive environment Apple faces.

Nabila Popal, research director at IDC, highlighted the broader shift in the smartphone market, which has recovered from the supply chain disruptions and challenges of recent years.

“While Apple has demonstrated resilience and growth in recent years, maintaining its pace and share in the market may prove challenging as Android manufacturers make strides,” Popal commented.

Apple has a strong brand and loyal customer base, yet its market position may be tested further by the aggressive pricing and innovative products offered by Chinese rivals.

The company’s efforts to sustain its premium pricing strategy may also be challenged as more customers consider switching to Android alternatives.

As the tech industry looks ahead to the rest of the year, Apple’s upcoming earnings report and strategic moves to address this competitive pressure will be closely watched by investors and industry observers alike.

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Meta Platforms Inc.’s Astonishing Rally Adds $1 Trillion in Value

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Meta Platforms Inc., formerly known as Facebook, has witnessed an extraordinary rally that has propelled its market value by $1 trillion.

The tech giant’s record-breaking surge, fueled by strategic investments in artificial intelligence (AI), underscores its resilience and adaptability in navigating the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Since its darkest days in 2022, Meta’s shares have undergone a remarkable transformation, soaring to new heights and shattering records along the way.

Despite its monumental growth, some perspectives suggest that Meta is still trading at a discount with its shares valued at 24 times estimated earnings early Wednesday, closely aligned with its 10-year average and just below the Nasdaq 100’s multiple of 25 times.

Among its peers in the Magnificent Seven group of big tech companies, only Alphabet Inc. boasts a lower multiple, standing at approximately 21 times.

AI emerges as the primary catalyst behind Meta’s astonishing rally, driving gains and serving as a harbinger of future growth prospects.

Meta’s substantial investments in AI have revolutionized ad targeting and content recommendation algorithms, enhancing user engagement and advertiser relevance.

The strategic bet on AI has paid off handsomely, with profits tripling in Meta’s most recent quarterly report, accompanied by a surge in revenue growth. Such robust earnings prompted Meta to announce a $50 billion buyback program and implement a dividend, further solidifying investor confidence in the company’s trajectory.

Conrad van Tienhoven, a portfolio manager at Riverpark Capital, lauds Meta’s strategic focus on AI, stating, “Outside of chip or hardware companies like Nvidia or Dell, no company has benefited more from AI than Meta, just in terms of the impact on growth.”

Meta’s unparalleled surge, exceeding 450% from its nadir almost 18 months ago, positions it as a standout performer among its peers. This year alone, Meta’s shares have surged by approximately 46%, trailing only chipmaker Nvidia Corp. within the Magnificent Seven cohort.

The recent selloff that preceded Meta’s current rebound underscored investor concerns over its spending on the metaverse initiative. However, Meta’s proactive measures, including a concerted focus on cost efficiency and innovation, have restored market confidence.

Rick Bensignor, chief executive officer of Bensignor Investment Strategies, affirms Meta’s trajectory, stating, “Meta has figured out how to get rid of unnecessary spending, which has been a real balance sheet plus, and it continues to innovate.”

As Meta prepares to unveil its first-quarter earnings results on April 24, investors eagerly anticipate updates on key metrics such as ad revenue growth and the efficacy of AI solutions.

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