Monthly Archives: February 2013

Trailhounet (Gruissan)

Last weekend Luca and I went to Gruissan, a small village by the Mediterranean sea. I must say that in winter time it is not very lively (not by a night at least). One of the reasons for coming to Gruissan was to take part in the trail “Trailhounet” (18km), one of three races that would take during the weekend (the others covering distance of 25km and an ultra of 50km!).


Trailhounet circuit around Gruissan.

Trailhounet circuit around Gruissan.

I have often mentioned that running trails through the country side feels different from running on the asphalt of city streets. However, at some points the slopes in trails get too steep to run up, or too dangerous to go as fast as possible on the way down. This time, the circuit was covered to a great extent by small stones and rocks, this made it even more challenging and painful.

Profile of the race.

Profile of the race.

Let me share a couple of pictures from the start and the arrival:

Start line, using for the 1st time the new sweat band with the flag.

Start line, using for the 1st time the new sweat band with the flag.

Last sprint.

Last sprint.

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Skiing (Val Louron)

Before I took on skiing this year again, it had been already about 16 years without doing so! In the past weeks, Luca and I first went to Sain-Lary and then to Baqueira-Beret ski resorts. The experience was great, even if the weather was not the best.

This past weekend, we went to Val Louron with a group of co-workers. Val Louron is a small resort enclosed in the valley of the same name (which connects with Spain via Viella and where the Garonne river has its source). This time the weather was perfect, the views were impressive, the day was superb. This weekend I was reminded why I loved this sport so much years ago.

Skiing in Val Louron (France).

Skiing in Val Louron (France).

Map of Val Louron resort.


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Boeing 787 orders vs. cancellations

I read yesterday the first article about delays in 787 deliveries in 2013 due to the grounding of the fleet. With the investigation of the batteries issue taking already a month, it was evident that these delays were going to happen.

I have not yet read anything in the specialized or business press about cancellations. However, taking into account that when the 787 program started announcing 3-month delays from Q3 2007, cancellations started to pile, I guess that this time it will not be very different.

I checked the information of orders and cancellations from Boeing website.

Since 2004, Boeing has received a total of 1,112 787 orders. Out of these, 222 orders were later on cancelled; mostly between 2008 and 2012. Now there are still 890 firm orders (with about 50 of those aircraft already delivered). As a summary, find the graphic below:

Boeing 787 orders and cancellations

Boeing 787 orders and cancellations

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Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Boeing commercial aircraft discounts (update for 2012)

A week ago, Boeing released 2012 results [PDF, 223KB]. The company reported revenues of almost 81.7bn$601 commercial deliveries and 1,203 net orders for its commercial aircraft. All these were widely reported by the media and mean a great year 2012 for Boeing (with increases in these metrics from 20 to 30%).

Last years, I wrote in some posts what was my estimate of Boeing discounts: the relation between what is announced by the press, what appears in its list prices and sometimes as backlogs and what it is indeed computed into the profit and loss account. In this post I wanted to update, if necessary, the figure I calculated for the average discount of Boeing.

Most of the necessary information can be found in its website. Boeing list prices can be found here.

The number of gross and net orders (after cancellations) year by year can be found here.

Last year deliveries can be found in the report of financial results (or here). From there we can also deduct the figure of Boeing Commercial’s sales of services. That is not directly reported but can be deducted (all Boeing services-related sales are reported as well as Boeing Capital Corporation division and Boeing Defense’s “Global Services & Support” unit)

As in the post of last year:

  • I needed to make one assumption: new orders come with a 3% down payment in the year of the booking, while the remaining cost I assumed that was paid on the year of delivery (for simplicity I didn’t consider more intermediate revenue recognition milestones linked to payments, the 3% figure was taken from the AIAA paper “A Hierarchical Aircraft Life Cycle Cost Analysis Model” by William J. Marx et al.). [1]

Having put all the figures together, the calculation is immediate. Boeing Commercial Aircraft revenues in 2012 (49,1bn$) are the sum of:

  • the discounted prices times the delivered aircraft in the year (including possible penalties from delays),
  • less the down payment of the current year delivered aircraft, as the down payment was included in previous years results,
  • plus the down payment of current year net orders (this year’s calculation has been again a bit tricky as it included 737NG deliveries and 737 MAX orders),
  • plus services revenues (about 1.4bn$ from the commercial aircraft unit – calculated, not reported).

The discount figure that minimized errors last year was 41%. Using this figure, the error obtained this year in relation to Boeing Commercial Aircraft reported revenues is 7.5%, much too high. The best estimate for last years average discounts were: 41% for 2011, 39% for 2010 and 38% for 2009.

The updated figure (which minimize errors for 2012 down to 0.4%) for the discount for Boeing commercial aircraft is 45% [2].

The explanation I can find for that increase shall be linked the built-in penalties for 787 (net orders for 2012 being -12 a/c) and 747 delays (1 single net order) into revenues plus the launch of a new aircraft, 737 MAX (forced by A320neo sales success in 2011).

[1] Two years ago, I received a comment from the analyst Scott Hamilton on the level of downpayments. He mentioned they could reach up to 30%. I tried this time to compute the calculation using that input, though the figures of discounts to be applied each year to minimize errors would have to be even higher, over 50% (!), thus I stayed with the 3% used in the above-mentioned published paper to stay on the conservative side.


Filed under Aerospace & Defence

Certificate from Stanford Venture Lab

In a previous post I discussed about online education. Among the final reflections that I shared, one was about the certificates:

Certificates: all three courses are not official Stanford courses, though the instructors send a “Statement of Accomplishment” after satisfactory performance and completion of the course. I guess that with time more institutions will go towards this model. I even think that official certificates will be delivered for these kind of online education.

I have started to receive the certificates from those courses that I completed. The first one in arriving was from “A Crash Course on Creativity“. Note that in fact it is called “Certificate of Accomplishment”, not being an official certificate from Stanford:

Statement of Accomplishment of "A Crash Course on Creativity", Stanford Venture Lab.

Statement of Accomplishment of “A Crash Course on Creativity”, Stanford University Venture Lab.

You may note the remark at the bottom of the certificate:


Some more questions to debate:

  • Would that stop you from taking a course?
  • If you had not completed some other studies before: would you go for these courses? Would you build your student records based on this kind of certificates?
  • If you were an employer: would you recruit somebody which key skill was acquired through such kind of course? (“it does not verify the identity of the student”)


Filed under Education

Athletic World Records vs. my times (speed vs. distance in log plot)

Two weeks ago I published a post where I showed a graphic of the different world records in athletics with the speeds and paces.

I received a comment from Uwe, a reader of the blog, suggesting to plot it using a logarithmic scale. At first, I wanted to show how the long distance runners could almost keep a speed (between 20.5 and 23.8 km/h) for distances from 5 kilometres to 42, a marathon. However, Uwe convinced me to make the plot and here it is:

Athletics World Records vs. my times (speed) - logarithmic scale for the distances

Athletics World Records vs. my times (speed) – logarithmic scale for the distances.

In this view, what it is interesting is to appreciate the different slops of the lines connecting the different records. There you can see how:

  • 100m and 200m races are fully anaerobic where Usain Bolt is capable of maintaining an average speed of above 37.5 km/h. You can see in the explanation in the Wikipedia how these two races (both lasting below ~30 seconds) use as energy source high energy phosphates.
  • races from 400m to 1 km are still a high intensity activity, with some anaerobic component, though another energy source enters into play: anaerobic glycolisis. And as we have heard often in descriptions about 400m races, the consequence of rapid glucose breakdown is the formation of lactic acid.
  • from then (1.5 or 2km) on (up to 42km) professional runners are able to keep a high speed out of aerobic metabolism (using adenosine triphosphate, ATP). Of course, speed decreases with distance, but from the 26.2 km/h of a 1,500m to the 20.5 km/h of a marathon the speed decrease is of -22% for a race 28 times longer!
  • for ultramarathons (over 42k) speed starts decreasing at a higher pace, though Wikipedia only offered the 100k time. Probably more data can be found in the web to try to find with more accuracy up to which distance the long distance stable pace could be maintained.

Uwe, you were certainly right. This view offers another very interesting perspective to the game :-).


Filed under Sports


Dear readers, I am pregnant!

Well, to be precise, it is Luca who is expecting a baby!

Stork bringing the baby to Toulouse (design by Jaime, future uncle).

Stork bringing the baby to Toulouse (design by Jaime, future uncle) (1).

If everything goes well, junior will enter into service by the beginning of August (I cannot guarantee that there won’t be delays…). Engineering and Programme Management (I) have done their job, now it’s up to Industrial and Delivery Centre (Luca) to complete the project (we swear that Procurement was not involved!).


(1) Clarification for those not coming from Spain: the tradition there says that children are not only brought by a stork, but also that it brings them from Paris.

(2) We accept suggestions for the name, both female and male. Even more, we’re even thinking of setting up a contest; but please suggest a name only if you think it can top “Javier”.

(3) For those worried about the legal framework surrounding the coming child: we are already PACSed AND engaged


Filed under Miscellanea