Reaching new heights

Engineers have much to cheer about in the first week of this new decade. The week starts off with the public unveiling of a civil engineering marvel, the world’s tallest building in Dubai.

The Burj Dubai, also known as the Dubai Tower, measures just over half a mile high.

The $4.1bn residential and office tower is sited in the Business Bay district of Dubai and stands 2,684ft tall, surpassing the 1,670ft height of the previous tallest building, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan, and over 600ft taller than the world’s previous tallest structure, the KVLY-TV mast in North Dakota.

The building has 3.6 million sq ft of floor space arranged over 160 habitable floors, that are accessed by what are described as the world’s fastest elevators, which can reach speeds of 37mph.

Engineers are also reaching great heights in the civil aviation industry. Following the completion of the first test flight for its 787 Dreamliner passenger jet last month, Boeing will announce the details of its annual order book on Thursday, revealing the number of orders for commercial airplanes it has received in the last year.

Boeing expects delivery of the Dreamliner passenger jet to customers starting in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Also in air travel news, Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the BBC this weekend that full body scanners will be introduced in Britain following the alleged attempt to detonate a bomb on a US airliner on Christmas day.

Such technology, covered by The Engineer in October 2009, differs from normal X-ray machines and uses backscatter technology and image processing software to produce a ghost-like outline of an individual’s body.

One such system developed by US-based Rapiscan Systems is currently being trialled at Manchester Airport.