WAEA Single Focus Workshop Elevated To “Don’t Miss” Status!


Suffice it to say, the latest WAEA Single Focus Workshop on connectivity was a hit. If airline uptake is any indicator of the rush to provide inflight Internet, our money is on the success of the next “big thing” in onboard amenities. The real importance of this meeting lies not only in the value of the service to travelers, but as a result of the almost universal acceptance of new gadgets, airlines are willing to invest in connectivity. While the presentation papers for the most part were terrific, also were not available at this writing. They will be forthcoming we are told and they are dynamite. We hope to update our readers on higher level messages provided when we get a few more in. From observation we gleaned that there were some 100+ attendees, 15 airlines registered and a very full schedule, including a an eye-opener Boeing tour. One could not bypass the universal mantra chanted by almost all the illuminati – with a smile. Naturally, the broadband providers touted the value of “more” – more bandwidth, more users, more services, and more money. Conversely, the narrow-banders tended to gather around the “less is more” banner – less space, less disruption to the usage patterns, less hassle. Probably the middle ground is where it’s at! We can safely say, this was one of the most open exchanges of information put on by any organization and we urge the WAEA to continue this work, even provide open review of the presenters. We will be happy to promote this access if it occurs because the folks who do not regularly get to participate in the workshops will benefit greatly.

IFE and Connectivity consultant, Michael Planey had some good advice to airlines. He told IFExpress, “I suppose the most important thing that I would stress is the need for the airlines to stop viewing Inflight Internet as a program separate from the overall IT strategy for the company. A connected airliner is another node on the network for the IT staff to address. It is imperative for the airlines to have their senior IT management involved in the requirements development, sourcing, testing and implementation for these systems. After all, they are the true experts in network design and optimization within the airline.” About 5 years ago, our team saw a presentation from McDonnell-Douglas that debuted in the 90’s (we think) and one statement stood out to us long before airborne Internet was a gleam in the sky. It stated, and we paraphrase, ” The only node in the airline system that is not automated is the aircraft”. One can guess that that dream is now fulfilled.

Here are a few highlights to look for:

Astronics shared their laptop battery study and it looks like there is going to be hole in the service provision if longer connectivity sessions are not enabled with electrical power.

Boeing and Airbus are rapidly being dragged into network-centric aircraft. The good news is they are aware of the issues ahead.

Big battles are looming in service provision – license VS unlicensed bandwidth, not to mention, there are providers on the ground and in the Clarke Belt who are coming online.

The good news is passengers like this stuff! Internet, phone calls, email and so on. There may be money here for airlines and vendors alike.

We should note those presenters who shared their data and thank them; AirCell, OnAir, Astronics, AeroMobile, Row44,ViaSat, Thin-Kom, Boeing, Airbus, ITS Electronics…just to name a few. It is the data from you folks that makes these functions useful and informative. Thank You and the WAEA!

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