AIX 2015: Trends and Transformation!


“I think 2015 was the best AIX Hamburg in years.  Creative connectivity solutions are expanding.  The off-aircraft connectivity space is growing with the big players recognizing content and strategic alliances are the fastest way to market.  As for inside-the-aircraft connectivity, I saw at least 6 new suppliers or added offerings from traditional IFEC players.  This is exciting.  The winning strategy is to get on as many aircraft as possible and let the competition scramble for the rest.” John Courtright

Another year in Hamburg complete and quite a show it was. Without a doubt, this was the biggest ever – we saw online numbers like 800 airline buyers, 500 + suppliers and 13, 897 expected visitors (probably more)… This is the IFEC industry “Big Dog” and you can find out more on Facebook (Aircraft Interiors Expo) and YouTube. Social Media and IFEC seem to be good friends so check out those sources as well.

“For the first time at a major expo such as AIX, airlines have asked us if our solution could also be integrated in their mobile App, which actually was anticipated by our teams. It seems that the seamless journey pre-, during and post-flight is rising very quickly thanks to wide personal device adoption and better IT integration.  This will encompasses the meal menus, video and music selection before the flights for example, the duty free sales and tickets booking during the flight, the interactive airport info and city guides for post-flight. IFE is widely entering the digital age. Let’s take just the best of it, and preserving the magic of a unique inflight PaxEx.” Cyril Jean

Of course, IFExpress was there and we interviewed a different supplier almost every half hour, and in the next few weeks, we hope to give our readers some inside info about what we saw in the way of industry innovations and what it means for all of us. In that context, we thought you might see value in some trends that we observed, or surmised, after talking to hundreds of attendees and vendors.  Bullet-ed below are our two cents worth… not in any particular order.

“We will see more crowd sourced start-ups bring new technology to the market which, in turn, will push the dominant tech companies in our industry to respond in kind.  Expansion from IFEC to passenger health through seat or cabin based biometrics and wearable technologies will lead the way.” Hratch Astarjian

• There is a lot of vertical and horizontal product integration happening in this industry.

Larger Pipe connectivity will facilitate more innovation in the cabin and the aircraft in general, not to mention the possibility of more revenue generation for the airline and the vendors alike.

New hardware technologies in conjunction with in-cabin wireless connectivity are providing value-added solutions to IFE, especially at the lower end, and engendering new IFE solutions for low cost and single-aisle aircraft.

• The next generation of wireless access points with features like cognitive hotspot technology and the smart signal cancellation are providing a better passenger Wi-Fi experience.

• IFE customizable GUI’s are providing airlines with interfaces that they can tailor themselves, reducing costs and allowing individuality to stand out. Further, the same suppliers are providing aircraft real-time operational data about IFE and content usage that gives the airlines more time to evaluate and track operations and equipment inflight, as well as, passenger utilization.

Device charging technologies were seen at many booths, whether it was on a seatback or used in conjunction with a PED holder. Also, there was a lot of interest beyond USB charging, the most common was Qi Wireless Power Charging Technology.

Moving maps have grown up and some were offering the opportunity for ancillary revenue. Beyond that, second-generation map software was selectable by passengers and contained even more information and control.

New technology circuit designs and component technology are enabling smaller inseat power box footprints with the ability to serve more seats.

• More low-cost, limited color, cabin lighting solutions were on exhibit. Further, cabin LED mood lighting systems are being sold for retrofit applications with simpler control boxes than those on new aircraft.

NFC is now becoming a small purchase payment solution as part of cashless retail systems… no doubt influenced by such developments as Apple Pay and others.

Antenna technologies are bringing smaller devices to the forefront as transmission frequencies go up and technologies like meta-materials invade the arena. Coincidentally, the resultant radomes for some new solid state, flat plane types promise to deliver radome height measured in centimeters.

Manufacturer combined teams are now in vogue as product specialists contribute to common goal designs for items like seat and IFE/power combinations.

App technology is increasing for on-ground and in-air product and service solutions, reflecting the strong usage and patronization of passenger portable devices. Accordingly, passenger usage of them is increasing on the ground and in the air… both increasing the possibility of more revenue generation.

• The subject of content provision is generating stranger, but bigger, bedfellows. As of now, the top three are all anyone talks about anymore, thus the future may be a real challenge for the small player.

• There is a lot of action in the COTS semi-imbedded tablet arena and a number of suppliers are touting ancillary hardware and seat modifications, which leads us to believe Samsung and Apple devices could some day replace some big vendor screens – they are thinner, lighter, battery backed, and very pixel oriented and rugged. The challenge will be in environmental, vibration, RFI and power. However, some system vendors are using only off the shelf tablet solutions with some modifications.

• In a perceived sense, there were more first time cabin product vendors at AIX 2015 than in recent years.

Demand for bigger pipes in the air is now obvious.  This includes more smart, flexible spotbeam equipped satellites. There are more smart spot-beam satcom birds planned than ever. Who could have imagined such a large competition for connectivity solutions 5 years ago?

“iPAX’ wireless to the in-seat screen is the architecture of the future for narrowbody aircraft that currently have only overhead video – iPAX will replace overhead monitors with its incredibly light weight and low cost AVOD – giving passengers first–run movies that they cannot get on their PEDs, and giving airlines a revenue-generating kiosk at every seat.” Rich Salter

The next few issues of IFExpress will be devoted to some of the folks we saw at AIX and we hope you Stay Tuned!

“We didn’t see big announcements – new products, acquisitions and so on – in Hamburg this year. Instead, it was all about delivery. By next year, we’ll see a step-change in the connectivity products and solutions available for airlines, in part driven by the new high bandwidth capacity which is coming on stream.” Charlie Pryor

On another note and after 18 years with Sony followed by 15 years at Thales, Lori Krans has left her VP position and is now a consultant focused on b2b marketing communications and business transformation for companies of any size –

Comments are closed.