AIX 2015 Update


As the title mentions, we are going to explore a few more show vendors this week but we also wanted to give a tip-o-the-hat to AirBerlin, our transportation provider to/from Germany. Aside from a good food service and cheerful flight attendants, the IFE kept us entertained for nine hours each way. More importantly the IFE, RAVE from Zodiac Inflight Innovations was installed onboard and it worked PERFECTLY! AirBerlin had loaded over 1,000 songs, some of which we purchased online when we landed (iTunes take note), and over 100 movies. We cannot say enough about the system ease-of-use and we were impressed with the fact that on each flight, we saw a cabin crew member bring aboard a spare in case of a seatback issue – this is a brilliant solution to a down IFE screen – one special key click, a seatback hardware swap, and you are back in business. We decided to contact Harry Gray at Zii for input and he told us:

A couple of points on the replacement display issue.

  • IFE systems “will fail” at some point – it is a statistical fact
  • How you handle a failure is the key message
  • With a “server-centric” system architecture, there are several components in the network that could cause the problem.  Typically, a reset of sorts is the logical (and essentially only) method to try and fix a problem, which also has an impact on more than just the affected passenger(s).  The flight attendant/purser typically goes through a progression of steps to perform corrective action.  A reset at one seat (if that’s possible), a seat group (two to 4 passengers), a zone (30 to 50 passengers) or the entire aircraft cabin (300+ passengers).  Each reset takes approximately 10 – 20 minutes.  Doing the math, it could take perhaps between 10-20 minutes (for a single seat) or up to 40 – 80 minutes (for the entire aircraft).  Reset time will be dependent upon the IFE system type and will vary.  Additionally, there will likely be a lag (more time) between system resets, as the flight attendants/purser are busy with other passenger/flight services.
  • With RAVE – If there is a problem with a seat, that is the only seat that is affected.  If a reset is required, we have the “button” on the face of the display that when pressed for about 7 seconds, the display will reset.  RAVE has a reset time of about 60 seconds.  If the reset button at the seat does not fix the problem – the display can be hot-swapped during flight.  The flight attendant takes a Hot Spare from the back row, and swaps the passenger display with a good unit.  Within about a minute, the new display boots up and the passenger can continue the rest of the flight with a working IFE system.
  • Results:
    – The problem is contained at a single seat – does not affect any other passenger on the airplane
    – Reset takes about 60 seconds
    – Replacement unit (during flight) takes about 60 seconds
    – Total corrective action takes about 2-3 minutes (including walking time by flight attendant to get Hot Spare)
    – The Hot Swap of a defective unit is placed in the back row, and is automatically logged in the Crew Panel.  Maintenance can come onboard and know what occurred, and go directly to the last row to replace the unit that was swapped during flight.
    – The airline (and flight attendants) now have a simple way to fix an IFE system during flight, to maintain a high level of passenger satisfaction.  RAVE eliminates the problem of having a dark flight, and passengers having no entertainment for a 15 hour flight.

Now, back to task with a question: Are you ready for the future? The increased offerings of onboard IFE and Connectivity services we saw at AIX in Hamburg are showing how fast the industry is moving to try to keep up with the evolution of BYOD in our daily life on the ground. There are a new and continuously increasing showcase of solutions in the IFE market today that are going to motivate passenger expectations for onboard experience, and therefore, increase service uptake… and we note, most are taking place in the new generation of wireless routers. Heavy use of onboard IFE and Connectivity services is going to drive the need for a reliable wireless distribution system. A strong and reliable wireless distribution system, that can adapt to a mix of client devices, multiple service scenarios and increasing future demands, is going to help prevent in-service problems and therefore it will lead to a better passenger onboard experience. Period! The goal of the VT Miltope nMAP2 with Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT) is to optimize real-time performance, improve reliability and guarantee Quality of Service (QoS) for every passenger, ensuring a problem-free operation of the more demanding IFE and Connectivity systems. This is going to help systems operators and airlines to maximize the benefits of an overall better passenger onboard experience The trend is clear: broader service range, increasing system uptake and larger screen resolutions even on small screen sizes. Systems operators need to get their solutions ready for continuously increasing passenger bandwidth demand with a scalable and reliable solution that helps them to face todays and future challenges. “The answer is nMAP2,” noted Robert Guidetti, VT Miltope, VP of Marketing. IFExpress tracked down, Jose Ayub Gonzalez Garrido – CEO of Aoifes, Technology Developer for nMAP2 and he told us: “We have developed a very powerful unique product optimized to meet the most challenging requirements of the IFE & connectivity industry. Additionally we offer value-added applications that further helps integrators and operators to manage the network, analyze wireless performance in real-time, optimize and verify wireless installations, and monitor and troubleshoot the system operation. It is a win-win for everybody!”

We received some feedback about last week’s IFExpress from Steve Nolan, Gogo and we felt it useful to share with our readers: “I read the part (last IFExpress) about virtual reality and its role in IFE.  Scott Carmichael (Gogo) did a great white paper on Head Mounted Displays because we have been getting lots of questions from airlines on this subject.  Obviously, there’s also just a lot of hype about these technologies because there’s a “cool” factor here.
Scott put a lot of the technologies through their paces on our own aircraft.  I think you and your readers would find his takeaways very interesting.”

And speaking of airline inflight iPad usage, American Airlines had a Jeppesen-related App crash recently for a number of cockpit Apple iPad devices. Both pilot and co-pilot iPads crashed, in some cases rendering a stored flight plan useless. American took to Twitter to admit they had problems, further, many planes had to return to the ground for Wi-Fi to fix the problem.

So many observations, so little time!

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