AIX ’17: Here We Go Again!
Here we go again! The next few issues of IFExpress will update you on what we saw at AIX 2017 – and there was a lot. We should note that while we received no show data from the PR/AIX troops, we can tell you it was BIG. Again this year, there was an IFEC Zone that was dedicated to everything inflight entertainment and connectivity related. So here we go!
SIE & Dassault Systemes
Summary: Dassault Systemes and SIE have teamed to facilitate the development of “License-to-Fly” (LTF), a software development tool that greatly accelerates the design and certification process. As many people know, Dassault Systemes is the provider of the aerospace industry standard 3D engineering tool CATIA, and SIE is the highly-regarded Aircraft Engineering & Certification firm responsible for numerous TC & STC projects.
LTF allows engineers, on an ongoing basis, to integrate the design development with the certification requirements thereby speeding up the Aircraft Certification process and reducing the overall cost by as much as 15%. Known within Dassault as “Collaborative Innovation”, there is a continuous feedback loop between the design and the certification database verification that reduces error and rework in the development process.
LTF is a software design tool that enhances the standard CATIA 3D design process and aids the design engineer in understanding if their design meets certification – the key here is it tells them when they make the change with the License to Fly software if the design change is compliant with regulations, thus saving time.
Historically, designers were forced to develop drawings then check the final product/result against certification standards and by removing the “check” step days are saved in the design development process. The net result is time and labor savings and assurances that redesigns will not be required after drawing submissions. Furthermore, License to Fly permits cost efficiencies to customization. Today everyone is pushing for standards because the process of certifying custom design is so expensive, this product recognizes that customization is key and makes it affordable and efficient while doing so. The Dassault/SIE team makes a lot of sense – Dassault knows the software (CATIA) development side of the equation while the SIE folks are certification experts and the combined product will greatly improve the quality and time to market of the aircraft interiors components/assemblies that they design. Readers, expect to see a lot more written about this “smart” software.
“License-to-Fly is quite simply a huge game-changer. LTF is the design/certification tool that moves the historically separate activities of aviation design engineering and subsequent certification work from a serial process to an integrated flow. The result: lower costs, shorter development time, higher quality design packages, and comprehensive compliance to regulations. It’s an enterprise win-win for everybody,” stated John Courtright of SIE.
(Editor’s Note: IFExpress really believes that this product will change the design process. Further, we firmly believe this will be one in the many steps in the future of computer aided design in aviation. Think about this: future software technologies in almost every part of the airplane business will probably be seeing change within the next 5 years and this CATEA design development will improve and speed the design process. Additionally, the SIE people will most likely be undertaking an entirely new business sector as well.)
“Alexa, is my Lufthansa flight on time today?” If you think your Amazon Alexa is just for your home and ground-based information – think again. Spafax demonstrated their launch of a new Alexa skill as an IFE industry first – and IFExpress LOVED it! To give you a better idea here is what their press release says: Global content, entertainment and media agency Spafax announced its new Spafax Profile Skill for Alexa, Amazon’s revolutionary voice-activated personal assistant. This fun, interactive service will be the latest addition to Spafax’s successful Profile entertainment personalization platform. Set to debut at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, the Spafax Profile Skill combines Spafax’s proprietary entertainment technology and Amazon’s open APIs to create a dynamic voice-activated personal assistant with complete knowledge of an airline’s entertainment offering. Passengers will be able to ask Alexa about what movies, television shows and music will be available on their upcoming flight, get detailed information about individual programs and more. “The Spafax Profile Skill will further enhance the pre-flight experience, a key point of contact between airlines and their customers,” said Kevin Birchmore, Director Sales, Technical Products & Solutions, Spafax. “We’re always looking for ways to evolve our digital products and the Alexa Skill is very much in line with our vision for passengers to interact with an airline brand across multiple platforms and services.” The Spafax Alexa program is divided into 3 phases. Phase 2 will allow the passenger to view the airline entertainment content pre-flight and create a playlist after login. Phase 3 will sync with the passenger’s personal device at the seat. Presently, the service allows the passenger to view the entertainment content pre-flight and ask specific questions regarding flight status, etc.
(Editor’s Note: If you are an airline and you want to improve your airline profile skill you probably want to get a demo of the Spafax Alexa feature and consider adding this to your passenger app! More importantly, IFExpress cannot wait until this feature becomes available and we can test and use it on our Apple Watch!!)
Here is a summary of the updates we received from the Gogo team at AIX
• Gogo has line fit for the A320, A330 and A380 for 2Ku we believe.
• Gogo is using the MODMAN (modem manager) from Kontron.
• Live television will be enabled in 3Q/4Q of 2017 and the first customer for the product will be Delta Air Lines.
• Presently, Gogo is running a 90 day 2Ku test in conjunction with Lufthansa Systems BoardConnect on Virgin Australia. The test is on a 737-8 and if all goes well it will go on the rest of the fleet.
• Currently there are 13 2Ku customers, two of which are Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.
• Gogo has recently partnered with SES for more transponder capacity.
• The company is targeting 200 installs of 2Ku by yearend 2017 and currently has a backlog of 1500 aircraft. Gogo states their focus right now is on the 2Ku product.
• Gogo is focusing moving their services beyond the passenger and now has 50K+ flight attendants connected. Their system also offers real-time credit card validation. Delta Air Lines will have their EFB’s connected via Gogo, as well as, their real-time weather service. The company noted that weather services are a key component of their cloud sourced data.
• ATG Next Generation is expected by year-end with a flight test in early 2018. The service will use a new antenna on the aircraft and new ground-based hardware as well. The hardware within the aircraft will mostly be the same but potentially with a new modem. Gogo states that the cost of upgrading to the ATG Next Gen will be relatively low because of this.
The following headlines sum up the news from Lufthansa Systems at AIX:
1. Surfing above the clouds: Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines going online on short haul and mid-range flights too
• Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines starting next phase of testing to include free
service to passengers
• Internet access also on inner-European routes
• Product launch in the first quarter, initially on 10 Airbus aircraft from the A320
• Three service packages available in future, priced at EUR 3, EUR 7 and
• In the first quarter of 2017, the number of Lufthansa aircraft fitted out with Internet access will rise to around 20. One by one, the entire Lufthansa A320 fleet is to be equipped with the latest advanced technology by the middle of 2018. The re-fitting of all 31 aircraft at Austrian Airlines is planned to be completed before the end of April 2017. As well as Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, Eurowings also has plans to bring the Internet on board its
aircraft – estimated launch is to be by the end of the first quarter 2017. A total of 69 Eurowings aircraft are to be fitted with the systems by the summer of 2017.
2. More than in-flight entertainment: The digital BoardConnect platform from Lufthansa Systems
• Lufthansa Systems presents BoardConnect 5.0 as the perfect platform for digitalization in the aircraft / mCabin enhanced with new features and apps
BoardConnect enables passengers to stream content from an airline’s entertainment offering to their own tablets or smartphones during a flight. The BoardConnect product suite is available in three hardware versions. In addition to the permanently installed classic BoardConnect IFE solution, there is also the flexible BoardConnect Portable version. It combines all of the technical components in a single device which can be installed quickly and easily on any aircraft. BoardConnect Portable received the Crystal Cabin Award at AIX 2016. The third option available is the BoardConnect Plus connectivity solution. Lufthansa Systems is responding to the growing demand for new on-board digital services by further developing its software – with the new BoardConnect 5.0, which runs on all three versions of the system. BoardConnect 5.0 features a fresh design with a new user interface and an open platform architecture.
“Our digital BoardConnect platform is far more than just a pure IFE solution. Airlines can use it to significantly improve their passengers’ digital experience and further personalize their services. It is also part of our company strategy to share our expertise so that our customers can achieve their digital transformation goals,” said Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems.
The core of the digital BoardConnect platform is its open architecture. New technologies have turned BoardConnect into a kind of cloud provider above the clouds. It enables airlines to run their own applications in the aircraft on the basis of BoardConnect. This also applies to applications from an airline’s external partners, and it supports use cases for crews and passengers. The solution makes it easier for passengers to use on-board services as well. They simply have to connect to the on-board WiFi to access all of the connected services via a standardized user interface. The layout can naturally be adapted to the individual corporate design of each airline. BoardConnect 5.0 gives airlines numerous options for integrating new offers and generating additional revenues. The platform is designed for fast and easy technical integration.
Connectivity is the future of IFE, because on-board Internet is the prerequisite for real-time communication, streaming live events and additional services from external partners. Connectivity thus remains a focal point at Lufthansa Systems – for airlines both inside and outside of the Lufthansa Group. Among other things, the aviation IT specialist is currently working with its partners Inmarsat and Lufthansa Technik to install broadband Internet on the short- and medium-haul fleets of Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines.
3. Lufthansa Systems and Waves Audio demonstrate Waves Nx 3D Audio and Head Tracking for inflight entertainment systems at AIX
Lufthansa Systems and Waves Audio ltd are collaborating to bring a superior and immersive 3D Audio & Surround Sound experience to airline passengers.
• Waves Nx is a high-end 3D audio solution that works with any grade of standard stereophonic headphones, offering tremendous sound quality improvements using preexisting hardware.
• Waves Nx greatly reduces ear-fatigue, allowing users to listen to audio content over headphones for prolonged periods of time with no discomfort.
• Waves Nx enables listening to 5.1 and 7.1 content over regular headphones, bringing an unprecedented cinematic experience to in-flight entertainment systems.
4. Lufthansa Systems – the right IT partner to help airlines go digital
Everyone is talking about digitalization. Many companies are wondering how to future-proof themselves in the digital world. Lufthansa Systems turned this vision into reality a long time ago. For years, the aviation IT specialist has been advising and supporting airlines in their digital transformation, demonstrating what sustainable airline processes can look like and helping customers implement concrete projects. The spectrum includes solutions and consulting services for improving the efficiency and differentiation of all aspects of an airline as well as for optimizing the entire travel chain for passengers.
5. Lufthansa Systems acquires new customers for its digital BoardConnect platform
• Use cases at Azul Linhas Aéreas, EL AL, Air Dolomiti and Lufthansa Group airlines demonstrate the flexibility of the BoardConnect product suite
Azul Linhas Aéreas (Azul) is the first American customer for BoardConnect Portable, EL AL has opted for the portable version in addition to BoardConnect Classic, and the installation of the connectivity solution for Austrian Airlines, Eurowings and Lufthansa is progressing. BoardConnect Portable has also been successfully implemented for Air Dolomiti. This wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) solution from Lufthansa Systems will soon be in use on more than 300 aircraft worldwide. The corresponding app has been downloaded over 5 million times. Lufthansa Systems is therefore heading into the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg this week (April 4–6) with a series of success stories as well as numerous new features to present for its BoardConnect and mCabin product suites.