Panasonic Avionics Promotion: David Bruner

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When IFExpress heard about the recent promotion of David Bruner as the Vice President, Global Sales & Marketing for Panasonic Avionics Corporation, we could not think of a better person to fill the roll. David is now responsible for sales, marketing and customer relations for all Panasonic Avionics products and services. His previous position within PAC was the Vice President of Global Communication Services. The Panasonic website goes on to say; “David has been with Panasonic for 13 years. Previously he served as Vice President of Global Communications Services where he led the company’s efforts to establish a global, high-speed satellite network. Under David’s direction, Panasonic became the first company to offer global connectivity, live television and mobile phone services across multiple mobility markets including air transport; oil, energy and mining; maritime; cruise lines; and mega yachts. David has also held executive positions for General Dynamics Airborne Electronic Systems, InflightOnline – a web Media Company focused on the inflight market and AT&T Aviation. In total, he has over 35 years in the software, communications and aerospace industries including 5 years at American Airline’s SABRE group.”

While the aforementioned is an apt summary of his years in the IFEC and airline industry, IFExpress reached out to other industry aficionados who have known David for a long time about the recent Panasonic promotion. John Courtright, Director of Sales and Marketing at SIE, and he told IFExpress: “I’ve known David for 20+ years and he is the consummate professional. Our careers have had similar tracks: we both were Senior Systems Analysts at major U.S. carriers, I was at United and David at American. I think that experience gave David the strong business and analytical skills he carried forward later in his career. David has always known the importance of Connectivity. As Senior VP at AT&T Wireless, Aviation Division, he drove the expansion of passenger connectivity and the emergence of making data available to the cabin and crew alike. In his new role as head of IFE and GCS Sales, I expect David to continue Panasonic’s strong presence in the IFEC industry.”

Mary Rogozinski, VP Airlines, SmartSky Networks  said: “I always like to tell the story about meeting David back when he was with Sabre and I was with UA (in the 90’s).  We were both at a 777 working together meeting at Boeing.  It was one of my very first industry meetings.  I had to leave early and planned to take a Boeing customer bus back to the airport.  I get on the van to find it filled with AA folks including David.  At first I felt very awkward (back in those days, airlines didn’t socialize much), but David and team made me feel right at home.  I then went on to work with David at just about every company he worked at subsequently.  I regrettably threw out all of those business cards, there must have been about 15.  A high or lowlight had to have been when we worked together on the 777 launch.  David was at Claircom and they had done a good job pitching their phone service for the UA widebody fleet.  We worked late one night on the deal and both ended the day thinking Claircom would be UA’s next phone service provider.  But we woke up to the information that UA’s management team had given the incumbent service one last chance to bid, winning the program.  David took it in stride, in his unique cheerful way (maybe with a few cocktails.)”

“Over the years, I truly look forward to seeing David and that kind of impish smile of his, and catching up on all the goings on with work, family and the industry.  He has always been a good and fair person to work with and I have always had the sense that he will take care of his customers.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I was ever one of them.  Sorry Dave.”

We at IFExpress have had the pleasure of working with David for over 30 years. Internally, we debated and discussed his recent promotion as a writing point and we unanimously noted that if we wanted to discuss just about any aspect of our industry, David Bruner was one of the first people we would ask. Why? Because, he  understands the question, usually knows the answer, and is gracious when he delivers his reply – even if our question was less than correct, or our information was incomplete.

Needless to say, IFExpress recently took the opportunity to talk with David about the IFEC industry:

1. Tell our readers about the IFE(C) market for new aircraft for the next 3 years or so, given that aircraft sales are falling?

A: Even though aircraft sales aren’t at the same all-time high levels as previous years, there are plenty of opportunities for companies like Panasonic that can deliver tailored solutions closely aligned to each airline’s business needs and the expectations of its passengers.

2.Do you see the IFEC market changing over the next 5 years based on what passengers are carrying? What does IFEC have to offer over carry-ons – today and in the future?

A: The IFEC market is perpetually changing. From embedded systems to PEDs to the ever increasing use of wearable technology, IFEC providers need to be able to provide platforms that allow airlines, passengers and crew to interact and stay connected easily and effectively.

That is one of the reasons why we have introduced our new NEXT IFEC platform. We have in essence re-written our rule book for how we engage with airlines – moving from a product-based sales approach to one where we build tailored solutions based on their business needs, using the flexibility of our platform coupled with the versatility of our integrated ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships.

3. What, in your opinion, will be the hardest bridge to cross in the next few years in IFEC?

A: The industry needs to focus on how to fully enable a truly dynamic, digitally connected business platform in flight. When you have a flexible platform backed by a global connectivity network and comprehensive ecosystem, you can radically change the industry.

For example when you combine our NEXT platform with services like ZeroTouch, you begin to liberate airlines from the accepted 30-day refresh media cycle. We’re opening up content on demand services, concierge services, real-time CRM, and much more.

This kind of dynamic content update gives airlines the ability to efficiently and cost-effectively personalize services for their passengers. This will fundamentally address some of the complaints about air travel from both airlines and passengers.

4. IFEC and new connectivity capability should usher in more cabin/system connections to the ground but Panasonic is an IFEC company. How will you folks get into the side of “data” that others have been focused on for years and can you give our readers a bit of why you will succeed?

A: Panasonic Avionics is already highly engaged in this area in a number of ways. Probably the biggest is ZeroTouch which we launched last October and has already received high levels of interest from airlines. ZeroTouch is a unique and innovative service that simultaneously gives airlines real-time visibility into performance, improves the efficiency of their maintenance operations and also enables data transfer of passenger-facing content to an aircraft to improve the passenger experience. The service will reduce an airline’s need to physically touch its aircraft because all interactions are managed through a virtual dashboard. By providing access to real-time passenger data, software, media and content updates can be data-driven, helping to deliver a relevant and personalized passenger experience.

With over 70 airline customers we are having success helping airlines to see that the “C” in IFEC is more than passenger WIFI. As a global network operator, we are helping airlines use broadband connectivity to deliver new solutions — solutions that make passengers happier through better crew service, accessibility to the airlines app for constant real-time communications, health monitoring of all systems inflight, passenger and cargo security and more. This application of connectivity, with the onboard computing platform, will have the same powerful impact on the market as the introduction of the CRS’s of the 1960’s and 70’s.

5. David, you have been around this game for around 30 years now, can you tell our readers about the changes you have seen in working with airlines and what advice would you give them with the new technology in IFEC?

A: IFEC has changed dramatically since I entered the industry however the objectives are still the same: an excellent audio and video experience, an ever-increasing choice of content, and more control over how and when content is viewed. Over the last 10 years, however, the rate of change in our industry has greatly accelerated with the advent of inflight connectivity.

The advice I would give to an airline is to treat IFEC like all key interaction points of the passenger experience. From our experience, it has tremendous potential to enhance an airline’s brand — and therefore value — significantly. As such, it is worth the investment but only if the IFEC offering is aligned with an airline’s commercial objectives and the needs of its passengers. So involve an IFEC provider at the start of the decision making process, help them understand your needs, treat them like a partner, not a supplier – and the results will undoubtedly be better.

6. How important is the capability to engage the passenger from the point of ticket purchase, then throughout the remainder of their journey? What unique capabilities does Panasonic bring to this process?

A: Enabling airlines to engage with their passengers throughout a longer process adds value to the passenger experience, and so has the potential to enhance the airline’s brand. We recognized this several years ago and developed the APIs that led to commercial deployment of Companion Apps – which are designed to span the passenger travel thread, enabling airlines to curate and integrate all aspects of the passenger experience. Singapore Airline was the first to take advantage of our program, and today its passengers can immerse themselves in their experience pre-flight, during flight and post-flight, bringing the benefits of the wide range of content and information to passengers for a much longer period of time.

7. Over the next 10 years, much of the hardware within the aircraft cabin will be able to report wirelessly – think galleys, lavs, lights, seats, etc. Besides providing the pipe and the satcom equipment, how does Panasonic foresee participating in this real-time operations arena?

A: Panasonic already participates in this arena in a wide range of areas, using connectivity to enable airlines to better manage their aircraft and communicate with both their passengers and crews. Just one example of this is the real-time fleet monitoring tool that is an integral part of ZeroTouch, a key element of Panasonic’s integrated ecosystem – which enables airlines to be more operationally robust and efficient, ultimately enhancing the passenger experience whilst helping to keep operating costs contained.

8. Does Panasonic see the technology driving the consumer market and the evolutions of IFEC hardware flattening out over the next 10 – 15 years? If so, will Panasonic be focusing more on new software iterations that improve performance and capabilities utilizing existing hardware technologies?

A: I don’t necessarily see a slow down in the advent of new consumer technologies and, as an IFEC solutions provider, we must continue to anticipate them, evolving to remain at the leading edge of making the step from the ground to the inflight experience a seamless one. We have a team that is solely dedicated to looking at new, emerging technologies and their potential impact to air travel. In fact, many of these technologies have been on display in our “Cool Room” at industry events. Some examples of recent demonstrations include 8K displays, smart surfaces, VR and AR. While not everything is applicable, we continue to bring innovation to the cabin. A great example of this is our NFC solution, which was the industry’s first.

This kind of flexibility is intrinsic with our new NEXT platform. We believe that this will help us adapt and evolve our offering more effectively than ever before.

9. Hacking has been getting bigger and we have seen Panasonic’s response to some issues. Can you give us an update to the focus from your company?

A: Panasonic continues to take a proactive approach to hacking. We not only continually test the robustness of our systems, but also regularly engage with security professionals who wish to test our systems legitimately through our Bug Bounty program. We recently concluded our second annual Inflight Security Conference. This customer event is a great example of our commitment to ensuring the security of all systems we design and deliver. We had 65 attendees from around the world who were treated to two days of in depth discussions with our security teams, trusted partners, and even Robert Herjavec, guest star of ABC’s TV shows “Shark Tank” and “Dancing with the Stars” and founder of the Herjavec Group, which is a global leader and service provider of security solutions for enterprise level organizations.

Editor’s Note: At the next trade show, if you have the opportunity to meet David we strongly encourage you to do so, or if you just want to say congratulations you can reach him at david.bruner@panasonic.aero

 


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