News From Gogo, Panasonic, Rockwell Collins and More!

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Well after seeing a great IFEC show in Hamburg we still wonder how the next journey will be improved, enhanced, and possibly changed for better. While, in the last couple years the IFExpress team has found two big game changers and they involve money and hearing. While its no travel breakthrough, upper classes make the experience much more acceptable because of crowd reduction, less noise (further forward), better seating, better food, and generally more comfort and reduced anxiety. The second item is sound. Yep, sound … when you cannot hear the noise and can enjoy a movie or music, the audible experience goes up 100% – and why not? Because you can sleep, you don’t have to talk to others, your music choice is better, and the movies audio is improved greatly. What else is left? One is in Other News this week. Check it out below. Now, here are some of the news highlights for the past week:


Gogo

Gogo’s 2Ku inflight connectivity solution has been chosen by Air Canada for its Bombardier CS300 aircraft.  The technology will be installed as a line-fit option at Bombardier. “Air Canada was the first in Canada to deploy the service on their entire mainline fleet of aircraft. They have been at the forefront of technology adoption and we are excited to deploy 2Ku on additional aircraft,” said Oakleigh Thorne, Gogo’s president and CEO.  “We also are excited to work with Bombardier to have this technology installed at the factory.” Air Canada has 45 CS300 aircraft on order with an option for an additional 30 aircraft.  Air Canada now has over 170 narrow and widebody aircraft committed to the technology. More than 2,000 aircraft are slated to be installed with Gogo’s 2Ku technology representing 16 of the world’s leading airlines.

Today, more than 650 aircraft are flying with the 2Ku technology. But the AIX story about Gogo is bigger than that – previously, Gogo has been discussing 2Ku and the technology in line for airline customer connectivity and entertainment. At the show, the company was talking about an interesting development they call their FLEX system. The Gogo FLEX Inflight System comprises all of the onboard hardware and software required to deliver and manage inflight connectivity for the aircraft.  This includes a component they call FLEX Developer, which will allow airlines to use Gogo APIs and SDKs to bring development in-house, or turn to third-party providers for total flexibility in designing the passenger experience.

But, the FLEX System is also enabling a series of products and services specifically for airline operations so the airline can extract value from the aircraft presently installed with Gogo’s hardware and software. Obviously, crew applications for connectivity and communication are already in play.  The FLEX system is also a way to deliver data to and from the aircraft, for the aircraft, and about the aircraft … and Mr. TJ Horsager, Director Connected Aircraft Services told IFExpress.: “FLEX Developer is an open architecture solution that gives airlines more access to the technology.” We should note that the Gogo 2Ku solution is a global service solution (unlike the US ATG service) which started out as a passenger touch point, but now can use more bits to-and-from the aircraft, for aircraft data, allowing the airlines to use data to optimize their operations. . With some 20 airlines, 600+ aircraft flying, and some 2000 airplanes in backlog, it just made sense!

The Gogo FLEX System is a “new” way to think about Gogo. We might add that there is also “…a lot of interest from airline software teams”, so noted Gogo, and we expect there to be plenty of airline support from them using the above mentioned API’s and other tools and now with a large enough install base for connected aircraft services to be a business that operates on solutions developed by operational data-like performance, measurement, and even inflight “repair”.

Steve Nolan told IFExpress: “Today, we support some 65,000 pilots and flight attendants with their PEDs for things like Electronic Flight Bags and Point of Sale devices. Gogo’s is now also providing data management solutions to support countless operational activities – from flight optimization to turbulence avoidance. Gogo has been supporting the communication ecosystem by providing an aircraft (or airline) operations private network. FLEX Inflight System powers passenger services and now allows airlines to connect their operations and the aircraft itself.”


PANASONIC

With a renewed focus on broader consultative engagements with its customers, Panasonic’s new Innovation Studios will serve as hubs for innovation, ideation, and solution-building. They will provide a socially collaborative environment where the company and its customers can leverage its skilled workforce and regionally relevant partners to ideate, prototype, showcase and evaluate product concepts, digital solutions and user experience paradigms.

Panasonic plans to set up five Innovation Studios across the globe, each in close proximity to major destinations, leading universities and centers with an established innovation and start-up culture.

The first Panasonic innovation studio will open in the Silicon Valley by the end of 2018. The Studios will also serve as primary locations for airline workshops conducted by Panasonic’s digital design consultancy, Tactel.  Acquired by Panasonic in 2015, Tactel has played an instrumental role in helping Panasonic customers get the maximum value from their inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) investments.

David Bartlett, Chief Technology Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “Innovation has always been at the heart of Panasonic Avionics and our customers have rightly come to expect it as standard. Our new Innovation Studios will leverage our cloud-based infrastructure to foster an ethos of collaboration, strengthening our partner eco-system and with it, the range of value-added services we can offer our airline customers. The Studios will ensure we can deliver greater customer-facing innovation by rapidly developing new concepts that will enhance the business and pleasure of flying.”

Each Panasonic Innovation Studio will have a Collaboration Area for ideation, design and strategy workshops, training sessions, customer and partner meetings, and other interactive innovation-related sessions, and a Demonstration Area for displaying emerging products and technologies, functional prototypes as well as work in progress concepts.


ROCKWELL COLLINS
The company’s new Aspire widebody economy seat has entered service on a United Airlines’ Boeing 777-200 aircraft, the first in a 55 shipset retrofit program that begins delivery this spring. “We are excited to offer customers traveling on our 777-200 fleet a new Economy seat featuring updated design, with more living space and under-seat stowage,” said Mark Krolick, vice president of Marketing for United Airlines. Aspire offers an improved, patented comfort system with an advanced kinematic mechanism that cradles the passenger during recline while preserving maximum living space for each passenger.

Aspire also incorporates increased under-seat stowage and greater passenger living space due to the proprietary seat frame and leg structure. Passenger amenities combine the latest generation Panasonic high-definition monitor for in-flight entertainment, a mid-level literature pocket combined with a full-width single piece food tray, aft-facing PC power on all seat assemblies and adjustable ergonomic headrests. This version of the seat brings to life United’s latest brand themes and styling developed by PriestmanGoode.

Following the launch on the 777, the new Aspire seat will continue its success on the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner with United and then onto the Airbus A350 XWB and other 787 aircraft with other undisclosed customers that more than doubles the initial 777 program deliveries.


INMARSAT

Inmarsat announced that its new GX Aviation inflight broadband service is currently being rolled out on Qatar Airways’ Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft. Qatar Airways is the first airline in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region to offer GX Aviation, the world’s first inflight broadband solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator. In total, the service will be equipped on more than 130 of the airline’s Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft.

The roll-out follows a highly successful inflight test campaign across Qatar Airways’ global flight routes. As part of the service offering, passengers will now be offered one-hour of free access to GX Aviation, after which full-flight access can be affordably purchased.

Mr. Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Qatar Airways is renowned as one of the greatest innovators in global aviation with passengers being at the centre of everything they do. We are delighted that they are now pioneering our game-changing GX Aviation inflight broadband across the globe. This unprecedented service adds to the airline’s award-winning, five star onboard experience by allowing passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights.”

Airlines connect to the GX network using exclusive new JetWave terminals produced by Honeywell Aerospace. The terminals are designed for ease of installation and maintenance to assure the lowest downtime for any cabin connectivity solution in the market, allowing installation with minimal labour and using standard tools available in maintenance hangars. The rollout of GX Aviation follows a separate announcement that Qatar Airways has activated an advanced new space-based system, supplied by Inmarsat, to track all of its flights across the world. Inmarsat worked exclusively with Qatar Airways to develop this cutting-edge solution, which utilizes Inmarsat’s market-leading satellite technology to provide the exact real-time location of the airline’s aircraft in latitude and longitude.


SITA

Saudi Arabian Airlines (SAUDIA), the national airline of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has selected SITA to support its strategic expansion plans by introducing modern, world-class IT infrastructure across 200 of the airline’s offices located in 100 cities and airports in 60 countries. The solution will support the airline’s global IT infrastructure which connects all SAUDIA outstations with its headquarters and various data centers worldwide.

SITA, the IT provider to the air transport industry, will introduce its unique ATI Cloud solution, which will allow SAUDIA to manage and distribute its business applications, information and business services on-demand, anywhere in the world. The agreement also includes infrastructure, IT support and round-the-clock service through a dedicated service center. SAUDIA’s incremental growth and global expansion has seen the airline open new offices in key cities and in turn, has developed new IT requirements to support the demand for the carrier’s continued growth in passenger numbers in the Kingdom and beyond.

Airlines are increasingly looking for specialized content and service providers to meet their requirements. SITA, with its global presence and expertise, was identified as a trusted partner to implement a solution that would drive greater efficiency and productivity.

Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines, His Excellency Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser commented: “As the national carrier moves forward with expansion plans across the entire organization and operations, it is crucial that we continue investing in leading-edge, modern technology. SAUDIA has a critical role to play in the nation’s Vision 2030, and continues to grow both in the Kingdom and beyond.

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President Middle East, India and Africa, said: “With the rapid progress of hosted applications and cloud-based environments, it is the right time for SAUDIA to adopt cloud solutions across its network. From a commercial perspective, quick responses to IT services requests are essential for running a successful operation and ensuring happy passengers. We are delighted to continue working with the airline as it embarks on its new phase of growth.”


OTHER NEWS

  • You might remember a few months back when we gave a link to the regularly updated Boeing B-52 disassembly, well now, updates 4 and 5 are online now and if you have never seen a big airplane disassembled, this is your chance. Wings are next.
  • Face it, sometimes flying is just not as fun as it should, or used to, be. Why? Full planes, increasingly bad weather, longer flights, and worse seating, just to name a few. Now, here is what Apple’s Yim Cook said about AR/VR – “AR has the ability to amplify human performance instead of isolating humans,” he said on the same call. “So I am a huge, huge believer in AR. We put a lot of energy on AR. We’re moving very fast.” Further, the TechRadar folks said: “But despite it’s heavy focus thus far on AR, it seems Apple is keen to give users a choice in what they experience; either AR for an enhanced experience that keeps them present in the real world, or VR for those times users want to be transported somewhere else entirely.” Just one more thing…What if there were cameras on a plane that choosers could hook up to their Apple VR/AR glasses? Check out this link for more on the subject.

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