Awards, Connectivity, and IFE News of the Week

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INMARSAT

Inmarsat, a leader in global mobile satellite communications, has been named ‘World’s Leading Inflight Internet Service Provider’ for the second year in a row at the World Travel Awards. The prestigious accolade was announced at a gala ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal last weekend, following a vote by travel and tourism executives across the world, who were impressed by Inmarsat’s continued success in transforming the airline passenger experience with game-changing inflight broadband solutions.

Inmarsat has pioneered a major step-change in inflight connectivity with its next-generation offerings, including its GX Aviation solution with seamless, high-speed global coverage, and the European Aviation Network (EAN), which offers unprecedented performance over Europe’s congested skies by combining satellite coverage with a complementary ground network. Both solutions enable passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more, with onboard connectivity comparable to what they receive on the ground.

More than 1,400 aircraft are currently expected under signed contracts for GX Aviation and EAN, with a new business pipeline of approximately 3,000 aircraft worldwide. Airline customers include Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, British Airways, AirAsia, Singapore Airlines, Norwegian, Avianca, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the World Travel Awards are considered the global hallmark of industry excellence, rewarding and celebrating excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors.

As well retaining the World Travel Award for ‘World’s Leading Inflight Internet Service Provider’, Inmarsat has received a number of other significant accolades for its inflight Wi-Fi services this year. These include the Inflight Middle East ‘Connectivity Enablement’ Award for GX Aviation and the prestigious German Innovation Award for EAN. In addition, EAN was a finalist in the Crystal Cabin Awards at Aircraft Interiors Exhibition (AIX) earlier this year.


AERKOMM

Aerkomm Inc. announced that through its wholly owned subsidiary, Aircom Pacific, Inc. (Aircom Pacific), it has begun developing a new and innovative Ka-band solution for the provision of broadband voice and high-speed internet access for passengers in Airbus ACJ319s, ACJ320s and ACJ321s – as well as Airbus’ airline commercial aircraft equivalents. Called Aerkomm K++, the solution will offer a broadband rate of 20 Megabits/sec experience per passenger. It combines Aircom Pacific equipment – based on a low-profile antenna – with a retrofit installation designed and implemented by Airbus to EASA and FAA certification standards, which will also be validated by China CAAC. Aerkomm K++ will provide worldwide coverage including, specifically, within China for Chinese registered aircraft. (You might want to read this link as well: AirCom Pacific Gains Momentum in IFEC Regional Business – Via Satellite -)


SKYLIGHTS

SkyLights announced it has partnered with new air wellness company Mataki Group to bring fear-of-flying relaxation videos to its Allosky VR Inflight Entertainment (IFE) catalog. Guided by airline pilot and flight-phobia expert Mathieu Leroy, the videos walk passengers through a program specifically designed to counter flying anxieties felt by around 43% of passengers.

SkyLights, the market leader in immersive IFE, announced it is adding fear-of-flying relaxation videos from new air wellness company Mataki Group to its Allosky VR IFE catalog. The videos are aimed to address the 43% of people that feel either ‘quite’ or ‘very’ worried about flying, as recorded by a UK survey. In the videos, Mathieu Leroy, an aircraft pilot and flight-phobia expert, draws on human factor and neuroscience techniques to put passengers at ease during their flight and educate them about flying, turbulence and flight safety.

Over the past 13 years, Leroy, Mataki Group founder, has been flying Airbus A320s and Boeing 777s for Air France, while also contributing to its Stress-Less-Flying center as a human factor’s expert. Through specialized seminars, he has leveraged his expertise to help hundreds of passengers tackle their fear of flying. In founding Mataki Group, he aims to enhance passenger wellness and help airlines attract the estimated 500 million people that refuse to fly as a result of their phobia.

“The conscious brain processes around 7 pieces of information every second, the majority of which comes from visual stimuli with audio coming in a close second. Thanks to the immersive environment created by SkyLights’ Allosky headset coupled with noise-cancelling headphones we have the fantastic opportunity to leverage all of this sensory input to diffuse flight anxieties in a highly effective way.”, said Mathieu Leroy, Mataki Group’s CEO

“Leveraging the immersive capacity of the Allosky headset to help passengers escape the cabin and relieve their flight phobia makes all the sense in the world. Mataki Group’s content will improve the flying experience for so many people and we are delighted to make it part of our new air wellness category.”, said David Dicko, SkyLights’ CEO.

The addition of Mataki Group’s content comes as part of SkyLights’ strategy to further diversify its catalog to offer greater choice and customization to its airline customers. Today, SkyLights’ catalog consists of over 200 hours of content, covering 2D and 3D Hollywood blockbusters as well as short travel, wellness and forward-facing 360° content.


ATMOSPHERE

ATMOSPHERE has announced that it is part of a team awarded a prestigious Group Achievement Award by NASA for ground-breaking research into interval management.

ATMOSPHERE’s crucial contribution was the software used to create traffic and situation awareness, called PLANET. It used inflight connectivity to transmit ADS-B data from the three test aircraft and all surrounding aircraft, creating a real-time display of aircraft position, all relevant information about that aircraft, location of airspace and route structures, as well as weather and wind conditions.

The most critical use of PLANET was by the Flight Test Director, who was aboard one of the aircraft and had the responsibility of coordinating the correct sequence of test runs between the three aircraft and the air traffic control facilities.

Brian Baxley, the NASA Principal Investigator of the experiment, said, “Without the real-time and constant traffic and situation awareness that PLANET provided, the Flight Test Director could not have conducted the flight test in the safe and efficient manner that it was.”

The PLANET display was also used aboard all three aircraft by flight crew and researchers, and in the flight test coordination room set up at a Boeing Commercial Aircraft facility. Additionally, it was used by observers at NASA Langley and Ames Research Centers, as well as the NASA and FAA Headquarters during the two-month flight test campaign.


INTERVAL RESEARCH

The premise for the interval management research was to study new methods to enable the expected doubling of aircraft passengers within the next twenty years. The current air traffic management process is very manually intensive and relies on less accurate radar data, a technology that originated in the 1940s.

Interval management uses more precise ADS-B data from nearby aircraft to allow avionics in the cockpit to automatically calculate the speed needed to achieve and then maintain a set spacing interval behind the previous aircraft. This spacing interval is assigned by the controller, and varies based on traffic density, type of aircraft, and the speed of the aircraft.

The result is that controllers can space aircraft more precisely at a safe and efficient interval, thereby increasing the number of landing slots available at the runway, and reducing the need for additional fuel consumption. Ultimately, it improves the passenger experience by reducing delays, particularly when traffic is very heavy, or during bad weather.


GOGO

Gogo Inc. announced the closing of its approximately $238 million offering of 6.00% convertible senior notes due in May 2022. Under the terms of the transaction, Gogo effectively extended the maturity of approximately $200 million of its outstanding convertible senior notes from March 2020 until May 2022. Approximately $162 million in convertible senior notes due 2020 remain outstanding.


OFCOM/INMARSAT

The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in London handed down its judgment dealing with ViaSat’s challenge to Ofcom’s January 2018 authorization of Inmarsat’s UK complementary ground component (CGC) forming part of Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network (EAN). The Tribunal comprehensively found in favour of Ofcom and Inmarsat and determined that all of ViaSat’s arguments failed. On that basis, the Tribunal dismissed ViaSat’s case. The CGC authorization granted by Ofcom to Inmarsat for the EAN system remains in full force and effect.

Inmarsat was awarded the S-Band frequencies enabling the roll-out of the EAN system through the first (and so far the only) pan-European spectrum award procedure. That procedure was managed by the European Commission through an open and transparent selection mechanism. Inmarsat competed with other bidders and was ultimately selected as one of the two winners.

Inmarsat has spent hundreds of millions of pounds as well as significant human capital and years of hard work to deploy the EAN state-of-the art integrated platform. The EAN system is made of two components, namely a satellite (which was launched in July 2017) and a network of about 300 ground towers deployed across the European continent. In order to operate the EAN, Inmarsat needs certain national authorizations, including in particular CGC authorizations. Ofcom granted the UK CGC authorization to Inmarsat in 2018 and ViaSat challenged that authorization before the CAT.


OTHER NEWS

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