AirStreamer From WiFi Technologies of Belgium and Other News

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As always, there is so much ground to cover during Aircraft Interiors Hamburg that the IFExpress team feels we barely scratch the surface on all the IFEC related exhibitors at the expo. Besides the major players in the industry there are many smaller hardware and service providers that truly have some innovative solutions and this week we are covering one such company.

WIFI TECHNOLOGIES is a Belgium based company that offers a full wireless cabin IFEC solution dubbed AIR STREAMER. Yves Hendrickx, CEO of WIFI TECHNOLOGIES, told IFExpress that AIR STREAMER is a rent-a-system product, requiring no upfront investment by the airline. This unto itself is not a new model to the inflight entertainment realm; however, the system’s purported performance is what had us interested. Apparently, it is a wireless certified ‘aeroserver’ able to simultaneously stream out from a video cloud of its 5 – 50 TB memory to up to 500 screens at full HD mode per unit and runs on its own protocol, working within its own W-Fi network! There is also a smaller unit available that serves up to 250 screens/PEDs. This simple device is roughly the size of a shoe box (260 x 280 x 60 mm) and complies with EASA and FAA regulations and DO-160 standards and its Wi-Fi has a range of 100+ meters and uses MU-MIMO technology with tri band channel 2.4 Ghz and 2×5 GHz. (Here is a definition of MU-MIMO in case you are unfamiliar with the term: MUMIMO Benefits. Multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output technology—better known as MUMIMO (a.k.a. Next-Gen AC or AC Wave 2)—allows a Wi-Fi router to communicate with multiple devices simultaneously. This decreases the time each device has to wait for a signal and dramatically speeds up your network.) It also boasts built-in Wi-Fi and 4G/5G antennas. The only technical requirement for operation is an electrical connection to the aircraft. Aeroserver can either stream to inseat screens or personal electronic devices.

WIFI TECHNOLOGIES said their product not only has a huge amount of content capacity but is also ideal for e-commerce opportunities should the airline be interested. “Aircraft can become flying virtual E-Commerce hypermarkets, generating revenue on sales commissions and advertising, converting the system into a profit center: passengers can order goods inflight from large video catalogues and receive their products post-flight, for instance during luggage delivery. AIR STREAMER avoids any flight or ground crew operation intervention.”

We were also told that their business model supports an easy upgrade path when new and improved technology becomes available, ‘making obsolescence a thing of the past’.
AIR STREAMER was introduced in the business jet market in early 2019 and AIX 2019 was its debut for the commercial aviation space. During the show they ran Wi-Fi analyzers that measured all Wi-Fi signals aired by every Wi-Fi transmitter present in their hall of the IFEC Zone. Here is a graph of the results, as well as, are their published, official results:

  • The AIR STREAMER unit from WIFI TECHNOLOGIES, at -41 dB signal strength, confronted all other Wi-Fi transmitters at the show between -73dB and -85dB. Keep in mind that 1 dB signal difference DOUBLES the range and capacity available. It explains why the WIFI TECHNOLOGIES product is a go for 200 and up simultaneous passengers plugged in.
  • This was demonstrated through an Alethea WIFI simulator. The ultimate test consisted in a simultaneous streaming by 88 terminals within the same microsecond. It showed a system saturation under 3.5%, to the surprise of the Alethea operator.
  • Conclusion: 500 simultaneous users, streaming at 4K HD mode, is a level only reachable by the WIFI TECHNOLOGIES AIR STREAMER.

Needless to say, we spoke with several technical people from our industry after AIX about this product and here are some of the questions they had:

  • If one box is used to support up to 500 passengers is there enough bandwidth to support the plane’s users? And if so, what are they doing differently from streaming servers in the industry?
  • How many antennas are provided in both the small and larger AIRSTREAMER?
  • To assure reception for every passenger, where is the box placed on the aircraft?
  • Can each passenger watch individually selected content? Simultaneously? In other words, can every passenger access any content they wish at any point in time?
  • Is audio programming available?

Needless to say, we are interested in watching how this company develops over the next 5 – 6 months. We expect them to generate traction with many of LCC and Charter operators in Europe. In our opinion, this system is tailored to their business model and would also be a potential solution to many of the smaller single-aisle aircraft operators. This could well be one to watch!


GOGO

Gogo announced the pricing of the previously announced private offering of $20 million aggregate principal amount of additional 9.875% senior secured notes due 2024 (the “Additional Notes”) to be issued by its direct wholly owned subsidiary, Gogo Intermediate Holdings LLC (“Holdings LLC”), and its indirect wholly owned subsidiary, Gogo Finance Co. Inc. (the “Co-Issuer” and, together with Holdings LLC, the “Issuers”). The Additional Notes will be issued a price equal to 100.5% of their face value plus accrued interest from April 25, 2019 to the closing date. The initial 9.875% Senior Secured Notes due 2024 were issued in an aggregate principal amount of $905 million on April 25, 2019 (the “Initial Notes” and together with the Additional Notes, the “Notes”)


SITAONAIR

Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS), the official body responsible for air navigation services in Saudi Arabia, has formally selected SITAONAIR to elevate the Kingdom’s air traffic management capabilities, through to 2025. SITAONAIR will deliver its country-wide, unrivaled, state-of-the-art VHF and Digital Automatic Terminal Information Service (D-ATIS) solutions for Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS), benefiting all airlines flying in Saudi Arabia.

Under the agreement, SITAONAIR – the industry’s aircraft communications expert – will establish additional VHF stations providing coverage in new locations, including the Empty Quarter desert. It will also further optimize datalink coverage and services by upgrading both existing stations and SITAONAIR’s AIRCOMcats D-ATIS gateway server to better serve airports and airspace users.

The project will specifically aim to ensure coverage in the southeast and northwest of Saudi Arabia for en route traffic, increasing the availability of VHF/VDL networks at all main airports in the Kingdom and beyond.


FLYARYSTAN

FlyArystan, the world’s newest low fare, high quality airline from award-winning Kazakh flag carrier Air Astana, takes to the skies for its first revenue flights from Almaty International Airport. The airline starts with six domestic routes, with journey times from one to three hours to Taraz; Shymkent; Pavlodar; Uralsk; Nur-Sultan (Astana) and Karaganda. From announcement to revenue realization within six months, a 160-strong workforce supporting the business has been established in Almaty, Air Astana’s HQ. This includes 25 pilots and 45 flight attendants, with many seconded from Air Astana. The rest are new recruits who, in addition to undertaking call center reservations work, are being trained to assist in ambassador roles at check in as part of the FlyArystan ground services team across the seven initial cities served.

Air Astana has supplied an initial two Airbus A320 aircraft from its fleet under its Air Operator’s Certificate, painted up in the striking FlyArystan red and white livery. A further two A320s will follow in the last quarter of the year, by which time FlyArystan should be operating at least 12 routes and will be looking at obtaining an AOC in its own right. The aircraft have been newly retrofitted with 180 brand new blue leather Recaro slim-line seats, featuring red head-rests, the same colours as the cabin crew uniforms, designed by a local fashion house, working closely with Air Astana’s inflight team. Seat pitch is 29 inches, but with the feel of 31 inches, owing to the curve of the seat and high positioning of the seatback pockets.


AIRBUS

Fiji Airways has adopted the A350 XWB as part of its expansion plans to broaden its international network. Two A350-900s will be leased from Dubai based DAE Capital, making Fiji Airways the newest operator and DAE Capital the latest customer. With its common type rating with the A330 Family, the A350 XWB was the natural aircraft choice to seamlessly join the airline’s existing fleet of four A330s. The common rating between the A350 and A330 means that pilots who are qualified and current on the A330 can already commence preparations to take the A350 XWB’s controls by undergoing “differences training” only, meaning a significant cost savings & operational flexibility.The aircraft will be configured with 33 full lie-flat Business Class and 301 Economy Class seats. The aircraft will be deployed to enhance existing long haul services between Fiji, Australia and US, and to provide the opportunity to open additional routes.


BOEING

Boeing Statement on AOA Disagree Alert

On every airplane delivered to our customers, including the MAX, all flight data and information needed to safely operate the aircraft is provided in the flight deck on the primary flight deck displays. This information is provided full-time in the pilots’ primary field of view, and it always has been.

Air speed, attitude, altitude, vertical speed, heading and engine power settings are the primary parameters the flight crews use to safely operate the airplane in normal flight. Stick shaker and the pitch limit indicator are the primary features used for the operation of the airplane at elevated angles of attack. All recommended pilot actions, checklists, and training are based upon these primary indicators. Neither the angle of attack indicator nor the AOA Disagree alert are necessary for the safe operation of the airplane. They provide supplemental information only, and have never been considered safety features on commercial jet transport airplanes.

The Boeing design requirements for the 737 MAX included the AOA Disagree alert as a standard, standalone feature, in keeping with Boeing’s fundamental design philosophy of retaining commonality with the 737NG. In 2017, within several months after beginning 737 MAX deliveries, engineers at Boeing identified that the 737 MAX display system software did not correctly meet the AOA Disagree alert requirements. The software delivered to Boeing linked the AOA Disagree alert to the AOA indicator, which is an optional feature on the MAX and the NG. Accordingly, the software activated the AOA Disagree alert only if an airline opted for the AOA indicator.

When the discrepancy between the requirements and the software was identified, Boeing followed its standard process for determining the appropriate resolution of such issues. That review, which involved multiple company subject matter experts, determined that the absence of the AOA Disagree alert did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation. Accordingly, the review concluded, the existing functionality was acceptable until the alert and the indicator could be delinked in the next planned display system software update. Senior company leadership was not involved in the review and first became aware of this issue in the aftermath of the Lion Air accident.

Approximately a week after the Lion Air accident, on November 6, 2018, Boeing issued an Operations Manual Bulletin (OMB), which was followed a day later by the FAA’s issuance of an Airworthiness Directive (AD). In identifying the AOA Disagree alert as one among a number of indications that could result from erroneous AOA, both the OMB and the AD described the AOA Disagree alert feature as available only if the AOA indicator option is installed.

Boeing discussed the status of the AOA Disagree alert with the FAA in the wake of the Lion Air accident. At that time, Boeing informed the FAA that Boeing engineers had identified the software issue in 2017 and had determined per Boeing’s standard process that the issue did not adversely impact airplane safety or operation. In December 2018, Boeing convened a Safety Review Board (SRB) to consider again whether the absence of the AOA Disagree alert from certain 737 MAX flight displays presented a safety issue. That SRB confirmed Boeing’s prior conclusion that it did not. Boeing shared this conclusion and the supporting SRB analysis with the FAA.

Boeing is issuing a display system software update, to implement the AOA Disagree alert as a standard, standalone feature before the MAX returns to service. When the MAX returns to service, all MAX production aircraft will have an activated and operable AOA Disagree alert and an optional angle of attack indicator. All customers with previously delivered MAX airplanes will have the ability to activate the AOA Disagree alert.

More from Boeing:

Boeing named J. Michael Luttig to the newly-created position of counselor and senior advisor to Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg and the Boeing board of directors. Brett Gerry succeeds Luttig as general counsel. Both changes are effective immediately. Luttig, 64, who has served as general counsel since joining the company in 2006, will manage all legal matters associated with the Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accidents. He also will serve as counselor and senior advisor to Muilenburg and the Boeing board of directors on these and other special matters. Luttig continues to hold the title of executive vice president and remains on the company’s Executive Council.


OTHER NEWS

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