As you probably know, AIX-Seattle is a US version of the big Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg each year. We suspect Seattle is the chosen venue because of Boeing (who does not exhibit but sends representatives; however, that is another story) and parallels the one in Hamburg (Airbus). The show consists of one day of presentations whereby speakers (like Google) in the AM cover a lot of related or informative topics while the afternoon sessions cover general areas of interest. After the break session in the morning of the first day this year, the “Branded Experience Concept” was front and center. No doubt, the discussions of airline brand strategy, by Mark Krolick were some of the most revealing snapshots of an airline we have ever seen – great job. Show visitors then had an afternoon of presentation choice (Plenary Sessions) about IFE and Connectivity, The Cabin, and Hospitality Service. We chose IFEC and we will let Michael Planey sum up his panel“The e-Aircraft panel took a brief look at the many improvements to operational efficiency that can be achieved with the proper allocation of bandwidth and the development of new applications. The seven panelists highlighted how both flight and cabin crews can use new tools such as tablets to receive updated weather forecasts, passenger preference information, and customs and immigration data. Perhaps the most important information, however, is that while progress is coming it will not happen at the same pace as new consumer electronics trends. Placing this new technology into the aircraft is a complex process touching almost every department in the airline and it’s more important to get it implemented correctly than to get it done quickly.” Michael Planey.

Two of the many presentations on Tuesday afternoon blew us away. First one was the presentation from Pradeep Rathinam from ADITI. The company, to our way of thinking, looks at company (airline) and customer data in a new way, and their website might give you a better clue on what they do and how they do it.  One quote from their website might help to understand what they do and we think it sums up their services in the travel sector: “Delivering Stress Free Travel Experiences For Your Customers – The new breed of travelers uses digital technology to make their holiday experiences better. They rely on smart devices to research more options online, pick recommendations from digitally connected friends to share and relive their entire travel experience on social media. We helped TUI change their business from carrying out one-time transactions to building lifetime relationships. This was delivered through an engaging and interactive system that answers the need of the traveller and collecting feedback at every touch point. The result was a rich, immersive and always available mobile application, which learned from users. built context, and made relevant travel suggestions. As you may see, the company deals in data but that is only part of the story. By intercepting the customer data experience, the company serving them knows a lot about their wants and needs. The trick, of course, is interpreting the data and developing a feedback to the airline and the customer. This is what Aditi does and with 7500 employees, they must be doing something right. Don’t get too lost in the Oculus Rift product, it is only an example (and for those with a weak stomach, a moving plane is a recipe for air sickness). Rather, look at their problem/solution as a two way data environment and using onboard IFE or their devices, an airline can look at the potential for more revenue by understanding the customer better. In our opinion, there is a fine line here about how much data gathering is acceptable vs passenger privacy. We have included the ADITI presentation but don’t look at it as a “product solution for airlines”, hardly,  you should focus on the customer access challenges, customer digital footprints, asymmetric data involved, immersive experiences generated, and especially Systems of Record (Cost) vs Systems of Engagement (Revenue). As aircraft connectivity becomes a reality and access to the Internet is commonplace, there will be a few smart companies (and airlines) that take a different view of customers (via their data footprints) and figure a way to deliver a “personalized, connected, multichannel, experience!” You will see more of these folks in our industry – and remember, you read it first here in IFExpress.

We said two presentations, because we would be remiss in not mentioning the presentation by Sally Glen-Lee in the Cabin Session. She covered the history of the inflight experience (great old photos) and the advance of the jet age, and a bit about the future… and yes she is still with JetBlue (but worked for many, many more airlines). Married to Tom Lee, who never wants to be quoted, we note he was quite proud of the presentation by his wife. Probably why he couldn’t stop smiling…

Here is what a couple of other visitors had to say about the Conference:

Ben Fuller (digEcor): The weather was great and so was the show – both of which we had pre-conceived reservations about. We were also pleasantly surprised at the airline turnout.

John Courtright (SIE): The Zodiac stand was by far the most impressive because they showed their ascendancy in the cabin systems market – IFE, galleys, seats, and engineering services to support their growing market share.

From a numbers point of view his year, we saw an increase of visitors at AIX’s Seattle show over last year and an increase of booth floor space. To get some actual data we contacted AIX’s Marc Holloran and Katy Murphy for an update. Marc told IFExpress: Aircraft Interiors Americas exhibition and conference welcomed over 1700 attendees when it took place 14-16 October at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Recognized as the region’s largest dedicated event for the airline interior and cabin management sector, this year’s exhibition included 122 companies from 14 countries, 40 of which were first time exhibitors. Representatives from over 30 airlines attended to view the latest products in IFE, seating, galley equipment, lighting, soft furnishings, leather & textiles and discuss the future of cabin interior development.” AIX further noted ”We’ve been pleased with the number of international companies and visitors at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas, which included first-time exhibitors from countries such as Japan, Israel and France. The Seattle event saw the launch of CabinSpace LIVE, which was well attended and the Passenger Experience Conference provided an invaluable platform to discuss a wide range of key topics within the industry. We look forward to welcoming all exhibitors and visitors to Aircraft Interiors Expo from 14-16 April 2015 and Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas 2015, which will take place from 3 – 5 November, said Katie Murphy, Event Director for Aircraft Interiors Expo. On a side note, we will have pictures of the show uploaded onto flckr in the next few days – just click on the Photos @ Flckr image in the upper right hand corner of IFExpress.

Finally, we wanted to end this AIX Seattle round-up with a question: Why go to a shows like AIX or APEX? The answer is simple: Because in a year of sitting at one’s desk and reading every IFE magazine instead, you would not get the complete view of what is new and what is important, and besides, you can’t ask questions – especially in real time. Why is this of value? Simple, because we are all focused or biased by something in our mind-set and by seeing new “stuff” one has the ability to refocus and ask questions and re-think the possibilities when they face presenters and get answers immediately. A perfect example of this spontaneity, was chance meeting with (drinking with) Steve Hester, President of United States Flight Corp. who makes the lightest onboard, collapsible wheelchairs for aircraft. While wheelchairs are not an IFE subject, we discovered that: “USFlight has about 3 competitive Inflight wheelchairs; however, our Inflight Wheelchair is the only documented Boeing tested unit. There are now about 4500 of our chairs in service, with at least one per aircraft, however I would think there would be 2 units on the A-380. The application is for all aircraft types of 35 seats or more, for domestic and international air carriers flying to, or in, the US, Canada and EU. This is mandated by the US Department of Transportation & FAA thru US Federal requirement 14 C.F.R. Part 382, which is the (ADA) Americans for Disabilities Act, As well as Transport Canada under a parallel law.” Bet you didn’t know that! Check out USFlight

On different note, no news release was submitted to IFExpress but you might find this interesting. It is an email we got from Giame Porcu at Thales: “I wanted to alert you to a news item that came out of the NBAA show here in Florida. Thales has been selected to provide it’s wireless IFE system on the Gulfstream 500 and 600 unveiled in October 2014. The Thales Wireless IFE system will be offered baseline making it the first wireless IFE to be standard on Gulfstream platforms. Operators will be able to pick from different content packages which will include the latest available content from all major Hollywood studios and global TV networks.This solution will work on both the embedded displays as well as passenger PEDs. The system bundles together the hardware supplied by Gulfstream, with the end to end solution supplied by Thales. This includes network application content and all related services. “The Thales Wireless IFE offers both flexibility to passengers and operators because it is a scalable solution adapted to different applications. Passengers can stream content to any device and utilize it’s android functionalities to access TV and movies updated periodically, with the full support of the Thales content management team.” Thanks, Giame. IFExpress readers, we would love to hear from you as well!

Ever see a B787 stripped for parts? Check out this reader’s input

Isle of Wight, UK | October 28, 2014– IFPL, an Isle of Wight based company specializing in tailored engineering solutions for the global in-flight entertainment industry, was presented The Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade on Wednesday, 17th September.

Each year The Queen’s Awards are presented in three categories to around 140 companies. IFPL won the award by demonstrating that the business had achieved substantial growth in overseas earnings and commercial success for its business size. The prestigious award, announced in April of this year, was presented to IFPL by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent as part of a visit to the Isle of Wight. His Royal Highness was given a tour of IFPL and a product demonstration, followed by the presentation of the award.

IFPL Managing Director Geoff Underwood said the visit was an honour,

“The Queen’s Award affects us in two ways. Most of our customers are based in the United States and they understand that the award is a prestigious accolade. Additionally, the staff take great pride in the fact the company has been recognised. It’s a national award and we’re really proud of that. Last time when we won, it was 2008. We’ve doubled our sales in that time and we now have 46 employees.”

The Duke of Kent congratulated IFPL staff for their achievements,

“I just want to congratulate you on your great success in achieving another Queen’s Award. As you are probably aware, these things are not given away lightly and in fact the list of award winners every year is a very small one. You’re one of a distinguished band of top-class companies who’ve shown the world they can take on anybody. Many congratulations to everyone who works for IFPL.”

IFPL is an award winning international design and manufacturing company based in Calbourne on the Isle of Wight and previously won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: International Trade in 2008.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | October 28, 2014– Abu Dhabi International Airport, in cooperation with Plaza Premium Lounge Management Limited (PPLML), the pioneer and industry leader in premium airport services, today revealed its newly renovated Al Reem lounge by Plaza Premium Lounge in Terminal 1 as part of its commitment to providing world-class services to travelers using the international hub.

Abu Dhabi International Airport is a vital transportation hub for the region and one of the fastest growing airports in the world. The number of passengers using Abu Dhabi International Airport in 2014 is more than triple the number reported in 2006. As such, the airport has undertaken extensive upgrades to its facilities to ensure it continues to meet passengers’ expectations as Skytrax’s ‘Best Airport in the Middle East’.

Mohammed Al Bulooki, Chief Commercial Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “Abu Dhabi Airports chooses to partner with the private sector’s best concessionaires in order to offer passengers a world-class experience when travelling through Abu Dhabi International Airport. The airport continually looks to improve its facilities and services to meet both the growing number of passengers and their high expectations. There are many more improvements and new additions planned for the coming months that will ensure Abu Dhabi International Airport continues to raise the bar on customer experience.”

“Al Reem lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport will focus on catering to business class passengers and in the coming months our capital city’s airport will also announce the opening of its all new first class Al Dhabi Lounge” added Al Bulooki.

To ensure world-class standards, Abu Dhabi Airports last year entered into a partnership with Plaza Premium Lounge for the renovation, management and operation of all of Abu Dhabi International Airport’s hotels and lounges in Terminals 1 and 3.

“Abu Dhabi International Airport is an airport with a great and dynamic vision that is admirable in all accounts, their development plans are in the forefront of aviation and we are proud to embark of this journey with them. We will be leading the Premium Airport Service development, in addition to Al Reem, we have plans to give Al Dhabi and Al Ghazal a facelift, we will also be bringing new conveniences to the unique Airport Hotel, changing the way you travel in Abu Dhabi International Airport,” said Mr. Song Hoi-see, Founder and CEO of Plaza Premium Lounge Management Limited, “The reopening of Al Reem by Plaza Premium Lounge brings a world-class experience to the airport in design, function and efficiency – with our lounges in Abu Dhabi, you are promised a travel experience that is first-class.”.

The redesign by lounge operator PPLML brings its international lounge service and design standards to AUH offering a refreshed contemporary lounge with local touches. The 4,500 square feet lounge is based on the concept of providing comfort and convenience to travelers and aims to deliver an ambience of luxury while providing a ‘home away from home’. Together with renowned designer Kinney Chan of KCA Associates, the PPLML team introduces its signature detailed touches to the airport lounge, this is highlighted by the Plaza Premium Lounge signature chandelier, which was designed about 8 times the original size.

The lounge spans three floors and offers a wide spread of Arabic, Asian and Continental Cuisines made daily in the state-of-the-art kitchens, must-try multi-cultural dishes are on offer. The lounge offers free Wi-Fi connection and laptops upon request for those wanting to catch up on some work in between destinations. A fully-serviced shower room is on hand with amenities to refresh between flights. A variety of International TV Channels are available for entertainment and those that crave reading can enjoy an extensive selection of international newspapers and magazines.

  • Nodes provide network for digital audio and video distribution in cabin

Redmond, WA | September 28, 2014– Innovative Advantage delivers 1400th Audio Video Distribution System (AVDS) node to Gulfstream. Connected by fiber optic cables – the nodes create a high performance AV backbone for the aircraft. AVDS is standard on Gulfstream G650 and G280 aircraft and optional for the G550 and G450 and the G150.

The AVDS network is fault tolerant, which means critical functionality isn’t impacted by a single point of failure. Innovative Advantage also provides a software tool for Gulfstream to quickly configure the AVDS network and make changes quickly and easily.

“We worked very closely with Gulfstream in the development to deliver the high performance AV network that Gulfstream required for their aircraft,” said Richard Morris, President, Innovative Advantage. “Not only does Gulfstream get the best HD delivery system, they get digital audio and Gigabit Ethernet distributed around the aircraft on fiber. AVDS nodes are small to allow installation flexibility, the fiber optic cabling is light-weight and the in-service reliability has been great.”

AVDS provides High Definition (HD) switching on new aircraft as well as transforming existing cabin management systems (CMS) from Standard Definition to HD. AVDS has found a home on aircraft of all sizes – from the Gulfstream G150 up to the Boeing 747.

Geneva | October 23, 2014– Qatar Airways’ first A380, which is fully connected, entered revenue service this month. It is operating between Doha and London. The airline’s nine other A380s will also be serviced with both Mobile OnAir and the next generation Internet OnAir.

OnAir’s SwiftBroadband-based mobile phone and Wi-Fi inflight connectivity is now successfully deployed on over half the world’s A380s. This news cements OnAir’s position as the A380 onboard connectivity expert.

“Qatar Airways has provided connectivity for its passengers for nearly five years. Keeping passengers connected everywhere they fly around the world is an integral part of the airline’s exceptional cabin offering,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir.

“Qatar Airways is one of the pioneers of inflight connectivity on both long- and short-haul aircraft. Its use of OnAir is evidence that our connectivity is ideal for every aircraft type. And it is obvious that OnAir is the go-to company for A380 connectivity. We are the only service provider with multiple inflight connectivity systems. We can therefore meet the airline’s connectivity requirements across all fleets.”

OnAir is platform agnostic, offering a choice of airborne systems to suit every fleet’s needs. Qatar Airways short-haul fleet of A320-family aircraft has been equipped with the Airbus Standalone GSM system since 2009 when the service was launched, and the B787 fleet uses Thales’ TopConnect hardware.

London, UK | October 23, 2014– With a suite of new technologies onboard, the first Virgin Atlantic 787 Dreamliner will take to the skies on 26th October from London Heathrow to Boston. As one of the most efficient aircraft in its class, a key to its performance is its new technology and innovative design.

Dave Bulman, Director of Technology commented: “The 787 is a revolutionary aircraft and new technology allows it to perform more efficiently than any other aircraft of its size. We recognise that technology is an extremely important part of a customer’s journey, whether they are flying for business or pleasure, and this aircraft has given us a fantastic opportunity to look at what we can offer our customers onboard. We have been working really hard with our partners at Boeing and Panasonic to bring connectivity across all our cabins as well as updating our revolutionary touch screen inflight entertainment.”

Onboard connectivity
Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with Panasonic and T-Mobile to offer all customers eXConnect KU Band wifi connectivity onboard its new 787 aircraft. Whether on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, customers can connect their devices to the wireless onboard internet with just a few clicks and start surfing the web. The cost of the internet is £14.99 for the duration of your flight; however customers can browse destination and aircraft information, Retail Therapy and further Virgin Atlantic services complimentary. With power now available to every seat throughout the 787, customers don’t need to worry about losing battery and can work or play throughout their journey.

Let us entertain you…
The 787 Dreamliner sees Virgin Atlantic role out Vera Touch 2 in-flight entertainment system throughout all cabins, boasting over 400 hours of carefully curated, on demand award-winning entertainment.

The cutting-edge next generation eX3 system from Panasonic features a widescreen smart monitor at all seats with a capacitive touchscreen interface allowing passengers to access content in just a few swipes and clicks. The IFE also boasts a new Skymap from Betria Interactive delivering a captivating 3D experience, infused with interesting and detailed point-of-interest content that can engage the passenger in a rich and informative interactive experience. All seats boast an integrated USB port allowing passengers to power their own devices. New to the Upper Class cabin is a 24” touchscreen monitor over the bar showing looped animations that complement the cabin environment, as well as the option to view the innovative map on a larger screen.

But first let me take a #SkyhighSelfie….
Virgin Atlantic is also introducing the ultimate #SkyhighSelfie, which offers customers the opportunity to update Facebook free of charge from the air. Developed in conjunction with Wavealot, this bespoke application will allow customers to check in on Facebook and share their location with their friends and followers mid-flight. The app will allow one check in per person and customers can purchase the wifi to continue the conversation. Virgin Atlantic is also developing certain #SkyhighSelfie spots in the cabin to offer customers the chance to take the perfect selfie onboard and share their experience. The app will also act as a mile high discussion forum where customers on the flight can chat and spark debate in the air.

  • Significant program will offer Falcon operators a cost-effective solution to comply with emerging airspace mandates

Orlando, FL | October 20, 2014– Gogo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOGO), a leading global aero- communications service provider, announces that Dassault will offer a factory-approved solution to help Falcon operators comply with emerging FANS (Future Air Navigation System) mandates. The solution includes Iridium-based communications systems from Gogo’s subsidiary, Gogo Business Aviation LLC.

Beginning in November, the solution is expected to be available via a Dassault Service Bulletin at any authorized Falcon service facility for Falcon 900, Falcon 2000 and Falcon 7X aircraft with EASy II flight decks.

FANS capabilities are useful features on the most desirable and frequently-used oceanic routes between North America and Europe. FANS technologies allow flight crews and air traffic controllers to exchange safety-sensitive flight information via digital data link – such as clearances and requests to climb or descend. They also enable automated position reporting via the aircraft’s Flight Management System. FANS can enable aircraft to obtain preferential altitudes and routing which improves efficiency, reduces fuel consumption and saves time.

“Creating a cost-effective FANS solution for our customers has been a top priority. Gogo Business Aviation’s expertise with FANS and next-generation datalink services made them a great partner in this important project,” said Mr. Olivier Villa, Senior Vice President, Civil Aircraft, Dassault Aviation. “A significant number of Falcon operators already have Gogo’s Iridium-based Axxess system installed on their aircraft and our FANS solution will permit a simple upgrade for that equipment as part of the overall compliance package.”

John Wade, Gogo Business Aviation’s executive vice president and general manager, added, “With the forthcoming mandates, FANS is a very important topic among business aircraft operators in today’s market. We’re pleased to help Dassault bring a cost-effective solution to Falcon operators all over the world.”

From an equipment perspective, Dassault’s new FANS solution incorporates Gogo Business Aviation’s Iridium-based Axxess system and Data Interface Unit (DIU). Both systems meet FAA DO-178B (Level D) certification requirements for FANS.

First introduced in 2005, the Axxess system is a prolific system in the business aviation market – currently flying on thousands of aircraft and offered as standard or optional equipment by most major business aircraft manufacturers. Paired with Gogo Business Aviation’s Data Interface Unit (DIU), the FANS- compliant Axxess system is available to existing customers as a field retrofit through a special upgrade/exchange program. It is also available for new installations.

  • Tail-Mounted Antenna Expands FliteStream Connectivity Market
  • More BizAv Aircraft to Benefit from FliteStream’s Patented Technology

East Aurora, NY | October 21, 2014– Astronics Corporation announced that Astronics AeroSat, its wholly-owned subsidiary that designs and manufactures satellite connectivity solutions for aircraft, has launched FliteStream™ T-Series, a satellite broadband solution incorporating a new tail-mounted antenna design. Astronics (NASDAQ: ATRO) is a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace and defense industries.

FliteStream T-Series, like FliteStream F-Series for VVIP aircraft, is the aviation industry’s first dedicated, global connectivity solution for the worldwide business aviation/corporate jet fleet. Incorporating FliteStream’s patented ‘lens/horn’ technology, which provides the most efficient
Ku-band airborne connectivity available to business aviation, the FliteStream T-Series’ antenna system is ideally suited for specific models of Cessna, Bombardier, Embraer, and Gulfstream aircraft.

“We are excited to extend the benefits of our FliteStream solution to an even greater segment of the long-range business jet market,” said Dennis Ferguson, president of Astronics AeroSat. “Our new tail-mounted antenna, FliteStream T-Series offers exceptional, dedicated connectivity via the global Harris CapRock Ku-band satellite network, while positioning aircraft for upgrades to new airborne telecom technologies as they become available,” he added.

Like all FliteStream solutions, the T-Series is designed for performance, growth and customer convenience. It features AeroSat’s highly efficient, patented antenna technology, a defined upgrade path to Ka-band and a Certification Assistance Program™ that includes a full installation design and STC data package. Worldwide, 24/7 AOG support with a single point of contact is also a well-received feature of the full service solution.

FliteStream T-Series antenna systems will be sold and installed through avionics modification centers and OEM service centers, with deliveries beginning in the third quarter of 2015.

  • Transition towards A330neo

Toulouse | October 17, 2104– Airbus has decided to adjust the production rate for its A330 Family from the current rate 10 to 9 aircraft a month in Q4 2015 as it transitions towards the A330neo.

Since 2013, Airbus has been building 10 A330 Family aircraft each month, the industry’s highest ever production rate for this aircraft size category, reflecting the strong success of Airbus’ market leading widebody family.

“Our role as an aircraft manufacturer is to anticipate and adapt our output to ensure we continue to maintain a smooth production flow for Airbus and for our supply chain,” said Tom Williams, Airbus’ Executive Vice President Programmes. “With the recent commercial success we’ve seen following the launch of the A330neo, in addition to the new 242 tonne weight variant and the A330 optimised for regional routes, we are confident we will sustain a steady production towards the A330neo ramp up period.”

The A330 Family, which spans 250 to 300 seats, and includes Freighter, VIP, and Military Transport/Tanker variants, has now attracted more than 1,300 orders, with over 1,100 aircraft flying with more than 100 operators worldwide. The A330 is one of the world’s most efficient aircraft with best in class operating economics. With numerous on-going product enhancements entering service in the coming years, such as the more capable 242 tonne take-off-weight variant, the A330 for regional and domestic routes and the A330neo, the A330 Family remains the most cost-efficient and capable widebody aircraft, averaging operational reliability above 99 percent. The A330 belongs to the successful Airbus Widebody aircraft Family, which comprises the A330, A350 XWB and A380, and uniquely spans the 250 to over 500 seats segment.

September’s APEX in Anaheim featured a lot of new technologies and as of late, vendors are reluctant to share booth info, for good reason, but we contacted Panasonic who was willing to share a few tidbits, here’s an example – One feature we really like each year is the Panasonic Cool Room. To IFExpress, we see the application of new technology as one of the trademarks of Panasonic, it was almost a given that they would feature a product technology preview, the technology that might be involved in new products… thus, the “Cool Room”. Obviously not all of the new technologies will end up as products but the key here is understanding the baseline technologies first – it’s a lot like the Wi-Fi trend, you won’t see a home router on a plane, but it is a “go to” technology for onboard wireless connectivity.

We caught up with Steve Sizelove, Panasonic’s “Mr. Cool Room” and asked a few questions during the show:

IFExpress: Have any of the items/products/technologies featured in previous Panasonic Cool Rooms become Panasonic products for the IFEC industry? 

Steve: “Yes. We created the Cool Room experience about 11 years ago. Since that first exhibit area, we have seen 10 different technologies emerge as Panasonic IFEC solutions. The most noteworthy to date are our industry-shaping Video touchscreen handset at the same time the iPhone came out and the integrated seat project which lead directly to the development of our Eco monitors. The latter won several awards and is pretty much the industry standard for seatback monitors these days. We have also introduced a portfolio of solutions that integrate a passenger’s personal electronic device right into the in-flight entertainment experience. For example, since 2009 we have worked on bringing the Apple ecosystem into the industry with products like iPod integration, and wireless second screen integration with solutions such as companion app.

IFExpress: We certainly agree about the Apple Integration efforts since we see a lot of their products when we travel, but before we get to far into an interview, can we ask: Who is Steve Sizelove? It is a fair question because we see him deeply involved with the “cool technology” since it began?

Steve:  Let me start with my school background because it might make my answer a bit clearer: – I have Engineering degree from Purdue University and with nearly 29 years experience in the aviation industry you may call me a veteran. For 25 years I have focused my career on the IFEC industry. Prior to that, I was an autopilot design engineer

I have been with Panasonic since September 2000, and one of my first projects was to help launch our industry-leading X-series platform.

We started the Cool Room, or innovation suite, as it was first known, in 2003. Since then, the Cool Room has spawned 10 products for our industry and even a few into the consumer industry. Working on this environment, I’ve been fortunate to add something like 8 or 9 patents to Panasonic’s portfolio.

IFExpress: I guess we also should ask “Why the Cool Room? That is a fair question since Panasonic is known for the “Cool Room Experience”.

Steve: Panasonic didn’t become an industry leader by accident. R&D is part of our DNA. Being at this position of a thought leader it’s our responsibility to our customers to continuously push the envelope and bridge the gap between the technology of the future and the reality of the aircraft environment. The Cool Room is an area to show what we’ve been exploring in terms of technologies, emergent products and relevant consumer trends. It started in 2003 as “invitation only” but now open to all booth visitors. It’s where we articulate our leadership in innovation, and our thoughts about the technologies that are driving our industry into the future. The cool room itself is specific to trade shows; what’s behind the cool room, however, is an ongoing, continual innovation process at Panasonic and our partners.

IFExpress: What does Panasonic get out of all of this?

Steve: The answer to this question should be another question: what are our customers getting out of it? We are looking for a dialog with airlines and technology partners to align technology with business goals. We don’t measure everything by the impact it has on our sales numbers. Of course there’s a connection between R&D and ROI but the Cool Room is much rather a representation of our playful and innovative mindset. We love doing this. In fact, sometimes exploring the ecosystem of an emergent product or technology is more important than the product or technology itself.

There’s a great line from Disney’s The Lion King that says, “Look beyond what you see.” From the moment I heard it I knew it was my motto because sometimes its just as important to understand why we shouldn’t do something as it is to understand why we should do something.

IFExpress: I guess the next logical question is why should IFEC show-goers check out the room, we certainly see a lot of airlines in there?

Steve: It’s a unique place to experience new things that you’ve likely never seen before. It’s also a place where you can come to have fun and get away from it all. It’s a chance to have meaningful dialogue and understand how innovation fits into the cabin, where innovation must occur, what where we should focus our efforts for future cabin technologies. Besides, I love the technology and showing people new things and discussing how they may be influenced or interact with it.”

IFExpress: Can you give us an idea of some of the past displayed technologies?

Steve: Some of the public displays that we have had in the past include everything from 3D Glasses, to no-key typing, Smart Chair concepts, eye tracking, gesture control, and surface technologies.

IFExpress: For our readers that didn’t get a chance to visit this year, tell us what you featured this year.

Steve: Some of the technologies from this year’s Cool Room include New Gesture control demos featuring Leap Motion Version 2 & NOD Ring Gesture Device, a new Oculus Rift Virtual Travel Thread experience, our latest advances in H.264/H.265 Demo, a curved 11.6” OLED Display, and Latest LCD Technology color technology. (Pico Projector on display)

With Leap Motion, we’re exploring new methods of using gestures to control the in-flight entertainment experience. We’re looking at both macro and micro gestures, and different ways that passengers could interact with an IFE system in a convenient and intuitive manner.

With the NOD Ring Gesture Device, we’re looking ahead at how we can evolve IFE systems to support new wearable technologies that passengers will be bringing onboard commercial aircraft with both of these technologies.

With our Occulus Rift demo, we’re always being asked if we think that virtual reality is the next step for in-flight entertainment. We’re actually focused on the eco system and infrastructure behind the technology and the ability for that eco system to quickly bring robust, engaging experiences to life for our customers.

IFExpress: Can you give us a bit more about connectivity as it is becoming a big deal with passengers – in fact, one study lately called it the most desired inflight feature?

Steve: At Panasonic, we believe that connectivity underpins everything, regardless if you look at it from a marketing, finance or operational perspective. We are already delivering on our vision of the connected aircraft. Today’s IFEC systems are designed to be business platforms that offer higher value to our airline customers than ever before. So I think it’s safe to say that everything we do will leverage the advantages of a broadband connected aircraft.

This year, we saw a lot of Panasonic good ideas that told us (and the throng of visitors) that the company is looking ahead for the “next big thing”. Obviously from a writing point of view this is great because we love new stories, but from a flying point of view, new technology is what makes a stressful experience one that is enjoyable, or at least, acceptable. In the words of a past Iberia Airline slogan – “More Than Just Flying”…how true.

We got a tip in about a breakfast gathering locally in Seattle where a past Boeing celebrity, Alan Mullaly was speaking and can read about it here.

We thought our readers would find it worth reading… if for no other reason than to see how NOT to relate to your technical people! After we sent the link to a couple readers, John Courtright had a pertinent comment: “It’s called leadership. You don’t get leadership by earning an MBA, an engineering degree, a law degree or any degree.  I’ve found people with military experience who have had a few more leadership characteristics than others who have degrees, and I believe it is because you simply must work through people and organizations to get anything done.  But there are people without military experience who have figured out that it all reduces to understanding the objective, understanding the people tasked with reaching the goal (their pluses and minuses), and communicating the plan in plain words and communicating often.  Mulally obviously figured that out early in his career. It may have been you (Terry) who told me about a Mulally-ism that has stuck with me.  At Boeing Mulally was known to repeat the mantra something like:  “Show me the numbers.  The numbers will set you free.”  This quote underlines Mulally’s strength of communicating in plain, unambiguous language and numbers help you do that.” (Publisher’s Note: I worked for Alan for a few years while at Boeing and I can verify that he is all he is made up to be, and more. And yes, he admitted when he was wrong… openly, but always had a plan to right it. – Terry Wiseman)

Don’t miss this APEX InfoGraphic 

We loved this KLM Lost & Found service video sent to us by Bob Bogash… be warned, its a dog video…




Investment of more than $1 billion will sustain thousands of Puget Sound jobs

Everett, WA | October 21, 2014/PRNewswire/–Boeing (NYSE: BA) today celebrated the groundbreaking of its new 777X Composite Wing Center at the Everett, Wash., campus. Permitting for the new 1-million-square-foot facility was completed approximately seven weeks earlier than anticipated, allowing for an accelerated start to construction.

Boeing is investing more than $1 billion in the Everett site for construction and outfitting of the new building.

Once completed, the facility located on the north side of the main final assembly building will help usher in composite wing fabrication for the company’s newest commercial jetliner and sustain thousands of local jobs for decades to come.
“We’re excited with the progress being made on this new facility that will play a crucial role in bringing the 777X to market,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “We wouldn’t be in this position without the support of our teammates and partners throughout the Puget Sound region and in Olympia – we owe them all a debt of gratitude.”

Completion of the new building, which is expected in May 2016, will require approximately 3.5 million hours of work. At its peak, there will be approximately 1,200 contract employees working on the project. By the numbers, the new building will require:

  • 31,000 tons (28,000 metric tons) of steel
  • 480 miles (770 kilometers) of electrical cable
  • 80,000 linear feet (24,384 meters ) of process piping
  • 530,000 cubic yards (405,210 cubic meters) of fill material
  • 170,000 tons (154,000 metric tons) of concrete

To date, the 777X has accumulated 300 orders and commitments. Two models will comprise the 777X family – the 777-8X, with approximately 350 seats and a range capability of more than 9,300 nautical miles; and the 777-9X, with approximately 400 seats and a range of more than 8,200 nautical miles. The 777-8X competes directly with the Airbus A350-1000, while the 777-9X is in a class by itself, serving a market segment that no other airplane can. First delivery of the 777X is targeted for 2020.