Our “cover shot” this week is the newest Inmarsat “bird” designed for their new high speed global broadband network. Called Global Xpress (GX), the seamless product, when finalized, will be worldwide. The Global Xpress constellation will be made up of three satellites. The first GX satellite, Inmarsat-5 F1, is now in service over Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia, and the second (pictured above) – which will serve the Americas and Atlantic Ocean Region – is launching on 1 February 2015. The third satellite, which has been built and is set for launch soon, will cover the Pacific Ocean Region. Between them, the three satellites will provide consistent global coverage. Full global coverage is scheduled for early in the second half of 2015. GX will offer upgradable bandwidth that allows airlines flexibly to adapt to changing requirements. The satellite was built by Boeing at its El Segundo Development Center in the Los Angeles area. GX Aviation operates in the Ka-band, and will provide up to 50Mbps to the aircraft. Five GX Value Added Resellers are in active discussions with potential airline customers, two of which have been successful (Gogo and OnAir). Gogo announced that Vietnam Airlines will have GX Aviation on its B787s and A350s and OnAir has announced that Qatar will have GX Aviation on its A350s.
Gogo, the global inflight aero communications service provider, announced yesterday that it’s on track for record aircraft installs in 2015. The company now has a backlog of well more than 1,000 commercial aircraft, more than half of which are expected to be installed in 2015. With the large backlog in commercial aviation and the company’s current trends in business aviation, Gogo expects to install a record number of aircraft in 2015. Recently announced domestic regional jet installs and certain international fleet wins are expected to make up the bulk of the installs for 2015. Gogo expects to bring 500 additional commercial aircraft online by the end of this year, which would bring the total number of commercial aircraft equipped with its connectivity service to more than 2600. Of the new installs, around 25 percent are expected to be international aircraft. In addition to new installs, Gogo continues to upgrade previously-installed ATG systems to its next generation ATG-4 technology, which triples peak speeds to the aircraft and brings more capacity to the sky. More than a third of the aircraft on which ATG was installed have been upgraded to ATG-4. Gogo expects close to half the commercial fleet operating in the U.S., or more than 1,000 aircraft, to be upgraded to the newer technology by the end of 2015. In addition to the ATG-4 roll-out, Gogo is on track to launch its global satellite solution – 2Ku – in the second half of 2015. 2Ku is expected to bring peak speeds of more than 70 Mbps to an aircraft, a 20 fold increase when compared to Gogo’s original ATG technology.
We asked a number of readers about why they thought SkyMall went under (Chapter 11) and we got a huge amount of email in response. Here are just a few of the salient comments readers made:
John Courtright (SIE) noted: “Virtually any of the boutique-like products found in the SkyMall catalog could be purchased online directly from the seller or through Amazon. Much of SkyMall’s inventory was drop shipped which means they didn’t have to hold a lot of inventory but they did have to hold some (that means money)… SkyMall had a pretty good and beautifully automated, for its time (late ’90s) fulfillment center in the Phoenix area but automated fulfillment centers require VOLUME in ever increasing levels. Other online retailers simply took away their market share.”
Mark Thompson (Thompson Aerospace) told us: “SkyMall did not have a real time buying option, so they lost out on the impulse buying marketing and their items were high cost items, so once off the aircraft people would not buy due to competition… As well over 100B a year is spent by international travelers just to the US a year, we view the airlines as missing out a chance at a 5 to 10 percent commission from sites like Commission Junction… Hopefully with SkyMall being out of business, we can finally create a Cabin Entertainment and Marketplace to truly provide billions in free revenue to airlines.“
Another savvy IFExpress reader’s opinion seems to be along the same lines and noted:
· S/M Items not unique in the Marketplace, and those attracted to such merchandise can probably get it cheaper on the Internet via such net retailers as Amazon. [Price as well as shipping]
· Those airlines (Delta; US Air; etc.) who canceled their ‘subscriptions’ to Sky Mall probably didn’t get the revenue [Sharing] they were promised from SkyMall, as their total sales dwindled these past few years. And, in parallel, the product producers in the catalog probably didn’t get the revenue for each advertising dollar they were paying SkyMall to be in the catalog. [when was the last time you saw Neiman Marcus in SkyMall?]
· Greater ‘entertainment’ options by those passengers targeted by SkyMall: the savvy and high earning passengers — who travel and used to buy stuff – can more easily download entertainment; catalogs; and information onto their own devices and are less enticed to explore the on-board magazine for merchandise or sales.
· Competition (at least that I have seen for the ‘foreign’ carriers) from the airlines’ own sales/marketing catalogs (e.g. JAL, SIA, BA, AF, Lufthansa, ANA, etc. etc.). These catalogs might offer small savings due to duty free and can cater to ‘off shore’ customers much easier. In the case of ANA and JAL, they offer on-site delivery of goods as soon as the passengers deplane at the arriving airport (if the merchandise is not readily available on the plane, from local stores/stock)
· Greater Availability of RF bandwidth on Internet equipped a/c means less need for bored passengers to skim through the printed page.
Obviously, our readers have a pretty good handle on the issues facing SkyMall during the last couple of years. We wonder if the company could have done anything to avoid the situation?
Lets take the IFE vs connectivity argument a bit farther and to that end: after we sent out a few questions to readers about the subject of fliers knowing what to expect in the way of IFEC and how that affects ticket decision. we got a few good answers back – here is a good one:
Q: If you were the traveling public, how then do you know who has what, and do you care?
ANS: “For the traveling public, it’s much harder to determine which IFE supplier is on which airline. Good, and Bad systems, get press/media reviews and you can read complaints about IFE on the Internet – rarely compliments. Word of mouth, as in advertising, is strong, but usually for frequent fliers. But as you noted in your text: IFE isn’t exactly high on anyone’s radar: behind costs; schedules; meal; seat comfort (which seems to be a growing sore point – pun intended – to many airline travelers); and just plain friendliness and attention by flight attendants.”
Q: Our guess is that connectivity is the “who-has-what” hot ticket today, not entertainment!
ANS: “I would agree. And as you know from my previous comments, I think the IFE company that focuses on connectivity and content will survive and thrive. IFE companies need to evolve to help the airlines expand their offerings and content and functions which allow the tech savvy passengers to use whatever device they wish to bring onboard: laptops; tablets; cell phone; etc. IFE companies focused more on HW will wither and die. Wireless connectivity will supersede wired. But most of all, the IFE companies need to keep and increase their relationships with content providers. Initially, it is/was with studios and record companies, but you will probably see announcement (some already) of IFE companies securing deals with the likes of Netflix; Google; HBO; Showtime; PBS; You Tube; etc.”
Q: We are beginning to think that personal devices have removed that requirement – because if the plane doesn’t have what I want, Ill take out my headphones and iPod, or iPad and not worry about it. Do you agree?
ANS: “Yes, fully agree. If the airlines don’t have the content, the passengers will bring their own. I suspect the company that can allow the passenger to download latest content at the airport (if the passenger hasn’t already done so at home or office) ahead of the flight will continue to grow in size and profits. Companies just need to find the right revenue model. [Must be some good MBAs out there working that aspect?!!]”
While discussing Inflight Entertainment subjects with some knowledgeable experts, we got side-tracked on the subject of “How do you know who (airline) has what IFEC” and one person sent us to the Alaska Airlines website that perfectly describes their wireless connectivity and entertainment solutions for guests flying with them. This “Beyond Entertainment” link should interest a lot of our readers.
If you are up to speed on the Marriott Hotel chain Mi-Fi blocking history, you might want to read Ned Levi’s opinion on user Wi-Fi vs hotel Wi-Fi service. Arguments on both sides may show up elsewhere and the issue is more than money.
In an Aviation Week Viewpoint article, Capt. Bob Colvin lays out the need and development logic for a “truly long range 757 replacement.” Read it for the aircraft design analysis..this pilot knows planes.
Congratulations to STG Aerospace’s new Engineering Director, Neil Thomas!
And finally, the IFExpress solution to SkyMall’s exit, we call it “Amazon Plane”. And yes, it does not exist today. We put our heads together over a few glasses of wine and came up with a new Duty Free solution that will probably never be implemented but the issue of lower cost booze can be a motivator. First you start with the concept of Duty Free Booze, then you add on-aircraft and/or in-Duty Free Shop ordering and paying, and lastly, Amazon fulfillment services. Got it? No more carrying around booze and gifts that can’t go through TSA – Amazon Plane gets you your stuff when you get home!
- With the recent launch of the 1NETv2, Thompson Aerospace has incorporated flight tracking and real- time performance data alerting and streaming. The 1NETv2, which continuously connects the aircraft to the cloud, collects all Category C and higher data and utilizes their patented hardware security to create the first secure Airborne Local Area Network.
Irvine, CA | January 26, 2015– Thompson Aerospace of Irvine, CA announced today that they currently offer aircraft position tracking and performance alerting capability as part of their 1NET Airborne Local Area Network (ALAN). Thompson Aerospace is the leader in IT data management solutions for commercial aircraft.
Mark Thompson, President of Thompson Aerospace stated, “With the recent events in the last few years, it is important for our industry to acknowledge that we have a major data management issue. This issue is easy to fix, but requires us to embrace solutions that require changes in to how we manage data across organizations. The solution will have state of the art data processing, data security and real time world wide access to the data. The ability to manage data efficiently will create new cost savings and revenue opportunities while improving operations such as turn times, safety and customer satisfaction. Many stake holders would pay airlines to access to data from passengers or aircraft systems, and forward thinking airlines will revolutionize airline economic models as early adopters of aircraft information technology solutions. Simply stated, the airplane will be a node on the internet.”
Thompson Aerospace has taken this approach to data management for commercial airplanes and has created a paradigm shift in moving data between the aircraft and secure cloud environment. The 1NETv2 not only collects all data from the aircraft systems, it has embedded GPS, accelerometer, and other sensors to provide an independent data source.
This system approach allows not just inflight data: any time the ground service buss is powered, the system is able to stream data to airline personnel in real time.
The 1NET ALAN has been in operation for 3 years and has successfully moved 100s of million data records between the aircraft and cloud. The 1NET v2 provides the highest level of data security in the industry and meets FIPS 140-2 Level 3 and DO-326 requirements.
Mr. Thompson added, “We announced the launch of the CSUv2 server a few months ago. The CSUv2 has built in GPS, Iridium and accelerometer. It collects all data including aircraft systems and with predetermined parameters sends alerts to the airline. In the event that a parameter exceedance becomes critical we can stream all pertinent data such as position, performance, turbulence, auto pilot disconnect, etc. Most of the recent news has implied solutions are yet to be developed and will be relatively expensive for implementation. Our 1NET v2 is already available and very economical. In addition to standard tracking data, the airline receive all aircraft performance and system data for normal operations. This allows the airline to have immediate visibility to the aircraft health data and can expedite turn around times and improve predictive maintenance capability”.
The combination of 1NET’s low cost, simplicity and advanced capability makes real-time automated tracking and monitoring a viable option for all aircraft.
Thomas Enders said at a conference in 2013 that we have to embrace Information Technology solutions to gain the efficiencies common to other industries. Over two years later, we are still talking about how information technology could help our industry; the time to embrace technology is now, and the systems are available to any airline that wants to move forward.
For product data sheets contact Lisa Nielesky: LisaNielesky@ThompsonAerospace.com
Itasca, IL | January 26, 2015– January 26, 2015 – Gogo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOGO), a leading global aero communications service provider, announced today that it’s on track for record aircraft installs in 2015. The company now has a backlog of well more than 1,000 commercial aircraft, more than half of which are expected to be installed in 2015. With the large backlog in commercial aviation and the company’s current trends in business aviation, Gogo expects to install a record number of aircraft in 2015. Recently announced domestic regional jet installs and certain international fleet wins are expected to make up the bulk of the installs for 2015.
Gogo expects to bring 500 additional commercial aircraft online by the end of this year, which would bring the total number of commercial aircraft equipped with its connectivity service to more than 2600. Of the new installs, around 25 percent are expected to be international aircraft.
In addition to new installs, Gogo continues to upgrade previously-installed ATG systems to its next generation ATG-4 technology, which triples peak speeds to the aircraft and brings more capacity to the sky. More than a third of the aircraft on which ATG was installed have been upgraded to ATG-4. Gogo expects close to half the commercial fleet operating in the U.S., or more than 1,000 aircraft, to be upgraded to the newer technology by the end of 2015.
“Operationally, what the talented group at Gogo has accomplished and is set to accomplish in 2015 is unprecedented in this industry and continues to amaze me,” said Gogo’s president and CEO, Michael Small. “Between installing new service and upgrading our original ATG service to ATG-4, our installation team expects to touch 1,000 aircraft in various parts of the world in 2015. We are excited about where we are going in terms of bringing new aircraft online and adding significantly more capacity to the network.”
In addition to the ATG-4 roll-out, Gogo is on track to launch its global satellite solution – 2Ku – in the second half of 2015. 2Ku is expected to bring peak speeds of more than 70 Mbps to an aircraft, a 20 fold increase when compared to Gogo’s original ATG technology.
“2Ku will bring significantly more bandwidth at what we estimate will be half the costs of competing solutions available in the market today,” added Small. “We believe this technology is transformative for global aviation in terms of Internet speeds, capacity, coverage, costs and reliability.”
- Global Xpress will deliver superfast connectivity to the remotest regions in the world – providing up to 100X faster broadband speeds on land, at sea and in the air
London | January 22, 2015– Inmarsat (LSE:ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, will complete another significant milestone in the delivery of its transformational Global Xpress (GX) service with the scheduled launch of Inmarsat-5 F2 (I-5 F2) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12.31pm (GMT) on Sunday 1st February.
Inmarsat is investing US$1.6bn in the delivery of Global Xpress, which will create the world’s first globally available, high-speed mobile broadband service, delivered through a single network operator.
Inmarsat’s 5th generation satellites – which form the GX network – have all been built by Boeing Satellite Systems International Inc. (“Boeing”) in California. The launch is being undertaken for Inmarsat by International Launch Services (ILS) using a Proton launch vehicle.
Global Xpress will deliver broadband speeds more than 100 times faster than the company’s fourth generation (I-4) constellation. It will offer new opportunities for end-users, in both the public and private sectors, to significantly enhance their connectivity and to access bandwidth-hungry applications, even in the remotest and most inaccessible regions of the world.
The first Global Xpress satellite – Inmarsat-5 F1 – was launched in December 2013 and entered regional commercial service in July 2014, covering Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. Inmarsat-5 F2, scheduled for launch on 1st February, will provide superfast broadband Global Xpress or ‘GX’ services covering the Americas and the Atlantic Ocean.
Following the launch of the third Global Xpress satellite – Inmarsat-5 F3 – which is scheduled for early Q2 2015, Inmarsat is planning to commence global commercial GX services early in the second half of the year. The new network, which complements Inmarsat’s existing fleet of L-band communication satellites, will deliver seamless, superfast mobile broadband services across the planet.
Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “Global Xpress is a truly transformational technology and, as we complete its global roll-out, 2015 promises to be one of the most significant chapters in our company’s history.
“Through Global Xpress, the world can move forward from the ‘Internet of Everything’ to the ‘Internet of Everywhere’, in which high-speed, reliable and secure connectivity is available anywhere and at any time – even in the most inaccessible regions – for customers on the move or to fixed locations. We believe that our new global network will power innovation, support economic development and help transform social services, from education to healthcare, in regions not adequately served – or not served at all – by terrestrial networks.”
Each of the three satellites in the initial GX fleet has 89 beams and six steerable high-power spot beams for multi-regional coverage. The GX satellite weighs 6100kg at launch with a wing-span wider than a Boeing 737. All three have a design life of 15 years.
The I-5 F2 will be launched by ILS on-board a Proton Breeze M rocket.
The big news this week is from Gogo: The company announced today that it has received regulatory approval from the FCC to operate its next generation in-flight connectivity technology – 2Ku. The FCC approval clears a major hurdle in the path to launching the new service. The approval is a blanket approval from the FCC for Gogo to operate its 2Ku system on 1,000 aircraft. “Clearing the necessary regulatory hurdles to provide this service to an aircraft flying anywhere around the globe is no small feat. Gogo has proven it is a leader at navigating these environments for all aircraft types no matter where they fly,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “We are happy that the launch of 2Ku is proceeding as planned and are continuing to work with the FAA on approval for installation.” Gogo expects the new 2Ku technology will outperform other global connectivity solutions currently available in the market. The new antenna technology is expected to deliver peak speeds to the aircraft of more than 70 Mbps. The advantages of 2Ku are significant. The antenna is more spectrally efficient which means it will produce more bandwidth at less cost than competitive solutions. 2Ku’s performance benefits will be even more dramatic in tropical regions where other satellite solutions degrade significantly due to restrictions associated with operating at high skew angles. The antenna itself is only 4.5 inches tall and the low profile produces very little incremental drag on the aircraft. The 2Ku antenna and its increased spectral efficiency are compatible with today’s Ku satellites and future Ku satellites, including future spot beam satellites. When future satellite technologies become available, Gogo expects peak speeds for the service in excess of 100 Mbps. Because the antenna can be used with any Ku-satellite, it also avoids the single point of failure that comes with reliance on a single satellite for connectivity in a given region, and offers airlines much desired redundancy and reliability.
If you forgot about what 2Ku actually is, and how it works, we have a perfect solution – look here!
Aircraft Interiors Expo 2014 will again be at the Hamburg Messe, April 14 – 16 this year in Germany and you can keep abreast at www.aircraftinteriorsexpo.com. To steal from their press release: “The countdown is now on for next year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo which takes place at the Hamburg Messe in Germany from 14-16 April 2015. Organized by Reed Exhibitions, Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015 will be the essential hub for the aircraft interiors industry to view groundbreaking new products and innovative technologies, as well as networking with exhibiting companies and professional visitors on both the conference and show floors. The demand for air travel, particularly from new emerging markets, will see the global airline fleet witness extraordinary growth over the next decade. Developing markets in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East will continue to serve as the main catalyst for this upward trend. According to a recent Airbus global market forecast for 2014-2033, China will need more than 5,300 new passenger aircraft and freighters at a total market value of US$820 billion – this represents 17% of the world total demand for over 31,000 new aircraft during the next 20 years. Factors such as the increase in demand for cabin customization to enhance passenger comfort, together with increasing passenger growth rates, are boosting the cabin interior market worldwide. The cabin seats market is predicted to be best overall performer in the sector.”
As they note about the exposition; “Aircraft Interiors Expo is the world’s largest event dedicated to sourcing the latest innovations, technologies and products for the cabin interiors, inflight entertainment and passenger comfort industries. Taking place in Hamburg from 14- 16 April 2015 the exhibition attracts thousands of buyers and decision makers from major scheduled, regional and charter airlines and offers the opportunity to meet face to face with suppliers and manufacturers covering the full spectrum of the industry.” Also, we note that a total of 74 submissions were received for the Crystal Cabin Award 2015. After detailed examination we understand, the six members of the preselection committee have approved 68 of these for the shortlist. In the next stage, the international jury of 25 experts, including representatives of various airlines, aircraft manufacturers, suppliers, and technical service providers, along with university professors, consultants and specialist journalists, will now evaluate all accepted entries, so that the finalists for the seven categories can be nominated shortly before the Aircraft Interiors Expo (14 – 16 April, 2015). The winners will be crowned, as they are every year, at a formal gala event held in association with the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.
Also, don’t forget the other reason for going, the World Catering and Onboard Services Expo will take place there as well. “Visitors will include onboard services and retail buyers, food and beverage buyers as well as procurement representatives from air and rail travel operators. The exhibitor base includes providers of snack foods, pre-prepared meals, food service equipment, hygiene products and services, food packaging, passenger comfort products and onboard retail items. In other words, you had best go because all your friends and competitors will be there. By day we will be roaming the floor (more on that later) but we will have more later on this event!
An ‘“industry source” sent this update on the new CEO at Zodiac Inflight Innovations – please welcome him: Zodiac Aerospace is pleased to announce the appointment of Matt Smith as CEO of Zodiac Innovations (Zii) as of January 19th, 2015. Matt replaces Rod Farley who will enter retirement at the end of January. Rod has been an integral part of creating Zii, serving as a leader in the former IMS Company and Zii CEO for the last 2 years. His customer focus has been instrumental in making Zii a key player in the IFEC industry. We are going to miss Rod and wish him all of the best in his future.
Matt joins Zii from Panasonic Avionics Corporation where he spent the last 6 years and was recently Senior VP of Operations. He was also the Chairman of Panasonic Corporation Singapore (PACSS) joint venture. Previously, Matt was with Rockwell Collins in both Avionics and Inflight Entertainment, and Honeywell Aerospace in Avionics. Matt has a Bachelors and Masters Degree of Electrical Engineering from the University of Wyoming. Matt will be based in Brea, CA office.
The folks at Bell-Pottinger sent us an Alitalia update and here is a condensed version: “Change is underway at Alitalia as they will introduce new routes, new product and service standards, a new cost management strategy and new branding, as the foundations to build a premium global airline representing the best of Italy. Mr Hogan (CEO) said that Alitalia’s major investors had set a clear deadline for the airline to deliver profitability by 2017. He said; “We need to create a performance-based, customer-focused culture which results in a sustainably profitable airline, one which can grow over the long term.” Alitalia and Etihad Airways and its partners are exploring opportunities to improve jointly fleet efficiency. For example, Alitalia is in the process of relocating 14 Airbus A320s to airberlin, and looking into options with Etihad Airways to acquire additional wide-body aircraft for Alitalia. Alitalia will also have opportunities to receive aircraft from Etihad Airways’ existing fleet order book. Alitalia Società Aerea Italiana (alitalia.com) is a completely private company that started operations on January 1, 2015. The new Alitalia is a limited company with an Italian majority share and a 49% share owned by the industrial partner Etihad Airways, U.A.E.’s national airline.”
As you may know, 2014 was certainly the year of the “hack” and data breaches are now a weekly event. The folks at Zenedge provided a very good infographic on the subject and we provide it here for you. While the aviation industry and aircraft have seemingly been lightly affected, you might want to view the 1 hour Internet Webinar Recording that SITA and Recorded Future put together.
You might enjoy reading Aviation Week’s Person of the year article, especially the Letters To The Editor!
Lastly, did you know that powdered alcohol is on its way to your local liquor store… if your state doesn’t ban it first. Called Palcahol, the powder, when mixed with water or mix, can deliver vodka or rum flavored drinks with the booze built-in. Boy are the inflight passenger requests for water going to increase.