There is a big deal at this year’s Farnborough Air Show and it relates to future airplane sales over the next few years. Quite frankly, the future predictions (and the manufacturing upgrades in progress), as well as, both Airbus and Boeing are frankly bigger than they have ever been. Recently Airbus announced that they are delivering some 52 A320 family airplanes and their orders through July 4th total some 471 jets so far. As a whole, the industry has a giant backlog of over 12,000 aircraft. Last year’s Paris Show netted some 750+ planes valued at over $100 Billion, but the other biennial show at Farnborough just might be different this year as airline executive’s appear to be nervous about the short term market. Brexit, cold war escalation, and terrorism are now clouding the travel market, and where goes travel, so goes new airplane sales… and so goes IFEC sales as well, both on line-fit and retrofit. Further, one travel reporter noted: “International air travel demand increased 4.3 percent year over year in May, down from 5 percent growth in April. May was the third consecutive month that demand growth decreased. Airline load factors were down in every region except Latin America, where demand and capacity growth were in equilibrium.” Also, check out this Accenture report on the market and the conditions affecting it or this one: Boeing And Airbus: The Order Battle In June 2016 and finally, the other side of the fence: Planemakers shrug off economy worries as travel demand grows | Reuters

Sales of new planes have been sluggish in the business sector and this week’s Farnborough should be somewhat telltale for new planes in that market as well. As noted above, so far in 2016 the numbers don’t look like those of 2014. If we look at the general aviation market, for example, at the end of 2014 plane shipments were up some 4.3 percent, but in 2015 shipments were down one half percent. Also noting that in 2007 at the peak of the market, the GenAv manufacturers produced over 4000 planes; and today, that market is closer to 2331 aircraft.

We should also mention that the price of GenAv planes almost doubled (on average) after 2007 because of the lower numbers being produced. We wonder if the GenAv plane number trends will start showing up in the commercial market this year? One aviation expert in the financial industry expects this year’s new commercial aircraft orders to be in the 500 – 600 range at Farnborough instead of the 700+ as in last couple years. The economy and the other aforementioned factors, may be the perfect storm… not to mention the entry of Chinese and Russian new commercial planes (By the way, what IFEC do they choose?), just may have an impression on the world markets and maybe, just maybe, if Farnborough is down, the market may be shifting and some of the planes (and engine) manufacturers might get a bit of breathing room. But don’t kid yourself, this potential reduction in demand will affect IFEC and it may cause many changes… and many say these changes have already begun! If sales are truly down we expect the loss of, and/or combining of, some of the players in our industry – Stay Tuned on this one.

This week’s Farnborough sales will have some indications as to where we will be heading in the way of total industry revenues, at least in the near term. However, if you include the IFEC impacts as a result of passengers carrying more and better portable devices, both may have an influence on IFEC sales and installations. However, the market for connectivity, which seems to demand higher and higher speeds, will surely keep up and maybe even increase. The issue here is price and we are waiting for new technology and better bandwidth to help out. Whatever the outcome, it looks like Farnborough may be a big indicator that our industry needs to watch very carefully.

We Note: Even as the company considers potential new planes and new variants of others to be as competitive as it can be, Muilenburg made it clear that meeting those increases are vital to helping it make good on the demands created by being in the “unprecedented position of (having) about 5,700 aircraft in backlog.” The increase will come in the narrow-body segment — which makes up the vast majority of that backlog — where Boeing plans to boost output of its 737, including the new Max variants, from the current rate of 42 planes a month to 47 a month in 2017. A new midsize Boeing jet could be on the way – Wichita Business Journal

Airbus Group – Farnborough International Airshow
Boeing: Boeing: Farnborough Air Show 2016


Lufthansa launches Internet connectivity on short- and medium-haul flights
Green light from EASA: Supplemental Type Certificate issued
In October of this year, the first Lufthansa short- and medium-haul aircraft will take off with broadband Internet on board. Lufthansa’s entire A320 family fleet is expected to have the innovative technology installed by mid-2018. One key milestone has already been reached: Lufthansa Technik is the first MRO company in Europe to have received the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from EASA to install a Ka-band antenna on the A320 family, i.e. the A319, A320, and A321 models. The STC serves to verify that the modifications to the aircraft (hardware or software) conform to the design specifications stipulated by EASA. Said specifications ensure aircraft’s continued airworthiness.
The first aircraft was equipped with the technology in June. In the coming weeks, the onboard system will be tested for functionality and stability. Lufthansa passengers will likely be able to use the new internet service from October. Other airlines in the Lufthansa Group will follow at a later date.
The future service from Lufthansa and its technology partner Inmarsat is based on the latest broadband satellite technology (Ka-band) and offers seamless, reliable coverage on short- and medium-haul flights through Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network. Passengers will be able to access the Internet using their own mobile devices via Wi-Fi. In addition to basic surfing and email, other more sophisticated applications will be possible, including video streaming. At a later date passengers will be able to use their cellphones for SMS and data transfer via their own mobile accounts.
Lufthansa Technik is responsible for installing all systems and components as well as for the works required to comply with aeronautical and statutory regulations. In Europe, this was the first successful installation involving the GX communications network and the Honeywell-designed Ka-band antenna. To install the system, electrical and structural modifications were required both inside and outside the aircraft cabin. All modifications were developed and approved by Lufthansa Technik’s licensed development unit. The installed components were integrated in the cabin infrastructure in such a way that they are virtually invisible for passengers and easy to operate by the cabin crew. The work can be completed in up to four days or during regular maintenance layovers.
Lufthansa Systems and Lufthansa Technik have also established a long-term partnership with global satellite operator Inmarsat in order to offer a modern, multifunctional onboard IT platform with broadband internet access to the market. Both the Lufthansa Group as well as airlines around the world will benefit from this strong partnership through comprehensive services.
Lufthansa carried out the world’s first scheduled flight with broadband internet access on January 15, 2003. Despite its growing popularity among passengers, the technically reliable service had to be discontinued in 2006 because the Connexion by Boeing satellites ceased commercial operations. Since December 2010 Lufthansa has once again been the first airline to provide broadband internet access on intercontinental flights. Since June 2015 FlyNet has been available on all 107 long-haul aircraft in the Lufthansa fleet. Lufthansa operates the world’s largest internet-connected long-haul fleet.

Lufthansa System Graphic

Shenzhen Airlines has selected Rockwell Collins’ full suite of advanced avionics and PAVES Broadcast overhead in-flight entertainment on 44 737 aircraft comprised of 37 737MAX and seven 737NG. Deliveries of the aircraft are expected to begin in July 2017. Among the Rockwell Collins avionics selected by Shenzhen include its MultiScan ThreatTrack weather radar, GLU-2100 Multi-Mode Receiver and TTR-2100 next-generation Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance traffic computer. “Commercial air traffic will continue to increase in the Asia-Pacific region and having advanced systems that Shenzhen can count on for more efficient flight, weather threat detection, precision navigation and aircraft avoidance will be essential,” said Jim Walker, vice-president and managing director, Asia-Pacific for Rockwell Collins.


The new Wi-Fi frequency standard (‘HaLow’) may be the solution to more range at less power for inflight applications. With double the range of existing antennas, it may be a solution inside long metal fuselages, that is, if it doesn’t interfere with any aviation systems that exist today. Approved with an eye for IoT Wi-Fi solutions, it may find a home on a future plane or at the airport.

The folks at PDT did a great job in finding new tech trends at the Aircraft Interiors and if you have not read it, you might check it out here: Aircraft Interiors Expo 2016 Trends | Product Development Technologies

If your future cell phone runs out of power on a flight, there may be a “solution”. Check out this link!

If you checked out this week’s BUZZ, you might have noted that Rich Salter was quoted mentioning the Lumexis Fiber Optic IFE solution – it’s no coincidence. It’s because, he is our technical commentator this week and thus is involved in IFExpress’s latest communication effort, YOURSpace. We initially called the project TekTalk, but later we thought that readers might have more to discuss than technology. But, more on that later. Lets start off with any final New Year’s Predictions from us and a couple from our readers.

More 2016 Predictions:

1. This will be the year for a real push toward inflight digital aircraft live data downloading and weather – watch Gogo and their existing ground-based communication network… not to mention newcomer SmartSky Networks (per Mary Rogozinski). Don’t forget the satellite networks too as real-time position tracking worldwide is required by 2018. Data transmission costs are going to have to drop but the value of inflight weather may offset it. See this week’s press release on Panasonic Global 4D Weather.

2. This may be the year for an aviation radio security hack… don’t think it can be done? Try this out.

3. With the next five years growth of the tech and media industry projected to grow by $500 Billion and there is no way the cabin technology can keep pace, there will be an unusual demand for inflight Internet and messaging. So much so that we predict that a big company in that space today (Like Google, Microsoft, or even Apple), outside companies who rely on the Internet and deal it to consumers for more hours than people sleep, will buy or replace certain inflight Internet provider(s) today and begin the implementation of a super Internet that will have cabin and cockpit ramifications!

4. Years back, Thales (we think) demo’ed a small OLED screen but they never rolled it out for the commercial passengers, as far as we know. But things are about to change in the personal connectivity device this year with the likes of Apple, Samsung LG and others we expect OLEDs to be a big deal. Consequently, 2016 will have an OLED solution in the passenger cabin, but we don’t know who and what as of yet!

5. One vendor will test and lab demo an 802.11ah new Wi-Fi router. The new Wi-Fi frequency standard (‘HaLow’) may be the solution to more range at less power for inflight applications. With double the range of existing antennas, it may be a solution inside long metal fuselages, that is, if it doesn’t interfere with any aviation systems that exist today. Approved with an eye for IoT WiFi solutions, it may find a home on a future plane or at the airport.

6. Christopher Elliott, Travel Write noted in an article he recently published – Travel Upgrades We Would Like to See in 2016 – “Free the Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi connection fees are the most hated charges among travelers, according to a recent survey by” “The notion that airline passengers have to pay for it is appalling,” says Megan Stetzel, a frequent traveler who writes a food blog. “For international travelers, Wi-Fi is their only way to connect with home to assure loved ones of safe arrivals or to look up hotels or transportation in the surrounding area.” “OK, maybe 2016 won’t be the year of free Wi-Fi, but more hotels are coming to terms with the fact that wireless Internet is a basic utility, like water or electricity. Charging guests extra for it is sure to trigger ill will,” stated Elliot.

7. Finally, not so much a prediction but rather a reality. With the development of devices like the SanDisk 200 GB Connect wireless stick, the need for onboard entertainment will be reduced even further with the evolution of these small form factor but large capacity carry-on devices. The SanDisk 200 GB can deliver simultaneous content for up to 3 devices wirelessly. Boy can we see some really useful and weird applications for this one! Check out this article: SanDisk Launches 200GB Connect Wireless Stick For iOS And Android Devices | Redmond Pie

Reader Predictions (anonymous & attributed):

  • “Over the next year we will see at least one mainland Chinese airline significantly enhance its service and brand, and join airlines like Singapore, Emirates and Cathay Pacific as one of the premier airlines in the world (from an in-flight experience perspective).”
  • “It seems the Amazon ECHO might be a great product for Etihad’s The Residence.”
  • “According to some sources, the release of spectrum in the 2.4GHz range for aviation is mostly focused on non-IFE systems. Things like Reading Lights, Attendant Call/Reset, PA, Emergency Lighting control, Galley status (water levels; coffee maker health; cart condition; etc.); Cabin Interphone; “Mood” lighting; etc. are being studied to go wireless and reduce overall weight of the aircraft. Internet and IFE are still too big bandwidth hogs to deal with currently. One hears that ARINC is studying how wireless can be both used and standardized for IFE and connectivity applications, but no one is saying where they are in the process. The impression is that it’s a new activity and I predict that inter aircraft wireless connectivity will be a big deal when it is integrated with IFE and passengers and the cockpit!”
  • “Beacon technology will be implemented on an aircraft in 2016! It will be used as much for counting, identifying and segmenting passengers as for pushing mobile ad campaigns.”
  • “Someone will develop a device to detect and notify crew of any personal electronic product lost or left on a plane!”
  • Certification of the wireless system onboard for flying over multiple countries could get a whole lot more complicated and expensive unless the ARINC CSS committee can put their strategy in place in 2016.” Rich Salter, CTO Lumexis


Well, we saved the best till last – the new IFExpress contributed editoral and it is called ‘YOURSpace’.

Yes, we want to try an experiment – your input. We want you to think about submitting a 300 to 500 word message in IFExpress.  After polling a number of our readers and advertisers, they jumped on the idea and we already have a number submissions to pass along to you and will do so in the coming months. Of course, we have the final say if your article runs but we expect nothing but good inputs for your story, message, sales pitch, inflight research project, future IFE view, industry observations, comments & suggestions, commendations… almost anything our readers might enjoy or find interesting. If you work for a company and want to write about your product, technology, or an industry issue; you will probably need approval, so make sure that you have your business communication group’s go-ahead, because once you submit your words to IFExpress and we approve them they will be published. Each YOURSpace feature will run for two weeks and after this introductory issue, YOURSpace will be located beneath the ‘Cabin Interiors’ section in IFExpress.

Basically, try to keep your words positive, after all, that’s what we try to do. Contact Patricia at if you are interested.

When we first presented the idea to Rich Salter, CTO Lumexis Corporation he responded as the first entrant and said: “Terry – this sounds like a great idea. Yes we are interested, and I’ll send you a 300-500-word draft shortly.” Three days later we heard from Rich. So without delay, here is our inaugural  ‘YOURSpace’ feature, submitted by Rich Salter, CTO, Lumexis Corp.

Title: Recent Advancements in Fiber Optics for Onboard Use


Fiber Optics continues to advance as an enabling technology for broadband networks onboard aircraft.

Comparing fiber to copper wiring, fiber is lighter weight, produces no electromagnetic emissions, and provides huge bandwidth.   Fiber technology continues to expand, with recent developments in the areas of expanded beam (EB) contacts for cabin use, MT contact for 12-ribbon cables, and plastic optical fiber (POF) for the 777X Arinc 629 databus backbone.


Our Lumexis Fiber To The Screen® AVOD system was the first IFE system (and still the only one) to use fiber optics all the way from headend to seatend.   Since 2000, we have been using OM4 multimode fiber for 1 Gigabit cabin networks, and we use the Arinc 810 standard contact, but we are not resting on our laurels…

Figure 1: Lumexis SSU uses purple fiber optic cables.

Figure 2: Lumexis VDU has two fiber optic inputs.

The Arinc/SAE Fiber Optic Subcommittee (FOS) headed by Bob Nye, Boeing, has written a series of Arinc specifications for fiber – these will teach just about everything that you will ever want to know about using fiber onboard:

  • Arinc 802 – FIBER OPTIC CABLE

But the technological advances do not the stop there – the Arinc FOS continues to update and expand these documents as the fiber technology evolves.   Here is a summary of some recent developments:

Expanded Beam termini

The FOS has recently developed a draft of a new standard for fiber optic contacts (termini). Arinc Project Paper 845 is the document that describes the new standard expanded beam (EB) contact that is intended to be even more immune from dust contamination in the cabin.

MT termini and ribbon fiber

For applications that require even more bandwidth, the mechanical transfer (MT) termini provides 12 fibers in a linear arrangement in a single contact, and 12 glass fibers in a ribbon or circular configuration make-up a single cable.   Arinc Project Paper 846 describes the MT termini.   By the way, the next FOS meeting is in Oxnard, California on January 26-28, and it is open to all – contact for more info.

Plastic fiber

Boeing has been working with plastic optical fiber (POF) for its Arinc 629 avionics databus backbone on the new Boeing 777X aircraft.   At the IEEE Avionics and Vehicle Fiber-Optics and Photonics Conference (AVFOP) in Santa Barbara, CA, in November 2015, Kien Truong of Boeing described their research into POF and their decision to use it for the backbone network in the new 777X aircraft.

Advantages of plastic fiber are that that it is even easier to work with and terminate into connectors than glass fiber, and it is less expensive; however, it is more lossy and therefore is limited to the shorter distance runs onboard.