As the weeks pass after a show like the recent APEX in Singapore, it is easy to start thinking about the next one; however, IFExpress will try to continue to cover some of the more important show participants and their new products, accomplishments, and sales. Importantly, a post show head cold and a recent election has caused focus issues in the past few weeks, but we are now in better control and we will start off with one show item that keeps coming back to haunt us – the concept of aircraft and Big Data. While IFEC is not the whole story, it is part of the issue, and over the last few weeks we have been doing our homework a bit on the subject. The folks at companies like Panasonic, SITA, Thales and many others have been chanting the “data” subject into our ears at each meeting – we really have been trying to understand the problems and potential solutions – and believe us, it is no easy subject, with few easy answers. A number of years back, Mark Thompson of Thompson Aerospace warned us of the impending data monster we were about to see but we had little idea at the time of its value and challenges. This data thing is not new but it is getting bigger!
Looking back to the late eighties, we saw a document developed about the importance of airplane data, in general, and how McDonnell Douglas was looking at the future of its importance in tying an airline together by connecting the “movable asset” back to the airline itself with the one connectivity-based solution available at the time – live, real-time data. Back in the day, the connectivity links were minimal but the requirement was still there.
Today, it is a cry that still is the important connecting piece of the airline business, but it is getting louder. However, we note, now it entails better connectivity, more information, passenger involvement, better worldwide connections, and generally more need for planning and action throughout the airline and passenger environment. Perhaps a computer programmer said it better than we could: “You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” – Daniel Keys Moran, an American computer programmer. Further, when you have 30 $250 million dollar assets buzzing around the world, data is the only way to see at any point in time, how your assets are delivering profits or losses. Further, it is a way to see what your customers are needing, in real-time.
We understand that we will not cover the issue in one IFExpress, and to that end, we have a few future interviews planned with IFEC companies and you will have the opportunity to see a bigger picture from them in the coming months. And speaking of ‘seeing the data’ issue, we really owe the folks at SITA a pat on the back for they have been trying to educate us on the value and need of standardized data.
Furthermore, not only satcom companies are part of the data solutions, as an example, the folks at SmartSky are developing a ground-to-air solution that may deliver the cheapest, and possibly the fastest over tera firma, data solution when it is up and running in the US. The point here is that data will be the driving factor when an airline executive or inflight passenger, or flight crew person, or a box on the plane needs to connect to a listener or data taker from the ground, and thus, it will be one of the next big things in our industry. Check out this Next Gen aviation connected electronic flight bag story;
With the growth of passenger data needs, the subject of data will become even a more important technology as time goes on. In SITAONAIR’s white paper published during the show, they noted that passenger connectivity is still the key motivating factor with airlines for adopting the service. Some 48% of their list of airlines in their study see it as the main passenger experience benefit. However, now some 20% of the airlines involved saw connectivity as a pilot and cabin crew enhancement driver, with some 15% seeing value in maintenance and ops monitoring. While a low number of planes today are outfitted with connectivity solutions, SITA expects three quarters will have some connectivity by 2017, and the big solution will happen by 2020 and some 12,500 planes will be so modified.
One big issue, notes SITA, is the lack of commonality or common standards in the aircraft data itself. Why is this important? We see it as a way to allow more entrants in the IFEC industry, more participants in the data business, more uses of the data itself, and a solution that becomes a standard where and when more people use it. Lest we forget, big data probably also means big bucks! If you want to see an example the application of common airport standards you might want to check out SITA’s AirportConnect Open.
Another area is the type of data from the various sources and its utility and application. The folks at Panasonic can see the data future and they call it “Big Data”. They envision the application of ground and inflight data as well as a lot more data applications from many sources – but we will have more on this subject in the future. We should also note that Thales has their version of big data and they are using their InFlyt Cloud for similar data solution for airplane data, metadata and big analytics. However, the message to folks in this business is perhaps, just perhaps, that the IFEC world might just be a smaller part of a bigger aviation world that uses data. It is a solution for bigger problems and future analysis – all way beyond IFE companies just selling hardware. Just possibly it may be the next generation of understanding about airplanes and passengers and the world of flying assets that are moving thousands of miles away from the home offices with hundreds of passengers all going to different places for many different reasons. Big Data has a future value that we don’t even understand today!
To make our point about where this is all heading, here is a very recent news release from Panasonic Avionics about their next generation of data connectivity solutions and it points out the widening of the acquisition of data sources sets the wider data picture being viewed by IFEC vendors. Said the release: ”The technology will enable the next generation of connectivity services to the aviation industry and multiple other markets.” The release went on: “Panasonic Avionics will implement Ericsson’s 5G-ready core solution through its subsidiary AeroMobile, a global inflight connectivity provider and registered mobile network operator. The contract is the first step of a long-term strategic collaboration between the two companies, which will focus on areas like 5G and the Internet of Things.” It went on: ”Panasonic Avionics can apply the 5G-ready core across a wide and ever-expanding range of markets, enabling connectivity for users not only onboard aircraft and ships, but also for the huge Internet of Things communication.” IFExpress notes the 5G is touted as the next generation of mobile technology because it “has the capability to radically lessen latency, accelerate download and upload speeds, enhance network reliability and spectral efficiency.” With this data, they also have the potential to support IoT development, by considerably escalating the number of devices that can connect to the network simultaneously.” Get the data picture? Stay Tuned on this one, soon we will talk more about data standardization and future data applications.
digEcor & IFPL
We like it when two companies in our industry combine their thoughts to develop a better product offering. We saw this during APEX Singapore this year when digEcor, in conjunction with partner IFPL, unveiled their GLIDE inseat power solution on AirAsia’s A320neos. The development effort was a collaborative one between digEcor, IFPL and Miras Aircraft Seating. The deal with AirAsia totals 55K seats and because AirAsia is a low-cost carrier they required a low-cost solution. This makes sense since inseat power is more and more significant as passengers are bringing their own devices onboard and the system is Wi-Fi driven by the onboard inflight connectivity. In fact, many LCCs are now looking to Wi-Fi for their IFE solution. From a hardware perspective, IFPL’s USB outlet is backlit and we understand that when power is available the unit is lit, making it easier for the passenger to find on the seat arm. If you are interested, we’ve attached images of the seat arm with the IFPL USB outlet and digEcor’s SEB!
Qatar Airways has implemented AeroDocs software from Arconics, a ViaSat company, to provide a single centralized repository to revise and track all operational and non-operational company manuals and documentation for operational readiness. The ability to create, author, edit and mark all changes in a visible manner over the web enables team members to easily keep abreast of, and be alerted to, relevant procedural modifications as and when they happen.
The Seattle Times wrote: “In a surprise move, Boeing announced Monday that Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner will step down from that position and be replaced by General Electric senior executive Kevin McAllister. In 2015, the Boeing board granted Conner a special award of 50,000 shares ‘to encourage him to forgo an opportunity to retire in the near future.’ With that award vesting on Dec. 1, 2017 provided he stayed at Boeing, it was expected that he would retire about then. Those shares are worth $7.35 million.” (Editor’s Note: Not a bad deal – $7 million & change for staying at Boeing for 2 years!)
Heard about Media Box? The Media Box, which Media Carrier offers as an exclusive service to tourism companies in particular, operates as a web-based service and can be easily and conveniently used with any web-enabled device. To download their preferred business magazine or their usual morning paper, guests connect to the Media Box of the airline or hotel and gain access to their own personal reading material. Newspapers and magazines are presented unabridged and in the same layout used in the print versions, and can be browsed through easily and intuitively – check out this image. Even after downloading, the downloaded publications remain available to the reader for an unlimited time. Established in 2011, the company is a subsidiary of the Munich-based MELO Group, whose central divisions are built on the two pillars: media and logistics. Media Carrier specializes in marketing and distributing digital content. It supplies the travel industry with e-papers through the Media Box. The digital media library is now successfully deployed with e.g. Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings as well as in more than 1,000 luxury and five-star hotels worldwide.
- Low cost carrier will fly equipped with Cobham’s market-leading four-channel SwiftBroadband system
Lyngby, Denmark | April 14, 2015– Cobham SATCOM has started deliveries to supply 150 of its market-leading four-channel AVIATOR 1200SP SwiftBroadband system to AirAsia. Enabling a state-of-the-art In-Flight Entertainment solution, the system was selected as part of the Tune Box connectivity solution for the leading Asian Low Cost Carrier.
The system, which consists of the Satellite Data Unit SDU-7330-4, the High Power Amplifier HPA-7450, the Type F Diplexer/Low Noise Amplifier and Intermediate Gain Antenna IGA-5001, had been trialled by Tune Box and AirAsia since early 2014. After completing stringent customer assessment, the system was certified through a FAA STC on the AirAsia fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft.
Willem Kasselman, Air Transport Business Development Director of Cobham SATCOM’s aeronautical business unit, said: “Cobham SATCOM is proud to be supplying equipment for this innovative connectivity solution that will set AirAsia even further apart from its competitors.
“It is further proof of the growing market confidence in the Cobham satcom systems, which provides value benefits and cost savings, such as low drag weight, low induced fuselage stress and exceptional low elevation angle coverage, all resulting in a higher performance satcom system.”
Using the SwiftBroadband flexible IP connectivity, the roKKi service developed by Tune Box offers passengers a complete In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system, with access to connecting flight information, hotel and car reservations as well as the ability to connect to their own Personal Electronic Devices.
Sami El Hadery, Executive Director of Tune Box, said: “We’re excited to be the first service provider to launch on-board Wi-Fi services with a four-channel SwiftBroadband system on a commercial airline. This four-channel system differentiates us from other airlines that use a single-channel SwiftBroadband system, as it allows us to support more passengers accessing Wi-Fi on board as well as additional next-generation revenue-generating services.”
Over 10 billion passengers have flown on Airbus fuel efficient aircraft
Toulouse, France | August 5, 2013– Airbus has delivered its 8,000th aircraft – an A320 for the Indonesian wing of AirAsia. The aircraft took off from Toulouse, France on Saturday 3rd August and arrived earlier today at its new base in Jakarta.
The delivery of the 8,000th Airbus aircraft highlights the manufacturer’s position as leader in the civil aircraft market, delivering airlines the most advanced, fuel efficient family of aircraft available today. The product line is also the most comprehensive ever offered by an aircraft manufacturer, covering every segment of the market from 100 to over 500 seats.
“AirAsia has a long-standing, special relationship with Airbus. This is a very special moment for all of us. The people behind Airbus and their commitment in delivering the best product are key to our fruitful relationship, and we are extremely proud to have the 8,000th Airbus as a member of our fleet. It’s the same pioneering, forward-looking mindset and a lot of hard work that have brought both AirAsia and Airbus to their respective leading positions today,” said Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia. “The excellent fuel efficiency and economics of Airbus aircraft are key contributors to AirAsia’s success – we are confident that these modern aircraft will enable us to continue our ambitious growth plans.”
“It’s particularly fitting that our 8,000th delivery goes to AirAsia – one of the world’s fastest growing airlines,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO. “In an increasingly challenging and diverse worldwide economic context, we are more than ever focused on delivering real value to our customers. We will achieve this by continuing to innovate, together with our customers, in all fields of the business to stay ahead of the game and offer the most efficient products and services.”
AirAsia Group is the largest low-cost airline in Asia and operates an all-Airbus fleet. The airline is the largest customer for the A320 Family, having ordered a total of 475 aircraft, comprising 264 A320neo and 211 A320ceo. Meanwhile, Airbus widebody aircraft are the choice of the group’s long haul affiliate AirAsiaX, which has ordered a total of 26 A330-300s and ten A350 XWBs. A total of 141 Airbus aircraft are flying today in AirAsia’s colours out of its 16 bases in the region, which include Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
The Airbus product line comprises the best-selling A320 Family in the single aisle market, the popular A330 and all-new A350 XWB in the mid-size widebody category and the flagship A380 in the very large aircraft segment. In the freight market Airbus currently offers the new-build A330-200F and the A330 Passenger-to-Freighter (A330P2F) programme. Over 13,000 Airbus aircraft have been ordered and 8,000 delivered to nearly 500 customers and operators worldwide. Every two seconds an Airbus aircraft takes off or lands.
– Another major order for ongoing growth at Asia’s largest low cost carrier
Toulouse, France | December 13, 2012– AirAsia, the largest low cost airline in Asia, has placed a new order with Airbus for 100 more A320 Family aircraft. The contract covers an additional 64 A320neo and 36 A320ceo aircraft for operation across the carrier’s network.
The order was announced during a visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron to the Airbus wing manufacturing facility at Broughton in the UK, where Mr Cameron witnessed the signing of documents by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia and Fabrice Brégier, President & CEO, Airbus.
The contract reaffirms AirAsia’s position as the largest A320 Family airline customer in the world. Altogether, the carrier has now ordered 475 single aisle aircraft from Airbus, comprising 264 A320neo and 211 A320ceo. Over 100 aircraft have already been delivered to the airline and are flying out of its bases in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Manila and Tokyo.
Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia said during the signing: “We have three gold mines in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. On the other hand, Philippines and Japan have enormous potential growth. With these added aircraft, it goes in-line with our strategy to further build our already extensive network through new routes and added frequencies and allow AirAsia to maintain its market leadership.”
“AirAsia is one of the great success stories of recent years in the airline business,” said Fabrice Brégier, President & CEO, Airbus. “The repeated confidence the airline places in the A320 is a clear endorsement of the reliability, efficiency and unbeatable operating economics offered by the world’s most modern single aisle product line.”
AirAsia’s all-A320 fleet currently flies to some 70 destinations on a route network spanning 20 countries across Asia. In addition, affiliate AirAsia X operates widebody A330-300s on longer services from Kuala Lumpur to Northern Asia and Australia.
The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling and most modern single aisle aircraft Family. To date, more than 8,800 aircraft have been ordered and over 5,300 delivered to more than 380 customers and operators worldwide.