Airbus and Boeing are going head-to-head for the lead into the MoM market and the airlines are looking for a midsize plane that costs less and will seat somewhere between 225 and 270 passengers, and fly nearly 5000 miles, in roughly 9 hours. Imagine a chart where the vertical axis represents the number of passengers/payload while the horizontal axis represents nautical miles/range.

Before getting into the plane action, lets review the Middle of the Market we keep referring to (MoM) – and here is the view from the folks at Boeing. Picture the middle market as a big oval that covers passenger capacity/load of 175 to 375 passengers and a range of approximately 3,000 to 6,000 nautical miles. However, this market is so large that it also includes jetliners at both the smaller end and larger end of the scale. The oval pictured in the link above represents the “new midsize airplane sweet spot”, which is more like 200 to 275 travelers in a two class configuration, with a reduced range of 3,500 to 5,500 nautical miles. Interestingly, the only current plane that is in this newly identified midsize market circle is the twin-aisle B767-200, which hits the oval target just about dead center!

Boeing is developing a business case and solution for the MoM  demand and their answer is a new development that some call the B797X. The real issue is twin aisle versus single.

Now, lets look at where the single aisle B737 MAX series planes are with respect to the midsize sweet spot – where, no doubt, the action will be for the next few years. Remember, we are focusing only on Boeing in this issue, but we will talk a bit about Airbus in a later Hot Topic.  Here is where the Boeing “bottom” of the MoM plane products are today:

Boeing B737 MAX 7
1 Class Seating Config. – 150 Pax.
2 Class Seating Config. – 138 Pax.
Max. Seating Config. – 172 Pax.
Range – 3,800 NM
Wingspan – 35.9 M / 117 ft. 10in.
Length – 35.6 M / 116 ft. 8 in.
Height – 12.3 M / 40 ft. 4in.
Weight – 177,000 lbs.
Price – $92.2 Million

Boeing B737 MAX 8
1 Class Seating Config. – 174 Pax.
2 Class Seating Config. – 162 Pax.
Max. Seating Config. – 200 Pax.
Range – 3,620
Wingspan – 39.5 M / 117 ft. 10 in.
Length – 39.5 M / 129.8 ft.
Height – 12.3 M / 40 ft. 4in.
Weight – 181,200 lbs.
Price – $112.4 Million

Boeing B737 MAX 9
1 Class Seating Config. – 204 Pax.
2 Class Seating Config. – 178 Pax.
Max. Seating Config. – 220 Pax.
Range – 3,595 NM
Wingspan – 39.5 M / 117 ft. 10 in.
Length – 42.2 M / 138.4 ft.
Height – 12.3 M / 40 ft. 4in.
Weight – 194,700 lbs
Price – $119.2 Million

As we noted earlier, the “new midsize market” is a smaller circle on the pax/range chart and the existing single aisle aircraft are right on the edge. Some experts are noting that the “new” midsize market concept could be difficult for Boeing because of existing B737 landing gear length limit problems coupled with the desired take-off rotation increase due to a longer single-aisle body – not to mention the new wing length needed for more load lift and potential composite additions to reduce load weight.

While looking at an estimated 2025 entry, Boeing has some time to make the decision, but they will have to consider other aspects such as aircraft model growth, fuel burn, and competition. Furthermore, we understand that over 60% of the operators want a twin-aisle wide body versus a single-aisle narrow body, with seating expectations covering 150 to 249 pax – but the jury is still out on models and respective seat numbers.

If you remember the B757 (single-aisle) and the B767 (twin-aisle) were designed to cover a larger flight range and passenger payload solutions at each end of the payload vs. range spectrum. We now have the requirement that Boeing focus on the center and build one plane (with derivatives) to solve the “market gap” problem and that will probably include more passenger comfort and expanded IFEC capability. IFExpress is betting on a twin! Further, the Boeing 797X will likely cover the 220-260 seat capacity with a designed range of some 4,500-5,000 nautical miles. But the big deal for Boeing would be the possible $150B in potential revenue!


Rockwell
Rockwell Collins will now bring high speed, secure worldwide KA-band connectivity to government aviation customers by expanding its Value Added Reseller (VAR) arrangement for Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) service. Rockwell Collins has already been providing GX and JX services to commercial and business aviation customers through previous VAR agreements.


SITA
Meet Kate! SITA Lab, which explores the future of technology in air travel, has unveiled KATE, an intelligent check-in kiosk that will autonomously move to busy or congested areas in the airport as needed, promising to relegate check-in queues to the past.

Using various data sources – including flight and passenger flow information – KATE can identify where additional check-in kiosks are required to reduce passenger queue times at check-in. KATE uses existing SITA data systems such as Day of Operations Business Intelligence and FlightInfo API.
Multiple robotic kiosks can be automatically or manually deployed simultaneously and in formation to assist passengers, providing airports and airlines greater flexibility in managing peaks in passenger flow. The kiosks can also communicate through a Cloud service to ensure that the right number of kiosks are at the right position when needed, making them highly responsive to changes in the airport. A design patent application for the kiosks is currently underway.

Renaud Irminger, Director of SITA Lab, said: “The peak and troughs in the flow of passengers presents a challenge to many airlines and airports and we have been approached by many customers requesting a solution. They want kiosks which can be easily deployed when and where they are needed. Building on SITA’s successful AirportConnect Open platform, and our previous work with robotics, KATE leverages new technologies to provide operators much more flexibility and efficiency in the way they will use their kiosks in future.”

SITA’s cutting-edge robotic kiosk makes use of geo-location technology to find its way through the airport. KATE will use Wi-Fi to connect to vital airline and airport systems, dispensing with the need for cabling or other fixed attachments. This allows the kiosk to move around freely across the airport terminal, using obstacle avoidance technology to avoid bumping into people or things.

KATE and her fellow robotic kiosks will automatically return to their docking stations when they are low on power or need to be resupplied with boarding passes or bag tags.

One of the key benefits of SITA’s autonomous kiosk is that it can be deployed anywhere inside the airport as well as other offsite locations such as train stations. This is particularly relevant during periods of disruption – such as weather delays or flight cancellations – where additional kiosks can be moved from landside to airside to check-in large numbers of rebooked passengers. KATE provides passengers access to her easy-to-use interface to check-in and print bag tags.

KATE follows in the footsteps of LEO, SITA’s fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot launched at the 2016 Air Transport IT Summit in Barcelona, Spain last year. For a better view, check out this video – https://youtu.be/oQ69r-2VX-I


AIRBORNE WIRELESS NETWORK, CA was granted experimental operating from FCC to launch ground/flight testing (using two Boeing aircraft) of its demonstration system as part of development of Infinitus Super Highway air-to-air communication system. Further they have been granted a certificate by the FCC that will allow it to conduct ground and flight tests of their demonstration system of the Infinitus Super Highway, a high-speed broadband network that will link commercial aircraft in flight.


BOEING
Boeing All-Electric Satellite for SES Will Help Improve In-Flight Connectivity and Enable Other Traffic-Intensive Data Applications. Built for SES of Luxembourg, the 702 satellite is Boeing’s fifth with all-electric propulsion; design includes metallic 3-D printed parts.

The satellite will bolster connectivity for Wi-Fi and entertainment services on flights over North America, Mexico and Central America. It will also serve the government, enterprise and maritime sectors. This 702-model satellite also demonstrates that using 3-D printed parts can improve affordability and production. More than 50 such metallic parts are on the vehicle in the primary structure.

This is the fifth Boeing satellite to be deployed with a highly efficient all-electric propulsion system.

SES-15 has a hybrid payload, including additional Ku-band wide beams and Ku-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capability, with connectivity to gateways in Ka-band.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) safety efforts will also benefit from the satellite as SES-15 carries a Wide-Area Augmentation System (WAAS) hosted payload for the FAA.

SES has ordered 12 Boeing satellites since 1990, including SES-15. SES-15 is the operator’s first 702 all-electric satellite in its fleet.


Gogo
Global broadband connectivity provider Gogo Business Aviation is announcing that German aircraft manager and charter operator K5-Aviation is its first 2Ku business aviation customer in Europe.

2Ku is a unique, dual-antenna system developed by Gogo to bring global streaming-capable internet connectivity to large aircraft. The technology benefits from global coverage and the redundancy of more than 180 satellites in the Ku-band.

Also today, Gogo is unveiling a new suite of smart cabin systems – SCS Elite and SCS Media. Both are highly integrated cabin in-flight entertainment and voice solutions that can be personalized to fit the specific needs of passengers on a given flight.

SCS systems, according to Gogo, “can be installed on virtually any plane, big or small, flying anywhere around the globe, and we created it to be a simple, powerful way to integrate all the necessary technology on board for an enjoyable passenger experience.”

Also, If you are interested in who the travelers of tomorrow are, why their inflight preferences matter, why being mobile is so important to future travelers, expectations around future connectivity, and what role personal devices play in flight – check this download out from Gogo: Global Traveler | Gogo . We should also note that Gogo has been chosen by Airbus as a lead supplier for its High Bandwidth Connectivity (HBC) program. Being part of Airbus’ HBC program means airlines can place future aircraft orders with Airbus and have Gogo’s 2Ku technology installed at the factory on all major fleet types. Those aircraft are then delivered with the technology already installed and ready for service on day one. We wonder what Boeing is gonna do?

In this week’s edition of IFExpress we have Gogo, APEX, Boeing and a few other bits of information – so let’s get started!

Gogo
Gogo is announcing K5-Aviation as its first 2Ku business aviation customer in Europe, marking a significant milestone for the company. The first airframe in business aviation that will fly with Gogo’s 2Ku technology is an Airbus ACJ319 operated by K5-Aviation, a leading operator of ACJ aircraft, based in Germany. Fokker Services B.V. managed the 2Ku installation design and system integration including the EASA STC. Installation was performed at its facilities in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands.
“This is a great day for K5-Aviation because it brings Gogo’s newest technology to our cabin which means our passengers can stay connected almost anywhere we fly around the globe,” said Luca Madone of K5-Aviation. “Productivity during flight will increase with 2Ku, which will allow our passengers to drive their business forward even when traveling. They will also have the ability to live stream news, entertainment and sporting events.”

Gogo’s 2Ku technology delivers industry-leading performance globally, which means passengers can do the same things they do on the ground. For business aviation, that means live video conferencing, fast Internet browsing and streaming video. 2Ku is designed to take advantage of innovations happening in space and is compatible with newer high-throughput and low-earth orbit satellites when they become available. This means the technology will get better in time without having to touch an aircraft. This flexibility means Gogo’s customers can be confident the system is future ready and ahead of the curve from a technology perspective.

2Ku is a unique dual antenna system developed by Gogo to bring global streaming-capable Internet to large aircraft. The technology benefits from global coverage and the redundancy of more than 180 satellites in the Ku-band. With more than 170 systems installed today across eight airlines on five continents, and more than 1600 total aircraft awarded to 2Ku across 14 of the largest airlines around the globe, 2Ku is one of the most successful in-flight connectivity products ever developed.

We further note that Gogo discovered that nearly 50 percent of millennial travelers expect their connected experience in the air to be the same as on the ground. This key finding from Gogo’s Global Traveler study The Travelers of Tomorrow shows that connectivity anywhere and everywhere is no longer a hope, it’s an expectation. This study uncovers in-flight connectivity trends from “future travelers” between the ages of 18 and 35, because their preferences will ultimately shape the future of travel. “Passengers simply expect more from inflight connectivity today — no longer is there a distinction between enjoying movies at home, sending emails from a café or binge watching at 35,000 feet,” said Alyssa Hayes, Director of Insights at Gogo. “As our research suggests, younger travelers are most comfortable with headphones on, laptop open and smartphone in hand. As the leader in inflight connectivity, we can help airlines keep pace with passenger expectations now and in the future with Gogo 2Ku high speed connectivity.”

Not only are these passengers expressing hopes for the future, but they also are making travel decisions today based on connectivity:
While 90 percent of future travelers have a preferred airline, 48 percent said they would choose another airline if Wi-Fi was not available on their preferred flight.

Future travelers are more likely to multi-task on their devices during flights with 46 percent of the 18 to 35 age bracket using Wi-Fi and watching a movie or show on their device compared to just 33 percent of travelers older than 35 doing so.

Ninety-two percent of future travelers are interested in using their own device in flight, and 48 percent said they prefer to stream their own content to their own device.

Sixty-three percent of future travelers think more flights should offer Wi-Fi, and 56 percent of them use their smartphone on the plane compared to just 27 percent of older travelers.

Gogo’s 2Ku technology allows passengers to have the same experience in the air as on their couch at home. The new technology enables streaming video, fast browsing and multi-device viewing. 2Ku can be found today on more than 170 aircraft across several global airlines. More than 1,600 total aircraft are slated to receive the technology representing 13 global airlines.

The Travelers of Tomorrow study is the first of the 2017 Gogo Global Traveler Research Series, Gogo’s global study that examines travelers’ inflight habits, behaviors and preferences. It covers 15 countries across six regions around the world and includes data collected from more than 4,500 travelers who flew within the last year. To learn more, visit gogoair.com/globaltraveler

We should also note the following: Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. announced that its in-flight connectivity (IFC) solution demonstrated unprecedented end-user throughput of over 100Mbps in Gogo’s live airborne media and investor event. Gilat’s airborne modem powers Gogo’s 2Ku service and will be installed in over 1600 aircraft across more than 13 airlines, commencing this year. On May 9th 2017, Gogo hosted a major, high visibility industry event on their Boeing 737 test plane, the “Jimmy Ray.” Analysts and media applauded Gogo’s 2Ku system and Gilat’s modem, which demonstrated over 100Mbps performance. This is acknowledged to be the highest performance ever achieved onboard a commercial aircraft, as well as demonstrating continuous service with excellent user experience. The test flight not only confirmed its noteworthy throughput and user experience, but also successfully demonstrated interoperability capabilities of Gilat’s aero modem with the aircraft’s Communication (IFEC) avionic system. As previously announced, Gogo selected Gilat to provide the onboard VSAT modem and satellite baseband infrastructure for its next generation IFC solution. The recent flights were done upon completion of Supplement Type Certifications (STC) for this system for Boeing and Airbus aircrafts.


A Possible InFlight Electronics Ban
While the US Government has neither confirmed or denied the possibility of an “All Europe” inflight laptop ban into the US, it is expected this month, although some experts question whether it will be as extensive as all inclusive as the one from 10 Middle East airports today. Also unknown if the rumored laptop exclusions will be surrendered at the gate or relinquished to the baggage hold during check-in at the ticket counters – not to mention flights that progress through European airports. We want to point out that banned  PED (iPads, tablets, laptops) types are an unknown at the time of this writing. But if you think about it, getting your data on a phone and learning to love IFE again, might be a good idea. We do know that London’s Heathrow has begun the process of early screening, but like everybody else – they are waiting for the US to demand the change.


APEX And The Electronics Ban
APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association), a four-decade old international airline trade association, called for a hold on the electronics band expansion to Europe as (they) hosted a biometrics workshop with major airlines and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (U.S. DHS) Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP).

Speaking at the Aviation Festival Americas with more than 60 airlines, APEX CEO, Joe Leader, pushed suggested “green listing” passengers as cleared to carry electronics on restricted routes through the biometric facial recognition initiative being put forward by the U.S. DHS CBP in place of the electronics ban.

“Having the electronics ban spread to the European Union for flights to the United States would damage the personal freedoms integral to international air travel. We must stand together with government solutions for personal electronics that enable both security and accessibility for our airline passengers worldwide,” said Leader. “Biometric identification of passengers that are pre-cleared to travel with electronics would enable a viable potential solution with the U.S. DHS CBP ready to provide immediate technological facilitation.”

APEX sounded the alarm in March when the airline electronics ban started as we warned that it could easily spread as reported today. In the United States alone, carriers in less than 30 days have removed more than one million annual passenger long-haul seats  from the airports affected by the United States electronics ban alone.

“As the leading international airline association focused on passenger experience, APEX has actively and repeatedly expressed that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.K Department of Transport should institute government approved solutions for electronics rather than the existing airline electronics ban.” Leader stated. “Fighting potential threats means finding government solutions that do not take the laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, and large phones out of the hands of the millions of law-abiding passengers that use them every day. We owe our air travelers worldwide the best options to make their flights enjoyable and productive.”

Results from APEX’s Global Passenger Survey released last year, show airline passengers frequently bring their personal electronics devices on-board aircraft for use in-flight:

  • 43% of worldwide airline passengers bring a tablet device on-board with 70% of these passengers using their tablet device in-flight;
  • 38% of worldwide airline passengers bring a laptop computer on-board with 42% of these passengers using their laptop in-flight; and
  • 22% of worldwide airline passengers bring e-Readers on-board with 77% of these passengers using their e-Reader in-flight.””

You might also want to read this ExtremeTech piece on the subject as they point out that a cabin full of laptops placed in cargo containers just might put another problem in a place (in the baggage hold) where fire control may have limited capability to affect a potential disaster. US Considering Banning All Laptops on Flights From Europe – ExtremeTech


Boeing
The fourth Boeing [NYSE: BA] Inmarsat-5 satellite, which was launched yesterday, will noticeably expand the high-speed broadband service available through Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network after the satellite becomes fully operational later this year.

The Inmarsat-5 satellites are uniquely able to provide seamless communications coverage through fixed and steerable beams that can be adjusted in real time to accommodate demand surges. “Inmarsat-5 F4 joins our existing Global Xpress constellation, which is already being adopted as the new standard in global mobile broadband connectivity by companies, governments and communities around the world,” said Michele Franci, CTO, Inmarsat. “Boeing has been an outstanding partner in our journey to make Global Xpress a reality.”

This is the fourth Inmarsat-5 satellite Boeing has built for Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network. After reaching its final orbit, the satellite will undergo testing and checkout before being declared operational. “Our partnership with Inmarsat has enabled the creation of the world’s only commercial global, mobile Ka-band network,” said Mark Spiwak, president, Boeing Satellite Systems International. “This unique achievement is an example of Boeing’s continuing commitment to deliver reliable, affordable and innovative solutions for our customers.”

Boeing has a strategic marketing partnership with Inmarsat and currently provides both military Ka-band and commercial Global Xpress services to U.S. government customers.

For more information on Defense, Space & Security, visit www.boeing.com.

Boeing and Primera Air today announced an order for eight 737 MAX 9 airplanes, valued at more than $950 million at list prices. The agreement also includes purchase rights for four additional 737 MAX 9s and a lease agreement for eight more airplanes from Air Lease Corporation.

The 737 MAX 9 will form the backbone of the low-cost airline’s future as it seeks to commence flights between Europe and North America. Primera Air plans to use the MAX 9’s auxiliary fuel tanks to lower trip costs and maximize the range to accommodate flights connecting Europe to the east coast of the U.S.

“The 737 MAX 9 will allow Primera Air to open up nonstop, long-haul routes from Europe to the U.S. with unmatched economics,” said Andri M. Ingolfsson, President, Primera Air. “This aircraft has a lower per-seat cost than the current wide body aircraft servicing the transatlantic and the capabilities of this aircraft type will change the economics of the industry. This will open up fantastic possibilities for growth for Primera Air in the future.”

Scandinavia’s Primera Air is an all-Boeing carrier currently operating a fleet of nine Next-Generation 737-700s and 737-800s with flights to more than 70 airports in Europe. Primera Air is part of the Primera Travel Group that operates travel agencies and tour operating companies in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Estonia.

The MAX 8 and 9 will be followed in 2019 by the smaller MAX 7 and higher capacity MAX 200, while studies and customer discussions continue on further growing the family. The 737 MAX incorporates the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market. The 737 MAX has accumulated more than 3,700 orders from 87 customers worldwide.


Delta orders 30 additional A321s
Delta Air Lines has placed an incremental order for 30 firm A321ceo aircraft. This order follows three previous Delta orders for the Current Engine Option version of the largest Airbus A320 Family member. The airline took delivery of its first A321 in March of last year. Delta now has ordered a total of 112 A321s, each powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International.

All of Delta’s A321s will feature fuel-saving Sharklets – lightweight composite wingtip devices that offer up to 4 percent fuel-burn savings. This environmental benefit gives airlines the option of extending their range up to 100 nautical miles/185 kilometres or increasing payload capacity by some 1000 pounds/450 kilograms.

Many of Delta’s A321s are being delivered from the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama. The airline received its first U.S.-manufactured A321 last year. By the end of 2017, the Airbus facility in Mobile is expected to produce four aircraft per month, most going to Airbus’ U.S. customers.

As of the end of April, Delta was flying a fleet of 187 Airbus aircraft, including 145 A320 Family members and 42 A330 widebodies.


Rumors
A rumor monger told us that this past Thursday was a bad day for a large IFEC outfit and that 45+ folks on the West Coast were let go, as well as, at least 25 on the East Coast. We won’t mention names as our request for more information was ignored.

A total of 450 airline experts are attending one of the world’s largest airline IT user conferences to find out about the latest innovations in the digital world of aviation.

Raunheim, Germany | May 8, 2017– “Spice IT up! – Digitalization and beyond” is the motto of the Lufthansa Systems Airline Forum, which starts today. A total of 450 participants from around 80 airlines worldwide will learn about the latest developments in the portfolio of the airline IT specialist. The focus is on Commercial Planning and Operations solutions from the NetLine and ProfitLine product lines. “This industry meeting, which is traditionally held in the Lufthansa Training & Conference Center in Seeheim, is one of the most important events in the airline IT sector,” said Ulrike Behrens, Head of Marketing at Lufthansa Systems, who organizes the Airline Forum. Lufthansa Systems advises and supports airlines in their digital transformation. The aviation IT experts show what sustainable airline processes can look like and provide hands-on support to customers in implementing their projects.

“Digitalization has a significant influence on working processes, business models and our daily life. This applies to the aviation industry as well. The core of our company strategy is to put airlines in a perfect position for the digital future,” said Olivier Krueger, CEO of Lufthansa Systems. “We are delighted to welcome so many of our customers’ representatives to the Airline Forum again this year.”

The keynote speech will be held by Lufthansa CIO Dr. Roland Schuetz. Other customers will also have the opportunity to speak and report on successful projects, including United Airlines and the Israeli airline EL AL. The next two and a half days will be devoted to some 80 lectures and workshops as well as personal conversations with product experts and other airlines. Attendees can put together their own individual program from a comprehensive range of topics. The focus will be on new product developments and innovations in the NetLine and ProfitLine product lines, which will be introduced by experts from Lufthansa Systems and its industry partners.

Automation and integration are key aspects in this context. Modern technologies make it easier to collect and evaluate data in order to identify anomalies and automatically learn from them or carry out certain actions. But it is also increasingly important for IT solutions – especially in the field of operations – to be able to share this data and interact with one another in order to make the best decisions and optimize processes. Communication also plays an essential role in the digital world. It should be fast, simple and possible from anywhere. Mobile solutions and a user-friendly layout help meet these demands.

“At the Airline Forum, we present new industry trends and product portfolio developments to our customers. We also want to talk with them about market challenges, new technologies and smart solutions for their specific requirements,” said Stefan Auerbach, CEO of Lufthansa Systems.

The Market Place provides plenty of room for this dialog. This is where Airline Forum participants can try out the product innovations for themselves right after the sessions. Their feedback is critical to the further optimization of Lufthansa Systems’ products.

This week IFExpress features a few more AIX booths we visited, as well as, a bit more news. Keep your eyes on TelefonixPDT for greater market penetration and on digEcor for the same – there is a lot happening and we will have more in the coming weeks.

1. TelefonixPDT

TelefonixPDT is like a Swiss army knife – they have a solution for virtually every IFE hardware challenge! IFExpress had the opportunity to catch up with them during AIX earlier this month. As always, the company exhibited some great hardware components including some new iterations, specifically from their Summit Product Line. Now, Let’s look at some of the individual products that we saw in their booth.

CabinACe-2 WAP:
From an airplane perspective, TelefonixPDT has finalized an STC on the 737. In fact, CabinACe-2 Wireless Access Point (WAP) is the first commercially available ARINC 628 compliant 802.11ac, Wave 2 product for commercial aircraft wireless environments. The CabinACe-2 WAP enables the highest capacity performance and efficiency in extremely high-density environments for enhanced connectivity and passenger experience. The new WAP features a small footprint and low power consumption making it suitable for both linefit and retrofit installations. With a concurrent data rate of 1.73 Gbps in 5 GHz and 800 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz range (aggregated date rate of 2.5 Gbps), the CabinACe-2 product delivers next generation performance for passengers. Oh and by the way, TelefonixPDT told us that customers can use the STC for free!

CabinPinnacle:
CabinPinnacle general-purpose airborne server/router is a complete, highly integrated, application-ready platform for Ethernet-based network installations. The server integrates a quad core 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of DDR3 memory and supports connectivity and bandwidth demands utilizing features such as an L2/L3 managed Gigabit Ethernet Switch with eleven externally available Gigabit Ethernet ports. Designed specifically for aircraft environments, this ARINC 600 4MCU form factor includes six ARINC 429 channels, 20 aircraft discrete I/Os, and integrated self-healing health monitoring. The server also supports both Linux and Windows operating systems as well as the availability of integrated software APIs for maximum flexibility. The company told us that they are in the process of finishing linefit offerability at Boeing and in the near term the product will be offerable both linefit and retrofit for both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The system architect, Eric Tartar said, “The CabinPinnacle is the Swiss Army Knife of routers! And as customers need it, we will add features.”

CabinEdge:
Another product that we found interesting was the CabinEdge stand-alone content loader that supports network delivery of In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) content and is meant to be permanently installed on cabin monuments. The content loader utilizes small form factor, low-cost, commercially available USB “thumb drives” as the content transfer medium. The unit loads digitally stored, encrypted content in the background in an unattended fashion. A keyed tumbler lock provides security and ensures that loaded content remains secure until the next update. Simply installing the small form factor USB drives and closing the interface door automatically sends the signal to the onboard software to “mount” the drives and begin the process of loading content to the front end server. The onboard software automatically cross-checks with the locally stored content and updates files as required at better than USB 2.0 speeds.

Encompass:
One of the more surprising products that we saw from TelefonixPDT was Encompass – a portable, low-cost, full-featured, wireless IFE product. The TelefonixPDT Encompass server is a small form factor, wireless IFE system designed to meet the requirements of short term aircraft trials and long term IFE solution needs. The unit’s small size and weight make it perfect for deployment in overhead storage bins; and with 12 hours of continuous battery operation, this open source solution is not only easy to operate, but is also easy to customize to meet airline needs. Software SDK is available to quick-start DRM and content management application and high capacity SSD storage ensures that there is ample content for streaming to passenger devices. Without the certification requirements of traditional embedded solutions, the Encompass all-in-one server is a solution that minimizes cost while still delivering the quality experience.

Editor’s Note: The Encompass is basically a portable server/WAP that the folks at TelefonixPDT note was redesigned after a number of application trials. They told IFExpress that they integrated the charging bay(s) into the unit. With the application of external power, the unit can charge its internal batteries while on the airplane. We note that there will probably be more one-box systems flying on more and more single-aisle aircraft in the near future and we see this as an evolving technology trend. Historically, this trend started back with the portable single-box IFE solutions (think AirFi). IFExpress believes this product is an excellent solution for the business jet wIFE market.

CabinVista:
The last component of the Summit Line that we saw was the CabinVista Cabin Control Panel. The panel interfaces directly with the IFEC. This multipurpose product can be used as the primary control mechanism to the passenger IFEC system and to initiate PA announcements and cabin chimes. The CabinVista unit also provides 2 external interfaces to allow for uploading and downloading content to onboard servers via USB thumb drives.

Lastly, we should note that TelefonixPDT is continuing their expansion into Europe and Asia. They have arrangements in place for a manufacturing facility in China that should come online before APEX of this year. The company will still maintain their manufacturing facility in the USA to sell to other markets, while the China manufacturing facility will focus primarily on the growing Chinese aviation market.

2. digEcor
IFExpress had the opportunity to touch base with David Withers CEO of digEcor during the AIX extravaganza. David told us that it has been four years since he purchased the company and that their focus since then has been on developing modular and flexible product offerings to the aviation industry. They have achieved this by leveraging on the digEcor product, introducing LED lighting and power; as well as, enhancing the GLIDE product offering and the Wi-Fi feature to their roster. “We want to offer modular and flexible solutions that any airline can use,” said Mr. Withers. “Wi-Fi has a place in our industry, especially alongside power.” Power at the seat is the highest demand and the company has been focusing on how to integrate power easily into their offering.

digEcor had a key new customer announcement during the week – Air Tahiti Nui for the rollout of their ENGAGE cabin crew mobile solution. David Withers, digEcor Chief Executive Officer said, “ENGAGE has many benefits including access to passenger information and preferences, efficient service recovery, electronic forms and messaging.”

The company also had a few announcements regarding their GLIDE offering, including a milestone of delivery of the Integrated Flight Experience into the market, launching four new product lines including: Passenger Service Solutions (crew call, reading light and optional audio controls), LED Cabin Lighting, Cabin Management as well as digEcor’s own Moving Map product. Additionally, Corendon, a leisure based airline in Turkey, selected the GLIDE embedded system solution for their Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The new system will replace their legacy tape-based IFE offering. Mr. Withers told IFExpress, “The GLIDE embedded system is a leading component of digEcor’s Integrated Flight Experience comprising IFE, in-seat power, LED cabin lighting, passenger services, crew applications, cabin management, tape replacement, Wi-Fi streaming and content services.”


Other News:

Gogo
Gogo announced that veteran financial leader Barry Rowan was to join the company as an Executive Vice President and will assume the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on May 4, 2017 following the Company’s first quarter earnings report. Rowan will lead Gogo’s financial operations, which includes financial planning and analysis, accounting, treasury, tax and investor relations. He will report to Michael Small, president and CEO.

Rowan has more than 30 years of financial management experience including a track record of success leading public companies.

Also, Gogo and global satellite operator SES announced a new capacity deal to enhance in-flight connectivity services for key air travel routes over North America and the Pacific Ocean. As part of the new agreement, Gogo has leased all available capacity on SES’s AMC-4 satellite, which SES will move to a new orbital location to serve flights to, from and within the states of Alaska and Hawaii, flights along the west coast of the U.S. and over the Pacific Ocean.”SES has a global fleet of over 50 GEO satellites in orbit, and will be launching five more satellites this year, three of which have massive throughput payloads. SES is one of the global operators who can quickly and effectively move existing assets and scale up across regions and routes where connectivity demand is on the rise. This robust global network of scalable, flexible satellite capacity enables SES to stay ahead of the ever-growing demands and requirements of the aero industry,” said Elias Zaccack, Senior Vice President of the Americas region and Mobility Solutions at SES. “With the recent launch of the SES-10 satellite, SES will place AMC-4 in an orbital slot to meet the growing demand for Gogo’s inflight connectivity services and allow us to further expand our alliance.”

SITA
Bologna is the first Italian airport to install SITA’s Scan&Fly units. The new bag drop units will initially be used by low-cost carrier Ryanair before being extended to other airlines. Bologna Airport is a fast-growing hub for Ryanair with more than 20 destinations and 170 flights a week. SITA is a global provider of award-winning bag drop solutions. Airlines and airports globally have welcomed the high-quality interface of Scan&Fly, the ease of its retro-fit and the ability to fully integrate with the SITA AirportConnect common-use platform.

AirFi Box IFE streaming platform now features latest Hollywood movies, hit TV shows, viral videos, best-selling digital newspapers and magazines without requiring passengers to download an app.

  • AirFi Box security approved by leading Hollywood Studios and other major distributors
  • Premium Content packages affordable and easy to modify or update for airlines, while studio content remains safe from piracy
  • Partnership with LA-based boutique CSP West Entertainment instrumental in creation of premium offering.

Berlin, DE | April 24, 2017– AirFi, the market-leading provider of portable onboard Wi-Fi platforms to airlines, today announced that has launched an innovative and truly economical new range of curated Premium Content packages for all airline customers.

AirFi and West Entertainment, the LA-based boutique content service provider founded by industry innovators Rick Warren and Kate Groth, have collaborated closely to tailor an offering of premium movies & TV content designed to meet AirFi’s diverse client portfolio requirements. From this offering, airlines can build their own packages of content based on passenger demographic, budget, content renewal cycles, viewing data, or other criteria.

“AirFi encouraged us at West Entertainment – as well as the wider international content community – to collaborate and find new ways to keep pricing as lean as possible for even their smallest airline fleet operators. We examined ways to supply without the need for DRM protection where possible, thus avoiding the hassle of airlines having to introduce native apps for passengers to view the content onboard. We’ve been delighted with the response.” said Kate Groth, VP Everything, West Entertainment.

Job Heimerikx, CEO AirFi commented: “Having now grown to 30 airline clients, we’re even more dedicated to keeping the AirFi passenger experience the best in the industry. That means considering all demographics, regions, languages and technologies. We can now offer a full suite of international entertainment options, sourcing premium content from leading movie studios, TV distributors, online news & entertainment platforms and digital publishing houses. As ever, it is also our mission to translate this into simplified and highly competitive pricing.”

In recent months, AirFi secured formal security approval from a number of key IFE content suppliers, including major and independent Hollywood studios and TV distributors. Increasingly, these content sources are providing their premium content to AirFi without DRM (digital rights management) or by using AirFi’s “app-free” technology, where DRM is required.

Packages consist of new release and classic feature films, top-rated television box-set and catch up series – where comedies, dramas, documentaries and kids programming feature highly.

“We based our new Premium Content offer on three simple tiered-pricing levels that start as low as €500 per package per aircraft per month,” says Heimerikx. “We can then flex these to meet individual airline requirements. Over half of our client base immediately responded with requests for proposals and our first Premium Content customers go live in May this year,” he adds.

United Kingdom | April 6, 2017– STG Aerospace is delighted to announce that its saf-Tglo® SSUL (SuperSeal UltraLite) PatternMatch™ option has been selected by China Eastern Airlines for the retrofit of 125 of its Boeing 737NG aircraft, as well as becoming line-fit for its latest new aircraft deliveries from Boeing.

The first 737 aircraft will be delivered from Boeing in June 2017, and the first retrofit kits have already been dispatched to China Eastern.

saf-Tglo® is the market leading photoluminescent emergency floor path marking system, fitted to in excess of 11,000 aircraft worldwide and is the system of choice for almost every major aircraft manufacturer. Maintenance free and with no life limit, saf-Tglo® SSUL is the next-generation photoluminescent system providing the lightest, narrowest and most discrete solution of its type available.

PatternMatch™ is the first photoluminescent system to exactly match the colour and pattern of the carpet, making it virtually invisible under normal daylight conditions and the optimal choice to perfectly compliment the aircraft cabin. Only in the event of a lighting system failure does the system glow in the same way as the standard system to perform its function of illuminating the path to the exits. PatternMatch™ is available either with a standard “green” glow, or alternatively with STG Aerospace’s unique blue-glowing system.

Mr. Fang Zhaoya, the Vice President of Eastern Airlines Technic Co., Ltd. commented “It is our goal to provide the best possible cabin environment for our passengers and as soon as we saw PatternMatch™ we knew we wanted to incorporate it into our 737 cabin upgrade programme. Because we could also choose it for our new aircraft orders from Boeing, we achieved our aim of a consistent brand feel across new and existing aircraft.”

STG Aerospace Sales and Marketing Director, Marcus Williams, added “We love it when a long-term customer like China Eastern Airlines places their trust in us to support such a prestigious cabin upgrade programme, and PatternMatch™ will deliver the customer’s goal of a discrete but safe solution to emergency exit guidance. Their decision is a validation of their trust in STG Aerospace and further evidence that our product development is truly meeting Chinese customer needs.”

In 2015, STG Aerospace launched STG Aerospace (China) Co., Ltd. in Shanghai. In addition to supporting the company’s existing customers in the country, this Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise is also working with the local aviation industry to tailor STG Aerospace products to the region’s specific requirements.

STG Aerospace has won eight consecutive Boeing Best Performance Awards since 2009.

Service will increase passenger engagement and enable airlines to generate ancillary revenues through branded content
Hamburg, DE | April 4, 2017– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) today announces an exclusive partnership with M-Biz Global, the world’s largest mobile gaming solutions provider, to deliver a customizable and branded HTML5 games service to its airline partners.

The service will enable airlines to offer passengers fully customizable game graphics as well as the ability to re-label branding assets for over 60 existing games. This enables a highly effective and engaging way to communicate promotions to passengers and creates an opportunity for airlines to drive ancillary revenues through game sponsorships.

Uniquely, Panasonic’s inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) technology will also enable airlines to swap out game assets dynamically and cost effectively during a flight. The games will be uploaded via the airline branded portal on the aircraft without having to download any plugins or applications onto the passengers’ personal devices.

Scott Scheer, Director, eXTV and Ancillary Services at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “We are focused on creating and developing partnerships that allow us to enhance the passenger experience and drive new revenue opportunities for our airline customers.”

“Our partnership with M-Biz Global enables us to rapidly deliver fun, compelling games that capture the passengers’ attention while opening new promotion and advertising channels.”

Hyong Kim, President of M-BIZ Global comments: “We have optimized Panasonic’s world-class IFEC systems with fun and entertaining games, one-to-one game competitions, group contests, rewards and viral through social media features.

“These will all be delivered through ‘skinnable’ HTML5 games, and we believe the branded content within them will achieve higher engagement, click-throughs and conversions with users helping airlines drive passenger engagement, brand loyalty and ancillary revenues.”

· Panasonic’s NEXTTM IFEC platform developed specifically in response to current generation’s trends and challenges
· Enabled by the Panasonic ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships
· System powerfully combines hardware, software, and functionality to provide a tailored solution to airlines
Hamburg, DE | April 4, 2017– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) today announced its NEXTTM inflight entertainment and communications (IFEC) platform – the company’s newest and most powerful IFEC solution.

The NEXT platform is designed to help airlines overcome key challenges by transforming typically rigid entertainment systems into a flexible IFEC platform. Panasonic is introducing a scalable IFEC solution with the NEXT platform, which blends the latest in inflight entertainment technology, connectivity services, and consumer technologies to help airlines reach their business objectives. This approach helps airlines maximize their investment by dramatically extending the lifespan of the IFEC platform.

Because it is both modular and scalable, the NEXT platform creates an easy-to-use, tailored passenger environment that helps airlines meet their existing and future business objectives, maximize passenger engagement, enhance passenger and crew convenience, and ultimately increase efficiency.

A key differentiator with the NEXT platform is its ability to help airlines maximize their investment by keeping IFEC perpetually and contextually relevant. It blends the latest advances in consumer technology, including 4K screens, Light ID, Bluetooth, and much more, backed by an intuitive interface that is simple for all passengers to use.

The value of the NEXT platform is increased exponentially by Panasonic’s integrated ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships. This industry-leading ecosystem includes the company’s second generation global connectivity network which, when coupled with its new modem technology, provides up to 250 megabytes per second of connectivity to an aircraft.

The powerful combination of the NEXT platform and Panasonic’s global, integrated ecosystem will create an Internet of Me experience for passengers. It will seamlessly integrate with the company’s companion app technology and Panasonic’s ZeroTouch™ service to add higher levels of passenger personalization including previewing of content and other amenities on their flights, creation of playlists that will transfer from one aircraft to another, and even content on demand experiences.

The NEXT platform also incorporates Panasonic Integrated Marketing Services (PIMS) – an advanced global marketing platform and the largest inflight marketing solution in the industry. PIMS delivers only highly targeted, high value marketing services to passengers, which will keep passengers immersed and engaged in destination services, retail therapy and other onboard applications while delivering increased revenue opportunities to airlines and their partners.

Hideo Nakano, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “Today isn’t the launch of a new IFEC product; it’s about a new way of doing business. The NEXT IFEC solution is a business platform that has been built to respond to the trends and challenges that airlines face. It is about innovating with purpose to create a bespoke offering that is aligned with our customers’ business models, increasing their efficiency and enhancing their inflight experience.”

Nakano continues: “The value of the NEXT platform is greater than the sum of its parts. Our global connectivity network, weather services, and maintenance organization are all key examples of how our services and products have evolved into an integrated ecosystem that will exponentially increase the value the NEXT platform delivers to airlines and their passengers.”

Panasonic’s NEXT platform will be available for all widebody and narrowbody airframes, including the Boeing 777X.

A unique Business Class offer…

Hamburg, DE | April 4, 2017–
Officially launched at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg on 4 April 2017, Zodiac Seats latest product Optima is expected to set a new standard in business class travel.

Combining class leading passenger experience and improved cabin efficiency, through a unique cabin configuration that mixes in-line and angled seats, Optima can offer the uncompromised business class solution that the market was expecting.

An elevated business class experience comes from direct aisle access for every passenger, large surface areas, extensive stowage options and configurable privacy. Thanks to its seating arrangement and electrically actuated privacy screens, Optima offers an exclusively private environment for travelers wanting to relax and unwind, or passenger interaction for those travelling together.

With bed lengths up to 83.5” and the option for a centerline double bed, Optima creates a sleeping experience for travelers that would typically only be associated with First Class Travel.

However, Optima’s unique quality is that while it pays close attention to the needs of its passenger, it never forgets the requirements of airlines; to increase their profitability through increased passenger count. The unique cabin layout, originally designed by Acumen, allows airlines to maximize their revenue potential, offering 15% more seats in the cabin compared to standard business class products.

Optima can be tailored to the brand of any airline; thanks to its modular architecture. A variety of optional product features and customizable areas, allows each customer to embed their brand identity. This design ethos has been integrated into the product from its origination, building upon Zodiac Aerospace’s heritage and experience in manufacturing bespoke premium aircraft cabin solutions.

The perfect marriage of empathetic design and innovative engineering, Optima is the dawn of a new era in Business Class Travel.

Launch of the new Amazon Alexa Skill from Spafax marks an IFE industry first.

London, UK | April 4, 2017–Global content, entertainment and media agency Spafax announced today its new Spafax Profile Skill for Alexa, Amazon’s revolutionary voice-activated personal assistant. This fun, interactive service will be the latest addition to Spafax’s successful Profile entertainment personalisation platform.

Set to debut at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, the Spafax Profile Skill combines Spafax’s proprietary entertainment technology and Amazon’s open APIs to create a dynamic voice-activated personal assistant with complete knowledge of an airline’s entertainment offering. Passengers will be able to ask Alexa about what movies, television shows and music will be available on their upcoming flight, get detailed information about individual programs and more.

“The Spafax Profile Skill will further enhance the pre-flight experience, a key point of contact between airlines and their customers,” said Kevin Birchmore, Director Sales, Technical Products & Solutions, Spafax. “We’re always looking for ways to evolve our digital products and the Alexa Skill is very much in line with our vision for passengers to interact with an airline brand across multiple platforms and services.”

“We believe conversational technology represents a powerful tool to reimagine the customer experience and we’re thrilled to offer our clients this new and exciting way to engage with their passengers,” said Tony Taverner, Chief Technical Officer, Spafax.

In the next few years, airplane passengers will be seeing a lot of changes to the process of flying from point A to point B. On the surface, they won’t notice a lot of difference in the mechanics of flight transportation, but it is what is going on behind the scenes, especially in the IFEC world that will have changed significantly.

Passengers will still use their personal devices on the ground to obtain a ticket, they will be using their devices to check-in and board planes, and they will still be using all sorts of portable devices while inflight. While recent rules of onboard laptop usage might be restricted for security reasons (APEX News Release), globally there is too strong a need to manage and organize one’s life with the aid of a portable phone or connected personal device, including laptops. Why? With the technological advancements of the modern portable device, be it smartphone or wearable, people everywhere are demanding more data in order to stay connected and informed. Face it, installed inflight telephony; think Claircom, Inflight Phone and GTE Airfone, in the 1990’s delivered scratchy voice connectivity when compared to flying with a smartphone today. Passengers utilizing the connectivity options available to them now; whether it be voice, data, or streaming entertainment to their PED, experience a quality of service that far exceeds those provided by their connectivity predecessors. However, there is room for improvement given the ever-increasing demand for a larger pipe and more information to flow both too and from the aircraft.

Panasonic’s NEXT ‘Platform’

The next step is what this article is about. The Panasonic development of the next generation system is the focus in this week’s IFExpress. While Panasonic entertainment and communication products have evolved with the data need, the solutions moved from analog to digital because the answer for more ‘everything’ is an electronic one that includes both hardware and software. Thus, the next generation IFEC system from Panasonic is coming to the front of technology and, naturally, it is called the Panasonic NEXT Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity System.

According to Panasonic, The NEXT IFEC platform was developed specifically in response to current generation’s trends and challenges. The system powerfully combines hardware, software, and functionality to provide a tailored solution to airlines. More importantly, it’s enabled by the Panasonic ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships. More on this later.

Panasonic’s vision with the NEXT platform was to help airlines overcome key challenges by transforming typically rigid entertainment systems into a flexible IFEC platform. With NEXT, Panasonic is introducing a scalable IFEC solution that blends the latest in inflight entertainment technology, connectivity services, and consumer technologies to help airlines reach their business objectives. This approach helps airlines maximize their investment by dramatically extending the lifespan of the IFEC platform.

A key differentiator with NEXT is its ability to help airlines maximize their investment by keeping IFEC perpetually and contextually relevant. It blends the latest advances in consumer technology, including 4K screens, Light ID, Bluetooth, and much more, backed by an intuitive interface that is simple for all passengers to use.

The value of the NEXT platform is increased exponentially by Panasonic’s integrated ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships. This industry-leading ecosystem includes the company’s second-generation global connectivity network. More on this in a bit

To quote Panasonic; “By taking advantage of connectivity technology, today’s leading airlines are delivering experiences onboard unimaginable just ten years ago.” But note, improved connectivity to the plane is the first step in the process and Panasonic has been working this part of the solution for a number of years now. With the launch of numerous satellites with space/data allocated for Panasonic’s aviation use, the company claims worldwide connectivity coverage. Furthermore, they currently have over 1,600 aircraft with an installed base of satcom. It is also significant to note that the future of this connectivity service is not solely for passengers, especially in Panasonic’s eyes. Notes Panasonic: “Our connectivity service is configurable based on the airlines business objectives – the experience they want to offer their passengers and their operational data requirements … we will get back to the second part of this statement later. However, it is clear that both coming solutions will change the world of passenger and operational data.

The operational side of the equation includes: safety, operational performance, and real-time updates of hardware on much of the airplane that ordinarily would only be checked on the ground or during ground testing. This is a game changer for the airlines as well and Panasonic has planned services that will reshape the management of maintenance. Both airline and passengers will benefit from this real-time analysis. Hardware data analysis and tracking/reporting of onboard system monitoring and security analysis will improve airline operations and possibly ground operations, service times, turnaround and potentially inflight operations as well. Passengers get more data, ground and airborne interaction with the airline… not to mention more movies, more and better data services, which all add up to happier passengers and more profit potential for the airline. If this is not a big to deal to airlines now, it soon will be!

 

What is Changing?

We have mentioned what the passengers and crew get from a new technology and data driven system, so now let’s specifically look at the NEXT System or ‘platform  being developed by Panasonic. First, because the system is in development for the Boeing B777X (-X8 & -X9) and because this competitive solution is probably a tight competition, we cannot talk too much about the system capabilities. You can find out more about the Boeing 777 transport aircraft here. However, this might be a good time to note the Boeing future aircraft development possibilities. The Boeing B777-X8 is touted to be an approximately 350-passenger plane, while the B777-X9 is more like a 400+ passenger plane – and we understand that both are in the 2020+ development window. Obviously if the Panasonic NEXT ‘platform’ were to be for both aircraft models, a modular and scalable approach would be perfect for hardware, software, design, manufacturing, installation and even certification.

A good example of the integration of Panasonic technologies into the NEXT System is the ZeroTouch service, which was debuted at AIX Hamburg in 2016, and will definitely be integrated into the NEXT Service offering. Here is what Panasonic says about it: “The ZeroTouch Service Vision: Panasonic’s ZeroTouch service will reduce an airline’s need to physically touch the aircraft because all interactions are managed through a virtual dashboard. By providing access to real-time passenger data, software, media and content updates can be data-driven, helping to deliver a relevant and personalized passenger experience. Updates will be sent to an aircraft via three high-speed pipes – Wi-Fi at the gate, aircraft cell modem, or even in flight using Panasonic’s global broadband eXConnect service.” They went on to say: “When combined with dynamic content updates, the ZeroTouch service will offer an improvement from an airline’s traditional 30-day media update cycle by enabling live updates to data and files stored on a Panasonic inflight entertainment and communications system. Applications such as movies, games, advertising, live news, and more will be automatically loaded at any time, over any available communications pipe to an entire fleet. Strategic planning also will be made easier through the actionable insight solution provides. Airlines are presented with both a detailed picture of their aircraft and a broader overview of their fleet. This allows more informed decisions to be made in media consumption, system health monitoring, aircraft maintenance, and much more. The service automatically downloads critical operational data during flight meaning maintenance teams are notified of upcoming tasks and are able to prepare solutions prior to landing. Today Panasonic is in Phase One of its ZeroTouch service initiative, and is already delivering payloads of up to 700 Megabytes to aircraft over cell modem and its eXConnect service multiple times per day.”

 

What Is NEXT?

It is scalable, it is modular and NEXT is for widebody, narrow body, everybody!

Again, we should emphasize that the Panasonic NEXT System is considered to be a ‘platform’ by the company,  and this point was continually stressed throughout our discussions with them. There are several  reasons for this platform approach that make sense from a product and certification point of view: 

1. Because the new plane system will comprise multiple capabilities and offerings, different airlines will require different solutions; therefore, it has to be modular, and thus the ‘platform’ solution fits the general description of the Panasonic offering. By considering NEXT a ‘platform’ Panasonic can offer solutions with modular upgrades and/or product dash numbers that might include different software and/or hardware features. Here are a few that they specifically mentioned: aircraft and system monitoring, BITE, Maintenance centers and data communication, actionable analytics, passenger data integration software and solutions, and on and on. This ‘platform’ solution will keep potential certification issues at a minimum as they will not have Model/Box Numbers, but rather the ‘platform’ will only need the added box/software/card certs. This is only IFExpress’ speculation but if certification issues can be reduced, costs will be too.

2. The future of these airline/airplane required and selected capabilities, data storage, and management functions may make a ‘platformed’ system available as a design concept for other aircraft! A perfect example will probably be the Boeing 797 (the next, bigger-than-the-B737 plane) the potential Boeing midsize aircraft that is the required airplane series to address the ‘Middle Market’ – 4500 nm to 5500 nm sweet spot and carry somewhere between 180 to 280 passengers. The significant issue is that the NEXT platform will be scalable to address all different aircraft model types – single aisle, twin aisle, and the elusive middle market aircraft of the future. This will allow airlines to scale their systems depending on route, aircraft size, and demographics, while maintaining a ‘commonality’ across their fleet and it is NEXT’s modularity that allows this to happen.

Make no mistake, the NEXT platform will incorporate an improved modem for their new view of passenger and airline connectivity needs. Here is what Panasonic says: “The combination of our new modem results in the biggest improvement in connectivity Panasonic has made since the start of our service. It provides up to 250Mbps for passenger data, a 20x improvement in speed compared to our first-generation modem. Our connectivity service is configurable based on the airline’s business objectives – the experience they want to offer their passengers and their operational data  requirements!” Once again, it is the modular and scalable nature of NEXT that facilitates this choice by the airline.

To get a better idea of their improvement planning, here is their view of their IFEC product performance development:

Generation 1 (2009 – 2015)

Experience – email, social media, web browsing, 9 channels global TV, 2G mobile service, average 250Kbps speed/Up to 1 Mbps burst speed

Enablers – Global wide beam network, BC-01 (Up to 12 Mbps)

Generation 2 (2016 – 2018)

Experience – Rich web applications + light video streaming (i.e. YouTube) + 20 regional channels of regional live television + 3G mobile service + average 5 Mbps speed + up to 15Mbps burst speed (Editor’s Note: Be sure to make note of the plus signs!)

Enablers – Wide beam network + HTS, BC-03 (Up to 250 Mbps, 800GB SSD, 200 eXW SD Media Streams), cWAP (802.11ac), Dual panel or Single Panel Antenna

Generation 3 (NEXT)

Experience – Up to 250 SD media streams (i.e. Netflix, Hulu) ++

15 channels of HD live television ++ 4G Mobile service ++ Average 10 Mbps speed ++ Up to 250 Mbps burst speed (Editor – We assume the ++ means “plus and in excess of…”)

Enablers – Wide Beam Networks + HTS = XTS, BC-03 (Up to 250 Mbps, 800GB SSD, 200 eXW SD media streams), cWAP (802.112ac), Dual Panel or Flat Panel Antenna

Perhaps this is a good time to mention the industry activity surrounding the timing of the NEXT rollout in the future B777X program and a good place to start is ARINC and the ARINC CSS (Cabin Systems Subcommittee) workings. From their website and discussions with members, we see that ARINC has a lot of IFEC members hooking up with this subcommittee and their definition states clearly why: 

Goal: Passenger entertainment equipment is subject to frequent upgrades on the airplane. The goal of this AEEC activity is to develop cost effective equipment and valuable network infrastructure for the airlines to cope with the rapid and evolving electronics/entertainment industry that will exceed passenger expectations. This includes interface standards to allow airlines to implement preferred systems for their passengers. Cabin communications, connectivity, wireless distribution, cabin interface protocols, and connector standardization are all intricate components of this activity.

Scope: The scope of this project is to develop next generation standard cabin interfaces that will provide airlines with freedom of choice in the installation and expansion of cabin equipment. IFE, communications, interface protocols, seat integration issues, and connectors and cables standardization are also a part of this activity.

Benefit: Cabin systems provide entertainment and service improvements to the passenger. To keep up with passenger’s desire for better accommodations, systems are becoming more sophisticated and complex. Home entertainment and office type computing systems and peripherals are finding applications in the cabin to facilitate data handling and data link to the ground. The growing complexities and scope of cabin equipment has resulted in the expansion of ARINC 628. New series of specifications are added as new concepts and next generation systems and networks are developed. The benefits of the cabin standards are numerous. They provide the airlines freedom of choice, unit price reduction through increased volume, interchangeable spares, more upgradeable options, and creation of more sub- markets for integrators and software/hardware suppliers. These benefits are being realized on the new aircraft programs, possibly regional and business jets, and retrofit aircraft programs. The final message here is to keep your eye on this organization and its findings and reports as the next generation of IFEC is going to be outlined by this group!

Additionally, and because of the newer tremendous connectivity capability coming down the pike, IFExpress should mention cybersecurity and while Panasonic did not specifically mention the subject to any extent during our conversation, we know their engineers are very aware of the issues involved with improving passenger and plane connectivity.  We expect a big focus on keeping airplane data safe – both now and in the future. Some recent internet stories featured airplane hacking but Panasonic security people denied the reported ‘hacks’ and said: “The responsibility for security does not solely rest with an (in-flight entertainment) manufacturer, an aircraft manufacturer, or the fleet operator,” noted a company representative. “Each plays an important role in assuring a secure environment.” Further they called the news reports ‘misleading’ and ‘inflammatory’ and noted; “That one could use the exploit to steal credit card information is simply not true.” Further, Panasonic says it continually tests the robustness of its systems, and that it complies with or exceeds all regulatory requirements, which include regular third-party tests. After visiting their manufacturing and test labs, we believe they work to keep their systems hack free and we expect the new systems to move to the next level up the security chain.

While a few Boeing airplanes were mentioned, Airbus is the other solution that will no doubt seize the opportunity to take advantage of better passenger connectivity and improved inflight plane data but at this time we feel they are interpreting their market properly with the planes they have. Wait one year or two and this will probably change. For example, the Airbus A350 is a logical future prospect for ‘backbone improved’ data channeling and airline profit improvement based upon more and better connectivity and improved plane information updates.

And lastly, we should mention that other vendors are not asleep to this technology revolution and we feel based on interviews that they too see the value in building modular systems. Needless to say, we expect to see some of their developments at this week’s AIX. Readers might want to pay attention as the race for better, faster IFEC is going to eclipse everything currently in this industry in the next few years and note that the competition has moved into a new phase where both airlines and passengers will be the winner. Much of this will be achieved by the OEMs and IFEC companies working together to focus on the ever-developing ground-based technologies that have so far surpassed what traditional IFEC has been able to offer to airlines and passengers due to the lengthy certification process. With an ever-increasing installation base of satcom equipped aircraft and passengers bringing onboard data rich and powerful PEDs, such as the smartphone, a new window of opportunity has opened to our industry with the ability to be able to interact with those devices. We may finally see the ever-elusive connected travel experience become a reality. Stay Tuned!

 

France | March 27, 2017–
XPlore by PXCom goes beyond destination content

XPlore by PXCom is an end-to-end solution, focused on destination content, deals & services, that enables content creation, aggregation and management on the ground and automatically generates the inflight apps or updates for the inflight apps, that are aimed at being integrated into the IFEC platforms. 11 airlines currently benefit from this highly innovative solution for the destination content management.

Beyond destination content, XPlore by PXCom now encompasses all the inflight digital experience: airlines can choose to change both the UX and the whole digital content management, in a few clicks.

Personalizing inflight experience

PXCom’s technical teams have integrated “tags management” into XPlore by PXCom. The displayed content (e.g. restaurant list, things to do at destination, movie categories…) is automatically adapted to the passenger’s preferences. “Such feature is especially adapted to w-IFE/IFC portal, since we log in the passenger’s device all the settings. Thanks to that, from one flight to the next one, on the same airline, the passenger can browse tailormade content”, states Olivier HELIOT, PXCom’s CTO. ”Personalizing the inflight experience is a fantastic challenge, for which PXCom is committed to bring easy-to-roll-out solutions to its airlines partners.”

Introducing SkyHi Reviews

SkyHi Reviews is the ability given to the passengers to rate during their return flight, the activities and points of interest mentioned in PXCom’s inflight destination guides. Since the reviews need to be controlled to avoid any trouble, they are off-loaded from the aircraft at its landing, controlled and aggregated in the next content update delivery.

World culture at PXCom

Last year at the APEX Expo, PXCom announced the partnership with Ctrip’s Bamboo Compass, enlarging the scope of the destination content to Asia.

AIX Hamburg 2017 is the opportunity given to PXCom to jump into Middle East culture, as the company launches a new interactive app for IFE platforms, called “Hajj & Umrah Preparation”. “Hajj & Umrah is an important journey for all Muslims in the world. It’s a once in lifetime experience, but involves an important preparation from the pilgrims to perform the rites in the right way” explains Cyril JEAN, PXCom’s CEO.” Hajj & Umrah represent 15 million of pilgrims each year, and 2 million can be welcome at the same time to Mecca. Hence, it’s mandatory that PXCom be able to support airlines in providing the right content at the right moment for their passengers.

PXCom will exhibit this year on French Pavilion in the IFE Zone, booth #3C40-B

We have a lot to review this week so, for the sake of organization, let’s cover it all alphabetically. Here we go!

1 – Astronics
Below are a couple of product offerings that Astronics AES will be exhibiting at AIX Hamburg at Stand 3B30.

  • UltraLite System
    The Astronics EmPower® USB “UltraLite” System is an innovative passenger In-Seat Power System (ISPS) architecture that provides High Power USB (HPUSB) using zonal power converters. This architecture is a departure from the traditional seat-mounted power supply. The result is a system providing lower cost, lower weight, and less impact on passenger foot and baggage space when compared to traditional seat based architectures.
  • Wireless Charging Module
    The new wireless charging module from Astronics will also be on display at Aircraft Interiors Expo. This innovative product is able to charge passenger Wireless enabled SmartPhones and supports a large charging area. The module is intended to be installed in multiple seat locations and provides up to 15W power per module. This new product meets both Qi and PMA wireless charging standards. The small form factor allows for a wide array of installation locations and is easy to install. (Editors Note – We want to see this one and we promise a future story on it!)

2 – IFPL

IFPL are excited to be demonstrating their high value contactless payment PIN on screen system at AIX 2017 on stand 2C10. Using the IFPL NFC payment system, passengers can quickly and securely buy not only low-value items such as beverages and food, but higher-value items including perfume, luxury gifts and high-end audio technology. The higher-value purchases are enabled by using an additional card holder verification method to allow high value transactions; the contactless limit is usually around $30 (depending on the card issuer). By utilizing PIN on-screen technology, IFPL is able to offer this step change benefit to airlines and enable them to increase their ancillary revenue. IFPL use a secure kernel embedded into the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) that is located in the processor of the seatback monitor. This offers the same level of security as the traditional Point of Sale (POS) terminal, that enables both online and offline transactions. Using the IFPL Near Field Communication (NFC) contactless payment module, the TEE payment solution allows airlines to process compliant EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa) transactions without compromising confidential cardholder data or PIN. The PIN on screen payment system is one of our latest innovative products that IFPL will be demonstrating at AIX 2017.

3 – Lufthansa Systems
At this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Lufthansa Systems is presenting the new generation of its multi-award-winning BoardConnect wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) platform, with new features and a new user interface. Visitors can also find out about the mCabin product family, which offers new functions and additional apps to drive the digitalization of crew processes. Visit Lufthansa Systems from April 4–6 at AIX at stand #2E24.

New release:BoardConnect 5.0
BoardConnect enables passengers to stream content from an airline’s entertainment offering to their own tablets or smartphones during a flight. The BoardConnect product suite is available in three hardware versions. In addition to the permanently installed classic BoardConnect IFE solution, there is also the flexible BoardConnect Portable version. It combines all of the technical components in a single device which can be installed quickly and easily on any aircraft. BoardConnect Portable received the Crystal Cabin Award at AIX 2016. The third option available is the BoardConnect Plus connectivity solution. Lufthansa Systems is responding to the growing demand for new on-board digital services by further developing its software – with the new BoardConnect 5.0, which runs on all three versions of the system. BoardConnect 5.0 features a fresh design with a new user interface and an open platform architecture.

New products from the mCabin suite
Lufthansa Systems is also presenting new products from its mCabin suite at AIX. Passengers and crew members now expect digitalized services on board like those they use on the ground – but many airlines haven’t reached this stage yet. Mobile solutions for the cabin crew optimally support airlines of all sizes and business models in the digitalization of their on-board processes.

mCabin/Library+ brings together all crew documents in a digital form. This includes crew manuals and airline-specific information. An easy-to-use document management system also keeps the documents up to date and facilitates the search for specific information. The mCabin/Messenger service connects an airline’s cabin crew and ground staff based on their respective functions. This enables colleagues to communicate even if they don´t know each other by name. mCabin/CityGuide is an exclusive travel guide platform for crews with local information on all of an airline’s destinations, including organizational details about layovers such as contact details, crew hotels and pick-up times, as well as personal tips from the crew relating to excursions and restaurants, for example.

4 – P3
P3 aero systems has developed an outstanding set of services and methodology which, for the first time ever, will allow the complete analysis, simulation, testing and optimization of wireless networks within commercial aircraft cabins already during the early phase of cabin definition. P3 aero systems combines P3’s 20 years of global expertise in both fields of aerospace and telecommunication industries. Once being given an early configuration and layout, P3 aero systems can reliably model the wireless cabin and the potential risk of interference much prior to the aircraft delivery. For that matter wireless networks such as IEEE/Wi-Fi (2.4/5/60GHz), BT (2.4GHz) and 3G/LTE/5G were evaluated in relation to performance requirements, user functionalities and passenger experience. P3 has become a global player in both fields of defining, testing and improving mobile communication networks in the aviation industry coupled with global STC capability through part 21J design organization approvals held, enabling also advisory and technical solutions for a range of aero products. P3 will located be at stand 2C50 and in the IFEC zone.

5 – PXCom
At Hamburg AIX 2017, Vision Systems will unveil a new release of its IFE solution called Visi-Stream, that ensures a high passenger satisfaction and ancillary revenues. It comprises Wi-Fi AVOD with a rich and varied content including movies, music, games, daily press, extensive tourist information and ticketing. Advertising can be global and local, and priority data flows for safety videos put the tablets on hold. Options include broadcast or connectivity as well as remote diagnosis, software and content updates via a ground platform. The IFE manufacturer has decided to integrate XPlore by PXCom, the end-to-end solution that enables digital content management on the ground, and automatic roll- out on the onboard servers.

6 – Rockwell Collins
Aircraft Interiors Expo attendees are encouraged to visit the company exhibit at #4C40 in Hall B4 or schedule a meeting by contacting Rockwell Collins (CabinSystemsEvents@rockwellcollins.com) to learn more about our Cabin Solutions portfolio, including:

Broadband connectivity services, featuring Inmarsat’s Global Xpress for the most extensive and consistent global coverage of airline routes and the fastest broadband in the skies, as well as applications for crew connectivity, real-time credit card authorization and wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE)
Wireless IFE, bringing Wi-Fi accessible audio video on demand content in flight Venue™ high-definition cabin management and entertainment system that delivers a wide range of features and technology to satisfy the most discerning passengers Airshow® 3D, the industry’s most widely used and award-winning moving map to keep passengers informed throughout their flights Passenger Services System (PSS), a lightweight, low-cost reading light and cabin crew call system with optional USB charging port AirVueTM interactive, a touchscreen kiosk designed to provide passengers with wayfinding, news, weather and other information as they move through the airport and beyond A new electronically scanned array (ESA) antenna design supporting extreme high throughput (EHT) and global coverage in a smaller, lighter and lower profile package.

7 – Telefonix PDT
Located in Hall B2, Booth # 2D70 Telefonix PDT will be highlighting a number of product feature enhancements at this year’s show, including product and certification updates to the company’s Summit line of IFEC hardware. 

8 – True Blue Power
TC280AC-to-DC Converter
True Blue Power’s TC280 AC-to-DC Converter is quickly gaining popularity on European airlines. The TC280 is currently installed on Airbus A320, Boeing 767 and Boeing 757 aircraft. The highly efficient converter is designed to deliver enough energy to power electronic equipment throughout the aircraft, including in-seat, cabin and cockpit power applications. The TC280 produces 280 watts of power from an aircraft’s 115 VAC input. The converter is engineered to run cooler and features a fanless design delivering energy and weight savings. Installation is convenient, as the TC280 can be mounted in the floor or cabin wall.

TA202 Hi Power USB Port/TA102 Dual USB Port
There is a great deal of focus on passengers’ ability to keep their Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) fully charged during flight. True Blue Power’s line of high power and dual USB charging ports allow passengers to stay fully charged and connected during their flight.

The TA202 Series High Power USB Charging Port offers single and dual port, USB Type-C and Type-A configurations. Delivering 3.0 amps per port, the TSO-certified TA202 powers current and next-generation electronic devices. Units are available in lighted and non-lighted versions and do not require bulky, external power converters for 10 – 32 VDC installations. The TSO-certified TA102 Dual USB Charging Port simultaneously provides 2.1 amps per charging port to any consumer product requiring a USB interface. The TA102 protects itself and the charging device from short-circuit, power surges and over-current potential. It is a modern addition to any interior cabin, available in lighted and non-lighted versions. For more information visit the True Blue Power stand 1E53 during Aircraft Interiors Expo April 4 – 6 at the Hamburg Messe und Congress in Hamburg, Germany

9 – VT Miltope
Débuting at Aircraft Interiors will be VT Miltope’s 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless access point. Wave 2 uses the available 5 GHz bandwidth more efficiently, providing passengers and airlines with significant improvements in overall data rates (up to 3.6 Gbps using 4×4 MIMO) and the ability to transmit simultaneously to multiple users. With wireless data rates climbing well into the Gigabit range, the opportunity to support airline wireless IFEC ambitions will certainly be improved. Combining Wave 2 with the capabilities of CHT (Cognitive Hotspot Technology) used in VT Miltope’s current nMAP2 access point will keep VT Miltope at the leading edge of wireless products ideally suited for cabin environments.
In addition, VT Miltope will be displaying its ground connectivity product, cTWLU, featuring 4G LTE, 3G cellular as well as 802.11a/b/g/n and ac. The 2 cellular LTE radios provide global coverage. cTWLU brings cost effective aircraft to ground communications to the aircraft with the goal of eliminating “sneaker net” and paper based approaches and enabling the internet of Things (IoT) to aircraft. cTWLU has already received certification approval in 2016 and is currently supporting airline operational data. Typical applications include: EFB connectivity, FOQA data, eTechlog, eCabin logbook, weight and balance download, aircraft health monitoring, and may be used for IFE multimedia refresh.

Visit VT Miltope in Hall B2, booth 2D40 – Contact: Markus Gilges Email: mgilges@miltope.com Mobile: +44 7793 758 755


Other:

APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association), a four-decade old international airline trade association, called for immediate government-approved security solutions for the airline electronics ban announced this week by the United States and United Kingdom. IATA calculations indicate 393 flights per week impacted by the electronics ban. By APEX load-factor calculations, this translates into more than three million affected airline passengers per year. With airline and government coordination, APEX believes that solutions may be rapidly implemented by airlines to further increase security and allow personal electronics on-board.
“The U.S. and U.K. this week pointed to a problem in airline security by banning electronics on certain flights. When we take away personal electronic devices from passengers, we are bowing to a potential threat rather than providing an acceptable security solution.” APEX CEO Joe Leader stated. “Chemical detection machines utilized worldwide can detect illicit items in electronics. Turning on electronics checks functionality and non-functioning electronics could be banned from flights. The expense of hand-searching every carry-on for the personal electronics ban could instead be directed to a long-term solution that serves airline passengers and safety.”

APEX believes that without viable solutions provided to airlines, the electronics ban may spread well beyond the intended scope. Since the existing security scope includes individuals with travel privileges to the U.S. and U.K., these same individuals could connect via other airports where on-board personal electronics are not banned.

“Every threat placed against global air carriers has been met with viable solutions,” said Leader. “We now globally screen every checked bag, carefully scan all carry-ons, restrict liquids, conduct body-scans, and regularly conduct chemical analysis checks on items. When passengers connect internationally, they are frequently scanned again. Placing items into the cargo hold does not fully address the issue with a passenger-centric solution.”

Thales
AirAsia has contracted Thales to provide long-term repair-by-the-hour support for the avionics systems Thales and its ACSS joint venture with L3 Aviation Products will provide for the 304 Airbus A320neos the Asian low-cost carrier group has ordered.

Thales will equip AirAsia’s 304 A320neos–deliveries of which began last October–with its TopFlight flight management system (FMS), along with the Thales/ACSS T3CAS Surveillance platform. ACSS (Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems) is 70 percent-owned by L3 Aviation Products and 30 percent-owned by Thales.

“We’ve sold over half a million Euros worth of products on our flights between Europe and the US, representing a significant increase on our previous sales.”

Dublin, Ireland | March 23, 2017– Retail inMotion (RiM) is delighted to announce that its 32nd airline customer, WOW air, went live with the company’s end-to-end on-board retail solution across its entire network on 1st February, 2017.

The contract marks one of RiM’s fastest deployments to date, with its solution up and running on WOW flights in just four weeks. WOW air chose RiM because of its proven success with low-cost carriers like Ryanair.

Jan Blanchard, Director of IT Sales at Retail inMotion, commented: “RiM and WOW air have a lot in common – we’re both start-ups which have grown incredibly quickly. There was no wasted time – the decision-making was very speedy. We love working with airlines that can move as fast as we can!”

With RiM’s POS platform, the crew on-board WOW air services can process multiple types of card payments and accept multiple currencies, with commission offered to flight attendants as an incentive. The airline also decided to make use of RiM’s packing solution, vPack, meaning the on-board retail process is a closed loop with just one system being used.

Ciaran McGowan, Director of IT at RiM, added, “Our work with WOW air was unique because WOW replicated best practices and processes within the system that are used by our other LCC customers. This meant little to no custom development and minimal configuration. The core solution was implemented extremely quickly with additional modules added and adjustments made as required post go-live. The entire solution was rolled out in under 50 days.”

“We’re thrilled with RiM’s on-board retail solution. During the first few weeks since the go-live, we’ve sold over half a million Euros worth of products on our flights between Europe and the US, representing a significant increase on our previous sales,” stated WOW air’s Sales Manager of Ancillary Revenue, Jón Ómar Erlingsson. “RiM has been very agile and efficient since we began working with them in September 2016, and we look forward to seeing the continued benefits of their offering as time goes on.”

RiM and WOW air continue to collaborate on the implementation of additional modules from the RiM Vector suite. The airline has confirmed it will deploy RiMs Order Management (vOMS) and Warehouse Management (vWMS) solutions, from the vLogistics module.

RiM is the fastest-growing airline technology company in the industry, having begun just five years ago, in 2012, with launch customer American Airlines. In the last six months, the company has signed contracts with nine new carriers on several continents.

Isle of Wight, UK | March 27, 2017– IFPL are celebrating 20 years in business in 2017 and will be demonstrating at AIX Hamburg the broad range of products that are now flying on the majority of aircraft around the world.
IFPL are a world leader in audio jack technology, enhancing the customer experience and providing a total cost of ownership advantage to the airline. The audio jack is a critical component of any IFE system and IFPL believes that delivering high quality sound, with high unit reliability, and minimising the impact of Customer Induced Damage (CID) is vital in maintaining customer satisfaction. To this end, IFPL has developed proprietary technology that differentiates their audio solutions in the market. These include:

Long Life Audio
IFPL’s original product line is aimed at delivering a highly robust and reliable audio jack and to minimise CID. The high quality materials used, testing to over 100,000 insertions and design ensure that these jacks are robust. IFPL use this Long Life technology for single, double and triple jacks. Additionally, IFPL’s design ensures that each pin socket can also work as single pins, ensuring additional redundancy in the dual and triple pin solutions.

Rapid Fit range
IFPL’s Rapid Fit technology delivers a solution for rapid on-wing maintenance. Rapid Fit has been designed with a replaceable cassette that house the jacks, whilst keeping the high-cost electronics in the main housing. This enables the lower cost part of the cassette to be simply swapped out on-wing in typically less than 30 seconds. IFPL recently announced a new patent pending Rapid Fit USB-C variant of the Rapid Fit jack and will offer both an analogue or digital variant ensuring that future headset standards are supported.

INCAM range
IFPL’s Integrated Noise Cancelling Audio Module (INCAM) technology allows noise cancelling in the jack rather than the headset, allowing all passengers to enjoy noise cancelling technology with a simple addition of a low-cost microphone in the headset. This keeps the headset cost low whilst providing a significantly enhanced audio experience for the passenger .

MagSignal
IFPL’s patented MagSignal technology virtually eliminates CID. The headset can be pulled from any angle and simply detaches from the magnetic plug without damaging the jack or the headset. This extends the life of the headset and the jack and avoids CID. The floating magnets ensure a signal is maintained at all times during turbulence and vibration.

Push Through Pin
IFPL’s Push Through Pin technology ensures the jack does not have to be replaced if a pin gets broken in the jack. The pin can simply be pushed through and collected in a reservoir at the back of the jack. This reservoir has been known to hold as many as 12 broken pins.

Self-Testing Technology
IFPL has designed their Self-Testing technology to enable problem jacks to be identified and fixed rapidly, ensuring high availability. The clever design of the LED being powered by the audio makes this a suitable jack for retrofit, as no extra power is needed. All that is required is for the maintenance staff to send a high-frequency audio tone through the existing IFE system, then walk through the cabin and check the jacks at a glance. IFPL has deployed this technology in a wide variety of audio jack solutions and neatly demonstrates why IFPL are renowned for providing industry leading audio jacks.

IFPL’s established range of products and solutions will be on display and the team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirement that visitors to AIX 2017 may have.

Visit IFPL at Booth 2C10.

Vision Systems and PXCom have partnered to offer airlines an unmatched level of flexibility in their GUI management.

France | March 17, 2017– At Hamburg AIX 2017, Vision Systems will unveil a new release of its IFE solution called Visi-Stream, that ensures a high passenger satisfaction and ancillary revenues. It comprises Wi-Fi AVOD with a rich and varied content including movies, music, games, daily press, extensive tourist information and ticketing. Advertising can be global and local, and priority data flows for safety videos put the tablets on hold. Options include broadcast or connectivity as well as remote diagnosis, software and content updates via a ground platform.

The IFE manufacturer has decided to integrate XPlore by PXCom, the end-to-end solution that enables digital content management on the ground, and automatic roll- out on the onboard servers.

Harnessing the GUI management thanks to digital power

“Updating the GUI, from simple design changes to additional sections was a pain point for the airlines”, noted Cyril JEAN CEO of PXCom. “Thanks to digital, airlines can now choose to change both the UX and the content management, in a few clicks. For example, let’s imagine that during the Chinese New Year celebrations our airlines expect a change in the background and additional editorial content, it’s now a matter of minutes.”. Beyond such flexibility, Vision Systems’ customers can now benefit from a full and automated aggregation of their digital content: corporate presentation, editorial productions, destination deals & services, digital inflight advertising, sponsored microsites…

Seamless integration
Vision Systems technical teams had developed their own Content Management System. The challenge was to integrate in a single back-office, usual content management (films, music, games, digital press…), with the new abilities provided by XPlore by PXCom. “Vision Systems is committed to a permanent innovation approach, constantly looking for ways to provide cutting-edge solutions. The successful integration of XPlore allows us to offer IFE systems with further flexibility in terms of design and content.” stated Catherine Robin, Group Managing Director.

This brand new feature will be showcased in exclusivity on Vision Systems’ booth 2D28.

Cwmbran, United Kingdom | March 8, 2017– STG Aerospace, a research-driven pioneer in aircraft cabin lighting, held an Open Day on 7th March at its Innovation & Engineering Centre on the Llantarnam Industrial Park, Cwmbran.

Visitors, including customers and suppliers as well as academics engaged in joint research projects and other invited guests, were given a tour of the company’s facility where the company has already created 36 jobs since it was first opened in 2015.

The tour also included demonstrations of the latest product developments from STG Aerospace. These included the company’s new LED reading light, part of its liTeMood® range which, with its patented square light pattern, minimises the light spill onto neighbouring seats and helps give passengers a sense of control over their own environment. Also being demonstrated was saf-Tglo® blu, the world’s first ever blue-glowing photoluminescent emergency floorpath marking system which creates a more calming ambience and has already won a prestigious APEX Award for Best Cabin Innovation.

At the Open Day, there were speeches from Harriet Wollerton, Aerospace Operations & Business Development Manager at ADS, the trade body for the UK aerospace, defence, security and space industries, and from John Whalley, Chief Executive of Aerospace Wales, a trade association for all companies operating in the country.

Welcoming the news, Economy Secretary Ken Skates said: “STG Aerospace is a recognised market leader in its field and has a quite remarkable global reach, exporting worldwide with its products acknowledged as industry standards. This is a considerable achievement and STG Aerospace is a very welcome addition to the dynamic aerospace sector we have in Wales.

“I am delighted Welsh Government support helped the company establish its new centre in Wales and that it has created significantly more jobs than was originally anticipated which is great news.

“Today marks an important date in STG Aerospace’s business calendar as it marks the completion of its first major strategic investment and enhanced capabilities and I wish the company every success in the future.”

The STG Aerospace Innovation & Engineering Centre is equipped with a goniophotometer, used for measuring the size, space and shape that lighting takes up, and an integrating sphere which is used to analyse colour. The Centre also has two sections of aircraft, a Boeing and an Airbus, used to visualise how new products will actually work when in service. In addition, there is a Chemistry Laboratory and a Flammability Laboratory.

“We were delighted to have this opportunity to demonstrate the full extent of our research and development facilities to so many important guests”, said Nigel Duncan, CEO at STG Aerospace. “Being at the cutting edge of research into how lighting affects people, physiologically and psychologically, is central to our product development philosophy.”

STG Aerospace’s success and rapid growth is reflected by a range of global patents and the number of major industry awards it has received, including winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise on four separate occasions.

Its Innovation & Engineering Centre in Brecon House on Llantarnam Industrial Park has an extensive R&D facility that includes a state of the art lighting laboratories and simulations of 737 and A320 aircraft.

Investment to help SITA deliver new geo-location technology to airports and airlines

Geneva | March 1, 2017–

SITA, the air transport IT provider, has completed a strategic investment in dynamic mapping company LocusLabs, helping drive innovation for the benefit of the entire industry while supporting SITA’s own investment in innovation.

The investment also supports SITA’s continued focus on developing and delivering common-use geo-location technology which allows passengers to identify services using location. This solution, which merges mapping with a wide range of location data, allows airports and airlines to use the same dynamic maps and data but tailor them to their own requirements.

This additional funding will help LocusLabs further enhance its mapping capabilities, which is already in use at several major international airports as well as by airlines.

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer at SITA, said: “SITA has a clear focus to fast track innovation on behalf of the air transport industry and provide new technology that makes air travel easier at every step. These investments complement our own research and development at SITA Lab, by investing in complementary technologies that add value to our overall portfolio.

“LocusLabs is a perfect example – its geo-location capability adds real value to SITA’s cutting-edge airport app and opens new possibilities to enhance the passenger experience using location.”

LocusLabs provides the world’s most accurate and up-to-date indoor maps for airports and is used by SITA to power its mapping functionality for its Day of Travel airport app, already in use by international airports globally, including Miami International Airport and Nice Côte d’Azur Airport. These graphically enhanced, vector-based maps, have built-in navigation functionality to guide travelers to their boarding gate or other airport locations. Rich content including images, attributes, keywords and other metadata enable easy discovery of points of interest, retail stores and other amenities at the airport.

LocusLabs CEO and Co-Founder, Campbell Kennedy, said: “While LocusLabs’ mapping technology continues to help millions of passengers find their way through airports globally, technology continues to change rapidly and we need to keep pace to remain relevant. Future smart buildings and augmented reality applications are the new frontier for maps and with the support of SITA, both as an investor as well as a technology specialist in the air transport industry, LocusLabs can bring these technologies to fruition.”

PXCom

This week we got a tip-off about a new product that Cyril Jean at PXcom developed for airline inflight content. To start off our discussion with him, we asked for a simple statement of what XPlore is, and he told IFExpress; “A comprehensive on-the-ground solution that generates interactive apps for your IFEC platforms.”  But the real solution is a bit more elegant than that. The true beauty of XPlore is it bares the workload of locating, selecting, developing and providing IFE solutions. Further, we note that their total operation is handled by their SaaS (Software as a Service) model. After we heard more about the program, we thought our readers might like to see how content and advertising providers could take the load off the airlines and we asked Cyril if he would give our readers a few answers to some relevant questions:

Q. What is XPlore?

A: XPlore is an end-to-end solution, focused on destination content, deals & services, that enables content creation, aggregation and management on the ground and automatically generates the inflight apps or updates for the inflight apps, that are aimed at being integrated into the IFEC platforms.

Q. How does it work?

 A: XPlore is divided into a back office, and bespoke inflight apps. On the back office side, we agree with airlines on the kind of content that they want to onboard: interactive destination guides, sponsored content, editorial content, destination deals (activity booking or couponing), destination services (taxi booking, car rental, hotel pre-checking, etc.) Meantime, we create for the airline the interactive experience they want to deliver onboard. That means that we create the app(s) that they want to be integrated into their IFEC platform, whether seatback screen, w-IFE and/or IFC portal, or airline’s app. The GUI is always customized to provide a consistent and seamless experience on the IFE. And automatically, we “populate” the apps with the content updates that are managed on our back office.

At the end, when the aircraft lands, we off-load all the usage data, transactions…and update the dashboard both for the airline, PXCom, and all the involved partners. Except for destination services that require IFC, our technology doesn’t need to rely on any IFC.

Q: So, XPlore is on the plane and on the airline ground data sources – but it looks to also be on your computers to monitor it as well. Can you sort out for our readers what each part does – Airplane, Airline Back Office, and PX Com office computers/monitoring equipment? Do they talk to one another? If so, how?

A: Actually our back office is on a SaaS mode (Software as a Service). There are as many accesses as an involved stakeholder:

  • PXCom has an access to upload and manage all the destination guides contents from the travel guide editor we partner with, as well as the destination deals inventories
  • All the sponsors and advertisers access to upload their promotional content and define the call to action they want (booking/prebooking, landing pages, lead generation form, downloadable coupons, etc.), and monitor the results of their advertising campaigns
  • Each airline we work with, has a dedicated access, both upstream, to manage the content they want to add, clear/ban the advertisers, sponsors, destination service providers – and downstream to monitor the usage data as well as the generated ancillaries.

Then PXCom’s team controls, monitors and manages on the back office the whole content which is ready to be onboarded, and, through a simple click, the team generates the content or content’s update, including the possible GUI changes. All this digital content is then sent to the considered airline’s IFEC through its IFEC manufacturer, and when an aircraft lands, all the relevant data is automatically sent to our back office and feed the usage figures.

Q: Why did you and your team develop XPlore?

 A: Actually, this architecture (on-the-ground back-office “connected” to inflight) was developed for our internal needs, and is part of PXCom’s patented technology. The principle is exactly the same as for regular media (music, movies, digital press) managed by well know CMS (Content Management System), but the big difference is that we only manage digital and interactive content.

Q: Will XPlore work on seatback and personal device alike?

A: Correct. All our solutions are designed to work regardless of the InFlight Entertainment platform (seatback screen, w-IFE, IFC portal, airline mobile app).

Q: Have you developed many airline solutions for XPlore and are airlines interested? 

 A: By AIX we will be integrated on 11 airlines. 100% of what we provide the airlines with, is managed by XPlore and we will welcome all the IFEC industry to booth 3C40B.

Q: OK, XPlore sounds very airline friendly but how will it help airlines?

 A: PXCom is dedicated to both leverage the #PaxEx and generate ancillaries for the airlines. XPlore is a cost-effective solution that introduces a maximum agility both in the GUI and the content management of the inflight apps. For example, should an airline produce for its website some destination tips or editorial content they want to onboard additionally to their interactive inflight destination guides, we just need to connect via an API, and automatically the content produced for its website can be retrieved and aggregated with the rest of the destination content that we onboard.

Regarding the ancillary generation, our technology acts like an aggregator, especially for destination services. Let’s consider an important car rental company. This company has partnerships with X airlines that all have different IFEC platforms. For this car rental company, we create once the inflight app, and rolls it out on all the airlines-partners IFEC/IFC platforms. On the reverse side, for an airline that wants to “populate” its inflight connectivity portal and maximize the ancillary revenues we position as a single technology entry point for all its partners.

Q: That all sounds great but what are airlines doing with your content application solutions?

 A: We have closed a deal with an airline that has chosen to add its own cabin crew tips (specific Points of Interest and/or specific reviews). That means that the airline’s cabin crew management has organized the collection of the tips, and upload them on our back office to be aggregated with the interactive destination guides that we provide.

Another airline has chosen to “plug” its own destination content, initially written for its inflight magazine, to the destination guides we will integrated into both its seatback screens & IFC portal.

Q: Will this product reduce airline costs or provide other benefit like more usage and customer interest data?

 A: All of these! Regarding the costs, we can change the whole content as well as 100% of the GUI of the apps without going through costly software update assessments.

Regarding the customer interest data, when we talk to airlines, we show them the day+1 live monitoring of our apps’ usage data. These data help us in delivering more accurate content, whilst offering “sponsors” the right insights for their inflight digital advertising campaigns

Q: Sounds exciting Cyril, when it be flying?

A: It’s already flying on 160+ aircraft!

(Editor’s Note: The XPlore Main Architects are shown in the picture above but not the whole team were included. Also, be sure to checkout the XPlore Brochure!)

You may contact Cyril via email. Or visit the PXcom website.


Gogo

Gogo has taken its 2Ku performance to the next level, exceeding speeds of 100 Mbps. “When we launched 2Ku, we knew that the performance would get better with our next generation modem and new high-throughput satellites,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s chief technology officer.  “We have capacity on HTS satellites in orbit today and 2Ku’s open architecture allows us to take advantage of satellite innovations over time. We also continue to improve our aircraft hardware – servers, modems, antenna, and wireless access points. This performance achievement demonstrates the progress we’ve made on both fronts.”

Gogo’s new modem upgrades the performance of both its 2Ku and Ku global satellite services. The proprietary features of the new modem significantly increase throughput and reliability to and from the aircraft.  The modem also will support access to streaming video through the internet and live television programming through Gogo’s IPTV product – Gogo TV.

“There are now more than 100 2Ku aircraft flying with our first-generation modem utilizing existing wide-beam satellite technologies. Under these conditions, the technology is already delivering industry leading performance.  With the new modem and HTS satellites, we are setting a very high bar for the industry,” said Michael Small, president and CEO of Gogo. “We are going to deliver this technology upgrade to our airline partners without needing to take an aircraft out of service, which is incredibly important for their operations.”

The new modem will be installed beginning in the second half of 2017. Eventually, it will be installed on more than 1500 2Ku and 250 Ku aircraft across 13 leading airlines.


Lufthansa Systems

The company has developed EASA-certified Lido/SurfaceData database of worldwide obstacles designed for avionics manufacturers and software providers.


Astronics Aerospace

They earned $78m on $534.4m revenues in 2016 vs $85.1m on $549.7m in 2015.


Boeing

They booked orders from unidentified customer(s) for eight 737NGs, 18 737 MAXs (nine converted 737NGs) and five 787s, increasing its 2016 order total to 61 (50 net). Also, they were selected by flydubai to provide data analytics to manage its 737 MAX fleet.


Other

  • ACI reports year-over-year world airport traffic increased 5.5% in 2016. Lets see what 2017 does!
  • Here is why you might want to be Wi-Fi careful in the airport or even on a plane.

From personalizing the travel experience to big data, improved efficiency and new dynamic distribution standards – Lufthansa Systems supports airlines on every level of digital transformation

Raunheim, Germany | February 16, 2017– Everyone is talking about digitalization. Many companies are wondering how to future-proof themselves in the digital world. Lufthansa Systems turned this vision into reality a long time ago. For years, the aviation IT specialist has been advising and supporting airlines in their digital transformation, demonstrating what sustainable airline processes can look like and helping customers implement concrete projects.

“The core of our company strategy is to put airlines in a perfect position for the digital future. For example, we have spent over 15 years helping airlines work toward a paperless flight deck,” said Olivier Krüger, CEO of Lufthansa Systems. “We are offering new solutions and expanding our consulting unit in response to growing demand in the market. In keeping with this, we are continually enhancing our digital expertise so we can develop innovative solutions for the entire cosmos of an airline and its passengers – with data analytics, personalization, mobility and new developments such as eye tracking and dynamic navigation maps.”

The spectrum includes solutions and consulting services for improving the efficiency and differentiation of all aspects of an airline as well as for optimizing the entire travel chain for passengers.

Personalized Air Travel Services: Personalized solutions aim to enhance the passenger travel experience. New digital and individual services and apps, which can be used before, during and after a flight, ensure that passengers are addressed directly and personally. BoardConnect is one example. This digital platform enables passengers to access wireless inflight entertainment on their own smartphones and tablets, while offering additional functionalities for flight deck and cabin crews – with or without an Internet connection. The new inTime app is another example. It calculates how much time passengers will need to reach their gate punctually from their current location. Both the traffic situation outside the airport and the waiting times at check-in and security are taken into account here. The timings are based on (anonymized) data from real passengers, so the app gets more intelligent over time.

Dynamic Distribution Management: Dynamic distribution management makes it possible for airlines to increase their revenues by offering ticket and service packages directly to travelers. The New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is promoting this development and significantly affecting the distribution structures of airlines. Together with partners, Lufthansa Systems provides solutions for the entire NDC process, including offer and order management, dynamic pricing, and billing with the Sirax/RA revenue accounting solution. Airlines benefit from improved customer loyalty through more individualized offers, with lower distribution costs and higher revenues.

Safe & Efficient Flight Operations: Optimization and efficiency in all aspects of flight operations are the crucial aspects here. Simplified processes, improved routes, reduced fuel consumption and shorter handling times (including for crews and maintenance work) not only generate considerable savings potential, they also increase flight safety. For example, the digital navigation maps of the Lido/Navigation product line are becoming more and more dynamic. In the near future, they will be able to seamlessly display all flight processes from gate to gate. With an on-board Internet connection, additional smart functions in the maps can show information that is relevant to specific situations during a flight. This increases the pilots’ situational awareness.

Reliable Air Travel Experience: New developments in the field of flight operations revolve around passengers and their positive travel experience. If disruptions or delays do occur, these solutions aim to minimize the negative effects on passengers and communicate changes in a transparent way. This is essential to an airline’s success. The successful NetLine/Ops ++ operations control solution helps here with its innovative eye-tracking feature. Employees in an operations control center sometimes have to monitor six screens showing current flights and information about potential disturbances. Analyzing the eye movements of operations controllers with the help of eye-tracking technology ensures that no important warnings or disruption notifications are overlooked.

“In light of the growing importance of digital solutions in the aviation industry – including in the areas of data sharing, analytics and prediction – we founded a company last year called zeroG,” said Lufthansa Systems CEO Stefan Auerbach. “zeroG is a consulting firm with the character of a start-up which can respond quickly and flexibly to changes in the market. With their expertise in IT and aviation, our zeroG consultants support digitalization projects inside and outside of the Lufthansa Group.”

The attached infographic provides an overview of current digitalization projects and innovative solutions. Excerpts can be provided upon request. An animated version of the infographic for digital use can be found on YouTube. (Copyright: Lufthansa Systems)

More information about Lufthansa Systems’ digitalization expertise is available online: www.lhsystems.com or on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/LHsystems

Washington | February 9, 2017– CEOs representing Airlines for America (A4A), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, today met with President Donald Trump and senior White House officials to discuss the critical role that U.S. airlines play as drivers of the economy and job growth across the country.

“U.S. airlines are an integral part of our nation’s economy, as millions of Americans depend on safe, affordable and abundant air travel and shipping options each day”
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A4A President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio, was joined by the following member CEOs at the White House meeting: Brad Tilden, Chairman and CEO, Alaska Air Group; Bill Flynn, President and CEO, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc.; Dave Bronczek, President and Chief Operating Officer, FedEx Corporation; Robin Hayes, President and CEO, JetBlue Airways Corp.; Gary C. Kelly, Chairman and CEO, Southwest Airlines Co.; Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Continental Holdings, Inc.; Myron Gray, President, U.S. Operations, UPS.

“U.S. airlines are an integral part of our nation’s economy, as millions of Americans depend on safe, affordable and abundant air travel and shipping options each day,” said Calio. “We are grateful to President Trump for hosting this meeting and were encouraged by his in-depth understanding of our industry and the need to reform our air traffic control system. We share his administration’s goals of growing jobs, reducing taxes and regulation, and expanding our economy. We are confident we can achieve these outcomes by working together.”

Topics for discussion included:

  • Jobs and Economic Impact: The U.S. airline industry is an integral part of the U.S. economy employing nearly 700,000 people. We operate 27,000 flights each day that carry 2.2 million passengers and 50,000 tons of cargo. See these fact sheets for more information about airlines’ investments in the customer experience and our employees, as well as how we contribute to airport financing.
  • Air Traffic Control Modernization: The flying and shipping public deserve modernized air traffic control infrastructure. Unnecessary flight delays that are often the result of outdated, WWII-era technology and procedures cost the United States an estimated $25 billion in 2016 alone. Benefits of modernization will include: enhanced safety, reduced delays, fuel savings, reduced emissions, increased capacity and greater operational efficiency. See these fact sheets to understand why our air traffic control system needs modernization.
  • Regulatory Reform: We need smart reforms that will unlock the industry’s potential to expand jobs and improve the customer experience, while maintaining the high level of safety we have today. Commercial aviation was deregulated almost 4 decades ago. Yet, we’re still subject to more than 13,000 regulations across 13 federal agencies – and that’s just in the United States.
  • Taxation: Aviation is subject to 17 separate federal aviation taxes paid by airlines and their customers. Our passengers are over taxed and a portion of TSA and CBP so-called user fees are diverted to deficit reduction and other federal spending, paid by airlines and their customers. These taxes increased from $3.7 billion in 1990 to $23.1 billion in 2016. Currently, passengers pay 21 percent of a one-stop, round-trip domestic ticket in taxes, an excessive burden on our customers. You’d be hard pressed to find an industry with a greater federal excise tax burden than U.S. airlines. While the airports want an increase on the Passenger Facility Charge, the President stated that he does not like fees.

This week, IFExpress has a lot of new product/services probably announced as Aircraft Interiors, Hamburg, 4 – 6 April, 2017 approaches. This ‘Big Deal IFEC’ show is the culmination of Passenger Experience Week in Hamburg 3 – 6 April. We will have more on the expo later but let’s return to the topics of this weeks IFExpress:


INMARSAT
Inmarsat has announced a key infrastructure milestone for its European Aviation Network (EAN), following the successful test and validation of the EAN Satellite Access Station (SAS). As the first solution in the world to integrate connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and a LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom, EAN will provide a true in-flight broadband experience for millions of airlines passengers traveling throughout Europe. The SAS is located in the Greek town of Nemea and operated under an agreement with OTE, the largest telecommunications provider in Greece and member of the Deutsche Telekom Group. Engineers undertook rigorous performance and stability tests to verify the SAS’s capabilities to serve as a reliable and robust gateway between Inmarsat’s S-band satellite and the internet. The SAS consists of a 13-meter antenna that provides feeder links to the satellite, a radio frequency sub-system and a radio access network provided by Inmarsat partner Cobham SATCOM. And if you want to see a video that does a good job of explaining the program, check out the video on  youTube


IFPL
Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) specialists IFPL will be showcasing their latest power solutions at AIX 2017 in Hamburg. With new consumer devices adopting USB-C as standard, IFPL has actively engaged its customers on how this technology can be applied to IFEC and how to transition from USB-A. Along with its baseline USB-C outlet, IFPL is currently developing a range of USB–C 3.1 peripherals and solutions. Visitors to stand 2C10, we are told, can see their USB-C outlet and discuss industry adoption of this technology.

In previous shows IFPL demonstrated their high power and data USB-A 2.0 and we covered it IFExpress. These are now in-service along with IFPL’s clever reversible option. Recently, IFPL has worked closely with GORE to develop the new USB-A 3.0 module, that combined IFPL USB 3.0 with GORE Aerospace USB 3.0 cables and provides the ideal solution for delivering high power (2A, 5V DC) and data transfer (up to 5Gbps) as per USB 3.0 requirements. This gives passengers the ability to maximize the benefits of both charging their Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and interfacing with the Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system.

IFPL has also enhanced the capability of its existing 1225 unit, the 110V AC Universal Remote Power Outlet, with the addition of a high power USB-A socket and will be demonstrating the new 2011 unit on the stand. In addition, IFPL has been working with key industry partners to develop a new range of power solutions that focus on ensure ergonomic and aesthetic seat integration. The combined approach delivered a system that maximizes the use of the physical space of the seat and seamlessly design the USB outlet into the actual seat arm. The result is an attractive installation of a fully integrated system that has no impact on passenger legroom. As always, IFPL’s established range of IFEC products and solutions will be on display and the expert team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirements that visitors to AIX 2017 may have.

Editor’s Note: IFPL is based on the Isle of Wight, just off the South Coast of England. Founded 20 years ago by CEO Geoff Underwood, IFPL today enjoys one of the largest portfolio of proven IFEC products and services in its sector.


SITAONAIR
Airline passengers flying to and from the Ivory Coast can now expect a connected experience, as national airline, Air Cote d’Ivoire (VRE), signs up for inflight passenger connectivity services from world-leading provider SITAONAIR. The new deal will deliver connectivity solutions to VRE’s brand new A320s, in the form of SITAONAIR’s Internet ONAIR and Mobile ONAIR products. With Internet ONAIR onboard, airlines can offer passengers seamless inflight internet access, connecting their personal devices by opening a browser – just as they would with a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Airlines can use Internet ONAIR to personalize their passenger relationships by developing a portal that can offer an interactive and engaging experience for the passenger. It also offers opportunities for airlines to grow their ancillary revenues. Mobile ONAIR, meanwhile, offers passengers an airborne mobile phone service that enables them to make phone calls, send texts and use their mobile phone data inflight, through an extensive number of roaming partners in Africa and across the world. In June 2017, SITAONAIR’s teams will begin activating Internet ONAIR and Mobile ONAIR on five new Air Côte d’Ivoire A320s equipped with Airbus’ Airline Network Architecture (ALNA) server platform. The services will make use of SwiftBroadband, an IP-based data service from Inmarsat that SITAONAIR, as distributor, will operate as service provider.


AirSatOne
Aviation Satcom provider, AirSatOne, announces lower rates for its SwiftBroadband connectivity. Taking care of customers is a top priority at AirSatOne and one reason why the company maintains a 99% customer retention rate. So when Inmarsat, the leader in global satellite communications, lowered its prices AirSatOne was quick to pass the savings on to its customers. Customers using AirSatOne as their service provider have access to its custom global network for the same price as the generic network used by the competition. AirSatOne’s custom network includes worldwide teleports and IP PoP (Internet Point of Presence) with advanced network security and our globally deployed Flightstream SA which provides web filtering, compression, consumption tracking and firewall customized for mobile communications.


AIRBUS
When Lufthansa’s new long-haul Airbus A350-900 enters service this coming Friday, passengers will experience a cabin lighting concept tailored to the human biorhythm for the first time – 24 different lighting scenarios on board ensure that passengers reach their destination well-rested and with less jetlag than is typical for a long-haul flight. The scientific concept for the new lighting technique originates with the “jetlite” startup, anchored in the aviation cluster, and was brought to market-readiness assisted by the six-month Airbus BizLab accelerator program.


PANASONIC AVIONICS
Effective immediately, Hideo Nakano will serve as CEO of Panasonic Avionics, succeeding Paul Margis, who has left the company. Mr. Nakano is an avionics industry veteran and was most recently the Deputy CEO of Panasonic Avionics. His previous experience at Panasonic includes serving as CFO of Panasonic’s Automotive & Industrial Systems Company, the largest of Panasonic Corp.’s four internal companies, as well as CFO of Panasonic Corporation of North America. Panasonic Avionics has also appointed Mark Jennings to serve in the new position of Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Mr. Jennings will be responsible for duties related to operations, engineering, sales and marketing. Mr. Jennings joined Panasonic Avionics in 1998 as Regional Director based in Dubai and most recently served as Vice President of Operations. Additionally, Seigo Tada has been named Chief Financial Officer of PAC. He succeeds Paul Bottiaux, who has left the company. Mr. Tada will maintain his position as VP of Finance and Controller of Panasonic Corporation of North America. Mr. Tada joined Panasonic in 1985 and has held roles of increasing responsibility within the finance function throughout his time with the company, including ten years in the United States. You can read more here.


LUFTHANSA TECHNIC
LT just completed Ka Band connectivity on it’s first VIP A330 and installing similar technology on some 32 Lufthansa A320 planes PER MONTH!


GLOBAL CONNECTED AIRCRAFT SUMMIT
Here is the agenda. The summit happens Wednesday, June 7, through Friday, June 9. this year.


MORE

Isle of Wight | February 6, 2017– Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) specialists IFPL will be showcasing their latest power solutions at AIX 2017 in Hamburg.

With new consumer devices adopting USB-C as standard, IFPL has actively engaged its customers on how this technology can be applied to IFEC and how to transition from USB-A. Along with its baseline USB-C outlet, IFPL are currently developing a range of USB–C 3.1 peripherals and solutions. Visitors to stand 2C10 can see their USB-C outlet and discuss industry adoption of this technology.

In previous shows IFPL demonstrated their high power and data USB-A 2.0. These are now in-service along with IFPL’s clever reversible option. Recently, IFPL has worked closely with GORE® to develop the new USB-A 3.0 module, that combined IFPL USB 3.0 with GORE Aerospace USB 3.0 cables and provides the ideal solution for delivering high power (2A, 5V DC) and data transfer (up to 5Gbps) as per USB 3.0 requirements. This gives passengers the ability to maximise the benefits of both charging their Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and interfacing with the Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system.

IFPL has enhanced the capability of its existing 1225 unit, the 110V AC Universal Remote Power Outlet, with the addition of a high power USB-A socket and will be demonstrating the new 2011 unit on the stand. In addition, IFPL has been working with key industry partners to develop a new range of power solutions that focus on ensure ergonomic and aesthetic seat integration. The combined approach delivered a system that maximises the use of the physical space of the seat and seamlessly design the USB outlet into the actual seat arm. The result is an attractive installation of a fully integrated system that has no impact on passenger legroom.

As always, IFPL’s established range of IFEC products and solutions will be on display and the expert team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirements that visitors to AIX 2017 may have.

APEX/IFSA
The other day, we got a note from Robin Applebaum, APEX Marketing Communication Director we thought you might like to see: “I wanted to reach out to you today with some exciting news from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the International Flight Service Association (IFSA). This morning, APEX and IFSA announced a more tightly aligned relationship to better serve the global airline industry. This step will help to further solidify APEX as the industry’s most influential member-based organization dedicated to elevating the entire passenger experience; and will help IFSA to grow globally as the pivotal airline association of the catering and in-flight services market. While both APEX and IFSA will remain fully independent, this alliance triggers additional collaboration in the planning of association co-locations and events, joint working groups, reciprocal guest board member attendance at board meetings, as well as now having a common Chief Executive Officer serving both associations.”

When we asked for more background info, she responded: “As I am sure you are aware, APEX and the International Flight Service Association (IFSA), have had a long established ‘sister-association relationship.’ Last week’s announcement only serves to further align the two groups. As part of this strategic relationship, APEX will be leveraging IFSA to represent the foundation of the association’s catering and services sector. “This will not only help the association to grow its footprint, but will also further solidify APEX as the industry’s most influential member-based organization dedicated to elevating the entire passenger experience. For IFSA, aligning with APEX will help them to expand its reach globally, build additional strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations, and establish itself as the industry’s global representative of the growing catering and in-flight/onboard hospitality market.”

“Additionally, the inclusion of more catering and service elements at APEX events will attract greater numbers of senior airline decision makers who oversee this sector as well as IFE by offering a greater diversification of products, services and information. As demonstrated at APEX EXPO in Singapore, this type of approach yields an increase in potential customers for event exhibitors and other vendor participants. Finally, it will help to better position APEX events against the backdrop of assertive for-profit show competition.”


Gogo
“To celebrate the fleet-wide upgrade to their new JAL SKY NEXT product, the airline will start offering free Wi-Fi on all equipped domestic flights from February 1, 2017 till August 31st 2017. Connectivity is provided through Gogo using our satellite Internet technology. You’ll find the SKY NEXT product on select 777 -300, 777-200, 767-300 and 737-800 aircraft. JAL was our first international customer, and we’ve been honored to partner with them since 2014 on connectivity and entertainment for their domestic passengers.

This promotion from JAL is just one of the latest to offer Gogo products and services free to their passengers. Last year, we partnered with T-Mobile to provide free Wi-Fi to their subscribers, and most recently, Alaska Airlines rolled out their Free ChatTM product which lets passengers access popular chat apps like iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on their smartphone.

In addition to connectivity promotions, we also provide the technology allowing airlines to offer free wireless entertainment to their customers. The product, called Gogo Vision, streams movies and TV shows from our airborne server to most mobile devices, laptops and tablets. Movies and TV shows from Gogo Vision can now be found on more than 2800 aircaft on some the largest airlines in the world. Today, many of Gogo’s airline partners are offering all or some of the content free to passengers.”


AirSatOne
Aviation Satcom provider, AirSatOne, announces lower rates for its SwiftBroadband connectivity. Taking care of customers is a top priority at AirSatOne and one reason why the company maintains a 99% customer retention rate. So when Inmarsat, the leader in global satellite communications, lowered its prices AirSatOne was quick to pass the savings on to its customers.

Customers using AirSatOne as their service provider have access to its custom global network for the same price as the generic network used by the competition. AirSatOne’s custom network includes worldwide teleports and IP PoP (Internet Point of Presence) with advanced network security and our globally deployed Flightstream SA which provides web filtering, compression, consumption tracking and firewall customized for mobile communications.

“We think this is an exciting time for the Satcom market. With more and more operators and executives finding it essential to conduct business and stay in sync with the home office while traveling, we hope reducing airtime charges will encourage more aircraft owners to invest in installing Satcom systems in their aircraft,” says Kremsreiter. Satcom systems work everywhere (except at the poles) so in addition to increasing productivity, Satcom hardware increases the aircraft’s value and worldwide marketability when it comes time to sell.


SITA
Airlines and airports are investing in technologies to help predict and prepare for future events. This is according to The Future is Predictable, a report published today by air transport IT provider, SITA. It outlines how efforts are being made to tackle the estimated US$25 billion[1] cost of flight disruptions to the air transport industry by harnessing artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, predictive analytics and other progressive technical capabilities.

SITA’s analysis reveals that predictive tools using artificial intelligence and cognitive computing are likely to be adopted by half of airlines and airports over the coming five to 10 years. However, a few front runners are already trialing predictive modeling, machine learning, and data mining. These efforts are mainly focused on initiatives that will provide passengers with more relevant information about their journey to create more seamless and personal experiences.

During 2017, SITA Lab will be validating delay predictions with airlines and airports and expects to complete up to five trials with its industry partners. The next stage will be to incorporate its delay prediction algorithm and disruption warning feeds into SITA’s services to the air transport industry. In the report, leading airports and airlines share their experiences including Gatwick Airport where a seamless passenger experience from curb to gate is the goal. Here several different areas of airport activity are tracked to measure performance and move towards predicting it.

As artificial intelligence develops the importance of maintaining the human touch is not lost on the airlines and airports. Indeed, the combination of people and artificial intelligence is described as transforming the travel experience. The science of artificial intelligence is developing quickly and airlines and airports are turning to the academic community to help them with predictive tools to tackle disruptions. SITA’s report discusses research that is being carried out with scientists from Binghamton University, State University of New York; University of Nottingham as part the European Union-funded consortium PASSME; Carnegie Mellon University; Oxford University’s Data Science Laboratory in the Mathematical Institute and University College London School of Management.

The Future is Predictable combines SITA’s global industry experience and studies with commentary and case studies from airports and airlines that are investing in the latest research and technologies.

Check out the full press release here.
For further details download SITA’s full report – The Future is Predictable


Phitek
New Zealand-based audio equipment and technology developer Phitek Systems has been sold to New York-listed Amphenol Corp, providing an exit for a number of domestic VC investors. Phitek’s previous backers include Direct Capital-managed TMT Ventures and Stephen Tindal’s K1W1 investment vehicle. TMT, which has been invested since 2005, has a direct 27 per cent and a 14 per cent holding shared with the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. Meanwhile, K1W1 owns 39 per cent. Phitek designs and supplies aircraft in-flight entertainment interconnect products for the commercial aerospace industry. You can read more here.


Lufthansa Technik
Luftahansa Technik has announced a two-in-one solution (TIOS) antenna radome for the Boeing 737-700 and -800. The antenna, installed on the vertical stabilizer to reduce drag and positively affect the aircraft’s center of gravity, will make it possible to install Ka-band antennas to provide high-speed internet, TV connections and a high-definition camera. The radome is up to 200 lb. (100 kg) lighter than the original and is FAA validated and has an EASA Supplemental Type Certification. You can find satellite communication options, products, services and companies in MRO Links, MRO-Network.com’s searchable directory.

TIOS – Two antennas under one radome – YouTube


Notes

  • Rich Salter told IFExpress: “Re: data transmission via light (LiFi), I just signed on to Moderate a session at AIX’ Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on April 3 in Hamburg. It is the Tech Horizons session (last one of the day) in the Connected Journey track, and one of the presenters is Prof Harald Haas of Edinburgh who is founder of PureLiFi  – and he coined the term “LiFi” too.”
  • Richie Sugimoto reports that Aircraft Cabin Systems has just received Certification of ISO9001 and AS9100 – Congratulations!

More Stuff

We started the first installment of our 2016’s predictions review in last week’s issue, so here is Part 2, or the wrap-up, from last year’s crystal ball – you can see how we did:

A) Beacons:
While last year we wrote about the future of beacon technology to be used in airports and on baggage, the market did not grow as quickly as we anticipated and this was due to a lot of factors. The following quote from tnooz sums it up pretty well: “As airports still search for use cases with value, and there is no generally accepted platform for this technology and its applications, the adoption is consequently slow.” Standards are the issue but we are happy to report some airlines are evaluating the technology.

Here is what we wrote last January:
“We have shown a number of beacon devices in pictures from the IFE trade shows but basically we are talking about mobile location, mobile intelligence or mobile sales communication devices. These are small battery free or line powered devices that communicate with your device over Bluetooth (4.1) and Wi-Fi. The folks at SITA have been developing a lot of airport related solutions and it remains to be seen when they will come aboard planes. Developed at Apple, the iBeacon Registry is their effort to get this technology started in airports and here are their services: It allows beacon owners (airlines, airports or 3rd parties) to manage their beacon infrastructure and track where they are placed in an airport. The technology enables airports to monitor beacon deployment to prevent radio interference with existing Wi-Fi access points. It provides beacons owners with a simple mechanism to set the ‘meta-data’ associated with beacons. Also, it has an API for app developers who want to use these beacons for developing travel and other related apps.”

Notes SITA: ‘The aims of the registry are to promote the use of beacons in the Air Transport Industry and reduce the cost and complexity of deployment. This can be achieved with the following design goals:

  • Promote shared beacon infrastructure to reduce cost and complexity of deployment.
  • Introduce standard beacon types and data definition to encourage reuse.
  • Provide a simple to use API to discover beacons and get meta-data about beacons.
  • Provide tools to airport operators and beacon owners to visualize and track beacons.
  • Be vendor agnostic – the service should work with beacons from any vendor.”

While airport beacon technology has not taken off as well as we expected we provide this current list of the technology and its’ applications, and the further use of wireless devices used to find things.

B) Security:

“This topic is massive and we will cover it for many times and years to come but we wanted to share one thought from an online article we read – ‘People were reported to be ‘almost universally’ the biggest weakness in information security, ahead of technology and processes..” We note, of the respondents that reported to have an insider threat or policy, 70% offer employee training to minimize risk it said “The company employs intelligence teams that study different aspects of communications, user activity, social media, suspicious activity and other details,” said one respondent. “We’re seeing a lot more hands-on training, employee monitoring, and testing to address the issue,” said Ari Kaplan, security researcher. In fact, this human focused trend will be the number one item at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the show of new gimmick things, one venue stood out: “#1 Say Goodbye to Cool, Hello to Security and Safety. At CES we have come to expect the latest new shiny gadgets but this is the beginning of change. The world is changing and aviation will be focused on this subject this year. Just consider how many folks touch technology that plugs into planes!”

If anything, we underestimated how big this subject was to become in our aviation lifestyle. The folks at Transparency Market Research noted that the total commercial aviation market is predicted to climb to $29.3 Billion by 2021 from $25.3 B in 2016 – roughly half of the market will be Avionics retrofits, but they note: “The use of modern commercial avionics systems also makes aviation vehicles more susceptible to online hacks.” Thus, our interest in security.

Another perfect example of interest growth is the increase in security related web links we save in our browser. In the beginning of 2016 we had 9 links identified – today we have 64. While we can’t begin to identify the many stories related to security failings at airports and from airlines and aviation hackers last year, this subject will get bigger and bigger – with a possible unacceptable number in 2017 – some possibly being potential horror stories.

C) Virtual Reality:

We noted VR last year: “Don’t get too excited about virtual reality for aircraft applications. In fact, here is the view from Rick Merritt in EE Times who seems to agree: “Some people will claim virtual and augmented reality will be the next big thing in the run up to the debut of a handful of major platforms in the spring. But by fall the heat will start to fade as consumers, chilled by their high price tags and underwhelming performance, give a pass on them as gifts for Xmas 2016.”Some airlines have been flirting with the concept of VR for a number of years and have even featured the technology in their airline lounges, but we believe this technology has a long way to go before it can migrate successfully to the airborne environment, especially if motion sickness is taken into consideration.”

It also begins to look like augmented reality might have a better inflight usage and acceptance this year. As an example the airline might transmit data to augmented devices to place information on glasses or phones like location, airspeed, whatever. However, The industrial market for augmented reality, and the logistics and manufacturing AR markets in particular, will soar by more than 400% in 2017, according to a forecast by ABI Research but it is hard to see IFEC applications, at least in lower classes, except those brought aboard by passengers.

D) Other:

Lastly, we noted in Other last year: “We probably don’t need to say it but Economy Class will get more crowded, competition will drop air fares as competition ‘crams’ up – possibly a new ‘mini or micro’ class, there should be more mergers as more airlines take on the Delta World concept, deals and freebies will exist for the frequent fliers while the rest of the travelers will pretty much just exist inflight (if that’s possible) you will need better pre-boarding ID, Airbnb and Uber concepts will tempt a new US airline concept but the idea will be killed (this is a tough one in the US), and in the end VR may be needed after all to blunt the reality of coach or class.”

We think we did pretty well last year and next week we will do a little predicting again and you will see what predictions our reader have too!


Boeing:
Boeing delivered 748 aircraft in 2016 (490 737s; nine 747s; 13 767s; 99 777s; 137 787s) vs a record of 762 in 2015 (495 737s; 18 747s; 16 767s; 98 777s; 135 787s).

Boeing booked orders for 848 aircraft in 2016 (701 737s, 18 747s, 26 767s, 23 777s; 80 787s) vs 878 in 2015 (666 737s; six 747s; 49 767s; 58 777s; 99 787s), net orders totaled 668 in 2016.

Boeing ended 2016 with a backlog of 5,715 aircraft (4,452 737s; 28 747s; 93 767s; 442 777s; 700 787s), down from 5,795 in 2015 (4,392 737s; 20 747s; 80 767s; 524 777s; 779 787s) – 550 737, 17 B747, 26 767, 17 777, and 58 787.

Technically, Boeing fell 80 planes short of their goal in 2016 – their lowest year orders since 2010 – and plane sales just may slow down in 2017 as well. However, Boeing does have a total of 5,715 jets on order.

Editor’s Note: Airbus is expected to announce the delivery of up to 688 planes, according to industry rumors, as their announcement is expected January 11th. If they announce 259 orders in Dec they could beat Boeing’s 668. Expect some surprises!


Rockwell Collins:
Rockwell Collins has acquired Pulse.Aero Limited, a UK-based company specializing in self-service bag drop solutions and airline applications, to enhance the company’s passenger processing services for airports and airlines. This acquisition further expands Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services strategy to enable the connected aviation ecosystem.“As passengers seek to take more control of their travel experience, this acquisition expands our portfolio of self-service passenger processing solutions, enabling us to streamline and simplify the passenger journey through a fully connected airport,” said Dave Nieuwsma, senior vice president, Information Management Services for Rockwell Collins. Pulse.Aero’s products and services will be integrated into the Airport Systems portfolio of Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services business. Rockwell Collins and Pulse. Aero have worked together on several successful deployments, including Dublin Airport, where new self-bag drop units were installed, reducing queue times and improving customer service.


Valour Consultancy Study:

A new paid study is available from Valour, but here is what they say about it: “The connected aircraft represents a paradigm shift for airlines and many are now in the early stages of deploying various applications. Several have begun to embrace staged increases in electronic flight bag (EFB) capabilities often starting with one or two apps that they can later build upon, according to a new study from UK-based market intelligence firm, Valour Consultancy. The report – How the Connected Aircraft fits into the Internet of Things – thoroughly details the raft of connected aircraft applications airlines are exploring in the hope of realizing considerable cost savings and/or ancillary revenue gains. It finds that the benefits of eTechlog, eCabin Logbook and enhanced flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) programs using quick access recorder (QAR) data are becoming better understood, while aircraft health monitoring solutions are being enriched by the infusion of increased data flows from previously disparate sub-systems and other information sources on and off the aircraft. Though certain airlines are further along in their connected aircraft strategy than others, there are many challenges to be overcome, says report author, Craig Foster. “Suppliers have invested millions in developing differentiated offerings and this lack of standards has resulted in concern and confusion about investing in the wrong technology. Second, there exists little in the way of tangible metrics that show how quickly a return on investment (ROI) may be achieved from connected aircraft applications. Third, there is a perception that the act of harnessing vast amounts of data results in magical value with some undoubtedly having overstated the reality of what is possible”. Download the whole story about the study in the link above or you can contact Craig for more information at: craig.foster@valorconsultancy.com