The top global mega-trends in airline travel clearly define the present and future of aviation travel today and a few of the changing keywords and phrases are defining terminology that drove the Singapore APEX show: Connectivity, Innovation, Individual Empowerment, and Productivity are just a few of the terms that stood out to us. Another way to put it is basically travelers are using technology to improve their travel experience, lifestyles, and their world in general. Makes sense! In fact, “Connected” was probably the most commonly used word and we heard and saw it in action all over the show, in the city offices/buildings/shops, and in travel – folks have their smartphones and tablets out everywhere and find them more interesting than just about anything around them. But more importantly, this connected, informational lifestyle change has affected the future of travel locally and internationally. You had better believe folks like the airlines, retailers, and Google see that connectivity is the future.
CONNECTIVITY & TRAVELING TODAY
The APEX Conference in Singapore clearly demonstrated that connectivity is the heart of travel by Millennials and the rest of the device focused population. Interestingly, some 40% of passengers carry all 3 devices – laptop, smartphone and tablet – and, yes, we did the same! One expert noted that some 83% of passengers carry a smartphone onboard while over 50% of passengers value onboard Wi-Fi as a key criteria in airline choice. This certainly explains the unofficial show focus on the subject of travel connectivity. It is what is needed and so it is what’s happening.
Mobile services are becoming a big deal: an amazing 57% of travelers are using self-service for check-in and some 89% are aiming to implement mobile check in and boarding by the end of 2016. And there is no end to the airline apps that provide utility and reward for uploading. One technical meeting even tried to sort out all the data communication and ticketing communication issues that exist because every airline and ticket information collection effort is different and standards are in need of development.
Make no mistake, connectivity is a big deal today but it is about to get even bigger. Presently, some 4,982 airplanes are “connected” aircraft, but by 2025 there will be 16,560 connected aircraft, and when we refer to the connected aircraft we mean passenger connectivity and airline operations data as there are already connections to and from the flight deck for pilots and flight critical information. Further, reported digital ancillary revenues are tracking connectivity growth. For example, one speaker reported that in 2015 revenues were $40.5 Billion and by 2020 they are predicted to reach $130 Billion!
Today’s modern traveler, as one speaker stated, is “embracing connected platforms, living online, and discovering more through digital technology” and by just visiting an airport you will find that statement true. And, of course, Google sees a place (market) in pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight, connectivity options – smart folks! As one industry panelist said: “The digital world enables the discovery of the real world!”
During APEX the IFExpress team talked to some 50 to 60 companies and we found a lot of real stories that we will deliver in the coming weeks; however, we thought that we would give our readers some hints, thoughts, views and temptations of what is to come in the next month or so.
WHAT WE SAW – SOME SURPRISES, SOME EXPECTATIONS
1) From a general perspective, companies were focusing on the end-to-end experience for the passenger. For example, enabling the airline to engage the passenger via the airline app after ticket purchase but before the date of flight. Continuing the engagement process through the airport, onto the aircraft and until the arrival at the hotel/home. This is mostly being implemented through software upgrades, software hooks, and data mining but there were some new products and services in the offering. Airlines want to be able to ‘engage’ their passengers more throughout the trip – providing a tailored experience even in drudge class.
2) This was a year where IFExpress saw more focus on software iterations vs. new hardware/technology developments. Mind you, this is a broad generalization as there were some updates to existing servers with larger SSD and one or two new technology applications being exhibited. However, on a whole we saw a focus on utilizing existing hardware with improved software to enable data acquisition to enhance the passenger experience and improve the real-time evaluation of aircraft operations all enhanced by increased memory. Both of these have been longtime goals either by the airlines, OEMs or both.
3) IFE vendors were also focusing on the ability to provide the airline with operations information real-time. For example, this will enable the airline to reduce down-time of aircraft, increase turnaround time when there is a mechanical issue. The benefits of real-time data acquisition will be achieved by utilizing the various methods of communication now available to the airlines – broadband (satellite), Wi-Fi, 3G/4G cellular, and gatelink. The method of transmission is determined by the critical nature of the data and the transmission environment. For example, if there was an engine issue, it could be transmitted real-time to the ground so a repair crew could meet the aircraft upon landing, facilitating a quicker turnaround of the aircraft and maybe even keeping the next flight’s departure on time, possibly through an existing non-engine data communication network. Obviously, certification of these and competitive solutions will greatly affect these connectivity solutions. But, all of this saves the airline money in the long run. Obviously this would work with more certainty for an IFE screen that was malfunctioning or a seat that was inoperable over a cabin connectivity ground-to-air link.
4) The aforementioned services also provide the vendors with the ability to offer the service of monitoring and evaluating other non critical (or not as critical) data to an airline – especially if the airline doesn’t want to analyze the data in house. This is a potentially new revenue stream for the vendors and possibly a field for new vendors.
5) Much of the software iterations we saw at the show allowed the airlines to tailor their GUI and media in house and real-time. As an example, airlines now have the capability to analyze whether movie “A” is being viewed as anticipated, if the viewing falls short of anticipated numbers the airline can switch it out with another option prior to the current media cycle being completed. This not only keeps the media fresh but allows the airline to get better value from their media expenditure. Also, the ease of using these software tools allows airlines to potentially have a smaller number of individuals working on media management. We should mention that with this approach to content monitoring the possibility of linked content loading is also an example of real-time performance monitoring.
6) With the advent of Wi-Fi, gatelink, etc. we are seeing faster media load times. We also saw the ability to load new content while the aircraft was in use as mentioned above. This all saves time for sure now, and money in the future.
7) Broadband solutions are finally coming online to make the aforementioned a reality by providing global coverage. Some vendors are investing heavily in either their own satellites or purchasing dedicated transponder space.
AND MORE OBSERVATIONS
8.) There were a few of 100+ airplane IFEC hardware deals pending (and done) that may be a surprise to some.
9.) There were a few new IFEC entrants comprised of young, technical developers who want a piece of the IFEC business and we will watch their growth. And yes, some of the troops were from the old school companies that have less to offer, or offer nothing at all new today.
10.) One company, and one company alone, offered a true Bluetooth in cabin wireless connectivity solution with both low data and high data solutions.
11.) USB – C is here and the folks from IFPL will have more to say about it in another story.
12.) As Ka-Band connectivity makes the scene we might even see lower competitive data products, but that is, of course, a prediction.
13.) One company in the flight path mapping arena blew our minds with the way their ‘Silicon Valley’ Top Dog showed IFExpress his plans to deliver a planned and plotted solution to your travel plans, in the air AND ON THE GROUND.
14.) Some new entrants to the IFEC madness have a couple seemingly good ideas that we had never heard of and plan to surprise us all soon!
15.) It is always a surprise to visit a vendor that told us what was coming last year and we missed the big picture – only to get a personal awakening this year. ‘Passenger connectivity before, during, and after a flight’ is the subject and the folks at SITONAIR really had their act together about it.
16.) Happy 25th Birthday GoGo!
17.) There is no place better on earth to throw an outdoor reception than Singapore: The top of buildings provide a view unlike no other on this planet, and they feature the best of everything. Thank You Gogo, Panasonic, Thales, APEX and everyone else that provided an incredible list of evening entertainment and hosting – you folks are the best! Be sure to check out our flckr link for expo images!
IFExpress talked to many attendees about the show and we decided to share some of their comments with our readers:
1) Attendance was noted: “I was surprised how well-attended it was, considering all the people from North America that I knew would not make the trip.”
2) “Education Day on Monday before the EXPO had some very good presentations – Hopefully they should all be posted on the APEX website soon (audio and PP slides).”
3) We asked about technical/products announcements that made sense and one respondent noted: “FTS Technologies’ flight attendant app for the smartwatch was the best that I saw.”
4) Another area that really counts is networking and the value of getting together: “The networking was great – events were fun and talked with a lot of people.” We couldn’t agree more.
5) Industry news is always a big deal and we asked one news expert and she told IFExpress: “The biggest news had to be the Rockwell acquisition of BEA, depending on their strategy for ‘hands-off’ management vs integration into the Rockwell family. If RCI takes a hands off approach and lets BEA continue to operate on its own, then the news might be different. If RCI tries to integrate it into RCI operations or develop an IFE system to sell with seats as a package deal, then it’s possibly even bigger news!”
6) One vendor told IFExpress: “I don’t know if co-locating with AIX Asia and FTE really achieved any cross-over attendees that would not have gone to APEX anyway – every time I went down to see AIX and FTE the floor there it was really dead.”
7) Another IFE vendor told us; “Except for the wireless apps, no real standout technical or new product announcements that we saw. Probably the next most interesting things were the VR experience by Neutral and the Immersive Glasses by Skylights. Also, Ron Chapman’s Bluetooth text communications product working over Iridium is real interesting too.”
8) Another show goer told us we could also add a mention about the new APEX Awards and the fact that they were expanded from 2 to 8 categories this year. “It’s a step in the right direction since IFEC is too diverse a subject to shoehorn all the products and services into a couple categories.” And, we couldn’t agree more!
Lastly, we need to say that Joe Leader and his team of real experts did a great show job. Thank you for inviting us and keep up the good work!
Cedar Rapids, Iowa | October 18, 2016– As airlines and airports come together in Singapore for the Airline Passenger Experience (APEX) Expo and Future Travel Experience (FTE) Asia Expo, Rockwell Collins will be there showcasing its powerful portfolio of solutions that deliver a complete end-to-end experience for passengers.
At APEX, the focus will be on the company’s PAVES in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems, Inmarsat GX Ka-band connectivity and applications and value-added services — all aimed at engaging, connecting and entertaining airline passengers.
“Airlines are interested in how they can provide their passengers with the best experience in the airport, onto the aircraft and through to the final destination,” said Jeff Sare, vice president, Sales and Marketing, Air Transport Cabin Solutions for Rockwell Collins.
He continued, “We offer extensive experience in a connected aviation ecosystem. Airlines are already taking advantage of our latest solutions with unprecedented reliability and we look forward to meeting with airlines at APEX to find solutions that meet their specific needs, especially in the area of of Ka-band connectivity.”
At FTE, Rockwell Collins will promote and demonstrate its next-generation airport solutions that are improving efficiencies in passenger processing, security and passenger experience.
“APEX and FTE attendees will have the opportunity to experience the breadth of Rockwell Collins expertise across the entire curb-to-curb experience, including integrated passenger processing, biometric identity management, self-service baggage handling, and interactive flight information and wayfinding,” said Chris Forrest, vice president, Airport Solutions for Rockwell Collins. “Rockwell Collins is in a unique position. We’re excited to showcase how we can support the entire aviation ecosystem.”
First up this week we have a Portland Preview of what to see at APEX EXPO in Oregon September 28 – October 1, from the folks at IFPL:
The 2015 EXPO will see IFEC industry innovator IFPL bring its new Dual-pin MagSignal magnetic Audio Jack, a new USB 3.0 and USB C plug and its highly reliable Reversible USB A data and power port, strengthening the industry proven audio jack and data port range. In addition, IFPL will demonstrate the latest NFC technology for payment and personalization; together with the launch of its combined Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) concept specifically design for the aircraft cabin. All aimed at intensifying relationships, passenger personalization and truly enhancing the experience on-board current and next generation aircraft.
IFPL takes a new turn with the introduction of its range of Long Life jacks, the innovative Dual-pin and triple pin magnetic Breakaway Audio jack; a new cost neutral solution, virtually eliminating customer induced damage providing cost effective lifetime use. IFPL extends its USB range to include its reversible USB-A and new USB 3.0 and USB-C combining power and data module to meet current and future USB standards to support at-seat Portable Electronic Device (PED) charging and data transfer without requiring modification or re-certification of existing seats.
IFPL lead the way when it comes to NFC payment technology on-board aircraft and already works with global OEM’s on using this technology to deliver in-flight retail sales and customer personalization that enables airlines to enhance on-board revenue and customize the passenger experience.
IFPL demonstrates the latest version of the its semi embedded IFE concept enabling airlines to provide tablet based solution while delivering an experience that is comfortable and integrated to meet the passenger requirements.
The IFPL team will be delighted to welcome you to stand 1408 at APEX 2015 and demonstrate our exciting range of products and new innovations. If you would like further information, please contact us at email@example.com.
IFExpress will have more on the best places in Portland is forthcoming issues, but remember, the town is dedicated to good food, good coffee, good beer, and good times!
And speaking of conferences, Aircraft Interiors EXPO Americas runs in Seattle November, 4 – 5 and you can find out a bit more and signup here – it is free! Airbus’ Francis Bouchard will be sharing his knowledge with us on passenger comfort and the genesis of a new IFE generation in his A350 XW comfortably yours Case Study. He will also be discussing how we can improve integration of inflight entertainment and connectivity systems with seating.
EXPO will also have Günter Boomgaarden from Zodiac Aerospace who will join to discuss and share knowledge on how you create lighting solutions that enhance all the major brand elements of the cabin and what the benefits are of thinking about lighting solutions earlier in the design process. Check out the full list of speakers and seminars
Kymeta Corporation and SHARP Corporation announced a development agreement to design products that will pave the way for cost-effective mobile satellite communications. Under the agreement, SHARP will use its liquid crystal display production technology to manufacture Kymeta’s new flat-panel satellite antenna, allowing both companies to create new opportunities for the satellite communications industry.
Kymeta antennas use liquid crystal-based metamaterials to solve one of the satellite industry’s longest-standing technical challenges: the need for lightweight, slim and efficient antennas that use software to electronically point and steer towards a satellite, eliminating the need for costly and cumbersome mechanical steering equipment and allowing for rapid setup and installation.
Enabled by Kymeta’s mTenna technology, this suite of antennas uses a first-of-its-kind, glass-on-glass design concept that leverages the same components and manufacturing processes as SHARP’s existing flat-panel display production lines. This means that SHARP can manufacture the Kymeta antennas using its existing production capabilities and, with little or no modification, produce electronically scanned antennas for mobile satellite communications.“Three years of intensive collaboration with SHARP have led us to a product design that can be manufactured utilizing SHARP’s existing production capabilities. This is an important moment for Kymeta. By using a production technology that is already widely deployed in consumer devices, with over $250 billion of industry-wide investment in infrastructure and R&D, we will be able to mass-produce antennas on a scale previously unattainable,” said Dr. Nathan Kundtz, CEO of Kymeta. “Sharp is an excellent partner for Kymeta because of its history and culture of innovation and releasing excellent products.”
“We have over 40 years of experience bringing high-quality liquid crystal displays to consumers,” said Atsushi Ban, division general manager of the Display Device Development Division of Sharp Corporation. “Working with Kymeta, we’re able to create antennas thin and light enough to bring entertainment and connectivity to wherever our customers are.”
Gogo reported record quarterly revenue of $121.2 million, up 22% year-over-year. Service revenue increased 28% to $101.4 million, exceeding $100 million in a single quarter for the first time. “Q2 was another outstanding quarter for Gogo. We delivered record financial results; received the first of two certifications needed to fly 2Ku on our own aircraft; and signed a definitive agreement with GOL, a leading Brazilian airline, to equip its entire fleet of 140 aircraft with 2Ku, our next generation satellite technology,” said Gogo’s President and CEO, Michael Small. “We expect this year that 2Ku will begin to bring an industry leading combination of capacity, cost, reliability and global coverage to planes both in North America and internationally. I am very pleased with our progress to date in getting 2Ku to commercial deployment and with our continued success in winning airlines as we expand internationally.”
SITA OnAir announces first EASA STC for GX Aviation – Introduction of GX Aviation moves a step closer. SITA OnAir is developing the first EASA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for Inmarsat’s high speed Ka-band broadband service, GX Aviation. SITA OnAir is working with EAD Aerospace, an Eclipse company, on the STC to retro fit Boeing 777 series aircraft, on behalf of an undisclosed Airline. The development of this first GX Aviation STC brings the commercial availability of GX Aviation closer. Combined with the expected launch of the third and final GX Aviation satellite at the end of August, momentum is building rapidly.
“This STC will allow the installation and activation of connectivity covering SITA OnAir’s nose-to-tail e-Aircraft portfolio. This includes solutions and products for passengers, cabin crew, cockpit crew, aircraft data and maintenance, flight operations and air traffic control,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of SITA OnAir. “What’s new is that inflight connectivity using high throughput satellite networks extends the possibilities for passengers as well as airlines’ professional use. Airlines will be able to exchange data for operational purposes, and passengers will have the same Internet speed they are used to at home.”
GX Aviation will provide 50MB/s to the aircraft, in particular, giving passengers high-speed Wi-Fi. This is the new reality of inflight connectivity. For the very first time, there really is no difference between being in the air and being on the ground. SITA OnAir already has over 40 STCs, covering the retro fit of inflight connectivity systems on Airbus aircraft, including the A320 family types, A330s and A340s, as well as Boeing aircraft including B737s, B767s and B777s. In addition, SITA OnAir systems are available as line fit on the entire Airbus fleet as well as on Boeing B777s and B787s. It is also a line fit option on selected VIP aircraft, including the Dassault Falcon 7X and Airbus Corporate Jets. OnAir’s STCs have been awarded by the major certification authorities across the world, including the FAA in the US, EASA in Europe, the Singapore CAA, and Japan’s CAB. Importantly, existing STCs can be reused for new airline orders. SITA OnAir can also adapt the STC to meet airlines’ specific technical, cosmetic and/or maintenance requirements. “We have worked closely with EAD Aerospace on many STCs and I fully anticipate this will be a smooth process,” continued Dawkins. “In tandem, we are also working together to kick-start similar GX Aviation STCs on other aircraft types, including the A320 family.”
Marc Pinault, General Manager of Eclipse, said “Our cooperation with OnAir is a good example of how the Eclipse acquisition of EAD Aerospace earlier this year allows our partners to benefit from Eclipse’s extensive background in satcom issues and EAD Aerospace’s Part 21 skills to ensure all variables relating to a satcom installation are taken into account when delivering an STC.” The STC is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016. SITA OnAir is a key Distribution Partner for GX Aviation. With 400 airline customers operating over 14,000 aircraft, SITA OnAir is ideally placed to be the Tier One provider of connectivity solutions across the globe.
(Editor’s Note: You can view SITA e-Aircraft Nose-To-Tail Solutions here Very nice web work, scroll and see!)
Rockwell Collins announced it has acquired Newport News, Virginia-based International Communications Group, Inc. (ICG), a leading provider of satellite-based global voice and data communication products and services for the aviation industry. The initial purchase price was $50 million and additional post-closing consideration of up to $14 million may be paid.n “This acquisition broadens our portfolio of information-enabled avionics by adding ICG’s latest generation of Iridium satcom terminals and smart routers to our existing flight deck and cabin connectivity offerings,” said Kent Statler, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Commercial Systems for Rockwell Collins. “When coupled with our broad array of network solutions, including our ARINC aviation networks and other satellite communication services, it accelerates our vision of being a leader in end-to-end information management solutions for airlines and business jet operators.” ICG’s products and services will be integrated into Rockwell Collins’ Commercial Systems portfolio.
Global aeronautical communications provider Satcom Direct Communications, Inc., a U.S. company, has entered into a purchase agreement to acquire Airbus DS SatCom Government, Inc. (ASGI), expanding its market presence and offerings to the U.S. government sector. ASGI is a government satellite communications business unit of Airbus Defense and Space for the U.S. market and will operate as a subsidiary of Satcom Direct Communications (SDC), of Satellite Beach, FL. The purchase agreement includes acquisition of ASGI’s business operations as well as two satellite earth stations located on the East and West Coasts of the United States. “Combining the two organizations provides distinct synergies, allowing for a greater support infrastructure as well as enhanced capabilities, technology and expertise to our respective U.S. government customers,” said David Greenhill, President of Satcom Direct Communications. “The acquisition will also provide an increased ability to competitively offer fixed and mobile satellite services in Ku, Ka, L, C, and X bands in multiple markets, especially aviation.” The deal has been submitted to the U.S. authority and is expected to close within the next few months.
Lastly, if you wanted to know a bit more about the famous Pan Am China Clipper, we have terrific video, recommended by Boeing retiree, Bob Bogash… Good Stuff, and we bet you don’t know half of what went on in Pacific flying in the 30’s!
- Airlines, Vendors from Around the World Converge on Anaheim for Industry’s Leading Airline Passenger Experience Event
Anaheim, CA | September 2013– The 2013 APEX/IFSA EXPO saw record attendance of nearly 3,400 airline and vendor representatives – movie distributors, inflight product developers, service providers and more – from around the globe, with attendees hailing the event as a huge success. The EXPO was held 9-12 September in Anaheim, California, USA.
“The EXPO this year was amazing,” said Linda Celestino, president of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX). “Seventy-four airlines from around the world and hundreds of vendor companies representing the entire passenger experience were able to reconnect and do business in an ideal setting. There’s a reason APEX is considered this industry’s most important annual event and a community of innovators dedicated to constantly improving the passenger experience.”
The show featured world-class educational programming covering content trends, portable electronic devices, technologies that are transforming the passenger experience, the future of comfort and cabin ambience, and advancements in catering options.
Attendees flocked to the newly expanded tradeshow floor, which this year featured exhibits devoted to Multimedia, Comfort/Ambience and Services. The show was the first time during which APEX and the International Flight Services Association (IFSA) offered full access to all attendees from both associations.
Additionally, airlines and industry leaders were honored at the APEX Awards Ceremony – covering the Passenger Choice Awards, the Avion Awards, and Honorary Awards.
The 2014 EXPO will be in 15-18 September, 2014, in Anaheim. For more information about upcoming APEX events – including an educational event 4-5 November in Shanghai, China, visit www.apex.aero.