Firstly, we want to congratulate the folks at SmartTray (Astronics) for being a Crystal Cabin Award Finalist! Astronics cleverly saw the future of the product and set up an agreement “…to exclusively market, sell, and manufacture SmartTray’s new passenger device-friendly aircraft tray table solutions that facilitate hands-free use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) including smartphones.”

The SmartTray website tells the whole product story… almost. The device is pretty much as advertises: The X1 features a groove/clip in the rear of the tray that is a device stand (iPad etc.) in the rear of the tray table leaving room to work, eat, drink… you got the picture. Version X2 clips the tablet to the tray in the tray upright position and X4 is for First Class. Both Nick Pajic Sr. and Jr. of SmartTray were on hand at the Astronics booth and added a classy presentation capability for all their products.

However, it is the X3 that caught our attention! Here is text from the X3 page:

“SmartTray X3, in development, will transform decades old food tray designs into modern, cutting edge technology tablet device IFE at a fraction of the traditional seat embedded IFE systems costs. SmartTray X3 is economy class solutions for an airline with IFE capability wanting a cost-effective narrow body solution. Works with existing IFE servers. Content preloaded or streamed.”

This says to us, Astronics will be in the seatback, mechanical docking station business for airline owned IFE soon. The next question to ask is if FAA certification of installed tablets (or semi-installed, if you like) on the horizon? While we saw no tablet power solution on the SmartTray, and the company did not discuss this solution, can that be next? After all, Astronics major’s in aircraft passenger seat power. We understand there is a major airline installation deal in the works for this summer that will include trays installed inline and retrofit. You can read more about the Astronics deal with SmartTray here. Here is the real deal: If this all comes about with powered airline tablets, the next question to ask: Is this the future of IFE? (Editor’s Note: If you have a clever and safe solution to running power to the installed device interface plug over the moving tray arms and flopping trays, we bet Astronics might like to hear about it.)

We should also mention the newest member of the EMPOWER family, the Model 1191-4X that provides 110 VAC and 5 Volt USB (2.1A) for three seats. Note the lighted USB power jack above the 110 AC receptacle. The 1191-4X In-Seat Power Supply unit is a “smaller profile” than the USB-only (Model 1325-1 on the left) In-Seat Power Supply.

KID-Systeme GMBH
You remember Skypower, the inseat power source and perhaps, SKYfi an on-board connectivity platform for passenger and corporate aircraft to provide a wide range of on-board communication options, media applications and services. SKYfi can be installed on virtually every aircraft type and architecture. The lean system has certified hardware and uses different communication interfaces, making it very flexible… and attractive. We should also note, ‘SKYfi club’ is installed on Cebu Pacific Air, the largest airline n the Philippines.

At AIX, KID-Systeme also had their usual in-cabin connectivity solutions but what got our attention was their inseat display solutions shown. KID has been working with Lufthansa Tecknik for a Qantas installation using an iPad-based IFE solution.

While in the KID booth we were quite impressed with the in-seat concepts that the team has been working on and thought you might like to check them out if you did not get into to their exhibit at AIX. Their universal tablet holder solutions were really quite interesting and we note that they was an embedded IFE, noting that it is a concept study and a final product would not be a KID brand. In other words, KID would team with another vendor for the solution.

First, check out the tablet holder mechanism that resides behind the fold down tray.

Now, check out the tray tablet holder. Note that you can see the tablet holder mentioned in the previous shot. The spring loaded black clip is designed to provide a positive downward force holding the tablet in place.

This image is the protected insert device power source. Note: the area under the socket could contain available power information on a tag.

Here is an image of their simplest add-on device holder, probably for a small tablet or phone.

The seatback installation  is an adjustable seatback display design and this image shows use of a clear sliding screen designed to hold a tablet, when the LCD display is recessed back in the seatback permitting the support of a personal device and meeting FAA HIC requirements.

We also wanted to mention that the folks from BAE Systems announced their launch customer at AIX for their Intellicabin IFE solution with India’s Vistara Airlines. With 3 aircraft now installed (6 Biz seats, 36 Economy Plus, and 96 economy), they have a total of 20 A320 installations ordered. The system uses one server, 3 Kontron WAP’s and we are told that some 50 passengers are covered per server. Here is an image of the system on display at AIX.

PDT + Telefonix did a great job of trend prediction and observation at AIX. Be sure to check out their new ad in this issue of IFExpress to see the report!

Here is a note we just got in from the folks at Zodiac Inflight Innovations and you might want to check the presentation: “We are very excited to be a part of the Global Connected Aircraft Summit again this year! Our VP of Business Development Connectivity, Dr. Axel Jahn is speaking on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 2:20pm. He will be speaking on the topic of Cyber-Security and How a Connected Aircraft can Manage this threat. Click Here to view the entire agenda!”

You might want to read this bit of analysis about the US Congress and flying…

Gogo secured an FAA STC to install new 2Ku antenna on its 737-500 flying lab for testing; it expects the second STC by end 2015 to launch commercial service.

Sadly, we note the passing of Arthur Jamieson, who is remembered from his early days at British Caledonian to the founding of the InFlight Entertainment Co. Services at St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Hartfield, East Sussex, TN7 4AG, on Friday 12th June, at 11.00 a.m. Followed by a wake, to be held at: The Gallipot Inn Upper Hartfield.