Museum of Flight at Boeing Field:

I recently had a meeting at the Seattle Museum of Flight on Boeing Field. While my visit was business… I left the meeting… and lost my sense of time and history – because once you see an old aircraft that fought in a war, or provided the transportation for a historical event, or was the first of it’s kind, you just get lost… lost in time, and possibly lost in space. Interestingly, you become part of the event that the person, plane or spacecraft was famous for… or you become immersed in the art background and signage describing the history and achievement of the craft. One visitor told us that he and his kids were fascinated by the description and experiences of the museum’s individual plane tour guides, who in many cases had flown that aircraft. It is also easy to get wrapped-up in the in mood lighting surrounding the planes in the halls, especially in the periods like those in the WW1 Hall and WW2 Halls. While it has been a long time, as a child, I would have given anything to see what I saw last week at the Museum of Flight. One suggestion, however, don’t let your children say the same thing.

OK, if you want a fast tour of the Museum here it goes: Museum Galleries, Airpark, Great Gallery, Lear Gallery, Personal Courage Wing, Red Barn, & Space Gallery. That’s 7 galleries, many halls, 29 exhibits + a museum store, 140 real aircraft, 12 spacecraft, pre-1900s to 2010s types, from 73 manufacturers… and some 40 of 140 shown planes in the air and on the ground in the Great Gallery. Founded in 1965, the Museum of flight has been growing since it’s inception, but we think the real hero was T. Wilson… he made “The” museum building on Boeing Field happen.

As a bit of museum background, here is what the website says:
“Museum of Flight is devoted to the preservation and sharing of aviation and aerospace history and technology.
Founded as the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation in 1965 by a group of local Boeing engineers and aviation enthusiasts, the Museum’s collection was established out of a desire by the group to preserve artifacts and materials representing the entire evolution of flight and to prevent them from being lost, destroyed and forgotten with time. Since 1965, The Museum of Flight’s collection has come to be regarded as one of the best air and space museum collections in the world. The Museum’s collection contains over 150 aircraft, over 25,000 small objects (classified as anything smaller than an aircraft), over 90,000 books and periodicals, over 15,000 aircraft manuals and technical reports and nearly 5,000 cubic feet of archival materials including an estimated four million images. As a Smithsonian Affiliate institution and an accredited American Alliance of Museums institution, we continuously endeavor to meet their standards and best practices in all aspects of our operations, especially in regards to caring for and preserving our collection.”

The Pavilion (across the street form the main Museum building) is incredibly large and hosts an many big planes in a covered outdoor building. One writer said it is larger than two football fields! The new “hanger” effectively doubles the museum foot print, in fact it adds 3 acres of aviation history floor space! It is home for some 19 iconic planes like the world’s first Boeing 747 Jumbo, the 787 Dreamliner, the British Airways Concorde (SST – the last to fly in revenue service), B-17, B29, and B-47 bombers. The site has a convenient “air” bridge to get you there. This inclined walkway is defiantly a better way to reach the Pavilion, not to mention, listening to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” playing on the loudspeakers there topped the experience. As with all airplanes, pictures never do them justice but here are a few shots we took that should give you a better idea of the flight scene there are here.

You can fly in on your own plane or in a commercial airline to Boeing Field or Sea-Tac, and if you have a child that likes aviation, you MUST take her or him to see the real planes. You might ask why is this trip worth the effort? The answer is simple: because they can climb in and touch and feel what aviation is all about… and it is about more than planes. It is about flying, it’s about education, and it’s about history… but it is also about fun!


Panasonic:

OmniAccess, a leading supplier of integrated communications solutions to super yachts and cruise-ships, and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), today unveiled a tailored XTS “extremely high throughput” satellite network for multiple mobility markets. Details on this new communications service are available to key customers that visit the OmniAccess booth at the Monaco Yacht Show. OmniAccess and Panasonic began collaborating on XTS high-throughput satellite designs in September 2015 in order to bring unprecedented levels of capacity and performance to OmniAcess’ existing Super yacht and cruise customers. Through this agreement OmniAccess has secured access to Panasonic’s existing HTS capacity, currently contracted capacity and the future XTS satellite network, bringing industry-leading capacity and performance to its yachting and cruise ship markets. Leveraging Panasonic’s existing global high-speed satellite network, OmniAccess is already providing industry-leading connection speeds of over 200 Mbps to select individual customers.

Paul Margis, CEO of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “We announced our partnership with OmniAccess at the Monaco Yacht Show last year, and since then, we’ve been able to develop solutions that have improved our operational efficiencies and also delivered higher performance and better service to OmniAccess’ super yacht customers. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with OmniAccess to establish a new standard in high-bandwidth services for the mobility market.”

(Editor’s Note: Normally we wouldn’t place a news release that predominately refers to maritime in our publication. However, in this instance we believe it to have relevance as the relationship between Panasonic Avionics and OmniAccess refers to “multiple mobility markets”,  “XTS high-throughput satellite” and “Leveraging Panasonic’s existing global high-speed satellite network”. After all, a revenue stream is a revenue stream whether it is initiated from an ocean or the air! And we wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these relationships in our industry.)


IFPL:

APEX 2016 will see the very latest in connectivity, payment and power solutions from IFEC specialists IFPL, on Booth 1745 at the Singapore based show.

IFPL leads the way when it comes to deploying contactless payment systems NFC (Near Field Communication) on-board aircraft, with global OEM’s and airlines using this technology for seat back in-flight retail and customer personalization. APEX 2016 will see IFPL demonstrate its new NFC ‘Pin-On-Screen’ solution that enables high value off line transactions by removing the current low value payment barrier. This step change will allow airlines to expand and sell high value items thus increasing ancillary revenues.

With portable and wearable tech now widespread, visitors to APEX can also see IFPL’s USB- C and USB-A units, both providing hi-speed data and power.

As always, innovation from IFPL will be on display with the company demonstrating its new integrated seat arm concept. This will reflect its ability to customize peripherals to support the design language, aesthetics and ergonomics required for true IFE and seat integration.

IFPL will be demonstrating their ‘Charge-2-Charge’ solution for both inductive and USB charging – this will enable airlines to generate additional revenue from passengers wishing to charge their portable devices during flights. Demonstrations will also be available for their popular 110V A/C power outlet and its combination 110V and USB-A & C.

Solving the problem of broken headphone sockets are IFPL’s MagSignal Audio units. Cost neutral when compared with traditional sockets, MagSignal Technology allows the headset cable to be pulled and detached from any angle without detriment; reducing customer induced damage (CID) and maintenance disruption to aircraft.

As always IFPL’s established range of IFEC products and solutions will be on display and the team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirement that visitors to APEX 2016 in Singapore may have.


Gogo Partnering:

Gogo recently announced that it will partner with Air France-KLM to connect its existing long-haul fleet representing 124 aircraft, with an airline option to install the technology on additional aircraft in the future. The fleet of aircraft receiving Gogo’s 2Ku technology will include numerous aircraft types, including the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330s. “We are delighted to bring Gogo’s industry leading 2Ku technology to one of the largest airlines in the world and two of the most iconic brands in commercial aviation,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “2Ku delivers a ground-like performance to aircraft flying around the world today, including the ability to stream video. One of the many benefits of 2Ku is that it’s built on an open architecture and can leverage new technology advancements in the future, which means the technology will get even better over time and will provide passengers with a superior connectivity experience now and in the future.” The first aircraft is expected to be in service end of next year, with the bulk of the installations taking place during 2018-2019.

Gogo Next-Gen:
The company also announced that it is developing its next generation ground-based technology to better serve the connectivity needs of business and commercial aviation in North America. This technology will offer a ground-like performance, including the ability to stream videos, for business aviation aircraft, commercial regional jets and select narrow-body aircraft operating within the United States and Canada. The new network will use unlicensed spectrum, a proprietary modem and a new beam-forming antenna to produce peak network speeds of more than 100 Mbps. This next generation ground-based network for the aero market will utilize LTE technology and leverage Gogo’s existing first generation North American network and infrastructure of more than 250 towers.

“Leveraging our first generation network is key to making this next generation network highly reliable and economical to deploy,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s CTO. “Gogo’s next generation network will also be backward-compatible with Gogo’s first generation network, which means an aircraft will be able to seamlessly switch between Gogo’s fthe two networks networks similar to how a cell phone on the ground connects to the fastest available network.”

The benefits of this new network for commercial aircraft operating within the United States and Canada include: low equipment cost and weight, overnight installation, and low drag on the aircraft due to the small size of the antennas. It also has big advantages in terms of latency compared to satellite solutions.

Aircraft outfitted with one of Gogo’s earlier generation air-to-ground technologies will simply need to be outfitted with a new modem and blade antenna to take advantage of the new service.

The service is expected to be available in 2018. Great article this morning. Separately, we have got big news this morning from Gogo as we announce our next generation ground network to support IFC in North America. We now have upgrade paths to more than 100 Mbps for both our North American ground-based and our global satellite networks. This will enable passengers to do everything they can do on the ground, in-flight. The network will use unlicensed spectrum and will require minimal updates for an aircraft.

(Editor’s Note: You should probably read this as well.)


SmartSky:

SmartSky Networks’ patented SmartSky 4G radio system completed the major milestone of receiving FCC certification, clearing the way for deployment of the ultra-fast SmartSky 4G air-to-ground network later this year, with nationwide service launching in mid-2017. Haynes Griffin, SmartSky Chairman and CEO, stated, “After investing tens of millions of dollars and over five years of research and development effort, SmartSky’s now certified technology has unlocked enough spectrum to be able to offer, for the first time, the reliable use of a sophisticated, custom-designed 4G system that can deliver an office-like internet experience in the air for both business aviation and commercial aviation customers.”FCC certification is the culmination of work to develop and patent protect the multiple bodies of technology that uniquely enable SmartSky to make use of the unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum band, all without causing harmful interference to or receiving interference from the operation of the same band on the ground. Despite the widespread assertion that aviation-related spectrum reuse in the unlicensed band would not be feasible, SmartSky has successfully solved the challenge by implementing new technical methods that are broadly covered by its robust and growing portfolio of 20 granted patents. Additional patents are pending.

Reed Hundt, SmartSky’s Vice Chairman of the Board and former Chairman of the FCC, remarked, “Long ago, the FCC authorized the allocation of large blocks of unlicensed spectrum to foster innovation and encourage competition. Today, we see the amazing results of that prescient regulation, which has resulted in ubiquitous Wi-Fi on the ground. By application of novel technologies using 2.4 GHz unlicensed spectrum, SmartSky’s breakthrough will finally give the aviation industry the superior connectivity now taken for granted terrestrially.”

Roberson and Associates, a highly regarded independent wireless industry consulting firm, investigated the ability of SmartSky’s radio technology to seamlessly coexist with terrestrial Wi-Fi. CEO Dennis Roberson, who is also Chairman of the FCC’s Technical Advisory Council, commented, “SmartSky’s technology solution is transparent to Wi-Fi users on the ground, enabling the air-to-ground sharing of the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band.”

SmartSky’s technology and patent portfolio is not limited to the unlicensed band. Most of the patents apply to any frequency and any waveform in any high speed air-to-ground network. Because these are broad patents, SmartSky enables underlying technical advances to be incorporated into its conceptual solution. “Over time, this will allow SmartSky to keep pace with the latest advances in computing, antennas, radios and networking while still being protected by our foundational patents,” said Griffin.


Rockwell Collins:

Continuing a relationship that has lasted over 70 years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has renewed its Aeronautical Mobile Communications Service (AMCS) agreement with Rockwell Collins. Under the agreement, the company will continue to provide Air Traffic Control (ATC) communications, including position reports, aircraft requests and ATC clearances, between the FAA and aircraft flying in U.S. oceanic airspace.


Uber Transportation in Singapore!

Lastly, here is a Singapore treat from the nice folks at Uber, the transportation app company. It’s easy to use: In the app, choose your ride and set your location. Once you get matched, you’ll see your driver’s picture and vehicle details, at the same time, you can easily track their estimated time of arrival on the map. No phone calls to make, no pick-ups to schedule. With 24/7 availability, request a ride any time of day. Here is how you can get started: Download the Uber app and register for an account. You’ll have the option to input your credit card or opt for cash payment. To enjoy a $15 FREE ride, simply enter the code IFEXPRESS into the Promotions tab! Hurry – the code is valid until 31 October 2016.

Last year we wrote in our first issue: “Happy New Year to our readers and thank you for another year of IFE change and growth. We are always excited to write up our predictions, in fact, we have been researching for a couple of weeks now to bring you the latest in prediction news. Based on technology change, we are in for a ride this year, and beyond. Everything from drones to privacy is at risk to become a new item in 2015, and as we move into the world of change, we hope you find our view a bit different… and a bit useful.” The sentiment still holds so let’s get started on 2016. Here are a few of the big market and changes that we might see (or need) in the techno-world to come with aviation as our focus.

Messaging:
While 2016 may have a few techno-changes from 2015 and summary numbers differ, we are are riding the same messaging train! Since technology and media have grown so much (at least in the US) folks are spending more time on it than sleep or work (Business Insider), there appears to be plenty of opportunity time for messaging (Facebook, Twitter, and the like) but messaging will be even bigger. If you don’t believe it, just watch the ‘head down time’ at a public function where time is spent on devices – it’s less invasive and non interruptive.

Why is this a boom time for messaging, you might ask? The answer must lie in new, portable communication technology for one. If, as some writers predict, we spend over half of our waking day with media and technology, and because the devices and connectivity mediums are there, plain and simple, we will text. From a broader perspective, time on major digital activities will increase and has done so for each year for the last 5 years. To a greater extent, these behaviors are clearly a dominating trend and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Further, as folks ‘cut’ their cable TV, products are rising up in the wireless world to support streaming TV via the Internet for portable devices. Check out this FierceCable article for more information on this subject.

On aircraft, we also expect to see this increase, after all some 97% of passengers (notes SITA) have devices with Facebook Messenger, What’s App, and WeChat. These devices (and apps) and limited connectivity channels are there, all we need are more lower price solutions (free or flat fee)… and yes, there are a few on the horizon and we will discuss them this year, but we digress for now. If anything will be a big deal in inflight lifestyle changes, it will be more messaging!

Audio:
From an audio perspective, our daily life is a good predictor of what we want, and will do, on airplanes. Streaming audio is not new on the ground, with some predictors noting 4 hours of each day in that pursuit. On planes it is usually a ‘canned’ experience because connectivity to the ground is not cheap. However, with the demand of services like google Play, Amazon, MP3, NPR, Apple Music, Spotify and many more, there may be a future for advertised, real-time, streaming… if for no other reason than news. Today it’s the ‘under 17’ that spend the most streaming time but they do get older and will replace the ‘over 55’ who rely mostly on AM/FM – something to think about for your next IFE system.

Bags/Baggage:
Perhaps the past year has been better (data not out yet), but in the previous year (2014), the passenger count that lost a bag reached 24.1 million and, we note, the trend has been dropping (2007 – 18.9 lost bags per thousand pax, down 61.3% to 2014 – 7.3 lost bags per thousand pax). However with increasing load factors, increased seating and increasing traffic, it will be a real challenge for airlines to keep up. In 2014 it cost the airlines over $2 Billion for mishandled bags so the airlines are ahead of the $4.22 Billion in 2007. We also note that half of the issues were caused by transfer mishandling. Perhaps the new personal Bluetooth and Wi-Fi bag finders in conjunction with the new self bag tag programs, and the eventual electronic bag-tag programs (NFC and RFID) will reduce the loss even further in 2016. In fact, SITA has been making inroads with their BagManager baggage tracking service in 2015 and we anticipate this feature to take off in 2016.

Beacons:
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.”

Furthermore, ABI Research notes: “Research data shows that, from a beacon shipment perspective, most vendors are shipping multiple contracts in the tens of thousands. This is a major upgrade from 2014, indicating that a lot of retailers are ramping up to deploy in 2016. Although not public yet, several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) completed funding rounds, which will enable them to grow in 2016. Sensoro is emerging as a major market player, with more than 110,000 beacons deployed in China and some major orders lined up for 2016.”

More on Beacons here

Security:
This topic is massive and we will cover it for many times to come but we wanted to share one thought from an article in informationsecurotybuzz.com – titled: Human Behavior as the Biggest Threat to Company Security. “People were reported to be ‘almost universally’ the biggest weakness in information security, ahead of technology and processes. Of the respondents that reported to have an insider threat or policy, 70% offer employee training to minimize risk.” “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 things:#1 Say Goodbye to Cool, Hello to Security and Safety. At CES we have come to expect the latest new shiny gadgets. There will be plenty of those this year, but that will not be the show’s main theme. The prevailing stories will center on security, safety and health services that help consumers in their daily lives.” 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!

VR:
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!

Other:
We probably don’t need to say it but economy class will get more crowded, competition will drop air fares as competition ‘crams’ uppossibly 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 class.


NEWS

Women In Aviation Intl: Tracey Curtis-Taylor successfully completed her United Kingdom to Australia flight on January 1, 2016, recreating a pioneering 1930 solo flight by Amy Johnson. Tracey departed Farnborough airport on October 1, 2015, on her solo flight in a 1942 Boeing Stearman named the Spirit of Artemis. The flight covered 13,000 miles, including 50 legs, crossing 23 countries. Tracey is a keynote speaker at the 2016 International Women in Aviation Conference March 10-12 in Nashville, TN at the Friday morning general session, expected to be attended by nearly 4,500 participants.

IFPL just announced the delivery of a one millionth peripheral to Panasonic Avionics (see the News Releases section for the full story).

We told you so…

Lastly, we are working on a few surprises for 2016, but more on this later…