Chesterfield, MO | February 1, 2017–
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.
“This is the second time AirSatOne has been able to reduce airtime prices for our customers, “said President Jo Kremsreiter. AirSatOne’s worldwide SwiftBroadband price reduction is especially significant because airtime charges for the domestic US only Go-Go system are on the rise.
“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.
AirSatOne’s 2017 SwiftBroadband price guides are online and can be viewed or downloaded on the company’s website. AirSatOne is the only Aviation Satcom provider not afraid to publish our price guides on-line: https://airsatone.com/satcom-airtime-price-guides
Brussels Airlines introduced a new passenger service system in 2016. To make its departure control and adjacent applications accessible from the respective CUTE systems at each of the airports in its network, the Belgian airline is using cFront/LAGUNA from Lufthansa Systems. CUTE stands for Common Use Terminal Equipment. This software enables airlines to make shared use of airport IT infrastructures. This means that different airlines can use the same hardware to access their own servers for passenger and flight handling. The cFront/LAGUNA adapter software helps standardize the different versions of the CUTE systems.
“We have more than 100 destination airports in our route network. As an airline, it isn’t possible for us to develop interfaces for every version of CUTE and acquire the necessary certifications. This is why we are relying on the expertise of Lufthansa Systems,” said Paul Rogiers, Delivery Manager Outstations/IT at Brussels Airlines.
For many years, Lufthansa Systems has offered airlines comprehensive CUTE services – from setting up the applications to carrying out updates and maintenance. cFront/LAGUNA was modified by the experts to meet the specific needs of the Lufthansa Group. The software is based on the CUTE solution known as cGroup. It accesses an airline’s IT systems in a smooth, standardized way and supports all leading CUTE platforms as well as the new standards for Common Use Passenger Processing Systems (CUPPS). In addition to Brussels Airlines, other airlines in the Lufthansa Group are also using cFront/LAGUNA. This means different airlines in the Group can benefit from a shared check-in system if necessary. Users can access the system from anywhere with a web app. cFront/LAGUNA also offers monitoring functions that provide an overview of the status at all CUTE and CUPPS airports and enables the responsible management team to intervene quickly in the event of a disruption.
“Thanks to the shared certification and provision of cFront/LAGUNA, the Group solution was already available at many of the airports in Brussels Airlines’ network. During the implementation, we simply had to add the information specific to Brussels Airlines. This saved money and ensured a fast launch,” said Bjoern Steinbrecher, Head of cGroup Solutions at Lufthansa Systems.
Established in 2002, Brussels Airlines from Belgium is part of the Lufthansa Group and a member of the Star Alliance. With a fleet of 49 aircraft, Brussels Airlines connects the European capital of Brussels with more than 100 destinations in Europe, Africa, India and North America.”
On a similar subject, Vision-Box also has automated airport passenger electronic control devices. We realize this is not IFEC, but you are going to see a lot of this ground-based technology in the future. Since this technology free’s up a lot of people, border and airport automated technologies will increase for identifying passengers and visitors and a recent release about a Caribbean airport at St. Maarten caught our eye. “Juliana International Airport just upgraded to the new Vision-Box™ which is a self-service biometric Automated Border Control eGates intended to modernize the process, improve the security of the identification procedure, and expedite passenger flow at one more stage of the passenger journey across the airport!” The news release went on: “vb i-match ™ ABC eGates have now recently announced a seamless passenger journey designed by Vision-Box ™, joining the existing vb i-match ™ security checkpoint gates installed in the first phase of the project. Together, these solutions are streamlining identification processes for departing passengers, when entering airside and clearing immigration.” We also understand that the arrival of biometric ABC technology at SMX (Juliana) Airport means that after successfully entering airport side by using vb i-match ™ security checkpoint eGates, passengers crossing the border will be able to complete the entire immigration process in a few seconds using customer-centric, self service touchpoint vb i-match ™ ABC”. Here is how it works: “Once at the eGate, the passenger will first scan their ePassport, where facial biometric information from the echip is scanned and matched with a live facial image capture of the passenger. Once all identification and safety checks have been successfully conducted, the passenger is allowed to clear immigration. At the forefront of modernizing the immigration clearance procedure is cutting-edge fraud detection and self-clearing biometric identification capabilities, using an advanced eGate security algorithm authenticating the passengers ePassport and identifying identity through multiple fraud and security operations, which just takes a few seconds.” We note that “Newly appointed airport ambassadors are there to greet and guide travelers in the use of the eGates, additionally to the support of a passenger-centered, expertly designed user Interface, oriented towards the success of the operation! Additionally, every passenger transaction is closely monitored by an immigration officer using vb inspector ™, a monitoring system giving the officers immediate information on each passenger’s identity and transaction status, detecting identity fraud, leveraging biometric and biographic information during real-time checks of intelligence and criminal databases, and instantly alerting border officers in case of an emergency.”
Editor’s Note: If you think there is not enough electronics in the airport departure and entry areas, you need to keep your eye on companies like Lufthansa Systems and Vision-Box. www.vision-box.com. Here is another link about the coming technology.
We recently came across an interesting website about the use of Android apps for passenger devices.
While a bit old (2014 – 2015) we note their comments: “The average customer rating across Apple App Store and Google Play for the 12 major European airlines included in this study grew from 3.2 to 3.6 (on 1 to 5 scale) between January 2014 and October 2015. And you guessed it – this app stuff is getting a lot more important to travelers.
Airlines aiming at increasing personalization are aware of the importance of mobile apps. However, a prerequisite to unleashing new streams of ancillary revenues through tailored offers is offering an outstanding digital user experience.” The app importance is noted in the link above, but tnooz said: “The average customer rating across Apple App Store and Google Play for the 12 major European airlines included in this study grew from 3.2 to 3.6 (on 1 to 5 scale) between January 2014 and October 2015. While the airline average was around 3.1 to 3.6 (or lower) a reader sent us LATAM’s score (a few months old) – 4.0 Google/4.0 Apple – Guess who designed it? If you said Zii, you win!
And speaking of Zodiac Aerospace, Safran will buy them and merge the two companies with lots of financial machinations if all the business offers are accepted. In the end, Safran landing gear, nacelle, power systems, actuators and avionics would be combined with the Zodiac seats, cabin interiors, power distribution, lighting, safety, and oxygen/fluid/safety equipment.
Here are the involved Zodiac companies: Heath Tecna, Contour Aerospace, IMS (Zii), NAT, TriaGnoSys, PPP, and Greenpoint Technologies.
One expert said that the message here is clear, Safran see’s the future of electrical and avionic involvement in in aircraft. We believe, because of their native product differences, that management selection will be very critical as the two companies are so different and almost opposite talents. It is worth noting that the combined company would have about 92,000 employees and we understand Safran purchase is estimated to be approximately $9.5 Billion. Interestingly, Safran attempted this acquisition in 2010. FYI, if the deal goes through, Safran will be number three Tier 1 supplier behind GE and United Technologies. However, the purchase is still subject to shareholder approval and if so it will close at the end of 2017/ 1st Qtr. 2018. Stay Tuned.
Gogo announced that it has promoted Jon Cobin to Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Gogo. Cobin has served in a leadership position at Gogo for six years, most recently as head of strategy and global sales for Gogo’s commercial aviation division. In his new role, he will continue to manage strategy and sales, but will take on the added responsibilities of managing Gogo’s product and marketing teams. Under Jon’s leadership the company has experienced numerous successes, including adding more than 1,000 2Ku aircraft to the backlog in 2016. “Gogo is at the forefront of technology development and innovation and combining our strategy group with product, sales and marketing enables us to better align the organization around meeting the needs of our global airline partners,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “Jon’s proven leadership makes him the right person for this role.” Congratulations Jon!
JetBlue announced the completion of its fleet-wide Fly-Fi installations and they said: “Fly-Fi is the revolutionary Wi-Fi service offered to JetBlue passengers for free across the carrier’s 227 aircraft, including Airbus A320s, A321s and Embraer 190s. This Wi-Fi offering was developed by Thales InFlyt Experience to meet JetBlue’s expectation to offer connectivity services for every seat, on every aircraft. This service allows passengers to connect and remain connected from gate-to-gate. With the completion of these installations, Thales has again enhanced the passenger experience for JetBlue by providing high-bandwidth connectivity services that complement existing stored and live in-flight entertainment products.” For additional details on this service, please refer to this JetBlue press release.
Global Eagle Entertainment, CA secured a $500m senior-secured term-loan facility and a new $85m senior-secured revolving credit facility.
This came into us after publishing last Tuesday. It is a prediction submission from FlightPath3D: “We predict 2017 as the year the industry finally recognizes the PAX audience as the most highly coveted demographic for advertisers and begins real & sustained efforts to bridge the gap between them.”
An unnamed IFExpress reporter told us: “Yesterday, I spoke with a friend of mine at (US) FCC and he confirmed that there will be organizational structure changes within. The alleged purpose is to “streamline” the licensing process. We’ll see. I have my doubts with any Federal bureaucracy. However, it could make for an interesting scenario with the 14 GHz air-to-ground license auctions. I suspect the license costs will go higher. Notwithstanding the purported organization changes, with every presidential transition period, he told me, from Republican – to – Democrat, or vice versa, or has about a 3-4 month period when almost nothing happens.” We concur.
You gotta see this – it might work! The Worst Seat on a Plane Gets Better: New Middle Seats
Air Transport World (ATW) has honoured NAVBLUE with the Aviation Technology Achievement Award as part of their 2017 Annual Airline Industry Achievement Awards. The Award is one of the most coveted awards in the aviation industry.
Waterloo, ON | January 24, 2017– NAVBLUE has been nominated by a prestigious ATW editorial board of judges for its N-Flight Planning Solution. This award is given to a breakthrough system, technology or process that advances safety and efficiency in the global commercial airline industry.
NAVBLUE’S N-Flight Planning solution uniquely allows airlines, with its integration of a flight planning route optimization algorithm and Schneider Electric’s flight hazard forecast model, to operate more safely and efficiently – flight crews get advanced warning of areas to avoid that may contain turbulence, icing or storms – correspondingly offering greater customer and crew comfort along with a cost optimized route of flight.
Karen Walker, ATW Editor-in-Chief, noted that, “It is this type of innovation that “falls behind the scenes” but can make a huge difference in day-to-day operations for the airline, its crews and its customers. Passengers hate turbulence and flying through bad weather; here is a technology that airlines can use to mitigate the discomfort. Crews can make informed decisions in their route planning that can both help avoid “hazards” such as storms and save fuel. This is a technology that is a win for everyone.”
Shawn Mechelke, VP-N Software Services at NAVBLUE, is the author of the detailed nomination for the ATW Award and has also been involved in developing this technology and flight planning automation over the past six years. Mr. Mechelke commented that, “We are very excited to finally bring the vision of integrating NAVBLUE’s N-Flight Planning Solution with the industry’s leading aircraft specific turbulence, icing, and thunderstorm forecast model. Both Dispatchers and Flight Crews can now automatically plan routes of flight using very precise and accurate flight hazard forecasts that did not exist in the past. The days of looking at paper charts and manually adjusting routes of flight are now a practice of the past.”
The ATW Airline Industry Achievement Awards recognize excellence across a broad range of airline operations and are widely considered as the most coveted in the aviation industry.
The awards will be presented at the 43nd annual ATW Airline Industry Achievement Awards at a gala dinner on March 28 at the J.W. Marriott Essex House in New York.
London, UK | January 5, 2017– 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 realising 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”. Foster added that there also needed to be a recognition that offloading data from aircraft in real-time may only be necessary if you can also act on that data in real-time.
Though airlines understand the potential benefits of turning their fleets into connected nodes within their operation, there is work to be done on building consensus on how to approach the connected aircraft. “Collaboration internally, as well as externally, is crucial to success of the connected aircraft across the industry and airlines need to find ways to reduce interdepartmental friction and look to share best practices with other carriers”, said Foster.
Valour Consultancy is a provider of high quality market intelligence. Its latest report “How the Connected Aircraft fits into the Internet of Things” builds upon the company’s highly-acclaimed research into the passenger in-flight connectivity and in-flight entertainment markets. For an information brochure containing a full table of contents visit: http://www.valourconsultancy.com/aviation-market-research/connected-aircraft-in-the-internet-of-things/
Well, well, another year has passed and IFExpress is now in it’s our 25th year and we still love the craziness of this entertainment and connectivity based aircraft business; albeit, it is getting harder to stay current with all the ups (and downs) of technology, personal preference, and airline profit-making. According to IATA, in 2015 U.S. airlines raked in a profit of $25.6 billion, a 241% increase from 2014. The drop in oil prices meant big savings for the industry. Airlines spent nearly $27 billion on fuel in 2015, 38% less than in 2014. The results from 2016 are yet to be compiled and it will be interesting to see how they have fluctuated.
This year (2017) looks interesting and potentially problematic for the following reasons: fuel price increases, growth of airline fees, and a large increase in delivered aircraft. In fact, IATA predicts a reduced profitability ($29 Billion) based on slower GDP and rising costs. The folks at Aviation Week are predicting a downturn as well: “After years of high profitability, the airline industry appears to be entering its next potential downturn. The International Air Transport Association is predicting much reduced profits for 2017 in most markets as airlines are no longer benefiting from lower oil prices and overcapacity increasingly becomes a problem in many segments.”
From the other side of the equation, the IATA predictions include a 5.1% increase in tourism (we have a hard time with this one because of all the political madness in the world) and the airlines will take delivery of approximately 1,700 new jetliners. New planes means new IFEC and this is good for our team. Furthermore, this obviously does not include IFEC retrofits which will increase as a result of data hungry passengers and crew. Although, focus shifts from entertainment to data connectivity demand may be in the offing. As noted almost everywhere, passengers carry-on devices, whether it is for entertainment and/or communication, is resulting in another competing growth area for IFEC, which may negatively effect some seatback entertainment growth as passenger device purchases technically outpace anything that an airline can provide. However, we do note that upper class big screens win out in the front of the plane since no one carries anything onboard with a screen over 15 inches, or so.We should also note that in-seat power is probably a related growth item and folks in this arena have seen, and will continue to see, a lot of action.
Now, lets look at what we predicted last year in the IFEC related world for 2016. We don’t want to blow our horn because a lot of our observations came from a ton of research time on the Internet – we just did a good job of compiling the information:
Last year we wrote: “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!”
We saw this one coming! Messaging just keeps growing and as the messaging options grow, so do the users. One of the best newer ones is SMS. Sending email to SMS is free for the sender, but the recipient is subject to the standard delivery charges. Only the first 160 characters of an email message can be delivered to a phone, and only 160 characters can be sent from a phone. Text-enabled fixed-line handsets are required to receive messages in text format.
Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and software application which provides text and voice communication. Integrated with Facebook’s web-based Chat feature and built on the open MQTT protocol, Messenger lets Facebook users chat with friends both on mobile and on the main website. In Asia WeChat is the big one while Android has HelloSMS, TextraSMS, and on and on. Further, the phone companies have a batch of their own connectivity applications. Face it, we are text message junkies and there seems to be no end because of our devices and lifestyle.
We noted in January of 2016, “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, (audio) streaming… if for no other reason than news. Today it’s the ‘under 17’ crowd 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.”
For sure, this audio solution has been replaced by video streaming requirements on our personal devices. While we have no data but our own usage, we find that if we want audio (music) on a flight, we use our portable devices. A good example is taking place on phones – the latest iPhone we obtained with 128 Gigabytes, streamed, stored audio and video are no problem. Live information like news is another story. However, we should note that with the increase of Wi-Fi, and potentially Bluetooth (and possibly optical), things in 2017 will certainly get better. With more bandwidth for storage, and increased ground connectivity, programming will expand so that even with portable stored content, more video entertainment and news will be appealing. We should note that we have heard that some low cost airlines plan no seatback entertainment but rather are relying on customers to use their personal devices for airline streamed audio and video.
Last January we wrote: “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.”
As it turns out, the airlines have been doing much better. SITA states: “2015 saw total airline passengers rise 7% from 3.3 to 3.5 billion and mishandled bags drop from 24.1 to 23.1 million, a 10% improvement with the extra passengers taken into account, costing airlines a total of US$2.3 billion. Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” While the data has not been available for 2016 it looks like the airlines are on a downward trend for lost bags. SITA says: “Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” With the advent of electronic and passive tagging, things should only improve.
To be continued next week.
Publishers’ Note: We plan to publish your predictions on Jan. 17 so feel free to send us your IFEC predictions as well. Just tell us if you want IFExpress to attribute your words to you or not. PLW/TJW
Turkey |December 27, 2016– (MENAFN Press) Turkish Airlines has selected Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) advanced eX1 inflight entertainment and communications (IFEC) system and Global Communication Services for its new fleet of narrow body aircraft.
eX1 solution is an advanced narrowbody IFE system. Its uncompromising industrial design, high-definition display technologies and high fidelity audio create a home theater atmosphere that draws passengers into an immersive entertainment experience.
The system will include Panasonic’s unique Passenger Data Integration (PDI) service, which will allow Turkish Airlines to add higher levels of personalization to its inflight experience. PDI will also allow Turkish Airlines to seamlessly recognize the travel preferences of their guests and recommend content, services and specific amenities that will enhance their experience both in flight and in their destination city.
PDI will leverage a custom-designed Companion App that will enable passengers to securely pair their mobile device to the IFEC system and personalize and enhance their entertainment experience through capabilities that include custom playlists and a second screen environment.
The onboard experience will also include high-speed, global Wi-Fi and multiple channels of live television, enabled by Panasonic’s Global Communications Services. It is the only worldwide inflight connectivity service operating in every country in the world today. Turkish Airlines passengers will be able to use the service to remain connected to their friends, families, co-workers though high speed access to the Internet, social media platforms, corporate VPN networks and more. Passengers will also receive Live Text News customized for Turkish Airlines by Anadolu Agency (AA), a leading Turkish News Agency.
The television service, which is unique to Turkish Airlines will feature TRT World Turkish News Channel — a new channel from Turkey’s national public broadcaster, TRT, which broadcasts balanced, in-depth reporting with a focus on global responsibility. It will also offer eight additional global channels including Sport 24. Sport 24, which is owne and operated by IMG, offers live coverage of the world’s most popular sporting events. In 2016, the channel showed live action from the Rio 2016 Olympics Games, Premier League, NFL, UEFA Champions League, NBA, Tennis Grand Slams, Bundesliga, Golf Majors, MotoGP and the Ryder Cup. Panasonic Avionics is the only authorized distributor of Sport 24 to the air transport market.
Turkish Airlines’ new state-of-the-art inflight entertainment, global high-speed Wi-Fi and live television services will be available on 92 Airbus A321 NEOs-ACF, 65 Boeing 737 MAX 8s and 10 Boeing 737 MAX 9s. As part of the contract, Turkish Airlines has the option to equip the last 45 aircraft with its own direct affiliate’s IFE system, pending line fit offer ability.
As part of the strategic partnership agreement, Panasonic will establish a Media Center and creative services team at Istanbul’s new airport until the first operation in this airport takes place, which will service Turkish Airlines exclusively. The facility is designed to fulfill the airline’s content and software needs with racks to support media, interactive development and applications.
M. lker Ayc, Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines, said: “We needed a solution which is not only capable of providing a reliable system, but also able to truly immerse inflight experience to our passengers. With this additional support of Panasonic Avionics we will continue to offer the seamless flight experience to our valued passengers. The personalized interface designed for an optimal viewing experience combined with the industry’s largest library of games, audio, and video is what made eX1 a proper decision for our flag carrier in this regard.”
Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, added: “Our partnership with Turkish Airlines is a long term, strategic relationship. We are thrilled to extend our investment with both Turkish Airlines and the Turkish economy, and we look forward to having a close collaboration with them on the products and services that will help in supporting them achieve their 2023 objectives.”
Lake Forest, CA | December 20, 2016–
Panasonic Avionics Corporation statement
The allegations made to the press by IOActive regarding in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems manufactured by Panasonic Avionics Corporation (“Panasonic”) contain a number of inaccurate and misleading statements about Panasonic’s systems. These misstatements and inaccuracies call into question many of the assertions made by IOActive.
Most notably, IOActive has chosen to make highly misleading and inflammatory statements suggesting that hackers could “theoretically” gain access to flight controls by hacking into Panasonic’s IFE systems. Panasonic strenuously disagrees with any suggestion by IOActive that such an attack is possible, and calls upon IOActive to clarify that its research does not support any such inference.
IOActive has presented no evidence that its examination of Panasonic’s systems would support any such suggestion, and its statement that its “research revealed it would also theoretically be possible that such a vulnerability could present an entry point to the wider network, including the aircraft controls domain” will only serve to falsely alarm the flying public.
Furthermore, IOActive employee Ruben Santamarta’s statement regarding credit card theft is simply not true. Mr. Santamarta makes incorrect assumptions about where credit card data is stored and encrypted within Panasonic’s systems.
It is important to note that, during the course of this unauthorized, in-service testing, the safety, security and comfort of passengers of the aircraft were never in danger or compromised due to the system segregation and robust security design of our inflight entertainment and communications (IFEC) product, and of all commercial aircraft as well. His exploit itself was limited to a single seat and information gathering; control override of the IFEC seat and system did not occur.
It is also very important to note that, in its communications to the press, IOActive made unfounded, unproven conclusions. The basis for many of these conclusions would first necessitate that an attacker gained a physical connection within the IFE network. During the unauthorized testing, network penetration, or even network connection to Pansonic’s product, did not occur.
The conclusions suggested by IOActive to the press are not based on any actual findings or facts. The implied potential impacts should be interpreted as theoretical at best, sensationalizing at worst, and absolutely not justified by any hypothetical vulnerability findings discovered by IOActive.
IOActive, in statements to the press, inappropriately mixed a discussion of hypothetical vulnerabilities inherent to all aircraft electronics systems with specific findings regarding Panasonic’s systems, creating a highly misleading impression that Panasonic’s systems have been found to be a source of insecurity to aircraft operation.
Like any responsible business, Panasonic continually tests the robustness of its systems, and reviewed all of the claims made by Mr. Santamarta. It subsequently engaged Attack Research (AR) to conduct validation testing in May 2015 and again in 2016 to ensure that the few minor concerns (in no way linked to the control of an aircraft) identified by Mr. Santamarta had been fully remediated, and this was confirmed in a written report to Panasonic.
Panasonic does not condone unauthorized security testing during aircraft operation in uncontrolled environments, such as those conducted by IOActive. Panasonic strongly supports legislation that should be enacted to make on-board electronic intrusion a criminal act.
Security professionals who wish to test our systems legitimately and safely can do so by participating in our Bug Bounty program (firstname.lastname@example.org) in which Panasonic provides unfettered access to our products to allow for in-depth security testing and analysis.
Panasonic IFE products have a robust security design that complies with, or exceeds, all requirements, and are routinely and regularly tested by third-party professional security firms, as well as by participants in our independent Bug Bounty program.
Panasonic also fully supports aircraft manufacturers and aviation regulatory agencies to ensure our IFE systems are designed to comply with all aircraft manufacturer and regulatory security requirements, and Panasonic routinely reviews our designs with said groups.
Additionally, Panasonic is a member of the Aviation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (A-ISAC) for the express purpose of assuring that vulnerabilities are shared and assessed with a collective oversight so that the integrity of the systems can be maintained. Panasonic’s IFE software is certified at Level-E per DO-178B, with “No Effect” to aircraft safety.
Voorthuizen, The Netherlands | December 20, 2016– AviationGlass & Technology, a Dutch company specialized in the research, development and production of glass products for the aviation industry, today announced a new Distribution Agreement with Global Aviation to promote, market and sell AGT’s AeroGlass Mirrors to operators and MROs worldwide.
Global Aviation, an innovative and fast growing worldwide aerospace distribution company, will manage retrofit programs and maintain customer specific inventory at all its stocking locations, minimizing delivery times. Global Aviation will also actively work with several OEMs to promote AeroGlass Mirrors on new product development opportunities.
“We are very proud and excited that AGT has selected us as its partner”, says Herman Kooyman, President and COO of Global Aviation. “AviationGlass’ patented AeroGlass is the world’s only certified ultra-thin, lightweight glass for inside the cabin delivering superior optical quality via crystal-clear (99.9% transparent) panels and mirrors that are highly robust. This not only helps operators make substantial cost savings through reduced weight, supply chain costs and durability, but also dramatically improves the appearance of lavatories contributing to a positive image of the airline.”
John Rietveldt, CEO at AviationGlass & Technology, adds, “We have received an extremely positive response from the market with our range of AeroGlass products, particularly in the area of newly built aircrafts. The time is now ripe to extend our market outreach and we are delighted to have Global Aviation’s support in this as our new distribution partner. Global Aviation’s proven track record and extensive network with airlines as well as MROs, means we can further accelerate our market position in the retrofit market.
Telefonix PDT(TM) announced that they now have an STC for Boeing 737NG – 700, 800 & 900 aircraft types for both the CabinPinnacle(TM) server and CabinACe(TM)wireless access point. The STC was just awarded prior to APEX in Singapore, and we understand that Kaiser Charter was the first installation completed in October. This STC represents the first phase of certifications and it is our understanding that phase 2 will include the CabinEdge(TM) content loader. The content loader works while the aircraft is in service and data is trickled, loading into shadow memory, and eventually ending up in the operational memory as the update is installed. Telefonix PDT is also working on garnering a similar STC for the A320 aircraft family. The STC/PMA was strategically planned to grow the company’s customer base for the 737 in the Asia region. The airlines have the data rights to use the system, with the hardware being sold, not leased. Lest you forget, Telefonix(TM) has had a long standing relationship with production in China; and, in 2017, the company has plans to establish a repair station in China, in addition to their current repair station in Waukegan, Illinois. One point that was stressed in our interview at APEX was that Telefonix PDT is not just an equipment provider, but a design and engineering services provider as well. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress has watched Telefonix PDT grow over the past 20+ years and we feel that they have developed excellent, low-cost IFE system components and the China relationships, as well as their involvement with many hardware manufactures within the industry, is proof of this. You should watch this company in the coming year – we think they are going to grow!)
Have you heard about the Panasonic Blog? We asked Panasonic how it came about and here is what a spokesperson said: “Matthias Walter and Estel Carbo worked very hard on this and have a plan that we thinks helps give more insights into the IFEC landscape.” Matthias Walther, Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing at Panasonic Avionics said, “Marketing these days has many facets. Hard sales has its place in marketing too but in an industry as relationship-driven as ours it’s essential to engage in a dialog that is more about education than promotion, more about solutions than product and more about value than price. Of course we will occasionally talk about us and what we bring to the table but only if we and what we write adds value to the daily lives of our customers will our blog be successful.” Noted Panasonic: “One of the business principles of Panasonic’s founder Knosuke Matsushita describes customer focus always trumping sales concerns. In that spirit our blog intends to drive knowledge, our relationship with our customers and the quality of decision making in one direction, UP.” Check it out here.
Panasonic Weather Solution
Panasonic Avionics Corporation and Safety Line unveiled a strategic partnership that will enable airlines to benefit from significant fuel savings. Panasonic Weather Solutions (PWS) provides Safety Line with enhanced global weather forecast through real-time weather data collection from its TAMDAR sensors and FlightLink Iridium system. TAMDAR data provides observations of wind, temperature, and moisture every five seconds as TAMDAR-equipped aircraft descend and ascend at nearly 300 airports across North America. It also collects about 3,500 profiles each day from several hundred additional airports located in East Asia, the Pacific, and Europe. This data is used by Panasonic’s Forecasting Center of Excellence (FCoE), which develops detailed station-based weather forecasting, as well as enhanced weather forecasting. The process is fully automated from the weather live feed to flight plan analysis and climb schedule issuance to the pilot. Airlines can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 percent during ascent thanks to OptiClimb’s unique patented solution, which uses a combination of machine learning performance models for each individual aircraft, and the computing of optimized climb profiles issued ahead of each flight.
Also check this link The Connected Aircraft (Part I) – Curating the Internet of Me – UP – Panasonic Avionics Blog if you want to know a bit more about the connected aircraft.
We should note that Hawaiian Airlines has experienced the benefits of SwiftBroadband-Safety delivered through Cobham advanced AVIATOR avionics and has now chosen to expand its commitment to high speed broadband in the flight deck with its A321neo. But to see the features that are provided, you must check out this Inmarsat Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System feature download – this is the future of aviation safety and you need to check it out!
The FAA issued a new rule that forces Boeing 787 operators to periodically shut down and restart airplane power that reboots onboard computers to overcome a glitch that shuts down flight control computers during flight! Finding and fixing this “inconsistency” will be very, very interesting. Stay Tuned!
- Satellite 2017
Be a part of the world’s largest gathering of the international satellite community. Taking place in Washington, D.C. March 6-9, 2017 the SATELLITE 2017 Conference and Exhibition don’t miss this opportunity to hear from executive speakers from commercial airlines, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Air Force!
- THE ‘Donald’
Donald Trump says the new Air Force One contract should be cancelled! Perhaps Airbus will make a better offer? Then Boeing put this news release out – Boeing Statement on Air Force One – Dec 6, 2016 Or, you might want to read the following story from Gizmodo – beware there are x-rated words, so watch out!
If you have been wondering where IoT and cloud computing are going, one answer is ‘physically portable data’. This is going to be one of the markets of the next generation cloud because of security and access as large (and now medium) data portability and cloud interaction become involved. We suspect that the airlines will see value in this if hacking gets any worse Amazon Cloud Gets A Bit More Hybrid This just may be one futures of the medium and big data cloud storage and security.
In-Flight hook-ups now supported with AirDates “This is achieved using Multipeer WiFi between smartphones, eliminating the need to rely upon the Plane’s WiFi network or other connection.” Check it out here – but you might need the Trusted Contacts app as well.
Quick Study: Millennials
While in Singapore, we heard one word over and over – millennial- so we thought after the show we would do the research on who they are and why they are so important to some industries. While this quick bit of data is just a speed read, we think the answers are telling and important to IFEC, especially C (Communications).
First what is a millennial? It is a person ‘reaching young adulthood around the year 2000’ the dictionary said. Noted Goldman Sachs: “The Millennial generation is the largest in US history and as they reach their prime working and spending years, their impact on the economy is going to be huge. Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization and economic disruption. That’s given them a different set of behaviors and experiences than their parents.They have been slower to marry and move out on their own, and have shown different attitudes to ownership that have helped spawn what’s being called a ‘sharing economy.’ They’re also the first generation of digital natives, and their affinity for technology helps shape how they shop. They are used to instant access to price comparisons, product information and peer reviews.” Further, a company called iGR interviewed and surveyed millennials to get their views on communication and technology and here is what they said: “As the largest and highly communication-tech-savy generation; they are at the epicenter of our curiosity to drive decision-making for the next wave of innovation in infrastructure. Take note! The most successful service providers over the next 5-10 years will be those who best understand the emerging generations communication behavior, accurately anticipate core service wants and needs, proactively adapt and adjust business strategies, and finally, provide the most relevant solutions and services.” That about says it all and explains why the word ‘millennial’ was so popular in Singapore, especially with those who dealt with communications, connectivity, and cost!
- Largest-ever passenger jet window available on new BBJs, retrofit on existing BBJs
Dubai, UAE | December 6, 2016– Boeing [NYSE:BA] Business Jets announced today it will work with GKN Aerospace’s Fokker business to develop, produce, offer and support the Skyview Panoramic Window, the largest window available on any passenger jet offered today.
The window will be available as a feature on the BBJ, BBJ 2, and all three members of the BBJ MAX family – including the new BBJ MAX 7 – with scheduled entry-into-service in 2018.
“We are thrilled to formally confirm our partnership with GKN Aerospace’s Fokker business for the development of this fantastic feature on the BBJ, the largest airplane window available in the market,” said Boeing Business Jets President David Longridge.
The Skyview Panoramic Window, measuring approximately 4.5 feet by 1.5 foot (1.4 x 0.5 m), is created by effectively joining three existing 737 windows together. Situated aft of the wing with multiple potential locations based on the airplane type, it offers customers an unparalleled perspective of the world.
“We are proud to announce the next step for the Skyview Panoramic window together with Boeing Business Jets,” said Peter Somers, President of GKN’s Fokker Services business. “The innovative technology applied in the largest window in the market, enhances passenger comfort and is now also available for BBJ MAX airplanes.”
The window will be available through GKN Aerospace’s Fokker business as a retrofit on existing BBJs, and through Boeing Business Jets as a priced feature. It will be delivered on BBJ MAX airplanes starting in 2018.
- Customer contract follows AERO-SATCOM’s appointment as GX Government Aero VAR
United Kingdom | December 6, 2016– AERO-SATCOM, the joint venture (JV) between Eclipse and NSSLGlobal, today signed an agreement with Inmarsat’s Global Government business unit which sees the JV appointed as Global Xpress (GX) Value Added Reseller (VAR) for the Government Aero market*. With Swift Broadband and Swift 64 distribution agreements previously signed, this latest development allows AERO-SATCOM to work alongside local partners to offer Inmarsat’s high performance Ka-band services. AERO-SATCOM’s first provisioning of aeronautical GX services will be through a local government-focused Inmarsat Service Provider for a fleet of Europe-based head of state aircraft.
The head of state aircraft retrofit begins in December with the service expected to be fully operational from February 2017. AERO-SATCOM will add value to the core GX service by supporting the delivery of onboard solutions developed by Eclipse that provide on-board bandwidth management, bandwidth optimisation and credit card payments for passenger internet access.
Shaun Flanagan, Sales Director, AERO-SATCOM said: “By using its globally available high throughput end-to-end satellite network, Inmarsat’s aeronautical GX Ka-band service brings higher levels of connectivity to aircraft, enabling video conferencing, seamless web browsing, live video streaming and file downloads. However, the aero global government market rarely wants a ‘standard’ package and values the expertise of AERO-SATCOM to add value through custom technologies that help them get the most from their data. Our ability to access a satcom laboratory installation of the aeronautical satcom system that supports Global Xpress gives AERO-SATCOM a big advantage in terms of better supporting customer demonstrations and developing these kind of custom-specific applications.”
Andy Start, President, Inmarsat Global Government, said: “For head of state aviation customers, the aeronautical GX service transforms the in-flight experience by offering a global on-board connectivity service that is secure, reliable and high-speed. AERO-SATCOM, with its perfect blend of experience, expertise and resources, is a key Value Added Retailer for the Inmarsat Global Government team and plays an important role in helping us roll out GX to this highly-specialised market.”
AERO-SATCOM meets the market need for an all-round aeronautical satellite communications company that bridges the gap between two complex industries; the Governmental Aircraft industry and government sector Mobile Satellite Services (MSS). The AERO-SATCOM team has the specialist skills required to meet all the technical, regulatory and commercial aspects of projects when customer requirements develop where these two industries overlap. AERO-SATCOM’s business model is based on creating strong partnerships with companies that can leverage its technical and regulatory skills with exposure to their local government markets.
United Kingdom | December 5, 2016– Hawaiian Airlines (HAL) has selected Inmarsat’s next generation IP-based SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) platform for installation on its new Airbus A321neo (new engine option) fleet.
Inmarsat’s SB-S service will deliver secure broadband connectivity via the Cobham AVIATOR 350D system to the flight deck for all voice and data applications on HAL’s new single aisle aircraft being line fit by Airbus.
The new agreement expands the current partnership between HAL, Inmarsat, Cobham and Rockwell Collins, established during on-going in-flight evaluations of Inmarsat SB-S and Cobham’s purpose-built AVIATOR solution on-board HAL’s Boeing 767-300 aircraft, as part of a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) supervised technology evaluation.
SB-S is Inmarsat’s next generation communications platform offering global, high-speed, secure IP connectivity for the flight deck. It enhances airline safety and operations through more powerful and flexible communications and the availability of real-time, in-air information for pilots, crew and air traffic management.
It represents a paradigm shift in aviation safety services, delivering always on, always secure applications such as flight data streaming (“Black Box in the Cloud”) and real-time Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) applications, including networked graphical weather.
Rockwell Collins provides the managed service between the Inmarsat ground stations that enable the aircraft to seamlessly communicate with HAL’s host systems, ground crews and regulatory agencies anywhere in the world without interruption.
Captain Mary McMillan, Inmarsat Aviation Vice President of Safety and Operational Services, said: “Airlines with eyes on the big picture are seeking innovative ways to achieve efficiency gains and dynamically manage their fleets through the use of digital solutions.
“We are pleased that Hawaiian Airlines has experienced the benefits of SwiftBroadband-Safety and has now chosen to expand its commitment to high speed broadband in the flight deck with its A321neo’s. Clearly, the evaluation has been a great success.”
Brian Anderson, Air Transport Sales Manager, Americas, Cobham SATCOM, said: “The selection is a direct result of the team’s recent success with the Hawaiian B767 program for the FAA evaluations of SwiftBroadband-Safety service which is affirming the reliability and performance of the Cobham hardware and the Inmarsat’s satellite network.”
Inmarsat’s SB-S has received a high level of industry support, including the recent selection by Airbus of the Inmarsat solution for its A320 and A330 aircraft families and the successful ongoing evaluations with Hawaiian Airlines.
Recently, Inmarsat, Cobham and Hawaiian Airlines announced that SwiftBroadband-Safety and Cobham avionics had enabled in-air Electronic Flight bag connectivity for the first time with Hawaiian Airlines.
Watch Hawaiian Airlines pilots and Flight Operations leadership talk about the benefits of IP broadband in the flight deck in this video
Inmarsat’s whitepaper ‘SwiftBroadband-Safety: The Future Of Aircraft Communications’ can be downloaded online here.
Inmarsat’s whitepaper ‘Black Box in the Cloud Solutions’ can be downloaded online here.
- Over 70 Airbus A320NEOs will be fitted with a full package of avionics components that include flight management system, T3CAS and Head-up Displays. Thales will also equip 110 Boeing 737 with the Low Range radio Altimeter.
California | November 2, 2016– China Eastern is one of the largest users of Thales/ACSS products in China. The Thales FMS system is the highest selling Flight Management System with over 90% market share in China. The T³CAS solution includes the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) with Class A Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), and Mode S Transponder updated for DO-260B with full ADS-B IN/OUT capability.
The T³CAS provides operators with proven performance and reliability of TCAS, TAWS, Mode S and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) functions with the benefits of reduced weight, size, power consumption and costs that come from an integrated platform.
The NXT-800 NextGen Transponder is FAA and EASA compliant to meet the global Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) mandate for aircraft that are required to have ADS-B Out capability. ACSS NXT transponders, installed on thousands of aircraft worldwide, are optimized for flight in the next generation air traffic environment and contribute to reductions in flight delays and fuel consumption.
Lake Forest, California | November 28, 2016– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) and Safety Line today unveiled a strategic partnership that will enable airlines to benefit from significant fuel savings.
Panasonic Weather Solutions (PWS) provides Safety Line with enhanced global weather forecast through real-time weather data collection from its TAMDAR sensors and FlightLinkTM Iridium system.
TAMDAR data provides observations of wind, temperature, and moisture every five seconds as TAMDAR-equipped aircraft descend and ascend at nearly 300 airports across North America. It also collects about 3,500 profiles each day from several hundred additional airports located in East Asia, the Pacific, and Europe.
This data is used by Panasonic’s Forecasting Center of Excellence (FCoE), which develops detailed station-based weather forecasting, as well as enhanced weather forecasting.
Panasonic’s expert meteorologists will use these unique atmospheric datasets, as well as sophisticated 4D quality control and proprietary forecasting models, to provide Safety Line with state-of-the-art and unmatched forecasts.
OptiClimb from Safety Line uses such highly accurate, real-time refreshed PWS weather forecasts in lieu of the standard weather parameters to offer optimized climb profiles for each flight.
The process is fully automated from the weather live feed to flight plan analysis and climb schedule issuance to the pilot.
Airlines can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 percent during ascent thanks to OptiClimb’s unique patented solution, which uses a combination of machine learning performance models for each individual aircraft, and the computing of optimized climb profiles issued ahead of each flight.
Transavia is the launch customer for OptiClimb, and will use the solution in the operation of its fleet of 26 Boeing 737-800 aircraft.
PWS FlightLink weather sounding and tracking system is already in service on 35 Airbus A320 aircraft at Air Asia, and there are 250 aircraft in service globally with PWS TAMDAR weather sensors.
Chris Lundquist, VP Corporate Strategic Innovations said: “This partnership with Safety Line further develops our proven weather forecasting strategy and delivers clear bottom line benefits for airlines.”
Pierre Jouniaux, founder and CEO of OptiClimb added: “Optimization is highly reliant on the accuracy of the inputs fed into the algorithms. Panasonic Weather Solutions’ accurate, real-time forecasts allow us to optimize climb profiles more efficiently, saving more fuel dollars and CO2 for our joint customers.”
Manchester, UK | November 28, 2016– Airline Services Interiors, part of the Airline Services Ltd Group, has appointed Richard Dobson to the role of Managing Director. An internal promotion, Richard was formerly Commercial Director, joining the business originally in January 2013 as Supply Chain and Financial Reporting Manager. Richard comes from a strong airline background, having enjoyed a 16-year career with BMI British Midland, holding senior positions within engineering, including Head of Supply Chain, Contracts and Supply Chain Manager, Purchasing Manager and Materials Manager.
In his new role Richard will be based at the company’s HQ in Manchester, leading a team of six UK-based sales representatives who between them look after clients in key international territories.
Richard’s appointment comes hard on the heels of a solid year for the business. Airline Services Interiors completed a year-long contract for British Airways at the end of June, which involved the integration of Panasonic Avionics eX3 IFE systems on 18 Boeing 747-400 aircraft, together with new fitted seat covers to bring the interior into line with the airline’s new Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft. ASI took responsibility for the design, certification and manufacture of the modification kits to integrate the new IFE system in each cabin, working alongside Panasonic and Zodiac NAT, which certified the installation.
Other projects included a long term programme to convert business class seats from Etihad for Air Berlin’s A330 fleet with 14 ship sets completed to date. ASI also supported Lufthansa with an IFE retrofit programme for Economy class seats on 13 of its Boeing 747s and 18 Airbus A340s and for Aer Lingus/ASL Ireland providing IFE installation and cabin upgrades on four B757s. It has also performed a variety of smaller cabin fitments including A380 replacement mirrors for a number of customers.
“Our business is dedicated to providing high quality cabin retrofits and IFE seat refurbishments, working with high quality replacement parts. We find we can do this in a more cost-effective and speedier manner than the OEMs,” says Dobson, maintaining consistently high standards of service.
To ensure that the business continues to offer excellent value for money to their customers Airline Services’ EASA Part 21G manufacturing, Part 21J design and Part 145 repair approval activities are now housed exclusively at their three Facilities in Sharston, Manchester.
Airline Services Interiors is one of two distinct divisions under Manchester, UK based parent company Airline Services. The Airline Services Interiors’ portfolio comprises three market focused capabilities – Through Life Support, Engineered Products and Managed Solutions.
The latter brings together Airline Services Interiors’ design proficiency, extensive manufacturing capability and MRO experience to enable it to deliver customised solutions for airlines wishing to redesign, refurbish or upgrade their cabin interiors seating and IFE.
- Dynamic navigation maps enable seamless navigation from gate to gate
Raunheim, Germany | November 28, 2016– Lufthansa Systems today announced that it is developing dynamic navigation maps for its Lido/Navigation product line. A fully dynamic map solution is expected to be completed by 2019. With this development, the aviation IT specialist is responding to increasing digitalization and connectivity on the flight deck.
“Dynamic navigation maps are the future. They enable seamless navigation from gate to gate, without limits. Furthermore, connected systems can provide updates in real time and supply smart information that is only shown to pilots when they need it. This gives pilots a better overview, reduces their head-down time and helps them make decisions. It will also improve the display of integrated solutions for weather or other air traffic, for example,” said Stefan Auerbach, CEO of Lufthansa Systems.
Lufthansa Systems is a pioneer when it comes to navigation solutions for airlines. More than 100 airlines worldwide use charts from the Lido/Navigation solution. The paper-based Lido/RouteManual charts were released in 2002, and in 2005 Lufthansa Systems began offering digital charts, initially for integrated flight deck systems, and now in the form of apps for Windows (Lido/eRouteManual) and iOS (Lido/mPilot). All of the charts are in color, directly display minimum safe altitudes on the approach and departure charts and include true-to-scale topographical information which meets the highest standards of precision and quality.
Unlike the route maps, the digital airport charts are largely static, and there is a separation between the terminal charts and the enroute module. In practice, this means that pilots use the terminal charts during takeoff and landing and then have to manually switch to the enroute module for the flight. The Lido/AMM Airport Moving Map, which is used to navigate between the runway and the gate, is already fully dynamic in itself, but it is still separate from the other charts. This dynamic approach is now gradually being expanded.
When all of the maps – terminal, enroute and airport – are dynamic, there will no longer be any separation between the maps for various phases of a flight. Pilots will be able to zoom directly from the enroute display into the Airport Moving Map, or move straight into the flight phase after takeoff. The advantage of this is that all flight processes from gate to gate can be seamlessly displayed in a single view. “Dynamic navigation maps are the basis for smart additional functions that will be available in the future thanks to connectivity. Through its connectivity with the aircraft, the system will be able to display the precise information that is important in a specific flight situation, thus increasing the pilots’ situational awareness,” Auerbach said.
This vision of dynamic maps and new developments for Lido/Navigation and the Lido/Flight flight planning solution will be presented this week by Lufthansa Systems at the 10th Annual Flight Operations Conference in London (November 29 to 30).
- The industry leader in wireless in-flight platforms since 2014 in Europe, Immfly, is already providing airlines a game changer autonomous system in the rapidly growing In-flight Entertainment & Connectivity market
Barcelona, Spain | November 24, 2016– Pioneering the IFE-C Market in Europe since its launch with Iberia Express two years ago, Immfly, owning an STC for A320 and A330 aircraft, offers airlines a unique solution ready to be installed in just one night. Its unprecedented system, currently operational on three airlines, consists of one server, several WAPs and one switch in the cockpit, and proves to autonomously upgrade and download the content and the software every time the aircraft lands. The company, having achieved an industry first with its technological approach, steadily responds to the market demands and sustains its position as the industry’s prefered wireless solution in Europe.
“One of the key reasons that brought us to partner with Immfly was its unique operations management value proposition, which leaves the airline a margin of any manoeuvre” states Ricard Falomir, CIO from Iberia Express. “Upon landing the system automatically connects to the Cloud to download passenger data and process payment transactions. With Immfly onboard we just have to make sure that the hardware is on, the rest is successfully managed either by their operations team or by the system itself”.
Moreover, Immfly substantiates that connectivity is just around the corner. “According to how the market is taking shape, we propose airlines a flexible 2 step approach with no operational disruption: First Wireless IFE and then Wireless IFE & Connectivity” says Alfredo Ibáñez, CTO of the Barcelona based company, Immfly. “Given that our product is compatible with most connectivity operators and integrators, adding a connectivity system to an Immfly equipped aircraft involves a seamless integration with significant cost benefits and technological synergies”.
- SchedConnect contract extended for another five years
Raunheim, Germany | November 24, 2016– Lufthansa Systems today announced that Avianca Holdings will continue to manage its codeshare connections with SchedConnect. This solution from Lufthansa Systems flexibly adapts the management of codeshare flights to schedule changes and offers a high degree of automation. This enables Avianca to optimize its codeshare management while reducing costs and enhancing its competitiveness. The company recently signed a five-year contract extension for the solution.
“Even though we are pleased with the Lufthansa Systems numerous products we are using already, we evaluated the codeshare management solutions of several IT providers. Especially the concept of having a system with central flight repository and real time schedule synchronization in Avianca’s airline group leads to essential benefits for us. The comprehensive codeshare management features, the high automation and synchronization of schedules within the Star Alliance airlines and beyond is a great unique selling proposition (USP) of Lufthansa Systems’ SchedConnect solution,” said Eduardo Asmar, Senior Vice President Strategy and Network at Avianca Holdings. “We expect this to deliver significant cost savings as well as additional revenues.”
SchedConnect offers a high level of automation by receiving and sending schedule data of over 150 airlines worldwide and calculating the optimal codeshare connections for the current customer schedules on a daily basis. Each and every month, five million codeshare connections on average are calculated using SchedConnect. If a minimum connecting time cannot be ensured due to a schedule change or if a partner flight is canceled, SchedConnect assigns the marketing flight number to another suitable connecting flight operated by the partner. Changes are sent through the reservation systems to travel agents and customers as well as to the operations and passenger-related systems of the airlines involved.
Avianca Holdings and Lufthansa Systems have been commercial partners since 2004. “Avianca Holdings already uses several products from our NetLine suite as well as ProfitLine/Price and Lido/Flight. Additional solutions like NetLine/Ops and NetLine/Crew are currently being implemented,” said Greg Cork, Senior Vice President Regional Management Americas at Lufthansa Systems. “By renewing this contract, we are further expanding our long-standing partnership with a strategically important customer.”
Based in Panama, Avianca Holdings is the parent group of Avianca Colombia and the TACA Group, which in turn includes regional carriers Lacsa – Costa Rica, TACA International – El Salvador, Aviateca – Guatemala, TACA de Honduras and TACA Peru. Other group airlines include Aerogal – Ecuador and Avianca Cargo. The Avianca Holdings airlines specialize in air cargo and passenger transport and operate a combined fleet of 155 aircraft. Overall, the subsidiary airlines serve 100 direct destinations in 26 countries in North, Central and South America. Avianca Holdings is a Star Alliance member, which enables it to offer its passengers connections to more than 1,300 airports in 192 countries worldwide.
- AirportConnect® Open allows multiple airlines to use the same infrastructure
Athens | November 22, 2016– Fraport Greece, which will soon be responsible for operating, maintaining and upgrading 14 Greek regional airports over a 40-year concession period, has selected SITA’s state-of-the-art common-use terminal equipment (CUTE) to be implemented at all its airports.
Fraport Greece’s investment in the 14 regional airports is aimed at promoting the surrounding cities and regions as tourist destinations, driving increased passenger traffic, supporting both local and national economies, and providing high-quality services to passengers as well as other airport users and stakeholders. Key to this investment in infrastructure is SITA’s common-use systems, which will allow the airlines to work seamlessly at the Fraport Greece airports and to share check-in desks, kiosks and boarding areas while accessing their own airline-specific systems.
SITA AirportConnect® Open is the only common-use platform that fully integrates solutions both for agents and passengers. It delivers seamless self-service from check-in to security and boarding all the way to border security on arrival. It is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant, supporting the security requirements of the credit card industry. SITA has supplied its AirportConnect® Open solution to more than 420 airports worldwide.
Alexander Zinell, CEO of Fraport Greece, said: “Well-managed airports worldwide have proven that they also serve as economic engines for their communities. Our aim is to reposition the 14 airports as modern, competitive gateways that support the growth of the regions and the country’s tourism industry overall. Technology will play a central role in achieving our vision for an improved passenger experience and SITA is a key partner in providing the state-of-the-art technology solutions required.”
Fraport Greece is currently working on development plans for the 14 airports that take into consideration the specific needs of each location. In total, Fraport Greece will invest around €330 million in the development of the airports’ infrastructure until 2020.
Dave Bakker, SITA President Europe, said: “With our experience in more than 1,000 airports globally, SITA has the expertise and technology to ensure that we provide the right solution for each airport. Our CUTE solution allows any airline to quickly set up and operate from any of the airports, helping Fraport Greece elevate the experience for airlines as well as their passengers.”
Adelaide | November 22, 2016– Adelaide Airport, Australia’s fastest-growing international airport, has selected SITA to provide smart new passenger and airport operational technology. The airport’s eight million passengers will enjoy new self-service bag drop and check-in kiosks, while SITA’s day of operations technology will ensure optimized airport operations.
SITA has provided technology to Adelaide Airport for more than ten years and the new five-year contract includes a move to common-use self-service (CUSS) which allows passengers to use self-service for any airline, at any check-in kiosk or bag drop point. In total SITA will provide 32 check-in kiosks and 14 bag drop units.
As part of the technology investment for the future, Adelaide Airport will use SITA’s AirportPulse. This day of operations technology includes a business intelligence portal which provides end-to-end visibility of what’s happening in the airport at strategic and operational levels. Data is pulled from all common-use infrastructure to analyze, report and benchmark passenger movements, providing a deep understanding of relevant activities and providing intelligent reporting to effectively manage the allocation of shared resources.
Vince Scanlon, Executive General Manager, Planning and Infrastructure, Adelaide Airport Ltd (AAL), said: “As the gateway to South Australia, we at Adelaide Airport want to deliver exceptional outcomes to our customers, partners, shareholders and community. SITA is providing us with world-class technology that will improve the experience at the airport. Passengers will enjoy efficient bag drop and check-in while the data collected will turn information into knowledge and allow us to focus on what matters for improved performance.”
The increased focus on using data to enhance operations will allow Adelaide Airport to be proactive and predict and identify imminent adverse conditions before they happen. AirportPulse makes sense of data to drive operational efficiencies and improve customer experience.
Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “SITA has been Adelaide Airport’s technology partner for over a decade and during that time we have worked with the team to contribute to its growth and success. Over the coming years we will continue to seamlessly transition Adelaide to the latest innovative technology that supports the vision of Adelaide Airport becoming a top tier business center in the Asia Pacific region.”
Adelaide Airport’s annual passenger numbers are rising and it forecasts more than 18 million passengers by 2034. This growth comes with the investment in the Adelaide Airport Business District. This development is set to transform the airport into a full-fledged business district acting as the business gateway between the world and South Australia.
- Leading Aviation Insurance Provider Presents Challenges and Opportunities
Parsippany, New Jersey | November 17, 2016– The drone industry is growing before our eyes in ways that will affect many of our lives and at a speed that will challenge our expectations. Developing a drone program in any size enterprise will involve investment and risk. This is one of the key observations in a new white paper, Sky High Drone Growth Presents Challenges and Opportunities, published this week by Global Aerospace, a leading international aviation and aerospace insurance provider.
“Global Aerospace has a unique awareness of the realities of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems market today,” said white paper author Chris Proudlove, Global Aerospace’s Senior Vice President and Manager of UAS Risks. “We work with a significant number of companies to help them understand best practices and safely utilize this incredible technology, in a way that will foster long-term success.”
The white paper is being made available free of charge, and can be downloaded at: www.global-aero.com/sky-high-drone-growth-presents-challenges-and-opportunities.
For several years, Global Aerospace has provided insurance solutions and guidance to UAS operators from small independent organizations to large, military-grade UAS users. As aviation regulators around the world actively work to establish guidelines for the safe integration of UAS into their national airspace, Global Aerospace is at the forefront of insurance for this new industry, helping manufacturers and operators understand how to improve safety, minimize risk and insure against loss and liability.
Individuals interested in learning more about UAS risk and insurance, or wishing to speak to an unmanned aviation insurance expert can contact Chris Proudlove at (973) 490-8525 or email@example.com or a member of the UAS underwriting team at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Global Aerospace is a leading provider of aerospace insurance with a worldwide portfolio of clients who are engaged in every aspect of the aviation and space industries. Headquartered in London, we have offices in Canada, Cologne, Paris, Zurich and throughout the United States. Across the world we employ over 300 people. With experience dating back to the 1920s, the company’s underwriting is backed by a pool of high quality insurance companies representing some of the most respected names in the business.
For additional information about Global Aerospace, please visit www.global-aero.com. To learn more about the company’s SM4 safety program, please visit sm4.global-aero.com.
- Performance and Ease of Accessibility Offered by First Intelsat EpicNG Satellite Enable Gogo to Begin Immediate Delivery of Improved Infight Wi-Fi for Passengers
Luxembourg | November 17, 2016– Intelsat (NYSE: I), operator of the world’s first Globalized Network, powered by its leading satellite backbone, announced that Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), the global leader in providing broadband connectivity solutions and wireless entertainment to the aviation industry, has signed an agreement for services on the Intelsat 29e satellite.
Gogo will use high-throughput services from the first satellite in the global Intelsat EpicNG network to deliver inflight Wi-Fi service to passenger airplanes operating in the heavily traveled North Atlantic route. The connectivity provided by Intelsat 29e, which began operations earlier this year, will deliver bridge services for Gogo until Intelsat 32e becomes operational in 2017. Intelsat is also providing Gogo with IntelsatOne managed services via its Mountainside, Maryland teleport.
In March 2016, Gogo signed an agreement for Intelsat to deliver next generation in-flight connectivity services via multi-layered Ku-band services on the Intelsat EpicNG satellites combined with OneWeb’s planned low earth orbit satellite constellation. Coverage will include high-performance connectivity provided by Intelsat 32e, Intelsat 33e and Horizons 3e.
“The performance of the Intelsat EpicNG satellites demonstrates the value of high-throughput satellite technology,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “When factoring in the ease of integration to Intelsat EpicNG services, we opted to begin services with Intelsat 29e immediately and transition to Intelsat 32e when it becomes operational. We look forward to expanding our reach as more Intelsat EpicNG satellites become available.”
Intelsat 33e will expand Gogo’s services across Europe, the Middle East and Asia when it begins service in the first quarter of 2017 at 60° East, and the Horizons 3e spacecraft will create a true global HTS service for Gogo when it begins operations over the Asia-Pacific region in 2018.
“Intelsat is delivering on the promise of HTS with Intelsat EpicNG, with a unique design that provides immediate improvement in performance of up to 165 percent,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler. “Customers are easily transitioning to the platform, validating our backwards-compatible, open-architecture design, and this enables Gogo to begin delivering broadband-enabled inflight Wi-Fi services in the North Atlantic today. We’re proving every day that the higher performance, improved economics and simplified access delivered by Intelsat EpicNG position aeronautical service providers to rapidly scale networks on a global basis, while staying ahead of explosive data-performance requirements.”
- Gouvêa to oversee every aspect of SITA’s delivery and service excellence
Geneva | November 17, 2016– Global air transport IT provider SITA announced that it has appointed Alexandre Gouvêa as Senior Vice President, SITA Global Services (SGS) reporting to CEO Barbara Dalibard. He joined SITA on 1 November 2016.
In his new role, Gouvêa will be responsible for maintaining and enhancing SITA’s service delivery to its 2,800 customers across 200 countries and territories while driving efficient and effective delivery of new infrastructure and services. Gouvêa will lead a team of more than 2,000 aviation specialists and engineers that will oversee the delivery and management of numerous complex IT systems across airports, airlines and on aircraft. SITA’s portfolio covers everything from managed global communications and infrastructure services, to eAircraft, passenger management, baggage, self-service, airport and border management solutions.
Barbara Dalibard, CEO of SITA, said: “Our focus at SITA is to put the customer at the center of every decision and action we take. This starts from the moment a customer signs a contract, through the delivery process to ensuring we support our infrastructure and service every step of the way. Alexandre’s experience will be invaluable in delivering this service. He is a strong addition to the SITA team and I look forward to working with him to enhance our customer focus even further.”
Gouvêa, who brings to SITA more than 30 years of experience in the air transport and IT sectors, joins SITA from the Atos Group where he was CEO for Latin America (LATAM) and Member of the Group Executive Committee. Previous roles include SVP Customer Services & Operations for Orange Business Services where he was responsible for all services delivery (Data, Voice & Video Network Services plus Information Technology/IT Services) worldwide and SVP Customer Care & Integration Services for Equant.
He has a long and close history with SITA and the air transport industry having previously served as Director, Engineering and Operations for Latin America for SITA in Brazil.
Gouvêa is also a Board Member of the Chamber of Commerce France-Brazil and member of the International Trading Council of France (CCEF).
Gouvêa said: “It is a great pleasure to return to SITA and to lead a strong team of professionals committed to delivering and providing world-class service to our customers. Together we will provide our customers both the technology and support that will help transform air travel, making the industry stronger, more efficient and more welcoming to passengers.”
Before we get into more Singapore IFEC stuff we wanted to mention that next year’s APEX EXPO 2017 will be held on September 25 – 28 in Long Beach, CA USA. Check out the APEX website for more info. Now, on to APEX in Singapore:
While this year’s Panasonic booth was a blend of the “Cool Room” and the regular product displays, they were showing new products and solutions for the IFEC crowd. And finally, we got a communication focus on the application of advertising with the launch of Captify Inflight Marketing and advertising services. Captify, which is an advanced inflight marketing platform delivers all the key features needed by airlines, their external partners and paying advertisers. Since the platform comprises the software tools and support teams that power the largest inflight marketing solution in the world – reaching 1.3 billion travelers a year! Here is the big deal – Captify enables airlines to target by seat class, route, device, language, and passenger data. With no changes to on-board media, it can increase or decrease ad loads, cap the frequency of marketing campaigns, and deliver detailed usage data in real-time. This allows airlines to optimize promotions for a wide range of optional services, partnerships, loyalty programs, and paid advertising all within a compelling passenger experience.
The platform delivers video, native display, and sponsorship options for high-impact, fraud-free marketing with best-in-class targeting and results. Using this information, Captify helps airlines and their marketing and sales partners learn more about their customers by bringing together all the passenger and behavioral data, so airlines can gain intelligence and inform business or service strategies. Captify is built to fit any airline’s business model, with access for internal marketers, external sales teams, and ongoing trafficking and testing support from Panasonic. The full-service platform includes ground-side tools for scheduling and analytics of marketing campaigns; air-side servers and APIs to integrate with any aircraft’s inflight entertainment or connectivity systems; plus Panasonic’s dedicated service teams working hand-in-hand with airlines partners, media agencies, and content providers.
Next, Panasonic Global Communications (Panasonic), A Division of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, and Newtec – a specialist in designing, developing and manufacturing equipment and technologies for satellite communications – unveiled a new, high bandwidth satellite modem, which offers Panasonic customers twenty times the bandwidth of Panasonic’s current solution. Versions of this new modem will be available across Panasonic’s mobility markets including air transport, business aviation, maritime, cruise ships, mega yachts, and river cruises. Developed in partnership, the new modem is capable of exceeding 400 Mbps, and it can scale to meet the evolving needs of airlines and their passengers by facilitating the increasing bandwidth coming on stream over the next two years as High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) and Extreme-Throughput Satellite (XTSTM) services continue to be layered over Panasonic’s existing global network. This will expand network capacity from 2,300 MHz today to 15,000+ MHz by 2017.
The next-generation modem includes three demodulators for seamless beam switching and simultaneous data and video reception and is also part of the Newtec Dialog® multiservice platform, which supports a wide range of verticals, including aviation and maritime. Featuring the award-winning dynamic bandwidth allocation Mx-DMA®, it combines the efficiency of SCPC with the dynamic bandwidth allocation capabilities of TDMA to deliver up to 300 percent more data than legacy Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) systems. Here’s the deal: By making a satcom beam narrower, Newtec delivers more power, and thus, use the full 150 MHz carrier. You remember Shannons theorem, right? This way they use a full 150MHz carrier – three times wider than Panasonic’s existing Ku-band systems. Very cool and speedy solution.
Lastly, we found Panasonic’s ZeroTouch service – it’s a unique and innovative service that simultaneously gives airlines real-time visibility into performance, improves the efficiency of its maintenance operations and also enables data transfer of passenger-facing content to an aircraft to improve the passenger experience. 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. Paul Margis, CEO of Panasonic Avionics, said: “As an industry leader and trusted partner for over 35 years, Panasonic understands the infrastructure and support airlines require. Our data-driven, real-time ZeroTouch service combines all areas of our in-house expertise to help airlines maximize the efficiencies of their business and reduce their operational expenses.”
An announcement at the show caught us a little off guard – “Rockwell Collins to acquire B/E Aerospace for $8.3 billion in total consideration”, so we asked the RC Team about the deal but because it was so new it was a bit too early to get reliable report answers for our readers. The release went on to say, “Expected to generate run-rate pre-tax cost synergies of approximately $160 million. Transformative transaction accelerates growth and strengthens Rockwell Collins’ position as a leading supplier of cockpit and cabin solutions. “Double-digit accretive to earnings per share in first full fiscal year with expected combined five-year free cash flow generation in excess of $6 billion”, and “Diversifies and balances portfolio across OEM, airline and aftermarket.” Further it went on: “The transaction combines Rockwell Collins’ capabilities in flight deck avionics, cabin electronics, mission communications, simulation and training, and information management systems with B/E Aerospace’s range of cabin interior products, which include seating, food and beverage preparation and storage equipment, lighting and oxygen systems, and modular galley and lavatory systems for commercial airliners and business jets. The acquisition significantly increases Rockwell Collins’ scale and diversifies its product portfolio, customer mix and geographic presence. On a pro forma basis, Rockwell Collins would have nearly 30,000 employees, $8.1 billion in revenues and $1.9 billion in EBITDA for the twelve months ending September 30, 2016.”
The story is probably like this: A lot of Rockwell Collins aviation earnings, including IFEC, vary greatly through the year and in many cases, IFEC may be down, while seating may be a hot item. This solution gives Rockwell a very well respected company to deliver another set of aviation products that they did not have. It also makes them a ‘nose-to-tail’ provider within that giant metal tube. And who knows, the integration of BEA into RC, may just further provide individual and combined sales products and events!
One of the “big deals” in Singapore was Inmarsat, as they launched their GX Aviation inflight connectivity solution while there. GX operates at Ka-band, and unlike other solutions available today GX for Aviation is uniquely engineered to meet the needs of airlines and their passengers. Generally speaking, the higher the frequency the more bandwidth you can get out of the system, and the more bandwidth, the more users and the larger the data rates – bigger is definitely better in connectivity! The highly efficient Ka-band spot beams provide a foundation layer of global coverage designed specifically to serve high-speed users. But global coverage is only part of the story. GX offers the flexibility to add and redirect bandwidth where airlines need it most, across hub and traffic hotspots. And as demand inevitably grows, so will GX capacity, future-proofing airlines choice today. Imagine a cell network and since each satellite has 80 cells, the flexible cell approach allows the satcom receivers to hand over signals from one to another if one cell is overloaded (done today with L-band too). This is a big deal.
As we noted earlier, the GX Ka-band service is now live and Inmarsat will provide its advanced new GX for Aviation in-flight broadband solution to Austrian Airlines’ continental aircraft fleet under a new, recently announced contract. The Ka-band spot beams are extremely efficient and provide a foundation layer of global coverage specifically designed to serve a high-speed mobile audience. More than 30 Airbus A320 family aircraft from Austrian Airlines’ fleet will be equipped with GX for Aviation. We understand that the new service will allow the airline’s passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more, with service levels on par with broadband connectivity available on the ground. We should note that the first installation and testing onboard Austrian Airlines aircraft is currently underway.
Also in the GX world, Honeywell and Boeing have recently signed a technical services agreement to develop technologies for the next generation of high-speed, in-flight wireless connectivity. The two companies will jointly research, test and develop the avionics hardware, software and potential aviation services that will utilize Inmarsat’s GX Ka-band satellites. The move addresses passengers’ increasing demands for faster, more reliable in-flight connectivity on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
(Editor’s Note: We can’t leave the Inmarsat story without reporting on their incredible booth in Singapore. It basically used virtual reality to tell visitors about 10 – 15 potential applications for the GX service from Inmarsat via VR headsets. First you are fitted with the headset and told that once in the viewing room, users could focus their headsets on the logo of one of the 10 – 15 potential areas of interest: ground connectivity, inflight operation, destination information and so on. Once a connection was established with the VR headset; the viewer was presented with a short audio/video scenario. Very clever and hopefully it will be at a future show!)
- We expect to see more consolidation from mid-level vendors before AIX and it is happening NOW!
Here’s a new one, or at least one we have not seen: Latitude Aero is having a Warehouse Liquidation Sale on A319 seating… “All reasonable offers accepted” – Check it out!
- Joint venture would exclusively provide inflight connectivity hardware and entertainment services on HNA airlines, comprising over 320 aircraft today with the potential to grow to over 500 planes
- Shareco plans to invest up to $416 million in GEE stock at $11 per share through a combination of primary and secondary share purchases
Los Angeles, CA | November 8, 2016– GEE (“GEE”) (NASDAQ:ENT), today announced it has entered into a strategic alliance and an investment agreement with Beijing Shareco Technologies Co., Ltd. (“Shareco”, NEEQ: 837676), an affiliate of HNA Group, one of China’s largest conglomerates. GEE and Shareco plan to create a joint venture (“JV”) to provide inflight entertainment and connectivity (“IFEC”) in China and exclusively service aircraft operated by HNA airlines. Shareco will make an initial primary equity investment in GEE of approximately $103 million, as well as contemplated additional primary and secondary common equity purchases upon the formation of the JV that would bring the total expected investment to $416 million.
Under terms of the contemplated transactions, GEE and Shareco would form a JV to provide IFEC and passenger monetization services to HNA airlines. GEE would sell its equipment, including its Airconnect antennas, network services and engineering and product support directly to the JV. The JV would be the exclusive provider of IFEC to HNA aircraft. This fleet comprises over 320 aircraft today and is expected to grow to over 500 aircraft in the future.
GEE currently operates live connectivity and television services in the Chinese IFEC market, and since 2013, GEE’s Chinese growth program has included investment in a Beijing office, local engineers, partnerships with Chinese media and advertising firms, connectivity trials and teleport infrastructure. GEE works with all of the Tier-1 telecommunications providers in China and, upon implementation of the JV, expects to be well-positioned in the highly competitive China IFEC market, with the JV having exclusive access to aircraft currently comprising a significant portion of the Chinese commercial aviation market. Currently, GEE has trial contracts with Shareco to provide services to several airlines within the HNA Group.
Shareco is a Beijing-based company that has developed and implemented an established advertising and passenger monetization model as the exclusive provider of e-commerce, games, content and advertising solutions to numerous airlines within and out of HNA’s fleet, including Hainan Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Yangtze River Express, Tianjin Airlines and Okay Airways, among others. Shareco currently provides innovative tablet-based IFEC services to over 200 aircraft. Shareco is affiliated with HNA Group, a Fortune Global 500 corporation based in China with a proven track-record of acquisitions and investments in the aviation and travel industries.
“The transaction would bring together two industry leaders to accelerate IFEC adoption and improve the passenger experience in China. The completion of our JV with Shareco would accelerate our growth and solidify GEE as a major IFEC provider in the rapidly growing Chinese market,” said Dave Davis, CEO of GEE. “We are thrilled to partner with Shareco and HNA Group to drive new revenue opportunities and provide unparalleled connectivity and passenger entertainment products for HNA airlines and the Chinese market.”
“We are investing in GEE based on its leadership in the mobility space and unique position of offering an integrated suite of connectivity and content products,” said Jason Sun, Chairman of Shareco. “Our investment and strategic alliance will accelerate adoption of inflight connectivity, advertising and e-commerce in the Chinese market and bring a differentiated experience to passengers.”
Shareco’s investment and creation of the JV is planned to occur in two stages. First, Shareco has agreed to acquire newly issued common shares of GEE for $11.00 per share, resulting in a 9.9% post-investment ownership stake. Based on GEE current shares outstanding, the initial investment is expected to total approximately $103 million for approximately 9.3 million newly issued shares of GEE. GEE will use the proceeds from this investment for general corporate purposes. The first stage of the transaction is subject to regulatory review and other customary closing conditions.
In connection with the second stage of the transactions, GEE and Shareco will negotiate binding documentation including an investment agreement providing for additional Shareco primary and secondary equity investments and a definitive JV agreement. Upon formation of the JV, Shareco would purchase up to $150 million of additional primary shares from GEE at $11.00 per share, with the proceeds used by GEE to invest in the JV as described below. In addition, in connection with the second stage of the transaction, Shareco would commence a tender offer to GEE’s stockholders to acquire shares at $11.00 per share in an amount which would result in Shareco holding an expected 34.9% ownership stake in GEE, through an expected aggregate investment of up to approximately $416 million, inclusive of both investment stages of the transaction. The second stage of the transaction is subject to the parties entering in a definitive investment and JV agreements, as well as regulatory review, GEE shareholder approval and other customary closing conditions.
GEE is expected to own up to 49% of the JV, and Shareco would own the remainder. In connection with the formation of the JV, GEE would invest up to $150 million into the JV, and Shareco is expected to contribute substantially all of its assets and liabilities, including exclusive contractual rights to provide IFEC services to HNA airlines. Upon completion of the second investment, Shareco would have the right to nominate GEE Board of Director seats proportionate to its ownership position in GEE. GEE expects to be actively engaged in the management of the JV, including having the rights to appoint key JV officers.
GEE expects that the completion of Shareco’s initial primary investment will occur during the first half of 2017, with the JV and second stage equity investments completed later in 2017.
BofA Merrill Lynch and Barclays are acting as financial advisors to GEE, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP is acting as legal advisor to GEE. Moelis & Company is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Shareco. Sidley Austin LLP and Fangda Partners are acting as legal advisors to Shareco.