We first heard about meshed aviation networks a few years ago but not much has happened in the build and test phase until now. In the past, and as far back as 2008, mesh networks have found use on the ground and in the air with the military. However, in the last couple of years, mesh networks have found a proposed place, specifically in aviation papers like this one. Interestingly, Wikipedia notes; “The 66-satellite Iridium constellation operates as a mesh network, with wireless links between adjacent satellites. Calls between two satellite phones are routed through the mesh, from one satellite to another across the constellation, without having to go through an earth station. This makes for a smaller travel distance for the signal, reducing latency, and also allows for the constellation to operate with far fewer earth stations than would be required for 66 traditional communications satellites.”
Now, the Airborne Wireless Network folks are targeting the communication to and from the ground, through moving aircraft paths… that is, the planes have antennas that talk to each other, as well as, to ground stations – look at it as a flexible, moving wireless network that does not use satellites, but rather, uses the airplane(s) as the communication nodes to ground stations. As the reported requirements for off-plane data increases, as well as the development failure prediction capability based on more data, communicating black box testing, and passengers and crew data usage goes up – another method to send it might be useful! The concept in our first story is the result of a lot of new technology brought about by new data handling capabilities, advanced antenna processing, flexible spectrum management and frequency-agile transmissions and importantly, software defined networking. While Airborne Wireless Network has kept a low profile about their operation, you are going to hear a lot about the technology, and a lot about their product in the future. Stay Tuned!
Airborne Wireless Network:
Airborne Wireless Network (the company) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a Memorandum Of Understanding with Kansas City-based Jet Midwest Group (Jet Midwest). It states that both parties have agreed to enter into a definitive agreement by September 30, 2016. The memorandum further states that Jet Midwest Group would be providing up to three Boeing 757-223 Jetliners to Airborne Wireless Network for its ‘proof of network concept’ and FAA certification testing. Two of these Boeing 757-223’s have tentatively been designated for the company’s use.
Once the aircraft have been fitted with Airborne Wireless’ equipment and ground-testing has been completed, the company plans to fly these commercial jets from Roswell, New Mexico to Kansas City, Missouri. According to the FAA, this will be a historic “first ever” flight of a meshed commercial airliner-based network. Their plan is for global service of real-time data performance developing a virtual airborne “worldwide web”. One of the advantages of an airplane-based is, of course, no space junk which is a big deal. The only hang-up is you have to get a lot of folks in the game with all their aircraft before enough coverage is available as a reliable connection service. If there are enough players, the advantages, however, result in multiple signal paths, a true “meshed network”, and no single point of failure. We are sure you can see the issues, especially since we are in the heyday of potential signal hacking but being some 30,000 feet above ‘bad guy’ signal sources may have value, not to mention the removal of ground-to-air and air-to-ground weather-related signal and distance losses. This is worth watching.
Last week, Boeing’s Father of the B747, Joe Sutter, passed away at 95. Mr. Sutter was involved with many planes that Boeing built like the B377, the “Dash 80”, B707, B720, B727, B737, and famously as the Father of the B747. He was a nice man and always had the time to say hello… goodbye Joe.
AIN PRODUCT SURVEY CONGRATS!
AIN reports in aircraft cabin electronics this year that, Aircraft Cabin Systems came in second in their Product Report Survey. Gogo Business/Satcom Direct tied for first place. Additionally, Satcom Direct won for overall product reliability. Check the survey results out here.
AIRBUS announced orders from VIETJET for 10 A321ceos and 10 A321neos and JETSTAR PACIFIC for 10 A320ceos; and MOU from VIETNAM AIRLINES for 10 more A350s. We also note that AIRBUS delivered 61 airliners (47 A320 Family, seven A330s, six A350s, and two A380) in August versus 44 (32 A320s, 10 A330s, two A380s) in August 2015. It has now delivered 400 some aircraft in 2016.
THE DELTA MESS:
Delta has reported a $100 million loss from those 2300 lost flights last month, which was blamed on a bad router and data backup capability. Wow, that’s an expensive router! Check out the full story.
From the folks at Aircraft Interiors Expo Asia we get this bit of info about the show – “AIX Asia will welcome more than 50 exhibitors across seating, onboard retail, passenger comfort and more, including Geven, ZIM and Mirus Aircraft Seating. We are co-located with the Future Travel Experience Asia EXPO and the APEX EXPO, bringing together over 150 exhibitors to Singapore this year and creating the airline industry’s biggest fall event for the passenger experience industry.” IFExpress will be there October 24 – 27, 2016 and we hope you will too. We should also note that while the Zika virus has now infected 151 individuals in Singapore, the first locally-transmitted Zika infection was reported this past Saturday but most cases reported are from foreigners. “We have been tracking Zika for a while now, and knew it was only a matter of time before it reached Singapore,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on his Facebook page. “Our best defense is to eradicate mosquitoes and destroy breeding habitats, all over Singapore.” Singapore is the only Asian country with active transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. We are bringing our Sawyer Picardin (Consumer Reports highest rated insect repellent – look it up.
VARIOUS LINKS WORTH YOUR TIME:
1. How to Keep Your Mac or iPhone Secure When Traveling Overseas | The Mac Security Blog
2. FAA Tightens Safeguards on Lithium Batteries on Airplanes – WSJ
3. Why You Should Drink Milk Before A Road Trip
4. Long TSA Delays Force Airports To Hire Private Security Contractors – Slashdot
5. ViaSat (VSAT), Eutelsat Receive New Contract in Europe
6. The Ultimate Guide to Travel Plugs
7. Travel hacks to avoid fees for Wi-Fi, extra legroom
auf Wiedersehen AXEL!
“As of today I will go on a sabbatical leave! Still unbelievable for me, but after a very long time at TriaGnoSys and Zii, I will give up work responsibility, and enjoy various other activities, family and friends, which I gave too low focus in the past. So I am leaving with a smile in one eye and a tear in the other. Looking forward to seeing you soon again, take care, Axel”
Editor’s Note: We usually put these notices at the end of our Hot Topic but this week we wanted to let our readers know that while our “Readers Predictions” are in the forefront we have a really interesting paper from Dr. Junkang Ma of CETCA fame. Dr. Ma put together an interesting piece on the inflight connectivity market in China… with an even more interesting solution to the problem of airline-ground interoperability – think SIP! Be sure to check it out.
The IFExpress team usually solicits yearly IFE predictions from our readership for our first issues and 2014 is no different. As you can imagine, they vary from the sublime to the incredibly interesting. You be the judge. Lets look at what some of our advertisers said first:
- The FAA’s and the EASA’s decision on gate to gate operation of PEDs in flight mode will further accelerate the trend towards wireless inflight entertainment. More than 50% of all European legacy airlines will adopt the new guidance in 2014. Norbert Muller, LHSystems
- “There will be a big shift away from brand name portables to portables specifically designed for inflight use.” Attribute prediction to Josh Rasmussen, digEcor.
- “Airlines across the world will continue to increase the provision of both Wi-Fi and cell phone connectivity: the technology is reliable, affordable and very easy to install and operate. The US will remain the exception, until the debate about voice services is resolved.” Axel Jahn, TriaGnoSys
Readers also sent in their predictions and we really like the following:
- “With increased gate-to-gate PED use, the demand for seat power will increase tremendously on regional aircraft.” – Mr. Mark Milauskas, Armstrong Aerospace Inc.
- “The inflight use of cell phones in US won’t cause any more problems than it has in the rest of the world. And there have been no problems in six years, over five continents”, Ian Dawkins, OnAir
- “ The demand for streaming IFE over Wi-Fi will see the highest increase in customer demand and force the movie studios to implement an encryption process to allow for early window viewing.” – Mr. Todd Hamblin, Global Aerospace Design Corp.
- “By the end of 2014, a bird strike compliance path will be forged and system providers will begin installing IFE satellite antennas again.” – Mr. Mark Milauskas, Armstrong Aerospace Inc.
- “US airlines will not allow inflight mobile calling because of the feedback from their frequent fliers and flight attendant unions.” – Mr. Todd Hamblin, Global Aerospace Design Corp.
- “4k Ultra High Definition (4k UHD) Networked monitors designed specifically for Business and Commercial aircraft use will be in service by midyear 2014.” Bill Baltra, Retired
- “By the end of 2014, the US government (FCC) will lift the ban on the use of cellular technology while in-flight.” –Joe Kupfer, Armstrong Aerospace
Lastly, as can be seen from the above, inflight cell phone connectivity has a lot of interest, and a lot of different opinions so we asked John Courtright to opine on the subject and he sent us the following:
Here is my prediction and a follow up clarification to the question,
- In the US, at least one airline will “test” the applicability of inflight cellphone calling.
Prediction: Yes, I expect a small number of U.S. airlines to permit inflight cell phone calling. Furthermore, I expect the first airlines to allow inflight cell phone calls on short-haul flight, flights of two hours or less. The first to test the cell usage issue will either be a.) an independent Regional Operators, such as Mesa, Republic, and Nantucket, or b.) Regionals affiliated with a Major Carrier, such as American Eagle or Jet Blue.
The first set of carriers found in a.) above will figure that their flight operations are short haul and the “obnoxious factor” is mitigated by the short duration of the flights as well as being affected by the higher ambient noise on RJs. The second set of carriers, those associated with a Major Airline( (b.) above), will see a competitive advantage in and out of the Major’s hubs as well as being a guinea pig for the major carrier to assess passenger acceptance.
Longer range prediction: Carriers will NOT create a cell-phone usage section, like the old smoking section. Too much policing by the flight attendants. Carriers will initially allow cell phone usage on short-haul, high density routes. Think SFO-LAX or LGA – DCA where the clientele is largely business based. I see cell phone usage to expand to a flight duration-based judgment and to have a cut-off point at two hours.
The above predictions, of course, are moot if the DeFazio Amendment is extended and thus inflight cell phone calls are prohibited by statute. But absent a specific law, I see the usage to be flight time based. (Editor’s Note: We called Senator DeFazio’s office and he has yet to get back to us on the status of his Bill.)
While predictions seem to have taken center stage in this IFExpress, we have been working with Dr. Junkang Ma, a brilliant Program Manager at the Chinese avionics manufacturer CETCA, and he has put together a very good vision of the developing Chinese inflight connectivity market for us. Here is a bit of the story: “In December 2013, the MIIT of China (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) released the 4G frequency license to the three government-owned telecom operators (China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom), establishing that the Telecom industry of China has officially entered into the 4G generation, beginning from TD-LTE, although 3G has only been used for around 4 years in China. While the ground-based Telecom industry is rapidly developing, one large area in China appears to be forgotten – the area in the air. The cabin of the civil aircraft has become the last “isolated island” of the information age, which makes the passengers on board feel like being back in the early years of the 20th century. The Chinese civil aviation market is experiencing accelerated growth and as more travelers are flying, passengers require a similar communication experience like they enjoy on the ground, which will result in an accelerated and diversified growth phase for China’s connectivity market…” You can read the whole story here .
And lastly, A large French IFEC company is looking for engineers in the Irvine area we have heard and if you are so inclined you might send your resume to them! Systems, Software, Platform, Project, Logistics, Field Service Engineers and even Financial Analysts… so we understand. Good Luck!
APEX Expo, Anaheim, CA | September 9, 2013– Zodiac Aerospace has completed the acquisition of TriaGnoSys the German based company specializing in inflight connectivity and wireless entertainment and cabin systems. TriaGnoSys will be part of Zodiac Inflight Innovations (ZII) providing integrated connectivity with RAVETM, ZII’s inflight entertainment system. TriaGnoSys will provide access to inflight Internet and GSM technology along with many other advanced communications technologies.
Rod Farley, CEO of Zodiac Inflight Innovations stated, “As well as embedded IFE, RAVETM now enables inflight Internet and GSM to passengers’ phones, tablets and laptops. The fully integrated IFEC solution is available for airlines now.
Larry Girard, Executive Vice President, Zodiac Inflight Innovations, said, “What’s absolutely clear is that passengers want inflight connectivity, so they can access social media, check emails, text their friends and make calls. They also want the option of using their own electronic devices to watch movies, TV programs and listen to music. Numerous airlines have turned to RAVETM because it is reliable, affordable, and passenger-centric. We need to keep it that way, which is why we are now including connectivity.”
Larry continued, “The acquisition of TriaGnoSys completes an important step in an overall connectivity strategy allowing us to provide complete IFEC solutions to the market.” TriaGnoSys’ technology is the best available, both in terms of what it can do and how well it fits with RAVETM. It is reliable and it is affordable, it’s the perfect fit.”
With this acquisition, Zodiac Aerospace is now in a position to offer a complete cabin interior, including advances in seat and IFEC integration – simply put Zodiac Aerospace is the best one stop shop available.
Dr Axel Jahn, Managing Director of TriaGnoSys, said, “This acquisition will provide greater resources and global support to our customers and our team as we continue to grow in the inflight communication industry, further expanding on current GSM technology which has been at the forefront of our growth and development over the past few years”.
Jahn went on to say, “The two companies’ connectivity strategies align and the Zodiac Aerospace way of doing business complements ours, making this a best fit. By working with Zodiac Aerospace, we are making it easy for airlines to provide seat-back IFE in conjunction with connectivity. This acquisition is producing an IFEC solution that is simple for both the airlines and passengers.”
IFExpress readers: Don’t get cold feet over this bit of aviation communication technology; however, it might help to get started by reviewing today’s aircraft ACARS System.
For the last few years, Axel Jahn’s TriaGnoSys has never ceased to amaze us. First it was IFE and then Connectivity, last year it was weather, and now, his company is proposing and testing what we like to consider as the new ACARS… all in association with his “One-Box-Wonder”. If you aren’t a pilot type, ACARS is a digital datalink system for transmission of short, simple, protocol heavy messages between mostly commercial aircraft and ground. The TriaGnoSys solution, SANDRA (Seamless Aeronautical Networking through integration of Data links, Radios and Antennas), described in their own words as a proof-of-concept testbed of future IPv6-based connectivity, which integrates cockpit communications with both passenger and non-operational airline communications into a common system architecture. Check out their press release. SANDRA is a connectivity approach that uses modern data protocols and if you don’t know about the company, be advised that TriaGnoSys Research and Development focuses on a broad range of mobile communication fields, including mobile end-to-end solutions, wireless In-flight Entertainment (IFE), next generation satellite connectivity and cabin/cockpit communication, as well as combined navigation and communications technologies.
Charlie Pryor, TriaGnoSys PR told IFExpress: “It’s really about two things. The first is bringing seamless comms to the cockpit (as you say, seamless is important). What that means is from a pilot’s perspective he/she will be in touch with the ground throughout the flight, either using datalink or, where necessary, voice. It will be just a case of using it, without having to fiddle around connecting to the satellite or VHF or whatever. In the background, the system will choose the best connection – a satellite or whichever air-to-ground network is most appropriate. So it will be simple for the pilot to use, and efficient. It is also moving cockpit comms towards digital and away from analogue. The second element is that it integrates with passenger connectivity. It uses the same networks, but with segregation for security. It is a concept at the moment – it works but needs more development to make it operational.”
The chart on this page may help.
We thought it would be a good idea to talk to the TriaGnoSys folks and they said: “Don’t forget this is early research. The aim is to continue working on the development of this technology, moving closer to implementation. TriaGnoSys sees the next stage as a further European-funded programme, with several of the same SANDRA partners, in particular working with increased focus on the issue you highlighted integrated technology for the cockpit and the cabin, while ensuring segregation. In SANDRA, TriaGnoSys has done much of the theoretical work, as well as fundamental design and development work to achieve an early functional demonstration; implementation in real operation will require more work and further proof-of-concept trials and demos on higher TRL levels.”
Q: If voice is least preferred communication methodology (and we understand why), how is the aircraft/ground info displayed?
A: That depends entirely on the avionics system on the aircraft. But it would be displayed in a very similar way to current controller–pilot data link communications (CPDLC) data.
Q: What is the range of info requests/updates… weather, fuel, traffic, aircraft status?
A: Theoretically, there is no limit to the type of data that can be transmitted. It depends on what the regulators, air traffic providers and airlines want to use it for. There will be more bandwidth available. In fact, SESAR has specified use of future data links for ATS and AOC in the COCR (now v2), which is kind of work in progress still and is the reference for (a) what data is exchanged and (b) what are the requirements for the data link
Q: How is passenger data involved?
A: Passenger data is involved inasmuch as the cockpit and cabin will share suitable link capacities, though with strict segregation to provide security.
Q: Who pays what and when and how?
A: That is really a question to address when we get to the implementation stage. However, it is likely to be a combination of the airline, for the cockpit side, and the passenger for the cabin side.
5. What is the present-day total coverage?
A: Coverage of all flight routes is one of the key aims of SANDRA, which is why the technology uses both both satellite and ground radio links.
Q: And finally, why is this coming to aircraft now?
A: There is “a common agreement” that the current practice of voice-centric ATC and limited bandwidth cockpit data links will limit future air traffic growth. In response to that, SESAR and NextGen are specifying the future data-centric concept of operations, with future data links as a central element (LDACS, AeroMACS, Iris). ICAO has already set the framework for the next generation global Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN) based on IPv6 in the ATN/IPS SARPS Doc. 9896, specifying minimum communication protocols and services required for the implementation of the future ICAO ATN. This is the background for SANDRA and why this projects brings IPv6 data links onto an aircraft.
Q: BTW, is this loosely considered airborne data integration?
A: Yes, basically that is exactly what it is.
Q: We gather this is not a “replacement” for ACARS, then?
A: SANDRA is not a replacement of ACARS. In fact, it was originally designed to transmit ACARS messages over SANDRA. So ACARS applications may run over the new links in the transitional phase, possibly being replaced by new protocols. SANDRA is more about the seamless integration of the communications technology than the details of the services that run over the communications.