New SITA kiosks to speed passenger processing at airports while boosting national security

Mexico | April 10, 2018– The Federal Government of Mexico is strengthening border control by automating the entry process with the introduction of SITA’s Automated Border Control kiosks. The new kiosks will use biometric technology to capture fingerprints to verify passengers’ identities and improve national security.

SITA has rolled out 100 kiosks across three major airports. These international airports, in Mexico City, Cancun and Los Cabos, are operated by three airport companies – Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México (AICM), Grupo Aeroportuario del Sureste (ASUR) and Grupo Aeroportuario del Pacífico (GAP). SITA is the systems integrator across the project delivering to the needs of all the Mexican authorities and the private enterprises in the various locations.

Enrique De la Madrid, Secretary General, SECTUR, the Mexican Ministry of Tourism, said: “As visitor numbers at international airports grow, the need for migration agents grows as well, but we have the technology to help us overcoming that challenge. This automation will ensure security and facilitate the arrival of visitors to the country.”

Gerardo Ruiz Esparza, Secretary General, SCT, the Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation, said: “The installation of these kiosks represents another example of the implementation of state-of-the-art technology in Mexico, aimed at preserving the safety of people and their goods, as well as facilitating activities related to aviation. Automating the entry of domestic and foreign passengers who do not require a visa is achieved by capturing biometric data (fingerprints, photography and scanning of the passport), which quadruples the capacity of passenger attention for each migration agent.”

Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President, Latin America, said: “This is an exciting development in Mexico. The country is well known for its tourism and our automated border control kiosks will improve the experience for passengers at these key airports. As with most border management operations, making this improvement involves many government agencies working together with various airport operators. SITA is the integrator working with all parties, drawing on our decades of border automation experience with more than 40 governments worldwide, to deliver a secure and seamless passenger journey in Mexico.”

Initially, the SITA automated border control kiosks will be used to securely identify passengers as they enter the country. In time, they will facilitate the full admission process for Mexican citizens and those non-citizens who do not require a visa for entry. Arriving passengers will use the kiosks to provide standard travel information to the authorities, place their hand to be scanned for fingerprints and then once their identity is verified against the INM (National Institute of Immigration) database they will be given the all clear to enter the country.

Automating the entry process will help speed up passenger processing while maintaining high levels of security. SITA border technology enables governments to clear large numbers of passengers in record time. Travelers from up to five SITA iBorders® BorderAutomation ABCKiosks can be managed from just one immigration counter and these kiosks have been shown to reduce the time passengers spend in line by as much as 40%.

Gerardo Garcia, Commissioner to INM, the National Institute of Immigration, said: “Automation increases security and efficiency. Increased numbers of low-risk passengers are processed quickly, conveniently, and cost-effectively while we maintain the security and integrity of our border.By automating the arrival process using SITA’s world-class biometric kiosks, we will improve the speed and accuracy of checks of passengers arriving in Mexico.”

The full rollout across Mexico City, Cancun and Los Cabos International airports is now complete and the 100 SITA kiosks are expected to securely process close to eight million arrivals in the first year.

 

Leveraging India’s Aadhaar system will create the world’s most efficient travel system

Air Transport IT Summit, Jaipur, India | March 22, 2018– With its leading Smart PathTM biometric solution for ID management now rolled out globally, air transport IT provider SITA is well poised to deliver a seamless, paperless travel experience for passengers across India.

SITA has already shown the benefits of using biometric technology to automate passenger identity checks at airports across the world – from the USA to Australia – and is well positioned to help unlock the full benefits of seamless, biometric travel across India.

Maneesh Jaikrishna, SITA Vice President Indian Subcontinent, Eastern & Southern Africa, speaking at the Air Transport IT Summit in Jaipur, said: “Leveraging India’s national Aadhaar biometric identity system – one of the biggest in the world – together with our proven common-use and Smart PathTM technology, SITA will be able to deliver a seamless biometric experience across all airlines and airports – both domestic and international – in India. This would allow passengers to use their biometric identity no matter where they travel.”

SITA is already successfully helping airports and airlines incorporate biometrics into their existing infrastructure and government systems. According to Biometrics for Better Travel: An ID Management Revolution, a SITA report published this week, airlines and airports are increasingly investing in various forms of biometric technology. Over the next three years, 63% of airports and 43% of airlines plan to invest in biometric ID management solutions.

In the USA, SITA is using facial biometrics to help passengers flying with British Airways from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick to quickly board where all that is needed is a photo – no passport, no boarding card. The system integrates the US Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) and airline’s IT systems to authorize boarding while completing necessary US exit checks in a single process. SITA is providing a similar solution to JetBlue at Boston’s Logan Airport.

At Australia’s Brisbane Airport, SITA has introduced its Smart Path™ technology which allows passengers to register their biometric details at a self-service kiosk at check-in and then, when ready to board, use an automated boarding gate to be verified using face recognition technology to access the aircraft.

SITA’s vision for the future strongly supports India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation’s decision to work with the air transport industry to create a “digitally unified flying experience”. Citizens’ national biometric identification cards and foreigner’s passports could be linked with the databases of airlines, airports and other stakeholders to deliver a seamless, secure travel experience at every step in the journey.

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa, said: “In many respects, India is leading the way with the use of biometrics in all walks of life. We feel this presents an opportunity for the Government of India to work with the air transport industry and lead the way to drive new efficiencies in passenger processing and establish India as the world’s most efficient travel system.”

Aadhaar, India’s biometric identity system, has over one billion enrolled members. Indian passengers have shown greater willingness to use biometrics to speed up their journey through the airport. Research published in SITA’s  2017 Passenger IT Trends Survey showed that 70% of passengers in India said they would definitely use biometrics if given the option, removing the need to show a passport or boarding card at key points in the airport. This was well above the global average of 57%.

Maneesh Jaikrishna, said: “Many travelers are comfortable with the use of biometrics and see the benefits of using them throughout their journey. This aligns perfectly with the need to find more efficient ways to manage rising passenger numbers. There is little doubt that this technology is the key to resolving India’s constraints on airport infrastructure.”

India is expected to see passenger numbers grow by 337 million over the next 20 years to 2036, more than tripling from the 141 million passengers in 2016, according to IATA’s 20-year Air Passenger Forecast.

SITA automated boarding gates speed passengers through boarding using secure biometrics

Orlando, Florida | March 8, 2018– Passengers flying with British Airways from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to London Gatwick are enjoying a secure and seamless departure with new biometric boarding at the gate. A quick photo is all that is needed to board the international flight – no passport, no boarding card – thanks to innovative technology. SITA, the global air transport IT provider, integrated automated boarding gates with the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and airline’s IT systems to allow the necessary checks and authorize boarding.

This is a joint initiative by the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA), British Airways and CBP to incorporate the US biometric departure (exit) check for passengers as smoothly as possible. SITA, using its extensive airline and airport expertise, has ensured fast and easy implementation for the airport and airline. By merging the usual boarding procedures with the CBP biometric exit check, SITA is delivering a smooth experience for passengers.  A quick photograph taken at the gate is used to confirm passengers’ identities and authorization to travel.

John Newsome, Chief Information Officer, GOAA, said: “This innovative boarding process is already proving popular with passengers. They simply look at the camera and within seconds the gate opens and they can board the flight. It is easy, fast and most importantly, secure. While we are currently using SITA’s gates for biometric exit with British Airways, they are common-use boarding gates so they can be easily used by other airlines at MCO.”

Raoul Cooper, Digital Airport Design Manager, British Airways, said: “Our customers are always our first priority and we want to make their journey as smooth as possible. Working closely with SITA at Orlando has allowed us to explore various ways of incorporating the US biometric exit check.  Together we have designed a really smooth and secure departure process for our customers, including children, as they leave Orlando. This complements the learning and insight we have gained in Los Angeles where a similar technology trial is under way.”

The option to board at Orlando by simply looking into a camera is available now to British Airways passengers on flight BA 2036 to London Gatwick. The trial will run for up to 90 days. Participation is optional and passengers can choose to provide their passport and other documents to an agent to board the flight. During the early days of the trial, the response from passengers has been very positive with nearly 100% of passengers opting to simply look in the camera and board the plane.

Diana Einterz, SITA President, Americas, said: “We are working closely with the US CBP, airlines and airports to test different ways of doing the US biometric exit check. This includes our recent award-winning work with JetBlue at Boston Logan International Airport, and British Airways at Los Angeles International Airport. We have designed this solution to meet the needs of all parties. It is based on industry-standard common-use gates so it can be used by any other airline at Orlando and by airlines at any other common-use airport.”

The use of biometrics is growing globally and SITA is a world-leader using biometrics to deliver secure seamless journeys for airline passengers. SITA Smart Path, which is in use in Brisbane Airport, Australia, provides a walkthrough experience from check-in to the aircraft door helping passengers fast-track through the airport.

SITA provides self-service solutions at every step of the passenger journey from check-in to boarding at airports across the world. More than 165 airlines use SITA’s passenger processing applications while its common-use systems board more than 100 million passengers per year. Today, SITA provides border management solutions to more than 40 governments across the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Einterz added: “SITA is the global provider to the air transport industry and we develop our solutions for airlines and airports so that they are scalable and work in multiple environments worldwide. Our integration of the automated boarding gates is being investigated with US CBP, British Airways and Orlando International Airport for speed and efficiency of passenger processing as they do accurate border checks. Our performance analysis of this trial will help all our partners evaluate how best they can use biometrics to meet their individual operational needs.”

New York | February 12, 2018– SITA has won the respected Aviation Technology Achievement at Air Transport World’s 2018 Annual Airline Industry Achievement Awards. The award was given for SITA’s work with JetBlue and the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to deliver a new secure, paperless and deviceless self-boarding process, using biometric technology.

This was the world’s first biometric boarding system using just a facial scan to board passengers while also completing the US customs and border exit checks. Working with JetBlue and the CBP, at Boston’s Logan International Airport, SITA demonstrated that biometric technology can reduce friction points in the airport experience including at boarding, where integrating checks with government systems is one of the hardest challenges to solve. The technology eliminates any boarding pass scanning and passport checks. Passengers just need to simply look into the camera for a quick photo and they are on their way. The integration of the airline and government systems by SITA showed how passengers can enjoy a seamless experience, while demonstrating how airlines and government border agencies can work together to enhance security.

Barbara Dalibard, CEO of SITA, said: “Our vision is to make air travel easy, for airlines, airports and, ultimately, for passengers.  Integrating biometrics with the industry’s existing infrastructure, IT systems and processes, along with multiple security and border control systems, can be complex but it delivers a remarkably simple solution. Our work with JetBlue and the US CBP shows how SITA delivers secure and seamless travel to the industry today.

“The ATW Airline Industry Achievement Awards recognize excellence in the air transport industry, looking in particular at outstanding performance, innovation, and superior service. I am very proud that the innovative work of the SITA team has won this award and would like to thank our partners, in particular JetBlue, for recognizing our expertise to develop this technology for them.”

The ATW Awards will be presented at The Mansion House in Dublin, Ireland on 27 March 2018.

Welcome back to IFEC in 2018, and thank you for following us throughout 2017. Having said that, this coming New Year ought to be one of the most interesting years for our technology, and almost everything else for that matter. But before we get ahead of ourselves, we wanted to pass along a short 2018 New Year message from Joe Leader, CEO of APEX and IFSA: “As we launch into 2018, APEX celebrates its 40th year of serving the passenger experience industry with every major airline in the world. The year ahead will see ancillary revenue tying into more facets of new products. In addition, we expect that this is the year that in-flight Wi-Fi surpasses 50% of available seat miles worldwide. It’s going to be an incredible year with major advancements.” We have a feeling he is right on track for this industry and he said it – the IFEC future will be a big deal in 2018, and we certainly agree – with inflight Wi-Fi becoming the passenger necessity. Furthermore, we agree with Mr. Leader’s comment that over 50% of available seat miles will have access to inflight Wi-Fi this new year, with the result being  new innovations that will generate both passenger and flight revenue. Thanks Joe!

Next, we thought it be interesting to delve into some specifics for 2018, as we do almost every year with some reported IFExpress efforts from last January 2017. One prediction that stood out was from an “un-named” provider who said: “The exponential growth of cabin Wi-Fi usage within the confines of the same aircraft will lead to more congestion in the cabin – passenger data to-and-from aircraft will more than quadruple in 2017.” Along the same lines last year, Joe Leader of APEX sent similar predictions: “Connectivity announcements and deployment will hit a new high for the industry and In-flight entertainment continues its expansion with more global IFE system installations and upgrades.” We knew that something like this was coming as well, but what’s new (or what’s news) is the speed at which this is happening. Perhaps, data quadrupling 2017 from 2016 may be a push; however, lets look at what the folks at Inmarsat say today: “Inflight broadband is changing the airline industry and revolutionizing passengers’ expectations of the onboard experience. That is the conclusion from the third annual global Inflight Connectivity Survey, published today by Inmarsat …Overwhelmingly, passengers now expect the same levels of connectivity and access to online services whilst they are at 30,000 feet as they receive on the ground. As such, 60% of all passengers say that inflight Wi-Fi is now a necessity rather than a luxury. The majority (61%) of global passengers who have experienced high-quality inflight Wi-Fi rate it higher on their list of priorities than inflight entertainment when choosing an airline.” The report went on: Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “High-quality inflight Wi-Fi is changing the way people think about flying and how they spend their time in the air. Whether using the time to work, to connect with friends and family, or to pass time shopping or viewing entertainment, the availability of inflight broadband has become a major factor when choosing an airline.””

Last year in IFExpress we wrote about the value of messages and that connectivity was the solution for doing so – what we said then is even more relevant today: “While 2016 may have a few techno-changes from 2015 and summary numbers differ, we 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.” Needless to say, we do not expect the demand to diminish as far as passengers expectations for messaging real-time inflight, in fact, we anticipate the demand to grow exponentially.

Another couple areas of predictive interest last January were Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. We noted in our IFExpress predictions: “Maintenance of aircraft will see more outsourcing, new technology products like AI and voice technology used in maintenance products, and more consolidation in the MRO world (Maintenance Repair Overhaul).” A recent IATA meeting in November 2017 featured speakers on both subjects – Finnair’s Rogier van Enk talked about using “Artificial Intelligence to assist customer service agents in managing the increasing volume of interactions with customers over social media channels,” while SITA’s Wayne Matrose shared knowledge of predicting disruptions with the use of “Neural Networks, to try and better predict the likelihood of a disruption to an airline’s scheduled movements. What data was used and how it was sourced? The importance of data quality and cleansing to make it both usable and useful. What can be predicted and what are the current limitations found with this technology (e.g. Black Swan events) – Ultimately, what changes are required to maximize the operational value of accurate predictions”

Another area we covered was seating and while we were on target for smaller seating, there was on area we missed. Here is what we said in early 2017: “Narrower aircraft seats are coming in 2017, especially in newer low class offerings where only certain sized carry-on baggage will be permitted – smaller and surely less comfortable as well. We already know United Airlines has a new low cost Basic Economy package that will be copied by others. The rub will be what limitations will be placed on passengers who do not have the airline reward travel card! Hey, many folks can travel short flights and put up with almost anything. It is all a function of what they have to take with them. And yes, cheaper seats will be located in the back of the plane.”

What we missed for 2017 was the new “beyond” Basic Economy package rolled out this past year with these extreme lack of features : even lower cost seats, seat selection and upgrades are not available, group and family seating is not available, full-sized carry-on bags are not permitted, one personal item is allowed, flight changes and refunds are not allowed, certain MileagePlus and Premier member benefits are not available, and they are the last boarding group. However, United notes: Basic Economy fares provide most of the same inflight services and amenities that are available with standard Economy — such as food and beverages, United Wi-FiSM and inflight entertainment.

One area where IFExpress fell short in our forecast for 2017 was company employees. We predicted the following for 2017: We fear aviation manufacturing layoffs”…While employee data is a little shaky because of the multitude of companies within a large corporation; we predicted a decline in employees from 2016 to 2017. When we looked in 2016, Boeing had 150K+ workers – today, it is around 174K. Airbus is also up.

We should also note that there are a lot of industry changes (not aviation) that will affect IFEC in the coming year. Video on Demand/LiveTV will surely eventually affect inflight entertainment and connectivity. Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain may as well. In 2018 blockchain will move beyond standard banking applications to money transfer, insurance, digital identification and even insurance, it will be on the aviation near horizon. Similarly, edge computing (near the source of data to reduce transmitted data) could be at the heart of aviation control, monitoring and data communication. With the airplane a trove of unanalyzed data and passengers desire to send and receive more data, connectivity, IFE, and TV, data will be the new connection from the air to the ground and vise-versa – not to mention smart bag issues, power-at-a-distance charging systems; as well as, increased satellite payloads ($11B – 2017 to $18B – 2022) and service providers.

Anyway, another year has passed and IFExpress is now in its 26th year and we still love the craziness of this entertainment and connectivity based aircraft show, albeit, it is getting harder to stay current with all the ups (and downs) of technology, connectivity, seat shrinkage, increased baggage payments, super long haul travel, passenger biometrics, security, and political impacts on the rights and preferences of travelers. There are even bigger changes coming: Net Neutrality and it’s effect on aviation and connectivity neutrality, higher prices coming, airport and possible airplane biometrics, Wi-Fi vs embedded IFE, prospective “splitter” customers, younger airline customers, and even Amazon in the business! However, because each year we are surprised, entertained and enlightened by the creativity and brilliance of many of the industry engineers, marketeers and developers, we again will close with the words of Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Enjoy the MAGIC!

Editor’s Note: Just in case you feel like quitting this year, watch this — and NEVER GIVE UP!

Vision-Box has just implemented a paperless biometric self-boarding
solution to expedite passenger flow and improve traveler experience


Princeton, NJ | December 20, 2017–
Los Angeles Airport is trialing an advanced biometric self-boarding solution by Vision-Box to clear travelers flying out of the USA in a contactless, quick and secure way.
The new passenger flow solution allows travelers to board their aircraft in just a few seconds simply by looking into a high-resolution face capture system at the traveler- friendly flow-control gateway. No need to present their travel document or boarding pass anymore. The system deployed by Vision-Box captures a live, high quality image of the traveler’s unique biometric facial traits, for US Customs and Border Protection to match it against the passenger’s file containing the digital facial token captured at the initial immigration process. This process permits as well to virtualize the process of sending the boarding-pass details to the Airline Departure Control System, using face as a token to reconcile the passenger and his flight. After assuring the identity and eligibility of the passenger on that specific flight, the gateway then opens and the traveler can swiftly board the aircraft.

The solution combines an effective human-factor centric design along with key security features, such as biometric data capture of superior quality in a complex environment in seconds. This combination consequently delivers high-performance reliable match against the authorities’ biometric database, pre-processed by Vision-Box anti-spoofing and liveness checks technology. In spite of the fact that the solution is ready to rely solely on biometrics, it accommodates other possible workflows that include boarding-pass scan, seat re-assignment or multiple additional verification modalities.

Security, safety, efficiency, and a unique, traveler-centric experience are the cornerstone of the project developed in the scope of a partnership between LAX and Vision-Box, supported by US Customs and Border Protection Agency under the umbrella of the US Biometric Exit trial program. British Airways was the first airline to begin expediting boarding procedures using the new contactless technology.

Justin Erbacci, chief innovation and technology officer at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the airport oversight and operations department, said, “This industry-first deployment of innovative solutions from the US Customs and Border Protection and Vision-Box, shows the amazing potential of using biometrics to speed up the boarding process while maintaining safety and security. We have been very impressed with the results thus far, and love to see the passengers’ excitement at being some of the first in the world to use facial recognition”.

Miguel Leitmann, Chief Executive Officer and Founder at Vision-Box explained the reasons for success: “Vision-Box made use of state-of- the-art biometric technology, able to deliver high quality data that drastically enhance matching accuracy, sustained by in-house developed Deep Machine Learning engines for superior facial capture. The results present a solution that addresses current security, efficiency and flow-control challenges in a relevant, revolutionary way. We are very proud to have come up with an industry- changing solution that all stakeholders involved in the process rely on. In the end, it’s about collaboratively raising the security and efficiency standards while eliminating obstacles from the traveler’s way, offering frictionless interactions and the best experience to guests until they’re comfortably seating in the aircraft.

The new contactless platform has been installed on three stands of Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles Airport and will be tested by a number of other airlines after New Year’s Eve.

Travelers expect mobile services and biometrics to speed up their journey 

Mumbai | November 23, 2017–As passengers in India become more familiar with the use of technology – particularly mobile – they expect to use it more on their airline journey. This is according to the 2017 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey, a global survey released by IT provider SITA and co-sponsored by Air Transport World.

While the use of technology among Indian airline passengers remains high at check-in (87%) and booking (52%), 2017 saw tremendous growth in usage at other points in the journey. The research showed while adoption remains low, self-bag drop usage climbed to 21% from 12% in 2016.

Passengers are also demanding new mobile services with 83% saying that they would definitely use flight updates on their mobile. And they would use their mobile for baggage services too: 82% would report mishandled bags and 79% would track their bags in real-time. This comes as no surprise with more than one billion Indians using at least one mobile device in 2016 of which 300 million are using a smart device[1].

Maneesh Jaikrishna, SITA Vice President Indian Subcontinent, Eastern & Southern Africa said: “In India, travelers are increasingly demanding the use of self-service and mobile technology in the airport to speed up their journey. This expectation, in many cases, is running ahead of availability in Indian airports today.”

The research shows 54% of passengers would rather opt to use self-bag drop than go to an airline check-in counter, compared to 33% globally and well ahead of current usage.

Jaikrishna said: “This is good news for the industry as it provides airports and airlines the opportunity to fully benefit from technology to speed up the journey and drive operational efficiencies, helping them meet the demands of rapidly growing passenger numbers across the country.”

India is expected to see passenger numbers grow by 337 million over the next 20 years to 2036, more than tripling from the 141 million passengers in 2016.2

Another area that is gaining the attention of passengers is the use of biometrics. India’s national biometric identity system is the largest in the world with over one billion enrolled members and Indian passengers have shown greater willingness to use biometrics to speed up their journey through the airport. In 2017, 70% of passengers in India said they would definitely use biometrics if given the option, removing the need to show a passport or boarding card at key points in the airport. This was well above the global average of 57%.

India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation is working with the air transport industry to create a “digitally unified flying experience” where citizens’ national biometric identification cards and foreigner’s passports are optionally linked with the databases of airlines, airports and other stakeholders to deliver a seamless, paperless travel experience at every step in the journey.

Jaikrishna said: “Many travelers are comfortable with the use of biometrics and see the benefits of using them on their travels. This aligns perfectly with the need to find more efficient ways to manage rising passenger numbers with current resources. There is little doubt that technology is the key to resolving India’s constraints on airport infrastructure.”

The survey was conducted across seven Indian airports, representing 71% of passengers in the country.

Multimodal biometrics to streamline travel and deliver industry innovation

Long Beach, California | September 26, 2017– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in inflight entertainment and connectivity, and Tascent, Inc., a biometrics and identity innovation company, today announced their intent to enter into a strategic partnership to bring biometric passenger identification to every stage of the passenger journey – both on the ground and in the air.

The companies will combine Tascent’s biometric identity devices, software and services with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s in-flight entertainment and communications systems to provide streamlined, easy-to-use identity recognition before departure, during flight, and upon arrival. These combined capabilities coupled with enabling technologies from Panasonic Corporation will support industry trends toward smart airports and the connected passenger journey, while bringing innovations such as seatback immigration, streamlined personalization and in-flight biometric payment within reach.

Together, Panasonic and Tascent will bring additional value to Panasonic’s aviation customers through improved personalization and convenience for passengers, helping to reduce friction points for passengers and airlines from the journey’s start to finish.

Chris Lundquist, Vice President Corporate Strategic Initiatives at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said, “Our partnership with Tascent is yet another example of our vision for the connected aircraft and its benefits becoming a reality for the commercial aviation community. With this agreement, Panasonic and Tascent will create unique offerings that use biometrics to personalize the in-flight experience and beyond. We look forward to working with Tascent on a host of capabilities that will take the traveler journey to new heights.”

Alastair Partington, founder and co-CEO of Tascent, said: “We are excited to combine our specialist knowledge of biometrics with Panasonic Avionics’ outstanding track-record of air travel innovation. Tomorrow’s air travelers will be best served by an aviation industry that adopts biometrics technologies in an intelligent, personal and thoughtful way. Tascent and Panasonic share a joint vision of an exciting future in which biometrics technologies improve the air traveler experience for all.”

Well IFExpress readers, it’s that time again – Aircraft Interiors and here is the story: “This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) 2017, which takes place in Hamburg, Germany from 4th – 6th April, is the global stage to see the latest innovations and product launches from the world’s leading suppliers in aircraft cabin interiors and Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity. This year, AIX welcomes 55 new exhibiting companies, including Adient, Bombardier and airtango. They will join more than 500 companies at the event including longstanding exhibitors such as; Airbus, B/E Aerospace, Boeing, Inmarsat, Panasonic Avionics and Zodiac and newer entrants such as Acro, and Mirus Aircraft Seating. Across AIX as a whole, 125 companies are expanding their presence taking an additional 3,000 sq. meters between them.”

The show news release went on: “According to the IATA’s 2016 Global Passenger Survey, a key concern for passengers, particularly those under 24, is having the same connectivity in the air as on the ground, highlighting the need for continued airline investment to meet passenger needs. This is reflected in the continued growth of the IFEC Zone. It is now the world’s largest event dedicated to content and service providers. There are 18 new showcasing companies including Philotech, LiteAir Aviation Products and Otonomy Aviation, alongside 100 existing exhibitors in the Zone.”

Last year, over 16,000 folks visited the expo and this year we expect no less. In fact, see what the folks at AIX are saying; “AIX is part of the Passenger Experience Week, which also includes the World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo, co-located with AIX at the Hamburg Messe from 4th – 6th April.  Organized by Reed Exhibitions, some 20,000 visitors are expected to register to attend Passenger Experience Week. The first of the events taking place at the Hamburg Messe during Passenger Experience Week is the renowned Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on 3rd April. The event is dedicated to the future of the passenger experience industry and incorporates a broad choice of presentations and panel discussions on the key themes of generating revenue, the connected journey and comfort and wellbeing. Leading speakers on these topics come from inside and outside the passenger experience industry including Dick Powell, the Chairman of design agency Seymourpowell, Paul Edwards, head of Industrial Design at Airbus and Blake Emery, Direction Differentiation Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.”

AIX also mentioned: “New to the PEC this year is the Airline Breakfast Forum. This addition presents an opportunity for airline attendees to network, debate informally with their peers about issues relevant to improving the passenger experience in their businesses and to share best practice insights. Attendees at the Airline Breakfast Forum will also be invited to a keynote by Jeff James, vice president and general manager of the Disney Institute.”

Polly Magraw, Event Director of the Aircraft Interiors Expo, noted: “2017 is set to be a landmark year for AIX, with record growth from both new and existing exhibitors, much of it in our burgeoning IFEC zone. With such a wealth of companies exhibiting at the show, and more than 1,000 airline executives expected to attend, it’s no surprise that AIX is becoming firmly established as the event that sets the agenda for the aircraft interiors sector.”

Additionally, we should note that CabinSpace LIVE, a theater style series of seminars where visitors can learn and be inspired on a variety of pressing issues within the IFEC, Interiors and MRO sectors, will also be taking place during AIX. And by the way, Passenger Experience Week also incorporates the 11th annual Crystal Cabin Awards, which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 4th April, with seven award categories that celebrate the most innovative ideas in cabin design and technology.

(Editor’s Note: This is the Big One and we hope our readers come to Hamburg – and for US visitors, we hope you can get back in the USA…”)


QANTAS & NETFLIX

Netflix has announced plans to offer in-flight on-demand entertainment from its app with every Qantas flight, allowing passengers to stream live sports, news and TV shows for three days without a subscription. Qantas passengers on Wi-Fi equipped flights will be able to binge-watch Netflix and stream songs from Spotify. The midair entertainment game-changer will be delivered over high-speed Wi-Fi, which Qantas claimed would be “10 times faster” than its rivals, and will be available on one Boeing 737 late this month, with the rest of the fleet following in June – and yes, you need an App. Also we note that under the scheme, Foxtel television will offer passengers three days of free streaming, while Netflix and Spotify offer 30-day free trials as long as passengers subscribe. By the way, there will be no seat back screens onboard so you will need your own device. Stay Tuned on this one, it could be a world wide game changer.


BIOMETRICS

A new biometrics-based seamless passenger-walkthrough in Schiphol Airport will modernize passenger journey experience in the scope of the ongoing Digital Airport Program. Schiphol Airport selected Vision-Box, the Passenger Experience leaders responsible for processing over 200 million passengers per year at borders worldwide, to take up the challenge. New technology will be tested from 2017 to offer passengers a seamless experience, increase throughput and eliminate bottlenecks, thus enhancing capacity within the existing footprint!


SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE AIRLINES signed LOI to order 19 more (now 49) Trent-powered 787-10s for delivery from FY20/21 and 20 GE9X- powered 777-9s for delivery from FY21/22, and option six 787-10s and six 777-9s. Noted Boeing: “The 787-10 is the third member of the super-efficient, passenger-pleasing 787 Dreamliner family. With its greater passenger and cargo capacity, high degree of commonality and passenger-pleasing features, the 787-10 will complement the family while setting a new benchmark for fuel efficiency and operating economics – 25 percent better fuel per seat and emissions than the airplanes than the competition it will replace. Since its introduction, the 787 Dreamliner has opened more than 130 new city pairs, connecting the world as never before.”


AIRBUS

AIRBUS plans to donate four of its flight test aircraft to the Museum of Air and Space in Paris-Le Bourget and Aeroscopia in Toulouse: A320 (001), A340-600 (360), A380 (002), and A380 (004), which as first of the four will arrive in Paris on Feb 14.


VTS

According to Web Barth: “The world’s largest selling digital player just got even better – VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is introducing a new DVP digital player that will solve problems with videotape drives for entertainment and PRAMS while adding an optional Moving Map.

He went on: “VTS had maintained old videotape players and drives for many airlines around the world since the 1980s and has firsthand experience with the problems & expense of videotape including: Videotape shortages & tape replacement due to video/sound degradation, Videotape Logistics (collecting, accounting, sending/receiving), and the growing videotape player, drive maintenance expense

To solve these problems, VTS introduced the first “Plug and Play” digital drive replacements for all existing VHS Reproducers/Hi8 Players.

“VTS DVP was the first player to meet the ‘form, fit and function’ criteria: “Slide out VHS player, slide in DVP Digital Player, turn new system on. See for yourself, continued Web.

“The new VTS DVP digital player can improve cabin wide video and an audio performance to modern day expectations; eliminate maintenance expense and logistics problems associated with tape drive units. Further it can eliminate the problem of tape driven PRAMS combining the ease of digital audio as well as companion video to go along with the prerecorded announcement and music. They come with a moving map feature to bring the existing IFE to better than new.” VTS believes there is no more affordable or faster means of making an older IFE system better than new. You can contact VTS via webbarth@vts.global.com


INDUSTRY GROWTH

The Airline Monitor expects unprecedented 7-year run of >6% annual growth to soon come to an end; in effect, that above average traffic growth will continue independently, so when it doesn’t – deliveries will have to decline.

(Editor’s Note: IFExpress saw this coming and can you guess what might be the cause?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 2016 Air Transport News Awards recognize SITA’s leadership and innovation

Geneva | March 29, 2016– For the second year in a row, the Air Transport News (ATN) Awards have recognized air transport IT specialist, SITA, as the ‘IT Company of the Year’. The 2016 award was based on SITA’s significant leadership and innovation in developing solutions that transform air travel through technology.

Francesco Violante, CEO of SITA said: “Winning this award two years in a row is a significant achievement and a strong validation of our unwavering collaboration and contribution to the air transport community. SITA works with nearly every airline and airport in the world, so for them to select us as the IT leader in air transport is really a testament to the value we bring to the community.”

SITA provides the broadest portfolio of solutions for the air transport industry all around the world. The fast pace of technology has driven substantial changes to both the passenger experience and industry operations in recent years with SITA leading the way. This includes solutions such as SITA’s iBorders Border Management that helps governments modernize border security and facilitate the travel experience. By integrating biometrics into existing airport common-use infrastructure and airline and government systems, SITA is making the passenger journey simple, fast and secure.

In addition, SITA’s API platform, Developer.aero, is now widely recognized as the provider of the industry’s key APIs enabling game-changing innovations for passenger experience, airport management, flight operations, and the connected aircraft.

SITA’s commitment to the industry and ongoing innovation is also reflected in its investment in the SITA Lab, its strategic technology research arm. Working with airlines and airports, the Lab explores emerging technology on behalf of the air transport community in areas including artificial intelligence, big data, wearable tech and the ‘Internet of Things’. While SITAONAIR is working with airlines to realize the full potential of the connected aircraft, including setting the benchmark for true nose-to-tail connected aircraft solutions for both airlines and passengers.

ATN has a strong subscription base of more than 42,000. Award winners were selected by the website’s readers based on two months of online voting and validated by a jury of industry leaders. SITA also won the ATN IT Company of the Year award in 2013.

The award was presented to SITA on 26 March at an Air Transport News event held in Salzburg, Austria.