ARCONICS:

Our meeting with Michael Reilly, VP e-Enablement + Entertainment, pointed out one fact for sure: “Arconics  is hardware agnostic – we are a software company!” To give you a better idea about Arconics, here is a mention of one of their products, CloudStore, we published earlier this past month: “Tigerair Australia has selected the Arconics CloudStore Wireless IFE software platform for installation on its B737-800 aircraft. Over time, the deployment will be fleet-wide and more features introduced to the platform as part of the partnership.” Now, here is a bit more about the product we also published earlier: “CloudStore by Arconics, the next generation, feature-rich, scalable and cost effective Wireless In-Flight Entertainment (W-IFE) platform, has been selected by Tigerair Australia for the airline’s first short-haul services to Bali commencing March 2016. Flights between Australia and Denpasar are operated by Virgin Australia International, providing a Tigerair Australia service, and are subject to regulatory approvals. CloudStore will allow Tigerair Australia to offer a mix of free and paid content offerings to their customers on the Boeing 737-800 fleet of aircraft which the airline will use for its international services. Content will be a mix of Hollywood and Australian movies as well as international and local TV programs, music and real-time destination mapping. Over time, more features will be introduced to the platform.”

Here is the big deal – CloudStore Wireless IFE is driven by the passenger experience, but it also features powerful backend functionality, including rich data analytics in near real-time, to support on-the-go commercial and service decision-making. Further, the product delivers improvements in the IFE content delivery cycle. Airline staff can publish their own content builds and prepare aircraft media: they no longer have to wait to import media from an integrator, and can update content on the platform without delays.

Mr. Reilly also noted that: “Corendon Dutch Airlines has selected the Arconics CloudStore Wireless IFE software platform for installation on its B737-800 aircraft. Arconics will provide a turnkey solution for Corendon Dutch Airlines, including the software platform, mobile apps, and content licensing and encoding. Content for the go-live system will include Hollywood and Dutch movies, television shows, music, moving map, and destination content for the guests of Corendon Dutch Airlines.”

EFB and Document Management for Flight Operations are also two big areas of Arconics’ efforts. They provide these services for Qatar (their biggest customer), as well as Cathay Pacific , Ryanair, Are Lingus, and Philippine Airlines. Noted Mr. Reilly: “We are hardware agnostic, Arconics is a software company. We can do a complete turn-key approach or we can work on a modular basis.  Since we are hardware agnostic, we can fit into any mold, as every aircraft is different. Further,” he noted, “Arconics is growing rapidly, as a result of the need for our services – we now have 45 people, while just a couple years ago, we were at 12.”

Arconics shines in software development applications, and Mr. Reilly told IFExpress that the reason App development is a big deal is because each airline is different, and since the company is an experienced software developer, they are still a size that that allows flexibility – the message here is they are a software provider but because of their size they can provide different levels of service dependent on the demand. In Arctics case…one size fits all!


KID Systeme:

“Entertaining connected passengers” is KID-Systeme’s mission and ambition and at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2016 KID-Systeme featured SKYpower Combined, which is the latest iteration of SKYpower to help facilitate this goal. SKYpower Combined is an in-seat passenger power unit that allows the airline to select from the following outlet options: a combined 110-volt AC and a 2.1 amp USB power source in one outlet; a single 110-volt AC outlet; a dual 2.1 amp USB charge per outlet; or a single 2.1 amp USB outlet. There is a streamlined power box per seat group that is either mounted under the seat or on a seat leg. The product is designed to guarantee airline passengers fast and simultaneous power to use their tablets, smartphones and/or laptops inflight. Green production and a focus on economy are very important manufacturing elements to KID-Systeme. “SKYpower is made in Germany, which has strict stipulations for the manufacturing. Our production is based on economy of resources and an efficient logistical approach,” said Maren Muente PR & Communications of KID-Systeme. “As a result, SKYpower is a very green product. Minimal shipping distance is just one example of this eco consciousness. We call it the next generation of power.” SKYpower Combined is currently in product development with the first shipset to be delivered in fourth quarter 2016.

The company also featured several concepts and project studies. One such study, Qi inductive seatback charging, was developed in conjunction with Recaro. Another project study on display was “Watchdog” – an alarm mechanism that detected whether the airplane door was deactivated before the exit door handle is released. Watchdog is a preventive and reliable warning system with integrated motion detection. It is an easy ‘plug & play’ installation. The primary object of the product is to reduce the number of accidental evacuation slide deployments… a costly and embarrassing occurrence!

We also want to mention a couple of the the KID-Systeme awards that they have recently won. At AIX, the folks from KID-Systeme garnered the Airbus Cabin BFE Supplier Award, and the affable Patrick Schrot, General Manager of KID-Systeme GmbH, told IFExpress: “We were one of six suppliers who received the Airbus Cabin BFE Supplier Award 2015 for “excellent” rating! A great honor and special highlight at this year’s 2016 AIX!” Airbus spotlighted the suppliers of Buyer-Furnished-Equipment (BFE) for its jetliner cabin interiors, acknowledging those companies that achieved notable customer satisfaction levels in 2015 with awards given to these top performers during Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany. Here is what Airbus said about the award process: “The suppliers recognized by Airbus were identified through the company’s Supplier Support Rating process, which captured in-service feedback from over 130 Airbus customers. Buyer-Furnished-Equipment refers to items selected and purchased by the customer when acquiring a jetliner, which is then installed in the aircraft. For cabin interiors, typical examples include passenger seats, galleys and in-flight entertainment systems. The suppliers were evaluated based on the following criteria: the ability to provide continuously reliable equipment and associated technical support; effectiveness of operational support services, bench marked against Airbus’ industry-leading supplier support standards; and customer feedback concerning cost of ownership.”

KID was also duly proud of their 2015 Gold Performance Excellence Award from Boeing. The Boeing Company issues the award annually to recognize suppliers who have achieved superior performance. 107 of 530 suppliers received the Gold level of recognition. KID maintained a Gold composite performance rating for each month of the the 12-month performance period. “The Gold Award is a clear statement of our customer focused way of working. Rising from Silver to Gold status makes us very proud,” said Patrick Schrot. KID Systeme supplies SKYpower for the Next-Generation 737 and 757 single aisle aircraft, as well as, the 747,767, and 777 twin aisle jetliners.


PXCom:

IFExpress stopped by to catch up with PXCom’s Cyril Jean at AIX and he had some interesting updates for us. In case you don’t remember, PXCom offers airlines a way of enriching their IFE by including a full-scale media that integrates tourist/destination content and/or advertising. They produce destination tourist guides in multimedia format and can integrate additional profiling and CRM related solutions into any IFE platform. PXCom states that they have the potential to help airlines increase their net income per passenger on operated destinations by up to 40%. Currently, PXCom is working with three European airlines and are on more than 100 aircraft, integrating with three different IFE systems. During AIX 2016, they announced a partnership with IMM International, a world-leading agency with over 30 years in inflight media advertising, serving 150+ airlines.Our expertise lies in supporting brands in their multi-channel campaigns aiming at reaching the traveler, including digital,” explained Nicolas Devos, IMM’s CEO. “This encompasses pre- and post-flight. The partnership with PXCom brings the missing piece of the puzzle: the digital inflight advertising.” This enables any brand to launch an efficient digital inflight ad campaign on any IFE platform. “IMM brings the advertisers, their expectations and a strong mobile & web advertising experience to reach the travelers,” stated Cyril Jean, PXCom’s CEO, “We work with the airlines and IFE manufacturers, in the assets definition, in order to get the right balance between #PaxEx and expected revenues. Then we connect to the IFE, and open a new revenue stream for the airline.”


Other:

  • The folks at SITA have been a big proponent of the Internet of Things (IoT), especially where it concerns airports. They note: “Today, 83% of passengers carry a smartphone and this is now the unifying technology in transport that will provide a connected end-to-end experience. SITA’s report shows that smartphones are reshaping travel behavior and with growth rates of around 80% or more at the check-in and boarding pass stages it is clear passengers are keen to use their own technology.” The go on to say: The groundwork by the air transport industry to establishing the infrastructure and processes that enable more seamless travel experiences is well under way and gathering further momentum. Over the next three years the vast majority of airlines and airports are planning to invest in mobile services for passengers and most airports will also be financing self-service processes. You might want to read more from the SITA folks in their paper: “The Future is Connected.”
  • With our limited travel budget we have found that there are at least two means to improve your long-haul flight:  a) The first is to buy an upgrade to economy plus (or your airline’s equivalent brand) at around $200/$300 per international flight segment; and b) the other way is to purchase a pair of BOSE QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. The later will only require an initial expenditure for the first flight! Not to mention, you can use them with your Smartphone too! –  PLWiseman | Editor, Publisher & Co-Founder of IFExpress & Airfax.com/blog


Portland Oregon was a great place to hold the recent APEX annual IFEC soiree and IFExpress will deliver a few product summaries in this and the next IFExpress. We plan then to feature in-depth stories about what we saw… and we saw a lot. From a general observational note, the show looked to us as the beginning of an industry and technical turn-a-round. From a technology point of view, the inflight world is changing and new technology is partly responsible. Technology developed for products on the ground, and in the air, is very exciting to us and we will discuss and promote that change as best we can. The other part of the change we observed is you, our readers. The issue here is the attitude of the vendors and airlines. While the melding of ground-based and airborne technology is of great interest, the fact that a whole lot of people are now seeing the journey as a issue, not just the flight itself – the “experience”. How can you not be excited about that? We also want to be sure to say “Thank You” to our clients, advertisers, and all our industry associates – if it weren’t for you, we would not be in business. We apologize for asking so many questions and taking up your valuable time, but we have only one goal – technical truth. Stay Tuned!

First, the Show: “2750 Registrants from 51 Countries, and 207 exhibitors,” so noted new APEX CEO, Joe Leader. The IFEC event in Portland, Oregon this year clearly set out a new vision for the APEX team that now extensively focuses on the “experience” value of IFEC. This is a concept that is being heralded by more organizations as the new trip vision. The “Experience” tag line was noticed in print, on slides, and voiced by almost every show attendant. As noted by Mr. Leader, “We do not take a trip, the trip takes us.” – and there could just be some truth in this observation. Certainly, if travel gets difficult, as it often does, travelers do get an experience but it is frequently negative. When it does become a positive event, as many noted, it will result in a good experience. And, the APEX team see’s their job as helping to facilitate solutions throughout our industry.

Importantly, this positive experience includes a lot more than tickets, inflight movies, or food… a lot more. It includes the flight of course, but one can rationalize that the process of finding a destination, buying a ticket, waiting at the airport, interacting with airline personnel, getting one’s baggage… and so on, are all part of the trip; consequently, IFEC organizations and airlines are focusing on the “experience” moniker, and that is what this show is, and will be about, for some time to come. As a result, we detected a big change in the air this year and only time will tell if the IFEC crowd gets the message and forces change positively. Readers, this is a big deal so we hope you get on board with the concept. Last year alone, the airlines had $29.3B in profits, and that exceeds the previous year’s record of $16.4B. Many travelers say it could be that airline revenues are potentially inverse to joy of the experience… and thus there is a opportunity for the mechanics of change here. One way or another, experiences are being made for more and more customers and APEX now is in the thick of the change surrounding this growth. This ought to get interesting!

We should also say a few words about Joe Leader since we met and talked extensively with him. Joe is one of the most positive humans on the earth – that is a big deal. Why? Because if the new APEX mantra embraces positivism, the boss better be… and as far as we can tell, he is very positive. We asked a few show-goers what they thought and perhaps one discussion with a board member put it best. Michael Childers – APEX Board Member and Tech Committee Chair had this to say: “I think this APEX marks a new direction for this Association with the addition of Joe Leader as APEX CEO. With a full time executive working exclusively for APEX, and one who is technology savvy, we can do things we could not do before. I’m looking forward to working with Joe and with our Technical Director Bryan Rusenko to take technology to a new level of implementation.” So if you meet Joe, and you most certainly will, don’t be put off with the man’s ability to look at the good side of things. We had a few questions about the number of increasingly related meetings and groups that were overtly “experience” focused, and even some competitively so. His answers distanced his position from any competitive posture. Rather, he embraced the common focus and resultant teaming value as a beneficial result of multiple groups seeking a common goal or solution – a solution for a good trip “experience” and a future for many more of them.

With respect to this issue, we obviously, we can’t (and won’t) try to cover a show like APEX with one issue of IFExpress – it can’t be done. Rather, we will cover many of the speakers, vendors, products, meeting and general view of the next generation of IFEC with a lot more data. So, we chose to give you a rundown of tech teasers from many of the vendors we met with, and present a ton of teasers to wet your appetite for future Hot Topics, images, quotes, and product solutions with more to come next issue. And note here, this was a banner year for new stuff and while we did as much research and interviewing as we could, this is an intense and challenging communication job. Thus, we may be sending you a write-up for correction and updates about your products. Your help will produce a better IFExpress, and that is what we are all about. So, here are a number of tempting “bullets of information” or product teasers that impressed us early on:

GuestLogix: Craig Proud – SVP Platform of GuestLogix told us that purchase trends in consumer behavior included digital wallets, self-service retailing, and cashless & paperless payments. Further, he noted the global mobile payment forecast is growing some 30% per year. And if you don’t think some of that growth won’t happen on airplanes, ask yourself if you ever bought anything on a plane with a credit card and then note what you have done on the ground over wi-fi. This may also help generate drivers for inflight Wi-Fi. Hello Amazon Inflight!

The folks at Lumexis told us that they announced an order for 8 B737 FTTS + Screen systems from Caribbean Airlines. Also, they now are the first IFE company to implement the Android Lollipop OS. We think there a few more announcements coming soon too and we see more browser solutions in their future.

Panasonic, the Big Dog in the industry with over $2B in IFEC sales last year, had a ‘banner winning’ at the Pax Choice event. All 5 airline winners in the 13 “Best of..” award categories were using Panasonic hardware (Emirates won 7 of the 13 categories). Further, some 516 aircraft have Panasonic installed connectivity since April of this year with 400 more committed for wi-fi since the Hamburg IFEC show. This chart tells the story! We would love to talk about their industry party with the Portland food trucks but… More later!

BOSE is always a fun visit and we proved that the lightweight 20i portable headphones really make the world of inflight listening very similar to that with the fixed cups. Now, if they would just remove the wires and include a Bluetooth… sorry, we can’t say that!

Telephonix + PDT:  The company highlighted the Summit Product Line of (IFEC) equipment for the show and we finally got a hands-on session. The Telefonix Summit line is comprised of state-of-the-art system components designed to enable unique and innovative in-flight connectivity and entertainment solutions. Here are the hardware elements: Cabin ACe Wireless Access Point (WAP), Cabin Pinnacle general purpose airborne server, Cabin Peak pico cell, and Cabin Vista attendant display can be added to enhance existing in-flight entertainment systems or combined to create a unique IFEC solution. More on this later, but in the meantime you might want to read this link… the security stuff intrigued us!

SIE, the folks that know how to get electronic equipment installed and certified on jet aircraft achieved notoriety along with others who provided technology updates and VooDoo doughnuts

Thales: During an interview with Duc Huy Tran, new VP of Strategy and Marketing, he told IFExpress: “If an airline doesn’t have streaming video, they will have disappointed passengers, and if they don’t have a big enough data pipe they can’t cover the needs… but it has to be cost effective,” he said. “Devices will grow tenfold in the 10 years and the passengers want to be there.” He also told IFExpress “There is a trend toward two-way engagement, not just entertainment,” but he noted, “The more you engage, the more you can monetize,” and that tells the story of the connected aircraft and where this is all going!

The folks at Gogo are pretty B to B focused and as you might guess, they mostly talk to airlines and partners and this accounts for their Crew Connect and Voice tech apps. It has noise canceling capability in it,” noted Steve Nolan. IFExpress asked about the 2Ku status, and he said; “We are most excited about 2Ku based on the performance we we have seen to date – we are also excited about bringing more bandwidth to the aviation market.” We will have more on this as many folks were talking about their 2Ku system. Visiting Gogo is always a tech trip… and this year they were one of the 5 or so booths that featured some Beacon technology. Further, they also showed robots, 3D printing and the best airplane seats ever… just kidding, they were vibrating massage chairs… with screens.

Lufthansa Systems BoardConnect – What you will see in the link below is one of the early shots of one of the more amazing things to be taken aboard an airplane. Amazing because it delivers streaming Wi-Fi to 50 passengers in approximately 1 Mbps streams, and runs on batteries (or fixed power)! It is about the size of a large book and it works by just turning the device on and placing it in a baggage bin for operation. “Much like your own streaming server, it uses no outside access points and the system is a faction the cost of an installed IFE system,” noted Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems. “… and the SSD storage holds a lot of movie choices as well.” Here is a picture of the device and we will have more on this one later.

We will have a lot more hot gadgets and stories about them, and yes, more data in the coming months, so if we ran out of room for your story in this issue, be patient! Stay Tuned!

Last week, IFExpress got a very interesting letter from Mr. Jo Kremsreiter, President of AirSatOne concerning a new communication/connectivity development (service) that he is rolling out for Business Jets, and it rides on Inmarsat’s L-Band, SwiftBroadband. In a nutshell, the voice calling feature that he is debuting, relies on a cellphone app that uses the standard Wi-Fi signal from a un-modified aircraft Wi-Fi router. He wrote: “…AirSatOne is has certified an app that allows business jet passengers use their smart phone on the aircraft to make and receive calls – and more. What is unique about what we have done allows the biz jet passengers to use a commercially available app on the aircraft which saves them quite a bit of money plus no (special hardware) install required since it runs in the cloud.” This, plus the news release caught our attention so we decided to a bit dig a bit deeper as we usually do. Before we get started here are a couple facts that might help you catch the “spin” on this system. Consider this a setup to deliver a better story:

  1. Inmarsat Satcom voice calls on biz jet aircraft that usually entail aircraft handsets or special solutions to deliver passenger voice.
  2. Unfortunately, in the old process, the only way to contact a passenger or flight crew member was to call the aircraft through the Satcom international number or a specially assigned 10 digit number – the aircraft handsets will then ring. With this method a call is not placed to an individual who may or may not be on the aircraft. But the AirSatOne solution allows a caller to dial the individual’s phone number, their same number used all the time, even on the ground, and reach them on their smart phone while they are on the aircraft. The technology that allows this is the RingCentral app loaded on the smart phone.
  3. While the “cloud” is still on the ground, dialing a number for a phone that is airborne will be directed to the aircraft, by it… regardless from where, or on what, one is calling.
  4. With AirSatOne’s app solution, the user still pays the Inmarsat data fees, but not the requirement to install expensive hardware, and the installation costs and downtime associated with special hardware are gone as well. All three are replaced with a $24.99 fee per month, per app loaded phone. Inflight users get voice, data, and text messaging over their device.
  5. We note that the RingCentral app on a phone will work with any Wi-Fi: airborne or on the ground.

The System
To get a better understanding of the total system, checkout this link for the diagram of the system layout. There are three things that you should note: the aircraft setup, the ASO FlightStream SA (System Administration) block, and the “Cloud”.

  • Aircraft – A standard aircraft Wi-Fi router is installed on the biz jet regular 802.11 Wi-Fi transmissions. The cellphone also has the RingCentral VoIP app installed… that’s it!
  • ASO FlightStream SA – Deployed world wide at, or near, the Inmarsat hubs (and other locations). ASO’s servers are located to deliver better service – in other words, FlightStream SA delivers data management by providing firewall, compression, filtering and consumption notifications via email, and is deployed globally at, or near, Inmarsat hubs to help speed.
  • The ‘Cloud’ – The established VoIP ‘Cloud’ today handles signal directivity and locates and directs based on existing telephone numbers and existing devices. Today’s Cloud is smart and that is what helps to allow existing device usage – either devices to the plane, or from the plane via SwiftBroadband.

The Service

We asked Mr. Kremsreiter to trace a call flow, so we asked for a ‘flow’ description, and Jo told IFExpress: The VoIP PBX system running in the cloud handles call routing and keeps the call alive when handing off between cellular and Wi-Fi or when handing off, for example, from your iPhone to your home phone or transferring the cell call to your office desktop phone. The system knows the iPhone (or Android device) is on the aircraft because the smart phone will ‘check in’ through the aircrafts Wi-Fi that eventually gets to the cloud VoIP PBX via FlightStream SA and the Internet. In other words, when John CEO gets on the aircraft it will connect to the Wi-Fi in the aircraft. The Wi-Fi in the aircraft goes to the Inmarsat satellite, down to the ground, through our FlightStream SA and out to the internet to the cloud VoIP PBX saying “I am here”. When we asked about the ‘Cloud’ and it’s importance, Jo noted: “The VoIP PBX system running in the cloud handles call routing and keeps the call alive when handing off between cellular and Wi-Fi or when handing off, for example, from your iPhone to your home phone or transferring the cell call to your office desktop phone. The system knows the iPhone is on the aircraft because the iPhone will ‘check in’ through the aircrafts Wi-Fi which eventually gets to the cloud VoIP PBX via FlightStream SA and the Internet.”

Satcom voice calling is offered today by at least three vendors. The service providers do this but you need specialized hardware on the aircraft. Noted Mr. Kremsreiter. “For example the SDR by Satcom Direct which costs around $35,000 + install + downtime for the install = $70 to $75K and these numbers can be found in the following article. “Note in the article: “All that is required to access the “Global VT” service is a Satcom Direct Router (SDR) in the aircraft, with the latest software update, and a smart phone”. The author added that the unit, which costs around $35,000, and the article goes on to mention that the cost of putting another system that is basically a picocell (or GSM access point) in the aircraft. This picocell system costs around $250K in a business jet and up to $1M in a BBJ!”

Importantly, AirSatOne’s FlightStream SA reduces satellite signal load and frees up bandwidth for VoIP calls. How? Noted Jo: “It does so by blocking advertisements, it provides text and image compression, and finally, it can block unwanted downloads and limit file sizes. Bandwidth comes at a premium for aircraft so being able to lighten the load allows VoIP to work better on the aircraft. It is also critical for a service like this to operate efficiently, our competitors have similar offerings that do less and are located at a single location. Our FlightStream SA is deployed globally at or near Inmarsat hubs which means more efficient handling and in turn less latency, fewer hops and a shorter distance to travel.”
More info here
Video Here

Noted Jo: “It is important because business jet passengers and flight crews want to use the same smartphone they use every day to send and receive phone calls on the ground, using their own land based phone number – not a special number for only the aircraft. They want their phone to ring when they get that important call – no matter where they are including at 35,000 ft flying over the N Atlantic on their own phone number!”

The Network

First, you should probably watch this YouTube video to get an idea how the folks at ASO interface with the Inmarsat Swift Broadband Network and realize they have located servers at the Inmarsat hubs. Further, there are additional hubs located to provide even better connectivity. Noted Mr. Kremsreiter: “Unlike our competition we offer choices. You can use the same generic network offered by our competition or we can connect your aircraft to a more robust network designed by Astrium, the same company that built the SwiftBroadband satellites. This backbone allows us to connect your aircraft through an advanced global network backed by 24/7 ‘follow the sun’ support – and we offer this for the same price. While this expensive technology may cut into our margins, we feel the benefit to our customers outweighs the cost.”

Finally, Mr. Kremsreiter told IFExpress, “Bottom line is with our competitor’s solution, for $70 – $75,000 you can solve a problem on one aircraft and you are not solving a problem with cell coverage on the ground. That price is a solution for one aircraft, for a fleet multiply that number by the number of aircraft. With the RingCentral app you can solve the problem on the aircraft (or fleet), have phone coverage on the ground when cell service is weak or non-existent, or overseas and you also get to add a lot of other cool features like integration with CRM software, conference calling, swapping calls from iPhone to home phone to desktop – plus it allows collaboration for projects and file sharing and also text messaging. Our solution starts at $24.99 per month, per phone. We did the testing and certification with the $24.99 a month application so it does not require a more expensive plan.”

In conclusion, VoIP phone calls over regular Wi-Fi hardware on biz jet aircraft have a new solution and it only requires a RingCentral app. Today on the ground, this is pretty much how we use VoIP with our regular Wi-Fi/cellphone calling and it was just a matter of time before someone figured out that this solution really benefitted the biz jet traveler. One note, we understand this app will work with almost any airplane Wi-Fi. Additionaly, notes Jo, “Users should use our FlightStream SA to lighten the load and have more available bandwidth – We did not test it without FlightStream SA and therefore it was not certified by us for use without it, however, any Wi-Fi will work. Perhaps, this solution is bigger than we think. Stay Tuned!

For more information on AirSatOne contact Jo Kremsreiter


We owe a mea culpa to BOSE! Last week’s reference to their new A20 Aviaiton Headsets had the incorrect hyperlink attached. Here is the correct one.

APEX
After APEX closed, IFExpress received a very good, and very short video about Panasonic show products that neatly explained their booth-featured product lines. There was an optional questionnaire at the end, however, we wanted to point out that the video itself presented a very concise summary of their show products and we now wonder if IFE companies with large, multiprogram displays should put out a booth summary before the show to help show-goers focus on their own personal preferences, given limited show viewing time… not too early though for competitive reasons, say a day or two before?

We wanted to tell our readers a bit about the ongoing aircraft interior developments at BAE Systems, a potential cabin powerhouse. The company brought some significant new products, some new and some next generation of the existing ones. We note the new Attendant Control Panel which is the cabin lighting controller (among other cabin control features) for B737NG aircraft with those wonderful collared LED lights (crew interface) which is just being introduced. The existing ACP is some 5 years old so watch for more on this new product as things develop from BAE. We want also to note their in-development in-seat power solution. Interestingly, the company has been working in-seat power from a different angle and we thought you might want a bit more information about it, so we talked with chief cabin honcho, Jared Schoemaker, Director of Cabin Systems (See Images LINK and note the 3D models of cabin hardware) and he told IFExpress, “The IntelliCabin power system is different because it does not perform power conversion at the seat. Existing systems convert 115VAC 400Hz power to 115VAC 60Hz at each seat group (3-4 seats). IntelliCabin converts the power on a larger scale, and 115VAC 60Hz is distributed to many seats.  Additionally, the smart outlet is able to sense how much power is being drawn by each outlet, and can be commanded on/off.  This allows us to “right size” the power conversion to the need, and manage the power distribution across the entire aircraft.  The result is a lower cost system with less impact (weight, size) to the seat.” We note that the system is not available today and if you want to stay tuned to developments, contact Shelby Cohen, Communications Manager.

Business Jet
Flight Display Systems will introduce this year’s new product launches at NBAA and we thought our readers might find this note we just got in somewhat interesting. “Be among the first to hear about our focus on aircraft cabin Wi-Fi technology. We will debut the next generation JetJukebox, which streams movies, music, and other content to handheld devices, with no internet connection required. Other products in our wireless suite include a Cabin Wi-Fi Router, a Dual USB Charger, and a 10X PED Synchronizer/Charger. Additionally, one final reveal involves streaming radio!” You might want to go to NBAA, it is in Las Vegas, Oct. 22 – 24 this month!

“Have you thought about Bluetooth in the Cockpit for EFB’s?” This was another note we received from Matt Cadwell, Business Development Manager at Blue Sky Networks. It went on, “Blue Sky Network recently announced a brand new iPad app that harnesses satellite networks for advanced 2-way messaging and forms (HawkEye Link, Press Release).

These completely customizable forms allow crew and dispatch to update flight plans, log maintenance issues, or fill out any custom form in real time during flight. It’s the industry’s first satellite-based dynamic forms application for the iPad, and it is available as an integrated avionics system, or in a portable device for smaller operations. In some cases, it can be used by passengers to stay connected using their familiar iOS or Android devices. Pass this along to your cockpit communications expert and they will thank you!”

That note also caught our attention so we asked him if his HawkEye Link App had any application to passengers in commercial cabins and he told IFExpress, “To answer your question in more detail,” he said, “the system allows for one connection via Bluetooth at a time, so it is definitely possible that PAX could use it, but that means the crew can’t. We do have customers interested in deploying it to small charter operations, where it is reserved for PAX. The messaging system is built 100% on email, so the aircraft has its own email address (usually [tailnumber]@new.skyrouter.com) and they can email any other email address. Approved email addresses can email the aircraft directly (Approved list configurable by the client).” So there you have it – Iridium may be possible in the cabin!

AIX Americas
With all the talk lately of E.Coli, bacillus, staphylococcus, and salmonella tainted water, Zodiac has developed a clever UV water purification device that cleans potable cabin water via a small (LED-based, we think) UV source that delivers 12 GPM of the pure stuff. The 100 watt device fits in the plumbing line and is about the size of a loaf of bread – first one we have seen and you can find out more by contacting Dale Lauderback  at Zodiac in CA.

IFExpress had a chance to communicate with BOSE rep Hratch Astarjian last week and found out his new title is Manager, Global Aviation Sales and Service (Which includes their airline business, their pilot communication headset business and our military aviation business). He told IFExpress, “Things are going well, but I am incredibly busy… which is why Danielle Glassman is working on the airline business.” Now you know.

Late Breaking News – The last time we talked to the Baltra team at Sky Definition they told us to watch out for a surprise… here it is: Sky Definition will debut it’s 50″ Ultra HD display at this year’s NBAA. The monitor is designed for use in BizJets and on Commercial aircraft and features 4K Ultra Video Playback, Built-in Media Server, Media Share Capability and it will Stream Real-Time Content.

By the way, our IFEC BUZZ included a comment from a well known IFE expert and we thought the context was also of importance… It is a reference to people who are expert in, or very familiar with, one specialty (i.e., structures, stress analysis, electrical systems). Their only solution to any given problem is what they know. Hmmm?

The Boeing 787 program is facing some interesting times. Here are three relevant links.
The Battle for ANA has Far-Reaching Implications | AirInsight
Airbus chief eyes overtaking Boeing in production by 2018 – Yahoo News
A Company Restructuring Follows Boeing’s Heartbreak | Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Perhaps, the biggest non-hardware news at APEX this year was the introduction of new CEO of Thales Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Company, Dominique Giannoni. Mr. Giannoni (above left) has been in a Thales leadership position for more than 15 years focused on both military and commercial aerospace markets. He joined Thales in 2003 as head of the company’s Underwater Systems business line for Submarines and then later lead the Thales Military Avionics Business Line. In all, he has been in the military and commercial sector for 6 years and actually ran an avionics factory for a time. In July 2013, he was appointed to the position of CEO for the company’s In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) business and was introduced to the IFE press at APEX. Dominique has worked in the Telecom world as well as the French Defense Ministry and has a Masters Degree from MIT. In this new capacity, Dominique will take the business through its next growth phase rounding out the operations (grow the brand) advanced products and services with added-value propositions to global airlines (grow the customer base). It appears Thales has the right man for the job but he will have his work cut out for him. We expect to see him very involved in new product development activity to increase the product depth, and to be immersed in the relationship between Thales and their CETC partner in China. In-house, we expect him to fine-tune a lot of the operations as he gets more involved with the product line and customer requirements. No doubt, roles and missions will change at Thales. We should also mention the new position that Alan Pellegrini (above right) fills – President and CEO, Thales USA. Long-time IFE’er Pellegrini is now responsible for all Thales US companies and will have offices in Irvine and Washington, DC.

IFExpress did a little research on Alan’s work history and it is impressive to see the companies that benefited from his tenure: CEO, IMS; President, Panasonic Transportation Systems; Senior VP, Panasonic Avionics; President & CEO Tenzing; VP Marketing & Sales Rockwell; VP Marketing & Sales Hughes Avicom. Thales has assembled a strong management team and the next dew years ought to be interesting. Good luck Alan and Dominique!

Airbus has delivered their 2013 – 2032 Market Forecast and you can watch the 1 hour YouTube version. Also, check out the great market infographic. If you need an Airbus Android App, try this one – or an Airbus iOS App. Enjoy!

A while back we did a story on the newly designed aircraft retractable monitor with its developer and designer, Yukio Sugimoto. If you have a technical bent you may remember that his product was an engineer’s dream instead of a mechanical nightmare that often plagues these devices. In all fairness, the FAA restrictions and requirements on retractable monitors are moderately onerous, especially considering the fact that they must operate with power that is subject to dropping out for up to 150 milliseconds… not to mention issues like the necessity to retract under loss of power or emergency situations. This explains the high mechanical parts count and resultant weight increase of competitive units, not to mention stored energy springs and clutches to facilitate zero power retractions. The ACS patent pending solution involves storing energy in capacitors – that’s the simple answer but it is a circuitry design solution as well! Check out the spy shot of the mechanicals here. The unit sports 9.7 and 12 inch monitors and FAA certification testing is now underway and at last count passed 250,000+ cycles and is going strong. In fact, he is guaranteeing a 50,000-cycle non-failure or 5 year warranty. Yukio noted, “The new, bigger display actually retracts flat against the outside of the PSU while the rest of the frame and the electronics are buried in the PSU itself – the box sits between the rails while the display (and cover) protrudes ½ an inch above the surface and folds flat against it… and, the unit is installed on an A319 bizjet.” Mr. Sugimoto, who has a history of industry soothsaying, hinted earlier that the market for retracts might be on the rise in the single-aisle market and, in some cases, in conjunction with wireless! With recent interactive and second screen technology intros there may soon be some interesting deals afoot!

One of the best and most exciting part of this job is ‘discovery by chance’ of a new technology or a new product… this year was no different and there were many. This next product was discovered by the classic accidental rendezvous followed by a “You gotta see this” and Hratch Astarjian (Mr. BOSE) never fails to surprise and amaze us with demo’s of wonderful and ingenious audio products. This time it was the QC 20i Noise Cancelling in-ear headphones. We will get to sound in a minute but first; here is a picture of what we are talking about with a new BOSE IFE representative Danielle Glassman. If you remember the line of Quiet Comfort headphones, they are always seen on the heads of passengers on planes and airports. For us, it is impossible to travel today without them. Screaming kids, aircraft noise and weird, travel, next door neighbors are all alleviated. Two problems do exist tho – they are bigger than one likes and when someone needs your attention (like the cabin crew) they have to hit you on the arm. The QC’s are that good at noise cancellation. Now the QC 20 and QC 20i show up with in-ear sized tip and a switch for letting in outside noise when needed (QC 20) and an inline mic/control switch as well (QC 20i). If you remember the control box on your bigger QC’s… that has been replaced by a new box that houses the microelectronics and rechargeable lithium-ion battery, but now, it is the size of a thin USB drive. The QC 20 product uses USB 5 volt power charging and gets 16 hours of use each time. When we tested them on the show floor for a couple minutes we could not distinguish them from the old QC’s… in fact, they sounded a bit better. Check them out!

Correction: The Lumexis Server contains 1.5 TB of SSD memory, not 60 GB as we reported last week.

As we noted last week, Wi-Fi was the darling of this year’s APEX extravaganza. Why Wi-Fi? Recent surveys note that almost 65% of US travelers think it important that airlines offer Wi-Fi service on domestic flights. Half of the respondents also said they would not pay for the service and a quarter said they would pay up to $5 to get email. While existing equipped planes see from 4% to 8% utilization, we expect the price to drop and the utilization go up. We also anticipate more inflight purchases as travelers are more willing to pay for goods and services on their own device. After all, they do it on the ground, so why not in the air? On to some show highlights.

We snagged a short half hour with Inmarsat and discovered a new product rushed to market called SBTV. The system/service, under David Coiley, is designed to deliver real-time TV and near live news to passenger devices. As we understand it, the laptop-sized portable device will be brought onboard each flight, hooked in and connected to passenger devices on the plane. We also understand the Swift Broadband connected device has been performing quite well in actual tests and will be coming to market soon. Brought to life by LiveCast, a technology company in Canada, the science has been on their radar for almost ten years and from the demo we saw, it was gorgeous. Interestingly, there are no apps or drivers involved at the user end, Wi-Fi is the conduit, and frankly, we don’t know how they will serve a plane full of passengers but more on that in the future. The system features live television on-demand and airlines can customize the service by route, region or time of day, and passengers can use their laptops and Smartphones as the receiver. Inmarsat see’s the rise in on-demand services and plans to capitalize on that market model. In the last year alone, on-demand services climbed almost 18%. With over 11,000 aircraft (commercial, business, military and other) using Inmarsat services, it seemed natural that an add-on device for passenger entertainment.

In a meeting with digEcor, we met their new Marketing Executive, Ben Fuller who is helping refocus the portable IFE company. We understand they are working with Samsung for future products and are looking toward the inclusion of casino gaming for use in countries where approved. We also understand that they have a streaming solution available on both Android and iOS. Stay tuned on this one.

If you have never seen the “Back to the Future” DeLorean DMC-12, you might be living in a an alternate universe. Having said that, this year the LiveTV people brought the car to APEX as part of the roll out events for their new Ka band service. Marketeer Mike Moeller (Alias Doc) has the view that the show announcement of Ka band connectivity on JetBlue next year is exactly that. Mike noted that the airline will roll out free connectivity when they do and because of the economics of Ka service, it will be a value addition that will draw fliers to the airline… and it will! Using the ViaSat US network of satellites, the service will be accompanied by new hardware on the plane: a 1 Tb server with WAPs delivering 802.11 s, b, c, and n. The system features a new antenna and radome and we understand the first install is slated for later this year. As the respective satellites are deployed, we anticipate the LiveTV solution to spread to the Middle East and Europe (Middle East 2 months ago/Europe next year). Supposedly the service will be free for the first 30 aircraft, give or take a few. We understand that ViaSat will be supplying a total of 370 planes and that would cover the JetBlue and UnitedContinental installations. Moeller noted the European solution will deliver approximately 20 – 30 Mbps per plane and at that rate, we wonder if streaming services like TV or movies might also be a part of the package as well. “At $1 per person,” noted Moeller, “the system would pay for the IFE and connectivity.” We did not do the math, but we suspect most travelers would pay five times that gladly for the service. (Note: Mike Moeller also made and stared in a promo movie trailer that you must see. A take-off from the “Back to the Future” movie, it justified the car’s appearance, not to mention his acting talents. We begged Mike to put the show on YouTube but he shyly declined.)

We are always pleasantly surprised by the BOSE products and this visit with Hratch was no different. In the past, the QuiteComfort series has been the gold standard for travelers everywhere – check out passengers on your next flight. Now, the QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Canceling headphones are even better. IFExpress tried them and they now seem to have another few db’s of noise suppression between the new cushion material and the electronics – not to mention the remote mic and control switch. And if your idea of fun is running around a track with your iPhone plugged in, we suggest their SIE2i headphones with remote mic and control – they have to be the most comfortable design ever!

This week’s IFEC Buzz features industry newbie, Rodney Brown from SmartJog, a leading provider in the electronic service industry. Think encrypted file transfers almost anywhere in the world. You might checkout their new cloud-based file transfer solution called “Bolt” – requires no special hardware!

Rumors, Rumors, Rumors – Sadly, we hear Terrence Bonar’s AIRVOD has filed for liquidation.

Bose has introduced its first mobile in-ear headset, allowing users to enjoy music on their mobile phones with high-quality audio performance and a comfortable fit. The new headset also makes it easy to take incoming phone calls — featuring a convenient inline microphone and one-touch answer/end button that lets users switch seamlessly from music to calls and back.

The new Bose ® mobile in-ear headset (which is not a noise-reducing or sound-isolating headset) is compatible with most music-enabled mobile phones, including the 3G iPhone and original iPhone models. A set of three different 2.5mm adapters is included for connections to many other popular mobile phones.

Employing proprietary Bose technologies, including Bose TriPort ® acoustic headphone structure and an electro-acoustic design, the Bose mobile in-ear headset delivers audio performance with realism, clarity and acoustic range.

It’s ergonomically designed for extended listening, resting gently in the outer bowl of the ear. Three interchangeable, differently sized silicone ear tips — small, medium and large — provide a comfortable fit. The Bose design makes light contact with the entrance to the ear canal, reducing irritating pressure points, yet establishing enough contact to hold the headset in place more securely than many conventional earbuds.

The new Bose mobile in-ear headset joins the newly improved Bose mobile on-ear headset to create a family of solutions for mobile users. It will be available from Bose for $129.95 beginning in July 2009 at authorized Bose dealers, Bose retail stores, www.Bose.com or toll-free at 1-800-444-BOSE (2673).

About Bose Corporation
Bose Corporation was founded in 1964 by Dr. Amar G. Bose, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Today, the company is primarily known for its research in acoustics, which has produced inventions that have improved the performance of:

  • Loudspeakers
  • Home entertainment systems
  • Automotive music systems designed for the interior acoustics of each car model (first introduced by Bose)
  • Noise reducing headsets for pilots and the public (first introduced by Bose)
  • Sound in public spaces
  • A new approach for the production of sound for musicians requiring electronic amplification of their instruments
  • Materials testing and durability simulation instruments for biomedical applications