ViaSat:
Of course, the big news with ViaSat is that Excede in the Air, inflight Wi-Fi system, won the 2015 Crystal Cabin Award. Excede in the Air is a Ka-broadband service offering primarily focused in the USA today with customers JetBlue and United. ViaSat1 offers 140 GB per second total satellite capacity. ViaSat builds the antenna, server and modem for the system, while the WAPS are typically outsourced. Also, it should be pointed out that ViaSat offers ground, air and maritime services. The other big story to come out of AIX was the announcement of ViaSat Flexible Broadband System. This system brings a new level of flexibility, high capacity and affordability to service providers and is specifically tailored to the small operator. ViaSat and Boeing are also adapting a ViaSat2 based payload to the Boeing 702SP (small platform) satellite bus to provide affordable and flexible satellite broadband anywhere in the world. Don Buchman stated, “The current technology is not smart spot-to-spot. The next generation satellite can move the spot to where the demand is, which is why we call it flexible.” The advantage of a network system is that it can quickly shift, or ad capacity, to markets where demand grows and/or changes. Excede is designed to outperform other satellite systems by economically delivering more and cheaper bits. Typically it has 100 times the capacity of Ku-band system offerings and over 10 times the throughput of any previous Ka-band satellite. The results – service that is 8x faster than traditional satellite Internet service. This translates to an estimated burst demand of up to 12 mbps per passenger. The management is done at the NOC and the modem.


GORE:
As you probably know, W.L. GORE & Associates is a technology driven enterprise that focuses on discovery and product innovation, specifically the cable and fiber optic arenas. IFE vendors and airlines have benefited from greater bandwidth and lighter weight. The company’s portfolio includes everything from high performance fabrics (think GORETEX) to aerospace electronics. At AIX GORE discussed a new fiber optic cable that they have developed. In general terms, the cable offers increased flexibility, higher bandwidth, and easier connector interfacing. Without getting too technical there are at least two issues facing fiber: 1) If the fiber is bound too tightly (coat and bond) there is a potential for stress on the fiber creating breaks. 2) If the fiber is bound loose (filled with air so the fiber can move), decoupling the glass from the outside wall, there is a potential problem for micro-bends in the tube, causing collapse. GORE’s solution was to wrap the fiber with a tape, creating a “marshmallow over the fiber”. This acts as a dry lubricant. Additionally, they use another material over this creating a casing that acts like a “crash helmet”. The resultant benefit is a flexible semi-loose tube. Furthermore on another development front, GORE is looking at Plastic Optical Fiber (POF). POF is very rugged and can bend without snapping. It can be plugged and fixed without heat, and with POF you can cut and glue a termination and plug it in. The downside is 2DB/100 meters but from a sheer bandwidth perspective it is 10x worse than glass. POF is new to the industry but it is a very big deal. Stay tuned on this one.


Lumexis:
We thought you might like a review of the new Lumexis IPAX system that we experienced at AIX – complete with prices. In the words of Lumexis: IPAX provides unprecedented revenue potential for the single aisle marketplace (both retrofit and linefit). It is ultra, ultra low cost; ultra, ultra light weight; optimized for LCCs seeking ancillary revenue; and focused on short to medium haul operations. The base system is $1495 per seat, weighing in at 8.9 oz per screen. Lumexis states that IPAX weighs 8.9 oz less an iPad mini. The system uses a responsive OLED touch screen and will feature TV, video, shorts, music, and moving map. There will also be the capability for food and drink sales in the GUI. The system is a hybrid, offering stored content at the seat with 64GB of local storage, but also features a Wi-Fi feature for connectivity. Lumexis states that the only wire running to the screen is for power. IPAX options include a 2.1 amp USB port with reversible jack ($295/screen); as well as, an optional screen reader at the seat ($295). Both added features bundled are offered for $395. Lumexis really sees these options as driving the ancillary revenue opportunity of IPAX. The company states they are well along the development path with first delivery slated for 4Q15. Installations will take a 2 consecutive night layover: The first night will be 3 WAPS (a 4th might be needed) and the second night will be for seats/screens. Edward Shapiro (pictured with Lou Sharkey) – VP PAR Capital stated: “Other companies won’t cannibalize their system to develop a low cost product. Apple does but their price doesn’t go down like ours did!”


Clarification:
Last week we ran some great pictures of KID Systems seat-back concepts: and yes they were only concepts! On a separate note, we stated that they were working Lufthansa Technik and Qantas – not so reports KID. Mea Culpa!


Looking for an Executive Engineer?

If you are looking for Executive Engineering Level – Director or VP, perhaps a candidate we know might be of help to your organization. He wrote: “I can bring a new outlook to an existing organization, leadership through change, all while providing consistent results in technical product development. In summary, I have 25 years experience in IFE and Connectivity, during this time, I have developed innovated solutions and lead teams of highly motivated technical experts delivering solutions to meet the customer needs, all within budget. My expertise ranges from Systems, Software, Hardware, and Aircraft Installations areas. I was instrumental in the transformation and growth of several key technical organizations, as seen with my leadership of both Systems and Software Engineering. My objective is to attain quick results, being a key change agent and efficiently leading teams by using the latest techniques, such as Agile methodology and SAFe development process.” IFExpress knows the caliber of this applicant and strongly recommend him. If you express interest to plwiseman@gmail.com, we will be happy to supply a resume.

If the AIX show is good for one thing, it’s trends. By covering the show as we do, we get to see a lot of the industry hot topics and this year was certainly no exception. Here are just a few that you might want to jot down in your Smartphone reminder file.

1. IPads for everything but IFE!
This trend is not about iPad IFE. No, we saw iPads used for other applications like inventory control or electronic flight bags. The one we liked is called eCabin from Ultramain. The eCabin product acts as an interface between passengers, airlines and the maintenance, flight schedule, and passenger service supply chains. Thru a slick interface, the eCabin product works between the passenger and the airline and help to keep logs, connect passenger loyalty programs to passengers before, during and after the flight, improves the potential for airline service, helps the maintenance function, and increases crew performance. Yep, the iPad is here to stay.

2. Inflight connectivity is gaining ground worldwide.
By now, around 1400 of the world commercial aircraft fleet has one type of passenger inflight connectivity or another. That leaves some 90% of the fleet connectionless. We should note that all of these are not twin aisle, but if one considers the raw numbers, the market looks good as demand is driven by passenger carry-on devices, and seems to have no bounds. Over water rides are getting more sat-based services, and for numbers, the AirCell ground-based system leads the pack. Without a doubt, Inmarsat’s next generation of high-speed connections and services, coupled with the advent of earlier-than-expected X Band offerings will drive the cost per bit to down-to-earth prices (Ugh!). We should also mention the new hardware providers as well because they will, no doubt, be offering lower cost communication hardware.

3. Lighter weight interiors and seats.
As we reported earlier, carrying around an extra pound of airplane weight can cost anywhere from $200 to $1000 per year in fuel, fees, and wheel-tire-brake costs. This makes the trend toward lighter interiors a money saver and one which actually pays for itself in use. From our perspective, interiors have dropped 5 to 10 percent and we noticed at the show, some seat manufacturers were claiming up to 30% reduction in weights. This drop can be a real benefit to airlines and passengers, for example, more legroom is gained in some cases and removing solid pockets for netting can aid in cleaning and spotting left personal articles. We also note IFE weights seem to be dropping along with the power usage and weights. Check out Thompson Aerospace and Vision Systems for new light weight IFE offerings.

4. Condensed liquid coffee is in.
That’s right, a liquid coffee occupying one tenth the volume of regular brewed coffee added to water can make a great drink and we preferred Cafea. This stuff is good and physics helps out. You see, brewing coffee at aircraft pressures aloft can lower the boiling point of water – maybe below the good coffee boiling point. Enter Cafea, the manufacturer suggests that a thermos of correct temperature hot water is all that’s needed for a good cup of coffee. We agree, and no airborne coffee maker required. Little or no investment costs, no maintenance or repairs, no contracts and virtually no cleaning – what’s not to like?

5. Headset focus.
Headsets are also getting the upgrades. Vendors are investing in new ways to deliver audio to passengers. Notably, the Phitek group with their infrared headset. Based on a clever overhead infrared transmitter, we were wowed by the clear sound and wide “viewing” angle. They also demonstrated a clever magnetic breakaway phone jack. IFPL has developed a nifty, foolproof jack that will not break off in the PCU. Lastly, we can’t say enough about the Bose QC-15 noise cancelling headsets. Great sound, the fabulous aircraft noise cancellation, incredible audio range and the best thing that has happened to our flying experience in years.

6. Increased usage of RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification and NFC.
We will save that one till next issue but this radio technology is gaining in ground with the vendors and advances are being made in inventory control and point of purchase. Stay tuned on this one.

These are by no means the only hot trends and we will cover the IFE-centric ones soon.