Inmarsat’s GX Aviation selected to arrive in Latin America in association with Avianca, strengthening the airline’s leadership in digitalization of in-flight services

Bogota and London | June 22, 2017– Avianca and Inmarsat today announced the signing of an agreement that will allow travelers to enjoy the most advanced broadband technology onboard its aircraft.

With this project, Avianca becomes the first airline in Latin America to make its aircraft available for the provision of GX Aviation, the new and advanced solution developed by Inmarsat to offer Wi-Fi to passengers and cabin crew during flights.

GX Aviation is the first in-flight broadband solution from one operator with reliable and high-speed global coverage from a single operator, allowing Avianca’s passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights. A new in-flight connectivity experience that’s in a class of its own.

GX Aviation will initially be available to all Avianca passengers on approximately 125 Airbus A320, A330 and Boeing 787 aircraft, with the potential for additional aircraft to be provisioned at a later date. Avianca’s GX-equipped aircraft are currently expected to be rolled out starting at the end of the year.

Hernan Rincon, Chief Executive Officer of Avianca, said: “Today, technology is one of Avianca’s fundamental pillars. Therefore, and to allow our travelers to be always connected, we have signed an agreement that will enable us to continue advancing in our digital transformation with the support of Inmarsat.”

Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “GX Aviation is now live as the most advanced in-flight connectivity solution in the world. It has been specifically designed from the ground up as a seamless and robust service for airlines and their passengers, overcoming the shortcomings of traditional in-flight internet providers. The rapid uptake from airlines is evidence of the market’s confidence, with launch customers signed in key regions such as Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Australasia and now, Latin America.”

He added: “Avianca understands that its passengers and cabin crew today expect a consistent, reliable and fast in-flight broadband service wherever they fly. GX Aviation is also scalable with the high growth expected in Latin America over the next decade.”

Service bulletins and modification kit developed for advanced inflight broadband service, allowing installation on all Airbus A320 family aircraft

United Kingdom | June 21, 2017– Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, today announced a strategic partnership for its new European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight broadband service with leading aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

As part of a collaborative agreement signed at the Paris Air Show, Airbus will offer airlines a specialist retrofit solution to deploy EAN on the entire A320 family of aircraft, including A319s, A320s and A321s, which form the backbone of many leading airline fleets in Europe.

The agreement marks a further milestone in the development of EAN; the world’s first dedicated aviation connectivity solution to combine space-based and ground-based networks to deliver a seamless WiFi experience for airline passengers throughout Europe. It follows a separate announcement earlier this year that International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, will be the launch customer for EAN. IAG has begun equipping its aircraft with the ground-breaking service and aims to have 90% of its short haul fleet complete by early 2019.

EAN is based on a unique infrastructure, which brings together a dedicated S-band satellite and complementary ground network, to offer a fully integrated and seamless network that delivers the service quality and performance assurance not offered by satellite only providers. Because of its unique design, EAN can also be scaled more easily and cost-effectively to match demand.

The network, which is on course to commence commercial services in the second half of 2017, also delivers world-leadership in passenger WiFi technology to Europe. The satellite component, built by France’s Thales Alenia Space, is in French Guiana being prepared for its launch by Arianespace on 28th June. Inmarsat’s strategic partner Deutsche Telekom continues to make good progress on the construction of the complementary ground network.

EAN allows European passengers to use their personal devices for internet browsing, video streaming, gaming and other online services, with unmatched high capacity, low-latency performance. EAN’s robust and ultra-compact technology makes it uniquely qualified for the European airspace, where aircraft size, flight density and frequent aircraft manoeuvring are challenging to broadband satellite-only systems.

Airbus Retrofit Solution
The Airbus retrofit solution consists of modification kits with all cabin network equipment required for EAN deployment. It also includes service bulletins (SBs) that detail the tasks and materials needed for installation and also certify the airworthiness of related modification work.

Airlines can procure the new solution directly through Airbus or Inmarsat, with both partners forecasting that more than 750 aircraft could be retrofitted with EAN over the next three years.

The partnership with Airbus marks a further key achievement for EAN. In addition to its function as an inflight broadband solution, the agreement also contains provisions for airlines to utilise EAN for advanced aircraft maintenance and operations management, leading to increased efficiencies and important cost reductions.

Leo Mondale, Inmarsat Aviation President, said: “Our partnership with Airbus will offer clear advantages to airlines operating the popular A320 family aircraft. They will gain access to the new gold standard in passenger inflight broadband with a retrofit solution that comes from the aircraft manufacturer itself and has been specifically designed for ease-of-use. In addition to EAN’s function as a high-speed inflight broadband service, our collaborative agreement with Airbus also opens the doors to streaming data on the aircraft maintenance and operations side.

“Building on the selection of Inmarsat at the European level and the authorisations already given by European national regulators for the deployment of an innovative satellite and ground network, we are now close to delivering a unique connectivity service for Europe’s airlines and passengers; one that is superior to any other offering in the market.”

Passengers flying over Europe will be able to access EAN using their personal devices for internet browsing, video streaming, gaming and other online services, with unmatched high capacity, low-latency performance. EAN’s robust and ultra-compact technology makes it uniquely qualified for European airspace, where aircraft size, flight density and frequent aircraft manoeuvring are challenging to broadband satellite-only systems.

Industry’s Leading Inflight Connectivity Technology Now Installed on Numerous Aircraft Types Flying All Over the World

Chicago, IL | June 6, 2017–
Gogo (NASDAQ:GOGO), the leading global provider of broadband connectivity products and services for aviation, has reached a milestone of 200 installations of 2Ku, the industry’s leading inflight connectivity technology.

The company now has installed the technology on many major fleet types including Airbus’ A319, A321, A330 and A340 aircraft; and Boeing’s 737-800 and 747-400 aircraft. For the first time, passengers flying in all regions of the world are now experiencing high-speed inflight internet.

“We are still on pace to hit our goal of between 550 and 650 2Ku equipped aircraft by the end of this year,” says John Wade, EVP and Chief Operating Officer. “I’m also extremely excited to say that we have managed to get our install times down to less than 2 days, by far the best in the industry. Less downtime for the aircraft is hugely important for our airline partners.”

Gogo’s 2Ku technology is a proprietary dual antenna system developed to bring global streaming-class internet to aircraft. 2Ku is now flying and outperforming all other global connectivity solutions and delivers speeds of 15 Mbps to each passenger device, covering 98 percent of all flight hours around the world with 98 percent system availability.

With an open architecture that leverages current and future Ku satellites, 2Ku offers unrivaled adaptability to keep airlines connected now and in the future. Performance of the technology will be boosted by a new modem currently being installed on aircraft. The proprietary features of the new modem significantly increase throughput and reliability to and from the aircraft, allowing significantly more than the current 15 Mbps to each passenger device.

Gogo currently has 14 airlines representing more than 1600 aircraft awards for the 2Ku technology.

Airbus and Boeing are going head-to-head for the lead into the MoM market and the airlines are looking for a midsize plane that costs less and will seat somewhere between 225 and 270 passengers, and fly nearly 5000 miles, in roughly 9 hours. Imagine a chart where the vertical axis represents the number of passengers/payload while the horizontal axis represents nautical miles/range.

Before getting into the plane action, lets review the Middle of the Market we keep referring to (MoM) – and here is the view from the folks at Boeing. Picture the middle market as a big oval that covers passenger capacity/load of 175 to 375 passengers and a range of approximately 3,000 to 6,000 nautical miles. However, this market is so large that it also includes jetliners at both the smaller end and larger end of the scale. The oval pictured in the link above represents the “new midsize airplane sweet spot”, which is more like 200 to 275 travelers in a two class configuration, with a reduced range of 3,500 to 5,500 nautical miles. Interestingly, the only current plane that is in this newly identified midsize market circle is the twin-aisle B767-200, which hits the oval target just about dead center!

Boeing is developing a business case and solution for the MoM  demand and their answer is a new development that some call the B797X. The real issue is twin aisle versus single.

Now, lets look at where the single aisle B737 MAX series planes are with respect to the midsize sweet spot – where, no doubt, the action will be for the next few years. Remember, we are focusing only on Boeing in this issue, but we will talk a bit about Airbus in a later Hot Topic.  Here is where the Boeing “bottom” of the MoM plane products are today:

Boeing B737 MAX 7
1 Class Seating Config. – 150 Pax.
2 Class Seating Config. – 138 Pax.
Max. Seating Config. – 172 Pax.
Range – 3,800 NM
Wingspan – 35.9 M / 117 ft. 10in.
Length – 35.6 M / 116 ft. 8 in.
Height – 12.3 M / 40 ft. 4in.
Weight – 177,000 lbs.
Price – $92.2 Million

Boeing B737 MAX 8
1 Class Seating Config. – 174 Pax.
2 Class Seating Config. – 162 Pax.
Max. Seating Config. – 200 Pax.
Range – 3,620
Wingspan – 39.5 M / 117 ft. 10 in.
Length – 39.5 M / 129.8 ft.
Height – 12.3 M / 40 ft. 4in.
Weight – 181,200 lbs.
Price – $112.4 Million

Boeing B737 MAX 9
1 Class Seating Config. – 204 Pax.
2 Class Seating Config. – 178 Pax.
Max. Seating Config. – 220 Pax.
Range – 3,595 NM
Wingspan – 39.5 M / 117 ft. 10 in.
Length – 42.2 M / 138.4 ft.
Height – 12.3 M / 40 ft. 4in.
Weight – 194,700 lbs
Price – $119.2 Million

As we noted earlier, the “new midsize market” is a smaller circle on the pax/range chart and the existing single aisle aircraft are right on the edge. Some experts are noting that the “new” midsize market concept could be difficult for Boeing because of existing B737 landing gear length limit problems coupled with the desired take-off rotation increase due to a longer single-aisle body – not to mention the new wing length needed for more load lift and potential composite additions to reduce load weight.

While looking at an estimated 2025 entry, Boeing has some time to make the decision, but they will have to consider other aspects such as aircraft model growth, fuel burn, and competition. Furthermore, we understand that over 60% of the operators want a twin-aisle wide body versus a single-aisle narrow body, with seating expectations covering 150 to 249 pax – but the jury is still out on models and respective seat numbers.

If you remember the B757 (single-aisle) and the B767 (twin-aisle) were designed to cover a larger flight range and passenger payload solutions at each end of the payload vs. range spectrum. We now have the requirement that Boeing focus on the center and build one plane (with derivatives) to solve the “market gap” problem and that will probably include more passenger comfort and expanded IFEC capability. IFExpress is betting on a twin! Further, the Boeing 797X will likely cover the 220-260 seat capacity with a designed range of some 4,500-5,000 nautical miles. But the big deal for Boeing would be the possible $150B in potential revenue!


Rockwell
Rockwell Collins will now bring high speed, secure worldwide KA-band connectivity to government aviation customers by expanding its Value Added Reseller (VAR) arrangement for Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) service. Rockwell Collins has already been providing GX and JX services to commercial and business aviation customers through previous VAR agreements.


SITA
Meet Kate! SITA Lab, which explores the future of technology in air travel, has unveiled KATE, an intelligent check-in kiosk that will autonomously move to busy or congested areas in the airport as needed, promising to relegate check-in queues to the past.

Using various data sources – including flight and passenger flow information – KATE can identify where additional check-in kiosks are required to reduce passenger queue times at check-in. KATE uses existing SITA data systems such as Day of Operations Business Intelligence and FlightInfo API.
Multiple robotic kiosks can be automatically or manually deployed simultaneously and in formation to assist passengers, providing airports and airlines greater flexibility in managing peaks in passenger flow. The kiosks can also communicate through a Cloud service to ensure that the right number of kiosks are at the right position when needed, making them highly responsive to changes in the airport. A design patent application for the kiosks is currently underway.

Renaud Irminger, Director of SITA Lab, said: “The peak and troughs in the flow of passengers presents a challenge to many airlines and airports and we have been approached by many customers requesting a solution. They want kiosks which can be easily deployed when and where they are needed. Building on SITA’s successful AirportConnect Open platform, and our previous work with robotics, KATE leverages new technologies to provide operators much more flexibility and efficiency in the way they will use their kiosks in future.”

SITA’s cutting-edge robotic kiosk makes use of geo-location technology to find its way through the airport. KATE will use Wi-Fi to connect to vital airline and airport systems, dispensing with the need for cabling or other fixed attachments. This allows the kiosk to move around freely across the airport terminal, using obstacle avoidance technology to avoid bumping into people or things.

KATE and her fellow robotic kiosks will automatically return to their docking stations when they are low on power or need to be resupplied with boarding passes or bag tags.

One of the key benefits of SITA’s autonomous kiosk is that it can be deployed anywhere inside the airport as well as other offsite locations such as train stations. This is particularly relevant during periods of disruption – such as weather delays or flight cancellations – where additional kiosks can be moved from landside to airside to check-in large numbers of rebooked passengers. KATE provides passengers access to her easy-to-use interface to check-in and print bag tags.

KATE follows in the footsteps of LEO, SITA’s fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot launched at the 2016 Air Transport IT Summit in Barcelona, Spain last year. For a better view, check out this video – https://youtu.be/oQ69r-2VX-I


AIRBORNE WIRELESS NETWORK, CA was granted experimental operating from FCC to launch ground/flight testing (using two Boeing aircraft) of its demonstration system as part of development of Infinitus Super Highway air-to-air communication system. Further they have been granted a certificate by the FCC that will allow it to conduct ground and flight tests of their demonstration system of the Infinitus Super Highway, a high-speed broadband network that will link commercial aircraft in flight.


BOEING
Boeing All-Electric Satellite for SES Will Help Improve In-Flight Connectivity and Enable Other Traffic-Intensive Data Applications. Built for SES of Luxembourg, the 702 satellite is Boeing’s fifth with all-electric propulsion; design includes metallic 3-D printed parts.

The satellite will bolster connectivity for Wi-Fi and entertainment services on flights over North America, Mexico and Central America. It will also serve the government, enterprise and maritime sectors. This 702-model satellite also demonstrates that using 3-D printed parts can improve affordability and production. More than 50 such metallic parts are on the vehicle in the primary structure.

This is the fifth Boeing satellite to be deployed with a highly efficient all-electric propulsion system.

SES-15 has a hybrid payload, including additional Ku-band wide beams and Ku-band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capability, with connectivity to gateways in Ka-band.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) safety efforts will also benefit from the satellite as SES-15 carries a Wide-Area Augmentation System (WAAS) hosted payload for the FAA.

SES has ordered 12 Boeing satellites since 1990, including SES-15. SES-15 is the operator’s first 702 all-electric satellite in its fleet.


Gogo
Global broadband connectivity provider Gogo Business Aviation is announcing that German aircraft manager and charter operator K5-Aviation is its first 2Ku business aviation customer in Europe.

2Ku is a unique, dual-antenna system developed by Gogo to bring global streaming-capable internet connectivity to large aircraft. The technology benefits from global coverage and the redundancy of more than 180 satellites in the Ku-band.

Also today, Gogo is unveiling a new suite of smart cabin systems – SCS Elite and SCS Media. Both are highly integrated cabin in-flight entertainment and voice solutions that can be personalized to fit the specific needs of passengers on a given flight.

SCS systems, according to Gogo, “can be installed on virtually any plane, big or small, flying anywhere around the globe, and we created it to be a simple, powerful way to integrate all the necessary technology on board for an enjoyable passenger experience.”

Also, If you are interested in who the travelers of tomorrow are, why their inflight preferences matter, why being mobile is so important to future travelers, expectations around future connectivity, and what role personal devices play in flight – check this download out from Gogo: Global Traveler | Gogo . We should also note that Gogo has been chosen by Airbus as a lead supplier for its High Bandwidth Connectivity (HBC) program. Being part of Airbus’ HBC program means airlines can place future aircraft orders with Airbus and have Gogo’s 2Ku technology installed at the factory on all major fleet types. Those aircraft are then delivered with the technology already installed and ready for service on day one. We wonder what Boeing is gonna do?

Lufthansa Technik’s Two-In-One-Solution (TIOS) type approved for Boeing Business Jet 3 (737-900ER) aircraft on Inmarsat’s advanced high-speed Jet ConneX broadband network

EBACE, Geneva, Switzerland | May 23, 2017– Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, announced today that its next-generation Jet ConneX inflight wi-fi service is now available to a growing number of Boeing Business Jet customers worldwide using the advanced Lufthansa Technik Two-In-One Solution (TIOS) radome.

The TIOS radome, which connects to Jet ConneX using exclusive JetWave hardware produced by Inmarsat partner Honeywell, was recently type approved for Boeing Business Jet 3 (based on the Boeing 737-900ER aircraft). In addition, it has already been approved for Boeing Business Jets 1 and 2, which are based on Boeing’s 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft respectively.

TIOS has been specifically developed by Lufthansa Technik to accommodate two antennas in one radome, using an innovative space-saving tail-mounted assembly that reduces drag and noise. Operators also benefit from reduced installation and operational costs.

Kurt Weidemeyer, Inmarsat’s Vice President of Business and General Aviation, said: “Boeing VVIP and corporate customers are globe trotters that need a consistent, reliable and global high-speed Wi-Fi solution now. Lufthansa Technik’s TIOS installation is faster and customers are eligible for the same data plans as fuselage mounted antenna installations. It’s a win-win, allowing Inmarsat to offer our next-generation Jet ConneX service to an even wider market.”

Honeywell’s JetWave hardware will be certified for installation on Embraer Lineage 1000E Executive Jets beginning in 2018

Geneva, Switzerland | May 22, 2017– Honeywell (NYSE: HON) has been selected by Embraer to upgrade its Lineage 1000E Executive Jets with the company’s JetWaveTM satellite communications hardware to provide global, high-speed Wi-Fi via Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX service. Whether accessing work networks, staying connected to friends and family on social media, or streaming movies, passengers will experience a new level of consistent high-speed wireless connectivity over land or sea virtually everywhere around the world at speeds similar to those found in their home.

Honeywell’s JetWave system will receive initial aircraft installation certification at the beginning of 2018 that will boost Embraer’s Lineage 1000E platform to provide passengers with reliable, high-speed in-flight Wi-Fi. Available as forward-fit and retrofit options, JetWave hardware enables a global Ka-band connection from Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX service. With Inmarsat’s global satellite coverage passengers can experience a seamless connected experience.

“Since entering the market, Embraer Executive Jets has been committed to rethinking convention in business aviation by introducing innovative technologies, higher performance standards, and premium comfort for a superior flight experience,” said Luciano Castro, vice president programs, Embraer Executive Jets. “This is just one more way that the Lineage 1000E delivers on its promise of enhancing every customer’s experience.”

“As passengers continue to demand consistent Wi-Fi performance in the cabin, operators and flight crews recognize the benefits of staying connected with those on the ground,” said Michael Edmonds, president, Services and Connectivity, Honeywell Aerospace. “With a connected cabin and cockpit, pilots and operators can improve their workload productivity and aircraft safety, while reducing costs. For passengers and the crew, this means a smoother flight experience with fewer flight delays because the ground crews can maintain constant communication with pilots to stay connected to crew on the ground.”

“Our Jet ConneX service can support multiple passengers streaming video, simultaneously, anywhere the Linage flies,” said Kurt Weidemeyer, vice president, Business Aviation, Inmarsat. “It means everyone can watch what they like, when they like, where they like.”

Dassault Falcon business jets to be equipped with first high-speed broadband Wi-Fi service to span the world

Geneva, Switzerland | May 21, 2017– Honeywell (NYSE: HON) announced today that its high-speed broadband Wi-Fi system, designed to provide aircraft with Internet speeds similar to those in homes and offices is now an option for new Dassault Falcon business jets. The system can also be installed on planes already in service. Honeywell’s JetWave antennas and hardware enable Inmarsat’s high-speed Jet ConneX service. Once installed, the system allows Dassault fliers to enjoy video streaming and phone calls, music and movie downloads, access to private company networks, online shopping, and much more through one global network with significantly fewer signal drops than other connectivity services, even over oceans.

Based on a wider wireless frequency pipe than other global satellite networks, Honeywell’s system enables global Ka-band connection. Honeywell’s JetWave is now available as an option for installation aboard new Falcon 900LX, Falcon 7X, Falcon 8X, Falcon 5X business jets with initial delivery in mid-2017. For existing Dassault customers, Honeywell’s JetWave hardware is available for current installation on the Falcon 7X and Falcon 900 Series aircraft.

“We believe that the future of business aviation lies in global connectivity. Demand from our customers and operators for reliable, high-speed, global Wi-Fi is growing exponentially,” said Olivier Villa, executive vice president, Civil Aircraft, Dassault Aviation. “Honeywell’s JetWave hardware, combined with Jet ConneX service from Inmarsat, is just the right solution to meet this need. It is one of the best offerings on the market and ensures our customers the ultimate in onboard comfort and productivity.”

“With JetWave, Dassault operators and owners can now benefit from consistent, high-speed connectivity to browse the internet, stream videos and videoconference virtually anywhere in the world,” said Michael Edmonds, president, Services and Connectivity, Honeywell Aerospace. “As truly global high-speed connectivity becomes more accessible to business jet operators, they can connect their aircraft beyond the cabin, which will help them fly safer and more efficiently, ultimately increasing the passenger experience.” Kurt Weidemeyer, Inmarsat vice president of Business Aviation, said: “Jet ConneX is the only global, high-speed Wi-Fi service option for business jets, offering levels of speed and reliability that have not previously been available in the air. We are pleased to bring this unmatched technology to Dassault’s loyal customers, giving them the ability to work, enjoy entertainment and stay in touch with what’s happening on the ground.”

This week we continue with “stuff we saw” at AIX and we also take a cursory look at a new plane in China. Lets get started:

Thales:
During AIX Thales discussed their view on how the IFEC market is changing and how they foresee meeting both the airlines and passengers evolving expectations. Needless to say, like the other majors in the IFEC industry, big data and data analysis will play a major role in Thales’ InFlyt Experience and future product offerings to facilitate the connected aircraft. This all boils down to wireless technology, satcom, and more advanced software interfaces that will create the ‘eco-system’ within the aircraft that Thales will operate within. The company’s focus is primarily within the aircraft environment and they are partnering with other companies; such as, SES and Inmarsat to facilitate these goals. Their recent purchase of Guaves, who is a pioneer in real-time big data processing and analytics, strengthens their high-tech portfolio to meet their airline customers digital technology requirements. Thales plans to offer solutions to airlines that optimize efficiencies targeted for specific fleet type, routes and passenger demographics. The system will use an open architecture that offers choice, modularity, easier integration and customization. As previously mentioned, their partnership with SES helps facilitate much of these goals, especially their FlytLive connectivity service. SES will be adding a digital processor to a high-throughput satellite to meet the needs of FlytLive and will have the capability of moving capacity from one gateway to another, depending on demand. The satellite (SES-17) is scheduled to launch in 2020 – just in time for the 777X to roll-out and go into service! Dominique Giannoni, Chief Executive of Thales, stated during their AIX press briefing that they have an unnamed customer that will launch FlytLive in January of 2018. The service is Ka-band and utilizes 4 satellites that are currently in orbit, which will meet the need of FlytLive before SES-17 is in orbit in 2020. “Our goal is to be the best, to be number one,” said Dominique. The service will have tools to better operations via cloud based digital technology. Thales states that they are looking at where the market is going and analyzing what the passenger wants – the expectation is that they will have in the air what they have on the ground in their home – and they do not foresee the large scale decrease in the demand for inseat IFE on widebody aircraft and some narrow body aircraft (depending on route). “IFE creates loyalty and is a gateway to the passenger,” said Dominique.

FTS:
As we mentioned from APEX in Singapore last fall, the folks at FTS have focused on becoming partners to the airlines, confident that their business model will positively affect airline revenues. However, we believe their goals are even bigger and they are seeking to make large scale changes to the IFE industry. “We are in delivery mode now – we’ve shown the industry that we have a cool product that has traction. FTS is doing exactly what we set out to do,” said Ben Fuller, Sales Director for the Americas. A perfect example of their capabilities to ‘revolutionize’ the industry is their smartwatch app (product name “Flight Butler”) that allows flight attendants to receive messages regarding customers’ wants/needs; such as, meals, blankets, drinks, etc. The app was designed and developed within FTS, which establishes their in-house software development capabilities. The software is embedded in their file server. The FTS team told IFExpress that their cabin wireless access points can deliver gigabit Ethernet and its proprietary technology allows a single WAP to supply 180 passengers with concurrent streaming/AVOD. Furthermore, a China Southern B737-800 aircraft is equipped with the system under test. FTS states that they have a total of 30 aircraft under contract for installations, including First Air and Canadian North in Canada. First Air, we are told, will begin installation this quarter on their B737s. IFExpress was also told that there is an undisclosed customer in Southeast Asia. Keep your eye on FTS – as we all know, China has rolled the COMAC C919 and if history is any indicator, Chinese manufactured IFE will be a part of that airplane. Therefore, FTS could be in the birds eye seat!


Other News:

Lufthansa Systems
A total of 450 airline experts are attending one of the world’s largest airline IT user conferences to find out about the latest innovations in the digital world of aviation. The focus is on Commercial Planning and Operations solutions from the NetLine and ProfitLine product lines. “This industry meeting, which is traditionally held in the Lufthansa Training & Conference Center in Seeheim, is one of the most important events in the airline IT sector,” said Ulrike Behrens, Head of Marketing at Lufthansa Systems, who organizes the Airline Forum. Lufthansa Systems advises and supports airlines in their digital transformation. The aviation IT experts show what sustainable airline processes can look like and provide hands-on support to customers in implementing their projects.

“Digitalization has a significant influence on working processes, business models and our daily life. This applies to the aviation industry as well. The core of our company strategy is to put airlines in a perfect position for the digital future,” said Olivier Krueger, CEO of Lufthansa Systems. “We are delighted to welcome so many of our customers’ representatives to the Airline Forum again this year.” Automation and integration are key aspects in this context. Modern technologies make it easier to collect and evaluate data in order to identify anomalies and automatically learn from them or carry out certain actions. But it is also increasingly important for IT solutions – especially in the field of operations – to be able to share this data and interact with one another in order to make the best decisions and optimize processes. Communication also plays an essential role in the digital world. It should be fast, simple and possible from anywhere. Mobile solutions and a user-friendly layout help meet these demands. (Editor’s Note:
to give you reference point about the “looming” world of big data, the folks at ICF point out that “Big Aviation Data” is upon us! They note that the transmittable data [in Megabytes per flight] have grown and to give you an idea – the B777 generates less than one Megabyte per flight while the B787 generates around 28 Megabytes per flight. Or another way to look at the world of aviation data – In 2010 approximately 11 Terabytes of aviation data per year were generated by commercial planes, while in 2022 it is expected to grow some 1100 percent to around approximately 137 Terabytes!)

COMAC 919
While IFExpress doesn’t normally report on airplanes, as such, because of the competitive plane market in the 100 to 200 seat market controlled by Airbus and Boeing, there will be IFEC issues and a lot of China-deals that the IFEC folks will be quite interested in, especially in years to come. And while we say that we note there are a lot of IFEC companies flexing their muscles with deals in the region, companies like FTS (above) who are new and working to get into that market are well aware of the Chinese future. The C919 is roughly the size of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the Airbus A320neo,  and presently, there have been no public IFEC announcements yet, but companies like Rockwell, Thales and others are working the problem! Launched nine years ago and now running three years late, the C919 jet won’t enter service until 2019 or 2020, while Airbus and Boeing have announced some 5,000 and 3,700 orders respectively, China has a way to go – check out this link on the subject. With Boeing and Airbus turning out over 100 equivalent model per month and COMAC looking at 7 per month, it won’t be a competitive issue till they up the production rates.

The maiden test flight of the C919 airliner made a 79 minute flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport this past Friday, we should note that C919 has a range of 2,532 miles (4,075 kilometers). Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) the state-owned company behind the plane, said 21 customers had placed orders for more than 500 planes by the end of 2016, and it expected sales to exceed 2,000. IFExpress expects the C919 should do well within China as air traffic is expected to double over the next 20 years within that region, according to the International Air Transport Association. One source told us that Boeing notes that China will need to buy up $1 trillion worth of planes – about 6,810 aircraft – over the next two decades in order to meet demand. Stay tuned on this one – and the Russian MC-021 as well. (Editor’s Note: We should mention that the Russian equivalent single-aisle newcomer, the MC-21 with versions from 132 – 211 seats and 175 firm orders, was also set for first flight in April 2017 but it looks like China has won that race.)

Rockwell
Last week, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China’s (COMAC) C919 took its first flight, equipped with Rockwell Collins’ communication and navigation solutions, and Integrated Surveillance System (ISS) for the flight deck. “The C919’s maiden flight was truly a testament to the strong relationship we’ve forged with COMAC over the course of our work in China,” said Jim Walker, vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific for Rockwell Collins. “The innovative, proven technologies we’ve developed in collaboration with our C919 joint venture partners will deliver the highest levels of safety and situational awareness, while delivering reliability and efficiency. We’re committed to continue cooperation as we work toward certification.”

Rockwell Collins has formed joint ventures and partnerships with a number of companies in China for the C919 program, including:
AVIC Leihua Rockwell Collins Avionics Company (ALRAC) with the China Leihua Electronic Technology Research Institute (LETRI) for the development of the ISS which combines weather detection, traffic alert and collision avoidance, Mode S surveillance and terrain awareness and warning functions into a single system
Rockwell Collins CETC Avionics Co. Ltd. (RCCAC) with China Electronics Technology Avionics Company (CETCA) for development of the communication and navigation avionics solutions, which included audio, radio tuning, HF, VHF, GPS, DME, Radio Altimeter, VOR/ILS and an optional Inmarsat SATCOM solution. Rockwell Collins and AVIC Bluesky for joint development of the engineering simulator for the C919 which provides support for the design and development of the aircraft’s flight control system, cockpit interior and ergonomics, avionics, controls and other necessary systems.

Rockwell Collins has been working with the Chinese aviation industry for more than 30 years. The company’s equipment is on many airplanes manufactured in China including the ARJ21, MA60/600, Y8, Y12, K8, AC312 and AC352, and is on nearly every western airliner operated by China’s airlines.

This week IFExpress features a few more AIX booths we visited, as well as, a bit more news. Keep your eyes on TelefonixPDT for greater market penetration and on digEcor for the same – there is a lot happening and we will have more in the coming weeks.

1. TelefonixPDT

TelefonixPDT is like a Swiss army knife – they have a solution for virtually every IFE hardware challenge! IFExpress had the opportunity to catch up with them during AIX earlier this month. As always, the company exhibited some great hardware components including some new iterations, specifically from their Summit Product Line. Now, Let’s look at some of the individual products that we saw in their booth.

CabinACe-2 WAP:
From an airplane perspective, TelefonixPDT has finalized an STC on the 737. In fact, CabinACe-2 Wireless Access Point (WAP) is the first commercially available ARINC 628 compliant 802.11ac, Wave 2 product for commercial aircraft wireless environments. The CabinACe-2 WAP enables the highest capacity performance and efficiency in extremely high-density environments for enhanced connectivity and passenger experience. The new WAP features a small footprint and low power consumption making it suitable for both linefit and retrofit installations. With a concurrent data rate of 1.73 Gbps in 5 GHz and 800 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz range (aggregated date rate of 2.5 Gbps), the CabinACe-2 product delivers next generation performance for passengers. Oh and by the way, TelefonixPDT told us that customers can use the STC for free!

CabinPinnacle:
CabinPinnacle general-purpose airborne server/router is a complete, highly integrated, application-ready platform for Ethernet-based network installations. The server integrates a quad core 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of DDR3 memory and supports connectivity and bandwidth demands utilizing features such as an L2/L3 managed Gigabit Ethernet Switch with eleven externally available Gigabit Ethernet ports. Designed specifically for aircraft environments, this ARINC 600 4MCU form factor includes six ARINC 429 channels, 20 aircraft discrete I/Os, and integrated self-healing health monitoring. The server also supports both Linux and Windows operating systems as well as the availability of integrated software APIs for maximum flexibility. The company told us that they are in the process of finishing linefit offerability at Boeing and in the near term the product will be offerable both linefit and retrofit for both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The system architect, Eric Tartar said, “The CabinPinnacle is the Swiss Army Knife of routers! And as customers need it, we will add features.”

CabinEdge:
Another product that we found interesting was the CabinEdge stand-alone content loader that supports network delivery of In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) content and is meant to be permanently installed on cabin monuments. The content loader utilizes small form factor, low-cost, commercially available USB “thumb drives” as the content transfer medium. The unit loads digitally stored, encrypted content in the background in an unattended fashion. A keyed tumbler lock provides security and ensures that loaded content remains secure until the next update. Simply installing the small form factor USB drives and closing the interface door automatically sends the signal to the onboard software to “mount” the drives and begin the process of loading content to the front end server. The onboard software automatically cross-checks with the locally stored content and updates files as required at better than USB 2.0 speeds.

Encompass:
One of the more surprising products that we saw from TelefonixPDT was Encompass – a portable, low-cost, full-featured, wireless IFE product. The TelefonixPDT Encompass server is a small form factor, wireless IFE system designed to meet the requirements of short term aircraft trials and long term IFE solution needs. The unit’s small size and weight make it perfect for deployment in overhead storage bins; and with 12 hours of continuous battery operation, this open source solution is not only easy to operate, but is also easy to customize to meet airline needs. Software SDK is available to quick-start DRM and content management application and high capacity SSD storage ensures that there is ample content for streaming to passenger devices. Without the certification requirements of traditional embedded solutions, the Encompass all-in-one server is a solution that minimizes cost while still delivering the quality experience.

Editor’s Note: The Encompass is basically a portable server/WAP that the folks at TelefonixPDT note was redesigned after a number of application trials. They told IFExpress that they integrated the charging bay(s) into the unit. With the application of external power, the unit can charge its internal batteries while on the airplane. We note that there will probably be more one-box systems flying on more and more single-aisle aircraft in the near future and we see this as an evolving technology trend. Historically, this trend started back with the portable single-box IFE solutions (think AirFi). IFExpress believes this product is an excellent solution for the business jet wIFE market.

CabinVista:
The last component of the Summit Line that we saw was the CabinVista Cabin Control Panel. The panel interfaces directly with the IFEC. This multipurpose product can be used as the primary control mechanism to the passenger IFEC system and to initiate PA announcements and cabin chimes. The CabinVista unit also provides 2 external interfaces to allow for uploading and downloading content to onboard servers via USB thumb drives.

Lastly, we should note that TelefonixPDT is continuing their expansion into Europe and Asia. They have arrangements in place for a manufacturing facility in China that should come online before APEX of this year. The company will still maintain their manufacturing facility in the USA to sell to other markets, while the China manufacturing facility will focus primarily on the growing Chinese aviation market.

2. digEcor
IFExpress had the opportunity to touch base with David Withers CEO of digEcor during the AIX extravaganza. David told us that it has been four years since he purchased the company and that their focus since then has been on developing modular and flexible product offerings to the aviation industry. They have achieved this by leveraging on the digEcor product, introducing LED lighting and power; as well as, enhancing the GLIDE product offering and the Wi-Fi feature to their roster. “We want to offer modular and flexible solutions that any airline can use,” said Mr. Withers. “Wi-Fi has a place in our industry, especially alongside power.” Power at the seat is the highest demand and the company has been focusing on how to integrate power easily into their offering.

digEcor had a key new customer announcement during the week – Air Tahiti Nui for the rollout of their ENGAGE cabin crew mobile solution. David Withers, digEcor Chief Executive Officer said, “ENGAGE has many benefits including access to passenger information and preferences, efficient service recovery, electronic forms and messaging.”

The company also had a few announcements regarding their GLIDE offering, including a milestone of delivery of the Integrated Flight Experience into the market, launching four new product lines including: Passenger Service Solutions (crew call, reading light and optional audio controls), LED Cabin Lighting, Cabin Management as well as digEcor’s own Moving Map product. Additionally, Corendon, a leisure based airline in Turkey, selected the GLIDE embedded system solution for their Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The new system will replace their legacy tape-based IFE offering. Mr. Withers told IFExpress, “The GLIDE embedded system is a leading component of digEcor’s Integrated Flight Experience comprising IFE, in-seat power, LED cabin lighting, passenger services, crew applications, cabin management, tape replacement, Wi-Fi streaming and content services.”


Other News:

Gogo
Gogo announced that veteran financial leader Barry Rowan was to join the company as an Executive Vice President and will assume the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on May 4, 2017 following the Company’s first quarter earnings report. Rowan will lead Gogo’s financial operations, which includes financial planning and analysis, accounting, treasury, tax and investor relations. He will report to Michael Small, president and CEO.

Rowan has more than 30 years of financial management experience including a track record of success leading public companies.

Also, Gogo and global satellite operator SES announced a new capacity deal to enhance in-flight connectivity services for key air travel routes over North America and the Pacific Ocean. As part of the new agreement, Gogo has leased all available capacity on SES’s AMC-4 satellite, which SES will move to a new orbital location to serve flights to, from and within the states of Alaska and Hawaii, flights along the west coast of the U.S. and over the Pacific Ocean.”SES has a global fleet of over 50 GEO satellites in orbit, and will be launching five more satellites this year, three of which have massive throughput payloads. SES is one of the global operators who can quickly and effectively move existing assets and scale up across regions and routes where connectivity demand is on the rise. This robust global network of scalable, flexible satellite capacity enables SES to stay ahead of the ever-growing demands and requirements of the aero industry,” said Elias Zaccack, Senior Vice President of the Americas region and Mobility Solutions at SES. “With the recent launch of the SES-10 satellite, SES will place AMC-4 in an orbital slot to meet the growing demand for Gogo’s inflight connectivity services and allow us to further expand our alliance.”

SITA
Bologna is the first Italian airport to install SITA’s Scan&Fly units. The new bag drop units will initially be used by low-cost carrier Ryanair before being extended to other airlines. Bologna Airport is a fast-growing hub for Ryanair with more than 20 destinations and 170 flights a week. SITA is a global provider of award-winning bag drop solutions. Airlines and airports globally have welcomed the high-quality interface of Scan&Fly, the ease of its retro-fit and the ability to fully integrate with the SITA AirportConnect common-use platform.

Here we go again! The next few issues of IFExpress will update you on what we saw at AIX 2017 – and there was a lot. We should note that while we received no show data from the PR/AIX troops, we can tell you it was BIG. Again this year, there was an IFEC Zone  that was dedicated to everything inflight entertainment and connectivity related. So here we go!

SIE & Dassault Systemes
Summary: Dassault Systemes and SIE have teamed to facilitate the development of “License-to-Fly” (LTF), a software development tool that greatly accelerates the design and certification process.  As many people know, Dassault Systemes is the provider of the aerospace industry standard 3D engineering tool CATIA, and SIE is the highly-regarded Aircraft Engineering & Certification firm responsible for numerous TC & STC projects.

LTF allows engineers, on an ongoing basis, to integrate the design development with the certification requirements thereby speeding up the Aircraft Certification process and reducing the overall cost by as much as 15%.  Known within Dassault as “Collaborative Innovation”, there is a continuous feedback loop between the design and the certification database verification that reduces error and rework in the development process.

LTF is a software design tool that enhances the standard CATIA 3D design process and aids the design engineer in understanding if their design meets certification – the key here is it tells them when they make the change with the License to Fly software if the design change is compliant with regulations, thus saving time.

Historically, designers were forced to develop drawings then check the final product/result against certification standards and by removing the “check” step days are saved in the design development process. The net result is time and labor savings and assurances that redesigns will not be required after drawing submissions. Furthermore, License to Fly permits cost efficiencies to customization. Today everyone is pushing for standards because the process of certifying custom design is so expensive, this product recognizes that customization is key and makes it affordable and efficient while doing so. The Dassault/SIE team makes a lot of sense – Dassault knows the software (CATIA) development side of the equation while the SIE folks are certification experts and the combined product will greatly improve the quality and time to market of the aircraft interiors components/assemblies that they design. Readers, expect to see a lot more written about this “smart” software.

“License-to-Fly is quite simply a huge game-changer.  LTF is the design/certification tool that moves the historically separate activities of aviation design engineering and subsequent certification work from a serial process to an integrated flow.  The result:  lower costs, shorter development time, higher quality design packages, and comprehensive compliance to regulations.  It’s an enterprise win-win for everybody,” stated John Courtright of SIE.

(Editor’s Note: IFExpress really believes that this product will change the design process. Further, we firmly believe this will be one in the many steps in the future of computer aided design in aviation. Think about this: future software technologies in almost every part of the airplane business will probably be seeing change within the next 5 years and this CATEA design development will improve and speed the design process. Additionally, the SIE people will most likely be undertaking an entirely new business sector as well.)


Spafax
“Alexa, is my Lufthansa flight on time today?” If you think your Amazon Alexa is just for your home and ground-based information – think again. Spafax demonstrated their launch of a new Alexa skill as an IFE industry first – and IFExpress LOVED it! To give you a better idea here is what their press release says:  Global content, entertainment and media agency Spafax announced its new Spafax Profile Skill for Alexa, Amazon’s revolutionary voice-activated personal assistant. This fun, interactive service will be the latest addition to Spafax’s successful Profile entertainment personalization platform. Set to debut at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, the Spafax Profile Skill combines Spafax’s proprietary entertainment technology and Amazon’s open APIs to create a dynamic voice-activated personal assistant with complete knowledge of an airline’s entertainment offering. Passengers will be able to ask Alexa about what movies, television shows and music will be available on their upcoming flight, get detailed information about individual programs and more. “The Spafax Profile Skill will further enhance the pre-flight experience, a key point of contact between airlines and their customers,” said Kevin Birchmore, Director Sales, Technical Products & Solutions, Spafax. “We’re always looking for ways to evolve our digital products and the Alexa Skill is very much in line with our vision for passengers to interact with an airline brand across multiple platforms and services.” The Spafax Alexa program is divided into 3 phases. Phase 2 will allow the passenger to view the airline entertainment content pre-flight and create a playlist after login. Phase 3 will sync with the passenger’s personal device at the seat. Presently, the service allows the passenger to view the entertainment content pre-flight and ask specific questions regarding flight status, etc.

(Editor’s Note: If you are an airline and you want to improve your airline profile skill you probably want to get a demo of the Spafax Alexa feature and consider adding this to your passenger app! More importantly, IFExpress cannot wait until this feature becomes available and we can test and use it on our Apple Watch!!)


Gogo
Here is a summary of the updates we received from the Gogo team at AIX
• Gogo has line fit for the A320, A330 and A380 for 2Ku we believe.
• Gogo is using the MODMAN (modem manager) from Kontron.
• Live television will be enabled in 3Q/4Q of 2017 and the first customer for the product will be Delta Air Lines.
• Presently, Gogo is running a 90 day 2Ku test in conjunction with Lufthansa Systems BoardConnect on Virgin Australia. The test is on a 737-8 and if all goes well it will go on the rest of the fleet.
• Currently there are 13 2Ku customers, two of which are Delta Air Lines and American Airlines.
• Gogo has recently partnered with SES for more transponder capacity.
• The company is targeting 200 installs of 2Ku by yearend 2017 and currently has a backlog of 1500 aircraft. Gogo states their focus right now is on the 2Ku product.
• Gogo is focusing moving their services beyond the passenger and now has 50K+ flight attendants connected. Their system also offers real-time credit card validation. Delta Air Lines will have their EFB’s connected via Gogo, as well as, their real-time weather service. The company noted that weather services are a key component of their cloud sourced data.
• ATG Next Generation is expected by year-end with a flight test in early 2018. The service will use a new antenna on the aircraft and new ground-based hardware as well. The hardware within the aircraft will mostly be the same but potentially with a new modem. Gogo states that the cost of upgrading to the ATG Next Gen will be relatively low because of this.


Lufthansa Systems
The following headlines sum up the news from Lufthansa Systems at AIX:

1. Surfing above the clouds: Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines going online on short haul and mid-range flights too

• Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines starting next phase of testing to include free
service to passengers
• Internet access also on inner-European routes
• Product launch in the first quarter, initially on 10 Airbus aircraft from the A320
family
• Three service packages available in future, priced at EUR 3, EUR 7 and
EUR 12.
• In the first quarter of 2017, the number of Lufthansa aircraft fitted out with Internet access will rise to around 20. One by one, the entire Lufthansa A320 fleet is to be equipped with the latest advanced technology by the middle of 2018. The re-fitting of all 31 aircraft at Austrian Airlines is planned to be completed before the end of April 2017. As well as Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines, Eurowings also has plans to bring the Internet on board its
aircraft – estimated launch is to be by the end of the first quarter 2017. A total of 69 Eurowings aircraft are to be fitted with the systems by the summer of 2017.

2. More than in-flight entertainment: The digital BoardConnect platform from Lufthansa Systems

•  Lufthansa Systems presents BoardConnect 5.0 as the perfect platform for digitalization in the aircraft / mCabin enhanced with new features and apps

BoardConnect enables passengers to stream content from an airline’s entertainment offering to their own tablets or smartphones during a flight. The BoardConnect product suite is available in three hardware versions. In addition to the permanently installed classic BoardConnect IFE solution, there is also the flexible BoardConnect Portable version. It combines all of the technical components in a single device which can be installed quickly and easily on any aircraft. BoardConnect Portable received the Crystal Cabin Award at AIX 2016. The third option available is the BoardConnect Plus connectivity solution. Lufthansa Systems is responding to the growing demand for new on-board digital services by further developing its software – with the new BoardConnect 5.0, which runs on all three versions of the system. BoardConnect 5.0 features a fresh design with a new user interface and an open platform architecture.
“Our digital BoardConnect platform is far more than just a pure IFE solution. Airlines can use it to significantly improve their passengers’ digital experience and further personalize their services. It is also part of our company strategy to share our expertise so that our customers can achieve their digital transformation goals,” said Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems.
The core of the digital BoardConnect platform is its open architecture. New technologies have turned BoardConnect into a kind of cloud provider above the clouds. It enables airlines to run their own applications in the aircraft on the basis of BoardConnect. This also applies to applications from an airline’s external partners, and it supports use cases for crews and passengers. The solution makes it easier for passengers to use on-board services as well. They simply have to connect to the on-board WiFi to access all of the connected services via a standardized user interface. The layout can naturally be adapted to the individual corporate design of each airline. BoardConnect 5.0 gives airlines numerous options for integrating new offers and generating additional revenues. The platform is designed for fast and easy technical integration.
Connectivity is the future of IFE, because on-board Internet is the prerequisite for real-time communication, streaming live events and additional services from external partners. Connectivity thus remains a focal point at Lufthansa Systems – for airlines both inside and outside of the Lufthansa Group. Among other things, the aviation IT specialist is currently working with its partners Inmarsat and Lufthansa Technik to install broadband Internet on the short- and medium-haul fleets of Lufthansa, Eurowings and Austrian Airlines.

3. Lufthansa Systems and Waves Audio demonstrate Waves Nx 3D Audio and Head Tracking for inflight entertainment systems at AIX

Lufthansa Systems and Waves Audio ltd are collaborating to bring a superior and immersive 3D Audio & Surround Sound experience to airline passengers.
•  Waves Nx is a high-end 3D audio solution that works with any grade of standard stereophonic headphones, offering tremendous sound quality improvements using preexisting hardware.
• Waves Nx greatly reduces ear-fatigue, allowing users to listen to audio content over headphones for prolonged periods of time with no discomfort.
• Waves Nx enables listening to 5.1 and 7.1 content over regular headphones, bringing an unprecedented cinematic experience to in-flight entertainment systems.

4. Lufthansa Systems – the right IT partner to help airlines go digital

Everyone is talking about digitalization. Many companies are wondering how to future-proof themselves in the digital world. Lufthansa Systems turned this vision into reality a long time ago. For years, the aviation IT specialist has been advising and supporting airlines in their digital transformation, demonstrating what sustainable airline processes can look like and helping customers implement concrete projects. The spectrum includes solutions and consulting services for improving the efficiency and differentiation of all aspects of an airline as well as for optimizing the entire travel chain for passengers.

5. Lufthansa Systems acquires new customers for its digital BoardConnect platform

• Use cases at Azul Linhas Aéreas, EL AL, Air Dolomiti and Lufthansa Group airlines demonstrate the flexibility of the BoardConnect product suite

Azul Linhas Aéreas (Azul) is the first American customer for BoardConnect Portable, EL AL has opted for the portable version in addition to BoardConnect Classic, and the installation of the connectivity solution for Austrian Airlines, Eurowings and Lufthansa is progressing. BoardConnect Portable has also been successfully implemented for Air Dolomiti. This wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) solution from Lufthansa Systems will soon be in use on more than 300 aircraft worldwide. The corresponding app has been downloaded over 5 million times. Lufthansa Systems is therefore heading into the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg this week (April 4–6) with a series of success stories as well as numerous new features to present for its BoardConnect and mCabin product suites.

Hamburg, DE | April 4, 2017– AirAsia, through its subsidiary ROKKI Sdn Bhd, has signed a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) with Inmarsat for its next-generation GX Aviation inflight connectivity solution.

The agreement covers AirAsia Group’s Airbus A320 and A330 fleets, subject to final contracts. Installation is expected to commence this year, with the service to go live in 2018.

AirAsia is currently one of the leading airline customers for Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband service and will upgrade to GX Aviation, the world’s first inflight broadband solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator.

AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, “Travelers today expect fast, reliable broadband wherever they are, whether it’s on the ground or 30,000 feet in the air. GX Aviation’s market-leading capabilities represent a step-change in inflight connectivity that allows us to close the gap between the on-ground and on-board experience.

“Our guests will be able to enjoy extra fast internet connectivity as well as free movies, music, articles and games on our ROKKI IFEC platform. Not only that, they can shop for meals, merchandise and duty-free from the comfort of their own seats, which also allow us to better understand what our guests want so we can continue to improve on our inflight offering.”

Inmarsat Aviation President Leo Mondale said, “GX Aviation is now live and operational, introducing an unprecedented new era of inflight broadband for passengers. We are delighted that a hugely respected and successful low-cost carrier such as AirAsia has selected it.

“GX Aviation’s global and consistent performance provides AirAsia Group with the commercial flexibility needed to quickly deploy the service on routes across Asia, the Middle East and Australia. Inmarsat and AirAsia share many of the same traits and this preliminary agreement is not only great news for our partnership, but importantly, it’s a truly exciting development for their passengers too.”

Hamburg, DE | April 4, 2017– Air Caraïbes and its sister French Blue, France’s first-ever low-cost, long-haul airline, have appointed SITAONAIR to make next-gen inflight connectivity a reality across their fleets.

Trusted connected aircraft service expert, SITAONAIR, has been selected to deliver a nose-to-tail inflight connectivity solution to the Groupe Dubreuil airlines over GX Aviation’s high-speed broadband network – SITAONAIR’s first European customers to adopt it. It will enable pioneering Air Caraïbes and French Blue to advance digitally transformative cabin connectivity services with SITAONAIR’s key cabin solution, Internet ONAIR.

SITAONAIR will ensure global coverage, as well as a consistent and reliable service on the airlines’ long-haul flights between Paris, the French Caribbean and La Réunion. In doing so, it will enable the airlines to establish future-proof end-to-end connectivity services that meet growing passenger and operational data demands.

With Internet ONAIR, the airlines will be empowered to give passengers a personalized, interactive internet connection, akin to a public hotspot on the ground. Its advertising platform also supports a top priority for French Blue – of enriching customer relationships with tailored offers to passengers, as with its current live SKYDeals online shopping promotion, and generating revenue through advertising.

With its iZivision portal, supported by the high speed broadband connectivity over GX Aviation, Air Caraïbes will offer passengers free innovative services like post cards and selfies to share with their friends and family, as well as position-sharing during the flight.

Marc Rochet, President and CEO of Air Caraïbes and French Blue, says: “By launching French Blue, our vision is to provide a modern, effective, low-cost, long-range airline, with top-quality inflight connectivity, to satisfy passengers’ needs and wants, particularly of the millennial traveller, which will further enhance what we can offer them.

“Choosing SITAONAIR to deliver this, with its ONAIR applications, was natural to us. We are excited about the opportunities digital transformation presents, and have already enjoyed success with a trial of Internet ONAIR on our flights. SITAONAIR brings a respected level of service and expertise to the table, and we look forward to reaping the benefits of this partnership.”

David Lavorel, SITAONAIR CEO, explains: “It is an honour for SITAONAIR to be chosen by Air Caraïbes and French Blue to finally deliver the reality of high speed inflight broadband connectivity on their A330 and A350 aircraft.

“Of course, we know that enabling GX Aviation on these airlines will be a huge step in itself. Establishing our key Internet ONAIR service on board will take this even further. With us, Groupe Dubreuil will be equipped to harness the true value of inflight connectivity to meet the demands of the modern connected traveller and boost passenger and crew experience, operational efficiencies, and even ancillary revenues.”

For more information and to discover the full SITAONAIR connected aircraft product and service range, visit www.sitaonair.aero

First of all, we want to thank the entire AIX Staff and Team for an impressive show in Hamburg and it looks to be the largest IFEC show on record. Needless to say this translates to being the largest exposition IFExpress has ever had to cover, with the exception of CES in Las Vegas, and true to form, we just managed to touch on all the IFEC vendors but we didn’t have the opportunity to visit the seat vendors or many of the other interesting exhibits outside of the IFEC Zone! With over 100 IFEC booths filling the B2, B3, and B4 (upper and lower) halls (not to mention the other 600+ aircraft/airline/catering/whatever related booths), we were swamped and equally impressed. While the market may be changing, the suppliers list has been growing and we suspect that a product sub grouping will be an eventual booth inevitability – connectivity, seat IFE, etc. The good news – this one show will cover virtually every IFEC need, and it is also the bad news because of the sheer volume!

Hats off to AIX for putting on a remarkable trade fair and there is frankly more information there than anywhere – period. They even published and distributed a “Route Planner” before the expo but, as one attendee told IFExpress, “It’s a mindblower!”

Editor’s Note: We have to say that this show is really enormous and next year, visitors need to plot out their show stops because there is just too much to see and discover in three days. We strongly appreciate the Aircraft Interiors efforts to locate related booths in a common section(s) like the IFEC Zone but many visitors want to see the other sides of airplane businesses so they will have to plan accordingly.)

Unfortunately show data was unavailable from our sources by the time we went to press – next week maybe?

TRENDS
While the IFEC shows are not the best place to discover the future of the industry, it does provide an excellent opportunity to view the technology growth in the marketplace and it does give a glimpse of the future market trends. We believe the following categories are areas to watch for industry change:

1- IFEC Sales
In general, the aviation industry is growing, as are the businesses supporting the many sides of the process such as connectivity and wireless solutions. But while growth was seen at the show, it would be wise to keep your eye on the aircraft sales as they are an indicator of the IFEC sales (not deliveries). For example, while IFEC deliveries may be at a very high place today because of current deliveries, aircraft sales are in a downhill slide and it might be wise to watch them with a consideration to the impact on IFEC!

Airbus  2013: 1503/626*  2014: 1456/629   2015: 1080/635  2016: 731/668    2017: 6/136

Boeing  2013: 1355/628   2014: 1432/723    2015: 768/762    2016: 688/748    2017: 183/169

* The data in the table is categorized as Orders/Deliveries

As a former IFEC CEO recently told IFExpress, “The industry changes we are seeing may be an inflection point.With aircraft sales dropping off, IFEC may follow suit.” And we at IFExpress could not agree more.

Lastly, IFExpress should note that the airplane sales picture has always been sinusoidal in nature – in other words – at the correct market moment it will regain and grow as both the Boeing Future Market Outlook and Airbus Global Market Forecast suggest. The question is when.

2- Recent Personnel Changes
Watch out for an increase in layoffs, as well as, product refocusing as IFEC companies see the competition escalate. We anticipate several IFEC vendors to shift their product focus to other cabin products and services, with correlating changes and/or shifting of personnel to compensate. Rockwell, Panasonic, and Thales are at the beginning of this “inflection point” and it was evident at the show that they all were organizing their product and service offerings to be less vertical and more horizontal nature. For example, Rockwell Collins has pulled back from their seat centric and overhead IFE offering, while focusing on connectivity in the cabin. The horizontal aspect of the company’s strategy started with their acquisition of ARINC several years ago which has allowed them to infiltrate and expand the airport side of the passenger equation. Additionally, their acquisition of BEAerospace, which is still in the throws of final approval by the board, is another example of this horizontal trend. Ironically, if the BEA deal goes through Rockwell Collins will virtually touch every point within the passenger cabin, and flight deck, with the exception of an inseat IFE system.

3- IFE Product Sales Changes
One item talked about at the show was the shift toward connectivity used on the aircraft which, in some cases, has caused the removal or non purchase of in-seat display screens. Let’s face it, we all are carrying 1, 2, 3, or even 4 devices with screens on each flight today. In fact, the IFExpress team each toted 3 PEDs for our trip to Hamburg. Whether they were used for email, work, entertainment, or telephony is irrelevant… they were in our carry-ons. As more folks carry devices, there may be less need for an LCD/LED screen embedded in the seatback – but this is not a new discussion. We should also note that with improved technology comes at a cost. Frequently, when we encounter advancements in hardware technologies there will be correlating costs affiliated with said advancements: increased weight and added certification efforts/cost increases immediately come to mind; for example, the added cost and weight of satcom equipment and its various certification requirements and their affiliated costs. By no means does this indicate that advancements in hardware technologies and/or communication are not justifiable, especially when other services and information may be sent via broadband – think operations data – and how in the long run this information could facilitate airline efficiencies which will reduce costs to the operator in the future. Perhaps this is why every IFEC hardware provider we interviewed discussed expanding their data services.

4- Narrow-body Market Growth
The folks at Reportlinker (Market Research) note: “The narrow body segment is estimated to constitute the largest market share. By aircraft type, the narrow body segment of the inflight entertainment (IFE) market is estimated to have constituted the largest share in 2016. Increase in demand by regional airliners is one of the driving factors for narrow body aircraft segment, globally. According to Boeing Outlook 2016, the global fleet size of narrow body aircraft is 14,870. The Asia-Pacific region and North America have the largest fleet of narrow body aircraft, with 4,540 and 4,010 aircraft respectively. By the end of 2035, the global fleet size of narrow body aircraft is expected to reach 32,280. The number of narrow body aircraft deliveries from 2016 to 2035 is expected to be 28,140, of which the Asia-Pacific region is expected to account for almost 39.65% of the total expected deliveries by 2035”. The short story here is that not only will single aisle planes flourish, the result of the “sweet spot” in the middle market (200 – 300 pax) will see a lot of growth as well. But, the question is, what IFEC products will win application? Obviously connectivity will be a “big deal”, we think a lightweight, limited wiring IFE system could be a winner as well.

5- DATA
Obviously, big data will be the winner on all sorts of IFEC solutions because you can do more with it and when wireless technology is brought into the mix, it will win with weight reduction too. Hey, you rely on data, so the plane will have to supply it as well. But more importantly data backbones are the “must have” for the next airplanes and IFEC will probably be taking advantage of those features as needed or required by the manufacturers. In talking to all vendors, data solutions were the words to hear as they preached some clever solutions that will deliver more IFEC system data storage and processor additions, faster system data distribution, and wireless solutions that we will cover in future issues. We should probably also note that many of the vendors are looking at broader data solutions that will include the ground forwarding of information like navigation, system performance and status, and even information that is contained on the plane beyond IFEC, but in most cases, is not involved in aircraft flight for performance that will require extensive certification and security checking. A further data value might include the transmission of operational data that would help reduce costs – like navigation recommendations to avoid weather, system hardware information for product removal and repair, and even passenger hardware status for content updating and even passenger preference data. One thing is for sure, inflight data updating will fill all the available unused bandwidth!

6- SEAT POWER
We saw a a number of inseat power solutions that will eventually provide plug in power USB-C at the seatback. With personal devices becoming the passenger “device of choice”, inseat power is not far behind.

We got in an interesting quote from John Courtright/SIE that puts a few final pieces in place – he said: We are approaching the point, and perhaps have already passed the point in the IFEC market where connectivity service revenues will exceed IFE hardware revenues. Hardware will become a means-to-an-end and connectivity service revenues will drive the market, both from the passenger branding perspective but also from the operational perspective. This industry revenue model will drive much more applications development for the thin-client handhelds as well as network and data link optimization to push more data (and revenues) through the system.” Well said!

And finally, IFExpress will cover many of the products and services we saw at the show in the forthcoming weeks and we hope our readers will get a better view of the future technology and efforts the vendors are bringing to the market. Stay Tuned!

Shanghai, China | April 11, 2017– Rockwell Collins has signed a reseller agreement with Beijing Marine Communication and Navigation Company, Limited (MCN) to provide broadband satellite connectivity services to its ARINCDirect customers in mainland China. ARINCDirect is a leading value added reseller of satellite connectivity services globally.

“This agreement with MCN provides a great foundation for giving business jet operators in China access to our full suite of satellite services,” said David Stanley, vice president, ARINCDirect Cabin Services for Rockwell Collins. “The Chinese business aviation industry is still in a relatively early stage of development. As the demand for connectivity increases, we will deliver an experience to passengers in-flight that’s as seamless as they have in their home and office environments.”

“We are committed to ensuring that China has access to the latest connectivity technology,” said Song Zhen, vice president of Sales & Marketing for MCN. “This relationship will enable our business aviation operators to have access to the fastest cabin communications available.”

ARINCDirect provides the most comprehensive flight support services for business aviation including global flight planning regional and international trip support, cabin connectivity and flight operations management.

Completes funding for nationwide deployment of the patented
SmartSky 4G LTE air-to-ground network later this year

Charlotte, N.C. | March 28, 2017– SmartSky Networks, LLC (“SmartSky”) announces the closing of over $170 million in a multi-tranche Series B financing, completing the equity funding for the deployment of its nationwide network. With this financing, the Company has raised approximately a quarter of a billion dollars in equity capital. Goldman, Sachs & Co. acted as exclusive placement agent on the transaction.

SmartSky is deploying the nation’s first 4G LTE-based broadband high speed wireless air-to-ground data network dedicated to providing airborne internet connectivity. At aviation industry conferences and in private meetings, SmartSky has conducted inflight demonstrations allowing partners and flight departments to experience a level of connectivity fully comparable to the internet experience in their office or home – a first for the industry. The nationwide network rollout is underway, with the vast majority of sites expected to be operational this fall.

“We are pleased to have accomplished the threshold technical and business milestones needed to close on this major capital formation step,” said Chairman and CEO Haynes Griffin. “As a result, we are moving rapidly with the deployment of our coast-to-coast national network to bring users fast, seamless connectivity in the air.”

Griffin added, “A significant number of customers joined our Early Bird waiting list to secure their spot at the head of the line. SmartSky and its partners have already begun the process of obtaining a Supplemental Type Certification (STC) needed for installation on each aircraft model type. We expect Early Bird customer installs of our patented technology to commence next quarter, immediately following completion of the first few STCs.”

A veteran of the telecommunications industry and past president of the Cellular Telephone Industry Association, Griffin, who has built cellular networks in locations across the United States, commented “Cellular has built out everywhere. Now it’s time to build up.”

IAG the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling will be first to offer this game changing in-flight broadband solution, reinforcing the success of Inmarsat’s aviation strategy

United Kingdom | March 8, 2017–
Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, today announced International Airlines Group (IAG) as the launch customer for its European Aviation Network (EAN) high-speed in-flight broadband service, which Inmarsat will jointly operate with its partner Deutsche Telekom. This contract is a flagship achievement in Inmarsat’s strategy to revolutionise the onboard experience for airline passengers with purpose-built next-generation connectivity solutions.

EAN allows European passengers to use their personal devices for internet browsing, video streaming, gaming and other online services, with unmatched high capacity, low-latency performance. EAN’s robust and ultra compact technology makes it uniquely qualified for the European airspace, where aircraft size, flight density and frequent aircraft manoeuvring are challenging to broadband satellite-only systems.

EAN is the first solution in the world to integrate connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and a complementary LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom.

IAG plans to equip in excess of 300 aircraft with EAN and aims to have 90% of its short haul fleet complete by early 2019.

Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “The rollout of our European Aviation Network, which we are building together with our partner Deutsche Telekom, is progressing at full pace and today’s contract signing with IAG as our launch customer has reinforced once again how Inmarsat’s aviation strategy is coming together.

“Passenger demand for in-flight broadband has never been stronger and Inmarsat’s cutting-edge technology will remain the market’s gold standard for a long time to come. We look forward to rolling out this ground-breaking service with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, four of the most iconic brands in commercial aviation.”

Stephen Spengler, Intelsat’s Chief Executive Officer, to Join Kymeta’s Board of Directors

Luxembourg, Seattle, WA and Washington DC | March 7, 2017– After achieving critical development milestones for the mTennaTM antennas combined with the introduction of KĀLOTM services, Intelsat, (NYSE: I) operator of the world’s first Globalized Network, announced today that it has acquired an equity stake in Kymeta.  Additionally, it was announced that Stephen Spengler, Intelsat’s Chief Executive Officer, has joined Kymeta’s board of directors.

Stephen Spengler, Intelsat’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Intelsat is developing and supporting the innovative new technologies that will unlock new applications for our sector.  The demand for fast, reliable broadband connectivity requires innovation in-orbit and across the entire satellite ecosystem to unlock new growth opportunities.  Our partnership with Kymeta provides a real game changer and a high performance, cost-effective alternative for the industry. As noted by our increased equity stake, we value our partnership with Kymeta and look forward to capturing exciting opportunities in fast growing new vertical markets together.”

Voice and data links to the flight deck via satellite provide time savings for passengers and reduce environmental impact of air travel, according to new Helios study

March 7, 2017– Satellite communication (satcom) in the cockpit has saved airlines more than US$3 billion thanks to safety and efficiency benefits, according to a study released today by Helios and Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications.

Satcom is the use of voice and data services via satellite to communicate with aircraft outside the range of conventional ground radar and Very High Frequency (VHF) stations, such as over oceanic regions. It is typically used for air traffic control and airline operations. The inaugural study, conducted by Helios, valued the benefit of satcom to airlines between 2001 and 2016.

It found that one single Air Traffic Control (ATC) benefit mechanism – reducing separation minima, which allows aircraft to fly closer together safely – was responsible for savings of US$890 million alone. Thanks to satcom, planes can now fly within 30 nautical miles of each other because of safe, reliable communication and tracking; previously aircraft were required to maintain a separation of 100 nautical miles. This allows aircraft to fly closer together and means more planes can fly in a given airspace, which is particularly beneficial over the busy skies of the North Atlantic. If an aircraft is not equipped with satellite communication capability, it must maintain the 100 nautical mile separation, and is not permitted to fly in certain areas.

Increasing airspace capacity also leads to more aircraft being able to choose optimum flight levels, saving time and fuel.

The US$890 million saving is a major part of the US$1.1 billion total ATC saving identified by the study. Other benefits that satcom provides to ATC include:

  • Individually-tailored flight plans that save time and fuel
  • Dynamic Airborne Reroute Procedure, which allows airborne rerouting of aircraft when data indicates a more efficient route is available, for example due to a change in weather conditions
  • Tailored arrivals, where arrival times are planned to allow an ideal descent route and to avoid holding patterns
  • Procedures in some oceanic regions to allow aircraft to climb or descend through an altitude that is already occupied by another aircraft

A further US$1.9 billion is saved thanks to the ability of aircraft to communicate with their Airline Operations Centre (AOC). AOC applications use real-time information to help airlines improve flight safety or provide a more efficient service at a lower cost. Delay management and scheduling is improved, fleets and flight crew can be better managed, maintenance can be taken care of and turnaround time on the ground is reduced.

Traditionally AOC communication is provided by the exchange of simple text messages between the pilot and the controller. As satcom bandwidth capacity increases, bringing broadband connectivity to the cockpit, there will be an explosion of IP-based AOC applications, allowing airlines to further optimise flight operations and fleet management. For example, an aircraft’s health can be constantly monitored, and any maintenance issue signaled ahead to the ground crew so parts and maintenance staff are ready as soon as the aircraft lands. Until now, most maintenance information was delivered upon landing, with potential for delaying speedy resolution of an issue.

Broadband connectivity will also help with urgent ATC demands, as our skies see ever more traffic. By 2030, there will be more passengers in the sky each year (7 billion) than there are people on the ground right now. They will fly in 40,000 aircraft, the majority of which will be connected.

The Helios study looked at benefits over oceanic regions, but it also highlights how satcom can complement existing ground-to-air data communications over land too. Savings over continental regions could equal those over the oceanic regions. For example, in the congested airspace of Europe, the Iris Precursor project has been established by the European Space Agency with support from Inmarsat and other aviation companies. It uses satcom to allow precise ‘4D’ flight path control, which optimises flight speed and descent profiles. It is designed to dramatically reduce delays, particularly around large hubs.

Nick McFarlane, Managing Director at Helios, said: “This is the first time that the benefits of satellite communication have been quantified and the results are impressive. The technology has already delivered huge benefits to the industry and emerging applications mean the trend is set to continue, in fact it is set to accelerate.”

Captain Mary McMillan, Vice President of Safety and Operational Services at Inmarsat Aviation, said: “This study shows how satellite communication has already done so much to improve the safety and efficiency of the skies. With the arrival of IP-based applications and new data-hungry cockpits, secured satcom enables cloud-computing and sensor fusion and delivers a step-change in critical safety data, as well as improved operational performance of today’s fleets. The potential to enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel is unlimited.”

Inmarsat pioneered cockpit data with the launch of Classic Aero back in 1990 and is today the leading service provide with 95 per cent market share. SwiftBroadband-Safety, its new IP-based broadband platform for the flight deck,brings aircraft connectivity to new levels. Always-on, always-secure high-speed broadband in the cockpit delivers much faster communication and a host of new safety and efficiency applications.

Turkey |December 27, 2016– (MENAFN Press) Turkish Airlines has selected Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) advanced eX1 inflight entertainment and communications (IFEC) system and Global Communication Services for its new fleet of narrow body aircraft.

eX1 solution is an advanced narrowbody IFE system. Its uncompromising industrial design, high-definition display technologies and high fidelity audio create a home theater atmosphere that draws passengers into an immersive entertainment experience.

The system will include Panasonic’s unique Passenger Data Integration (PDI) service, which will allow Turkish Airlines to add higher levels of personalization to its inflight experience. PDI will also allow Turkish Airlines to seamlessly recognize the travel preferences of their guests and recommend content, services and specific amenities that will enhance their experience both in flight and in their destination city.
PDI will leverage a custom-designed Companion App that will enable passengers to securely pair their mobile device to the IFEC system and personalize and enhance their entertainment experience through capabilities that include custom playlists and a second screen environment.

The onboard experience will also include high-speed, global Wi-Fi and multiple channels of live television, enabled by Panasonic’s Global Communications Services. It is the only worldwide inflight connectivity service operating in every country in the world today. Turkish Airlines passengers will be able to use the service to remain connected to their friends, families, co-workers though high speed access to the Internet, social media platforms, corporate VPN networks and more. Passengers will also receive Live Text News customized for Turkish Airlines by Anadolu Agency (AA), a leading Turkish News Agency.

The television service, which is unique to Turkish Airlines will feature TRT World Turkish News Channel — a new channel from Turkey’s national public broadcaster, TRT, which broadcasts balanced, in-depth reporting with a focus on global responsibility. It will also offer eight additional global channels including Sport 24. Sport 24, which is owne and operated by IMG, offers live coverage of the world’s most popular sporting events. In 2016, the channel showed live action from the Rio 2016 Olympics Games, Premier League, NFL, UEFA Champions League, NBA, Tennis Grand Slams, Bundesliga, Golf Majors, MotoGP and the Ryder Cup. Panasonic Avionics is the only authorized distributor of Sport 24 to the air transport market.

Turkish Airlines’ new state-of-the-art inflight entertainment, global high-speed Wi-Fi and live television services will be available on 92 Airbus A321 NEOs-ACF, 65 Boeing 737 MAX 8s and 10 Boeing 737 MAX 9s. As part of the contract, Turkish Airlines has the option to equip the last 45 aircraft with its own direct affiliate’s IFE system, pending line fit offer ability.
As part of the strategic partnership agreement, Panasonic will establish a Media Center and creative services team at Istanbul’s new airport until the first operation in this airport takes place, which will service Turkish Airlines exclusively. The facility is designed to fulfill the airline’s content and software needs with racks to support media, interactive development and applications.

M. lker Ayc, Chairman of the Board and the Executive Committee of Turkish Airlines, said: “We needed a solution which is not only capable of providing a reliable system, but also able to truly immerse inflight experience to our passengers. With this additional support of Panasonic Avionics we will continue to offer the seamless flight experience to our valued passengers. The personalized interface designed for an optimal viewing experience combined with the industry’s largest library of games, audio, and video is what made eX1 a proper decision for our flag carrier in this regard.”

Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, added: “Our partnership with Turkish Airlines is a long term, strategic relationship. We are thrilled to extend our investment with both Turkish Airlines and the Turkish economy, and we look forward to having a close collaboration with them on the products and services that will help in supporting them achieve their 2023 objectives.”

  • Initial installations already completed for latest airline customer from Lufthansa Group

United Kingdom | December 22, 2016– Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, announced today that Eurowings is the latest airline from the Lufthansa Group to select its advanced new GX for Aviation in-flight broadband solution.

GX for Aviation will initially be equipped on 69 Airbus A320 family aircraft from the Eurowings fleet, with the option to add additional aircraft. The first installations have already been completed by Lufthansa Technik and testing is scheduled to commence in the New Year. All aircraft covered in this agreement are expected to be fitted out by the middle of 2017.

Eurowings will be the first low-cost carrier to offer GX for Aviation, the world’s only in-flight connectivity solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator. The service allows passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more, with connectivity on par with broadband on the ground.

In addition, Inmarsat’s GX for Aviation service will be integrated with the existing in-flight entertainment system based on Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect platform.

The contract is part of a 10-year strategic agreement between Inmarsat and the Lufthansa Group, which included the selection of GX for Aviation for Lufthansa’s European continental fleet of over 180 aircraft. The ground-breaking service will also be deployed on more than 30 Austrian Airlines’ aircraft from the Airbus A320 family, with installation and testing currently underway. Inmarsat partner Deutsche Telekom will be the Internet Service Provider for Eurowings passengers.

Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “This contract is the perfect way to close an incredible year for Inmarsat Aviation, with GX for Aviation going live and being selected by some of the world’s leading airlines. We look forward to working with Eurowings as our latest airline customer from the Lufthansa Group and the first low-cost carrier that will offer GX for Aviation.

“Airline passengers want to be connected and Eurowings recognises the commercial benefits of committing to GX for Aviation. It is the only high-speed in-flight broadband solution with uninterrupted global coverage powered by a single operator. Our global satellite infrastructure offers a seamless service, allowing us to provide high quality connectivity whenever and wherever it’s needed, even over Europe, the world’s busiest air traffic space.”

Oliver Wagner, CEO of Eurowings, said: “Eurowings has always been one of the industry’s technology leaders: We are the first low-cost airline to offer our passengers a leading in-flight entertainment system paired with broadband Internet. So the cooperation with Inmarsat Aviation regarding Internet access is a logical conclusion: technically speaking, the company currently provides the most innovative and most powerful solution available. Our customers can soon look forward to high-speed Internet on-board our aircraft.”

Eurowings will connect to the GX network using exclusive new JetWave terminals produced by Honeywell Aerospace. The terminals are designed for ease of installation and maintenance to assure the lowest downtime for any cabin connectivity solution in the market, allowing installation with minimal labour and using standard tools available in maintenance hangars.

Telefonix PDT:

Telefonix PDT(TM) announced that they now have an STC for  Boeing 737NG – 700, 800 & 900 aircraft types for both the CabinPinnacle(TM) server and CabinACe(TM)wireless access point. The STC was just awarded prior to APEX in Singapore, and we understand that Kaiser Charter was the first installation completed in October. This STC represents the first phase of certifications and it is our understanding that phase 2 will include the CabinEdge(TM) content loader. The content loader works while the aircraft is in service and data is trickled, loading into shadow memory, and eventually ending up in the operational memory as the update is installed. Telefonix PDT is also working on garnering a similar STC for the A320 aircraft family. The STC/PMA was strategically planned to grow the company’s customer base for the 737 in the Asia region. The airlines have the data rights to use the system, with the hardware being sold, not leased. Lest you forget, Telefonix(TM) has had a long standing relationship with production in China; and, in 2017, the company has plans to establish a repair station in China, in addition to their current repair station in Waukegan, Illinois. One point that was stressed in our interview at APEX was that Telefonix PDT is not just an equipment provider, but a design and engineering services provider as well. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress has watched Telefonix PDT grow over the past 20+ years and we feel that they have developed excellent, low-cost IFE system components and the China relationships, as well as their involvement with many hardware manufactures within the industry, is proof of this. You should watch this company in the coming year – we think they are going to grow!)


Industry News:

  • Panasonic

Have you heard about the Panasonic Blog? We asked Panasonic how it came about and here is what a spokesperson said: “Matthias Walter and Estel Carbo worked very hard on this and have a plan that we thinks helps give more insights into the IFEC landscape.” Matthias Walther, Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing at Panasonic Avionics said, “Marketing these days has many facets. Hard sales has its place in marketing too but in an industry as relationship-driven as ours it’s essential to engage in a dialog that is more about education than promotion, more about solutions than product and more about value than price. Of course we will occasionally talk about us and what we bring to the table but only if we and what we write adds value to the daily lives of our customers will our blog be successful.”  Noted Panasonic: “One of the business principles of Panasonic’s founder Knosuke Matsushita describes customer focus always trumping sales concerns. In that spirit our blog intends to drive knowledge, our relationship with our customers and the quality of decision making in one direction, UP. Check it out here.

Panasonic Weather Solution

Panasonic Avionics Corporation and Safety Line unveiled a strategic partnership that will enable airlines to benefit from significant fuel savings. Panasonic Weather Solutions (PWS) provides Safety Line with enhanced global weather forecast through real-time weather data collection from its TAMDAR sensors and FlightLink Iridium system. TAMDAR data provides observations of wind, temperature, and moisture every five seconds as TAMDAR-equipped aircraft descend and ascend at nearly 300 airports across North America. It also collects about 3,500 profiles each day from several hundred additional airports located in East Asia, the Pacific, and Europe. This data is used by Panasonic’s Forecasting Center of Excellence (FCoE), which develops detailed station-based weather forecasting, as well as enhanced weather forecasting. The process is fully automated from the weather live feed to flight plan analysis and climb schedule issuance to the pilot. Airlines can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 percent during ascent thanks to OptiClimb’s unique patented solution, which uses a combination of machine learning performance models for each individual aircraft, and the computing of optimized climb profiles issued ahead of each flight.

Also check this link The Connected Aircraft (Part I) – Curating the Internet of Me – UP – Panasonic Avionics Blog if you want to know a bit more about the connected aircraft.

  • Inmarsat

We should note that Hawaiian Airlines has experienced the benefits of SwiftBroadband-Safety delivered through Cobham advanced AVIATOR avionics and has now chosen to expand its commitment to high speed broadband in the flight deck with its A321neo. But to see the features that are provided, you must check out this Inmarsat Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System feature download – this is the future of aviation safety and you need to check it out!

  • Boeing

The FAA issued a new rule that forces Boeing 787 operators to periodically shut down and restart airplane power that reboots onboard computers to overcome a glitch that shuts down flight control computers during flight! Finding and fixing this “inconsistency” will be very, very interesting. Stay Tuned!

  • Satellite 2017

Be a part of the world’s largest gathering of the international satellite community. Taking place in Washington, D.C. March 6-9, 2017 the SATELLITE 2017 Conference and Exhibition don’t miss this opportunity to hear from executive speakers from commercial airlines, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Air Force!

  • THE ‘Donald’

Donald Trump says the new Air Force One contract should be cancelled! Perhaps Airbus will make a better offer? Then Boeing put this news release out – Boeing Statement on Air Force One – Dec 6, 2016 Or, you might want to read the following story from Gizmodo – beware there are x-rated words, so watch out!

  • Other

If you have been wondering where IoT and cloud computing are going, one answer is ‘physically portable data’. This is going to be one of the markets of the next generation cloud because of security and access as large (and now medium) data portability and cloud interaction become involved. We suspect that the airlines will see value in this if hacking gets any worse Amazon Cloud Gets A Bit More Hybrid  This just may be one futures of the medium and big data cloud storage and security.

In-Flight hook-ups now supported with AirDates “This is achieved using Multipeer WiFi between smartphones, eliminating the need to rely upon the Plane’s WiFi network or other connection.” Check it out here –  but you might need the Trusted Contacts app as well.


Quick Study: Millennials

While in Singapore, we heard one word over and over – millennial- so we thought after the show we would do the research on who they are and why they are so important to some industries. While this quick bit of data is just a speed read, we think the answers are telling and important to IFEC, especially C (Communications).

First what is a millennial? It is a person ‘reaching young adulthood around the year 2000’ the dictionary said.  Noted Goldman Sachs: “The Millennial generation is the largest in US history and as they reach their prime working and spending years, their impact on the economy is going to be huge. Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization and economic disruption. That’s given them a different set of behaviors and experiences than their parents.They have been slower to marry and move out on their own, and have shown different attitudes to ownership that have helped spawn what’s being called a ‘sharing economy.’ They’re also the first generation of digital natives, and their affinity for technology helps shape how they shop. They are used to instant access to price comparisons, product information and peer reviews.” Further, a company called iGR interviewed and surveyed millennials to get their views on communication and technology and here is what they said: “As the largest and highly communication-tech-savy generation; they are at the epicenter of our curiosity to drive decision-making for the next wave of innovation in infrastructure. Take note! The most successful service providers over the next 5-10 years will be those who best understand the emerging generations communication behavior, accurately anticipate core service wants and needs, proactively adapt and adjust business strategies, and finally, provide the most relevant solutions and services.” That about says it all and explains why the word ‘millennial’ was so popular in Singapore, especially with those who dealt with communications, connectivity, and cost!

  • Performance and Ease of Accessibility Offered by First Intelsat EpicNG Satellite Enable Gogo to Begin Immediate Delivery of Improved Infight Wi-Fi for Passengers

Luxembourg | November 17, 2016– Intelsat (NYSE: I), operator of the world’s first Globalized Network, powered by its leading satellite backbone, announced that Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), the global leader in providing broadband connectivity solutions and wireless entertainment to the aviation industry, has signed an agreement for services on the Intelsat 29e satellite.

Gogo will use high-throughput services from the first satellite in the global Intelsat EpicNG network to deliver inflight Wi-Fi service to passenger airplanes operating in the heavily traveled North Atlantic route. The connectivity provided by Intelsat 29e, which began operations earlier this year, will deliver bridge services for Gogo until Intelsat 32e becomes operational in 2017. Intelsat is also providing Gogo with IntelsatOne managed services via its Mountainside, Maryland teleport.

In March 2016, Gogo signed an agreement for Intelsat to deliver next generation in-flight connectivity services via multi-layered Ku-band services on the Intelsat EpicNG satellites combined with OneWeb’s planned low earth orbit satellite constellation. Coverage will include high-performance connectivity provided by Intelsat 32e, Intelsat 33e and Horizons 3e.

“The performance of the Intelsat EpicNG satellites demonstrates the value of high-throughput satellite technology,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “When factoring in the ease of integration to Intelsat EpicNG services, we opted to begin services with Intelsat 29e immediately and transition to Intelsat 32e when it becomes operational. We look forward to expanding our reach as more Intelsat EpicNG satellites become available.”

Intelsat 33e will expand Gogo’s services across Europe, the Middle East and Asia when it begins service in the first quarter of 2017 at 60° East, and the Horizons 3e spacecraft will create a true global HTS service for Gogo when it begins operations over the Asia-Pacific region in 2018.

“Intelsat is delivering on the promise of HTS with Intelsat EpicNG, with a unique design that provides immediate improvement in performance of up to 165 percent,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler. “Customers are easily transitioning to the platform, validating our backwards-compatible, open-architecture design, and this enables Gogo to begin delivering broadband-enabled inflight Wi-Fi services in the North Atlantic today. We’re proving every day that the higher performance, improved economics and simplified access delivered by Intelsat EpicNG position aeronautical service providers to rapidly scale networks on a global basis, while staying ahead of explosive data-performance requirements.”

Before we get into more Singapore IFEC stuff we wanted to mention that next year’s APEX EXPO 2017 will be held on September 25 – 28 in Long Beach, CA USA. Check out the APEX website for more info. Now, on to APEX in Singapore:

Panasonic
While this year’s Panasonic booth was a blend of the “Cool Room” and the regular product displays, they were showing new products and solutions for the IFEC crowd. And finally, we got a communication focus on the application of advertising with the launch of Captify Inflight Marketing and advertising services. Captify, which is an advanced inflight marketing platform delivers all the key features needed by airlines, their external partners and paying advertisers. Since the platform comprises the software tools and support teams that power the largest inflight marketing solution in the world – reaching 1.3 billion travelers a year! Here is the big deal – Captify enables airlines to target by seat class, route, device, language, and passenger data. With no changes to on-board media, it can increase or decrease ad loads, cap the frequency of marketing campaigns, and deliver detailed usage data in real-time. This allows airlines to optimize promotions for a wide range of optional services, partnerships, loyalty programs, and paid advertising all within a compelling passenger experience.
The platform delivers video, native display, and sponsorship options for high-impact, fraud-free marketing with best-in-class targeting and results. Using this information, Captify helps airlines and their marketing and sales partners learn more about their customers by bringing together all the passenger and behavioral data, so airlines can gain intelligence and inform business or service strategies. Captify is built to fit any airline’s business model, with access for internal marketers, external sales teams, and ongoing trafficking and testing support from Panasonic. The full-service platform includes ground-side tools for scheduling and analytics of marketing campaigns; air-side servers and APIs to integrate with any aircraft’s inflight entertainment or connectivity systems; plus Panasonic’s dedicated service teams working hand-in-hand with airlines partners, media agencies, and content providers.
Next, Panasonic Global Communications (Panasonic), A Division of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, and Newtec – a specialist in designing, developing and manufacturing equipment and technologies for satellite communications – unveiled a new, high bandwidth satellite modem, which offers Panasonic customers twenty times the bandwidth of Panasonic’s current solution. Versions of this new modem will be available across Panasonic’s mobility markets including air transport, business aviation, maritime, cruise ships, mega yachts, and river cruises. Developed in partnership, the new modem is capable of exceeding 400 Mbps, and it can scale to meet the evolving needs of airlines and their passengers by facilitating the increasing bandwidth coming on stream over the next two years as High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) and Extreme-Throughput Satellite (XTSTM) services continue to be layered over Panasonic’s existing global network. This will expand network capacity from 2,300 MHz today to 15,000+ MHz by 2017.
The next-generation modem includes three demodulators for seamless beam switching and simultaneous data and video reception and is also part of the Newtec Dialog® multiservice platform, which supports a wide range of verticals, including aviation and maritime. Featuring the award-winning dynamic bandwidth allocation Mx-DMA®, it combines the efficiency of SCPC with the dynamic bandwidth allocation capabilities of TDMA to deliver up to 300 percent more data than legacy Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) systems. Here’s the deal: By making a satcom beam narrower, Newtec delivers more power, and thus, use the full 150 MHz carrier. You remember Shannons theorem, right? This way they use a full 150MHz carrier – three times wider than Panasonic’s existing Ku-band systems. Very cool and speedy solution.
Lastly, we found Panasonic’s ZeroTouch service – it’s a unique and innovative service that simultaneously gives airlines real-time visibility into performance, improves the efficiency of its maintenance operations and also enables data transfer of passenger-facing content to an aircraft to improve the passenger experience. Panasonic’s ZeroTouch service will reduce an airline’s need to physically touch the aircraft because all interactions are managed through a virtual dashboard. By providing access to real-time passenger data, software, media and content updates can be data-driven, helping to deliver a relevant and personalized passenger experience. Updates will be sent to an aircraft via three high-speed pipes – Wi-Fi at the gate, aircraft cell modem, or even in flight using Panasonic’s global broadband eXConnect service. Paul Margis, CEO of Panasonic Avionics, said: “As an industry leader and trusted partner for over 35 years, Panasonic understands the infrastructure and support airlines require. Our data-driven, real-time ZeroTouch service combines all areas of our in-house expertise to help airlines maximize the efficiencies of their business and reduce their operational expenses.”

Rockwell Collins
An announcement at the show caught us a little off guard – “Rockwell Collins to acquire B/E Aerospace for $8.3 billion in total consideration”, so we asked the RC Team about the deal but because it was so new it was a bit too early to get reliable report answers for our readers. The release went on to say, “Expected to generate run-rate pre-tax cost synergies of approximately $160 million. Transformative transaction accelerates growth and strengthens Rockwell Collins’ position as a leading supplier of cockpit and cabin solutions. “Double-digit accretive to earnings per share in first full fiscal year with expected combined five-year free cash flow generation in excess of $6 billion”, and “Diversifies and balances portfolio across OEM, airline and aftermarket.” Further it went on: “The transaction combines Rockwell Collins’ capabilities in flight deck avionics, cabin electronics, mission communications, simulation and training, and information management systems with B/E Aerospace’s range of cabin interior products, which include seating, food and beverage preparation and storage equipment, lighting and oxygen systems, and modular galley and lavatory systems for commercial airliners and business jets. The acquisition significantly increases Rockwell Collins’ scale and diversifies its product portfolio, customer mix and geographic presence. On a pro forma basis, Rockwell Collins would have nearly 30,000 employees, $8.1 billion in revenues and $1.9 billion in EBITDA for the twelve months ending September 30, 2016.”
The story is probably like this: A lot of Rockwell Collins aviation earnings, including IFEC, vary greatly through the year and in many cases, IFEC may be down, while seating may be a hot item. This solution gives Rockwell a very well respected company to deliver another set of aviation products that they did not have. It also makes them a ‘nose-to-tail’ provider within that giant metal tube. And who knows, the integration of BEA into RC, may just further provide individual and combined sales products and events!

INMARSAT
One of the “big deals” in Singapore was Inmarsat, as they launched their GX Aviation inflight connectivity solution while there. GX operates at Ka-band, and unlike other solutions available today GX for Aviation is uniquely engineered to meet the needs of airlines and their passengers. Generally speaking, the higher the frequency the more bandwidth you can get out of the system, and the more bandwidth, the more users and the larger the data rates – bigger is definitely better in connectivity! The highly efficient Ka-band spot beams provide a foundation layer of global coverage designed specifically to serve high-speed users. But global coverage is only part of the story. GX offers the flexibility to add and redirect bandwidth where airlines need it most, across hub and traffic hotspots. And as demand inevitably grows, so will GX capacity, future-proofing airlines choice today. Imagine a cell network and since each satellite has 80 cells, the flexible cell approach allows the satcom receivers to hand over signals from one to another if one cell is overloaded (done today with L-band too). This is a big deal.
As we noted earlier, the GX Ka-band service is now live and Inmarsat will provide its advanced new GX for Aviation in-flight broadband solution to Austrian Airlines’ continental aircraft fleet under a new, recently announced contract. The Ka-band spot beams are extremely efficient and provide a foundation layer of global coverage specifically designed to serve a high-speed mobile audience. More than 30 Airbus A320 family aircraft from Austrian Airlines’ fleet will be equipped with GX for Aviation. We understand that the new service will allow the airline’s passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more, with service levels on par with broadband connectivity available on the ground. We should note that the first installation and testing onboard Austrian Airlines aircraft is currently underway.
Also in the GX world, Honeywell and Boeing have recently signed a technical services agreement to develop technologies for the next generation of high-speed, in-flight wireless connectivity. The two companies will jointly research, test and develop the avionics hardware, software and potential aviation services that will utilize Inmarsat’s GX Ka-band satellites. The move addresses passengers’ increasing demands for faster, more reliable in-flight connectivity on smartphones, tablets and laptops.
(Editor’s Note: We can’t leave the Inmarsat story without reporting on their incredible booth in Singapore. It basically used virtual reality to tell visitors about 10 – 15 potential applications for the GX service from Inmarsat via VR headsets. First you are fitted with the headset and told that once in the viewing room, users could focus their headsets on the logo of one of the 10 – 15 potential areas of interest: ground connectivity, inflight operation, destination information and so on. Once a connection was established with the VR headset; the viewer was presented with a short audio/video scenario. Very clever and hopefully it will be at a future show!)

RUMORS/PREDICTIONS

  • We expect to see more consolidation from mid-level vendors before AIX and it is happening NOW!

INTERESTING NEWS
Here’s a new one, or at least one we have not seen: Latitude Aero is having a Warehouse Liquidation Sale on A319 seating…  “All reasonable offers accepted” – Check it out!

· ViaSat Gains Connected Aircraft Software, Wireless In-flight Entertainment, Mobile Applications and Airline Document Management Expertise
· Arconics Brings A Complementary Set of Existing Commercial Airline Customers, Including Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Among Others

Carlsbad, CA and Dublin, Ireland | November 14, 2016– ViaSat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global broadband services and technology company, today announced it acquired Arconics, an innovative provider of software solutions to the aviation industry. Through this acquisition ViaSat gains broader expertise, aviation-grade software and mobile applications to make flying safer and more efficient for pilots, cabin crews and flight operations teams as well as applications that make entertaining passengers and opening new service and revenue opportunities for airlines possible.

The Arconics connected aircraft software platform enables the Arconics App Suite, which spans wireless In-flight Entertainment (IFE), Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), Airline Document Management and Cabin Management solutions, to communicate and share data with the aircraft and, using available connectivity, to connect with ground systems across mobile or avionics platforms. Today, tens of thousands of pilots, ground staff and cabin crew members across five continents depend on Arconics software to safely and efficiently operate their fleets. Airline customers include: Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Philippine Airlines, Tigerair Australia, SpiceJet and others.

“By acquiring Arconics, we are bolstering our ability to serve the global aviation market,” said Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, Commercial Mobility business, ViaSat. “We believe combining our strengths with Arconics will position ViaSat to be the market leader for connectivity, passenger services and flight deck applications and operations.”

Prior to the acquisition, Arconics had a partnership with ViaSat, primarily focused on serving the wireless IFE needs of multiple airline customers. Post-acquisition, ViaSat expects to also offer airlines real-time insight, control and agility of aircraft and flight data with highly-integrated, highly-customizable aircraft operations tools that tap into the power of ViaSat’s advanced high capacity Ka-band satellite network, which has more capacity in orbit than any other in-flight WiFi provider.

“ViaSat offers Arconics a strategic match – both culturally and technologically,” said Arconics Chief Executive Officer Niall O’Sullivan. “We know ViaSat well, having partnered with them on a number of opportunities to deliver our world-class CloudStore wireless IFE product. Together, we believe the complementary nature of the technologies and products of Arconics and ViaSat will enhance the combined company’s ability to deliver exceptional end-to-end experiences across the entire aircraft value-chain.”

In connection with the acquisition, ViaSat establishes a presence in Dublin, Ireland, and will continue to build its operations in Sydney, Australia. More than 30 Arconics team members with both technical and business expertise will join ViaSat, including Niall O’Sullivan. IBI Corporate Finance advised Arconics on the transaction. The transaction is not expected to materially affect ViaSat non-GAAP (pro forma) earnings for fiscal year 2017. However, ViaSat has not completed its valuation analysis and, accordingly, has not determined the impact to GAAP earnings.

  • New agreement is part of Inmarsat’s cooperation with Lufthansa Group

United Kingdom | November 11, 2016– Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, will provide its advanced new GX for Aviation in-flight broadband solution to Austrian Airlines’ continental aircraft fleet under a landmark new contract announced today.

More than 30 Airbus A320 family aircraft from Austrian Airlines’ fleet will be equipped with GX for Aviation, the world’s first in-flight connectivity solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator. The advanced new service will allow the airline’s passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more, with service levels on par with broadband connectivity available on the ground.

The first installation and testing onboard Austrian Airlines aircraft is currently underway.

The Austrian Airlines contract is part of a 10-year strategic agreement announced last year between Inmarsat and the Lufthansa Group, which included the selection of GX for Aviation for Lufthansa’s European continental fleet of over 150 aircraft. The service recently went live under a ‘soft launch’ phase on selected aircraft with Lufthansa and commercial passenger services are expected to start with the airline soon.

Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “We are delighted to welcome Austrian Airlines as our latest GX for Aviation customer. This announcement is particularly special for us, as it comes soon after we unveiled that the service is now live after five years of development.

“For too long, airline passengers have struggled with either substandard or non-existent connectivity onboard their flights. GX for Aviation marks an important turning point. Broadband services are now available in the sky, so you can browse the internet, stream videos, download files, check and update your social media, just as you have been doing on the ground. Our airline customers understand that service differentiators such as high-speed broadband on flights are key to meeting the expectations of today’s passengers and therefore strengthening their position in a highly competitive market.”