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(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!)
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.
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!
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!
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:
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.”
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!
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!)
- We expect to see more consolidation from mid-level vendors before AIX and it is happening NOW!
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.”
California | November 1, 2016– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ: ENT) today announced the start of a commercial trial of inflight connectivity and entertainment services on an Air China Boeing 777 aircraft. The commercial trial follows a successful technical trial and will be conducted in partnership with Air China, China Unicom and China Satcom under license from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).
GEE’s Airconnect Global™ system transforms the flying experience by adding high-value, high-interest connectivity services to internet access. GEE’s solution will provide Air China passengers with fast and reliable broadband internet service. The ground-breaking trial also will include an Air China-branded entertainment portal with live streaming of three Chinese-language television stations, video on demand with Hollywood and Chinese content, games and destination guides. This trial is the first in China to offer full-cabin television streaming and is an important milestone in GEE’s Chinese growth program, which includes investments in local personnel, engineering and software development resources, innovative new revenue generating services, relationships with Chinese media and advertising firms, and teleports.
“A fully connected experience is increasingly becoming a top priority among travelers in China who want to stay informed and entertained throughout their flights,” stated Zhang Yun, GM of Products and Services for Air China. “Air China believes that innovative connectivity services will be important generators of value for our passengers and our airline. The rich media content supports our long-term plan for broader connectivity deployment.”
“Air China’s choice of GEE as its partner in these important trials demonstrates our unique technical and commercial strengths in the Chinese market,” said Dave Davis, Chief Executive Officer for GEE. “Success in the B777 trial will lay the groundwork for future cooperation between Air China and GEE, and will place GEE undeniably at the forefront of deep, broad inflight internet and entertainment capabilities for the Chinese market.”
- Zodiac Inflight Innovation (Zii) is becoming a force in the world of IFEC 45 airline customers, over 550 aircraft in service, and over 650 aircraft in committed backlog
Singapore | October 24, 2016– Zodiac Inflight Innovations (Zii – a Zodiac Aerospace company) has in the past six months secured well over 200 new RAVE AVOD IFE systems to equip commercial aircraft, four new A350 customers, 150 committed B737Max aircraft, their first A380 customer as well as over 200 Global Express Connectivity equipped aircraft committed with the first installation scheduled early in 2017.
Zodiac Inflight Innovations is quietly becoming a force in the world of IFEC. Zii first hit the IFE scene with their revolutionary new Seat Centric IFE system in 2011 and just five years later they are growing with over 45 airline customers, over 550 aircraft in service, and over 650 aircraft in committed backlog.
Zii has added to their basic AVOD system (“RAVE Centric”) a wireless IFE system (RAVE Wireless) and a line fit Ka-band connectivity system (RAVE Broadband) that is available on all Airbus platforms including the A350 XWB and A380. Today, Zii is able to offer airlines a complete IFEC solution complete with all of the advanced features including 2nd screen applications and a truly personalized experience for passengers. Zii is line fit on the Airbus A320, A330, A380 and A350 and is working to become line fit on Boeing aircraft and is adding standard seat pairings with all of the major seat suppliers.
“We like to think of ourselves as different and disruptive” says Larry Girard, Executive Vice President for Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “We are disruptive by design; our seat centric architecture has fewer LRU’s, it’s simple to operate and maintain with unprecedented availability and no dark flights – ever. Coupled with a common software platform and standard parts, we are commercially disruptive as well.”
Zii has this year added an aftermarket support package to round out their portfolio of products. With RAVE Care, an airline can tailor a support package to its specific needs for a fixed price per month per aircraft. RAVE Care can include everything that an airline needs to maintain and operate their IFE systems, including spares, repairs, customer abuse and even content integration. Included in RAVE Care is a software guarantee that means airlines never have to worry about the cost of updating their Passenger User Interface and features over the lifetime of the system.
“Our RAVE systems are much easier to maintain than traditional IFE systems which allows airlines to maintain their own aircraft without the added expense of paying a traditional IFE provider for support” says Matt Smith, CEO for Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “Zii is a company that is different by design; our focus is always on putting our customers first. We want to be a company that Airlines want to work with; customer focused and innovation driven, we relentlessly pursue our core value of RAVE – Reliable, Affordable and Very Easy. It’s more than a name, it’s who we are.”
And their operational performance seems to bear this out. Zii’s on-time delivery and repair turnaround time performance is over 99%. The RAVE system reliability is over 99.5% and we are told that commercially RAVE is the most affordable system on the market today
Singapore | October 26, 2016– Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, today announced that its Value Added Reseller, Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL), has been awarded a significant contract by a leading short and long-haul European airline for Inmarsat’s new ‘GX for Aviation’ service.
The agreement, which builds on and extends Inmarsat’s 20-plus-year partnership with Rockwell Collins, is currently expected to be for in excess of 125 aircraft. It will see the aerospace solutions provider’s PAVES™ wireless in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) solution being installed onboard the airline’s new fleet.
Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “GX for Aviation is the only in-flight broadband solution that is fast, reliable and truly consistent, with seamless coverage across the world provided by a single operator. We are delighted that our partner Rockwell Collins has secured this significant commitment by a major European airline and look forward to working together on the service rollout.”
Ken Schreder, Vice President, Strategic Programs at Rockwell Collins, said: “We are redefining the connected aviation ecosystem by enabling world-class passenger connectivity and enhanced airline operations in partnership with Inmarsat Aviation. Our vision is of connectivity-enabled aircraft operating as secure nodes on an airline’s enterprise IT infrastructure.”
GX for Aviation is the world’s first in-flight connectivity solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator. It allows airline passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights, with an onboard connectivity experience on par with broadband services available on the ground.
Other airline customers of the game-changing solution include Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.
- Why the industry should embrace open systems development and unlock digital service innovation for airlines
October 2016– The first inflight connectivity revolution is already well advanced. Airlines are investing heavily in the latest satellite broadband and connectivity technologies in order to meet growing passenger expectations for fast, reliable and consistent Wi-Fi digital services on any aircraft, anywhere in the world.
But how will this develop? SITAONAIR, the world-leader in developing inflight connectivity solutions, has unique experience and perspective.
Going forward, we believe services should be provided consistently on every frequency band with an open architecture – ushering in the second inflight connectivity revolution.
- Advanced global in-flight connectivity solution goes live onboard selected flights, allowing passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more
Singapore | October 25, 2016– Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, today announced that its next generation in-flight broadband service, GX for Aviation, has gone live under a ‘soft launch’ phase with Lufthansa.
The landmark achievement was unveiled during an evening reception organised by Inmarsat for airlines, partners and the media at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, where the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) is currently hosting its prestigious annual exhibition.
GX for Aviation is the world’s first in-flight connectivity solution with reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage provided through a single operator. It allows airline passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights, with an onboard connectivity experience on par with broadband services available on the ground.
Lufthansa will commence commercial passenger services with GX for Aviation next month. Other customers of the game-changing solution include Singapore Airlines and Air Astana.
Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “After several years of detailed planning and development, this is the moment that Inmarsat, and indeed the global aviation industry, has been waiting for. GX for Aviation is now live and offering unparalleled in-flight broadband to passengers. We have moved from systems integration and testing to rolling out the most robust and comprehensive global connectivity solution for airlines across the world.
“GX for Aviation is not a patchwork solution. Our customers are not subject to the intermittent services and handover issues experienced by other providers. Billions of dollars and years of engineering have been invested to ensure that GX for Aviation delivers a solution that is not just robust, but transformative. Passengers using GX for Aviation will have on-the-ground levels of connectivity and uninterrupted access to the applications they use day-to-day, including email, web browsing, social media, video and music streaming, and online shopping, among others.”
Inmarsat was awarded a contract in October 2015 to provide in-flight connectivity services for passengers onboard Lufthansa’s European continental fleet of more than 150 aircraft. The contract formalised the start of a 10-year strategic partnership between Lufthansa Group and Inmarsat, and provided a framework to extend the service to other airline brands in the Group.
The go-live of GX for Aviation follows a successful cooperation with Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Systems, which together with Inmarsat have started the process of installing the broadband solution’s hardware and software on selected aircraft in the Lufthansa fleet.
Airlines will connect to the GX network using advanced new JetWave terminals produced by Inmarsat partner Honeywell Aerospace, with over 300 aircraft already committed to the system and more to come. The exclusive 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.
Chicago, IL | October 25, 2016– Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), the global leader in providing broadband connectivity solutions and wireless entertainment to the aviation industry, and Phasor, a developer of innovative, modular, electronically steerable antennas (ESAs), have announced a research and development partnership for application of their technology to the in-flight connectivity market.
“Gogo is committed to offering our aviation partners a roadmap for the future that will bring the most bandwidth at lower costs to the aero market,” said Gogo’s president and CEO, Michael Small. “Whether it’s satellite advancements, new modem technologies or best in class antenna technologies, our focus is on what’s best for aviation, and Phasor is developing ground-breaking satellite antenna innovations for the aero market.”
Phasor’s very low profile, electronically-steerable antenna products are based on well-established semiconductor fabrication techniques, and enable signal tracking with no moving parts. The antenna architecture is inherently modular, which allows the system to be scaled to various sizes and dimensions depending on the demands of the application, making this antenna technology particularly attractive for smaller aircraft.
“Gogo is a technology leader in the in-flight connectivity market, and we are very pleased to partner with them so that together we may address the burgeoning demand for communications in the aeronautical broadband sector”, said David Helfgott, CEO of Phasor. “Phasor’s breakthrough technology is powerful and flexible and can therefore facilitate multiple in-flight connectivity applications. We look forward to working closely with the Gogo team to better serve this important and growing market.”
The world of in-flight connectivity and entertainment is undergoing a bit of a growth phase as service providers and IFEC vendors improve and consolidate their focus on more entertainment and more planes, and in some cases, more markets. Last year the acquisition of ITC Global (maritime, mining, and energy markets) by Panasonic was the lead-in to today’s recent announcement of a purchase. Now, GEE, an airline content and satcom hardware service provider (over 200 airline customers), announced the acquisition of a $550-million, broad-based content and service provider, Emerging Markets Communication (EMC). EMC is primarily a maritime service provider that has high penetration in that market as well as Cruise ships (158,000 cabins), yachts (7,500 boats), commercial shipping/O&G (130,000 ships), UN & NGO, as well as, telco solutions. We note here that the consolidation of these mobility markets, and the desire to operate across wider and more diverse service segments, shows a collaboration trend in the satcom connectivity market and it underlies the increase in demand for connectivity and entertainment services by people, places and businesses everywhere. As they note, the deal “leverages complimentary products, technologies, and service offerings across air, sea, and land verticals to drive growth!”
Of course, we are really talking about three items here – Content, Connectivity and Mission Critical Service solutions. From a growth point of view, by 2021 the market will be worth some $5.4 B and one source noted to us that “…the key players in the market follow the strategy of acquisition and mergers and are focused towards entering into strategic partnerships with regional players in order to strengthen their position in the market.” It makes sense.
Specifically, in our story GEE is in the middle of this growth segment and is expanding their market now with a maritime focus in the acquisition of EMC, who has a strong market position there. From a global point of view, the acquisition of EMC provides GEE with complete worldwide connectivity that is supported by GEE’s existing Ku coverage as well as that of EMC. In addition, there is some C-Band coverage by EMC in the deal, resulting in an impressive chart.
The folks at GEE have acquired nine companies since its formation some three years ago. This acquisition is by far their biggest to date and will allow GEE to gain a foothold in the maritime market where growth will no doubt be exhibited.
IFExpress asked a few questions of Kevin Trosian, SVP Development & IR, and he told IFExpress:
1. Since you have purchased a “connected” company, does GEE see selling their content to the 8 EMC existing markets (Yachts, Energy, Cruise & Ferries, commercial shipping, mobile networks, government, UN, NGO’s and Global Enterprise)?
Yes, we believe there is a large opportunity for live and streaming content in the maritime and mobility verticals, and GEE’s digital media team has already worked with EMC for many years to jointly provide content to the maritime market. We see this a great opportunity for us to use our strong relationships with studios around the world to expand distribution into these markets.
GEE had previously provided TV and VOD products to EMC, including a number of live television channels, so this is not a new market for us. We have already obtained maritime rights from certain studios and/or distributors and are in the process of acquiring more. Ultimately we believe our combined knowledge of the market and relationships will enable us to leverage our strength in content for the maritime market for further growth of our media platform.
2. Can you tell us how big the existing market is?
The maritime and land-based connectivity and media markets in which we now compete are a multi-billion dollar opportunity. There is an available market of approximately 158,000 cruise cabins, 7,500 yachts and 130,000 ships.
3. Today, what countries have the 20 or so ground stations mentioned by EMC? Does EMC own them?
For this question, please see our Worldwide Infrastructure chart. In addition, through the acquisition we now have operations at 3 teleport facilities, including New Jersey, Hawaii and Germany.
4. This purchase looks like a prefect fit for GEE to grow and provide entertainment to the existing EMC service sections, can someone at GEE comment on that issue?
Please see 1 above.
5. Obviously the market is one reason GEE bought them; however, is there more to the story than that?
Yes, we believe there is a significant number of synergies that can be realized with the integration of the two companies. Through the integration, the company expects to realize synergies of $15 million in 2017, growing to $40 million in 2018 and thereafter. Synergies will primarily result from network efficiencies, including the ability to optimize bandwidth costs through a consolidation of existing network assets, including space segment and ground infrastructure, as well as, better capacity utilization.
6. From a company integration point of view, will EMC function pretty much as they do today? Will their information portfolio be enlarged by GEE’s entertainment content?
Yes, EMC will function in a fairly similar manner, but we will be integrating the companies into a single platform. The EMC team built a great foundation in an adjacent market to GEE’s traditional aviation market. We’re looking to leverage what they have accomplished and continue to build on that, such as by providing more media to the maritime market.
7. We gather that GEE has been looking for more markets for their content, why did they not just provide the content to companies like EMC and not go the distance to purchase one? What is the driving reason here?
There were multiple reasons for the acquisition, and the ability to sell content was only one of them. We see significant opportunities within the connectivity businesses of both companies, including the ability to improve satellite capacity utilization. Further, by expanding into new markets, we believe our scale will improve efficiencies and the overall customer experience.
8. Will the EMC management and operations function pretty much as they do today or will there be management changes and new ways of doing business?
We’ve announced the new verticals (see below from the Press Release) and the Business Unit leaders.
- Dave Davis will continue to lead GEE as CEO.
- Abel Avellan, founder and CEO of EMC, will serve as President and Chief Strategy Officer of GEE.
- As part of the transaction, ABRY Partners, EMC’s largest shareholder, has a right to nominate a director to GEE’s board.
In conjunction with the transaction close, GEE has established three operational business units.
- The Media Business Unit delivers films and television shows, live TV, music, games and other content to aviation and maritime customers, including approximately 6,500 aircraft and many cruise ships currently served by GEE. Other products include digital and streaming media offerings such as the Airtime Content-to-Go application and the Entice streaming media system. Wale Adepoju will lead the Media Business Unit as Executive Vice President of Media. Previously, Wale served as Chief Commercial Officer of GEE.
- The Aviation Business Unit serves commercial airlines and private aviation using GEE’s proprietary Airconnect GlobalTM connectivity platform, which is currently installed on nearly 750 aircraft worldwide. The Business Unit also provides Navaero electronic flight bag (EFB) data interfaces and powered mounting systems, which are in place on nearly 4,000 aircraft today, as well as masFlight operational data analytics services. Joshua Marks, who previously led GEE’s Operations Solutions team, will lead the Aviation Business Unit as Executive Vice President of Aviation.
- The Maritime and Land Business Unit delivers connectivity and mission critical services to cruise and ferry lines, yachts, commercial shippers and land-based users such as non-governmental organizations and mobile network operators. Through this transaction, GEE has acquired a strong maritime customer base, serving over 1,500 vessels and 100,000 cruise ship cabins. In addition to overseeing certain corporate functions at GEE, Abel Avellan will lead the Maritime and Land Business Unit.
9. What does GEE bring to the party besides entertainment content? Will their airline solutions effect EMC’s products/solutions differently or much the same? If differently, how so?
GEE delivers worldwide connectivity to the aviation market and is the largest content and media provider for the broader mobility market. GEE brings an unparalleled portfolio of products and services tailored to mobility markets, including global connectivity, media content in 47 languages, live television, travel and entertainment apps, user interface platforms and data capture and operations analytics tools. We will also be bringing some of EMC’s proprietary and patented technologies, such as Speednet, to the aviation market.
- Combined, we bring:
A global sales force and support organization that reaches all major mobility verticals including aviation, maritime energy and remote locations;
- A satellite and ground-based network infrastructure that can provide customers connectivity and media across multiple frequency bands anywhere in the world;
- Proprietary, patented technologies that enhance the connected traveler’s user experience and reduce costs across market verticals;
- A diversified revenue base with over 400 customers, balanced between media and connectivity with over half of all revenue coming from international markets; and
- Engineering, technical and managerial resources to effectively drive new product development, program management, product maintenance and field support.
10. How big is EMC and is there a new structure to come?
We haven’t discussed management structure beyond the senior leaders, which can be found in the press release (attached). EMC had approximately 450 employees located worldwide.
Note: Finally, IFExpress talked with many people about the acquisition and there was a great difference of opinion on on the subject and other issues as well. All we can say is keep your eye on a few factors that may (or may not) affect the future of GEE: Southwest Airlines, Ku/Ka Band airline preferences, Universal lawsuit results, marine market entertainment take-up, traveler personal device and entertainment demand. Stay Tuned.
Lastly, we would like to thank Jenelle Benoit of GEE for all the assistance bringing this story to press!
Rockwell Collins today announced that China Eastern Airlines selected its Iridium® SATCOM aftermarket solution for its fleet of more than 100 Boeing 737 aircraft. Installations are currently in progress. The voice and data communications solution, installed via a Boeing service bulletin for Next-Generation Boeing 737s, will enable reliable long-range global voice communications, flight tracking and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS). The solution is also capable of enabling Future Airspace Navigation System (FANS) for airlines that need it for their operations.
Carlsbad, CA | July 25, 2016– The United States Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) awarded ViaSat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global broadband services and technology company, a non-competitive, firm-fixed-price contract to provide senior leaders and their support staff with global in-flight broadband and communications services. The award covers support for VC-25s, C-17s, C-32s, C-37s, C-40s and the complete range of VIP and special air mission aircraft.
The ViaSat in-flight internet service has been recognized industry-wide for delivering high-quality, reliable and fast in-flight internet service. As noted by ViaSat, the service enables “a Situation Room in the Sky” experience – with the ability to use the in-flight broadband connection to stream full-motion high-definition video for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), en-route Command and Control (C2) and Search and Rescue (S&R) missions; maintain two-way communications through HD video conference calling or voice over internet protocol calls; access real-time intelligence and other location-based, live-sensor data for critical decision-making and more.
“ViaSat’s high-capacity global in-flight internet service ensures executive and government leaders and their teams can stay connected, informed and productive, maximizing the effectiveness of time in-flight with ‘Situation Room and Command Center’ connectivity in the sky,” said Ken Peterman, senior vice president and general manager, Government Systems Division, ViaSat. “This award is a significant accomplishment and we are proud to be delivering remarkably fast data speeds and an abundance of capacity to support the in-flight communications needs of our government’s senior leadership on Air Force One and other special air mission aircraft.”
ViaSat believes a key enabler to delivering this global in-flight broadband connectivity is that it offers a field-proven, certified, hybrid Ku-/Ka-band system, which will keep government aircraft connected to ViaSat’s best available satellite network. The hybrid terminal and radome enables automatic in-flight network switching across Ku- and Ka-band satellite networks for an advanced “global roaming capability.”
According to DISA, the face value of this award is $33,052,330 funded by fiscal 2016 operations and maintenance funding. The total cumulative face value of the contract is $73,217,722. The synopsis/notice of intent was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities webpage. The period of performance is June 1, 2016, through May 31, 2017, with two six-month option periods. The Defense Information Technology Contracting Organization, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, is the contracting activity.
- Agreement includes production aircraft and extensive retrofit program
Lake Forest, CA | July 14, 2016– China Eastern Airlines has increased its commitment to Panasonic Avionics’ (Panasonic) for global broadband connectivity services to 84 total aircraft.
The leading Chinese carrier, which, in partnership with China Telecom Satellite, was the first to offer broadband Wi-Fi connectivity on flights over Chinese airspace, and this agreement strengthens its long-term relationship with Panasonic.
The extended agreement – following the announcement of 20 Boeing 777-300ERs last November – includes 35 line-fit aircraft with and an extensive retrofit program covering an additional 49 aircraft.
Aircraft types included in the agreement are:
- One B737-800 (retrofit)
- Four B767-300 (retrofit)
- Two B767-300ER (retrofit)
- 20 B777-300 (line-fit)
- 31 A330-200 (retrofit)
- 11 A330-300 (retrofit)
- 15 A330-300 (line-fit)
Panasonic’s Global Communications Services are available across China and on over 99.6 per cent of all air traffic routes. It is the only global, broadband inflight connectivity service operating in every country in the world today and will enable China Eastern passengers to access the Internet, use email and log onto their favourite social media sites while on board.
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “We have been helping China Eastern Airlines offer connected flights since November 2015 and remain the only provider operating over China today. Passengers increasingly expect the availability of reliable broadband Wi-Fi around the world and the roll out of this service across the China Eastern fleet will enable it to provide a connected service for its passengers”.
Zhang Chi, Deputy Director of China Eastern Airlines’ Transformation Office says: “China Eastern Airlines is committed to transforming the inflight experience for our passengers. We are constantly working with partners to discover new ways to engage passengers and to maximise the benefits of the connected aircraft. We look forward to the continued development of this extremely exciting service with the team at Panasonic Avionics.”
Panasonic Avionics’ eXConnect uses the company’s global Ku-band satellite network to deliver broadband connectivity to aircraft flying all over the world – even over oceans.
- New Agreement Enables American to Increase Passenger Engagement and Optimize Customers’ Onboard Wi-Fi Experiences with a Proven, Scalable Internet Platform
- ViaSat Already Recognized as the Fastest, Best Performing In-flight Internet System, Delivering Highest Quality Streaming Video and Media Experiences to Every Connected Passenger Device on the Plane
Carlsbad, CA |June 3, 2016– American Airlines (NASDAQ: AAL) has selected ViaSat Inc. (NASDAQ: VSAT), a global broadband services and technology company, to outfit its new Boeing 737 MAX fleet with ViaSat’s in-flight internet service. The ViaSat in-flight internet service has been recognized with multiple industry awards for delivering the best performing, highest-quality and fastest in-flight internet experience. The service encourages higher passenger engagement per plane by offering an ‘at home’ internet experience when in-flight – with the ability to stream movies, videos, television and music, as well as surf the web, upload pictures to social media, email large files and more.
The new American planes will tap into the power of ViaSat’s advanced high capacity Ka-band satellite system, which will include ViaSat-1, ViaSat-2 and ViaSat-3 satellite platforms, and has more capacity in orbit than any other in-flight Wi-Fi provider. American will leverage ViaSat’s first two generation satellite platforms, which together provide more capacity than all of the commercial satellites over North America combined. When the first ViaSat-3 class satellite platform launches in 2019, it will more than double the capacity again. With its capacity-rich satellite platforms, ViaSat is able to deliver the fastest, highest quality in-flight internet service to each connected device on a plane.
“Our satellite bandwidth enables an ’at home’ internet experience that can serve everyone on the plane – and empowers innovative business models for airlines and their passengers,” said Mark Dankberg, ViaSat chairman and CEO. “We are delighted and honored to have the opportunity to work with American Airlines and help fulfill their goal of delivering the best in-flight Wi-Fi experience throughout their fleet. We believe we are now approaching the end of an era where passengers have paid very high prices for very slow connections. Our agreement highlights a significant initial step for American to deliver an onboard Wi-Fi experience every passenger will want to use.”
As an internet service provider, ViaSat already serves nearly 700,000 residential and business users with high-speed, high-quality satellite internet. The ViaSat network is also the key to supporting thousands of simultaneously connected aircraft, each with dozens to hundreds of connected devices.
Melbourne, Florida | May 31, 2016– Satcom Direct was the first business aviation distribution partner to prove its services and transmit data over Inmarsat’s new Ka-band Global Xpress network via the Inmarsat-5 F-1, F-2 and F-3 satellites. Now, it is the first to activate Jet ConneX service for business aviation customers.
Jet ConneX is the high-speed broadband service for business aviation that operates over Inmarsat’s new Global Xpress (GX) constellation. Now available to customers, it delivers a new standard for satellite communications, supporting high data rate applications in flight, including streaming videos and holding video calls. The service is initially available on new aircraft manufactured by Jet ConneX-ready OEM partners.
Satcom Direct (SD) was the first to prove Jet ConneX services over the entire GX network. Now, not only can it provision and activate Jet ConneX aboard new aircraft, its proprietary solutions enhance the Ka-band technology and optimize the service to deliver unmatched performance in the air. SD proprietary technologies manage and maximize bandwidth, improve voice call quality, enable use of personal devices, and more – providing a better Jet ConneX experience for SD customers than is available with other providers. And, all customers receive SD’s 24/7 world-class support.
“We are proud to be the first to make Jet ConneX available to customers. This is an unprecedented opportunity for Jet ConneX-ready aircraft operators to take advantage of the
fastest data speeds available to business aviation,” said David Greenhill, President of SD.
“We congratulate Satcom Direct on this exciting milestone. Jet ConneX is transforming in-flight connectivity for the business aviation industry, offering a reliable, high-speed and global service with Committed Information Rates (CIRs) in all coverage areas, which is an important differentiator in the market,” said Kurt Weidemeyer, Inmarsat VP Business Aviation.
SD is also an authorized GX value added reseller for U.S. government aviation and enterprise markets.
Chicago, IL | May 20, 2016– Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), the global leader in providing broadband connectivity solutions and wireless entertainment to the aviation industry, announced today that it has partnered with aerospace software specialist PACE to connect PACEs’ Pacelab Flight Profile Optimizer – the leading flight optimization application.
Pacelab Flight Profile Optimizer is a unique decision support tool developed for a pilot’s electronic flight bag (EFB) that’s designed to continuously evaluate numerous flight data metrics thus optimizing flight paths for maximum efficiency. Under this partnership, the Pacelab Flight Profile Optimizer application will be connected in real time so a pilot will be able to adapt to changing conditions while in flight to reduce fuel burn and to improve ontime performance.
This partnership is another example of the value of the connected aircraft and the benefit of having access to real time data and information while in flight.
“By partnering with PACE, we establish a direct relationship to help market and integrate with each other’s products while accelerating speed to market and providing a clear path for adoption of this valuable fuel savings tool into airline operations,” said Andrew Kemmetmueller, Gogo’s vice president of connected aircraft services. “Gogo continues to move beyond the passenger connectivity arena and is rapidly enabling the era of the connected aircraft.”
“En-route flight profile optimization enables flight crews to unlock substantial additional fuel savings,” said Oliver Kranz, PACE’s managing partner. “Many airlines have yet to realize the full potential of the connected EFB, and our partnership with Gogo highlights this attractive business case.”
London, UK | May 12, 2016– IMG is to launch a second live sports channel for the inflight market to complement its Sport 24 channel – the only 24/7 live sports channel produced exclusively for airlines.
Sport 24 Extra will launch on June 1st 2016, and take advantage of the premium live sport available in order to provide passengers with a choice of live events during busy periods in the sporting calendar.
The new channel is an extension of the exclusive relationship between Panasonic and IMG for the provision of Sport 24 and demonstrates both companies commitment to delivering an unrivalled inflight sports experience. Sport 24 is the world’s only live 24/7 sports channel for the airline industry and already broadcasts Barclays Premier League, Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League, Formula 1™, NBA, NFL, Ryder Cup, golf majors and tennis grand slams.
Roll out of Sport 24 Extra will begin on Emirates and Turkish Airlines, with other carriers to follow. Sport 24 is currently available across 11 airlines.
Richard Wise, SVP at IMG Media, said: “IMG’s ongoing collaboration with our partners at Panasonic enabled us to develop Sport 24 Extra which meets the growing desire of passengers wanting to see more premium live sport on airlines. We have such an outstanding portfolio of premium sport and the new channel will enable passengers to select from top events taking place at the same time.”
David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communications Services at Panasonic Avionics, said: “Sport never stops and neither do Panasonic and IMG. We’re bringing a constantly improving and evolving inflight experience. The launch of the Sport 24 Extra channel reinforces the importance we place on enhancing the in-flight experience for passengers all over the world through continued innovation.”
Panasonic’s eXTV television network uses the company’s eXConnect in-flight Ku-band communications service, including the same Ku antenna and onboard components, to deliver high-quality, television programming to passengers during their flight. It provides live, uninterrupted content to aircraft flying all over the world, even over oceans.
Chicago, IL | May 4, 2016– Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), the global leader in providing broadband connectivity solutions and wireless entertainment to the aviation industry, announced today that Delta Air Lines has increased its commitment to Gogo’s industry leading in-flight connectivity technology – 2Ku. This increases Delta’s total number of 2Ku committed aircraft to more than 600.
“Delta customers have expressed an interest in their time in the air being as productive as their time on the ground, and 2Ku satellite offers a vastly upgraded in-flight Wi-Fi experience,” said Tim Mapes, Delta’s Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “By committing to more aircraft with 2Ku technology, we’re providing Delta customers with faster and more reliable in-flight connectivity as a part of Delta’s commitment to always delivering the industry’s best on-board services.”
“With 2Ku, Delta will be able to deliver a better inflight experience to its passengers wherever they fly around the world,” said Jon Cobin, Gogo’s Executive Vice President, Global Airline Business Group. “We know how important it is to Delta to bring this technology to passengers and we plan on getting it deployed on these aircraft as soon as possible.”
Gogo’s 2Ku technology is designed to be open so it’s compatible with multiple satellite networks, which means the technology will be upgradeable over time without having to touch the aircraft. This flexibility will help ensure Delta is future ready and ahead of the curve from a technology perspective.
2Ku installations have already started on the 737-800 and A319 fleets, and additional Delta fleets will be retrofitted with the new system. Delta will operate more than 35 aircraft with 2Ku by the end of 2016.