As you probably know, the Paris Air Show begins next week and there will be a few IFEC folks in the crowd. We have heard from Latitude Aero, Astronics, Thales, and Panasonic just to name a few. We shall see what IFEC news comes about but we thought that there are a number of other issues that deserve watching, and because it is an air show, we will start with a few notes on what to watch from Boeing and Airbus:

  • We anticipate Boeing will launch the Boeing 737-10 MAX at the show. While not the anticipated MoM plane, it carries up to 232 passengers and has a max range of 3,800 nautical miles (N M). We also expect to see the Boeing 737-9 (now under flight tests) there for viewing.
  • The big question is: Will Boeing Launch the New Middle Airplane, the Boeing 797 – and we think the answer is yes. Between the Boeing 737 MAX and the Boeing 787, the range and passenger requirements for the new middle aircraft market is coming alive in the near future and this plane will carry some 220 to 270 passengers and cover 4,800 – 5,000 nautical miles.
  • You should expect to see the Boeing 787-10 at this year’s show as it was introduced in the 2013 Paris Air Show. With 330 passengers in a two-class configuration, the aircraft will fly some 6,300 N M. And, yes, it is a twin-aisle aircraft.
  • While not announced as a product yet, expect to see more on the Airbus 350-2000. This aircraft is a potential competitor to the Boeing 777-9X. While Airbus has questioned the market for a bigger (400+ seat market), IFExpress doesn’t expect to see much more than a stretch with range reduction of the -1000.
  • The Airbus A330neo will probably not be at the Paris Airshow as the first flight has been moved to late summer.
  • The Airbus A320neo should be there and while it has been in service for some 18 months now, it does have some Pratt & Whitney engine issues. This airplane has 3,616 orders so we expect it to be front-and-center.
  • The A380 should make a showing, and while orders have slowed, the production line is only some 12 planes per year with a backlog of 107 aircraft.
  • While not expected in “person”, we anticipate plenty of information on the Chinese COMAC C919, which just had a first flight last month. It serves 158 passengers 4075 km in standard configuration and 5,555 in the extended version.
  • The Russian MC-21, which had its first flight this past month, probably will not be at Paris because of the huge testing requirements ahead, but you never know! (Editor’s Note: This would be a good place to note that COMAC (China) and UAC (Russia) have formed a joint venture to develop a new MoM aircraft (Shanghai assembly) for delivery in 2027 – 280 seats / 7,500 nm).

The aviation industry has other new developments that you may see at the show as well. New products/services based on market evolution and technological changes may bring some surprising technology to Paris. While aircraft order levels are down; production levels are up (1490 per year – 2017 est.), as order backlog hits some 14,000+ planes. But today’s flat market order changes will have some unknown impact. Further, with the “book-to-build-ratio” now below 1.0 (problem) and airlines are flying over 80% full (beneficial), who knows what will happen.

The aircraft market is expected to double in 15 years so manufacturing impact will be the other thing to watch at the air show – especially robotic production. Further, a lot of data (or Big Data) and related data changes will affect the airplane markets thus suppliers of data solutions, data services, data related hardware and big data experts will be there.

As digital transformations affect airlines and plane makers alike, a need to innovate for new aircraft and to improve performance may be a big deal – as we said, data applications will start to grow and thus data players are bound to be in Paris as well. For example, applications of “the cloud” and the challenge of securing them will no doubt bring a whole new set of aviation specialists, which will undoubtedly include Cybersecurity specialists as well. We expect to also see 3D printing and robotic manufacturing folks as the technology begins to invade the airplane (and airline) markets. With “big data” changes coming and with improved connectivity available, airplane maintenance and flight performance analysis will be a focal point, no doubt, and the solutions for using it will be there as well. Finally, Boeing, and possibly Airbus, (and independents) will be there for service analysis  (with aftermarket revenues) and especially since parts and humans increase costs. It ought to be a good and technology diversified show!

(Editor’s Note:”In fact, following the seven big mega trends will probably give you as good idea of what will be new at the show –  Remember CAMBRIC, which stands for Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Mobility, Big Data, Robotics, Internet of Things, Cybersecurity.” )

More News:

For a few years now, Boeing and Airbus like to duke it out over “rulings” and “subsidies”, as well as, some recent WTO announcements led to their two PR releases:

First from Airbus:
“ WTO condemns Boeing’s non-compliance and new subsidies
• WTO: U.S. failed to comply with rulings on massive illegal subsidies provided to Boeing
• Today’s WTO compliance panel report finds Boeing subsidies causing Airbus to lose hundreds of aircraft sales with an estimated value of US$ 15-20 billion
• Illegal subsidies to Boeing have, over time, resulted in over US$100 billion in total lost sales for Airbus
• Harm to Airbus will only increase if dispute is pushed out further, in case of likely U.S. appeal”

Next, from Boeing:
“Today, the EU and Airbus suffered yet another resounding defeat in this decade-long dispute. It is finally time for them to comply with their global trade obligations and eliminate and remedy the $22 billion of launch aid and other illegal subsidies that are harming U.S. aerospace companies and American workers,” said Boeing General Counsel J. Michael Luttig.”

You be the judge.

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:

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.

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!)

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.)

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.

  • Boeing-COMAC Sustainable Aviation Technology Center to pursue mutually beneficial research in materials recycling, air travel for aging populations, workplace safety

Zhuhai, China | November 1, 2016– Boeing [NYSE:BA] and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) today signed a new agreement to expand their joint research collaboration in support of the long-term sustainable growth of commercial aviation.

The two companies, which signed an initial collaboration agreement in March 2012, have been researching ways to improve aviation’s fuel efficiency and greenhouse-gas emissions reduction, including sustainable aviation biofuel and air traffic management (ATM) efficiency.

Through this new agreement, signed at the Zhuhai Airshow, the companies will explore six areas of mutually beneficial research through the renamed Boeing-COMAC Sustainable Aviation Technology Center. They will also continue to exchange commercial aviation market forecasts.

“As we approach the 45th year of collaboration between Boeing and China’s aviation industry, Boeing and COMAC are expanding our efforts to ensure commercial aviation’s long-term sustainable growth, improve its efficiency and reduce environmental impact,” said Ian Chang, vice president, Supplier Management China Operations & Business Development, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Our mutually beneficial research with COMAC supports Boeing’s global effort to enable growth and partner to address challenges for our industry.”

“The two companies have enhanced mutual trust and understanding during five years of working together,” said Wu Guanghui, Vice President of COMAC. “The agreement signed today extends and will bring our cooperation to a new level, enabling the two companies to leverage their own advantages for win-win results that can benefit not only China, but also the rest of world.”

Research areas for the Sustainable Aviation Technology Center will include:

  • Technologies supporting sustainable aviation fuel development and assessing the benefit to aviation of using these technologies;
  • ATM technologies and applications;
  • Environmentally sustainable manufacturing, including enhanced recycling of materials;
  • Technologies to enhance the airplane cabin environment related to environmental stewardship and air travel by aging populations;
  • New industry or international standards in aviation energy conservation and emissions reduction;
  • Improvements in workplace safety during cabin and ground operations.

As they have since 2012, Boeing and COMAC will jointly select and fund research by China-based universities and research institutions. Their initial agreement created the Boeing-COMAC Aviation Energy Conservation and Emissions Reductions (AECER) Technology Center. Since then, the Boeing-COMAC AECER Center conducted 17 research projects, leading to an aviation biofuel demonstration facility that turns waste “gutter oil” into jet fuel and three ATM software prototype systems. The Center has attracted participation of 12 domestic and international research partners.

In addition, Boeing and COMAC plan to open a joint venture facility in Zhoushan, China, that will install interiors and paint 737s before Boeing delivers these airplanes to Chinese customers.

China is one of the world’s fastest-growing aviation markets. The Civil Aviation Administration of China has forecast that passenger traffic in China will reach 485 million this year and will reach 1.5 billion passengers in 2030. Boeing has estimated that Chinese airlines will need to purchase more than 6,800 new airplanes through 2035 to meet fast-growing demand for domestic and international air travel.

  • In Boeing factory, President engages with employees about airplanes built for China
  • Boeing, China finalize agreements for 300 China orders & commitments
  • Boeing, COMAC to partner on 737 completion and delivery center in China
  • Additional cooperation with Chinese supplier AVIC
  • New initiative to develop sustainable aviation biofuel to reduce carbon emissions

Everett, WA | September 23, 2015– Boeing (NYSE: BA) today welcomed China President Xi Jinping to its widebody commercial airplane factory and announced several agreements that will broaden and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation between Boeing and China.

The agreements include orders and commitments for 300 Boeing narrowbody and widebody aircraft and expanded collaboration between Boeing and China’s commercial aviation industry.

Together, Boeing and China committed to further advance development of China’s commercial aviation industry and meet strategic business objectives for Boeing in the world’s largest airplane market going forward.

President Xi, accompanied by Boeing executives, viewed final assembly lines for the 787 Dreamliner, 777 and 747-8, as well as aircraft components made by Chinese aviation suppliers. The president also spoke with Boeing employees and the 787 chief pilot about their work on airplanes built for Chinese carriers.

Boeing President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said Boeing appreciated China’s continued trust and confidence. “Today’s visit by President Xi represents a new chapter in the valuable relationship between Boeing and China,” Muilenburg said. “Boeing is committed to further strengthening and deepening our partnership with China in mutually beneficial ways that will bring positive outcomes to Boeing and our Chinese partners.”

“Boeing will continue to work closely with our customers, suppliers and other stakeholders in China to support the long-term growth of China’s aviation industry and jobs here in the United States,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner.

Agreements announced today include:

Boeing and National Development Reform Commission (NDRC)

Boeing and NDRC have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will advance their long-term strategic cooperation through several “Pillars of Partnership.” These pillars include:

  • Industrial cooperation
  • Continued development of a world-class aviation transportation system through deliveries to China of Boeing airplanes and services
  • Development of technologies to reduce aviation’s environmental impact and enhance sustainability
  • Leadership development and training for the next generation of leaders in China’s aviation industry
  • Continued cooperation to support the safety, efficiency and capacity of China’s air transport system
  • Orders and Commitments for Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Boeing and China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CASC) have signed a General Terms Agreement related to the purchase of 300 airplanes. The package has a value of approximately $38 billion at list prices.

Aircraft orders and commitments include:

  • (240) airplanes for Chinese airlines, including (190) 737s and 50 widebody aircraft
  • (60) 737s for leasing companies ICBC and CDB Leasing

“Boeing airplanes have played an important role in supporting the development of China’s aviation transportation for the past 40 years,” said Li Hai, president of China Aviation Supplies Holding Company. “These additional airplanes will further help connect the people in China and around the world.”

“China is a critical international market for commercial airplanes,” said Conner. “We thank our Chinese customers for selecting fuel-efficient Boeing airplanes to meet their fleet growth and expansion.”

Orders are posted on Boeing’s Orders & Deliveries website after all contingencies are cleared.

737 Completion and Delivery Center in China

Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd., (COMAC) will partner to open a facility in China for the interiors completion, paint and delivery of Boeing 737 aircraft to Chinese customers. The joint venture facility will significantly expand Boeing’s collaboration with China’s aviation industry while also enabling future production rate increases at Boeing’s 737 final assembly factory in Renton, Wash. This China-based facility will not reduce 737 Program employment in Washington State.

“Boeing is expanding our longstanding relationship with Chinese industry to meet vital goals for our company: We are bringing the Boeing 737 closer to our Chinese customers, supporting rising 737 production rates and enhancing our access to China’s dynamic and fast-growing aviation market,” said Conner. “The 737 will be a cornerstone of the Chinese fleet for years to come, and we look forward to delivering 737s to Chinese customers in China.”

COMAC Vice President Wu Guanghui said: “The new collaboration between Boeing and COMAC will help advance the Chinese commercial transportation market in a better and faster way, and will benefit the development of supporting Chinese industries related to aircraft completion as well as the global growth of China’s civil aviation business.”

Boeing, COMAC and Chinese government officials are working toward a final business agreement and will announce the facility’s location and timing of first deliveries at a later date. Boeing, now building a record 42 737s per month, will increase production to 47 airplanes per month in 2017 and 52 airplanes per month in 2018 to meet strong demand for the 737, the world’s most fuel-efficient single-aisle airplane.

Boeing and Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC)

Boeing and Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC) will broaden their long-term collaboration to support Boeing’s commercial airplane programs. In a framework agreement, the companies said they intend to further advance AVIC’s manufacturing capabilities by adding major component and assembly work packages; strengthening leadership; and developing AVIC’s broad aviation infrastructure and business practices, including supply chain management.

“Our companies have committed to work together to expand Boeing and China’s mutually beneficial supplier-partner relationship,” said Kent Fisher, vice president and general manager, Supplier Management, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Broadening and deepening our long-term collaboration demonstrates Boeing’s continued commitment to China and our continued trust in AVIC’s ability to meet Boeing’s stringent requirements for high quality and on-time delivery. In addition, AVIC has been a great role model for Partnering for Success, using Lean manufacturing techniques to increase the affordability of our airplanes.”

“Boeing’s commitment to increase AVIC’s statement of work will help enhance our manufacturing capabilities, capacity and efficiency, which will contribute to improving the competitiveness of Boeing airplanes,” said Geng Ruguang, executive vice president, AVIC. “We look forward to strengthening our partnership even more as we work together to address the win-win opportunities presented in a rapidly growing market for commercial airplanes.”

Further development of sustainable aviation biofuel

Under the framework of the MOU between Boeing and NDRC, Boeing and NDRC announced a new initiative to turn agricultural waste in China into sustainable aviation biofuel. Boeing will partner with NDRC to turn items from farms, such as corn cobs and wheat stalks, into sustainable jet fuel as a way to reduce aviation’s carbon emissions.

“Biofuel collaboration between Boeing and Chinese partners is a prime example of how we are determined to make progress on environmental challenges that no company or country can solve alone,” said Ian Thomas, president, Boeing China. “Together, we’re finding innovative ways to support China’s aviation industry and help build a sustainable future.”

When produced sustainably, aviation biofuel reduces carbon emissions by 50 to 80 percent on a lifecycle basis compared to conventional petroleum jet fuel, according to studies by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Boeing has partnered with Chinese stakeholders to support development of China’s air transport system since President Richard Nixon arrived in Beijing on Air Force One, a Boeing 707, in 1972. Today, more than 50 percent of commercial jetliners operating in China are Boeing airplanes. Over the next 20 years, China will be Boeing’s largest commercial airplane market with a projected need for 6,330 new airplanes, worth an estimated $950 billion.

Boeing is the largest international customer of China’s aviation manufacturing industry, with suppliers playing a role in 737, 747, 767, 777 and 787 Dreamliner production. Boeing works with Chinese industry, universities and other institutions to develop sustainable aviation biofuel and improve air-traffic system efficiency.

This was a pretty good year for Thales if AIX is any barometer of the economic weather for the French giant (2011 – 13.2 B Euros). The California-based, IFE arm of the the company has hit what looks to be a home run. For Thales CEO Alan Pelligrini, it all appears to be coming together to plan. For starters, Thales just secured their first B787 line fit customer (unnamed) for AVANT to be delivered in the 2014 time-frame on an Airbus A350 XWB aircraft. The Crystal Cabin winning product is Android friendly and a new App Portal has just been commissioned to support it. (Interestingly, due to overwhelming demand beta registration for the Thales Android App Portal is now closed. Watch for the launch soon.) AVANT is now in it’s fifth generation and the jumbo passenger touch screens/web cam will be sporting gesture control in the next generation. Yes, we see a live face-time app in your flying future. The launch customer for AVANT is QATAR Airways. We predict, AVANT will be Thales biggest seller yet.

Number two in the good news department is the show announcement of a joint venture with China Electronics Technology Avionics (CETCA) to provision IFE on China’s COMAC C919. With some 4000 single-aisle planes forecast in China’s future, Thales is in a great position to capture a lion’s share of that business.

The C919 is a 156 to 190 seat jetliner competing with the likes of the A320neo and B737 MAX. Thales will be involved in integration and future sales to other Chinese customers. CETCA’s General Manager, Zeng Li was on hand at AIX to sign the agreement and it was obvious that he felt Thales had their foot in the China door. Time will tell.

On completely different matters, we submit the following two topics:

Remember our recent comments on the use of infographics at OnAir? It appears that others have the same idea and we stand by our recommendation for their use in this communication heavy industry. Getting your point across quickly is the name of the game and the trucking folks seem to think accordingly. One good read and I know all I ever wanted to know about trucking. Can you say the same about your communication tools and products?

Here is a short read on an outsiders view of inflight telephony with some interesting statistics… and great reader comments.

It’s prediction time again and so we asked some of our readers to call upon their predictive powers and share their views (unanimously) with our IFExpress readers.

Boy, did our readers do a good job. Here goes:

1. Panasonic will hit a home run with their worldwide Ku Band connectivity solution because it is just that, a worldwide, inflight connectivity solution. – IFExpress
2. There will be two other areas of IFE growth as a result of the burgeoning  Wi-Fi market and installed base: a. First, there will be a resurgent market in in-seat power as carriers react to passengers vocal demand to be “connected” for trans-continental and trans-oceanic flight segments. b. Second, new content aggregators will be formed who specialize in Internet content delivery, advertising, usage tracking and onboard Internet sales geared to the airline passenger.  Of course, the airline will receive a generous cut in this revenue stream.  These content aggregators will introduce big name players like Google, Amazon, Facebook and, maybe, MSN to passengers inflight. – Anon
3. We also believe, that at least one or more airlines with inflight connectivity will tie up with a Facebook, Google, or another network solution to deliver cheap or free connection to ground-based Internet. Hey, what’s cooler than tweeting that you are a member of the Mile High Club!…in real time! – IFExpress
4. Inflight connectivity will ramp up dramatically in 2011. I see Row44 and Panasonic making tremendous gains in the number of aircraft installed. A large part of the growth will be in Western Europe as LCCs see Wi-Fi as a way to add ancillary revenue and compete with the traditional carriers. – Anon
5. As fuel prices drive the cost of a barrel of oil above $100 USD, airlines will re-double their efforts to optimize their Max Take-Off Weight (MTOW). This will translate in lighter and lighter seats and more weight efficient IFE.  Some carriers will opt to not install traditional IFE and push for IFE delivered over the Wi-Fi system.  This form of BYO-IFE (Bring Your Own IFE) not only reduces weight and maintenance costs but also permits the carrier to have much more flexibility in managing its content on a flight market basis. – Anon
6. The B787 Flight Testing will reveal yet another anomaly and the delivery of the aircraft will be extended by a min. of 6 months. – Anon (Ed. Note: We received this input before Boeing announced their latest B787 Delay)
 7. The Chinese, via COMAC, will announce the launch of their competing (mainland, vs. Hong Kong or Taiwan) IFE company (beyond the start-ups that we already have seen) and that IFE company, like COMAC, will have Government backing. What the Chinese don’t understand is content sourcing and the use of Hollywood and the Record Labels and they will look to local (Asian) content, probably through Hong Kong, to launch their programming efforts.  An unusual partnership will evolve with Australian content providers. – Anon
8. This year will be the year for the new IFE players to establish credibility or become history. Promising IFE systems like Lumexis’ FTTS, IMS’ Rave, and Sicma’s SiT are already, or will be, in service soon. Is there room in the market for all? Probably not. – Anon
9. Koito, the seat company, will file for bankruptcy this coming year because of all their past regulatory issues and on-going production / re-certification problems and be re-born as a new venture. (Ed. Note: Think M&A!) Existing airline deliveries will be affected and you will see further delays in current aircraft fleets (beyond the recent A380 announcements, which impact both Airbus and Boeing).
– Anon
10. Wider gaps will appear as IFE evolves away from centralized, distributed HW/network based networks toward Wi-Fi and wireless distribution systems.  More announcements for simpler, seat centralized IFE systems, which shift focus from expensive aircraft mods towards simpler, less expensive “highly integrated” seat mod programs.  IFE Vendors will try to minimize aircraft mods to merely supplying power and aircraft interfaces and leave IFE distribution to be wireless to seat installed ‘boxes’. The demise of a major IFE supplier will be the results of failing to realize this changing environment and remaining focused on ‘traditional’ head-end distributed IFE type systems. – Anon
11. More announcements for single aisle, wireless, IFE systems as a untapped major source of business for start-up IFE companies. – Anon
12. Emergence of a new IFE company based out of India? Where a lot of both HW and SW ‘outsourcing’ of current IFE systems has been placed.  Someone will realize that with rising technological competence of their native engineers; there will be an opportunity to create a cheaper, more efficient IFE company in India. Again, Content Sourcing will be an issue, but the Indian based IFE company will partner with a major ‘content’ provider to supplement that side of the business. – Anon
13. Uncertainty is certainly a prediction. – Anon
14. Connectivity is here, various systems are already flying and being deployed at a fast pace. Let’s not forget the onboard telephony systems back in the 90’s. Back then, they were also deemed as a must-have, with huge potential of generating ancillary revenues for the airlines. Three companies deployed systems on multiple carriers, but where were the profits? Is history repeating itself?  – Anon
15. High Definition video will become a differentiator in the IFE market-space, as airlines recognize its use on airlines like flydubai. WAEA/APEX will take note too and begin to write the spec for HD in IFE.
16. The Content Service Provider space will continue to fragment – with more new-comers morphing out of labs, legacy CSPs, and IFE equipment suppliers (especially portables). – Anon
17. Jetstar/Early Window Content/Ipad – NOT! – IFExpress
18. Portable devices offered by airlines will dramatically decrease, as they give way to passengers’ own portables carried onboard (i.e., everyone who wants one will already have their own). Airlines will opt instead for more lightweight, lower cost, embedded solutions, such as Lumexis’ FTTS™ and IMS’ Rave™. – Anon
 19. Seat-centric IFE will be the next big thing as many airlines will be heading in that direction. – IFExpress
 20. Connectivity: the Ka-band systems will continue to be talked up by all the key players, but their scheduled roll-out date will continue to be elusive, as suppliers continue to sell Ku-band and air-to-ground systems. – Anon
21. Watch IFE Post Production – IFExpress!

Lastly, one reader eloquently described the IFE content space; “2011 will see significant changes in the IFE content delivery supply chain including increased automation and integration. Movement toward file-based workflow will gain traction. SMPTE will make significant progress toward standardizing the Interoperable Master Format (IMF). There will movement toward mezzanine files and transcoding. There will be a significant new entry on the Digital Asset Management front. There also will be consolidation in the CSP sector, contraction in the PMP sector, and the iPad will not find a serious place in IFE outside LCCs. Seat-centric IFE systems will get traction in 2011 with significant orders.”

Nuff Sed.

COMAC C919 mock-up, Mitsubishi MRJ and Sukhoi Superjet exhibits amongst new attractions at the region’s leading commercial aviation event

December 13, 2010 — Asian Aerospace, the region’s leading commercial aviation exposition and congress, looks set to beat all records as it commences the final three month countdown to the event in Hong Kong 8th-10th March 2011. Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), manufacturer of the new 150 seat C919 airliner, is set to be the largest exhibitor, with the first appearance of the full cabin mock-up outside mainland China. COMAC will be amongst a host of major Chinese aerospace companies and influential government & trade association delegations that are destined to make Asian Aerospace an unbeatable “East meets West” industry event.

Also in the vanguard of Asian manufacturers exhibiting in Hong Kong will be Mitsubishi of Japan, which will be looking to further boost the international success of the new 90 seat MRJ airliner. Another newcomer to Asian Aerospace will be Sukhoi from Russia, which will be promoting the soon to be certificated Superjet 100. Looking westwards, Airbus is also expected to be joining Boeing, Bombardier, CFM International and Embraer amongst hundreds of international companies that will be back at Asian Aerospace in 2011.

Asian and Chinese airline visitors are expected to significantly exceed the total of 4,600 from 104 carriers achieved at the 2009 event. These carriers operate more than 11,000 aircraft, representing approximately half the world’s fleet. Official support for Asian Aerospace 2011 from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), China Air Transport Association (CATA), China Civil Airports Association (CCAA) and the Civil Aviation MRO Association of China (CAMAC) is contributing to prospective record breaking levels of attendance from China.

“Asian Aerospace 2011 is shaping up to be a very exciting event, with a record number of exhibitors and visitors expected at an event that is attracting industry leaders from East and West,” said Brian Thomas, VP Aerospace, Reed Exhibitions. “The prevailing shift of influence and commercial dynamism towards Asia leaves me in no doubt that Asian Aerospace is destined to become the world’s, not just the region’s, most important commercial aviation industry event over the next 10 years.”

Another highlight of Asian Aerospace 2011 will be the high level Congress, with confirmed keynote speakers including Tony Tyler, Chief Executive of Cathay Pacific Airways, Norman Lo, Director General of Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department, Andrew Herdman, Director General of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines, and Professor Wei Shyy, Provost & Chair Professor (Mechanical Engineering) at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Over 300 business leaders are expected at the Congress, which will be a focal point for exhibitors and delegates to network at the very highest levels. The congress is organised in co-operation with industry’s leading B2B publisher,

In addition to the Congress, Asian Aerospace will once again host the Asia Pacific Aviation Training Symposium (APATS), which will held within a dedicated Simulation & Training pavilion. Leading global and regional experts will deliver updates on key regulatory changes, latest technology and proven best practice in the delivery of civil aviation training. Training is a key enabling technology for safe aviation growth in the Asia Pacific region. The Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department will be hosting a separate Accident Investigation conference during Asian Aerospace.

Another new feature at Asian Aerospace 2011 will be the inaugural “Aviation Awards Asia” event, organised in co-operation with Asian Aviation magazine. The awards will recognise excellence and outstanding achievements across the region in the following categories: Full Service Airline, Low Cost Carrier, Business Aviation, MRO, Technology & Environment and Airport of the Year.

Asian Aerospace 2011 will once again be held at AsiaWorld-Expo, which not only offers convenient and speedy MTR links from downtown Hong Kong and the city’s international airport, but is also located close to the static display area.