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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

EBACE, Geneva, Switzerland | May 23, 2017–

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) is making it easier for business operators to manage cabin connectivity usage, billing and troubleshooting with updates to its GoDirect Cabin Connectivity suite cabin connectivity and connectivity management services. The updates allow business jet operators to control network services on the aircraft in real time by setting timers for online streaming. Users can also access Honeywell’s Aspire® and JetWave hardware to define technical issues on a broader range of satellite communication products to deliver greater efficiency. Updates to the GoDirect Cabin Connectivity services provide business aviation operators with the tools to save time and reduce costs, with more control of the aircraft cabin.

Reliable high-speed connectivity is a growing necessity for business aircraft owners, operators and passengers who use mobile devices to be more productive in the air. Therefore it is becoming increasingly important to provide fast and consistent in-flight Wi-Fi while managing overall costs. Honeywell’s GoDirect Cabin Connectivity consists of cabin connectivity and connectivity management services that put business jet owners and operators in control of satellite communication services, network troubleshooting, access, data, consumption and billing while reducing the need for third-party service support. The software streamlines service management for the business aviation market, giving owners and operators greater control of network services and easy access to hardware for troubleshooting. Honeywell provides the tools to manage aircraft connectivity networks more efficiently.

Recent upgrades to GoDirect Cabin Connectivity applications include:

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

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

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

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

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

Advanced global, high-speed inflight broadband service for business jets is now offered by Bombardier, Dassault, Embraer and Gulfstream to customers worldwide

United Kingdom | May 22, 2017– Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, today announced a significant milestone for its Jet ConneX inflight broadband service, with four of the business aviation industry’s major private jet manufacturers now offering the next-generation solution to customers as a linefit option.

Inmarsat achieved the power of four with the confirmation that Jet ConneX is now available as linefit on Dassault Falcon business jets and will also be linefit on Embraer Lineage 1000E executive jets from early 2018. Jet ConneX is already the preferred linefit option on Gulfstream and Bombardier aircraft. All four companies are connecting their aircraft to the Jet ConneX service using exclusive JetWave hardware produced by Inmarsat partner Honeywell.

Jet ConneX is the only global, high-speed Wi-Fi option available for business jets today. It offers the same fast and reliable connectivity in the air that has previously only been available on the ground. Using Inmarsat’s advanced Ka-band satellite network, Jet ConneX offers data plans up to 15Mbps and consistent global coverage across 100 percent of major airline routes, providing a differentiator to do business wherever and whenever.

Inmarsat designs, owns and operates its own satellite capacity, ensuring that high quality capacity is added ahead of demand; most recently through the launch of its fourth Ka-band satellite with SpaceX last week.

Kurt Weidemeyer, Inmarsat’s Vice President of Business and General Aviation, said: “Inmarsat continues to see overwhelming demand for Jet ConneX, reinforcing our status as the number one connectivity provider to business aviation customers worldwide. We couldn’t be prouder to confirm Dassault and Embraer alongside Gulfstream and Bombardier as the latest of the big four private jet manufacturers to start linefit of Jet ConneX.”

He continued: “Inmarsat has long led the way in connectivity for business jets. SwiftBroadband was the best in class when it was launched and Jet ConneX is a stellar upgrade. Reaching this milestone is testament to our strategy of listening and responding to what business aviation customers want. It’s also a great endorsement in our service from manufacturers. We look forward to continuing to build on this strategy and success in the coming months and years.”

Warren Nechtman, Vice President of Connectivity Equipment, Honeywell Aerospace, said: “Business jet operators expect to have the same experience with in-flight Wi-Fi as they do at home or in the office and that is why four business jet manufacturers have selected JetWave and Jet ConneX for their customers. Together, Honeywell and Inmarsat are improving productivity, entertainment and comfort for business aviation with truly global, high-speed connectivity.”

Geneva, Switzerland | May 21, 2017– Satcom Direct (SD), the business aviation connectivity solutions provider, announced today at EBACE – Booth S80 – that it has signed a new exclusive provider agreement with Air Alsie, the Denmark-headquartered aircraft charter, ambulance operator and management company. The agreement marks the first time that SD and Air Alsie have partnered, and will position SD as a single source supplying a range of connectivity services across the Air Alsie fleet.

The arrangement will initially see SD providing voice and data services, as well as flight deck communication functionality to the fleet. In addition, the contract names SD as the provider for Air Alsie’s future planned connectivity solutions, including Inmarsat’s Ka-band Jet ConneX. SD will also support a cabin router upgrade program for the fleet’s Falcon aircraft, featuring the Satcom Direct Router (SDR) which enables increased functionality and control of cabin Wi-Fi networks. The SD hardware solution facilitates the use of SD value added services including GlobalVT, which allows end users to make and receive texts and calls on their own smart device, anywhere in the world.

Air Alsie operates one of Europe’s largest executive fleets including Hawker, Citation, two ATR72-500 types, Gulfstream, and a fleet of 14 Dassault Falcon aircraft, eight of which are Falcon 7X—Europe’s largest Dassault Falcon portfolio. The Air Alsie fleet also includes Dassault and Gulfstream flagship, Falcon 8X and G650ER aircraft. “Our mixed fleet necessitates partnering with a company that can create and adapt its product range to fulfill our diverse connectivity requirements, from the smallest to the largest of our jets, world-wide,” said Tom Carstensen of Air Alsie. “This is why we have chosen SD as our preferred provider.”

“As we celebrate our twentieth year in business, inking this deal with one of Europe’s leading business aviation operators demonstrates how our customer-driven approach of creating tailored connectivity packages adds value to an operator’s business. Underpinned by our global support network, we are pleased to be able to serve Air Alsie’s customers, crew and operations teams,” says Michael Skou Christensen, Managing Director EMEA for SD.

In this week’s edition of IFExpress we have Gogo, APEX, Boeing and a few other bits of information – so let’s get started!

Gogo
Gogo is announcing K5-Aviation as its first 2Ku business aviation customer in Europe, marking a significant milestone for the company. The first airframe in business aviation that will fly with Gogo’s 2Ku technology is an Airbus ACJ319 operated by K5-Aviation, a leading operator of ACJ aircraft, based in Germany. Fokker Services B.V. managed the 2Ku installation design and system integration including the EASA STC. Installation was performed at its facilities in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands.
“This is a great day for K5-Aviation because it brings Gogo’s newest technology to our cabin which means our passengers can stay connected almost anywhere we fly around the globe,” said Luca Madone of K5-Aviation. “Productivity during flight will increase with 2Ku, which will allow our passengers to drive their business forward even when traveling. They will also have the ability to live stream news, entertainment and sporting events.”

Gogo’s 2Ku technology delivers industry-leading performance globally, which means passengers can do the same things they do on the ground. For business aviation, that means live video conferencing, fast Internet browsing and streaming video. 2Ku is designed to take advantage of innovations happening in space and is compatible with newer high-throughput and low-earth orbit satellites when they become available. This means the technology will get better in time without having to touch an aircraft. This flexibility means Gogo’s customers can be confident the system is future ready and ahead of the curve from a technology perspective.

2Ku is a unique dual antenna system developed by Gogo to bring global streaming-capable Internet to large aircraft. The technology benefits from global coverage and the redundancy of more than 180 satellites in the Ku-band. With more than 170 systems installed today across eight airlines on five continents, and more than 1600 total aircraft awarded to 2Ku across 14 of the largest airlines around the globe, 2Ku is one of the most successful in-flight connectivity products ever developed.

We further note that Gogo discovered that nearly 50 percent of millennial travelers expect their connected experience in the air to be the same as on the ground. This key finding from Gogo’s Global Traveler study The Travelers of Tomorrow shows that connectivity anywhere and everywhere is no longer a hope, it’s an expectation. This study uncovers in-flight connectivity trends from “future travelers” between the ages of 18 and 35, because their preferences will ultimately shape the future of travel. “Passengers simply expect more from inflight connectivity today — no longer is there a distinction between enjoying movies at home, sending emails from a café or binge watching at 35,000 feet,” said Alyssa Hayes, Director of Insights at Gogo. “As our research suggests, younger travelers are most comfortable with headphones on, laptop open and smartphone in hand. As the leader in inflight connectivity, we can help airlines keep pace with passenger expectations now and in the future with Gogo 2Ku high speed connectivity.”

Not only are these passengers expressing hopes for the future, but they also are making travel decisions today based on connectivity:
While 90 percent of future travelers have a preferred airline, 48 percent said they would choose another airline if Wi-Fi was not available on their preferred flight.

Future travelers are more likely to multi-task on their devices during flights with 46 percent of the 18 to 35 age bracket using Wi-Fi and watching a movie or show on their device compared to just 33 percent of travelers older than 35 doing so.

Ninety-two percent of future travelers are interested in using their own device in flight, and 48 percent said they prefer to stream their own content to their own device.

Sixty-three percent of future travelers think more flights should offer Wi-Fi, and 56 percent of them use their smartphone on the plane compared to just 27 percent of older travelers.

Gogo’s 2Ku technology allows passengers to have the same experience in the air as on their couch at home. The new technology enables streaming video, fast browsing and multi-device viewing. 2Ku can be found today on more than 170 aircraft across several global airlines. More than 1,600 total aircraft are slated to receive the technology representing 13 global airlines.

The Travelers of Tomorrow study is the first of the 2017 Gogo Global Traveler Research Series, Gogo’s global study that examines travelers’ inflight habits, behaviors and preferences. It covers 15 countries across six regions around the world and includes data collected from more than 4,500 travelers who flew within the last year. To learn more, visit gogoair.com/globaltraveler

We should also note the following: Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. announced that its in-flight connectivity (IFC) solution demonstrated unprecedented end-user throughput of over 100Mbps in Gogo’s live airborne media and investor event. Gilat’s airborne modem powers Gogo’s 2Ku service and will be installed in over 1600 aircraft across more than 13 airlines, commencing this year. On May 9th 2017, Gogo hosted a major, high visibility industry event on their Boeing 737 test plane, the “Jimmy Ray.” Analysts and media applauded Gogo’s 2Ku system and Gilat’s modem, which demonstrated over 100Mbps performance. This is acknowledged to be the highest performance ever achieved onboard a commercial aircraft, as well as demonstrating continuous service with excellent user experience. The test flight not only confirmed its noteworthy throughput and user experience, but also successfully demonstrated interoperability capabilities of Gilat’s aero modem with the aircraft’s Communication (IFEC) avionic system. As previously announced, Gogo selected Gilat to provide the onboard VSAT modem and satellite baseband infrastructure for its next generation IFC solution. The recent flights were done upon completion of Supplement Type Certifications (STC) for this system for Boeing and Airbus aircrafts.


A Possible InFlight Electronics Ban
While the US Government has neither confirmed or denied the possibility of an “All Europe” inflight laptop ban into the US, it is expected this month, although some experts question whether it will be as extensive as all inclusive as the one from 10 Middle East airports today. Also unknown if the rumored laptop exclusions will be surrendered at the gate or relinquished to the baggage hold during check-in at the ticket counters – not to mention flights that progress through European airports. We want to point out that banned  PED (iPads, tablets, laptops) types are an unknown at the time of this writing. But if you think about it, getting your data on a phone and learning to love IFE again, might be a good idea. We do know that London’s Heathrow has begun the process of early screening, but like everybody else – they are waiting for the US to demand the change.


APEX And The Electronics Ban
APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association), a four-decade old international airline trade association, called for a hold on the electronics band expansion to Europe as (they) hosted a biometrics workshop with major airlines and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (U.S. DHS) Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP).

Speaking at the Aviation Festival Americas with more than 60 airlines, APEX CEO, Joe Leader, pushed suggested “green listing” passengers as cleared to carry electronics on restricted routes through the biometric facial recognition initiative being put forward by the U.S. DHS CBP in place of the electronics ban.

“Having the electronics ban spread to the European Union for flights to the United States would damage the personal freedoms integral to international air travel. We must stand together with government solutions for personal electronics that enable both security and accessibility for our airline passengers worldwide,” said Leader. “Biometric identification of passengers that are pre-cleared to travel with electronics would enable a viable potential solution with the U.S. DHS CBP ready to provide immediate technological facilitation.”

APEX sounded the alarm in March when the airline electronics ban started as we warned that it could easily spread as reported today. In the United States alone, carriers in less than 30 days have removed more than one million annual passenger long-haul seats  from the airports affected by the United States electronics ban alone.

“As the leading international airline association focused on passenger experience, APEX has actively and repeatedly expressed that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.K Department of Transport should institute government approved solutions for electronics rather than the existing airline electronics ban.” Leader stated. “Fighting potential threats means finding government solutions that do not take the laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, and large phones out of the hands of the millions of law-abiding passengers that use them every day. We owe our air travelers worldwide the best options to make their flights enjoyable and productive.”

Results from APEX’s Global Passenger Survey released last year, show airline passengers frequently bring their personal electronics devices on-board aircraft for use in-flight:

  • 43% of worldwide airline passengers bring a tablet device on-board with 70% of these passengers using their tablet device in-flight;
  • 38% of worldwide airline passengers bring a laptop computer on-board with 42% of these passengers using their laptop in-flight; and
  • 22% of worldwide airline passengers bring e-Readers on-board with 77% of these passengers using their e-Reader in-flight.””

You might also want to read this ExtremeTech piece on the subject as they point out that a cabin full of laptops placed in cargo containers just might put another problem in a place (in the baggage hold) where fire control may have limited capability to affect a potential disaster. US Considering Banning All Laptops on Flights From Europe – ExtremeTech


Boeing
The fourth Boeing [NYSE: BA] Inmarsat-5 satellite, which was launched yesterday, will noticeably expand the high-speed broadband service available through Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network after the satellite becomes fully operational later this year.

The Inmarsat-5 satellites are uniquely able to provide seamless communications coverage through fixed and steerable beams that can be adjusted in real time to accommodate demand surges. “Inmarsat-5 F4 joins our existing Global Xpress constellation, which is already being adopted as the new standard in global mobile broadband connectivity by companies, governments and communities around the world,” said Michele Franci, CTO, Inmarsat. “Boeing has been an outstanding partner in our journey to make Global Xpress a reality.”

This is the fourth Inmarsat-5 satellite Boeing has built for Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network. After reaching its final orbit, the satellite will undergo testing and checkout before being declared operational. “Our partnership with Inmarsat has enabled the creation of the world’s only commercial global, mobile Ka-band network,” said Mark Spiwak, president, Boeing Satellite Systems International. “This unique achievement is an example of Boeing’s continuing commitment to deliver reliable, affordable and innovative solutions for our customers.”

Boeing has a strategic marketing partnership with Inmarsat and currently provides both military Ka-band and commercial Global Xpress services to U.S. government customers.

For more information on Defense, Space & Security, visit www.boeing.com.

Boeing and Primera Air today announced an order for eight 737 MAX 9 airplanes, valued at more than $950 million at list prices. The agreement also includes purchase rights for four additional 737 MAX 9s and a lease agreement for eight more airplanes from Air Lease Corporation.

The 737 MAX 9 will form the backbone of the low-cost airline’s future as it seeks to commence flights between Europe and North America. Primera Air plans to use the MAX 9’s auxiliary fuel tanks to lower trip costs and maximize the range to accommodate flights connecting Europe to the east coast of the U.S.

“The 737 MAX 9 will allow Primera Air to open up nonstop, long-haul routes from Europe to the U.S. with unmatched economics,” said Andri M. Ingolfsson, President, Primera Air. “This aircraft has a lower per-seat cost than the current wide body aircraft servicing the transatlantic and the capabilities of this aircraft type will change the economics of the industry. This will open up fantastic possibilities for growth for Primera Air in the future.”

Scandinavia’s Primera Air is an all-Boeing carrier currently operating a fleet of nine Next-Generation 737-700s and 737-800s with flights to more than 70 airports in Europe. Primera Air is part of the Primera Travel Group that operates travel agencies and tour operating companies in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Estonia.

The MAX 8 and 9 will be followed in 2019 by the smaller MAX 7 and higher capacity MAX 200, while studies and customer discussions continue on further growing the family. The 737 MAX incorporates the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market. The 737 MAX has accumulated more than 3,700 orders from 87 customers worldwide.


Delta orders 30 additional A321s
Delta Air Lines has placed an incremental order for 30 firm A321ceo aircraft. This order follows three previous Delta orders for the Current Engine Option version of the largest Airbus A320 Family member. The airline took delivery of its first A321 in March of last year. Delta now has ordered a total of 112 A321s, each powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International.

All of Delta’s A321s will feature fuel-saving Sharklets – lightweight composite wingtip devices that offer up to 4 percent fuel-burn savings. This environmental benefit gives airlines the option of extending their range up to 100 nautical miles/185 kilometres or increasing payload capacity by some 1000 pounds/450 kilograms.

Many of Delta’s A321s are being delivered from the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama. The airline received its first U.S.-manufactured A321 last year. By the end of 2017, the Airbus facility in Mobile is expected to produce four aircraft per month, most going to Airbus’ U.S. customers.

As of the end of April, Delta was flying a fleet of 187 Airbus aircraft, including 145 A320 Family members and 42 A330 widebodies.


Rumors
A rumor monger told us that this past Thursday was a bad day for a large IFEC outfit and that 45+ folks on the West Coast were let go, as well as, at least 25 on the East Coast. We won’t mention names as our request for more information was ignored.

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

1. TelefonixPDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Other News:

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

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

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

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

Hamburg, DE | April 5, 2017– SITAONAIR is to pioneer inflight mobile services using high-speed broadband connectivity in an aviation industry first, the company has announced.

The world-leading inflight mobile service provider will deploy cutting-edge inflight 3.5G mobile network services over the high-speed broadband satellite connectivity of GX Aviation. Enhanced 3.5G capabilities will be available to all airlines through SITAONAIR’s popular Mobile ONAIR application by the end of 2017.

There is an insatiable hunger for inflight cellular connectivity, with 19 million passengers opting to connect to SITAONAIR’s inflight mobile services last year. This new technology will provide passengers and crew with high-speed, seamless connectivity, similar to the home experience.

In addition, SITAONAIR has established a wide-ranging deal with worldwide mobile operators to give passengers stress-free data bundles, simplifying billing through unlimited data usage and capped costs. It will also provide a potential opportunity for airlines to boost ancillary revenues through providing access to different revenue streams by monetizing the cellular service.

Francois-Xavier Mateo, SITAONAIR’s Head of Cabin, said: “SITAONAIR is the very first in the industry to be introducing future-proof inflight cellular technologies over GX Aviation. This announcement is a significant and exciting development for inflight mobile services.

“In 2016, an impressive 19 million airline passengers chose to connect to SITAONAIR’s inflight cellular network. By December this year, Mobile ONAIR will be delivering its enhanced broadband-based mobile experience for airline passengers.”

The future of mobile communications will continue to evolve with the rise of the Internet of Things market. By 2020 it is thought between 50-100 billion devices, including cellular based devices, will be connected to the internet. SITAONAIR, with its technology partners, is anticipating the coming revolution of the Internet of Things with its live 4G and 5G-ready mobile core network.

SITAONAIR would like to thank its chosen partners for their role in developing its solution:

  • MonacoTelecom for providing a 2G, 3.5G, 4G and 5G-ready mobile core network
  • Zodiac In-Flight Innovations, who will provide the next-generation airborne system
  • Aricent and ip.Access, suppliers of the radio access network elements
  • Axiros, who will provide, manage and troubleshoot inflight connectivity base stations using its AXESS.ACS platform.

Martin Peronnet, Monaco Telecom’s CEO, said: “Monaco Telecom is proud to contribute to SITAONAIR’s strategy helping it to build on its position as the undisputed world-leading inflight mobile service provider. Over the years we have made tremendous progress together to deliver world-class quality inflight telecommunications. The launch of SITAONAIR 3.5G mobile service using our future-proof core network infrastructure is a new major milestone in our partnership.“

Matt Smith, CEO of Zodiac In-Flight Innovations, added: “We are pleased to be partnering with SITAONAIR and providing them our proven hardware and software products including wireless streaming, GSM and now broadband (KA) as well as 3.5G connectivity systems. We look forward to a continued relationship and the first Ka-band and 3.5G installations later this year.”

For more information about Mobile ONAIR, and to discover the full SITAONAIR product and service range, visit www.sitaonair.aero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Major Milestone Enables 2Ku to be Factory Installed on Airbus Aircraft

Chicago, IL | April 4, 2017– Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), the leading global provider of broadband connectivity products and services for aviation, has been selected by Airbus as a lead supplier for its High Bandwidth Connectivity (HBC) program. The designation officially enables factory line-fit installation of Gogo’s 2Ku global satellite solution on Airbus A320 Family, A330, and A380 aircraft after successful offerability process and further system certification.

Being part of Airbus’ HBC program means airlines can place future aircraft orders with Airbus and have Gogo’s 2Ku technology installed at the factory on all major fleet types. Those aircraft are then delivered with the technology already installed and ready for service on day one.

“We are proud to be selected by Airbus as a supplier for Airbus’ high bandwidth connectivity program and look forward to working with them to provide our industry leading 2Ku solution to their customers,” says Anand Chari, executive vice president and CTO at Gogo. “The selection is acknowledgement of the traction we’ve made with 2Ku in the marketplace. It’s also validation of the long-term viability of this technology and its ability to serve commercial aviation for the foreseeable future.”

Gogo’s 2Ku technology is the most future-proof global technology for inflight connectivity and delivers streaming-video speeds to passengers. 2Ku enables a wide range of customizable experiences for Gogo’s airline partners. For passengers, it means in-flight Wi-Fi and wireless entertainment; for airlines, it means connecting flight attendants, pilots, crew, and the aircraft itself. Currently, Gogo has more than 1500 aircraft commitments to 2Ku representing 12 commercial airlines. Most of 1500+ aircraft are set to be flying with the technology by the end of 2018.

FliteStream F-310 Ideal for Aircraft to Deliver the Benefits of Next-Gen Satellite Networks

East Aurora, NY | April 3, 2017–
Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO), through its wholly-owned subsidiary Astronics AeroSat, announced its latest aircraft antenna system, the FliteStream® F-310. Designed to provide the high performance needed for new spot beam satellite technology, the FliteStream F-310 delivers the highest bandwidth and fastest in-flight internet connectivity speeds in its class.

“The continued evolution of our fuselage mount
antennas for commercial and VVIP aircraft illustrates Astronics’ continued focus on providing industry- leading airborne connectivity solutions,” said Matthew Harrah, President of Astronics AeroSat. “The new F-310 provides the high performance needed for next generation Ku-band High-Throughput Satellites (HTS), which utilize faster spot beam technology in place of traditional wide beams. We look forward to working with aircraft OEMs and service partners to install and offer the fastest user experience for in- flight internet connectivity.“

The new FliteStream F-310 provides Ku-band HTS connectivity with new technology that minimizes service interruptions when switching from spot beam to spot beam in flight. Designed to replace the current FliteStream F-210 product, the F-310 uses existing mounting provisions to eliminate any impact to aircraft installation designs and provides an easy path for OEMs to upgrade to the latest Ku-Band HTS networks.

AeroSat’s FliteStream solutions are the only products available with patented “Rexolite® Lens” technology, which enables AeroSat to create the most efficient, reliable, and highest-performing connectivity systems available. Key features of the new FliteStream F-310 solution include:

  • Seamless connectivity for passengers to browse the internet, send and receive emails, make calls using Voice-Over-IP (VoIP), access virtual private network (VPN) services, conduct video conferences, and enjoy favorite work or entertainment applications
  • Highest performing Ku-band SATCOM antenna system, critical for maintaining low angle satellite coverage while flying at higher latitudes
  • A three-piece LRU system: antenna, antenna controller, and high power transceiver
  • Compliance with RTCA/DO-160 & RTCA/DO-178
  • Small size and light weight

In the next few years, airplane passengers will be seeing a lot of changes to the process of flying from point A to point B. On the surface, they won’t notice a lot of difference in the mechanics of flight transportation, but it is what is going on behind the scenes, especially in the IFEC world that will have changed significantly.

Passengers will still use their personal devices on the ground to obtain a ticket, they will be using their devices to check-in and board planes, and they will still be using all sorts of portable devices while inflight. While recent rules of onboard laptop usage might be restricted for security reasons (APEX News Release), globally there is too strong a need to manage and organize one’s life with the aid of a portable phone or connected personal device, including laptops. Why? With the technological advancements of the modern portable device, be it smartphone or wearable, people everywhere are demanding more data in order to stay connected and informed. Face it, installed inflight telephony; think Claircom, Inflight Phone and GTE Airfone, in the 1990’s delivered scratchy voice connectivity when compared to flying with a smartphone today. Passengers utilizing the connectivity options available to them now; whether it be voice, data, or streaming entertainment to their PED, experience a quality of service that far exceeds those provided by their connectivity predecessors. However, there is room for improvement given the ever-increasing demand for a larger pipe and more information to flow both too and from the aircraft.

Panasonic’s NEXT ‘Platform’

The next step is what this article is about. The Panasonic development of the next generation system is the focus in this week’s IFExpress. While Panasonic entertainment and communication products have evolved with the data need, the solutions moved from analog to digital because the answer for more ‘everything’ is an electronic one that includes both hardware and software. Thus, the next generation IFEC system from Panasonic is coming to the front of technology and, naturally, it is called the Panasonic NEXT Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity System.

According to Panasonic, The NEXT IFEC platform was developed specifically in response to current generation’s trends and challenges. The system powerfully combines hardware, software, and functionality to provide a tailored solution to airlines. More importantly, it’s enabled by the Panasonic ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships. More on this later.

Panasonic’s vision with the NEXT platform was to help airlines overcome key challenges by transforming typically rigid entertainment systems into a flexible IFEC platform. With NEXT, Panasonic is introducing a scalable IFEC solution that blends the latest in inflight entertainment technology, connectivity services, and consumer technologies to help airlines reach their business objectives. This approach helps airlines maximize their investment by dramatically extending the lifespan of the IFEC platform.

A key differentiator with NEXT is its ability to help airlines maximize their investment by keeping IFEC perpetually and contextually relevant. It blends the latest advances in consumer technology, including 4K screens, Light ID, Bluetooth, and much more, backed by an intuitive interface that is simple for all passengers to use.

The value of the NEXT platform is increased exponentially by Panasonic’s integrated ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships. This industry-leading ecosystem includes the company’s second-generation global connectivity network. More on this in a bit

To quote Panasonic; “By taking advantage of connectivity technology, today’s leading airlines are delivering experiences onboard unimaginable just ten years ago.” But note, improved connectivity to the plane is the first step in the process and Panasonic has been working this part of the solution for a number of years now. With the launch of numerous satellites with space/data allocated for Panasonic’s aviation use, the company claims worldwide connectivity coverage. Furthermore, they currently have over 1,600 aircraft with an installed base of satcom. It is also significant to note that the future of this connectivity service is not solely for passengers, especially in Panasonic’s eyes. Notes Panasonic: “Our connectivity service is configurable based on the airlines business objectives – the experience they want to offer their passengers and their operational data requirements … we will get back to the second part of this statement later. However, it is clear that both coming solutions will change the world of passenger and operational data.

The operational side of the equation includes: safety, operational performance, and real-time updates of hardware on much of the airplane that ordinarily would only be checked on the ground or during ground testing. This is a game changer for the airlines as well and Panasonic has planned services that will reshape the management of maintenance. Both airline and passengers will benefit from this real-time analysis. Hardware data analysis and tracking/reporting of onboard system monitoring and security analysis will improve airline operations and possibly ground operations, service times, turnaround and potentially inflight operations as well. Passengers get more data, ground and airborne interaction with the airline… not to mention more movies, more and better data services, which all add up to happier passengers and more profit potential for the airline. If this is not a big to deal to airlines now, it soon will be!

 

What is Changing?

We have mentioned what the passengers and crew get from a new technology and data driven system, so now let’s specifically look at the NEXT System or ‘platform  being developed by Panasonic. First, because the system is in development for the Boeing B777X (-X8 & -X9) and because this competitive solution is probably a tight competition, we cannot talk too much about the system capabilities. You can find out more about the Boeing 777 transport aircraft here. However, this might be a good time to note the Boeing future aircraft development possibilities. The Boeing B777-X8 is touted to be an approximately 350-passenger plane, while the B777-X9 is more like a 400+ passenger plane – and we understand that both are in the 2020+ development window. Obviously if the Panasonic NEXT ‘platform’ were to be for both aircraft models, a modular and scalable approach would be perfect for hardware, software, design, manufacturing, installation and even certification.

A good example of the integration of Panasonic technologies into the NEXT System is the ZeroTouch service, which was debuted at AIX Hamburg in 2016, and will definitely be integrated into the NEXT Service offering. Here is what Panasonic says about it: “The ZeroTouch Service Vision: 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.” They went on to say: “When combined with dynamic content updates, the ZeroTouch service will offer an improvement from an airline’s traditional 30-day media update cycle by enabling live updates to data and files stored on a Panasonic inflight entertainment and communications system. Applications such as movies, games, advertising, live news, and more will be automatically loaded at any time, over any available communications pipe to an entire fleet. Strategic planning also will be made easier through the actionable insight solution provides. Airlines are presented with both a detailed picture of their aircraft and a broader overview of their fleet. This allows more informed decisions to be made in media consumption, system health monitoring, aircraft maintenance, and much more. The service automatically downloads critical operational data during flight meaning maintenance teams are notified of upcoming tasks and are able to prepare solutions prior to landing. Today Panasonic is in Phase One of its ZeroTouch service initiative, and is already delivering payloads of up to 700 Megabytes to aircraft over cell modem and its eXConnect service multiple times per day.”

 

What Is NEXT?

It is scalable, it is modular and NEXT is for widebody, narrow body, everybody!

Again, we should emphasize that the Panasonic NEXT System is considered to be a ‘platform’ by the company,  and this point was continually stressed throughout our discussions with them. There are several  reasons for this platform approach that make sense from a product and certification point of view: 

1. Because the new plane system will comprise multiple capabilities and offerings, different airlines will require different solutions; therefore, it has to be modular, and thus the ‘platform’ solution fits the general description of the Panasonic offering. By considering NEXT a ‘platform’ Panasonic can offer solutions with modular upgrades and/or product dash numbers that might include different software and/or hardware features. Here are a few that they specifically mentioned: aircraft and system monitoring, BITE, Maintenance centers and data communication, actionable analytics, passenger data integration software and solutions, and on and on. This ‘platform’ solution will keep potential certification issues at a minimum as they will not have Model/Box Numbers, but rather the ‘platform’ will only need the added box/software/card certs. This is only IFExpress’ speculation but if certification issues can be reduced, costs will be too.

2. The future of these airline/airplane required and selected capabilities, data storage, and management functions may make a ‘platformed’ system available as a design concept for other aircraft! A perfect example will probably be the Boeing 797 (the next, bigger-than-the-B737 plane) the potential Boeing midsize aircraft that is the required airplane series to address the ‘Middle Market’ – 4500 nm to 5500 nm sweet spot and carry somewhere between 180 to 280 passengers. The significant issue is that the NEXT platform will be scalable to address all different aircraft model types – single aisle, twin aisle, and the elusive middle market aircraft of the future. This will allow airlines to scale their systems depending on route, aircraft size, and demographics, while maintaining a ‘commonality’ across their fleet and it is NEXT’s modularity that allows this to happen.

Make no mistake, the NEXT platform will incorporate an improved modem for their new view of passenger and airline connectivity needs. Here is what Panasonic says: “The combination of our new modem results in the biggest improvement in connectivity Panasonic has made since the start of our service. It provides up to 250Mbps for passenger data, a 20x improvement in speed compared to our first-generation modem. Our connectivity service is configurable based on the airline’s business objectives – the experience they want to offer their passengers and their operational data  requirements!” Once again, it is the modular and scalable nature of NEXT that facilitates this choice by the airline.

To get a better idea of their improvement planning, here is their view of their IFEC product performance development:

Generation 1 (2009 – 2015)

Experience – email, social media, web browsing, 9 channels global TV, 2G mobile service, average 250Kbps speed/Up to 1 Mbps burst speed

Enablers – Global wide beam network, BC-01 (Up to 12 Mbps)

Generation 2 (2016 – 2018)

Experience – Rich web applications + light video streaming (i.e. YouTube) + 20 regional channels of regional live television + 3G mobile service + average 5 Mbps speed + up to 15Mbps burst speed (Editor’s Note: Be sure to make note of the plus signs!)

Enablers – Wide beam network + HTS, BC-03 (Up to 250 Mbps, 800GB SSD, 200 eXW SD Media Streams), cWAP (802.11ac), Dual panel or Single Panel Antenna

Generation 3 (NEXT)

Experience – Up to 250 SD media streams (i.e. Netflix, Hulu) ++

15 channels of HD live television ++ 4G Mobile service ++ Average 10 Mbps speed ++ Up to 250 Mbps burst speed (Editor – We assume the ++ means “plus and in excess of…”)

Enablers – Wide Beam Networks + HTS = XTS, BC-03 (Up to 250 Mbps, 800GB SSD, 200 eXW SD media streams), cWAP (802.112ac), Dual Panel or Flat Panel Antenna

Perhaps this is a good time to mention the industry activity surrounding the timing of the NEXT rollout in the future B777X program and a good place to start is ARINC and the ARINC CSS (Cabin Systems Subcommittee) workings. From their website and discussions with members, we see that ARINC has a lot of IFEC members hooking up with this subcommittee and their definition states clearly why: 

Goal: Passenger entertainment equipment is subject to frequent upgrades on the airplane. The goal of this AEEC activity is to develop cost effective equipment and valuable network infrastructure for the airlines to cope with the rapid and evolving electronics/entertainment industry that will exceed passenger expectations. This includes interface standards to allow airlines to implement preferred systems for their passengers. Cabin communications, connectivity, wireless distribution, cabin interface protocols, and connector standardization are all intricate components of this activity.

Scope: The scope of this project is to develop next generation standard cabin interfaces that will provide airlines with freedom of choice in the installation and expansion of cabin equipment. IFE, communications, interface protocols, seat integration issues, and connectors and cables standardization are also a part of this activity.

Benefit: Cabin systems provide entertainment and service improvements to the passenger. To keep up with passenger’s desire for better accommodations, systems are becoming more sophisticated and complex. Home entertainment and office type computing systems and peripherals are finding applications in the cabin to facilitate data handling and data link to the ground. The growing complexities and scope of cabin equipment has resulted in the expansion of ARINC 628. New series of specifications are added as new concepts and next generation systems and networks are developed. The benefits of the cabin standards are numerous. They provide the airlines freedom of choice, unit price reduction through increased volume, interchangeable spares, more upgradeable options, and creation of more sub- markets for integrators and software/hardware suppliers. These benefits are being realized on the new aircraft programs, possibly regional and business jets, and retrofit aircraft programs. The final message here is to keep your eye on this organization and its findings and reports as the next generation of IFEC is going to be outlined by this group!

Additionally, and because of the newer tremendous connectivity capability coming down the pike, IFExpress should mention cybersecurity and while Panasonic did not specifically mention the subject to any extent during our conversation, we know their engineers are very aware of the issues involved with improving passenger and plane connectivity.  We expect a big focus on keeping airplane data safe – both now and in the future. Some recent internet stories featured airplane hacking but Panasonic security people denied the reported ‘hacks’ and said: “The responsibility for security does not solely rest with an (in-flight entertainment) manufacturer, an aircraft manufacturer, or the fleet operator,” noted a company representative. “Each plays an important role in assuring a secure environment.” Further they called the news reports ‘misleading’ and ‘inflammatory’ and noted; “That one could use the exploit to steal credit card information is simply not true.” Further, Panasonic says it continually tests the robustness of its systems, and that it complies with or exceeds all regulatory requirements, which include regular third-party tests. After visiting their manufacturing and test labs, we believe they work to keep their systems hack free and we expect the new systems to move to the next level up the security chain.

While a few Boeing airplanes were mentioned, Airbus is the other solution that will no doubt seize the opportunity to take advantage of better passenger connectivity and improved inflight plane data but at this time we feel they are interpreting their market properly with the planes they have. Wait one year or two and this will probably change. For example, the Airbus A350 is a logical future prospect for ‘backbone improved’ data channeling and airline profit improvement based upon more and better connectivity and improved plane information updates.

And lastly, we should mention that other vendors are not asleep to this technology revolution and we feel based on interviews that they too see the value in building modular systems. Needless to say, we expect to see some of their developments at this week’s AIX. Readers might want to pay attention as the race for better, faster IFEC is going to eclipse everything currently in this industry in the next few years and note that the competition has moved into a new phase where both airlines and passengers will be the winner. Much of this will be achieved by the OEMs and IFEC companies working together to focus on the ever-developing ground-based technologies that have so far surpassed what traditional IFEC has been able to offer to airlines and passengers due to the lengthy certification process. With an ever-increasing installation base of satcom equipped aircraft and passengers bringing onboard data rich and powerful PEDs, such as the smartphone, a new window of opportunity has opened to our industry with the ability to be able to interact with those devices. We may finally see the ever-elusive connected travel experience become a reality. Stay Tuned!

 

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.”

We have a lot to review this week so, for the sake of organization, let’s cover it all alphabetically. Here we go!

1 – Astronics
Below are a couple of product offerings that Astronics AES will be exhibiting at AIX Hamburg at Stand 3B30.

  • UltraLite System
    The Astronics EmPower® USB “UltraLite” System is an innovative passenger In-Seat Power System (ISPS) architecture that provides High Power USB (HPUSB) using zonal power converters. This architecture is a departure from the traditional seat-mounted power supply. The result is a system providing lower cost, lower weight, and less impact on passenger foot and baggage space when compared to traditional seat based architectures.
  • Wireless Charging Module
    The new wireless charging module from Astronics will also be on display at Aircraft Interiors Expo. This innovative product is able to charge passenger Wireless enabled SmartPhones and supports a large charging area. The module is intended to be installed in multiple seat locations and provides up to 15W power per module. This new product meets both Qi and PMA wireless charging standards. The small form factor allows for a wide array of installation locations and is easy to install. (Editors Note – We want to see this one and we promise a future story on it!)

2 – IFPL

IFPL are excited to be demonstrating their high value contactless payment PIN on screen system at AIX 2017 on stand 2C10. Using the IFPL NFC payment system, passengers can quickly and securely buy not only low-value items such as beverages and food, but higher-value items including perfume, luxury gifts and high-end audio technology. The higher-value purchases are enabled by using an additional card holder verification method to allow high value transactions; the contactless limit is usually around $30 (depending on the card issuer). By utilizing PIN on-screen technology, IFPL is able to offer this step change benefit to airlines and enable them to increase their ancillary revenue. IFPL use a secure kernel embedded into the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) that is located in the processor of the seatback monitor. This offers the same level of security as the traditional Point of Sale (POS) terminal, that enables both online and offline transactions. Using the IFPL Near Field Communication (NFC) contactless payment module, the TEE payment solution allows airlines to process compliant EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa) transactions without compromising confidential cardholder data or PIN. The PIN on screen payment system is one of our latest innovative products that IFPL will be demonstrating at AIX 2017.

3 – Lufthansa Systems
At this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Lufthansa Systems is presenting the new generation of its multi-award-winning BoardConnect wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) platform, with new features and a new user interface. Visitors can also find out about the mCabin product family, which offers new functions and additional apps to drive the digitalization of crew processes. Visit Lufthansa Systems from April 4–6 at AIX at stand #2E24.

New release:BoardConnect 5.0
BoardConnect enables passengers to stream content from an airline’s entertainment offering to their own tablets or smartphones during a flight. The BoardConnect product suite is available in three hardware versions. In addition to the permanently installed classic BoardConnect IFE solution, there is also the flexible BoardConnect Portable version. It combines all of the technical components in a single device which can be installed quickly and easily on any aircraft. BoardConnect Portable received the Crystal Cabin Award at AIX 2016. The third option available is the BoardConnect Plus connectivity solution. Lufthansa Systems is responding to the growing demand for new on-board digital services by further developing its software – with the new BoardConnect 5.0, which runs on all three versions of the system. BoardConnect 5.0 features a fresh design with a new user interface and an open platform architecture.

New products from the mCabin suite
Lufthansa Systems is also presenting new products from its mCabin suite at AIX. Passengers and crew members now expect digitalized services on board like those they use on the ground – but many airlines haven’t reached this stage yet. Mobile solutions for the cabin crew optimally support airlines of all sizes and business models in the digitalization of their on-board processes.

mCabin/Library+ brings together all crew documents in a digital form. This includes crew manuals and airline-specific information. An easy-to-use document management system also keeps the documents up to date and facilitates the search for specific information. The mCabin/Messenger service connects an airline’s cabin crew and ground staff based on their respective functions. This enables colleagues to communicate even if they don´t know each other by name. mCabin/CityGuide is an exclusive travel guide platform for crews with local information on all of an airline’s destinations, including organizational details about layovers such as contact details, crew hotels and pick-up times, as well as personal tips from the crew relating to excursions and restaurants, for example.

4 – P3
P3 aero systems has developed an outstanding set of services and methodology which, for the first time ever, will allow the complete analysis, simulation, testing and optimization of wireless networks within commercial aircraft cabins already during the early phase of cabin definition. P3 aero systems combines P3’s 20 years of global expertise in both fields of aerospace and telecommunication industries. Once being given an early configuration and layout, P3 aero systems can reliably model the wireless cabin and the potential risk of interference much prior to the aircraft delivery. For that matter wireless networks such as IEEE/Wi-Fi (2.4/5/60GHz), BT (2.4GHz) and 3G/LTE/5G were evaluated in relation to performance requirements, user functionalities and passenger experience. P3 has become a global player in both fields of defining, testing and improving mobile communication networks in the aviation industry coupled with global STC capability through part 21J design organization approvals held, enabling also advisory and technical solutions for a range of aero products. P3 will located be at stand 2C50 and in the IFEC zone.

5 – PXCom
At Hamburg AIX 2017, Vision Systems will unveil a new release of its IFE solution called Visi-Stream, that ensures a high passenger satisfaction and ancillary revenues. It comprises Wi-Fi AVOD with a rich and varied content including movies, music, games, daily press, extensive tourist information and ticketing. Advertising can be global and local, and priority data flows for safety videos put the tablets on hold. Options include broadcast or connectivity as well as remote diagnosis, software and content updates via a ground platform. The IFE manufacturer has decided to integrate XPlore by PXCom, the end-to-end solution that enables digital content management on the ground, and automatic roll- out on the onboard servers.

6 – Rockwell Collins
Aircraft Interiors Expo attendees are encouraged to visit the company exhibit at #4C40 in Hall B4 or schedule a meeting by contacting Rockwell Collins (CabinSystemsEvents@rockwellcollins.com) to learn more about our Cabin Solutions portfolio, including:

Broadband connectivity services, featuring Inmarsat’s Global Xpress for the most extensive and consistent global coverage of airline routes and the fastest broadband in the skies, as well as applications for crew connectivity, real-time credit card authorization and wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE)
Wireless IFE, bringing Wi-Fi accessible audio video on demand content in flight Venue™ high-definition cabin management and entertainment system that delivers a wide range of features and technology to satisfy the most discerning passengers Airshow® 3D, the industry’s most widely used and award-winning moving map to keep passengers informed throughout their flights Passenger Services System (PSS), a lightweight, low-cost reading light and cabin crew call system with optional USB charging port AirVueTM interactive, a touchscreen kiosk designed to provide passengers with wayfinding, news, weather and other information as they move through the airport and beyond A new electronically scanned array (ESA) antenna design supporting extreme high throughput (EHT) and global coverage in a smaller, lighter and lower profile package.

7 – Telefonix PDT
Located in Hall B2, Booth # 2D70 Telefonix PDT will be highlighting a number of product feature enhancements at this year’s show, including product and certification updates to the company’s Summit line of IFEC hardware. 

8 – True Blue Power
TC280AC-to-DC Converter
True Blue Power’s TC280 AC-to-DC Converter is quickly gaining popularity on European airlines. The TC280 is currently installed on Airbus A320, Boeing 767 and Boeing 757 aircraft. The highly efficient converter is designed to deliver enough energy to power electronic equipment throughout the aircraft, including in-seat, cabin and cockpit power applications. The TC280 produces 280 watts of power from an aircraft’s 115 VAC input. The converter is engineered to run cooler and features a fanless design delivering energy and weight savings. Installation is convenient, as the TC280 can be mounted in the floor or cabin wall.

TA202 Hi Power USB Port/TA102 Dual USB Port
There is a great deal of focus on passengers’ ability to keep their Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) fully charged during flight. True Blue Power’s line of high power and dual USB charging ports allow passengers to stay fully charged and connected during their flight.

The TA202 Series High Power USB Charging Port offers single and dual port, USB Type-C and Type-A configurations. Delivering 3.0 amps per port, the TSO-certified TA202 powers current and next-generation electronic devices. Units are available in lighted and non-lighted versions and do not require bulky, external power converters for 10 – 32 VDC installations. The TSO-certified TA102 Dual USB Charging Port simultaneously provides 2.1 amps per charging port to any consumer product requiring a USB interface. The TA102 protects itself and the charging device from short-circuit, power surges and over-current potential. It is a modern addition to any interior cabin, available in lighted and non-lighted versions. For more information visit the True Blue Power stand 1E53 during Aircraft Interiors Expo April 4 – 6 at the Hamburg Messe und Congress in Hamburg, Germany

9 – VT Miltope
Débuting at Aircraft Interiors will be VT Miltope’s 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless access point. Wave 2 uses the available 5 GHz bandwidth more efficiently, providing passengers and airlines with significant improvements in overall data rates (up to 3.6 Gbps using 4×4 MIMO) and the ability to transmit simultaneously to multiple users. With wireless data rates climbing well into the Gigabit range, the opportunity to support airline wireless IFEC ambitions will certainly be improved. Combining Wave 2 with the capabilities of CHT (Cognitive Hotspot Technology) used in VT Miltope’s current nMAP2 access point will keep VT Miltope at the leading edge of wireless products ideally suited for cabin environments.
In addition, VT Miltope will be displaying its ground connectivity product, cTWLU, featuring 4G LTE, 3G cellular as well as 802.11a/b/g/n and ac. The 2 cellular LTE radios provide global coverage. cTWLU brings cost effective aircraft to ground communications to the aircraft with the goal of eliminating “sneaker net” and paper based approaches and enabling the internet of Things (IoT) to aircraft. cTWLU has already received certification approval in 2016 and is currently supporting airline operational data. Typical applications include: EFB connectivity, FOQA data, eTechlog, eCabin logbook, weight and balance download, aircraft health monitoring, and may be used for IFE multimedia refresh.

Visit VT Miltope in Hall B2, booth 2D40 – Contact: Markus Gilges Email: mgilges@miltope.com Mobile: +44 7793 758 755


Other:

APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association), a four-decade old international airline trade association, called for immediate government-approved security solutions for the airline electronics ban announced this week by the United States and United Kingdom. IATA calculations indicate 393 flights per week impacted by the electronics ban. By APEX load-factor calculations, this translates into more than three million affected airline passengers per year. With airline and government coordination, APEX believes that solutions may be rapidly implemented by airlines to further increase security and allow personal electronics on-board.
“The U.S. and U.K. this week pointed to a problem in airline security by banning electronics on certain flights. When we take away personal electronic devices from passengers, we are bowing to a potential threat rather than providing an acceptable security solution.” APEX CEO Joe Leader stated. “Chemical detection machines utilized worldwide can detect illicit items in electronics. Turning on electronics checks functionality and non-functioning electronics could be banned from flights. The expense of hand-searching every carry-on for the personal electronics ban could instead be directed to a long-term solution that serves airline passengers and safety.”

APEX believes that without viable solutions provided to airlines, the electronics ban may spread well beyond the intended scope. Since the existing security scope includes individuals with travel privileges to the U.S. and U.K., these same individuals could connect via other airports where on-board personal electronics are not banned.

“Every threat placed against global air carriers has been met with viable solutions,” said Leader. “We now globally screen every checked bag, carefully scan all carry-ons, restrict liquids, conduct body-scans, and regularly conduct chemical analysis checks on items. When passengers connect internationally, they are frequently scanned again. Placing items into the cargo hold does not fully address the issue with a passenger-centric solution.”

Thales
AirAsia has contracted Thales to provide long-term repair-by-the-hour support for the avionics systems Thales and its ACSS joint venture with L3 Aviation Products will provide for the 304 Airbus A320neos the Asian low-cost carrier group has ordered.

Thales will equip AirAsia’s 304 A320neos–deliveries of which began last October–with its TopFlight flight management system (FMS), along with the Thales/ACSS T3CAS Surveillance platform. ACSS (Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems) is 70 percent-owned by L3 Aviation Products and 30 percent-owned by Thales.

IFEC’ers, it is almost here – AIX 2017 that is – and we cannot wait. Over the next few issues, IFExpress will be providing a ‘sneak peek’ from a few AIX vendors. Additionally, we have a ‘Special Story’ for the AIX Show Edition – stay tuned and read on!

Aircraft Cabin Systems

ACS is very busy these days with the design on their second-generation 12.1” retractable monitor. Even though their first-generation model was highly accepted in the marketplace, “We are constantly striving to give our customers what they want” says Richie Sugimoto (shown above) including a very robust design offering high value. Customers have appreciated the overall simplicity of the unit, including the lighter weight and less moving parts providing a quieter unit in operational mode. Most importantly, customers love the ease of installation when upgrading their aircraft from older monitors. These units are offered for both the Airbus and Boeing series of aircraft. They are designed for AC power and with HDSDI video input, provide a clear, crisp quality picture. The first-generation retractable monitors utilize a patented, mechanical design developed by Mr. Yukio Sugimoto and was developed to be a mechanical plug-and-play attachment to either the existing B737 PSU’s or for the Airbus planes.

ACS has also been working on a new design of 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) Modular Monitors. This new design concept allows the support of customizable input/output modules, allowing for the unit functionality with a wide variety of IFE systems. This unique design concept can meet the industry multiple demands with adding additional or different modules. This design is in the testing phase and expect production to release product to the marketplace in Q2. Available screen sizes range from 27” up to 75”.

All products are designed and manufactured in their Redmond, WA facility that is an AS9100 Certified facility. ACS will be at the upcoming AIX show in Hamburg, if in the area, stop by and see all of the new technology they are working on at stand 2C30 to discuss your needs.


digEcor

This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg will be unprecedented for Chief Executive David Withers and team as far as depth and breadth of solutions and in an increased presence both in size of booth and team in the IFEC zone, Hall B4 at stand 4E20. digEcor having recently expanded their sales team to include additional resource in the Middle East and Africa Region with the appointment of Eduardo Protasio, (from EuroAtlantic Airways) a new appointment for Asia Pacific in Stu McGraw commencing 27 March (previously QinetiQ and Virgin Australia) as well as Jorge Mompo’s appointment (previously Lumexis) as Sales Director of the America’s since AIX 2016. Headed by VP Global Sales, Paul Thorpe, digEcor are looking forward to what this will mean for the developing growth of the company and are looking forward to introducing this new team to visitors this year.

digEcor has been busy these past 12 months and has a handful of announcements to make at AIX 2017 they are keeping close to their chest. The GLIDE embedded system is making headway in the market as well as the continued success of digEcor’s passenger power for 2.1A USB and 110V power solutions, including pre integrated solutions with innovative seat vendors. Since AIX Hamburg 2016 digEcor has launched four new product lines including Passenger Service Solutions, LED Cabin Lighting, Cabin Management and digEcor’s own Moving Map.

digEcor’s mission to enable all airlines to create an extraordinary travel experience is still personified through their modular, flexible and tailored approach to meet the needs of airlines and vendors alike. The Integrated Flight Experience portfolio is still the only fully integrated system from one single vendor available today comprising GLIDE Embedded and Portable IFE, In-Seat Power, LED Cabin Lighting, Passenger Service Solutions, Cabin Management, Wi-Fi to stream content, ENGAGE application for crew, Tape Replacement and Content Services.

digEcor is showcasing this experience at AIX this year by cabin for Economy, Premium, Business and First class. In partnership with Avio Interiors, Geven Spa, Skypaxx, Thompson Seating and Pitch Aircraft Seating Systems, digEcor is primed to educate visitors by cabin or product, depending on the interest.


FTS New Brand Logo Identity

This past week, FTS proudly launched their new company logo. Here is what they had to say:

Over the past two years, FTS business has grown and evolved. In line with our expansion globally, across U.S. and Europe, as well as the addition of new exciting product range, it’s time for a change!

With a sharp and crisp font and brighter blue used, it is a modernized look which reflects our core values – constantly innovating, cutting-edge technology and revolutionize the business.

Being a newcomer, FTS strives to revolutionize the IFEC industry with new business ideas, innovative product offerings and high quality hardware.

We do not follow the norm. We set ourselves apart. This is what we strive for and we are excited to share that with you.

Our new logo will have its first appearance in AIX 2017.

Check us out and see you at booth 2E34!


AIX

Twenty One products and ideas are in the finals of the 2017 Crystal Cabin Awards, the world’s most renowned prize for innovation in aircraft interiors. From a parking guidance system for cabin baggage to a lavatory mirror that displays on-board video and information as if by magic, the finalists’ submissions include innovative ideas for pretty much every aspect of the cabin – revealing today how we will be flying in the world of tomorrow. In the field of “Cabin Concepts” in particular, the giants are lining up for a showdown: Bombardier, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are all hoping for a trophy in the same category. With 85 shortlist entrants from 21 nations, the 2017 Crystal Cabin Awards have been more popular and more international than ever before in their 11 years of history. The seven winners of the coveted Crystal Cabin Award trophies will be announced on the first evening of the Aircraft Interiors Expo (4 – 6 April, 2017) in Hamburg, Germany.


Boeing

Boeing and CDB Aviation Lease Finance (CDB Aviation) announced an order for 30 737 MAX 8 airplanes. The order, valued at $3.3 billion at current list prices, was previously unidentified on Boeing’s Orders & Deliveries website. Based in Dublin, Ireland, CDB Aviation operates as a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co LTD (CDB Leasing) (HKEX stock code:1606). With registered capital of $US50 million and a fleet of over 200 aircraft, CDB Aviation has over 10 years’ experience in the business and is one of the largest and most influential Chinese-owned aviation leasing companies.
And while we are on Boeing, keep your eye on the new midsize airplane demand for the companies next new plane. Boeing expects to launch a new larger B737 beyond the B737 MAX by the end of 2017. Also expect it to fall below the B787 passenger payload. The so-called B797 will probably seat from 200 to almost 300 passengers over a range of some 4300 to 5300 nautical miles – in the older B767-200 payload-range footprint. Single vs twin aisle is a big deciding factor as well as competition with their existing B737 fleet and it’s growth. Here is more reading for your airplane interest

Customers Press Boeing To Launch New Midsize Widebody Aircraft Soon | Commercial Aviation content from Aviation Week

Boeing’s Plan For Bigger 737 MAX Meets with Industry Doubts 

Boeing’s talking with airlines about a ‘797,’ and they like what they hear | The Seattle Times

The Boeing 737 MAX Is the Most Underrated Plane of All Time — The Motley Fool


SITA

SITA, recently announced the formation of the Secure Journeys Working Group to address today’s airport security threats in the USA and to work towards creating a secure and efficient passenger experience throughout the airport. The launch of the Secure Journeys initiative is in response to the current security climate and recent attacks on non-secure areas of the airport, including the Brussels airport bombing and Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. Members of the working group cite these incidents as examples that demonstrate the need to rethink the approach to getting passengers through the airport quickly and safely. The newly extended group will address growing challenges, including:

  • Moving passengers and baggage more rapidly through non-secure areas of the airport, such as check-in and baggage claim areas;
  • Reducing and effectively managing security wait times to reduce lines of people in non-secure areas;
  • Incorporating biometrics for passenger screening authentication;
  • Addressing ways in which identity management solutions can be used along with data analytics to reduce the growing concerns around the insider threat.

Bad Aviation Joke: A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.’ OK, the worst science joke then: Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, ‘I’ve lost my electron.’ The other says ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies, ‘Yes, I’m positive.’

• SES contracts Hughes for service on EchoStar XVII and EchoStar XIX HTS satellites, and combines them with its AMC-15 and AMC-16 network, to provide a four-satellite constellation for the launch of Thales FlytLIVE network
• The four-satellite network strengthens Thales’ FlytLIVE network as it enters initial operations in 2017 and in advance of the milestone launch of SES-17 Ka-band HTS satellite, planned for 2020
• SES to purchase multiple JUPITER System gateways from Hughes and contract ground segment operations to Hughes to bring seamless connectivity to Thales FlytLIVE network
• Thales selects Hughes JUPITER System Aeronautical platform for its next-generation IFC solution

Arlington, VA, Luxembourg and Germantown, MD | March 8, 2017– Today, Thales, SES S.A. and Hughes Network Systems (HUGHES) announced a set of strategic agreements to enhance the delivery of FlytLIVETM – Thales’ connected inflight experience solution, offering the most advanced and efficient aeronautical connectivity solution available in the Americas. Under the agreements, SES contracts capacity on Hughes EchoStar XVII and EchoStar XIX high throughput (HTS) Ka-band satellites to complement its AMC-15 and AMC-16 network giving FlytLIVE the only redundant coverage network in North America. SES will also purchase multiple JUPITERTM System gateways from Hughes to qualify Thales to deploy its FlytLIVE service on Hughes JUPITER Aeronautical platform. This will allow Thales to initiate its next- generation connected inflight experience offering in North America this year.

Furthermore, the system being deployed is forward compatible with SES-17, SES’ powerful Ka- band HTS satellite optimized for aviation connectivity and expected to launch in 2020, thus ensuring Thales’ airline clients have a clear and effective path for accommodating the ever- growing traffic demands of their passengers.

FlytLIVE by Thales provides an advanced, seamless inflight connectivity solution with unmatched performance and redundancy, giving passengers the full broadband Internet connectivity, including the ability to stream Internet services for video, games, social media and live television, creating an immersive and engaging experience in the air. In addition, this new service enables airlines to upload content, download operational data, and provide live television channels to their entire fleet through managed end-to-end solutions and network services.

In 2016, SES and Thales announced an agreement to procure and commercialize SES-17 and to leverage SES’ existing AMC-15 and AMC-16 satellites for FlytLIVE. This new set of strategic agreements between SES, Thales and Hughes provide Thales with an expanded scope of HTS Ka-band satellite capacity and the latest and most advanced aeronautical platform available today. The combination of Hughes EchoStar XVII and XIX Ka-band satellites with SES’ AMC-15 and AMC-16 network provide for expanded satellite capacity, coverage, and redundancy over North America. With these four satellites and the Hughes JUPITER System aeronautical platform, Thales will be positioned to offer the most comprehensive connectivity and content services for the full gamut of North American flight routes, including routes between the North East U.S. and Canada and the Caribbean, which to-date have been underserved as these flight routes are predominantly over open ocean. This combination of coverage, performance, redundancy, and network robustness will be unique to FlytLIVE.

At the center of the new service is Hughes high-performance JUPITER system that is already in operation for broadband enterprise and consumer services in other major markets globally and will be introduced for aeronautical use on the Thales FlytLIVE network. Unique features of the network include rapid beam-to-beam and satellite-to-satellite switching and DVB-S2x transmission. Thales has already begun service testing using its new Thales Ka-band aero antenna and the Hughes JUPITER technology.

SES will also purchase multiple Hughes JUPITER System gateways to support traffic carried over AMC-15 and AMC-16, as well as SES-17, when it enters service. FlyLIVE’s network will deliver industry leading speed and capacity for support of growing passenger service demands and will comfortably accommodate forecasted traffic increases through the launch of SES-17, which is manufactured by Thales Alenia Space and configured with close to 200 spot beams and coverage tailored to aviation and mobility markets.

“Our experience and position as a global leader in satellites, avionics, cybersecurity and connected inflight entertainment means we are able to deliver the most capable solutions our customers expect. With these strategic agreements with SES and Hughes, Thales FlytLIVE service will be uniquely able to deliver airlines and their passengers with an unsurpassed, connected inflight entertainment experience.” • Dominique Giannoni, CEO, Thales InFlyt Experience

“This agreement confirms once again SES’s ability to provide scalable solutions tailored to match our customers’ specific requirements. Not only are we developing SES-17, a next- generation satellite that Thales will use to meet the future inflight connectivity demands of the next decade, but we are also providing a superior, tailor-made, multi-satellite and multi-beam solution today, in 2017, utilizing assets already in orbit. This is only possible thanks to the combination of our existing robust and flexible network with our long-standing relationship with Hughes and Thales.” • Elias Zaccack, Senior Vice President of SES’s Global

Mobility Team and the Americas region, SES S.A.
“Hughes is proud to join with Thales and SES to bring our advanced JUPITER System aeronautical platform, along with the enhanced satellite coverage and capacity of our EchoStar XVII and XIX satellites, to facilitate the launch and operation of FlytLIVE’ s North American service. Our JUPITER platform will enable SES and Thales to deliver an unmatched level of inflight connectivity customer experience, and the capacity brought through our satellites will ensure that Thales’ airline clients will be able to readily accommodate the ever-growing demands and performance expectations of their passengers.” • Paul Gaske, Executive Vice President, North America, Hughes

Combination of increased flexibility, security and simplified network management is the winner

Mexico | March 3, 2017– Aeromexico, Mexico’s global airline, has selected SITA to provide network connectivity across more than 50 international locations. SITA’s world-class communications services will ensure Aeromexico will have full access to all its IT applications for back and front-office activities, including check-in and departure control, as the airline expands its routes across the world.

The three-year agreement includes the provision of SITA CorporateConnect services at 50 locations to transport mission-critical business internet traffic for Aeromexico’s daily operations. This service connects Aeromexico’s hubs and main sites to virtual private networks providing bandwidth at the highest availability (up to 99.95%).

In addition, 25 locations will have SITA CorporateConnect@Airports which will allow all of Aeromexico’s offices and devices at these airports to securely and cost effectively connect to its VPN via the airport LAN and AirportHub™, SITA’s shared infrastructure.

Benjamín Hernández, CIO, Aeromexico, said: “It is vital that Aeromexico has a world-class communications infrastructure that provides high availability service and access to our IT systems anywhere we operate. This ensures we can deliver a better travel experience to our passengers and minimizes any disruptions in our connected world.

“We were looking for the combination of a strong partner with an international footprint at airports, technical expertise and service quality. SITA delivers on all these counts and will now work together with us as we grow Aeromexico internationally.”

Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President, Latin America, said: “Aeromexico has a tradition of providing high quality service to its passengers and needs a robust, cost-effective communications infrastructure to support it. SITA Connect will enable the airline to add new international destinations in a matter of weeks not months due to our continued investment in the AirportHub infrastructure, which is now at more than 300 airports across the world with more on the way. We are looking forward to providing Aeromexico with flexible, secure and simplified global network management as it grows internationally.”

SITA provides the largest worldwide communication network coverage to airlines and over the coming years Aeromexico expects to add more locations to the 50 already agreed. SITA enables reliable connectivity and with a footprint in over 220 countries and territories, and shared infrastructure at over 300 AirportHub equipped airports, it offers true global connectivity from a single supplier.

Aeromexico carried more than 19 million passengers in 2016 and is Mexico’s flag carrier with 86 destinations in more than 20 countries.

PXCom

This week we got a tip-off about a new product that Cyril Jean at PXcom developed for airline inflight content. To start off our discussion with him, we asked for a simple statement of what XPlore is, and he told IFExpress; “A comprehensive on-the-ground solution that generates interactive apps for your IFEC platforms.”  But the real solution is a bit more elegant than that. The true beauty of XPlore is it bares the workload of locating, selecting, developing and providing IFE solutions. Further, we note that their total operation is handled by their SaaS (Software as a Service) model. After we heard more about the program, we thought our readers might like to see how content and advertising providers could take the load off the airlines and we asked Cyril if he would give our readers a few answers to some relevant questions:

Q. What is XPlore?

A: XPlore is an end-to-end solution, focused on destination content, deals & services, that enables content creation, aggregation and management on the ground and automatically generates the inflight apps or updates for the inflight apps, that are aimed at being integrated into the IFEC platforms.

Q. How does it work?

 A: XPlore is divided into a back office, and bespoke inflight apps. On the back office side, we agree with airlines on the kind of content that they want to onboard: interactive destination guides, sponsored content, editorial content, destination deals (activity booking or couponing), destination services (taxi booking, car rental, hotel pre-checking, etc.) Meantime, we create for the airline the interactive experience they want to deliver onboard. That means that we create the app(s) that they want to be integrated into their IFEC platform, whether seatback screen, w-IFE and/or IFC portal, or airline’s app. The GUI is always customized to provide a consistent and seamless experience on the IFE. And automatically, we “populate” the apps with the content updates that are managed on our back office.

At the end, when the aircraft lands, we off-load all the usage data, transactions…and update the dashboard both for the airline, PXCom, and all the involved partners. Except for destination services that require IFC, our technology doesn’t need to rely on any IFC.

Q: So, XPlore is on the plane and on the airline ground data sources – but it looks to also be on your computers to monitor it as well. Can you sort out for our readers what each part does – Airplane, Airline Back Office, and PX Com office computers/monitoring equipment? Do they talk to one another? If so, how?

A: Actually our back office is on a SaaS mode (Software as a Service). There are as many accesses as an involved stakeholder:

  • PXCom has an access to upload and manage all the destination guides contents from the travel guide editor we partner with, as well as the destination deals inventories
  • All the sponsors and advertisers access to upload their promotional content and define the call to action they want (booking/prebooking, landing pages, lead generation form, downloadable coupons, etc.), and monitor the results of their advertising campaigns
  • Each airline we work with, has a dedicated access, both upstream, to manage the content they want to add, clear/ban the advertisers, sponsors, destination service providers – and downstream to monitor the usage data as well as the generated ancillaries.

Then PXCom’s team controls, monitors and manages on the back office the whole content which is ready to be onboarded, and, through a simple click, the team generates the content or content’s update, including the possible GUI changes. All this digital content is then sent to the considered airline’s IFEC through its IFEC manufacturer, and when an aircraft lands, all the relevant data is automatically sent to our back office and feed the usage figures.

Q: Why did you and your team develop XPlore?

 A: Actually, this architecture (on-the-ground back-office “connected” to inflight) was developed for our internal needs, and is part of PXCom’s patented technology. The principle is exactly the same as for regular media (music, movies, digital press) managed by well know CMS (Content Management System), but the big difference is that we only manage digital and interactive content.

Q: Will XPlore work on seatback and personal device alike?

A: Correct. All our solutions are designed to work regardless of the InFlight Entertainment platform (seatback screen, w-IFE, IFC portal, airline mobile app).

Q: Have you developed many airline solutions for XPlore and are airlines interested? 

 A: By AIX we will be integrated on 11 airlines. 100% of what we provide the airlines with, is managed by XPlore and we will welcome all the IFEC industry to booth 3C40B.

Q: OK, XPlore sounds very airline friendly but how will it help airlines?

 A: PXCom is dedicated to both leverage the #PaxEx and generate ancillaries for the airlines. XPlore is a cost-effective solution that introduces a maximum agility both in the GUI and the content management of the inflight apps. For example, should an airline produce for its website some destination tips or editorial content they want to onboard additionally to their interactive inflight destination guides, we just need to connect via an API, and automatically the content produced for its website can be retrieved and aggregated with the rest of the destination content that we onboard.

Regarding the ancillary generation, our technology acts like an aggregator, especially for destination services. Let’s consider an important car rental company. This company has partnerships with X airlines that all have different IFEC platforms. For this car rental company, we create once the inflight app, and rolls it out on all the airlines-partners IFEC/IFC platforms. On the reverse side, for an airline that wants to “populate” its inflight connectivity portal and maximize the ancillary revenues we position as a single technology entry point for all its partners.

Q: That all sounds great but what are airlines doing with your content application solutions?

 A: We have closed a deal with an airline that has chosen to add its own cabin crew tips (specific Points of Interest and/or specific reviews). That means that the airline’s cabin crew management has organized the collection of the tips, and upload them on our back office to be aggregated with the interactive destination guides that we provide.

Another airline has chosen to “plug” its own destination content, initially written for its inflight magazine, to the destination guides we will integrated into both its seatback screens & IFC portal.

Q: Will this product reduce airline costs or provide other benefit like more usage and customer interest data?

 A: All of these! Regarding the costs, we can change the whole content as well as 100% of the GUI of the apps without going through costly software update assessments.

Regarding the customer interest data, when we talk to airlines, we show them the day+1 live monitoring of our apps’ usage data. These data help us in delivering more accurate content, whilst offering “sponsors” the right insights for their inflight digital advertising campaigns

Q: Sounds exciting Cyril, when it be flying?

A: It’s already flying on 160+ aircraft!

(Editor’s Note: The XPlore Main Architects are shown in the picture above but not the whole team were included. Also, be sure to checkout the XPlore Brochure!)

You may contact Cyril via email. Or visit the PXcom website.


Gogo

Gogo has taken its 2Ku performance to the next level, exceeding speeds of 100 Mbps. “When we launched 2Ku, we knew that the performance would get better with our next generation modem and new high-throughput satellites,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s chief technology officer.  “We have capacity on HTS satellites in orbit today and 2Ku’s open architecture allows us to take advantage of satellite innovations over time. We also continue to improve our aircraft hardware – servers, modems, antenna, and wireless access points. This performance achievement demonstrates the progress we’ve made on both fronts.”

Gogo’s new modem upgrades the performance of both its 2Ku and Ku global satellite services. The proprietary features of the new modem significantly increase throughput and reliability to and from the aircraft.  The modem also will support access to streaming video through the internet and live television programming through Gogo’s IPTV product – Gogo TV.

“There are now more than 100 2Ku aircraft flying with our first-generation modem utilizing existing wide-beam satellite technologies. Under these conditions, the technology is already delivering industry leading performance.  With the new modem and HTS satellites, we are setting a very high bar for the industry,” said Michael Small, president and CEO of Gogo. “We are going to deliver this technology upgrade to our airline partners without needing to take an aircraft out of service, which is incredibly important for their operations.”

The new modem will be installed beginning in the second half of 2017. Eventually, it will be installed on more than 1500 2Ku and 250 Ku aircraft across 13 leading airlines.


Lufthansa Systems

The company has developed EASA-certified Lido/SurfaceData database of worldwide obstacles designed for avionics manufacturers and software providers.


Astronics Aerospace

They earned $78m on $534.4m revenues in 2016 vs $85.1m on $549.7m in 2015.


Boeing

They booked orders from unidentified customer(s) for eight 737NGs, 18 737 MAXs (nine converted 737NGs) and five 787s, increasing its 2016 order total to 61 (50 net). Also, they were selected by flydubai to provide data analytics to manage its 737 MAX fleet.


Other

  • ACI reports year-over-year world airport traffic increased 5.5% in 2016. Lets see what 2017 does!
  • Here is why you might want to be Wi-Fi careful in the airport or even on a plane.

Well IFExpress readers, it’s that time again – Aircraft Interiors and here is the story: “This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) 2017, which takes place in Hamburg, Germany from 4th – 6th April, is the global stage to see the latest innovations and product launches from the world’s leading suppliers in aircraft cabin interiors and Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity. This year, AIX welcomes 55 new exhibiting companies, including Adient, Bombardier and airtango. They will join more than 500 companies at the event including longstanding exhibitors such as; Airbus, B/E Aerospace, Boeing, Inmarsat, Panasonic Avionics and Zodiac and newer entrants such as Acro, and Mirus Aircraft Seating. Across AIX as a whole, 125 companies are expanding their presence taking an additional 3,000 sq. meters between them.”

The show news release went on: “According to the IATA’s 2016 Global Passenger Survey, a key concern for passengers, particularly those under 24, is having the same connectivity in the air as on the ground, highlighting the need for continued airline investment to meet passenger needs. This is reflected in the continued growth of the IFEC Zone. It is now the world’s largest event dedicated to content and service providers. There are 18 new showcasing companies including Philotech, LiteAir Aviation Products and Otonomy Aviation, alongside 100 existing exhibitors in the Zone.”

Last year, over 16,000 folks visited the expo and this year we expect no less. In fact, see what the folks at AIX are saying; “AIX is part of the Passenger Experience Week, which also includes the World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo, co-located with AIX at the Hamburg Messe from 4th – 6th April.  Organized by Reed Exhibitions, some 20,000 visitors are expected to register to attend Passenger Experience Week. The first of the events taking place at the Hamburg Messe during Passenger Experience Week is the renowned Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on 3rd April. The event is dedicated to the future of the passenger experience industry and incorporates a broad choice of presentations and panel discussions on the key themes of generating revenue, the connected journey and comfort and wellbeing. Leading speakers on these topics come from inside and outside the passenger experience industry including Dick Powell, the Chairman of design agency Seymourpowell, Paul Edwards, head of Industrial Design at Airbus and Blake Emery, Direction Differentiation Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.”

AIX also mentioned: “New to the PEC this year is the Airline Breakfast Forum. This addition presents an opportunity for airline attendees to network, debate informally with their peers about issues relevant to improving the passenger experience in their businesses and to share best practice insights. Attendees at the Airline Breakfast Forum will also be invited to a keynote by Jeff James, vice president and general manager of the Disney Institute.”

Polly Magraw, Event Director of the Aircraft Interiors Expo, noted: “2017 is set to be a landmark year for AIX, with record growth from both new and existing exhibitors, much of it in our burgeoning IFEC zone. With such a wealth of companies exhibiting at the show, and more than 1,000 airline executives expected to attend, it’s no surprise that AIX is becoming firmly established as the event that sets the agenda for the aircraft interiors sector.”

Additionally, we should note that CabinSpace LIVE, a theater style series of seminars where visitors can learn and be inspired on a variety of pressing issues within the IFEC, Interiors and MRO sectors, will also be taking place during AIX. And by the way, Passenger Experience Week also incorporates the 11th annual Crystal Cabin Awards, which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 4th April, with seven award categories that celebrate the most innovative ideas in cabin design and technology.

(Editor’s Note: This is the Big One and we hope our readers come to Hamburg – and for US visitors, we hope you can get back in the USA…”)


QANTAS & NETFLIX

Netflix has announced plans to offer in-flight on-demand entertainment from its app with every Qantas flight, allowing passengers to stream live sports, news and TV shows for three days without a subscription. Qantas passengers on Wi-Fi equipped flights will be able to binge-watch Netflix and stream songs from Spotify. The midair entertainment game-changer will be delivered over high-speed Wi-Fi, which Qantas claimed would be “10 times faster” than its rivals, and will be available on one Boeing 737 late this month, with the rest of the fleet following in June – and yes, you need an App. Also we note that under the scheme, Foxtel television will offer passengers three days of free streaming, while Netflix and Spotify offer 30-day free trials as long as passengers subscribe. By the way, there will be no seat back screens onboard so you will need your own device. Stay Tuned on this one, it could be a world wide game changer.


BIOMETRICS

A new biometrics-based seamless passenger-walkthrough in Schiphol Airport will modernize passenger journey experience in the scope of the ongoing Digital Airport Program. Schiphol Airport selected Vision-Box, the Passenger Experience leaders responsible for processing over 200 million passengers per year at borders worldwide, to take up the challenge. New technology will be tested from 2017 to offer passengers a seamless experience, increase throughput and eliminate bottlenecks, thus enhancing capacity within the existing footprint!


SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE AIRLINES signed LOI to order 19 more (now 49) Trent-powered 787-10s for delivery from FY20/21 and 20 GE9X- powered 777-9s for delivery from FY21/22, and option six 787-10s and six 777-9s. Noted Boeing: “The 787-10 is the third member of the super-efficient, passenger-pleasing 787 Dreamliner family. With its greater passenger and cargo capacity, high degree of commonality and passenger-pleasing features, the 787-10 will complement the family while setting a new benchmark for fuel efficiency and operating economics – 25 percent better fuel per seat and emissions than the airplanes than the competition it will replace. Since its introduction, the 787 Dreamliner has opened more than 130 new city pairs, connecting the world as never before.”


AIRBUS

AIRBUS plans to donate four of its flight test aircraft to the Museum of Air and Space in Paris-Le Bourget and Aeroscopia in Toulouse: A320 (001), A340-600 (360), A380 (002), and A380 (004), which as first of the four will arrive in Paris on Feb 14.


VTS

According to Web Barth: “The world’s largest selling digital player just got even better – VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is introducing a new DVP digital player that will solve problems with videotape drives for entertainment and PRAMS while adding an optional Moving Map.

He went on: “VTS had maintained old videotape players and drives for many airlines around the world since the 1980s and has firsthand experience with the problems & expense of videotape including: Videotape shortages & tape replacement due to video/sound degradation, Videotape Logistics (collecting, accounting, sending/receiving), and the growing videotape player, drive maintenance expense

To solve these problems, VTS introduced the first “Plug and Play” digital drive replacements for all existing VHS Reproducers/Hi8 Players.

“VTS DVP was the first player to meet the ‘form, fit and function’ criteria: “Slide out VHS player, slide in DVP Digital Player, turn new system on. See for yourself, continued Web.

“The new VTS DVP digital player can improve cabin wide video and an audio performance to modern day expectations; eliminate maintenance expense and logistics problems associated with tape drive units. Further it can eliminate the problem of tape driven PRAMS combining the ease of digital audio as well as companion video to go along with the prerecorded announcement and music. They come with a moving map feature to bring the existing IFE to better than new.” VTS believes there is no more affordable or faster means of making an older IFE system better than new. You can contact VTS via webbarth@vts.global.com


INDUSTRY GROWTH

The Airline Monitor expects unprecedented 7-year run of >6% annual growth to soon come to an end; in effect, that above average traffic growth will continue independently, so when it doesn’t – deliveries will have to decline.

(Editor’s Note: IFExpress saw this coming and can you guess what might be the cause?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week, IFExpress has a lot of new product/services probably announced as Aircraft Interiors, Hamburg, 4 – 6 April, 2017 approaches. This ‘Big Deal IFEC’ show is the culmination of Passenger Experience Week in Hamburg 3 – 6 April. We will have more on the expo later but let’s return to the topics of this weeks IFExpress:


INMARSAT
Inmarsat has announced a key infrastructure milestone for its European Aviation Network (EAN), following the successful test and validation of the EAN Satellite Access Station (SAS). As the first solution in the world to integrate connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and a LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom, EAN will provide a true in-flight broadband experience for millions of airlines passengers traveling throughout Europe. The SAS is located in the Greek town of Nemea and operated under an agreement with OTE, the largest telecommunications provider in Greece and member of the Deutsche Telekom Group. Engineers undertook rigorous performance and stability tests to verify the SAS’s capabilities to serve as a reliable and robust gateway between Inmarsat’s S-band satellite and the internet. The SAS consists of a 13-meter antenna that provides feeder links to the satellite, a radio frequency sub-system and a radio access network provided by Inmarsat partner Cobham SATCOM. And if you want to see a video that does a good job of explaining the program, check out the video on  youTube


IFPL
Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) specialists IFPL will be showcasing their latest power solutions at AIX 2017 in Hamburg. With new consumer devices adopting USB-C as standard, IFPL has actively engaged its customers on how this technology can be applied to IFEC and how to transition from USB-A. Along with its baseline USB-C outlet, IFPL is currently developing a range of USB–C 3.1 peripherals and solutions. Visitors to stand 2C10, we are told, can see their USB-C outlet and discuss industry adoption of this technology.

In previous shows IFPL demonstrated their high power and data USB-A 2.0 and we covered it IFExpress. These are now in-service along with IFPL’s clever reversible option. Recently, IFPL has worked closely with GORE to develop the new USB-A 3.0 module, that combined IFPL USB 3.0 with GORE Aerospace USB 3.0 cables and provides the ideal solution for delivering high power (2A, 5V DC) and data transfer (up to 5Gbps) as per USB 3.0 requirements. This gives passengers the ability to maximize the benefits of both charging their Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and interfacing with the Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system.

IFPL has also enhanced the capability of its existing 1225 unit, the 110V AC Universal Remote Power Outlet, with the addition of a high power USB-A socket and will be demonstrating the new 2011 unit on the stand. In addition, IFPL has been working with key industry partners to develop a new range of power solutions that focus on ensure ergonomic and aesthetic seat integration. The combined approach delivered a system that maximizes the use of the physical space of the seat and seamlessly design the USB outlet into the actual seat arm. The result is an attractive installation of a fully integrated system that has no impact on passenger legroom. As always, IFPL’s established range of IFEC products and solutions will be on display and the expert team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirements that visitors to AIX 2017 may have.

Editor’s Note: IFPL is based on the Isle of Wight, just off the South Coast of England. Founded 20 years ago by CEO Geoff Underwood, IFPL today enjoys one of the largest portfolio of proven IFEC products and services in its sector.


SITAONAIR
Airline passengers flying to and from the Ivory Coast can now expect a connected experience, as national airline, Air Cote d’Ivoire (VRE), signs up for inflight passenger connectivity services from world-leading provider SITAONAIR. The new deal will deliver connectivity solutions to VRE’s brand new A320s, in the form of SITAONAIR’s Internet ONAIR and Mobile ONAIR products. With Internet ONAIR onboard, airlines can offer passengers seamless inflight internet access, connecting their personal devices by opening a browser – just as they would with a public Wi-Fi hotspot. Airlines can use Internet ONAIR to personalize their passenger relationships by developing a portal that can offer an interactive and engaging experience for the passenger. It also offers opportunities for airlines to grow their ancillary revenues. Mobile ONAIR, meanwhile, offers passengers an airborne mobile phone service that enables them to make phone calls, send texts and use their mobile phone data inflight, through an extensive number of roaming partners in Africa and across the world. In June 2017, SITAONAIR’s teams will begin activating Internet ONAIR and Mobile ONAIR on five new Air Côte d’Ivoire A320s equipped with Airbus’ Airline Network Architecture (ALNA) server platform. The services will make use of SwiftBroadband, an IP-based data service from Inmarsat that SITAONAIR, as distributor, will operate as service provider.


AirSatOne
Aviation Satcom provider, AirSatOne, announces lower rates for its SwiftBroadband connectivity. Taking care of customers is a top priority at AirSatOne and one reason why the company maintains a 99% customer retention rate. So when Inmarsat, the leader in global satellite communications, lowered its prices AirSatOne was quick to pass the savings on to its customers. Customers using AirSatOne as their service provider have access to its custom global network for the same price as the generic network used by the competition. AirSatOne’s custom network includes worldwide teleports and IP PoP (Internet Point of Presence) with advanced network security and our globally deployed Flightstream SA which provides web filtering, compression, consumption tracking and firewall customized for mobile communications.


AIRBUS
When Lufthansa’s new long-haul Airbus A350-900 enters service this coming Friday, passengers will experience a cabin lighting concept tailored to the human biorhythm for the first time – 24 different lighting scenarios on board ensure that passengers reach their destination well-rested and with less jetlag than is typical for a long-haul flight. The scientific concept for the new lighting technique originates with the “jetlite” startup, anchored in the aviation cluster, and was brought to market-readiness assisted by the six-month Airbus BizLab accelerator program.


PANASONIC AVIONICS
Effective immediately, Hideo Nakano will serve as CEO of Panasonic Avionics, succeeding Paul Margis, who has left the company. Mr. Nakano is an avionics industry veteran and was most recently the Deputy CEO of Panasonic Avionics. His previous experience at Panasonic includes serving as CFO of Panasonic’s Automotive & Industrial Systems Company, the largest of Panasonic Corp.’s four internal companies, as well as CFO of Panasonic Corporation of North America. Panasonic Avionics has also appointed Mark Jennings to serve in the new position of Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Mr. Jennings will be responsible for duties related to operations, engineering, sales and marketing. Mr. Jennings joined Panasonic Avionics in 1998 as Regional Director based in Dubai and most recently served as Vice President of Operations. Additionally, Seigo Tada has been named Chief Financial Officer of PAC. He succeeds Paul Bottiaux, who has left the company. Mr. Tada will maintain his position as VP of Finance and Controller of Panasonic Corporation of North America. Mr. Tada joined Panasonic in 1985 and has held roles of increasing responsibility within the finance function throughout his time with the company, including ten years in the United States. You can read more here.


LUFTHANSA TECHNIC
LT just completed Ka Band connectivity on it’s first VIP A330 and installing similar technology on some 32 Lufthansa A320 planes PER MONTH!


GLOBAL CONNECTED AIRCRAFT SUMMIT
Here is the agenda. The summit happens Wednesday, June 7, through Friday, June 9. this year.


MORE

Chesterfield, MO | February 1, 2017–

Aviation Satcom provider, AirSatOne, announces lower rates for its SwiftBroadband connectivity.  Taking care of customers is a top priority at AirSatOne and one reason why the company maintains a 99% customer retention rate. So when Inmarsat, the leader in global satellite communications, lowered its prices AirSatOne was quick to pass the savings on to its customers.

Customers using AirSatOne as their service provider have access to its custom global network for the same price as the generic network used by the competition.   AirSatOne’s custom network includes worldwide teleports and IP PoP (Internet Point of Presence) with advanced network security and our globally deployed Flightstream™ SA which provides web filtering, compression, consumption tracking and firewall customized for mobile communications.

“This is the second time AirSatOne has been able to reduce airtime prices for our customers, “said President Jo Kremsreiter.  AirSatOne’s worldwide SwiftBroadband price reduction is especially significant because airtime charges for the domestic US only Go-Go system are on the rise.

“We think this is an exciting time for the Satcom market. With more and more operators and executives finding it essential to conduct business and stay in sync with the home office while traveling, we hope reducing airtime charges will encourage more aircraft owners to invest in installing Satcom systems in their aircraft,” says  Kremsreiter.  Satcom systems work everywhere (except at the poles) so in addition to increasing productivity, Satcom hardware increases the aircraft’s value and worldwide marketability when it comes time to sell.

AirSatOne’s 2017 SwiftBroadband price guides are online and can be viewed or downloaded on the company’s website. AirSatOne is the only Aviation Satcom provider not afraid to publish our price guides on-line: https://airsatone.com/satcom-airtime-price-guides

This issue of IFExpress always always raises a few feathers so let’s get started with some IFExpress predictions, then we will present the inputs from folks who were willing to provide their names, and finally, those who wish to remain anonymous will contribute as well. We should probably note that not all predictions landed in the IFEC category and thus it looks to be an interesting year – and things just might change anywhere!

IFExpress 2017 Predictions

  1. Narrower aircraft seats are coming in 2017, especially in newer low class offerings where only certain sized carry-on baggage will be permitted – smaller and surely less comfortable as well. We already know United Airlines has a new low cost Basic Economy package that will be copied by others. The rub will be what limitations will be placed on passengers who do not have the airline reward travel card! Hey, many folks can travel short flights and put up with almost anything. It is all a function of what they have to take with them. And yes, it will be in the back of the plane.
  2. More colored cabin environments will be here in 2017, but also as a result of new LED lighting in the plane – probably more blue! [We note: A recent Boeing study concluded that passengers will perceive that the airplane is cleaner, more comfortable, newer, and with better air and more room, all with the correct lighting. Even one German university test proved while flying with light that contains increased red, (not blue) light components, is more calming and cause less passenger stress.]
  3. We cannot say this enough but Data will be the big deal in 2017, whether it is an airline examining their routes with a goal for less fuel, to using social media to communicate directly with passengers or even potential travelers, to connection with the aircraft for more inflight system information for operation or security. OK, this is not much of a surprise!
  4. Some folks predict that light will be used to deliver connectivity. However, with all the issues involved with outside solar, safety lighting, and other sources of interference (Hasn’t this been tried earlier?), we think otherwise. Anyway, Bluetooth as a connectivity radio frequency has slipped under the radar and since most connectivity devices have the capability and the corporate jet world has adopted it, we expect an inflight commercial airline installation this year. With Bluetooth 5.0 alive there may be even more interest in a Bt connectivity solution. Hey, 4X range, 2X speed, and 8X capacity, and no power increase, what’s not to like?”
  5. Watch for an airline to test ground-based, high bandwidth 2.4 GHz, directed connectivity service like those proposed for SmartSky and Gogo. This is more of a 2017 sure thing than a prediction.
  6. We fear aviation manufacturing layoffs, let’s see what happens there but don’t look for that job just yet. The layoff scenario has already started at Boeing, who is downsizing to the tune of some 8,000 employees, and could reach 10% there. Airbus is next after production continues for a bit.
  7. Maintenance of aircraft will see more outsourcing, new technology products like AI and voice technology used in maintenance products, and more consolidation in the MRO world (Maintenance Repair Overhaul).
  8. While we hope it does not happen, but be very concerned that a hacker doesn’t get aboard a plane this year, transmit a fake Wi-Fi service and install a lot of ransomware (like doxware) on folks trying to get Wi-Fi service. In 2017 it is a possibility and be sure you know how to get online when onboard!
  9. What’s next for future SATCOM? How about Q/V bands: 33 – 75 GHz?  If the FCC auctions get it together, perhaps even 14 GHz has a chance?
  10. We shy away from talking about aircraft control hacking, but have you thought about hackers using a DDoS attach or ransomware on an airline reservation system – might happen?
  11. The Boeing 787 will finally get the proper acclaim that it is the only commercial jet airplane where cabin/crew air is taken directly from the atmosphere with electrically powered compressors and not from engine ‘bleed air’! The health guru’s will help.
  12. Cybercrime damages will continue to grow (costing the world $6 trillion annually by 2021), up from $3 trillion last year; ransomware will be the fastest growing threat in terms of new attacks and costs. Global spending on cybersecurity products and services will exceed $1 trillion cumulatively over the next 5 years from 2017 to 2021. Easy procurement of cheap IoT devices or Wi-Fi enabled products introduces a serious level of risk — of which many people are unaware. As one expert noted: “Transportation systems may be immobilized.” Or, as another one said: “My second prediction for 2017 is that cyber personnel will become a rare commodity like we have never seen before. Organizations have received the message, and are staffing and investing, but that demand generates a supply that is not available.” Don’t you think there will be plenty of openings in aviation security in 2017? We do!
  13. Lastly, as strange as it seems, “a self-driving” aircraft concept for passenger planes will be talked about this year – perhaps just for parcel delivery but projects like ALIAS are just the beginning.

Named 2017 Reader Predictions

Here are our reader IFEC predictions and we start of with those from APEX CEO, Joe Leader:

  1. Connectivity announcements and deployment will hit a new high for the industry.
  2. In-flight entertainment continues its expansion with more global IFE system installations and upgrades.
  3. Airline passenger experience will become less siloed inside of airlines as carriers look for greater market differentiation.
  4. On flights without built-in IFE or connectivity, “Near-FI” solutions offering, entertainment will become much more common. This will escalate in particular on low-cost carriers looking to differentiate their products.
  5. In-flight advertising will see the beginning of a new age of renaissance.
  6. The Internet of Things (IoT) will broaden from case-studies on aircraft to first tangible implementations.
  7. With the Bluetooth 5.0 specification released, we will see first announcements about Bluetooth connectivity to IFE in future products.
  8. Long-haul business class will enter a new era just as British Airways introduced the first lie-flat for business class in 1999.  We could call it the suite era or the privacy era.  This period will begin this year marked by increasing level of suite-like privacy on long-haul business class products.  It will be initiated by visionary airlines in different manners and progress to a new bar for long-haul business class passenger experience over the next two decades.

Next, from Henry Chen Weinstein at Cockpit Innovations we have:

“I think 2017 in Tech will be about the upcoming implications of new technology on our current way of work. The [changing] place of startups in our space as more players understand the value of innovation on a global scale. Establishing new ways to take our aviation business forward.”

Here is the prediction note from John Courtright at SIE:

“I predict that the Modular Cabin Concept will generate a lot more attention from airline operators.  The ability to transform a commercial aircraft from a “domestic” (2-Class) configuration to an “international” configuration (3-Class) on an overnight or less using palletized modules to swap out interiors will generate great interest from operators.  Aside from the aircraft utilization flexibility, the Modular Cabin Concept will generate increased operational revenue (ROI) from a given aircraft asset by allowing the operator to customize their service level to different markets at a relatively low cost.”

Rich Salter, now with FTS chimed in with:

“All the talk about the death (or not) of seatback IFE is not the relevant question: the real interesting question is where will displays be located next – on the wrist, on entire seatbacks, baggage bins, sidewall of fuselage, VR or immersive glasses, etc., not to mention non-cabin locations like cockpit, baggage, lounges, etc.  They could be thin as paper, and could be foldable/rollable (as are OLEDs).  They will consume extremely low power and be fed data via wireless (WiFi). Smartwatches are only the beginning. In summary, advances in wireless streaming and display tech will lead to some fascinating implementations of IFE displays in unconventional places!”

Todd Hamblin at Global (GADC) told IFExpress in 2017:

  1. The Wireless IFE market will continue to grow, with Portable Wireless IFE being a subset for those ultra-low cost carriers.
  2. Companies based in China will become a larger part of the IFE and Connectivity landscape.
  3. An airline will attempt to install a Portable Wireless IFE system on their aircraft without permission from the FAA or EASA even though the server contains Lithium Ion batteries and might interfere with existing aircraft systems.
  4. The FAA will be impacted and safety compromised by the changing political climate.
Next, we asked Ron Chapman, President/Founder ASI, and he told IFExpress:

“I predict that the first elastic virtual servers will creep into the cabin on airliners and it just might be Bluetooth that drives it. Elastic devices are the latest generation of server that expands and contracts based on demand. It’s a floating platform that can replicate itself in virtual space.”

Kelvin Boyette CEO of Latitude Aero observes:

  1.  Mergers will dominate 2017, allowing the larger multi-national companies to offer a menu of turnkey services to both airlines and aircraft OEMs.
  2. 2017 will be the year that seat refurbishment emerges from its “niche” status. New products, such as IFE and ISPS, are emerging faster than new seat OEMs can get them into the seat, so the refurbishment centers are where the airlines will turn to offer the most up to date, modern, passenger experience to their clientele.
  3. Both BYOD and embedded IFE will flourish. I do not believe only one will succeed. Both will explode this year.

Michael Reilly, VP Entertainment Services, Arconics – A ViaSat Company notes:

  1. My key prediction for the year is that those airlines who don’t take the step into connectivity in 2017 will certainly take steps on the ‘path to connectivity’ – and there’s a couple of different ways to define that… I think a lot of airlines apart from the obvious cost barrier to entry to connectivity are waiting for other developments – competitive and even marketplace ie: changes to the vendor side of the industry – be that product, pricing etc.
  2. Naturally as we get more airlines closer to connectivity, security is becoming a hot topic, as is bigger and better use of data.
  3. Another prediction is that effective use of data will help break down the traditional siloing that has always gone on in the airline business and that’s exciting.
  4. I’d sum up my prediction by saying that 2017 is ‘finally’ the year where. Connectivity, Wireless and Mobile finally made the strides forward that moved the needle on the bottom line for airlines.

Craig Foster of Valour Consultancy said:

  1. We will see one of the in-flight connectivity service providers acquired by a much larger company. Additionally, we’ll also see at least one wireless in-flight entertainment vendor snapped up by someone with much more clout.
  2. The number of aircraft with in-flight connectivity systems installed and activated will surpass 7,000 by the end of the year. Regions aside from North America will continue to witness strong growth and we will likely see another carrier based in Latin America announce connectivity plans before long (in addition to Avianca Brasil and GOL).
  3. More and more airlines will announce plans to deploy IFE systems that allow passengers to pay their personal electronic devices to the main screen in an effort to match expectations around second screening and to better personalise the experience.

Unnamed 2017 Reader Predictions

We start off with predictions from a “Cabin Solution Provider”:

  1. The exponential growth of cabin Wi-Fi usage within the confines of the same aircraft will lead to more congestion in the cabin. One prediction says that passenger data to and from aircraft will more than quadruple in 2017. We knew that something like this was coming. However, what’s new is the speed at which this is happening.
  2. In 2017 the speed of the PED-pull in terms of passenger experience, apps etc. will increase even further. It certainly will be very much faster than the gentle ambling in which many of the aircraft hardware-push industry players are used to operate.

Another few from another Unnamed Predictor:

  1. Low cost carrier mergers and acquisitions will accelerate globally.
  2. With airline capacity surpassing global market demand, this will be a year including news of airline deferments and reductions.  The exception to this rule will be in next-generation aircraft connecting previously unconnected city pairs.  For the industry, this will be a relatively landing.
  3. Airlines in a more challenging global environment that raise their passenger experience will outperform carriers that focus on reducing passenger experience to reduce costs.

And lastly, still another Unnamed Predictor told IFExpress:

  1. Hacking the Baggage Systems at major hubs will occur to misdirect luggage?
  2. Hacking will occur to shut down refueling facilities at major airports.
  3. Hackers will find a way to infect the IFE system to download passenger data and airline sales information direct from the aircraft, putting at liability Airlines and IFE suppliers.  Class Action suit to follow.  Revenue streams will be jeopardized for both airlines, IFE suppliers and product/service providers accordingly.
  4. All economy seats on American / Domestic airlines will follow the pay as you go scheme:  everything short of the toilets will be ‘pay to play’:  boarding sequence; stowable baggage; check-in bags; food; drink; entertainment; EVERYTHING.
  5. Donald Trump’s administration will make significant progress to privatize government agencies and systems – a la Russian Model – Air Traffic Control will be privatized and sold off; FAA will be privatized; and the Space Programs under NASA will also be spun off.  If not in this coming year, the effort may take at least part of his first term. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress apologizes to this predictor as we just did not have the space (nerve?) to post all the input – Sorry!).

Thank you to everybody who contributed and we close with the words of Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Well, well, another year has passed and IFExpress is now in it’s our 25th year and we still love the craziness of this entertainment and connectivity based aircraft business; albeit, it is getting harder to stay current with all the ups (and downs) of technology, personal preference, and airline profit-making. According to IATA, in 2015 U.S. airlines raked in a profit of $25.6 billion, a 241% increase from 2014. The drop in oil prices meant big savings for the industry. Airlines spent nearly $27 billion on fuel in 2015, 38% less than in 2014. The results from 2016 are yet to be compiled and it will be interesting to see how they have fluctuated.

This year (2017) looks interesting and potentially problematic for the following reasons: fuel price increases, growth of airline fees, and a large increase in delivered aircraft. In fact, IATA predicts a reduced profitability ($29 Billion) based on slower GDP and rising costs. The folks at Aviation Week are predicting a downturn as well: “After years of high profitability, the airline industry appears to be entering its next potential downturn. The International Air Transport Association is predicting much reduced profits for 2017 in most markets as airlines are no longer benefiting from lower oil prices and overcapacity increasingly becomes a problem in many segments.”

From the other side of the equation, the IATA predictions include a 5.1% increase in tourism (we have a hard time with this one because of all the political madness in the world) and the airlines will take delivery of approximately 1,700 new jetliners. New planes means new IFEC and this is good for our team. Furthermore, this obviously does not include IFEC retrofits which will increase as a result of data hungry passengers and crew. Although, focus shifts from entertainment to data connectivity demand may be in the offing. As noted almost everywhere, passengers carry-on devices, whether it is for entertainment and/or communication, is resulting in another competing growth area for IFEC, which may negatively effect some seatback entertainment growth as passenger device purchases technically outpace anything that an airline can provide. However, we do note that upper class big screens win out in the front of the plane since no one carries anything onboard with a screen over 15 inches, or so.We should also note that in-seat power is probably a related growth item and folks in this arena have seen, and will continue to see, a lot of action.

Now, lets look at what we predicted last year in the IFEC related world for 2016. We don’t want to blow our horn because a lot of our observations came from a ton of research time on the Internet –  we just did a good job of compiling the information:

A) Messaging

Last year we wrote: While 2016 may have a few techno-changes from 2015 and summary numbers differ, we are are riding the same messaging train! Since technology and media have grown so much (at least in the US) folks are spending more time on it than sleep or work (Business Insider), there appears to be plenty of opportunity time for messaging (Facebook, Twitter, and the like) but messaging will be even bigger. If you don’t believe it, just watch the ‘head down time’ at a public function where time is spent on devices – it’s less invasive and non interruptive. Why is this a boom time for messaging, you might ask? The answer must lie in new, portable communication technology for one. If, as some writers predict, we spend over half of our waking day with media and technology, and because the devices and connectivity mediums are there, plain and simple, we will text. From a broader perspective, time on major digital activities will increase and has done so for each year for the last 5 years. To a greater extent, these behaviors are clearly a dominating trend and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Further, as folks ‘cut’ their cable TV, products are rising up in the wireless world to support streaming TV via the Internet for portable devices. Check out this FierceCable article for more information on this subject.

On aircraft, we also expect to see this increase, after all some 97% of passengers (notes SITA) have devices with Facebook Messenger, What’s App, and WeChat. These devices (and apps) and limited connectivity channels are there, all we need are more lower price solutions (free or flat fee)… and yes, there are a few on the horizon and we will discuss them this year, but we digress for now. If anything will be a big deal in inflight lifestyle changes, it will be more messaging!”

We saw this one coming! Messaging just keeps growing and as the messaging options grow, so do the users. One of the best newer ones is SMS. Sending email to SMS is free for the sender, but the recipient is subject to the standard delivery charges. Only the first 160 characters of an email message can be delivered to a phone, and only 160 characters can be sent from a phone. Text-enabled fixed-line handsets are required to receive messages in text format.

Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and software application which provides text and voice communication. Integrated with Facebook’s web-based Chat feature and built on the open MQTT protocol, Messenger lets Facebook users chat with friends both on mobile and on the main website. In Asia WeChat is the big one while Android has HelloSMS, TextraSMS, and on and on. Further, the phone companies have a batch of their own connectivity applications. Face it, we are text message junkies and there seems to be no end because of our devices and lifestyle.

B) Audio

We noted in January of 2016, From an audio perspective, our daily life is a good predictor of what we want, and will do, on airplanes. Streaming audio is not new on the ground, with some predictors noting 4 hours of each day in that pursuit. On planes it is usually a ‘canned’ experience because connectivity to the ground is not cheap. However, with the demand of services like google Play, Amazon, MP3, NPR, Apple Music, Spotify and many more, there may be a future for advertised, real-time, (audio) streaming… if for no other reason than news. Today it’s the ‘under 17’ crowd that spend the most streaming time but they do get older and will replace the ‘over 55’ who rely mostly on AM/FM – something to think about for your next IFE system.” 

For sure, this audio solution has been replaced by video streaming requirements on our personal devices. While we have no data but our own usage, we find that if we want audio (music) on a flight, we use our portable devices. A good example is taking place on phones – the latest iPhone we obtained with 128 Gigabytes, streamed, stored audio and video are no problem. Live information like news is another story. However, we should note that with the increase of Wi-Fi, and potentially Bluetooth (and possibly optical), things in 2017 will certainly get better. With more bandwidth for storage, and increased ground connectivity, programming will expand so that even with portable stored content, more video entertainment and news will be appealing. We should note that we have heard that some low cost airlines plan no seatback entertainment but rather are relying on customers to use their personal devices for airline streamed audio and video.

C) Bags/Baggage

Last January we wrote: Perhaps the past year has been better (data not out yet), but in the previous year (2014), the passenger count that lost a bag reached 24.1 million and, we note, the trend has been dropping (2007 – 18.9 lost bags per thousand pax, down 61.3% to 2014 – 7.3 lost bags per thousand pax). However with increasing load factors, increased seating and increasing traffic, it will be a real challenge for airlines to keep up.” 

As it turns out, the airlines have been doing much better. SITA states: “2015 saw total airline passengers rise 7% from 3.3 to 3.5 billion and mishandled bags drop from 24.1 to 23.1 million, a 10% improvement with the extra passengers taken into account, costing airlines a total of US$2.3 billion. Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” While the data has not been available for 2016 it looks like the airlines are on a downward trend for lost bags. SITA says: “Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” With the advent of electronic and passive tagging, things should only improve.

To be continued next week.

Publishers’ Note: We plan to publish your predictions on Jan. 17 so feel free to send us your IFEC predictions as well. Just tell us if you want IFExpress to attribute your words to you or not. PLW/TJW 

News From Thales:

IFExpress came away from our time at the Thales Booth in Singapore with a number of highlights that are outlined below:

1) First, in September of this year Thales announced their relationship with SES to provide a dedicated connectivity service over the Americas that will be optimized for the commercial aviation industry. The relationship with satellite operator SES will offer high throughput satellite connectivity in the Ka-band. Two of the satellites are already in orbit and the service will be launched in mid-2017. The third satellite in the network, manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, is targeted to launch in 2020. What is the benefit of all this? Thales states that the satellites are purpose built for aviation and are directed to cover where the majority of aircraft routes fly, which are much different than residential home coverage. In the interim, Thales has access to some of SES’s current transponder space. The service from Thales is dubbed FlytLIVE. Noted Thales, “To meet the needs of a growing market, SES will procure a new satellite specifically designed for the needs of FlytLIVE and manufactured by Thales Alenia Space to be launched in 2020. The satellite’s architecture is based on Thales Alenia Space’s all-electric version of the Spacebus NEO platform, the highest performing satellite in the global connectivity market.” FlytLIVE will be a full end-to-end solution that will include a modular antenna, multi-frequency radome, in-cabin Wi-Fi and portal platform. It will also provide bandwidth and session management, operational support tools, line maintenance, content delivery and turnkey service and support.

The company went on to say, “Thales InFlyt Experience, Thales Alenia Space and SES specifically developed the network and satellite architecture for the unique connectivity requirements of commercial aviation customers resulting in better services, more efficient operations and cost savings. SES will operate the satellites and the ground network. The services will be ready for airline and passenger use by summer of 2017 and will be provided by two satellites that are currently in-orbit. The third satellite in the network to be launched, SES-17, will be optimized for the fast-moving aviation and mobility market over the Americas. It will provide new Ka-HTS bandwidth over this region to meet the current and future speed, coverage and quality expectations of crowded skies and increasing passenger service demands as regional airline passenger traffic is forecasted to nearly double by 2030.”

We understand that the satellite will have some 200 spot beams of various sizes, allowing for flexible allocation over high-traffic airline routes assuring the most efficient delivery of Internet, real-time content delivery and live television. They went on to say that SES-17 will cover the Americas (North, South, and Central), Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. IFExpress believes their goal will be to build a network that provides higher data rate broadband connections and improves coverage while keeping capacity and quality.

2) During APEX Singapore Thales and Emirates announced that the AVANT inflight entertainment system was selected for the airline’s future fleet of 150 777X jetliners. Here are the highlights of the deal: a) Thales plans to establish an innovation center, Discovery Dubai, and maintenance station in Dubai that will be managed by Thales. b) Thales will be the first to equip its inflight entertainment systems on the 777X aircraft platform. Deliveries are to commence in 2020.

The press release notes: “Thales is committed to using its strengths in technological innovation, communications, big data management and cyber security to enhance Emirates inflight experience leadership position. The airline’s award winning inflight entertainment system, ice is an industry leader in passenger experience, and Thales’s partnership with Emirates will focus on helping the airline drive the highest standards of innovation for ice, from in-seat entertainment to wireless cabin connectivity.”

3) During our interview with Duc HuyTran, Vice President, Marketing and Strategy for Thales InFlyt Experience, he stated that there are 3 pillars to Thales IFEC: connectivity, IFE, and their InFlytCloud service offering. “The combination of our state-of-the-art AVANT inflight entertainment solution, connectivity offerings and InFlytCloud platform are driving new innovations in passenger engagement,” said Tran during the meeting. “Thales is a solutions provider and we are working closely with airlines to build these customized solutions around their fleets, routes and passengers.” Throughout our interview, it was clear to IFExpress that Thales is customer driven at all levels of the organization.

One of the three pillars is the new InFlytCloud service. InFlytCloud is a platform that allows airlines to manage their operations and passenger experience related data via the InFlyt Experience Application Portal. The key here is data, something which the vendors need to provide and the airlines need to understand and use. In the past we have referred to this industry changing feature as ‘Big Data’. Tracy DeCuir, Vice President of Business Infrastructure and Services said, “One key feature of InFlytCloud is that the data is customizable by the user, not just the airline. With this feature the user can deep-dive in on any platform. More importantly, the data is accessible in real-time.” We should also note that the system is scalable, flexible, and brandable by both the OEM and airline. The reader should note that this is another instance of an IFE vendor who realizes the value of Big Data.


Bose:

First, we want to introduce Gary DiLeo, BOSE’s IFEC Sale Representative, and welcome him to the industry. Gary is the new Hratch Astarjian who is now involved with “…sales, business development, marketing and service functions globally.”

Next, we have to tell our readers about something just short of amazing. OK, make that AMAZING.  The BOSE QuietComfort QC35 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones are the best headphones we have ever tested! Here is what BOSE says: “Our other wireless headphones are the SoundSport Wireless Headphones (a Bluetooth, in-ear audio headphone), the SoundSport Pulse (similar to the SoundSport, but it also incorporates heart rate sensors, for people who workout), the QuietControl 30 Wireless Headphone (in-ear noise cancelling – like the QC20, but wireless.  It allows you to increase or reduce the amount of noise reduction you get depending on your environment and preference).  You can see all of these on our website.”

But we want to concentrate here on the BOSE QC35 – and we need to set up our readers, especially those who have used wired BOSE headphones in the past. You probably noted a couple things – BOSE headsets are the best sounding over-the-head earphones you can buy, because they deliver incredible bass notes, crystal clear highs, and if you have noise cancellation, they have virtually no background/outside noise. This has been progressively true with every model we have used over the last 10 years. The QC35’s offer something else with the aforementioned audio quality – they offer a few things more than great sound – no wires, and smart technology. But hold on – the BOSE QC35’s are also like no headphone you ever have used.  Besides no wires, they are ‘smart’ and communicate to you in one of 11 languages (your choice) and represent the next generation in wireless audio headphone entertainment – all via the BOSE Connect app. We were expecting a good set of headphones with no wires, but instead it turned out to be fabulous set of headphones, with no wires and with ‘smart technology’ THAT TALKS TO YOU! Further, the built in voice prompt tells you what’s going on, and on my Apple hardware, it tells me what device I am connecting and connected to. This has value when you are streaming around more than one Bt device.

From an audio point of view, the audio is incredibly clean, pure, and very rich. The bass is most impressive (And yes, you can hear the base drum kick in Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”…). Noise cancellation is splendid – no background SHHHhhhhh when the music is off. Move your head while the music is playing and no change, no phase shift, nothing – just the music. You’ve got your own controls on the headphones – volume up, volume down, power off/on/connect. A light tells you power on/battery-low and a blue light indicates Bluetooth searching. A white light (in the blue light lens) tells you that you are on hold for a call. When a call does come in if you are listening to the music on your phone, for example, it automatically switches the music on hold till the call ends.

Of course you have your standard controls on the headphones: volume up, volume down, power off/on/connect. We note that there is a light indicates power on/battery low and a blue light for Bluetooth searching. And when using them with a phone, the smart technology from the BOSE Connect app kicks in – just dial or answer the phone for a music fade down. When your call is done, Miss BOSE says, “Call ended” and delivers your music where the song was cut off. While they will work with your Bt phones, Bt iPods, Bt computers without the BOSE Connect app, we loaded the app on an Apple 5S and WOW it allowed us to name the headset, control volume, monitor the headphone dc power level, told us that the Bt was on, kept track of the past connections, on/off timer, voice prompt control, 11 languages, and touch NFC (touch and it connects via BT). It also features product details and a user manual in the app – nice touch. Move your head while the music is playing and there is no audio change, nothing – just the music. As for range – we tried 60 feet and around a corner and down a set of stairs with no degradation – absolutely none.

Lastly, we have to say they are not cheap – QC35 $349 – but since they are the best, they are worth every penny. When you buy these for a gift, you are not just giving a gift – You are delivering an EXPERIENCE. If you are going to test them in a store, load the BOSE Connect app first (its free), then plan to test the full EXPERIENCE, in the store. You won’t be disappointed. (Editor’s Note: As we noted above, from a range point of view, we don’t see why they won’t work on a plane. In fact, your audio source could be stored in your carry-on since you can control your audio entertainment from your seat without wires.)

A Late Discovery: If you think your playing device needs Bluetooth for the QC35s to work, guess again. As we were going to press we discovered that Bose provides a stereo cable that plugs into the headset and connects to your PED so that you can use them with non-Bluetooth equipped players. Cleverly, the end that plugs into the PED is thin enough to fit in it when you have a case or an external battery on it!


Other News:

This year, Boeing was building 777s at a rate of 8.3 per month or 100 per year. The company then announced a cut to 7 jets per month, starting this month. They just announced that they don’t have enough orders to maintain the current 777 widebody jet program production rate of 7 airplanes per month and will cut production in Everett to 5 airplanes per month beginning in August. (B777x where are you?)