FlightPath3D Update:

IFExpress recently had an opportunity to touch base via Zoom with Jon Norris, vice-president of Marketing, FlightPath3D and he gave us a glimpse of the latest developments we would have seen if AIX Germany had taken place. Building on their stellar moving map to enhance the inflight experience, as well as, increasing the potential for sponsorship revenue and analytics; the company has focused on three key areas of development: 4K, Flying Over Places, and a Data Dashboard.

Native 4K Moving Map:

When an existing airline customer was installing 4K inseat screens, FlightPath3D saw an opportunity to ‘jump ahead’ and began work on a higher resolution moving map. The result is their new native 4K version that provides a crisper and clearer product while offering the same views from the aircraft (satellite to street level, flight deck, & window) that their customers love – but with sharper detail.

Flying Over Places:

FlightPath3D also planned to introduce a new feature called, Flying Over Places. This new offering is available on both seatback and wireless IFE systems. It adds both educational and historical facts to the moving map. The information automatically plays as the flight progresses and via a window-in-window feature allows passengers to drill down and get more data on various POI en route through drop downs. It also tells the traveler what the aircraft’s distance is from the different destinations. Norris told IFExpress that the platform supports sponsorship/advertising. “There is potential for sponsored points of interest which could provide additional revenue to airlines while giving relevant promotions to passengers.”

Big Data Dashboard:

Why is Big Data so important? Big Data has tremendous potential to enhance the passenger experience and is one of the most important trends driving the evolution in today’s air travel. If leveraged properly it has the power to: 1) create a personalized inflight service by harnessing billions of social experiences 2) predict demand for specific flights by learning passenger desires 3) generate ticket sales and ancillary revenue.

The FlightPath3D software Data Dashboard has the capability to provide the airline with additional information about their passengers. While flying, the moving map software has the capacity to collect information on what the passenger is viewing and provide that data to the airline. Before this begins to sound too much like ‘Big Brother’, the data that FlightPath3D collects does not target a specific passenger but gives the airlines the trends of each flight. For example, on a flight between LAX and JFK the software reports to the airline that 20% of the passengers were looking at information on San Francisco, CA; 10% were looking at data on London, UK; and 1% were viewing information on Seville, Spain. The airline then has the potential to adjust their future scheduled flight routes accordingly, put a larger or smaller aircraft on a segment, etc. The Dashboard can also provide information on the number of viewings for sponsored content, may it be restaurants, specific sight-seeing tours, hotels, etc. All this helps build a picture for the airlines. Data captured from the passenger interactions from trip planning and route searches can provide: 1) insight to passenger desire and future travel intentions 2) rankings for specific route and destination categories 3) follow on e-commerce and booking opportunities.

Given these new product features and developments, it came as no surprise to us that the company had a very strong first quarter prior to the pandemic and IFExpress is looking forward to our next flight post-COVID-19 when we can experience first-hand some of these latest innovations from FlightPath3D!


SpaceX

After an aborted attempt on Wednesday May 27 due to inclement weather conditions, this past Saturday, May 30, 2020 at 3:22 p.m. EDT, the world watched history unfold as NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley were launched into space by NASA and SpaceX to journey to the International Space Station (ISS). Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon hurtled into space from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The successful launch returned the United States to human spaceflight for the first time in 9 years since NASA ended its Space Shuttle program. Over the past 9 years, the USA has used Russian rockets to send US astronauts up to the International Space Station (ISS).

This represents the culmination of the SpaceX Crew Dragon human spacecraft development program. It is also a milestone in a public-private partnership that has been developed over the past decade. The Commercial Crew Program was initiated by NASA in 2010 in an effort to smooth the path for the next generation of domestic spaceflight, as well as, retool their launch capabilities. NASA selected both SpaceX and Boeing as partners in these endeavors. And Elon Musk’s SpaceX Demo-2 launch this past Saturday was the first crewed launch attempt in the program – this is a big deal!

Of equal significance is that SpaceX has been transporting cargo to the International Space Station via uncrewed spacecraft since completing their successful uncrewed abort test in January. Whereas Boeing, the other NASA partner, experienced an ‘inflight anomaly’ during their Starliner test flight in December and a future launch date has yet to be established. Of course SpaceX has experienced development challenges as well, a Falcon rocket blew up while inflight, a Crew Dragon capsule was destroyed in a ground test explosion, etc. but they overcame these challenges beating Boeing to the punch. SpaceX and Musk have made progress and continued to proceed with their innovations by learning from their failures.

One of the unique features of SpaceX’s Falcon rocket booster is that it can be used repeatedly. Historically, when rocket boosters have returned to earth they crash land in to oceans and are a lost leader, so to speak. In contrast, Falcon rockets return to earth after first-separation and land on a recovery ship for future use. Saturday’s Falcon successfully landed on a ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

However, Musk’s innovation didn’t stop with the rocket and spacecraft. The astronauts’ space suits were partly designed by Musk and look nothing like the flight suits we have come to expect. These were far more futuristic and streamlined!

Saturday’s launch is the start of a test mission that will clear the way for regular Dragon flights later this year, with SpaceX engineers evaluating and analyzing every aspect of the spacecrafts performance. Behnken and Hurley will remain in orbit up to 120 days.

Until recently, Elon Musk has primarily been affiliated with PayPal and his development of Tesla. But he has certainly cemented his place in the minds of young and old alike with SpaceX and the Crew Dragon. He founded the California-based SpaceX, formally known as Space Exploration Technologies in 2002.

One thing is for certain, SpaceX is returning human spaceflight to the United States with their advanced system and in conjunction with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program it is a turning point for America’s future in space exploration, laying the groundwork for future missions to the ISS. And whether you take geopolitical or strategic reasons into consideration, it is good to have our own human launch capability.

If you didn’t have the opportunity to watch the launch live, check out this link

And perhaps one of the coolest and most amazing is the Falcon Rocket landing

(Editor’s Note: Space flight is not normally an area IFExpress would cover. However, the world is presently struggling with a global crisis that is battering peoples health and nations economies, so a successful new space endeavor is auspicious and uplifting. It represents a renewal of optimism and signals what we can achieve when we set our minds to it and work together. So from our perspective, SpaceX has given us a reason to be both amazed and inspired. We hope it makes you feel that way too.)


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