You already know that Monday at APEX, the day before the exhibition floor opening, is usually devoted to Industry Education and 2014 is no different. On September 15, APEX plans a full day of speeches and presentations that we wanted to present to our readers to be sure they attended – this year looks to be very interesting and useful. You can find the link for the whole day here and the presentations will be at the Anaheim Convention Center Ballrooms D & E.

The first big deal will be the Keynote Address 9:10 – 9:50, from Edward L. Shapiro, Partner and Vice President, PAR Capital Management, Inc. Here is what APEX says about Mr. Shapiro: “In this opening session, Shapiro, an experienced investor in Airlines, Media/Entertainment, and IFEC, will offer an overview of the industry, exploring how airlines are leveraging technology to improve the overall passenger experience, differentiating their products and generating new sources of ancillary revenue.  He will also share his thoughts on how the rapidly evolving Media/Entertainment Industry on the ground will impact the airline passenger market. What trends can we expect to see in the future? How will the connectivity market develop?  What role will third-party sponsorship play in the Passenger Experience?” We got pretty excited when we saw the mention of “3rd party sponsorship” because this concept brings up the question of revenue generation on IFE screens, a issue on the minds of all airlines we talked to. This should be a most interesting kick-off to the education day so don’t miss this one. Then after lunch it’s on to some interesting breakout sessions – Here is a Bio Link for Mr. Shapiro and don’t miss this one!

Next, IFExpress was most intrigued by Breakout Sessions, Track C – Entertainment & Connectivity – Technology Focus (the techie track. See below for a bit more detail:

Surfing the skies. Evaluate technologies that play a crucial role in bettering the passenger experience, not only for passengers but also for airlines and the multiple vendors involved in creating this experience. Hear how the e-Aircraft will benefit airlines, improve efficiency and better the passenger experience. How is RF exposure being measured and how must members comply? How do regulations differ across the globe? Hear updates on these and other topics of interest. Room 210 A & B

13:30 – 14:10 Breakout Session C1 — The E-Aircraft Concept: Concept & Fulfillment

Moderator: Michael Planey – Co-Founder, HMPlaney Consultants 
• David Bruner – Vice President of Global Communication Service,  Panasonic Avionics Corporation
• David Coiley – Vice President, Aviation, Inmarsat
• Lee Costin – Director Satellite Solutions & Cabin Services, ARINC (Rockwell Collins)
• Ian Dawkins – Chief Executive Officer, OnAir
• Ted Nugent – Business Development Manager, Transportation European Aviation, Cisco
• Mike Moeller – VP, Sales and Marketing, In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity, Thales/LiveTV LLC

Panelists will explore the e-Aircraft concept as the future of inflight connectivity with the potential to provide real and valuable cost savings, an improved passenger experience and more. This session will share what an e-Aircraft entails and how best to make it a reality.

(Editor’s Note: IFExpress got very interested in the e-aircraft mention and we contacted Michael Planey for a bit more on the panel discussions and he told IFExpress: “The main purpose of the Panel discussion will be focusing beyond passenger connectivity. We are overdue as an industry in developing operational uses for the unused bandwidth on the aircraft. Many of the traditional IFEC vendors are trying to step into this space, but there is plenty of room for new companies with operational expertise to join. I’m hoping for a number of questions from the airlines in attendance. Especially in outlining the types of services they are most interested in purchasing in the future.”)

14:25 – 15:05 Breakout Session C2 — An Overview of High-Performance Satellite Antennas
Bruce Elbert – President, Application Technology Strategy, L.L.C.

There are many lower profile high efficiency antennas coming to market but are these low-profile, high efficient antennas the wave of the future for connectivity services? Bruce will deliver a white paper on the range of antenna options for aircraft antennas with a focus on the latest technologies and their impact on broadband service to passengers.

15:20 – 16:00 Breakout Session C3 — Radio Frequency  Susceptibility & Exposure 
Ed Mantiply – Physical Scientist, United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

In-flight internet access has taken off.  Every aircraft internet access system includes in-cabin Wi-Fi and some type of broadband wireless data link to the ground. That means that there a lot of radio transmitters being installed on aircraft.  Some of the radios have relatively low power transmitters, and some have high power transmitters.  With the proliferation of radio transmitters there has been an increase in the concerns of the health implications of human exposure to radio frequency energy. A representative from the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will explain human RF exposure guidelines published by the FCC, and tools available from the FCC to aid in the analysis of RF exposure. In addition an example of the calculations of the RF exposure limits will be done for a fictional aircraft Ku satellite installation.

These sessions should bring us up to speed regarding everything we wanted to know about connectivity, from the overall concept, to how the antennas work, to the issues of RF exposure from the radio transmitters used.  You don’t want to miss these breakouts because APEX has really focused on what’s happening in IFE&C today – see you in Anaheim on September 15!

Aircraft Interiors Middle East, Dubai | February 6, 2014– OnAir has been named Best Connectivity Provider at the inaugural Inflight IFEC Awards, announced yesterday at Aircraft Interiors Middle East show.

OnAir stood out for a number of reasons. The first is that it has the most airline customers in the Middle East. In particular, Oman Air made aviation history when it became the first airline to offer the combined Wi-Fi and GSM service over four years ago.

The judges were also very impressed with the consistency of OnAir’s coverage. With over 350 roaming agreements, and authorizations from over 100 countries, OnAir has better coverage, both in the Middle East and indeed the world, than any other provider.

“What particularly impressed the judges about OnAir was a combination of its widespread coverage in the Middle East and its significant landmarks,” said Becky Howells, Commercial and Event Director of HMG Aerospace, the publisher of Inflight. “And being the first to equip the A380 with GSM – on Emirates’ fleet – shows that OnAir is constantly developing the market. With eight airline customers in the region, OnAir is clearly the front runner at this time.”

“OnAir has been at the forefront of the inflight connectivity sector since it began. In fact, we were one of the pioneers developing the initial concepts,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. “This is the first time there has been a specific connectivity award and I am thrilled OnAir has been recognised as the best provider. It is a real accolade to everyone at OnAir, our partners and of course to our airline customers.”

Twenty airlines around the world currently provide Internet OnAirMobile OnAir or the combined offer, including eight in the Middle East. A further seven airlines will offer OnAir connectivity by the end of the year.

Using OnAir connectivity, passengers have the choice to text, tweet, email, surf the Internet and talk during the flight. Mobile OnAir operates in exactly the same way as international roaming: simply turn on your phone and start using it. And Internet OnAir is a Wi-Fi hotspot, just like any other.

Geneva, Switzerland | January 16, 2014– The Federal Communications Commission has formally published the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding its proposal to lift the ban on cellphone usage in flight. The NPRM allows 30 days for public comment, through February 14, 2014.

“This rule change would give airlines the option to decide if they want to introduced inflight cell phone services in the US”, said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. “Airlines across the world already allow passengers to use their phones to tweet, text, email and talk. Over four and a half million people take up the option every year and there have been no reported complaints about disruption.”

Background information

Mobile OnAir, OnAir’s inflight GSM service, started flying in 2007. It is is currently flying with 18 airlines, including world-leading global airlines such as Aeroflot, British Airways, Emirates, All Nippon Airways, Qatar Airways, TAM and Singapore Airlines.

People typically use Mobile OnAir for email, social media and text messages. Voice calls make up about 10% of all usage and the average call length is under two minutes. The cabin crew and/or the pilot can turn off the voice element, or the entire system, at the push of a button.

Editor’s Note: We usually put these notices at the end of our Hot Topic but this week we wanted to let our readers know that while our “Readers Predictions” are in the forefront we have a really interesting paper from Dr. Junkang Ma of CETCA fame. Dr. Ma put together an interesting piece on the inflight connectivity market in China… with an even more interesting solution to the problem of airline-ground interoperability  – think SIP! Be sure to check it out.

The IFExpress team usually solicits yearly IFE predictions from our readership for our first issues and 2014 is no different. As you can imagine, they vary from the sublime to the incredibly interesting. You be the judge. Lets look at what some of our advertisers said first:

  • The FAA’s and the EASA’s decision on gate to gate operation of PEDs in flight mode will further accelerate the trend towards wireless inflight entertainment. More than 50% of all European legacy airlines will adopt the new guidance in 2014.  Norbert Muller, LHSystems
  • “There will be a big shift away from brand name portables to portables specifically designed for inflight use.” Attribute prediction to Josh Rasmussen, digEcor.
  • “Airlines across the world will continue to increase the provision of both Wi-Fi and cell phone connectivity: the technology is reliable, affordable and very easy to install and operate. The US will remain the exception, until the debate about voice services is resolved.” Axel Jahn, TriaGnoSys

Readers also sent in their predictions and we really like the following:

  • “With increased gate-to-gate PED use, the demand for seat power will increase tremendously on regional aircraft.” – Mr. Mark Milauskas, Armstrong Aerospace Inc.
  • “The inflight use of cell phones in US won’t cause any more problems than it has in the rest of the world. And there have been no problems in six years, over five continents”, Ian Dawkins, OnAir
  • “ The demand for streaming IFE over Wi-Fi will see the highest increase in customer demand and force the movie studios to implement an encryption process to allow for early window viewing.” – Mr. Todd Hamblin, Global Aerospace Design Corp.
  • “By the end of 2014, a bird strike compliance path will be forged and system providers will begin installing IFE satellite antennas again.” – Mr. Mark Milauskas, Armstrong Aerospace Inc.
  • “US airlines will not allow inflight mobile calling because of the feedback from their frequent fliers and flight attendant unions.” – Mr. Todd Hamblin, Global Aerospace Design Corp.
  • “4k Ultra High Definition (4k UHD) Networked monitors designed specifically for Business and Commercial aircraft use will be in service by midyear 2014.” Bill Baltra, Retired
  • “By the end of 2014, the US government (FCC) will lift the ban on the use of cellular technology while in-flight.” –Joe Kupfer, Armstrong Aerospace

Lastly, as can be seen from the above, inflight cell phone connectivity has a lot of interest, and a lot of different opinions so we asked John Courtright to opine on the subject and he sent us the following:

Here is my prediction and a follow up clarification to the question,

  • In the US, at least one airline will “test” the applicability of inflight cellphone calling.

Prediction:  Yes, I expect a small number of U.S. airlines to permit inflight cell phone calling.  Furthermore, I expect the first airlines to allow inflight cell phone calls on short-haul flight, flights of two hours or less.  The first to test the cell usage issue will either be a.) an independent Regional Operators, such as Mesa, Republic, and Nantucket, or b.) Regionals affiliated with a Major Carrier, such as American Eagle or Jet Blue.

The first set of carriers found in a.) above will figure that their flight operations are short haul and the “obnoxious factor” is mitigated by the short duration of the flights as well as being affected by the higher ambient noise on RJs.  The second set of carriers, those associated with a Major Airline( (b.) above), will see a competitive advantage in and out of the Major’s hubs as well as being a guinea pig for the major carrier to assess passenger acceptance.

Longer range prediction:  Carriers will NOT create a cell-phone usage section, like the old smoking section.  Too much policing by the flight attendants.  Carriers will initially allow cell phone usage on short-haul, high density routes.  Think SFO-LAX or LGA – DCA where the clientele is largely business based.  I see cell phone usage to expand to a flight duration-based judgment and  to have a cut-off point at two hours.

The above predictions, of course, are moot if the DeFazio Amendment is extended and thus inflight cell phone calls are prohibited by statute.  But absent a specific law, I see the usage to be flight time based. (Editor’s Note: We called Senator DeFazio’s office and he has yet to get back to us on the status of his Bill.)

While predictions seem to have taken center stage in this IFExpress, we have been working with Dr. Junkang Ma, a brilliant Program Manager at the Chinese avionics manufacturer CETCA, and he has put together a very good vision of the developing Chinese inflight connectivity market for us. Here is a bit of the story: “In December 2013, the MIIT of China (Ministry of Industry and Information Technology) released the 4G frequency license to the three government-owned telecom operators (China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom), establishing that the Telecom industry of China has officially entered into the 4G generation, beginning from TD-LTE, although 3G has only been used for around 4 years in China. While the ground-based Telecom industry is rapidly developing, one large area in China appears to be forgotten – the area in the air. The cabin of the civil aircraft has become the last “isolated island” of the information age, which makes the passengers on board feel like being back in the early years of the 20th century. The Chinese civil aviation market is experiencing accelerated growth and as more travelers are flying, passengers require a similar communication experience like they enjoy on the ground, which will result in an accelerated and diversified growth phase for China’s connectivity market…” You can read the whole story here .

And lastly, A large French IFEC company is looking for engineers in the Irvine area we have heard and if you are so inclined you might send your resume to them! Systems, Software, Platform, Project, Logistics, Field Service Engineers and even Financial Analysts… so we understand. Good Luck!

Geneva, Switzerland | December 12, 2013–

Ahead of today’s FCC meeting, OnAir  supports the FCC’s proposal  to revise outdated rules by allowing airlines to permit passenger use of cell phones services during flights. It paves the way for U.S. passengers to have the same inflight connectivity choices as passengers everywhere else in the world.

“Over four and a half million passengers use OnAir inflight connectivity each year and what is very striking is that there has not been one single complaint about disruption caused by phone calls,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. “Mobile OnAir is available on every continent apart from North America. People from all over the world, including Americans, use it every day.”

Passengers typically use Mobile OnAir, OnAir’s inflight cell phone service, for data – largely email – to update Facebook and Twitter, and for text messaging. Voice calls, which cost around $3-$4 per minute, account for slightly over 10% of total inflight usage and the average call length is under two minutes.

“Based on the factual evidence of six years of inflight cell phone usage around the world, I can be absolutely clear that there is nothing to fear from the use of cell phones during flights,” said Dawkins.

Mobile OnAir has flown with more than 25 airlines on hundreds of thousands of flights across the world since 2007, with the full backing of over 100 national authorities.

OnAir’s airline customers include world-leading global airlines such as Aeroflot, British Airways, Emirates, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. Mobile OnAir is currently on around 16,000 flights a month and 380,000 passengers connect to OnAir each month.

“Since the FCC first announced its plan to change the rules, lots of people in the US have made it clear they think voice calls shouldn’t be allowed on aircraft, including some politicians seeking to impose a draconian ban on inflight calls. We will of course oppose such legislation, based on the facts of six years’ experience,” continued Dawkins. “However, we do understand the concerns: we had exactly the same thoughts when we began developing the service ten years ago. That is why we included a feature that allows the cabin crew and pilots to turn off the voice element, for example during quiet times such as the plane’s night or during safety announcements.”

Positive action by the FCC would clear the technical telecoms hurdles to give airlines the option of installing cellular inflight connectivity systems. Airlines would decide whether to offer voice services, along with email, data, and text; they are in control of what services they offer their passengers. For the first time, U.S. airlines would be able to offer cellular services, as their international competitors have been doing for six years.


Geneva, Switzerland | November 22, 2013–

OnAir totally supports the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in its move to end the ban on the use of cell phones on aircraft. Mobile OnAir, OnAir’s inflight mobile phone service, has flown with more than 55 airlines on thousands of flights across the world since 2007, with the full backing of over 100 national authorities. There has not been a single complaint about disruption caused by people making calls.

The Tentative Agenda for the FCC meeting on December 12 2013 includes an item that will address the use of mobile communications on commercial aircraft. Should this be passed, the next stage will be a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), opening the way for repeal of the current ban with authority to use frequencies on a secondary, non-interference basis, over all U.S. and international mobile communications bands. As well as the mutual recognition of systems operating on foreign-flagged aircraft meeting equivalent technical standards. Providing for the licensed use of cell phones on aircraft will in turn increase global consumer choice for inflight broadband connectivity.

The FCC’s intention is very clear: give consumers access to inflight cell phone services by revising outdated and restrictive rules.

“Think about how you use your cell phone every day – email, text messages, updating social media, reading newspapers and magazines, as well as answering calls and phoning people. It is important to recognise that the voice element is just another app,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. “It is no surprise that inflight usage mirrors terrestrial usage. And because it is so simple – just turn on your phone and use it – around 80 per cent of passengers choose the GSM network when both GSM and Wi-Fi are available.”

“Forget the hyperbole about the chaos inflight cell phone usage could cause,” continued Dawkins. “The issue simply hasn’t arisen anywhere in the world in the past six years. An aircraft is a noisy environment, so the sound of a conversation doesn’t carry very far. Flight attendants can also control the use of Mobile OnAir by disabling the voice element during quiet times, such as the plane’s night. Passengers can still use data – email and text messages, for example – but cannot make or receive calls.”

OnAir’s airline customers which provide Mobile OnAir include world–leading global airlines such as Aeroflot, British Airways, Emirates, Philippine Airlines, Qatar Airways and Singapore Airlines. Passengers typically use Mobile OnAir for data – largely email – and to update Facebook and Twitter. Voice calls account for slightly over 10% of total inflight usage.

OnAir has over 55 customers, including 18 airlines, around the world. Its technology has been tested rigorously and we have regulatory approvals from approaching 100 national and supranational regulators, including the European Aviation Safety Authority, as well as more than 350 roaming agreements with mobile network operators. It is safe to use cell phones on equipped aircraft and people want the choice of being able to do so.


It is certainly true today that the inflight connectivity market is developing very quickly and we are starting to see the beginnings of what it will look like when it does all settle down. Also clear is the fact that there will come a time when inflight connectivity is provided on most commercial aircraft. The conversations we have with airlines have shifted in the past eighteen months from ‘let’s try inflight connectivity on one aircraft’ to ‘when can we have it across our entire fleet?’ In fact, it is hard to imagine future aircraft being developed without passenger connectivity, in the same way that embedded IFE is currently a standard option for long-haul aircraft. Consequently, OnAir is now available for most aircraft types flying today, from the Airbus A320 family and Boeing 737, to A380s. Further, customers come from all parts of the industry. For example, OnAir has as customers, long-established full-service flag carriers, new airlines from emerging countries, and low-cost carriers, which represent countries worldwide. The point is that connectivity isn’t confined to one area of the industry, or to one region. It is universal!

The crux of the discussion, though, is around how passengers actually want to use the service and pay for it. The first thing we do know is that when both WiFi and a GSM mobile phone network are available, 97% of airline passengers choose to use the mobile phone network. The main reason is that it is very easy to use: simply turn on your phone and use it as you do on the ground; billing is similar to international roaming. As smartphones become more sophisticated and prevalent, and as more content is provided through low data apps and portals, usage is on the increase.

The ever-increasing penetration of smartphones around the world is one of the drivers of inflight connectivity usage. For example, the iPhone is currently the device used most over the OnAir networks.

Passengers around the world enjoy the benefits of inflight connectivity, and in particular, more and more airlines are offering the GSM service to and from the US. For example, Singapore Airlines operates daily connected aircraft from Asia to LAX and JFK, and British Airways operates twice daily between London and JFK. We just need the US authorities to catch up with the rest of the world and allow mobile phones to be used in US airspace. Until recently, the bulk of usage has been people flying for business purposes. Of course, it remains true that business people remain significant users of inflight connectivity, however usage by leisure travelers is increasing. It goes without saying that one of the key reasons is price. There is a direct linear relationship between pricing and usage: a cut in price results in an increase in usage and number of adopters, for instance.

OnAir is working hard with both airlines and mobile network operators around the world to bring down prices. For example, we are currently running a promotion in Brazil, whereby Oi subscribers have a 50% discount when using Mobile OnAir on TAM flights. We will also be running similar promotions in other parts of the world. On the Internet side, airlines are reducing the cost to passengers, or even providing it free of charge, which naturally is driving usage.

We also know what passengers like to use on GSM that supports both voice and data. Nearly half the usage is text messaging and most of the other half is emailing. Only about a tenth of all usage of the OnAir mobile phone network is for voice calls.

The second thing we know is that there is a difference between GSM for Internet and Wi-Fi. Passengers prefer the ease of use with a smartphone; the main reasons are that connectivity is readily available and the payment becomes part of the normal phone bill, just like international roaming.

Finally, we know that passengers want to be assured that the service will be consistent throughout the flight. That is why we have invested heavily in developing our network of around 80 authorizations for national and supranational regulators and over 350 roaming agreements. It is also why we use Inmarsat’s satellite global coverage.

The industry is recognizing that Inmarsat’s Ka – Global Xpress will become the benchmark in the industry. The fact that OnAir is their Distribution Partner means we will be able to provide greater bandwidth in the future. Global Xpress will provide users with either 30% more throughput or 30% more data volume than a Ku-band solution, for the same price. What exactly that bandwidth will be used for is something we can only guess at. So while it is straightforward to predict widespread adoption of connectivity, predicting its future is much harder.

Submitted by Ian Dawkins | Chief Executive Officer – OnAir

Geneva, Switzerland, 16 June 2010 – OnAir today announced that after three-and-a half years as Chief Executive Officer, Benoit Debains has decided to return to Airbus, Toulouse. Ian Dawkins, former Senior Vice President, Head of Future Programmes, of Airbus SAS, is to become OnAir’s new CEO as of June 16.

“Benoit has made a significant contribution to the growth of OnAir in various segments which has helped to drive critical transformational developments of the business on which we can build a solid future,” said Francesco Violante, OnAir Chairman. “We thank him for his great commitment and wish him success in his future endeavours.”

“OnAir is delighted to welcome Ian Dawkins on board as CEO,” said Mr. Violante. “Given his impressive track record of successful business growth at Airbus, along with his vision for the potential of the industry in defining a leadership position for OnAir’s passenger communications services, Ian will shape the company towards a global expansion. And most importantly for anyone who is taking on a CEO role, Ian has already proven that he has exceptional leadership ability,” he said.

OnAir’s Board Members have tasked Dawkins, 52, with furthering OnAir’s profitable pace of growth, including its global reach onboard connectivity solutions and Internet Services to increase market share, profitability, customer loyalty and satisfaction. Those objectives, in line with the Company’s objectives and strategy, will translate into an economically viable business model for the transport industry.

Ian started his career with commercial system controls and then moved into aircraft control and landing systems with Fairy Hydraulics as Head of Programme Management.

In 1989 Ian joined Airbus UK managing site closures and reorganisations within the procurement and engineering divisions. In 1997 he became the Programme Director for the Wide Body Programme at BAE Systems. In this role, he contributed to extending the life of the programme by developing a freighter version of the model. In 2001 Ian was appointed Vice President Programme Operation and Management for the Airbus A320 family in Toulouse and later in Hamburg where he has lead the most significant increase in the history of the Programme by raising deliveries from 223 in 2004 to 460 in 2007. In January 2006, Ian took up the position of Head of Future Programmes in charge of the preparation of the next generation of products.