Airline industry improves baggage handling further as industry readies for June 2018 deadline

Geneva | May 4, 2017– Baggage management by the world’s airlines improved again in 2016 as the industry focuses on technology investments and prepares for a step-change in handling by June 2018. According to the SITA Baggage Report 2017, released today, the rate of mishandled bags was 5.73 bags per thousand passengers in 2016, down 12.25% from the previous year and the lowest ever recorded.

This is good news for the rising number of passengers, which last year hit an all-time high of 3.77 billion. Since 2007, the rate of mishandled baggage has fallen 70% due to investment in technologies and process improvements by the world’s airlines and airports. Over the coming 18 months, this is expected to improve even further. IATA members, the majority of the world’s airlines, have adopted a resolution requiring every piece of checked baggage to be tracked along its journey by June 2018.

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Air Travel Solutions, said: “It is frustrating for passengers and airlines when bags go missing but the days of not knowing where your bag is will soon to be a thing of the past. We are on the brink of a new era in airline baggage management because the world’s airlines are committing to track baggage throughout its journey. This requires data capture, management and sharing across airlines, airports and ground handlers giving a better view of where each piece of luggage is at every stage. At SITA we are providing several tracking innovations that will allow the air transport community to scale up their tracking capabilities without massive capital investments.”

The IATA Resolution 753 is coming into force in June 2018 and from then every bag must be tracked and recorded at four mandatory points – at check-in; aircraft loading; at transfer between carriers; and on arrival as the bag is delivered back to the passenger. When this is in place airlines will be able to share the information with their passengers and code share partners allowing them to track their bag, just like a parcel. Having this information means passengers will stay informed and all parties involved in their journey can take action if flights are disrupted and their bags are delayed.

A critical pinch-point in the bag handling process is when passengers and their luggage need to move from one aircraft to another, or from one carrier to another. Bags have a higher risk of being mishandled at this time, particularly if connections are tight. In 2016, close to half (47%) of delayed bags were in the process of being transferred. Introducing mandatory tracking at this point of the process will provide real-time data that can be used to avoid delays.

Mishandled baggage negatively affects both the passenger experience and the airline’s finances and SITA’s report shows that the financial costs remain high despite the 12.25% drop in the mishandled rate. SITA reports that the global bill for recovering and reuniting passengers with their bags was in the order of US$2.1 billion in 2016.

Gutlin added: “We are using technology to transform baggage management which will improve both the passenger experience and help to reduce the cost to the airlines. To be successful we need to cooperate and collaborate across the industry and challenge ourselves to find new ways of working and sharing data to upgrade the experience for air travelers and to improve operations.”

SITA provides IT and communications to the air transport industry and is the only single-source vendor covering all areas of baggage management from data capture to management and sharing using the latest technology. SITA has been the recognized leader in bag tracking and tracing for over 20 years with its systems in every major airport in the world. SITA WorldTracer is sponsored by IATA as the industry baggage tracing service of choice. SITA BagJourney is the world’s first community-based baggage tracking system that provides an end-to-end view of the baggage journey using data from multiple sources. Today SITA is leading the baggage community by providing technology and professional services to help the industry meet the IATA June 2018 deadline.

San Jose | May 3, 2017– Juan Santamaria International Airport (IATA: SJO), Costa Rica’s busiest airport, has selected SITA, the global IT provider to the air transport industry, to implement its ground-breaking control center technology solution. SITA ControlBridge will provide AERIS Holdings, the airport operator, with a centralized and integrated view of everything happening at the airport, from security to boarding gates, and from ground handling to facilities management. Importantly, it enables airport collaborative decision making (A-CDM) with all stakeholders.

SJO is one of the top airports in Central and Latin America and AERIS has an intensive investment program to deliver innovation and technology to strengthen its position. SITA ControlBridge plays an integral role in providing the technologythat enables the airport to coordinate, monitor and control all airport operations centrally and break down silos among the various departments and stakeholders operating at the airport.

Rafael Mencia, CEO of AERIS, said: “ControlBridge enables us to integrate and optimize operations across the entire airport into a single command center. It incorporates data from every stakeholder operating at the airport, providing a complete view of everything, all the time. This will give us much more flexibility in managing day-to-day airport operations, optimized resource management, quicker decision making and enhanced emergency response capabilities. Ultimately, it means we’ll be able to provide a better passenger experience.”

Mencia continued: “SITA was the obvious choice for this project because of its global expertize not only in the technology but also the operations and processes at an airport. As we implement ControlBridge, SITA’s broad and practical experience will be invaluable.”

As part of the project, SITA will also update the airport’s CCTV infrastructure and integrate it into the control center, along with radio communications. SITA’s dedicated delivery team will procure, install, configure, and test the ControlBridge components before it goes live in October.

Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President for Latin America, said: “This implementation of SITA ControlBridge will provide SJO an integrated command and control capability across what are traditionally standalone functions. This includes airport operations, physical security, engineering and facilities management, baggage handling, emergency response, the airport IT service desk and more. It is a significant move by AERIS to provide Costa Rica with a modern airport that helps improve the country’s competitiveness.”

SITA’s ControlBridge solution provides fit-for-purpose airport control center technology that facilitates enhanced functionality for airports of any size and with nearly any budget. To keep both implementation and maintenance costs to a minimum SITA uses common off-the-shelf hardware where possible. Combined with SITA’s unique in-depth knowledge of integrating data from diverse sources, SITA ControlBridge is the most comprehensive and cost-effective airport integrated control center technology solution available today.

March 24, 2017 —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.”

In APEX’s global survey released last year, 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.

APEX has directly engaged key U.S. and U.K. government officials on a solutions-oriented approach to make aircraft more secure and prevent the spread of the electronics ban. Until an aligned security solution has been developed by the U.S. and U.K. governments, APEX encourages full compliance of the ban by airlines, airports, and passengers.

From personalizing the travel experience to big data, improved efficiency and new dynamic distribution standards – Lufthansa Systems supports airlines on every level of digital transformation

Raunheim, Germany | February 16, 2017– 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 core of our company strategy is to put airlines in a perfect position for the digital future. For example, we have spent over 15 years helping airlines work toward a paperless flight deck,” said Olivier Krüger, CEO of Lufthansa Systems. “We are offering new solutions and expanding our consulting unit in response to growing demand in the market. In keeping with this, we are continually enhancing our digital expertise so we can develop innovative solutions for the entire cosmos of an airline and its passengers – with data analytics, personalization, mobility and new developments such as eye tracking and dynamic navigation maps.”

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.

Personalized Air Travel Services: Personalized solutions aim to enhance the passenger travel experience. New digital and individual services and apps, which can be used before, during and after a flight, ensure that passengers are addressed directly and personally. BoardConnect is one example. This digital platform enables passengers to access wireless inflight entertainment on their own smartphones and tablets, while offering additional functionalities for flight deck and cabin crews – with or without an Internet connection. The new inTime app is another example. It calculates how much time passengers will need to reach their gate punctually from their current location. Both the traffic situation outside the airport and the waiting times at check-in and security are taken into account here. The timings are based on (anonymized) data from real passengers, so the app gets more intelligent over time.

Dynamic Distribution Management: Dynamic distribution management makes it possible for airlines to increase their revenues by offering ticket and service packages directly to travelers. The New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) is promoting this development and significantly affecting the distribution structures of airlines. Together with partners, Lufthansa Systems provides solutions for the entire NDC process, including offer and order management, dynamic pricing, and billing with the Sirax/RA revenue accounting solution. Airlines benefit from improved customer loyalty through more individualized offers, with lower distribution costs and higher revenues.

Safe & Efficient Flight Operations: Optimization and efficiency in all aspects of flight operations are the crucial aspects here. Simplified processes, improved routes, reduced fuel consumption and shorter handling times (including for crews and maintenance work) not only generate considerable savings potential, they also increase flight safety. For example, the digital navigation maps of the Lido/Navigation product line are becoming more and more dynamic. In the near future, they will be able to seamlessly display all flight processes from gate to gate. With an on-board Internet connection, additional smart functions in the maps can show information that is relevant to specific situations during a flight. This increases the pilots’ situational awareness.

Reliable Air Travel Experience: New developments in the field of flight operations revolve around passengers and their positive travel experience. If disruptions or delays do occur, these solutions aim to minimize the negative effects on passengers and communicate changes in a transparent way. This is essential to an airline’s success. The successful NetLine/Ops ++ operations control solution helps here with its innovative eye-tracking feature. Employees in an operations control center sometimes have to monitor six screens showing current flights and information about potential disturbances. Analyzing the eye movements of operations controllers with the help of eye-tracking technology ensures that no important warnings or disruption notifications are overlooked.

“In light of the growing importance of digital solutions in the aviation industry – including in the areas of data sharing, analytics and prediction – we founded a company last year called zeroG,” said Lufthansa Systems CEO Stefan Auerbach. “zeroG is a consulting firm with the character of a start-up which can respond quickly and flexibly to changes in the market. With their expertise in IT and aviation, our zeroG consultants support digitalization projects inside and outside of the Lufthansa Group.”

The attached infographic provides an overview of current digitalization projects and innovative solutions. Excerpts can be provided upon request. An animated version of the infographic for digital use can be found on YouTube. (Copyright: Lufthansa Systems)

More information about Lufthansa Systems’ digitalization expertise is available online: www.lhsystems.com or on YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/LHsystems

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 

  • RFID technology will significantly reduce mishandled baggage rates

Dubai | October 19,2016– The global deployment of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology, which can accurately track passengers’ baggage in real time across key points in the journey, can enable the air transport industry to save more than US$3 billion over the next seven years.

Global IT provider SITA and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) revealed that the highly accurate tracking rates of RFID technology could reduce the number of mishandled bags by up to 25% by 2022, mainly through efficient tracking. The SITA/IATA Business Case released today at the IATA World Passenger Symposium taking place in Dubai, outlines how this will provide a major saving for airlines and deliver more certainty for passengers.

In particular, RFID will address mishandling during transfer from one flight to another, one of the key areas identified by SITA and IATA where the technology could help improve baggage handling rates. RFID technology will ensure that airports, airlines and ground handlers are able to keep track of bags at every step of the journey and ensure the right bag is loaded onto the correct flight. The technology also supports IATA’s Resolution 753 that requires by 2018 airlines keep track of every item of baggage from start to finish.

The deployment of RFID would build on the already significant savings delivered by the smart use of technology for baggage management. According to the SITA Baggage Report 2016, technology has helped reduce the number of mishandled bags by 50% from a record 46.9 million mishandled bags in 2007, saving the industry US$ 22.4 billion. This improvement comes despite a sharp rise in passenger numbers over the same period.

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer at SITA, said: “The airline industry is on the brink of a revolution in baggage tracking. Deploying RFID globally will increase accuracy and reduce mishandling rates. This is a win-win situation – passengers will be happier, operations will run smoother and airlines will save billions of dollars.”

Andrew Price, Head of Global Baggage Operations at IATA said: “Over the past few years we have seen more work to help airlines introduce and reap the benefits of RFID technology through better oversight of their baggage operations. This has included trials and of course the Delta Air Lines implementation. The advances in the technology and the immense benefits it brings to the airline industry has prompted IATA to revisit and fully explore the benefits of RFID today.”

Initial deployments of RFID by airlines, such as Delta Air Lines, show a 99 percent success rate for tracking bags, helping further reduce the number of mishandled bags.

David Hosford, manager of baggage performance strategy at Delta Air Lines said: “We are investing in RFID to further improve our baggage handling rates and improve the customer experience. RFID technology provides us with more data and more precise tracking information throughout the baggage journey.”

The SITA/IATA business case shows that the improvements in handling rates do not come at a great cost. RFID capabilities can be deployed for as little US$0.1 per passenger on average while generating expected savings of more than US$0.2 per passenger. With some big airlines and airports already introducing RFID technology, combined with the fact that it is compatible with existing barcode technology, adoption of RFID across all airports could provide a positive return for airlines, both in cost savings and passenger satisfaction.

SITA’s and IATA’s assumptions are based on RFID being deployed in 722 airports (representing 95% of passenger numbers globally) over a six-year period between 2016 and 2021 while the savings are calculated over seven years to 2022. The figures for 2016 take into account the RFID infrastructure already deployed or about to be deployed at multiple induction points on the baggage journey.

SITA’s research into RFID and baggage tracking is part of its ongoing investment in research for the benefit of the entire air transport community. Baggage tracking is one of the five community research programs that SITA has launched to address some of the industry’s most pressing challenges. The others are identity management; the facilitation of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC); an industry-wide disruption warning system; and enhancing cybersecurity across the industry.

  • Passenger experience improvements the goal for airport’s trial

Melbourne | June 7, 2016– Melbourne Airport continues to improve passenger services with a recent trial that has included self-service boarding with global travel technology provider SITA. The airport is focusing on using technology in new ways to improve processes to make the journey smoother for its passengers and the airlines that serve them.

Melbourne Airport’s passenger improvements are underpinned by SITA’s common-use platform, which has successfully delivered self-service check-in kiosks and automated bag drop throughout the airport. The self-boarding gates are the next step in delivering a highly efficient self-service passenger experience and reducing the cost of operations for the airlines using the airport. This is one of the six areas of a passenger’s airport journey in IATA’s Fast Travel program which aims to save the industry up to US$2 billion annually.

Over a three-month period, SITA worked with the airport to analyze the potential improvements that self-boarding gates can provide. Together, SITA and Melbourne Airport have implemented a self-boarding gate in T2 International which allows passengers to simply scan their boarding pass to gain access to the aircraft. Speed of processing, passenger perception and accuracy will be measured as the airport evaluates the benefits that self-service boarding offers passengers, airlines and Melbourne Airport.

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “SITA is committed to our technology partnership with Melbourne Airport which allows us to explore the potential benefits of services and plan the ideal solution implementation with the airport team. Moving forward, we are exploring how technology and innovative services can further improve the passenger experience and operations at Melbourne Airport.”

Initial results of the self-boarding trial are positive with passengers showing strong interest and approval of boarding the aircraft by scanning their own boarding pass. The final results will now be analyzed by the SITA and Melbourne Airport teams.

This initiative is part of the overall airport development to enhance the experience for the 30 international airlines and more than 32 million passengers who currently use it.

“As Melbourne Airport focuses on optimizing the efficient use of assets, technology and innovation play an increasing role in providing better customer service,” Melbourne Airport Executive Planning Michael Jarvis said.

“Working closely with expert vendors and service providers, like SITA, facilitates the testing of world-class solutions at Melbourne Airport and allows our passengers to be among the first to experience leading-edge technology that will improve their experience.”

Passenger numbers are expected to double to 60 million by 2030.

  • New check-in kiosks part of airport’s drive to implement IATA’s Fast Travel Initiative

Manama | May 3, 2016– In a drive to improve the passenger experience and deliver increased flexibility to its airlines, Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) will this year introduce SITA’s self-service check-in kiosks across Bahrain International Airport.

SITA will install and manage six new AirportConnect® S4 Kiosks at the airport, with four kiosks to be introduced in the economy check-in area and two in the first and business class check-in area. The new S4 kiosks provide a vastly improved passenger experience with large 19-inch multi-touch screens.

Along with the new kiosks, SITA will provide its AirportHub™ shared connectivity platform, enabling airlines to migrate their back offices from legacy or direct connections systems to a cloud-based communication link.

Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, Chief Executive Officer of BAC commented: “This project is the first step towards the company’s vision of implementing IATA Fast Travel Initiative which will significantly enhance the passenger experience at Bahrain International Airport. This initiative will offer benefits of self-service check-in to passengers to facilitate the passenger journey.”

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa said: “Kiosks have proven to be an extremely versatile interface for a wide range of airport functions and services. Having worked with airlines, airports and governments around the globe has allowed us to develop kiosk products across all touch points in the airport journey and SITA has already delivered more than 10,000 kiosks to airports and airlines globally.”

  • Airline IT specialist and JR Technologies jointly provide NDC-based demo system for programming event

Raunheim | October 16, 2015– Lufthansa Systems today announced that it is supporting the “THack” hackathon taking place this weekend in Hamburg. In cooperation with JR Technologies, the airline IT specialist is providing a demo system based on IATA’s (International Air Transport Association) New Distribution Capability (NDC) standard which will give developers the data base they need for their tools. The programming event is being organized by IATA and Tnooz in advance of the IATA World Passenger Symposium (October 20-22).

The new IATA standard known as NDC should give consumers the same purchasing experience regardless of where or with whom they book their trip. At the hackathon, around 100 developers from a variety of backgrounds – the travel industry, advertising and marketing, SaaS, mobile solutions and social media – will be able to work alone or in a team to develop ideas for such systems. The goal is to create prototypes, business software tools or new user experiences for airline shopping and other travel services over the course of two days. Attractive prizes await the winners.

Lufthansa Systems and JR Technologies have developed a demo system so that the hackers can tinker and program under realistic conditions. The system simulates two fictional airlines, including route networks, booking options and dynamic pricing – all in accordance with the NDC standard, of course. Lufthansa Systems anonymized real data for this system, making the demo experience as realistic as possible.

“As the biggest provider of innovative IT solutions for the aviation industry, Lufthansa Systems has a variety of products in its portfolio whose functions are significantly affected by the new NDC standard – such as in the fields of revenue management, pricing and revenue accounting. We are getting involved early on in the development of new solutions so that we can be at the forefront of trends and innovations in this area and offer our customers a competitive advantage,” said Stephan Würll, an NDC expert at Lufthansa Systems.

This week, entertainment and connectivity news looked like a shotgun blast of scattered stories, and we had a hard time picking a lead story! So instead of picking one to feature as our Hot Topic we thought it might be better, or at least different, to grasp the whole mess laid out by subject area. You choose what to read!


Meetings

APEX
The future of technology is up in the air, literally. APEX EXPO is 35,000 feet above all other industry trade shows when it comes to bringing you the latest in inflight technology and connectivity! Join the industry Sept. 28-Oct. 1 in Portland Oregon for the passenger experience industry’s most comprehensive trade show, including a day of world-class speakers and sessions devoted to technological issues and the future of the passenger experience, among other exciting topics!

  • Leo Mondale, President, Aviation for Inmarsat, will delve into business models built around “future-proof” technologies that won’t be obsolete in a few years
  • Craig Proud, SVP Platform for GuestLogix, will discuss onboard payment technologies – Apple Pay, MasterCard Paypass, Visa PayWave and more – that are seamless and satisfying for passengers
  • Jim Costello, Chief Technology Officer for Telefonix, Inc. will cover the challenges and potential solutions for developing IFEC that stays relevant in a rapidly evolving market

IATA
The 138th Slot Conference of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global trade association for the airline industry, will be held in Hamburg from 21 to 23 June 2016. Following the World Passenger Symposium in 2015, this will be the second event of this renowned umbrella organisation to be hosted in Hamburg – thereby confirming Hamburg’s important role in the international aviation industry. Around 600 experts from the aviation industry are expected to attend the biggest of the IATA events, which will take place at the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg.


Aviation


Airline


IFE Specific

Connectivity:


Wi-Fi Specific

Beacons:

Wi-Fi Aware:

 Satcom:


FlightDeck

  • BOSE develops new features for A20 Aviation Headsets Among other them; the A20’s can now stream warnings and advisories thru apps via Bluetooth connectivity.

Cabin


Airframe Manufacturers

Airbus:

Boeing:


Security

  • Looks like Kontron is focusing on secure connectivity inflight
  • You are going to hear a lot more about the Hacking Team (company) in the future, but for now, Wi-Fi Hacking Drones are the subject here. Coming your way soon.
  • It’s about time!
  • And finally, in case you wondering if this last link has anything to do with IFEC —  it does not. Would you like to guess how many recorded Internet security attacks there were yesterday? Eleven? One hundred and eleven? Eleven thousand… how about 11,059,744! Numbers like this really put the scale of potential aviation hack worries into perspective. You can see a threat intelligence map in realtime here.

Editor’s Note: This week’s rectangle has very little to do with IFE – we just wanted you to see the terrific Boeing Paint job!

  • Mishandled bag rate falls 61% in seven years with technology investment

Geneva | March 26, 2015– The air transport industry has cut the rate of mishandled bags by 61.3% globally since 2007, creating US$18 billion in total estimated cost savings, according to air transport IT specialist, SITA. The SITA 2015 Baggage Report released today showed that the rate of mishandled bags in 2014 was 7.3 bags per thousand passengers, down from a peak of 18.88 bags per thousand passengers in 2007. This decline comes despite a significant rise in passenger numbers over the same time period, peaking at 3.3 billion passengers in 2014.

Francesco Violante, CEO, SITA, said: “This improvement in baggage handling over the past seven years is largely a result of strong technology investment and innovation in baggage systems automation and processes. However, rising passenger numbers will continue to place pressure on baggage infrastructure and processes, so the industry cannot afford to become complacent. With IATA forecasting continued passenger growth of around 7% in 2015, all industry partners will need to continue to invest, collaborate and focus on baggage management.”

From 2013 to 2014, global passenger numbers rose 5.5%, and aircraft load factors increased globally to 79.7%. This increased pressure on existing systems nudged the rate of bag mishandling up in 2014 to 7.3 bags per thousand passengers, from its all-time low of 6.96 the previous year. More than 80% of the mishandled bags in 2014 were delayed, with transfers between connecting flights the leading cause of late delivery. In 2014, mishandled transfer bags accounted for 49% of all delayed bags or 11.81 million bags; however, the majority of bags were reunited with passengers within one to two days.

Airlines and airports are continuing to invest in new technology to optimize passenger and baggage processing, including self bag tagging, self bag drop, systems automation and bag ticketing. According to SITA’s 2014 Airport IT Trends Survey, baggage processing and management ranked among airports’ top investment priorities, with investments in self-service processes, such as kiosk and bag-drop technology leading the way. Over the next three years, 59% of airports said they would invest in major self-service programs, as passengers increasingly express a desire to have more control over their journeys, including their baggage.

By 2017, around 69% of airlines said they would provide passengers with real-time updates on the location of their bags, with 66% looking to provide these updates via smartphone apps. In addition, both airlines and airports are looking for new ways to enable passengers to file missing bag reports themselves. Around 18% of airlines already offer passengers the ability to report missing bags via self-service kiosks and 10% via smartphone apps; by 2017, nearly two-thirds of airlines expect to offer these services.

Baggage tracking is set to improve further in coming years as a result of IATA Resolution 753: Baggage Tracking. The resolution, which goes into effect in 2018, requires IATA members to “maintain an accurate inventory of baggage by monitoring the acquisition and delivery of baggage.” For example, BagJourney, SITA’s end-to-end baggage tracking solution for the air transport community, provides a cost-efficient and accurate method of tracking passengers’ bags anywhere along their journey from check-in to the destination airport. It can also enable passengers to access information on the location of their bags at any time when the airline provides this service and passengers subscribe to it.

SITA has led the air transport industry in providing baggage tracking and tracing solutions for the air transport community more than 20 years. Today, more than 200 airports and 500 airlines worldwide use its baggage management solutions. By facilitating communications between airlines and local baggage handling and reconciliation systems, SITA helps ensure that bags reach their correct destination. Its proprietary BagMessage system delivers more than 2.5 billion messages between airline departure control systems and automated baggage systems annually. And more than 2,800 airport locations use WorldTracer®, SITA’s system which traces mishandled bags globally.

For further details download SITA’s full report – 2015 Baggage Report

  • SITA to Provide Messaging for Operations, Partner Communications and Air Traffic Control

Almaty, Kazakhstan | August 12, 2014– Air Astana has selected air transport communications and IT specialist, SITA, to provide messaging for operations, communications with partners and advanced datalink for air traffic control. The deal comes as Kazakhstan’s flag carrier prepares for future growth, following a 13.5 percent traffic increase in 2013.

In recent years, Air Astana has expanded rapidly across the CIS and Central Asian regions, becoming the travel provider of choice for many passengers flying to and from the region. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Kazakhstan’s international passenger traffic is growing at 9% annually, making it the second fastest-growing market in the world.[1]

Chamindra Lenawa, Vice President IT & eBusiness, Air Astana, said: “As Air Astana continues its growth, it is important that we have the right infrastructure in place. We use SITA because it offers excellent service quality and global coverage. Most importantly, because SITA is owned and operated by the air transport industry, the SITA team understands and responds to our needs very well.”

Dmitry Krasnov, SITA Vice President of Russia and CIS, said: “We are delighted to help support Air Astana’s expansion in this rapidly growing region. In addition, we are committed to ensuring that both Air Astana and the region have the IT and communications services they need, including developing our VHF and satellite communications network for cockpit datalink applications.”

SITA Type B Messaging underpins every operational aspect of air transport, from commercial and flight operations to ground support, baggage and cargo handling, passenger services, booking availability and aircraft maintenance. SITA operates the largest messaging network, directly connecting to over 2,400 members of the air transport community, switching over 100 million messages every day.

SITA’s AIRCOM Cockpit Datalink applications provide enhanced visibility and management of aircraft communications links and ACARS message content. They also provide operational information during flights, increasing the total benefit of ACARS investment. For example, in addition to the air traffic management datalink, Air Astana is using SITA’s Flight Management System Wind Uplink. This provides key data to the aircraft flight management system for in-flight re-analysis of weather conditions on the route ahead and can deliver savings in the region of 100Kg of fuel per flight in normal conditions. SITA will also provide the relevant back-office network optimization services for both solutions.

SITA is constantly developing its VHF coverage to support the AIRCOM Cockpit Datalink applications. It already has VHF Ground Stations at both Almaty and Astana airports, and will soon have them at Aktau and Atyrau airports, providing the most comprehensive network in the Kazakhstan.

Annapolis, MD | June 4, 2014– Rockwell Collins today announced that STARS Airlines Tunisia has selected its ARINC AviNet Mail Enterprise Hub (eHub) as its cloud-based messaging delivery service.

STARS Airlines provides ground support for all Tunisian and Moroccan airports, with services that include ground handling supervision, operations support, permit requests, fuel request, hotel accommodation, ground transportation and catering.

Rockwell Collins’ eHub was selected as the primary messaging platform because it provides a cost-effective solution that enables STARS Airlines to send and receive passenger processing and cargo system messages from airline handling agents.

“AviNet Mail Enterprise Hub represents the next generation messaging hub for the air transport industry,” said Chemam Hichem, general manager for STARS Airlines. “With eHub serving as our messaging platform, we have migrated all of our legacy accounts to Rockwell Collins because of its cost effective solution and superior customer service.”

As a cloud-based service, AviNet eHub requires no expensive internal server installs or software licensing fees, offers free local traffic routing and reduces customer costs for training, infrastructure and messaging transactions.

“eHub has been designed to meet all the IATA standards and customer interface needs, including Type B, XML SMTP, X400, Fax, SMS or even Type X,” said Alexis Hickox, senior director, Aviation Solutions for Rockwell Collins. “With eHub, we’re continuing the drive to reduce operational costs, and at the same time equipping our customers with the ability to embrace future developments in messaging.”

Additional information about eHub can be found at http://www.rockwellcollins.com/arinc.

December 31, 2013– Celebration of first paying passenger flight launches year of reflection on contribution of aviation to modern life

1 January 2014 marks exactly 100 years since the birth of commercial aviation. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) invites everyone with an interest in aviation to join a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary and take part in a conversation about what needs to happen to make the next 100 years even more momentous.

From a pioneering beginning to a global force for good

  • On 1 January 1914, a team of four visionaries combined efforts in the first scheduled commercial airline flight.
  • Percival Fansler organised the funding for the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line which provided the first scheduled air service across Tampa Bay, Florida.
  • Thomas Benoist’s airboat conducted the first flight, piloted by Tony Jannus.
  • Abram Pheil, then mayor of St. Petersburg, paid $400 at auction for the 23-minute flight.

These pioneers could not have envisioned the transformational changes that would follow. The industry began with only one passenger on one route on 1st January 1914. Today the global aviation industry provides unprecedented connectivity and positively impacts—directly and indirectly—people in all corners of the world. Some key statistics include:

  • On average, every day more than 8 million people fly. In 2013 total passenger numbers were 3.1 billion—surpassing the 3 billion mark for the first time ever. That number is expected to grow to 3.3 billion in 2014 (equivalent to 44% of the world’s population).
  • About 50 million tonnes of cargo is transported by air each year (about 140,000 tonnes daily). The annual value of these goods is some $6.4 trillion—or 35% of the value of goods traded internationally.
  • Aviation supports over 57 million jobs and generates $2.2 trillion in economic activity. The industry’s direct economic contribution of around $540 billion would, if translated into the GDP ranking of countries, place the industry in 19th position.
  • Global airline industry turnover is expected to be $743 billion in 2014, with an average industry profit margin of 2.6%.

“Over the last century, commercial aviation has transformed the world in ways unimaginable in 1914. The first flight provided a short-cut across Tampa Bay. Today the aviation industry re-unites loved ones, connects cultures, expands minds, opens markets, and fosters development. Aviation provides people around the globe with the freedom to make connections that can change their lives and the world,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“Aviation is a force for good. And the potential of commercial flight to keep changing the world for the better is almost unlimited. Aviation has always been a team effort. Growing and sustainably spreading the benefits of connectivity will require the industry, governments, regulators and local communities keep true to the ‘all-in-it-together’ ethos that was the bedrock of that pioneering first flight. And we should be guided by the long-term interests of all whose lives are positively transformed by commercial aviation every day. A hundred years is something worth celebrating. And we look forward to creating an equally remarkable legacy for commercial aviation’s second century,” said Tyler.

Commemorative Activities

  • A website (www.flying100years.com) will be launched on 1 January 2014 to host the centennial celebration. Along with historical and economic reference materials, the website will also be an interactive information hub depicting the value that commercial aviation provides from personal, economic and other perspectives.
  • Twitter conversations about aviation’s first century can be linked through #flying100
  • IATA is one of the sponsors of Flight 2014 which is planning to re-enact the first commercial passenger flight using a replica of the original Benoist airboat. Pilot and aircraft constructor Kermit Weeks will take off from St Petersburg, Florida and fly across the bay to Tampa at 10:00am US Eastern Standard Time, re-tracing the exact path taken by Jannus and Pheil 100 years ago.

The Closed Caption Working Group (CCWG) of the APEX Technology Committee will have until 25 August 2014 to issue its final comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on that agency’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) requiring the use of closed captions on inflight video, according to announcements made at the APEX Technology Conference held in Newport Beach, California, on 19-20 November by CCWG chair Jonathan Norris and APEX TC chair Michael Childers.

This was one of a wide range of topics covered by the Technology Committee at its annual fall conference. Additional topics included a keynote address by Doug Johnson, VP technology of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA); a final report from the APEX representatives to the Federal Aviation Administration’s  (FAA’s) Portable Electronic Device (PED) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC); a Seat and IFE Integration Workshop; a DO-307 Tutorial on Front Door and Back Door PED Emission Testing; a report on the Entertainment Identifier Registry Association (EIDR) by the Metadata Working Group; an update by the HD Working Group on APEX 0403 1080p standardization; a report on off-aircraft and inflight connectivity; an update from the ARINC Cabin Systems Subcommittee; and a report on how social media is helping to shape Southwest’s inflight Wi-Fi strategy.

The APEX Closed Caption Working Group (CCWG) is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to represent the IFE industry’s issues as the DOT decides on the scope of the requirements, and the technologies that might be codified by the agency, CCWG chair Jonathan Norris, and APEX TC chair and APEX board member Michael Childers told IFExpress.

The DOT’s original NPRM requiring closed captions on all videos on aircraft flying in and out of the U.S. was issued in 2006, but was tabled in early 2009 after the DOT and APEX (then WAEA) reviewed the state of closed caption technology as of that time. Referring to the reports of APEX, IATA, and the National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM), DOT concluded that closed caption technology circa 2006-2009 could not be implemented practically in IFE.

However, citing a timeline provided to the agency by APEX in 2006, DOT followed up for the maturation of these technologies with the result that the NPRM has been re-issued and APEX has once again engaged with DOT. The biggest difference between the state of closed captioning in 2006 versus today, according to Norris and Childers, is that new IFE installations today are based on MPEG-4 platforms that support Timed Text captions versus the MPEG-1/2 platforms of a decade ago that began supporting bitmap (“rendered image”) captions around 2007.

Among the issues, according to the CCWG report, is that while most of today’s IFE installations are MPEG-4, there are still more MPEG-1/2 files delivered today in IFE because of the preponderance of legacy systems. Therefore the CCWG will seek to ensure that the current APEX 0403 bitmap closed captioning standard is at least grandfathered, while Timed Text may also be included.

Other closed captioning issues include:

  • Since closed captions are more plentiful in North America than in certain other regions, the CCWG is considering a proposal that allows for closed captions to be required on an agreed percentage of content—particularly on non-US carriers—rather than on all content.
  • Certain kinds of short content—like ads and movie trailers—are generally not closed captioned in other markets, so the CCWG will seek a category of content to be excluded from the rule.
  • The definition of captioning is the conversion of audio dialogue into text dialogue in the same language, plus descriptions of certain non-dialogue sounds. The CCWG will seek clarification that there is not an expectation that non-English languages be converted to English.

Just prior to the TC Conference, the DOT confirmed to the TC that it has changed its NPRM Publication Date to 26 June 2014 and the end of the comment period to 25 August 2014. This will allow the WG more time to prepare its recommendations and to further engage with DOT.

High Definition Working Group

In a report from the High Definition Working Group (HDWG), Bryan Rusenko, formerly of Technicolor, announced that additional work was needed to reach consensus on a security solution for 1080p, with the result that this modification to APEX 0403 was not voted on during the TC Conference. Rusenko, and HDWG co-chair Pierre Schuberth of Thales, will attempt to find consensus by the May TC Conference.

Consumer Electronics

In his keynote address to the TC Conference, CEA VP Technology, Doug Johnson, said that CEA predicts that the percentage of adults buying technology gifts during the 2013 holiday season will be 64 percent, the highest ever and up from 62 percent in 2012. As recently as 2010 his number was just 49 percent. He also said that the number of mobile devices purchased in this category will continue to grow, and that 50 percent of consumers will use a mobile device to help them shop for tech this year.

Johnson also said that the hottest trends at the 2014 CES in January will be wireless & wireless devices, integrated home/connected home technologies, and lifestyle electronics.

DO-307 Tutorial

One of the best-received presentations at the TC Conference was an RTCA D0-307 Tutorial by Billy Martin, Principal Engineer, at Cessna Aircraft Company, a member of the FAA PED ARC along with Rich Salter and Michael Childers of APEX. Martin explained that all electronic devices have spurious RF emissions and that interference with aircraft receivers is possible if:

  • The RF emissions have high enough amplitude
  • The RF emissions occur at the aircraft radio tuned frequency
  • The path loss between the PED and the antenna is low

He also explained that any electronic device can have RF emissions (these are not due to intentional transmitters), and that they can affect sensitive aircraft radio receivers through their antennas. This is called “front-door coupling.” DO-307 defines minimum (or Target) Interference Path loss between PEDs and the aircraft antenna connector at the radio receiver. Aircraft that demonstrate Target Interference Path Loss (Target IPL) have tolerance to PED front-door interference.

As for “back door interference,” Martin explained that a tabulation of all equipment and qualification D0-160 Categories or HIRF Certification can be reviewed and maintained. This listing can be used to compare with other installations and be used to approve the equipment to backdoor tolerance.

Southwest reports on entertainment portal, social media

Angelo Vargo, Manager Product Development, at Southwest Airlines, used the occasion to announce that Southwest has begun permitting the use of PEDs from gate-to-gate. Southwest currently has 440 Wi-Fi-enabled aircraft via Row 44, consisting of 75 percent of its fleet. Over 2 million passengers visit the Southwest portal each month to use Wi-Fi, live TV, VOD and messaging.
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Thats the Spirit! “I’ve made friends at airports because I carry with me a cheap $4 extension cord with multiple outlets (5). I can plug it into one of those charging stations and power up my own laptop and then share the rest of the outlets with other travelers. Makes for interesting conversations at times. Best $4 Home Depot investment I have made to date.” – Ken Lew, Thales.