Recently shortlisted finalist for the Crystal Cabin Awards and operative since the 16th of January in its first long haul flights, Immfly, branded as XL Cloud, has already welcomed more than 30.000 new users flying onboard XL’s A-330 fleet
Barcelona, Spain | February 13, 2017– “Connect to XL CLoud and Kiss Boredom Goodbye” – that’s how the new XL entertainment platform is introduced to its passengers. Since beginnings of 2017, Paris-based XL Airways is upgrading the inflight experience with Immfly’s wireless platform, available on routes to the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the US. Passengers that fly with XL Cloud can access the platform using their personal electronic devices via the app – available to download for free prior to the flight – or web. Once in the platform, they can browse through a large selection of movies, TV Shows, newsfeeds, magazines, kids channels and travel guides, among others. The frequently renewed catalogue, which is available in English and French, includes free content and a Premium offer, available for 9.95€ per flight, or for 15€ when renting an ipad Mini onboard provided by a third company.
XL Airways is the first airline to launch Immfly’s entertainment digital solution on long haul flights.“The platform’ scalability played a major role in the decision process, it’s the power of the Cloud”, says Vincent Tomasoni, XL’s Product Marketing Manager. “Offering XL Cloud marks the completion of a major project destined to improve customer experience through breakthrough technologies. We chose Immfly’s pioneering solution as a key player to help us make this possible and reach the milestone of becoming the First French airline to offer streaming entertainment”.
Pablo Linz, cofounder of the Spanish based company, Immfly, stated that “Making our product ready for long- distance aircraft has encouraged a significant growth opportunity for our product. We are now exposed to a higher volume of passengers who have an average of 10 hours to enjoy our content, and as part of our ambition to continuously improve the passenger experience, we have developed new product features such as a games channel and an onboard chat. Certainly, the user metrics collected until now reaffirm the success of the project”.
Immfly, which will be exhibiting at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg and attending the Crystal Cabin Awards Ceremony, continues to get closer to its objective of becoming the travel industry’s favourite on-board monetization partner, reaching 100 million connected passengers by 2018.
Businesses coming together under a new company – Bluebox Aviation Systems Ltd.
Dunfermline, UK | January 23, 2017– It is announced that AviIT Ltd. and Bluebox Avionics Ltd. have been combined under a new company – Bluebox Aviation Systems Ltd. – with AviIT leadership assuming full management and operational responsibility for the new company. The Bluebox brand, products and IP will be owned and represented by Bluebox Aviation Systems Ltd.
“This new operational structure will help us meet our ambitious growth plans over the coming years, building upon Bluebox’s 10 years of IFE market success which we celebrated last year, and AviIT’s rich history of airline industry software innovation,” said Kevin Clark, who has been appointed CEO of the newly combined business. “I’m looking forward to leading this new stage of growth through innovation, sales and customer service – so here’s to celebrating a new year and a new decade, with a new corporate platform.”
“We have an increasing flow of product innovations that we are bringing to market and need to do so in a way that ensures customers benefit quickly,” said David Brown, founder of AviIT, who will lead the strategic development of the new company as Business Development Director. “Refocussing all of our product development under one organisational structure, helps us strengthen our core software development business, enhance our ability to differentiate our products, and allows us to engage more effectively in the kinds of partnerships that bring the best parties together to meet customer demand.”
“Bluebox already has long-standing relationships with all major content providers to deliver early window content on our systems and a range of high-quality IFE products that are easier to deploy and upgrade at a fraction of the cost of traditional systems,” added Clark. “This new corporate platform streamlines our ability to respond to market requirements much more rapidly than the previous Bluebox joint venture structure allowed, and provides greater flexibility in how we engage with partners in the creation and delivery of joint offerings.”
We started the first installment of our 2016’s predictions review in last week’s issue, so here is Part 2, or the wrap-up, from last year’s crystal ball – you can see how we did:
While last year we wrote about the future of beacon technology to be used in airports and on baggage, the market did not grow as quickly as we anticipated and this was due to a lot of factors. The following quote from tnooz sums it up pretty well: “As airports still search for use cases with value, and there is no generally accepted platform for this technology and its applications, the adoption is consequently slow.” Standards are the issue but we are happy to report some airlines are evaluating the technology.
Here is what we wrote last January:
“We have shown a number of beacon devices in pictures from the IFE trade shows but basically we are talking about mobile location, mobile intelligence or mobile sales communication devices. These are small battery free or line powered devices that communicate with your device over Bluetooth (4.1) and Wi-Fi. The folks at SITA have been developing a lot of airport related solutions and it remains to be seen when they will come aboard planes. Developed at Apple, the iBeacon Registry is their effort to get this technology started in airports and here are their services: It allows beacon owners (airlines, airports or 3rd parties) to manage their beacon infrastructure and track where they are placed in an airport. The technology enables airports to monitor beacon deployment to prevent radio interference with existing Wi-Fi access points. It provides beacons owners with a simple mechanism to set the ‘meta-data’ associated with beacons. Also, it has an API for app developers who want to use these beacons for developing travel and other related apps.”
Notes SITA: ‘The aims of the registry are to promote the use of beacons in the Air Transport Industry and reduce the cost and complexity of deployment. This can be achieved with the following design goals:
- Promote shared beacon infrastructure to reduce cost and complexity of deployment.
- Introduce standard beacon types and data definition to encourage reuse.
- Provide a simple to use API to discover beacons and get meta-data about beacons.
- Provide tools to airport operators and beacon owners to visualize and track beacons.
- Be vendor agnostic – the service should work with beacons from any vendor.”
While airport beacon technology has not taken off as well as we expected we provide this current list of the technology and its’ applications, and the further use of wireless devices used to find things.
- SAMSONITE – TRACK&GO | Accent Systems
- 10 Airports Using Beacons to Take Passenger Experience to the Next Level | Beaconstac
- Tracking Beacons In Samsonite Bags To Help You Find Lost Luggage Using A Smartphone App : TECH : Tech Times
- Why airports are slow to install beacons – Tnooz
- Airlines And Airports Commit To Beacon Technology
- Lost luggage less likely with new tracking systems – Elliott
“This topic is massive and we will cover it for many times and years to come but we wanted to share one thought from an online article we read – ‘People were reported to be ‘almost universally’ the biggest weakness in information security, ahead of technology and processes..” We note, of the respondents that reported to have an insider threat or policy, 70% offer employee training to minimize risk it said “The company employs intelligence teams that study different aspects of communications, user activity, social media, suspicious activity and other details,” said one respondent. “We’re seeing a lot more hands-on training, employee monitoring, and testing to address the issue,” said Ari Kaplan, security researcher. In fact, this human focused trend will be the number one item at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the show of new gimmick things, one venue stood out: “#1 Say Goodbye to Cool, Hello to Security and Safety. At CES we have come to expect the latest new shiny gadgets but this is the beginning of change. The world is changing and aviation will be focused on this subject this year. Just consider how many folks touch technology that plugs into planes!”
If anything, we underestimated how big this subject was to become in our aviation lifestyle. The folks at Transparency Market Research noted that the total commercial aviation market is predicted to climb to $29.3 Billion by 2021 from $25.3 B in 2016 – roughly half of the market will be Avionics retrofits, but they note: “The use of modern commercial avionics systems also makes aviation vehicles more susceptible to online hacks.” Thus, our interest in security.
Another perfect example of interest growth is the increase in security related web links we save in our browser. In the beginning of 2016 we had 9 links identified – today we have 64. While we can’t begin to identify the many stories related to security failings at airports and from airlines and aviation hackers last year, this subject will get bigger and bigger – with a possible unacceptable number in 2017 – some possibly being potential horror stories.
C) Virtual Reality:
We noted VR last year: “Don’t get too excited about virtual reality for aircraft applications. In fact, here is the view from Rick Merritt in EE Times who seems to agree: “Some people will claim virtual and augmented reality will be the next big thing in the run up to the debut of a handful of major platforms in the spring. But by fall the heat will start to fade as consumers, chilled by their high price tags and underwhelming performance, give a pass on them as gifts for Xmas 2016.”Some airlines have been flirting with the concept of VR for a number of years and have even featured the technology in their airline lounges, but we believe this technology has a long way to go before it can migrate successfully to the airborne environment, especially if motion sickness is taken into consideration.”
It also begins to look like augmented reality might have a better inflight usage and acceptance this year. As an example the airline might transmit data to augmented devices to place information on glasses or phones like location, airspeed, whatever. However, The industrial market for augmented reality, and the logistics and manufacturing AR markets in particular, will soar by more than 400% in 2017, according to a forecast by ABI Research but it is hard to see IFEC applications, at least in lower classes, except those brought aboard by passengers.
Lastly, we noted in Other last year: “We probably don’t need to say it but Economy Class will get more crowded, competition will drop air fares as competition ‘crams’ up – possibly a new ‘mini or micro’ class, there should be more mergers as more airlines take on the Delta World concept, deals and freebies will exist for the frequent fliers while the rest of the travelers will pretty much just exist inflight (if that’s possible) you will need better pre-boarding ID, Airbnb and Uber concepts will tempt a new US airline concept but the idea will be killed (this is a tough one in the US), and in the end VR may be needed after all to blunt the reality of coach or class.”
We think we did pretty well last year and next week we will do a little predicting again and you will see what predictions our reader have too!
Boeing delivered 748 aircraft in 2016 (490 737s; nine 747s; 13 767s; 99 777s; 137 787s) vs a record of 762 in 2015 (495 737s; 18 747s; 16 767s; 98 777s; 135 787s).
Boeing booked orders for 848 aircraft in 2016 (701 737s, 18 747s, 26 767s, 23 777s; 80 787s) vs 878 in 2015 (666 737s; six 747s; 49 767s; 58 777s; 99 787s), net orders totaled 668 in 2016.
Boeing ended 2016 with a backlog of 5,715 aircraft (4,452 737s; 28 747s; 93 767s; 442 777s; 700 787s), down from 5,795 in 2015 (4,392 737s; 20 747s; 80 767s; 524 777s; 779 787s) – 550 737, 17 B747, 26 767, 17 777, and 58 787.
Technically, Boeing fell 80 planes short of their goal in 2016 – their lowest year orders since 2010 – and plane sales just may slow down in 2017 as well. However, Boeing does have a total of 5,715 jets on order.
Editor’s Note: Airbus is expected to announce the delivery of up to 688 planes, according to industry rumors, as their announcement is expected January 11th. If they announce 259 orders in Dec they could beat Boeing’s 668. Expect some surprises!
Rockwell Collins has acquired Pulse.Aero Limited, a UK-based company specializing in self-service bag drop solutions and airline applications, to enhance the company’s passenger processing services for airports and airlines. This acquisition further expands Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services strategy to enable the connected aviation ecosystem.“As passengers seek to take more control of their travel experience, this acquisition expands our portfolio of self-service passenger processing solutions, enabling us to streamline and simplify the passenger journey through a fully connected airport,” said Dave Nieuwsma, senior vice president, Information Management Services for Rockwell Collins. Pulse.Aero’s products and services will be integrated into the Airport Systems portfolio of Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services business. Rockwell Collins and Pulse. Aero have worked together on several successful deployments, including Dublin Airport, where new self-bag drop units were installed, reducing queue times and improving customer service.
Valour Consultancy Study:
A new paid study is available from Valour, but here is what they say about it: “The connected aircraft represents a paradigm shift for airlines and many are now in the early stages of deploying various applications. Several have begun to embrace staged increases in electronic flight bag (EFB) capabilities often starting with one or two apps that they can later build upon, according to a new study from UK-based market intelligence firm, Valour Consultancy. The report – “How the Connected Aircraft fits into the Internet of Things” – thoroughly details the raft of connected aircraft applications airlines are exploring in the hope of realizing considerable cost savings and/or ancillary revenue gains. It finds that the benefits of eTechlog, eCabin Logbook and enhanced flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) programs using quick access recorder (QAR) data are becoming better understood, while aircraft health monitoring solutions are being enriched by the infusion of increased data flows from previously disparate sub-systems and other information sources on and off the aircraft. Though certain airlines are further along in their connected aircraft strategy than others, there are many challenges to be overcome, says report author, Craig Foster. “Suppliers have invested millions in developing differentiated offerings and this lack of standards has resulted in concern and confusion about investing in the wrong technology. Second, there exists little in the way of tangible metrics that show how quickly a return on investment (ROI) may be achieved from connected aircraft applications. Third, there is a perception that the act of harnessing vast amounts of data results in magical value with some undoubtedly having overstated the reality of what is possible”. Download the whole story about the study in the link above or you can contact Craig for more information at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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:
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.
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.
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
Lake Forest, CA | December 20, 2016–
Panasonic Avionics Corporation statement
The allegations made to the press by IOActive regarding in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems manufactured by Panasonic Avionics Corporation (“Panasonic”) contain a number of inaccurate and misleading statements about Panasonic’s systems. These misstatements and inaccuracies call into question many of the assertions made by IOActive.
Most notably, IOActive has chosen to make highly misleading and inflammatory statements suggesting that hackers could “theoretically” gain access to flight controls by hacking into Panasonic’s IFE systems. Panasonic strenuously disagrees with any suggestion by IOActive that such an attack is possible, and calls upon IOActive to clarify that its research does not support any such inference.
IOActive has presented no evidence that its examination of Panasonic’s systems would support any such suggestion, and its statement that its “research revealed it would also theoretically be possible that such a vulnerability could present an entry point to the wider network, including the aircraft controls domain” will only serve to falsely alarm the flying public.
Furthermore, IOActive employee Ruben Santamarta’s statement regarding credit card theft is simply not true. Mr. Santamarta makes incorrect assumptions about where credit card data is stored and encrypted within Panasonic’s systems.
It is important to note that, during the course of this unauthorized, in-service testing, the safety, security and comfort of passengers of the aircraft were never in danger or compromised due to the system segregation and robust security design of our inflight entertainment and communications (IFEC) product, and of all commercial aircraft as well. His exploit itself was limited to a single seat and information gathering; control override of the IFEC seat and system did not occur.
It is also very important to note that, in its communications to the press, IOActive made unfounded, unproven conclusions. The basis for many of these conclusions would first necessitate that an attacker gained a physical connection within the IFE network. During the unauthorized testing, network penetration, or even network connection to Pansonic’s product, did not occur.
The conclusions suggested by IOActive to the press are not based on any actual findings or facts. The implied potential impacts should be interpreted as theoretical at best, sensationalizing at worst, and absolutely not justified by any hypothetical vulnerability findings discovered by IOActive.
IOActive, in statements to the press, inappropriately mixed a discussion of hypothetical vulnerabilities inherent to all aircraft electronics systems with specific findings regarding Panasonic’s systems, creating a highly misleading impression that Panasonic’s systems have been found to be a source of insecurity to aircraft operation.
Like any responsible business, Panasonic continually tests the robustness of its systems, and reviewed all of the claims made by Mr. Santamarta. It subsequently engaged Attack Research (AR) to conduct validation testing in May 2015 and again in 2016 to ensure that the few minor concerns (in no way linked to the control of an aircraft) identified by Mr. Santamarta had been fully remediated, and this was confirmed in a written report to Panasonic.
Panasonic does not condone unauthorized security testing during aircraft operation in uncontrolled environments, such as those conducted by IOActive. Panasonic strongly supports legislation that should be enacted to make on-board electronic intrusion a criminal act.
Security professionals who wish to test our systems legitimately and safely can do so by participating in our Bug Bounty program (email@example.com) in which Panasonic provides unfettered access to our products to allow for in-depth security testing and analysis.
Panasonic IFE products have a robust security design that complies with, or exceeds, all requirements, and are routinely and regularly tested by third-party professional security firms, as well as by participants in our independent Bug Bounty program.
Panasonic also fully supports aircraft manufacturers and aviation regulatory agencies to ensure our IFE systems are designed to comply with all aircraft manufacturer and regulatory security requirements, and Panasonic routinely reviews our designs with said groups.
Additionally, Panasonic is a member of the Aviation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (A-ISAC) for the express purpose of assuring that vulnerabilities are shared and assessed with a collective oversight so that the integrity of the systems can be maintained. Panasonic’s IFE software is certified at Level-E per DO-178B, with “No Effect” to aircraft safety.
News From Thales:
IFExpress came away from our time at the Thales Booth in Singapore with a number of highlights that are outlined below:
1) First, in September of this year Thales announced their relationship with SES to provide a dedicated connectivity service over the Americas that will be optimized for the commercial aviation industry. The relationship with satellite operator SES will offer high throughput satellite connectivity in the Ka-band. Two of the satellites are already in orbit and the service will be launched in mid-2017. The third satellite in the network, manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, is targeted to launch in 2020. What is the benefit of all this? Thales states that the satellites are purpose built for aviation and are directed to cover where the majority of aircraft routes fly, which are much different than residential home coverage. In the interim, Thales has access to some of SES’s current transponder space. The service from Thales is dubbed FlytLIVE. Noted Thales, “To meet the needs of a growing market, SES will procure a new satellite specifically designed for the needs of FlytLIVE and manufactured by Thales Alenia Space to be launched in 2020. The satellite’s architecture is based on Thales Alenia Space’s all-electric version of the Spacebus NEO platform, the highest performing satellite in the global connectivity market.” FlytLIVE will be a full end-to-end solution that will include a modular antenna, multi-frequency radome, in-cabin Wi-Fi and portal platform. It will also provide bandwidth and session management, operational support tools, line maintenance, content delivery and turnkey service and support.
The company went on to say, “Thales InFlyt Experience, Thales Alenia Space and SES specifically developed the network and satellite architecture for the unique connectivity requirements of commercial aviation customers resulting in better services, more efficient operations and cost savings. SES will operate the satellites and the ground network. The services will be ready for airline and passenger use by summer of 2017 and will be provided by two satellites that are currently in-orbit. The third satellite in the network to be launched, SES-17, will be optimized for the fast-moving aviation and mobility market over the Americas. It will provide new Ka-HTS bandwidth over this region to meet the current and future speed, coverage and quality expectations of crowded skies and increasing passenger service demands as regional airline passenger traffic is forecasted to nearly double by 2030.”
We understand that the satellite will have some 200 spot beams of various sizes, allowing for flexible allocation over high-traffic airline routes assuring the most efficient delivery of Internet, real-time content delivery and live television. They went on to say that SES-17 will cover the Americas (North, South, and Central), Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. IFExpress believes their goal will be to build a network that provides higher data rate broadband connections and improves coverage while keeping capacity and quality.
2) During APEX Singapore Thales and Emirates announced that the AVANT inflight entertainment system was selected for the airline’s future fleet of 150 777X jetliners. Here are the highlights of the deal: a) Thales plans to establish an innovation center, Discovery Dubai, and maintenance station in Dubai that will be managed by Thales. b) Thales will be the first to equip its inflight entertainment systems on the 777X aircraft platform. Deliveries are to commence in 2020.
The press release notes: “Thales is committed to using its strengths in technological innovation, communications, big data management and cyber security to enhance Emirates inflight experience leadership position. The airline’s award winning inflight entertainment system, ice is an industry leader in passenger experience, and Thales’s partnership with Emirates will focus on helping the airline drive the highest standards of innovation for ice, from in-seat entertainment to wireless cabin connectivity.”
3) During our interview with Duc HuyTran, Vice President, Marketing and Strategy for Thales InFlyt Experience, he stated that there are 3 pillars to Thales IFEC: connectivity, IFE, and their InFlytCloud service offering. “The combination of our state-of-the-art AVANT inflight entertainment solution, connectivity offerings and InFlytCloud platform are driving new innovations in passenger engagement,” said Tran during the meeting. “Thales is a solutions provider and we are working closely with airlines to build these customized solutions around their fleets, routes and passengers.” Throughout our interview, it was clear to IFExpress that Thales is customer driven at all levels of the organization.
One of the three pillars is the new InFlytCloud service. InFlytCloud is a platform that allows airlines to manage their operations and passenger experience related data via the InFlyt Experience Application Portal. The key here is data, something which the vendors need to provide and the airlines need to understand and use. In the past we have referred to this industry changing feature as ‘Big Data’. Tracy DeCuir, Vice President of Business Infrastructure and Services said, “One key feature of InFlytCloud is that the data is customizable by the user, not just the airline. With this feature the user can deep-dive in on any platform. More importantly, the data is accessible in real-time.” We should also note that the system is scalable, flexible, and brandable by both the OEM and airline. The reader should note that this is another instance of an IFE vendor who realizes the value of Big Data.
First, we want to introduce Gary DiLeo, BOSE’s IFEC Sale Representative, and welcome him to the industry. Gary is the new Hratch Astarjian who is now involved with “…sales, business development, marketing and service functions globally.”
Next, we have to tell our readers about something just short of amazing. OK, make that AMAZING. The BOSE QuietComfort QC35 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones are the best headphones we have ever tested! Here is what BOSE says: “Our other wireless headphones are the SoundSport Wireless Headphones (a Bluetooth, in-ear audio headphone), the SoundSport Pulse (similar to the SoundSport, but it also incorporates heart rate sensors, for people who workout), the QuietControl 30 Wireless Headphone (in-ear noise cancelling – like the QC20, but wireless. It allows you to increase or reduce the amount of noise reduction you get depending on your environment and preference). You can see all of these on our website.”
But we want to concentrate here on the BOSE QC35 – and we need to set up our readers, especially those who have used wired BOSE headphones in the past. You probably noted a couple things – BOSE headsets are the best sounding over-the-head earphones you can buy, because they deliver incredible bass notes, crystal clear highs, and if you have noise cancellation, they have virtually no background/outside noise. This has been progressively true with every model we have used over the last 10 years. The QC35’s offer something else with the aforementioned audio quality – they offer a few things more than great sound – no wires, and smart technology. But hold on – the BOSE QC35’s are also like no headphone you ever have used. Besides no wires, they are ‘smart’ and communicate to you in one of 11 languages (your choice) and represent the next generation in wireless audio headphone entertainment – all via the BOSE Connect app. We were expecting a good set of headphones with no wires, but instead it turned out to be fabulous set of headphones, with no wires and with ‘smart technology’ THAT TALKS TO YOU! Further, the built in voice prompt tells you what’s going on, and on my Apple hardware, it tells me what device I am connecting and connected to. This has value when you are streaming around more than one Bt device.
From an audio point of view, the audio is incredibly clean, pure, and very rich. The bass is most impressive (And yes, you can hear the base drum kick in Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”…). Noise cancellation is splendid – no background SHHHhhhhh when the music is off. Move your head while the music is playing and no change, no phase shift, nothing – just the music. You’ve got your own controls on the headphones – volume up, volume down, power off/on/connect. A light tells you power on/battery-low and a blue light indicates Bluetooth searching. A white light (in the blue light lens) tells you that you are on hold for a call. When a call does come in if you are listening to the music on your phone, for example, it automatically switches the music on hold till the call ends.
Of course you have your standard controls on the headphones: volume up, volume down, power off/on/connect. We note that there is a light indicates power on/battery low and a blue light for Bluetooth searching. And when using them with a phone, the smart technology from the BOSE Connect app kicks in – just dial or answer the phone for a music fade down. When your call is done, Miss BOSE says, “Call ended” and delivers your music where the song was cut off. While they will work with your Bt phones, Bt iPods, Bt computers without the BOSE Connect app, we loaded the app on an Apple 5S and WOW it allowed us to name the headset, control volume, monitor the headphone dc power level, told us that the Bt was on, kept track of the past connections, on/off timer, voice prompt control, 11 languages, and touch NFC (touch and it connects via BT). It also features product details and a user manual in the app – nice touch. Move your head while the music is playing and there is no audio change, nothing – just the music. As for range – we tried 60 feet and around a corner and down a set of stairs with no degradation – absolutely none.
Lastly, we have to say they are not cheap – QC35 $349 – but since they are the best, they are worth every penny. When you buy these for a gift, you are not just giving a gift – You are delivering an EXPERIENCE. If you are going to test them in a store, load the BOSE Connect app first (its free), then plan to test the full EXPERIENCE, in the store. You won’t be disappointed. (Editor’s Note: As we noted above, from a range point of view, we don’t see why they won’t work on a plane. In fact, your audio source could be stored in your carry-on since you can control your audio entertainment from your seat without wires.)
A Late Discovery: If you think your playing device needs Bluetooth for the QC35s to work, guess again. As we were going to press we discovered that Bose provides a stereo cable that plugs into the headset and connects to your PED so that you can use them with non-Bluetooth equipped players. Cleverly, the end that plugs into the PED is thin enough to fit in it when you have a case or an external battery on it!
This year, Boeing was building 777s at a rate of 8.3 per month or 100 per year. The company then announced a cut to 7 jets per month, starting this month. They just announced that they don’t have enough orders to maintain the current 777 widebody jet program production rate of 7 airplanes per month and will cut production in Everett to 5 airplanes per month beginning in August. (B777x where are you?)
MEBA Dubai, UAE | December 6, 2016– Aircraft operators can now stream the latest movies and hit TV shows in-flight.
Today at MEBAA 2016 Satcom Direct announced that SD and Lufthansa Technik are partnering to provide business jet operators with a wide selection of movies and TV shows. Initially available on aircraft equipped with nice® HD cabin systems, nicemedia content is delivered via an easy-to-use portable memory device that connects directly to the CMS. No internet connection is required onboard to view the content, and new movies and shows will be added on a monthly basis. SD will be showcasing the content to delegates during the event on Booth 477.
By mid-2017, the system will be available for all IFE/CMS platforms via the nicemedia Smartbox, powered by SD. The system will enable passengers to view content via the cabin monitors or stream to personal electronic devices including iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets.
“Satcom Direct’s DNA is similar to ours,” says Philip von Schroeter, Director of OEM Programs at Lufthansa Technik. “Both companies established a strong reputation in the business jet market based on superior technology and customer focus. Together we will make licensed premium content accessible and affordable to a large customer base.”
“Partnering with Lufthansa Technik allows us to provide quality inflight entertainment to passengers through a convenient, plug-and-play system,” said Ken Bantoft, SD Chief Technology Officer. “With this solution, passengers can enjoy the latest blockbusters and hit TV series.”
Content is available in English, German, Spanish and French across a variety of genres including Action, Adventure, Comedy, Family and Science Fiction. The content is DRM-secured and licensed.
The nicemedia system includes 50 movies and 30 TV shows, and is updated monthly with brand new content.
This week’s Zodiac Inflight Innovations (Zii) rectangle should give you an idea of the relative growth of RAVE AVOD customers over the past year or so. RAVE’s sales and marketing Guru, Harry Gray told IFExpress at APEX: “It has been a good year. In the last ninety days, we have acquired six new RAVE customers.” It should be noted, that RAVE has over 250 aircraft flying with inseat systems and almost 300 with RAVE wireless systems. Some of the new customers are prominent and market leading airlines. A recent press release from Singapore noted: “ – four new A350 customers, 150 committed B737Max aircraft, their first A380 customer as well as over 200 Global Express Connectivity equipped aircraft committed with the first installation scheduled early in 2017. Zodiac Inflight Innovations is quietly becoming a force in the world of IFEC. Zii first hit the IFE scene with their revolutionary new Seat Centric IFE system in 2011 and just five years later they are growing with over 45 airline customers, over 550 aircraft in service, and over 650 aircraft in committed backlog.” Noted Harry, “RAVE is: Reliable, Affordable, and Very Easy (to install, operate and maintain) – that is why it has been a success.” He also noted that the retrofit market has been very stable, and as of late, line fit is definitely growing. “Our RAVE systems are much easier to maintain than traditional IFE systems which allows airlines to maintain their own aircraft without the added expense of paying a traditional IFE provider for support” says Matt Smith, CEO for Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “Zii is a company that is different by design; our focus is always on putting our customers first. We want to be a company that Airlines want to work with; customer focused and innovation driven, we relentlessly pursue our core value of RAVE – Reliable, Affordable and Very Easy. It’s more than a name, it’s who we are.”
This year Zii has added an aftermarket support package to round out their portfolio of products. With RAVE Care, an airline can tailor a support package to its specific needs for a fixed price per month per aircraft. RAVE Care can include everything that an airline needs to maintain and operate their IFE systems, including spares, repairs, customer abuse and even content integration. Included in RAVE Care is a software guarantee that means airlines never have to worry about the cost of updating their Passenger User Interface and features over the lifetime of the system.
Kontron’s latest equipment developments include their ACE Flight 4608 8 core onboard server, which has the capability to do a lot more than inflight entertainment. For example, Kontron’s early systems featured solid state drives which were in the 100 GB but today their servers will feature 7 TB drives that are all solid state. The important point to note is that communication/connectivity enhancements are a real future capability. The Kontron team told us that Kontron specializes in cabin systems as well as security and safety certifications. Furthermore, the 4608 server excels at data processing onboard, the benefit to the airline is that they don’t have to wait to get the information off the aircraft when it is on the ground – once again proving that the big data technology is becoming an expectation and a reality. They also received FAA PMA for their Cab-n-Connect A100 wireless access point (PIX). It should be noted that it delivers next-generation HD video and is certified on Boeing, Airbus, and Embrear aircraft. (Editor’s Note: Since 2005 Kontron has added new IFE and connectivity equipment every year. This year seven new products and iterations were unveiled: the ACE Flight 4780 MODMAN, ACE Flight Server 4608, the ACE Flight Server 4600, the ACE Flight Server 2600, and the ACE Flight Server 1600, the ACE Flight Server 904 and the Cab-n-Connect A100.)
This year APEX introduced a ‘Cool Award’ that was selected by industry peers. PXCom was the recipient of this award, probably because of the recognition of many of the companies’ innovations such as seat back wireless IFE compatible destination guides and destination information. IFExpress has had the pleasure of knowing Cyril Jean of PXCom for several years now and we have reported on their many innovative IFE communication developments and we were thrilled that their IFE peers acknowledged their creativity. Congratulations PXCom!
We had the opportunity to meet GEE’s new Director of Marketing, Nancy Harvey during APEX. She was happy to discuss their recent content agreement with Qatar Airways, which was announced during the expo. The deal is a new one for GEE that expands on their longstanding relationship with the airline and covers several years where they will provide movies, music, audio, and TV for on 164 aircraft, as well as, 8 charter jets and 12 business jets. (Editor’s Note: In our November 15th issue of IFExpress we discussed GEE’s recent JV with Shareco of HNA Group. Joint venture would exclusively provide inflight connectivity hardware and entertainment services on HNA airlines, comprising over 320 aircraft today with the potential to grow to over 500 planes. Shareco plans to invest up to $416 million in GEE stock at $11 per share through a combination of primary and secondary share purchases. Under terms of the contemplated transactions, GEE and Shareco would form a JV to provide IFEC and passenger monetization services to HNA airlines.)
The first of three A350-1000 development aircraft to fly – MSN059 – landed at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport France at 15.00hrs local time after successfully completing its first flight which lasted four hours and 18 minutes. Powered by Rolls-Royce’s new Trent XWB-97 engines, the aircraft traversed south-western France, during which the crew explored the aircraft’s handling and flight envelope. (See the full press release in “News Releases” below.)
On another front, Airbus plans to increase delivery rate of their A350 next to some 80 aircraft next year.
Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Monday named Kevin G. McAllister president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, succeeding company Vice Chairman Ray Conner in that role. Muilenburg also appointed Stanley A. Deal president and CEO of Boeing Global Services, a new business unit to be formed from the customer services groups within the company’s existing commercial airplanes and defense, space and security business units. McAllister joins Boeing from GE Aviation. Deal is a veteran Boeing executive. Conner, 61, will continue to serve as Boeing vice chairman through 2017. He will work closely with McAllister in the months ahead on a purposeful hand-off of customer, supplier, and community and government relationships, and to ensure continuity of operations and customer support. Conner also will provide strategic oversight and guidance for the company’s transition to a single integrated services business and remain involved in ongoing product development strategy at Commercial Airplanes. Deal will begin immediately finalizing and executing detailed and deliberate plans to structure and organize the new business while ensuring all near-term customer commitments are met and value is maximized over the long term. Deal and McAllister join Caret as business unit leaders reporting directly to Muilenburg. They also become members of the company’s Executive Council. The appointments are effective Nov. 21, 2016.
World Trade Organization Ruling
The World Trade Organization (WTO) today rejected virtually all of the European Union’s challenges to the Washington state tax incentives. The EU challenged seven different state tax incentives. The WTO rejected entirely the EU’s challenge to six of the seven incentives and rejected most of the challenge to the seventh. The WTO held only and narrowly that a reduction in Washington state’s Business and Occupancy (B&O) tax rate for future 777X revenues is inconsistent with the WTO agreements. The WTO threw out all of the EU’s other challenges to various incentive programs and left untouched even the B&O tax rate as it applies to revenue from the other Boeing models produced in Washington state–the 737, 747, 767, 777 (current model) and 787. In total, the EU claimed that Boeing had received $8.7 billion in subsidies. This claim was rejected by the WTO, which found future incentives totaling no more than $50 million a year to be impermissible. The WTO found that to date Boeing has received no benefit from the 777X rate incentive, and will not until 2020, because the first airplane will not be delivered until then. In light of today’s decision and the massive liability that the WTO has found against the EU and Airbus, we expect the EU and Airbus to appeal the decision.
- Zodiac Inflight Innovation (Zii) is becoming a force in the world of IFEC 45 airline customers, over 550 aircraft in service, and over 650 aircraft in committed backlog
Singapore | October 24, 2016– Zodiac Inflight Innovations (Zii – a Zodiac Aerospace company) has in the past six months secured well over 200 new RAVE AVOD IFE systems to equip commercial aircraft, four new A350 customers, 150 committed B737Max aircraft, their first A380 customer as well as over 200 Global Express Connectivity equipped aircraft committed with the first installation scheduled early in 2017.
Zodiac Inflight Innovations is quietly becoming a force in the world of IFEC. Zii first hit the IFE scene with their revolutionary new Seat Centric IFE system in 2011 and just five years later they are growing with over 45 airline customers, over 550 aircraft in service, and over 650 aircraft in committed backlog.
Zii has added to their basic AVOD system (“RAVE Centric”) a wireless IFE system (RAVE Wireless) and a line fit Ka-band connectivity system (RAVE Broadband) that is available on all Airbus platforms including the A350 XWB and A380. Today, Zii is able to offer airlines a complete IFEC solution complete with all of the advanced features including 2nd screen applications and a truly personalized experience for passengers. Zii is line fit on the Airbus A320, A330, A380 and A350 and is working to become line fit on Boeing aircraft and is adding standard seat pairings with all of the major seat suppliers.
“We like to think of ourselves as different and disruptive” says Larry Girard, Executive Vice President for Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “We are disruptive by design; our seat centric architecture has fewer LRU’s, it’s simple to operate and maintain with unprecedented availability and no dark flights – ever. Coupled with a common software platform and standard parts, we are commercially disruptive as well.”
Zii has this year added an aftermarket support package to round out their portfolio of products. With RAVE Care, an airline can tailor a support package to its specific needs for a fixed price per month per aircraft. RAVE Care can include everything that an airline needs to maintain and operate their IFE systems, including spares, repairs, customer abuse and even content integration. Included in RAVE Care is a software guarantee that means airlines never have to worry about the cost of updating their Passenger User Interface and features over the lifetime of the system.
“Our RAVE systems are much easier to maintain than traditional IFE systems which allows airlines to maintain their own aircraft without the added expense of paying a traditional IFE provider for support” says Matt Smith, CEO for Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “Zii is a company that is different by design; our focus is always on putting our customers first. We want to be a company that Airlines want to work with; customer focused and innovation driven, we relentlessly pursue our core value of RAVE – Reliable, Affordable and Very Easy. It’s more than a name, it’s who we are.”
And their operational performance seems to bear this out. Zii’s on-time delivery and repair turnaround time performance is over 99%. The RAVE system reliability is over 99.5% and we are told that commercially RAVE is the most affordable system on the market today
- Nesma Airlines is AirFi’s first Middle East airline customer and the 21st overall
- The carrier will deploy AirFi’s Wireless IFE solution on its A320 and A321 aircraft
- The solution will launch with Nesma in six weeks
Singapore | October 26, 2016– Market-leading Wireless IFE provider AirFi is proud to announce the signing of its first customer in the Middle East – and twenty-first customer globally – Nesma Airlines.
Nesma plans to deliver a streaming IFE solution to passengers flying on its Airbus A320 family aircraft in November this year, less than six weeks from contract signature. With over 20 airline customers flying with the AirFi solution every day, the AirFi team is experienced in enabling such speedy fleet-wide deployments of its system.
AirFi’s fully-featured portable Wireless IFE platform allows passengers to access DRM and non-DRM movies and TV shows, games, chat, duty free and post-flight shopping and daily updated news and social feeds. To provide such a wide range of content, the company currently works with over fifty content providers both big and small, including its official regional partner, Onboard International.
Furthermore, AirFi’s acquisition of a European technology firm earlier in 2016 means passengers can also play with a state-of-the-art 3D moving map. This new feature showcases numerous points of interest and offers the opportunity for geo-fenced advertising.
Passengers can access the content using their personal electronic devices to connect to a free onboard Wi-Fi network created by the AirFi boxes, which are positioned throughout the cabin in overhead bins. AirFi will initially offer Nesma’s passengers content in English, with the roll-out of Arabic-language content due soon after the solution goes live.
AirFi CEO, Job Heimerikx, comments, “We are delighted to welcome Nesma to the AirFi family and to open up another new region here in the Middle East with our partner Onboard International. We are dedicated to a continuous program of passenger experience enhancements and ensuring that the AirFi platform leads the market as the best-in-class hard and software solution for safety, performance, cost and speed of deployment.”
Martijn Moret, AirFi’s Chief Innovation Officer and Director of Operations in Asia, adds, “We’re very proud to announce our first Middle East airline customer, because it’s a new territory for us. It’s a tangible result of our expansion in focus from solely Europe out to the rest of the world.”
AirFi made the decision to expand its global reach earlier this year. So far, it has eighteen European customers, as well as one carrier based in the Philippines and one based in Mexico. Moret also hinted that further confirmed customer announcements could be expected before the end of the year.
Newport Beach, CA | October 24, 2016– FTS, a fast rising new provider of inflight wireless entertainment platform, today announced that two Aviation and Inflight Entertainment industry luminaries have joined its senior leadership team in USA. Rich Salter has been appointed as Chief Technology officer (CTO) while Jack Sunabe has joined as Director of Program Management. The new additions shall further boost FTS product development capabilities and also strengthen program delivery to FTS’s inaugural launch customer in North America. This news follows the company’s previous announcement that well-known industry marketing executive Ben Fuller had joined FTS as Director of Marketing for the Americas.
Rich received his B.Sc and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering from Ohio University and interned in its Avionics Engineering Center. Later, he cofounded Airshow map displays and consulted on in-flight entertainment for airlines and suppliers. In 2003, he cofounded Lumexis. Rich has served on the board of the WAEA (now APEX) and its Technology Committee (TC), ARINC Cabin Systems Subcommittee and the FAA PED Aviation Rulemaking Committee. Rich received the APEX Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001, which is the highest accolade in the industry.
Jack’s illustrious career spans over 25 years in the Aerospace industry. His In-flight-entertainment (IFE) experience started at Sony Trans Com then with Rockwell Collins after its acquisition. He took on positions of Product Line Manager and later, Principal Program Manager. Prior to joining FTS, Jack served as the VP OEM Programs and New Product Development at Lumexis where he was instrumental in managing the process to become a Boeing approved IFE supplier.
“We are indeed most fortunate to have both Rich and Jack join FTS at the right time when we are rapidly expanding” said Mr Duan Shiping, President and CEO of FTS. “Rich and Jack each bring a wealth of knowledge and experience across the different aerospace fields, including avionics hardware, software, testing, certification, program management and quality. Their presence will help propel our global R&D and program management teams to new heights, ultimately delivering world class inflight innovations to airline customers.”
Singapore | October 26, 2016– Biman Bangladesh Airlines (Biman) has selected Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) to deliver a premium entertainment experience onboard its new fleet of four B787-8 aircraft.
A. M. Mosaddique Ahmed, Managing Director and CEO for Biman said, “For our new 787-8 aircraft, we want an entertainment experience that immerses our guests in our brand and the culture of Bangladesh. After looking at all the options available today, it was clear that Panasonic could deliver the kind of experiences and technology we needed to ensure a premium experience onboard our newest aircraft. We look forward to working with Panasonic for many years to come.”
The agreement, which represents the first time the companies have collaborated on inflight entertainment, ensures that Biman’s four new B787-8 aircraft will feature hi-definition screens, advanced touch-screen handsets, and a “home theatre” experience to passengers.
Panasonic Avionics President and CEO Paul Margis said: “We are honored to have been selected by Biman to provide the latest generation of inflight entertainment for their new Dreamliner fleet. Working together, we’ll leverage the most advanced technology available to create a superlative and memorable passenger experience.”
Panasonic’s eX3 system has been chosen by many of the world’s leading global carriers due to its unmatched entertainment capabilities, ultra-lightweight design, low total cost of ownership and high reliability. This cutting-edge inflight entertainment solution is capable of delivering more than 700 hours of on-demand audio and video entertainment. It offers excellent picture quality with enhanced colour and contrast features. Its monitors are future-proofed by offering enough processing power to support all of today’s applications as well as those being introduced in the years to come.
Harrison, NY and Singapore | October 25, 2016– Oct. 25, 2016 — At the 2016 Airline Passenger
Experience Association (APEX) Expo today, Panasonic Avionics Corporation (“Panasonic”) and CoKinetic Systems Corporation (“CoKinetic”) marked the 10th anniversary of their software licensing relationship. Each year, the APEX Expo brings
together thousands of aviation professionals from around the world, with this year’s show hosting more than 150 vendors and representatives from more than 100 airlines.
Panasonic and CoKinetic first joined forces in October 2006, when Panasonic licensed CoKinetic’s in-flight entertainment (“IFE”) product known as AirPlay. Since then, AirPlay has been powering Panasonic seatback entertainment systems on airlines around the world.
Looking forward, CoKinetic is rededicating itself to keeping AirPlay at the forefront of IFE technology on all generations of Panasonic’s platforms, including Panasonic’s eFX, eXI, eX2, eX3, eXLite and eXW, bringing together the features of AirPlay with Panasonic’s advanced suite of IFE systems.
Kris Stevens, CoKinetic’s Chief Executive Officer, described the technical cooperation between Panasonic and CoKinetic as crucial to its airline customers – a driving force for innovation and improving bottom lines. “CoKinetic’s unique licensing relationship with Panasonic, which continues through 2025, offers airlines the unmatched flexibility, innovation, and independence that comes with AirPlay with the confidence of a trusted partner that can deliver expertise and systems compatibility for all generations of Panasonic hardware, past, present and future. Whether AirPlay is licensed through Panasonic or directly from CoKinetic, airlines get the very best of both worlds when they combine the power of AirPlay with the Panasonic platform.”
Paul Margis, Panasonic’s Chief Executive added, “At Panasonic, we truly value the constant focus of our partners to improve their products to the delight of our airline
customers. We’re excited about CoKinetic’s continued focus on innovation with their AirPlay product and look forward to mutually improving the passenger experience through our IFE products.”
- Boeing 737 MAX fleet will be equipped with most advanced linefit inflight entertainment (IFE) system for single-aisle aircraft
Singapore | October 25, 2016– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) and Aeromexico, Mexico’s Global airline, today announced the extension of their long-running partnership. The new agreement will see 60 Boeing 737 MAX with Panasonic’s most advanced linefit IFE system for single-aisle aircraft.
eX1 will offer Aeromexico passengers a familiar, easy-to-use, personalised interface that has been designed for an optimal viewing experience. This is backed by the industry’s largest library of games, audio and video.
Panasonic’s IFE system also provides airlines with a business platform that drives additional revenue and promotes greater brand loyalty by offering a consistently engaging experience with the highest levels of personalization.
Each system can be seamlessly combined with broadband connectivity to deliver high value services such as targeted advertising, concierge services, communications, social networking, streaming live television, phone services, and real-time commerce.
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics said: “Panasonic has a long and distinguished partnership with Aeromexico, and we’re proud to develop it further with the announcement of these 60 additional aircraft. The enhanced partnership means Aeromexico will now be able to deliver the same entertainment experience of its 787 fleet to its narrow body aircraft”.
Antonio Fernandez, Aeromexico’s VP Product Design and Service Standards adds: “At Aeromexico, we are always looking for new ways to offer our passengers the most premium experience across our fleet of aircraft. Panasonic’s new IFE system means that we can deliver engaging content for all flyers, whether short or long-haul, driving loyalty and enhancing the customer experience.”
Panasonic works hand in hand with seat designers and manufacturers to create fully integrated IFE systems that give passengers maximum control of the seat environment. Its systems act as a powerful business and marketing platform for airlines, making it easy for passengers to browse and buy goods and services inflight whilst enjoying carefully curated content that reflects the airline brand.
Singapore | October 25, 2016– Rockwell Collins’ today announced that its industry-leading Airshow® Moving Map for airlines is available for web browsers on smartphones, tablets and laptop computers as part of PAVES™ Wireless in-flight entertainment system. All major operating systems with HTML5-based browsers will run the real-time flight data application, keeping airline passengers informed and entertained on their own devices.
With Airshow Mobile for Browsers, airlines will be able to customize the look of the Airshow application to match their company brand while delivering these key features:
- Interactive, photo-realistic worldwide high-resolution map imagery
- High-focus maps for cities and ultra-high-focus maps for airports
- Intuitive and seamless user interface that incorporates gesture-based navigation
- Support for six default languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic and simplified Chinese, with the ability to configure additional languages.
The addition of Airshow for browsers expands its footprint in the commercial aviation market as the moving map standard, continuing its proven performance of keeping airline and business aircraft passengers aware of their journeys for more than 30 years.
Singapore, APEX EXPO | October 25, 2016–
PXCom officially launches its Digital Inflight Ad-Serving solution called AirSAS at APEX EXPO 2016, and unveils the first KPIs
AirSAS enables brands to roll out their digital campaign throughout the IFE, without any required connectivity or bandwidth consumption, disrupting in- flight legacy advertising.
Until now, brands who wanted to reach the traveller during their flight had only the choice between paper inflight mag, global pre-roll videos, stickers… Whilst traditional advertising budgets are continuously tightening, digital budgets remain on a fast growing trend.
PXCom and its media sales partner, IMM International, decided to bring to the air industry an effective tool enabling airlines to tap into this growing gold mine, creating AirSAS.
The ultimate inflight digital ad-serving solution
Designed for both seatback screens and w-IFE, AirSAS is formed of several software modules: a back-office cloud suite, a dedicated IFE ad-server, and a reporting module.
The back-office encompasses campaigns management for both brands (from creation to reports edition), and airlines (enabling advertisers selection as well as self-promotion). Once created, the digital campaigns are either sent to PXCom’s IFE ad-serving module or to other connected IFE ad-servers developed by the IFE manufacturers themselves. The upload operation is conducted when the aircraft are on the ground. During the flight the ad-server rolls out the campaigns according to their management rules, and the gathered data are offloaded once the aircraft are back on the ground. Then the reporting module aggregates all the gathered data in order to update the campaigns.
“AirSAS offers the state-of-the-art features that can be found on the most accurate web/mobile ad-servers, enabling full targeting and rules management capabilities”, says Cyril JEAN, PXCom’s CEO. “However, some IFE systems already offer some digital advertising opportunities, even if they are not comprehensive. Since we are platform agnostic, in such case, we recommend to proceed step by step, and connect our back office as a good starting point. Then, on a second step, we can schedule a full integration of AirSAS into the IFE. Our ultimate goal is to enable brands to target passengers and no longer airlines. This involves a great shift of mind from the industry!”
First results and live update
Prior to launch AirSAS officially, PXCom has conducted some tests within its interactive destination guides for IFEC, measuring all the relevant KPIs, among them:
- An average of 23% of w-IFE users go to Destination Guides section
- 89% spend more than 11 minutes on a destination guide
- 16 minutes of average browsing time for a 2-hour flight / 28 minutes for a 4-hour flight.
- Top 3 sections are: Do&See (37%), Bars & Nightlife (14%), Restaurants (13%)
(Full results will be available online during the expo).
Full AirSAS solution is currently onboarding on its first airlines, with operational live report which updates the results between every 3 and 24 hours according to the considered airline and flight length. Stay tuned!
“The loop is now seamless and fully operational”, comments Cyril JEAN. “With a growing number of advertisers, the next step for AirSAS is the yield management feature, enabling automatic selection of the most profitable campaigns. With such a qualified audience, airline industry can easily avoid the digital pitfalls that has been digged by the real time biding (RTB) on the web & mobile.”
PXCom exhibits on #1120 at APEX Expo 2016.
- Partner network expands possibilities / New service for crew members
Raunheim, Germany | October 20, 2016– Lufthansa Systems today announced that at this year’s APEX in Singapore it will present innovations relating to its multi-award-winning BoardConnect and BoardConnect Portable inflight entertainment (IFE) solutions as well as an additional feature for its mCabin crew app.
“Our developments in the IFE field are currently being shaped largely by the trends toward digital transformation and commercialization,” said Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems. “Connectivity is becoming an increasingly important topic for airlines because passengers expect to be able to use the same online and streaming services on board as on the ground. Our BoardConnect platform is the ideal enabler for this. We have also expanded our partner network so that airlines can tailor their IFE offers perfectly to the needs of their respective target groups.”
Together with Inmarsat and Lufthansa Technik, Lufthansa Systems has established a long-term partnership to offer airlines a modern, multifunctional on-board IT platform with broadband access.
Thanks to the open software architecture of the BoardConnect platform, partner services in the areas of entertainment, infotainment and ancillary revenues can also be integrated easily. The diverse, high-quality offers benefit passengers as well as airlines, since integrated ads and services provided through subscriptions generate additional revenues. Together with its partners, Lufthansa Systems covers the entire travel chain, from researching a trip, to booking a flight, hotel and excursions, and finally following up after the journey.
Lufthansa Systems will use sample language versions for the Asian market, including Chinese, Japanese and Malaysian, to demonstrate the attractiveness of its BoardConnect platform for airlines worldwide. The services can also be easily adapted to other languages.
BoardConnect enables passengers to stream content to their own tablets or smartphones during a flight. In addition to the permanently installed “classic” version of BoardConnect, Lufthansa Systems offers a flexible BoardConnect Portable solution. Its advantage is that all of the technical components are combined in a single device which can be installed quickly and easily on any aircraft. BoardConnect Portable received the renowned Crystal Cabin Award in spring 2016.
Lufthansa Systems will also be presenting a new module for its mCabin crew app at APEX. mCabin/CityGuide is an exclusive guidebook platform for the crew with local information about all of an airline’s destinations. In addition to layover information such as contact details, the crew hotel and pick-up times, the app offers tips and tricks for excursions and restaurants. The tips are entered by the crew itself, which makes the app a highly personalized crew travel guide. Crew members can rate and comment on locations they have already visited, so these recommendations are continually updated and optimized. Crew management has an editing and administration tool at its disposal to check entries and update content as required.
Prior to departure and during the flight, the mCabin crew app provides the cabin team with all of the passenger service information they need, including a passenger manifest complete with information about the passengers’ seats, status, food preferences and special requirements. And to bring mobility to IFE, the BoardConnect crew front-end has been integrated into mCabin.
APEX will take place from October 24–27 at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Center in Singapore. Visit Lufthansa Systems at stand 1737.
Palo Alto, CA | October 20, 2016– SkyLights , offering virtual reality (VR) on planes as inflight entertainment (IFE), proudly announces its new Bravo VR headset.
The new Bravo VR headset offers immersive 2D and 3D cinema, cinematic VR support, a revamped headset finish, the capability for wireless streaming, and a new graphical user interface with multilingual audio and subtitle support.
Skylights’ launching partners include 20th Century Fox and multiple airlines. Two of those airlines, as well as a fleet of private jets, will deploy the new Skylights VR IFE solution by the end of 2016. Three other airlines are performing in-flight pilot campaigns.
- Bluebox’s IFE platform in Hawaiian’s A330 Premium Cabin is a win-win for passengers and the airline
Dunfermline, UK | October 12, 2016– Bluebox Avionics has partnered with Hawaiian Airlines to mark a “first” for in-flight entertainment (IFE) and Bluebox’s innovative IFE systems. The airline, which last week launched sales for its unique Premium Cabin service on the Airbus A330 for select markets, designed its seats to include Bluebox’s award-winning IFE system delivered on 12.9” iPad ProTM devices. This is the first deployment of a Bluebox IFE solution based on the iPad Pro as standard in a premium-class service.
“When designing our Premium Cabin for the A330 aircraft, we wanted to redefine the leisure travel experience to Hawaii,” said Avi Mannis, senior vice president of marketing at Hawaiian Airlines. “Having our seats custom-built meant we could also include a totally new IFE solution as part of that experience – one that delivered the highest quality visuals on a large-format screen. That’s why we turned to our partners at Bluebox for a solution.”
“Bluebox’s system gives Hawaiian the ability to provide the latest high-quality technology in its cabins, tracking the rapid evolution of device technology and making Hawaiian Airlines a perfect example of a first mover – bypassing the status quo to deliver something unique to its passengers,” said David Brown, Bluebox’s Joint Managing Director. “Our IFE platform not only provides an excellent customised passenger experience but saves airlines money – a win-win for both passengers and airlines.”
Airlines are looking for new ways to deliver outstanding services to passengers whose expectations are much greater in terms of technology and content. Bluebox’s use of commercial off-the-shelf devices to deliver its IFE system helps airlines meet these expectations and provides airlines with a more cost- effective IFE option.
“Bluebox has the relationships secured to deliver early window content on our systems and a high- quality platform that is much easier to deploy and upgrade at a fraction of the cost of traditional systems,” added Brown.
This latest solution for Hawaiian’s A330 Premium Cabin reflects the carrier’s commitment to enhance its IFE options, and another “first” for their ongoing relationship with Bluebox. In 2013, Hawaiian Airlines was the only U.S. carrier to offer the iPad miniTM on all of its wide-body Boeing 767-300 aircraft. Deploying a Bluebox system on 1,500 devices across 14 aircraft, the iPad mini devices replaced all portable entertainment systems on Hawaiian Airlines’ Boeing 767 routes at that time.
Hawaiian’s new Premium Cabin featuring IFE powered by Bluebox Avionics is available for travel starting
December 5th between Honolulu and Narita, Brisbane and Auckland, and as of December 13th for flights
between Honolulu and Sydney. Hawaiian’s lie-flat seats debuted this summer as a surprise-and-delight
experience for guests traveling on the airline’s North America network. The Premium Cabin will arrive in
additional markets as the company retrofits its fleet of 23 wide-body A330 aircraft through 2017.
Now Old Seat Back IFE Replacement is Available at a Fraction of the Cost!
This week IFExpress wanted to give our readers a better look into the world of IFE retrofits so we asked Web Barth, Director of Marketing of VTS (Video Technology Services), one of the best known IFE upgrade and retrofit companies in the industry, to tell our readers a bit about the company, their solutions, and the process of a refurbishing a seatback IFE system.
ANSWER: “VTS is focused on airlines with older seatback systems including Rockwell TES, Panasonic 2000 and 3000 series, as well as, other older systems. Based on our discussions with airlines in Europe and the Middle East there are about 400 aircraft still flying these older seatback systems in that region and the majority are wide bodies. Although the manufacturers of this equipment have accurate data collectively, year old industry estimates were that there are approximately 1,800 aircraft still flying older seat back systems worldwide.”
Q: Tell us a bit more about the retrofit process, and perhaps more importantly, is price a big deal to some airlines and finally, does newer technology gain value in these installations?
ANSWER: “Some airlines go back to the original manufacturers to replace outdated or broken seatback systems. The manufacturers are happy to provide the service, but it involves replacing the screen with modern electronics and sometimes cabling, which winds up costing in the neighborhood of $5,000 per seat for a new version of the removed seatback IFE system. If an average wide body aircraft has 340 seats and you combine that with the cost of installation per seat, the result is an estimated cost of $2 million per aircraft. This can be a daunting investment for many airlines, especially in older and perhaps end of life cycle jetliners.
The VTS SKY SIS II is targeted to provide an affordable means of providing modern-day quality entertainment, which would be closer to $600,000+/- per wide body for arguably an even better IFE offering. This is achieved not by repairing old technology, but using modern technology and eliminating the old system thus the expense of rebuilding the old electronics and heavy connection cables and boxes circuitry. Each VTS passenger monitor bypasses the old audio/visual circuitry and electronics by streaming directly to each touch screen monitor, each with its own processor and Wi-Fi antenna.
This VTS Touch Screen Display is considerably lighter than the old unit with its seatback electronics. Additionally, hundreds even thousands of pounds of unneeded cabling, PCU’s, and passenger annoying, heavy under-seat SEBs are no longer necessary and can be removed. Depending on the aircraft and type of system this could eliminate 1,000 to 2,500 pounds of extra weight saving $100,000 to $300,000 in fuel annually thus providing a modern inflight entertainment offering that pays for itself in a few years.”
Q: Why retrofit?
ANSWER: “There are instances where older seatback systems are adequate, except for the fact that individual units have failed or the screens themselves are dim or lack modern-day resolution. VTS routinely replaces old screens with newer/better ones and rebuilds broken units, which can provide a relatively affordable fix. However, the VTS SKY SYS II system provides a far superior approach offering years of modern quality performance and life.
The reason is that the VTS SKY SYS II System skips over all of that outdated technology, equipment and circuitry and streams right to every seatback where each passenger controls their own unit with their own touch screen eliminating the armrest PCU as well. The VTS system does keep the old seat power circuitry, which also provides for an appreciated new passenger USB power outlet for operating/charging their other devices.”
Q: Before we get into the actual workload, can you tell our readers about why retrofits need to be done?
ANSWER: “So, you want to get rid of that old IFE, here are some possible reasons why. 1) A paying passenger staring at a broken IFE seatback display is a huge customer service problem. Your old system & screen is cloudy, dim or just outdated grainy resolution, not in modern 16×9 format.
2) If your hardware is an older seatback system, you can change it out. Amazingly, many airlines don’t realize you can swap out your old seatback system and/or display. One airline told VTS that they were planning on replacing all the seats, just to upgrade the seat back IFE system. Yikes!
3) Here are some reasons why it may be difficult and possibly why you should not… Actually, we can’t think of any since the new VTS SKY SYS II Seat Back retrofit can work with any old system, and since it no longer needs the old system’s electronics, seat back display, arm rest PCU’s, video/audio cabling or annoying and heavy SEB for audio and video transmission.
Although VTS keeps the old seat power circuitry, the VTS SKY SYS II System, skips over all of that outdated equipment and streams right to every seat back where each passenger controls their own unit with their own touch screen, which also has an extra USB power outlet for operating/charging their other devices.”
Q: Can you give our readers a quick synopsis on the cabin retrofit work?
The Basic Process is as follows:
1. First, remove the old seatback screen and electronics unit by peeling back the upholstery on the upper seat. It is not very hard to do and an average technician can remove and install a new unit in about 20 minutes per seat.
2. Now or when convenient, remove 1,000-2,000 pounds of no longer needed a/v cabling, hardware, PCU’s and especially the under seat SEB’s, while greatly improving passenger foot room and comfort.
3. Install a high resolution, VTS Touch Screen Smart Monitor with its lightweight bracket and re-fit the headrest upholstery around the new screen.
4. Install a VTS Streaming Server & WAP system, which weighs less than 20 lbs. This hardware easily installs in the overhead baggage bins.
Q: What is the scope of the effort…time, down time, etc.?
ANSWER: “Actual time is approximately 15-20 minutes per seat. So, a wide body with 300 seats will require about 100 labor hours. If an aircraft is out of service it will only take 1-2 days. Form, Fit and Function can greatly reduce re-certification to a negligible effort.”
Q: Please tell us a little bit about the Feature improvement or loss, the Advantages of doing a retrofit, and the Benefit of doing so!
ANSWER: Web noted: “Better than new; Immediate System Improvement, cost, weight/fuel savings. Video: Resolution increases 400%, perhaps a larger screen 7″ vs 5.6″, in new format 16 x 9. A System Cost: one third of the cost of conventional system replacement of a seatback system. Then there is weight savings – eliminate 80% of the system’s weight, i.e. 1000 vs 2,000 pounds. Next, we have fuel savings: savings in extra fuel pays for this new/better system in 3 years!”
“There is more,” he said, “credit card function for Inflight shopping is included. The built in credit card program allows for secure purchases from seatback screens, or the passengers own devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops) for incremental revenue, additional passenger services and offers. Did I mention the USB Outlets? This means power at every seat for personal devices as well. Did I mention custom financing… Matching your expected aircraft life, that’s ideal for aged aircraft. And lastly, it’s satellite ready companion antenna and systems to be installed now, with port to VTS Streaming Servers and WAPs or at a later date.”
Q. Lastly, we asked if the VTS Director of Engineering had anything to say to our readers?
ANSWER: According to Philip LaPierre, 35 year IFE Engineering and Certification veteran, “We have found that adhering to near, or identical ‘Form, Fit and Function’ certification criteria, we can greatly reduce re-certification requirements to a negligible amount.”
Finally, Noted Mr. Barth: “Come see our new Seatback Retrofit System for yourself at Booth 219 APEX Expo, Singapore, Oct 24-27, 2016, you won’t be disappointed!”
(Editor’s Note: VTS provides many systems options: In Flight PCI Compliant Credit Card Processing, 4G/LTE Communication Module – On the ground, weight on wheels Communication anywhere in the world, Separate Iridium Communication Module – In flight communication worldwide, VTS Turnkey Entertainment Content Programs and Sourcing Packages, Customized Worldwide Equipment Financing Programs, Satellite Companion Antenna and System… so they tell us!)
Carlisle Companies Incorporated announced the acquisition of Star Aviation, Inc., a leading provider of design and engineering services, testing and certification work and manufactured products for in-flight connectivity applications on commercial, business and military aircraft. With annual sales of approximately $30 million and 150 employees, Star Aviation has manufacturing facilities in Mobile, Alabama and a technical services facility in Lynnwood, Washington. The company is a supplier to the world’s leading providers of Wi-Fi and other in-flight connectivity systems used on a broad range of aircraft platforms. The business will operate as part of Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, a global provider of specialty wire and cable, and interconnect components for commercial and military aircraft, avionics systems, in-flight entertainment, communications systems and medical devices.
IFExpress reached out to Carlisle for a bit more info and here is what they had to say:
- “Star Aviation has been a supplier of Design/Kits/certification for connectivity solutions dating back to the onset of Boeing Connexion (2004-ish)
- Today they support Boeing, Gogo, ViaSat and some others with design/kits/certification for aircraft installation
- All retrofit Gogo 2Ku installations use a Star Aviation adapter plate for the Thinkom antenna.
- The Everett branch is mostly involved in Boeing documentation updates and configuration control.”
Recently, IFPL has worked closely with GORE® to develop the new USB-A 3.0 module, that combined IFPL USB 3.0 with GORE Aerospace USB 3.0 cables and provides the ideal solution for delivering high power (2A, 5V DC) and data transfer (up to 5Gbps) as per USB 3.0 requirements. This gives passengers the ability to maximize the benefits of both charging their Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and interfacing with the Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system and you can see it in Singapore! (Check out the news release section of this IFExpress)
Boeing and Qatar Airways announced an order for 30 787-9 Dreamliners and 10 777-300ERs, valued at $11.7 billion at list prices. The airline also signed a Letter of Intent for up to 60 737 MAX 8s, valued at $6.9 billion at list prices. The announcement builds on Qatar Airways’ current fleet of 84 Boeing aircraft, a combination of 787s and 777s, all delivered over the last nine years. With this new order, Qatar Airways increases its firm order backlog of Boeing widebody airplanes from 65 to 105, including 60 777Xs. Further, Aviation Week notes that Qatar Airways CEO said: “Boeing has been making airplanes decades before anyone else even thought of manufacturing airplanes, so the experience that they have in this field has made them so robust that they make one of the finest and more solid, reliable product of any company,” Al Baker said Oct. 7 in Washington. “I know that Boeing’s competitors would not like me saying this, but I’m sure that inside, they know that Boeing makes the best airplanes.””
Power – This should do it
Singapore Uber Deal – Download the Uber app and register for an account. You’ll have the option to input your credit card or opt for cash payment. To enjoy a $15 FREE ride, simply enter the code “IFEXPRESS” into the Promotions tab! The code is valid until 31 October 2016.
Isle of Wight, UK | October 11, 2016– Seat integration is now a major game changer in the realm of in-flight entertainment and seat design. Rising to these challenges, IFPL the leading In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) provider has designed a new concept. A unique range of remote multiport solutions that provide the airline, seat vendor and IFEC supplier with complete flexibility to integrate and combine design aesthetics with ergonomics.
IFPL’s unique multiport range allows airlines, seat and IFEC suppliers the ability to deliver maximum seat integration, creating an accessible and seamless design aesthetic. With flexibility at the core, IFPL have designed a multiport range that provides options for customisation such as:
- Front or rear mounted
- Fascia material and colour
- Soft light guide colour and intensity
An ingenious design, this new type of Multiport Jack offers airlines around the world the flexibility of choosing from a variety of easy to replace modules. These include a variety of Audio Jacks, different types of USB outlets and a collection of wireless interface options with functions such as reading lights and passenger control buttons.
The Multiport Range is available in a number of size (port) options to facilitate clean and neat integration including 2, 3 and 4 port solutions.
To provide even more flexibility, IFPL is taking the same approach with its 110V A/C and USB-C 3.1 power outlets. Committed to working with industry partners and customers across the globe, IFPL strives to deliver a seamlessly integrated passenger in-flight journey, turning the mundane into a more enhanced experience.
Panasonic Avionics Corporation is engaging with elite ‘white hat’ hackers through leading bug bounty provider HackerOne to ensure the security of its inflight entertainment systems. HackerOne has helped major companies such as General Motors, Uber, Twitter, Airbnb, DropBox and Adobe identify and fix security vulnerabilities as part of authorized bug bounty and vulnerability coordination programs. “Panasonic Avionics has always taken a proactive approach to security,” said Michael Dierickx, Director of Security Engineering and Information Security Officer at Panasonic Avionics Corporation.“We have extensive processes in place to identify potential and emerging vulnerabilities, and we also engage with security consultation firms who provide penetration testing and other services. Still, these teams bring a fresh perspective and innovative ways to search for potential issues. We want to harness this out-of-the-box thinking and create a win-win scenario that rewards both Panasonic and this community for our hard work and dedication.” With the HackerOne platform Panasonic Avionics has access to the world’s most powerful external security team, the global hacker community, to continue enhancing the security of their internet-connected systems,”said HackerOne CEO Marten Mickos. “Inviting white hat or ethical hackers to hunt for bugs is a powerful method for making connected technology safer for everyone.” Having noted the release, we asked a few questions:
1. “Panasonic Avionics Corporation is engaging with elite ‘white hat’ hackers through leading bug bounty provider HackerOne to ensure the security of its inflight entertainment systems.” Does this NOT include inflight connectivity? If not, what are the sources of hacker data inputs only for IFE?
ANSWER: Our focus at Def Con was on our eXW system, which uses our inflight API (IFAPI) software architecture. Our decision to prioritize the eXW system was due to customer demand. More and more, airlines want the opportunity to interface with our IFE system, and IFAPI is our gateway. While our program’s initial focus is on IFAPI, and our ultimate goal is to include all of our systems.
2. What OS’s are included in the Panasonic Entertainment systems, and are they typically, or ever been, hacked?
ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics uses a variety of operating systems based on the configuration. As we’ve moved into open platform architectures, we’ve responded by enhancing our own internal processes to ensure the security of the systems.
While we can’t comment on systems that have been delivered to our airline customers, we can say that stories in the press about someone’s ability to take control of the aircraft using the IFE system is almost always theoretical. Remember that our IFE system software is certified at Level-E per DO-178B, with ‘No Effect’ to aircraft safety for any failure. We do not expect that classification to change.
3. We assume some receipt of transmitted data is involved in the IFE systems? Correct? If so, what onboard/off-board data streams are involved.
ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics reviews and protects all required data streams as determined in the review.
4. Is Panasonic looking at data sent from IFE systems to the aircraft? What type of data? Is the reverse true as well? What kind of data, if so?
ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics works with the various OEMs, other suppliers, and in the associated standards and regulatory forums to align on the necessary security measures and means to protect the interfaces and data.
5. Is loaded content today checked for malicious code that a hacker would induce at a ground station after being created in California?
ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics adheres to the MPAA security standards for media and conducts internal and independent third party security audits.
(Editor’s Note: IFExpress should mention, that Panasonic’s inflight entertainment data content facilities in California are some of the best and most secure we have ever seen. Check out this link for an earlier story by IFExpress on the Media Content Service operations and interview with Julie Lichty.)
6. Will the ‘Bug Bounty’ program include passenger messaging, connectivity engagement signals, airborne RFI (hacker), onboard radiation, etc.?
ANSWER: The bug bounty program will eventually be opened up to the entirety of the Panasonic Avionics product portfolio.
7. Does Panasonic have a ‘brick wall’ between the connectivity systems and the IFE, and the aircraft, or are there places that might be in question? If so, please give us an example of where such an external infection might cross over into the IFE or aircraft.
ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics deploys the necessary security practices to protect the assets.
8. What hardware/software did Panasonic provide at DefCon? Will there be a similar effort at the California IFE data facility? If not, why not?
ANSWER: Our focus at DefCon event was on our wireless eXW platform, which uses our In-Flight (IFAPI) software architecture. Our customers want more opportunities to interface with our IFE system, and IFAPI is our gateway. While our program’s initial focus is on IFAPI, our ultimate goal is to include all of our systems.
9. Who is Panasonic’s head of IFEC hardware security?
ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics addresses security from many vectors and does have a dedicated Director of Security Engineering.
10. Please describe any hacks, if any, in today’s IFEC or aircraft that Panasonic has found… ?
ANSWER: While we can’t comment on systems that have been delivered to our airline customers, we can share that Panasonic Avionics security practices includes secure code reviews, penetration testing, and vulnerability scanning as part of the product life cycle. Carrying out these processes is intended to discover quality issues (aka: Hacks) early on and convert these into security improvements in our products.
11. Has Panasonic attempted under test conditions to induce ‘bad data’ or hacker data into Panasonic modules in the lab? Does Panasonic have any ‘hacker testing’ today?
ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics has put in place extensive best practice processes to identify potential and emerging threats and vulnerabilities. Panasonic engages in both internal and 3rd party based, vulnerability scanning and penetration testing.
12. Are Boeing and/or Airbus into this as well with you…will they be advised if issues are found?
ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics actively engages with both Airbus and Boeing Security to share information and discuss issues that impact product security,as well as our participation in the A-ISAC.
13. Please describe how Panasonic will handle issues if discovered… and there will be issues!
ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics follows its security incident response standards for monitoring, alerting, prioritization, and remediation.
(Editor’s Note: HackerOne is the world’s most popular bug bounty platform, connecting organizations with the world’s largest community of highly-qualified security researchers. More than 550 organizations, including The U.S. Department of Defense, General Motors, Uber, Twitter, Yahoo!, GitHub, Square, Dropbox and the CERT Coordination Center trust HackerOne to find critical software vulnerabilities before criminals can exploit them. HackerOne is headquartered in San Francisco with a development office in the Netherlands. Visit this website for more information.)
Inmarsat, provider of global mobile satellite communications services, has signed an agreement with Beijing Marine Communication & Navigation Company (MCN) and Aviation Data Communication Corporation (ADCC) to provide aviation safety services to Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and Operators. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was unveiled at ATC Global 2016, which is taking place in Beijing this week, and outlines MCN/ADCC’s intention to offer cockpit communication services, including Inmarsat’s Classic Aero and next generation SwiftBroadband-Safety services, in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Classic Aero is a high-quality voice and data safety service currently used by most of the world’s airlines. It offers reliable and secure satellite surveillance and communications (FANS/ACARS) that meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) global flight tracking requirements.
SwiftBroadband-Safety utilizes secure IP-based broadband capabilities that far exceed those of other connectivity alternatives. It offers global, high speed, connectivity for cockpit and aircraft operations, with airlines benefitting from greater efficiency, reliability and capacity at a lower cost. The solution is always on and always secure, delivering next-generation applications, including flight data streaming (‘Black Box in the Cloud’) and real-time Electronic Flight Bag applications such as graphical weather. Inmarsat’s partnership with MCN and ADCC is expected to be finalized later this year and fits with the announcement made earlier this year of plans for a MCN and Inmarsat joint venture to provide comprehensive aircraft cabin and connectivity solutions across the PRC.
Global aeronautical communications provider, Satcom Direct (SD), announced today it has acquired AircraftLogs (“Stewart-Ratliff Aviation Services, Inc”), a company based in Columbus, OH, that offers the latest technology in aircraft flight scheduling software and tax reporting tools for corporate and private flight departments. With the purchase of AircraftLogs, SD adds scheduling and tax capabilities to its Integrated Flight Operations Management portfolio.
VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is employing cutting edge technology to launch its latest SKY-SIS II Program for older Seatback IFE replacement and upgrade. This new product involves bridging thirty years of experience, combining traditional IFE systems with the latest new technologies and is an answer to requests from VTS client airlines, which is where all of VTS innovations have originated. According to Philip LaPierre, VP Engineering, “The long list of engineering and successful product developments have come from airline requests and over the last 30 years there have been many VTS firsts including; the first LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) IFE Video Projector, first LCD monitors for IFE applications, first VOD Systems, first Digital Video Player (DVP) to replace conventional videotape, first affordable old seatback retrofit and upgrade solution and others. Stop by their booth 219 at APEX Expo, Singapore, Oct 24-27, 2016 and see for yourself.
- There is a lot going on in the 14 GHz spectrum, specifically 500 MHz of spectrum for air-to-ground connectivity wireless services and you can read more about it here: Qualcomm, Gogo, others continue to push for FCC’s 14 GHz ATG spectrum auction despite moves to satellite services | FierceWireless
- Here’s another good wireless article we found: The crazy economics of inflight Wi-Fi
- And speaking of Singapore, here is the link to the APEX signup: 6 weeks to go, take advantage of our discounted hotel rates
- Providing In Flight Entertainment Solutions from 16mm projectors to Wi-Fi streaming systems.
Syosset, New York | August 9, 2016– VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is employing cutting edge technology to launch its latest SKY-SIS II Program for older Seatback IFE replacement and upgrade.
This new product involves bridging thirty years of experience, combining traditional IFE systems with the latest new technologies and is an answer to requests from VTS client airlines, which is where all of VTS innovations have originated.
According to Philip LaPierre, VP Engineering, “The long list of engineering and successful product developments have come from airline requests and over the last 30 years there have been many VTS firsts including; the first LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) IFE Video Projector, first LCD monitors for IFE applications, first VOD Systems, first Digital Video Player (DVP) to replace conventional videotape, first affordable old seat back retrofit and upgrade solution and others.
VTS addresses common airline problems with turnkey solutions that airlines can afford, even on end of life cycle aircraft. For example:
• For Airlines still using Videotape Players: VTS DVP Systems -Videotape to Digital Conversion.
Plug and Play units match all brands and swaps out videotape for identical shape digital drive with new system performance in an hour without new certification.
• For Airlines Seeking the most Affordable Entertainment: VTS Streaming to Passengers’ Devices
Turnkey System; Server & WAPs software, installation and content, ultra light: < 20 lbs., easy to install overnight in overhead baggage bin and with many options including credit card processing.
• For Airlines with old or broken Seat Back Systems/Screens: VTS SKY SIS II – Streaming to VTS Touch Screen Monitors
Restore your IFE to Better-Than-New at 1/3 to 1/2 the cost, Video Resolution +400%, modern format 16 x 9, and many options including credit card processing, USB seat power
• For Airlines needing custom solutions: VTS Certification and Engineering Services
The technical staff at VTS represents over 100 years of combined experience in the development, engineering, manufacturing, installation and service of video products for airborne entertainment communications systems.
VTS has been providing affordable IFE solutions to airlines worldwide for thirty years as well as full engineering package with FAA and EASA certification of the systems and installation documents.
VTS holds a Repair Station Certificate FAA – VQTR106K and EASA 5340. VTS provides maintenance support for all its products at the home base and other stations as required worldwide,
France | September 12, 2016– Thales, a global leader in space, avionics, and connected inflight entertainment, announces two milestone agreements with SES, the world’s leading satellite operator. With these agreements, Thales will offer airlines and their passengers FlytLIVE, the most efficient inflight connectivity experience over the Americas. FlytLIVE by Thales will start operating mid 2017 using in-orbit satellites.
To meet the needs of a growing market, SES will procure a new satellite specifically designed for the needs of FlytLIVE and manufactured by Thales Alenia Space to be launched in 2020. The satellite’s architecture is based on Thales Alenia Space’s all-electric version of the Spacebus NEO platform, the highest performing satellite in the global connectivity market.
FlytLIVE by Thales, a simple and seamless connectivity solution for airlines, with unmatched performance for their passengers:
With FlytLIVE, passengers will enjoy full Internet services including video streaming, games, social media and live television, creating an immersive and engaging experience in the air.
Airlines will take advantage of Thales’s full end-to-end solutions including products such as the modular antenna and multi-frequency radome, in-cabin Wi-Fi and portal platform. The offering also provides bandwidth and session management, content delivery, operational support tools, line maintenance and turnkey service and support with high Service Level Agreements.
How it will be delivered:
FlytLIVE services will use the SES unsurpassed connectivity network of Ka-band High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) services optimized for airlines who want the best connection speeds for their customers.
Thales InFlyt Experience, Thales Alenia Space and SES specifically developed the network and satellite architecture for the unique connectivity requirements of commercial aviation customers resulting in better services, more efficient operations and cost savings. SES will operate the satellites and the ground network. The services will be ready for airline and passenger use by summer of 2017 and will be provided by two satellites that are currently in-orbit.
The third satellite in the network to be launched, SES-17, will be optimized for the fast-moving aviation and mobility market over the Americas. It will provide new Ka-HTS bandwidth over this region to meet current and future speed, coverage and quality expectations of crowded skies and increasing passenger service demands as regional airline 1 passenger traffic is forecasted to nearly double by 2030.
The satellite will be equipped with close to 200 spot beams of mixed size for more flexible allocation of capacity over high-traffic airline routes and field-of-view beams to enable the most efficient delivery of Internet, live broadcast television and real-time content delivery.
SES-17 will cover North America, South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic ocean. The network will provide substantial gains over today’s broadband connections, ensuring ultra-high speeds, capacity, coverage and quality.
KID-Systeme’s SKYfi Club – a wireless streaming onboard platform for passenger and corporate aircraft – has been selected by Saudia as linefit on it’s fleet of 20 A330 and 30 A320. Saudia will present this premium content streaming service as unique passenger experience under their brand SAUDIA SKYfi . SKYfi Club streams content to passengers’ personal electronic devices, allowing them to access the available entertainment options, such as movies, e-books and magazines. The technology is based on the trusted ALNA (Airline Network Architecture) connectivity platform, which flies on over 650 aircraft already. Note: We had a few questions about the system and asked Product Manager Johannes Ferstl and Peter SchetschineKID-Systeme General Manager, but more on that in a minute.
The mature system provides a scalable and modular architecture adaptable to customer needs. It enables a wide range of additional services such as GSM telephony, internet access and data services. Further, SKYfi can be complemented by SKYpower, KID-Systeme’s in-seat power and cabin power management system. Of course, IFExpress got curious and asked the following:
1. Can you tell our readers a bit more about your featured ALNA (airline network architecture).
ANSWER: The ALNA system is able to provide GSM/GPRS and WLAN (IEEE 802.11) connectivity services within the aircraft cabin during cruise flight phase. The onboard telephony and WLAN services are enabled above an altitude of 3000m (10.000ft.) and disabled below an altitude of 3000m. During taxi, take-off and landing and below 3000m altitude all radio transmissions are switched off. During cruise flight the service can be de-activated manually at any time. Service activation and de-activation is indicated by a chime, the PAX signs (No-Mobile-Signs) and by the cabin crew (via passenger announcement). The ALNA system consists of several hardware devices e.g. the Head End Server Unit (HESU) and software applications e.g. the system monitoring software.
2. Can you tell us which airlines fly the SKYfi Club today?
ANSWER: As of today one airline flies SKYfi Club: Saudi Arabian Airlines. More than six hundred shipsets of SKYfi phone and web were deployed previously.
3. Your view, we assume, is that connectivity and flying are very important?
ANSWER: “Connectivity is more than staying in contact. It’s part of our lifestyle. SKYfi Club extends this lifestyle by being entertained.” Noted Johannes Ferstl, Product Manager Connectivity. Peter Schetschine, General Manager KID-System also said: “The industry demands more and more for flexibility and adaptable technical solutions. Based on a scalable and modular architecture SKYfi paves this way into a well entertained and connected world on board. Furthermore our streaming solution supports the BYOD trend which will continue to be strong and present in future.”
4. We assume the line-fit is in progress?
ANSWER: The first Saudia A330 Regional was our first line-fit installation. Further line-fit installations are in progress and deliveries will happen soon.
5. Lastly, could you provide a block diagram of the hardware?
ANSWER: See above.
Saudi noted: “We are very happy to continue working with KID-Systeme who has always been a reliable partner and supplier for our integrated cabin power systems, says Eng. Saleh Al-Jasser, Director General of Saudia. “Offering wireless content streaming is the next step paving the way to an improved inflight experience and satisfy passenger’s needs. Therefore we are very excited to cooperate with KID-Systeme to enlarge our inflight entertainment selection. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the connected passenger on board.”
Actually, the first aircraft delivery to Saudi Arabian Airlines was in mid-August 2016. All aircraft will be line-fit equipped with SKYfi lounge solution, starting with the aircraft type A330.
As you might know, Lufthansa Systems equipped nearly the whole Eurowings A 320 fleet with BoardConnect Portable at the beginning of August and their Corporate Communications Manager told IFExpress: “This award winning IFE solution really makes a difference, since the implementation on more than 70 aircraft only took one weekend and was a huge success. Since then Eurowings passengers can enjoy Entertainment with music and movies on short- and medium haul flights. At our booth at the Aviation Festival in London (8 – 9 September, New routes, new revenues, new business models | Aviation Festival 2016) we will show how BoardConnect Portable and our other BoardConnect products work. And we are happy to answer your questions regarding new IFE trends and the upcoming connectivity launches within and outside the Lufthansa Group. Our experts will be at the Aviation Festival both days and you can find us at booth #38.”
Gogo announced that it has promoted John Wade to the role of executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer of Gogo. Wade has more than 30 years of experience in the aviation industry including numerous leadership positions in the avionics and in-flight communications industry. For the past eight years, he has served as the general manager of Gogo’s business aviation division where he built the division into a market leader. Before joining Gogo, John served as the CTO at OnAir and also worked at Tenzing and GEC Marconi on their IFE and IFC products. Wade will now be responsible for Gogo’s operations, quality control, commercial airline account management and commercial sales. He will still maintain oversight over Gogo’s business aviation division, but Gogo veteran Sergio Aguirre is being promoted to serve as senior vice president and general manager of Gogo’s business aviation division. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress cannot go on without noting that John Wade is one of the ‘Best In IFE’, as we feel he is both a knowledgeable and gracious executive in his dealings with members of the press. John always takes the time to address our questions, no matter how technical or topical they may be. All the while presenting an air of ‘Nothing is impossible.’)
In a move that will provide Rockwell Collins’ customers and prospects with more aviation connectivity options, the company announced that it has been licensed to sell satellite services in Brazil. The global license, authorized by Anatel, gives Rockwell Collins the ability to sign distribution and service agreements with any satellite entities and customers operating in Brazil.
If your thing is next generation Avionics, you might want to visit AVIONICS for NextGen – 2016, in Washington DC, Sept 28 – 29, 2016: Check out the agenda.
- From the Color Correction Department comes a story that is probably better called Color Confusion. The issue here is cabin lighting and reading on LED devices. We stumbled on it after we read this online story; “Airlines Add Mood Lighting to Chill Out Passengers”. First you need to read this article on the color used in an a cabin lighting schemes designed to provide a restful inflight experience… possibly even sleep. Here is what stood out to us in the piece: “Like Virgin Atlantic, American uses amber during the dinner service, “sort of like candlelight in a restaurant,” said the managing director of onboard products. For sleep periods, it uses a deep blue, which designers chose after considering — and rejecting — a reddish glow. “Red is sometimes associated with fire,” continued the director of onboard products — “never a good thing on an airplane.” It makes sense, but we wondered if the nature of blue light effects might be more science based, because we had done a cabin lighting study a few years back and we remembered blue light differently? Next we did a bit of research and found an interesting light color/sleep study in of all places, Instructables. You can read it here. It’s a very analytical color-based evaluation made by an individual, all based on the test data he ran over one year. The conclusion? The color blue is the wrong color if you want to allow the generation of natural melatonin to help sleep come on. Further, Apple product makers and Android device products offer an app that limits the blue light. In devices like iPhones and iPads with iOS 9.3 (and on) offer a feature called “Night Shift” which is built in to the operating system. Just go to Settings>Display & Brightness> and turn on Night Shift. Perhaps, more study is needed to match passengers, rest, and time of day but we will be using it on our devices. You can read more about the issue here too – Amazon rolls out ‘blue shade’ tool for Fire tablets to allow people to read at night | Daily Mail Online
- Not long ago we reported that Singapore had not reported any Zika virus but we discovered we were a couple weeks behind the actual data, as it has now been discovered there. Take precautions – Zika virus: Singapore confirms 41 locally transmitted cases – BBC News
- And speaking of Singapore: Going to Singapore and have T-Mobile? You might find this interesting: “Visitors simply need to download a configuration file and perform a one-time setup for auto-connection to the participating cities’ hotspots,” IDA said in a release of the WBA’s City Wi-Fi Roaming Project. IFExpress will have more on Singapore later.
- Traveling to the US? You might have to cough up your online presence! – Traveling to US? Agencies want to Spy on your Social Media activities right from Airport
- And finally, Flyers Rights (NonProfit Airline Consumer Org.) has an interesting Report Card for US Congress and it’s not good!
- Thirty Old Aviation Sheet Music Covers:
30 Hundred-Year-Old Sheet Music Covers Celebrating the Joy and Thrill of Flight
- Amazon Video now lets you download video’s and TV directly to Android SD cards – for your next flight, of course! Amazon Video now lets you download movies and TV straight to Android SD cards | The Verge