Honeywell’s cabin management and in-flight entertainment system will provide passengers with a more productive and comfortable flying experience
Las Vegas | May 11, 2017– The Las Vegas Sands Corp. has selected the Honeywell (NYSE: HON) Ovation Select cabin management and in-flight entertainment system for its Boeing 767 jet airliner. Ovation Select provides passengers with enhanced in-flight productivity and entertainment.

Ovation Select is an all-digital, total cabin management system that gives passengers control of both in-flight entertainment and environmental conditions — including lighting, seats and temperature — with a simple touch-screen interface or from the convenience of their own mobile electronic device. The system design, diagnostic tools and global support network keep the cabin system available throughout flight and ensure passengers are able to make the most of their travel time and enjoy their overall in-flight experience.

This airliner joins a fleet of more than 100 aircraft flying globally with Ovation Select, which is available for most aircraft types and platforms. With the ability to easily accommodate new electronics, this system is designed to keep pace with evolving technologies.

Melbourne, FL | May 10, 2017– The nicemedia® premium content service launched by SD at MEBAA 2016 for aircraft equipped with nice®HD cabin systems is now available for all IFE/CMS platforms. Together with Lufthansa Technik, SD has expanded the types of jets which can benefit from the nicemedia SmartBox system, which delivers Hollywood blockbuster movies and contemporary TV shows to the cabin. SD will be booking appointments for onboard demos during EBACE 2017 at Booth S80.

The wide selection of movies and TV shows, available via the portable system, can be viewed on cabin monitors or can be streamed to personal electronic devices including iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets. Multiple devices and users are supported allowing passengers to watch different content on PEDs and cabin monitors at the same time. To maintain currency, automated monthly content updates can be downloaded to the SmartBox while on the ground, avoiding additional data usage onboard. Up to 450 movies and TV shows per year will be made available.

“Together with our partner Satcom Direct we are pleased to receive a lot of interest in our new nicemedia service from operators, OEMs, completion houses, and retrofit companies,” says Philip von Schroeter, Director of OEM Programs at Lufthansa Technik. “It seems the market is realizing the need for legal media content and we’re offering exactly what they need.”

“The demand for in-flight entertainment is rising as passengers increasingly expect a similar entertainment experience in the air, as on the ground. Our partnership with Lufthansa Technik allows us to provide great entertainment in a convenient format. The option to preload the data, carry on the box, and plug and play, is a real bonus for any operator or owner,” said Ken Bantoft, SD Chief Technology Officer.

Movies are guaranteed to be shown 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, and includes new releases and high definition content.

This week we continue with “stuff we saw” at AIX and we also take a cursory look at a new plane in China. Lets get started:

Thales:
During AIX Thales discussed their view on how the IFEC market is changing and how they foresee meeting both the airlines and passengers evolving expectations. Needless to say, like the other majors in the IFEC industry, big data and data analysis will play a major role in Thales’ InFlyt Experience and future product offerings to facilitate the connected aircraft. This all boils down to wireless technology, satcom, and more advanced software interfaces that will create the ‘eco-system’ within the aircraft that Thales will operate within. The company’s focus is primarily within the aircraft environment and they are partnering with other companies; such as, SES and Inmarsat to facilitate these goals. Their recent purchase of Guaves, who is a pioneer in real-time big data processing and analytics, strengthens their high-tech portfolio to meet their airline customers digital technology requirements. Thales plans to offer solutions to airlines that optimize efficiencies targeted for specific fleet type, routes and passenger demographics. The system will use an open architecture that offers choice, modularity, easier integration and customization. As previously mentioned, their partnership with SES helps facilitate much of these goals, especially their FlytLive connectivity service. SES will be adding a digital processor to a high-throughput satellite to meet the needs of FlytLive and will have the capability of moving capacity from one gateway to another, depending on demand. The satellite (SES-17) is scheduled to launch in 2020 – just in time for the 777X to roll-out and go into service! Dominique Giannoni, Chief Executive of Thales, stated during their AIX press briefing that they have an unnamed customer that will launch FlytLive in January of 2018. The service is Ka-band and utilizes 4 satellites that are currently in orbit, which will meet the need of FlytLive before SES-17 is in orbit in 2020. “Our goal is to be the best, to be number one,” said Dominique. The service will have tools to better operations via cloud based digital technology. Thales states that they are looking at where the market is going and analyzing what the passenger wants – the expectation is that they will have in the air what they have on the ground in their home – and they do not foresee the large scale decrease in the demand for inseat IFE on widebody aircraft and some narrow body aircraft (depending on route). “IFE creates loyalty and is a gateway to the passenger,” said Dominique.

FTS:
As we mentioned from APEX in Singapore last fall, the folks at FTS have focused on becoming partners to the airlines, confident that their business model will positively affect airline revenues. However, we believe their goals are even bigger and they are seeking to make large scale changes to the IFE industry. “We are in delivery mode now – we’ve shown the industry that we have a cool product that has traction. FTS is doing exactly what we set out to do,” said Ben Fuller, Sales Director for the Americas. A perfect example of their capabilities to ‘revolutionize’ the industry is their smartwatch app (product name “Flight Butler”) that allows flight attendants to receive messages regarding customers’ wants/needs; such as, meals, blankets, drinks, etc. The app was designed and developed within FTS, which establishes their in-house software development capabilities. The software is embedded in their file server. The FTS team told IFExpress that their cabin wireless access points can deliver gigabit Ethernet and its proprietary technology allows a single WAP to supply 180 passengers with concurrent streaming/AVOD. Furthermore, a China Southern B737-800 aircraft is equipped with the system under test. FTS states that they have a total of 30 aircraft under contract for installations, including First Air and Canadian North in Canada. First Air, we are told, will begin installation this quarter on their B737s. IFExpress was also told that there is an undisclosed customer in Southeast Asia. Keep your eye on FTS – as we all know, China has rolled the COMAC C919 and if history is any indicator, Chinese manufactured IFE will be a part of that airplane. Therefore, FTS could be in the birds eye seat!


Other News:

Lufthansa Systems
A total of 450 airline experts are attending one of the world’s largest airline IT user conferences to find out about the latest innovations in the digital world of aviation. The focus is on Commercial Planning and Operations solutions from the NetLine and ProfitLine product lines. “This industry meeting, which is traditionally held in the Lufthansa Training & Conference Center in Seeheim, is one of the most important events in the airline IT sector,” said Ulrike Behrens, Head of Marketing at Lufthansa Systems, who organizes the Airline Forum. Lufthansa Systems advises and supports airlines in their digital transformation. The aviation IT experts show what sustainable airline processes can look like and provide hands-on support to customers in implementing their projects.

“Digitalization has a significant influence on working processes, business models and our daily life. This applies to the aviation industry as well. The core of our company strategy is to put airlines in a perfect position for the digital future,” said Olivier Krueger, CEO of Lufthansa Systems. “We are delighted to welcome so many of our customers’ representatives to the Airline Forum again this year.” Automation and integration are key aspects in this context. Modern technologies make it easier to collect and evaluate data in order to identify anomalies and automatically learn from them or carry out certain actions. But it is also increasingly important for IT solutions – especially in the field of operations – to be able to share this data and interact with one another in order to make the best decisions and optimize processes. Communication also plays an essential role in the digital world. It should be fast, simple and possible from anywhere. Mobile solutions and a user-friendly layout help meet these demands. (Editor’s Note:
to give you reference point about the “looming” world of big data, the folks at ICF point out that “Big Aviation Data” is upon us! They note that the transmittable data [in Megabytes per flight] have grown and to give you an idea – the B777 generates less than one Megabyte per flight while the B787 generates around 28 Megabytes per flight. Or another way to look at the world of aviation data – In 2010 approximately 11 Terabytes of aviation data per year were generated by commercial planes, while in 2022 it is expected to grow some 1100 percent to around approximately 137 Terabytes!)

COMAC 919
While IFExpress doesn’t normally report on airplanes, as such, because of the competitive plane market in the 100 to 200 seat market controlled by Airbus and Boeing, there will be IFEC issues and a lot of China-deals that the IFEC folks will be quite interested in, especially in years to come. And while we say that we note there are a lot of IFEC companies flexing their muscles with deals in the region, companies like FTS (above) who are new and working to get into that market are well aware of the Chinese future. The C919 is roughly the size of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the Airbus A320neo,  and presently, there have been no public IFEC announcements yet, but companies like Rockwell, Thales and others are working the problem! Launched nine years ago and now running three years late, the C919 jet won’t enter service until 2019 or 2020, while Airbus and Boeing have announced some 5,000 and 3,700 orders respectively, China has a way to go – check out this link on the subject. With Boeing and Airbus turning out over 100 equivalent model per month and COMAC looking at 7 per month, it won’t be a competitive issue till they up the production rates.

The maiden test flight of the C919 airliner made a 79 minute flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport this past Friday, we should note that C919 has a range of 2,532 miles (4,075 kilometers). Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) the state-owned company behind the plane, said 21 customers had placed orders for more than 500 planes by the end of 2016, and it expected sales to exceed 2,000. IFExpress expects the C919 should do well within China as air traffic is expected to double over the next 20 years within that region, according to the International Air Transport Association. One source told us that Boeing notes that China will need to buy up $1 trillion worth of planes – about 6,810 aircraft – over the next two decades in order to meet demand. Stay tuned on this one – and the Russian MC-021 as well. (Editor’s Note: We should mention that the Russian equivalent single-aisle newcomer, the MC-21 with versions from 132 – 211 seats and 175 firm orders, was also set for first flight in April 2017 but it looks like China has won that race.)

Rockwell
Last week, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China’s (COMAC) C919 took its first flight, equipped with Rockwell Collins’ communication and navigation solutions, and Integrated Surveillance System (ISS) for the flight deck. “The C919’s maiden flight was truly a testament to the strong relationship we’ve forged with COMAC over the course of our work in China,” said Jim Walker, vice president and managing director, Asia Pacific for Rockwell Collins. “The innovative, proven technologies we’ve developed in collaboration with our C919 joint venture partners will deliver the highest levels of safety and situational awareness, while delivering reliability and efficiency. We’re committed to continue cooperation as we work toward certification.”

Rockwell Collins has formed joint ventures and partnerships with a number of companies in China for the C919 program, including:
AVIC Leihua Rockwell Collins Avionics Company (ALRAC) with the China Leihua Electronic Technology Research Institute (LETRI) for the development of the ISS which combines weather detection, traffic alert and collision avoidance, Mode S surveillance and terrain awareness and warning functions into a single system
Rockwell Collins CETC Avionics Co. Ltd. (RCCAC) with China Electronics Technology Avionics Company (CETCA) for development of the communication and navigation avionics solutions, which included audio, radio tuning, HF, VHF, GPS, DME, Radio Altimeter, VOR/ILS and an optional Inmarsat SATCOM solution. Rockwell Collins and AVIC Bluesky for joint development of the engineering simulator for the C919 which provides support for the design and development of the aircraft’s flight control system, cockpit interior and ergonomics, avionics, controls and other necessary systems.

Rockwell Collins has been working with the Chinese aviation industry for more than 30 years. The company’s equipment is on many airplanes manufactured in China including the ARJ21, MA60/600, Y8, Y12, K8, AC312 and AC352, and is on nearly every western airliner operated by China’s airlines.

At AIX, we spent some time with Inmarsat and found out a lot more about their high-speed data solutions, more about connectivity in Europe and a lot about the high-speed data future that you have heard about. Here is the story.

Inmarsat:
IFExpress had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Frederik van Essen about the status of GX Aviation and the European Aviation Network (EAN) since APEX last fall in Singapore. A launch customer, International Airlines Group (IAG), for the EAN, which is a high-speed in-flight broadband service that Inmarsat will jointly operate with its partner Deutsche Telekom was one of the bright spots Frederik discussed. EAN allows European passengers to use their personal devices for internet browsing, video streaming, gaming and other online services, with unmatched high capacity, low-latency performance. EAN’s robust and ultra-compact technology makes it uniquely qualified for the European airspace, where aircraft size, flight density and frequent aircraft maneuvering are challenging to broadband satellite-only systems. Inmarsat went on to say that EAN is the first solution in the world to integrate connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and a complementary LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom. IAG plans to equip in excess of 300 aircraft with EAN and aims to have 90% of its short haul fleet complete by early 2019. We note that Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Passenger demand for in-flight broadband has never been stronger and Inmarsat’s cutting-edge technology will remain the market’s gold standard for a long time to come. We look forward to rolling out this ground-breaking service with Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, four of the most iconic brands in commercial aviation.”

The company also announced a milestone of 1,000 aircraft in backlog for next-generation broadband during AIX – more than 1,000 expected aircraft under signed contracts, both installed and as a backlog, for its next-generation GX Aviation and European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight broadband services. The fast-growing backlog, which includes aircraft that have either been installed or are awaiting installation, is a major endorsement of Inmarsat’s strategy to make the connected aircraft a reality. It follows a succession of leading airline customers that have selected to equip their fleet with Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and EAN services, including Lufthansa Group, International Airlines Group (IAG), Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, Norwegian Air and Air Asia. Lufthansa Group was the first customer to commence installation of GX Aviation on their aircraft last year. They have already fitted out more than 50 aircraft, a number that is expected to increase to 200 aircraft by the end of this year. GX Aviation provides inflight broadband for Lufthansa’s FlyNet Wi-Fi offering, which launched under a test phase in February this year. Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “The fact we have crossed more than 1,000 aircraft in backlog at this point is an incredible milestone, given that GX Aviation only went live a few months ago. It is further proof that the inflight broadband revolution has truly begun; passengers are demanding quality connectivity and airlines are endorsing Inmarsat’s superior offering. We are deeply engaged with additional airlines worldwide, so this really is just the tip of the iceberg. The message is clear: we are coming to a plane near you!”

Another highlight that Inmarsat unveiled that AirAsia signed a MoU for its next-generation GX Aviation inflight connectivity solution. The deal will cover AisAsia Group’s A320 and A330 fleets, with installation to commence this year and service to go live in 2018. AirAsia is presently one of the key airline customers for SwiftBroadband and will be upgrading to GX Aviation. AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes said, “Travelers today expect fast, reliable broadband wherever they are, whether it’s on the ground or 30,000 feet in the air. GX Aviation’s market-leading capabilities represent a step-change in inflight connectivity that allows us to close the gap between the on-ground and on-board experience.”

While it has been an increasing discussion point over the past few years, operations data and flight deck data truly benefit from broadband satcom. A recent study from Helios and Inmarsat outlined those advantages in terms of dollar savings – US$3 billion from improved air traffic control and operations efficiencies! The study found that one single Air Traffic Control (ATC) benefit mechanism – reducing separation minima, which allows aircraft to fly closer together safely – was responsible for savings of US$890 million alone. Thanks to satcom, planes can now fly within 30 nautical miles of each other because of safe, reliable communication and tracking; previously aircraft were required to maintain a separation of 100 nautical miles. This allows aircraft to fly closer together and means more planes can fly in a given airspace, which is particularly beneficial over the busy skies of the North Atlantic. If an aircraft is not equipped with satellite communication capability, it must maintain the 100 nautical mile separation, and is not permitted to fly in certain areas. Increasing airspace capacity also leads to more aircraft being able to choose optimum flight levels, saving time and fuel. A further US$1.9 billion is saved thanks to the ability of aircraft to communicate with their Airline Operations Center (AOC). AOC applications use real-time information to help airlines improve flight safety or provide a more efficient service at a lower cost. Delay management and scheduling is improved, fleets and flight crew can be better managed, maintenance can be taken care of and turnaround time on the ground is reduced.

Lastly, today (5/2/17) Inmarsat announced that GX Aviation entered into commercial service with the Lufthansa Group, allowing passengers can to purchase connectivity service on selected Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines aircraft. Check out the full press release here.

Editor’s Note: It is important to note, this connectivity business is becoming a big deal – the aviation future is integrated with wireless data. As airlines seek to improve their efficiencies, everything to be monitored on the aircraft will require a real time wireless link to the ground. For all intent, better efficiency and more complete and exhaustive aviation services will lower costs and improve the bottom line for airlines – all over various types of datalinks – broadband satcom or even cellular connections. Some examples are flight performance data, real time failure monitoring and fault detection, and aircraft operational performance – just to name a few. Interestingly enough, this future was predicted in the late nineteen eighties (We have a presentation on the subject by companies like Douglas Aircraft) and it is finally happening with the beginning of high speed, truly worldwide, aviation connectivity! Stay Tuned.


Rockwell
Rockwell Collins has delivered its first Iridium ICS-300 SATCOM units to Boeing for its 737 MAX aircraft. Available as a production line option and the only approved Iridium SATCOM solution on Boeing platforms, the product provides long-range voice capabilities as well as data link communications that improve operational efficiency.“Together with Boeing, Rockwell Collins will be providing airlines with the latest satellite communications capabilities for the 737 MAX flight deck,” said Steve Timm, vice president and general manager of Air Transport Systems for Rockwell Collins. “By enabling worldwide voice and data communications for the cockpit with the ICS-300, airlines will realize a variety of benefits.” The ICS-300 is an advanced voice and data link communications system that operates over the Iridium satellite network. With complete global coverage, reliable communications between the ground and aircraft enable improved routing and enhanced coordination between the flight crew and operations. “This solution offers Boeing 737 MAX customers a highly reliable and cost effective platform for all their aircraft operational communications needs wherever they may fly,” said Brian Pemberton, vice president and general manager of Aviation for Iridium. The Iridium constellation consists of 66 low-Earth orbit satellites, enabling real-time communications anywhere on the planet and extends coverage to include polar and all remote airspaces. It already has five customers of the largest North American mobile operators, four of the top five global Internet backbone and seven of the top eight North American cable operators.


Thales
IFE and connectivity designer and manufacturer, Thales, is purchasing Guavas, a US based data analytics vendor and will function as a standalone unit of the company. As “big data” analysis becomes part of the inflight connectivity service backbone, and aviation manufacturing in general. Thales sees the future and has chosen a large data analysis provider. As one reviewer noted: “Expanding into Thales’ core areas of business will be a natural extension for the company as it has tailored its platform for the Internet of Things in areas like transportation in recent years. It analyzes around 5,000 terabytes of data a day, a skill that would come in handy for cybersecurity firms and aircraft makers.” They went on: “Thales cited predictive maintenance, cybersecurity, monitoring of critical infrastructures and network and telecom systems optimization as areas where Guavus’ Machine Intelligent operational analytics platform would come into play in helping drive its customers’ embrace of IoT applications.” Lets face it, large-scale data analysis will be one service provided to airlines once the connectivity data rates increase.


Other Show Information Bites:

  • Axel Jahn is now consulting in the strategy and investment side of the aviation business and can be reached at: axel.jahn@jahn-germering.de
  • Jared Shoemaker is now the Services Manager at Bluemetal. He can be reached at jared.shoemaker@bluemetal.com
  • Jose Gonzales has rebranded his company to galgus (greyhound). You might remember Jose’s business is responsible for some of the new technology on the VT Miltope’s nMAP-2. You can reach Jose at jose.gonzalez@galgus.net

STUFF Worth Knowing:
This is an interesting ViaSat review – Some 555 aircraft have it installed!

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

1. TelefonixPDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Other News:

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

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

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

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

AirFi Box IFE streaming platform now features latest Hollywood movies, hit TV shows, viral videos, best-selling digital newspapers and magazines without requiring passengers to download an app.

  • AirFi Box security approved by leading Hollywood Studios and other major distributors
  • Premium Content packages affordable and easy to modify or update for airlines, while studio content remains safe from piracy
  • Partnership with LA-based boutique CSP West Entertainment instrumental in creation of premium offering.

Berlin, DE | April 24, 2017– AirFi, the market-leading provider of portable onboard Wi-Fi platforms to airlines, today announced that has launched an innovative and truly economical new range of curated Premium Content packages for all airline customers.

AirFi and West Entertainment, the LA-based boutique content service provider founded by industry innovators Rick Warren and Kate Groth, have collaborated closely to tailor an offering of premium movies & TV content designed to meet AirFi’s diverse client portfolio requirements. From this offering, airlines can build their own packages of content based on passenger demographic, budget, content renewal cycles, viewing data, or other criteria.

“AirFi encouraged us at West Entertainment – as well as the wider international content community – to collaborate and find new ways to keep pricing as lean as possible for even their smallest airline fleet operators. We examined ways to supply without the need for DRM protection where possible, thus avoiding the hassle of airlines having to introduce native apps for passengers to view the content onboard. We’ve been delighted with the response.” said Kate Groth, VP Everything, West Entertainment.

Job Heimerikx, CEO AirFi commented: “Having now grown to 30 airline clients, we’re even more dedicated to keeping the AirFi passenger experience the best in the industry. That means considering all demographics, regions, languages and technologies. We can now offer a full suite of international entertainment options, sourcing premium content from leading movie studios, TV distributors, online news & entertainment platforms and digital publishing houses. As ever, it is also our mission to translate this into simplified and highly competitive pricing.”

In recent months, AirFi secured formal security approval from a number of key IFE content suppliers, including major and independent Hollywood studios and TV distributors. Increasingly, these content sources are providing their premium content to AirFi without DRM (digital rights management) or by using AirFi’s “app-free” technology, where DRM is required.

Packages consist of new release and classic feature films, top-rated television box-set and catch up series – where comedies, dramas, documentaries and kids programming feature highly.

“We based our new Premium Content offer on three simple tiered-pricing levels that start as low as €500 per package per aircraft per month,” says Heimerikx. “We can then flex these to meet individual airline requirements. Over half of our client base immediately responded with requests for proposals and our first Premium Content customers go live in May this year,” he adds.

April 6, 2017– Reed Exhibitions, the organisers of the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX), and the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) have signed a long-term strategic co-location agreement for their fall expo event in coordination with the International Flight Services Association (IFSA).

This year’s co-located event will take place at the Long Beach Convention Centre from 26-28 September with APEX, IFSA, and AIX all together in the same location at the same time. As the largest passenger experience event in the United States, the event enables the entire supply chain and all airlines to experience the full spectrum of products and services a passenger experiences in one journey.

Focal areas for APEX EXPO include in-flight entertainment and connectivity , IFSA Expo covers the catering and services industry whilst companies specialising in areas such as aircraft seating and cabin lighting are set to exhibit at AIX Long Beach

Katie Murphy, Senior Exhibitor Director at Reed Exhibitions says: “We have long believed that there is a natural synergy between APEX, IFSA and AIX as a leading aerospace industry association and a leading organiser of aerospace exhibitions.

“The powerful and wide-ranging combination of exhibiting companies we attract will continue to build the reputation of our co-located event as the leading fall showcase for the passenger experience industry.

“We look forward to a longstanding partnership with APEX through which we can jointly deliver an event which serves as a strong platform for the aerospace sector.”

“Last fall with AIX, APEX hit a total of 3,500 attendees across our combined EXPO as we conducted three incredible shows into one major event. Now it will be even larger as APEX and AIX stand alongside IFSA returning to the United States,” Joe Leader, Chief Executive Officer of APEX / IFSA, said. “With this long-term agreement, we will combine the best of airline passenger experience, in-flight services, and aircraft interiors into the must-attend annual airline event here in the United States. Three shows in one incredible event means three times the passenger experience, airlines, business, and value for all who attend.”

A wide range of companies have already committed to a presence at this year’s AIX Long Beach and APEX EXPO including Acro Aircraft Seating, Avio Interiors, Diehl, Isovolta. APEX EXPO’s largest exhibitors include Airbus, Astronics, Boeing, GEE, Gogo, Inmarsat, Linstol, Panasonic Avionics, Rockwell Collins, Thales, and Zodiac

Following last year’s successful co-location, the access rules for the shows will remain the same to welcome airlines across the three shows without restriction.

AIX Long Beach exhibitors will have access to APEX EXPO and IFSA EXPO all three days. In addition, AIX non-airline visitors will have complimentary last day access to APEX EXPO and IFSA EXPO.

The APEX, IFSA and AIX co-located shows will take place 26-28 September, 2017 in the Long Beach, California Convention Center, 25-27 September 2018 in Boston, and 17-19 September 2019 in Los Angeles.

Kontron’s IFE&C solutions allow passengers to simultaneously connect to live video presentations and other unique content using their own smartphone, tablet or laptop
Augsburg, Germany | April 5, 2017– Kontron, a global market leader for embedded computing technology (ECT), and a leading supplier of avionics systems for the Inflight Entertainment & Connectivity (IFE&C) market, announced today that aviation IT specialist, Lufthansa Systems, is utilizing the company’s Cab-n-Connect™ A100 cabin wireless access point (CWAP) as the wireless connectivity platform for its innovative testbed on Lufthansa´s FlyingLab flights. Cab-n-Connect delivers the superior performance required for simultaneous access of next-generation HD video streaming in dense multiple client applications on the aircraft.

Lufthansa initiated its FlyingLab flights to give passengers the ability to test and familiarize themselves first-hand with the latest technologies and services being developed for use on airlines as well as to showcase new stimulating types of live content and digital trends. FlyingLab allows Lufthansa to introduce new technology and collect feedback in a real-world aircraft environment. In this context, the IT subsidiary Lufthansa Systems is responsible for the technical infrastructure enabling the WiFi connection on board. The WiFi network is based on the technology of Lufthansa Systems´ innovative digital platform BoardConnect.

Kontron’s Cab-n-Connect A100 wireless access point with 802.11ac WiFi substantially increases bandwidth efficiency for next-generation HD video on the aircraft. The A100 allows both the client device and access point work together to provide an optimized communication path for stronger and faster data transmission.

Kontron technologies were chosen based on Lufthansa Systems’ history of proven success with previous Kontron platform deployments where these certified open platform solutions gave them the most cost-effective and shortest route to deployment. Kontron’s wireless connectivity platforms will be highlighted during the next FlyingLab event scheduled for May 15.

Kontron will demonstrate its complete line of avionics products at the Aircraft Interiors Expo 2017 held in Hamburg, Germany April 4 – 6, 2017 in the Kontron Booth #D50, Hall B2. Kontron is a leading supplier of avionics products to the rapidly growing IFE&C market. In addition to the Cab-n-Connect A100, Kontron offers the ACE Flight 4600 server, which is widely used by Lufthansa and other customers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Service will increase passenger engagement and enable airlines to generate ancillary revenues through branded content
Hamburg, DE | April 4, 2017– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) today announces an exclusive partnership with M-Biz Global, the world’s largest mobile gaming solutions provider, to deliver a customizable and branded HTML5 games service to its airline partners.

The service will enable airlines to offer passengers fully customizable game graphics as well as the ability to re-label branding assets for over 60 existing games. This enables a highly effective and engaging way to communicate promotions to passengers and creates an opportunity for airlines to drive ancillary revenues through game sponsorships.

Uniquely, Panasonic’s inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) technology will also enable airlines to swap out game assets dynamically and cost effectively during a flight. The games will be uploaded via the airline branded portal on the aircraft without having to download any plugins or applications onto the passengers’ personal devices.

Scott Scheer, Director, eXTV and Ancillary Services at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “We are focused on creating and developing partnerships that allow us to enhance the passenger experience and drive new revenue opportunities for our airline customers.”

“Our partnership with M-Biz Global enables us to rapidly deliver fun, compelling games that capture the passengers’ attention while opening new promotion and advertising channels.”

Hyong Kim, President of M-BIZ Global comments: “We have optimized Panasonic’s world-class IFEC systems with fun and entertaining games, one-to-one game competitions, group contests, rewards and viral through social media features.

“These will all be delivered through ‘skinnable’ HTML5 games, and we believe the branded content within them will achieve higher engagement, click-throughs and conversions with users helping airlines drive passenger engagement, brand loyalty and ancillary revenues.”

· Panasonic’s NEXTTM IFEC platform developed specifically in response to current generation’s trends and challenges
· Enabled by the Panasonic ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships
· System powerfully combines hardware, software, and functionality to provide a tailored solution to airlines
Hamburg, DE | April 4, 2017– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) today announced its NEXTTM inflight entertainment and communications (IFEC) platform – the company’s newest and most powerful IFEC solution.

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

Because it is both modular and scalable, the NEXT platform creates an easy-to-use, tailored passenger environment that helps airlines meet their existing and future business objectives, maximize passenger engagement, enhance passenger and crew convenience, and ultimately increase efficiency.

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

The value of the NEXT platform is increased exponentially by Panasonic’s integrated ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships. This industry-leading ecosystem includes the company’s second generation global connectivity network which, when coupled with its new modem technology, provides up to 250 megabytes per second of connectivity to an aircraft.

The powerful combination of the NEXT platform and Panasonic’s global, integrated ecosystem will create an Internet of Me experience for passengers. It will seamlessly integrate with the company’s companion app technology and Panasonic’s ZeroTouch™ service to add higher levels of passenger personalization including previewing of content and other amenities on their flights, creation of playlists that will transfer from one aircraft to another, and even content on demand experiences.

The NEXT platform also incorporates Panasonic Integrated Marketing Services (PIMS) – an advanced global marketing platform and the largest inflight marketing solution in the industry. PIMS delivers only highly targeted, high value marketing services to passengers, which will keep passengers immersed and engaged in destination services, retail therapy and other onboard applications while delivering increased revenue opportunities to airlines and their partners.

Hideo Nakano, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “Today isn’t the launch of a new IFEC product; it’s about a new way of doing business. The NEXT IFEC solution is a business platform that has been built to respond to the trends and challenges that airlines face. It is about innovating with purpose to create a bespoke offering that is aligned with our customers’ business models, increasing their efficiency and enhancing their inflight experience.”

Nakano continues: “The value of the NEXT platform is greater than the sum of its parts. Our global connectivity network, weather services, and maintenance organization are all key examples of how our services and products have evolved into an integrated ecosystem that will exponentially increase the value the NEXT platform delivers to airlines and their passengers.”

Panasonic’s NEXT platform will be available for all widebody and narrowbody airframes, including the Boeing 777X.

Dunfermline, UK | 04 April 2017 – Bluebox Aviation System’s portable inflight entertainment (IFE) solution – Bluebox Ai – has been selected by TCS World Travel, a leading private jet tour operator based in North America, to deliver entertainment and curated educational content on its luxury private jet journeys.

TCS is deploying Bluebox-configured iPads as the primary IFE system on the company’s three Boeing 757 aircraft, with the potential to use some devices on its seasonal charter operation as well. TCS’s Boeing 757s are customized for every journey, taking up to 80 guests on unique itineraries visiting the world’s most iconic destinations.

“We take our travellers on incredible journeys around the world, and offer them luxurious comfort, style and convenience,” said Shelley Cline, President, TCS World Travel. “Bluebox impressed us with an IFE solution that fits with that ethos – the very best delivery of convenience and high value. That’s what our travellers expect from us, and in Bluebox we’ve found an IFE solution partner that delivers the same.”

“We were exceptionally pleased to learn that it was our reputation for quality and innovation that helped get the conversation started with TCS,” said David Brown, Business Development Director, Bluebox Aviation Systems Ltd. “But we were even more pleased that Bluebox Ai proved the right fit for their needs, as what they were looking for is what we always strive to deliver to all of our customers – great technology that’s fit-for-purpose and simple to deploy.”

Airlines and travel companies around the world 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 delivers on these expectations and provides a more cost-effective IFE option than traditional fitted seatback systems.

Bluebox Ai will take its maiden voyage with TCS World Travel on the “Kingdoms and Cultures of Eurasia” expedition departing from Lisbon, Portugal on 20 April 2017. With Bluebox Ai, TCS will provide all 50 travellers with the latest iPad technology pre-loaded with films, TV programmes, destination maps and other curated educational content related to their 22-day itinerary. The expedition includes visits to Portugal, Lithuania, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Oman, Albania, Romania, and France.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

San Francisco, CA | March 31, 2017– Skylights upgrades its pioneering immersive entertainment solution with the announcement of an expanded content catalogue in partnership with Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE). GEE is the world’s leading content supplier for the commercial aviation industry. Through GEE’s Entertainment in Motion (EIM) distribution subsidiary, SkyLights will feature award-winning films, such as La La Land and Moonlight, in their immersive theatre.

This announcement comes at the same time SkyLights names Display Interactive as a strategic Wireless-IFE partner. Display Interactive is a pioneer in W-IFE solutions for airlines and the new agreement jumpstarts the next generation of in-flight entertainment; immersive entertainment with wireless streaming capabilities.

Finally, SkyLights announces the launch of the new ‘Bravo 2nd Gen’ headset, which will be showcased for the first time at AIX in Hamburg. This latest iteration of the immersive video headset delivers superior comfort and design improvements, and is also compatible with eye correction glasses.

“In-Flight Entertainment, as we know it, is being challenged from all sides,” said David Dicko, SkyLights’ CEO. “I believe our partnership with Display Interactive, combining W-IFE with immersive entertainment paves the way for a new future in IFE. At the same time, SkyLights’ partnership with Global Eagle and launch of the Bravo 2nd Gen headset are two huge steps towards upgrading the business class experience with premium entertainment never before possible”

These latest developments come as part of SkyLights’ new focus on upgrading the business class experience and improving airlines’ Net Promoter Score among their premium passengers.

Market Share Leader in Cabin and In-Flight Entertainment Systems Enhances Astronics’ VVIP Aircraft Offerings

East Aurora, NY | April 3, 2017– Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO), a leading supplier of advanced technologies and products to the global aerospace, defense, and semiconductor industries, announced today that it has purchased the operating assets of Custom Control Concepts (CCC), located in Kent, Washington. CCC is the established market share leader in providing cabin management and in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems for the complete range of privately operated Boeing and Airbus aircraft, along with other select fixed and rotary wing aircraft models. Founded in 1998, CCC has completed more than 165 technology installations to date.

Peter J. Gundermann, President and Chief Executive Officer of Astronics Corporation, said, “We are pleased to have CCC join our company and contribute their capabilities, technologies and strong customer relationships. We are very familiar with the VVIP market through our PGA Avionics subsidiary, and, while current market conditions are challenging, we believe the cooperative pursuits of PGA and CCC working together will provide best-in-class technology and innovation to our customers. The addition of CCC furthers Astronics’ commitment to be the global leader in this market as it recovers in the coming years.”

Astronics does not expect the acquisition to materially impact 2017 earnings, and has not released the terms of the transaction at this time.

France | March 27, 2017–
XPlore by PXCom goes beyond destination content

XPlore by PXCom is an end-to-end solution, focused on destination content, deals & services, that enables content creation, aggregation and management on the ground and automatically generates the inflight apps or updates for the inflight apps, that are aimed at being integrated into the IFEC platforms. 11 airlines currently benefit from this highly innovative solution for the destination content management.

Beyond destination content, XPlore by PXCom now encompasses all the inflight digital experience: airlines can choose to change both the UX and the whole digital content management, in a few clicks.

Personalizing inflight experience

PXCom’s technical teams have integrated “tags management” into XPlore by PXCom. The displayed content (e.g. restaurant list, things to do at destination, movie categories…) is automatically adapted to the passenger’s preferences. “Such feature is especially adapted to w-IFE/IFC portal, since we log in the passenger’s device all the settings. Thanks to that, from one flight to the next one, on the same airline, the passenger can browse tailormade content”, states Olivier HELIOT, PXCom’s CTO. ”Personalizing the inflight experience is a fantastic challenge, for which PXCom is committed to bring easy-to-roll-out solutions to its airlines partners.”

Introducing SkyHi Reviews

SkyHi Reviews is the ability given to the passengers to rate during their return flight, the activities and points of interest mentioned in PXCom’s inflight destination guides. Since the reviews need to be controlled to avoid any trouble, they are off-loaded from the aircraft at its landing, controlled and aggregated in the next content update delivery.

World culture at PXCom

Last year at the APEX Expo, PXCom announced the partnership with Ctrip’s Bamboo Compass, enlarging the scope of the destination content to Asia.

AIX Hamburg 2017 is the opportunity given to PXCom to jump into Middle East culture, as the company launches a new interactive app for IFE platforms, called “Hajj & Umrah Preparation”. “Hajj & Umrah is an important journey for all Muslims in the world. It’s a once in lifetime experience, but involves an important preparation from the pilgrims to perform the rites in the right way” explains Cyril JEAN, PXCom’s CEO.” Hajj & Umrah represent 15 million of pilgrims each year, and 2 million can be welcome at the same time to Mecca. Hence, it’s mandatory that PXCom be able to support airlines in providing the right content at the right moment for their passengers.

PXCom will exhibit this year on French Pavilion in the IFE Zone, booth #3C40-B

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

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

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

2 – IFPL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Other:

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

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

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

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

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

Vision Systems and PXCom have partnered to offer airlines an unmatched level of flexibility in their GUI management.

France | March 17, 2017– At Hamburg AIX 2017, Vision Systems will unveil a new release of its IFE solution called Visi-Stream, that ensures a high passenger satisfaction and ancillary revenues. It comprises Wi-Fi AVOD with a rich and varied content including movies, music, games, daily press, extensive tourist information and ticketing. Advertising can be global and local, and priority data flows for safety videos put the tablets on hold. Options include broadcast or connectivity as well as remote diagnosis, software and content updates via a ground platform.

The IFE manufacturer has decided to integrate XPlore by PXCom, the end-to-end solution that enables digital content management on the ground, and automatic roll- out on the onboard servers.

Harnessing the GUI management thanks to digital power

“Updating the GUI, from simple design changes to additional sections was a pain point for the airlines”, noted Cyril JEAN CEO of PXCom. “Thanks to digital, airlines can now choose to change both the UX and the content management, in a few clicks. For example, let’s imagine that during the Chinese New Year celebrations our airlines expect a change in the background and additional editorial content, it’s now a matter of minutes.”. Beyond such flexibility, Vision Systems’ customers can now benefit from a full and automated aggregation of their digital content: corporate presentation, editorial productions, destination deals & services, digital inflight advertising, sponsored microsites…

Seamless integration
Vision Systems technical teams had developed their own Content Management System. The challenge was to integrate in a single back-office, usual content management (films, music, games, digital press…), with the new abilities provided by XPlore by PXCom. “Vision Systems is committed to a permanent innovation approach, constantly looking for ways to provide cutting-edge solutions. The successful integration of XPlore allows us to offer IFE systems with further flexibility in terms of design and content.” stated Catherine Robin, Group Managing Director.

This brand new feature will be showcased in exclusivity on Vision Systems’ booth 2D28.

Isle of Wight | February 20, 2017– IFPL are leading the way with peripheral integration in to the seat thanks to working with seat vendors and IFE OEMs. Visitors to their stand at AIX Hamburg will have the opportunity to experience their ground-breaking developments and see the products demonstrated.

IFPL has developed a fresh approach to the development of peripheral integration that can be applied to new seats or as an update to existing seat peripherals.

IFPL’s aim has been to provide seamless seat integration, whilst maintaining a consistent design language and aesthetic. There has also been a focus on ensuring the ergonomics deliver a truly enhanced passenger experience. This process has enabled IFPL to reduce the complexity, weight and cost therefore delivering a competitive advantage to an airline.

Visit IFPL at Booth 2C10 to see how their work with Mirus Aircraft seating has led to the joint development of a smart seat and the introduction of new technology into their economy seat, whilst still maintaining the design aesthetic and delivering passenger ergonomics. IFPL has worked to integrate an embedded screen with NFC payment and their latest magnetic audio jack.

IFPL has also developed the smart tray, a unique in-tray table which includes a Passenger Control Unit (PCU) that provides the passenger service functions (call bell and reading light) into the tray. The unit has been designed to ensure the functions are ergonomically placed at the customers’ fingertips, to save passengers having to search for the functionality in awkward locations.

IFPL have recently extended their PCU range using an aesthetically stylish, gloss plastic capacitive touch units. The benefits of this technology ensures the unit is not accidently activated by inadvertent pressure (that traditional switches are subject to). The smart tray also includes a range of charging/power solutions including USB A and C outlets and an inductive charging in the tray.

In addition, IFPL has developed The Nexus Integrated Seat Arm – a ground-breaking concept that addresses the issues faced by the IFE industry regarding seat integration, whilst delivering an enhanced passenger experience.

The passenger expectation of integrated charging and connectivity in-seat for Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) is met as the product seamlessly blends passenger connectivity, the Power Supply Unit (PSU) and audio functions into the arm of the seat. The demands on airlines to deliver an ergonomic and aesthetically-pleasing product for passengers are delivered, whilst counter-balancing the requirements for smaller and more compact seats.

The Integrated Seat Arm is a stylish, new at-seat power, audio and data connectivity concept.

IFPL’s established range of products and solutions will be on display and the team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirement that visitors to AIX 2017 may have.

Visit IFPL at Booth 2C10.

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:

A) Beacons:
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.

B) Security:

“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.

D) Other:

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:
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:
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: craig.foster@valorconsultancy.com

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

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

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

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

A) Messaging

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

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

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

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

B) Audio

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

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

C) Bags/Baggage

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

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

To be continued next week.

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

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.

Additional context
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 (bugbounty@panasonic.aero) 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.


Bose:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Other News:

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