Los Angeles, CA | July 20, 2017– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ:ENT) has won a new five-year contract with Norwegian Air Shuttle that aims to significantly improve the airline’s passenger experience through enhanced WiFi connectivity, live television, portal based content, services and support. The new agreement covers Norwegian Air Shuttle’s entire Boeing 737 New Generation fleet, more than 120 aircraft, until 2023.

“Our cooperation with Norwegian improves how its passengers experience the airline’s inflight entertainment service on board,” said Per Norén, Global Eagle Senior VP Aviation. “Norwegian is a world-class award-winning airline that is innovating in the aviation industry globally and how it approaches the passenger total travel experience. We are pleased to be part of their long-term plan.”

Norwegian Air Shuttle was the first airline to offer high-speed internet and live television on flights within Europe, and was the first airline in Europe to offer Video-on-Demand directly to a passenger’s own device.

Global Eagle initially signed an agreement with Norwegian in 2011 for 40 aircraft, and the two companies have worked closely since then on the passenger experience through the partnership. In 2015, Global Eagle launched live TV on

Norwegian’s Boeing 737NG aircraft. The new agreement includes the option for the airline to cover additional new-generation 737 aircraft for use on trans-Atlantic routes.

“We currently have Global Eagle passenger features on more than 100 Norwegian aircraft, and this agreement widens the scope of both the fleet size and products that the airline can offer on board,” Norén said.

Global Eagle also will be providing additional satellite bandwidth and network performance optimization under the new agreement, which better supports the passenger experience for free WiFi.

DELTA
IFExpress received a note from Airbus about Delta’s new aircraft delivery and here is what they said: “Delta Air Lines has taken delivery of its first A350-900, and will be the first U.S. airline to operate the newest member of Airbus’ leading widebody family. The A350 XWB will bring unrivaled eco-efficiency and a superior passenger experience to primarily transpacific routes starting in October. This delivery is the first of five A350-900s scheduled for delivery to Delta in 2017. The aircraft features 32 seats in the Delta One cabin, 48 seats in Delta Premium Select and 226 seats in the Main Cabin. The A350 XWB was the first aircraft to incorporate the innovative passenger experience elements collectively known as Airspace by Airbus. Delta’s customers will enjoy the quietest twin-aisle cabin, with more personal space and the largest overhead bins in the business. More fresh air, LED ambient lighting, and optimization of cabin pressure, temperature and humidity all combine for absolute passenger wellbeing. The A350 XWB also boasts the latest aerodynamic design, carbon fiber fuselage and wings, and the fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. This combination of technologies translates into unequaled operational efficiency, with a 25 percent reduction in fuel burn and emissions, and significantly lower maintenance costs. DELTA AIR LINES had $1.22b net income in 2Q17 (vs $1.55b in 2Q16) on 3% higher revenues, its first revenue growth in 2.5 years despite $115m headwind from April’s operational disruption.”

(Editor’s Note: We were told the plane features the Panasonic eX3 IFE  and Gogo connectivity.)

PANASONIC
EL AL Israel Airlines today announced that it has selected Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) industry-leading eX3 inflight entertainment (IFE) system for its new fleet of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliners. Under terms of its agreement with Panasonic, EL AL will install eX3 across nine Boeing 787-9s and seven B787-8s, with the first aircraft being delivered in August 2017. The agreement also includes a 15-year contract for the provision of system maintenance by Panasonic Technical Services, including spares, repairs and logistics, at an optimized maintenance cost. EL AL’s eX3 system features an elegant industrial design across all cabin classes. Passengers will be able to view 12, 13 and 16-inch high definition monitors that deliver superior viewing angles and capacitive touch. They also feature proprietary Panasonic technology that functions like the human eye, making dark scenes more visible by improving brightness in dark areas while simultaneously eliminating white saturation. The result is superior picture performance across all media formats including movies, TV shows, games, maps and more. Hideo Nakano, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “Our partnership with EL AL continues to go from one successful program to the next and now stretches over a quarter of a century. Our eX3 system will provide EL AL with an industry-leading entertainment experience, delivering a premium service to their passengers traveling across the world. Our renewed agreement is testament to the loyalty and opportunity that our continued relationship delivers and we look forward to this new and exciting chapter.” EL AL Vice President Service Amir Rogovsky adds: “We are focused on delivering a premium inflight experience for our customers. Our long-term partnership with Panasonic continues to be extremely successful and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with Panasonic Avionics as one of the leaders in the IFE industry.”

GOGO
IFExpress recently noted a portion of a Gogo study that was released on the subject of connectivity demands.  This past week we received a note from Meredith Payette of Gogo
and she told IFExpress: “I saw your recent newsletter and did want to share that we released our Global Traveler Study, a global research study that examines travelers’ inflight habits, behaviors, and preferences. This study explores the rapidly evolving technology landscape among travelers, key global trends, and the changing passenger dynamics that face today’s airlines. It covers 15 countries across six regions around the world and includes data collected from more than 4,500 respondents who flew within the past year. Attached is the full report. This is the main study that was used to create the Travelers of Tomorrow summary issued back in May. This full report is called Understanding the Global Traveler and it is the second part of the Global Traveler Research Series.” Gogo Study Finds Inflight Wi-Fi Most Popular Amenity | Androidheadlines.com

QATAR AIRWAYS
Oops!
Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker posted on YouTube a scathing cut on US flight Attendants noting his cabin crew average age as 26. Naturally, The Association of Flight Attendants had a response – “Straight from Akbar Al Baker lips, he confirms what AFA has said all along: Qatar Airways thrives on misogyny and discrimination. Qatar is not only seeking to choke out U.S. Aviation, but also the 300,000 good jobs built through opportunity created on the principle of equality. There is no room for a separation of humanity in air travel or in an emergency. Flight Attendants are onboard to save lives and every life counts. If you prop up Qatar Airways you are supporting sexism, racism, and ageism. Period. “

HONEYWELL
Inmarsat satellite high-speed data is being rolled out in China by Honeywell and they are talking to many airlines as we write. Then service will be Ka band. A Honeywell spokesperson said: “Passengers will be able to watch YouTube videos during a flight, and have access to real-time TV, TV on demand, high-speed broadband internet, video conferencing, emails and other applications.”  Honeywell has other connected services onboard, including a weather information service and fuel-efficient software.

SECURITY
According to the Associated Publishers, which first announced the plan on Wednesday, facial-scanning pilot plans are now advancing at six American airports—Boston, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta, New York City, and Washington DC. More airports are set to increase next year. Stay Tuned on this one.

OTHER STUFF

  • Need inflight IFE? There is Sunstream for that, and yes, there is an app for it. In fact, here is what marketeers say: “Sunstream is the complete inflight entertainment service that puts you in control. Download the App to wirelessly connect and enhance your inflight experience with Thomas Cook Airlines and Condor from your own device.”
  • Soon we are going to cover Asian InFlight Connectivity. As a precursor, here is a good story about the efforts under way in Australia – Virgin hints at international inflight Wi-Fi – Travel Weekly
  • We don’t know diddly about “NVMe”, but this article states the following: “One potential niche application is inflight entertainment systems offering movies, games and Wi-Fi access. There’s a lot more going on now,” Phillips said (Scott Phillips – Virtium). “They’re hitting those little servers in the planes a lot quicker and with a lot more different requests, so they’re now concerned about lowering latency for response times.”Does NVMe Have a Place in Industrial Embedded and IoT? | EE Times
  • The US is ending bans on laptops for Middle East Airlines – U.S. ending laptop ban on Middle Eastern airlines and, yes, carry-on devices will be allowed for countries upgrading new exit security requirements.
  • Recent airport takeoff limitations due to heat have been a problem in the US, especially in Phoenix, but the issue may become a big deal everywhere in the years to come. Notes Science Daily: “Average global temperatures have gone up nearly 1 degree Centigrade (1.8 Fahrenheit) since about 1980, and this may already be having an effect. In late June, American Airlines canceled more than 40 flights out of Phoenix, Ariz., when daytime highs of nearly 120 degrees made it too hot for smaller regional jets to take off. Worldwide, average temperatures are expected to go up as much as another 3 degrees C (5.4 degrees F) by 2100. But that is only part of the story; heat waves will probably become more prevalent, with annual maximum daily temperatures at airports worldwide projected to go up 4 to 8 degrees C (7.2 to 14.4 F) by 2080, according to the study.” Hey, no flight, no IFEC!
  • Want to read a good article on connectivity payment modeling? Check it out: GCA Link June 2017 – Business Models Evolve with New IFEC Technology | Avionics Digital Edition

Advanced inflight entertainment system to be installed across its fleet of new Dreamliners

Lake Forest, CA | July 18, 2017– EL AL Israel Airlines today announced that it has selected Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) industry-leading eX3 inflight entertainment (IFE) system for its new fleet of 16 Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Under terms of its agreement with Panasonic, EL AL will install eX3 across nine Boeing 787-9s and seven B787-8s, with the first aircraft being delivered in August 2017. The agreement also includes a 15-year contract for the provision of system maintenance by Panasonic Technical Services, including spares, repairs and logistics, at an optimized maintenance cost.

EL AL’s eX3 system features an elegant industrial design across all cabin classes. Passengers will be able to view 12, 13 and 16-inch high definition monitors that deliver superior viewing angles and capacitive touch. They also feature proprietary Panasonic technology that functions like the human eye, making dark scenes more visible by improving brightness in dark areas while simultaneously eliminating white saturation. The result is superior picture performance across all media formats including movies, TV shows, games, maps and more.

Hideo Nakano, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “Our partnership with EL AL continues to go from one successful program to the next and now stretches over a quarter of a century. Our eX3 system will provide EL AL with an industry-leading entertainment experience, delivering a premium service to their passengers traveling across the world.

“Our renewed agreement is testament to the loyalty and opportunity that our continued relationship delivers and we look forward to this new and exciting chapter.”

EL AL Vice President Service Amir Rogovsky adds: “We are focused on delivering a premium inflight experience for our customers. Our long-term partnership with Panasonic continues to be extremely successful and we look forward to strengthening our relationship with Panasonic Avionics as one of the leaders in the IFE industry.

FTS

Perhaps you don’t remember FTS but they are an up-and-coming IFE supplier and we heard from its Chief Technical Officer, Rich Salter, about a new inflight Wi-Fi certification that they recently obtained, so we asked him what’s up? He told IFExpress: “This is the first of many certifications FTS has in the pipeline, and it’s always good to get the first one in the books – now we have a solid base of documentation and safety testing to build future certs on.” He went on: “Down the road you’ll see lots more technology rolling out, ranging from the Flight Butler flight attendant smart watch to satellite interfaces for Ku and Ka systems.  And the software apps are really starting to roll too, including on-board shopping for revenue generation.” So, we guess we should now show you the press release –

FTS announces EASA STC award for its Xstream Inflight WiFi streaming system on Airbus A320 Family of Aircraft

FTS, a fast rising provider of Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity solutions, announces that its Xstream inflight WiFi streaming system has received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for Airbus A320 family of aircraft.  This marks a major milestone in the product rollout and growth. FTS Xstream hardware qualification on Myanmar Airways International aircraft was achieved following multiple rigorous trials aboard an Airbus A319 test aircraft.  The certification validates the reliability and safety compliance of FTS onboard hardware in meeting stringent EASA standards and paves the way for the rollout of Xstream systems for global airlines.

The Xstream next generation inflight wireless entertainment and connectivity system is completely designed and manufactured in-house within FTS.  The system features a high performance 2-MCU embedded file server, 2 wireless access points that support the latest 802.11AC WiFi standard and a revolutionary 3G/4G cellular modem that takes up to 4 sim cards.  Passengers can connect to the onboard wireless network through their own mobile devices and enjoy streaming HD-quality video and audio entertainment, play single/multiplayer games, read latest news, view 2D/3D flight progress maps and indulge in shopping. “I am proud of the team’s achievement in attaining the EASA STC,” said Rich Salter, CTO of FTS based in the California, USA office. “Our software teams have also been hard at work to get the software platform ready for the commercial launch onboard, integrating ancillary revenue generating services and a payment processing gateway.  By next year, the Xstream product family will be further boosted with the addition of Ku and Ka HTS satellite connectivity and In-seat Wireless Smart Display solutions as our customers demand a viable product upgrade path with smooth transitions”.  FTS had previously announced launch airline customers in Asia and North America within the first year of the company’s operation.  In parallel with the EASA STC, FTS is also pursuing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) STC on Boeing aircraft models which is expected to be awarded in September 2017.  In April 2017, FTS added another feather in the cap by receiving a “ONE TO WATCH” award from Onboard Hospitality magazine for its FLIGHT BUTLER flight attendant smart watch application.

PANASONIC

Panasonic Avionics (Panasonic) subsidiary AeroMobile today announced that it has added 100th aircraft to its 3.5G mobile network. With 60 percent of airlines now offering 3.5G inflight connectivity, users of the AeroMobile service grew by 57 percent between 4Q16 and 1Q17. The AeroMobile service allows passengers to use their own mobile devices to text, make calls, listen to voicemail and browse the internet while inflight. The service is easy to use with no onboard payment or registration; passengers simply turn on their mobile device to connect to the network and are billed directly by their mobile operator. Noted Kevin Rogers, AeroMobile CEO: “The milestone of 100 3.5G connected aircraft is testament to the continued airline adoption of the service and strong passenger demand. We have seen rapid growth in the 3.5G service and already 60 percent of our airline partners are rolling it out. In 2017 alone, 3.5G connected aircraft have already flown to 127 destinations in 65 countries.” The inflight 3.5G network is complementary to Panasonic’s global inflight connectivity service. It offers passengers a simple and elegant way to stay in touch with friends, family, co-workers and current events while in the air. It gives passengers the same connectivity options as they have on the ground, and when combined with inflight Wi-Fi, enables data speeds that are comparable to a terrestrial service.

(Editor’s Note: AeroMobile’s phone service is already in use on over 500 aircraft across 21 airlines worldwide including Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Air France, Alitalia, Emirates, Etihad, EuroWings, EVA Air, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Kuwait Airways, Lufthansa, Malindo Air, Qatar Airways, SAS, Singapore Airlines, Air Serbia, Air Seychelles, SWISS, Turkish Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. We note: AeroMobile was the first to introduce mobile phone services in 2008 and now has over 350 roaming agreements in more than 150 countries. AeroMobile Communications Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, is a UK-based mobile service provider for the aviation industry. Their services enable airline passengers to use their own mobile phones for voice, texting and mobile data whilst inflight. As part of the Panasonic Group’s Global Communication Suite, AeroMobile’s services are available for installation either at the point of aircraft manufacture (line fit) or on aircraft in service (retrofit) across both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. Since 2008, over 40 million passengers have successfully connected to the AeroMobile network inflight.)

GOGO

IFExpress recently came across another Gogo research efforts and we think our readers will find great value in it because it represents a “real world” view of todays travel and some of the important changes. Simply put, it answers the following questions very well:

  • Who are the travelers of tomorrow
  • Why their inflight preferences matter
  • Why being mobile is so important to future travelers
  • What expectations exist around inflight connectivity
  • What role personal devices play in flight

So, we contacted Gogo’s, SteveNolan, and he told IFExpress;

“To foster a deeper understanding of today’s flyers, the Gogo global insights team commissioned a comprehensive research study of travelers’ inflight habits and behaviors entitled Understanding the Global Traveler. Based on information gathered across six regions of the world, the study delivers an overview of current airline passenger preferences with a special focus on connectivity. Further, understanding the Global Traveler is part of the 2017 Gogo Global Traveler Research Series, a collection of reports on air passenger trends and preferences. The Series covers 15 countries and five continents, and includes data collected from more than 4,500 travelers who flew within the last year.” To learn more, visit gogoair.com/globaltraveler

SITA

Passenger satisfaction is higher during the airline journey when self-service technologies are used, particularly at bag tag and collection, and passport checkpoints. This is according to the 2017 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey, a global survey released today by IT provider SITA and co-sponsored by Air Transport World. The survey shows that passengers rate their journey very highly with an overall satisfaction rate of 8.2 of out 10 but this is boosted even further when technologies such as mobile services and biometrics are used. Ilya Gutlin, President, Air Travel Solutions, SITA, said: “Passengers are increasingly comfortable with the use of technology in their everyday lives, and they are demanding more services as they appreciate the benefits technology can bring to their journey. Airports and airlines can take note that technology solutions can boost passenger satisfaction every step of the way.” In the global air transport industry, identity checks are a vital element of the passenger journey. SITA’s survey shows that technology, such as biometrics, can support security while offering a better passenger experience. Automated identity checks at passport control and boarding increases passenger satisfaction.

A total of 37% of travelers surveyed by SITA used automated ID control on their last flight. Of these, 55% said they had used biometrics at departure security, 33% for boarding and 12% for international arrivals. Looking forward, 57% of passengers said they would use biometrics for their next trip. Passengers who use biometrics are highly satisfied. In fact, they rated the experience 8.4, well above the ratings for face-to-face transactions at passport check (8) and boarding (8.2), demonstrating passenger acceptance of this secure technology to deliver a seamless journey.

Baggage collection is another area where technology is improving the passenger experience. Airlines and airports are helping to relieve the anxiety of waiting for bags to arrive by providing real-time information to passengers. On their last flight, more than half (58%) of passengers who checked in bags received real-time bag-collection information upon arrival. These passengers were happier than those who did not receive any information, rating their experience 8.4 out 10. Passengers are even more satisfied when they receive the information to their mobile devices. SITA’s survey shows that this bumped up satisfaction levels by an extra 10%.

Technology is also driving passenger satisfaction for baggage management earlier in the journey as more airlines and airports offer self-bag tagging. The use of this technology increased satisfaction to a rating of 8.4 out of 10. Nearly half (47%) of all passengers took advantage of a self-service tagging option on their most recent trip, which is a healthy increase from 31% in 2016. As more self-bag tag options are made available we can expect passenger satisfaction at this point of the journey to increase.

This year’s survey also highlights that as passengers become more familiar using technology during travel, the more likely they are to switch to newer, more efficient platforms. They are increasingly using smarter, mobile-enabled websites to book and check-in. Airline and airport apps, meanwhile, meet passengers’ desire for new services to help them better manage their journey. They want personalized information about their flight, their baggage and how to find their gate directly on their mobile device. The appetite for new services using technology is high: three quarters (74%) of passengers say they would definitely use flight and gate alerts pushed to their mobile devices; 57% would use airport wayfinding; and 57% would use biometrics to smooth identification each step of the way. Gutlin said: “Passengers aren’t deciding anymore whether they should use technology but which technology to use. They want to make each step of the journey as easy as possible. Tech adoption will be driven by both context and usability. For this reason, a clear focus on the end-users’ demands should shape the services airlines and airports offer.” This is the 12th edition of the SITA/ATW Passenger IT Trends Survey. It was conducted with more than 7,000 passengers from 17 countries across the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa representing almost three-quarters of global passenger traffic.


MORE STUFF

BizJets

Don’t forget, The Business Aircraft show is on now and more than 90 aircraft on static display in Las Vegas. They also have a nearly sold-out indoor static display on the exhibit floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC). In addition to the incredible static displays, they will also have over 1,100 other exhibitors showcasing every product and service Biz Aircraft could possibly need. July 10-11-12.

Blockchain

Don’t know what it is? Here is a fast definition from SpeedNews: Suffice to say that it is a huge, global distributed ledger or database running on many devices and open to anyone within the blockchain. In the Blockchain, information, or anything of value can be stored. Its purpose is to ensure a 100 percent secure, verifiable and traceable database protocol. And here is the story with an aviation focus.

ReOrgs

Airbus has completed it’s Commercial Aircraft reorganization and now has the four divisions as a single company – Commercial Aircraft, Helicopters, Space, and Defense. Further, Airbus now has one single corporate headquarters in Toulouse, home to the Company’s single largest industrial site, Commercial Aircraft. We should probably also note that Boeing has now reorganized along a similar line too – Commercial, Defense, Space, and Services.

Airplane Data Growth

And lastly, if you suspected that the data available from new planes has increased – give yourself a pat on the back! Check it out!

Newport Beach, California | July 6, 2017– FTS, a fast rising provider of Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity solutions, announces that its Xstream™ inflight WiFi streaming system has received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for Airbus A320 family of aircraft. This marks a major milestone in the product rollout and growth.

FTS Xstream™ hardware qualification on Myanmar Airways International aircraft was achieved following multiple rigorous trials aboard an Airbus A319 test aircraft. The certification validates the reliability and safety compliance of FTS onboard hardware in meeting stringent EASA standards and paves the way for the rollout of Xstream™ systems for global airlines.

The Xstream™ next generation inflight wireless entertainment and connectivity system is completely designed and manufactured in-house within FTS. The system features a high performance 2-MCU embedded file server, 2 wireless access points that support the latest 802.11AC WiFi standard and a revolutionary 3G/4G cellular modem that takes up to 4 sim cards. Passengers can connect to the onboard wireless network through their own mobile devices and enjoy streaming HD-quality video and audio entertainment, play single/multiplayer games, read latest news, view 2D/3D flight progress maps and indulge in shopping.

“I am proud of the team’s achievement in attaining the EASA STC,” said Rich Salter, CTO of FTS based in the California, USA office. “Our software teams have also been hard at work to get the software platform ready for the commercial launch onboard, integrating ancillary revenue generating services and a payment processing gateway. By next year, the Xstream™ product family will be further boosted with the addition of Ku and Ka HTS satellite connectivity and In-seat Wireless Smart Display solutions as our customers demand a viable product upgrade path with smooth transitions”.

FTS had previously announced launch airline customers in Asia and North America within the first year of the company’s operation. In parallel with the EASA STC, FTS is also pursuing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) STC on Boeing aircraft models which is expected to be awarded in September 2017. In April 2017, FTS added another feather in the cap by receiving a “ONE TO WATCH” award from Onboard Hospitality magazine for its FLIGHT BUTLER™ flight attendant smart watch application.

Every so often we get a call from our friend Craig Foster at Valour Consultancy and while we talked IFE, he noted that Valour Consultancy had published a piece he had written on Bizjet IFE. We were interested because in the past, the Bizjet folks usually embraced technology before the IFE world did. We thought you might like to see if that is still true and the folks at Valour (and Craig) kindly provided a copy for our readers to view. If you wish to contact Craig, you can reach him at craig.foster@valourconsultancy.com – and thanks!

The Market for In-Flight Connectivity on VIP and Business Aircraft – Valour Consultancy
Last month, Valour Consultancy released its latest analysis of the market for in-flight connectivity on VIP and business aircraft. The study draws upon our considerable expertise in analysing the adoption of in-flight connectivity (IFC) in commercial aviation and is the result of a rigorous primary research phase consisting of numerous interviews with key players from across the industry.

The report finds that, globally, there were 19,131 IFC systems on VIP and business aircraft at the end of 2016. L-band was by far and away the most dominant connectivity technology with cumulative connections representing 75% of the total. A large proportion of this is accounted for by Iridium, whose systems support in-flight satellite phone operations on almost 10,000 aircraft. The remainder of L-band connections are accounted for by Inmarsat, which has seen adoption of SwiftBroadband (SBB) pick up rapidly in recent years.

Uptake of Gogo’s Air-to-Ground (ATG) options has been similarly brisk in recent years. By the end 2013, there were 2,047 terminals connected to the Gogo Biz network. This had increased to 4,172 three years later.

ATG and L-band both have room for further growth in coming years, too.

With respect to ATG, there will likely be continued interest in Gogo’s solutions over the course of the forecast period (2016 to 2026), especially now that the company is close to commercial launch of Gogo Biz 4G and plans to have its next-generation ATG network, which will offer peak network speeds of more than 100 Mbps, up and running by 2018.

When you add SmartSky Networks and its 4G network into the mix, as well as the Inmarsat European Aviation Network (EAN), it is apparent that there remains plenty of potential for ATG technology. Though it is yet to be officially confirmed whether the EAN will be used by the business aviation industry, there appears to be consensus that it would work very well on board private aircraft.

While Inmarsat is reportedly seeing a lot of interest from operators looking to upgrade from lower-bandwidth IFC systems to Jet ConneX, the company is also working on increasing the performance of the L-band technology used for SBB. Iridium, meanwhile, recently celebrated the successful launch of the second batch of Iridium NEXT satellites. Upon completion of the constellation in 2018 and the start of commercial service one year later, the so-called Iridium Certus solution will likely find favour among operators of those small- and medium-sized business jets less suited to the fitment of bulky radomes.

Adoption of Ku-band technology on VIP and business aircraft appears to have an equally rosy future – a view presumably shared by new market entrants, Panasonic Avionics and Global Eagle, as well as Gogo, which recently announced its first business aviation customer for 2Ku. Right now, there are some 500 Ku-band systems in operation on VIP and business aircraft and the vast majority of these are accounted for by ViaSat and its Yonder system (although it’s no longer referred to as Yonder, to shift the focus towards the ViaSat brand). Panasonic and Global Eagle representatives have not been shy in admitting that they are gunning for ViaSat in this market.

However, ViaSat appears content to focus on ensuring existing clients migrate to its Ka-band technology – a sensible strategy given the ongoing success of its Exede in the Air product in commercial aviation. Now that ViaSat-2 has finally launched after several setbacks, there will soon be a considerable amount of additional Ka-band capacity for business jets flying between North America and Europe. Additionally, the company says that it will have its three planned ViaSat-3 satellites operational around 2020 making ViaSat the only rival provider of global Ka-band capacity to Inmarsat.

By 2020, ViaSat could have some catching up to do if the take up of Jet ConneX is anything to go by. Having debuted in November 2016, there were an estimated 30 aircraft fitted with the solution by the turn of the year. Inmarsat has previously stated that it expects to see 150 Jet ConneX-equipped aircraft by the end of 2017 and has a goal of connecting 3,000 jets by 2020 (although it is apparently now upgrading its forecasts).

Overall, we are forecasting that by the end of 2026, there will be 37,710 IFC systems installed on VIP and business aircraft – almost double the current total. The reader should, of course, note that these numbers do not refer to the number of aircraft with IFC. In fact, it is estimated that today, around 1,000 to 2,000 aircraft with Iridium satellite phones also make use of Inmarsat’s SBB network. Likewise, Gogo has publicly reported 4,172 connections to its Gogo Biz service and acts as the service provider for 5,286 installed Iridium terminals as well as 214 installed SBB terminals (a total of 9,972 connections – all accurate and up to date at the end of 2016). However, the firm delivers services to 7,400 aircraft implying many are flying with more than one system installed.

The following factors have driven interest in IFC on VIP and business aircraft and will continue to do so in future:

  • Owners of business aircraft fitted with connectivity equipment some time ago will be keener to take advantage of more recent advances in satellite and hardware technology.
  • The ‘Uber-isation’ of the private aviation industry is increasingly being talked about and with e-commerce replacing traditional methods of sourcing and booking a business jet, easy comparisons between different operators and aircraft means that customers can see where one aircraft has IFC and another doesn’t. This transparency will further encourage operators to improve their offerings.
  • As well as the increased comparison between business jets and their features because of new e-commerce initiatives, business aviation is having to compete with the rapid adoption of IFC in commercial air transport perhaps making a first class connected seat more attractive than a private jet with no in-flight Wi-Fi.
  • Competition is hotting up with the likes of Global Eagle, Panasonic Avionics, BizJetMobile and SmartSky Networks all new to the market or preparing to enter.
  • The launch of several new high throughput satellites (HTS) and the prospect of cheaper capacity and faster services is having an extremely positive effect on the market with service providers having inked several new deals in recent years.
  • The connected aircraft and e-Enablement is beginning to resonate more and more as a way to drive operational efficiencies and help underpin the IFC business case.

Some of the remaining challenges to more widespread adoption of IFC on VIP and business aircraft are as follows.

  • Production of new business jets has stagnated and consequently reduced the possibility of line-fit offerability deals for many IFC providers and limited their opportunities for growth.
  • Fitting an aircraft with a sizeable antenna to enable IFC impacts aerodynamics and increases fuel burn, thereby driving up operating costs. Additionally, many smaller business jets are currently unable to accommodate larger Ku- and Ka-band antennas on their fuselages.
  • Current generation Ku-/Ka-band systems lock operators into the service provider (so the hardware is not provider agnostic) and should there be a desire to switch, a very expensive refit ensues.
  • While commercial airlines tend to fly set routes at specific times of day, business jets are more sporadic. One day they may be flying domestically in the US, the next they may be making their way to China or Russia. This uncertainty means high-bandwidth IFC solutions that offer global coverage – which are currently few in number – are perhaps more compelling.
  • Many in the industry are concerned that as we move towards realising the vision of the fully-connected aircraft, the opportunity for cyberattacks will increase. The main worry seems to be that such systems will allow wrongdoers to control aircraft and manipulate commands issued to the aircraft. It should be noted that flight control systems are purposefully isolated from all other communications networks on-board the aircraft.
  • Selling an IFC service based on deployment events that have not happened is a significant challenge and operators understandably give much more credit to satellite assets in space than on paper. Further, a delay to the launch of any service has the potential to scare prospective customers away or send them into the arms of rivals. Unfortunately, such delays are all too commonplace for many much-anticipated IFC solutions.

Published in May 2017, “The Market for In-Flight Connectivity on VIP and Business Aircraft” provides an unrivalled insight and analysis into the current and future deployment of IFC on these aircraft. The number of IFC systems installed in 2016 is quantified with forecasts out to 2026 and data is segmented by fitment type, aircraft size, frequency band and geographic region with a full qualitative discussion of the key trends at play in support of this. The report also sizes the market for both service revenues and key enabling hardware, in addition to market share estimates for service providers and capacity providers. A chapter profiling key players is presented, too.”

At a recent IFEC show IFExpress was standing in front of an incredible 65” inch  display, watching camera footage of a verdant forest scene. While standing there we commented to a person next to us on how incredibly real in color and depth the video was – we even noted that one could see the live insects. Without missing a beat, the fellow watching too said, “Yes, but I will tell you, I would rather watch the bugs, than be there with them!”

The 4k video display we were watching was a new product from Aircraft Cabin Systems who appear to be on the cutting edge of display density. When we asked Richie Sugimoto, President, he noted: “The design concept is a first in the IFE industry and offers customized, input / output modules allowing for functionality with a variety of IFE systems.  ACS can provide the customer the monitor size they want, complete with the video inputs needed without building a special unit.” Two things we did not realize – ACS offers 9 sizes of Ultra High Definition (UHD) 4K displays (27”, 32”, 40”, 43”, 50”, 55”, 58”, 65”, 75”) and they have “customizable input/output modules allowing for functionality with a wide variety of IFE systems.” Here is why the displays are so flexible and applicable to aircraft: “It Integrates with your existing HD IFE system for a UHD viewing experience, Supports up-scaling: From standard 1080p HD to 4K UHD,  Various sizes from 27” – 75” monitors, Standard modular input-modules include: HDMI / SDI (6G) / Component – Composite, Customizable video / control ports also available, Supports Variable Wide Frequency power input, Monitor orientation: Mount from top or bottom, Designed for bulkhead or credenza mounting, Quiet, convection cooled system.”

Next, we asked the ACS Team about the new product and they told IFExpress: “ACS is currently developing the market’s first 4K UHD Modular Monitor which will offer customized, modular video inputs & control ports. The modular design concept is unique. The design allows customers to integrate to their existing HD IFE system for a UHD viewing experience. The design also supports upscaling, from the 1080P Full HD to 4K Ultra HD. The process is easy. The customer selects the 4K monitor size they require. There are 9 sizes to select from. While the 40” or larger sizes will ostensibly be the most popular, the sizes range from 27” up to a grand 75”. The customer will then select the input(s) required.  Input selections include: HDMI, SDI (6G) or Composite/Component. Depending on the monitor size, each monitor can support 2 or 3 internal modules. Both the HDMI & SDI (6G) modules include two inputs and one output each. The Composite/Component module includes one Composite input and one Component input only. As customer requirements often mandate multiple and unique inputs, this modular approach will allow ACS to assemble a qualified monitor meeting the customer-required requirements in short order.  All monitors will be provided with qualification test documentation meeting the testing standards of DO-160G & DO-313.”

ACS also noted:Most interest has been from the VVIP market place as they are looking for the latest, most advanced picture quality they can have in their aircraft. The product is still in the test phase while ACS finishes the qualification testing.” They went on to say: “The design concept is a first in the IFE industry and offers customized, input / output modules allowing for functionality with a variety of IFE systems. ACS can provide the customer the monitor size they want, complete with the video inputs needed without building a special unit.”

Further, we asked about the modular inputs and ACS noted: “While the inputs are fixed, the modular design allows the customer to select their inputs of choice allowing ACS to then assemble a monitor meeting their unique requirements. Note: The modular design is available in a variety of sizes. The standard modular input-modules include: HDMI / SDI (6G) / Component -Composite.” They went on: “The 75” 4k UHD monitor is the world’s largest inflight monitor. Even given this large size, there is great interest in the marketplace. All monitors will be provided with a C of C, complete with DO-160 testing documentation. When possible, ACS will work with customers and their STC program to help secure PMA certification as needed.”

Lastly, they told IFExpress: Be sure to see ACS and their new Modular Monitor at the upcoming NBAA show, booth # N1517. The show will be in Las Vegas this year, from October 10th – 12th.”

Checkout their 4K Brochure

(Editor’s Note: In case you wondered, UHD 4K (3840 x 2160 pixels) has twice the vertical and horizontal resolution of full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels). Given the number of pixels in 4K, it is hard to describe the depth and clarity of the ACS displays. Be sure at the next show you attend that you check out anything 4k!)


Other News

  • It looks like Boeing came away from the 2017 Paris Air Show the winner over Airbus with 147 (net) orders and commitments for 571 aircraft ($74 Billion) thanks to the B737MAX (147 new orders for the B737MAX 10 and the B787 Dreamliner (214 conversions to the MAX 10 from other models). Airbus snagged 326 orders worth some $40 Billion. Further in the wide-body world, they snagged orders worth $3.6 Billion (with MOU’s for an additional $2.3 Billion). Noted John Leahy, COO: “Our commercial success this week at Paris extends our already diversified order backlog to a new industry record of over 6,800 aircraft, with 326 orders worth $40 billion.”
  • Also, if you think the future is full of giant 4 engine jets, you might think again. Boeing, for example has dropped the 4 engine aircraft from it’s annual forecast. Obviously the efficient twin engine jets like B787 and the future B777X are the twins of future flights. And when the next B797 (or whatever it is called) comes along in the 2020-2025 time frame, Boeing and Airbus just may be heading out of the commercial 4 engine planes. Interestingly, Airbus hasn’t scored any new orders for an A380 in more than a year. Further, Boeing has warned that the B747-8 may be on the way out. Both Boeing and Airbus have been watching the demand drop for the big ones as smaller planes gain range and increased capacity. Bigger may not be better!
  • Want to read a good article on connectivity payment modeling: GCA Link June 2017 – Business Models Evolve with New IFEC Technology | Avionics Digital Edition
  • If you think airplane air is bad for you, there may be one low oxygen condition that helps you adjust to a time zone change. We know, we all believed that just the opposite was the case, but we all may be wrong! Here is the test information results from a study as reported in Science Magazine (website): “Abramovich et al observed daily cycles in the concentration of oxygen in blood and tissues of mice kept on a normal light-dark cycle. These variations were sufficient to alter the abundance of the transcription factor HIF1α (hypoxia-inducible factor 1α). In cultured cells, changes in oxygen concentration could entrain the circadian clock only if HIF1α was present. When animals were subjected to a 6-hour change in the light cycle (like traveling eastward on a jet), animals kept in a low concentration of oxygen adapted more quickly.” We thought that airplanes had a reduced oxygen content inflight, so why don’t we feel better? Perhaps we need less oxygen – sure!

Paris Air Show | June 20, 2017–The International Paris Air Show is organized by the SIAE, a subsidiary of GIFAS, the French Aerospace Industries Association. This 52nd exhibition takes place at the Le Bourget Parc des Expositions from 19 to 25 June 2017, and once again will bring together all the players in this global industry around the latest technological innovations.

A world-first: 360° live external stream

In partnership with IrisAero, a French provider of 360° 4K cameras for the airline industry, PXCom has developed PXVision, a 360° player dedicated to the InFlight Entertainment ecosystem, that also includes Interactive Augmented Reality experience.

“Our technical team has clearly achieved a great challenge”, says Cyril JEAN, PXCom’s CEO. “PXVision is aimed at providing passengers with a live 360° external video stream, and discover in real time the points of interests that the aircraft is flying over. Should the camera be mounted on the top of the aircraft, passengers will be offered to discover sky constellations for example. Based on this new inflight entertainment offering, we can now roll out so many business cases that will both elevate the Passengers’ Experience and drive ancillaries to the airlines”

Integrated in a tablet-based IFE demo

This new feature has been integrated in a tablet-based IFE demo specifically produced by PXCom for the French-Italian airframer, ATR, to support their aircraft showcase at Paris Air Show, with a customer friendly Graphic User Interface (GUI).
Thanks to XPlore by PXCom, the entire GUI and its related contents can be dynamically managed by the airlines. This demonstrator also includes all the contents that can be found on a legacy IFE platform: movies, games, music, PXCom’s destination guides, digital press…

When IFExpress heard about the recent promotion of David Bruner as the Vice President, Global Sales & Marketing for Panasonic Avionics Corporation, we could not think of a better person to fill the roll. David is now responsible for sales, marketing and customer relations for all Panasonic Avionics products and services. His previous position within PAC was the Vice President of Global Communication Services. The Panasonic website goes on to say; “David has been with Panasonic for 13 years. Previously he served as Vice President of Global Communications Services where he led the company’s efforts to establish a global, high-speed satellite network. Under David’s direction, Panasonic became the first company to offer global connectivity, live television and mobile phone services across multiple mobility markets including air transport; oil, energy and mining; maritime; cruise lines; and mega yachts. David has also held executive positions for General Dynamics Airborne Electronic Systems, InflightOnline – a web Media Company focused on the inflight market and AT&T Aviation. In total, he has over 35 years in the software, communications and aerospace industries including 5 years at American Airline’s SABRE group.”

While the aforementioned is an apt summary of his years in the IFEC and airline industry, IFExpress reached out to other industry aficionados who have known David for a long time about the recent Panasonic promotion. John Courtright, Director of Sales and Marketing at SIE, and he told IFExpress: “I’ve known David for 20+ years and he is the consummate professional. Our careers have had similar tracks: we both were Senior Systems Analysts at major U.S. carriers, I was at United and David at American. I think that experience gave David the strong business and analytical skills he carried forward later in his career. David has always known the importance of Connectivity. As Senior VP at AT&T Wireless, Aviation Division, he drove the expansion of passenger connectivity and the emergence of making data available to the cabin and crew alike. In his new role as head of IFE and GCS Sales, I expect David to continue Panasonic’s strong presence in the IFEC industry.”

Mary Rogozinski, VP Airlines, SmartSky Networks  said: “I always like to tell the story about meeting David back when he was with Sabre and I was with UA (in the 90’s).  We were both at a 777 working together meeting at Boeing.  It was one of my very first industry meetings.  I had to leave early and planned to take a Boeing customer bus back to the airport.  I get on the van to find it filled with AA folks including David.  At first I felt very awkward (back in those days, airlines didn’t socialize much), but David and team made me feel right at home.  I then went on to work with David at just about every company he worked at subsequently.  I regrettably threw out all of those business cards, there must have been about 15.  A high or lowlight had to have been when we worked together on the 777 launch.  David was at Claircom and they had done a good job pitching their phone service for the UA widebody fleet.  We worked late one night on the deal and both ended the day thinking Claircom would be UA’s next phone service provider.  But we woke up to the information that UA’s management team had given the incumbent service one last chance to bid, winning the program.  David took it in stride, in his unique cheerful way (maybe with a few cocktails.)”

“Over the years, I truly look forward to seeing David and that kind of impish smile of his, and catching up on all the goings on with work, family and the industry.  He has always been a good and fair person to work with and I have always had the sense that he will take care of his customers.  Unfortunately, I don’t think I was ever one of them.  Sorry Dave.”

We at IFExpress have had the pleasure of working with David for over 30 years. Internally, we debated and discussed his recent promotion as a writing point and we unanimously noted that if we wanted to discuss just about any aspect of our industry, David Bruner was one of the first people we would ask. Why? Because, he  understands the question, usually knows the answer, and is gracious when he delivers his reply – even if our question was less than correct, or our information was incomplete.

Needless to say, IFExpress recently took the opportunity to talk with David about the IFEC industry:

1. Tell our readers about the IFE(C) market for new aircraft for the next 3 years or so, given that aircraft sales are falling?

A: Even though aircraft sales aren’t at the same all-time high levels as previous years, there are plenty of opportunities for companies like Panasonic that can deliver tailored solutions closely aligned to each airline’s business needs and the expectations of its passengers.

2.Do you see the IFEC market changing over the next 5 years based on what passengers are carrying? What does IFEC have to offer over carry-ons – today and in the future?

A: The IFEC market is perpetually changing. From embedded systems to PEDs to the ever increasing use of wearable technology, IFEC providers need to be able to provide platforms that allow airlines, passengers and crew to interact and stay connected easily and effectively.

That is one of the reasons why we have introduced our new NEXT IFEC platform. We have in essence re-written our rule book for how we engage with airlines – moving from a product-based sales approach to one where we build tailored solutions based on their business needs, using the flexibility of our platform coupled with the versatility of our integrated ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships.

3. What, in your opinion, will be the hardest bridge to cross in the next few years in IFEC?

A: The industry needs to focus on how to fully enable a truly dynamic, digitally connected business platform in flight. When you have a flexible platform backed by a global connectivity network and comprehensive ecosystem, you can radically change the industry.

For example when you combine our NEXT platform with services like ZeroTouch, you begin to liberate airlines from the accepted 30-day refresh media cycle. We’re opening up content on demand services, concierge services, real-time CRM, and much more.

This kind of dynamic content update gives airlines the ability to efficiently and cost-effectively personalize services for their passengers. This will fundamentally address some of the complaints about air travel from both airlines and passengers.

4. IFEC and new connectivity capability should usher in more cabin/system connections to the ground but Panasonic is an IFEC company. How will you folks get into the side of “data” that others have been focused on for years and can you give our readers a bit of why you will succeed?

A: Panasonic Avionics is already highly engaged in this area in a number of ways. Probably the biggest is ZeroTouch which we launched last October and has already received high levels of interest from airlines. ZeroTouch is a unique and innovative service that simultaneously gives airlines real-time visibility into performance, improves the efficiency of their maintenance operations and also enables data transfer of passenger-facing content to an aircraft to improve the passenger experience. The service will reduce an airline’s need to physically touch its aircraft because all interactions are managed through a virtual dashboard. By providing access to real-time passenger data, software, media and content updates can be data-driven, helping to deliver a relevant and personalized passenger experience.

With over 70 airline customers we are having success helping airlines to see that the “C” in IFEC is more than passenger WIFI. As a global network operator, we are helping airlines use broadband connectivity to deliver new solutions — solutions that make passengers happier through better crew service, accessibility to the airlines app for constant real-time communications, health monitoring of all systems inflight, passenger and cargo security and more. This application of connectivity, with the onboard computing platform, will have the same powerful impact on the market as the introduction of the CRS’s of the 1960’s and 70’s.

5. David, you have been around this game for around 30 years now, can you tell our readers about the changes you have seen in working with airlines and what advice would you give them with the new technology in IFEC?

A: IFEC has changed dramatically since I entered the industry however the objectives are still the same: an excellent audio and video experience, an ever-increasing choice of content, and more control over how and when content is viewed. Over the last 10 years, however, the rate of change in our industry has greatly accelerated with the advent of inflight connectivity.

The advice I would give to an airline is to treat IFEC like all key interaction points of the passenger experience. From our experience, it has tremendous potential to enhance an airline’s brand — and therefore value — significantly. As such, it is worth the investment but only if the IFEC offering is aligned with an airline’s commercial objectives and the needs of its passengers. So involve an IFEC provider at the start of the decision making process, help them understand your needs, treat them like a partner, not a supplier – and the results will undoubtedly be better.

6. How important is the capability to engage the passenger from the point of ticket purchase, then throughout the remainder of their journey? What unique capabilities does Panasonic bring to this process?

A: Enabling airlines to engage with their passengers throughout a longer process adds value to the passenger experience, and so has the potential to enhance the airline’s brand. We recognized this several years ago and developed the APIs that led to commercial deployment of Companion Apps – which are designed to span the passenger travel thread, enabling airlines to curate and integrate all aspects of the passenger experience. Singapore Airline was the first to take advantage of our program, and today its passengers can immerse themselves in their experience pre-flight, during flight and post-flight, bringing the benefits of the wide range of content and information to passengers for a much longer period of time.

7. Over the next 10 years, much of the hardware within the aircraft cabin will be able to report wirelessly – think galleys, lavs, lights, seats, etc. Besides providing the pipe and the satcom equipment, how does Panasonic foresee participating in this real-time operations arena?

A: Panasonic already participates in this arena in a wide range of areas, using connectivity to enable airlines to better manage their aircraft and communicate with both their passengers and crews. Just one example of this is the real-time fleet monitoring tool that is an integral part of ZeroTouch, a key element of Panasonic’s integrated ecosystem – which enables airlines to be more operationally robust and efficient, ultimately enhancing the passenger experience whilst helping to keep operating costs contained.

8. Does Panasonic see the technology driving the consumer market and the evolutions of IFEC hardware flattening out over the next 10 – 15 years? If so, will Panasonic be focusing more on new software iterations that improve performance and capabilities utilizing existing hardware technologies?

A: I don’t necessarily see a slow down in the advent of new consumer technologies and, as an IFEC solutions provider, we must continue to anticipate them, evolving to remain at the leading edge of making the step from the ground to the inflight experience a seamless one. We have a team that is solely dedicated to looking at new, emerging technologies and their potential impact to air travel. In fact, many of these technologies have been on display in our “Cool Room” at industry events. Some examples of recent demonstrations include 8K displays, smart surfaces, VR and AR. While not everything is applicable, we continue to bring innovation to the cabin. A great example of this is our NFC solution, which was the industry’s first.

This kind of flexibility is intrinsic with our new NEXT platform. We believe that this will help us adapt and evolve our offering more effectively than ever before.

9. Hacking has been getting bigger and we have seen Panasonic’s response to some issues. Can you give us an update to the focus from your company?

A: Panasonic continues to take a proactive approach to hacking. We not only continually test the robustness of our systems, but also regularly engage with security professionals who wish to test our systems legitimately through our Bug Bounty program. We recently concluded our second annual Inflight Security Conference. This customer event is a great example of our commitment to ensuring the security of all systems we design and deliver. We had 65 attendees from around the world who were treated to two days of in depth discussions with our security teams, trusted partners, and even Robert Herjavec, guest star of ABC’s TV shows “Shark Tank” and “Dancing with the Stars” and founder of the Herjavec Group, which is a global leader and service provider of security solutions for enterprise level organizations.

Editor’s Note: At the next trade show, if you have the opportunity to meet David we strongly encourage you to do so, or if you just want to say congratulations you can reach him at david.bruner@panasonic.aero

 


Other News:

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