In this week’s edition of IFExpress we have Gogo, APEX, Boeing and a few other bits of information – so let’s get started!

Gogo
Gogo is announcing K5-Aviation as its first 2Ku business aviation customer in Europe, marking a significant milestone for the company. The first airframe in business aviation that will fly with Gogo’s 2Ku technology is an Airbus ACJ319 operated by K5-Aviation, a leading operator of ACJ aircraft, based in Germany. Fokker Services B.V. managed the 2Ku installation design and system integration including the EASA STC. Installation was performed at its facilities in Hoogerheide, The Netherlands.
“This is a great day for K5-Aviation because it brings Gogo’s newest technology to our cabin which means our passengers can stay connected almost anywhere we fly around the globe,” said Luca Madone of K5-Aviation. “Productivity during flight will increase with 2Ku, which will allow our passengers to drive their business forward even when traveling. They will also have the ability to live stream news, entertainment and sporting events.”

Gogo’s 2Ku technology delivers industry-leading performance globally, which means passengers can do the same things they do on the ground. For business aviation, that means live video conferencing, fast Internet browsing and streaming video. 2Ku is designed to take advantage of innovations happening in space and is compatible with newer high-throughput and low-earth orbit satellites when they become available. This means the technology will get better in time without having to touch an aircraft. This flexibility means Gogo’s customers can be confident the system is future ready and ahead of the curve from a technology perspective.

2Ku is a unique dual antenna system developed by Gogo to bring global streaming-capable Internet to large aircraft. The technology benefits from global coverage and the redundancy of more than 180 satellites in the Ku-band. With more than 170 systems installed today across eight airlines on five continents, and more than 1600 total aircraft awarded to 2Ku across 14 of the largest airlines around the globe, 2Ku is one of the most successful in-flight connectivity products ever developed.

We further note that Gogo discovered that nearly 50 percent of millennial travelers expect their connected experience in the air to be the same as on the ground. This key finding from Gogo’s Global Traveler study The Travelers of Tomorrow shows that connectivity anywhere and everywhere is no longer a hope, it’s an expectation. This study uncovers in-flight connectivity trends from “future travelers” between the ages of 18 and 35, because their preferences will ultimately shape the future of travel. “Passengers simply expect more from inflight connectivity today — no longer is there a distinction between enjoying movies at home, sending emails from a café or binge watching at 35,000 feet,” said Alyssa Hayes, Director of Insights at Gogo. “As our research suggests, younger travelers are most comfortable with headphones on, laptop open and smartphone in hand. As the leader in inflight connectivity, we can help airlines keep pace with passenger expectations now and in the future with Gogo 2Ku high speed connectivity.”

Not only are these passengers expressing hopes for the future, but they also are making travel decisions today based on connectivity:
While 90 percent of future travelers have a preferred airline, 48 percent said they would choose another airline if Wi-Fi was not available on their preferred flight.

Future travelers are more likely to multi-task on their devices during flights with 46 percent of the 18 to 35 age bracket using Wi-Fi and watching a movie or show on their device compared to just 33 percent of travelers older than 35 doing so.

Ninety-two percent of future travelers are interested in using their own device in flight, and 48 percent said they prefer to stream their own content to their own device.

Sixty-three percent of future travelers think more flights should offer Wi-Fi, and 56 percent of them use their smartphone on the plane compared to just 27 percent of older travelers.

Gogo’s 2Ku technology allows passengers to have the same experience in the air as on their couch at home. The new technology enables streaming video, fast browsing and multi-device viewing. 2Ku can be found today on more than 170 aircraft across several global airlines. More than 1,600 total aircraft are slated to receive the technology representing 13 global airlines.

The Travelers of Tomorrow study is the first of the 2017 Gogo Global Traveler Research Series, Gogo’s global study that examines travelers’ inflight habits, behaviors and preferences. It covers 15 countries across six regions around the world and includes data collected from more than 4,500 travelers who flew within the last year. To learn more, visit gogoair.com/globaltraveler

We should also note the following: Gilat Satellite Networks Ltd. announced that its in-flight connectivity (IFC) solution demonstrated unprecedented end-user throughput of over 100Mbps in Gogo’s live airborne media and investor event. Gilat’s airborne modem powers Gogo’s 2Ku service and will be installed in over 1600 aircraft across more than 13 airlines, commencing this year. On May 9th 2017, Gogo hosted a major, high visibility industry event on their Boeing 737 test plane, the “Jimmy Ray.” Analysts and media applauded Gogo’s 2Ku system and Gilat’s modem, which demonstrated over 100Mbps performance. This is acknowledged to be the highest performance ever achieved onboard a commercial aircraft, as well as demonstrating continuous service with excellent user experience. The test flight not only confirmed its noteworthy throughput and user experience, but also successfully demonstrated interoperability capabilities of Gilat’s aero modem with the aircraft’s Communication (IFEC) avionic system. As previously announced, Gogo selected Gilat to provide the onboard VSAT modem and satellite baseband infrastructure for its next generation IFC solution. The recent flights were done upon completion of Supplement Type Certifications (STC) for this system for Boeing and Airbus aircrafts.


A Possible InFlight Electronics Ban
While the US Government has neither confirmed or denied the possibility of an “All Europe” inflight laptop ban into the US, it is expected this month, although some experts question whether it will be as extensive as all inclusive as the one from 10 Middle East airports today. Also unknown if the rumored laptop exclusions will be surrendered at the gate or relinquished to the baggage hold during check-in at the ticket counters – not to mention flights that progress through European airports. We want to point out that banned  PED (iPads, tablets, laptops) types are an unknown at the time of this writing. But if you think about it, getting your data on a phone and learning to love IFE again, might be a good idea. We do know that London’s Heathrow has begun the process of early screening, but like everybody else – they are waiting for the US to demand the change.


APEX And The Electronics Ban
APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association), a four-decade old international airline trade association, called for a hold on the electronics band expansion to Europe as (they) hosted a biometrics workshop with major airlines and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (U.S. DHS) Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP).

Speaking at the Aviation Festival Americas with more than 60 airlines, APEX CEO, Joe Leader, pushed suggested “green listing” passengers as cleared to carry electronics on restricted routes through the biometric facial recognition initiative being put forward by the U.S. DHS CBP in place of the electronics ban.

“Having the electronics ban spread to the European Union for flights to the United States would damage the personal freedoms integral to international air travel. We must stand together with government solutions for personal electronics that enable both security and accessibility for our airline passengers worldwide,” said Leader. “Biometric identification of passengers that are pre-cleared to travel with electronics would enable a viable potential solution with the U.S. DHS CBP ready to provide immediate technological facilitation.”

APEX sounded the alarm in March when the airline electronics ban started as we warned that it could easily spread as reported today. In the United States alone, carriers in less than 30 days have removed more than one million annual passenger long-haul seats  from the airports affected by the United States electronics ban alone.

“As the leading international airline association focused on passenger experience, APEX has actively and repeatedly expressed that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.K Department of Transport should institute government approved solutions for electronics rather than the existing airline electronics ban.” Leader stated. “Fighting potential threats means finding government solutions that do not take the laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, and large phones out of the hands of the millions of law-abiding passengers that use them every day. We owe our air travelers worldwide the best options to make their flights enjoyable and productive.”

Results from APEX’s Global Passenger Survey released last year, show airline passengers frequently bring their personal electronics devices on-board aircraft for use in-flight:

  • 43% of worldwide airline passengers bring a tablet device on-board with 70% of these passengers using their tablet device in-flight;
  • 38% of worldwide airline passengers bring a laptop computer on-board with 42% of these passengers using their laptop in-flight; and
  • 22% of worldwide airline passengers bring e-Readers on-board with 77% of these passengers using their e-Reader in-flight.””

You might also want to read this ExtremeTech piece on the subject as they point out that a cabin full of laptops placed in cargo containers just might put another problem in a place (in the baggage hold) where fire control may have limited capability to affect a potential disaster. US Considering Banning All Laptops on Flights From Europe – ExtremeTech


Boeing
The fourth Boeing [NYSE: BA] Inmarsat-5 satellite, which was launched yesterday, will noticeably expand the high-speed broadband service available through Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network after the satellite becomes fully operational later this year.

The Inmarsat-5 satellites are uniquely able to provide seamless communications coverage through fixed and steerable beams that can be adjusted in real time to accommodate demand surges. “Inmarsat-5 F4 joins our existing Global Xpress constellation, which is already being adopted as the new standard in global mobile broadband connectivity by companies, governments and communities around the world,” said Michele Franci, CTO, Inmarsat. “Boeing has been an outstanding partner in our journey to make Global Xpress a reality.”

This is the fourth Inmarsat-5 satellite Boeing has built for Inmarsat’s Global Xpress network. After reaching its final orbit, the satellite will undergo testing and checkout before being declared operational. “Our partnership with Inmarsat has enabled the creation of the world’s only commercial global, mobile Ka-band network,” said Mark Spiwak, president, Boeing Satellite Systems International. “This unique achievement is an example of Boeing’s continuing commitment to deliver reliable, affordable and innovative solutions for our customers.”

Boeing has a strategic marketing partnership with Inmarsat and currently provides both military Ka-band and commercial Global Xpress services to U.S. government customers.

For more information on Defense, Space & Security, visit www.boeing.com.

Boeing and Primera Air today announced an order for eight 737 MAX 9 airplanes, valued at more than $950 million at list prices. The agreement also includes purchase rights for four additional 737 MAX 9s and a lease agreement for eight more airplanes from Air Lease Corporation.

The 737 MAX 9 will form the backbone of the low-cost airline’s future as it seeks to commence flights between Europe and North America. Primera Air plans to use the MAX 9’s auxiliary fuel tanks to lower trip costs and maximize the range to accommodate flights connecting Europe to the east coast of the U.S.

“The 737 MAX 9 will allow Primera Air to open up nonstop, long-haul routes from Europe to the U.S. with unmatched economics,” said Andri M. Ingolfsson, President, Primera Air. “This aircraft has a lower per-seat cost than the current wide body aircraft servicing the transatlantic and the capabilities of this aircraft type will change the economics of the industry. This will open up fantastic possibilities for growth for Primera Air in the future.”

Scandinavia’s Primera Air is an all-Boeing carrier currently operating a fleet of nine Next-Generation 737-700s and 737-800s with flights to more than 70 airports in Europe. Primera Air is part of the Primera Travel Group that operates travel agencies and tour operating companies in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Iceland and Estonia.

The MAX 8 and 9 will be followed in 2019 by the smaller MAX 7 and higher capacity MAX 200, while studies and customer discussions continue on further growing the family. The 737 MAX incorporates the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market. The 737 MAX has accumulated more than 3,700 orders from 87 customers worldwide.


Delta orders 30 additional A321s
Delta Air Lines has placed an incremental order for 30 firm A321ceo aircraft. This order follows three previous Delta orders for the Current Engine Option version of the largest Airbus A320 Family member. The airline took delivery of its first A321 in March of last year. Delta now has ordered a total of 112 A321s, each powered by CFM56 engines from CFM International.

All of Delta’s A321s will feature fuel-saving Sharklets – lightweight composite wingtip devices that offer up to 4 percent fuel-burn savings. This environmental benefit gives airlines the option of extending their range up to 100 nautical miles/185 kilometres or increasing payload capacity by some 1000 pounds/450 kilograms.

Many of Delta’s A321s are being delivered from the Airbus U.S. Manufacturing Facility in Mobile, Alabama. The airline received its first U.S.-manufactured A321 last year. By the end of 2017, the Airbus facility in Mobile is expected to produce four aircraft per month, most going to Airbus’ U.S. customers.

As of the end of April, Delta was flying a fleet of 187 Airbus aircraft, including 145 A320 Family members and 42 A330 widebodies.


Rumors
A rumor monger told us that this past Thursday was a bad day for a large IFEC outfit and that 45+ folks on the West Coast were let go, as well as, at least 25 on the East Coast. We won’t mention names as our request for more information was ignored.

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.”

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!

>Kontron’s ARINC 791-compliant modem manager to support simultaneous Internet connectivity in Gogo’s retrofit and line-fit programs

Augsburg, Germany | April 3, 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 Gogo will deploy Kontron’s next-generation MODMAN (Modem Manager) unit in its 2Ku IFC system in both retrofit and OEM line fit programs.
The Kontron MODMAN is based on the Taurus Ku-band modem from Gilat Satellite Networks and utilizes the advanced technologies from the Kontron ACE Flight server family of products, which include processor and Ethernet Switch building blocks. The MODMAN will support simultaneous inflight Internet connectivity and IPTV to users of the Gogo 2Ku system.
“The selection of the Kontron MODMAN for the Gogo 2Ku IFC system is a significant milestone for us,” said Andy Mason, vice president technology at Kontron America. “The Kontron team has a long history of collaboration with Gogo, going back to the first air-to-ground deployments in the US. Kontron’s global footprint allows us to fully support the Gogo 2Ku system and its worldwide customers.”

“Gogo is constantly looking to innovate throughout the entire ecosystem of our network solutions including the hardware,” said Anand Chari, chief technology officer at Gogo. “Kontron has been a great partner in helping us continue to improve on our already industry-leading technologies.”

The Kontron MODMAN leverages the standard product features of the company’s ACE Flight 4780 server and is compliant to the ARINC 791 standard, which covers airborne Ku-band & Ka-band SATCOM systems. Conformance to ARINC 791 combined with the ACE Flight open architecture platform, means that Kontron can easily adapt the MODMAN product to other installations and a diverse range of modem solutions.

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 has extensive background in the supply of airborne servers, wireless access points and communication units to the rapidly growing In-flight Entertainment & Connectivity (IFE&C) market. There are currently more than 4,000 commercial aircraft and business jets operating worldwide with Kontron equipment on board.

The New Telefonix PDTTM CabinACe-2TM WAP Boosts Overall Network Capacity with MU-MIMO Optimized ClientMatch®* Technology, and Adaptive Radio Management

Hamburg, DE | April 3, 2017–
(AIX Hall B2, Stand 2D70) – The Telefonix PDT team ushers in greater network performance for airline customers with the introduction of the CabinACe-2™ wireless access point (WAP), the industry’s first 802.11ac Wave 2 WAP for the aircraft cabin environment. The CabinACe-2 product provides dynamic Multi-User Multiple Input/Multiple Output (MU-MIMO), significantly boosting network capacity. The company’s new IFEC hardware is the only Wave 2, ARINC 628 compliant WAP available on the market today, making it the first to meet the industry’s latest adopted standard for electrical characteristics and interfaces, RF performance, size, weight, and power.

With airline customers demanding high bandwidth applications, for example high-definition video streaming, airline network architects are being challenged to support increasing WiFi capacity performance requirements. Additionally, the introduction of new, Wave 2 client devices, which offer higher 802.11ac performance, requires the right kind of network intelligence to take advantage of new MU-MIMO-capable mobile devices by steering and grouping them together – thus improving the efficiency of the available bandwidth. The new Telefonix PDT CabinACe-2 product is the Telefonix PDT answer to this challenge.

Leveraging Wave 2 to Support #GenMobile with High-flying Wi-Fi

Where 802.11ac, Wave 1 offered a drastic jump in network performance over 802.11n with 80 MHz channel bandwidth and support for up to 3 spatial streams, 802.11ac, Wave 2 promises to offer another leap in improvement over Wave 1. Wave 2 technology has the potential to offer double the bandwidth (to 160 MHz), support for 4 spatial streams, and features MU-MIMO, which will support the bandwidth and capacity requirements of emerging applications for years to come.

To prepare for the anticipated adoption of Wave 2 devices, the CabinACe-2 access point engine incorporates intelligent awareness technology for Wave 2, MU-MIMO clients, automatically steering and grouping MU-MIMO devices together. This ClientMatch® technology allows the unit to transmit data to multiple Wave 2 – enabled devices simultaneously, which not only improves individual device performance, but it will also boost the overall network efficiency. The result is up to 42 percent improvement in performance over other cabin wireless access point solutions without ClientMatch technology.

Availability
Telefonix PDT is proud to announce that the CabinACe-2 product is already in commercial production. DO-160G testing has been completed, along with an extensive Boeing Line Fit offerability test program. Additional STC retrofit projects for additional product configurations will begin later this year.

“This is a really exciting time at Telefonix PDT and in our industry,” says Alan Manns, Director of Business Development for Telefonix PDT. “Technology moves very quickly, both on the ground and in the air. The introduction of our CabinACe-2 product is a testament to the commitment of Telefonix PDT to remaining a technology forward provider of IFEC hardware. This commitment is one of the reasons that the company is moving towards the head of the line in terms of delivery of cabin wireless access points in the next 12 months.”

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

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

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

Personalizing inflight experience

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

Introducing SkyHi Reviews

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

World culture at PXCom

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

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

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

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

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

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

2 – IFPL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Other:

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

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

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

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

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

IFEC’ers, it is almost here – AIX 2017 that is – and we cannot wait. Over the next few issues, IFExpress will be providing a ‘sneak peek’ from a few AIX vendors. Additionally, we have a ‘Special Story’ for the AIX Show Edition – stay tuned and read on!

Aircraft Cabin Systems

ACS is very busy these days with the design on their second-generation 12.1” retractable monitor. Even though their first-generation model was highly accepted in the marketplace, “We are constantly striving to give our customers what they want” says Richie Sugimoto (shown above) including a very robust design offering high value. Customers have appreciated the overall simplicity of the unit, including the lighter weight and less moving parts providing a quieter unit in operational mode. Most importantly, customers love the ease of installation when upgrading their aircraft from older monitors. These units are offered for both the Airbus and Boeing series of aircraft. They are designed for AC power and with HDSDI video input, provide a clear, crisp quality picture. The first-generation retractable monitors utilize a patented, mechanical design developed by Mr. Yukio Sugimoto and was developed to be a mechanical plug-and-play attachment to either the existing B737 PSU’s or for the Airbus planes.

ACS has also been working on a new design of 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) Modular Monitors. This new design concept allows the support of customizable input/output modules, allowing for the unit functionality with a wide variety of IFE systems. This unique design concept can meet the industry multiple demands with adding additional or different modules. This design is in the testing phase and expect production to release product to the marketplace in Q2. Available screen sizes range from 27” up to 75”.

All products are designed and manufactured in their Redmond, WA facility that is an AS9100 Certified facility. ACS will be at the upcoming AIX show in Hamburg, if in the area, stop by and see all of the new technology they are working on at stand 2C30 to discuss your needs.


digEcor

This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg will be unprecedented for Chief Executive David Withers and team as far as depth and breadth of solutions and in an increased presence both in size of booth and team in the IFEC zone, Hall B4 at stand 4E20. digEcor having recently expanded their sales team to include additional resource in the Middle East and Africa Region with the appointment of Eduardo Protasio, (from EuroAtlantic Airways) a new appointment for Asia Pacific in Stu McGraw commencing 27 March (previously QinetiQ and Virgin Australia) as well as Jorge Mompo’s appointment (previously Lumexis) as Sales Director of the America’s since AIX 2016. Headed by VP Global Sales, Paul Thorpe, digEcor are looking forward to what this will mean for the developing growth of the company and are looking forward to introducing this new team to visitors this year.

digEcor has been busy these past 12 months and has a handful of announcements to make at AIX 2017 they are keeping close to their chest. The GLIDE embedded system is making headway in the market as well as the continued success of digEcor’s passenger power for 2.1A USB and 110V power solutions, including pre integrated solutions with innovative seat vendors. Since AIX Hamburg 2016 digEcor has launched four new product lines including Passenger Service Solutions, LED Cabin Lighting, Cabin Management and digEcor’s own Moving Map.

digEcor’s mission to enable all airlines to create an extraordinary travel experience is still personified through their modular, flexible and tailored approach to meet the needs of airlines and vendors alike. The Integrated Flight Experience portfolio is still the only fully integrated system from one single vendor available today comprising GLIDE Embedded and Portable IFE, In-Seat Power, LED Cabin Lighting, Passenger Service Solutions, Cabin Management, Wi-Fi to stream content, ENGAGE application for crew, Tape Replacement and Content Services.

digEcor is showcasing this experience at AIX this year by cabin for Economy, Premium, Business and First class. In partnership with Avio Interiors, Geven Spa, Skypaxx, Thompson Seating and Pitch Aircraft Seating Systems, digEcor is primed to educate visitors by cabin or product, depending on the interest.


FTS New Brand Logo Identity

This past week, FTS proudly launched their new company logo. Here is what they had to say:

Over the past two years, FTS business has grown and evolved. In line with our expansion globally, across U.S. and Europe, as well as the addition of new exciting product range, it’s time for a change!

With a sharp and crisp font and brighter blue used, it is a modernized look which reflects our core values – constantly innovating, cutting-edge technology and revolutionize the business.

Being a newcomer, FTS strives to revolutionize the IFEC industry with new business ideas, innovative product offerings and high quality hardware.

We do not follow the norm. We set ourselves apart. This is what we strive for and we are excited to share that with you.

Our new logo will have its first appearance in AIX 2017.

Check us out and see you at booth 2E34!


AIX

Twenty One products and ideas are in the finals of the 2017 Crystal Cabin Awards, the world’s most renowned prize for innovation in aircraft interiors. From a parking guidance system for cabin baggage to a lavatory mirror that displays on-board video and information as if by magic, the finalists’ submissions include innovative ideas for pretty much every aspect of the cabin – revealing today how we will be flying in the world of tomorrow. In the field of “Cabin Concepts” in particular, the giants are lining up for a showdown: Bombardier, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are all hoping for a trophy in the same category. With 85 shortlist entrants from 21 nations, the 2017 Crystal Cabin Awards have been more popular and more international than ever before in their 11 years of history. The seven winners of the coveted Crystal Cabin Award trophies will be announced on the first evening of the Aircraft Interiors Expo (4 – 6 April, 2017) in Hamburg, Germany.


Boeing

Boeing and CDB Aviation Lease Finance (CDB Aviation) announced an order for 30 737 MAX 8 airplanes. The order, valued at $3.3 billion at current list prices, was previously unidentified on Boeing’s Orders & Deliveries website. Based in Dublin, Ireland, CDB Aviation operates as a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co LTD (CDB Leasing) (HKEX stock code:1606). With registered capital of $US50 million and a fleet of over 200 aircraft, CDB Aviation has over 10 years’ experience in the business and is one of the largest and most influential Chinese-owned aviation leasing companies.
And while we are on Boeing, keep your eye on the new midsize airplane demand for the companies next new plane. Boeing expects to launch a new larger B737 beyond the B737 MAX by the end of 2017. Also expect it to fall below the B787 passenger payload. The so-called B797 will probably seat from 200 to almost 300 passengers over a range of some 4300 to 5300 nautical miles – in the older B767-200 payload-range footprint. Single vs twin aisle is a big deciding factor as well as competition with their existing B737 fleet and it’s growth. Here is more reading for your airplane interest

Customers Press Boeing To Launch New Midsize Widebody Aircraft Soon | Commercial Aviation content from Aviation Week

Boeing’s Plan For Bigger 737 MAX Meets with Industry Doubts 

Boeing’s talking with airlines about a ‘797,’ and they like what they hear | The Seattle Times

The Boeing 737 MAX Is the Most Underrated Plane of All Time — The Motley Fool


SITA

SITA, recently announced the formation of the Secure Journeys Working Group to address today’s airport security threats in the USA and to work towards creating a secure and efficient passenger experience throughout the airport. The launch of the Secure Journeys initiative is in response to the current security climate and recent attacks on non-secure areas of the airport, including the Brussels airport bombing and Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. Members of the working group cite these incidents as examples that demonstrate the need to rethink the approach to getting passengers through the airport quickly and safely. The newly extended group will address growing challenges, including:

  • Moving passengers and baggage more rapidly through non-secure areas of the airport, such as check-in and baggage claim areas;
  • Reducing and effectively managing security wait times to reduce lines of people in non-secure areas;
  • Incorporating biometrics for passenger screening authentication;
  • Addressing ways in which identity management solutions can be used along with data analytics to reduce the growing concerns around the insider threat.

Bad Aviation Joke: A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.’ OK, the worst science joke then: Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, ‘I’ve lost my electron.’ The other says ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies, ‘Yes, I’m positive.’

PXCom

This week we got a tip-off about a new product that Cyril Jean at PXcom developed for airline inflight content. To start off our discussion with him, we asked for a simple statement of what XPlore is, and he told IFExpress; “A comprehensive on-the-ground solution that generates interactive apps for your IFEC platforms.”  But the real solution is a bit more elegant than that. The true beauty of XPlore is it bares the workload of locating, selecting, developing and providing IFE solutions. Further, we note that their total operation is handled by their SaaS (Software as a Service) model. After we heard more about the program, we thought our readers might like to see how content and advertising providers could take the load off the airlines and we asked Cyril if he would give our readers a few answers to some relevant questions:

Q. What is XPlore?

A: XPlore 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.

Q. How does it work?

 A: XPlore is divided into a back office, and bespoke inflight apps. On the back office side, we agree with airlines on the kind of content that they want to onboard: interactive destination guides, sponsored content, editorial content, destination deals (activity booking or couponing), destination services (taxi booking, car rental, hotel pre-checking, etc.) Meantime, we create for the airline the interactive experience they want to deliver onboard. That means that we create the app(s) that they want to be integrated into their IFEC platform, whether seatback screen, w-IFE and/or IFC portal, or airline’s app. The GUI is always customized to provide a consistent and seamless experience on the IFE. And automatically, we “populate” the apps with the content updates that are managed on our back office.

At the end, when the aircraft lands, we off-load all the usage data, transactions…and update the dashboard both for the airline, PXCom, and all the involved partners. Except for destination services that require IFC, our technology doesn’t need to rely on any IFC.

Q: So, XPlore is on the plane and on the airline ground data sources – but it looks to also be on your computers to monitor it as well. Can you sort out for our readers what each part does – Airplane, Airline Back Office, and PX Com office computers/monitoring equipment? Do they talk to one another? If so, how?

A: Actually our back office is on a SaaS mode (Software as a Service). There are as many accesses as an involved stakeholder:

  • PXCom has an access to upload and manage all the destination guides contents from the travel guide editor we partner with, as well as the destination deals inventories
  • All the sponsors and advertisers access to upload their promotional content and define the call to action they want (booking/prebooking, landing pages, lead generation form, downloadable coupons, etc.), and monitor the results of their advertising campaigns
  • Each airline we work with, has a dedicated access, both upstream, to manage the content they want to add, clear/ban the advertisers, sponsors, destination service providers – and downstream to monitor the usage data as well as the generated ancillaries.

Then PXCom’s team controls, monitors and manages on the back office the whole content which is ready to be onboarded, and, through a simple click, the team generates the content or content’s update, including the possible GUI changes. All this digital content is then sent to the considered airline’s IFEC through its IFEC manufacturer, and when an aircraft lands, all the relevant data is automatically sent to our back office and feed the usage figures.

Q: Why did you and your team develop XPlore?

 A: Actually, this architecture (on-the-ground back-office “connected” to inflight) was developed for our internal needs, and is part of PXCom’s patented technology. The principle is exactly the same as for regular media (music, movies, digital press) managed by well know CMS (Content Management System), but the big difference is that we only manage digital and interactive content.

Q: Will XPlore work on seatback and personal device alike?

A: Correct. All our solutions are designed to work regardless of the InFlight Entertainment platform (seatback screen, w-IFE, IFC portal, airline mobile app).

Q: Have you developed many airline solutions for XPlore and are airlines interested? 

 A: By AIX we will be integrated on 11 airlines. 100% of what we provide the airlines with, is managed by XPlore and we will welcome all the IFEC industry to booth 3C40B.

Q: OK, XPlore sounds very airline friendly but how will it help airlines?

 A: PXCom is dedicated to both leverage the #PaxEx and generate ancillaries for the airlines. XPlore is a cost-effective solution that introduces a maximum agility both in the GUI and the content management of the inflight apps. For example, should an airline produce for its website some destination tips or editorial content they want to onboard additionally to their interactive inflight destination guides, we just need to connect via an API, and automatically the content produced for its website can be retrieved and aggregated with the rest of the destination content that we onboard.

Regarding the ancillary generation, our technology acts like an aggregator, especially for destination services. Let’s consider an important car rental company. This company has partnerships with X airlines that all have different IFEC platforms. For this car rental company, we create once the inflight app, and rolls it out on all the airlines-partners IFEC/IFC platforms. On the reverse side, for an airline that wants to “populate” its inflight connectivity portal and maximize the ancillary revenues we position as a single technology entry point for all its partners.

Q: That all sounds great but what are airlines doing with your content application solutions?

 A: We have closed a deal with an airline that has chosen to add its own cabin crew tips (specific Points of Interest and/or specific reviews). That means that the airline’s cabin crew management has organized the collection of the tips, and upload them on our back office to be aggregated with the interactive destination guides that we provide.

Another airline has chosen to “plug” its own destination content, initially written for its inflight magazine, to the destination guides we will integrated into both its seatback screens & IFC portal.

Q: Will this product reduce airline costs or provide other benefit like more usage and customer interest data?

 A: All of these! Regarding the costs, we can change the whole content as well as 100% of the GUI of the apps without going through costly software update assessments.

Regarding the customer interest data, when we talk to airlines, we show them the day+1 live monitoring of our apps’ usage data. These data help us in delivering more accurate content, whilst offering “sponsors” the right insights for their inflight digital advertising campaigns

Q: Sounds exciting Cyril, when it be flying?

A: It’s already flying on 160+ aircraft!

(Editor’s Note: The XPlore Main Architects are shown in the picture above but not the whole team were included. Also, be sure to checkout the XPlore Brochure!)

You may contact Cyril via email. Or visit the PXcom website.


Gogo

Gogo has taken its 2Ku performance to the next level, exceeding speeds of 100 Mbps. “When we launched 2Ku, we knew that the performance would get better with our next generation modem and new high-throughput satellites,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s chief technology officer.  “We have capacity on HTS satellites in orbit today and 2Ku’s open architecture allows us to take advantage of satellite innovations over time. We also continue to improve our aircraft hardware – servers, modems, antenna, and wireless access points. This performance achievement demonstrates the progress we’ve made on both fronts.”

Gogo’s new modem upgrades the performance of both its 2Ku and Ku global satellite services. The proprietary features of the new modem significantly increase throughput and reliability to and from the aircraft.  The modem also will support access to streaming video through the internet and live television programming through Gogo’s IPTV product – Gogo TV.

“There are now more than 100 2Ku aircraft flying with our first-generation modem utilizing existing wide-beam satellite technologies. Under these conditions, the technology is already delivering industry leading performance.  With the new modem and HTS satellites, we are setting a very high bar for the industry,” said Michael Small, president and CEO of Gogo. “We are going to deliver this technology upgrade to our airline partners without needing to take an aircraft out of service, which is incredibly important for their operations.”

The new modem will be installed beginning in the second half of 2017. Eventually, it will be installed on more than 1500 2Ku and 250 Ku aircraft across 13 leading airlines.


Lufthansa Systems

The company has developed EASA-certified Lido/SurfaceData database of worldwide obstacles designed for avionics manufacturers and software providers.


Astronics Aerospace

They earned $78m on $534.4m revenues in 2016 vs $85.1m on $549.7m in 2015.


Boeing

They booked orders from unidentified customer(s) for eight 737NGs, 18 737 MAXs (nine converted 737NGs) and five 787s, increasing its 2016 order total to 61 (50 net). Also, they were selected by flydubai to provide data analytics to manage its 737 MAX fleet.


Other

  • ACI reports year-over-year world airport traffic increased 5.5% in 2016. Lets see what 2017 does!
  • Here is why you might want to be Wi-Fi careful in the airport or even on a plane.

BOEING
This week IFExpress discovered more non-IFEC related stories, and less topics covering our newsletter focus – less than usual, so for this issue we will pinpoint in on: aviation, planes, data, and whatever else our team thought you might catch your interest. With Aircraft Interiors Hamburg on the horizon you will soon get more IFEC news than you can use.

Let’s start off with Boeing’s newest jet roll-out: the B787-10 Dreamliner which is our rectangle image. Notes Boeing in their press release: The Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, the third member of the 787 Dreamliner family, made its debut today at Boeing South Carolina. Thousands of employees at the North Charleston, S.C. site celebrated the event, along with U.S. President Donald Trump and South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster. “What’s happening here at Boeing South Carolina is a true American success story,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and CEO. “In just a few short years, our team has transformed a greenfield site into a modern aerospace production facility that is delivering 787s to airlines all over the world and supporting thousands of U.S. jobs in the process.”

The 787-10, built exclusively at Boeing South Carolina, will now be prepared for its first flight in the coming weeks. “This airplane, the most efficient in its class, is the result of years of hard work and dedication from our Boeing teammates, suppliers and community partners in South Carolina and across the globe,” said Kevin McAllister, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO. “We know our customers, including launch customer Singapore Airlines, are going to love what the 787-10 will do for their fleets, and we can’t wait to see them fly it.” Boeing will deliver the 787-10 to airlines in 2018. The airplane has won 149 orders from nine customers across the globe. The 787-10, the longest model of the Dreamliner family, will grow the nonstop routes opened by the 787-8 and 787-9 with unprecedented efficiency. As an 18-foot (5.5-m) stretch of the 787-9, the 787-10 will deliver the 787 family’s preferred passenger experience and long range with up to 10 percent better fuel use and emissions than the competition.

Around the same time, Boeing won their employee battle with unions, as notes the Seattle Times: “After a bitter campaign, workers at Boeing’s South Carolina facility voted against joining the Machinists union, with 74 percent against. We also note that aviation analysts say the great boom in the aerospace industry is over, and predict that Boeing will have to cut jet production more.”


LUFTHANSA SYSTEMS
What part of aviation going digital don’t you understand? Well, the folks at Lufthansa Systems have a vary good answer and you might read it to see what the they view the future to hold: Everyone is talking about digitalization. Many companies are wondering how to future-proof themselves in the digital world. Lufthansa Systems turned this vision into reality a long time ago. For years, the aviation IT specialist has been advising and supporting airlines in their digital transformation, demonstrating what sustainable airline processes can look like and helping customers implement concrete projects.

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

The spectrum includes solutions and consulting services for improving the efficiency and differentiation of all aspects of an airline as well as for optimizing the entire travel chain for passengers.

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

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

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

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

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


SATCOM
Moving on to satcom, Tim Farrar of TMF Associates put out an interesting IFE comment in his latest Blog: “But the biggest news appears to be a pull back on SES’s part from the long rumored global Ka-band GEO system that I noted last summer. SES announced only a single satellite (SES-17) for the Americas in partnership with Thales last September, but had plans for two additional satellites, and it seemed increasingly likely that a partnership with EchoStar would be announced soon to fund this development. Now it seems that effort is on hold, leaving EchoStar without an obvious way forward to achieving global coverage (as it seems EchoStar considered but rejected the idea of buying Inmarsat last fall).” There is more here


COSMIC RAY
And speaking of satcom, we wondered about the ongoing effect of cosmic rays on inside electronics – especially at 20,000 feet where the ray density is higher than on the earth, and planes fly, and you use your phones and other electronics – Computerworld notes: “Cosmic rays — or rather the electrically charged particles they generate — may be your real foe.” Researchers have discovered that a specific type of cosmic ray call a single-event upset (SEU) can jolt and alter individual bits of data on computer chips. (Quick note: SEUs are harmless to organic life.) “An SEU was also blamed for an electronic voting error in Schaerbeekm, Belgium, back in 2003,” Computerworld says. “A bit flip in the electronic voting machine added 4,096 extra votes to one candidate. The issue was noticed only because the machine gave the candidate more votes than were possible.” Bharat Bhuva, a member of Vanderbilt University’s Radiation Effects Research Group, says it’s “a really big problem, but- mostly invisible to the public.” The Radiation Effects Research Group was founded in 1987 to study what effect radiation could have on electronic devices. While the body of researchers “initially focused on military and space applications,” it has expanded its research into consumer devices in the past decade. “Despite some serious examples, SEUs are still fairly rare events. But as the number of transistors being used in new electronic systems increases, so does the probability of an SEU failure on the device level.”


GEE
Glance Prongay & Murray LLP announces an investigation on behalf of Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (“Global Eagle” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ: ENT) investors concerning the Company and its officers’ possible violations of federal securities laws. The Company further disclosed that it would be unable to timely file its 2016 annual report, and that it would need to withdraw its guidance for 2016 financial performance. Global Eagle (stock) has fallen over 29% per share during intraday trading on February 21, 2017.

Additionally, GEE announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Jeff Leddy as Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Mr. Leddy has served on the Company’s Board of Directors since January 2013 and will continue as a Director. GEE further stated that Dave Davis, the Company’s CEO, and Tom Severson, the Company’s CFO, had both resigned effective immediately.

Well IFExpress readers, it’s that time again – Aircraft Interiors and here is the story: “This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) 2017, which takes place in Hamburg, Germany from 4th – 6th April, is the global stage to see the latest innovations and product launches from the world’s leading suppliers in aircraft cabin interiors and Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity. This year, AIX welcomes 55 new exhibiting companies, including Adient, Bombardier and airtango. They will join more than 500 companies at the event including longstanding exhibitors such as; Airbus, B/E Aerospace, Boeing, Inmarsat, Panasonic Avionics and Zodiac and newer entrants such as Acro, and Mirus Aircraft Seating. Across AIX as a whole, 125 companies are expanding their presence taking an additional 3,000 sq. meters between them.”

The show news release went on: “According to the IATA’s 2016 Global Passenger Survey, a key concern for passengers, particularly those under 24, is having the same connectivity in the air as on the ground, highlighting the need for continued airline investment to meet passenger needs. This is reflected in the continued growth of the IFEC Zone. It is now the world’s largest event dedicated to content and service providers. There are 18 new showcasing companies including Philotech, LiteAir Aviation Products and Otonomy Aviation, alongside 100 existing exhibitors in the Zone.”

Last year, over 16,000 folks visited the expo and this year we expect no less. In fact, see what the folks at AIX are saying; “AIX is part of the Passenger Experience Week, which also includes the World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo, co-located with AIX at the Hamburg Messe from 4th – 6th April.  Organized by Reed Exhibitions, some 20,000 visitors are expected to register to attend Passenger Experience Week. The first of the events taking place at the Hamburg Messe during Passenger Experience Week is the renowned Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on 3rd April. The event is dedicated to the future of the passenger experience industry and incorporates a broad choice of presentations and panel discussions on the key themes of generating revenue, the connected journey and comfort and wellbeing. Leading speakers on these topics come from inside and outside the passenger experience industry including Dick Powell, the Chairman of design agency Seymourpowell, Paul Edwards, head of Industrial Design at Airbus and Blake Emery, Direction Differentiation Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.”

AIX also mentioned: “New to the PEC this year is the Airline Breakfast Forum. This addition presents an opportunity for airline attendees to network, debate informally with their peers about issues relevant to improving the passenger experience in their businesses and to share best practice insights. Attendees at the Airline Breakfast Forum will also be invited to a keynote by Jeff James, vice president and general manager of the Disney Institute.”

Polly Magraw, Event Director of the Aircraft Interiors Expo, noted: “2017 is set to be a landmark year for AIX, with record growth from both new and existing exhibitors, much of it in our burgeoning IFEC zone. With such a wealth of companies exhibiting at the show, and more than 1,000 airline executives expected to attend, it’s no surprise that AIX is becoming firmly established as the event that sets the agenda for the aircraft interiors sector.”

Additionally, we should note that CabinSpace LIVE, a theater style series of seminars where visitors can learn and be inspired on a variety of pressing issues within the IFEC, Interiors and MRO sectors, will also be taking place during AIX. And by the way, Passenger Experience Week also incorporates the 11th annual Crystal Cabin Awards, which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 4th April, with seven award categories that celebrate the most innovative ideas in cabin design and technology.

(Editor’s Note: This is the Big One and we hope our readers come to Hamburg – and for US visitors, we hope you can get back in the USA…”)


QANTAS & NETFLIX

Netflix has announced plans to offer in-flight on-demand entertainment from its app with every Qantas flight, allowing passengers to stream live sports, news and TV shows for three days without a subscription. Qantas passengers on Wi-Fi equipped flights will be able to binge-watch Netflix and stream songs from Spotify. The midair entertainment game-changer will be delivered over high-speed Wi-Fi, which Qantas claimed would be “10 times faster” than its rivals, and will be available on one Boeing 737 late this month, with the rest of the fleet following in June – and yes, you need an App. Also we note that under the scheme, Foxtel television will offer passengers three days of free streaming, while Netflix and Spotify offer 30-day free trials as long as passengers subscribe. By the way, there will be no seat back screens onboard so you will need your own device. Stay Tuned on this one, it could be a world wide game changer.


BIOMETRICS

A new biometrics-based seamless passenger-walkthrough in Schiphol Airport will modernize passenger journey experience in the scope of the ongoing Digital Airport Program. Schiphol Airport selected Vision-Box, the Passenger Experience leaders responsible for processing over 200 million passengers per year at borders worldwide, to take up the challenge. New technology will be tested from 2017 to offer passengers a seamless experience, increase throughput and eliminate bottlenecks, thus enhancing capacity within the existing footprint!


SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE AIRLINES signed LOI to order 19 more (now 49) Trent-powered 787-10s for delivery from FY20/21 and 20 GE9X- powered 777-9s for delivery from FY21/22, and option six 787-10s and six 777-9s. Noted Boeing: “The 787-10 is the third member of the super-efficient, passenger-pleasing 787 Dreamliner family. With its greater passenger and cargo capacity, high degree of commonality and passenger-pleasing features, the 787-10 will complement the family while setting a new benchmark for fuel efficiency and operating economics – 25 percent better fuel per seat and emissions than the airplanes than the competition it will replace. Since its introduction, the 787 Dreamliner has opened more than 130 new city pairs, connecting the world as never before.”


AIRBUS

AIRBUS plans to donate four of its flight test aircraft to the Museum of Air and Space in Paris-Le Bourget and Aeroscopia in Toulouse: A320 (001), A340-600 (360), A380 (002), and A380 (004), which as first of the four will arrive in Paris on Feb 14.


VTS

According to Web Barth: “The world’s largest selling digital player just got even better – VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is introducing a new DVP digital player that will solve problems with videotape drives for entertainment and PRAMS while adding an optional Moving Map.

He went on: “VTS had maintained old videotape players and drives for many airlines around the world since the 1980s and has firsthand experience with the problems & expense of videotape including: Videotape shortages & tape replacement due to video/sound degradation, Videotape Logistics (collecting, accounting, sending/receiving), and the growing videotape player, drive maintenance expense

To solve these problems, VTS introduced the first “Plug and Play” digital drive replacements for all existing VHS Reproducers/Hi8 Players.

“VTS DVP was the first player to meet the ‘form, fit and function’ criteria: “Slide out VHS player, slide in DVP Digital Player, turn new system on. See for yourself, continued Web.

“The new VTS DVP digital player can improve cabin wide video and an audio performance to modern day expectations; eliminate maintenance expense and logistics problems associated with tape drive units. Further it can eliminate the problem of tape driven PRAMS combining the ease of digital audio as well as companion video to go along with the prerecorded announcement and music. They come with a moving map feature to bring the existing IFE to better than new.” VTS believes there is no more affordable or faster means of making an older IFE system better than new. You can contact VTS via webbarth@vts.global.com


INDUSTRY GROWTH

The Airline Monitor expects unprecedented 7-year run of >6% annual growth to soon come to an end; in effect, that above average traffic growth will continue independently, so when it doesn’t – deliveries will have to decline.

(Editor’s Note: IFExpress saw this coming and can you guess what might be the cause?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isle of Wight | February 6, 2017– Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) specialists IFPL will be showcasing their latest power solutions at AIX 2017 in Hamburg.

With new consumer devices adopting USB-C as standard, IFPL has actively engaged its customers on how this technology can be applied to IFEC and how to transition from USB-A. Along with its baseline USB-C outlet, IFPL are currently developing a range of USB–C 3.1 peripherals and solutions. Visitors to stand 2C10 can see their USB-C outlet and discuss industry adoption of this technology.

In previous shows IFPL demonstrated their high power and data USB-A 2.0. These are now in-service along with IFPL’s clever reversible option. Recently, IFPL has worked closely with GORE® to develop the new USB-A 3.0 module, that combined IFPL USB 3.0 with GORE Aerospace USB 3.0 cables and provides the ideal solution for delivering high power (2A, 5V DC) and data transfer (up to 5Gbps) as per USB 3.0 requirements. This gives passengers the ability to maximise the benefits of both charging their Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and interfacing with the Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system.

IFPL has enhanced the capability of its existing 1225 unit, the 110V AC Universal Remote Power Outlet, with the addition of a high power USB-A socket and will be demonstrating the new 2011 unit on the stand. In addition, IFPL has been working with key industry partners to develop a new range of power solutions that focus on ensure ergonomic and aesthetic seat integration. The combined approach delivered a system that maximises the use of the physical space of the seat and seamlessly design the USB outlet into the actual seat arm. The result is an attractive installation of a fully integrated system that has no impact on passenger legroom.

As always, IFPL’s established range of IFEC products and solutions will be on display and the expert team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirements that visitors to AIX 2017 may have.


News:

Lufthansa Systems

Brussels Airlines introduced a new passenger service system in 2016. To make its departure control and adjacent applications accessible from the respective CUTE systems at each of the airports in its network, the Belgian airline is using cFront/LAGUNA from Lufthansa Systems. CUTE stands for Common Use Terminal Equipment. This software enables airlines to make shared use of airport IT infrastructures. This means that different airlines can use the same hardware to access their own servers for passenger and flight handling. The cFront/LAGUNA adapter software helps standardize the different versions of the CUTE systems.

“We have more than 100 destination airports in our route network. As an airline, it isn’t possible for us to develop interfaces for every version of CUTE and acquire the necessary certifications. This is why we are relying on the expertise of Lufthansa Systems,” said Paul Rogiers, Delivery Manager Outstations/IT at Brussels Airlines.

For many years, Lufthansa Systems has offered airlines comprehensive CUTE services – from setting up the applications to carrying out updates and maintenance. cFront/LAGUNA was modified by the experts to meet the specific needs of the Lufthansa Group. The software is based on the CUTE solution known as cGroup. It accesses an airline’s IT systems in a smooth, standardized way and supports all leading CUTE platforms as well as the new standards for Common Use Passenger Processing Systems (CUPPS). In addition to Brussels Airlines, other airlines in the Lufthansa Group are also using cFront/LAGUNA. This means different airlines in the Group can benefit from a shared check-in system if necessary. Users can access the system from anywhere with a web app. cFront/LAGUNA also offers monitoring functions that provide an overview of the status at all CUTE and CUPPS airports and enables the responsible management team to intervene quickly in the event of a disruption.

“Thanks to the shared certification and provision of cFront/LAGUNA, the Group solution was already available at many of the airports in Brussels Airlines’ network. During the implementation, we simply had to add the information specific to Brussels Airlines. This saved money and ensured a fast launch,” said Bjoern Steinbrecher, Head of cGroup Solutions at Lufthansa Systems.

Established in 2002, Brussels Airlines from Belgium is part of the Lufthansa Group and a member of the Star Alliance. With a fleet of 49 aircraft, Brussels Airlines connects the European capital of Brussels with more than 100 destinations in Europe, Africa, India and North America.”

VISION-BOX

On a similar subject, Vision-Box also has automated airport passenger electronic control devices. We realize this is not IFEC, but  you are going to see a lot of this ground-based technology in the future. Since this technology free’s up a lot of people, border and airport automated technologies will increase for identifying passengers and visitors and a recent release about a Caribbean airport at St. Maarten caught our eye. “Juliana International Airport just upgraded to the new Vision-Box™ which is a self-service biometric Automated Border Control eGates intended to modernize the process, improve the security of the identification procedure, and expedite passenger flow at one more stage of the passenger journey across the airport!”  The news release went on: “vb i-match ™ ABC eGates have now recently announced a seamless passenger journey designed by Vision-Box ™, joining the existing vb i-match ™ security checkpoint gates installed in the first phase of the project. Together, these solutions are streamlining identification processes for departing passengers, when entering airside and clearing immigration.” We also understand that the arrival of biometric ABC technology at SMX (Juliana) Airport means that after successfully entering airport side by using vb i-match ™ security checkpoint eGates, passengers crossing the border will be able to complete the entire immigration process in a few seconds using customer-centric, self service touchpoint vb i-match ™ ABC”. Here is how it works: “Once at the eGate, the passenger will first scan their ePassport, where facial biometric information from the echip is scanned and matched with a live facial image capture of the passenger. Once all identification and safety checks have been successfully conducted, the passenger is allowed to clear immigration. At the forefront of modernizing the immigration clearance procedure is cutting-edge fraud detection and self-clearing biometric identification capabilities, using an advanced eGate security algorithm authenticating the passengers ePassport and identifying identity through multiple fraud and security operations, which just takes a few seconds.” We note that “Newly appointed airport ambassadors are there to greet and guide travelers in the use of the eGates, additionally to the support of a passenger-centered, expertly designed user Interface, oriented towards the success of the operation! Additionally, every passenger transaction is closely monitored by an immigration officer using vb inspector ™, a monitoring system giving the officers immediate information on each passenger’s identity and transaction status, detecting identity fraud, leveraging biometric and biographic information during real-time checks of intelligence and criminal databases, and instantly alerting border officers in case of an emergency.”

Editor’s Note: If you think there is not enough electronics in the airport departure and entry areas, you need to keep your eye on companies like Lufthansa Systems and Vision-Box.  www.vision-box.com. Here is another link about the coming technology.

APPS

We recently came across an interesting website about the use of Android apps for passenger devices.

While a bit old (2014 – 2015) we note their comments: “The average customer rating across Apple App Store and Google Play for the 12 major European airlines included in this study grew from 3.2 to 3.6 (on 1 to 5 scale) between January 2014 and October 2015. And you guessed it – this app stuff is getting a lot more important to travelers.

Airlines aiming at increasing personalization are aware of the importance of mobile apps. However, a prerequisite to unleashing new streams of ancillary revenues through tailored offers is offering an outstanding digital user experience.” The app importance is noted in the link above, but tnooz said: “The average customer rating across Apple App Store and Google Play for the 12 major European airlines included in this study grew from 3.2 to 3.6 (on 1 to 5 scale) between January 2014 and October 2015. While the airline average was around 3.1 to 3.6 (or lower) a reader sent us LATAM’s score (a few months old) – 4.0 Google/4.0 Apple – Guess who designed it?  If you said Zii, you win!

ZODIAC

And speaking of Zodiac Aerospace, Safran will buy them and merge the two companies with lots of financial machinations if all the business offers are accepted. In the end, Safran landing gear, nacelle, power systems, actuators and avionics would be combined with the Zodiac seats, cabin interiors, power distribution, lighting, safety, and oxygen/fluid/safety equipment.

Here are the involved Zodiac companies: Heath Tecna, Contour Aerospace, IMS (Zii), NAT, TriaGnoSys, PPP, and Greenpoint Technologies.

One expert said that the message here is clear, Safran see’s the future of electrical and avionic involvement in in aircraft. We believe, because of their native product differences, that management selection will be very critical as the two companies are so different and almost opposite talents. It is worth noting that the combined company would have about 92,000 employees and we understand Safran purchase is estimated to be approximately  $9.5 Billion. Interestingly, Safran attempted this acquisition in 2010. FYI, if the deal goes through, Safran will be number three Tier 1 supplier behind GE and United Technologies. However, the purchase is still subject to shareholder approval and if so it will close at the end of 2017/ 1st Qtr. 2018. Stay Tuned.

GOGO

Gogo announced that it has promoted Jon Cobin to Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Gogo. Cobin has served in a leadership position at Gogo for six years, most recently as head of strategy and global sales for Gogo’s commercial aviation division.  In his new role, he will continue to manage strategy and sales, but will take on the added responsibilities of managing Gogo’s product and marketing teams. Under Jon’s leadership the company has experienced numerous successes, including adding more than 1,000 2Ku aircraft to the backlog in 2016. “Gogo is at the forefront of technology development and innovation and combining our strategy group with product, sales and marketing enables us to better align the organization around meeting the needs of our global airline partners,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “Jon’s proven leadership makes him the right person for this role.” Congratulations Jon!

 THALES

JetBlue announced the completion of its fleet-wide Fly-Fi installations and they said: “Fly-Fi is the revolutionary Wi-Fi service offered to JetBlue passengers for free across the carrier’s 227 aircraft, including Airbus A320s, A321s and Embraer 190s. This Wi-Fi offering was developed by Thales InFlyt Experience to meet JetBlue’s expectation to offer connectivity services for every seat, on every aircraft. This service allows passengers to connect and remain connected from gate-to-gate. With the completion of these installations, Thales has again enhanced the passenger experience for JetBlue by providing high-bandwidth connectivity services that complement existing stored and live in-flight entertainment products.” For additional details on this service, please refer to this JetBlue press release.

GLOBAL EAGLE

Global Eagle Entertainment, CA secured a $500m senior-secured term-loan facility and a new $85m senior-secured revolving credit facility.

LATE PREDICTION

This came into us after publishing last Tuesday. It is a prediction submission from FlightPath3D: “We predict 2017 as the year the industry finally recognizes the PAX audience as the most highly coveted demographic for advertisers and begins real & sustained efforts to bridge the gap between them.”

A RUMOR

An unnamed IFExpress reporter told us: “Yesterday, I spoke with a friend of mine at (US) FCC and he confirmed that there will be organizational structure changes within. The alleged purpose is to “streamline” the licensing process. We’ll see. I have my doubts with any Federal bureaucracy. However, it could make for an interesting scenario with the 14 GHz air-to-ground license auctions. I suspect the license costs will go higher. Notwithstanding the purported organization changes, with every presidential transition period, he told me, from Republican – to – Democrat, or vice versa, or has about a 3-4 month period when almost nothing happens.” We concur.

LASTLY

You gotta see this – it might work! The Worst Seat on a Plane Gets Better: New Middle Seats

 

 

Chicago, IL | January 19, 2017– Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), the global leader in providing broadband connectivity solutions and wireless entertainment to the aviation industry, announced today that it has promoted Jon Cobin to Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Gogo.

Cobin has served in a leadership position at Gogo for six years, most recently as head of strategy and global sales for Gogo’s commercial aviation division. In his new role, he will continue to manage strategy and sales, but will take on the added responsibilities of managing Gogo’s product and marketing teams.

Under Jon’s leadership the company has experienced numerous successes, including adding more than 1,000 2Ku aircraft to the backlog in 2016.

“Gogo is at the forefront of technology development and innovation and combining our strategy group with product, sales and marketing enables us to better align the organization around meeting the needs of our global airline partners,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “Jon’s proven leadership makes him the right person for this role.”

Prior to Gogo, Cobin served as the head of strategy at Centennial Communications and held positions of increasing responsibility as a strategy consultant at Dean & Company and in investment banking at J.P. Morgan. He received his Master’s Degree in Business Administration from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a Bachelor of Arts, Magna Cum Laude, from Dartmouth College.

Businesses coming together under a new company – Bluebox Aviation Systems Ltd.
Dunfermline, UK | January 23, 2017– It is announced that AviIT Ltd. and Bluebox Avionics Ltd. have been combined under a new company – Bluebox Aviation Systems Ltd. – with AviIT leadership assuming full management and operational responsibility for the new company. The Bluebox brand, products and IP will be owned and represented by Bluebox Aviation Systems Ltd.

“This new operational structure will help us meet our ambitious growth plans over the coming years, building upon Bluebox’s 10 years of IFE market success which we celebrated last year, and AviIT’s rich history of airline industry software innovation,” said Kevin Clark, who has been appointed CEO of the newly combined business. “I’m looking forward to leading this new stage of growth through innovation, sales and customer service – so here’s to celebrating a new year and a new decade, with a new corporate platform.”

“We have an increasing flow of product innovations that we are bringing to market and need to do so in a way that ensures customers benefit quickly,” said David Brown, founder of AviIT, who will lead the strategic development of the new company as Business Development Director. “Refocussing all of our product development under one organisational structure, helps us strengthen our core software development business, enhance our ability to differentiate our products, and allows us to engage more effectively in the kinds of partnerships that bring the best parties together to meet customer demand.”

“Bluebox already has long-standing relationships with all major content providers to deliver early window content on our systems and a range of high-quality IFE products that are easier to deploy and upgrade at a fraction of the cost of traditional systems,” added Clark. “This new corporate platform streamlines our ability to respond to market requirements much more rapidly than the previous Bluebox joint venture structure allowed, and provides greater flexibility in how we engage with partners in the creation and delivery of joint offerings.”

This issue of IFExpress always always raises a few feathers so let’s get started with some IFExpress predictions, then we will present the inputs from folks who were willing to provide their names, and finally, those who wish to remain anonymous will contribute as well. We should probably note that not all predictions landed in the IFEC category and thus it looks to be an interesting year – and things just might change anywhere!

IFExpress 2017 Predictions

  1. Narrower aircraft seats are coming in 2017, especially in newer low class offerings where only certain sized carry-on baggage will be permitted – smaller and surely less comfortable as well. We already know United Airlines has a new low cost Basic Economy package that will be copied by others. The rub will be what limitations will be placed on passengers who do not have the airline reward travel card! Hey, many folks can travel short flights and put up with almost anything. It is all a function of what they have to take with them. And yes, it will be in the back of the plane.
  2. More colored cabin environments will be here in 2017, but also as a result of new LED lighting in the plane – probably more blue! [We note: A recent Boeing study concluded that passengers will perceive that the airplane is cleaner, more comfortable, newer, and with better air and more room, all with the correct lighting. Even one German university test proved while flying with light that contains increased red, (not blue) light components, is more calming and cause less passenger stress.]
  3. We cannot say this enough but Data will be the big deal in 2017, whether it is an airline examining their routes with a goal for less fuel, to using social media to communicate directly with passengers or even potential travelers, to connection with the aircraft for more inflight system information for operation or security. OK, this is not much of a surprise!
  4. Some folks predict that light will be used to deliver connectivity. However, with all the issues involved with outside solar, safety lighting, and other sources of interference (Hasn’t this been tried earlier?), we think otherwise. Anyway, Bluetooth as a connectivity radio frequency has slipped under the radar and since most connectivity devices have the capability and the corporate jet world has adopted it, we expect an inflight commercial airline installation this year. With Bluetooth 5.0 alive there may be even more interest in a Bt connectivity solution. Hey, 4X range, 2X speed, and 8X capacity, and no power increase, what’s not to like?”
  5. Watch for an airline to test ground-based, high bandwidth 2.4 GHz, directed connectivity service like those proposed for SmartSky and Gogo. This is more of a 2017 sure thing than a prediction.
  6. We fear aviation manufacturing layoffs, let’s see what happens there but don’t look for that job just yet. The layoff scenario has already started at Boeing, who is downsizing to the tune of some 8,000 employees, and could reach 10% there. Airbus is next after production continues for a bit.
  7. Maintenance of aircraft will see more outsourcing, new technology products like AI and voice technology used in maintenance products, and more consolidation in the MRO world (Maintenance Repair Overhaul).
  8. While we hope it does not happen, but be very concerned that a hacker doesn’t get aboard a plane this year, transmit a fake Wi-Fi service and install a lot of ransomware (like doxware) on folks trying to get Wi-Fi service. In 2017 it is a possibility and be sure you know how to get online when onboard!
  9. What’s next for future SATCOM? How about Q/V bands: 33 – 75 GHz?  If the FCC auctions get it together, perhaps even 14 GHz has a chance?
  10. We shy away from talking about aircraft control hacking, but have you thought about hackers using a DDoS attach or ransomware on an airline reservation system – might happen?
  11. The Boeing 787 will finally get the proper acclaim that it is the only commercial jet airplane where cabin/crew air is taken directly from the atmosphere with electrically powered compressors and not from engine ‘bleed air’! The health guru’s will help.
  12. Cybercrime damages will continue to grow (costing the world $6 trillion annually by 2021), up from $3 trillion last year; ransomware will be the fastest growing threat in terms of new attacks and costs. Global spending on cybersecurity products and services will exceed $1 trillion cumulatively over the next 5 years from 2017 to 2021. Easy procurement of cheap IoT devices or Wi-Fi enabled products introduces a serious level of risk — of which many people are unaware. As one expert noted: “Transportation systems may be immobilized.” Or, as another one said: “My second prediction for 2017 is that cyber personnel will become a rare commodity like we have never seen before. Organizations have received the message, and are staffing and investing, but that demand generates a supply that is not available.” Don’t you think there will be plenty of openings in aviation security in 2017? We do!
  13. Lastly, as strange as it seems, “a self-driving” aircraft concept for passenger planes will be talked about this year – perhaps just for parcel delivery but projects like ALIAS are just the beginning.

Named 2017 Reader Predictions

Here are our reader IFEC predictions and we start of with those from APEX CEO, Joe Leader:

  1. Connectivity announcements and deployment will hit a new high for the industry.
  2. In-flight entertainment continues its expansion with more global IFE system installations and upgrades.
  3. Airline passenger experience will become less siloed inside of airlines as carriers look for greater market differentiation.
  4. On flights without built-in IFE or connectivity, “Near-FI” solutions offering, entertainment will become much more common. This will escalate in particular on low-cost carriers looking to differentiate their products.
  5. In-flight advertising will see the beginning of a new age of renaissance.
  6. The Internet of Things (IoT) will broaden from case-studies on aircraft to first tangible implementations.
  7. With the Bluetooth 5.0 specification released, we will see first announcements about Bluetooth connectivity to IFE in future products.
  8. Long-haul business class will enter a new era just as British Airways introduced the first lie-flat for business class in 1999.  We could call it the suite era or the privacy era.  This period will begin this year marked by increasing level of suite-like privacy on long-haul business class products.  It will be initiated by visionary airlines in different manners and progress to a new bar for long-haul business class passenger experience over the next two decades.

Next, from Henry Chen Weinstein at Cockpit Innovations we have:

“I think 2017 in Tech will be about the upcoming implications of new technology on our current way of work. The [changing] place of startups in our space as more players understand the value of innovation on a global scale. Establishing new ways to take our aviation business forward.”

Here is the prediction note from John Courtright at SIE:

“I predict that the Modular Cabin Concept will generate a lot more attention from airline operators.  The ability to transform a commercial aircraft from a “domestic” (2-Class) configuration to an “international” configuration (3-Class) on an overnight or less using palletized modules to swap out interiors will generate great interest from operators.  Aside from the aircraft utilization flexibility, the Modular Cabin Concept will generate increased operational revenue (ROI) from a given aircraft asset by allowing the operator to customize their service level to different markets at a relatively low cost.”

Rich Salter, now with FTS chimed in with:

“All the talk about the death (or not) of seatback IFE is not the relevant question: the real interesting question is where will displays be located next – on the wrist, on entire seatbacks, baggage bins, sidewall of fuselage, VR or immersive glasses, etc., not to mention non-cabin locations like cockpit, baggage, lounges, etc.  They could be thin as paper, and could be foldable/rollable (as are OLEDs).  They will consume extremely low power and be fed data via wireless (WiFi). Smartwatches are only the beginning. In summary, advances in wireless streaming and display tech will lead to some fascinating implementations of IFE displays in unconventional places!”

Todd Hamblin at Global (GADC) told IFExpress in 2017:

  1. The Wireless IFE market will continue to grow, with Portable Wireless IFE being a subset for those ultra-low cost carriers.
  2. Companies based in China will become a larger part of the IFE and Connectivity landscape.
  3. An airline will attempt to install a Portable Wireless IFE system on their aircraft without permission from the FAA or EASA even though the server contains Lithium Ion batteries and might interfere with existing aircraft systems.
  4. The FAA will be impacted and safety compromised by the changing political climate.
Next, we asked Ron Chapman, President/Founder ASI, and he told IFExpress:

“I predict that the first elastic virtual servers will creep into the cabin on airliners and it just might be Bluetooth that drives it. Elastic devices are the latest generation of server that expands and contracts based on demand. It’s a floating platform that can replicate itself in virtual space.”

Kelvin Boyette CEO of Latitude Aero observes:

  1.  Mergers will dominate 2017, allowing the larger multi-national companies to offer a menu of turnkey services to both airlines and aircraft OEMs.
  2. 2017 will be the year that seat refurbishment emerges from its “niche” status. New products, such as IFE and ISPS, are emerging faster than new seat OEMs can get them into the seat, so the refurbishment centers are where the airlines will turn to offer the most up to date, modern, passenger experience to their clientele.
  3. Both BYOD and embedded IFE will flourish. I do not believe only one will succeed. Both will explode this year.

Michael Reilly, VP Entertainment Services, Arconics – A ViaSat Company notes:

  1. My key prediction for the year is that those airlines who don’t take the step into connectivity in 2017 will certainly take steps on the ‘path to connectivity’ – and there’s a couple of different ways to define that… I think a lot of airlines apart from the obvious cost barrier to entry to connectivity are waiting for other developments – competitive and even marketplace ie: changes to the vendor side of the industry – be that product, pricing etc.
  2. Naturally as we get more airlines closer to connectivity, security is becoming a hot topic, as is bigger and better use of data.
  3. Another prediction is that effective use of data will help break down the traditional siloing that has always gone on in the airline business and that’s exciting.
  4. I’d sum up my prediction by saying that 2017 is ‘finally’ the year where. Connectivity, Wireless and Mobile finally made the strides forward that moved the needle on the bottom line for airlines.

Craig Foster of Valour Consultancy said:

  1. We will see one of the in-flight connectivity service providers acquired by a much larger company. Additionally, we’ll also see at least one wireless in-flight entertainment vendor snapped up by someone with much more clout.
  2. The number of aircraft with in-flight connectivity systems installed and activated will surpass 7,000 by the end of the year. Regions aside from North America will continue to witness strong growth and we will likely see another carrier based in Latin America announce connectivity plans before long (in addition to Avianca Brasil and GOL).
  3. More and more airlines will announce plans to deploy IFE systems that allow passengers to pay their personal electronic devices to the main screen in an effort to match expectations around second screening and to better personalise the experience.

Unnamed 2017 Reader Predictions

We start off with predictions from a “Cabin Solution Provider”:

  1. The exponential growth of cabin Wi-Fi usage within the confines of the same aircraft will lead to more congestion in the cabin. One prediction says that passenger data to and from aircraft will more than quadruple in 2017. We knew that something like this was coming. However, what’s new is the speed at which this is happening.
  2. In 2017 the speed of the PED-pull in terms of passenger experience, apps etc. will increase even further. It certainly will be very much faster than the gentle ambling in which many of the aircraft hardware-push industry players are used to operate.

Another few from another Unnamed Predictor:

  1. Low cost carrier mergers and acquisitions will accelerate globally.
  2. With airline capacity surpassing global market demand, this will be a year including news of airline deferments and reductions.  The exception to this rule will be in next-generation aircraft connecting previously unconnected city pairs.  For the industry, this will be a relatively landing.
  3. Airlines in a more challenging global environment that raise their passenger experience will outperform carriers that focus on reducing passenger experience to reduce costs.

And lastly, still another Unnamed Predictor told IFExpress:

  1. Hacking the Baggage Systems at major hubs will occur to misdirect luggage?
  2. Hacking will occur to shut down refueling facilities at major airports.
  3. Hackers will find a way to infect the IFE system to download passenger data and airline sales information direct from the aircraft, putting at liability Airlines and IFE suppliers.  Class Action suit to follow.  Revenue streams will be jeopardized for both airlines, IFE suppliers and product/service providers accordingly.
  4. All economy seats on American / Domestic airlines will follow the pay as you go scheme:  everything short of the toilets will be ‘pay to play’:  boarding sequence; stowable baggage; check-in bags; food; drink; entertainment; EVERYTHING.
  5. Donald Trump’s administration will make significant progress to privatize government agencies and systems – a la Russian Model – Air Traffic Control will be privatized and sold off; FAA will be privatized; and the Space Programs under NASA will also be spun off.  If not in this coming year, the effort may take at least part of his first term. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress apologizes to this predictor as we just did not have the space (nerve?) to post all the input – Sorry!).

Thank you to everybody who contributed and we close with the words of Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

We started the first installment of our 2016’s predictions review in last week’s issue, so here is Part 2, or the wrap-up, from last year’s crystal ball – you can see how we did:

A) Beacons:
While last year we wrote about the future of beacon technology to be used in airports and on baggage, the market did not grow as quickly as we anticipated and this was due to a lot of factors. The following quote from tnooz sums it up pretty well: “As airports still search for use cases with value, and there is no generally accepted platform for this technology and its applications, the adoption is consequently slow.” Standards are the issue but we are happy to report some airlines are evaluating the technology.

Here is what we wrote last January:
“We have shown a number of beacon devices in pictures from the IFE trade shows but basically we are talking about mobile location, mobile intelligence or mobile sales communication devices. These are small battery free or line powered devices that communicate with your device over Bluetooth (4.1) and Wi-Fi. The folks at SITA have been developing a lot of airport related solutions and it remains to be seen when they will come aboard planes. Developed at Apple, the iBeacon Registry is their effort to get this technology started in airports and here are their services: It allows beacon owners (airlines, airports or 3rd parties) to manage their beacon infrastructure and track where they are placed in an airport. The technology enables airports to monitor beacon deployment to prevent radio interference with existing Wi-Fi access points. It provides beacons owners with a simple mechanism to set the ‘meta-data’ associated with beacons. Also, it has an API for app developers who want to use these beacons for developing travel and other related apps.”

Notes SITA: ‘The aims of the registry are to promote the use of beacons in the Air Transport Industry and reduce the cost and complexity of deployment. This can be achieved with the following design goals:

  • Promote shared beacon infrastructure to reduce cost and complexity of deployment.
  • Introduce standard beacon types and data definition to encourage reuse.
  • Provide a simple to use API to discover beacons and get meta-data about beacons.
  • Provide tools to airport operators and beacon owners to visualize and track beacons.
  • Be vendor agnostic – the service should work with beacons from any vendor.”

While airport beacon technology has not taken off as well as we expected we provide this current list of the technology and its’ applications, and the further use of wireless devices used to find things.

B) Security:

“This topic is massive and we will cover it for many times and years to come but we wanted to share one thought from an online article we read – ‘People were reported to be ‘almost universally’ the biggest weakness in information security, ahead of technology and processes..” We note, of the respondents that reported to have an insider threat or policy, 70% offer employee training to minimize risk it said “The company employs intelligence teams that study different aspects of communications, user activity, social media, suspicious activity and other details,” said one respondent. “We’re seeing a lot more hands-on training, employee monitoring, and testing to address the issue,” said Ari Kaplan, security researcher. In fact, this human focused trend will be the number one item at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the show of new gimmick things, one venue stood out: “#1 Say Goodbye to Cool, Hello to Security and Safety. At CES we have come to expect the latest new shiny gadgets but this is the beginning of change. The world is changing and aviation will be focused on this subject this year. Just consider how many folks touch technology that plugs into planes!”

If anything, we underestimated how big this subject was to become in our aviation lifestyle. The folks at Transparency Market Research noted that the total commercial aviation market is predicted to climb to $29.3 Billion by 2021 from $25.3 B in 2016 – roughly half of the market will be Avionics retrofits, but they note: “The use of modern commercial avionics systems also makes aviation vehicles more susceptible to online hacks.” Thus, our interest in security.

Another perfect example of interest growth is the increase in security related web links we save in our browser. In the beginning of 2016 we had 9 links identified – today we have 64. While we can’t begin to identify the many stories related to security failings at airports and from airlines and aviation hackers last year, this subject will get bigger and bigger – with a possible unacceptable number in 2017 – some possibly being potential horror stories.

C) Virtual Reality:

We noted VR last year: “Don’t get too excited about virtual reality for aircraft applications. In fact, here is the view from Rick Merritt in EE Times who seems to agree: “Some people will claim virtual and augmented reality will be the next big thing in the run up to the debut of a handful of major platforms in the spring. But by fall the heat will start to fade as consumers, chilled by their high price tags and underwhelming performance, give a pass on them as gifts for Xmas 2016.”Some airlines have been flirting with the concept of VR for a number of years and have even featured the technology in their airline lounges, but we believe this technology has a long way to go before it can migrate successfully to the airborne environment, especially if motion sickness is taken into consideration.”

It also begins to look like augmented reality might have a better inflight usage and acceptance this year. As an example the airline might transmit data to augmented devices to place information on glasses or phones like location, airspeed, whatever. However, The industrial market for augmented reality, and the logistics and manufacturing AR markets in particular, will soar by more than 400% in 2017, according to a forecast by ABI Research but it is hard to see IFEC applications, at least in lower classes, except those brought aboard by passengers.

D) Other:

Lastly, we noted in Other last year: “We probably don’t need to say it but Economy Class will get more crowded, competition will drop air fares as competition ‘crams’ up – possibly a new ‘mini or micro’ class, there should be more mergers as more airlines take on the Delta World concept, deals and freebies will exist for the frequent fliers while the rest of the travelers will pretty much just exist inflight (if that’s possible) you will need better pre-boarding ID, Airbnb and Uber concepts will tempt a new US airline concept but the idea will be killed (this is a tough one in the US), and in the end VR may be needed after all to blunt the reality of coach or class.”

We think we did pretty well last year and next week we will do a little predicting again and you will see what predictions our reader have too!


Boeing:
Boeing delivered 748 aircraft in 2016 (490 737s; nine 747s; 13 767s; 99 777s; 137 787s) vs a record of 762 in 2015 (495 737s; 18 747s; 16 767s; 98 777s; 135 787s).

Boeing booked orders for 848 aircraft in 2016 (701 737s, 18 747s, 26 767s, 23 777s; 80 787s) vs 878 in 2015 (666 737s; six 747s; 49 767s; 58 777s; 99 787s), net orders totaled 668 in 2016.

Boeing ended 2016 with a backlog of 5,715 aircraft (4,452 737s; 28 747s; 93 767s; 442 777s; 700 787s), down from 5,795 in 2015 (4,392 737s; 20 747s; 80 767s; 524 777s; 779 787s) – 550 737, 17 B747, 26 767, 17 777, and 58 787.

Technically, Boeing fell 80 planes short of their goal in 2016 – their lowest year orders since 2010 – and plane sales just may slow down in 2017 as well. However, Boeing does have a total of 5,715 jets on order.

Editor’s Note: Airbus is expected to announce the delivery of up to 688 planes, according to industry rumors, as their announcement is expected January 11th. If they announce 259 orders in Dec they could beat Boeing’s 668. Expect some surprises!


Rockwell Collins:
Rockwell Collins has acquired Pulse.Aero Limited, a UK-based company specializing in self-service bag drop solutions and airline applications, to enhance the company’s passenger processing services for airports and airlines. This acquisition further expands Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services strategy to enable the connected aviation ecosystem.“As passengers seek to take more control of their travel experience, this acquisition expands our portfolio of self-service passenger processing solutions, enabling us to streamline and simplify the passenger journey through a fully connected airport,” said Dave Nieuwsma, senior vice president, Information Management Services for Rockwell Collins. Pulse.Aero’s products and services will be integrated into the Airport Systems portfolio of Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services business. Rockwell Collins and Pulse. Aero have worked together on several successful deployments, including Dublin Airport, where new self-bag drop units were installed, reducing queue times and improving customer service.


Valour Consultancy Study:

A new paid study is available from Valour, but here is what they say about it: “The connected aircraft represents a paradigm shift for airlines and many are now in the early stages of deploying various applications. Several have begun to embrace staged increases in electronic flight bag (EFB) capabilities often starting with one or two apps that they can later build upon, according to a new study from UK-based market intelligence firm, Valour Consultancy. The report – How the Connected Aircraft fits into the Internet of Things – thoroughly details the raft of connected aircraft applications airlines are exploring in the hope of realizing considerable cost savings and/or ancillary revenue gains. It finds that the benefits of eTechlog, eCabin Logbook and enhanced flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) programs using quick access recorder (QAR) data are becoming better understood, while aircraft health monitoring solutions are being enriched by the infusion of increased data flows from previously disparate sub-systems and other information sources on and off the aircraft. Though certain airlines are further along in their connected aircraft strategy than others, there are many challenges to be overcome, says report author, Craig Foster. “Suppliers have invested millions in developing differentiated offerings and this lack of standards has resulted in concern and confusion about investing in the wrong technology. Second, there exists little in the way of tangible metrics that show how quickly a return on investment (ROI) may be achieved from connected aircraft applications. Third, there is a perception that the act of harnessing vast amounts of data results in magical value with some undoubtedly having overstated the reality of what is possible”. Download the whole story about the study in the link above or you can contact Craig for more information at: craig.foster@valorconsultancy.com

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

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

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

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

A) Messaging

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

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

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

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

B) Audio

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

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

C) Bags/Baggage

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

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

To be continued next week.

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