Our lead story could not be better titled because we just found the news of Panasonic’s gift in the fight to wipe out one of the most devastating diseases that plagues Africa, and mankind for that matter, but especially today in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone – Ebola.

Our story begins only about one year ago when a small boy was infected with the parasitic virus in a village in Guinea in West Africa – he died and so did his family and thus began the infection of Guinea. No vaccine yet exists for the disease and since then, some 200 medical workers have died along with 6300 citizens. The scary part is that each month the number of cases double. Today, it is unknown how many are infected with the parasitic virus but at last count some 18,100 were, and its natural carrier is still unknown. It is in this demonic environment that an IFE company and an airline saw fit to make a donation that might just be one of the causes that breaks the chain of misery; it aids in the transportation of health help, and facilitates the removal of the sick. We owe Panasonic and Lufthansa a debt of gratitude for their gift of transportation and communication that will aid in the fight to defeat this monster. To get a better story on the “what” and “why’s” of their gift after we found a short news release, we talked with David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communication Services, Panasonic Aviation Services, and here is what he told IFExpress.

Q: David, as with every news release, there is a much bigger story underneath, could you expand a bit?

A: Panasonic Avionics is providing critical communications on board a high-tech flying hospital used to transport Ebola patients from Africa to overseas care facilities. An Airbus A340-300 aircraft, which is chartered from Lufthansa by the German Foreign office, has been converted into a hospital aircraft with isolation chambers for patients diagnosed as suffering from the disease.

Q: We want to know what Panasonic is providing to help this aircraft in such an important and eleemosynary event? How much is Panasonic spending out of pocket to help this work? What exactly is Panasonic providing to the plane, the crew and the aid workers? When is it planned to be in service? What will the plane be used for?

A: I think that it’s really important to acknowledge Lufthansa and the German Foreign Office who were the main drivers behind this fantastic humanitarian effort. This aircraft, which is an Airbus A340 that had been scheduled for retirement, was one of the first Lufthansa aircraft to be equipped with our Global Communications Service. We’re just happy to be involved in it and help the world deal with this outbreak of the Ebola virus, but it’s really Lufthansa and the German Foreign Office that deserves credit for the creation of this flying hospital. This is one of those good news stories where its not about profit, its really about how this airline, the German Government and Panasonic are working together to use this great technology to improve people’s lives.

Q: What is the Panasonic solution going to provide… how, with what?

A: We’re providing the latest generation of our Global Communications Service for the A340. With eXConnect, the on-board crew and medical staff will be able to access Wi-Fi Internet and email service for air-to-ground communications during emergency flights. With eXPhone, the crew will also be able to perform in-flight calling and texting, if necessary.

Further, with these connectivity and mobile phone services, the crew will be able stay in constant contact with the ground-based personnel to provide updates on a patient’s condition and allow hospitals to be prepared as much as possible for the patient’s arrival.

Q: How about a little more… who bought the plane, who buys the gas, who controls the plane schedule? Is there a back-story or two here? Should we thank Lufthansa? Anybody else?

A: The aircraft will be operated by the German Foreign Office. They were the ones who worked in close cooperation with the Robert Koch Institute in Germany to replace a number of airlocks and add a hermetically sealed isolation tent, which allows caregivers to treat patients with a lower risk of infection.

Our role is strictly providing the communications services onboard the aircraft. As I said previously, the credit really goes to Lufthansa and the German Foreign Office.

Q: What are the implications of this effort, in your mind, on the greater commercial aircraft industry and connectivity?

A: The use of the system for this operation is just one example of how operators are starting to expand the use of aircraft connectivity.

Today, in-flight Wi-Fi is often seen as a passenger amenity, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. We’re working with airlines on really leveraging the value of this service for services like this one, and to leverage their own IP systems while the aircraft is airborne. With that, we think the industry has something really valuable.

Ebola Link:
Germany unveils Ebola evacuation plane in Berlin | News | DW.DE | 27.11.2014

Next, in this pre-Holiday edition of IFExpress we thought it also prudent to get an update on one product we have been watching closely for the last six months – VT Miltope’s revolutionary nMAP2 wireless aircraft router. If you remember in our earlier announcement the device will change the way airlines think about serving wireless clients… basically a solution that increases the passenger bandwidth inside the airplane and does so via newly developed router “smarts’ called CHT – Cognitive Hotspot Technology. Built-in technology helps the router to actively determine the best wireless solution for each seated user on the plane. Nothing like this has ever been seen for aircraft, as far as we know, and that is why IFExpress is keeping tabs on this device. Look at it another way, how else are airlines going to keep up with passenger devices that are used to faster and faster wireless solutions on the ground? Don’t believe us? We asked the same question (and a number of others) to Bob Guidetti, VT Miltops’s VP of Commercial Products and he told IFExpress: Miltope developed nMAP2 to meet the ever increasing demands for wireless throughput and client associations in the cabin. As the highest performing wireless access point, nMAP2 will truly become the benchmark for the industry.”

Q: Is it too early to tell exactly how much better the nMAP2 product will be with CHT?

A: We are currently testing nMAP2 without CHT to establish baseline performance, but note that CHT testing verification is an ongoing effort. Once we have established baseline nMAP2 performance without CHT, we then plan to continue CHT baseline performance verification tests in January 2015. Your readers need to stay tuned for this one.

Q: We hear that there is a lot of interest in the nMAP2 by airlines who see the value in better performance in their wireless systems on board. Is that true?

A: Yes, and our goal is to double the number of client associations of existing wireless access points running at a minimum of 1 Mbps throughput.

Q: So far, how is the testing going?

A: With respect to performance, verification testing of nMAP2 has verified improved performance over nMAP without application of CHT. CHT will provide additional improvements to wireless performance as I mentioned before. After that, Qualification testing is to start 1st week of January and be completed by end of January. Qualification testing will be performed to RTCA DO160 G.

Q: Lastly, can you give our readers a sneak peek into what VT Miltope will be rolling out at the next industry show?

A: We are currently developing another wireless product called cTWLU that will provide cellular in addition to Wi-Fi wireless ground link for the aircraft. Both the cTWLU and nMAP2 will be on display at the 2015 Interiors in Hamburg.

On another note, we received a news release in about free inflight texting: “Applications in-flight: If passengers are on a Gogo equipped flight, there are applications they can take advantage of free of charge. All T-Mobile customers can take advantage of free in-flight texting and voice mail services on all Gogo equipped U.S. airline aircraft. To access, customers must activate Wi-Fi calling on the ground prior to the first use of the free service. Passengers do not need to purchase Internet connectivity to take advantage of unlimited texting and voice mail allowing passengers an additional outlet to stay connected in-flight.”

Further, they offered the following; Location sharing based application Glympse allows passengers to send their location at 30,000 feet via SMS, email or social media in-flight. Passengers traveling during the holidays can utilize Glympse to give loved ones an accurate arrival time, perfect in case you run into any last minute flight delays.” Readers, this is just the beginning of inflight data communication deals that we expect to come along and it looks like the US T-Mobile customers are the first to reap the benefit.

  • American’s investment in the travel experience will provide customers with the largest Wi-Fi-connected regional jet fleet

Fort Worth, Texas | December 2014– As a part of its $2 billion investment to give customers a world-class travel experience, American Airlines will upgrade its regional fleet by adding Gogo inflight wireless services to all two-class regional jets. Nearly 250 of American’s regional aircraft will have inflight wireless Internet service installed by 2016. With this installation, the world’s largest airline will have the largest fleet of connected regional jets.

“We’re investing in a more competitive and consistent customer experience across our regional, domestic and international network,” said Andrew Nocella, American’s chief marketing officer. “Adding inflight Wi-Fi to our two-class regional jets will give our customers what they want – comfort, connectivity and a world-class travel experience. We have new regional aircraft entering our fleet every month, and combined with the amenities and services we’re adding to our existing fleet, American is going to deliver a regional product that’s better than our competitors.”

American currently has nearly 850 aircraft with Gogo services and leverages Gogo’s air-to-ground (ATG) service and its next generation ATG-4 technology. Approximately 70 of these 850 aircraft are two-class regional jets.

“As the first airline to offer our inflight Wi-Fi, American knows customers value being able to remain connected and entertained while flying,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “We’re excited be a part of American’s efforts to enhance the customer experience by expanding our connectivity services to more of its regional aircraft.”

Having ordered more than 500 new aircraft – with nearly two planes arriving each week through 2016 – American will offer customers the youngest fleet of any U.S.-based network carrier. New aircraft deliveries include 90 large regional jets, the Embraer 175 and Bombardier CRJ900 NextGen. These modern and fuel-efficient 76-seat jets provide customers with a top-tier regional product with First Class, Main Cabin Extra and Main Cabin seating, larger overhead bins, more spacious lavatories and leather seats with adjustable headrests.

The American Eagle and US Airways Express regional networks operate about 2,600 daily flights for American Airlines and US Airways, respectively. These flights serve 240 destinations throughout the United States, Canada, the Bahamas, the Caribbean and Mexico. Eventually all regional service will be operated under the American Eagle brand and livery.

American marked the one-year anniversary of its merger earlier this week by announcing more than $2 billion in investments to give its customers a world-class travel experience. These investments include expanding inflight entertainment and connectivity. The airline is adding satellite-based Internet access to its international fleet including all Boeing 777s and 787s, Airbus A330s, and retrofitted Boeing 767-300s and 757s. New 737s, nearly all new A321s, as well as retrofitted A319s also will have power ports in every row. All new widebody deliveries, including 777-300ERs and 787s, come with power at every seat, allowing customers to charge their laptops and personal electronic devices from gate to gate. American also will be investing in fully lie-flat seats, more inflight entertainment options, a new, modern design for Admirals Club lounges worldwide, and an upgraded assortment of complimentary healthy food, cocktails and more.

  • United to Also Offer Personal Device Entertainment on Regional Jets

Itasca, IL | October 15, 2014– Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), a leading global aero communications service provider, announced today that it has been selected by United Airlines to bring its in-flight Internet service to United’s two-cabin regional jet fleet. Installation of Wi-Fi services, which will involve more than 200 aircraft, is expected to begin later this year. The United Express aircraft will be the first regional jets in the United States to be outfitted with Gogo’s ATG-4, which more than triples the peak speeds to an aircraft when compared to Gogo’s original ATG service that launched in 2008.

Additionally, United and Gogo have agreed to partner on offering in-flight entertainment on two-cabin regional jets, beginning early next year, enabling passengers to watch movies and television shows on their Wi-Fi enabled devices.

“United has been a great partner of ours and we are excited to extend our in-flight Internet service to a large part of their regional fleet,” said Gogo’s president and CEO, Michael Small. “We are also excited to bring their passengers personal device entertainment, as we have long believed that you need multiple technologies to service the needs of all aircraft types and each route that those aircraft fly.”

Along with regional jet Wi-Fi and personal device entertainment, late next year, United plans to begin a trial of Gogo’s 2Ku satellite Wi-Fi on five of the carrier’s aircraft that operate its p.s. “Premium Service” between New York JFK and Los Angeles and New York JFK and San Francisco. These aircraft currently offer Gogo’s ATG-4 product.

  • Marks First European Certification for Company’s New In-flight Router and Media System

Broomfield, Co | March 26, 2014–  Gogo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOGO), announces that its business aviation  group, Aircell, has received Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for installation of in-flight connectivity and entertainment systems aboard Bombardier Challenger 300 business jets. The certifications cover the AVIATOR 300 and UCS 5000 systems.

John Wade, Aircell’s Executive Vice President and General Manager, said, “We’re pleased to see the first European certification completed for UCS. Since we introduced UCS in October, market reception has been very good and a number of additional certifications are currently in progress. In addition, the new AVIATOR 300 STC and incentive program makes in-flight connectivity more affordable than ever for Challenger 300 operators in Europe.” Aircell entered the European market in 2002 and the region now stands as the
company’s second-largest global market.

AVIATOR 300 System – In-flight Internet and Voice
The AVIATOR 300 system enables near-global email, light Internet and voice capabilities via Inmarsat’s satellite-based SwiftBroadband service. Passengers and crew can send and receive e-mail with attachments, surf the web, access a corporate VPN and more, using their own Wi-Fi-enabled laptops, tablets, electronic flight bags, and smartphones. They can also place and receive voice calls using integrated cabin handsets. Aircell’s SwiftBroadband solutions are powered by Cobham SATCOM.

The standard AVIATOR 300 STC data package is being offered to Challenger 300 operators for a nominal fee when they install the system at an authorized Aircell dealer and activate a new SwiftBroadband service plan with Aircell. This significantly reduces an operator’s overall installation cost.

UCS 5000 System – Aircell’s New Smart Router/Media Server
The UCS 5000 is the business aviation industry’s first all-in-one smart router and media server. It’s a backbone system that manages and simplifies the way passengers access today’s vast menu of in-flight connectivity, entertainment and information. In addition to providing business aircraft with requisite router functionality and equipment interfaces, it offers the optional bonus of a full-fledged media server and in-flight entertainment (IFE) service – Gogo Vision – all in a single unit. Gogo Vision is an on-demand IFE service
that gives passengers a rotating library of the latest movies and TV episodes – along with news, flight progress information and destination weather. UCS also offers passenger-to-passenger file transfer and screen sharing capabilities.

ITASCA, IL | March 18, 2014–

Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), the world leader of in-flight connectivity and wireless in-flight digital entertainment solutions, is once again set to revolutionize the in-flight connectivity industry with the announcement of its next generation global connectivity solution. Gogo’s president and CEO, Michael Small, and Gogo’s CTO, Anand Chari, will unveil the new technology at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany. The announcement will also be streamed via Webcast.

Webcast Details

   -- To attend the Webcast and add it to your calendar, register here: 

   -- The Webcast will also be streamed at gogo.to/fastestinflight 

   -- The Webcast will take place at 9:00 a.m. ET on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 

   -- Gogo CEO, Michael Small and Gogo's CTO, Anand Chari, will be making the 
      announcement and available for questions after the event.

NBAA, Orlando, FL | October 29, 2012– Aircell, a leading provider of in-flight connectivity equipment and services to the business aviation market, announces that Avjet Corporation, an international provider of aircraft charter and management solutions, has reached the mid-point in a program to equip its charter fleet with Aircell’s Gogo Biz™ in-flight Internet service. More than 50% of Avjet’s charter aircraft now offer the service.

Gogo Biz allows passengers and flight crews to enjoy high-speed Internet capabilities above 10,000 feet in the continental U.S. and portions of Alaska, using their own Wi-Fi enabled laptops, tablets, smartphones, electronic flight bags and other mobile devices.

Mark Lefever, President of Avjet Corporation, said, “In-flight Internet service has quickly become an expected amenity in the charter industry. In today’s market, it’s actually becoming increasingly difficult to book charter aircraft without it. Avjet is pleased to be equipping its fleet with the service that passengers want the most. We’ve been very pleased with Gogo Biz – the service has been fantastic, passengers love it and the economics are very positive.

“We debuted the service on two additional aircraft in the last 60 days and we have several more installations in the planning stages. By this time next year, we expect most of our fleet will be equipped with Gogo Biz,” concluded Lefever.