• AeroMobile fleet continues to expand with Switzerland’s flag carrier SWISS International Air Lines

United Kingdom | February 18, 2016– Leading inflight connectivity provider, AeroMobile, has partnered with SWISS to allow its passengers, in all cabin classes, to use their mobile devices to call, text and browse the internet at 30,000 feet.

Aeromobile is a registered mobile network operator which enables airline passengers to roam inflight. Through this partnership, SWISS’ passengers will be able to use their own mobile devices inflight just as they would on the ground.

The first fully connected flight entered into service in early February 2016, a Boeing 777-300ER. SWISS will roll-out further B777 aircraft with inflight connectivity in the coming months, travelling to destinations including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong, and Bangkok.

AeroMobile provides technology that allows the safe use of passengers’ own mobile phones onboard aircraft. The company has roaming agreements with over 320 network operators globally allowing passengers from over 145 countries to use their phone inflight. Since 2008, over 36 million passengers have successfully connected to the AeroMobile network inflight.

The service is simple to use; passengers simply turn on their mobile device to connect to the network and are billed directly by their mobile operator. Prices are comparable to international roaming rates.

“It is a really exciting start to 2016 and we’re delighted to be working with SWISS, as we expand our fleet and continue supplying inflight connectivity to passengers around the world,” said Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile.

Last week, IFExpress got a very interesting letter from Mr. Jo Kremsreiter, President of AirSatOne concerning a new communication/connectivity development (service) that he is rolling out for Business Jets, and it rides on Inmarsat’s L-Band, SwiftBroadband. In a nutshell, the voice calling feature that he is debuting, relies on a cellphone app that uses the standard Wi-Fi signal from a un-modified aircraft Wi-Fi router. He wrote: “…AirSatOne is has certified an app that allows business jet passengers use their smart phone on the aircraft to make and receive calls – and more. What is unique about what we have done allows the biz jet passengers to use a commercially available app on the aircraft which saves them quite a bit of money plus no (special hardware) install required since it runs in the cloud.” This, plus the news release caught our attention so we decided to a bit dig a bit deeper as we usually do. Before we get started here are a couple facts that might help you catch the “spin” on this system. Consider this a setup to deliver a better story:

  1. Inmarsat Satcom voice calls on biz jet aircraft that usually entail aircraft handsets or special solutions to deliver passenger voice.
  2. Unfortunately, in the old process, the only way to contact a passenger or flight crew member was to call the aircraft through the Satcom international number or a specially assigned 10 digit number – the aircraft handsets will then ring. With this method a call is not placed to an individual who may or may not be on the aircraft. But the AirSatOne solution allows a caller to dial the individual’s phone number, their same number used all the time, even on the ground, and reach them on their smart phone while they are on the aircraft. The technology that allows this is the RingCentral app loaded on the smart phone.
  3. While the “cloud” is still on the ground, dialing a number for a phone that is airborne will be directed to the aircraft, by it… regardless from where, or on what, one is calling.
  4. With AirSatOne’s app solution, the user still pays the Inmarsat data fees, but not the requirement to install expensive hardware, and the installation costs and downtime associated with special hardware are gone as well. All three are replaced with a $24.99 fee per month, per app loaded phone. Inflight users get voice, data, and text messaging over their device.
  5. We note that the RingCentral app on a phone will work with any Wi-Fi: airborne or on the ground.

The System
To get a better understanding of the total system, checkout this link for the diagram of the system layout. There are three things that you should note: the aircraft setup, the ASO FlightStream SA (System Administration) block, and the “Cloud”.

  • Aircraft – A standard aircraft Wi-Fi router is installed on the biz jet regular 802.11 Wi-Fi transmissions. The cellphone also has the RingCentral VoIP app installed… that’s it!
  • ASO FlightStream SA – Deployed world wide at, or near, the Inmarsat hubs (and other locations). ASO’s servers are located to deliver better service – in other words, FlightStream SA delivers data management by providing firewall, compression, filtering and consumption notifications via email, and is deployed globally at, or near, Inmarsat hubs to help speed.
  • The ‘Cloud’ – The established VoIP ‘Cloud’ today handles signal directivity and locates and directs based on existing telephone numbers and existing devices. Today’s Cloud is smart and that is what helps to allow existing device usage – either devices to the plane, or from the plane via SwiftBroadband.

The Service

We asked Mr. Kremsreiter to trace a call flow, so we asked for a ‘flow’ description, and Jo told IFExpress: The VoIP PBX system running in the cloud handles call routing and keeps the call alive when handing off between cellular and Wi-Fi or when handing off, for example, from your iPhone to your home phone or transferring the cell call to your office desktop phone. The system knows the iPhone (or Android device) is on the aircraft because the smart phone will ‘check in’ through the aircrafts Wi-Fi that eventually gets to the cloud VoIP PBX via FlightStream SA and the Internet. In other words, when John CEO gets on the aircraft it will connect to the Wi-Fi in the aircraft. The Wi-Fi in the aircraft goes to the Inmarsat satellite, down to the ground, through our FlightStream SA and out to the internet to the cloud VoIP PBX saying “I am here”. When we asked about the ‘Cloud’ and it’s importance, Jo noted: “The VoIP PBX system running in the cloud handles call routing and keeps the call alive when handing off between cellular and Wi-Fi or when handing off, for example, from your iPhone to your home phone or transferring the cell call to your office desktop phone. The system knows the iPhone is on the aircraft because the iPhone will ‘check in’ through the aircrafts Wi-Fi which eventually gets to the cloud VoIP PBX via FlightStream SA and the Internet.”

Satcom voice calling is offered today by at least three vendors. The service providers do this but you need specialized hardware on the aircraft. Noted Mr. Kremsreiter. “For example the SDR by Satcom Direct which costs around $35,000 + install + downtime for the install = $70 to $75K and these numbers can be found in the following article. “Note in the article: “All that is required to access the “Global VT” service is a Satcom Direct Router (SDR) in the aircraft, with the latest software update, and a smart phone”. The author added that the unit, which costs around $35,000, and the article goes on to mention that the cost of putting another system that is basically a picocell (or GSM access point) in the aircraft. This picocell system costs around $250K in a business jet and up to $1M in a BBJ!”

Importantly, AirSatOne’s FlightStream SA reduces satellite signal load and frees up bandwidth for VoIP calls. How? Noted Jo: “It does so by blocking advertisements, it provides text and image compression, and finally, it can block unwanted downloads and limit file sizes. Bandwidth comes at a premium for aircraft so being able to lighten the load allows VoIP to work better on the aircraft. It is also critical for a service like this to operate efficiently, our competitors have similar offerings that do less and are located at a single location. Our FlightStream SA is deployed globally at or near Inmarsat hubs which means more efficient handling and in turn less latency, fewer hops and a shorter distance to travel.”
More info here
Video Here

Noted Jo: “It is important because business jet passengers and flight crews want to use the same smartphone they use every day to send and receive phone calls on the ground, using their own land based phone number – not a special number for only the aircraft. They want their phone to ring when they get that important call – no matter where they are including at 35,000 ft flying over the N Atlantic on their own phone number!”

The Network

First, you should probably watch this YouTube video to get an idea how the folks at ASO interface with the Inmarsat Swift Broadband Network and realize they have located servers at the Inmarsat hubs. Further, there are additional hubs located to provide even better connectivity. Noted Mr. Kremsreiter: “Unlike our competition we offer choices. You can use the same generic network offered by our competition or we can connect your aircraft to a more robust network designed by Astrium, the same company that built the SwiftBroadband satellites. This backbone allows us to connect your aircraft through an advanced global network backed by 24/7 ‘follow the sun’ support – and we offer this for the same price. While this expensive technology may cut into our margins, we feel the benefit to our customers outweighs the cost.”

Finally, Mr. Kremsreiter told IFExpress, “Bottom line is with our competitor’s solution, for $70 – $75,000 you can solve a problem on one aircraft and you are not solving a problem with cell coverage on the ground. That price is a solution for one aircraft, for a fleet multiply that number by the number of aircraft. With the RingCentral app you can solve the problem on the aircraft (or fleet), have phone coverage on the ground when cell service is weak or non-existent, or overseas and you also get to add a lot of other cool features like integration with CRM software, conference calling, swapping calls from iPhone to home phone to desktop – plus it allows collaboration for projects and file sharing and also text messaging. Our solution starts at $24.99 per month, per phone. We did the testing and certification with the $24.99 a month application so it does not require a more expensive plan.”

In conclusion, VoIP phone calls over regular Wi-Fi hardware on biz jet aircraft have a new solution and it only requires a RingCentral app. Today on the ground, this is pretty much how we use VoIP with our regular Wi-Fi/cellphone calling and it was just a matter of time before someone figured out that this solution really benefitted the biz jet traveler. One note, we understand this app will work with almost any airplane Wi-Fi. Additionaly, notes Jo, “Users should use our FlightStream SA to lighten the load and have more available bandwidth – We did not test it without FlightStream SA and therefore it was not certified by us for use without it, however, any Wi-Fi will work. Perhaps, this solution is bigger than we think. Stay Tuned!

For more information on AirSatOne contact Jo Kremsreiter

We owe a mea culpa to BOSE! Last week’s reference to their new A20 Aviaiton Headsets had the incorrect hyperlink attached. Here is the correct one.

  • 78 per cent of tourists use their phone abroad

United Kingdom | July 14, 2015– A survey by leading inflight connectivity provider, AeroMobile, has revealed that 78 per cent of tourists use their phone abroad.*

The survey, carried out by OnePoll, shows SMS to be the most popular phone service used at home and abroad. Of the respondents, 41 per cent used SMS on a daily basis at home, and 26 per cent while on holiday.
Accessing social media is also popular with almost one in three (29 per cent) active users at home, compared to almost one in five (17 per cent) tweeting, Facebooking or Instagramming whilst away. It’s a similar story with instant messaging with almost one in three (28 per cent) using it on a daily basis at home, compared with 21 per cent while abroad.

Almost one in five (17 per cent) people use their phone to send work emails while at home; more than half of these (10 per cent) continue to do so abroad. Similarly, 19 per cent of travellers use their mobiles to surf the web abroad, compared to 35 per cent at home.

Aeromobile_72015 2

Voice is the only service that falls drastically with 36 per cent of respondents making calls on a daily basis at home, compared to just 16 per cent when travelling. The use of voice is noticeably replaced by instant messenger when travellers are abroad.

The results show people want to be connected wherever they are, at all times. This is also true inflight – AeroMobile figures show a 50 per cent uplift in the number of passengers using their inflight network in Q1 2015, when compared to the same period in 2014.**

“It’s interesting to see how connected holidaymakers are and these statistics reflect what we’re seeing in the air. People still want to use their phones to keep in touch with what’s going on at home, even at 30,000ft. Inflight connectivity is used for all sorts, from a quick WhatsApp message to sending important work emails or listening to voicemail”, said Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile.

AeroMobile provides technology that allows the safe use of passengers’ own mobile phones onboard aircraft. The service is available on airlines including Emirates, Etihad, Aer Lingus, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic. The company has roaming agreements with more than 310 network operators across 140 countries worldwide.

The service is simple to use; passengers simply turn on their mobile device to connect to the network and are billed directly by their mobile operator at international roaming rates.

Notes to editors
*Survey commissioned by AeroMobile and undertaken by OnePoll between 25 March 2015 and 07 April 2015. The survey questioned 4,250 adults in the UK, Germany and UAE. All figures quoted refer to the number of people using the service at least once per day.
Please see below for data referred to:

Service Percentage of people who use this at least once a day at home Percentage of people who use this at least once a day abroad
Text (SMS) 41 26
Instant Message 28 21
Call 36 16
Check voicemail 17 9
Send work emails 17 10
Send personal emails 23 13
Surf the internet 35 19
Update / check social media sites 29 17
Play games 20 12
Shopping 12 5
Stream video/TV 14 7
Stream music 13 7

** AeroMobile data, June 2015

  • Qatar: launch customer for OnAir’s connectivity

Geneva | January 7, 2015–
OnAir’s full inflight connectivity suite, including Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir, is being installed as line fit on Qatar Airways’ brand new A350s the first of which was unveiled in Doha today, January 7, 2015. Passengers can now choose between mobile phone connectivity and Wi-Fi, depending on their preference.

While flying, passengers have been taking to social media to say how much they like inflight connectivity and appreciate staying online.

“OnAir’s innovation has ensured that the internal technology matches the ground-breaking work that has gone into the construction of the A350,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. “We are helping Qatar Airways give its passengers the most up-to-date solutions which fall in line with passengers’ expectations of a 5-Star Airline.”

OnAir’s next generation inflight connectivity services, using GX Aviation, will be launched on the A350 in 2016. Inmarsat’s ground-breaking global Ka-band network will provide up to 50Mbs to the aircraft. Importantly, the passenger experience will be consistent across the globe.

“OnAir has been at the forefront of the inflight connectivity market since the very beginning. I am very proud that we’re continuing our tradition with another first for the industry with the launch of GX Aviation,” continued Ian Dawkins.  “We understand the importance of providing the very best services available to the aircraft. Qatar Airways is a long-standing and loyal OnAir customer – its choice of OnAir inflight connectivity for its A350s speaks volumes about the service we are able to deliver.”

The OnAir-connected A350 will initially fly on the Doha-Frankfurt route.

Geneva | October 23, 2014– Qatar Airways’ first A380, which is fully connected, entered revenue service this month. It is operating between Doha and London. The airline’s nine other A380s will also be serviced with both Mobile OnAir and the next generation Internet OnAir.

OnAir’s SwiftBroadband-based mobile phone and Wi-Fi inflight connectivity is now successfully deployed on over half the world’s A380s. This news cements OnAir’s position as the A380 onboard connectivity expert.

“Qatar Airways has provided connectivity for its passengers for nearly five years. Keeping passengers connected everywhere they fly around the world is an integral part of the airline’s exceptional cabin offering,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir.

“Qatar Airways is one of the pioneers of inflight connectivity on both long- and short-haul aircraft. Its use of OnAir is evidence that our connectivity is ideal for every aircraft type. And it is obvious that OnAir is the go-to company for A380 connectivity. We are the only service provider with multiple inflight connectivity systems. We can therefore meet the airline’s connectivity requirements across all fleets.”

OnAir is platform agnostic, offering a choice of airborne systems to suit every fleet’s needs. Qatar Airways short-haul fleet of A320-family aircraft has been equipped with the Airbus Standalone GSM system since 2009 when the service was launched, and the B787 fleet uses Thales’ TopConnect hardware.

This Hot Topic may seem like the ‘long way around” to our message but, who knows, it may be worth it.

A recent article from Yesmail Interactive analyzed 6.4 billion email usage in the last quarter noted that the number of mobile orders went up some 58%, 50% of consumers view email on a mobile device, and mobile revenue increased some 52%… with desktop growing by only 18%. This got us thinking that with more flight free time, the airplane has to be a wonderful place to sell stuff because the passenger has time and the mobile devices to do so. Sure, there exist catalogs to do just that but relegating the cabin crew to retail clerks is a bad idea. However, there is the Internet.

And that may be the problem because today you have to pay for it and it is not the fastest connection available… by it’s nature. But having said that, the airplane is a great place to merchandise because us travelers have time to kill and money in our pockets. Further, if the airline crew does not have objections, everything, including tickets, could be sold on the airplane via devices such as Square or Local Register… if the Internet connection is up to the task.

As an aside, and speaking of Local Register, Amazon sees the online retailers directly competing with payment providers like PayPal, Square and others. Note that their new credit card/mobile device called Amazon Local Register is a payment solution that consists of a secure card reader and mobile app which allows businesses to accept credit and debit cards from a smartphone or tablet. Sooner or later, an Internet equipped airline is going to try it… but we digress.

It all boils down to money… and data rates. Consider Southwest Airlines who sees unused hours of availability when planes are down want to use the B737 Ku-band time from Global Eagle for data collection instead of ACARS. The point is airlines are actively reducing costs and seeking more revenue from non standard applications and data is one of them.

Which brings us back to our original essay of higher data speeds. Bear with us as this may get complicated because we want to end up at inflight voice calling.

Next, John Courtright, an executive at SIE and former Claircom (eventually sold to AT&T) executive, wrote us an interesting position/observation about inflight voice telephony:

“Referencing the two stories linked here, the FCC, per the USA Today link,  seems prepared to narrowly allow cell phone calls on passenger aircraft.

The DOT, on the other hand, is leaning to continue the ban on cell phone calls on passenger aircraft in U.S. air space (as referenced in the Ars Technica link).  The FAA is a department under the DOT (for those of you who are organizationally challenged).

The arguments line up pretty squarely.

For those in favor of cell phone calls on U.S. passenger aircraft, the points in favor are:

• What’s the big deal?  There were phones on planes before.  Remember Airfone and Claircom?  Nothing bad happened then.
• OnAir, the European connectivity firm, states that they have had no problems with cell phone users in Europe so why can’t the Americans deal with it?
• Mobile phone usage is ubiquitous, right?  We have it on trains, buses, ferry boats, in taxis and private autos so let’s expand the mobility benefits to airline passengers!
For those NOT in favor of cell phone calls on U.S. passenger aircraft, the points against airplane cell phone usage are:

• DECORUM (or more properly, the lack of decorum).  Some people talk too loud and some people don’t know when to shut up and some people talk about things that just downright creepy or scandalous.  Do you really want to know about the weekend tawdry exploits of the big, hairy guy, sitting  in the row in front of you, had with the trapeze artist at Circus, Circus?  Or the obscenity-laced comments made by some jerk loud enough for the little child to hear clearly.  Flight attendants do not want to become decorum monitors and I don’t blame them.
• The airplane is just not a desirable place to have a phone conversation.   Travel is anxiety ridden enough.  Some frequent fliers use the plane trip as a time of refuge from the tether of non-stop ubiquitous communication technologies.  Airplane flights may not turn into Yoga Ashrams but some people want to be left alone, albeit in a crowded cabin.
• Is the airborne cell phone call capability a communications conduit for bad guys?  Couldn’t hijackings, or worse, be better coordinated with onboard cell phone connectivity?
• Years back, Oregon Congressman DeFazio (whom I told you about and whom you’ve contacted), put a cell phone ban for airplanes a rider to  legislation.  I heard he hated being bothered on his PDX to Washington, D.C. flights.  I suspect he still hates them.  And so do a lot of other people”

Here’s our take on the situation – Having presented both sides of the inflight voice telephony views and the great potential for revenue generation inflight using higher data speeds and mobile devices our proposal is: What if airlines and vendors were to agree to install free, or less expensive, higher speed data connections on aircraft, would the public “accept” inflight voice telephony then? If not, what will entice them to accept inflight telephony?

Our big story this week is that there is no big story. We suspect that with APEX some 6 weeks away, everybody is holding their news for the show. We understand that and trolled the Internet for a few tidbits you might not have seen. Here is the first one on the subject of hacking the aircraft electronics through the cabin IFE and the author, Rubin Santamarta is planning to speak about his “research” at a forthcoming Black Hat Society hackers convention in Las Vegas a couple days from now. You might want to read about his exploits here. Also, read the readers comments for a better view of his observations. Next, you might want to read an earlier work he did on satcom connectivity hacking, it may surprise you.

Hacking, credit card fraud, and inflight connectivity are going to synonymous in the future, mark our words! While we have no hack knowledge, we have often wondered if there is a big enough firewall between the RS-232 GPS connection on aircraft and the IFE system? Curious, we asked a couple IFE experts and they were hesitant to answer. One response noted that the above article is a bit misleading, “because the hack is via the Wi-Fi and satcom system and not the embedded IFE screen.” On the other side of the fence, Ben Richmond (Motherboard) did a piece on why this a bit more difficult than others make it out to be.

One thing that is on many seatbacks is a USB port. Presumably it is only for power, but when data connections are enabled, there is now a cause for concern about USB “hacking” and the folks at Wired have recently uncovered this exploit, which by the way, will also be presented at the Black Hat meeting mentioned above. Two researchers Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell have reverse engineered the firmware that controls the basic communication protocol. Quoting Lell, “You can give it to your IT security people, they scan it, delete some files, and give it back to you telling you it’s ‘clean… [But these] problems can’t be patched. We’re exploiting the very way that USB is designed.” Here’s the big deal – it is virtually impossible to check if USB firmware is stampeded and, from the reverse perspective, a USB stick could infect a computer with its malware, say, and the PC could then infect any USB device plugged into it. The message is pretty grim – Don’t plug in to a USB plug or outlet you aren’t assured is completely safe.

Speaking of seatbacks, writer Zack Honig did a very good piece recently on the airlines push for inflight Wi-Fi over seatback IFE, or using only, overhead video. The message is aircraft weight and fuel burn cost. While it should be obvious that the solution involves money, the problem is with challenge if determining which fleet has Wi-Fi only. While many travelers automatically carry Wi-Fi entertainment-capable devices, many vacation travelers with children don’t always note that fact. Cost will be a future big driver for Wi-Fi inclusion, and always carry your iPad or Android tablets!

And speaking of Wi-Fi, one reader sent us a terrific Wi-Fi Physical Layer and Transmitter Measurements Chart (electronic) covering everything from 802.11b to 802.11ac (VHT). You can find it on the Tektronix website here.

Have you ever wonder how fast your hotel Wi-Fi actually is? Some folks did a test on hundreds of hotels in major cites worldwide and you can find the results here.

If calling on your portable phone is a big deal inflight in the US, and you heard recently that the US DOT was about to come out with a ruling to prevent usage, it turns out that a previous commentator from the regulators was incorrect. We seriously doubt that they will put the kibosh on cellphone voice usage onboard when airlines want the ability to determine for themselves that the call revenue stream is up to them and their passengers. The Department of Transportation said it was developing a notice of proposed rule-making on in-flight voice calls, but had yet to make a determination on what the notice or any final rule will say. Earlier, a DOT spokeswoman said that the notice of proposed rule-making would lay out the department’s objections to passengers making and receiving calls. On Monday, the department said that spokeswoman was incorrect. The FCC has made it a point to say it does not specifically endorse in-flight calls but any DOT ruling on the matter would trump the FCC’s decision. Airlines want the final decision to be left to them and we suspect future private call-zones or some really inefficient phone booth designs to show up (No, not the loo!).

Airframmer Food For Thought: There was a mild union kerfuffle here in Washington about the Boeing decision to build the B787-10 Dreamliner, Boeing put out the release as follows: Boeing to Assemble 787-10 Dreamliner in South Carolina – Jul 30, 2014. The Everett Herald went a bit further and said: “Boeing said the Everett plant will continue to assemble seven Dreamliners per month, while the North Charleston final assembly facility will gradually increase from three 787s per month today to five per month in 2016 and seven per month by the end of the decade.” In the Comments to the Editor, Annoyed Thinker wrote: “This was a poor choice by Boeing management. SC has shown they cannot put out a quality product yet. The Everett plant has had to rework most all of the sections done by SC. So many needed rework that they had a team from SC come to Everett to get the work done. Hopefully they learned something in Everett. SC needs to prove themselves before they should be given anything ‘exclusively’. Prepare to watch the stock drop once the problems start hitting the news.” And in response to the previous comments, Alex B. wrote: “Actually SC workers are not allowed to work here due to the union contracts. We Everett workers actually were asked by Boeing if we would help out not only SC with their work and get their works trained up, but also the workers in Texas too. What is happening in Everett is we’re fixing the SC mistakes, Union men and women are fixing them. Not non-union workers from SC or Texas. Cheers”. Even if these actions result in delays, it should have no impact on IFE.

As you can well imagine, the IFExpress offices has been awash with discussions about the state of inflight telephony affairs in the US and yes, we have tested some thoughts on PR types in our industry… those who are connected to companies that stand to benefit financially from the calling possibilities and those who are not. Basically, the division about the applicability of inflight cell usage in the US is where you would expect it – those who benefit like the idea and those who don’t – don’t. If they don’t benefit they tend to take the stance: “Flying is bad enough today, why make it worse?” Or, they don’t care. The answer is probably somewhere in between.

In a recent discussion, Our IFExpress Editor came up with a few ideas you might like to think about. “For a liberal democracy, this seems like a no brainer – but it definitely is not! The referenced case studies in other countries seem to make it a slam-dunk. But in the US, there is seemingly an overt, nasty dislike of the cell phone (voice inflight), possibly by travelers who obviously have had enough of the harried flight experience and do not want one more negative issue. Perhaps we should consider some of the issues and work this problem out logically if there is to be any resolution; however, at present there seems to be no clear-cut answer.”

  1. Airlines should surely do a test to see if the perceived issue is real, and note, that if the test is public there will be a lot of press attention.
  2. Asking for constructive solutions such as, passenger cell phone seating, may have value. Feedback is the key to this no-win situation.
  3. If you add “one more issue” to an uncomfortable situation you will not win; however, what about adding a good one at the same time? Some ideas are:  paying all passengers on a flight that has cell telephony by reducing charges elsewhere (baggage, free drinks, etc.) after all this is the US and money talks; publishing any good experiences (if there are any) during a testing situation; how about seating cell talkers on one side or possibly in a ‘worse’ seating location on the aircraft (Yes, that is the price one must pay). If money is a US driver, how about making the usage price high enough to discourage long talking (this one won’t be popular with the service providers) or at least to minimize the “Guess where I am calls”.
  4. Has anyone proposed a plan to suggest the type of equipment passengers could use to minimize the impact of travelers using their cell phones inflight, such as noise canceling headphones and headset/earphone(s) with built in microphones? While this may be impractical now there may be an eventual hardware solution. We seem to remember international planes equipped with older IFE handsets that had the satellite phone hardware at the seat built into a game controller – those devices and their attendant social issues never seem to have surfaced.
  5. While upper classes (Business & First) may be a good place to start cell voice implementation because of the passenger interspatial distance; the class/price perception may not permit it. At the same time, a cell phone usage permission only in coach may be considered a penalty for a lower priced ticket, which leads us to believe the following: A.) The airlines have to give up something to accommodate cell phone usage on flights like baggage fees or ticket price (Then why have it, you might correctly ask?), B.) There needs to be a way to accommodate the need to talk on the phone in the air BUT there also needs to be a way to prevent the mis-users from further degrading the flying experience, C.) If cell usage is permitted in the United States an aggressive public relations campaign will be mandatory, emphasizing positive scenarios where cell phone usage has benefited those onboard (think life saving advice from the ground) or a positive feedback has been received from travelers who have needed the service en route and communicated that message to the airline (in writing). One thing is for certain; if voice calls are allowed the service will most assuredly experience some extreme growing pains on this continent.

Lastly, since there is legislation afoot in the US to prohibit in-flight calling, we will all have to see if cooler heads prevail but until then, keep texting because you can!

If you are going to CES in Las Vegas (Jan. 7 – 10, 2014) you don’t want to miss the panel discussion on January 9, 2014, 10-11 a.m. LVCC, North Hall N254 entitled “Change is in the Air: New Policies for Using Consumer Electronics on Airplanes” an APEX/CES partnership event. Here is the description: Following an advisory committee’s report, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that airlines can safely expand the use of portable electronic devices during all phases of flight. How has this decision been implemented and what should passengers expect when they travel this year? Does this new policy create new market opportunities for CE companies? How are various stakeholder groups, including policymakers, responding? Is this a catch-up policy for the United States or a new example for other regions to follow? Fasten your seatbelts and join this session to hear the latest on this popular topic.” Panelists include: Bill de Groh, Chairman, Aircraft Design and Operations Group, Air Line Pilots Association, International Kirk Thornburg, Managing Director, Engineering, Quality, Technology & Training, Delta Air Lines, Julius Knapp, Chief of Office of Engineering and Technology, FCC, Ian Dawkins, CEO, OnAir, Timothy Shaver, Branch Manager, Avionics Maintenance Branch, Federal Aviation Administration, Chuck Cook, Manager, Fleet Programs and Technology, JetBlue Airways. And you can bet there will be a push for in-flight telephony but we suspect if they open the floor for comments/questions there will be some very divided opinions on the topic!

According to MSNBC, the TSA is going to increase your US trip by $5.60 next year. Meaningless travel caresses now have a price!

In case you were wondering about historic IFE, you might want to bet your drinking partners when the first in-flight movie was shown – It was in 1925 during a London/Paris flight on Imperial Airways. The Guinness record book claims that it starred Wallace Beery (apropos last name) and was silent… the movie, not the flight!

You probably have the Google Search app on your iPad or iPhone or Android device because it just works… very well. The search now contains Google Now and if you opt in (It’s on the opening page of Google Search – just swipe up) your will find that the Google folks have integrated the search capability into your life with notifications, flight information and reminders, arrival notifications, location oriented restaurants, theaters (and whatever), not to mention event items that you searched for but might have forgotten. It’s like the smart friend you never had in school because they weren’t cool!

Lastly, if you forgot to get some Christmas cards, this one is interactive. Send if you choose, but if you are not a fan of “cute” you might want to skip this one!

EBACE, Geneva – May 17, 2011 — Dasnair’s Falcon 7X passengers will be able to use their mobile phones and laptops during flights, thanks to OnAir’s inflight connectivity services. Dasnair will be the world’s first Falcon 7X operator to provide the most complete connectivity suite of services installed on a large cabin long range business jet.

Terms of the agreement are currently being finalized and further announcements will be made in the coming weeks. The service is planned to be launched towards the end of 2011 and the first connected flight has already been booked.

OnAir’s SwiftBroadband-based service Mobile OnAir allows passengers to use their own mobile phones and smartphones during flights, just as they do on the ground, for calls, text messages, email and mobile data. Usage is billed by the passenger’s mobile operator, in the same way international, which makes it very simple to use.

Passengers can also use inflight Internet using laptops, tablets or any WiFi-enabled device. It works in the same way as any hotspot in the ground.

“Our Falcon 7X fleet is at the forefront of innovation and the level and quality of the services we offer to our passengers are at the core of our strategy. With OnAir, Dasnair is proud to set the highest standards by being the first business jet operator worldwide to offer our passengers the ability to remain in touch while they fly”, said Gérard Limat, CEO of Dasnair.

The OnAir solution is the lightest, the most versatile offering the most advanced communication capabilities ever deployed on a large cabin-long range business jet and has been specifically designed with this market in mind.

The airborne system, designed and produced by satellite communications specialist TriaGnoSys, weighs only 15kg and consists of just two hardware units. It is fully compatible with any SwiftBroadband-capable Satcom system, for example Honeywell and Thrane & Thrane. Simple installation is part of the design process, and the equipment can be installed in the aircraft during a standard maintenance check.

“We are all becoming increasingly dependent on our mobile devices and, unsurprisingly, people like to continue using their phones and tablets when they are flying. Dasnair passengers will be able to use both GSM and inflight Internet, giving them the flexibility to be connected in the best way to suit their needs”, said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir.

“Dasnair’s selection of OnAir clearly demonstrates the flexibility of our inflight connectivity solution – it shows OnAir can meet passengers’ demands for inflight communication across a number of market segments,” continued Dawkins.

HD capability uses digital audio to improve both voice calls and faxes made over Inmarsat Swift Broadband®

Ottawa, Canada – May 17, 2011 —TrueNorth Avionics, the fast-growing developer of executive airborne telecom solutions, has introduced HD Voice (HDV), an enhancement to its advanced Simphone¯ OpenCabin® system that provides a significant quality improvement over other phone systems on calls made via the Inmarsat Swift Broadband and Swift64 Satcom links. Delivering crystal clear voice fidelity with less delay, TrueNorth’s digital HD Voice — another industry first from TrueNorth — also offers more robust and reliable faxing over Inmarsat Swift Broadband. The Airbus Corporate Jet Centre is the launch customer for HD Voice aboard its series of A319CJ aircraft, followed by a B777 business aircraft installation performed by AMAC. HD Voice can also be retrofitted to existing Simphone¯ OpenCabin systems, with no additional hardware units required.

“We have heard from our customers that high quality voice calls are important to them, so we developed this breakthrough voice application using digital audio to provide them with crystal clear, low-latency calling. We call this ‘HD Voice’ because voice calls are so good they’re virtually the quality of digital broadcast audio,” said Mark van Berkel, TrueNorth’s president.

The Simphone¯ OpenCabin system uses a suite of enterprise-level software applications (‘apps’) to add functionality and growth. Where current hardware-centric systems are heavy, expensive to install, complex and prone to obsolescence, Simphone¯ OpenCabin turns a business aircraft into an extension of a company’s corporate IT and telecom networks. Benefits include robust, ‘office-in-the-sky’ performance; an unlimited lifespan; significant lifecycle cost savings, since hardware needs to be installed only once; and the ability to add a wide variety of custom functions by simply uploading software.

Aircraft Interiors, Hamburg, April 4, 2011 -– TriaGnoSys has today announced the launch of GSMConneX, an end-to-end solution that provides GSM services to aircraft passengers. The solution consists of the hardware and software parts for both the aircraft and ground segments, with the entire aircraft hardware being contained in only two lightweight and small units. The solution is displayed at Aircraft Interiors 2011 at TriaGnoSys’ booth 6C1.

GSMConneX enables passengers to use their mobile phones, including smartphones, to make and receive calls, send and receive text messages and emails, and browse the Internet with EDGE/GPRS data rates. It uses advanced compression and optimisation techniques to make the most efficient use of available bandwidth, minimising satellite link costs. It can also be used for WLAN Internet services by adding an optional Wireless Access Point.

Axel Jahn, Managing Director of TriaGnoSys, said, “Our systems have been used to provide inflight connectivity on commercial airlines for many years. Now, for the first time, we are designing and producing the whole solution, including both the hardware and software. The key advantage is that TriaGnoSys is the turnkey supplier of the whole system, meaning we are the single point of contact during the design and production process. We can therefore provide optimized, efficient and cost-effective solutions.”

The airborne hardware consists of a Base Transceiver Station (BTS), with an integrated server. This is installed with advanced software for GSM control, satellite control and optional WiFi services which includes portal and payment functionality. The second unit is the Network Control Unit, which controls a wide range of GSM and UMTS frequencies.

Jahn continued, “We have designed the units to be very simple to install, both in terms of their size and the minimal wiring required. This means the solution is suitable for all types of aircraft. We are targeting mainly the business market, though it can be used in any aircraft where space is at a premium.”

GSMConneX Aero can connect to the ground network via satellite, or any other backhaul link. A number of satellite systems are supported, including Inmarsat SwiftBroadband, Ku- and Ka-band, as well as direct air-to-ground.

LAKE FOREST, California – June 14, 2010 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, and AeroMobile today announced that Air New Zealand will transform its passengers’ in-flight experience through the companies’ eXPhone on-board mobile phone solution.

Working with Panasonic and AeroMobile, Air New Zealand will install and obtain FAA certification from Boeing on its incoming fleet of new Boeing 777-300ERs, the first of which is scheduled to enter into service this November. Air New Zealand has five of the aircraft on order, with options for 2 additional aircraft.

The introduction of eXPhone, which is uniquely integrated into Panasonic’s eX2 in-flight entertainment (IFEC) system, will enable Air New Zealand’s passengers to access their iPhonesä, BlackBerrysâ and other GSM cellular phones to safely send and receive emails and text messages during flight. Ed Sims, Group General Manager of Air New Zealand, said: “Feedback from our customers has shown they wish to be able to text, check emails, and stay in touch with friends, family and colleagues during their long-haul flights. We’re excited to offer customers onboard our new Boeing 777-300 aircraft the ability to use their own GSM/GPRS devices safely when the system is activated during the cruise stage of flight.”

Since 2007, when AeroMobile introduced the world’s first commercial in-flight cellular service, the technology has proved increasingly popular. More than two million airline passengers have now used AeroMobile services since inception. Over 180 flights now operate daily with AeroMobile. 75 wide body aircraft, spanning Airbus and Boeing airframes, are now equipped with the service.

”We are delighted to secure another go-ahead flag-carrier for our eXPhone solution. We are proud to provide a global solution for the only airline in the world that operates completely around the globe,” said Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation.

Bjorn-Taale Sandberg, Chief Executive Officer of AeroMobile, said: ”Airlines are increasingly recognising that AeroMobile and Panasonic together offer an unbeatable solution, addressing both near term and future passenger connectivity requirements. Our service is perfectly suited to Air New Zealand and its ultra-long haul passengers, enabling them to stay in touch during unavoidably lengthy flights.

In 2008, Panasonic and AeroMobile won the “Best Achievement in Technology 2008” award from the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA).