• 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.

Los Angeles, CA | December 15, 2014– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: ENT), a worldwide leading provider of content, connectivity and digital media solutions to airlines, today announced that it has been selected by WestJet to manage their inflight content services. WestJet Airlines is a Canadian low-cost carrier that provides scheduled and charter air service to 91 destinations in Canada, the United States, Europe, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

WestJet is currently overhauling its existing inflight entertainment (IFE) system and replacing it with a wireless IFE solution. Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) will provide a broad array of content that can be accessed by passengers using their personal electronic devices or tablets rented from the airline. Through this long-term agreement, GEE will provide a selection of current movies and television, including a wide catalog of engaging and entertaining programs, beginning in Q1 2015.

“We’re delighted to enable the deployment of content for WestJet’s wireless IFE program,” commented Amir Samnani, SVP of Content Services at GEE. “This is a first for the airline as it has traditionally managed content services in-house. In this strategic relationship with WestJet, we are looking forward to supporting the airline with our extensive expertise in technical services and delivery of wireless content and solutions.”

 

MEBA, Dubai | December 7, 2014– The Middle East business aviation market is the most sophisticated user of inflight connectivity, according to OnAir, the world’s leading provider of inflight mobile phone and Wi-Fi services.

VIP and corporate jets use inflight connectivity for both the cockpit and the cabin. In the cockpit, connectivity is used to enhance the efficiency of the flight. In the cabin, it is used to replicate the office, ensuring travel time is used well. Aircraft owners and passengers can continue working as if they were in their office, with access to the corporate network.

With Mobile OnAir service increasingly provided on business jets, passengers benefit from real freedom to communicate whenever they wish.

“The business jet market typically leads the way with any technology innovation and connectivity is no exception,” said Stephan Egli, Chief Commercial Officer, OnAir. “One of the key differentiators of Mobile OnAir is that it gives any passenger the ability to use their mobile phone exactly as they do on the ground. That includes the same simplicity and privacy, without anyone needing to know where you are, which can be extremely important. Confidentiality is preserved.”

OnAir has over 60 customers around the world, including government and VIP aircraft, as well as commercial airlines across the Middle East and the rest of the world. OnAir provides them all with consistent global coverage, whether they are flying over land or water, on every route.

OnAir’s products, including both mobile phone and Wi-Fi services, are available on all aircraft types, from the Airbus A380 to the more typical VIP aircraft types. For example, OnAir is available as line fit on Airbus Corporate Jets, as well as Dassault’s flagship, the Falcon 7X. It is also available as retro fit on all converted airliners, and OnAir has well-established partnerships with the best completion centres around the world.

As an Inmarsat Distribution Partner for both SwiftBroadband and GX Aviation services, OnAir is perfectly placed to meet VIP operators’ needs for today and tomorrow.

The big deal this week is the announcement from AT&T on Sunday that they are no longer courting the inflight Wi-Fi business, and we all wondered when it was going to happen. Lets face it, Gogo has the US market sewed up for years and we only wondered when AT&T was going to come to the same conclusion. While their LTE solution might have been a bandwidth improvement, we seem to remember that they had to work with other providers to rent space on their towers. Faced with the choice of teaming or acquiring, they folded their cards. That plus aircraft equipment costs must have generated a long-term profit quandary. Our insiders reported just that… it’s a bad deal from the cost of getting into the business. Today, Gogo stock price is up at $18.19 per share. Enough said!


Through the new ARINCDirect, Rockwell Collins will offer its more than 3,500 flight support services customers (BizJet) around the globe the latest in intuitive flight planning using state-of-the-art online and mobile platforms; award-winning regional and international trip support; comprehensive weather services; a full spectrum of cabin connectivity options; and flexible and integrated flight operations and scheduling services. They highlighted their new ARINCDirect at the company’s eNBAA exhibit, which featured a number of new services and capabilities, some of which we may eventually see in commercial aviation including: New extensions of Rockwell Collins’ Flight Operating System (FOS) that will promote new levels of integration between the ARINCDirect application and the flight scheduling and operations management software. Their latest connectivity capabilities to help keep the cabin and crew connected in-flight, an innovative tankering feature to help business aviation operators better manage fuel costs, and an integrated weight and balance/performance feature in the ARINCDirect iPad app Moving forward. A company spokesman said that Rockwell will focus on key enhancements to the portfolio that will make the passenger experience as seamless as home and office environments, and enable operators to manage their business as effectively as possible. “We’re looking at further integration of our ARINCDirect services with our cabin and flight deck offerings,” he said. “We also see great potential in analyzing the data that crosses our network, for individual aircraft or across a fleet, to improve efficiency and productivity. With the new ARINCDirect, Rockwell Collins is uniquely positioned to provide our business aviation customers with services for the flight deck, cabin, back office and everywhere in between.” Now, IFExpress wonders when similar offerings will be made to the commercial airline community? Lastly, we note that Rockwell Collins recently announced it is teaming with China-based airline seat maker Hubei Ali Jiatai to install PAVES On-demand. The two companies have entered into a memorandum of understanding to achieve technical offerability for the complete IFE seat solution on Next-Generation Boeing 737 aircraft.


We heard from Charlie Pryor about the latest Inmarsat construction effort. As the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, today announced that it has completed construction of the final four satellite access stations (SAS) for its Global Xpress (GX) fleet. This represents a significant milestone in the rollout of GX, the world’s first, global high-speed broadband Ka-band network, which is scheduled for global commercial service introduction early in the second half of 2015. GX Aviation will deliver 50Mbps broadband connectivity to both commercial and business aircraft. It is the only Ka-band network to provide consistent global coverage. The new GX stations are located in Lino Lakes in Minnesota, USA; Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada; with two sites near Auckland, New Zealand. Two further stations – in Fucino, Italy and Nemea, Greece – are already operational, servicing the first Global Xpress satellite that covers the Indian Ocean region. All six GX SAS will act as gateways between the broadband traffic routed via the three Inmarsat-5 (I-5) satellites and terrestrial fixed networks. Each SAS delivers full ground segment redundancy for GX services, delivering highest quality resiliency, reliability and availability, for example at times of adverse weather, and offering a powerful differentiator to traditional regional Ku-band networks.

Inmarsat has been providing GX services to government customers in the Indian Ocean region since 1 July 2014 and GX Aviation is on track to be available for airlines from mid-2015. “Completing our ground network is an important step in rolling out our global GX service, which is on course to be in service by early in the second half of 2015,” said Leo Mondale, President, Inmarsat Aviation. “The inflight connectivity market is growing rapidly, with passengers around the world increasingly expecting to be connected when they are flying. And they want a comparable level of service to what they are used to on the ground. It is paramount airlines have access to high speed and high capacity connections that provide the same reliable service wherever they fly across the world. GX Aviation is the only global network that can provide seamless, high capacity Ka-band connectivity fit for purpose for airlines. The launch of GX globally in 2015 is perfectly timed to meet passenger and airline demand.”

The first satellite in the GX constellation I5F1 was launched late 2013. The remaining satellites are expected to be launched early in 2015.


If you keep up with BizJet new cabin technology, you know Flight Display Systems is a market leader and David Gray is the guy that made it happen… now as it happens, they have been sold: “Flight Display Systems, a leading developer and manufacturer of cabin management systems, in-flight entertainment solutions, and special mission military displays, today announced that it has been acquired by Harbert Private Equity Fund III. Reed Macdonald has been appointed Chief Executive Officer. The acquisition will fuel continued growth, expand engineering and production capabilities, and further enhance partner relationships.”


In the past, we have shared Giame Porcu’s of Thales trade show/event observations because he always has something to say, and yes, he does have a slight bias, but read beyond that… if you did not get to China’s Zuhai Air Show, it is an interesting update.


Bits & Pieces

Each year we like to look at this SpeedNews product to see what and when it is happening in the industry – it is very good and useful for your 2015 scheduling.

Think you know about radiated emissions? Take this test and see

IFExpress ran into Beth de Young (past CEO, Zodiac Lighting Solutions/IDD) at AIX and note that she is now in a new “Corporate” job as Vice President, Business Development, Lease Customers. Her previous role is now occupied by Mr. Thierry Despres, CEO Zodiac Lighting Solutions.

If you like aircraft at airshows, stunt planes and guitars (in that order), you will like this video!

Looking for the fastest inflight Wi-Fi? Look no further The Challenge of Finding the Fastest In-Flight Wi-Fi – Skift

Thompson Aerospace

As usual Mark Thompson had a few new and “different” takes on the IFE business. There were at least two big ones, which he shared with us. Perhaps the biggest news is he has formed a joint venture with Imagik who will be handling the sales of his system and since they already produce their inseat screens. The JV gives Thompson the opportunity to focus on the server/technology side of the product. The second item of note from the interview is the developments in their server technology. To quote Mark, “The biggest problem in this business has always been managing the data.” To that end, Thompson has employed some very clever solutions and the key to their data management schemes is to maintain a secure connection between the aircraft and the ground and provide a scheme for validation between the airborne unit and the cloud. With the advent of a lot of credit cards sales, both onboard and off board the aircraft, Thompson has designed their server with Level 3 FIPS security “…equal to that used by the US Federal Reserve,” he noted. Thompson has had this gateway in development for the past 3 years and the company told IFExpress that in 2020 the US government is requiring Level 3 FIPS security from airborne satellite communications… and Thompson Aerospace can provide it now. Their goal all along has been to move toward ‘the intelligent aircraft’ by bringing labor savings to the plane and they have increased the security of connectivity, which is employed by both the servers and routers. Bottom line, neither the passenger nor the airline needs to be concerned about hacking into the wireless system, and as we noted earlier, this level of security will be demanded in the future. This also facilitates the move toward the intelligent aircraft by facilitating inventory control as well as fuel burn savings. Oh, and IFExpress thinks there is a launch customer in the works! To bring the point home, Mark stated they have never really been an IFE company – they have always been a data company. “We are a CISCO!” he said. (Editor’s Note: With this level of data security between the aircraft and the cloud, we feel that Thompson is on the right track when it comes to handling aircraft ‘big data’ as well as IFE and passenger data communication.)


digEcor

The first bit of news from digEcor is reorganization. The company has brought on two significant additions: 1) Paul Thorpe has been brought on as digEcor’s President Europe 2) Laurie Barns has joined as digEcor’s President of Asia. With these additions the company has new leadership and new visions. There is a focus on investing in new products, as well as, increasing their global presence and their target is the retrofit market. “We are keeping the core business but investing both in people and products.” The company has focused on four areas: Hardware, Content Services, Ancillary Revenue, and Passenger Services. digEcor’s objective is to be the cabin technology provider for the passenger and through this effort the company is redefining IFE to be the overall inflight experience at a competitive price. One example of this is USB power. Their last passenger survey indicated USB power was high on the list of ‘customer wants/needs’. digEcor listened and has brought a USB power offering to the marketplace. The system features a power supply, USB seat box and a remote USB outlet providing 5V USB. Another product they are dually proud of, which was introduced a couple of years ago, is GLIDE. GLIDE is digEcor’s Embedded IFE System that is low weight and fully scalable across both narrow body and wide body aircraft. It is being certified on ATI with PMA to follow. There has been a high level of interest and we understand the price model is very competitive. The Cabin Management System is the only head-end on the system and the PSS functions are in the PCUs, providing the airline with weight savings because of the reduction in wiring. The system on average is 2.2 pounds or less per passenger. Lastly, digEcor has also developed ENGAGE, which is a cabin crew mobile application. ENGAGE integrates with airline ground systems to make current data accessible in the air on a mobile device. Cabin crews have all the relevant passenger information available at the swipe of a finger and can complete operation reports on the device inflight. The digEcor team!


BOSE

The newest product from BOSE is the QC 25. The choice of Audiophiles, the QC 25’s now have greater noise reduction than the QC 15’s (probably due to improvements in the ear pad and active noise reduction electronics). The pair we tested seamed to have improved high-end audio performance but the audio improvement increase was beyond our hearing capability – an audiophile’s delight. We asked Hratch Astarjian (perhaps the worlds nicest guy) about the added features on the QC -25 and he told IFExpress: “The QuietComfort 25 has been engineered to provide even better audio performance, greater comfort, improved stow-ability, and the noise reduction performance Bose has come to be known for.  We’ve also given it a more modern and elegant design that reinforces the notion that this truly is a premium noise canceling headphone.” For example, we note, a clever earphone pivot now allows for even greater stow-ability and the units appear to have a passive audio mode, whereby you can still listen to audio programming (with reduced frequency response) in case of a loss of battery or external DC power. The airline units have 2 color options. And, Hratch noted: “Yes, we will put the airline’s logo on the headphone, along with our own logo.  We are offering both colors (black or white), though my guess is most airlines will select the darker color.  The white color, while really nice for an individual owner, might show dirt more readily in an airline use case than the black.” In the consumer market, we are told that there are customizable color options for the QC 25. The unit runs on a single AA battery for an amazing 35 – 40 hours and we understand a seat-powered option is on its way. Noted Hratch, “No airlines are currently using the QC25 because we have not made it available in a seat powered configuration yet.  However, there are several airlines, including the ones with whom we already have a relationship, that plan to offer the QC25 to their premium passengers as soon as it is available.  American Airlines will be the first domestic airline to offer the QC25. The consumer version, which uses 1 AAA battery, is available to individuals now.” The elegant BOSE QC 25’s are $299. (Editor’s Note: 2014 represents BOOSE 25th year serving the aviation industry, as well as, their 50th anniversary! )


Armstrong Aerospace

It was good to see Shawn Raybell again who has joined Armstrong from Jamco. The Armstrong company slogan, “From Concept to Certification” holds true and as an organization that designs, certifies, analyzes, and provides kits, is well named. Specifically in our industry they are known for their gate-to-gate testing of TPEDs. Basically Armstrong looks at the 802.11 industry standards and test with all devices to prove that there is no RF interference. This includes service to airlines and equipment OEMs as well. As Shawn noted, “Airlines and OEMs now realize that this testing gives them ownership of the data.” We were interested in how they do some of the testing and we were told that the company’s focus is on teams and they have three teams comprised of three individuals, which includes a DER. The teams are traveling all the time to perform certification and testing data. They are looking for spurious transmissions and unintentional interferences with things such as ILS and communication equipment, to name two. When we asked about the competition in this industry, Shawn told us, “We are the leaders in this bus.”

Armstrong also displayed a PowerBox and PowerBar with AC and USB power outlets. We were told that the company’s strength was in the installation of IFE, Wi-Fi, and seat power – quite often on seat tracks and independent from the seat. From our understanding, PowerBox and PowerBar are agnostic units as far as the power vender goes. We note that the PowerBox can skip every other seat row and serve both with a patent pending design.

Lastly, Armstrong is also known for their BirdStriker devices, which are used often to protect radomes and antennas.


GUE Tech

Each year GUE Tech never ceases to amaze and this Max hired cheerleaders… need we say more? GUE Tech is all about inflight gaming and the quote from their mission statement says it all: “The mission of GUE Tech is to enhance the quality of interactive entertainment and assist with the creation of core software, games, and media applications.” We should note that last year GUE Tech had an exclusive arrangement with one major airline and now that the exclusive period is over they are offering their product line to the marketplace once again. Max told us that they are actively involved in Interactive Movies and classic and retro games. They offer a set of movies with different endings and different games, including play options that allow interaction with the various endings. We note they also have interactive books. GUE Tech has six full time people and has brought on Jorg Shiffermann to assist with marketing. Max approaches the game market from a different perspective than other CSPs and we note that his games are ‘smart’ and driven by a joystick that defaults to a touch screen. Furthermore, we note that 2014 will be a $66 B year for games. This according to Max Lingua is twice the size of the movie market. Why? Generation Y plays these types of interactive games. “We wish the passenger to have the same experience in the air that they have in there own media room at home.”


Lumexis

Lumexis pointed out that the airline industry has been cautious over the past 9-12 months in ordering IFE as airlines try and reconcile the bold claims of so-far unproven stand-alone Wi-Fi systems against well-established and proven seat-back IFE systems which continue to dominate the market. Jon Norris (Lumexis VP Sales) noted that 98% of twin-aisle aircraft continue to be delivered with seat-back AVOD systems while for single-aisle aircraft deliveries, 44% have no IFE installed, 29% have in-seat AVOD and the remaining 27% have overhead systems. He also told IFExpress that FTTS remains the premium market product whose mantra is Best By Every Measure: Lightest Weight, Greatest Capacity, Lowest Cost and Highest Reliability. Jon also noted that Lumexis continues to actively explore emerging screen, processor and storage technologies plus consumer/passenger trends. Lumexis’ FTTS Second Screen is an example of this approach. Presently, he noted that they are happy to partner with any connectivity provider and are looking at fine-tuning their combined IFEC offering and working more closely with partner connectivity companies. Lumexis just finished their second Lion Air B737 installation and expects to have completed 14 installations by yearend. The first provisions line-fit Lion Air B737 will be delivered in February 2015 and the first full FTTS installation will be delivered from Boeing Renton towards the end of 2015. Furthermore, things are quite busy at Lumexis since Lion have more than 500 aircraft backlogged between Airbus and Boeing. Airbus activity will include first-of-type installations on Lion Air A320s, as well as a second A330 installation for Turkish Airlines later this year. Stay tuned.


BAE Systems

BAE Systems IntelliCabin is one of the more interesting new IFE/systems in the marketplace, although they have had years of experiences with aircraft cabin control device sand integration. A lot of the credit of the new IFE offering goes to Jared Shoemaker who has spooled up the effort to deliver a state-of-the art table IFE system powered by Samsung tablets, simplified crew functions via the use of mobile devices, dynamic LED lighting, and a full turnkey support, installation, and STC offering. On the power side of the equation they have developed 110 V AC and USB outlets, smart junction boxes, a variable frequency converter, and a power control panel. The four USB outlets can deliver 2 amps, which should be sufficient for iPad applications. On the IFE side, we liked the Samsung tablets because we were told they were all OLED screen devices. Furthermore, the device content is supplied by WISE from GEE, and yes, it is streamed. The system is established on an Android platform. We also note that brought-on Android PEDS can operate with the system by downloading an inflight App. The servers and wireless access points for IntelliCabin are being provided by Kontron, we understand. IFExpress was told that the system should be complete by the end of December 2014 with first STC with installation targeting March of 2015. Nice Product!


Astronics

No doubt when you talk about Astronics you are talking about a market leader. Today we understand they have 91% of the commercial inseat power market. This is, no doubt, due to a small and efficient power conversion box and associated technology. We also note that something bigger is going on at Astronics Corporation and it falls into the category of diversification. The parent company of Astronics has been acquiring companies for a number of years and their latest acquisition was AeroSat. Acquisitions are based on overall fit and culture of the company (As well as their bottom line, we assume). Astronics Corporation strongly believes in relationships of trust and each company under the parent umbrella stands on their own. One of the key features each company must have is a focus on the customer, we were told, and if recent sales are an indication, that seems to be the norm.

Astronics told us that they are the only inseat power company line-offerable at Boeing and Airbus, possibly because each seat box can power 4 iPads simultaneously. There is a lot more happening at Astronics than meets the eye and we cant talk about it now but we suggest you stay tuned to this one!


SoundChip

Buried back in the corner of Panasonic’s New Technology displays was Sound Chip, an audio manufacturer. Sound Chip develops and manufactures HD quality audio chips that fit inside high quality headphones. The idea here is simple. Digital audio is sent from the server and ends up in the chip to be converted to analog audio and the results are stunning. No intermediate signal modification, loss, or noise interjection! Typically, digital audio that starts at the server and ends somewhere before the headphones, usually before the audio amplifiers in the SEB. Perhaps the most important feature in this type of design is the amazing presence that the audio has, and someday, there will be a lot more of this technology on aircraft audio systems as the demand for higher quality audio grows. For more information contact Mark Donaldson, CEO, SoundChip.


VT Miltope

Lastly, we must say something about VT Miltope and their nMAP2 wireless router. We’ve said it before and we will say it again, because of the Cognitive Hotspot Technology engineered into the device, their approach to aircraft wireless routers will change the industry. Why? Because the products are smart and adaptive and they can determine the best Wi-Fi signal for each passenger based upon a large number of measured parameters and then correct router and signals accordingly. The device does this and many more functions in real time. These measurements occur dynamically and the net result, according to VT Miltope scientists, is a minimum 10% connectivity improvement over older wireless router technology – we think this is a low-ball estimate. In a discussion with industry guru Robert Guidetti, the units “talk’ to each other and back to the server to determine the best signal to each seat/PED. A special antenna is built into nMAP2, as well as, an embedded microprocessor that controls the ‘intelligence’ of the device. We will say more about this product as the company discloses installation and performance results.


Other Notes:

One of our early IFExpress/AIRFAX readers/supporters, Jim McCann has started JMC Aerosystems, an avionics product and business development company. You can reach him at jmc.aero@gmail.com

We really liked Alfy Veretto, APEX President, and you probably know him with his constant companion – his hat. We got him to pose with it off!

The award for the Most Outrageous T-Shirt at APEX has to go to the gang from Encore Inflight Limited in Hong Kong – check it out!


On our second day on the show floor we visited and interviewed 13 vendors. We like to provide a little highlight detail for our readers who do not get a chance to go to the shows – enjoy!


FlightPath 3D

We ran into FlightPath3D and got an update on the innovative moving map provider. We understand the software solution is presently flying on Air France, KLM and Norwegian and their software is working with Panasonic and Lumexis hardware. It is important to note that the FlightPath3D solution is all software and their solutions are very passenger friendly and feature rich in applications. The process of providing various aspects of the moving map experience includes the Pilot HUD view, the Passenger Window view, City Lights & Time Zones, and Distance & Direction indicator. What we really liked was the airplane view that allowed custom branding. But the 3D moving map offers more because they have included flight information screens, connecting gate information, airline route maps, and destination information. While we are on that subject, the Destination Guide & Concierge Service provides a map with POIs and advertisers are utilized. This is a great opportunity for ancillary revenue generation for the airline. As long as an airline has connectivity service the passenger can make arrangements for reservations, show tickets, auto rental, etc. real-time. The IFExpress publisher fell in love with the Kidz 3D Discovery Map! It is important to note that FlightPath3D is platform independent and any aircraft in any operational environment can benefit from it. As important, is the fact that passengers can interface with it in the seat, on overhead video, and on their mobile device. Airlines can use FlightPath3D across their existing fleets even if they have a combination of inseat, overhead, and Wi-Fi. For more data contact them for additional information.


Aircraft Cabin Systems

One of the big deals for the ACS team this year is the expected completion of their Replaceable PMA, which notes that the ACS design is 100% compatible with existing narrow-body retracts. Because of the reliability, the screen size, and picture quality of the ACS units, the airlines are interested in replacing older technology products with the new retracts. This strategy was a very clever move on behalf of ACS. Yukio Sugmimote noted that greater than 20% of the existing single-aisle fleet already have retractable overhead monitors onboard. The ACS booth displayed the wide range of their retractable offerings for the Boeing 737 (9.7” and 12”) and the A320 (9.7” and 12”). Furthermore, the new 12” retract has been installed at ACJC (Airbus Corporate Jet). Now here is the big deal… ACS is targeting line fit for 2015. Stay tuned!


Lufthansa Systems

We always enjoy our time with Lufthansa Systems talking with Norbert Müller  and this year was no exception. At APEX LHS rolled out their Seat Integrated Tablet Solution, which is another feature for their integrated wireless BoardConnect platform. This allows high-resolution audio and video content to now be streamed over the Wi-Fi to passenger PEDs as well as integrated seat tablets. Interestingly, the Lufthansa Systems team has done two important feats in engineering with SITS: 1) the head strike issue has been solved with a clear plastic screen that slides up over the display for safety. 2) Amazingly enough, they are using modified tablets (COTS) for the semi-embedded system . Apparently, the battery has been removed from the system so the tablet is only powered installed in the seat-back via a special cable & connector. Not only does the system work on the App installed on the airline supplied tablet, but users have access to the system via their own PED as long as they already have the App installed. Stay tuned for the first customer announcement. Furthermore, SITS has the following features: video-on-demand, audio-on-demand, interactive moving map, electronic publications, surveys, basic and advanced advertising, shopping, chat, and news feed. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress did a Hot Topic on SITS in early September. If you happened to miss that issue or want to see more in depth coverage here is the link )


Gogo

In discussions with Gogo in Anaheim we gleaned the following news highlights:

  • The corporate Gogo move to downtown Chicago is based on the following:
    • They have outgrown their existing facility.
    • Everyone will be in with one 230K-foot facility.
    • Today a lot of young talent prefers to live and work in large metropolitan areas.
    • And they are also very near Boeing, investors, etc.
  • Currently Gogo has 800+ employees.
  • They have purchased a B737-500 as their flying test lab.
  • Gogo states that their focus is on 2Ku and is entirely outside of the USA.
  • Gogo states that there has been some industry confusion between 2Ku and GTO (Ground-To-Orbit)
    • GTO is only available in North America
    • 2Ku covers overseas
  • There are 500+ aircraft with ATG4 in North America
    • “ATG4 with 4 antennas triples the bandwidth and the performance is clearly better.”
    • The latency has decreased by 50%
    • Customer satisfaction has increased
  • The fleet should number 800 at yearend.
  • Gogo and T-Mobile have announced an exclusive arrangement for a period of time.
    • Text n Talk: This doesn’t require a pico cell… no touch on the system.

IFPL

The IFPL team was missing Geoff Underwood this year as he was back on the Isle of Wight receiving the company’s second Queens Award from the Duke of Kent! If there ever was a reason to miss an APEX this was about as good as it gets. Way to go IFPL. What’s next? Sir Geoff??

From a technical front IFPL was touting their Contactless Retail System (CRS), which utilizes Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. IFPL has developed an in-seat payment system for airline cabin passenger seats that takes advantage of the new NFC contactless card for low value purchases and has an intuitive interface that is easy to use. CRS allows passengers to pay quickly and simply with their credit/debit card for on–board transactions, eliminating the requirement for cash. Recent research suggests an increase in sales of up to 15% using contactless systems compared to traditional cash vending. CRS is easy to install with no in-seat wiring required and is easily configurable as IFPLs system integrates seamlessly with existing on-board payment servers. Alternatively it can be a stand-alone system that will run for up to 24 months on the optional built-in battery.


ViaSat

We talked with Don Buchman and he was rather proud of their recent APEX Avion Best Achievement in Technology Award for Exede In The Air by ViaSat. Exede in-flight internet service is designed to get more passengers using in-flight internet by eclipsing the service quality and speeds of other in-cabin airline broadband services. Compared to traditional take rates of less than 10 percent of passengers, uptake is averaging around 40 percent on flights using the ViaSat service, with a record 148 simultaneous personal electronic devices connected on a recent JetBlue flight. Exede utilizes the high capacity Ka-band satellite system and is capable of delivering 12 Mbps or more to every connected passenger. Well worth an award!

ViaSat also announced their new dual-band Ku/Ka Terminal that enable inflight network switching across commercial Ku- and Ka- band satellite networks. Using their innovative dual band terminal and a new radome, test flights were conducted in July and August on a commercial 757-200. The trial demonstrated the state of the art in broadband enroute communications with the aircraft transitioning among multiple satellite beams from six antennas three Ku- and Ka-band networks. The concept of the best available service borrows from the mobile cellular communications world. Seamless satellite network-switching benefits customers in the same way, as higher performance satellite coverage areas are introduced to new regions. The airborne broadband terminal integrated a ViaSat Ku/Ka-band antenna with ViaSat mobile and bordband modems, and a third-party modem. For more information contact Don Buchman


TE Connectivity

We always like to visit TE Connectivity because they usually have some new scientific solution to problems that have been around for a long time like plating on plastic – they can functionalize virtually any surface. This is a very broad-spectrum technology connectivity company that covers any major electronic industry globally. These folks major in connecting signal source to receivers and they do it in copper, fiber and Wi-Fi. They are in the business of connecting and protecting the flow of power, data, and signals. And they provide solutions for virtually every signal transmission to every signal reception, including sealing and protection, connectors, fiber optics, circuit protection, and precision wire and cable.
What really grabbed our attention was what we thought was gold plated circuit lines on plastic when in reality they were something else! It turned out that it was an etched pattern in composite material that is activated by laser. After etching, the signal paths are activated by laser which allow chemical plating to occur afterward, thus they have developed a way to plate plastic with metal conductors for items such as antennas, power connections, etc. without excessive heat. If you are trying to put an antenna on a plastic case this is the company to talk to. For more information contact Teresa Wilson tawilson@te.com for more information.


Rockwell

If the meeting with Rockwell/ARINC gave us anything it has become pretty obvious that the two companies are: a) working together well b) plotting new product strategy based on their existing products and services c) looking to the future with the synergies of the two companies can add value.
A good example was the product strategy for their next generation connectivty and wireless IFE, using ARINC Cabin Connect and PAVES Wireless. Here is what we note:
• Today both companies are evolving as one and working on fitting pieces of the aircraft environments together in the areas of: cabin, IFE, cockpit, and routers. Also, the ground infrastructure support and airport systems are involved.
• While the above intermarriages are broad in spectrum, the Rockwell/ARINC union is unique in its ability to do them all.
• The companies will always make a decision to buy or make the required hardware.
• Presently, this marriage is a good fit and everyone appears very happy about it and the broad effort in cabin and cockpit integration is proving beneficial.
• Make no mistake; Rockwell/ARINC is looking at moving non-critical data across the ground connectivity pipe and leveraging the value of that service.
• In actual fact, the marriage of the two companies completed the IFE&C puzzle and created a new business unit called Information Management Services.
• ARINC Cabin Connect (wireless aircraft environment) uses L-band today and Ka-band next year.
We were actually surprised at how comfortable the teams seamed working together and the nature of their two different services appear to be coming together very well. Stay tuned for some surprises, specifically in the area of new data services.


Kontron

The two new big products form Kontron are the ACE Flight 600 server and the Cab-n-Connect 802.11ac Wireless Access Point. And we note that last year’s server has been upgraded to the new ACE Flight 600 and the Cab-n-Connect 802.11n WAP has been upgraded to 802.11ac this year.

The new server features an Intel i7 processor, 4MCU and operates off of 115V AC (360-800 Hz), it has been qualified to DO-160G and also features 4G LTE (cell phone modem). We understand there is a 2 MCU version in the works. On the Wireless Access Point, Kontron has upgraded their Cab-n-Connect Wireless Access Point to 802.11ac (which means a/b/g/n standards), dual Wi-Fi radios 2.4 GHz & 5GHz – both supporting 3 spatial stream and 256 QAM modulation, can operate as a CWLU and TWLU, and has various antenna options. Contact Alan Manns for further information.


KID Systeme

The interesting thing about KID-Systeme is that they have gravitated from an inflight power company to a business that has diversified their offering to include inflight entertainment as well. The addition of SKYfi, their wireless inflight entertainment in conjunction with technology from Airborne Interactive for their systems interactive moving map dubbed SKYfi Geo has moved KID into the realm of IFE service provider. SKYfi offers a range of packages including GSM telephony and data, a high-end solution that provides full telephony and internet services, as well as streaming content to passenger PEDs via an App. The extremely lean system can be installed on virtually every commercial aircraft type and architecture. SKYfi is based on the trusted ALNA (Airline Network Architecture) connectivity platform, pioneered by Airbus and KID-Systeme in 2007 and widely deployed on more than 40 airlines around the world. Most recently, Cebu Pacific Air, the largest domestic airline in the Philippines, started a trial with the wireless IFE system. For more information contact Maren Muente.


GEE (Global Eagle Entertainment)

Perhaps the best place to start is GEE’s own website: Through our combined content, distribution and technology platforms, Global Eagle provides airlines and the millions of travelers they serve with the industry’s most complete offering of in-flight entertainment programming, Internet connectivity, and related services. Our Connected Solutions division utilizes Ku-band satellite technology to provide airline passengers with Internet access, live television, shopping and travel-related information, while our Travel Related Solutions division provides film and television content, games and applications to more than 130 airlines worldwide.” Obviously, GEE is definitely a content and connectivity company. Formerly known as Global Eagle Enterprises, the company wants to build relationships with airlines so that they can provide content and/or hardware through their connectivity portal. There are four arms to GEE: content, software development, connectivity hardware, and sponsorship. GEE is looking to maximize the connectivity via digital media. An example of this is Digital Studio from Delta. GEE also offers WISE, which is a media content portal that is platform agnostic. And agnostic is important! Current partners for WISE include: OnAir, Rockwell Collins, KID-Systeme, BAE Aerosystems and Honeywell. Importantly, GEE sees digital media solutions as a huge area of potential growth and sees themselves assisting airlines and other venders with economies of scale. (Editor’s Note: What is really happening here is that GEE is becoming a full service provider like Panasonic and Thales – at least for connectivity and content. The other members of their team fulfill the requirements that they need but do not have within their control i.e. seatback screens. It will be interesting to watch GEE’s development in the coming years. Also with their content company acquisitions they have secured and are driving the content market as #1.)


PressReader

PressReader is one of the most interesting and useful products we have seen for the airport and IFE space and, it is available to use off-line…not to mention, extremely ‘green’. Here is an intro from their sales brochure – “PressReader is the global standard in all-you-can-read newspapers and magazines. Now you can provide complimentary access to over 3,000 newspapers and magazines from around the world to your travelers – all on their own laptops tablets and smartphones. Titles are available in 60+ languages from 100+ countries around the world. No new equipment or maintenance required.” You can get your own account for $29.95 per month, airports can develop a hotspot to provide reading material, and of course airlines can provide the service to stream content to their passengers in airport lounges as well as onboard. This solution has to save gas, labor, time, and energy/waste. If you want to try it out go to PressReader. No App is required if the airline or airport want to provide the service and we understand that PressReader Offline can be customized for seat-back systems. How else can you provide this many magazines to your customers with zero set-up and maintenance. Not to mention there is an ancillary revenue opportunity and, we understand that sponsored messaging is available. Additionally, the service can operate on all your devices: computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone, and eReader. For more information contact Darcy Sara  (IFExpress Update: Wow! This product is incredible, we tested it online and cannot say enough about the amount of available newspapers and magazines!)


Phitek

Quite by luck, IFExpress “won” a set of Phitek headphones in a blind drawing and we were so impressed with the product, we had to pass along our observations.

Firstly, the Active Noise cancellation was not turned on when we did our first audio test and turned on the audio source.. and you guessed it, they worked quite well with a slight high frequency attenuation. We note the mechanical sound isolation was good, with some low frequency leakage while using background noise/music for testing. And, we should also mention that the mechanical height adjustment and padding were first class and very comfortable. The single AAA battery is accesses easily by rotating the outer ring on the cup itself, and when turned on, delivered good presence, with a slight preponderance of bass. We also understand that they also have an earphone tester and we note that their catalog is so well designed that it should win an award! No price was given but they have a very customer friendly product that airlines need to look at… and hear.


Other Notes:

B787 ANA – An Anonymous traveler wrote this to IFExpress and we thought you would find it interesting: “The ANA Dreamliner 787 is the most comfortable economy class airline I’ve ever flown on. The 10 hour flight seemed amazingly fast what with the extra legroom, and bank of electronics on the seat back in front of us. Along with a large screen, there were power hookups for phones and computers to keep them charged. There were a dozen or more free movies and television shows and games and music. And the food for both meals was very good. Once again, I didn’t sleep even with the Ambien. On the other hand, because of the comfortable ride, it didn’t bother me. Not that I experienced them at first hand, but the first class seats were pretty amazing in that each was it’s own little cubicle with chair, desk and area in front of the passenger’s feet that turned into a bed when the seat folded down flat. Luxury.”

An APEX exhibitor wrote to IFExpress after visiting another conference noting: “Selected airlines are actually designing their own seats (and patenting them) to address enhanced space and comfort for the passenger, while INCREASING the number of seat on-board. The changes to seating have an impact on future embedded IFE, and a rethinking of the fundamental architecture.”

Congratulations to Paul Burke at Telefonix, they are celebrating their 25th anniversary!

Thank you to AT&T and Stuart Dunleavy, Executive Director of Marketing – In-Flight Connectivity at AT&T for a great function at The House of Blues (Hmm, Isn’t the AT&T logo blue?!).

  • More passenger experience / EL AL Israel Airlines, ViaSat and Lufthansa Systems establish an integrated platform for entertainment and connectivity

APEX EXPO, Anaheim,CA | September 16, 2014– EL AL Israel Airlines will establish an entertainment and connectivity offering based on Lufthansa Systems’ award-winning infotainment platform BoardConnect and ViaSat’s high-speed connectivity service Exede® In The Air. EL AL, ViaSat and Lufthansa Systems announced at the APEX 2014 EXPO in Anaheim, California, that they will closely integrate all related services on-board, ensuring both outstanding technical stability paired with excellent performance and a seamless passenger experience.

In June 2014 EL AL Israel Airlines launched DreamStream, the wireless in-flight entertainment solution BoardConnect, to offer its passengers a rich choice of entertainment and information on its flights. It will be installed on Boeing 737 and Boeing 767 aircraft.

Using the new generation of ViaSat high-capacity Ka-band satellite technology, EL AL will be the first airline offering its passengers fast internet access and state-of-the-art wireless infotainment on flights between Israel and Europe. Using portable computers, tablets or smartphones, passengers will be able to remain connected for work or pleasure, while at the same time enjoying a rich choice of in-flight infotainment.

“We are striving to provide the best platform for our passengers with this collaboration of the two best technology edges: Ka-band connectivity by ViaSat and the award-winning BoardConnect Wi-Fi streaming system by Lufthansa Systems. Both systems will be integrated on our 737NG fleet by mid-2015,” says Ammon Hammer, Director Program Management at EL AL. “After long research at EL AL Israel Airlines and understanding the market trends, we found that in both parties – ViaSat and Lufthansa Systems – besides having the best products and technology, they have a team of professionals that are willing to collaborate and make this happen in a seamless way, supporting our passenger needs. As the launch customer we also believe this collaboration is a remarkable opening for other opportunities in the future.”

“Through the partnership with Eutelsat, the benefits of next-generation Ka-band for in-flight connectivity now extend to Europe and the Mediterranean Basin,” said Don Buchman, VP Exede Mobility. “We are looking forward to integrating this into EL AL’s overall passenger experience. Our satellite system is specifically engineered to deliver high-speed internet. There’s going to be continued increasing demand from passengers for speed and bandwidth and our network system is the only one that is designed to satisfy that demand.”

“The EL AL / ViaSat project provides us with an excellent opportunity to showcase the full potential of BoardConnect. Building a central, wireless on-board platform for connectivity, entertainment and crew communication was always our target. I can’t wait to see this taking off on EL AL aircraft,” said Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems.

Lufthansa Systems BoardConnect platform sets a new standard in many respects. Unlike conventional in-flight entertainment systems for commercial aircraft, it serves as an integrated on-board platform for entertainment and connectivity without requiring any complicated wiring for each seat. Instead, it works with a regular WLAN and, depending on aircraft size, needs only two to five access points in the cabin to stream a broad variety of content including internet connectivity to every passenger device. The solution is user-friendly and impressively versatile. It can be used with iOS, Android, and Windows 8 as well as conventional Windows or Apple devices.

Abu Dhabi | October 2, 2014– Etihad Airways today reached a major milestone with the deployment of mobile and internet connectivity across its entire fleet of 24 Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, making it easier for guests to stay in touch with friends, family and work whilst in the air.

This milestone comes only months before the airline’s entire fleet of 89 passenger aircraft is connected, which will make Etihad Airways the first in the region and one of the few airlines in the world, to offer mobile and internet connectivity services on every aircraft. The passenger fleet includes 28 Airbus A320s, 26 A330s, 11 A340s and 24 Boeing 777 family aircraft.

The full suite of inflight connectivity services on the fleet includes Wi-Fi, mobile services and Live TV. The services combine the “Etihad Wi-Fly” solution, powered by the Panasonic Avionics Global Communications Suite, and OnAir’s inflight connectivity solution.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are a global market leader in terms of onboard connectivity solutions. We believe that onboard connectivity is an important competitive differentiator for our guests and are continuously introducing new communications technology to enhance their travel experience.

“The roll out of our state-of-the-art connectivity solution will give our modern connected guests a seamless, robust experience at 35,000 feet, similar to what they expect at home or work.”

Guests will be able to enjoy high-speed broadband services on Wi-Fi enabled devices including smartphones, tablets and laptops, allowing them to surf the internet, update social media, purchase gifts, upgrade seats, change travel plans and much more, all from the comfort of their seat.

The mobile connectivity service can be accessed by guests using their mobile phones and smartphones to make and receive phone-calls, send and receive text messages and emails, and use mobile data services.

The Live TV onboard service allows guests to watch live news and major sporting events on seven popular television channels including BBC World News, CNBC, CNN, euronews, Japan’s NHK World Premium, Sky News Arabia, and Sport 24.

Cabin crew and flight deck operations can also utilise Wi-Fi connections to handle medical emergencies. The crew is empowered to manage inflight guest issues by phone or email in real-time with the airline’s ground teams based in Abu Dhabi. Connectivity is also paving the way for the airline to enhance the guest experience through increased onboard retail opportunities, with the added benefit of real-time credit card transactions.

Packages to access the internet start at US$5 and can be purchased using credit cards, PayPal and a range of other convenient payment methods. Mobile telephone usage will be billed by the guest’s mobile service providers based on the international roaming rates levied by the service providers.

Etihad Airways’ Boeing 777 aircraft are used for long-haul destinations across the airline’s network, such as Los Angeles, Washington DC, London, Manchester, Dublin, Düsseldorf, Paris, Sydney, Melbourne, São Paulo, Bangkok and Jakarta.

  • First one millionth personal electronic device (PED) worldwide to connect via Ka-band satellite broadband in the air
  • JetBlue’s Fly-Fi usage significantly higher than on any other U.S. airline

New York | September 23, 2014– JetBlue Airways (NASDAQ: JBLU) today celebrated its one millionth customer connect to its high-speed Fly-Fi system, also making JetBlue the first airline worldwide to connect one million personal electronic devices (PEDs) to true broadband Ka-based Wi-Fi service. To celebrate, the 140 customers onboard “CONNECTED TO 01000010 01001100 01010101 01000101”, JetBlue’s Fly-Fi livery aircraft, were rewarded with a total one million TrueBlue points on its first flight today from New York’s JFK International Airport to San Diego International Airport.

“JetBlue’s Fly-Fi is far superior to other U.S. airlines’ in-air Wi-Fi offerings. The number of customers using Fly-Fi also greatly exceeds the rate of other airlines’ customers, who are forced to pay exorbitant prices for a slower connection, whereas Fly-Fi is available for free. On JetBlue we see 40% of customers logged on, while other airlines get single-digits only,” said Marty St George, Senior Vice President, Commercial.

JetBlue launched Fly-Fi, the fastest Wi-Fi among all U.S. airlines, last December. Fly-Fi offers broadband speed via Ka-band satellite using satellite-to-aircraft connectivity rather than the ground-to-aircraft connectivity, or Ku-band, the many other U.S. carriers offer. Fly-Fi is currently available on 70 aircraft, with an additional 10-12 aircraft being Fly-Fi enabled each month. The entire JetBlue fleet will be Fly-Fi installed by the end of 2015. JetBlue is now the only airline in the world to offer free live television at every seat and free high-speed Wi-Fi. JetBlue was also the first U.S. airline to offer gate-to-gate use of personal electronic devices (PEDs), as of November 2013.

During fourth quarter 2015, JetBlue will launch a new Fly-Fi Portal, which will serve as a content hub where customers can access a wide range of movies, television shows and additional content from their own personal devices.

Thales LiveTV provides JetBlue’s industry leading Fly-Fi connectivity system including the customizable portal and support services to deliver the At Home in the Air™ experience. “Thales LiveTV is proud to provide JetBlue’s Fly-Fi connectivity experience for all customers simultaneously. We have seen more than 148 connected passengers on a flight which proves excellent capability and demand for JetBlue’s latest, most advanced onboard service,” said Glenn Latta, President of Thales LiveTV.

JetBlue and Thales partner with satellite provider ViaSat, the broadband provider for Fly-Fi. “JetBlue is unlocking the true value of our Exede in the Air with a market approach that enables all passengers to access true broadband Wi-Fi in the sky,” said Don Buchman, VP Exede Mobility. “This milestone of hitting one million users so quickly is a testament to what is possible when you can deliver a high-capacity throughput service that passengers really want to use.”

• Fly-Fi is currently available on 70 JetBlue aircraft
• 10-12 aircraft a month are being equipped with Fly-Fi
• Fly-Fi will be available on JetBlue’s entire fleet, which will total 210 aircraft by end of 2015
• One millionth Fly-Fi logon 10 months after launch
• Speeds of 12 Mbps – 20 Mbps per customer
• Average user spends 40% of their Fly-Fi session streaming music or video
• 66 terabytes of data have been downloaded

Los Angeles, CA | September 23, 2014– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: ENT), a worldwide leading provider of content, connectivity and digital media solutions to airlines, today announced that its customer, Nok Air, has officially launched its free inflight connectivity solution. Satellite connectivity is provided through Thailand’s satellite leader, Thaicom PLC.

Nok Air today became the first airline in Asia to offer passengers free inflight WiFi connectivity. The airline views free broadband Internet access as a value-added service for its passengers to enhance their travel experience.
Nok Air is the first airline to benefit from a partnership between Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) and Thaicom Public Company Limited (Thaicom). In addition to Nok Air, GEE and Thaicom will jointly develop, implement and support inflight connectivity solutions for airlines in Thailand and the surrounding region.

“We’re very excited to be the first in Asia to offer free inflight WiFi to our passengers on top of our other free services. This is a testament to our promise of being proactive in bringing new and innovative services to our passengers. Inflight WiFi will provide our passengers with a whole new travel experience, as they can still connect to what is important to them at 35,000 feet in the air,” stated Patee Sarasin, CEO of Nok Air.

“We are very pleased that Nok Air has confidence in Thaicom’s In-Flight Connectivity (IFC) broadband service and we also appreciate the support from our partner, GEE, to jointly deliver the inflight connectivity solution,” added Suphajee Suthumpun, Chairman of the Executive Committee and CEO, Thaicom PLC. “This cooperation has empowered Thaicom to provide inflight connectivity to Nok Air’s passengers and this service is the first time in Asia to enable state-of-the-art inflight connectivity through hi-speed broadband on Ku-band. The service will provide Nok Air passengers with a superior inflight broadband experience and Thaicom is confident that the inflight connectivity service will create an added value to Nok Air and a more enjoyable experience for its passengers.”

“We’re thrilled with the launch of another customer as we bring market-leading connectivity and content solutions to Nok Air and its passengers,” said Dave Davis, Chief Executive Officer of Global Eagle Entertainment. “We believe our satellite connectivity service, which operates both over land and water, provides the optimal solution for Nok Air, which has many flights on over-water routes to vacation destinations. Supported by our partnership with Thaicom, we remain focused on further expanding our presence across the growing South East Asia region.”

Toronto, Canada | September 18, 2014– Flight Level Media Ltd. (FLM) and Panasonic Avionics Corporation have signed a 5 year Software Applications License Agreement that supports the integration of FLM’s passenger applications for Panasonic’s inseat and wireless platforms.

One of these applications, Postcards From the Plane, is about to launch on a major European carrier as an enhancement to the airline’s onboard Wi-Fi portal powered by Panasonic’s eXConnect system. The application invites passengers to compose personalized postcards and to send them either digitally by email or via social media; or as actual print cards delivered by post to the passenger’s recipient in about 7 days. With rich destination imagery sent down to the ground and wrapped in the airline’s colours, the app acts as both a strong brand vehicle for the airline and also a revenue generator through print card and advertising sales.

“Postcards From the Plane is a great example of the next generation of inflight applications that take advantage of connectivity to provide an enhanced passenger experience and new revenue streams” added Scott Scheer, Director, eXTV and Ancillary Services for Panasonic Avionics.

Peter Ronn, Flight Level Media’s President, said: “We are thrilled to have Panasonic’s support to bring our passenger applications to the inflight market.”

All of FLM’s passenger applications have an e-Commerce component, use flight-data to present an experience specific to the passenger’s actual flight and provide the airline and their partners unique ways to benefit and connect with passengers both during and after the flight.

  • Philippine flag-carrier adds OnAir wireless IFE and Connectivity to further aircraft

APEX EXPO, Anaheim, CA | September 17, 2014– Only four months after entering service on its A330s, Philippine Airlines (PAL) will install wireless IFE on a further five A330s, as well as six A340s. The A330s already have connectivity, and it will now also be deployed on the A340s. All the long-range aircraft will therefore be equipped with OnAir’s full IFEC package of mobile phone and Wi-Fi services, and wireless IFE.

PAL President & Chief Operating Officer Ramon S. Ang said, “Through PAL’s iNAiR offerings, passengers can now select from an array of movies, television programs and music thus enabling them to customize their inflight entertainment. Passengers’ responses to being able to use their own phones, tablets and laptops for both IFE and connectivity has been overwhelmingly positive. Adding OnAir Play to more aircraft was an easy decision. While we are very much aware that we are breaking new ground by not having traditional embedded IFE on the brand new A330s, there is no question that wireless IFE is working for our passengers.”

“There is no better proof of an airline’s confidence in your products than a follow-on fleet extension order within such a short timeframe,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. “PAL has paved the way with our inflight Wi-Fi, mobile phone service and W-IFE. We are delighted that the combination has proved such a success for them. We expect this to become an industry standard.”

The combination of Mobile OnAir, Internet OnAir and OnAir Play on board PAL’s A330-300 fleet provides passengers with the full range of inflight choices. The number of devices passengers carry is increasing, the expectation of ubiquitous connectivity is rising and the desire for autonomy over content consumption is growing. Passengers can now use their own devices to connect to the Internet, check email, text messages and voicemail, update social media, and choose from a wide selection of on-demand content.

OnAir Play, introduced onboard PAL in May this year, is a low-cost, flexible upgrade from OnAir’s connectivity products. It is simple to operate. Airlines can also brand OnAir products to ensure consistency across the complete passenger experience.

PAL’s B777-300ER aircraft are also equipped with Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir.

The B777-300s and new A330-300s are deployed on the flag carrier’s international route network.

Buxtehude, Germany | September 18, 2014– KID-Systeme GmbH announced the start of the trial for their wireless IFE system, named SKYfi club with Cebu Pacific Air, the largest airline in the Philippines.

SKYfi club was introduced to the market in September 2013, as a wireless streaming onboard platform for passenger and corporate aircraft. It provides a wide range of onboard media applications and services. SKYfi is based on the trusted ALNA (Airline Network Architecture) connectivity platform, pioneered by Airbus and KID-Systeme in 2007 and widely deployed on more than 40 airlines around the world.

SKYfi club complements wireless internet connectivity services already available on Cebu Pacific Air´s onboard platform by offering wireless content streaming to the passengers’ own devices. Including music, movies, magazines and surveys. For the benefit of the airline and crew, KID provides comprehensive statistical tools with SKYfi.

The trial comprehends five aircraft in total. Cebu Pacific Air operates its A330 aircraft on flights to Dubai, Sydney, Kuwait, Singapore, Incheon, and select domestic flights. It is scheduled to commence services to Dammam and Riyadh in October 2014. Its network spans over 60 destinations, utilizing one of the most modern fleets in the world.

Software upgrade, content loading and the aircraft certification were completed without any additional aircraft downtime. The installation was carried out by Cebu Pacific Air and supported in a joint effort by an Airbus and KID on-site team.

Itasca, IL | September 10, 2014– Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), a leading global aero-communications service provider, today announced a new partnership with T-Mobile to deliver free in-flight texting and voicemail to their customers. Beginning September 17th, T-Mobile customers can exclusively use this new in-flight service on more than 2,000 commercial aircraft operating in the U.S.

The deal allows customers of the Un-carrier to send and receive text and picture messages as well as visual voicemail using their own smartphone and phone number over Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi system−completely free of charge.

“One of our goals is to engage the entire plane with our connectivity enabled products and services, whether that’s by helping to keep passengers productive, entertained or simply connected to friends and family on the ground,” said Gogo’s president and CEO, Michael Small. “By offering T-Mobile customers the ability to freely text and receive voicemail in flight, we are engaging a certain segment of the plane who might not want a full connectivity session, but still wants to reach out to their network on the ground.”

To access the free messaging and voicemail services, T-Mobile customers will need to have their Wi-Fi Calling-enabled phone in airplane mode and connected to Gogo Wi-Fi. From there, they simply launch their browser, verify they’re a T-Mobile customer, and follow the instructions. Making just one Wi-Fi call prior to flight will activate Wi-Fi Calling−which must be activated on their phone prior to the first use of the free in-flight Gogo Wi-Fi service. T-Mobile customers can find a list of compatible smartphones – with more being added all the time – at www.t-mobile.com/gogo.

“Today, we’re extending T-Mobile’s coverage all the way to 30,000 feet – and well beyond the reach of any carrier network,” said Mike Sievert, Chief Marketing Officer of T-Mobile. “And, with Gogo, we’ve got the best partner possible, the undisputed king of in-flight Wi-Fi. Together, we’re keeping T-Mobile customers connected throughout the flight with unlimited texting and voicemail – for absolutely no additional cost.”

  • Will Utilize 2Ku – Gogo’s Game Changing Global In-flight Connectivity Technology

Itasca, IL | September 17, 2014– Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), a leading global aero communications service provider, announced today that it will partner with Virgin Atlantic to offer in-flight connectivity services on Virgin Atlantic’s existing fleet of aircraft. Virgin Atlantic is the first European airline to partner with Gogo and is committed to Gogo’s game changing global connectivity solution – 2Ku – which Gogo expects will deliver unprecedented bandwidth to the aircraft.

“Virgin Atlantic is on the cutting edge when it comes to delivering technology solutions to their passengers and we’re extremely excited to deliver the best connectivity solutions to keep their passengers connected anywhere they fly around the world,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “Virgin Atlantic’s relationship with Delta Air Lines will also allow us to build a seamless experience for passengers who fly both airlines.”

Gogo and Virgin Atlantic have agreed on principal terms and are currently working to finalize a definitive agreement. Under the agreement, all of Virgin Atlantic’s existing aircraft will be retrofitted with Gogo’s 2Ku solution.

Reuben Arnold, Brand and Customer Engagement Director at Virgin Atlantic said: “We’re always looking at ways to enhance the on board experience for our customers and expanding in-flight connectivity across our fleet is just one of the ways in which we are doing this. We were impressed with Gogo’s connectivity solution and look forward to all of our customers being able to enjoy this service whilst they fly.”

APEX EXPO, Anaheim, CA | September 15, 2014– Airlines are increasingly being drawn to Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ (Zii) range of inflight entertainment and connectivity solutions. The modular IFEC technology provides everything an airline needs.

Air Transat is one of the early adopters of RAVE Wireless, Zii’s wireless IFE product, on its A310-300 fleet. It enables passengers to stream movies, TV shows, music and the moving map on their personal devices. In addition, Zii will also soon announce a contract to install RAVE Wireless on a fleet of over 200 single aisle aircraft. The identity of the airline will be announced imminently.

Zii provides four modular products, all of which are available individually to fit each airline’s needs. However, airlines are increasingly combining them to create the ultimate IFEC solution. The RAVE products, which are reliable, affordable and very easy to install and use, cover embedded IFE, wireless IFE, inflight wifi and inflight cell phone networks.

“We are developing the technology that gives passengers the same entertainment and connectivity experience in the air as they have at home, in the office or in a hotel,” said Harry Gray of Zii. “By combining the features of both the PED and embedded screen the passenger options are endless. For example: a passenger can watch a movie on the seatback while simultaneously be viewing the moving map or ordering a drink on their PED. And the beauty of it is that airlines can give passengers complete control over the process, which is exactly what passengers want, because that is what they’re used to.”

The modular nature of Zii’s products means carriers can tailor the cabin offering not only for each aircraft, but also for each cabin. An airline may choose, for example, to provide embedded IFE for its premium passengers and take the more cost-effective option of Wireless IFE for economy passengers. Air Transat has taken this exact approach.

RAVE also provides airlines with ancillary revenue opportunities including the ability to purchase movies and food items through the embedded IFE or the passenger’s personal device. Duty free purchases are also available through PED’s.

Zii is exhibiting at the APEX Expo in Anaheim CA at booth #1012 and the entire RAVE product range is available for review.

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.

Farnborough was a big success for Airbus, who beat out Boeing almost 2 to 1, at least based on aircraft sales dollars there – $75.22B and $40.2B respectively, sort of! At show’s end, Airbus had some 496 aircraft orders/commitments from the show and Boeing chalked 201, but there were some deals in the works. There were 121 A330neo commitments, and 317 A320neo orders that included the 3,000th order of that family. Yes, Airbus beat Boeing “at the show” but a decision by Emirates in June to cancel 70 A350’s ($21B) and another decision in July to accept a Boeing deal for 150 B777x’s, with the right to purchase 50 more somewhat changes the picture. Since Emirates also cancelled the A350 orders, they might actually exercise the 50 B777 option. So where do they stand? While not technically a ‘Farnborough deal’, Emirates is purchasing 115 B777-9Xs and 35 B777-8Xs, the deal value adds over $70B to Boeing’s larder. Industry estimates say a big deal like this is only worth $31B, but if you add that to the $40.2B the show netted Boeing, it looks as if they are at least the July winner! (By the way, the Qatar 777X order announced at the show is indeed a firm order, so we are told.)

To help understand, we contacted Boeing and got this response: “There were no surprises on our end at the air show. We know that Airbus stockpiles orders specifically for the air show, while Boeing announces orders throughout the year. While the air show orders totals you list are correct, I should point out that Boeing went into the air show with more net orders for the year (Boeing 649, Airbus 290)—and we left the air show with more net orders for the year (Boeing 783, Airbus 648). The air show is simply one week out of 52″.

After reading Boeing’s Current Market Outlook we wondered how big the total IFE market over the next 20 years? Lets have some fun.

Below is the projected (20 years) airplane market in the study. We then made a seat number estimate at the average number of seats on each option. Finally, we picked an average seat IFE price of $5000 per seat with the assumption that each and every seat received IFE. Obviously our assumptions will not happen in real life; however, we wanted to get a feel for the cumulative market size, and based on a yearly IFE sale today of $2 – $3 Billion dollars, our dollar number estimate is roughly three quarters what is currently spent per year but we thought our readers would find the process interesting… and feel free to plug in your own numbers.

IFE 20-Year Market Growth Chart

If you look at the total seats from the aforementioned chart and multiply each seat by our $5,000 IFE estimate, you will get $36,208,250,000 as a total value of 20 years worth of seats. Now, divide by 20 years and the yearly total is $1.81B per year estimated average.

Lets stop for a minute and talk about the $5000 per seat for IFE. First, it is not realistic to assign IFE for every seat on the plane, on every plane, and the same value for every class of seat…we know that. And $5000 is probably good for a coach seat but we have heard numbers or upper class seats of at least $20,000… and we haven’t even mentioned inflation. Further, the aircraft seat numbers were arrived as an average number of seats per plane in the categories outlined in the Current Market Outlook. Our goal was not to give readers a NUMBER that reflects the some value that is slightly real today, but rather, a “water cooler” talkable number and a system to get there. Of course, real data clouds the result but we wanted a “number’ and thought this way, you could enter your own data and installation predictions/prices and show your boss how smart you are!

We should also note that the “number” does not include connectivity and new product developments and derivatives. Nor do we consider technology developments on the ground. If you look at IFE today and the consumer demand for IFE or connectivity, our numbers 20 years ago would seem way out of place today.

Then, for 20 years of IFE sales we average about $1.81B per year! We know the price per seat is going to go up, we know that there will be a lot of wireless connectivity and in-seat power and there will be many aircraft with no IFE. We also know an “average” seat count is not correct, and on and on. So don’t send us letters about how our assumptions are out of whack… we know it, we just wanted to get an average ‘feel’ of 20 years worth of value of the IFE business!

Along with the growth of the IFEC market value there is the growth in the design of IFEC, and the change in the content used. That is to say, in twenty years, IFEC will be different, and the content used in the new hardware will be different (i.e., 3D, 4D, “n”D, hi res., and so on). Make no mistake, it will change, not necessarily because the IFEC vendors want lighter weight hardware, not necessarily because airlines want different, higher quality content, but because passenger wants and needs will change just like they have over the last 10 years. If you think airlines are looking at HD video display because they want it, you might think again. It is the passenger home entertainment quality that keeps the demand for better movie quality. Today, if they are not satisfied with the screen, out comes the laptop, iPad, and in many cases, the personal telephone handset. What we are saying is, today it is the passenger that drives the IFEC requirements. If you need more proof, consider inflight Wi-Fi connectivity. Home Internet speeds are the driver that keeps the folks like Gogo, Panasonic and others awake at night. You climb aboard the most sophisticated flying machine ever invented and bring along a handheld device that has the fastest, lowest power consuming device/processor ever invented, and you just naturally expect the rest of the experience to be sterling because at your end, you have paid your dues. Guess what, connectivity to aircraft has not grown with the airplane technology, it came 90 years afterward so expecting it to develop at the same rate is unreasonable… it just is.

In reality, the IFE answer in the future could either be full-up everything, or nothing… based on what you believe passengers will bring aboard. In reality the answer may be both, and everything in between. If the past is any indicator, the aforementioned statement is probably going to be true. Want more proof, a reader sent us a link to one of the best airline position articles we have seen. As airlines become “hybrids” the world of aviation continues to change. It’s about Southwest, but we think you will get the message.

Next week we will have a look into the future with two if the best in IFE… Rich Salter and Michael Childers… don’t miss it.

For you history buffs, we supply a link and note we received in from a reader: “On Saturday, July 12, I led a walk-around tour at the Museum of Flight – covering the history of Boeing jetliners. My thrust was perhaps a little different from that which some may have expected. For me, the success of Boeing’s jet transport line was not the designing, and building, and flying of the 707 – it was something else – a subtle but profound attitude change inside Boeing. And the critical event was not the kick-off order for the 707 from Pan Am, but rather the later order from American Airlines – Bob Bogash.” The 707 is 60

Let me start this piece by relating a flight experience I had recently. During the four hour trip from Seattle to Chicago, I had no Internet on the outbound leg of the journey; however, I had the luxury of Gogo wireless Internet on the return. I say luxury because the return leg was free and if I had paid for the experience, it would have only cost $13, the same price as the abysmal “Fruit & Cheese” plate I purchased to compensate for the free Internet. Further let me add, that the ability to get my email and do a bit of surfing on the ‘return’ leg was so much better than I ever anticipated. In fact, with Internet and email access the Chicago to Seattle flight felt like it took half the time of the outbound leg… and, believe me, that had nothing to do with the fruit and cheese plate! The message here is, we spend so much time on the ground with our Internet/communication fetish, when we have it in the air one doesn’t spend as much time wondering, “Are we there yet?!” (Note: Setup can be a bit fussy as the data entry in the beginning of the sign-on was necessary so the next time we will get the App before the flight.)

So much for the sales pitch, but here’s the message: If you seldom travel, buy your inflight Internet from Gogo or whomever, because it makes the time fly. And for under $20 for the connection, or whatever it costs for the privilege, it’s a bargain. If you want 1 hour on Gogo, it’s $5, one day is $8 ($16 if you fly on the different airlines), and I believe for around $60 one can get a month’s worth of the experience ($50 if you only select one airline). Thus, it is a must for frequent fliers… a must!

The issue at hand in this IFExpress is the future of Gogo, more specifically, the future of the speed (or bandwidth) of Gogo, and there are at least two reasons for writing about it: 1) As flights get more filled with Internet traffickers, the fixed aircraft data Internet speeds will inevitably result in congestion, slowing the experience. That’s simple electromagnetics, and 2) Recent announcements by AT&T, who plans to bring some version of LTE to the air, may also bring a lot of competition to Gogo in the USA. Prices may drop (especially if AT&T uses their 4G LTE solution) but, don’t expect Gogo to be asleep at the switch. From a price perspective, most probably, their prices will drop as competition builds up. When prices drop, there will be more users, and so on… time will tell. Internationally, there are competitors like Row 44, Panasonic, Thales, Inmarsat derivatives, etc., and we should not forget their impact on competitive connectivity.

Today, Gogo customers include: Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, United, US Airways, and Virgin America for a total of over 2,000 US aircraft. Gogo’s Text & Talk application will serve as an extension of a GSM or CDMA cellular network, without the need to install picocells on planes. In the US, it presently is only a text feature, but lest we forget, in the early 90’s, we could talk on a plane… today’s seating jumble will probably prevent that feature unless an airline’s business or first class finds it more appealing. The aforementioned features enable any smart phone user to roam onto Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi system as if they were roaming onto a land-based cellular network where they can continue to access their messaging and phone services anywhere a Gogo equipped aircraft flies.

From a historical perspective, the technology and the market have grown and will continue to as far as we can see. Boeing’s Current Market Outlook claims that there are some 20,310 Regional, Medium and Large jets in the worldwide fleet so this means that there is plenty of room to grow connectivity applications. What’s interesting is the single aisle airplane demand and if the connectivity folks figure out a business model for the next 20 years, they will be looking at some 34,000 airplanes… and in 20 years, a lot can happen in this industry. Because of the size of most smaller jet aircraft (100 seats or less) big satcom antennas for improved data rates are a physical challenge for on-top installation – next week we will show a potential solution for that crowd as well!

At a recent Gogo press event (the driver of this work), the company laid out the technology plans for the next few years. It included a big push into international growth and a very technical plan for the technology that will drive their improved coverage and data performance. One of the key issues is the antenna developments that are coming along. We should note that the image used in this week’s issue of IFExpress, is the installation of the ATG antenna on the underside of a customer jet. Because the Air-To-Ground system in the USA beams signals below the plane, the antenna is obviously placed there. The satcom solutions will require antennas (beams and plates) on the top of the plane. We should point out that at this time, Gogo does not manufacture most of the boxes and antennas found on their equipped aircraft – they sub them out to companies who specialize in that business. To that end, Gogo should be considered a system service provider as they spec and assemble the hardware needed for each task. Additionally, the engineering team that we met were top notch people. They answered every question we asked and really seemed intent on providing airlines and travelers with the best solution. Since we are talking about antennas, here is a teaser of next week’s discussion of the Gogo solution for speed and coverage upgrades: ATG, ATG-4, Ku-band, 2Ku, Ka-band (GXA), and GTO (Ground-To -Orbit). Stay Tuned!

Editors Notes:
One of the important players in Gogo’s past was Jack Blumenstein who passed away in 2012. You can read more about his impact on the industry.

The Gogo website is one of the best we haves seen for information about their services – you might check out the following features:

If you are interested in an infographic that depicts some of the important Gogo info from the last 5 years, check it out.

TIP: Check out concourse.gogoair.com for some of the more interesting aspects of their business not to mention the history of Gogo. It’s worth a look!

Inflight Wi-Fi provider (Gogo) has discontinued its deal to provide roaming Internet access for customers of Boingo airport Wi-Fi, announced in a notice sent to Boingo customers yesterday. In the past, users of Boingo could log on to Gogo with the same password. The company said to it’s customers; “Because you’re a loyal Boingo user who has logged in to the inflight Wi-Fi services provided by our partner Gogo, we thought it was important to let you know that effective June 1, that will no longer be possible.” As an“ease of service deal” only, we suspect more is going on here. The note from Boingo went on: “We’d like to apologize for this change, since we know our customers really appreciated this convenience.” Boingo and Gogo inked a deal in 2011 and Gogo has “opted not to renew its roaming contract with Boingo.” The airport Wi-Fi service provider noted that it still has roaming agreements with Deutsche Telekom, for access on international flights who services nine other international airlines and we were wondering if this cancellation was a notice to the industry that Gogo might be heading in another direction – Airport Wi-Fi? It makes a lot of sense since a ground application at the airport – both before takeoff and upon landing – it could usher in a new line of service and revenue for Gogo… but that is just a guess on our part. Stay Tuned!

Here are a couple news notes from Global Eagle – “IFE Services, a subsidiary of Global Eagle Entertainment (NASDAQ:ENT), announced today that it has developed Iberia’s new inflight entertainment (IFE) content app. Called ‘IberiaOnBoard’, the freely downloadable app allows travellers to check out all of the IFE content available to them on their upcoming Iberia flights. Every movie and TV show is listed by genre and has a trailer with accompanying useful information including synopsis, cast, director, rating, duration and language availability. Music album information lists tracks and their times. A special Kids’ section showcases all of the specially selected children’s content on offer inflight. Mobile app development is just one of many new products Global Eagle Entertainment has introduced to the airline industry recently as the world’s leading inflight entertainment content and connectivity provider continues its focus to innovate on behalf of clients.” And the second “Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: ENT) announced today that its subsidiary IFP has entered into a multi-year agreement with Etihad Airways to provide inflight entertainment (IFE) content programming across its entire fleet, as well as to its partner airlines Air Serbia and Air Seychelles. Starting this quarter, IFP will provide a rich and varied program of regional and international content including popular movies, TV shows and audio programming to support the airline’s world-renowned guest experience. “We’re thrilled to have been selected by Etihad Airways for its content services,” added Walé Adepoju, Executive Vice President of Customer Solutions for Global Eagle Entertainment. (Editor’s Note: Strangely, the market has reacted negatively – “Global Eagle Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ:ENT) takes the last spot on today’s list of midday losers. Its price dropped -8.27% even after the announcement that its subsidiary IPF has entered into a multi-year agreement with Etihad Airways to provide inflight entertainment and content programming. In Soros’ investment portfolio since March 2013, ENT’s price has fallen -23.87% YTD,” noted Motley Fool.)

On another note, BE Aerospace just purchased EMTEQ, the LED lighting company who has a large investment in replacement lighting. The very profitable BEA has quite a business in the Boeing Sky Interior and we suspect they may be looking to garner more retrofit LED lighting work. The deals come about a month after B/E said it may be putting itself up for sale as part of “exploring and evaluating” its strategic alternatives. “Demand for comprehensive and integrated solutions for power management, lighting and connectivity within the aircraft cabin is growing,” Amin Khoury, B/E’s chairman and co-chief executive, said in a statement. ”The combination of our lighting and power management systems business with EMTEQ’s highly complementary lighting, cabin management and power systems businesses, as well as their electrical and connectivity expertise, will allow us to expand our product and service offerings in the commercial airliner and business jet markets.”

If you have been wondering why we have been covering the real-time aircraft inflight positioning brouhaha it is because there are a lot of potential links between inflight entertainment hardware (severs for example), and the connectivity platforms and data acquisitions that serve them. Yes, we are out on a limb here but we have been talking to a number of companies, new and some presently in the IFE business, who feel that there is a need to get this job done. While some see the potential of revenues based on position acquisition, weather, system data, and performance information, if data connections to the ground are established, it might fulfill an age-old discussion that claimed that the aircraft is the last remaining un-served node on the airline network. As it turns out, there is some compatibility. A good example is Panasonic’s FlightLink. Compatible or not, companies in our industry are racing to get in the business (or related industries) by acquisition, developing new services, and is some cases, new start-ups. This brings us to a “Stay Tuned” note for an upcoming article on Wisscom. You probably never heard of them but you might in the near future.

Now, while still on the previous subject, IATA Chief, Tony Tyler, in a recent speech referring to safety challenges, said the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 pointed to an immediate need. “A large commercial airliner going missing without a trace for so long is unprecedented in modern aviation. It must not happen again. IATA, ICAO and experts from around the world are working together to identify the best recommendations for improved global tracking. By September, we will deliver draft options to ICAO,” he said. Watch this one.

Recently, an IATA news release noted the following: “The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts the global airline industry will generate $18 billion in profits this year, but far from being a cause for cause for celebration, Director General Tony Tyler called this forecast a “challenge.” “The brutal economic reality is that on revenues of $746 billion, we will earn an average net margin of 2.4%,” Tyler said June 2 at the IATA Annual General Meeting in Doha, Qatar. “That’s less than $6 per passenger.” Tyler noted profits are improving, and the average return on invested capital (ROIC) today is 5.4%, higher than it has historically been, but that is short of what he said is the 7-8% ROIC investors demand.” We wonder if future IFE sales have fallout from this development, but it certainly explains the drive for ancillary revenue. Interestingly AIER noted in February 2014, commercial airlines—the buyers of commercial aircraft, the transportation sector’s third major component—hit a new record high in their revenue passenger load factor (the ratio of revenue passenger miles divided by available seat miles in passenger services, a measure of the portion of aircraft seating capacity that is actually sold and utilized).”

A recent article in a communication weekly noted “Rumors have been rampant over recent months regarding Google’s satellite ambitions, which are tied to a desire to increase its information-gathering prowess (think Google Earth and Google Street View) as well as an effort to extend wireless broadband services worldwide and, thus, create a larger market for its other Internet-based products, including search, YouTube and more.” Further, we understand Facebook is also eyeing a similar solution for worldwide social media domination. FierceTech Wireless went on; “I would expect the (Google) constellation to be launched in two phases, with the higher altitude satellites providing complete global coverage, and the lower satellites being added later, in between the initial nine planes, to provide additional capacity. It also seems likely that the system could include inter-satellite crosslinks (within each of the two halves of the constellation) given the near polar orbit that is planned,” he wrote in a blog on his TMF Associates website.” You note, nothing was mentioned about inflight connectivity but watch this space.

We found a very quick synopsis on inflight Wi-Fi installations/pricing – Check it out. And speaking of inflight Wi-Fi, here is a pretty good primer on the subject.

It looks like UAL has selected to use iOS for their content distributionUnited Airlines updates iOS app to support exclusive, free in-flight video content

If you plan to go to the APEX EXPO in September (15 – 18) here is your first notice from IFExpressRegistration

Singapore | April 30, 2014– Portuguese operator Hi Fly has selected Flight Focus to provide a wireless in-flight entertainment system for its fleet of Airbus A330-200/300 aircraft. The airline and wet lease provider is taking a lead position among European charter operators and will offer wireless in-flight entertainment across their entire fleet. The solution will enhance the passenger experience by providing entertainment, information and shopping through the passengers’ own personal electronic device whilst opening up new ancillary revenue opportunities for Hi Fly’s airline customers.

“Hi Fly has extensively analyzed several wireless IFE options available on the market today and has chosen Flight Focus’ leading technology. We strongly believe that onboard wireless technology is the future and we are delighted to work with Flight Focus on this project.” said Paulo Mirpuri, Hi Fly President and CEO.

“Hi Fly is always committed to deliver the best IFE System to its customers.

Wireless Streaming In-flight Entertainment from Flight Focus will enable us to enhance our passengers’ experience with the use of their personal electronic devices in our A330s.” said António Penim, IFE Manager at Hi Fly.

The Flight Focus solution that Hi Fly will deploy is comprised of Flight Focus’s own FFP Server, NGA Wireless Access Points, and Cabin Control Panel. Together the Wireless Access Points and FFP Server have been proven capable of streaming video to every passenger simultaneously on both narrow and wide-body aircraft. The Cabin Control Panel can load content from physical media at speeds up to 400 Megabytes per second.

“We are excited to be working with Hi Fly. They are an innovative operator that is focused on providing the best possible service to their customers today and in the future. As passengers increasingly expect to use their own devices for IFE, onboard shopping, and communications, the Flight Focus system will have plenty of capacity to meet Hi Fly’s needs.” said David Borkowski, VP of Business Development at Flight Focus.

  • Panasonic satellite system covers 99.6 per cent of all global airline routes

Calgary | February 14, 2014/CNW/– 

WestJet announced today it has signed a multi- year agreement with Panasonic Avionics Corporation to provide the airline with a new inflight entertainment system with the ability to feature wireless satellite internet connectivity, live streaming television, on-demand movies, magazines and more.

Guests will be able to use their own personal electronic device (PED) or laptop computer to receive live and stored content streamed wirelessly from a server on board each WestJet Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft. Airtime packages will also be available to surf the internet, access email or plan a vacation on westjet.com. Tablets will be available for those guests not travelling with a device.

“We are very excited to take the next step in the evolution of our inflight entertainment system,” said Marshall Wilmot, WestJet Vice-President, Product and Distribution. “We were proud to be the first Canadian airline to offer live television on board our aircraft beginning in 2004, and today we are announcing a completely new system designed to offer WestJet guests a broader selection of entertainment options than ever before.”

The addition of WiFi is a strategic step forward to enable guests, especially business travellers, to make their time in the air as productive as possible. “We know that roughly 75 per cent of our guests are bringing their own devices on board today,” said Marshall Wilmot. “They tell us they want the opportunity to connect to check their email, put the finishing touches on a presentation or keep in touch with family and friends. Our continually improving schedule and network, now combined with wireless connectivity, along with our WestJet Rewards program and our Plus package with more space to work and additional amenities is part of our ongoing effort to enhance our value proposition for business travellers.”

WestJet will also install USB/110 volt power outlets in new, slimmer seats on its aircraft to enable guests to charge their devices or keep them charged while using the entertainment system. And, with a mix of free and paid content, the new system offers the airline additional ancillary revenue opportunities.

There are currently 275 airlines around the world using a Panasonic inflight entertainment system. Panasonic will install the system on one WestJet Boeing Next Generation aircraft before the end of 2014 at which time the airline will perform tests to fine-tune the system. When installed on WestJet’s fleet over the next several years, guests will be able to access live television, movies, magazines and the internet

throughout North America, the Caribbean and Central America, Europe, as well as future WestJet destinations.

 

  • Potential ruling will benefit passengers and airlines

United Kingdom | November 22, 2013–

Leading inflight mobile phone operator AeroMobile welcomes the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s move to adopt regulations to permit the use of mobile devices in U.S. airspace.

Speaking in response to the announced agenda for the upcoming FCC meeting, AeroMobile CEO Kevin Rogers said that initiating a proceeding on inflight mobile connectivity was a step in the right direction, with benefits for both airlines and domestic and international travellers.

“We are in an era where being connected is expected and most airline passengers travel with a smartphone. Enabling mobile connectivity will enhance consumer choice and complement other inflight connectivity options available today,” said Rogers.

“The AeroMobile service operates almost seamlessly across the world, with the notable exception of the United States. We have many connected flights flying to and from the U.S. every day, and being able to offer connectivity in U.S. airspace will make a huge difference to the passenger experience,” continued Rogers.

AeroMobile’s inflight mobile service is active on more than 170 aircraft across nine airlines including Emirates, Etihad, SAS, Lufthansa, Aer Lingus and Virgin Atlantic.

All Virgin Atlantic flights between the United States and London Gatwick offer the AeroMobile service, as do all of Aer Lingus’ transatlantic flights from Ireland. EmiratesEtihad and Lufthansa all provide AeroMobile connectivity on selected routes into the U.S., with further roll-out planned over the coming months.

“The Notice of Proposed Rule Making is also great news for our current airline partners. As well as offering an improved service, extending coverage to the United States means increased ancillary revenues for those airlines that offer mobile connectivity,” said Rogers.

”And it’s good news for U.S. airlines, potentially enabling them to provide the same levels of onboard connectivity as their international competitors.”

“We are seeing increasing demand for our services as more and more airlines and passengers realise the benefits of inflight mobile connectivity. The ease of using your mobile phone inflight makes it perfect for checking voicemail, sending SMS messages, checking emails or updating your social media status,” continued Rogers.

“In fact, SMS is the most popular service on the AeroMobile network; 60 per cent of connected passengers use the inflight mobile network to send text messages. We’ve also seen data usage shoot up by more than 200 per cent this year,” added Rogers.

AeroMobile has over 240 agreements with mobile phone operators around the world including AT&T and T Mobile in the United States, meaning its inflight network is already accessible to U.S. travellers on international airlines.

 

Lake  Forest, CA | September 27, 2013–  Singapore Airlines has taken to the skies with its first of eight new Boeing 777-300ERs equipped with Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) true broadband Wi-Fi, mobile phone service and revolutionary in-flight entertainment experience.

Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation stated, “By combining our latest IFE solutions with our Global Communications Services, Panasonic and Singapore Airlines have transformed the entertainment experience.  Passengers will be captivated by inflight entertainment content on high-performance HD monitors while they simultaneously stay connected, surf the web, text, and email — all at 30,000 feet.”

With partners Deutsche Telekom and AeroMobile, Panasonic will deliver broadband Wi-Fi, mobile data and services, and passengers will use their own devices to connect to their social networks, access real-time news and information, and communicate with their family, friends and co-workers. Using HDMI and USB interfaces, passengers can also integrate their personal device with KrisWorld and view their own content on large, high-definition displays.

Enabled by high performance 24-inch, 18-inch and 11-inch high-definition displays, SIA’s KrisWorld inflight entertainment system will feature Panasonic’s open platform technology that delivers a more personal experience and intuitive navigation similar to tablets and smartphones, including multi-tasking using the video touch screen handset as a “second screen.”

  • SIA’s first AeroMobile-connected aircraft takes inaugural flight from Singapore to London

London, UK | September 27, 2013– Singapore Airlines’ first aircraft equipped with AeroMobile’s inflight mobile connectivity service took its inaugural flight from Singapore to London on 27 September 2013.

SIA’s new Boeing 777-300ER is the first of eight aircraft being delivered with cutting-edge inflight entertainment and connectivity (WiFi and GSM) solutions and hardware from Panasonic Avionics Corporation. The inflight mobile service, powered by AeroMobile,provides passengers with a way to stay connected during the flight.

Through AeroMobile’s inflight network, SIA customers will be able to use their own mobile phones to send text messages as well as browse the internet, with seamless service coverage between Singapore and London.

Travellers using any of the UK’s major mobile phone networks will be able to access the service. The same applies for subscribers of Singapore’s three main mobile operators; M1, SingTel and StarHub. AeroMobile also has roaming agreements with 220 other mobile operators worldwide.

“We’re delighted to add Singapore Airlines to our growing list of airline partners. They join the likes of Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Atlantic, all of which are contributing to the increases we’re seeing in inflight mobile use,” said Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile.

“Asia is a significant growth area for us, with more airlines scheduled to launch the service in the coming months. As well as Singapore Airlines we’re looking forward to working with Thai Airways and Garuda Indonesia in the not too distant future,” continued Rogers.