Endicott, New York | September 29, 2015– For the first time, airline passengers will be able to enjoy movies fresh from theaters streamed to their personal devices on flights equipped with BAE Systems’ IntelliCabin® wireless In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) solution. IntelliCabin is the first IFE solution in the commercial airline industry to secure approval from a major Hollywood studio for the streaming of early window content — movies recently out of theaters, but not yet available for home viewing — to both passenger- and airline-owned devices.

“The IntelliCabin solution is the premium wireless IFE system on the market today,” said Jared Shoemaker, director of cabin systems at BAE Systems. “We are now able to provide airlines with the extraordinary capability to stream early window content to passengers’ devices. This is a game changer for our industry and will enable airlines to provide exceptional travel experiences to all its passengers.”

With this approval, the early window content will be streamed from a server locally installed on the aircraft. For approval to share such content, the IntelliCabin IFE system successfully satisfied rigorous data security requirements to safeguard copyrights.

BAE Systems’ wireless IFE solution is one component of the company’s IntelliCabin suite of products, which provides an integrated, scalable approach to aircraft cabin management through in-seat power, in-flight entertainment, and integrated cabin systems.

Firstly, we want to congratulate the folks at SmartTray (Astronics) for being a Crystal Cabin Award Finalist! Astronics cleverly saw the future of the product and set up an agreement “…to exclusively market, sell, and manufacture SmartTray’s new passenger device-friendly aircraft tray table solutions that facilitate hands-free use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) including smartphones.”

The SmartTray website tells the whole product story… almost. The device is pretty much as advertises: The X1 features a groove/clip in the rear of the tray that is a device stand (iPad etc.) in the rear of the tray table leaving room to work, eat, drink… you got the picture. Version X2 clips the tablet to the tray in the tray upright position and X4 is for First Class. Both Nick Pajic Sr. and Jr. of SmartTray were on hand at the Astronics booth and added a classy presentation capability for all their products.

However, it is the X3 that caught our attention! Here is text from the X3 page:

“SmartTray X3, in development, will transform decades old food tray designs into modern, cutting edge technology tablet device IFE at a fraction of the traditional seat embedded IFE systems costs. SmartTray X3 is economy class solutions for an airline with IFE capability wanting a cost-effective narrow body solution. Works with existing IFE servers. Content preloaded or streamed.”

This says to us, Astronics will be in the seatback, mechanical docking station business for airline owned IFE soon. The next question to ask is if FAA certification of installed tablets (or semi-installed, if you like) on the horizon? While we saw no tablet power solution on the SmartTray, and the company did not discuss this solution, can that be next? After all, Astronics major’s in aircraft passenger seat power. We understand there is a major airline installation deal in the works for this summer that will include trays installed inline and retrofit. You can read more about the Astronics deal with SmartTray here. Here is the real deal: If this all comes about with powered airline tablets, the next question to ask: Is this the future of IFE? (Editor’s Note: If you have a clever and safe solution to running power to the installed device interface plug over the moving tray arms and flopping trays, we bet Astronics might like to hear about it.)

We should also mention the newest member of the EMPOWER family, the Model 1191-4X that provides 110 VAC and 5 Volt USB (2.1A) for three seats. Note the lighted USB power jack above the 110 AC receptacle. The 1191-4X In-Seat Power Supply unit is a “smaller profile” than the USB-only (Model 1325-1 on the left) In-Seat Power Supply.

KID-Systeme GMBH
You remember Skypower, the inseat power source and perhaps, SKYfi an on-board connectivity platform for passenger and corporate aircraft to provide a wide range of on-board communication options, media applications and services. SKYfi can be installed on virtually every aircraft type and architecture. The lean system has certified hardware and uses different communication interfaces, making it very flexible… and attractive. We should also note, ‘SKYfi club’ is installed on Cebu Pacific Air, the largest airline n the Philippines.

At AIX, KID-Systeme also had their usual in-cabin connectivity solutions but what got our attention was their inseat display solutions shown. KID has been working with Lufthansa Tecknik for a Qantas installation using an iPad-based IFE solution.

While in the KID booth we were quite impressed with the in-seat concepts that the team has been working on and thought you might like to check them out if you did not get into to their exhibit at AIX. Their universal tablet holder solutions were really quite interesting and we note that they was an embedded IFE, noting that it is a concept study and a final product would not be a KID brand. In other words, KID would team with another vendor for the solution.

First, check out the tablet holder mechanism that resides behind the fold down tray.

Now, check out the tray tablet holder. Note that you can see the tablet holder mentioned in the previous shot. The spring loaded black clip is designed to provide a positive downward force holding the tablet in place.

This image is the protected insert device power source. Note: the area under the socket could contain available power information on a tag.

Here is an image of their simplest add-on device holder, probably for a small tablet or phone.

The seatback installation  is an adjustable seatback display design and this image shows use of a clear sliding screen designed to hold a tablet, when the LCD display is recessed back in the seatback permitting the support of a personal device and meeting FAA HIC requirements.

We also wanted to mention that the folks from BAE Systems announced their launch customer at AIX for their Intellicabin IFE solution with India’s Vistara Airlines. With 3 aircraft now installed (6 Biz seats, 36 Economy Plus, and 96 economy), they have a total of 20 A320 installations ordered. The system uses one server, 3 Kontron WAP’s and we are told that some 50 passengers are covered per server. Here is an image of the system on display at AIX.

PDT + Telefonix did a great job of trend prediction and observation at AIX. Be sure to check out their new ad in this issue of IFExpress to see the report!

Here is a note we just got in from the folks at Zodiac Inflight Innovations and you might want to check the presentation: “We are very excited to be a part of the Global Connected Aircraft Summit again this year! Our VP of Business Development Connectivity, Dr. Axel Jahn is speaking on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 2:20pm. He will be speaking on the topic of Cyber-Security and How a Connected Aircraft can Manage this threat. Click Here to view the entire agenda!”

You might want to read this bit of analysis about the US Congress and flying…

Gogo secured an FAA STC to install new 2Ku antenna on its 737-500 flying lab for testing; it expects the second STC by end 2015 to launch commercial service.

Sadly, we note the passing of Arthur Jamieson, who is remembered from his early days at British Caledonian to the founding of the InFlight Entertainment Co. Services at St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Hartfield, East Sussex, TN7 4AG, on Friday 12th June, at 11.00 a.m. Followed by a wake, to be held at: The Gallipot Inn Upper Hartfield.

Endicott, New York | April 14, 2015– Vistara has selected BAE Systems’ IntelliCabin in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, which provides inflight wireless streaming of preloaded content to customers’ personal electronic devices across all three cabin classes in its fleet of A320 aircraft. The system also includes fully integrated Samsung Galaxy Tab S tablets for business class customers. With its state-of-the-art wireless technology and unique user interface, the fully integrated IFE system provides travelers with entertainment options beyond those currently available aboard commercial flights.

The entire fleet of Vistara will incorporate the IFE system, expected to go live in another six months. In the interim, BAE Systems is providing Vistara’s business class customers with customized Samsung Galaxy tablets with specially selected preloaded content. This interim solution will be available to Vistara’s business class customers on flights of more than two hours duration beginning in March 2015.

“We are extremely happy to be launching the pioneering technology of in-flight wireless streaming in India. The first of its kind IFE solution is the outcome of much deliberation and we sought to ensure that it was innovative, ground-breaking, and novel for our customers.” said Prasad Menon, chairman of Vistara. “BAE Systems’ IntelliCabin IFE system offers the latest technological innovations, which includes the potential for live TV and full WiFi on board.”

“BAE Systems’ unique and state-of-the-art Samsung tablet solution can be customized to meet the customer demands of an exceptional and enriched IFE experience,” said Phee Teik Yeoh, chief executive officer at Vistara. “The company’s IFE system is completely aligned with Vistara’s futuristic vision, underscoring our commitment to delight customers with intuitive thoughtfulness.”

Global technology leaders BAE Systems and Samsung have partnered to deliver the state-of-the-art IFE system, which can be experienced in business class using customized Samsung Galaxy tablets and on customers’ personal electronic devices across all cabins. It delivers movies, TV shows, magazines, and games through a rich and responsive user interface.

“Vistara’s selection of our IntelliCabin IFE supports the airline’s vision of providing an enhanced travel experience for its customers,” said Dr. Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of Commercial Aircraft Solutions at BAE Systems. “We are confident that Vistara’s customers will enjoy our next-generation IFE system — specifically, its unparalleled user interface.”

The tablet-driven IFE system is one component of BAE Systems’ IntelliCabin suite of products, which provides an integrated, scalable approach to aircraft cabin management through in-seat power, dynamic LED lighting, and a cabin crew interface.

Remember BAE Systems? They were the folks that introduced a new in-seat power system at a previous IFE show. Well, that device has seen further development with boxes that supply 4 USB 5 VDC and 4 110 AC, 2 Amp, outlets… sort of a smart power junction box. But this story is not about inseat power, it’s about their new IntelliCabin, next-gen cabin control system that is the cabin crew interface to in-seat power, IFE, LED lighting, dim-able windows, seat diagnostics, and cabin management. Jared Schoemaker, BAE Systems Director of Cabin Systems told IFExpress that he felt that IntelliCabin was not only their future vision for the cabin system, it integrates with Samsung devices! More on that in a minute. The IntelliCabin solution provides, power to passengers, delivers enhanced passenger experience via tablets, integrates the latest lighting technology, centralizes and simplifies crew control through mobile devices, improves diagnostics (implements prognostics – we need to find out more about this), and reduces acquisition and operating costs. If the IntelliCabin product sounds familiar, it was the BEA System folks who brought about the Attendant Control Panel that is the heart of the interior lighting control for the Boeing B737 Sky Interior. Now, back to Samsung – BAE Systems has an MOU with none other than Samsung… whose name is cropping up everywhere in the aviation – now space – business. BAE plans to integrate the Samsung device world into the IntellicCabin architecture with their latest devices (tablets, phones, whatever), and they will integrate that model into crew management. Lastly, they plan to integrate these efforts into BAE systems global support network. We will keep you posted as this all develops. The BAE system demonstrated operation with a 12.2” Galaxy NotePro, a Galaxy Tab 10.1”, a Galaxy Note 3, a Galaxy S5 and the great Gear 2 Smartwatch.

A recent trade pub (FierceWirelessTech) noted that industry associations are taking the side of inflight telephony in the US: “The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC) said in a joint FCC filing that they support the commission’s proposal to remove what they called ‘outdated regulatory barriers for access to in-flight mobile connectivity.’ The commission’s plan has the potential to make in-flight mobile connectivity (IMC), “including data, text, and even voice connectivity,” available to consumers aboard airborne aircraft, the three trade groups noted. Despite public outcry over the FCC proposal, the groups contend that various stakeholders, “including IMC providers, off-board communications link providers, airlines and aircraft manufacturers, and industry associations, are generally supportive of enabling IMC in the United States.” Get ready to write your Congressperson.

We have been following Geoff Underwood’s Cashless Retail System (CRS) and we understand a trial is in work. When we asked him about an update, he cautiously responded; “We have been talking to Airlines about the system and are expecting a trial within the next month or so. That’s as much as I have today!”

While the Gogo – AT&T saga continues, we wanted to give our readers another couple inputs on the debate. Firstly, Gogo has countered the AT&T announcement with their own view of next-gen solution for US connectivity that should make competitors a bit nervous – read it here.

Next, we discovered another article about one of the Big Dogs in the telephony business and it got us thinking: It seems Ericsson has been testing moving cellular connectivity in an article referring to cellular testing on/for trains: ”First up is Ericsson, the world’s largest network equipment provider, which said it is testing two new features–Dynamic On/Off and Dual Connectivity–that are being considered for LTE Release 12. Ericsson said the functions are both geared toward lowering the power requirements of wireless network base stations. Ericsson said Dynamic On/Off is a feature that mutes a base station when it is not transmitting data. The benefit is two-fold: inter-cell interference reduction and the possibility for the base station to go in a lower power consumption state,” Ericsson said. As for Dual Connectivity, Ericsson said the technology would allow a user to receive data from two base stations simultaneously rather than only from one. “In some cases, users will be able to download a file twice as fast as today due to the dual connectivity to the LTE network. Because users are served faster, base stations are more often inactive and thus can go more frequently in a lower power consumption state,” the company said. Then we discovered how they were testing… in a jet plane! Draw your own conclusions but it looks like they could build AT&T’s hardware.

Ever heard of the Lockheed Model 10 Electra? One reader, Robert Bogash is the kind of a guy who does. His retired-Boeing-other-job is with Seattle’s Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. Bob’s vision was to get one of the twin prop workhorses into the museum and his website has documented the story of doing it… in pictures. Very nice restoration, Bob is a genius with vision. Check it out here – you won’t be disappointed!

And speaking of Oldies But Goodies – The Dash 80 rolled out 60 years ago last week – May 14, 1954. The Seattle P.I. had a nice photo spread.