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

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

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

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

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

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

B) Security:

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

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

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

C) Virtual Reality:

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

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

D) Other:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


Valour Consultancy Study:

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

  • ‘Internet of Things’ coming to airlines and airports worldwide

Geneva, Switzerland | March 8, 2016– Over the next three years passengers will be enjoying seamless self-service with airlines and at airports as the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) comes to travel. This is according to The Future is Connected, the latest industry report from SITA, the leading global IT provider to the air transport industry.

Today, 83% of passengers carry a smartphone and this is now the unifying technology in transport that will provide a connected end-to-end experience. SITA’s report shows that smartphones are reshaping travel behavior and with growth rates of around 80% or more at the check-in and boarding pass stages it is clear passengers are keen to use their own technology.

The groundwork by the air transport industry to establishing the infrastructure and processes that enable more seamless travel experiences is well under way and gathering further momentum. Over the next three years the vast majority of airlines and airports are planning to invest in mobile services for passengers and most airports will also be financing self-service processes.

SITA’s analysis shows that during the same period the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Fast Travel Program will reach a critical threshold. IATA’s target is to achieve a self-service experience for 80% of global passengers by 2020. This covers six key stages in the journey: check-in, bags-ready-to-go, document scanning, self-boarding, flight rebooking and bag recovery. Last year the initiative reached 29% of passengers with the goal of 40% this year. In the report SITA presents a detailed analysis of the readiness of airlines and airports at each stage of the journey and the expectation of adoption by 2018 on the way to reach this vision.

Nigel Pickford, Director Market Insight, SITA, said: “The air transport industry has already embraced self-service and now it is turning to the ‘Internet of Things’ to deliver a more connected experience to travelers. Half of airlines expect to have IoT initiatives up and running over the next three years meanwhile airports are building out the infrastructure to support IoT. Together these will deliver improved operations and will lead to a step change in the passenger experience.”

The Future is Connected combines SITA’s global research with commentary and cases studies from airports and airlines that are moving to fully-connected travel. Those featured include Changi Airport Group, Mumbai International Airport, Air New Zealand, Miami International Airport, along with industry perspectives from Airports Council International (ACI).

For further details download SITA’s full report – The Future is Connected.

Beacons first step to improve check-in, bag drop and collection
Brussels | June 18, 2015– A major revolution in the passenger experience is set to emerge over the next three years as airlines invest in the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). According to the SITA 2015 Airline IT Trends Survey, the vast majority of airlines (86%) expect that the IoT will deliver clear benefits in the next three years and already more than one third (37%) have allocated budget to it. The results of the survey released today, show that IoT investments will be focused in the areas of check-in, bag drop and bag collection.

The ‘Internet of Things’ is when physical objects are connected to the internet, which enables tracking, data collection, analysis and control. As part of this revolution, more things in the airport are being connected up including buildings, equipment, bags, trolleys, tugs – basically all the ‘things’ that could emit a status. In reality, however, because today the vast majority (83%) of passengers carry smartphones, passengers and staff are connected and can be part of the IoT too.

SITA’s survey carried out among the world’s top 200 airlines shows that airlines are already considering the benefits of IoT and over the next three years more than half plan investments in this area. By 2018, 16% plan major programs and a further 41% plan to invest in research and development.

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA, said: “Our whole world is becoming more and more connected and airlines recognize that investment will be needed to harness the benefits of IoT efficiently. This year airlines are beefing up their investments in both business intelligence and data centers, which are key foundations required for the IoT. SITA is already working across the community, with airlines, airports and other stakeholders, to see how to make the IoT effective across every point of the business and passenger journey.”

All these things – objects, passengers and staff – that are being connected will create immense amounts of data and both business intelligence (BI) and data centers are vital to extract the data’s value. This year’s survey shows that airlines are heavily investing in these areas. Already 94% of airlines are investing in BI with 74% planning major investment programs by 2018. While 68% have a major investment program planned for data centres in the next three years, with a further 14% investing in R&D or a pilot program.

Beacons for baggage

One of the first manifestations of the IoT in the air transport industry is the use of beacons. This will be the first area that airlines will see the benefits of sensors and the ability to match location with other information. Today just 9% of airlines are using or trialing beacons but this is set to rise rapidly to 44% by 2018. Bag services are the steps of the journey where beacons will be most used by then – 44% of airlines are planning to use them at bag drop and 43% at bag claim. These are the key pain points in the passenger journey over which the airlines have direct control and it is encouraging for passengers to see the airlines investing in new technologies at these steps.

Location, location, location

Another area of progress identified in SITA’s survey is how communications are set to develop rapidly from the first wave of notification services, which are now established, to the point where interactive mobile communication becomes the standard for the majority of airlines. The focus of these new services over the next three years will be to use location-based information, in many cases from beacons, to solve baggage-related issues and help passengers board on time with notifications based on their location, even before they reach the airport. Today, close to 60% of airlines offer flight notification services to passengers via smartphone apps and by 2018 the numbers are expected to be over 96%. This is already the number one service for which airlines are using beacons and in three years, 57% will use beacons to inform way-finding apps.

Peters added: “It is early days for the IoT but it is becoming a reality and this will be a game-changing and real-time revolution in the way we do things – not only in the air transport industry but across all aspects of our lives. Together airlines and airports can use beacons as a gateway to the IoT, creating intelligent airports and fully exploiting business intelligence and analytics to deliver a better passenger experience.”