We open this week’s Hot Topic after a very successful and interesting trip to Hamburg for the 2015 Aircraft Interiors Exhibition. From almost every perspective there was more of everything. So much so, that your IFExpress reporters were so overwhelmed with the 3 halls worth of IFEC/Cabin display areas (approximately 100 exhibits) that we never even got to the other buildings/halls for more aircraft cabin and related show exhibitors, where there were 4 or 5 times more booths. In fact, the IFE halls themselves saw an increase of 33% and there was even a US Pavilion that provided a lower cost display exhibit solution for small businesses – in 2016, this section should grow! It will be our effort in the next month, or so, to cover booths we visited in detail with the hopes that our readers that did not go to Hamburg will get a feel for the show and a bit more information on IFEC related products and services there. We should also point out that since general show floor visitors get in free, it might be wise to use some of your vacation time if you don’t get work-nominated to go yourself!


Carlisle
Perhaps the best lead-in to this next story on Carlisle (you know, the cable maker) and their new aviation product was best spoken by Marketing Guru, Kris Samuelson, and it went something like this: “We built FlightGear Universal Installation to provide an agnostic solution to the installation of satcom antennas on most commercial jet aircraft.” They note: “The universal solution provides an adapter plate to attach antenna to aircraft exteriors for virtually every Ku and Ka Band large format antenna!” You can see the device on this data sheet  and it looks like a large, milled aluminum plate with installation fixtures attached. “Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, in a partnership with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, now offers a complete ARINC 791 solution for Ka- and Ku-band SATCOM installations. The complete package contains everything required for either retrofit or forward fit installations on large jet aircraft. Installation fittings are adjustable to cover the complete range of aircraft frame spacing while providing discrete interface loads to the fuselage. The aerodynamic fairing follows the fuselage curvature without requiring a large installation doubler, sealants, or fasteners through the fuselage. This design creates a simplified, standardized installation, easier maintenance inspections, and overall lower cost of ownership while enabling speed to market. Conformance to the ARINC 791 standard also helps future-proof the installation and makes upgrades to next generation antennas and SATCOM system equipment easier and faster with commonality across entire fleets.”

And yes, Carlisle is quite aware of drag implications. A detailed aerodynamic analysis is being performed currently as part of a final shape refinement to optimize the drag while still encompassing the required volume and keeping the overall installation as compact as possible for minimum weight. Lastly, we should point out that while lower profile antennas have entered the market, they are not yet a panacea. With a demand for increasing bandwidth and higher data rates, Carlisle believes that in the long term, a hybrid approach will actually be adopted by the industry, selecting the right antenna (or antennas) for the operating region of the fleet being modified. Carlisle has seen a tremendous degree of interest during, and immediately following, the Aircraft Interiors Expo probably because they have provided a solution to a seemingly widespread need.


JetPack IFE
One of the “little folks”, JetPack IFE at AIX caught our attention. Having the smallest booth there, we were surprised when we talked to Ed Playdell-Bouverie and James Vaughton, both tekkies, and very sharp, at that. Here is what they do, straight from their website –  “JetPack are a leading supplier of innovative portable solutions for Inlight Entertainment systems. Our proprietary software, VisionIFE, is the first iPad IFE platform to meet the rigorous security criteria necessary to secure Hollywood ‘early window’ content. We create branded systems for airlines and, by leveraging the technology of the latest iPads, we can significantly increase the depth and scope of content available in flight. At JetPack, we provide a full, comprehensive service from supplying technology solutions – tablets, charging and synching stations, and the world-beating support needed to support large deployments of iPads in an aviation environment – to providing a bespoke, curated content according to the exacting needs of partner airlines. We are constantly expanding and developing our offering to ensure there is not better entertainment system in the skies.” They told IFExpress that they offer iPads with content approval from “all major Hollywood Studios”, games, electronic books and music as well. You be the judge – check out their website.


On another front, we asked a couple folks in Hamburg what the future might hold in the IFE space, and one of the best responses we got was from -who else – Rich Salter at Lumexis. He noted “I thought the educational day (Passenger Experience Conference) was great this year – the Virtual Reality session and the Etihad presentation re: developing their custom interior/seating were especially interesting. A future IFE prediction, and don’t laugh – Virtual and Augmented Reality will play a part in IFEC sooner than you might think – VR is not just a Sci-Fi far-future concept anymore. Test results show that passengers immersed in a VR space (e.g., touring their destination in advance) may feel better and more relaxed after a flight even though they’ve actually been cramped into an aircraft seat.” IFExpress is waiting for more data on using a VR headset in a moving device, after an airline meal, with only 2 hours of sleep….


Before we forget, the 2015 AEEC upcoming General Session meeting in Prague will be one of the more interesting for those in the cabin interior and electronics arena. Specifically, there will be some 15 new ARINC Standards to be approved by the AEEC Executive Committee, many of which will be affecting all of us. One that we really thought was ancient history is the application of multi-core processors (Introduced in early 2000’s to personal computers) is proposed to be covered by an approval in a change to ARINC Specification 653; “This will enable avionics suppliers, for the very first time, to use multi core processors on avionics computing platforms,” said Paul Prisaznuk, AEEC Exec Secretary. “Today, every avionics computer on an airplane uses a single core processor. ARINC 653 will support dual core, quad core, multi-core type solutions.“ We note that today’s iPad Air uses a tri-core processor – you make the inference! Check out more of the proposed changes here

London, England | February 3, 2015– European scheduled carrier and Star Alliance member TAP Portugal is the latest airline to adopt the iPad IFE application Bluebox Ai from portable platform specialist Bluebox Avionics.

The new deployment will see outmoded DVD players replaced by the Bluebox premium entertainment solution in the business class cabin on key mid-haul routes between Lisbon and Moscow, Helsinki and Accra.

“Bluebox won’t just replace the older DVD solution, but enhance it substantially”, notes, Rogerio Correia, Head Of Media and Content Management at TAP. “We’ll have our first run movies on there, naturally, but also offer premium television titles, a wide range of digital press titles in Portuguese and English, and plenty of great iPad games too.”

“It is a real pleasure to welcome TAP Portugal into the Bluebox users’ club”. Says John Howe, Joint MD at Bluebox Avionics. “They are a great airline, and this is a great way for us to kick off the new business year. We look forward to a long and rewarding relationship.”