We first heard about meshed aviation networks a few years ago but not much has happened in the build and test phase until now. In the past, and as far back as 2008, mesh networks have found use on the ground and in the air with the military. However, in the last couple of years, mesh networks have found a proposed place, specifically in aviation papers like this one. Interestingly, Wikipedia notes; “The 66-satellite Iridium constellation operates as a mesh network, with wireless links between adjacent satellites. Calls between two satellite phones are routed through the mesh, from one satellite to another across the constellation, without having to go through an earth station. This makes for a smaller travel distance for the signal, reducing latency, and also allows for the constellation to operate with far fewer earth stations than would be required for 66 traditional communications satellites.”
Now, the Airborne Wireless Network folks are targeting the communication to and from the ground, through moving aircraft paths… that is, the planes have antennas that talk to each other, as well as, to ground stations – look at it as a flexible, moving wireless network that does not use satellites, but rather, uses the airplane(s) as the communication nodes to ground stations. As the reported requirements for off-plane data increases, as well as the development failure prediction capability based on more data, communicating black box testing, and passengers and crew data usage goes up – another method to send it might be useful! The concept in our first story is the result of a lot of new technology brought about by new data handling capabilities, advanced antenna processing, flexible spectrum management and frequency-agile transmissions and importantly, software defined networking. While Airborne Wireless Network has kept a low profile about their operation, you are going to hear a lot about the technology, and a lot about their product in the future. Stay Tuned!
Airborne Wireless Network:
Airborne Wireless Network (the company) is pleased to announce that it has entered into a Memorandum Of Understanding with Kansas City-based Jet Midwest Group (Jet Midwest). It states that both parties have agreed to enter into a definitive agreement by September 30, 2016. The memorandum further states that Jet Midwest Group would be providing up to three Boeing 757-223 Jetliners to Airborne Wireless Network for its ‘proof of network concept’ and FAA certification testing. Two of these Boeing 757-223’s have tentatively been designated for the company’s use.
Once the aircraft have been fitted with Airborne Wireless’ equipment and ground-testing has been completed, the company plans to fly these commercial jets from Roswell, New Mexico to Kansas City, Missouri. According to the FAA, this will be a historic “first ever” flight of a meshed commercial airliner-based network. Their plan is for global service of real-time data performance developing a virtual airborne “worldwide web”. One of the advantages of an airplane-based is, of course, no space junk which is a big deal. The only hang-up is you have to get a lot of folks in the game with all their aircraft before enough coverage is available as a reliable connection service. If there are enough players, the advantages, however, result in multiple signal paths, a true “meshed network”, and no single point of failure. We are sure you can see the issues, especially since we are in the heyday of potential signal hacking but being some 30,000 feet above ‘bad guy’ signal sources may have value, not to mention the removal of ground-to-air and air-to-ground weather-related signal and distance losses. This is worth watching.
Last week, Boeing’s Father of the B747, Joe Sutter, passed away at 95. Mr. Sutter was involved with many planes that Boeing built like the B377, the “Dash 80”, B707, B720, B727, B737, and famously as the Father of the B747. He was a nice man and always had the time to say hello… goodbye Joe.
AIN PRODUCT SURVEY CONGRATS!
AIN reports in aircraft cabin electronics this year that, Aircraft Cabin Systems came in second in their Product Report Survey. Gogo Business/Satcom Direct tied for first place. Additionally, Satcom Direct won for overall product reliability. Check the survey results out here.
AIRBUS announced orders from VIETJET for 10 A321ceos and 10 A321neos and JETSTAR PACIFIC for 10 A320ceos; and MOU from VIETNAM AIRLINES for 10 more A350s. We also note that AIRBUS delivered 61 airliners (47 A320 Family, seven A330s, six A350s, and two A380) in August versus 44 (32 A320s, 10 A330s, two A380s) in August 2015. It has now delivered 400 some aircraft in 2016.
THE DELTA MESS:
Delta has reported a $100 million loss from those 2300 lost flights last month, which was blamed on a bad router and data backup capability. Wow, that’s an expensive router! Check out the full story.
From the folks at Aircraft Interiors Expo Asia we get this bit of info about the show – “AIX Asia will welcome more than 50 exhibitors across seating, onboard retail, passenger comfort and more, including Geven, ZIM and Mirus Aircraft Seating. We are co-located with the Future Travel Experience Asia EXPO and the APEX EXPO, bringing together over 150 exhibitors to Singapore this year and creating the airline industry’s biggest fall event for the passenger experience industry.” IFExpress will be there October 24 – 27, 2016 and we hope you will too. We should also note that while the Zika virus has now infected 151 individuals in Singapore, the first locally-transmitted Zika infection was reported this past Saturday but most cases reported are from foreigners. “We have been tracking Zika for a while now, and knew it was only a matter of time before it reached Singapore,” Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong posted on his Facebook page. “Our best defense is to eradicate mosquitoes and destroy breeding habitats, all over Singapore.” Singapore is the only Asian country with active transmission of the mosquito-borne Zika virus. We are bringing our Sawyer Picardin (Consumer Reports highest rated insect repellent – look it up.
VARIOUS LINKS WORTH YOUR TIME:
1. How to Keep Your Mac or iPhone Secure When Traveling Overseas | The Mac Security Blog
2. FAA Tightens Safeguards on Lithium Batteries on Airplanes – WSJ
3. Why You Should Drink Milk Before A Road Trip
4. Long TSA Delays Force Airports To Hire Private Security Contractors – Slashdot
5. ViaSat (VSAT), Eutelsat Receive New Contract in Europe
6. The Ultimate Guide to Travel Plugs
7. Travel hacks to avoid fees for Wi-Fi, extra legroom
auf Wiedersehen AXEL!
“As of today I will go on a sabbatical leave! Still unbelievable for me, but after a very long time at TriaGnoSys and Zii, I will give up work responsibility, and enjoy various other activities, family and friends, which I gave too low focus in the past. So I am leaving with a smile in one eye and a tear in the other. Looking forward to seeing you soon again, take care, Axel”
EBACE, Geneva, Switzerland | May 24, 2016– AS-IP Tech, Inc. (OTCMKTS:IPTK) announced today that its distributor BizjetMobile Europe has secured Jetfly as the launch customer for CHiiMP Smart, the world’s first Bluetooth Smart inflight connectivity solution.
CHiiMP Smart was unveiled at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) as the smallest, lightest and most inexpensive inflight connectivity system in the industry that utilises Bluetooth Smart technology to provide voice, text and email functions.
At EBACE, Jetfly CEO Cedric Lescop said, “We’re excited to be installing the CHiiMP Smart system on our fleet of Pilatus PC-12’s. Our aircraft owners, crew and clients will now be able to stay in contact wherever and whenever they fly. We chose CHiiMP Smart because of its simplicity, easy installation and low operating costs. It will further enhance our commitment to be ‘simply closer’”.
AS-IP Tech, Inc. CEO Ron Chapman said, “AS-IP Tech, Inc. is pioneering an alternate course of connectivity in the global aerospace industry. We expect CHiiMP Smart to show the world that our range of Bluetooth Smart connectivity solutions are an exciting alternative to the traditionally expensive Wi-Fi platform. Our ambition is to be the first in the world to deliver inflight communications to passengers for the same price in the air as on the ground. We believe AS-IP Tech, Inc.’s unique Bluetooth Smart platform will be the catalyst that upheaves traditional communication models on airlines and beyond.”
Geneva, Switzerland | May 23, 2016– Gogo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOGO), the leading provider of in-flight connectivity and wireless in-flight entertainment solutions to the global aero market, has added Jet ConneX service for business aircraft operators flying globally.
“Gogo is pleased to offer Jet ConneX service to the global business aviation market,” said John Wade, Gogo Business Aviation’s executive vice president and general manager. “Our customers expect Gogo to offer extensive, global support to business aircraft operators who purchase the service. Our back-office systems are in place and our team is prepared to support customers worldwide as the service comes on line.”
With the addition of Jet ConneX service, Gogo Business Aviation offers one of the business aviation market’s widest selections of in-flight voice and data services which include Gogo Biz®, SwiftBroadband, Classic Aero, Swift64, Iridium, terrestrial 3G and Gogo Cloud for automated content delivery.
Gogo’s support capabilities will allow Jet ConneX customers to integrate with other services – including other equipment, network services and in-flight entertainment – for a complete and seamless in-flight digital experience. Gogo customers also receive the convenience of single-source activation, support and consolidated monthly billing.
Gogo will offer innovative airtime and support programs for Jet ConneX, Inmarsat’s Ka-band connectivity service, that will allow customers to select from a range of performance tiers and data packages, using the same Jet ConneX equipment package they have installed on their aircraft.
Jet ConneX Supported Applications
- Stream TV in real time
- High-speed broadband Internet access
- Video calling and conferencing
- High quality Voice over IP
- SMS messaging
- Large file transfers
- VPN access
- Flight deck and cabin crew applications
To learn more about Gogo’s Jet ConneX offering in Europe, aircraft operators are invited to contact Dave Perry, regional sales manager for Europe, at email@example.com.
This week, Gogo Business Aviation is displaying its complete range of in-flight connectivity and entertainment solutions at EBACE 2016. Business aircraft operators are invited to visit Gogo at stand D051. More information is available on Gogo’s EBACE 2016 landing page and by following @GogoBizAv on Twitter for in-show updates.
Melbourne, FL | October 29, 2015– Satcom Direct is the first Inmarsat SwiftBroadband (SBB) distribution partner to provision and enable the new SwiftBroadband high data rate (HDR) service with Honeywell avionics, nearly doubling in-flight data speeds available to business aviation.
In its latest “first” for business aviation, Satcom Direct has made HDR service available to SwiftBroadband customers, providing a faster and more efficient broadband connection. HDR enhances passengers’ overall network connectivity experience by unlocking the ability to use high-bandwidth applications in-flight. The service can provide up to 650 kbps per streaming channel. Customers with a Satcom Direct Router (SDR™) can use Satcom Direct’s exclusive SkyBondSM service to combine up to 2 channels, currently, providing speeds of up to 1.3 Mbps. This is approximately two times faster per channel than traditional SwiftBroadband in-flight connections.
“The number one request we get from operators, passengers and VVIP customers worldwide is faster internet. Satcom Direct is constantly developing and leveraging ways to increase airborne data speeds, so it’s only natural we would be the first to bring HDR to business aviation. Checking email, streaming video, and internet browsing just got significantly faster for our customers and we couldn’t be more pleased to be able to deliver it,” said Jim Jensen, CEO and Founder of Satcom Direct.
Honeywell developed and tested HDR using its proven HSD-400 and HD-710 onboard hardware. The HDR service supports multiple new streaming configurations, including symmetrical and asymmetrical solutions, configurable in either half or full channel data rates. This allows the operator to select a configuration based on their connectivity needs. It is available to operators with select Honeywell terminals and the purchase of a license key, with some compatible models requiring an on-wing software upgrade to enable the service.
Other firsts Satcom Direct has achieved in recent months include being first in business aviation to prove its services over Inmarsat’s new Ka-band network in readiness for launch of the Jet Connex service; first to offer channel bonding via Cobham equipment for streaming over SwiftBroadband; first to provide global voice and text services using your number on your device at any altitude via its exclusive GlobalVTSM service; and it launched the world’s first IT certification for aviation, AeroIT.
- New voice and data service enabled by Iridium NEXT satellite constellation
Cedar Rapids, Iowa | February 27, 2015– Rockwell Collins has entered into an agreement with Iridium Communications Inc. to be a value-added manufacturer (VAM) for Iridium CertusSM broadband terminals. As a VAM, Rockwell Collins will design and manufacture the terminals, which will enable users to utilize Iridium Certus, the voice and data service enabled by the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation.
“Through this agreement with Iridium, we’ll be able to deliver high-speed flight deck connectivity to meet the growing connectivity needs of our customers,” said Steve Timm, vice president and general manager, Air Transport Systems for Rockwell Collins. “We also see the potential to offer services through our ARINC information management services, giving customers a single source for their Iridium NEXT connectivity needs.”
Rockwell Collins delivers flexible, highly reliable, cost-effective connectivity solutions for airlines and business aircraft around the globe. These solutions include safety services as well as value-added applications that optimize and expand capabilities for aircraft operators and passengers.
“Rockwell Collins is a true pioneer and leader in aviation communication solutions, continually pushing the envelope to provide innovative solutions for both aircraft operators and OEMs alike,” said Bryan Hartin, executive vice president, Sales and Marketing, Iridium. “Additionally, their excellent global distribution channels support Iridium’s long-term strategy to offer best-in-class products and services while staying true to our wholesale distribution model.”
The first launch of Iridium NEXT satellites is scheduled in October 2015.
Lyngby, Denmark | February 26, 2015– Iridium Communications Inc. has selected Cobham SATCOM as an official Manufacturing Partner for Iridium Certus broadband, a new generation of satellite services based on the forthcoming Iridium NEXT constellation. Cobham SATCOM, a leading satellite and radio communication hardware manufacturer, plans to grow its well-established L-band portfolio with a new line of Iridium Certus terminals for users in the aeronautical and maritime sectors, ready for the launch of new global broadband services.
The Iridium NEXT constellation will consist of 66 low-Earth orbit inter-connected satellites. It introduces a number of new and expanded capabilities, including greater capacity, bandwidth and data speeds, while retaining the global (pole-to-pole) data services Iridium® supports today. Iridium Certus broadband services will be used for commercial, government, and safety communications; areas that Cobham SATCOM already serves with its existing portfolio of L, Ku, Ka and C-band satellite terminals. The new agreement enables Cobham SATCOM to expand its portfolio even further, with development of maritime (SAILOR) and aeronautical (AVIATOR) products for Iridium Certus broadband.
Cobham SATCOM is already a current generation maritime Iridium terminal and hardware manufacturer, and a clear market leader in maritime L-band MSS, in addition to being an established provider of L-band cabin and cockpit communication systems for aircraft. This experience provides a strong platform for Iridium Certus terminal development, giving aircraft, boats and ships high performance and reliability for Iridium’s next generation of services.
“We are delighted to become an official Iridium Certus manufacturing partner and look forward to being part of the massive opportunities that these new services will introduce for satcom users and service providers. The inherent advantages of the Iridium NEXT constellation and our expertise in L-band product development allow us to offer innovative communications solutions, providing our diverse customer base in the aeronautical and maritime markets access to the full suite of compelling Iridium Certus services,” says Paul Jona, SVP Cobham SATCOM.
“We are excited to be working with Cobham SATCOM, a recognized leader developing game-changing products in aeronautical and maritime markets, and look forward to supporting the next-generation of safety services that result from this partnership,” said Bryan Hartin, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Iridium. “Our selection of Cobham SATCOM demonstrates our long-term strategy to offer superior communications platforms while staying true to our wholesale model – working with our partners as the best way to address growing, diverse markets.”
- Significant program will offer Falcon operators a cost-effective solution to comply with emerging airspace mandates
Orlando, FL | October 20, 2014– Gogo Inc. (NASDAQ: GOGO), a leading global aero- communications service provider, announces that Dassault will offer a factory-approved solution to help Falcon operators comply with emerging FANS (Future Air Navigation System) mandates. The solution includes Iridium-based communications systems from Gogo’s subsidiary, Gogo Business Aviation LLC.
Beginning in November, the solution is expected to be available via a Dassault Service Bulletin at any authorized Falcon service facility for Falcon 900, Falcon 2000 and Falcon 7X aircraft with EASy II flight decks.
FANS capabilities are useful features on the most desirable and frequently-used oceanic routes between North America and Europe. FANS technologies allow flight crews and air traffic controllers to exchange safety-sensitive flight information via digital data link – such as clearances and requests to climb or descend. They also enable automated position reporting via the aircraft’s Flight Management System. FANS can enable aircraft to obtain preferential altitudes and routing which improves efficiency, reduces fuel consumption and saves time.
“Creating a cost-effective FANS solution for our customers has been a top priority. Gogo Business Aviation’s expertise with FANS and next-generation datalink services made them a great partner in this important project,” said Mr. Olivier Villa, Senior Vice President, Civil Aircraft, Dassault Aviation. “A significant number of Falcon operators already have Gogo’s Iridium-based Axxess system installed on their aircraft and our FANS solution will permit a simple upgrade for that equipment as part of the overall compliance package.”
John Wade, Gogo Business Aviation’s executive vice president and general manager, added, “With the forthcoming mandates, FANS is a very important topic among business aircraft operators in today’s market. We’re pleased to help Dassault bring a cost-effective solution to Falcon operators all over the world.”
From an equipment perspective, Dassault’s new FANS solution incorporates Gogo Business Aviation’s Iridium-based Axxess system and Data Interface Unit (DIU). Both systems meet FAA DO-178B (Level D) certification requirements for FANS.
First introduced in 2005, the Axxess system is a prolific system in the business aviation market – currently flying on thousands of aircraft and offered as standard or optional equipment by most major business aircraft manufacturers. Paired with Gogo Business Aviation’s Data Interface Unit (DIU), the FANS- compliant Axxess system is available to existing customers as a field retrofit through a special upgrade/exchange program. It is also available for new installations.
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!
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!
Lake Forrest, CA and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | May 25, 2014– The tragic disappearance of flight MH370 is still very present in all of our minds.
In an initiative to improve the handling of similar situations in the future the United Nations’ ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and the Government of Malaysia will host an expert dialogue on May 26-27 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Panasonic Avionics has been invited to participate in this event, contribute to their technical expertise, and present FlightLinkTM, a fully integrated aircraft communication, tracking and weather information solution.
This communication system has been provided free of charge to airlines from its launch in 2004. It offers Iridium Communications for cockpit voice, text and operational data as well as real-time fleet monitoring and simultaneously tracks all Panasonic equipped aircraft – 24/7/365 around the globe. Aircraft tracking services range from positioning reporting at no more than 5-minute intervals to live flight data streaming.
Additionally, Panasonic Weather Solutions delivers real-time weather analytics and fleet monitoring by communicating data from TAMDAR weather sensors installed on over 300 aircraft. This is the only global satellite network dedicated to aeronautical connectivity, and with it, Panasonic enables passengers, crew and aircrafts to stay in touch with the ground throughout their flights.
Andy Fellows Vice President of Panasonic for the Asia, Japan and China regions will present on behalf of Panasonic on 26th May.
There will be a webcast for the opening ceremony and closing press conference. To schedule an in-depth interview with a Panasonic expert please contact: Brian Bardwell, Corporate Communications Manager -Panasonic Avionics Phone: +1 949.462.1742 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tucked into a corner of this year’s Panasonic Booth at AIX in Hamburg was a computer display screen running an actual map with moving indications of commercial aircraft flying their scheduled routes. While this wouldn’t seem odd in many other booths, it caught our eye as it was marked “FlightLink” and had nothing to do with IFE. Panasonic’s Don DeBlasio, Sr. Director, Corporate Strategic Initiatives, was on hand and told IFExpress that Panasonic had acquired a company, previously known as AirDat and now named Panasonic Weather Solutions, just prior to the 2013 AIX Hamburg show. The product is now installed on over 300 aircraft providing Iridium communications, flight tracking and weather, data day in and day out, to commercial customers worldwide. We were caught a bit speechless because the newly named FlightLink solution was humming along in the booth of the largest IFE vendor in our industry. Obviously, Panasonic saw something we did not, but more about that later. If you guessed that the California company was expanding it’s horizons, you might be on the right track… but more of that later too.
From a definition perspective, let’s look at the features of the FlightLink service. FlightLink is a global communications (voice & data) system that delivers aircraft flight tracking and dynamic event alerting as well as weather reporting. FlightLink is an independent GPS-based system that features triggered event reporting, with archived data, all supplied through a secure web portal. In other words, Panasonic has read the commercial aviation tealeaves: airlines will need more data about the flight environment going forward. Significant is the fact that Panasonic, an IFE company, has decided to move into the next phase of their growth and development – Beyond The Cabin. Historically, the company grew the IFE market. Next, and with the addition of satcom availability it moved into the connectivity world and now has orders for over 2,000 plane installations. The progression is obvious, IFE + Connectivity, and now adding FlightLink: Iridium flightdeck communications, flight tracking, dynamic event alerting and weather data. It appears to us that Panasonic aims to make a broad mark into the aviation market and if you talk to Paul Margis or David Bruner you have to come away with that perspective.
To give our readers a better idea of how the system works, here is a bit of dialog we had with Don at the show that might set the stage for a better understanding of FlightLink:
IFExpress: Tell us a bit about FlightLink and what it is designed to do?
Don: “We feel that the name appropriately captures the overall product solution of ‘linking’ the aircraft with the ground, whether it’s for flight deck voice or data via Iridium, tracking the aircraft’s location and communicating other parameters, or gathering precise weather data for Panasonic Weather Solutions.” He went on, “Our message is constant connectivity with the aircraft. With FlightLink, we’re now streaming data from the aircraft and expanding Panasonic’s capabilities into flight deck connectivity. This new name enables differentiation from our Ku-band connectivity solution.”
IFExpress: Can you give our readers a better idea of what we are talking about when we describe the FlightLink System?
Don: “It’s a very simple system comprised of: a forward-lower fuselage mounted external weather sensor; a 3 MCU box called the TPCU that contains: Iridium radio transceivers, independent GPS, data processing and aircraft interfaces; and an antenna (small, iPhone size) for Iridium & GPS.”
IFExpress: Can you give us an idea of coverage?
Don: “Today, Iridium is global (including polar and remote oceanic). In 2015, Iridium will launch their NEXT platform which will also offer true global coverage with even higher bandwidth than what is available today.”
IFExpress: With over 300 installations, the system is, we assume, certified?
Don: “We have FAA and EASA STCs already in hand for numerous airframes, as well as FAA PMA.”
IFExpress: With knowledge of winds aloft there must be reduced fuel burn, and we assume, other savings?
Don: “There will be significant opportunities for airlines to use FlightLink to improve operational efficiencies. For example, they can leverage improved wind grids to improve an aircraft’s approach for landing.
IFExpress: During a flight what data is sent between the aircraft and the airline network center (via the Panasonic FlightLink Center)?
Don: “Typically, we are delivering aircraft position (lat & long), altitude, heading, ground speed, GPS time stamp. With the weather sensor, we are also gathering data on wind, temperature, relative humidity, icing, turbulence/EDR (Eddy Dissipation Rate). More options are available as well, if the airline wants to truly leverage the service.”
IFExpress: With the installation of GCS (Global Communications Services) in over 400 planes today (eventually over 2000) we see value in using the greater bandwidth of Ku for the data, realizing that Ku it is not as global as Iridium? In other words is this tied to a bigger plan… a shift to Ku-Band for more data?
Don: Panasonic’s concept of a truly connected aircraft is one with an optimized flow of data through our Ku-band GCS network as well as Iridium.
We at IFExpress are convinced that as a reasonably priced communications, flight tracking & weather data solution, FlightLink has an important job to do and we believe that FlightLink and ADS-S are complimentary components of an overall CNS/ATM aviation industry strategy. ADS-B is for global air traffic management and control. The Panasonic solution enables airline communications with, and connectivity to, their aircraft knowing 100% of the time when and where they are, not relying on the presence of ADS-B or ATC transmissions. It also provides an independent communications link for airline operations which enables the movement of any amount of desired data over that link. In summary, FlightLink at this point is an answer for many aspects of the “C” (Communication) of CNS/ATM, potentially providing significant help into the ATM portion, especially via weather. The “N” (Navigation) should likely be left up to the FMS manufacturers and the “S” (Surveillance) likely left up to those that make TCAS, ATC Transponders, WX, and TAWS/EGPWS.
Make no mistake; FlightLink is not designed to compete with ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance) the next generation of ATC communication and reporting system. Years ago, FlightLink started as a flightdeck communication and weather data collection system. But, if you are thinking about recent events, you might be like the rest of us. ”Hey, there is another use…”
On Another Front:
AT&T is to be in the US inflight Wi-Fi business, or so the press is saying. Using ground-based antennas (Whose and where?), AT&T will be featuring 4G LTE connectivity to provide greater bandwidth to planes starting as early as 2015, and notably, using the existing AT&T spectrum. Honeywell is named in the new program as a partner, and, we understand Gogo’s stock is down. Think about it, with AT&T’s more than 116 million wireless subscribers, 16.5 million total broadband subscribers and service for many of the world’s largest corporations, including all of the Fortune 1000, they have leverage. Expect new and hi value deals if you are a customer and fly domestically! We will have more on this later as the AT&T solution develops.
After APEX closed, IFExpress received a very good, and very short video about Panasonic show products that neatly explained their booth-featured product lines. There was an optional questionnaire at the end, however, we wanted to point out that the video itself presented a very concise summary of their show products and we now wonder if IFE companies with large, multiprogram displays should put out a booth summary before the show to help show-goers focus on their own personal preferences, given limited show viewing time… not too early though for competitive reasons, say a day or two before?
We wanted to tell our readers a bit about the ongoing aircraft interior developments at BAE Systems, a potential cabin powerhouse. The company brought some significant new products, some new and some next generation of the existing ones. We note the new Attendant Control Panel which is the cabin lighting controller (among other cabin control features) for B737NG aircraft with those wonderful collared LED lights (crew interface) which is just being introduced. The existing ACP is some 5 years old so watch for more on this new product as things develop from BAE. We want also to note their in-development in-seat power solution. Interestingly, the company has been working in-seat power from a different angle and we thought you might want a bit more information about it, so we talked with chief cabin honcho, Jared Schoemaker, Director of Cabin Systems (See Images LINK and note the 3D models of cabin hardware) and he told IFExpress, “The IntelliCabin power system is different because it does not perform power conversion at the seat. Existing systems convert 115VAC 400Hz power to 115VAC 60Hz at each seat group (3-4 seats). IntelliCabin converts the power on a larger scale, and 115VAC 60Hz is distributed to many seats. Additionally, the smart outlet is able to sense how much power is being drawn by each outlet, and can be commanded on/off. This allows us to “right size” the power conversion to the need, and manage the power distribution across the entire aircraft. The result is a lower cost system with less impact (weight, size) to the seat.” We note that the system is not available today and if you want to stay tuned to developments, contact Shelby Cohen, Communications Manager.
Flight Display Systems will introduce this year’s new product launches at NBAA and we thought our readers might find this note we just got in somewhat interesting. “Be among the first to hear about our focus on aircraft cabin Wi-Fi technology. We will debut the next generation JetJukebox, which streams movies, music, and other content to handheld devices, with no internet connection required. Other products in our wireless suite include a Cabin Wi-Fi Router, a Dual USB Charger, and a 10X PED Synchronizer/Charger. Additionally, one final reveal involves streaming radio!” You might want to go to NBAA, it is in Las Vegas, Oct. 22 – 24 this month!
“Have you thought about Bluetooth in the Cockpit for EFB’s?” This was another note we received from Matt Cadwell, Business Development Manager at Blue Sky Networks. It went on, “Blue Sky Network recently announced a brand new iPad app that harnesses satellite networks for advanced 2-way messaging and forms (HawkEye Link, Press Release).
These completely customizable forms allow crew and dispatch to update flight plans, log maintenance issues, or fill out any custom form in real time during flight. It’s the industry’s first satellite-based dynamic forms application for the iPad, and it is available as an integrated avionics system, or in a portable device for smaller operations. In some cases, it can be used by passengers to stay connected using their familiar iOS or Android devices. Pass this along to your cockpit communications expert and they will thank you!”
That note also caught our attention so we asked him if his HawkEye Link App had any application to passengers in commercial cabins and he told IFExpress, “To answer your question in more detail,” he said, “the system allows for one connection via Bluetooth at a time, so it is definitely possible that PAX could use it, but that means the crew can’t. We do have customers interested in deploying it to small charter operations, where it is reserved for PAX. The messaging system is built 100% on email, so the aircraft has its own email address (usually [tailnumber]@new.skyrouter.com) and they can email any other email address. Approved email addresses can email the aircraft directly (Approved list configurable by the client).” So there you have it – Iridium may be possible in the cabin!
With all the talk lately of E.Coli, bacillus, staphylococcus, and salmonella tainted water, Zodiac has developed a clever UV water purification device that cleans potable cabin water via a small (LED-based, we think) UV source that delivers 12 GPM of the pure stuff. The 100 watt device fits in the plumbing line and is about the size of a loaf of bread – first one we have seen and you can find out more by contacting Dale Lauderback at Zodiac in CA.
IFExpress had a chance to communicate with BOSE rep Hratch Astarjian last week and found out his new title is Manager, Global Aviation Sales and Service (Which includes their airline business, their pilot communication headset business and our military aviation business). He told IFExpress, “Things are going well, but I am incredibly busy… which is why Danielle Glassman is working on the airline business.” Now you know.
Late Breaking News – The last time we talked to the Baltra team at Sky Definition they told us to watch out for a surprise… here it is: Sky Definition will debut it’s 50″ Ultra HD display at this year’s NBAA. The monitor is designed for use in BizJets and on Commercial aircraft and features 4K Ultra Video Playback, Built-in Media Server, Media Share Capability and it will Stream Real-Time Content.
By the way, our IFEC BUZZ included a comment from a well known IFE expert and we thought the context was also of importance… It is a reference to people who are expert in, or very familiar with, one specialty (i.e., structures, stress analysis, electrical systems). Their only solution to any given problem is what they know. Hmmm?
The Boeing 787 program is facing some interesting times. Here are three relevant links.
The Battle for ANA has Far-Reaching Implications | AirInsight
Airbus chief eyes overtaking Boeing in production by 2018 – Yahoo News
A Company Restructuring Follows Boeing’s Heartbreak | Wall St. Cheat Sheet
This week’s rectangle image is the Flight Focus aircraft connectivity plan… and the reason our readers like IFExpress – We do data! Our feature article is about the Singaporean super-integrator who is way ahead of the Wi-Fi game for commercial airlines. We thought you would like an update with some “meat on the bones’. For our readers, who like the high level picture, check out the graphic they sent along. If you read the captions, it says it all – Flight Focus – a small company has figured out how to make a dent in a large and complex market; they understand that market and it’s needs. They discovered their competency and focus, and now team with partners to apply their solutions to support their motto; ‘Connecting Everyone Onboard’, cabin and cockpit.
If you just want the facts, here is what they wrote on LinkedIn: “As a system integrator with complete vertical integration services, Flight Focus does not only design and manufacture the hardware and middleware (Platform Configurations + Aircraft Monitoring (a.k.a Flight Following), Messaging, Synchronization, Integrated Ground Server). Flight Focus integrates 3rd party software applications and acts as a single-point of contact for all 3rd party companies to deliver a turnkey solution. With our in-house certification team, Flight Focus is able to perform any required testing (EMI tests, functional live tests, flight tests…) to provide STCs and local DGCA approvals. Integration, Verification and Validation are key to deliver a customized and turnkey solution. Flight Focus doesn’t actually install, but we support your MROs and provide services and training for MRO engineers/technicians. We can also provide operational and technical support 24/7, and system upgrades under a ‘Power by the Hour’ agreement.”
We contacted the company, headed by Ralf Cabos, and they recommended a YouTube video presentation want to of Mr. Cabos’ speech at IAPARC 2013. We should also note below that we had a lot of questions but because of space, only a few are provided here. Here are some of the Q&A’s we posed:
Q: Are you FAA approved for installation on US planes?
A: Not for the moment as we don’t have current airlines flying in US but we can easily extend the EASA certification for FAA certification for any client.
Q: Please identify your partners?
A: Our open platform can host and integrate any type of 3rd party applications from any IFE content service providers…
Q: What and how many aircraft are you installed on?
A: Presently, there are 100+aircrafts are already flying with our platform solutions from Air Asia / Air Asia X to Air China. (Press Release).
Q: Can you provide IFExpress more information on aircraft installation and ship set costs?
A: It’s confidential. But as we are dealing with low cost airlines, and using the simplest architecture based on 1 server, it makes our Flight Focus Platform solution a cost effective solution both for the Cockpit and the Cabin.
Q: How long does it take to turn abound a plane?
A: The installation can be performed within 24 hours. The advantage of our product is that it can be installed in record time, and provides flexibility to the airline.
Q: How many passengers can you serve at one time with data, email, video entertainment streams?
A: With our Flight Focus Platform for Cabin, we have been able to connect up to 243 passengers streaming HD videos concurrently with all types of phones, tablets and laptops. This means the system fulfils 100% take-up rate in an Air China’s wide-body A330-300 (with only 5 WAPs). To demonstrate this performance, we did a live test in Beijing at Air China with 243 passengers streaming HD videos at the same time. Here is the video (you can view it as well on our website homepage). For inflight connectivity, it will depend obviously of the connectivity options selected by the airline.
Q: What does the aircraft hardware weigh?
A: Less than 20-25kg (Platform Server + 5 WAPs) to cater EFB/IFE without connectivity. It depends which connectivity options is installed afterwards (Iridium, Inmarsat…) on our open platform.
Q: Who performs the aircraft installation? Where?
A: We don’t actually install, but we provide services and training for MRO engineers/technicians. We support the MROs that airlines are comfortable with and select. We have very good working relationships with many MROs in South East Asia such as GMF Aeroasia who has been our partner in Indonesia; but also Lufthansa Technics in the Philippines, AMECO in Beijing for Air China…
Flight Focus has to be the smallest completely wireless IFE company that you may have never heard of but we bet you will in the future. If you need more information about Flight Focus, contact Alexandre Benoit: +60 16 3677 470 or email@example.com and tell them IFExpress sent you.
– STC Certification Of Iridium OpenPort-Aero(SM) For A320 Aircraft Is The First For Commercial Aviation
MELBOURNE, Florida | May 21, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ — LiveTV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of JetBlue Airways, has received Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for the first commercial aircraft to install the Iridium OpenPort-Aero(SM) high-speed communications platform. Iridium OpenPort-Aero delivers aviation’s only satellite communications service with fully global coverage, providing vital high-speed data and voice connectivity to aircraft around the world. Iridium Communications Inc. IRDM -0.23% operates the global Iridium® satellite network and partnered with LiveTV to develop the Iridium OpenPort-Aero platform, utilizing the Iridium OpenPort® broadband service.
Iridium OpenPort-Aero opens the door to a plethora of in-flight communications services for Airbus 320 aircraft flight crews and passengers. Voice and data services that Iridium OpenPort-Aero supports include: Email, text messaging, internet surfing, VPN, GSM voice and data, as well as crew voice and data, including electronic flight bags (EFB), ecommerce and real-time credit card validation. This simple and ultra-low cost terminal operates worldwide and the form factor can be customized to accommodate installation requirements of nearly all aircraft.
“The Iridium OpenPort-Aero platform is an ultra-low cost – but highly versatile – communications solution,” said Mike Moeller, Vice President of Sales, LiveTV. “With our first STC in-hand for the terminal, this really opens the door for airlines looking for low-cost connectivity solutions to support crew and passenger connectivity, such as EFBs and wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE).”
“Iridium is proud to deliver the only aviation broadband service that works wheels-up to wheels-down around the globe,” said Gregory Ewert, Executive Vice President, Global Distribution Channels, Iridium. “The Iridium OpenPort-Aero platform provides broadband connectivity at a fraction of the price of other aviation broadband solutions. We are pleased to be at the forefront of aviation communications, with our innovative partner LiveTV, in changing the way passengers email, tweet, surf, work or otherwise communicate in flight.”
Beijing, China & Las Vegas, Nevada | October 9, 2011 — SKYBLUE Technology Development Ltd., (SKYBLUE) has received of an extension to the only Iridium frequency bandwidth approval for aviation Satellite Communications (SatCom) in China.
SKYBLUE has been working with FLYHTTM (TSX.V: AMA), to obtain the necessary bandwidth approval for the Company’s Automated Flight information Reporting System (AFIRSTM). The license from the Chinese authorities to use the specific bandwidth for voice and data communications in China has been extended after many years of effort and verification of FLYHT’s equipment. This approval, which has been renewed for the third time, allows AFIRS equipment to be installed on aviation assets in China until the next renewal at the end of 2017. FLYHT is also in possession of several Validation of Supplemental Type Certificates (VSTC), from Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
SKYBLUE is the exclusive distributor of AFIRS products in China as well as the exclusive reseller of AFIRS Iridium-based data and voice services to the aviation community in China. As part of its mandate and requirements from the CAAC, SKYBLUE provides hardware, software and services to airline customers.
FLYHT will host representatives from SKYBLUE at the 2011 Annual Convention of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) in Las Vegas, NV, from October 10 to 12. The two groups will meet Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and operators at the show to discuss regulations in China and the SatCom equipage of aircraft compliant in China. FLYHT is currently working with business aviation OEMs for equipage of AFIRS on their new aircraft for delivery to China.
CAAC has implemented a number of forefront requirements for aviation safety and communications including, but not limited to, requirements for flight following, Quick Access Recorders (QAR), and continuous voice and data communication that is independent of air traffic control in all Chinese airspace. The AFIRS product line meets or exceeds all the current and known future requirements.
The AFIRS 228 will be the first safety services certified platform on the planet to provide black box data streaming via FLYHTStreamTM, FLYHT’s patent pending triggered data streaming solution. It is expected that China will work on regulations requiring data streaming capabilities.
Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Newport News, VA – (May 4, 2009) International Communications Group (ICG) has concluded an agreement to provide Rockwell Collins a version of the ICG NxtLink Iridium communications systems for Air Transport customers. Rockwell Collins is marketing the devices as the IRT 2110 (Dual Channel) and IRT 2120 (Tri Channel) Iridium systems. The units are currently available for delivery.
“We are extremely pleased to have entered into this agreement with Rockwell Collins,” noted Armin Jabs, ICG’s President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), who also oversees the company’s Private Label and New Market Development business activities. “This arrangement allows Rockwell Collins to provide a comprehensive Iridium based flight deck communications solution with features tailored to specific customer needs,” he added.
“We’ve worked closely with ICG to develop the specifications, requirements and configuration of these units,” said Steve Timm, Vice President and General Manager of Information Management at Rockwell Collins. “The IRT 2110 and IRT 2120 are designed to meet our air transport customers’ requirements, and manufactured to Rockwell Collins uncompromising standards. Adding an Iridium communications solution to our products portfolio further enhances our ability to offer airlines a comprehensive communications suite.”
The Iridium system presents an immediate and cost-effective near term solution to provide seamless voice and Datalink flight deck communications for virtually any size airframe including regional jets. Industry analysis has shown that the equipage costs can be recovered quickly through fuel savings as a result of increased efficiencies, and in some recent cases, the ability to communicate with Flight Ops has eliminated the need for expensive turn-backs or diversions.
“In addition to the Rockwell Collins HF radio, HF Datalink and Inmarsat Sat-coms, the IRT devices help us to round out the communications portfolio that Rockwell Collins can provide to customers, depending on their operational requirements,” Timm pointed out.
The IRT-2110 device incorporates a single Iridium transceiver (LBT) and a Short Burst Data (SBD) modem and provides connections to customary and standard flight deck voice and data systems. The IRT 2120 is a three-transceiver device, which combines dual LBTs providing two channels of global voice with an SBD modem dedicated to DataLink services. Both systems support Future Air Navigation System (FANS) and Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) as well as Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) requirements.
Both devices also operate with the external CIM (Configuration Identification Module) which contains the Iridium SIM cards as well as the system configuration information. Keeping the SIMS and configuration storage with the aircraft at all times, make the IRT 2110 and IRT 2120 devices true line replaceable units (LRUs) and removes the requirement to update various databases and number of reassignments in the event of an LRU change-out.
Rockwell Collins customers interested in learning more about the IRT 2110 and IRT 2120 can call 319.295.4085 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About ICG (www.icg.aero)
International Communications Group, Inc. (ICG) of Newport News, Va. is a recognized leader within the aerospace industry, in the development and manufacture of aeronautical communications systems and solutions for the General Aviation and Air Transport industries. ICG’s products provide satellite-based global voice and data telecommunications services for both cabin requirements and flight deck operations. Implementation of ICG avionics provides a comprehensive communications solution that can be customized for any size airframe or application. Products include: CTU systems, corded and cordless handsets, single- and multi-channel Iridium systems and data management devices. Markets for ICG products are the aerospace, military and maritime industries. ICG, a major Iridium value-added manufacturer (VAM) and value-added reseller (VAR), has developed a wide range of Iridium-based solutions and products for mobile satellite communications applications. ICG is an approved FAA manufacturing facility and operates an FAA approved repair station.
About Rockwell Collins (www.rockwellcollins.com)
Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL) is a pioneer in the development and deployment of innovative communication and aviation electronic solutions for both commercial and government applications. Our expertise in flight deck avionics, cabin electronics, mission communications, information management and simulation and training is delivered by nearly 20,000 employees, and a global service and support network that crosses 27 countries.