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!

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

  • Phasor’s ultra thin, phased array antennas optimized for the Intelsat Epic NG® platform will enable high performing, cost efficient Ku-band broadband connectivity; offering service providers and aircraft operators catering to civil and government small-jet markets greater access, flexibility and choice for their broadband connectivity needs in the sky
    Washington DC | March 16, 2015– Building upon the company’s recent investments in innovative antenna technology and platforms, Intelsat S.A. (NYSE:I), the world’s leading provider of satellite services, announced today that it signed an agreement to co-design and produce an ultra-thin, active phased array, Ku-band satellite antenna solution with Phasor Inc., a leading developer of high throughput, modular, electronically steerable antennas (ESAs).

The innovative Ku-band antennas will be developed exclusively for Intelsat and optimized for the Intelsat EpicNG high throughput satellite (HTS) platform, the first satellite of which is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2016. This also marks the first cost-effective fuselage-mount Ku-band antenna suitable for installation on civil and government small-jets, which represent an underserved segment of the fast-growing aviation broadband market.

According to recent research reports, the civil and government small-jet markets are expected to experience significant growth, particularly in the developing markets around the world. EuroConsult reports: “The number of business jets is expected to grow from 18,400 in 2013 to 26,200 in 2023.” Seventy-five percent of civil small-jet passengers are high-level corporate executives who consider these aircraft “offices in the sky” with a need for broadband service that is as important in the air as it is in the workplace on the ground. When used in conjunction with Intelsat EpicNG Ku-band satellites, the Phasor antenna technology is expected to enable broadband speeds to small-jets of over 15Mbit/s to the aircraft and 5 Mbit/s from the aircraft.

Stephen Spengler, Intelsat’s Deputy Chief Executive Officer, said, “The high power of the Intelsat EpicNG platform combined with Phasor’s innovative antenna technology will unlock new market opportunities for both companies in the aviation sector. Today’s business and leisure travelers are demanding broadband connectivity in-flight in order to maximize their time and productivity so that they can keep up in today’s fast moving environment. Together, Intelsat and Phasor will provide service providers and aircraft manufacturers with more flexibility and choice as we help deliver high-speed broadband connectivity to passengers and aircraft operations that is efficient and highly reliable.”

Phasor’s ultra-thin, fuselage-mount active array antenna is expected to deliver significantly higher broadband speeds to civil and government small-jets via Intelsat EpicNG Ku-band satellites. The antenna’s small size and low profile allows for easy integration onto small-jet aircraft’s structure. Being fully electronic, the antenna will be able to seamlessly and reliably steer to beams on Intelsat’s global Ku-band satellite fleet. The unique size and scalability of the Phasor antenna will allow service providers and aircraft operators to create a very high gain antenna array and RF performance resulting in dramatically higher speed broadband connectivity and greater geographical coverage at a much lower installation and operating cost.

David Helfgott, CEO of Phasor, commented, “We are very pleased to partner with Intelsat and bring to the Small-Jet Aviation Marketplace a unique solution designed to meet the ever-growing demands for mobile broadband service. Combined with Intelsat’s innovative EpicNG satellite constellation, these markets for the first time will experience high bandwidth services enabled by a truly revolutionary antenna solution.”

As always, the job of the IFExpress Team is to interview vendors at the popular IFEC Shows and report to our reader, and this year is no different. In three days (and in three consecutive issues) we hope to give our readers a view of what people said about their products and perhaps explain the “spin” in a useful way. We hope you find it interesting and worthwhile.


For years now, we have passed by the earphone folks at Linstol and so this year, we decided to stop and talk with Peter Woolhouse and Jakob Levinson about their new products. Besides colorful new products we got interested in their Noise Cancelling Headset (Model 250) and tested the unit with our iPod. We note that the unit has a couple of features we really liked. First when placed over our ears, the product almost completely canceled the show floor noise when turned OFF, which means a good mechanical fit. Amazingly, music still played through them when turned off! No battery worries here. Then we turned them on and the Model 250 increased fidelity (and presence) and cancelled even more noise! Secondly, it’s rechargeable through a mini-USB connector on the bottom of one headpiece – 5 volts. We remember up to 14 hours of continuous usage with one charge. Nice job Linstol! Airlines can get the Model 250’s with modified individual color and logo applications on up to 7 of the headphone parts, all for around $30 a pair. Check them out. (Editor’s Note: We note that even with 32 ohms impedance, the efficiency provided ample loudness.)

Two big stories accentuate the Panasonic presence at the show in Anaheim.

Ku-band narrow body antenna roll out: Oddly enough, Panasonic has teamed with Boeing Network & Space Systems (N&SS) for their new electronically steered phased array antenna designed (primarily) for narrow body aircraft (2. Image). The flat planed phased array antenna consists of a transmit and receive array situated next to each other in the horizontal reference plane. And you guessed it; the antenna design contributes to perhaps the lowest Ku-band antenna drag profile in the industry (2.7” or 6cm high). Also, it is important to note that the shroud around the antenna itself could be designed to fit: Boeing and Airbus narrow bodies, as well as, business jets. Also, we were told that the antenna is ARINC 791 compliant. The antenna will be available in 2016, and with their existing Ku-band mechanically scanned antennas they can cover any fleet of aircraft. Furthermore, if you are too young to remember Connexion by Boeing, it was launched and in service in the late 90’s to early 2000’s on Lufthansa but never gained in popularity – most likely due to cost at the time – but their engineers know how to design antennas and we suspect that’s why Panasonic chose them. With the burgeoning single-aisle market and the demand for more passenger connectivity, this market will grow! Watch this product.

NFC: EMV compliant Near Field Communication technology is being developed within Panasonic’s inflight entertainment systems. The system will be launched in 2015 because you will probably see NFC enabled smartphones and cards being used in flight. Here are some of the features of this service: high value transactions and purchases, personal data synchronization, frequent flyer status via NFC card/phone – gold card advantages, crew check-in is now available via NFC, Passenger specific information pushes are now available, and it will now work with the iPhone 6. With increased hacking and fraud issues, this is a must technology for aviation. One airline told us an unbelievable dollar scam they encounter each month but asked us not to reveal the amount or the airline. With NFC, scamming is now pushed down one notch and as a result, bigger purchases are doable. We expect this feature to end up on all Panasonic IFEC systems.

Cool Room Update:  You know how we like the Panasonic “Cool Room” and every year Steve Sizelove outdoes himself on getting the latest, and we mean LATEST technology, to show how it and innovation might affect the IFEC industry. Here’s a clue from this year’s room – Oculus Rift. You will have to wait till a future issue to get an update… the Panasonic Cool Room will be the subject of a future Hot Topic!


AeroMobile’s Kevin Rogers told us the following:

“Today 270+ aircraft are installed. The installation rate is 5 – 6 planes per month and this number is expected to grow over the next 12 months.”

“Panasonic is the sales arm for the AeroMobile service”, he noted.

“The Panasonic announcement about the single-aisle Ku-band antenna will have a significant impact on the market, primarily because of the narrowbody applications and the services required in China.”

“Panasonic’s Ku-band hardware allows the AeroMobile telecommunications operation, and in fact because of coverage and availability, AeroMobile should be considered a virtual country.”

“AeroMobile has 270 roaming agreements today, but all are handled/billed by the company.”

“Interestingly, the only 2 countries where there is a service gap are in the USA and China. China has their own frequency standards and the USA has other issues, as we are all aware of.”

“80% of users of phones in the aircraft don’t use voice – they just use text and data. This emulates the usage on the ground.”

“The service is very popular especially in business class, partly because it is so easy to use.”


Big news at Thales is the acquisition of LiveTV from JetBlue. The addition of two familiar faces, Glenn Latta and Mike Moeller (as well as others), appeared as part of the Thales team at APEX. While we suspected that the org chart was presently in flux and yet to be worked out, Dominique Giannoni and Glen Latta wanted to discuss strategy and how the LiveTV acquisition dovetails with the growth and support development of the entire IFEC package from Thales. The attached two charts (link) pretty much tell the story. Chart 1 has all the Gee Wiz information you need, from the point that Thales IFEC is 15 years in operation to the fact that they have 1,700 aircraft flying in all major platforms, including 200 with Ka-band connectivity.

Chart 2 is perhaps the most significant. Not only does it frame Thales based on functionality, it shows what the strategy for the company and is probably the most significant part from the company’s perspective. The $400 million purchase appears to be a hand-in-glove fit because of LiveTV’s in-depth connectivity capability matches perfectly with the Thales IFE offering. Glenn Latta is the President of LiveTV a wholly owned subsidiary of Thales USA reporting to and he and Dominique Giannoni, CEO IFE&C. Together, they are shaping what is becoming a significantly changed business. Perhaps the best quote comes from the team when they said, “Look at it this way, today Thales has 1,815 people focused on IFEC. Both sides, Irvine and Florida, are leveraging their strengths and are looking at each project customer by customer, so integration of the two companies is well under way.”

Additional observations about the merger of the two companies based upon our interview were:
1) The strategy behind the merger with LiveTV was three fold: the need for a strong connectivity add-on, a strong retrofit business, and entry into the low cost market.
2) LiveTV can now leverage the line-fit experience with the retrofit experience. This is a very broad offering to the airline.
3) The acquisition of LiveTV brought Thales: Wi-Fi in the cabin, a back office, a front office, transaction process, and a portal.
4) LiveTV brought Thales 700 aircraft flying of which 200 are flying with Ka-band connectivity and a backlog of 250 aircraft to be fitted with Ka.
5) 50% of the LiveTV engineering team is software, and as a result, the employees have the ability to adapt to either organization.
6) Both LiveTV and Thales brought content to the table. They are now looking at leveraging these groups and are looking at the offerings on a customer-by-customer basis.
7) Dominique Giannoni told us that key area of development is to improve airline operations through connectivity.
8) The philosophy behind Thales/LiveTV is that everything is based upon the strategy not necessarily the product as a result of this corporate blending.
9) In the words of Glenn Latta, “It is an opportunity rich environment.”


We met with Leo Mondale, President Inmarsat Aviation who will be a new focal point for Global Xpress, and a good one at that.

We thought it best to start off with a definition: Global Xpress is a super-fast, Ka-band broadband satellite network from Inmarsat that will provide worldwide (almost) coverage with three geosynchronous satellites.

During our interview we asked a few questions to give our readers a better view of the system. Here a few of the salient issues:
1) One satellite is up today and the other two will be deployed by mid-2015.
2) Aviation will experience up to 50 Mbps data rates.
3) The first satellite covers the coast of the UK to portions of Asia. See attached and is in orbit today. We note that it is a spot beam satellite that has 89 distinct beams, as all will have. Because the spot beams provide continuous coverage over its footprint, it is possible to manage the data traffic as the aircraft travels through the beams
4) Today’s current Inflight Connectivity does not emulate the ground experience; however, the newer generation of users will demand more from their airborne connectivity experience and Global Xpress hopes to fill that need.
5) Three ground stations (with redundant features) will deal with live, rain-fade issues.
6) The first customer for Global Xpress was Vietnam Airlines via Gogo, Thales and Honeywell.
7) When the third satellite is up and operating there will be very few commercial air transport routes that Inmarsat doesn’t cover.
8) Global Xpress Service was announced in June of 2010 and the first satellite build happened on time.
9) Leo Mondale stated that if it were not for launch slides Global Xpress would be in service today.
10) With the exception of the North Atlantic, maritime and aviation routes don’t tend to overlap.
11) The industry has accepted Ka-band and there are very few questions about its capabilities anymore. The first customer was the Military and they have been interested in Ka-band for the last 10 years.
12) “We are at the beginning of a massive capacity and infrastructure increase, all in alignment with our decision in 2010 to launch Global Xpress service. We are excited to be part of the wave!” Leo Mondale

Some Final Notes

  • Low-Profile Architecture Cuts Operational Expenses for Wi-Fi-Equipped Aircraft

Anaheim, CA | September 16, 2014– At the Airline Passenger Experience Association Expo, Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) and Boeing Network and Space Systems (N&SS) today announced that, subject to terms, N&SS and Panasonic will develop a ground breaking broadband electronically steered phased array antenna for commercial airliners.

The N&SS and Panasonic-designed lightweight antenna, which will deliver Panasonic’s eXConnect broadband in-flight Wi-Fi service, reduces fuel burn and emissions through a 65 percent reduction in operational weight and drag without compromising connection speed.

The new antenna will be available to the commercial aircraft market in 2016. In addition, Panasonic plans to offer the electronically steered antenna for a much broader range of narrow and wide body aircraft.

“For decades, Panasonic and Boeing have collaborated on cutting-edge innovations, and today we have introduced a solution that sets a new standard in antenna operating performance metrics. Airlines now have the best of both worlds — a high-performance, broadband service for their passengers, and Wi-Fi-equipped aircraft that operate efficiently, saving airlines tens of thousands of dollars per year, per aircraft, in fuel,” said Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics. “Together with our single- and dual-panel antennas we now have a portfolio of solutions for all types of airline use cases.”

Paul Geery, Vice President of C3 Solutions for Boeing Network & Space Systems, added that “Boeing has been designing and qualifying aeronautical phased array antennas for more than 30 years. We are delighted to provide Panasonic with this innovative solution, a low-profile phased array antenna that will have the lowest total drag and weight impact in the industry.”