Panasonic at AIX:

One of the big deals at AIX was seating, and Panasonic showed their New Waterfront seat, developed in a consortium by Panasonic, BEAerospace, TEAGUE and Formation Design Group, which was rolled out earlier this year at CES. The team took a lot of cues from the coach JAZZ seat they developed last year and applied it to setback and cushions, even with passenger adjusted temperature control. Not to mention they fold down flat for comfortable sleeping. The seat features a 24-inch 4K screen high definition for viewing and we reported on the new product in our March 1 issue of IFExpress. Seeing the seat and noting all the features in real-life is quite and impressive and in case you didn’t see our report, here is a summary of the product:

Waterfront Features IFEC & SEAT function:

  • 24-inch 4K touchscreen monitor with edge-to-edge glass structure
  • Virtual Local Storage per seat group
  • Streaming Content from Head-End
  • Gigabit Ethernet backbone
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • Passenger controls via:
    • PED (via an airline companion app)
      • Light ID
      • Bluetooth
      • Wi-Fi
    • Mini PCU
    • Tablet pop-up
  • Tailored GUI interface
  • Inductive Charging (Qi)
  • USB Power Ports
  • PED connectivity supported by: Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC
  • An IFE User Interface coupled to hundreds of individually controlled LEDS with:
    • Full Spectrum LED lighting
    • Multiple modes that coordinate seat position, light intensity and color.
      • Passengers can tailor the lighting, temperature and the rest of their environment depending on what they are doing. For example they can create a “theme” environment for watching a movie, eating dinner, or sleeping… just to name a few!
  • An innovative seat mechanism with individual head, leg, and back rest adjustments.
  • Full range of motion – upright to a flat 79-inch bed
    16.7 inches in the foot-well
  • Individual articulation of the head, back, and leg rests
    • Fixed presets
    • Capacitive touch controls
    • Customizable presets via the IFE interface.
  • Pop up storage compartment
  • Full coverage sliding door
  • Herringbone design allows for high-density seating configuration
  • A large, single piece tray table
  • A large fixed side table
  • Cable pass-through areas for electronic devices
  • Individual temperature control
    • Thermoelectric modules in the shell, foot-well, and seating surfaces allow for controllable ambient and direct heating and cooling.
  • An independently heated or cooled side storage compartment
  • Note: Panasonic will also be using Virtual Local Storage (VLS) storage in this seat and while SD card memory is common storage, VLS has 5 – 6 times the storage capacity, and further, they feel that they will be able to double that capability in the next generation system.
  • Stay Tuned on this one , this seat will make flying an enjoyable experience again!

IFEC News Releases of Note:

EAST AURORA, N.Y., May, 23, 2016 — Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO), a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace, defense and semiconductor industries, announced today it has received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) and Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) for its webFB Wireless Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) device for use on Boeing 737 aircraft. This approval represents the first time a wireless Aircraft Interface Device (AID) has been certified for use in the flight deck by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The ultra-compact webFB easily fits in the palm of the hand, yet incorporates the capabilities of both an AID and a wireless server. The built-in AID safely gathers essential data from the aircraft’s ARINC 429 and 717 databuses and conveys it to custom software or EFB apps hosted on the internal server. Using a wireless connection to portable EFB tablets, the webFB securely delivers this valuable information right to the fingertips of the flight crew.

Software partners are currently developing a variety of enhanced EFB applications for the webFB that are focused on increased operational efficiencies including fuel and time savings, electronic tech logs and real time QAR monitoring and event notifications. For software vendors, the webFB provides a rapid and practical solution for developing applications and deploying them into the flight deck and beyond.

Along with the webFB, this STC also approves the installation of the Astronics EmPower® system in the flight deck with USB outlets for charging portable EFBs while in flight. Also available are several choices of ARINC 828 compliant fixed EFB mounts.

More Industry News:

  • The folks at Apple, the maker of the iPhone, one if the most popular devices brought on board planes, have been showing a lot of activity in the world of wireless charging. In fact, you can read more about their efforts here: Report: Apple acquiring wireless charging expertise – FierceWirelessTech . Today, their Apple Watch is powered by a technology that is called Qi technology. This 5 watt charging solution is better explained here: A Qi wireless charger: Resonant as well as Inductive and Qi Wireless Charging Standard | Inductive Technology | Tutorial but the effective distance is around 40 mm at 110 to 205 kHz. But who worries about charging watches on planes? Now, what about those iPhones we mentioned. Of course, today, it’s 5 volts DC, but why do we bring this up? Because, Apple is looking at wireless charging with a new standard ultrasound solution. And, how many iPhones do you see charging on airplanes… lots! Wireless uBeam charging technology is based on ultrasound frequency technologies (45 kHz to 75 kHz) but the charger distance can be a lot farther from the phone. uBeam Declassifies Secrets To Try To Prove Wireless Power Is Possible | TechCrunch, and while we don’t know of any issues today, we are concerned because there can be more power and charging distance involved. Further, we wonder what the lower frequency impact on a flying airplane might be? Perhaps, an iPhone  backup plug-in solution might be a thought here. Anyway, you might want to stay on top of this one!
  • Consider carrying 2 sets of headsets on a future flight and here is why – Inflight headsets make good neighbors – Travelers United
  • A friend recently sent an epistle on the future and while we tried to find the originator, there were too many links to the writing to discern the author. While little aviation is mentioned, this one caught our attention is probably real, and possibly illegal: Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports.

An Opinion:

Honeywell hosted a meeting at their headquarters ostensibly to discuss inflight connectivity in connection with their JetWave product: Boeing, Inmarsat on What to Expect for Future Connected Aircraft – Via Satellite – While standards are in the process of being developed, we asked Mark Thompson, CEO of Thompson Aerospace (who has developed a small, light data connectivity solution) to comment on the subject and he told IFExpress:

“This is the issue as I see it on what Boeing is doing. To carry the antenna on a single aircraft will cost about 70K a year in fuel at $70 dollars a barrel, this right off the bat is nonstarter for some airlines. The system Boeing has created has a lot of bandwidth that is great, but it also uses a lot of power and is not on the emergency bus, hence it does not meet the ICAO tracking requirements.  If you put it on the emergency bus, it does not meet the requirements as in an upset event it never would stay locked on the satellite, hence, like recent flight incidents.  It is a great solution for normal flight mode for passengers to attach to the internet, but not sure it is good business.

Our operational requirements are as follows: ICAO requires normal, abnormal and distress mode tracking including in the case of loss of aircraft power and system has to be very reliable. This statement everybody seems to ignore, but I’m not sure why. Normal mode is easy, any aircraft with ACARS or FANS can do this with no issues, hence, normal made does not require any new equipment on most widebody aircraft. 

Abnormal mode, however; means you have to be able to detect the alert, hence, the best place to get the data is the output to the flight data recorder, you could  get the data directly, but this has a huge installation cost to run all the wires, and it increases the cost of the unit. This what ADS-b did, and reason the avionics guys love, it – expensive equipment, and lots of wires.  But once again, it does not meet the ICAO tracking requirements.”

“The airline industry is a great industry, but it is also a terrible business.” – anonymous

This Hot Topic began as a simple phone call to Thompson Aerospace as a result of the CEO’s request for a return call. Planning a standard set of questions about new hardware, airline take-up, weight (Oh, it does weigh 3.2 pounds per seat) our interview began as most. Mark Thompson (President & CEO) began the data run down and if you have met him, you just hang on because a LOT of data is coming your way. And it did, a lot. Somewhere in the middle of the second question about advertising on the system he said: “… and we are generating somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000 per month per plane with the IFE.” “Wait,” I yelled, “How do you do that?” That’s where our IFE story took a recalibrating turn and our total discussion launched off on pay-per-click adverts, Google pay model, QR codes, and after-flight airline revenues. If I have your attention, read on.

To begin at the beginning, Thompson Aerospace is the brainchild of Mark Thompson (and his inspired team) who had a better idea. Actually, they have had a lot of them. Their one goal was to build an airline IFE system that actuality paid the airline for it’s costly purchase, installation, fuel burn costs and content fees. That was 5 years ago. The 1NET system hardware has gone through a number of iterations. According to the company the narrowbody IFE market has matured… but the advertising concept has blossomed. No doubt, he was inspired by Silicon Valley’s Page & Brin, the co-founders of Google. Simply put, if you see advertising (text or images), advertisers will pay for click-thru’s because that is how the world works – you see it, you might buy it. The advertiser is betting on the power of the screen – it happened when TV was invented and it happened when Mark Thompson first put his system on a plane. Our image this week is the result of many hours of hard work by the Thompson team and represents a pretty simple design: fliers choose the menu choice, press one (or more) of the capacitive touch screen numbers on the right side of the screen and at least 2 things happen: (1) the flier gets the selected menu screen selection and (2) the computer registers a click-thru. This goes on for the duration of the flight. Advert selection, destination choices, entertainment viewings… it all gets stored. You might guess the next step – every 2 weeks the airline and the advertising service bureau receives a summary of the requests/viewings and the airline gets a check. At 1 to 5 cents per click, the tally adds up as daily flights, sometimes short as an hour, record revenue and usage every passenger, every flight, every day, and every month. This is a proven model and we think Thompson Aerospace has broken the IFE pay-per-click barrier!

There is a lot riding on a statement from Mark, “We can guarantee that each airplane will generate $20,000 per month.” In fact, the Thompson folks note that a plane with the 1NET system can generate twice the passenger profit with it. You be the judge of that statement. From an advertising perspective, Thompson notes that there is $6.8 Billion in out-of-home advertising and that he plans to garner some of those expenditures. Further, Mark notes, “Seventy percent of that money is spent by a person who takes at least one airplane flight each year.”

Another feature we really like is the smartphone QR code passenger interface. You will notice that the “Athens Cab” banner advert has a QR code on it. Mark Thompson saw the passenger UI value in this optical technology. With a QR code, the passenger downloads data from the advertiser that, when activated on the ground, gets location information, coupon deals, and a future “connection” with the airline and the advertiser. Oh yes, the onboard click-thru counter registers a hit. Get it? Thompson has found a paperless way to connect to passengers, register a viewing, get the passenger more information, provide later mapping for the viewer, and deliver deals thru the QR system. More importantly, they have found a way to service the passenger, provide a service for the advertiser, develop revenue for the airline and get the system hardware paid off. And, as Mark notes, “Our per seat prices for hardware are around $3000 per seat… the system pay’s for itself and makes revenue after the fact.”

Airlines, to garner more revenue, are adopting some bus-like promotions. If you think pay per view advertising is not consistent with airlines, check out this link from one of Thompson’s teammates, Global.Onboard.Partners. There are a lot of mutual future benefits of a connection between the two companies. The message here is promotion means money to airlines and your flying future will no doubt interact with advertising messages and techniques pioneered by Thompson. Our only question was one of wonderment that it has not shown up in the US yet. This story just gets more interesting as Mark cautiously mentioned a new post-flight revenue system, “…that I can’t say much about just yet!” Stay tuned!!

If you work for an airline – you may want to show this story to your boss and check out the Thompson Aerospace website and their advertising site.

At the last Aircraft Interiors Conference in Hamburg we met up with Mark Thompson-CEO and Heiko Wiedmann-CFO, of Thompson Aerospace respectfully. The technical whiz, Mark, gave us a bewildering tour thru their new system and because of the new spin they placed on the hardware and business model, we thought they would be a prime revisit for our Single-Aisle Solutions series. We think you will find their system worth a second look and be sure to visit them in Hamburg and tell them IFExpress sent you.

Q: The last time we met you folks was at Aircraft Interiors some 9 months ago. Can you update our readers on your progress… customers, technology developments, installations, customer and airline feedback, etc.?
We have one announced customer that has been in service for about 6 months on one A319 aircraft with our 1Net Infotainment solution.  We have had positive reactions from the passengers that use our system and from advertisers on the value of the interactions with the passengers.  We also have signed agreements with content suppliers to increase the amount of content we can provide. Additionally we offer weather and other destination specific information. 

Thompson Aerospace is going to install our in seat power product, 1Net Power Solution, on the same aircraft during the first quarter of 2012.  As all of our products, our in-seat power solution provides for weight and power output advantages compared to existing products.  The in seat power plug, designed by IFPL uses no mechanical switches found in current products. We are using a highly power efficient power supply that has been designed by our other partner TDI power, who produces power supplies for many demanding applications. TDI has provided us with a highly efficient power supply design that does not require a Master Control Unit while utilizing a single wire for all aspects of power management.

We have two new products that we expect to place in to the market in the short run. 

The first one is our 1Net Health Monitoring product that allows us to monitor the Arinc429/ Arinc717/Arinc485 aircraft data buses and other discrete inputs through our Aircraft Network Adaptor.  With our patent pending 1Net technology we are able to mix different types of data on one single physical network. Our 1Net system architecture utilizes hardware programed switches and network access control to govern what data is sent to and from specific and different types of devices.  As part of our health monitoring solution, we have been looking at an Electronic Flight Bag solution. We will either design our own or partner with another supplier to provide this additional functionality to 1Net.

The second one is our 1Net Connect product, that will add a Wireless Access Point to our network. Through our patent pending technology we provide hardware security devices that will only allow pre-authorized and qualified users to access our system.  We view this as an attractive low cost product moving forward.  This product will be more useful in the market place once Inmarsat starts launching their high bandwidth Ka band satellites scheduled in 2014.  In order to get cell phone connectivity, we are evaluating a femtocell based product to add to our network in order to support the new capabilities that will be available in the 2014 time frame. Over the past year we witnessed several companies trying to provide an inflight ISP solution.  In our view, once Inmarsat launched its satellites, all existing inflight ISP providers will have competitive issues and most likely Inmarsat will be the provider of choice.

Q: As IFExpress remembers, your system uses an Ethernet-based network with box-to-box connections. Can you re-visit the design today and perhaps give our readers an update on the seat box unit?
We use a Power of Ethernet (PoE) solution that is customized to our application, based on specific requirements for aircraft installations, such as lower voltages and current requirements.  We are the first to use this technology, enabling significant reduction in weight and power, while providing the extra protective features of PoE. As this was a new technology for us, we experienced some technical challenges on the plane.  After in service evaluation we understood the situation, we substituted upgraded units that addressed this issue.  Our customer Bahrain Air has been a great partner working with us thru this challenge, and we thank Bahrain Air for being our launch 1Net airline.

Q: The Thompson Aerospace economic model was different from anyone else. Can you re-visit it for our readers and tell us a little about the advertising options that are a feature of your system – based on revenue share, we believe.
We view passengers as valuable consumers of information and products. Our system was designed to provide in flight passengers with useful destination specific information including maps with points of interest locations, discounts coupons that can be sent to cell phones/email address or scanned as QR codes. We offer airlines a revenue share agreement, where we provide all the content management service and work with a number of content suppliers to get interesting, relevant content and revenue producing content at no costs to the airlines. Our agreements are structured in such a way that the airline is expected to be cash positive on the system within 18 months. While our system is a full service AVOD product, we view information to be more important to passengers on short flights than traditional audio and video entertainment.

Q: Could you supply some technical documentation for our readers?
1 Net Brochure

Q: As we remember, the Thompson system was quite a lightweight /low power winner. Can you revisit that subject and perhaps more about the design direction?
Our product, while meeting the certification requirements for an aircraft in the A320 class, is not designed to meet the criteria that the OEM require for their current assembly process. In order to save cost and weight, we have designed our system to remove some of the equipment that traditionally would be required by OEMs such as Area Distribution Boxes, Floor/Wall Disconnect Boxes and Master Control Units. We used a design for manufacturing and assembly (DFMA) approach. In some cases, we choose more expensive components such as flash drives and processor boards that lower the number of overall components, resulting in a Infotainment system that only requires 3 LRU’s, while providing all the traditional IFE functions . With our product we are able to support a 254 seat aircraft from a single 2 MCU server at the headend. We offer installing our seatbox, while small and capable of supporting up to 8 screens, behind the sidewall and not under the seat, avoiding interference from and providing more legroom to the revenue passenger.  For our inseat screen, we elected ARM9 type processors that are commonly used in tablet computers, providing for very efficient power usage of 10.5 watts max.

While we view our existing product as a best in class, we are testing new combination of screens and processors for the next generation of 1Net, with the goal to reduce our weight and power requirements by an additional 20 percent. While we currently have one of the lightest products on the market, we are always focusing on reducing long term costs for the operators driven by weight and maintenance. 

Our existing product has an 8.5 inch screen and our next generation product will be plug and play compatible. We entered into an agreement with Imagik for a new 1Net 17 inch LED screen. At the last year’s Aircraft Interior we showed a 17 inch screen and we will be using Imagik’s new product line to make an improved version.  As some of our customers have widebody aircraft in additional to their single aisle aircraft fleet, we will offer to these customers a complete integrated IFE product.  While we have a less expensive and lighter weight IFE offering for widebody, it is not a market that we focus on, as we view creating revenue opportunities on single aisle aircraft as our expertise.   

Our agreement with Imagik allows us to offer customized widebody premium class products, while Thompson Aerospace will focus on providing our single aisle customer with the industry leading narrowbody infotainment solution.

Our system is the based on inputs from many sources. We always welcome recommendation on the product line and how we can make it more economical for the airlines. 

Q: Are you offerable on any OEM aircraft manufacturer’s single aisle aircraft as a standard option, line-fit IFE system? Is there an STC on any retrofit today? What aircraft(s) if so?
Because our focus was to produce a very low cost system, we have decided not to adhere to the aircraft installation requirements of the two major OEMs.  As such our market is the upgrade/retrofit sector. While our screen fits into a standard Arinc cutout, it is lighter and uses much less expensive cabling, compared to the current systems.  We have worked with a few of the new regional jet OEMs on installing our core system as a CSS and received very positive feedback.  We have EASA approval for the A319, A320, A321 aircraft today and our system is flying on an A319 plane at Bahrain Air

Q: Will you be at Aircraft Interiors in 2012?
Yes, we will be at the show and will have our existing approved Infotainment and Power Solution products on display.  We will show our web based content management system that allows advertisers to create their own content and view it as it would show on a customer GUI.  We will show how the customer is able to approve the content before we upload over the cell phone link.  We are able to change content while the plane is on the ground without any operator intervention.  

Q: Have you added any new people at Thompson?
We have added Linda Maxwell to our board,

We have a number of aerospace insiders that have worked at high management that provide us with advice on our product development are expecting to add two more board members thru the year.
If you need more information, contact or visit


Lastly, if you have a smartphone, checkout the free/cheap apps we have found by clicking on the promo advert ——->