Last week we noted a few IFEC related products/services at this year’s NBAA in Las Vegas, thus, this week we will continue the dialog, specifically, those folks we normally visit at APEX and AIX… and a few that you might not see. Lets start with one you will see.

Aircraft Cabin Systems

One of the video display companies at the show was Aircraft Cabin Systems and this year we saw a few surprises in their booth. First, the retractable displays were shown available in the standard and new HD (1080P) models and because they retract, they present a new solution to more headroom in already cramped biz jet cabins . We asked ACS Sales Manager, Ken Muse, about the hardware – Attached are spec sheets for the 9.7″ and 12.1″ Retract.

Both of these units are designed as a drop-in replacement for Airbus. ACS is currently working on a Boeing drop-in replacement as well. As you can imagine, the design priority comes from our customers priorities.

The screen images of the new mounted HD video display units we also saw were stunning. Ken also noted: “The larger bulkhead mounted displays were all HD LCD Monitors displaying 1080p content with 32”, 42” and 65” models on exhibit. The 24” bulkhead mounted display was our Network HD LCD Monitor which is capable of displaying preloaded content and/or being controlled from an iPad or Android hand-held device.” Stay Tuned!

Panasonic and AeroSat (Astronics)

We visited Panasonic and their team at NBAA and were surprised at their involvement with Business jets as this a new market for them. David Bruner noted that the new partnership was formed to deliver high speed connectivity and global live television programming to the business jet community. Astronics will deliver the incredibly small Ku Band antenna (AeroSat) intended for tail mounted installation and Panasonic will deliver the “network”. By that we mean, the code and control of the system that handles the connectivity – all the while, the antenna and receivers are designed and built for others. Panasonic has a wealth of experience in the delivery of Ku Band satcom solution from satellites around the world. Basically, Panasonic has global coverage and massive download capacity, the biz jet market was a natural. David told IFExpress, “teaming with AeroSat allows us to enter the market immediately as the service provider. Looking at it another way,” noted Bruner, “when you get phone service from a company like AT&T, you don’t have to buy the phone from them – that’s how we look at this solution.” He mentioned that Panasonic has been looking for the right opportunity to get into this market. We should also note that a typical tail mounted antenna, because of size at Ku Band, doesn’t deliver the best gain characteristics, but when Panasonic saw the testing and performance data of the AeroSat model, they signed on. “From a performance point of view, Panasonic will be offering 3 levels of service,” noted Bruner, “So we are offering three different bandwidth levels that guarantees minimums – 1.5 Mbps, 2 Mbps or 4 Mbps that is guaranteed, most of the time we deliver more.”


Perhaps, SmartSky’s news release said it all: “SmartSky Networks, a next-generation aviation communications provider, is pleased to announce the launch of the nation’s first airborne 4G LTE-based network, SmartSky 4G. SmartSky’s technology will provide more than 10 times the typical speed and capacity of networks currently in the market by using 60 MHz of spectrum for its Air-To-Ground (ATG) data communications. SmartSky 4G will serve both business aviation and the airlines beginning with an exclusive beta-customer trial launch in the continental United States in late 2015. The rollout of nationwide commercial service will follow in 2016. Because the system hardware design can work at multiple frequencies, SmartSky is positioned to expand internationally in the future and provide coverage in locations where different frequency bands might be required. SmartSky is partnering with a leading group of airframe manufacturers, maintenance companies, and equipment and service providers to distribute SmartSky 4G to the business aviation community and will revealed these launch partners at NBAA2014. Similarly, the company is approaching the airline market through established distribution channels, including incumbent connectivity providers.” SmartSky President, Ryan Stone, said: “Last year the company filmed a live flight demonstration with multiple users on-board engaged in video conferences, streaming movies, sending and receiving large files, and other bandwidth-intensive activities all at the same time. SmartSky 4G provides an experience that exceeds the current gold standard of network performance – it enables live, two-way, high-definition video conferencing. SmartSky 4G’s robust performance means that we can also support communications needs beyond cabin Wi-Fi, including many emerging operational applications,” said SmartSky President Ryan Stone. We note the company would not talk about frequencies or beam patterns but as we learn more we will clue you in. From their limited tech hints, it looks like they plan their ground-based US solution to include towers that project an upward antenna pattern is a rough conical shape. Oh yes, and by the way, Mary Rogozinski (847 903-45540 has joined the Smarty Sky team Avionics Magazine :: SmartSky Receptive to Partnering ATG with Satellite


As we noted earlier, Astronics and Panasonic are teaming for biz jet delivery of inflight internet connectivity and global live TV, and AeroSat designs and builds the tail mounted antenna. Their booth features also their other antenna and antenna installation products (including the adapter plate from the Astronics Armstrong division) and, of course, their WebFB product that delivers wireless connectivity to aviation handheld devices. WebFB (or web flight bag) is a clever device that connects to almost any device and is secure.


Presently, we are waiting for a presentation abut their NEXIS and PaTIO Security devices that look interesting if there is concern over inflight security – Stay Tuned!

F+S+B Aviation

The folks at FSB caught our eye when they showed us a free iPhone app (Android too) that you can download (Look up FSB Aviation in the iTunes store) and it gives a bit of info on virtually every commercial, regional, business and (US) military aircraft. You get dimensions (FBS is in the hangar space business) and, perhaps, next year, they will include a pix of each plane model and a bit of data on the average seating?


Of course you have been paying attention to the Lithium battery issues but while at NBAA, we saw something that you might see on a future flight as the folks at PlaneGard promote a personal device fire containment unit. “Hydrogen does not appear to be a problem when there is a thermal runaway in a single device in the cabin or cockpit, based on Tech Center testing. Those are more of a nuisance type of fire,” says Hill. “The probability of it getting out of control in the cabin is next to nil, but you have to know what to do.” Standard procedures call for dousing the device in water or other liquids to cool the cells. Other uses in the cabin could be of concern, particularly for airlines that may want to use tablets or iPads in lieu of inflight entertainment systems. “If you put 50 of them in a closet and start charging, that could create a fire that could bring down an aircraft,” says Aviation Week’s John Croft. Perhaps, the PlaneGard product we saw might be in order for Pad-based flights?

More News

Airbus provides dedicated iPad mount capability for A320 Family pilots: “Certified in May 2015, the iPad ‘mount’ is now available for our A320 Family customers. The mount, which consists of a mechanical support installed on each window frame and a power supply connection (USB), can be used with an iPad (models 2, 3 or 4) and iPad Air (models 1 and 2). This solution enables the use of the iPad as an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) during all flight phases. The first Service Bulletin (SB) is expected shortly with an entry-into service in 2016. The solution which can be embodied during a night shift has been developed following a strong customer demand for an Airbus solution.” Check out the Airbus release and image.

Additionally, according to a report from 9to5Mac, Apple is considering dropping the 3.5mm headphone jack from future iPhones in favor of its proprietary Lightning connector or Bluetooth-enabled earpieces. The report states that the next iPhone would come bundled with a pair of the new Lightning connector headphones that plug into the phone’s charging port. Looks like the potential for a lot of Bluetooth radiation could be in your inflight future, but don’t worry, there is a lot of testing at your back:

Of course you have heard about the LED modulation (Li-Fi) as being a future potential for data transmission, but the jury is still out for in-aircraft usage. Much like a parallel, multi-visible light communications solution emanating from LED’s. Here is a good way of looking at it – “Using a digital modulation technique called Orthogonal Frequency Divisional Multiplexing (OFDM), researchers enabled micro-LED light bulbs to handle millions of changes in light intensity per second, effectively behaving like an extremely fast on/off switch.” Speeds of up to 1 – 1.5 Gb/sec have been achieved, however, it is unknown if, or how, this transmission effect would affect passengers, airplane equipment or personal devices that have light sensitive/controlled equipment. Further, it is known that lighting and microwaves can cause issues with Wi-Fi. Perhaps the folks at Lumexis might prefer a fiber optic cable output at each seat so your devices could “talk” to the network?

This may be a new “data and money-saverfeature for web-based satcom connectivity.

Lastly, we wanted to let you know what we have been planning something for a few months now and you might find it interesting. As you know, we talk to a lot of engineers and technical folks and our goal has been to develop a better understanding of some of the technology that is inherent in this business. As time advances, we are seeing even more need for this kind of subject matter, whether it be a hacking security issue or the use of previously overlooked technologies like Bluetooth, the times are getting more technical and IFExpress is developing a weekly feature to frame it. Stay Tuned!

The National Business Aviation Association Convention & Exhibition (NBAA 2015) closed last week in Las Vegas, Nevada and the event organizers reported that the show was once again a resounding success. IFExpress decided to go to see if there was any IFEC business interests for our crowd. You be the judge. From Nov. 17 to 19, the show featured more than 1,100 exhibitors in the Las Vegas Convention Center, and more than 27,000 attendees.

Why business jets? Honeywell Aerospace forecasts up to 9,200 new business jet deliveries worth $270 billion from 2015 to 2025. Further, of the total new business jet purchase plans, 19 percent are intended to occur by the end of 2016, while 17 and 20 percent are scheduled for 2017 and 2018, respectively. Operators continue to focus on larger-cabin aircraft classes, ranging from super mid-size through ultra long-range and business liner, which are expected to account for more than 80 percent of all expenditures on new business jets in the near term. More importantly for the IFEC folks, a lot of the new technologies show up in this market space first.

From a new aircraft at the show show perspective, about 100 aircraft were displayed in several locations – at a sold-out static display at Henderson Executive Airport and indoor displays inside the convention center and at various exhibitor booths on the convention hall floor. Attendees from the show represented all 50 U.S. states, and 96 countries, and yes, there were a few displays that the IFEC experts will be interested in… not to mention connectivity. Also, be certain to check out our link to Flckr where we have roughly 200 images from the show week.


With a stunning delivery program for 650 NetJet inflight entertainment and connectivity systems, Gogo kicked off their NBAA program. The airplane provider will be getting voice and texting (via passengers’ own personal electronic devices), Internet, email, on-demand movies, television episodes, news, moving maps, flight progress information, destination weather and more.

Gogo’s John Wade said that no other connectivity provider will be offering more. Note the Biz 4g product that Gogo had at their booth. The box is actually a combination of four other boxes and Gogo has incorporated the whole system in one box – a real accomplishment. The system will incorporate dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi service and a host of other features, all in a single, lightweight enclosure. Key capabilities include streaming video and audio, email with attachments, Web browsing and service coverage in the U.S. and portions of Alaska and Canada. The air to ground system will be the next biz jet connectivity solution for years to come.

Gogo is also rolling out an expanded offering of datalink and cockpit services for BizAv from Honeywell’s Global Data Center. Further, they are rolling out a content update service that works on the ground to aircraft at Signature support facilities.

Editor’s Note: Here is a link to a good article on BizJet aircraft cabin communications.

Bizjet Mobile / ASI

The surprising and interesting thing about the Bizjet Mobile connectivity solution is the fact that it uses Bluetooth 4.0/Bluetooth Smart as the connectivity medium inside the aircraft. Have you ever used Bluetooth for sending a text/SMS message? Probably not. So we asked Ron Chapman and his team to set-up their server to communicate with our iPhone. The first requirement to communicate via Bluetooth was to download the new CHiiMP 4.0 smart app from the iTunes Store. Next we walked well over 100ft away from the server on the show floor and clearly sent and received a text message on our cell phone via Bluetooth 4.0 (Also known as Bluetooth Smart). It is interesting to note that the convention floor was jammed with Wi-Fi radiation but the Bluetooth connectivity never faltered. We asked Ron Chapman to explain how the system works today and he told IFExpress:

“For business aircraft equipped with an existing  Iridium System (according to Iridium around 12,000 aircraft).  All you need is a Bizjet Mobile configured iPod,  which connects via a custom serial cable to the aircraft’s Iridium data port. A serial port is standard on all iridium transceivers. The Bizjet Mobile configured iPod acts as the router. You then connect to the iPod with the CHiiMP4 App on your mobile device.”

He went on to say, “CHiiMP 4 provides bi-directional SMS and Text Email (no attachments)  plus Getmail. The ability to upload headers from your normal email account and upload the emails you wish to read.  Bizjetmobile has a GetMail interface to all major corporate and public email platforms. As its Bluetooth 4, the connection is automatic and happens in milliseconds.”

“If a Bizjet Mobile customer doesn’t have Iridium service, we can provide them with an Iridium Transceiver, so all they need to do is install a 3 inch patch antenna. At under $10K, this is the most affordable Iridium transceiver on the market. The iPod still acts as the router.”

Here is one thing you can be sure of – if you are sending and receiving data on a device that has an app that features Bluetooth 4.0 you are using a service from BizjetMobile… because, to the best of our knowledge, no one else out there uses this medium for networked data communication where multiple devices can connect via a single link. Typically, this service will be available at incredibly low prices if you want to send a text message that is less than 160 characters. And yes, you will have to download the app on the ground for iOS applications but this is normal. Oh and just in case you were wondering, business jet installations are pushing 40 customers. Perhaps the booth signage said it all: CHiiMP Now Powered by Bluetooth 4.0!! Faster and More Efficient. Worldwide Unlimited SMS Text & Email: $599/Month via Iridium.

Editor’s Note: Mobile operating systems including iOSAndroidWindows Phone and BlackBerry, as well as OS XLinux, and Windows 8, natively support Bluetooth Smart.

Next week we will cover ACS, Panasonic, Astronics, SmartSky and Astronautics.

AeroMexico is now using Rockwell’s MultiLink flight tracking service. Read about the HF data Link Service here.

Global Eagle has entered the BizAv market and with plans to offer a full suite of services beginning mid-year 2016 – to passengers and pilots alike. Business jet operators will be able to offer streaming-capable high-speed Internet access and data services, including Voice over IP (VoIP) and IP Television (IPTV), using GEE’s connectivity platform powered by partner SES’ global Ku satellites. GEE cabin connectivity, which includes content provision of TV and movies. Business jet operators will be able to offer high-speed Internet, streaming and data services. Further With GEE’s recent acquisition of Navaero and Masflight they will offer operational data services and Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) solutions. We wondered if any of these solutions will end up in commercial as well?