Museum of Flight at Boeing Field:

I recently had a meeting at the Seattle Museum of Flight on Boeing Field. While my visit was business… I left the meeting… and lost my sense of time and history – because once you see an old aircraft that fought in a war, or provided the transportation for a historical event, or was the first of it’s kind, you just get lost… lost in time, and possibly lost in space. Interestingly, you become part of the event that the person, plane or spacecraft was famous for… or you become immersed in the art background and signage describing the history and achievement of the craft. One visitor told us that he and his kids were fascinated by the description and experiences of the museum’s individual plane tour guides, who in many cases had flown that aircraft. It is also easy to get wrapped-up in the in mood lighting surrounding the planes in the halls, especially in the periods like those in the WW1 Hall and WW2 Halls. While it has been a long time, as a child, I would have given anything to see what I saw last week at the Museum of Flight. One suggestion, however, don’t let your children say the same thing.

OK, if you want a fast tour of the Museum here it goes: Museum Galleries, Airpark, Great Gallery, Lear Gallery, Personal Courage Wing, Red Barn, & Space Gallery. That’s 7 galleries, many halls, 29 exhibits + a museum store, 140 real aircraft, 12 spacecraft, pre-1900s to 2010s types, from 73 manufacturers… and some 40 of 140 shown planes in the air and on the ground in the Great Gallery. Founded in 1965, the Museum of flight has been growing since it’s inception, but we think the real hero was T. Wilson… he made “The” museum building on Boeing Field happen.

As a bit of museum background, here is what the website says:
“Museum of Flight is devoted to the preservation and sharing of aviation and aerospace history and technology.
Founded as the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation in 1965 by a group of local Boeing engineers and aviation enthusiasts, the Museum’s collection was established out of a desire by the group to preserve artifacts and materials representing the entire evolution of flight and to prevent them from being lost, destroyed and forgotten with time. Since 1965, The Museum of Flight’s collection has come to be regarded as one of the best air and space museum collections in the world. The Museum’s collection contains over 150 aircraft, over 25,000 small objects (classified as anything smaller than an aircraft), over 90,000 books and periodicals, over 15,000 aircraft manuals and technical reports and nearly 5,000 cubic feet of archival materials including an estimated four million images. As a Smithsonian Affiliate institution and an accredited American Alliance of Museums institution, we continuously endeavor to meet their standards and best practices in all aspects of our operations, especially in regards to caring for and preserving our collection.”

The Pavilion (across the street form the main Museum building) is incredibly large and hosts an many big planes in a covered outdoor building. One writer said it is larger than two football fields! The new “hanger” effectively doubles the museum foot print, in fact it adds 3 acres of aviation history floor space! It is home for some 19 iconic planes like the world’s first Boeing 747 Jumbo, the 787 Dreamliner, the British Airways Concorde (SST – the last to fly in revenue service), B-17, B29, and B-47 bombers. The site has a convenient “air” bridge to get you there. This inclined walkway is defiantly a better way to reach the Pavilion, not to mention, listening to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” playing on the loudspeakers there topped the experience. As with all airplanes, pictures never do them justice but here are a few shots we took that should give you a better idea of the flight scene there are here.

You can fly in on your own plane or in a commercial airline to Boeing Field or Sea-Tac, and if you have a child that likes aviation, you MUST take her or him to see the real planes. You might ask why is this trip worth the effort? The answer is simple: because they can climb in and touch and feel what aviation is all about… and it is about more than planes. It is about flying, it’s about education, and it’s about history… but it is also about fun!


Panasonic:

OmniAccess, a leading supplier of integrated communications solutions to super yachts and cruise-ships, and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), today unveiled a tailored XTS “extremely high throughput” satellite network for multiple mobility markets. Details on this new communications service are available to key customers that visit the OmniAccess booth at the Monaco Yacht Show. OmniAccess and Panasonic began collaborating on XTS high-throughput satellite designs in September 2015 in order to bring unprecedented levels of capacity and performance to OmniAcess’ existing Super yacht and cruise customers. Through this agreement OmniAccess has secured access to Panasonic’s existing HTS capacity, currently contracted capacity and the future XTS satellite network, bringing industry-leading capacity and performance to its yachting and cruise ship markets. Leveraging Panasonic’s existing global high-speed satellite network, OmniAccess is already providing industry-leading connection speeds of over 200 Mbps to select individual customers.

Paul Margis, CEO of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “We announced our partnership with OmniAccess at the Monaco Yacht Show last year, and since then, we’ve been able to develop solutions that have improved our operational efficiencies and also delivered higher performance and better service to OmniAccess’ super yacht customers. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with OmniAccess to establish a new standard in high-bandwidth services for the mobility market.”

(Editor’s Note: Normally we wouldn’t place a news release that predominately refers to maritime in our publication. However, in this instance we believe it to have relevance as the relationship between Panasonic Avionics and OmniAccess refers to “multiple mobility markets”,  “XTS high-throughput satellite” and “Leveraging Panasonic’s existing global high-speed satellite network”. After all, a revenue stream is a revenue stream whether it is initiated from an ocean or the air! And we wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these relationships in our industry.)


IFPL:

APEX 2016 will see the very latest in connectivity, payment and power solutions from IFEC specialists IFPL, on Booth 1745 at the Singapore based show.

IFPL leads the way when it comes to deploying contactless payment systems NFC (Near Field Communication) on-board aircraft, with global OEM’s and airlines using this technology for seat back in-flight retail and customer personalization. APEX 2016 will see IFPL demonstrate its new NFC ‘Pin-On-Screen’ solution that enables high value off line transactions by removing the current low value payment barrier. This step change will allow airlines to expand and sell high value items thus increasing ancillary revenues.

With portable and wearable tech now widespread, visitors to APEX can also see IFPL’s USB- C and USB-A units, both providing hi-speed data and power.

As always, innovation from IFPL will be on display with the company demonstrating its new integrated seat arm concept. This will reflect its ability to customize peripherals to support the design language, aesthetics and ergonomics required for true IFE and seat integration.

IFPL will be demonstrating their ‘Charge-2-Charge’ solution for both inductive and USB charging – this will enable airlines to generate additional revenue from passengers wishing to charge their portable devices during flights. Demonstrations will also be available for their popular 110V A/C power outlet and its combination 110V and USB-A & C.

Solving the problem of broken headphone sockets are IFPL’s MagSignal Audio units. Cost neutral when compared with traditional sockets, MagSignal Technology allows the headset cable to be pulled and detached from any angle without detriment; reducing customer induced damage (CID) and maintenance disruption to aircraft.

As always IFPL’s established range of IFEC products and solutions will be on display and the team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirement that visitors to APEX 2016 in Singapore may have.


Gogo Partnering:

Gogo recently announced that it will partner with Air France-KLM to connect its existing long-haul fleet representing 124 aircraft, with an airline option to install the technology on additional aircraft in the future. The fleet of aircraft receiving Gogo’s 2Ku technology will include numerous aircraft types, including the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330s. “We are delighted to bring Gogo’s industry leading 2Ku technology to one of the largest airlines in the world and two of the most iconic brands in commercial aviation,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “2Ku delivers a ground-like performance to aircraft flying around the world today, including the ability to stream video. One of the many benefits of 2Ku is that it’s built on an open architecture and can leverage new technology advancements in the future, which means the technology will get even better over time and will provide passengers with a superior connectivity experience now and in the future.” The first aircraft is expected to be in service end of next year, with the bulk of the installations taking place during 2018-2019.

Gogo Next-Gen:
The company also announced that it is developing its next generation ground-based technology to better serve the connectivity needs of business and commercial aviation in North America. This technology will offer a ground-like performance, including the ability to stream videos, for business aviation aircraft, commercial regional jets and select narrow-body aircraft operating within the United States and Canada. The new network will use unlicensed spectrum, a proprietary modem and a new beam-forming antenna to produce peak network speeds of more than 100 Mbps. This next generation ground-based network for the aero market will utilize LTE technology and leverage Gogo’s existing first generation North American network and infrastructure of more than 250 towers.

“Leveraging our first generation network is key to making this next generation network highly reliable and economical to deploy,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s CTO. “Gogo’s next generation network will also be backward-compatible with Gogo’s first generation network, which means an aircraft will be able to seamlessly switch between Gogo’s fthe two networks networks similar to how a cell phone on the ground connects to the fastest available network.”

The benefits of this new network for commercial aircraft operating within the United States and Canada include: low equipment cost and weight, overnight installation, and low drag on the aircraft due to the small size of the antennas. It also has big advantages in terms of latency compared to satellite solutions.

Aircraft outfitted with one of Gogo’s earlier generation air-to-ground technologies will simply need to be outfitted with a new modem and blade antenna to take advantage of the new service.

The service is expected to be available in 2018. Great article this morning. Separately, we have got big news this morning from Gogo as we announce our next generation ground network to support IFC in North America. We now have upgrade paths to more than 100 Mbps for both our North American ground-based and our global satellite networks. This will enable passengers to do everything they can do on the ground, in-flight. The network will use unlicensed spectrum and will require minimal updates for an aircraft.

(Editor’s Note: You should probably read this as well.)


SmartSky:

SmartSky Networks’ patented SmartSky 4G radio system completed the major milestone of receiving FCC certification, clearing the way for deployment of the ultra-fast SmartSky 4G air-to-ground network later this year, with nationwide service launching in mid-2017. Haynes Griffin, SmartSky Chairman and CEO, stated, “After investing tens of millions of dollars and over five years of research and development effort, SmartSky’s now certified technology has unlocked enough spectrum to be able to offer, for the first time, the reliable use of a sophisticated, custom-designed 4G system that can deliver an office-like internet experience in the air for both business aviation and commercial aviation customers.”FCC certification is the culmination of work to develop and patent protect the multiple bodies of technology that uniquely enable SmartSky to make use of the unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum band, all without causing harmful interference to or receiving interference from the operation of the same band on the ground. Despite the widespread assertion that aviation-related spectrum reuse in the unlicensed band would not be feasible, SmartSky has successfully solved the challenge by implementing new technical methods that are broadly covered by its robust and growing portfolio of 20 granted patents. Additional patents are pending.

Reed Hundt, SmartSky’s Vice Chairman of the Board and former Chairman of the FCC, remarked, “Long ago, the FCC authorized the allocation of large blocks of unlicensed spectrum to foster innovation and encourage competition. Today, we see the amazing results of that prescient regulation, which has resulted in ubiquitous Wi-Fi on the ground. By application of novel technologies using 2.4 GHz unlicensed spectrum, SmartSky’s breakthrough will finally give the aviation industry the superior connectivity now taken for granted terrestrially.”

Roberson and Associates, a highly regarded independent wireless industry consulting firm, investigated the ability of SmartSky’s radio technology to seamlessly coexist with terrestrial Wi-Fi. CEO Dennis Roberson, who is also Chairman of the FCC’s Technical Advisory Council, commented, “SmartSky’s technology solution is transparent to Wi-Fi users on the ground, enabling the air-to-ground sharing of the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band.”

SmartSky’s technology and patent portfolio is not limited to the unlicensed band. Most of the patents apply to any frequency and any waveform in any high speed air-to-ground network. Because these are broad patents, SmartSky enables underlying technical advances to be incorporated into its conceptual solution. “Over time, this will allow SmartSky to keep pace with the latest advances in computing, antennas, radios and networking while still being protected by our foundational patents,” said Griffin.


Rockwell Collins:

Continuing a relationship that has lasted over 70 years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has renewed its Aeronautical Mobile Communications Service (AMCS) agreement with Rockwell Collins. Under the agreement, the company will continue to provide Air Traffic Control (ATC) communications, including position reports, aircraft requests and ATC clearances, between the FAA and aircraft flying in U.S. oceanic airspace.


Uber Transportation in Singapore!

Lastly, here is a Singapore treat from the nice folks at Uber, the transportation app company. It’s easy to use: In the app, choose your ride and set your location. Once you get matched, you’ll see your driver’s picture and vehicle details, at the same time, you can easily track their estimated time of arrival on the map. No phone calls to make, no pick-ups to schedule. With 24/7 availability, request a ride any time of day. Here is how you can get started: Download the Uber app and register for an account. You’ll have the option to input your credit card or opt for cash payment. To enjoy a $15 FREE ride, simply enter the code IFEXPRESS into the Promotions tab! Hurry – the code is valid until 31 October 2016.

  • Improving passenger experience and ancillary revenues for airlines

Isle of Wight, UK | September 2016–
APEX 2016 will see the very latest in connectivity, payment and power solutions from IFEC specialists IFPL, on Booth 1745 at the Singapore based show.

IFPL lead the way when it comes to deploying contactless payment systems NFC (Near Field Communication) on-board aircraft, with global OEM’s and airlines using this technology for seat back in-flight retail and customer personalisation. APEX 2016 will see IFPL demonstrate its new NFC ‘Pin-On-Screen’ solution that enables high value off line transactions by removing the current low value payment barrier. This step change will allow airlines to expand and sell high value items thus increasing ancillary revenues.

With portable and wearable tech now widespread, visitors to APEX can also see IFPL’s USB- C and USB-A units, both providing hi-speed data and power.

As always, innovation from IFPL will be on display with the company demonstrating its new integrated seat arm concept. This will reflect its ability to customise peripherals to support the design language, aesthetics and ergonomics required for true IFE and seat integration.

IFPL will be demonstrating their ‘Charge-2-Charge’ solution for both inductive and USB charging – this will enable airlines to generate additional revenue from passengers wishing to charge their portable devices during flights. Demonstrations will also be available for their popular 110V A/C power outlet and its combination 110V and USB-A & C.

Solving the problem of broken headphone sockets are IFPL’s MagSignal Audio units. Cost neutral when compared with traditional sockets, MagSignal Technology allows the headset cable to be pulled and detached from any angle without detriment; reducing customer induced damage (CID) and maintenance disruption to aircraft.

As always IFPL’s established range of IFEC products and solutions will be on display and the team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirement that visitors to APEX 2016 in Singapore may have.

  • Enabling high value transactions and increased revenues for airlines

Isle of Wight | June 1, 2016– IFPL, is an award winning company specialising in the design and manufacture of passenger inter- face solutions to the global In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) industry, has an- nounced an exciting new extension to their range of easy-to-use contactless NFC payment and personalisation solutions.

IFPL’s Director of Business Development for North America, Mark Reed, announced IFPL’s new seatback NFC contactless payment system with on-screen PIN entry for in-flight cashless purchas- es at AIX Hamburg 2016.

This is a step change for NFC contactless payments, as the new on-screen PIN entry allows high value PCI EMVCo approved payments for off-line, unattended transactions. This feature allows air- lines to significantly grow their at-seat inflight retail and ancillary revenues by including high value items with the knowledge that their payments (as the merchant of record) are covered against fraudulent transactions. Traditionally, NFC contactless payment has been used for low value trans- actions only.

IFPL designed the NFC Payment Terminal to address the complex and highly regulated problem of providing onboard, off-line and unattended Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliant NFC payments at the passenger’s seat.

As liability for fraudulent transactions (using magnetic strip cards) moves away from the issuer of the card (i.e., the financial institution) and onto the merchant of record (i.e., the airline) for card present transactions, NFC is now the standard that financial institutions support for accepting lia- bility for low value payments. In addition, NFC is the recognised standard for close proximity communication for Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and NFC enabled loyalty cards.

In addition to payment, IFPL’s NFC unit provides Bi-Directional communication allowing the airline IFE system to know who is in the seat, delivering the opportunity for airlines to significantly personalise the onboard experience and customer service, delivering brand loyalty and resulting in increased revenues. With this knowledge the IFEC system can then direct content, service and promotions to meet the individual customer profile; providing passengers with a personalised info- tainment and onboard retail experience and, in turn, delivering a higher sales conversion and IFEC services, based on known personal preferences.

Aircraft Interiors (AIX and PEC) is now the biggest show in IFEC each year. It got that way because there was a need for a centralized European and Middle East source of information, communication, demonstration and celebration of the IFEC experience, as well as, being located at the same venue for over ten years. With over 530 exhibitors this year, there was a wealth of innovative products and services on display last week in Hamburg Germany. IFExpress was told that over 16,000 visitors attended the event (Entrance is free – good idea.), and of course, we covered as many booths that we thought our readers might find both interesting and useful, and that caught our fancy. Obviously, it will take a few weeks to get the story of our visits out so stay tuned on that front. Pictures will be on the website soon so keep watch there as well.

In case you did not go, there are a couple things about the show you should know. First, the expo consists of two parts – the first day (Monday) is comprised of a Passenger Experience Conference. It is a one-day inflight data extravaganza and covers almost every facet of the inflight experience with lectures, small meeting/discussion forums, and culminates in a useful food and beverage entertainment party. The next 3 days are dedicated to the exhibition show with over 530 exhibitors.

Second, there are the Crystal Cabin Awards, below are a few of the winners:
Cabin Systems class – B/E Aerospace
Electronic Systems – Lufthansa Systems
Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment – Boeing
Visionary Concepts – Zodiac Aerospace … and more. You can find the complete winners list here

Like last year, there was an IFEC Zone comprised of three of the total AIX zones and an App to help sort it out. The IFE Zone had 102 exhibitors and grew by 31% over 2015. The App is designed to enhance your experience before, during and after the show, by putting the following features and information at your fingertips:
3D Floor plan with routeplanner features information about walking distances between the halls
Find exhibitors by category to view profiles and to add to your list of favorites
• View the exhibitor’s products
• View the full four-day event program and speaker listings
• Take a look at the features that are at the exhibition including Wi-Fi areas
General and venue information to help plan your journey
My Event – perfect for storing your favorite exhibitors and sessions
Guide to Hamburg to help see what Hamburg has to offer including hotels, restaurants and in case you have time local attractions
• And yes, you could take a selfie with their personalized background

In summary then, the AIX folks note the following show statistics and info: “16,000 industry executives are estimated to have attended Passenger Experience Week, from 5th – 7th April, whilst the number of VIP airline attendees rose by 14% – many of whom were senior executives from more than 180 airlines located in 26 markets across the globe. There were more than 530 exhibitors at this year’s AIX –– with 145 companies exhibiting for the first time. AIX was preceded by the Passenger Experience Conference, which saw more than 50 speakers from across the passenger experience industry sharing insights with some 400 delegates from airlines, suppliers, designers and the media.”


PASSENGER EXPERIENCE CONFERENCE:

The folks at AIX note: Defining the future of the passenger experience industry, the Passenger Experience Conference is the leading global conference and networking forum delivering content, driving innovation and developing connections to transform your business. Check out the program and speakers here

One of the best part of the flying future is the potential for onboard purchases, as many speakers at the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) meeting on Monday stated. One presenter noted that the folks at GuestLogix pegged onboard sales in 2014 around $1.8B worldwide. Beverages were 58% of the total, food was 38.2%, while “Passenger Comfort” was given at 3.8%. The interesting part was the growth – 11% per year! Part of this is attributable to the airlines reduction of free items; however, this kind of growth is indicative of a couple things. First, passengers have money to purchase items, that is proof of the growth rate, but further, as an area of purchasing potential, the cabin is ripe. Thus, there is a growing market for providing a way to purchase more on the plane is an obvious potential. We should also mention that Visa and MasterCard also exhibited 10 and 13.6 % growth, respectively, in the same period. Further, off-line limits are in the $100 to $200 range, while on-line sales via the credit card world has no limits. The authentication process is delivering real-time proof-of-ownership status with the bank that issues the card (and a real-time Lost/Stolen card status as well). Obviously, connectivity and credit card sales onboard have a future on aircraft and folks like IFPL are prepping the technology for that eventuality.


APEX & GOOGLE ANNOUNCEMENT:

One of the early show surprises was the involvement of Google with IFEC and we can thank Joe Leader of APEX for their inclusion. By using their world class data aggregation and knowledge data base capability, the folks at Google see a connection to this business in the pre-flight, in-flight, and the post-flight regimes by helping to extend the engagement window and shortening the rebooking cycle. In flight, they see the capacity of helping the connected passenger to experience a better, personalized experience, and finally, enabling ancillary revenue growth for products and post flight services. Google has a part in the future of air travel… they think so and so does APEX.

On the same note, Joe Leader of APEX, see’s a world of data assisted passenger experiences and kicked off their announcement of an Official Airline Rating program. Beginning with seats and product catalogs, the APEX view talks about high effectiveness and high airline control over the eventual personalization of the travel experience and the resulting “differentiated” airline in the evolution process. Of course, the issue is data and while passengers (74% on average) are comfortable using technology when they travel, there is a plethora of apps available, fewer are really used. He noted that an average of 80 are device installed, only 25% are seemingly used for the travel process. While the numbers may be higher than you or I use, the issue is one of data obfuscation – too many apps, and a better way to use them is needed. In the next few years as Joe noted, there will need to be an interoperability between apps, Facebook, and Google. There also needs to be a friendlier branding eco-structure in the ticket process… and thus there needs to be a neutral party to pull the process together. In essence, he sees a future airline rating system that can know and confirm validity for all airlines (Tall order!). Next, it has to be useful to passengers beyond travel and since there are over 10 million active users, this tool has value. Further, the tool that Joe is proposing has to correctly use feedback and exhibit some neutral bias such as a non-profit position because it has to provide non-conflicting results to the airlines. Thus, he proposed OfficialAirlineRatings (TM) (patent pending), which will be validated flight ratings for worldwide airlines by the passengers… this is a global project.  He expects the data service to begin this summer and time will tell if airlines will get in bed with this passenger response driven system.

From a data point of view, APEX plans to analyze subjective data from passengers, use objective data captured from actual sources like seat measurements and IFE capability and availability. We expect APEX to calibrate and review the data and sources by flying the airline noted routes (hopefully announced), and provide raw data and awards as the final output for the effort. Make no mistake, this is no easy challenge because the airline involvement is key and we will wait to see if APEX can corral the airlines into this program – lofty goal, hard to do in practice. IFExpress wishes APEX the best on this program because it establishes a common goal for measurement but historically, this has been hard to achieve.


AIX NEWS HEADLINES:

  • AIRBUS’ launch customer for the Airspace by Airbus cabin is TAP Portugal’s 14 A330-900neos. The new Airspace by Airbus has a LED mood lighting system, larger overhead bins, new lavatories, a new welcome area and the latest innovations in IFE and connectivity.
  • SINGAPORE AIRLINES selected STELIA AEROSPACE, to design and manufacture their new business class seats.
  • ROCKWELL COLLINS and THALES  were selected by Airbus to supply high-bandwidth connectivity (HBC) solution for A320s, A330s and A380s; companies will collaborate with Airbus to develop and deploy line-fit and retrofit systems.
  • Hainan Airlines selected THALES to supply Android-based AVANT IFE for its new A330s. Deliveries start in the second half of 2017.
  • PANASONIC AVIONICS eXO overhead IFE system was selected by Saudi Arabian Airlines for 30 A320s currently on order.
  • STG AEROSPACE launched new saf-Tglo blu photoluminescent floor path system that uses a cool blue glow instead of the traditional green glow, and liTeMood LED a newplug-and-play replacement for incandescent reading lights on the 737NGs. They also secured Design Organisation Approval (DOA) from EASA.  Additionally, STG Aerospace expands its emergency and informational cabin signage product range with Malaysia Airlines. Lastly, Eastern Airlines improves passenger experience by installing STG Aerospace’s LED mood lighting system.
    Summit selected TELEFONIX PDT to secure STC for its IFEC hardware for 737-700/800/900ER.
  • HAMBURG AVIATION presented 2016 Crystal Cabin Awards to B/E AEROSPACE (Cabin Systems), BOEING (Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment), ETIHAD(Cabin Concepts),  LUFTHANSA SYSTEMS (Electronic Systems),  REBEL.AERO (Passenger Comfort Hardware), SEKISUI SPI (Material and Components), TU DELFT (University) and ZODIAC(Visionary Concepts).
  • AFI KLM E&M received an EASA STC to install ROCKWELL COLLINS PAVES PSS on A330.
  • ROCKWELL COLLINS announced a new virtual training simulator for maintenance and operation of its seat-centric PAVES and overhead IFE systems. Rockwell Collins was also selected by AIR ASTANA to provide onboard broadband connectivity
  • GORE unveiled HDMI 2.0 cables to provide higher video resolution for IFE systems.
  • GOGO released: From the Ground Up: How the Internet of Things will Give Rise to Connected Aviation, which was created to spark an industry wide conversation about how the Internet of Things will reshape aviation. Free Also, GOGO partnered with Airbus Corporate Jet Centre to install 2Ku technology on new A350 aircraft. Delta Air Lines will take delivery of 2Ku-equipped A350s in 2017.
  • FOKKER SERVICES displayed iShade dimmable technology integrated into its new panoramic window at AIX.
  • INMARSAT to enhance airline passenger broadband offering with roadmap for aviation capacity growth. Global Xpress will serve as the foundation of an integrated global network that can be shaped to fit any airline route system and built upon to meet future demand.
  • INFLIGHT DUBLIN strikes worldwide IFE agreement with Sony Music.
  • DMD (Dawson Media Direct) welcomes digital media expert Andrew Wiltshire to head Digiredoo their digital newspaper and magazine delivery service to airlines independent airport lounges and major rail operators across the world.
  • MEZZOGLOBAL launched low cost wireless In-Flight Passenger Entertainment App for Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD).
  • PANASONIC AVIONICS is first to offer NFC Technology with multiple aircraft OEMs.
  • ASTRONICS CORPORATION awarded Emergency Lighting and Passenger Service Unites (PSU) contract for the Embraer E2 program.
  • SITA released that Australia Border Exit Checks are now powered by SITA’s advanced technology. Automatic advance security checks now being run on all passengers exiting Australia.

Lastly, we apologize to those folks we missed at AIX. We tried but it has finally come down to time versus the number of IFEC displays and presentations. If you have something you want to say, send it to us and we will get your message out… we hope!

  • Near-Field Communication (NFC) reader now available for in-seat production

Hamburg, Germany | April 5, 2016– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in inflight entertainment and communications, today announced that its NFC reader is now available for in-seat production at multiple OEMs – a first in the aviation industry.

Panasonic’s NFC reader is already EMV* compliant with MasterCard. The company is in ongoing discussions with major credit card providers including Visa and China Union Pay, and is opening discussions with Discover, and American Express. It expects to obtain compliance in the coming months.

Panasonic expects its NFC technology also will be used by airlines for a wide range of non-payment applications including:

· More secure synchronization of personal data

· Recognition of a passenger’s Frequent Flyer status, giving access to benefits or promotions, such as free Wi-Fi for Gold members

· Crew check in and check out

· Pairing of NFC-enabled devices with the embedded IFEC system, allowing airlines to push information to passengers during their flight

Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics said, “This significant milestone clearly demonstrates our continued leadership in developing technologies that create a seamless passenger travel experience. For airlines, EMV payments on IFE platforms should help eliminate potential transaction liabilities that they face today. In addition, passengers will be able to synchronize their own trusted token to the IFE system and create unique “just-for-me” experiences without compromising any of the personal data stored on their own device.”

The announcement follows continued growth in NFC-enabled devices. A recent study from Juniper Research** found that the annual transaction value of online, mobile and contactless payments will reach $3.6 trillion this year, a 20% increase on 2015.

(Editor’s Note: Looking for an innovative company in the IFEC space? Try IFPL – InFlight Peripherals. The Queen-awarded product offerings are the result of CEO Geoff Underwood (front row, 2nd from the left) and his team’s interface product creativity and ingenuity. IFExpress wanted to let our readers see them in front of their offices on the Isle of Wight!)

One of the biggest issues when traveling on an airplane is interfacing with it. By that we mean, controlling or interfacing with the devices and power that entertains and provides power for travelers on a plane – like NFC payment interface devices that allow us to buy goods or services or USB connections that provide entertainment, data, or power. If you ever wondered who makes the interface hardware, look no further that this Hot Topic as we want to introduce you to InFlight Peripherals Limited, or IFPL, as they are know by most. The Queens Award winning company (three times to be exact) and their website (ifpl.com) says it all, but we wanted to dig a little deeper into Geoff Underwood’s company, so we contacted them and asked then to enlighten our readers about a few of their primary products: specifically NFC Payment Capability, the Reversible USB Plug, new USB 3.0 Data and Power Plug, and their new Dual Breakaway/Triple Breakaway Audio Jacks.

Before we get into the technology, a little about the company: IFPL is a Queens Award winning international product development company based on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. They specialize in tailored engineering solutions for the Global Inflight Entertainment (IFE) Industry. The company was founded by Managing Director Geoff Underwood in 1996 and Initial production took place in Geoff’s garage at home, before progressing to a modern design and production facility in Newport on Isle of Wight. In the summer 2011 IFPL relocated five miles west to larger offices in Calbourne where 53 staff are now employed. IFPL first introduced its Long Life Audio Jack in 1999. This reliable jack has been tested to 100,000 headset insertions. From this beginning, the company now boasts a range of over 35 innovative passenger interface products including IFPL’s Rapid Fit range of quick change audio jacks, as well as Passenger Control Units (PCUs), USB, Ethernet, and INCAM noise cancellation headset connectors. In recent years the company has diversified into the design and manufacture of multimedia docking stations and video deployment arms. customer requirements. We should also note the range of their products and they include: Contactless Retail Systems, Breakaway Jack, USB Reversible Jacks, USB Power Jacks, Self Testing Audio Jacks, a Microphone Compatible Jack, Stacking PCU’s, Audio Jacks, Passenger Call Units, Remote Power Outlets, and other products for aircraft and rail markets. We asked CEO Geoff Underwood to tell us a little about their company and their products and he sent the following:

“IFPL is rightly proud to supply some of the world’s leading IFEC manufacturers and airlines who have come to rely on us to provide inspiration to the enhancement of their passenger experience. This has been achieved by our proven reputation for reliability and innovative product design. After recently supplying our one-millionth product to Panasonic, we look forward to a 2016 full of exciting product developments within the IFE industry.”

1. NFC Payment Terminal

“The total value of Near Field Communication (NFC) payments in the US is expected to *grow by 210% in 2016. The IFE industry is not exempt from this growing trend with the possibility of IFE NFC integration. IFPL’s payment terminal facilitates this demand enabling passengers to purchase items from compatible devices and cards without the presence of cabin crew. This enhances airline passenger’s personalization and convenience and enables the passenger to shop, order and pay at their own convenience. Not only does the terminal support contactless bankcards, Apple Pay and mobile wallets, it enables other data to be transferred to enable personalization through Personal Electronic Devices (PED) applications and NFC enabled loyalty cards. From a design viewpoint, our payment terminals contain no mechanical moving parts and use durable and cost effective materials to provide a lifetime of use. IFPL is currently in detailed negotiations with a leading IFEC supplier, so expect this product to be on your flight soon.”

He went on: “The company recognized over three years ago the need to make payment onboard simple and straight forward and launched our CRS concept. This concept showed how simple payment on board could be using NFC. In addition, we recognized that the payment industry requirements would change in 2015, moving away from the traditional magnetic strip to NFC or Chip and Pin. IFPL identified that NFC could be used for both payment and transmitting other small amounts of data which could be used to confirm the person in the seat and personalize the IFEC experience. IFPL has worked with Thales to bring this technology onboard. Both the airlines and IFEC vendors see the advantage of making payment simple and personalizing the IFE as well as maximizing the retail experience.”

2. Reversible USB-A1337

“IFPL’s latest reversible USB leverages itself off our successful 1281 USB jack. It provides a single unit integrating both power and data, ensuring passengers can charge their Personal Electronic Devices (PED) at ease. Feedback from airlines suggested that there was a tendency for Customer Induced damage (CID) in standard USB ports. IFPL has addressed this issue by enabling passengers to insert their USB plug either way around. This has created a robust and reliable USB solution to CID while enhancing passenger experience. It boasts a reliability of 10 times the industry standard and has been tested to 60,000 cycles enabling airlines to achieve significant long-term savings. Furthermore, both the light guide color and decal print are customizable to support airline branding and cabin aesthetics.

With the proliferation of PED’s, limited battery life and the ability for PED’s to become a second screen, IFPL recognized passengers need to charge their PED (up to 2.0A and 5V) and for the PED to be able to interface with the IFE system. IFPL have worked with both airlines and IFE companies to make this available.

In addition IFPL recognized that CID and reliability is a key design weakness of a traditional USB A socket, which may typically only provide 6,000 insertions/extractions before failure. In addition, as the passenger can only place their plug in one way it can cause the passenger to apply excess force in frustration and break their USB plug or the IFE systems USB socket resulting in high CID. IFPL’s bi-directional insertion and clever design eliminates the problem of CID and massively improves availability.”

3. USB 3.0 1342 – Delivering data and power to a new standard

An exciting new development at IFPL is our latest addition to the USB unit family.

At IFPL, we appreciate the importance of PEDs in today’s IFE environment and feel it’s vital to allow passengers to stay connected to their devices. With more demanding PED’s being used in flight year-on-year, higher transfer speeds are required to meet viewing demands. IFPL’s USB 3.0 provides a solution to this and coincides with IFPL’s commitment to innovation. It boasts transfer speeds of up to 5Gbits/s, 10 times faster than products centralized around the USB 2.0. This allows passengers to continue viewing media from their devices at ease while simultaneously charging them.

As well as supporting high PED power USB 3.0, IFPL offers a step change for data via a USB port as it supports up to 5Gbits/s enough to stream data to or from and IFE system using an attached device.

4. New Dual Breakaway and Triple Breakaway

“New are IFPL’s Dual and Triple Breakaway solution which addresses the issue of broken jacks, including: Containing *MagSignal technology which virtually eliminates customer induced damage, commercially attractive cost neutral solution for both the headset and the jack and two Long Life™ jacks, enabling the use of single or dual IFE headsets.”

In closing David Thomas, Business Development told IFExpress: “IFPL has recently supplied its one-millionth part to Panasonic and is expecting to deliver its two millionth product to the industry towards the end of Q1 2016.”

If you need more information on any IFPL product please call David at: + 44 (0) 1983 555900 or he can be emailed at innovate@ifpl.com .

Also, please note that IFPL will be exhibiting at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, 5-7 April 2016 at stand 2C40. For further information on the featured products or more of their industry leading solutions, please contact:

David Thomas Head of Business Development at IFPL
e.mail david.thomas@ifpl.com
tel +44 (0) 1983 555900
web www.ifpl.com

Reversible USB Release
NFC Release

IFExpress would like to thank Geoff Underwood and Jason Davies for their help in developing this Hot Topic. We now see why the company is so successful – Thank You!


NEWS:

  • PANASONIC AVIONICS was selected by Air Europa to provide eXConnect onboard Wi- Fi connectivity for retrofit on two A330-200s and one A330-300, plus its new 787s. The installation of Wi-Fi service on-board Air Europa aircraft, that aims to improve in-flight entertainment, ensuring a great comfort and amenities; is a new step in the modernization that the airline is immersed in and that aims to establish itself as one of the best and most modern airlines in the world.
  • Gogo announced today that it has signed a term sheet with Beijing based Shareco Technologies to install its 2Ku in-flight connectivity technology on 50 commercial aircraft for Shareco’s airline partners, including Hainan Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines. This is the largest announced in-flight connectivity deal in China and the first airline deal for Gogo in China.  In addition to in-flight connectivity, Gogo will also provide its wireless in-flight entertainment solution – Gogo Vision – for Shareco to install on these aircraft. Beijing Shareco Technologies Co., Ltd. is a leader at providing in-flight entertainment and connectivity related services to Chinese and international commercial airlines. Gogo and Shareco will work together on necessary regulatory approvals to install the technology on these aircraft.  The goal is to install all 50 aircraftwithin two years following execution of a definitive agreement. Shareco is a high-tech company dedicated to building an ecosystem in the cabin that will create unique in-flight experiences which will benefit both airlines and passengers,” said Pan Yunbin, CEO of Shareco.  “We have been looking for great partners to find the best that can customize in-flight connectivity and in-flight entertainment solutions, as well as other things the passengers may be interested in. We believe that Gogo, as a pioneer in this field, is one of the best at providing these services.”
  • Philippine Airlines (PAL) has launched a freemium Wi-Fi service for all passengers as part of its 75th anniversary celebration. PAL is using SITAONAIR’s Internet Onair technology to deliver the service, rebranded as myPAL Wi-Fi.  Jaime J. Bautista, PAL president and COO said: “This myPAL Wi-fi freemium offering is a key part of our commitment to give the best possible service to our passengers. With 30 minutes each across all travel classes, this is the APAC region’s best free inflight internet offering, at least doubling almost every other airline.” The airline launched the freemium service to passengers on the first of March and this offering will continue to run for one year. The airline has 21 aircraft equipped with connectivity, including six B777-300ER and 15 A330-300s.
  • You had better be aware that the IoAT (Internet of Aircraft Things) is real and that data requirements from new engines alone will boggle your mind – check out this article.

 

Last year we wrote in our first issue: “Happy New Year to our readers and thank you for another year of IFE change and growth. We are always excited to write up our predictions, in fact, we have been researching for a couple of weeks now to bring you the latest in prediction news. Based on technology change, we are in for a ride this year, and beyond. Everything from drones to privacy is at risk to become a new item in 2015, and as we move into the world of change, we hope you find our view a bit different… and a bit useful.” The sentiment still holds so let’s get started on 2016. Here are a few of the big market and changes that we might see (or need) in the techno-world to come with aviation as our focus.

Messaging:
While 2016 may have a few techno-changes from 2015 and summary numbers differ, we are are riding the same messaging train! Since technology and media have grown so much (at least in the US) folks are spending more time on it than sleep or work (Business Insider), there appears to be plenty of opportunity time for messaging (Facebook, Twitter, and the like) but messaging will be even bigger. If you don’t believe it, just watch the ‘head down time’ at a public function where time is spent on devices – it’s less invasive and non interruptive.

Why is this a boom time for messaging, you might ask? The answer must lie in new, portable communication technology for one. If, as some writers predict, we spend over half of our waking day with media and technology, and because the devices and connectivity mediums are there, plain and simple, we will text. From a broader perspective, time on major digital activities will increase and has done so for each year for the last 5 years. To a greater extent, these behaviors are clearly a dominating trend and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Further, as folks ‘cut’ their cable TV, products are rising up in the wireless world to support streaming TV via the Internet for portable devices. Check out this FierceCable article for more information on this subject.

On aircraft, we also expect to see this increase, after all some 97% of passengers (notes SITA) have devices with Facebook Messenger, What’s App, and WeChat. These devices (and apps) and limited connectivity channels are there, all we need are more lower price solutions (free or flat fee)… and yes, there are a few on the horizon and we will discuss them this year, but we digress for now. If anything will be a big deal in inflight lifestyle changes, it will be more messaging!

Audio:
From an audio perspective, our daily life is a good predictor of what we want, and will do, on airplanes. Streaming audio is not new on the ground, with some predictors noting 4 hours of each day in that pursuit. On planes it is usually a ‘canned’ experience because connectivity to the ground is not cheap. However, with the demand of services like google Play, Amazon, MP3, NPR, Apple Music, Spotify and many more, there may be a future for advertised, real-time, streaming… if for no other reason than news. Today it’s the ‘under 17’ that spend the most streaming time but they do get older and will replace the ‘over 55’ who rely mostly on AM/FM – something to think about for your next IFE system.

Bags/Baggage:
Perhaps the past year has been better (data not out yet), but in the previous year (2014), the passenger count that lost a bag reached 24.1 million and, we note, the trend has been dropping (2007 – 18.9 lost bags per thousand pax, down 61.3% to 2014 – 7.3 lost bags per thousand pax). However with increasing load factors, increased seating and increasing traffic, it will be a real challenge for airlines to keep up. In 2014 it cost the airlines over $2 Billion for mishandled bags so the airlines are ahead of the $4.22 Billion in 2007. We also note that half of the issues were caused by transfer mishandling. Perhaps the new personal Bluetooth and Wi-Fi bag finders in conjunction with the new self bag tag programs, and the eventual electronic bag-tag programs (NFC and RFID) will reduce the loss even further in 2016. In fact, SITA has been making inroads with their BagManager baggage tracking service in 2015 and we anticipate this feature to take off in 2016.

Beacons:
We have shown a number of beacon devices in pictures from the IFE trade shows but basically we are talking about mobile location, mobile intelligence or mobile sales communication devices. These are small battery free or line powered devices that communicate with your device over Bluetooth (4.1) and Wi-Fi. The folks at SITA have been developing a lot of airport related solutions and it remains to be seen when they will come aboard planes. Developed at Apple, the iBeacon Registry is their effort to get this technology started in airports and here are their services: It allows beacon owners (airlines, airports or 3rd parties) to manage their beacon infrastructure and track where they are placed in an airport. The technology enables airports to monitor beacon deployment to prevent radio interference with existing Wi-Fi access points. It provides beacons owners with a simple mechanism to set the ‘meta-data’ associated with beacons. Also, it has an API for app developers who want to use these beacons for developing travel and other related apps. Notes SITA: “The aims of the registry are to promote the use of beacons in the Air Transport Industry and reduce the cost and complexity of deployment. This can be achieved with the following design goals:

  • Promote shared beacon infrastructure to reduce cost and complexity of deployment.
  • Introduce standard beacon types and data definition to encourage reuse.
  • Provide a simple to use API to discover beacons and get meta-data about beacons.
  • Provide tools to airport operators and beacon owners to visualize and track beacons.
  • Be vendor agnostic – the service should work with beacons from any vendor.”

Furthermore, ABI Research notes: “Research data shows that, from a beacon shipment perspective, most vendors are shipping multiple contracts in the tens of thousands. This is a major upgrade from 2014, indicating that a lot of retailers are ramping up to deploy in 2016. Although not public yet, several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) completed funding rounds, which will enable them to grow in 2016. Sensoro is emerging as a major market player, with more than 110,000 beacons deployed in China and some major orders lined up for 2016.”

More on Beacons here

Security:
This topic is massive and we will cover it for many times to come but we wanted to share one thought from an article in informationsecurotybuzz.com – titled: Human Behavior as the Biggest Threat to Company Security. “People were reported to be ‘almost universally’ the biggest weakness in information security, ahead of technology and processes. Of the respondents that reported to have an insider threat or policy, 70% offer employee training to minimize risk.” “The company employs intelligence teams that study different aspects of communications, user activity, social media, suspicious activity and other details,” said one respondent. “We’re seeing a lot more hands-on training, employee monitoring, and testing to address the issue,” said Ari Kaplan, security researcher. In fact, this human focused trend will be the number one item at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the show of new things:#1 Say Goodbye to Cool, Hello to Security and Safety. At CES we have come to expect the latest new shiny gadgets. There will be plenty of those this year, but that will not be the show’s main theme. The prevailing stories will center on security, safety and health services that help consumers in their daily lives.” The world is changing and aviation will be focused on this subject this year. Just consider how many folks touch technology that plugs into planes!

VR:
Don’t get too excited about virtual reality for aircraft applications. In fact, here is the view from Rick Merritt in EE Times who seems to agree: “Some people will claim virtual and augmented reality will be the next big thing in the run up to the debut of a handful of major platforms in the spring. But by fall the heat will start to fade as consumers, chilled by their high price tags and underwhelming performance, give a pass on them as gifts for Xmas 2016.” Some airlines have been flirting with the concept of VR for a number of years and have even featured the technology in their airline lounges, but we believe this technology has a long way to go before it can migrate successfully to the airborne environment, especially if motion sickness is taken into consideration!

Other:
We probably don’t need to say it but economy class will get more crowded, competition will drop air fares as competition ‘crams’ uppossibly a new ‘mini or micro’ class, there should be more mergers as more airlines take on the Delta World concept, deals and freebies will exist for the frequent fliers while the rest of the travelers will pretty much just exist inflight (if that’s possible), you will need better pre-boarding ID, Airbnb and Uber concepts will tempt a new US airline concept but the idea will be killed (this is a tough one in the US), and in the end VR may be needed after all to blunt the reality of coach class.


NEWS

Women In Aviation Intl: Tracey Curtis-Taylor successfully completed her United Kingdom to Australia flight on January 1, 2016, recreating a pioneering 1930 solo flight by Amy Johnson. Tracey departed Farnborough airport on October 1, 2015, on her solo flight in a 1942 Boeing Stearman named the Spirit of Artemis. The flight covered 13,000 miles, including 50 legs, crossing 23 countries. Tracey is a keynote speaker at the 2016 International Women in Aviation Conference March 10-12 in Nashville, TN at the Friday morning general session, expected to be attended by nearly 4,500 participants.

IFPL just announced the delivery of a one millionth peripheral to Panasonic Avionics (see the News Releases section for the full story).

We told you so…

Lastly, we are working on a few surprises for 2016, but more on this later…

First up this week we have a Portland Preview of what to see at APEX EXPO in Oregon September 28 – October 1, from the folks at IFPL:

The 2015 EXPO will see IFEC industry innovator IFPL bring its new Dual-pin MagSignal magnetic Audio Jack, a new USB 3.0 and USB C plug and its highly reliable Reversible USB A data and power port, strengthening the industry proven audio jack and data port range. In addition, IFPL will demonstrate the latest NFC technology for payment and personalization; together with the launch of its combined Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) concept specifically design for the aircraft cabin. All aimed at intensifying relationships, passenger personalization and truly enhancing the experience on-board current and next generation aircraft.

IFPL takes a new turn with the introduction of its range of Long Life jacks, the innovative Dual-pin and triple pin magnetic Breakaway Audio jack; a new cost neutral solution, virtually eliminating customer induced damage providing cost effective lifetime use. IFPL extends its USB range to include its reversible USB-A and new USB 3.0 and USB-C combining power and data module to meet current and future USB standards to support at-seat Portable Electronic Device (PED) charging and data transfer without requiring modification or re-certification of existing seats.

IFPL lead the way when it comes to NFC payment technology on-board aircraft and already works with global OEM’s on using this technology to deliver in-flight retail sales and customer personalization that enables airlines to enhance on-board revenue and customize the passenger experience.

IFPL demonstrates the latest version of the its semi embedded IFE concept enabling airlines to provide tablet based solution while delivering an experience that is comfortable and integrated to meet the passenger requirements.

The IFPL team will be delighted to welcome you to stand 1408 at APEX 2015 and demonstrate our exciting range of products and new innovations. If you would like further information, please contact us at innovate@ifpl.com.

IFExpress will have more on the best places in Portland is forthcoming issues, but remember, the town is dedicated to good food, good coffee, good beer, and good times!


And speaking of conferences, Aircraft Interiors EXPO Americas runs in Seattle November, 4 – 5 and you can find out a bit more and signup here – it is free! Airbus’ Francis Bouchard will be sharing his knowledge with us on passenger comfort and the genesis of a new IFE generation in his A350 XW comfortably yours Case Study. He will also be discussing how we can improve integration of inflight entertainment and connectivity systems with seating.

EXPO will also have Günter Boomgaarden from Zodiac Aerospace who will join to discuss and share knowledge on how you create lighting solutions that enhance all the major brand elements of the cabin and what the benefits are of thinking about lighting solutions earlier in the design process. Check out the full list of speakers and seminars


Kymeta Corporation and SHARP Corporation announced a development agreement to design products that will pave the way for cost-effective mobile satellite communications. Under the agreement, SHARP will use its liquid crystal display production technology to manufacture Kymeta’s new flat-panel satellite antenna, allowing both companies to create new opportunities for the satellite communications industry.

Kymeta antennas use liquid crystal-based metamaterials to solve one of the satellite industry’s longest-standing technical challenges: the need for lightweight, slim and efficient antennas that use software to electronically point and steer towards a satellite, eliminating the need for costly and cumbersome mechanical steering equipment and allowing for rapid setup and installation.

Enabled by Kymeta’s mTenna technology, this suite of antennas uses a first-of-its-kind, glass-on-glass design concept that leverages the same components and manufacturing processes as SHARP’s existing flat-panel display production lines. This means that SHARP can manufacture the Kymeta antennas using its existing production capabilities and, with little or no modification, produce electronically scanned antennas for mobile satellite communications.“Three years of intensive collaboration with SHARP have led us to a product design that can be manufactured utilizing SHARP’s existing production capabilities. This is an important moment for Kymeta. By using a production technology that is already widely deployed in consumer devices, with over $250 billion of industry-wide investment in infrastructure and R&D, we will be able to mass-produce antennas on a scale previously unattainable,” said Dr. Nathan Kundtz, CEO of Kymeta. “Sharp is an excellent partner for Kymeta because of its history and culture of innovation and releasing excellent products.”

“We have over 40 years of experience bringing high-quality liquid crystal displays to consumers,” said Atsushi Ban, division general manager of the Display Device Development Division of Sharp Corporation. “Working with Kymeta, we’re able to create antennas thin and light enough to bring entertainment and connectivity to wherever our customers are.”


Gogo reported record quarterly revenue of $121.2 million, up 22% year-over-year. Service revenue increased 28% to $101.4 million, exceeding $100 million in a single quarter for the first time. “Q2 was another outstanding quarter for Gogo. We delivered record financial results; received the first of two certifications needed to fly 2Ku on our own aircraft; and signed a definitive agreement with GOL, a leading Brazilian airline, to equip its entire fleet of 140 aircraft with 2Ku, our next generation satellite technology,” said Gogo’s President and CEO, Michael Small. “We expect this year that 2Ku will begin to bring an industry leading combination of capacity, cost, reliability and global coverage to planes both in North America and internationally. I am very pleased with our progress to date in getting 2Ku to commercial deployment and with our continued success in winning airlines as we expand internationally.”


SITA OnAir announces first EASA STC for GX Aviation – Introduction of GX Aviation moves a step closer. SITA OnAir is developing the first EASA Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for Inmarsat’s high speed Ka-band broadband service, GX Aviation. SITA OnAir is working with EAD Aerospace, an Eclipse company, on the STC to retro fit Boeing 777 series aircraft, on behalf of an undisclosed Airline. The development of this first GX Aviation STC brings the commercial availability of GX Aviation closer. Combined with the expected launch of the third and final GX Aviation satellite at the end of August, momentum is building rapidly.

“This STC will allow the installation and activation of connectivity covering SITA OnAir’s nose-to-tail e-Aircraft portfolio. This includes solutions and products for passengers, cabin crew, cockpit crew, aircraft data and maintenance, flight operations and air traffic control,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of SITA OnAir. “What’s new is that inflight connectivity using high throughput satellite networks extends the possibilities for passengers as well as airlines’ professional use. Airlines will be able to exchange data for operational purposes, and passengers will have the same Internet speed they are used to at home.”

GX Aviation will provide 50MB/s to the aircraft, in particular, giving passengers high-speed Wi-Fi. This is the new reality of inflight connectivity. For the very first time, there really is no difference between being in the air and being on the ground. SITA OnAir already has over 40 STCs, covering the retro fit of inflight connectivity systems on Airbus aircraft, including the A320 family types, A330s and A340s, as well as Boeing aircraft including B737s, B767s and B777s. In addition, SITA OnAir systems are available as line fit on the entire Airbus fleet as well as on Boeing B777s and B787s. It is also a line fit option on selected VIP aircraft, including the Dassault Falcon 7X and Airbus Corporate Jets. OnAir’s STCs have been awarded by the major certification authorities across the world, including the FAA in the US, EASA in Europe, the Singapore CAA, and Japan’s CAB. Importantly, existing STCs can be reused for new airline orders. SITA OnAir can also adapt the STC to meet airlines’ specific technical, cosmetic and/or maintenance requirements. “We have worked closely with EAD Aerospace on many STCs and I fully anticipate this will be a smooth process,” continued Dawkins. “In tandem, we are also working together to kick-start similar GX Aviation STCs on other aircraft types, including the A320 family.”

Marc Pinault, General Manager of Eclipse, said “Our cooperation with OnAir is a good example of how the Eclipse acquisition of EAD Aerospace earlier this year allows our partners to benefit from Eclipse’s extensive background in satcom issues and EAD Aerospace’s Part 21 skills to ensure all variables relating to a satcom installation are taken into account when delivering an STC.” The STC is expected to be completed in the first half of 2016. SITA OnAir is a key Distribution Partner for GX Aviation. With 400 airline customers operating over 14,000 aircraft, SITA OnAir is ideally placed to be the Tier One provider of connectivity solutions across the globe.

(Editor’s Note: You can view SITA e-Aircraft Nose-To-Tail Solutions here  Very nice web work, scroll and see!)


Rockwell Collins announced it has acquired Newport News, Virginia-based International Communications Group, Inc. (ICG), a leading provider of satellite-based global voice and data communication products and services for the aviation industry. The initial purchase price was $50 million and additional post-closing consideration of up to $14 million may be paid.n “This acquisition broadens our portfolio of information-enabled avionics by adding ICG’s latest generation of Iridium satcom terminals and smart routers to our existing flight deck and cabin connectivity offerings, said Kent Statler, executive vice president and chief operating officer, Commercial Systems for Rockwell Collins. “When coupled with our broad array of network solutions, including our ARINC aviation networks and other satellite communication services, it accelerates our vision of being a leader in end-to-end information management solutions for airlines and business jet operators.” ICG’s products and services will be integrated into Rockwell Collins’ Commercial Systems portfolio.


Global aeronautical communications provider Satcom Direct Communications, Inc., a U.S. company, has entered into a purchase agreement to acquire Airbus DS SatCom Government, Inc. (ASGI), expanding its market presence and offerings to the U.S. government sector. ASGI is a government satellite communications business unit of Airbus Defense and Space for the U.S. market and will operate as a subsidiary of Satcom Direct Communications (SDC), of Satellite Beach, FL. The purchase agreement includes acquisition of ASGI’s business operations as well as two satellite earth stations located on the East and West Coasts of the United States. “Combining the two organizations provides distinct synergies, allowing for a greater support infrastructure as well as enhanced capabilities, technology and expertise to our respective U.S. government customers,” said David Greenhill, President of Satcom Direct Communications. “The acquisition will also provide an increased ability to competitively offer fixed and mobile satellite services in Ku, Ka, L, C, and X bands in multiple markets, especially aviation.” The deal has been submitted to the U.S. authority and is expected to close within the next few months.


Lastly, if you wanted to know a bit more about the famous Pan Am China Clipper, we have terrific video, recommended by Boeing retiree, Bob Bogash… Good Stuff, and we bet you don’t know half of what went on in Pacific flying in the 30’s!

Thales

In Hamburg, on Aircraft Interiors International’s opening day, Thales announced a host of new technologies specifically designed to align the company strategies to enhance the passenger experience with increasing airlines’ return on investment. Having integrated LiveTV activities, Thales will now be able to offer a unique IPTV service for a near-real-time feed of live television programs. By using real-time satellite feeds, popular television events, such as sports matches, will be streamed to all airplanes equipped with IPTV services from a dedicated Thales lab tasked with controlling, transcoding, and disseminating the TV signal via the Thales connectivity system. This offer is made viable through Thales’s strong ability to develop global rights management and its effective use of content, which differentiates it from any other type of service, in that, Thales will broadcast only the valuable events from various content providers to the aircraft and record the programs for on-demand playback. This solution eliminates irrelevant programming and makes the most efficient use of the aircraft bandwidth. Traditional TV streaming services simply pipe content directly from TV networks, prohibiting any control over what is broadcast. The Thales solution is a significant step forward as it allows airlines to stream relevant content that effectively targets their customers, giving passengers more choice and control over their television experience.

Thales also introduced their near field communications (NFC) for payment transactions using its systems. Through the remote module developed for the AVANT system, airlines will now be able to configure their IFE to accept this growing “Tap and Go” technology to allow passengers to make instant payments for all on-board transactions. Regardless of the airline’s business model, ancillary revenue generation streams are becoming ever more important and NFC technology will facilitate payment transactions, improving the passenger experience and increasing airlines’ revenue streams. Another another new technology is an enhanced digital magazine experience, the result of a partnership with Zinio, the world’s largest digital newsstand, boasting over 6,000 titles in 33 languages. With the use of Zinio’s Android inflight application for digital magazines, available through the Thales App portal, passengers will be able to access an unrivalled choice of content ranging from the world’s biggest brands to niche specialist titles. Interests and topics covered include news, politics, technology, art, style, travel and more. Thales also offers a solution which provides an enhanced passenger experience while simultaneously opens up avenues of exciting new revenue generation to airlines, due to attractive licensing and sponsorship models, as well as potential new business relationships with publishing houses and advertisers.

The company continues to evolve its AVANT platform to ensure its continued technological superiority amongst all other in-flight entertainment systems. On the opening day of the Aircraft Interiors International show in Hamburg, Thales announced several new technology evolutions that will be made available on AVANT. These underpin the success of the modular design of the system and highlight the proven track record of the most advanced in-flight entertainment system on the market. First and foremost, the cornerstone of the passenger interface, the AVANT screen, will now be larger, with 10-22” HD in-seat displays for the economy cabin and up to a 24” and 32” Ultra HD for premium cabins. These new screens will bring passengers a vivid and cinematic picture quality, no different than what they can expect from the best home-entertainment systems. Airlines will incur a significant benefit from a 35% reduction in weight and 20% reduction in power per screen. Equipped with the latest generation quad-core processors, USB 3.0 for PED charging, the displays will be faster and will able to have a greater local storage capacity than 512GB units.

Additionally, Thales announced the long awaited next-generation Touch Passenger Media Unit (PMU) controller. With a 70% larger 5” multi-touchscreen, this evolution of the award-winning Android-based TPMU is equipped with haptic feedback, letting the user register their commands. It represents a game-changing user interface that lets the passenger interact with the seatback display in a unique manner. A revolutionary point-in-air motion sensor lets the user navigate the content simply by pointing the TPMU at screen. This allows the passenger to both navigate the content through the TPMU while keeping the trademark second screen experience. (Editor’s Note: We couldn’t do this Thales report with out the help of Mike Moeller and Giaime Porcu – Mike for his time in explaining the new InFlyt concept and Giaime for his excellent daily Thales write-ups – perhaps other vendors will consider this solution for reporters!)

Noted Giaime Porcu, Thales Communication: “From a market perspective the IFEC world faces three key challenges as we all know, 1) A growing global fleet and the growing demand for IFEC systems on single aisle and shorter routes, 2) A more tech minded passenger requiring higher levels of technology interaction at all times, and 3) Intense competitive pressure for airlines to differentiate their brand and foster brand loyalty.” He went on: “Thales estimates that by 2025 70% of the global fleet will be equipped with in-cabin connectivity. Already, all RFPs in the market for the past 2 years have included a form of connectivity. We also know that the market is reaching a level of maturity that is driving down costs which is opening up new segmenting opportunities in areas like low cost, single aisle and shorter routes. All this lead to our strategic decision to change the paradigm of our offer. As Dominique GIannoni mentioned in his press conference: 1) Our strategic vision is to become the Number 1 provider of IFEC solutions in the world, 2) Passengers want an immersive, personalised, and connected experience, and 3) Airlines no longer accept IFE to be a static cost centre, they want a positive branding and marketing tool to drive customer retention and direct monetization . The result is simple, with the integration of Thales IFEC and LiveTV we were able to bridge the gap on all these market needs and are the only ones in a real position to do so.”

(Editor’s Note: Here is an important piece about the “new” Thales reshaping (and rebranding) of the inflight experience – it is called InFlyt. Check it out.)


KYMETA

The microwave antenna world is in for a radical change and the folks from Kymeta are using metamaterials to make it happen! First, a Wikipedia definition: Metamaterials are materials engineered to have properties that have not yet been found in nature. They are made from assemblies of multiple elements fashioned from conventional materials such as metals or plastics. The materials are usually arranged in repeating patterns, often at microscopic or smaller scales that are smaller than the wavelengths of the phenomena they influence. Metamaterials derive their properties not from the properties of the base materials, but from their designed structure. Their precise shape, geometry, size, orientation and arrangement gives them their properties.

Appropriately designed metamaterials can affect waves of electromagnetic radiation or sound in a manner not observed in bulk materials.[3][4][5] Those that exhibit a negative index of refraction for particular wavelengths have attracted significant research.[6][7][8] These materials are known as negative index metamaterials.”

And, thus we have an update of a IFExpress Exclusive story we ran in the summer of 2013. Kymeta, if you remember at the time, was the solid-state antenna company who didn’t want to say much about the technology as it was in the Ku Band, pre-development stage but from the looks of the unit shown at AIX, they are really up a couple of generations with a virtually flat device, a couple of inches thick.

If metamaterials are not your thing, here is a definition of the application from the Kymeta website: “Broadly defined, electromagnetic metamaterials result from arranging naturally occurring materials in such a way that they produce an electromagnetic response not found in nature. On the mTenna suite of products, tunable elements are arranged in a precisely calculated pattern. Radiofrequency (RF) energy is scattered when the elements are activated, holographically generating a beam. The direction of the beam is defined by the specific elements that are electronically activated—a design that allows for both continual and instantaneous changes in direction.” Look at the antenna like this – between two layers of special glass, metamaterials are deposited much like a printed circuit. The materials, “circuit” design, material used, and the activation elements develop a clean antenna waveform that, in many cases, can “see” beyond 180 degrees, with no moving parts – a star performer on the equator. We also understand that by 2016 they will have a conformal aviation antenna ready to go. Check out the picture we took at AIX with one of their engineers, Kenny Kirchoff (no kidding), and be sure to visit their website! (Editor’s Note: We should mention that clever Honeywell is the first partner we know for the Kymeta aviation product, but Boeing and Airbus will be in the loop because you just can’t pass up an external antenna a few inches thick.)


Rockwell Collins

A couple weeks prior to the show, Rockwell Collins announced the choice of Craig Elliot as VicePresident, Airline Cabin Sales and Marketing, for the company as follows: “Rockwell Collins today announced that Craig Elliott has been named vice president, Airline Cabin Sales and Marketing. Craig brings strong industry knowledge and customer focus to his new role along with extensive business relationships that he has built through his 20 years working in a variety of positions at Rockwell Collins,” said Scott Gunnufson, vice president and general manager, Commercial Sales, Marketing and Support at Rockwell Collins. “Most recently, Elliott served as senior director of Airline Sales at Rockwell Collins, working with airlines throughout the world to equip their fleets with the latest avionics and IFE systems. In his new role, Elliott will lead a sales and marketing team focused on the Rockwell Collins’ full suite of cabin solutions for air transport aircraft. This includes a number of systems and applications, including PAVES™ On-demand, PAVES™ Broadcast, PAVES™ Wireless, ARINC Cabin Connect, Airshow® 3D Moving Map and air-to-ground high-speed connectivity. Elliott holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.” So much for the news release… now, we have an opinion too – Craig is one of the smartest and nicest folks we have ever worked with in aviation! Our past experience is proof. He will be great with customers and the company engineers alike and we wish him the best. He told IFExpress; Rockwell Collins won the #1 Supplier Supplier Award from Airbus as a Cabin Solution Provider. It revolved around the airlines giving their inputs regarding supplier products (Rockwell and their competitors) and out team won, even when we were up against other cabin suppliers, seats providers, galley hardware manufacturers and the like…we were number one, and we couldn’t be more pleased.”  This points out why Craig Elliot will succeed… he is upbeat, positive, and a good role model for sales and marketing teams – her gets everyone involved. And, lest we forget, Rockwell (and ARINC) have some very interesting products on the cusp of announcement, but alas, that is all we can say for now!


IFExpress had a reason to contact Richie Sugimoto over at ACS and he told IFExpress: “We just delivered 42” HD LCD monitors that comply with DO-160G, Section 16, Current Harmonics (Variable Frequency Power) which directly applies to the A380, A350 and B787. Our brand new 65” HD LCD monitor will also meet these standards by the end of this year.”


The Airline Retail Conference (ARC) is coming up on 2nd & 3rd June at London Olympia it is the leading networking platform for airline buyers and suppliers in the fields of airline retail and ancillary revenue. The event also explores the impact and implications of the ‘Always-Connected-Passenger’ To give you a little more information, please see the link here which contains all the information for the up and coming event.


We are still trying to get our hands around this past month’s  Gogo announcement – “Interest in In-Flight Connectivity Higher for Passengers Outside the U.S., According to Recent Gogo Global Study on In-Flight Connectivity.” You can find the report here. Here is what Gogo said: “(Gogo) recently conducted a global study on traveler interest in in-flight connectivity and connectivity related products and services.  The study revealed that interest in these products and services is significantly higher outside the U.S. despite the fact that fewer connected aircraft are operating internationally as compared to within the U.S.” And, we thought, US travelers had more connected, carry-on devices? What gives? We would like to hear from you on why.

At AIX we had an interesting discussion about NFC and while at the IFPL booth, the IFExpress team got an education. Geoff Underwood, the CEO, spent time on the subject and if you are lacking a bit of understanding in the “world of cashless retail,” you are not alone. IFPL has a huge background in the world of cashless inflight purchasing and has developed a massive block of related technology and “…are really the experts on it in the IFE industry,” he noted. To try to clear up a bit of the “cashless” quagmire, we asked Geoff to paint a better picture of the technology:

Modern credit cards support three technologies: Magnetic Swipe, Chip & Pin, and Contactless (NFC). Many cards in the US still have just the Magnetic Swipe but that technology is being phased out starting in Oct 2015.  In every country that uses Chip and Pin or Contactless technology, they saw a 95% reduction in credit card fraud immediately when they changed to Chip and Pin. It is already in use in almost every country outside the US. The user slides the card into a very secure reader, and enters a security (PIN) code to validate the payment. But, due to the high levels of security required, the hardware cost of Chip and Pin is considered to be prohibitively high for most IFE applications.

The Contactless solution (note the radiation lines logo) or “Tap and Pay” solution is the one that will most probably be adopted in future IFE systems, because the hardware costs are much lower. To buy a product, all the customer has to do is touch the reader with their credit card, and the payment transaction takes place wirelessly, with no PIN or signature. At the moment contactless payments are limited to low value purchases (about $20 per transaction plus a daily cap), so it is inherently secure. The $20 limit meets the needs of most purchases on board, such as movies, drinks etc., and you will need a payment server, a suitable App on the IFE system, and the IFPL contactless reader connected via USB, noted Geoff. With the IFPL reader customers will have the opportunity to use a ‘Mobile Wallet’ to make their payment. Many phones are NFC enabled (such as the Apple Pay system), so they can just tap the reader with their phone and make the payment that way.” 

In the future, the $20 limit will be eliminated by the use of mobile wallets and live connectivity to the ground. However, these higher value purchases will require PIN entry to authorize the payment. A mobile wallet makes this easy because the mobile phone user can enter the PIN during the transaction. We also should note that all of these technologies are available to the flight crew today for inflight purchasing with handheld devices, but we are talking about inseat installations here.

IFPL has developed a fully wireless contactless payment system for airlines that do not have an IFE system, and has recently developed a USB-powered contactless reader for Thales that communicates transaction data to the payment server over a wired network.  Noted Geoff: “Both Apple Pay and Google Wallet are compatible with the IFPL solution as well, which makes NFC the future cashless solution of choice!”

A few other neat solutions we saw at the IFPL booth should also be mentioned. Our cover shot shows a standard, but illuminated, USB 2.0 receptacle. Not only does the light help find the socket itself, it accepts plugs reversibly (either side up works) which solves the problem of trying to get the plug the right way up. And if there is a plug/socket interface problem or short, the light changes from white to red. “We’ve seen a few copies already. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but we’re confident they’ve all missed out on the ‘secret sauce’,” noted Mr. Underwood, with a smile…

Lastly, we also saw the first miniature USB 3 “C” jack which is a big future trend and it would not surprise us if this jack eventually provides a replacement for installed USB 2.0 systems, as the USB 3 “C” jacks can easily cope with iPad charging amperage.


 Telefonix

As an introduction, Telefonix is a design, manufacturing and management company with a history of more than 25 years of innovation in this industry. We’ve heard a lot of buzz over the last year about their partnership with PDT, a product design and development firm, and most recently about their launch of the Summit IFEC product platform. We talked to them during the show noting that some of the team was headed to China after AIX – more on that later. The company was founded on the strength of its retractable cabling technology. You remember the inflight telephone handset retract mechanisms? But with over 60 patents issued to date, they have become a leader in technology development and execution for complex mechanical and electrical assemblies. And yes, they are in the systems business as well, but more on that later too.

Telefonix has manufacturing facilities located in Illinois and manufacturing partners in Asia, allowing the company to translate almost any design into a reliable product deliverable. With the company’s partnership with PDT, the complexity of the products offered has been evolving as together the two companies now offer IFEC manufacturers who are creating new or next-gen solutions a total product development solution: from user research to design, mechanical and electrical engineering, software development, documentation and certification, prototyping through to manufacturing.

And speaking of the Far East, They were a sponsor and host of the very recent 3rd In-Flight Connectivity Technology Conference in Shanghai, China, and we heard from Mike Kuehn, President. He told IFExpress that the Telefonix team (Telefonix+PDT) is very active in helping to change and improve China’s inflight connectivity market. Their recent conference there, attended by all of China’s airlines, “…is just the beginning,” noted Mr. Kuehn. Here are a couple questions we asked Mike:

Q) Who is the target product market and are you focusing your sales efforts on the IFEC suppliers (resellers) or the airlines – Is China a big future market in your view?

A) Telefonix is focusing its sales efforts on the IFEC suppliers and OEMs interested in retrofit and line fit equipment installation and remains a B2B hardware supplier and not marketing solutions directly to the airlines.

We view China as a large growth market for IFEC in general, with passenger traffic increasing and the services offered onboard maturing. As your readers may know, I chaired both days of the ICT conference in Shanghai where discussion of the 2016 market took place, and which is something we look forward to participating in. We recognize the timing and regulatory issues in China and are focused on building the right network and relationships as the IFEC market continues to grow in China.

Q) What are the benefits to the IFE supplier/airline in selecting the Summit Line? Is it time to market, lower cost, etc.?

A) The Summit product line is a natural evolution of our traditional custom design service offerings. The product line was developed as a set of system building blocks that can be leveraged as designed or be customized as a part of any customer program. The Telefonix advantage with the Summit product line (See attached 5 data sheets) is that we are providing innovative product packaging of new terrestrial technology, which allows overall cost savings and performance improvements as it relates to services offered by streaming IFE and connectivity providers. For example, the integration of the Cabin ACe antennas in the access point chassis allows a reduction in overall kit costs and reduces the complexity in the maintenance. Our Cabin Pinnacle product, which is a server that can support streaming media and connectivity simultaneously, is built on the latest roadmap of Intel processors and is designed to support the next generation of processors in the Intel suite without a total redesign of the unit, thereby providing future proofing for customers since obsolescence will be less of an issue.

At the end of the day, cost is always a factor, but it is far from the key differentiator in this market. Overall, the Summit product line is one built upon leading edge technology and designed to allow customers to upgrade more easily and with less certification implications than legacy hardware. Beyond the hardware itself, Telefonix is committed to continuing technology evolution and providing ongoing product support for our customers. We have a long and proven record of customer support and this customer focus has not changed with this new line of products.”

Q) What are the advantages the Summit Line has over other servers, WAPS, Pico Cells and is there any specific new technology in the WAP our readers should know about?

A) The technology used in the Cabin ACe WAP has the advantages of supporting 802.11ac protocol used in the newest client devices. We have in our roadmap to update the platform to Wave 2 later this year, thus supporting client devices that are not even available in the consumer market today. In addition, the radio engine utilizes Virtual Controller technology that allows adaptive, self-organizing wireless grouping across multiple units installed within an aircraft. What this means to the service provider is the virtual controller can coordinate, store and distribute the settings required to regulate and manage the Wi-Fi network. This is of particular importance when the client devices are not uniformly placed within the cabin – we can groom the traffic and spread the clients across multiple access points, thus improving performance since no one access point will get overloaded with traffic. We have also considered various installation needs in our design, for example including an internal antenna in our standard unit, but offering an external antenna if needed, and designing both 28VDC and 115V versions of this product.

In the Cabin Peak (Pico Cell) product, the software technology implemented in the base station transceivers is patented by our partner. The software forces a user’s device to select the onboard radio versus selecting a mobile operator’s base station outside of the aircraft. If the user is not registered for the connectivity service, the radio will ‘hold’ the client device in place and not let them roam onto another base station. Telefonix believes this will negate the requirement for the Cabin RF Management Unit being deployed today, thus reducing per aircraft equipment and installation costs. Given that pico-cell usage is geographically limited due to regulations, the voice service is not the real key for this unit, but rather the key is the ability for a user to log on using their smart phone in its native technology and have seamless billing back through the user’s mobile operator. This unit contains patented technology and has the potential to bring additional users to the IFC market.

The Telefonix Cabin Pinnacle Server features the latest hard drive technology with a firm roadmap for the future that will allow the unit to grow with both technology evolution and market demands. The product features the latest in thermal design concepts to ensure operation in numerous installation scenarios. These are just some highlights of the features we are providing to our customers with the new Summit product line.

Q) Where are these new products made?

A) At the present time, these products will be manufactured in the US at our facility in Waukegan, IL. Should the need for a 2nd manufacturing location arise, we will evaluate that need in conjunction with the location of demand to determine where else we might want to manufacture. These products have all been designed in the US by Telefonix and PDT engineers. While we have utilized some existing components in our hardware and have collaborated with various manufacturers and partners in the integration of their hardware into our solutions, the overall product architecture and design oversight was our own.”

Q) Is each component of the Summit Line black label today?

A) The base designs of each of the products are complete and the Cabin ACe WAP unit is currently in test. The remaining products are being customized with customer input and will have unique test and launch cycles depending on the level of customization required by each of the customers.

Our Cabin Peak pico cell, which was developed with our partner, is being used in multiple ground applications and we are currently packaging the technology and will customize it based upon customer requirements.

Q) These products were recently launched but what is their present design/manufacturing/airline status?

A) Our launch at AIX was focused on the products reaching a level of design maturity and test that made them viable platforms or solutions for customer consideration. While we are currently in talks with a number of different parties regarding this hardware, we cannot disclose the launch customers at this time.

Q) Are any of the Summit Line components flying today, either in test applications or with passengers?

A) This hardware is not yet flying, however we are in discussions with several parties regarding test and production level applications. We will, of course, let you know as soon as we have the ability to share any news on this point!

IFExpress readers, the Telefonix story is just unfolding so we plan to follow both the Summit Line and the story in China – Stay Tuned.

Here are some additional product and conference attachments:

IFC pdf from the ITC in China

Cabin Vista pdf


Lumexis Corporation today announced that their Lumexis Fiber-To-The-Screen® (FTTS®) In-Flight Entertainment system has been made offerable for line-fit on both the 737 NG and 737 MAX families of aircraft. “The Lumexis team is delighted with the significant achievement of having gained Boeing’s confidence in our company’s leading edge FTTS system and team,” said Doug Cline, Lumexis Corporation Chief Executive Officer. “We are most appreciative of their supportive and collaborative offerability team, and we look forward to seeing the first FTTS system installed on the 737 production line in the very near future.” Noted Jon Norris, VP Sales: ”Lumexis has worked closely with Boeing through their Technical Services Agreement (TSA) process to develop and apply the FTTS technology on Boeing 737 platforms.” Lou Sharkey, Lumexis President and CEO, noted: “This is an offering which can be selected immediately by Boeing’s worldwide airline customers. After 5 years of numerous retrofit installations on both wide-body and narrow-body airframes, the Lumexis team is so proud to have achieved line-fit offerable status on Boeing’s highest production 737 models.” Congratulations Lumexis, this is really an event for the company and portends great things!

Personalising relationships and commerce between airlines and their passengers

AIX Hamburg and the Isle of Wight | April 2015–
IFPL lead the way when it comes to installing NFC technology on-board aircraft, and already works with global OEM’s on using this technology to deliver in-flight retail sales and customer personalisation. AIX 2015 will see IFPL demonstrate its latest NFC solutions on stand 3C34, and whilst some industry observers predicted that on-board NFC would be years away, IFPL expects to have products in service during 2015.

The opportunities that NFC represents for the industry are significant and varied. From enabling passengers to make on-board purchases to personalising in-flight entertainment and services for individual passengers based on personal preferences and aspects such as frequent flyer status – enhancing both revenue and service delivery. In addition, NFC allows the ‘pushing’ of data to passengers during their flight supporting real-time offers, partner promotions and more.

David Thomas, Head of Business development at IFPL comments “One big aspect driving NFC solutions is that later in 2015 the liability for fraudulent transactions will move away from the issuer of the card and onto the merchant of record for card present transactions. NFC not only enables airlines to enhance on-board revenue and personalise the passenger experience but provides a more secure payment technology for low-value transactions and purchases.”

Global OEM’s and the World’s Airlines are looking to IFPL with its global NFC expertise to provide them with industry compliant solutions that can be incorporated into both line-fit or retrofit aircraft.

Happy New Year to our readers and thank you for another year of IFE change and growth. We are always excited to write up our predictions, in fact, we have been researching for a couple of weeks now to bring you the latest in prediction news. Based on technology change, we are in for a ride this year, and beyond. Everything from drones to privacy is at risk to become a new item in 2015, and as we move into the world of change, we hope you find our view a bit different… and a bit useful. While next year’s, predictions say to us that air travel in the US will grow some 3.2% (822 million passengers), China travel will grow at least 6%. And in the past, it has doubled every 12 years. It is also predicted that African aviation traffic growth rates will grow at an even greater rate in the coming years. However, our interest is the IFEC world and therefore you might want to take a closer look at the technologies that we see aiding that growth. While even drone footage is now possible for many destinations, we got a bit more interested in the airplane and the technologies that modify and improve the experience, so please read on..

2015 Predictions:

  • At least one vendor will develop and sell an IFE system based on a wired, commercial, seat back tablet with FAA approval.
  • Memisters, the new, fourth fundamental circuit element, will change the aviation data collection industry but will not be aircraft installed till later… it’s too new. Remember the new computer mantra from HP: Electrons compute, Photons communicate, and Ions store! Here’s the bottom line – a 6X increase in workload at an energy reduction of 80% will at sometime in the future increase performance and reduce fuel burn from devices probably using memistors. Also, the key here is “big data” and when airplanes get it, memisters and the cloud will be in the playbook! (Editors Note: Watch Marty Fink, HP’s VP talk about memistors ability to help the “big data” issue that airplanes just may see in the coming airplane data revolution… it’s at 23:48 into the talk, but you really should watch the whole thing)
  • NFC payment technology will become big-time in 2015, and yes, Bitcoin is looming.
  • Aircraft manufacturers and airlines will finally understand the importance of eliminating “Blue Light” which affects the human sleep cycle – yellow light solutions may be involved. While some new planes today have this issue in tow, perhaps, “yellow light” glasses may be in the solution mix because of patents! (Editors Note – check out this link)
  • If the sales of “wearables” is any indicator, airlines will figure an interface with them so users can see the impact of travel on users. “Life-Blogging” is here… eech! Anyway, wearable technologies will play a larger role. Not only will IFEC companies be exploring ways to monitor passenger health in cases of emergencies, but they will be looking at passenger ID and preferences via bluetooth communications between the embedded IFEC and the passenger’s own wearable device. This also says that there will be an uptick in “Personal” marketing.
  • The beginning of the Internet of things (IoT) will be felt by airlines and the trend will be driving aircraft updates and mods. Everything from lighting to thermostats will be eligible for review and control. Of course, while existing systems are no where near today, it is coming in the future. Further as device—to device- to device communication architecture is developed, analytics standards and operating systems tested, and “the cloud” interface developments will keep ARINC busy for years!
  • Watch for “Apple Pay” to come to an airplane this year… or at least announced. This also says, apps will be a bigger deal.
  • We expect an iPad-thin large screen TV (possibly OLED) to be developed for aircraft this year, and yes, it may also be a “smart TV” (with Wi-Fi , or even, LTE connections). And yes, it will be Ultra HD!
  • Unfortunately, hacking will show up on a plane this year, if it has not already! A big source of malware has been portable devices, both Android (Uapush.A & ObadH) and iOS based. Unfortunately some have even been distributed via the Google Store and the Apple store. What’s coming next is SMS hacks (You are correct, with text messages, be very afraid) – SMS spam is a big business! (Editor’s Note: Be sure to check out the live webbinar: “Threat Intelligence at 30,000 ft” on January 14, 2015. “Campaigns like Operation Cleaver (look it up) show critical infrastructure such as airlines and airports are subject to potential state-level hacking. More than ever, hackers and hacktivists have greater access to IT information” – Recorded Future. Also, readers who want to dig deeper might want to look up Inflight “Man-in-the-Middle” Malware attacks and fake HTTPS sites.)
  • Quality personal entertainment is a very big deal and to keep up, airlines will have to offer something different if they want to keep the “eyeballs” on their IFE. Competition with carried-on devices will have to either get a no vote by the FAA and others or airlines will need a new gimmick…like connectivity! Having said that, perhaps “better connectivity” is the answer. (Editors Note: Don’t believe us? Check out the latest Kickstarter Campaign for The Worlds First Wireless Smart Earbuds… who needs inflight entertainment? Now we don’t even need a portable device!)
  • Free Wi-Fi has to make a bigger impact in 2015. Sure, Virgin installed Gogo ATG-4 in a fleet wide effort to provide more inflight bandwidth, others will have to follow. That said, we at IFExpress expect to see major improvements to inflight passenger Wi-Fi streaming via technologies that intelligently allocate bandwidth throughout the passenger cabin.
  • Following from above, new router technology will increase the available connectivity on aircraft – in lab tests, one we know about has shown to increase bandwidth at some seats an astounding 100% – Guess whose product?
  • With Wi-Fi 5G standards in development, the promise of 802.11ad running from 900 MHz to 60 GHz will give the standards people crying fits!
  • While we have no data input, we don’t expect to see wireless charging of devices in the near future. Why? Do we really need more RFI in the plane?
  • Which vendor will show IFE that uses facial recognition or fingerprint access? Hmmmm?

Finally, we asked a number of readers to send us their predictions and here a just a few:

Earle Olson – TE Connectivity: ” Low leg disconnects standardize on high bandwidth solutions in high bandwidth copper and expanded beam fiber via ARINC CSS and FOS industry standards.”

“Backbone architectural changes move closer to a blade server-esque approach from a traditional box into a tray . . . moving the server / processing consumption point in distributed architectures.”

Rich Salter – Lumexis: “2015 will be the year that NFC payment technology comes into its own – think Apple Pay via near field comm wireless – get weaned off that mag stripe card now!”

Name held by request: “I expect new payment methods to be an active battlefield this year but the results not to show for a couple of years.”

Aurielie Branchereau – OnAir : “There have been a lot of words about the fully connected aircraft and, now both the B787 and the A350 are flying, it is time for action. The e-Aircraft will be more efficient, and will improve performance. We will only see the full extent of benefits when the aircraft is fully integrated into the airline’s IT infrastructure. That requires deep understanding of both aircraft communications and airline IT.”

A Retiree: “I predict GoGo Vision will make a lot of money in 2015!” (Look it up)

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.


Linstol

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.)


Panasonic
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

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.”


Thales

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.”


Inmarsat

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

Anaheim, CA | September 16, 2014– In an industry first, Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) is introducing EMV-compliant Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology in its in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems.

Industry observers had recently predicted on-board NFC applications were years away, but Panasonic will be launching the technology with airlines in the summer of 2015.

Passengers and crew will be able to use NFC-enabled smart phones and cards in-flight in many unique ways including:

  • High value transactions and purchases
  • Synchronization of personal data to create just-for-me experiences
  • Recognition of a passenger’s Frequent Flyer status via NFC card or phone, giving access to benefits or promotions, such as free Wi-Fi for Gold members
  • Enabling crew to check in and out for duty using NFC
  • Pairing of NFC-enabled devices with the embedded IFEC system, allowing airlines to push information to passengers during their flight

Analysts expect there to be huge growth in the use of NFC-enabled phones, with 200 million phones already in circulation capable of offering mobile payments. This prediction was reinforced by the recent announcement that the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will utilize NFC for their new Apple Pay service. Research has shown that 70 per cent of airline passengers take smart phones on board and it is estimated that by 2016 55 per cent of smart phones will be NFC-enabled. All the top 50 mobile carriers globally are committed to NFC contactless payment.

Enabling NFC on board further reinforces Panasonic’s vision of the ‘seamless passenger travel thread’ and will integrate with the industry’s other NFC initiatives in baggage handling, check in and airport logistics.

Paul Margis, CEO of Panasonic Avionics, said: “This new technology will allow passengers around the world to personalize their travel experience and intensify their relationship with their airline in incredibly valuable ways.”

“We have seen the demand from airlines and their passengers, and after two years of research and development, we are proud to continue our innovation leadership by delivering this latest technology solution to our customers.”

Toulouse, France | July 2, 2014– Air France, Orange, SITA, Toulouse-Blagnac Airport and RESA have joined forces to provide the first seamless boarding experience in Europe with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. Over the next six months, the Touch&Pass app will allow a panel of passengers travelling on Air France flights from Toulouse-Blagnac to Paris-Orly to use their Orange NFC-based smartphones to quickly and conveniently move through the airport—from the airport entrance until they board their plane.

The technology will enable passengers to automatically receive their NFC boarding pass on their smartphones using their usual check-in method. By simply tapping their mobile on dedicated readers in the airport, they will then be able to quickly and easily pass through the different steps of their journey, including priority lanes for security control, lounge access and boarding.

The boarding pass will be read automatically, even if the phone is locked, or the battery is dead. By leveraging the technical specification developed by SITA, the RESA reader can retrieve the correct boarding pass, even if there are multiple boarding passes present on the phone. In addition to saving time, passengers will benefit from a comfortable, stress-free journey, with no need to search for and display a barcode or a printed document.

Jean-Christophe Gaudeau, Ground Product Innovation Manager at Air France KLM, said: “Air France is committed to constantly searching for new products, innovative solutions and services that can improve the travel experience for our customers and make their trip easier before, during and after their flight. Air France’s participation in the testing of NFC technology at boarding illustrates its desire to be a pioneer in the field of innovation for the benefit of our passengers.”

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA, said: “This is a perfect example of how SITA and our strategic research arm, SITA Lab, collaborate with our partners to test a variety of new technologies and lead innovation in the air transport industry. This trial with Air France and Orange marks the first NFC boarding pass that provides a truly interoperable and scalable solution for the industry.”

Thierry Millet, Vice President of Mobile Payments and Contactless Program at Orange, said, “NFC technology allows Air France passengers to test this new way to embark. It’s simpler and faster. The new solution relies on two industry standards: an IATA standard from the air transport industry and an NFC standard from GSMA for the mobile industry. This opens the door to a large-scale industrial roll-out.”

Renaud Willard, Sales & Marketing Director, RESA, said, “Making passenger facilitation its top priority, RESA has seamlessly integrated NFC technology into the daily operations of Toulouse-Blagnac Airport. NFC brings speed, easiness and a paperless experience to the airport environment. Passengers don’t have to think any longer about their boarding pass, the battery life of their smartphone or the rotation of their screen. They just walk through the airport, simply tapping their phone on the RESA readers.”

Air France and Orange will invite a few hundred Air France Gold and Platinum Flying Blue members to participate in the trial. Orange will provide the NFC infrastructure and SIM cards for the trial. SITA has developed the NFC specifications that enable this technology to work in an airport environment, a toolkit for mobile integration and the boarding pass delivery infrastructure between Air France and Orange. Air France will provide the Touch&Pass NFC apps for the smartphones, and RESA will provide the check-in, boarding, and fast-lane processing systems for Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, including e-Gates for security checks and self-boarding.

The trial will run until 31 Dec, 2014 on the popular flight from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport to Paris-Orly Airport.

Toulouse-Blagnac Airport is the fifth-largest airport in France based on passenger traffic and a leading business airport. In 2013, the airport served more than 7.5 million passengers, up 0.1% from the year before. The airport provides services to 32 airlines with regularly scheduled flights to 16 domestic locations and 43 international connections.

Calbourne, Isle of Wight, UK | March 2014– IFPL will be demonstrating its new CRS at this year’s AIX show in Hamburg.
Credit/debit cards are being issued with contactless payment functionality built-in enabled by Near Field Communication (NFC). IFPL has developed an in-seat payment system for airline cabin passenger seats that takes advantage of the new NFC contactless card for low value purchases and has an intuitive interface that is easy to use. The system also has the potential to be used on other types of transport networks such as trains.

CRS allows passengers to pay quickly and simply with their credit/debit card for on–board transactions, eliminating the requirement for cash. Recent research suggests an increase in sales of up to 15% using contactless systems compared to traditional cash vending*.

CRS is easy to install with no in-seat wiring required and is easily configurable as IFPLs system integrates seamlessly with existing on-board payment servers. Alternatively it can be a stand-alone system that will run for up to 24 months on the optional built-in battery.

CRS has advantages for installation engineers, cabin crew and passengers. Simple installation allows easy upgrade of on-board EpoS systems, quick order fulfilment and satisfied passengers. The service level is customisable for the grade of seat and enables easy catalogue updates over Wi-Fi for special offers or to simply update food menu options. The system also creates an opportunity to generate advertising revenue from the inclusion of on-screen messages.

Patent applied for.

As you may remember, IFExpress has been concerned about the future of credit card fraud, especially with the advent of ancillary airline revenues. It’s also no secret that airlines are looking for more ways to get into your wallet during the three hours (or whatever) when you have nothing to do. As a captive audience, what retailer has a better opportunity? All the more reason to keep vigilant and with the recent hacks to US retailers, like Target and others, it will pay off in the long run if airlines figure out the issues with credit card security first. And that is a perfect segue into our ongoing discussions with Geoff Underwood, of IFPL fame. He told us: “I think the main thing to note is that IFPL brought this change to the attention of the IFEC industry back at the APEX TC in Nov 2012, but I think everyone was in denial! No one else had any idea that this was real – even the industry experts. What will be interesting is how the vendors (i.e.: Airlines) who have legacy card swipe facilities, will cope with the fraud risk. The way it works in the rest of the World, in simplistic terms, is that if you have any fraud with Chip-and-Pin, then the bank assumes the risk and will reimburse you. You can still use a card swipe, BUT, if there’s any fraud, then the VENDOR assumes the risk.”

Geoff went on to say, “So, my assumption will be that the Airlines will have to accept that they are running at risk if they continue to use their legacy card swipes in the seat backs. Or they can insist on cabin crew using a hand held PoS (Point Of Sale) device. The issue as of 2012, was that any chip/pin reader needs to be EMV/PCI compliant. That means anything designed to go in the seatback has to be super-secure. We looked at this in great detail and found that the cost per seat was going to be prohibitive for a seat back installation, so we have focused on our Contact-less solution that is very cost effective. It is satisfying to note that IFPL is probably still ahead of most IFEC companies when it comes to Chip and Pin, and Contact-less technologies, and we still have Chip-and-Pin on our technology road map, but, as usual, watch this space!” (Editor Translation Note: This usually means Geoff and his team will be demonstrating something hot at an IFE show in the not-to-distant future!)

As Mr. Underwood notes, this battle is not over and the more lax rules on cards and payment systems in the States are overshadowed by a good part of the rest of the world and the issue is probably one of the factors holding up wholesale installation of onboard payment schemes. Lastly, below are a couple of links to help you understand the difference between Chip-and-Pin credit cards and NFC technology.

Some Retail Malware Issues

Chip-and-Pin

NFC

On a similar theme as above, have you heard about “Hotspot 2.0” technology? It’s a way to securely transition between cellular and wireless connectivity. Too early to be seen on planes but this article will, no doubt, get you thinking!

Next, we note that there is an announcement about a Panasonic seatback IFEC big sale to Canada’s WestJet airlines – 120 destinations, 20 countries served. Looks to us like the sale includes some 105 present B737 Next Gen’s (B737-600, B737-700, and B73-800), with 25 more NG’s to come. The deal could eventually include 65 B737 MAX planes in delivered after 2017 as well… but we have no data there. We note, and you might too, that the press release notes: “And, with a mix of free and paid content, the new system offers the airline additional ancillary revenue opportunities.” Ancillary revenue is a big buzzword and Panasonic got the message! Check out the link to the story here.

With the Asia/Pacific Region offering almost $2T in airplane sales which encompass between 10,000 and 12,000 planes, it is no wonder both Airbus and Boeing focused on the Singapore Airshow 2014…  and $32B of orders is the result. While sales numbers have been announced and Airbus seems to have won in total monies, it remains unclear just how many of both company’s orders were only announced at the show. In other words, don’t get ‘up and locked’ on the $32B show number.

Lastly, we wanted to write a fitting tribute to David Peterson as last week we received his note of planned retirement and he wrote: “It is with mixed feelings that I advise I will be retiring from Panasonic on 28th February 2014. It has been a roller coaster ride over the last 10 years with many more ups than downs and I would like to thank you for support over that period – It’s time to let the “kids” take over. Should you wish to keep in touch I can be reached on dwp001@optusnet.com.au.” David Peterson’s retirement spans 3 decades of IFE history, IFE Manager at QANTAS, President of WAEA in the late ’80s, and Panasonic for some ten years. Imagine the changes he’s sen in 30 years! We tried to write a fitting tribute to an individual whose heart and mind were always in the right place in this industry. Not only is he a nice guy, David always had your best interest, (and that of the industry) in mind! Always! Stellar’s new top man, Peter McGlaughlin, another Aussie, told IFExpress, “David was a pioneer in the IFE industry I worked closely with David when we introduced the first In-seat videos on QANTAS in the early 90’s. He is a guy that wanted to make things happen and was focused on delivering quality. His contribution to the IFE industry is immense whether for a supplier or airline. His retirement will leave a void in knowledge in many aspects of the industry.” We can add little to that – Good Luck David.

  • SITA technology makes Schiphol first airport in Europe to future proof passenger processing with NFC

Amsterdam | January 22, 2014–

An organization of 80 airlines and ground handlers at   Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has chosen IT provider, SITA, for another five years. The Schiphol CUTE Local User Board (CLUB), which represents the airport’s common-use technology users, has signed a new contract for SITA’s AirportConnect Open passenger processing platform. Deployed in a virtual environment, AirportConnect Open helps provide an efficient journey for the airport’s 52 million annual passengers.

With SITA’s expertise in near field communications (NFC), Schiphol has also become the first airport in Europe to “future-proof” its passenger processing platform by connecting it with NFC technology. Using NFC-enabled smartphones, passengers will be able to quickly and easily pass through a special boarding gate at the airport with the simple tap of their phone. The gate will automatically read their boarding passes, even if their phones are turned off or out of battery. This same NFC equipment will also read the traditional two-dimensional boarding passes in use today.

Jan Bruns, Chair of the Schiphol CUTE Local User Board, said: “We’re currently celebrating more than 25 years of collaboration with SITA. During this time, we’ve worked together on many innovations to improve the passenger experience including common-use technology, self-service solutions and now NFC.

“As more smart phones incorporate NFC, more airlines will start asking for this technology. That’s why we have already equipped a gate with NFC and connected it to our common-use passenger processing system—and we’re inviting airlines to try it.”

Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe, said: “The Schiphol CLUB is always interested in collaborating on new innovations that improve airport operations and provide better service. AirportConnect Open helps improve operational efficiency and flexibility, while maximizing airport real estate. Combined with NFC, it will help the airport future proof its passenger processing technology and enable passengers to board more quickly.”

SITA’s AirportConnect Open enables airports, airlines and their handling agents to access their respective IT applications in real time on shared equipment. It also allows any airline to use any agent desk, gate position or self-service kiosk for passenger check-in, bag drop and boarding.

The Schiphol CLUB’s AirportConnect Open renewal with SITA covers some 700 positions at check-in desks, transfer and reclaim. It also includes 90 common-use, self-service kiosks, which passengers can use for check in.

With virtualization, the airport can run the latest technologies and incorporate upgrades to its system efficiently and cost-effectively. It also allows airlines to seamlessly operate at any desk, gate or work station throughout the airport, which improves the operational environment and enhances service.

More than 300 airlines use SITA’s AirportConnect Open to process millions of passengers every day in more than 400 airports around the world.

SITA is also the industry leader in NFC, which allows passengers with smartphones to move through airport checkpoints with a simple tap of their phone. In 2012, the company’s technology research team, SITA Lab, ran the world’s first live SIM-based NFC trial at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France.

Schiphol’s NFC gate marks the first deployment of SITA’s proposed industry standard for NFC. In 2013, SITA introduced the “Tap n’ Fly”TM industry standard for NFC, which builds on the GSMA’s vision of seamless, secure and reliable SIM-based NFC worldwide.  Tap n’ Fly combines a common-use applet to store passenger information and a standard boarding pass format to ensure interoperability, while also allowing airlines and airports some customization. It is also backward compatible with existing bar-coded boarded passes.

SITA worked with Access IS, specialists capturing and transferring information into electronic systems, to certify its NFC readers with the SITA Tap n’ Fly standard and AirportConnect Open.

 

Calbourne, Isle of Wight, UK | September 2013– IFPL is excited to announce the launch of Contactless Retail System (*CRS).

Credit Cards are being issued with contactless payment functionality built-in enabled by Near Field Communication (NFC). IFPL has developed an in-seat payment system that takes advantage of the new NFC contactless card for low value purchases and has an intuitive interface that is really easy to use.

This lets your passenger pay quickly and simply with their credit card for on-board transactions, eliminating the requirement for various cash currencies.

CRS is easy to install with no in-seat wiring required and is easily configurable as our system integrates seamlessly with existing on-board payment servers. Alternatively it can be a stand-alone system that will run for up to 24 months on the optional built-in battery.

Our CRS is great for installation engineers, cabin crew and passengers. Simple installation allows easy upgrade of your EPoS system, quick order fulfilment and pleased passengers. This service level is customisable for the grade of seat and enables easy catalogue updates over Wi-Fi for special offers or to simply update food menu options.
So whether you are a low cost or full service carrier, this CRS system will generate revenue.

PATENT APPLIED FOR.

CALBOURNE, ISLE OF WIGHT, UK | March 2012 –Near Field Communication (NFC) is just one of four fantastic products IFPL are exhibiting on stand 6A42 at the Aircraft Interiors Show 2012, in the German city of Hamburg.

Prepare for the future and see our connectivity now.
Our NFC demo is just the first exhibit you can see in action on our stand. It enables quick and simple “tap-screen” payments on-board. The system can also include a chip and pin reader to increase the payment options. IFPL’s Head of Design Mark Reed says, “It has low power consumption, is extremely compact and can be used in a variety of locations”. The second exhibit is a Self-Testing jack, designed to make audio jack testing and maintenance easier and quicker. The jack can be checked with just a glance! The third exhibit is the Breakaway jack, which enables a 90° breakaway of the plug! Our last exhibit is a super Stacking Passenger Control Unit (PCU), with it’s flexible and modular connectivity. Maintenance is easy; if one module is damaged it can easily be replaced.

So whether you want to generate ancillary revenue, have a jack that can be tested with just a glance, reduce headset breakage or need a future proof and reliable PCU – talk to IFPL as we have the right connections.

For inquiries contact Jason Davies.