Perhaps, the biggest non-hardware news at APEX this year was the introduction of new CEO of Thales Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Company, Dominique Giannoni. Mr. Giannoni (above left) has been in a Thales leadership position for more than 15 years focused on both military and commercial aerospace markets. He joined Thales in 2003 as head of the company’s Underwater Systems business line for Submarines and then later lead the Thales Military Avionics Business Line. In all, he has been in the military and commercial sector for 6 years and actually ran an avionics factory for a time. In July 2013, he was appointed to the position of CEO for the company’s In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) business and was introduced to the IFE press at APEX. Dominique has worked in the Telecom world as well as the French Defense Ministry and has a Masters Degree from MIT. In this new capacity, Dominique will take the business through its next growth phase rounding out the operations (grow the brand) advanced products and services with added-value propositions to global airlines (grow the customer base). It appears Thales has the right man for the job but he will have his work cut out for him. We expect to see him very involved in new product development activity to increase the product depth, and to be immersed in the relationship between Thales and their CETC partner in China. In-house, we expect him to fine-tune a lot of the operations as he gets more involved with the product line and customer requirements. No doubt, roles and missions will change at Thales. We should also mention the new position that Alan Pellegrini (above right) fills – President and CEO, Thales USA. Long-time IFE’er Pellegrini is now responsible for all Thales US companies and will have offices in Irvine and Washington, DC.

IFExpress did a little research on Alan’s work history and it is impressive to see the companies that benefited from his tenure: CEO, IMS; President, Panasonic Transportation Systems; Senior VP, Panasonic Avionics; President & CEO Tenzing; VP Marketing & Sales Rockwell; VP Marketing & Sales Hughes Avicom. Thales has assembled a strong management team and the next dew years ought to be interesting. Good luck Alan and Dominique!

Airbus has delivered their 2013 – 2032 Market Forecast and you can watch the 1 hour YouTube version. Also, check out the great market infographic. If you need an Airbus Android App, try this one – or an Airbus iOS App. Enjoy!

A while back we did a story on the newly designed aircraft retractable monitor with its developer and designer, Yukio Sugimoto. If you have a technical bent you may remember that his product was an engineer’s dream instead of a mechanical nightmare that often plagues these devices. In all fairness, the FAA restrictions and requirements on retractable monitors are moderately onerous, especially considering the fact that they must operate with power that is subject to dropping out for up to 150 milliseconds… not to mention issues like the necessity to retract under loss of power or emergency situations. This explains the high mechanical parts count and resultant weight increase of competitive units, not to mention stored energy springs and clutches to facilitate zero power retractions. The ACS patent pending solution involves storing energy in capacitors – that’s the simple answer but it is a circuitry design solution as well! Check out the spy shot of the mechanicals here. The unit sports 9.7 and 12 inch monitors and FAA certification testing is now underway and at last count passed 250,000+ cycles and is going strong. In fact, he is guaranteeing a 50,000-cycle non-failure or 5 year warranty. Yukio noted, “The new, bigger display actually retracts flat against the outside of the PSU while the rest of the frame and the electronics are buried in the PSU itself – the box sits between the rails while the display (and cover) protrudes ½ an inch above the surface and folds flat against it… and, the unit is installed on an A319 bizjet.” Mr. Sugimoto, who has a history of industry soothsaying, hinted earlier that the market for retracts might be on the rise in the single-aisle market and, in some cases, in conjunction with wireless! With recent interactive and second screen technology intros there may soon be some interesting deals afoot!

One of the best and most exciting part of this job is ‘discovery by chance’ of a new technology or a new product… this year was no different and there were many. This next product was discovered by the classic accidental rendezvous followed by a “You gotta see this” and Hratch Astarjian (Mr. BOSE) never fails to surprise and amaze us with demo’s of wonderful and ingenious audio products. This time it was the QC 20i Noise Cancelling in-ear headphones. We will get to sound in a minute but first; here is a picture of what we are talking about with a new BOSE IFE representative Danielle Glassman. If you remember the line of Quiet Comfort headphones, they are always seen on the heads of passengers on planes and airports. For us, it is impossible to travel today without them. Screaming kids, aircraft noise and weird, travel, next door neighbors are all alleviated. Two problems do exist tho – they are bigger than one likes and when someone needs your attention (like the cabin crew) they have to hit you on the arm. The QC’s are that good at noise cancellation. Now the QC 20 and QC 20i show up with in-ear sized tip and a switch for letting in outside noise when needed (QC 20) and an inline mic/control switch as well (QC 20i). If you remember the control box on your bigger QC’s… that has been replaced by a new box that houses the microelectronics and rechargeable lithium-ion battery, but now, it is the size of a thin USB drive. The QC 20 product uses USB 5 volt power charging and gets 16 hours of use each time. When we tested them on the show floor for a couple minutes we could not distinguish them from the old QC’s… in fact, they sounded a bit better. Check them out!

Correction: The Lumexis Server contains 1.5 TB of SSD memory, not 60 GB as we reported last week.

If the AIX show is good for one thing, it’s trends. By covering the show as we do, we get to see a lot of the industry hot topics and this year was certainly no exception. Here are just a few that you might want to jot down in your Smartphone reminder file.

1. IPads for everything but IFE!
This trend is not about iPad IFE. No, we saw iPads used for other applications like inventory control or electronic flight bags. The one we liked is called eCabin from Ultramain. The eCabin product acts as an interface between passengers, airlines and the maintenance, flight schedule, and passenger service supply chains. Thru a slick interface, the eCabin product works between the passenger and the airline and help to keep logs, connect passenger loyalty programs to passengers before, during and after the flight, improves the potential for airline service, helps the maintenance function, and increases crew performance. Yep, the iPad is here to stay.

2. Inflight connectivity is gaining ground worldwide.
By now, around 1400 of the world commercial aircraft fleet has one type of passenger inflight connectivity or another. That leaves some 90% of the fleet connectionless. We should note that all of these are not twin aisle, but if one considers the raw numbers, the market looks good as demand is driven by passenger carry-on devices, and seems to have no bounds. Over water rides are getting more sat-based services, and for numbers, the AirCell ground-based system leads the pack. Without a doubt, Inmarsat’s next generation of high-speed connections and services, coupled with the advent of earlier-than-expected X Band offerings will drive the cost per bit to down-to-earth prices (Ugh!). We should also mention the new hardware providers as well because they will, no doubt, be offering lower cost communication hardware.

3. Lighter weight interiors and seats.
As we reported earlier, carrying around an extra pound of airplane weight can cost anywhere from $200 to $1000 per year in fuel, fees, and wheel-tire-brake costs. This makes the trend toward lighter interiors a money saver and one which actually pays for itself in use. From our perspective, interiors have dropped 5 to 10 percent and we noticed at the show, some seat manufacturers were claiming up to 30% reduction in weights. This drop can be a real benefit to airlines and passengers, for example, more legroom is gained in some cases and removing solid pockets for netting can aid in cleaning and spotting left personal articles. We also note IFE weights seem to be dropping along with the power usage and weights. Check out Thompson Aerospace and Vision Systems for new light weight IFE offerings.

4. Condensed liquid coffee is in.
That’s right, a liquid coffee occupying one tenth the volume of regular brewed coffee added to water can make a great drink and we preferred Cafea. This stuff is good and physics helps out. You see, brewing coffee at aircraft pressures aloft can lower the boiling point of water – maybe below the good coffee boiling point. Enter Cafea, the manufacturer suggests that a thermos of correct temperature hot water is all that’s needed for a good cup of coffee. We agree, and no airborne coffee maker required. Little or no investment costs, no maintenance or repairs, no contracts and virtually no cleaning – what’s not to like?

5. Headset focus.
Headsets are also getting the upgrades. Vendors are investing in new ways to deliver audio to passengers. Notably, the Phitek group with their infrared headset. Based on a clever overhead infrared transmitter, we were wowed by the clear sound and wide “viewing” angle. They also demonstrated a clever magnetic breakaway phone jack. IFPL has developed a nifty, foolproof jack that will not break off in the PCU. Lastly, we can’t say enough about the Bose QC-15 noise cancelling headsets. Great sound, the fabulous aircraft noise cancellation, incredible audio range and the best thing that has happened to our flying experience in years.

6. Increased usage of RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification and NFC.
We will save that one till next issue but this radio technology is gaining in ground with the vendors and advances are being made in inventory control and point of purchase. Stay tuned on this one.

These are by no means the only hot trends and we will cover the IFE-centric ones soon.