In last week’s edition of IFExpress we trumped up the Passenger Experience Conference, Day 1 event in Hamburg. We noted how good it was and since the folks at Reed Exhibitions have already sent out a questionnaire to improve next year’s event, IFExpress believes it will only get better. There was a lot of change in the air at AIX, and as you can imagine it was all about wireless connectivity – in cabin Wi-Fi, satcom connections, and linking various parts of the plane/crew with 802.11. This year we thought we would follow the trends for our readers and provide a bit of a technology lookout. Remember: technology leads, products follow.

“The iPad has/is changing all things EFB. The iPad has made it possible for airlines to make a cost justification to move forward with their EFB programs. Our eCabin software replaces the ream of paper that Pursers have to carry around during flight, again, all on the iPad!” – David Abbott, Ultramain Systems

And speaking of iPads, we found them at every booth, most being used in place of IFE or as crew communication platforms. One booth even had 100 iPad demonstrators! Recent tech announcements we have seen have predicted the drop in laptop sales (or at least a slow down) and this portends the mobile future we all have in front of us. And yes, the phone universe is in there too but for the plane, vendors showed us iPads. Interestingly, few (almost none) were Android tablets but that will probably change as their price drops faster than iOS devices, but it looks like the Apple fire-walled OS has a few advantages in the airplane.

A couple of the best crew applications we saw were on an iPad by Allegiant Systems. Two products you should look up FlyDesk EFB and FlyDesk Cabin. Their stunning graphics made this device a stand out. Industry long-timer, Ramsey Nuwar, Business Development, told us that these solutions were going to change the cabin and flight deck. Here are a couple images of the FlyDesk product and an in-cabin use.

“As a managed tablet platform provider, we see a profound opportunity to utilize connectivity when available on the aircraft.  Operational applications certainly push the case towards fleet-wide installation, but won’t meet the business case needs alone.  However, with low-bandwidth demands, operational requirements are more suited to a mélange of connections, meaning airlines could customize connectivity to each aircraft type if so desired.” Ramsey Newar – Allegiant Systems

The Aircraft Interiors Expo was a great success for the Swiss media company, Ocleen. Their booth attracted a lot of visitors during the show because of their claim of free IFE systems via advertising supported hardware. Airlines can install a server-based network on their aircraft or get a cloud-based system with no fixed infrastructure. Looking at short haul applications, the company provides free tablet computers that are distributed by the crew. Expecting an order soon, Ocleen features Android devices which are price competitive with iOS units.

“The airlines primarily have a demand for the solution on short and mid-haul flights. They rarely have an Inflight-Entertainment-System installed on these routes as the costs have been prohibitive to date. We are providing a new direction, requiring no payment for air.tv and carrying the entire investment for the client. As a result, several airlines are obviously very interested in our solution. We had 40 to 50 meetings a day at the show,”  – Klaus Knappe, Ocleen

On the IFEC server side, TriaGnoSys has released AeroConneX+. The small unit is targeted, at least initially, for the business jet market. Working with VT Miltope, the unit offers a complete IFEC package – data, Internet, voice, and aero BTS. From an entertainment point of view, the new small box uses VOD streaming and can serve, with the appropriate number of WAPS, an amazing 300 passengers! Axel has a customer and the first install will be later this year he told IFExpress. The software resides on the “One-Box-Wonder” server but, boy can it do so much more! Using GSM technology, very high quality en route weather data is available as are Pireps. The word from the TriaGnoSys team is – “Pilots love it!”

Heard and Seen at AIX:

Gene Connelly was recently named Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Support for Panasonic Avionics Corporation – send him a congratulations! And by the way, check out the new Panasonic Avionics website.

We met a very nice young man from the New York area – Tyler Erdman whose new company- Tablet IFE LLC – is a business jet tablet start-up. You can reach him at Tyler@TabletIFE.com. Send him some business!

Bet you have never seen 100 iPads operating from one server… Plan B Media showed us that it can be done!

And lastly, if you have never gone to the catering side of the AIX show, you are missing some great companies who offering their wares to airlines. Little did we-who-travel-coach know that the world of airline food and drink possibilities can be so incredible. Next year, take an hour to see what you have been missing in Business Class!