The process of obtaining, building and testing IFE content has always been a mystery to us so during a recent visit to Panasonic’s Lake Forest, CA facility we decided to ask about the process. Of interest was content handling security and aircraft system testing, and since both subjects fall into the realm of Panasonic’s Julie Lichty, Director, Media and Creative Services (MCS), we had a few questions for her. We note that while there, the movie content room is a high security editing/review facility whereby digitally transmitted movie content is received, stored, and where the subtitles and closed captioning are integrated (per airline requirements), it reminded us of a secure location in a bank. For the most part, only approved visitors are allowed entry and they must not have any recording or photographic equipment, etc. When we asked Julie about the locked rooms housing a number of media experts, she told IFExpress: “We value content from the Studios and content owners and deliver great care in protecting and using what the airlines want for their passengers. Our job is to make sure that all content is secure, that it is integrated as the airline ordered it. Finally, we want to ensure that it all comes together in a way that will seamlessly work onboard the airlines aircraft equipped with a Panasonic system… in other words, we want a happy airline and satisfied passengers – that is our job number one!” We also addressed the following questions to Julie and we think our readers will find her answers interesting:
Q: Why does Panasonic have media centers?
Julie: Completing the task of content integration is not simply putting a movie in a folder. So, Panasonic instituted MCS (Media & Creative Services) to facilitate the update process. MCS’ mission is to provide our customers with an on-time, high quality, perfectly executed turnkey solution, which integrates the media with the software and hardware. Panasonic has invested in establishing regional media centers to better service the respective customers nearby. This affords the customers the ability to work with a Panasonic staff member who is nearer in time zone, appreciates the cultural sensitivities and work with the local content owners to receive and integrate their content for the airlines. These centers also afford the customer the ability to come on-site (a lot closer than trying to trek to Lake Forest) to review their content in advance of release to the field as needed.
Q:How many people are dedicated to airline content development/production world wide in the 7 media centers?
Julie: We have 116 highly dedicated professionals.
Q: How many square feet (approx.) are dedicated to airline content storage and development in the California offices?
Julie: In Lake Forest we have 14,754 Sq. Feet
Q: From what IFExpress has seen, security is very important to your operation… what is done and how is media protected?
Julie: Content security is a top priority for Panasonic. We have created an environment that helps maintain the focus on security while utilizing best in class technologies for content management. Our server room hosts state-of-the-art storage specifically designed and optimized for media. This room is restricted to key personnel who have badge access. This is where all media assets are stored encrypted. Files will be sent into Panasonic digitally and housed on the storage. From there, our personnel can access the file from our QC lab where the technician will validate the technical aspects of the file (bit rate, frames per second, aspect ratio, etc.) then visually inspect the file for artifacts, lip sync, language tracks, etc. We will often be QC’ing files that are still in theaters so again content security is paramount. Both the server room and QC lab is badge accessible by only qualified staff. Neither location has access to the Internet nor are any removable hard drives (thumb or larger) or devices with cameras on them allowed in there. Additionally, we have security members watching the cameras overlooking the area 24×7.
Q: Who do you work with for content support – suppliers and airlines?
Julie: Currently Panasonic works with all 6 of the major Hollywood Studios, Regional content owners from every part of the globe, 35+ TV and Short Subject content owners, Major & independent record labels to amass content for over 238 airlines customers. On average we send updates out for 190 of the customers monthly.
Q: How do the movies come in to Panasonic and what are the security processes involved – does content arrive digitally… is it transmitted?
Julie: Most assets (95%) are sent to us via Signiant or SmartJog, which are studio approved secure digital file transmission systems. These point-to-point connections allow media to be moved from point A to point B in an encrypted state while best utilizing the bandwidth. All movies are watermarked for their individual airline customer and unique file naming conventions ensure that the right file is delivered to the right airline customer.
Q: We assume that once the content is assembled for an aircraft, it goes to testing on the representative Panasonic/plane system. How long does this take on average?
Julie: This really depends on the system type, the quantity of media and the media configuration (route based programming, parental lock, applications used, etc.). Rack testing can last anywhere from 2 days to 10 days depending on the items outlined above.
Q: How many Panasonic IFE systems are simulated for testing there?
Julie: We integrate all of the media for Panasonic customers using our systems and deliver service across 10 platforms.
Q: We assume airlines and/or art houses submit media, as well as movie studios for airline video content… is that correct?
Julie: Yes, we receive movies, TV content, Documentaries, Broadcast Audio, CD’s, VPA’s, BGM files, Safety Videos and other airline owned assets, Destination Videos and the like.
Q: You deliver content in what forms… tapes, discs, digital? Other?
Julie: Approx. 95% of the media is sent to us digitally and the remaining 5% is a mix of Removable Hard Drives and DVD/CD’s.
Q: What is the most common movie modification the airlines request?
Julie: With the edits we receive it’s mostly language and nudity that’s modified.
Q: Is there one movie more than others that airlines request?
Julie: Every month the hot Hollywood titles are commonly selected across a large number of airlines globally. I can’t say 1 movie is a hotter commodity over another.
Q: Is Panasonic the Media Encoding Lab? We assume someone takes all the input and digitizes it as well as fixing the movie changes.
Julie: No, the encoding labs are companies like Cinemagnetics and Post-Modern Edit, and now Global Eagle Entertainment. The labs will vault the Studio’s assets and digitize them into our encoding specification and digitally deliver them to Panasonic.
Q: How is this process changed for onboard wireless transmission to passengers?
Julie: To support eXW it hasn’t changed our process any. We adjust to a different “seat” type, which is all. We clearly have to continue our content security focus and ensure that the content works at the device level vs. a seat back embedded screen.
Q: Assume Panasonic or airline employees load the aircraft? How? What Panasonic products are involved?
Julie: Both airline employees and Panasonic PTS (Professional Technical Services) load media to the aircraft. To load the a/c various types of loaders can be utilized based on the system type. We have portable loaders, solid-state drive OML, etc.
Q: What is it Panasonic can do that other IFE houses can’t… or are they all about the same?
Julie: Every hardware manufacturer has their own integration process to enable the media to be consumable at the aircraft. However, Panasonic is able to provide our customers with extensive quality checks throughout the integration process, we mux subtitles/closed captions for our customers and we can offer them integration of our One Media ad service to help them monetize the system. We think we are the best!
Q: How many airlines are signed up for Panasonic content development/loading?
Julie: We have over 238 customers! Here are some more MCS Statistics:
• We receive over 35,000 files a month – this equates to about 7-8 TB of new media delivered to Panasonic.
• We ship out approximately 34 TB of content each month
• With all of the new files & held over files we manage over 475,000 files a month.
So readers, the next time you are sitting in your airplane seat you will know a bit more about the process, time and effort provided by the IFE manufacturer to ensure a quality viewing experience en route to your destination. Stay Tuned, and thank you, Julie!
Morrisville, NC | June 5, 2015– The US House of Representatives passed H.R. 1561, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2015 on May 19th. H.R. 1561 authorizes the appropriation of $120 million for each of fiscal years 2016 and 2017 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to improve forecasting of severe weather events. H.R. 1561 will now move to the Senate for consideration and then to the President if passed by the Senate.
H.R. 1561 enables NOAA to get access to Panasonic’s advanced weather data directly. Such high resolution weather forecast data, which is not available from government sources, would significantly improve regional and global weather forecasts. It will allow people to better prepare for severe weather including storms and tornadoes that affect large portions of the United States and other countries.
“On behalf of the atmospheric sciences team and our aerospace engineers, Panasonic Avionics extends our appreciation to the Committee of Science, Space and Technology for their vision in putting forward legislation to strengthen our nation’s weather forecasting” said Dr. Neil Jacobs, Chief Atmospheric Scientist for Panasonic Weather Solutions, which is part of Panasonic Avionics.
He added, “We applaud Committee Vice-Chair Frank Lucas, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici and Subcommittee on Environment Chairman Jim Bridenstine for their bi-partisan leadership and collaboration to help pass legislation that will enable commercial weather data like aviation-based observational data to advance weather forecasting capabilities throughout the United States.”
Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s core weather technology includes:
· Tropospheric Airborne Meteorological Data Reporting (TAMDAR) sensor, a small, lightweight device designed to collect sophisticated weather data from the atmosphere during the flight of an aircraft. TAMDAR is installed on a network of hundreds of commercial aircraft. The TAMDAR sensors collect thousands of highly detailed and accurate readings from the upper atmosphere each day.
· The ability to transmit the atmospheric data over Panasonic’s global aeronautical broadband connectivity service and Iridium’s satellite network, in real time to the Panasonic operations center.
· Panasonic Weather Solutions analyzes and quantifies the atmospheric data to ensure accuracy, providing the maximum benefit for weather forecasting models.
Aircraft Interiors Expo, Hamburg | April 15, 2015– The new dedicated Airline Services Interiors business, one of three distinct divisions under a new streamlined structure announced by Airline Services Ltd this week at Aircraft Interiors Expo (Hall 6 Stand B78), has been awarded a contract to integrate a new In-Flight Entertainment system on 18 Boeing 747 aircraft operated by British Airways.
Airline Services Interiors is responsible for the design, certification and manufacture of the modification kits to integrate the new IFE system on all classes of passenger seating from World Traveller (economy) though to First Class. It is working with IFE provider Panasonic and aircraft integrator, Zodiac NAT, to fit Panasonic’s next generation eX3 IFE system, which will be installed from September 2015. The lightweight design of the system helps to save fuel, while offering customers over 1500 hours of entertainment programming on larger, hi-resolution screens featuring tablet style touch and swipe controls.
As part of the upgrade, Airline Services Interiors has also integrated new universal power sockets at every seat in World Traveller Plus (premium economy) together with individual USB sockets to allow customers to power their phones and tablets.
The cabin interiors of the British Airways 747s are also being refreshed so they match those on the airline’s new A380 and 787 aircraft and Airline Services Interiors has developed new fitted seat covers to improve comfort and appearance.
Headed by Managing Director Martin Barnes, Airline Services Interiors’ portfolio comprises three market focused capabilities -Through Life Services, Engineered Products and Managed Solutions, which is responsible for the British Airways IFE upgrade.
Managed Solutions brings together Airline Services Interiors’ in-house design, manufacturing and turnkey modification with its EASA Part 21G design and manufacturing production capability. This enables it to deliver customised solutions for airlines to redesign, refurbish or upgrade their cabin interiors seating and IFE.
Trial integration and First Article seat build is being carried out at Airline Services Interiors Passenger Seating Centre of Excellence, which is co-located with the design and manufacturing teams in Manchester, UK. Certification of the three seat types is complete with First Article Inspection of the seat modification design phase nearing completion. Airline Services Interiors will support the seat modification programme by British Airways Interiors Engineering at its facility in Blackwood, Wales where the first aircraft is due to be refurbished by British Airways in Summer 2015.
First, breaking news straight from the news release: Panasonic Corporation and ITC Global announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Panasonic to acquire ITC Global, a leading provider of satellite communication services for the energy, mining, and maritime markets. Founded in 2001 with regional headquarters in Houston, Texas; Sion, Switzerland; and Perth, Australia, ITC Global serves customers at more than 1,300 remote sites across 70 countries and all the world’s oceans. Panasonic, through its subsidiary Panasonic Avionics Corporation, is a leading provider of inflight communications and entertainment systems to the aviation market. By combining complementary strengths, ITC Global and Panasonic Avionics will become a new leader in global satellite services poised to support long term customer requirements as demand for bandwidth and efficient, reliable communications solutions continues to grow across the energy, mining, maritime and aviation markets. Panasonic Avionics’ satellite network already covers 99% of all airline flight hours and 98% of all maritime traffic routes, and the organization is in the process of adding High Throughput Satellite capacity that will wrap around the globe. Upon the closing of the acquisition, ITC Global will become “ITC Global, A Panasonic Company” and will operate as an independent unit of Panasonic Avionics. ITC Global will continue to execute its current strategic plan under the leadership of Joe Spytek, ITC Global’s founder and Chief Executive Officer, who will report to Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics. ITC Global’s management team will remain in place and will continue to focus on its customers in the energy, mining, and maritime markets, while Panasonic Avionics will remain dedicated to its customers in the aviation market. “Panasonic’s acquisition of ITC Global highlights the natural alignment of customers across the aviation, energy, mining and maritime markets, all of whom require mobile broadband, high reliability, global coverage and responsive customer service,” said Margis. “ITC Global is a proven leader and we share a common passion for excellent customer service. Together, we look forward to taking satellite communications services to a new level of value and performance.”
The United States Government Accountability Office, under the title of Information Security has issued a report earlier this month giving the FAA a do-better slip for security weakness (cyber-based and other (hacker) plus natural based threats) in the Air Traffic Control Systems. IFExpress has been noting concerns and deficiencies, at least based on non-governmental system hacking, and earlier this month the GAO reported the deficiencies. The 45 page report can be found here and we note the threats from their document: “While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has taken steps to protect its air traffic control systems from cyber-based and other threats, significant security control weaknesses remain, threatening the agency’s ability to ensure the safe and uninterrupted operation of the national airspace system (NAS). These include weaknesses in controls intended to prevent, limit, and detect unauthorized access to computer resources, such as controls for protecting system boundaries, identifying and authenticating users, authorizing users to access systems, encrypting sensitive data, and auditing and monitoring activity on FAA’s systems. Additionally, shortcomings in boundary protection controls between less-secure systems and the operational NAS environment increase the risk from these weaknesses.”
Further, the FAA is under pressure from the GAO for failing to implement a complete security program: “FAA also did not fully implement its agency-wide information security program. As required by the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002, federal agencies should implement a security program that provides a framework for implementing controls at the agency. However, FAA’s implementation of its security program was incomplete.” It goes on but worth the 45 page read.
The solution, according to the GAO, lays in some 17 public recommendations that focuses on a present and future security risk management by organizations and agency management present and future decisions; while laying out some 170 security weaknesses recommendations. Stay Tuned to this one… the ramifications of a slip here could be catastrophic.
Check out this Security story on the Internet.
And speaking of data and airplanes, did you know that Routehappy, can tell you if your flight has Wi-Fi, seat power availability, seat pitch, and a basic score for the availability of services – Nice!
While we are on the Internet subject, did you know that you can find US flight times based on airline for city pairs?
On the plane, what if your batteries die – did you know that two different metal electrodes and an acid will create a battery? Here’s how you can make a lemon battery but you will need 2380 oranges for your iPhone.
So much for up, but on the ground, airport Wi-Fi Access Charts from AirFareWatchdog cover US and International destinations.
And speaking of Wi-Fi, 802.11ac is right around the corner… for aircraft too! We now have 801.11a, b, g but they are quickly being surpassed by 802.11n, at least on the ground. Last week, we linked to an 802.11n Wi-Fi router developed and just introduced to the aircraft, the VT Miltope nMap2 features 802.11n technology. Today, there are some 38 million 802.11n access points in the market (ground) so that technology is quite mature. Since June 2013, the Wi-Fi Alliance has certified some 500 802.11ac ground based products but the technology has to be some 5 years away for planes. When 802.11ac gets here for aircraft, the world will be saturated with it on the ground, but that is another story. The issue here is 802.11ac and if you want to get up to speed on this ground technology today, we have a tip – Fluke Networks. Check out this link for an intro and 7 great info programs on 802.11ac, and their test products as well.
And again, speaking of the Internet naturally brings up the subject of Wi-Fi. While our Wi-Fi experiences are at 2 Ghz and 5 Ghz for the most part, Intel has developed a 60 Ghz version called 5th Generation. But what is interesting, at that frequency, their solution can provide a wireless display, short distance wireless charging, wireless docking, and wireless data (also short range). You can read about it .
AIX Hall Growth – Senior Event Director, Katie Murphy, said: “This year will see the largest and most comprehensive global passenger experience event ever staged, as Aircraft Interiors Expo expands from five halls to seven.” And don’t forget, The World Travel Catering and Onboard
Mea Culpa: It came to our attention that last week’s reference to the Stanford Paper on inflight telephony/connectivity did not include the GEE/Row 44 as a competitor on their list. GEE has over 600 aircraft connectivity/content installations.
SkyMall lives, sorta …
Hamburg, Germany | March 12, 2015– With just a month to go, the countdown is now on for this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo which takes place at the Hamburg Messe in Germany from 14 -16 April 2015. Organised by Reed Exhibitions, Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015 will be the essential hub for the aircraft interiors industry to view ground-breaking new products and innovative technologies as well as networking with exhibiting companies and professional visitors.
According to a recent report published by Technavio entitled “Global Commercial Aircraft Cabin Interior Market 2014-2018″ the global market is forecast to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 4.72% during the period 2013-2018.
The report also states that improved economic growth and urbanisation have resulted in a rise in air travel and the demand for air travel, especially from the Premium Customer segment, has triggered many innovations in the In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) segment.
IFEC and seating play leading roles in enhancing the passenger experience and at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015,Panasonic Avionics will be displaying its new JAZZ seat concept. Neil James, Executive Director of Corporate Sales & Product Management at Panasonic Avionics, said: “At Panasonic, we see a tremendous opportunity to bring the innovation of premium classes to Economy class. The JAZZ Seat is the first seat with IFE designed synchronously from the ground up for commercial aircraft.”
The overall thinness of the seat, created from a mandrel-free composite seatback construction, frees up more space for the passenger by improving knee clearance, while the innovative armrest geometry increases hip clearance through the use of additive manufacturing. JAZZ considers every aspect of passenger entertainment by featuring best-in-class IFEC technology and an unprecedented 13.3″ 1080p LCD touch screen integrated into a seamless edge-to-edge glass structure.
Passengers are able to control the ambiance of their seat environment through mood lighting, built-in reading lights and communication with the cabin crew through integrated attendant call lights. AC power, inductive charging, USB ports, Bluetooth 4.0 and Near Field Communication (NFC) payment features seamlessly integrate Personal Electronic Devices (PED) for a fully personalised passenger experience.
Chameleon Products specialise in providing interior design solutions to many airlines and VIP aircraft and the company has recently collaborated with Flying Service, a UK-based aircraft seat manufacturer, to produce a new economy seat called the Extendable Seat Product (ESP) which will be displayed on Chameleon’s stand. The ESP can be produced for any aircraft type and certification takes approximately 12 weeks. The new seat converts from a standard economy seat into a lounger seat which enables passengers to lie flat in a sleeping position or to relax with other travelling companions or family.
“We decided that we would produce the first seat in material that was designed by the celebrated British designer, Sir Paul Smith, which would combine great British engineering with superb British design and I think we have come up with something very stylish and functional. We also hope airlines will adopt the ‘ESP Designer Class’ which will enable us to work with established and new designers to enhance the ESP section in the aircraft to create something new and generate additional revenue for the airline,” explained Trevor Whetter, Owner of Chameleon Products.
Another company thatsupplies several of the world’s major seating manufacturers is Aerofoam Industries who produce aircraft foam cushions, thermoplastics and seat covers. In partnership with seating scientists, Nubax, Aerofoamhas developed a new technological foam innovation called Probax for aircraft seating.
Probax utilises a patented technology to encourage correct seated posture without the addition of any mechanical devices. The Probax design process utilises the teams’ extensive experience in bio-mechanics to define key reference points within a seat cushion. Those reference points are then expertly built into a three dimensional shape by Aerofoam to create a foam cushion.
The Probax cushion can be fitted to any existing aircraft seat as a replacement cushion and according to a recent study, ProBax has been clinically proven to increase blood flow, aid blood oxygenation, reduce muscle fatigue, discomfort and even improve digestion, all by inducing an anatomically more correct seated posture.
“We have always been the ‘go to’ company for comfort in aircraft seat cushions and now we are able to empirically define that comfort bio-mechanically,” said Jim Barrett, VP at Aerofoam Industries. “The end result is a lighter, more comfortable seat cushion that offers more leg room and mitigates the risk of Deep-Vein Thrombosis (DVT). An added side effect is that by keeping passengers comfortable, they’re less prone to adjusting their seat incline, potentially reducing passenger irritability and the use of devices such as the infamous knee blockers.”
Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015 is a global event that showcases the entire range of interiors systems and services and many visitors and airline representatives will be interested in viewing the latest developments in carpets. ege is one of Europe’s largest manufacturers of carpets and this year the company will be launching two new aviation product lines called Avia Carré Ecoline and Avia Structure.
“We look forward to welcoming visitors to our stand to see our unique way of designing carpets, for which there are limitless design options and colours. We use the latest technology to deliver total freedom for these designs and we have the industry’s shortest delivery times. More importantly, our environmentally-friendly carpets are made from 100% recycled yarns,” said Jens Klein, Head of Aviation and Trains at ege.
As evidence of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), ege is the only carpet manufacturer in the world to have gained the CSR standard DS 49001, which is the Danish version of the internationally recognised ISO 26001 standard. The Avia Carré Ecoline collection is produced from an innovative lightweight material that can help reduce fuel consumption as well as giving customers total freedom to incorporate bespoke designs. Avia Structure, whilst designed with a very minimalistic look and feel, is a flat woven hard-wearing and lightweight collection manufactured to meet stringent certified standards.
Senior Event Director, Katie Murphy, said: “This year will see the largest and most comprehensive global passenger experience event ever staged, as Aircraft Interiors Expo expands from five halls to seven. It’s clear that exhibiting companies see this event as the ideal showcase to display their latest and innovative technologies to the many visitors and airline representatives who will attend. With the continuing upward trend in air travel, there is no doubt that Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015 will cover the full spectrum of the passenger experience on the show floor with over 500 exhibiting companies.”
London, UK | October 23, 2014– With a suite of new technologies onboard, the first Virgin Atlantic 787 Dreamliner will take to the skies on 26th October from London Heathrow to Boston. As one of the most efficient aircraft in its class, a key to its performance is its new technology and innovative design.
Dave Bulman, Director of Technology commented: “The 787 is a revolutionary aircraft and new technology allows it to perform more efficiently than any other aircraft of its size. We recognise that technology is an extremely important part of a customer’s journey, whether they are flying for business or pleasure, and this aircraft has given us a fantastic opportunity to look at what we can offer our customers onboard. We have been working really hard with our partners at Boeing and Panasonic to bring connectivity across all our cabins as well as updating our revolutionary touch screen inflight entertainment.”
Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with Panasonic and T-Mobile to offer all customers eXConnect KU Band wifi connectivity onboard its new 787 aircraft. Whether on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, customers can connect their devices to the wireless onboard internet with just a few clicks and start surfing the web. The cost of the internet is £14.99 for the duration of your flight; however customers can browse destination and aircraft information, Retail Therapy and further Virgin Atlantic services complimentary. With power now available to every seat throughout the 787, customers don’t need to worry about losing battery and can work or play throughout their journey.
Let us entertain you…
The 787 Dreamliner sees Virgin Atlantic role out Vera Touch 2 in-flight entertainment system throughout all cabins, boasting over 400 hours of carefully curated, on demand award-winning entertainment.
The cutting-edge next generation eX3 system from Panasonic features a widescreen smart monitor at all seats with a capacitive touchscreen interface allowing passengers to access content in just a few swipes and clicks. The IFE also boasts a new Skymap from Betria Interactive delivering a captivating 3D experience, infused with interesting and detailed point-of-interest content that can engage the passenger in a rich and informative interactive experience. All seats boast an integrated USB port allowing passengers to power their own devices. New to the Upper Class cabin is a 24” touchscreen monitor over the bar showing looped animations that complement the cabin environment, as well as the option to view the innovative map on a larger screen.
But first let me take a #SkyhighSelfie….
Virgin Atlantic is also introducing the ultimate #SkyhighSelfie, which offers customers the opportunity to update Facebook free of charge from the air. Developed in conjunction with Wavealot, this bespoke application will allow customers to check in on Facebook and share their location with their friends and followers mid-flight. The app will allow one check in per person and customers can purchase the wifi to continue the conversation. Virgin Atlantic is also developing certain #SkyhighSelfie spots in the cabin to offer customers the chance to take the perfect selfie onboard and share their experience. The app will also act as a mile high discussion forum where customers on the flight can chat and spark debate in the air.
September’s APEX in Anaheim featured a lot of new technologies and as of late, vendors are reluctant to share booth info, for good reason, but we contacted Panasonic who was willing to share a few tidbits, here’s an example – One feature we really like each year is the Panasonic Cool Room. To IFExpress, we see the application of new technology as one of the trademarks of Panasonic, it was almost a given that they would feature a product technology preview, the technology that might be involved in new products… thus, the “Cool Room”. Obviously not all of the new technologies will end up as products but the key here is understanding the baseline technologies first – it’s a lot like the Wi-Fi trend, you won’t see a home router on a plane, but it is a “go to” technology for onboard wireless connectivity.
We caught up with Steve Sizelove, Panasonic’s “Mr. Cool Room” and asked a few questions during the show:
IFExpress: Have any of the items/products/technologies featured in previous Panasonic Cool Rooms become Panasonic products for the IFEC industry?
Steve: “Yes. We created the Cool Room experience about 11 years ago. Since that first exhibit area, we have seen 10 different technologies emerge as Panasonic IFEC solutions. The most noteworthy to date are our industry-shaping Video touchscreen handset at the same time the iPhone came out and the integrated seat project which lead directly to the development of our Eco monitors. The latter won several awards and is pretty much the industry standard for seatback monitors these days. We have also introduced a portfolio of solutions that integrate a passenger’s personal electronic device right into the in-flight entertainment experience. For example, since 2009 we have worked on bringing the Apple ecosystem into the industry with products like iPod integration, and wireless second screen integration with solutions such as companion app.
IFExpress: We certainly agree about the Apple Integration efforts since we see a lot of their products when we travel, but before we get to far into an interview, can we ask: Who is Steve Sizelove? It is a fair question because we see him deeply involved with the “cool technology” since it began?
Steve: Let me start with my school background because it might make my answer a bit clearer: – I have Engineering degree from Purdue University and with nearly 29 years experience in the aviation industry you may call me a veteran. For 25 years I have focused my career on the IFEC industry. Prior to that, I was an autopilot design engineer.
I have been with Panasonic since September 2000, and one of my first projects was to help launch our industry-leading X-series platform.
We started the Cool Room, or innovation suite, as it was first known, in 2003. Since then, the Cool Room has spawned 10 products for our industry and even a few into the consumer industry. Working on this environment, I’ve been fortunate to add something like 8 or 9 patents to Panasonic’s portfolio.
IFExpress: I guess we also should ask “Why the Cool Room? That is a fair question since Panasonic is known for the “Cool Room Experience”.
Steve: Panasonic didn’t become an industry leader by accident. R&D is part of our DNA. Being at this position of a thought leader it’s our responsibility to our customers to continuously push the envelope and bridge the gap between the technology of the future and the reality of the aircraft environment. The Cool Room is an area to show what we’ve been exploring in terms of technologies, emergent products and relevant consumer trends. It started in 2003 as “invitation only” but now open to all booth visitors. It’s where we articulate our leadership in innovation, and our thoughts about the technologies that are driving our industry into the future. The cool room itself is specific to trade shows; what’s behind the cool room, however, is an ongoing, continual innovation process at Panasonic and our partners.
IFExpress: What does Panasonic get out of all of this?
Steve: The answer to this question should be another question: what are our customers getting out of it? We are looking for a dialog with airlines and technology partners to align technology with business goals. We don’t measure everything by the impact it has on our sales numbers. Of course there’s a connection between R&D and ROI but the Cool Room is much rather a representation of our playful and innovative mindset. We love doing this. In fact, sometimes exploring the ecosystem of an emergent product or technology is more important than the product or technology itself.
There’s a great line from Disney’s The Lion King that says, “Look beyond what you see.” From the moment I heard it I knew it was my motto because sometimes its just as important to understand why we shouldn’t do something as it is to understand why we should do something.
IFExpress: I guess the next logical question is why should IFEC show-goers check out the room, we certainly see a lot of airlines in there?
Steve: It’s a unique place to experience new things that you’ve likely never seen before. It’s also a place where you can come to have fun and get away from it all. It’s a chance to have meaningful dialogue and understand how innovation fits into the cabin, where innovation must occur, what where we should focus our efforts for future cabin technologies. Besides, I love the technology and showing people new things and discussing how they may be influenced or interact with it.”
IFExpress: Can you give us an idea of some of the past displayed technologies?
Steve: Some of the public displays that we have had in the past include everything from 3D Glasses, to no-key typing, Smart Chair concepts, eye tracking, gesture control, and surface technologies.
IFExpress: For our readers that didn’t get a chance to visit this year, tell us what you featured this year.
Steve: Some of the technologies from this year’s Cool Room include New Gesture control demos featuring Leap Motion Version 2 & NOD Ring Gesture Device, a new Oculus Rift Virtual Travel Thread experience, our latest advances in H.264/H.265 Demo, a curved 11.6” OLED Display, and Latest LCD Technology color technology. (Pico Projector on display)
With Leap Motion, we’re exploring new methods of using gestures to control the in-flight entertainment experience. We’re looking at both macro and micro gestures, and different ways that passengers could interact with an IFE system in a convenient and intuitive manner.
With the NOD Ring Gesture Device, we’re looking ahead at how we can evolve IFE systems to support new wearable technologies that passengers will be bringing onboard commercial aircraft with both of these technologies.
With our Occulus Rift demo, we’re always being asked if we think that virtual reality is the next step for in-flight entertainment. We’re actually focused on the eco system and infrastructure behind the technology and the ability for that eco system to quickly bring robust, engaging experiences to life for our customers.
IFExpress: Can you give us a bit more about connectivity as it is becoming a big deal with passengers – in fact, one study lately called it the most desired inflight feature?
Steve: At Panasonic, we believe that connectivity underpins everything, regardless if you look at it from a marketing, finance or operational perspective. We are already delivering on our vision of the connected aircraft. Today’s IFEC systems are designed to be business platforms that offer higher value to our airline customers than ever before. So I think it’s safe to say that everything we do will leverage the advantages of a broadband connected aircraft.
This year, we saw a lot of Panasonic good ideas that told us (and the throng of visitors) that the company is looking ahead for the “next big thing”. Obviously from a writing point of view this is great because we love new stories, but from a flying point of view, new technology is what makes a stressful experience one that is enjoyable, or at least, acceptable. In the words of a past Iberia Airline slogan – “More Than Just Flying”…how true.
We got a tip in about a breakfast gathering locally in Seattle where a past Boeing celebrity, Alan Mullaly was speaking and can read about it here.
We thought our readers would find it worth reading… if for no other reason than to see how NOT to relate to your technical people! After we sent the link to a couple readers, John Courtright had a pertinent comment: “It’s called leadership. You don’t get leadership by earning an MBA, an engineering degree, a law degree or any degree. I’ve found people with military experience who have had a few more leadership characteristics than others who have degrees, and I believe it is because you simply must work through people and organizations to get anything done. But there are people without military experience who have figured out that it all reduces to understanding the objective, understanding the people tasked with reaching the goal (their pluses and minuses), and communicating the plan in plain words and communicating often. Mulally obviously figured that out early in his career. It may have been you (Terry) who told me about a Mulally-ism that has stuck with me. At Boeing Mulally was known to repeat the mantra something like: “Show me the numbers. The numbers will set you free.” This quote underlines Mulally’s strength of communicating in plain, unambiguous language and numbers help you do that.” (Publisher’s Note: I worked for Alan for a few years while at Boeing and I can verify that he is all he is made up to be, and more. And yes, he admitted when he was wrong… openly, but always had a plan to right it. – Terry Wiseman)
Don’t miss this APEX InfoGraphic
We loved this KLM Lost & Found service video sent to us by Bob Bogash… be warned, its a dog video…
Beijing, Shanghai and Lake Forest, CA | July 24, 2014– In a first for the commercial aviation industry in China, China Eastern Airlines (CEA) has begun offering broadband connected flights over China using China Telecom Satellite aeronautical service and Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) eXConnect system.
The first of 27 CEA aircraft equipped with a system and service tailored to the unique requirements of China is an Airbus A330 aircraft. Onboard, passengers will experience true broadband Wi-Fi as they surf the web, keep in touch with friends and family through their social networks, and even check their email – all at 35,000 feet. CEA has also selected China Telecom Satellite’s service and Panasonic’s eXConnect system for an additional six B767s and 20 B777 aircraft.
The first aircraft has been dedicated to routes between Shanghai and Beijing, allowing government agencies to observe operation of the service before granting full regulatory approval for operation on additional domestic and international routes.
China Eastern Airlines said, “We are very excited to offer this extremely exciting service with China Telecom Satellite and Panasonic Avionics. This is an tremendous milestone for China and we look forward to ensuring our passengers are both entertained and productive as they fly.”
Lv Junli, President of China Telecom Satellite added, “This is a momentous day for China’s commercial airline industry, and we are very confident of providing better broadband connectivity to China with our partners at China Eastern Airlines and Panasonic.”
According to Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics, “After years of close collaboration with China Eastern Airlines and China Telecom Satellite, we are now witnessing the next step in the evolution of in-flight entertainment over China. We are very excited to bring in-flight broadband Wi-Fi to this strategic market.”
Farnborough was a big success for Airbus, who beat out Boeing almost 2 to 1, at least based on aircraft sales dollars there – $75.22B and $40.2B respectively, sort of! At show’s end, Airbus had some 496 aircraft orders/commitments from the show and Boeing chalked 201, but there were some deals in the works. There were 121 A330neo commitments, and 317 A320neo orders that included the 3,000th order of that family. Yes, Airbus beat Boeing “at the show” but a decision by Emirates in June to cancel 70 A350’s ($21B) and another decision in July to accept a Boeing deal for 150 B777x’s, with the right to purchase 50 more somewhat changes the picture. Since Emirates also cancelled the A350 orders, they might actually exercise the 50 B777 option. So where do they stand? While not technically a ‘Farnborough deal’, Emirates is purchasing 115 B777-9Xs and 35 B777-8Xs, the deal value adds over $70B to Boeing’s larder. Industry estimates say a big deal like this is only worth $31B, but if you add that to the $40.2B the show netted Boeing, it looks as if they are at least the July winner! (By the way, the Qatar 777X order announced at the show is indeed a firm order, so we are told.)
To help understand, we contacted Boeing and got this response: “There were no surprises on our end at the air show. We know that Airbus stockpiles orders specifically for the air show, while Boeing announces orders throughout the year. While the air show orders totals you list are correct, I should point out that Boeing went into the air show with more net orders for the year (Boeing 649, Airbus 290)—and we left the air show with more net orders for the year (Boeing 783, Airbus 648). The air show is simply one week out of 52″.
After reading Boeing’s Current Market Outlook we wondered how big the total IFE market over the next 20 years? Lets have some fun.
Below is the projected (20 years) airplane market in the study. We then made a seat number estimate at the average number of seats on each option. Finally, we picked an average seat IFE price of $5000 per seat with the assumption that each and every seat received IFE. Obviously our assumptions will not happen in real life; however, we wanted to get a feel for the cumulative market size, and based on a yearly IFE sale today of $2 – $3 Billion dollars, our dollar number estimate is roughly three quarters what is currently spent per year but we thought our readers would find the process interesting… and feel free to plug in your own numbers.
If you look at the total seats from the aforementioned chart and multiply each seat by our $5,000 IFE estimate, you will get $36,208,250,000 as a total value of 20 years worth of seats. Now, divide by 20 years and the yearly total is $1.81B per year estimated average.
Lets stop for a minute and talk about the $5000 per seat for IFE. First, it is not realistic to assign IFE for every seat on the plane, on every plane, and the same value for every class of seat…we know that. And $5000 is probably good for a coach seat but we have heard numbers or upper class seats of at least $20,000… and we haven’t even mentioned inflation. Further, the aircraft seat numbers were arrived as an average number of seats per plane in the categories outlined in the Current Market Outlook. Our goal was not to give readers a NUMBER that reflects the some value that is slightly real today, but rather, a “water cooler” talkable number and a system to get there. Of course, real data clouds the result but we wanted a “number’ and thought this way, you could enter your own data and installation predictions/prices and show your boss how smart you are!
We should also note that the “number” does not include connectivity and new product developments and derivatives. Nor do we consider technology developments on the ground. If you look at IFE today and the consumer demand for IFE or connectivity, our numbers 20 years ago would seem way out of place today.
Then, for 20 years of IFE sales we average about $1.81B per year! We know the price per seat is going to go up, we know that there will be a lot of wireless connectivity and in-seat power and there will be many aircraft with no IFE. We also know an “average” seat count is not correct, and on and on. So don’t send us letters about how our assumptions are out of whack… we know it, we just wanted to get an average ‘feel’ of 20 years worth of value of the IFE business!
Along with the growth of the IFEC market value there is the growth in the design of IFEC, and the change in the content used. That is to say, in twenty years, IFEC will be different, and the content used in the new hardware will be different (i.e., 3D, 4D, “n”D, hi res., and so on). Make no mistake, it will change, not necessarily because the IFEC vendors want lighter weight hardware, not necessarily because airlines want different, higher quality content, but because passenger wants and needs will change just like they have over the last 10 years. If you think airlines are looking at HD video display because they want it, you might think again. It is the passenger home entertainment quality that keeps the demand for better movie quality. Today, if they are not satisfied with the screen, out comes the laptop, iPad, and in many cases, the personal telephone handset. What we are saying is, today it is the passenger that drives the IFEC requirements. If you need more proof, consider inflight Wi-Fi connectivity. Home Internet speeds are the driver that keeps the folks like Gogo, Panasonic and others awake at night. You climb aboard the most sophisticated flying machine ever invented and bring along a handheld device that has the fastest, lowest power consuming device/processor ever invented, and you just naturally expect the rest of the experience to be sterling because at your end, you have paid your dues. Guess what, connectivity to aircraft has not grown with the airplane technology, it came 90 years afterward so expecting it to develop at the same rate is unreasonable… it just is.
In reality, the IFE answer in the future could either be full-up everything, or nothing… based on what you believe passengers will bring aboard. In reality the answer may be both, and everything in between. If the past is any indicator, the aforementioned statement is probably going to be true. Want more proof, a reader sent us a link to one of the best airline position articles we have seen. As airlines become “hybrids” the world of aviation continues to change. It’s about Southwest, but we think you will get the message.
Next week we will have a look into the future with two if the best in IFE… Rich Salter and Michael Childers… don’t miss it.
For you history buffs, we supply a link and note we received in from a reader: “On Saturday, July 12, I led a walk-around tour at the Museum of Flight – covering the history of Boeing jetliners. My thrust was perhaps a little different from that which some may have expected. For me, the success of Boeing’s jet transport line was not the designing, and building, and flying of the 707 – it was something else – a subtle but profound attitude change inside Boeing. And the critical event was not the kick-off order for the 707 from Pan Am, but rather the later order from American Airlines – Bob Bogash.” The 707 is 60
As expected, the recent events in Malaysia have brought about a lot of connectivity solutions and we have been inundated with them. In the spirit of airline support for these initiatives, we bring a couple of them your way.
The tragic disappearance of flight MH370 is still very present in all of our minds. In an initiative to improve the handling of similar situations in the future the United Nations’ ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and the Government of Malaysia hosed an expert dialogue on May 26-27 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Panasonic Avionics was invited to participate in this event, contribute to their technical expertise, and present FlightLinkTM, a fully integrated aircraft communication, tracking and weather information solution. FlightLink has been provided free of charge to airlines from its launch in 2004. It offers Iridium Communications for cockpit voice, text and operational data as well as real-time fleet monitoring and simultaneously tracks all Panasonic equipped aircraft – 24/7/365 around the globe. Aircraft tracking services range from positioning reporting at no more than 5-minute intervals to live flight data streaming. Additionally, Panasonic Weather Solutions delivers real-time weather analytics and fleet monitoring by communicating data from TAMDAR weather sensors installed on over 300 aircraft. This is the only global satellite network dedicated to aeronautical connectivity, and with it, Panasonic enables passengers, crew and aircrafts to stay in touch with the ground throughout their flights. FMI contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Along the same lines as the above story, we got an input this week from Teledyne Controls that caught our eye.
Speaking at the Expert Dialogue on Real-time Monitoring of Flight Data in Malaysia on Monday 26th May, William Cecil, Director of Business Development of Teledyne Controls presented a case for providing virtually unlimited real time flight data monitoring by using existing aircraft systems and better ‘connecting the dots’: “It could be very quickly possible to enable black box data streaming in flight for many existing aircraft without installing any new technology,” he says. “By simply connecting a broadband flight data IP router on board with the broadband satcom systems that airlines are increasingly installing for the primary purpose of Internet access for passengers, we believe this is possible, and are planning to work with partner airlines and OEMs to prove this concept.”Broadband flight data IP router capability already exists on an increasing number of aircraft. Teledyne Controls’ own Wireless GroundLink® (WGL Comm+) unit that has this routing capability is being rapidly adopted by airlines to improve post flight analysis for flight safety. By way of context, Wireless GroundLink® systems are currently being installed on over two thirds of new delivery Airbus A330 and A380, and Boeing 747-8 and 777 aircraft and this adoption rate is increasing. “Connecting WGL Comm+ units to broadband satcom systems will enable airlines to realise real time flight data monitoring in a very short space of time,” adds Mr. Masood Hassan, President of Teledyne Controls, “and in doing so will resolve one of the last major headaches that airlines face – understanding the causes of an aviation emergency within moments of an event taking place.”
In another tracking endeavor, the improved SD Flight Tracker now has integrated position reports generated by Swift Broadband and features richer mapping capability using Google Maps. Satcom Direct’s Flight Tracker is a state-of-the-art global mapping solution that graphically displays precise fleet coordinates. Its ability to track aircraft globally has been enhanced with an additional source of position data. Satcom Direct has exclusive access to this data from Inmarsat and blends it with position data received from other sources including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), NavCanada and Satcom Direct’s own FlightDeck Freedom datalink to provide the most comprehensive flight tracking service available. “SwiftBroadband is updated every two minutes as compared to other sources. For some aircraft, this may be their only reliable source of position data. It allows our customers to track their aircraft worldwide and ensure they know its status at all times,” said Scott Hamilton, Satcom Direct chief strategy officer. “SwiftBroadband position reports are available globally whereas some sources, including the FAA and NavCanada, are only available regionally.” SD Flight Tracker also has been upgraded to use Google Maps which provides advanced mapping capabilities including street level maps which are useful for helicopter tracking. The SD Flight Tracker enhancements provide for a fast and intuitive user interface, and it can now be accessed on any mobile device. Previously, it was only available on PCs. Follow the link for more information regarding Satcom Direct.
You might have not heard about the IFEC.2014, but if not, here’s the story: More than ten local airlines from China have confirmed their participation at the 7th China IFEC Summit. The airlines confirmed are: Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, JuneYao Airlines, Lucky Air, Beijing Capital Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines and etc. Based on your cutting edge technology, new innovations and professional experience in in-flight entertainment and connectivity, can you help these airlines solve the following problems? How innovative inflight services improve a passengers’ experience?
- How can airlines simplify the pricing models for in-flight connectivity?
- How to secure the data for inflight media streaming?
- How can airlines use in-flight media for marketing purposes?
- How can you provide IFEC services that run on passengers’ mobile devices?
Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: ENT) announced today that it has been selected by Indonesia’s flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, to provide inflight entertainment (IFE) content to its passengers. Global Eagle will provide Garuda Indonesia with movies from studios in Hollywood, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. In addition, the content package will feature television programming, music, streaming radio, games and original productions that include destination films, safety films and entertainment guides. Content will be provided via the audio video on-demand (AVOD) seat-back systems on their wide-bodied aircraft.
We got a note from John Courtright who makes some good points about US taxation of frequent flier miles. He wrote: “I know the link below does not have a “clean” IFE or air-to-ground (ATG) reference but I bet many of your IFExpress readers would like to know that the IRS is looking to tax your frequent flyer miles as income. How would taxing frequent flyer miles affect airline choice? The IFEC industry bases most, if not all, of its value equation on the premise that the better, more up-to-date IFEC experience is a major contributing factor to a passenger buy decisions and passenger loyalty. But studies have shown that flyers first select an airline on a.) price and b.) schedule, and then other factors such as loyalty programs and the perception of better IFEC service come in further down the selection criteria list. If the IRS is successful in getting airline miles taxed, will this make IFEC an even more important factor in carrier selection? I think that’s a very good question? My opinion: I think IFEC’s importance will rise if miles are taxed. But I’d like to see an economic sensitivity model on this topic.” (IRS Sets Sights on Frequent Flyer Miles, Hotel Points)
Lastly, perhaps you read about Boeing’s Chief Exec, James McNerneys comments in the Seattle Times on next-gen planes. Having worked there in the past we were a bit surprised at this step-back from the problems at hand: “Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney said Wednesday the jetmaker won’t shoot for the moon in the foreseeable future by launching risky, game-changing new airplanes like the 707 in the 1950s or the 787 Dreamliner 10 years ago.” Meaning the B787 was a little too advanced for the existing engineering and manufacturing expertise there? The article went on – “All of us have gotten religion,” said McNerney, speaking to Wall Street analysts at the annual investor conference in the Fairmont Olympic hotel in Seattle. “Every 25 years a big moonshot … and then produce a 707 or a 787 — that’s the wrong way to pursue this business. The more-for-less world will not let you pursue moonshots.” After pointing out the above logic (or mis-logic) reader, Bob Bogash, wrote us, “I wonder what Mr. McNerney thinks of the stuff Apple has popped on the world the past 10 years or so?” (Meaning products like the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone, just to name a few.) He went on; “Bill Allen and all the great Boeing pioneers must be spinning in their graves.”
- Panasonic satellite system covers 99.6 per cent of all global airline routes
Calgary | February 14, 2014/CNW/–
WestJet announced today it has signed a multi- year agreement with Panasonic Avionics Corporation to provide the airline with a new inflight entertainment system with the ability to feature wireless satellite internet connectivity, live streaming television, on-demand movies, magazines and more.
Guests will be able to use their own personal electronic device (PED) or laptop computer to receive live and stored content streamed wirelessly from a server on board each WestJet Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft. Airtime packages will also be available to surf the internet, access email or plan a vacation on westjet.com. Tablets will be available for those guests not travelling with a device.
“We are very excited to take the next step in the evolution of our inflight entertainment system,” said Marshall Wilmot, WestJet Vice-President, Product and Distribution. “We were proud to be the first Canadian airline to offer live television on board our aircraft beginning in 2004, and today we are announcing a completely new system designed to offer WestJet guests a broader selection of entertainment options than ever before.”
The addition of WiFi is a strategic step forward to enable guests, especially business travellers, to make their time in the air as productive as possible. “We know that roughly 75 per cent of our guests are bringing their own devices on board today,” said Marshall Wilmot. “They tell us they want the opportunity to connect to check their email, put the finishing touches on a presentation or keep in touch with family and friends. Our continually improving schedule and network, now combined with wireless connectivity, along with our WestJet Rewards program and our Plus package with more space to work and additional amenities is part of our ongoing effort to enhance our value proposition for business travellers.”
WestJet will also install USB/110 volt power outlets in new, slimmer seats on its aircraft to enable guests to charge their devices or keep them charged while using the entertainment system. And, with a mix of free and paid content, the new system offers the airline additional ancillary revenue opportunities.
There are currently 275 airlines around the world using a Panasonic inflight entertainment system. Panasonic will install the system on one WestJet Boeing Next Generation aircraft before the end of 2014 at which time the airline will perform tests to fine-tune the system. When installed on WestJet’s fleet over the next several years, guests will be able to access live television, movies, magazines and the internet
throughout North America, the Caribbean and Central America, Europe, as well as future WestJet destinations.
— Alliance to expand companies’ terminal and services businesses into new market
Fairfax, VA | July 16, 2013– Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Panasonic Avionics Corp. are preparing to open a new market for Panasonic’s secure, satellite-based, in-flight broadband service known as eXConnect. Under a new agreement, Boeing will offer eXConnect service to government customers within and outside the United States.
Panasonic eXConnect is the industry leader in commercial, worldwide broadband for in-flight connectivity. While final terms are still being negotiated, the companies have agreed on a framework for Boeing to offer the eXConnect service and sell aeronautical terminals to the government market, including the Panasonic eXConnect terminal being deployed commercially today.
“This alliance will expand Boeing’s ability to offer in-flight broadband to government aircraft operators, many of whom operate Boeing aircraft, with a competitively priced service,” said Paul Geery, vice president of C3 Solutions for Boeing Electronic & Information Solutions. “The eXConnect service will augment other Boeing C4ISR capabilities, providing customers with seamless situational awareness.”
“By combining the strengths of our global Ku-band aeronautical network with Boeing’s extensive experience working with secure network customers such as the U.S. government, we will together be able to provide significantly improved service to this important industry,” said Paul Margis, president and CEO of Panasonic Avionics Corp. “We look forward to working with Boeing to offer in-flight connectivity to this exciting market.”
Panasonic Avionics Corp. is the world’s leading supplier of in-flight entertainment and communication systems. The company’s best-in-class solutions, supported by professional maintenance services, fully integrate with the cabin, enabling airlines to deliver improved-quality communication systems and solutions and lower overall costs.
Knutsford, Cheshire, UK | July 1, 2013– IFE Services, one of the world’s leading in-flight entertainment (IFE) providers, announced today that it was Iberia’s technical consultant for its Panasonic eX2 system.
IFE Services supported the Iberia team on system design, capacity, functionality, applications configuration and customisation for its Panasonic eX2 system with QT GUI.
Business Plus passengers can now enjoy new and intuitive entertainment options using 15.5” screens similar to those seen on tablet computers, plus 4.2” touch screen remotes with a virtual keyboard with which passengers can make telephone calls, send text messages and easily access the available content.
Major enhancements in economy have been introduced too with overhead screens being replaced with a highly advanced in-flight entertainment system for every passenger that includes individual 9” touch screens through which a wide selection of IFE content can be enjoyed. Every seat has a connection port for Apple devices and a USB port, whilst universal power sockets are also available.
The new eX2 system was successfully launched across Iberia’s fleet of A330 aircraft in February this year following a two year collaboration with IFE Services. By mid 2015 a total of 8 new A330s will join the fleet and 17 A340s will be retrofitted with the new IFE system and interiors.
Technical consultancy for this project was led by IFE Services’ Spanish team with support from the company’s technical teams in the USA and UK.
IFE Services has been Iberia’s IFE content service provider for two decades. As well as supplying Spain’s leading airline with movies, TV shows and audio, IFE Services meets all of its original production requirements.
“We selected IFE Services for its expertise of the Panasonic eX2 system,” said Iberia’s Product Design Manager. “We knew they would be flexible enough to manage this project against very tight timescales and they significantly helped us to successfully implement this demanding project in time.”
Hamburg, Germany | April 8, 2013– Passengers on six different aircraft flying over five different continents will connect via Twitter to deliver the world’s first global in-flight ‘Tweetathon’ using Panasonic Avionics Corporation technology.
Using the hashtag #High5Live, the passengers will interact with each other – and their earth-bound Twitter followers – while on separate flights all across the globe.
The event will be unveiled at the opening day of the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg on Tuesday, April 9, where Panasonic will launch the Tweetathon as the six flights take to the skies.
The passengers will be onboard flights from New York to Sao Paulo; Frankfurt, Germany to Seattle Washington; Abu Dhabi, UAE to London; Dublin to New York; Tokyo to New York; and San Francisco to Sydney.
The ability to connect via Twitter is made possible by Panasonic’s eXConnect technology, which delivers high-speed wireless broadband for Internet and data services. This allows passengers to use social media, access the Internet, and send and receive emails mid-flight.
With Panasonic’s services, for the first time it is now possible for truly global communications between passengers to take place from an altitude of 35,000 feet. Passengers will use either their own personal devices such as computers, tablet computers, iPhone®* devices, BlackBerry®** smartphones and more to connect over the aircraft’s eXConnect Wi-Fi systems. Passengers also have the ability to surf the Internet, watch live sports, news and other content with Panasonic’s eXTV service, and send and receive email.
The Tweetathon will be launched at 10.00 hours Central European Time during the Aircraft Interiors Expo, where 8,000 attendees are expected.
David Bruner, Panasonic’s Vice President of Global Communications, said: “The Tweetathon is an exciting and innovative way to demonstrate just what is possible today from your seat on an aircraft. Airlines around the world are now embracing this technology and passengers are accepting it as second-nature.”
“This is a great world-first which we are proud to deliver. It shows we are well on the road to having global connectivity in the air that matches what can be achieved on the ground.”
The Twitter traffic from the passengers’ Tweets will be displayed on large screens in and around the Panasonic exhibition booth throughout the five hour Tweetathon.
Fellow exhibitors, media and Expo attendees – as well as Tweeters worldwide – are invited to join the Tweetathon using the #High5live hashtag.
For more information, visit www.panasonic.aero/Events/Press/High5Live.aspx
GuestLogix Inc., the onboard retail and payment technology solution provider to airlines and the passenger travel industry, recently announced that it has partnered with in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) provider, Thales. The partnership involves the integration of GuestLogix’ Transaction Processing Engine (TPE) into Thales’ TopSeries® IFEC systems, enabling payment acceptance via seatback screens. Implementation of the joint solution will commence immediately with the first installation targeted for July 2013. The Thales’ customer-base will use the GuestLogix system for onboard payments without any need to retrofit hardware. The system features two big deals – a software solution for aircraft and access to GuestLogix’ Global Payment Gateway which enables secure payment processing anywhere in the world – ensuring each aircraft is able to accept payment regardless of origin or destination. Thales will also have access to certain components of GuestLogix solution such as its analytics platform that contains valuable business intelligence tools that can ensure airlines are maximizing their merchandising efforts onboard. Good stuff for airlines that takes the staffing and retail challenges away and provides airlines with a turn-key retail solution. And yes, the ground fulfillment solution for any post-flight delivery can be handled thru GuestLogix’ many partners. We should note that last year, GuestLogix signed
Panasonic to a similar deal that makes the global payment company the Big Dog in the industry!
GuestLogix will integrate and license its Transaction Processing Engine via Thales onboard IFEC systems to many of the world’s leading airlines. The software will capture payment information, transfer the information to an onboard server and securely transmit the data to the ground. The payment engine (software) meets the most stringent Payment Card Industry (PCI) validation as a payment application, and all ongoing maintenance will be handled by GuestLogix over the duration of the 10-year agreement. Interestingly, the ability to use fraudulent credit cards is on the increase and some circles peg the losses at 3% of sales, but it might be bigger. We note that the GuestLogix folks have a lot to say about credit card authorization and you can read about it here. Note that TPE will support both live and cached transactions at the seatback screen for items such as Pay per Access, onboard shopping and meals. No information was mentioned about duty-free, we note.
Through the company’s technology, airlines can open virtual stores in the sky that operate in a self-service model. For passengers, this means the convenience of purchasing entertainment, duty-free items, destination-related content (think theme park tickets and passes for events, concerts and local attractions), and food and beverage directly from their seats without having to order thru a flight attendant. For the airlines, this allows retailing to occur throughout the entire duration of a flight rather than a limited time when the Flight Attendant walks the aisle. “For the world’s airlines struggling to justify their costly IFE systems, this means the ability to offer passengers a much broader selection of content that can be immediately monetized, and streamlining their onboard operations to increase sales and ancillary revenues through their IFE systems,” noted GuestLogix CEO, Brett Proud. He estimates the deal will generate USD$350-500 million for the company over the next ten years, through a combination of software licensing and recurring transaction fee revenues. And that’s minor compared to what he believes the airlines could capture if they began to harness the power of retailing through these systems.
IFExpress asked a few questions of the successful service provider:
IFExpress: Regarding real-time processing of inflight duty-free purchases, how is payment validation made prior to a flight arriving at a destination? Is the validation/verification process the same as payments for BOB/non-inventory items?
GuestLogix: “It is the same as payment for any other type of product. If there is no connectivity, it is done in an offline/batch process where verification of a valid credit card happens on the screen and authorization happens on the ground through a batch transmission. If connectivity is available then real-time authorization happens at the time of payment.”
IFExpress: Does merchandise/content available though the onboard store vary from airline brand and aircraft?
GuestLogix: “Merchandising strategies differ from carrier to carrier but often remain constant within individual carriers regardless of aircraft type or destination. As we’ve seen many of our customers begin to integrate more strategic and dynamic merchandising strategies we are starting to see product offerings differ from flight to flight. For example, food selection is tailored to the destination to provide a more localized catering program. Or of course, destination-based entertainment or transportation offers are now providing more dynamic onboard merchandising.”
IFExpress: How is the merchandise “catalog” uploaded to the onboard store in an aircraft?
GuestLogix: “Product offerings are loaded into the back office which is managed by the airline and then transmitted to the aircraft when flight crew is opening the flight. The products are transmitted to the onboard server which then are accessible for browsing by passengers through the seatback screens.”
If you are looking to dig deeper, check out GuestLogix’ CEO as he discussed on Business News Network’s The Close, airlines must become global retailers in order to survive.
News From Gogo:
IFExpress got wind of a new development at Gogo so we traced down a story on a new development called Gogo Text and Gogo Talk that you should see at next week’s AIX Hamburg. It seems the folks with slide rules in the connectivity providers’ back room have developed a clever twist on voice and texting from the airplane, over their system. As you might remember, the Gogo system talks to passenger Wi-Fi equipped devices via their onboard server. By communicating to the ground via terrestrial VHF or via satellite, your email message enters the ground-based communication network via the Internet and with the aid of telcos and communication providers. Now, lets go back to the airplane. What if you were to load an Android or iPhone application that figured out that you wanted to text message a person on the ground, and after a proper “handshake” with the onboard server, sent the text message over Wi-Fi on the plane but when it hit the ground it followed the telco route to your friend’s phone or tablet. We note that if the plane was a business jet, it could be voice to text because of existing regulations. This clever technology is being Skype to VOIP but when the folks at Gogo work out the details with their partners (telcos, airlines, biz jet operators) you can expect to use text messaging on your next Gogo equipped flight. Yes, you can get a Gogo app today but that just gets you on to email quicker on the plane. Let’s face it readers, text messaging has been a long time coming to Gogo equipped planes, but it has been available where the picocell GSM solutions have lived for some time. Interestingly, you will be able to see those text charges on your phone bill. Cool!
Lastly, a Correction:
Correction to the ACS Retract Story last week: “When we got wind of the retract we wondered like you probably did – the market for retractable units must be dropping, in part because of their past reliability issues with retracts – perhaps the lowest (correction) MTBF of any IFE LRU…”
First, we had planned to write this Hot Topic around the recent Las Vegas CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and tekkie love fest but our volunteer IFExpress reporter dropped off the face of the earth… we suspect that he is in some off-the-strip keno parlor still trying to win back the money we fronted him. Moving on, besides all the crapgadget laptops, apps, games, the one item we found IFE-friendly was the surge in Ultra HD “4K” displays. While the ones at CES were gigantic (which is where “4K” shines), better screen quality is always a class differentiator. No doubt, biz jets will get ’em first, but classy carriers will pickup the slack. Last year at CES Sony and LG brought the absurdly priced and oversized devices, this year, Toshiba, Samsung, Panasonic, and others were there delineating a trend. What is a Ultra HD display you say? Simply put it is a high res product with better everything… “4K” Ultra HD TV 3,840 X 2,160 pixel display (“4K” = 8 megapixel Ultra HD, while 1080p HD is 2 megapixel – 4 times the information… at that price ratio as well). Panasonic and Sony also showed a “4K” OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display that really has future potential for applications that require lower power & lighter weight, and from what we hear they were terrific. You can probably guess who will have the first aircraft “4K” model but you heard it here first. Most likely only in First Class but at least in the beginning. Video display trends have a way of getting on to the aircraft but there are issues like increased bandwidth (fiber optics?), cost, size, etc. The real problem: “Where is the content?”
Today was a big day for Facebook as they rolled out “GRAPH”, their new private search feature. What has this to do with IFE? Not much; however, you can bet users on connected planes will be GRAPHing their Facebook accounts for the best lunch spots in airports, or hotels in San Francisco, or pickup bars in NYC, or possibly, what airline gave me and my friends the best deal on a flight to Hamburg last year! There, it does have IFE connections! While this development won’t make Google too nervous it does open the door for future e-commerce deals and gives the Facebook community a new term – Personal Social Network Search, or PSNS.
Heard about the Super Wi-Fi Summit? This meeting will explore and define the work in sorting out all the opportunities and ongoing FCC related initiatives to develop “white spaces” for ground Wi-Fi expansion. This effort is beyond the current developments to increase Wi-Fi throughput to at least 1 GB/sec, at 5 GHz (802.11ac). The “white spaces” are usually bulk unused RF spectrum between used bands, unused or previously allocated spectrum. Wikipedia says: “Most commonly however, these white spaces exist naturally between used channels, since assigning nearby transmissions to immediately adjacent channels will cause destructive interference to both. In addition to white space assigned for technical reasons, there is also unused radio spectrum which has either never been used, or is becoming free as a result of technical changes. In particular, the switchover to digital television frees up large areas between about 50 MHz and 700 MHz.” A lot of them are in the TV bands, and while we are not aware of aviation related onboard Wi-Fi conflicts, time will tell. “Houston, we may have a problem.”
Perhaps you have seen the latest Samsung advertisements pushing mobile phone bump technology. Well now there is a new high speed format developed by Sony. Basically it is a near field, high data rate communication tool and it certainly may have future potential on planes. How? What if your friendly carrier wants to send you a paid movie or a complete route schedule of their flights (and give you a deal in the process). Just “bump” the hot spot on your seatback. Now that almost everyone has a mobile device, all you need is an app and a plane so equipped. Link
And lastly, Panasonic’s announcement at CES outlining their intent to become a Web Broadcaster got us thinking about their potential to do the same thing through their onboard Global Communications Suite! Stay Tuned on this one.
Osaka, Japan | January 8, 2013/PRNewswire/– Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga kicked off the 2013 edition of the International CES, one of the world’s largest consumer electronics shows, by delivering the opening keynote speech at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, on January 8, 2013 (PST). In setting the tone for the exhibition and the industry this year, Mr. Tsuga highlighted in his speech Panasonic’s commitment as an eco-engineering company to offering innovative, eco and smart solutions that are the products of the efforts of its employees around the world to make a better world as well as creating real value for its customers.
He was joined by Joe Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Corporation of North America, who introduced Panasonic’s new 4k and organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV technologies and energy solutions while reiterating the company’s focus on its “Business to Business to Consumer” strategy. He also referred to Panasonic’s new U.S. headquarters in Newark, New Jersey, now being constructed in accordance with the LEED (Energy and Environmental Design) green building certification requirements, as an example of Panasonic’s commitment to engineering a better world.
Special guest speakers on stage included Mr. Tim Vanderhook, Co-founder and CEO of Specific Media, Mr. Phil Abram, Chief Infotainment Officer of General Motors, Mr. Rob Fyfe, former Chief Executive Officer of Air New Zealand, Chairman of the Star Alliance and Member of the Board of Governors at IATA, and Mr. Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey (in order of appearance). In addition, Mr. Keith Turner, President of Sales and Marketing at Univision, Mr. Elon Musk, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tesla Motors, photojournalist Mr. Daniel Berehulak, Jim Compton, Vice Chairman of United Airlines, and Ms. Abby Wambach and Ms. Alex Morgan, members of the U.S. women’s soccer team for the London 2012 Olympic Games also appeared in the video during the keynote.
The following is a summary of the keynote presentation:
Opening remarks by Kazuhiro Tsuga, President of Panasonic Corporation
Although my current responsibilities have expanded somewhat since I began at Panasonic in 1979, I am first and foremost an engineer, which forms the basis of my perspective and passion. Engineers tend to be rational and analytical, but we are also passionately driven to solve problems and turn idealistic vision into useful realities. In fact, most of us care quite deeply about making the world we live in better.
Many people think of Panasonic as a television manufacturing company. In fact, for nearly one hundred years we have been making a vast range of products that are enhancing the lives of customers around the world as an engineering company. With our long-standing commitment to sustainability, this makes us uniquely able to offer innovative solutions that are both eco and smart. This is the Panasonic I want to share with you today, an eco-engineering company powered by the efforts of thousands of employees around the world who are driven to make the world we live in better
What drives us at Panasonic is people, in other words customers. We have been stepping up our efforts to create real value for our customers, which are based on two fundamental things. First, we are listening deeply to what our customers want and need – often long before they ever purchase our products. We have created Panasonic Lifestyle Research Centers in key regions around the world to that end. Second, we are creating lasting relationships with customers that continue long after they purchase our products. This is being achieved through a range of exciting services.
Panasonic’s future is being built on far more than a single product category and its contribution to people’s lives is extending far beyond the living room. We are focusing our business activities on four broad areas in which we impact people’s lives — residential, non-residential, personal and mobility. With people, who unite them, at the center of all our activities, we want to add value to customers’ lives wherever they are. One way to achieve this is by maximizing the tremendous growth potential in the B2B category, through a new business model that goes far beyond selling hardware, and offers Total Solutions that include software and services as well.
In collaboration with our global business customers, we’re enhancing consumer’s lives in areas where people might not think of Panasonic – including automotive, retail, avionics and energy. Today we will be sharing numerous examples of the B2B2C approach in action by inviting our top business customers. We will also show you the important role Panasonic Cloud Services will play in our strategy.
What does “a better world” really mean? Our job is to give our customers the products, solutions and services that will allow them to create the better world they want — whoever and wherever they are. In the next hour, we’ll tell what real Panasonic customers want and need to make their worlds better and how we are responding to them.
1. Your TV
Presented by Messrs. Tsuga and Joe Taylor, CEO of Panasonic Corporation of North America, with Mr. Tim Vanderhook, Co-founder and CEO of Specific Media as a special guest speaker and a video appearance from Mr. Keith Turner, President of Sales and Marketing at Univision
The television industry here in the US is experiencing tremendous change. The next five years will transform it more than the last twenty-five. What today’s consumers are desiring in a TV is more than just beautiful picture quality. They are expecting easy access to content, flexible choices, a simple and intuitive user experience. In other words, they don’t want just another screen.
Panasonic’s “Your TV” gives you the ability to personalize and customize, providing you with a great new service while giving you choice and freedom. It’s all you could ever want from your TV and more — broadcast channels, video on demand, smart search and a rich social experience at your fingertips. All you have to do is say “My Home Screen,” and the built-in camera and facial recognition technology bring up your personal page. This new Home Screen is designed to personalize Your TV experience, and give you direct access to both the latest information and all your favorite content.
In addition, in order to provide customers with a new viewing experience and to make the creation of new business models possible, the company is working towards the realization of internet based TV program broadcasting, viewing programs over smart devices, and advertising targeted to the user.
Our concept for Your TV embodies everything that we want you to know about where Panasonic is going: How we are expanding our reach from hardware manufacturer to a total solutions and service provider, how we are working closely with other global leaders, and how these things are allowing us to develop deeper and ongoing relationships with customers that add maximum value to their lives. With these initiatives we are beginning a truly new era at Panasonic. But rest assured, engineering new audio-visual technology that meets customer needs is as important as ever. We will continue to lead the industry in the development of plasma and LCD TVs, and a whole range of innovative new products.
Panasonic has developed a 56-inch 4k2k OLED display, the world’s largest OLED panel produced by the RGB all-printing method. The stunning picture quality with 4k resolution and rich colors that the synergy of 4k and OLED technologies makes possible set this television apart. It weighs just 27 pounds, half the weight of a normal 4k display. The engine driving Panasonic OLED is our printing technology, which gives us the ability to make panels that are larger and more affordable than our competitors.
2. Your Home
Presented by Mr. Taylor
Sustainability has been an essential part of Panasonic’s DNA for a very long time. One measure of how we’re doing is that in 2012 Panasonic was ranked sixth in Interbrand’s Best Global Green Brands, which is four spots up from last year and the highest ranking of any consumer electronics company.
Panasonic is offering energy solutions that are built on integrated solutions to create, store, save and manage energy. When it comes to creating energy, we bring to market innovative products like hydrogen fuel cells, in addition to solar panels. We’re also focusing on storing energy and it’s already gained a lot of traction overseas and we expect it to do the same here in the U.S. Engineering products that save energy has been a top priority at Panasonic for a very long time, including home appliances, audiovisual products, and LED lighting. To manage energy, Panasonic uses the Smart Energy Gateway, or SEG, which can be controlled through a variety of smart devices, both in your home and remotely. It checks power usage conditions throughout the house, and shows you exactly where and how you can save energy. We’re using this same template to serve customers well beyond the home, including stores and whole communities around the world.
In Panasonic’s future, the Cloud is going to play a key role, like energy. The Cloud is essential not only to connect your devices, but also to anticipate and answer your needs — both in the home and beyond. We’re partnering with some of the world’s leading IT companies to make this vision a reality. In fact, Panasonic and IBM have agreed to work together to assess the business and technical value of future home appliances connected to the cloud.
3. Your Car
Presented by Mr. Tsuga, with Mr. Phil Abram, Chief Infotainment Officer of General Motors, as a special guest speaker on stage and video appearance by Mr. Elon Musk, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tesla Motors
Our strategy for expanding our business with leading automakers is focused on two key areas. First, we are transforming our expertise in home energy solutions into total solutions for electric vehicles. And second, we are taking the engineering behind our connected home AV solutions and delivering fully connected automotive solutions.
Batteries are only one aspect of Panasonic EV solutions. We have developed a Power Management System that greatly improves the efficiency of EV batteries a Heat Management System designed to reduce the tremendous power drain of air conditioning on hybrid and electric vehicles. These are just two of the new systems we are developing to make these vehicles attractive to more consumers.
Panasonic is able to provide total EV solutions, including batteries, energy and heat, and help extend the mileage of EVs.
Just as an example of our connected car solutions, GM and Panasonic have partnered to create the new MyLink infotainment system. MyLink offers extensive AV, communication and navigation functions that fulfill your needs. You can even add apps through the Internet after the purchase.
4. Your Business
Presented by Mr. Taylor with guest video appearance by photojournalist Mr. Daniel Berehulak
The new Panasonic 4k Tablet features a 20-inch display which is less than one-half inch thick. This new Windows 8-based business tool is incredibly thin, light and portable.
One strong focus of our B2B2C strategy is providing end-to-end solutions for retail that leverage the expertise of all our companies, from Audio Visual to Energy Solutions. For example, in Asia, Panasonic is partnering with a Japanese-based global convenience store chain, Lawson. In 2010, Panasonic helped Lawson to create a prototype “green store” that integrates a wide variety of Panasonic products. The results have been significant, with a 20% reduction in power consumption as compared to 2006. Last year, Panasonic began installing solar panels in 2,000 Lawson’s stores.
For McDonald’s, Panasonic has installed a wide range of products, including POS systems to monitoring and security cameras.
5. Your Journey
Presented by Mr. Tsuga with special guest appearance by Mr. Rob Fyfe, former Chief Executive Officer of Air New Zealand, Chairman of the Star Alliance and Member of the Board of Governors at IATA, and video appearance by Jim Compton, Vice Chairman of United Airlines
With 275 airline customers in our portfolio and more than 5,000 airplanes around the world fitted with our in-flight entertainment and communications systems, last year more than 500 million passengers experienced journeys enhanced by Panasonic avionics solutions.
In 2013 Panasonic’s next generation systems are taking avionics technology to the next level, including over 900 planes equipped with broadband Internet.
Since 1998 Panasonic has partnered with one of the world’s largest airlines, United Airlines. Panasonic inflight entertainment and communication systems are installed across both wide and narrow-body fleets, including the state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliner. In 2013, United will become Panasonic’s largest Global Communications Suite customer, installing this state-of-the-art solution on over 300 aircraft flying routes all over the world.
Panasonic is launching the eXLite system with Air New Zealand in 2014. This system is the lowest power and lightest weight inflight entertainment solution we have ever offered.
Our portfolio of entertainment and information service solutions goes well beyond inflight entertainment services to include those for homes, lounges and hotels. In other words, our solutions fully support your entire journey.
6. Your Community
Presented by Mr. Taylor with special guest appearance by Mr. Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and video appearance by Ms. Abby Wambach and Ms. Alex Morgan, members of the U.S. women’s soccer team for the London 2012 Olympic Games
Panasonic is providing integrated solutions to enhance communities of all kinds, from informational kiosks and digital signage at leading universities to energy solutions that are making auto racing more sustainable. As the Official Worldwide AV Sponsor for the Olympic Games, Panasonic’s end-to-end broadcast solutions have made it possible for audiences around the world to share the passion of the Olympic Games for 25 years. Panasonic has also sponsored US Major League Soccer—a relationship that includes a whole range of integrated solutions in MLS stadiums around the country. In Japan, Panasonic supplied the LED lighting solutions for the TOKYO SKYTREE, and is building the Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town in Fujisawa City, which opens next year and will be home to thousands of people.
This summer, we’re moving Panasonic’s U.S. headquarters from Secaucus to a brand new facility in Newark, New Jersey. The new facility will help us to reduce our own carbon footprint by 50% in total, with our environmental technologies and the use of mass transit. The Panasonic space in the building will be LEED Platinum Certified, the highest standard for environmental design. Panasonic plans to build an Ideas Center in Newark where the community can learn and be inspired by the newest Panasonic technology.
Closing Remarks by Mr. Tsuga
As we’ve shown over the last hour, there are as many visions of a “better world” as there are people on our planet. I sincerely hope that you get a sense of our commitment to make the world better with you.
Some of what we’ve shared today may seem unexpected and perhaps different than the Panasonic you have known in the past. But, if we are to achieve our goals, the imperative to transform and innovate has never been greater. However, the core values that drive us at Panasonic are not new at all. They have actually been part of our company’s DNA since it was founded by Konosuke Matsushita nearly 100 years ago — to place people before products, contribute to our society, enhance and add value to the lives of customers, and to offer eco and smart solutions that make what matters most better. This is who we are and who we have always been. When all is said and done, it is just another way we are engineering a better world for you.
Lufthansa Systems: Like every good new idea in IFE, wireless systems are now being offered by a number of suppliers. Nonetheless, it’s difficult not to consider the first in that marketplace to be the clear leader–and, yes, we’re talking about Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect.
We talked to the man whose idea it was in Hamburg at AIX, Dr. Joerg Liebe, CIO of Lufthansa Systems and the visionary behind this hot new platform. Lufthansa Systems was the first to offer a complete wireless system– not just a concept. With Condor they were the first supplier to sell wireless to an airline. And with their Virgin America deal were the first to take a big customer away from the reigning IFE platform providers.
The soft-spoken, Southern California-educated Dr Liebe gave us a thorough, candid and thoughtful description of this product and where it’s going. Modestly suggesting that the platform is designed to be sold to airlines which don’t currently have IFE, rather than aimed at taking business away from the IFE duopoly, Dr Liebe says that BoardConnect has three models: 1. A head-end server streaming to airline-provided SDUs. 2. A head-end streaming to airline-provided tablets. 3. A head-end streaming to passenger-owned devices or a combination of these. It should also be noted that some studios have approved early window content streamed from the server to the installed BoardConnect IFE seat units. The approval is only applicable to the BoardConnect system and tablets, but not PEDS; however, to the best of our understanding this is a first!
With sales to both Virgin America and Virgin Australia, and the AIX buzz about a very successful trial with Qantas, Dr Liebe may have to step out from behind his modest facade and brag a little! But somehow that doesn’t seem his style! The BoardConnect concept not only appealed to us but the jury at the Crystal Cabin Awards had the same inclination!
Panasonic: When Panasonic takes on a big project they usually do it right and the process ends up being a long, cautious march to the solution. For just under 10 years now, we have been covering pieces and parts of a global communication offering from the Lake Forrest, CA company. In fact, this is the first year we have gotten solid numbers on customer installations and the non-announcement announcement indicates they have been doing their homework. This story is multi-faceted so we will break it down for you in bullet points because this year’s AIX is where it has all come together. In the press announcement, Panasonic’s David Bruner noted that there was a real tipping point in demand in 2011 for inflight connectivity. Bruner went on to state that every single airline now believes they have to have GSM capability and broadband offerings on their fleet. “Not just big aircraft,” he noted, “but small ones too. And these services need to work exactly the same way in the air as on the ground so there is no passenger learning curve.” Basically, this translates to WiFi, cell connections, and streaming video. All hot products on big and small aircraft – even those with premium entertainment systems.
• Panasonic has been pressing to close out their coverage of the Ku network globally. There is a lot of coverage already in the northern hemisphere and by tying in to IS14 from Intelsat they will snag seamless coverage from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and South America. This is a key piece to the Panasonic network and it is now in place. Additional capacity has been added to Australia, New Zealand and the Trans Tasman. The General Electric 23 satellite will serve the South East Asia, Australia, and South East Pacific connections.
• Panasonic has also reached commercial agreement with Airbus for line fit on the A380. This means they can eliminate the retrofit costs and they also noted that they will be adding offerability on the A350 as well. Panasonic has been undertaking this objective for the past 4 years. With respect to Boeing and the 787, Panasonic reports they are making progress on the 787 linefit as the result of their work on the 777.
• A major step in any satellite network is the ground connectivity portion. In an investment move, Panasonic elected to take a majority share of an existing satellite service provider, AeroMobile. AeroMobile operates a ground network that manages the relationship between the airline connectivity and the cell phone roaming partner. This feature is what Telenor brings to the party and Panasonic does not have, nor do they want, this additional complexity. As a result, Telenor, a minority shareholder is not leaving and is “absolutely involved in the venture”. AeroMobile switches from satellite to a global telco system on the ground where traffic routing begins. Furthermore, Panasonic provides pure IP traffic to AeroMobile, who translates it out to the network. Today, AeroMobile has a significant number of aircraft flying with Swift Broadband and in effect, AeroMobile is platform agnostic. This represents a great marriage for Panasonic.
• Did we mention that Panasonic announced they have 1300+ aircraft already signed up for their Global Communication Suite? Consequently, Panasonic has been searching for the best broadband network to provide economical service to airlines and passengers. Panasonic is focusing on designing a new Ku band network by providing maximum capability in areas where airplanes fly and none where they do not via spot beam selection. There goal: Maximum bandwidth at the lowest cost. To achieve this they are working with a new un-named partner who is “a player with global capability and of the highest quality in the industry”. This bodes well for eXTV.
• The net result of all this activity will be a service offering beginning in 2015 with North America and the North Atlantic covered first. Europe to Asia will follow and finally all of Asia.
• Along the way, Panasonic developed a Ka Band antenna as a candidate for high through put capacity. The irony was they found that capability in Ku. Noting that the airborne antenna is the most difficult design part of the process, by sticking with Ku very little change occurs to the aircraft – this is a major plus for the airline. (Note: One could assume that Panasonic has found clever ways to gang and steer spot beams in satellites with that capability. Obviously, receiver design plays a significant part in this as well.)
• The majority of the 20+ existing eXPhone customers will continue to work with the Ku equipped aircraft. These include operators like Virgin Atlantic, Malaysia Airlines, and Emirates. Gulf Air and Lufthansa will be onboard soon. We also understand Cathay Pacific, SAS, Turkish Airlines, and Etihad have signed up.
Editor’s Note: Mea Culpa! In case you lost your copy of Wheelock’s Latin, it means we are sorry to the nice folks at D.e.u.t.s.c.h. because we misspelled their name in the last issue of IFExpress. We say it again, “Mea Culpa!”
LAKE FOREST, California – 9 November 2009 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, today announced that it has received a new order for Panasonic’s eX2 IFE system from All Nippon Airways (ANA) for its Boeing 767-300ER aircraft and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.
The eX2 system delivers an enhanced IFE experience through Audio and Video On Demand (AVOD) and other entertainment options on high-resolution seatback monitors. Passengers can also view their own iPod and other personal media content on the in-seat display using the iPod, USB and audio jacks. In addition, the eX2 system offers advanced interactive entertainment choices, including shopping, and games, movies and television programming.
“The eX2 system offers many innovative entertainment features that are valued and demanded by our passengers,” said Vice President Products & Service Innovations of All Nippon Airways. “We will continue to look to Panasonic Avionics to provide our passengers with new options in the area of in-flight entertainment and communications.”
“We have had a long and successful partnership with All Nippon Airways and are pleased to earn their repeat business,” said Yasu Enokido, Chief Operating Officer and President of Panasonic Avionics Corporation. “It is exciting to be an integral part of their expansion plans and we look forward to providing their passengers with an amazing long-haul experience for years to come.”
Ranked among the top 10 airlines in the world, carrying almost 50 million passengers every year to 52 destinations in Japan and 26 cities throughout Asia, Europe and the United States, ANA is recognized for outstanding passenger service both on the ground and in the air. In the Japanese tradition of mixing hospitality with high technology, personalized, a la carte service complements state-of-the-art entertainment systems and the latest in cabin design. ANA has been in the airline business for over 50 years, and combined with ANA Group companies its activities extend across a host of complete travel and aviation-related services.
About Panasonic Avionics Corporation
Panasonic Avionics Corporation is the world’s leading supplier of in-flight entertainment and communication systems. The company’s best-in-class solutions, supported by professional maintenance services, fully integrate with the cabin enabling airlines to deliver the ultimate travel experiences with a rich variety of entertainment choices, resulting in improved quality communication systems and solutions, reduced time-to-market and lower overall costs.
Established in 1979, Panasonic Avionics Corporation, a U.S. corporation, is a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation of North America, the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC). Headquartered in Lake Forest, California with over 3,100 employees and operations in 80 locations worldwide, it serves over 200 customers worldwide and provides IFEC systems on over 3,700 aircraft. For additional information, please visit www.panasonic.aero.
ORLANDO, Florida – 20 October 2009 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation, the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, today announced the availability of its Global Communications Suite to business aircraft at the annual National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) conference in Orlando.
Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite offers enhanced connectivity and productivity for business flyers through a combination of the following services: eXConnect, eXPhone, and the Panasonic Airborne Television Network. The suite provides the bandwidth to support virtually any service business passengers require, including simultaneous voice, Internet, VPN, live television and video conferencing.
Panasonic is in discussions with multiple customers who operate aircraft including the Boeing Business Jet, Airbus Corporate Jet, Embraer 135, B747, and the B777.
Panasonic’s Global Communications Suite consists of the following solutions:
- Panasonic eXConnect – This global, two-way broadband solution will provide high-speed connectivity to the aircraft supporting data rates up to 50Mbps.
- Panasonic eXPhone – Together with Panasonic’s service partner, AeroMobile, eXPhone enables passengers to make and receive calls and SMS text messages with their personal mobile phones, and use GPRS-based devices such as BlackBerry®.
- eXTraBandwidth – This solution provides a tiered offering of guaranteed, consistent bandwidth for high quality communications, such as dedicated voice, video conferencing and other bandwidth-critical applications.
- Panasonic Airborne Television Network – This private, global network will provide real-time broadcast TV programming delivering live news, sports, business/finance, weather, and entertainment via a proprietary, encrypted satellite feed. The Panasonic Airborne Television Network will be the first aviation satellite television product to deliver a consistent viewing experience on a global basis.
“Having broadband access to the Internet, broadcast satellite TV and the use of personal mobile devices is crucial to today’s business executive,” said Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation. “With our Global Communications Suite, Panasonic will be providing a truly global solution with major improvements in connectivity bandwidth, television capabilities, and mobile device support providing business executives with the performance and capabilities they desire.”
About Panasonic Avionics Corporation
Panasonic Avionics Corporation is the world’s leading supplier of in-flight entertainment and communication systems. The company’s best-in-class solutions, supported by professional maintenance services, fully integrate with the cabin enabling airlines to deliver the ultimate travel experiences with a rich variety of entertainment choices, resulting in improved quality communication systems and solutions, reduced time-to-market and lower overall costs.
Established in 1979, Panasonic Avionics Corporation, a U.S. corporation, is a subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation of North America, the principal North American subsidiary of Panasonic Corporation (NYSE: PC). Headquartered in Lake Forest, California with over 3,100 employees and operations in 80 locations worldwide, it serves over 200 customers worldwide and provides IFEC systems on over 3,700 aircraft. For additional information, please visit www.panasonic.aero.
Palm Springs, California – October 6, 2009 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, today announced at the annual World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) Conference details of its high-definition, premium-class solutions for its X Series IFEC product line.
Perpetually focused on innovation in IFEC, Panasonic has integrated leading-edge technology into a suite of new products to further elevate today’s premium class passenger experience, including a 32″ High-Definition LCD Monitor, a High-Definition Premium Seat Electronics Box, and the company’s exclusive Karma Touch Screen Handset.
• The 32″ High-Definition LCD Monitor (HD-LCDM) provides up to 1080ip resolution with exceptional color purity and contrast ratios. Designed for the premium class pod-seats and suites, the HD-LCDM can also be used as a cabin monitor on bulkheads and monuments.
• The High-Definition Premium Seat Electronics Box (HD-PSEB) provides 1080ip video resolution to support the new 32″ HD-LCDM. It also delivers 720p video, making upgrades easy for Panasonic’s current customers to enable HD on their existing LCD monitors. The HD-PSEB will also feature upgrades to the microprocessor, graphical processing unit, and system memory to further advance the premium applications and gaming experience.
• The Karma Touch-Screen Handset is the ultimate remote control. It provides a comprehensive, visually-based, capacitive-touch-screen controller in a sleek and attractive design befitting the elevated requirements of today’s premium class cabin products. Karma provides easy to use navigation for passengers and a dynamic graphical user interface offers airlines the option to create customized designs to effectively promote their brand. Karma gives passengers the ability to simultaneously watch the latest video on the monitor while ordering a drink, purchasing duty free products, tracking the flight or chatting with another passenger.
“At Panasonic, our primary goal has always been to delight the passenger with our products,” said Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation. “By combining Panasonic’s industry-leading High-Definition technology into our X Series product line, we have created an experience that, in many cases, exceeds what passengers are accustomed to on the ground.”
BE Aerospace’s first class seating pod (Oasis Mid-Privacy Suite) will be the first to feature the premium solutions at the WAEA conference.
Palm Springs, California – October 6, 2009 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, today announced at the annual World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference that it is introducing entry-level solutions as part of its X Series product line.
With the introduction of Panasonic’s Audio-On-Demand Passenger Control Unit (AOD-PCU), and High-Definition Digital Overhead Monitors (DOM), Panasonic has created a comprehensive entry-level IFEC solution in its flagship X Series product line. Combined in part, or in total, each of these products represents a significant step forward in the IFEC entry-level product space:
• The AOD-PCU delivers an affordable solution that is sleek, durable and reliable. The AOD-PCU offers a high-resolution display that provides branding opportunities to the airline with familiar controls and navigation found in today’s most popular personal media devices. Linked to the IFEC system, the AOD-PCU provides nearly limitless, truly on-demand audio entertainment as well as interaction with overhead video displays for gaming and surveys.
• The DOM is an Ethernet-based high-definition digital overhead display with exceptional picture quality. The DOM is available in both wall-mount and retractable form-factors providing the ultimate in shared visual entertainment and attractive cabin interior design.
Taken together, these products form Panasonic’s industry-leading X Series IFEC solution to address all aspects of the market. The entry-level market now has affordable IFEC options that solve the business requirement of any customer or airframe while establishing an X Series architecture that is feature-rich at entry-into-service. The products also provide an upgrade path to Panasonic’s premium product options, extending the value of its customers’ return-on-investment.
“Providing an amazing in-flight entertainment experience to all passengers, all of the time, has always been our primary goal,” said Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation. “By introducing HD widescreen overhead monitors, together with AOD, we will significantly improve the experience for a part of the market which has sometimes been underserved.”
Frankfurt, Germany – October 12, 2009 – Today, Lufthansa announced the return of in-flight passenger connectivity with the re-launch of their FlyNet branded broadband internet service. FlyNet will utilize the Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) Global Communications Suite. Lufthansa aims to equip a major part of its long-range fleet with FlyNet within the first year of operation.
The Panasonic Global Communications Suite consists of the eXConnect broadband service, the eXPhone GSM service, and the Panasonic Airborne Television Network.
Panasonic’s eXConnect is designed to provide global, two-way broadband connectivity to support a wide range of passenger and crew applications, including Internet access, voice, data, and the ability to monitor and transmit airline operational data in real time at speeds of up to 50 Mbps to the aircraft.
The eXPhone solution allows passengers to use their mobile (cell) phones to make voice calls, send SMS text messages, or utilize data services in-flight, virtually anywhere in the world. The eXPhone system is designed to be flexible, giving the airline full control over the services offered with the ability to restrict certain services when appropriate.
The Panasonic Airborne Television Network is a revolutionary approach to live, in-flight television. This proprietary, dedicated network is provided by Panasonic to offer a global, synchronized viewing experience with live news, sports, financial and special events to airline passengers. Panasonic has established licensing relationships directly with top content providers to provide the programming for the service.
Panasonic has assembled and integrated a world class team of technology and service providers to collectively deliver the Global Communications Suite.
The eXPhone system and service are provided in conjunction with AeroMobile, the award-winning provider of in-flight mobile communication services and technology.
MTN Satellite Communications is the leading global service provider of at-sea communications, connectivity and content services and will provide the Ku band satellite network services for Panasonic’s Global Communications Service business. More details about the satellite network will be provided in the coming weeks.
Panasonic has contracted with EMS Technologies’ Defense & Space Division, to provide the advanced dual-panel, satellite-tracking antenna, developed collaboratively by Panasonic and EMS. This unique design delivers greater performance and global coverage, especially at lower latitudes such as near the equator. The antenna’s dual polarization receive capability, unique to the EMS Technologies antenna system, doubles the available receive bandwidth.
Panasonic licenses iDirect’s state of the art satellite IP router technology as a core component of the Panasonic eXConnect in-flight satellite transmission platform. iDirect is a world leader in satellite-based IP communications technology. iDirect’s innovative spread spectrum waveform diffuses the transmission of satellite bandwidth while maintaining a high data rate, which dramatically conserves satellite space segment and lowers bandwidth costs for airlines.
In November of this year, Panasonic is installing their eXConnect system on a private Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737) to conduct the initial flight tests. Additional information on this aircraft and customer will be announced in Orlando, Florida at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Annual Conference October 20, 2009.
“We are thrilled to be working with Lufthansa as our launch customer of the eXConnect broadband service.” states Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer. “Panasonic had already assembled the best of class suppliers to provide the full range of services in the Panasonic Global Communications Suite – and now, in Lufthansa, we have the perfect launch customer to match.”
Palm Springs, California – October 7, 2009 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, today announced that it has supplied its Digital Multiplexed Passenger Entertainment System (DMPES) for retrofit to Mexicana Airlines’ (Mexicana) single aisle fleet. Mexicana has installed the DMPES in-flight entertainment (IFEC) system on thirty-nine A318, A319 and A320 aircraft and taken delivery of two A330s equipped with Panasonic’s eX2 system.
Business class passengers on Mexicana’s single aisle aircraft enjoy a personal and portable IFEC experience with the Panasonic eXpress Personal Medial Player (PMP), a compact, durable hand-held audio visual on demand (AVOD) device. The PMP devices are preloaded with hours of rentable content for on-demand playback. With its intuitive controls and multi-language menus, plus a crisp 7-inch LCD widescreen display, the PMP is easy to use for passengers.
The Panasonic eX2 system gives passengers on Mexicana’s A330 aircraft a robust application and communications hosting platform that the carrier can tailor to passenger requirements. Using in-seat user-friendly touch screen displays, passengers can enjoy access to AVOD content on the flights between Mexico City and Madrid, Spain and Europe.
Installed on Mexicana’s narrow-body single aisle aircraft, the Panasonic DMPES overhead system is an advanced in-flight entertainment system using the latest technology that incorporates the System Controller with Analog Audio Output (SC-A). With 160-gigabyte media memory, the SC-A reduces space, weight, and power when compared with traditional IFEC systems by eliminating the use of tapes.
“Panasonic is extending its relationship with Mexicana Airlines by providing system configuration options so it can offer Business and Economy Class differentiation,” said Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation. “We are proud to be its IFEC supplier of choice as the airline expands its fleet of aircraft and services.”
From its operations hub in Mexico City International Airport, Mexicana Airlines flies to over 40 destinations in Europe, North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean. Founded in 1921, Mexicana provides the most extensive international flight schedule from Mexico and is the leading transportation company between Mexico and the United States. The new IFE system will enhance the in-flight entertainment experience for passengers on the airline.
“In extending our longstanding and successful relationship with Panasonic Avionics Corporation, Mexicana Airlines takes another bold step forward in providing the highest quality in-flight entertainment for our passengers,” said Adolfo Crespo, Senior Vice President, Customer Service & Corporate Communications at Mexicana Airlines. “Offering dual-class IFE helps us raise the bar for passenger service in our region, leading to greater passenger satisfaction and loyalty.”
Palm Springs, California – October 5, 2009 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, today announced that eXport, an innovative connectivity feature proprietary to the Panasonic eX2 system, will be available via licensing agreements to all IFEC vendors.
The eXport solution provides a single connection for all audio, video, power, and data communication between the iPod and IFEC system, eliminating the need for octopus cable previously used in the industry. The eXport solution helps enhance passengers’ in-flight entertainment experience by integrating iPod personal portable players with Panasonic’s eX2 IFEC system using an eXport Smart Cable. With this device, passengers can enjoy their own personal content on their iPod® or iPhone™ while in flight.
“Panasonic is a proven innovator in IFEC technology and our eXport technology delivers an enriched in-flight experience to iPod and iPhone users,” said Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation. “Having multiple industry standards for iPod integration does not benefit the flying public and we felt it was important to make eXport available to our competition. By licensing this solution, we have taken another step forward to establish eXport as an industry standard feature on aircraft.”
Panasonic’s eXport solution for iPod and iPhone has been exceptionally well received by airline customers and passengers alike since it was introduced last year. Nearly 4,500 seats equipped with the eXport solution were shipped in just under one year. The early adopters include Avianca, Singapore Airlines, Swiss International, and United Airlines.
As the only Made for iPod IFEC vendor in the commercial air transport industry, other IFEC vendors have expressed interest to Panasonic in licensing eXport for use with their IFEC systems.
Currently, Panasonic offers license agreements to avionics industry customers exclusively. In the future, the eXport technology may have applications to other markets in the travel industry.