- Agreement includes production aircraft and extensive retrofit program
Lake Forest, CA | July 14, 2016– China Eastern Airlines has increased its commitment to Panasonic Avionics’ (Panasonic) for global broadband connectivity services to 84 total aircraft.
The leading Chinese carrier, which, in partnership with China Telecom Satellite, was the first to offer broadband Wi-Fi connectivity on flights over Chinese airspace, and this agreement strengthens its long-term relationship with Panasonic.
The extended agreement – following the announcement of 20 Boeing 777-300ERs last November – includes 35 line-fit aircraft with and an extensive retrofit program covering an additional 49 aircraft.
Aircraft types included in the agreement are:
- One B737-800 (retrofit)
- Four B767-300 (retrofit)
- Two B767-300ER (retrofit)
- 20 B777-300 (line-fit)
- 31 A330-200 (retrofit)
- 11 A330-300 (retrofit)
- 15 A330-300 (line-fit)
Panasonic’s Global Communications Services are available across China and on over 99.6 per cent of all air traffic routes. It is the only global, broadband inflight connectivity service operating in every country in the world today and will enable China Eastern passengers to access the Internet, use email and log onto their favourite social media sites while on board.
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “We have been helping China Eastern Airlines offer connected flights since November 2015 and remain the only provider operating over China today. Passengers increasingly expect the availability of reliable broadband Wi-Fi around the world and the roll out of this service across the China Eastern fleet will enable it to provide a connected service for its passengers”.
Zhang Chi, Deputy Director of China Eastern Airlines’ Transformation Office says: “China Eastern Airlines is committed to transforming the inflight experience for our passengers. We are constantly working with partners to discover new ways to engage passengers and to maximise the benefits of the connected aircraft. We look forward to the continued development of this extremely exciting service with the team at Panasonic Avionics.”
Panasonic Avionics’ eXConnect uses the company’s global Ku-band satellite network to deliver broadband connectivity to aircraft flying all over the world – even over oceans.
Lake Forest, CA and Finland | July 11, 2016– Last year Finnair announced it would launch a wireless network connection for the majority of its wide and narrow-body aircraft.
The first wireless services were taken into use on Finnair aircraft at the end of last year onboard the new Airbus A350 XWB aircraft. Finnair will begin the installation of Wi-Fi on its long-haul Airbus A330 aircraft in October this year, and the installation is estimated to be ready in May 2017.
“In May 2017, our customers will be able to enjoy wireless network connection onboard all of our long-haul fleet. In addition to Internet access, we will have a broad offering of inflight entertainment, shopping opportunities, real-time news content and other additional services in Finnair’s free of charge Nordic Sky portal,” says Piia Karhu, SVP, Customer Experience Development.
Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), which already supplies the connection for the A350 fleet, has been chosen as the supplier of the wireless connection on Airbus A330 aircraft. The connection will be achieved by Ku band satellite technology, which guarantees a working global network connection during a flight.
Wireless Internet access is free to Business class passengers, Finnair Plus Gold and Platinum customers, and oneworld Sapphire and Emerald level customers. Economy class passengers can purchase Internet access at an hourly rate (5 euro/hour) or for the duration of the flight (15 euro).
The concept of real-time aircraft tracking has become a global issue over that past few years. Needless to say, aircraft position data has become a focus for ICAO and the airlines. Many hardware manufacturers are stepping up and generating solutions that utilize, in many cases, existing connectivity. Panasonic has one such a product and we thought our readers would find it interesting because it utilizes existing installed hardware.
IFExpress had the opportunity to have a Q&A with Jeff Rex, Director, Panasonic Avionics Corporation about the new non-transponder-based aircraft position tracking service on offer.
1.Please name and describe the ground and airborne products involved in the Panasonic’s tracking solution.
Our global tracking system is based on Panasonic’s Global Communications Services (GCS) and FlightLink™ satcom solutions. By adding the AirMap application to either of these satcom solutions airlines can meet the normal and abnormal tracking requirements proposed for the GADSS.
Both flight tracking solutions provide a non-transponder-based aircraft position report available even in extreme remote and oceanic areas of the globe, either over Ku or a dedicated Iridium satellite data link. Each aircraft is monitored in real-time through a web-based tracking tool, called AirMap.
2. There are 3 issues we see – location data acquisition, transmission of the data (satcom, we presume), and ground handling of the data. Can you outline each solution?
Aircraft position and identification data from either our FlightLink or GCS solution is sent to our ground based servers. AirMap is the graphical interface that provides a visual representation of the aircraft’s flight path, altitude, and location. It allows airlines to view and interact with this tracking data. It also generates alerts to support the GADSS requirements as well as satisfying other operational needs. The tracking interval is completely customizable to an airline’s requirements and is manually adjustable. When combined with the core satcom system, the application also offers support for voice and text messaging in the event that an airline’s ground operations want to communicate with the aircraft.
For existing FlightLink and GCS satcom users no additional on-board equipment is required to activate Panasonic’s flight tracking solution. The only incremental costs are those associated with introduction of the AirMap application into the airline operations center.
3. Which is the lowest cost solution?
We are letting customers know that if they have eXConnect or FlightLink, then they can have flight tracking for only an incremental fee.
4. The US FAA is working on this problem and has some recommendations. Does the Panasonic solution agree with their needs?
eXConnect and FlightLink both meet the ICAO’s GADSS concept of operations. The standards and recommended practices specifications for both normal and abnormal tracking are still in development, and Panasonic will adjust our products as needed once released.
5. What are other valuable uses for Panasonic’s solution(s)?
FlightLink is a complete end-to-end solution that includes multi-function atmospheric and GPS sensors, dedicated two-way satellite communication system and ground-based data management and quality assurance. It is compatible with all aircraft types and the communication architecture provides a two-way information exchange at any altitude, and even over the poles. In addition to flight tracking, FlightLink enables incredibly accurate and high-resolution weather forecasts, real-time icing reports, turbulence reports, and improved operational support for airlines through AOC communications to and from an aircraft.
eXConnect is our global Ku-band broadband connectivity service. It covers 99.6% of all air travel hours and is installed on 1250 aircraft that fly routes all across the globe. Like FlightLink, it offers a two-way information exchange at any altitude. However, like all non-Iridium satellite solutions, it is not available over the poles. eXConnect is used for both passenger Wi-Fi and television services as well as for operational efficiency applications unlocked by the power of the connected aircraft. For instance, it enables real-time engine monitoring, telemedicine, live updates to EFBs and much more.
6. Is the solution, or portions of the solution, flying today?
Our existing FlightLink and GCS satcom users will require no additional on-board hardware to use Panasonic’s flight tracking solution. The only incremental costs are those associated with introduction of the AirMap application.
The current generation of AirMap tracking solution was launched in June 2016 and is currently being trialed by three airlines.
Read the press release on this product.
More IFEC & Aviation News:
A) Each year, turbulence incidents cost airlines approximately $100 million due to crew and passenger injuries, unscheduled maintenance, operational inefficiencies, and revenue lost while planes are out of service. In fact, studies have shown that aircraft encounters with turbulence are the leading cause of non-fatal injuries in the commercial airline industry. The Weather Company, an IBM Business (NYSE: IBM) has announced a groundbreaking deal with Gogo Business Aviation (NASDAQ: GOGO) that will enable the delivery of real-time turbulence reports and alerts directly to pilots, dispatch and other operations personnel. Mark Gildersleeve, president of business solutions at The Weather Company, announced today at The Weather Company Aviation Conference that Gogo will be implementing Weather’s patented Turbulence Auto PIREP System (TAPS), a turbulence detection algorithm, on their aircraft-based communications server. The TAPS software will reside on Gogo’s server, which provides access to the necessary data generated by the aircraft to create reports of turbulence intensity. Gogo’s US-based air-to-ground and global satellite communication network is used to send the reports for immediate action in flight operations and weather forecasting. This is the first time a non-traditional system on the aircraft will be used to help enhance flight safety. Traditionally, flight operations personnel, pilots and aviation meteorologists received coded verbal reports with limited information on flight conditions, also known as PIREPS. Due to multiple reasons, including a lack of cockpit data connectivity, pilots were not able to get real-time updates. Using the Gogo network, pilots in the cockpit will now be able to access real-time turbulence reports and forecaster created alerts through Weather’s flight planning and operations applications and aircraft communication displays.
“Leveraging Gogo’s expanded fleet of aircrafts, The Weather Company can quickly share real-time turbulence data directly with pilots and dispatchers, thereby improving crew and passenger safety,” said Gildersleeve. “It is a great example of the Internet of Things in action, where we are collecting massive amounts of data very quickly and then using that insight to provide guidance to all flights that will be traveling through impacted air space.”
“In this increasingly connected world, it’s no longer just about passenger connectivity, we have to consider all the other ways we can leverage the available technology to enhance the overall flight experience and improve safety – such as a connected aircraft,” said Andrew Kemmetmueller, vice president of connected aircraft services, Gogo. “Our ability to provide access to real-time data through our network will help pilots and operations teams improve flight planning, and ultimately, help airlines deliver the best in-flight customer experience throughout a flight.” In addition to real-time alerting, Weather will be able to leverage the TAPS reports to continually improve turbulence forecasts, the skill of Weather’s overall forecast model, and the WSI Total Turbulence solution. Some customers of WSI Total Turbulence have seen a reduction in turbulence injuries and unnecessary turbulence-induced maintenance inspection by about 50% each. The reports will also empower Weather’s team of 40 aviation meteorologists to alert clients of weather-related safety risks globally. The Weather Company, an IBM Business, is the world’s largest private weather enterprise, helping people make informed decisions – and take action – in the face of weather. The company offers the most accurate, personalized and actionable weather data and insights to millions of consumers and thousands of businesses via Weather’s API, its business solutions division, and its own digital products from The Weather Channel (weather.com) and Weather Underground (wunderground.com). The company delivers up to 26 billion forecasts daily for 2.2 billion locations.
B) GOGO was selected by Delta Private Jets to equip its fleet of >70 business jets with Gogo Biz 4G inflight connectivity for 2Q17. Check out the full press release here.
C) We note that the Iran/Boeing airplane deal at $25B will include new versions of the B737, B777-300ER’s, and B777-900’s. A deal with Airbus includes some 73 wide bodies and 45 single ails worth an estimated $27B!
D) This study may explain aircraft Wi-Fi usage… be sure to check it out!
E) Take the time to watch this movie on Boeing’s patent for their solar airplane, it is great and unusual!
F) Thompson Aerospace is in the news!
Lake Forest, CA | June 9, 2016– Panasonic Avionics today announced that it is offering worldwide satellite tracking to all Global Communications Services and FlightLink™ customers.
Today, the company’s Global Communications Services and FlightLink solutions, when combined with Panasonic’s AirMap application, immediately satisfy ICAO’s Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System definitions for both normal and abnormal tracking.
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics said, “Today, we can seamlessly enable flight tracking on over 1,500 aircraft, and we expect to extend this capability to over 3,500 aircraft over the short term. We believe that this service will ultimately help improve the operational efficiency and safety of commercial air travel.”
To support these satellite-based solutions, Panasonic has deployed extensive ground and aircraft based communications solutions that enable tracking of aircraft in a variety of configurable and tailored update rates that support airline operations and exceed the minimum requirements of the current ICAO guidance. The AirMap application is the airline portal into these operations and provides them a graphical way to monitor, track and receive alerts on their aircraft.
Unlike many proposed technologies, Panasonic’s flight tracking is based the company’s Ku-band eXConnect broadband and Iridium satellite communications solutions. This allows airlines to integrate cockpit and crew communications with their flight tracking capabilities. This gives them the opportunity to use voice or text messaging to contact an aircraft based on the situational awareness they receive from Panasonic’s tracking solutions.
Margis added, “Our airline partners have already made a commitment to purchase a satellite communications system for passenger and/or operational usage. With only incremental cost to add the AirMap application, they will have an elegant and cost-effective solution without having to spend even more capital on a separate tracking technology.”
Panasonic at AIX:
One of the big deals at AIX was seating, and Panasonic showed their New Waterfront seat, developed in a consortium by Panasonic, BEAerospace, TEAGUE and Formation Design Group, which was rolled out earlier this year at CES. The team took a lot of cues from the coach JAZZ seat they developed last year and applied it to setback and cushions, even with passenger adjusted temperature control. Not to mention they fold down flat for comfortable sleeping. The seat features a 24-inch 4K screen high definition for viewing and we reported on the new product in our March 1 issue of IFExpress. Seeing the seat and noting all the features in real-life is quite and impressive and in case you didn’t see our report, here is a summary of the product:
Waterfront Features IFEC & SEAT function:
- 24-inch 4K touchscreen monitor with edge-to-edge glass structure
- Virtual Local Storage per seat group
- Streaming Content from Head-End
- Gigabit Ethernet backbone
- Wi-Fi Connectivity
- Passenger controls via:
- PED (via an airline companion app)
- Light ID
- Mini PCU
- Tablet pop-up
- PED (via an airline companion app)
- Tailored GUI interface
- Inductive Charging (Qi)
- AC POWER
- USB Power Ports
- PED connectivity supported by: Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC
- An IFE User Interface coupled to hundreds of individually controlled LEDS with:
- Full Spectrum LED lighting
- Multiple modes that coordinate seat position, light intensity and color.
- Passengers can tailor the lighting, temperature and the rest of their environment depending on what they are doing. For example they can create a “theme” environment for watching a movie, eating dinner, or sleeping… just to name a few!
- An innovative seat mechanism with individual head, leg, and back rest adjustments.
- Full range of motion – upright to a flat 79-inch bed
16.7 inches in the foot-well
- Individual articulation of the head, back, and leg rests
- Fixed presets
- Capacitive touch controls
- Customizable presets via the IFE interface.
- Pop up storage compartment
- Full coverage sliding door
- Herringbone design allows for high-density seating configuration
- A large, single piece tray table
- A large fixed side table
- Cable pass-through areas for electronic devices
- Individual temperature control
- Thermoelectric modules in the shell, foot-well, and seating surfaces allow for controllable ambient and direct heating and cooling.
- An independently heated or cooled side storage compartment
- Note: Panasonic will also be using Virtual Local Storage (VLS) storage in this seat and while SD card memory is common storage, VLS has 5 – 6 times the storage capacity, and further, they feel that they will be able to double that capability in the next generation system.
- Stay Tuned on this one , this seat will make flying an enjoyable experience again!
IFEC News Releases of Note:
EAST AURORA, N.Y., May, 23, 2016 — Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO), a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace, defense and semiconductor industries, announced today it has received a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) and Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) for its webFB Wireless Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) device for use on Boeing 737 aircraft. This approval represents the first time a wireless Aircraft Interface Device (AID) has been certified for use in the flight deck by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
The ultra-compact webFB easily fits in the palm of the hand, yet incorporates the capabilities of both an AID and a wireless server. The built-in AID safely gathers essential data from the aircraft’s ARINC 429 and 717 databuses and conveys it to custom software or EFB apps hosted on the internal server. Using a wireless connection to portable EFB tablets, the webFB securely delivers this valuable information right to the fingertips of the flight crew.
Software partners are currently developing a variety of enhanced EFB applications for the webFB that are focused on increased operational efficiencies including fuel and time savings, electronic tech logs and real time QAR monitoring and event notifications. For software vendors, the webFB provides a rapid and practical solution for developing applications and deploying them into the flight deck and beyond.
Along with the webFB, this STC also approves the installation of the Astronics EmPower® system in the flight deck with USB outlets for charging portable EFBs while in flight. Also available are several choices of ARINC 828 compliant fixed EFB mounts.
More Industry News:
- The folks at Apple, the maker of the iPhone, one if the most popular devices brought on board planes, have been showing a lot of activity in the world of wireless charging. In fact, you can read more about their efforts here: Report: Apple acquiring wireless charging expertise – FierceWirelessTech . Today, their Apple Watch is powered by a technology that is called Qi technology. This 5 watt charging solution is better explained here: A Qi wireless charger: Resonant as well as Inductive and Qi Wireless Charging Standard | Inductive Technology | Tutorial but the effective distance is around 40 mm at 110 to 205 kHz. But who worries about charging watches on planes? Now, what about those iPhones we mentioned. Of course, today, it’s 5 volts DC, but why do we bring this up? Because, Apple is looking at wireless charging with a new standard ultrasound solution. And, how many iPhones do you see charging on airplanes… lots! Wireless uBeam charging technology is based on ultrasound frequency technologies (45 kHz to 75 kHz) but the charger distance can be a lot farther from the phone. uBeam Declassifies Secrets To Try To Prove Wireless Power Is Possible | TechCrunch, and while we don’t know of any issues today, we are concerned because there can be more power and charging distance involved. Further, we wonder what the lower frequency impact on a flying airplane might be? Perhaps, an iPhone backup plug-in solution might be a thought here. Anyway, you might want to stay on top of this one!
- Consider carrying 2 sets of headsets on a future flight and here is why – Inflight headsets make good neighbors – Travelers United
- A friend recently sent an epistle on the future and while we tried to find the originator, there were too many links to the writing to discern the author. While little aviation is mentioned, this one caught our attention is probably real, and possibly illegal: Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports.
Honeywell hosted a meeting at their headquarters ostensibly to discuss inflight connectivity in connection with their JetWave product: Boeing, Inmarsat on What to Expect for Future Connected Aircraft – Via Satellite – While standards are in the process of being developed, we asked Mark Thompson, CEO of Thompson Aerospace (who has developed a small, light data connectivity solution) to comment on the subject and he told IFExpress:
“This is the issue as I see it on what Boeing is doing. To carry the antenna on a single aircraft will cost about 70K a year in fuel at $70 dollars a barrel, this right off the bat is nonstarter for some airlines. The system Boeing has created has a lot of bandwidth that is great, but it also uses a lot of power and is not on the emergency bus, hence it does not meet the ICAO tracking requirements. If you put it on the emergency bus, it does not meet the requirements as in an upset event it never would stay locked on the satellite, hence, like recent flight incidents. It is a great solution for normal flight mode for passengers to attach to the internet, but not sure it is good business.
Our operational requirements are as follows: ICAO requires normal, abnormal and distress mode tracking including in the case of loss of aircraft power and system has to be very reliable. This statement everybody seems to ignore, but I’m not sure why. Normal mode is easy, any aircraft with ACARS or FANS can do this with no issues, hence, normal made does not require any new equipment on most widebody aircraft.
Abnormal mode, however; means you have to be able to detect the alert, hence, the best place to get the data is the output to the flight data recorder, you could get the data directly, but this has a huge installation cost to run all the wires, and it increases the cost of the unit. This what ADS-b did, and reason the avionics guys love, it – expensive equipment, and lots of wires. But once again, it does not meet the ICAO tracking requirements.”
London, UK | May 12, 2016– IMG is to launch a second live sports channel for the inflight market to complement its Sport 24 channel – the only 24/7 live sports channel produced exclusively for airlines.
Sport 24 Extra will launch on June 1st 2016, and take advantage of the premium live sport available in order to provide passengers with a choice of live events during busy periods in the sporting calendar.
The new channel is an extension of the exclusive relationship between Panasonic and IMG for the provision of Sport 24 and demonstrates both companies commitment to delivering an unrivalled inflight sports experience. Sport 24 is the world’s only live 24/7 sports channel for the airline industry and already broadcasts Barclays Premier League, Bundesliga, UEFA Champions League, Formula 1™, NBA, NFL, Ryder Cup, golf majors and tennis grand slams.
Roll out of Sport 24 Extra will begin on Emirates and Turkish Airlines, with other carriers to follow. Sport 24 is currently available across 11 airlines.
Richard Wise, SVP at IMG Media, said: “IMG’s ongoing collaboration with our partners at Panasonic enabled us to develop Sport 24 Extra which meets the growing desire of passengers wanting to see more premium live sport on airlines. We have such an outstanding portfolio of premium sport and the new channel will enable passengers to select from top events taking place at the same time.”
David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communications Services at Panasonic Avionics, said: “Sport never stops and neither do Panasonic and IMG. We’re bringing a constantly improving and evolving inflight experience. The launch of the Sport 24 Extra channel reinforces the importance we place on enhancing the in-flight experience for passengers all over the world through continued innovation.”
Panasonic’s eXTV television network uses the company’s eXConnect in-flight Ku-band communications service, including the same Ku antenna and onboard components, to deliver high-quality, television programming to passengers during their flight. It provides live, uninterrupted content to aircraft flying all over the world, even over oceans.
Aircraft Interiors (AIX and PEC) is now the biggest show in IFEC each year. It got that way because there was a need for a centralized European and Middle East source of information, communication, demonstration and celebration of the IFEC experience, as well as, being located at the same venue for over ten years. With over 530 exhibitors this year, there was a wealth of innovative products and services on display last week in Hamburg Germany. IFExpress was told that over 16,000 visitors attended the event (Entrance is free – good idea.), and of course, we covered as many booths that we thought our readers might find both interesting and useful, and that caught our fancy. Obviously, it will take a few weeks to get the story of our visits out so stay tuned on that front. Pictures will be on the website soon so keep watch there as well.
In case you did not go, there are a couple things about the show you should know. First, the expo consists of two parts – the first day (Monday) is comprised of a Passenger Experience Conference. It is a one-day inflight data extravaganza and covers almost every facet of the inflight experience with lectures, small meeting/discussion forums, and culminates in a useful food and beverage entertainment party. The next 3 days are dedicated to the exhibition show with over 530 exhibitors.
Second, there are the Crystal Cabin Awards, below are a few of the winners:
Cabin Systems class – B/E Aerospace
Electronic Systems – Lufthansa Systems
Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment – Boeing
Visionary Concepts – Zodiac Aerospace … and more. You can find the complete winners list here
Like last year, there was an IFEC Zone comprised of three of the total AIX zones and an App to help sort it out. The IFE Zone had 102 exhibitors and grew by 31% over 2015. The App is designed to enhance your experience before, during and after the show, by putting the following features and information at your fingertips:
• 3D Floor plan with routeplanner features information about walking distances between the halls
• Find exhibitors by category to view profiles and to add to your list of favorites
• View the exhibitor’s products
• View the full four-day event program and speaker listings
• Take a look at the features that are at the exhibition including Wi-Fi areas
• General and venue information to help plan your journey
• My Event – perfect for storing your favorite exhibitors and sessions
• Guide to Hamburg to help see what Hamburg has to offer including hotels, restaurants and in case you have time local attractions
• And yes, you could take a selfie with their personalized background
In summary then, the AIX folks note the following show statistics and info: “16,000 industry executives are estimated to have attended Passenger Experience Week, from 5th – 7th April, whilst the number of VIP airline attendees rose by 14% – many of whom were senior executives from more than 180 airlines located in 26 markets across the globe. There were more than 530 exhibitors at this year’s AIX –– with 145 companies exhibiting for the first time. AIX was preceded by the Passenger Experience Conference, which saw more than 50 speakers from across the passenger experience industry sharing insights with some 400 delegates from airlines, suppliers, designers and the media.”
PASSENGER EXPERIENCE CONFERENCE:
The folks at AIX note: Defining the future of the passenger experience industry, the Passenger Experience Conference is the leading global conference and networking forum delivering content, driving innovation and developing connections to transform your business. Check out the program and speakers here
One of the best part of the flying future is the potential for onboard purchases, as many speakers at the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) meeting on Monday stated. One presenter noted that the folks at GuestLogix pegged onboard sales in 2014 around $1.8B worldwide. Beverages were 58% of the total, food was 38.2%, while “Passenger Comfort” was given at 3.8%. The interesting part was the growth – 11% per year! Part of this is attributable to the airlines reduction of free items; however, this kind of growth is indicative of a couple things. First, passengers have money to purchase items, that is proof of the growth rate, but further, as an area of purchasing potential, the cabin is ripe. Thus, there is a growing market for providing a way to purchase more on the plane is an obvious potential. We should also mention that Visa and MasterCard also exhibited 10 and 13.6 % growth, respectively, in the same period. Further, off-line limits are in the $100 to $200 range, while on-line sales via the credit card world has no limits. The authentication process is delivering real-time proof-of-ownership status with the bank that issues the card (and a real-time Lost/Stolen card status as well). Obviously, connectivity and credit card sales onboard have a future on aircraft and folks like IFPL are prepping the technology for that eventuality.
APEX & GOOGLE ANNOUNCEMENT:
One of the early show surprises was the involvement of Google with IFEC and we can thank Joe Leader of APEX for their inclusion. By using their world class data aggregation and knowledge data base capability, the folks at Google see a connection to this business in the pre-flight, in-flight, and the post-flight regimes by helping to extend the engagement window and shortening the rebooking cycle. In flight, they see the capacity of helping the connected passenger to experience a better, personalized experience, and finally, enabling ancillary revenue growth for products and post flight services. Google has a part in the future of air travel… they think so and so does APEX.
On the same note, Joe Leader of APEX, see’s a world of data assisted passenger experiences and kicked off their announcement of an Official Airline Rating program. Beginning with seats and product catalogs, the APEX view talks about high effectiveness and high airline control over the eventual personalization of the travel experience and the resulting “differentiated” airline in the evolution process. Of course, the issue is data and while passengers (74% on average) are comfortable using technology when they travel, there is a plethora of apps available, fewer are really used. He noted that an average of 80 are device installed, only 25% are seemingly used for the travel process. While the numbers may be higher than you or I use, the issue is one of data obfuscation – too many apps, and a better way to use them is needed. In the next few years as Joe noted, there will need to be an interoperability between apps, Facebook, and Google. There also needs to be a friendlier branding eco-structure in the ticket process… and thus there needs to be a neutral party to pull the process together. In essence, he sees a future airline rating system that can know and confirm validity for all airlines (Tall order!). Next, it has to be useful to passengers beyond travel and since there are over 10 million active users, this tool has value. Further, the tool that Joe is proposing has to correctly use feedback and exhibit some neutral bias such as a non-profit position because it has to provide non-conflicting results to the airlines. Thus, he proposed OfficialAirlineRatings (TM) (patent pending), which will be validated flight ratings for worldwide airlines by the passengers… this is a global project. He expects the data service to begin this summer and time will tell if airlines will get in bed with this passenger response driven system.
From a data point of view, APEX plans to analyze subjective data from passengers, use objective data captured from actual sources like seat measurements and IFE capability and availability. We expect APEX to calibrate and review the data and sources by flying the airline noted routes (hopefully announced), and provide raw data and awards as the final output for the effort. Make no mistake, this is no easy challenge because the airline involvement is key and we will wait to see if APEX can corral the airlines into this program – lofty goal, hard to do in practice. IFExpress wishes APEX the best on this program because it establishes a common goal for measurement but historically, this has been hard to achieve.
AIX NEWS HEADLINES:
- AIRBUS’ launch customer for the Airspace by Airbus cabin is TAP Portugal’s 14 A330-900neos. The new Airspace by Airbus has a LED mood lighting system, larger overhead bins, new lavatories, a new welcome area and the latest innovations in IFE and connectivity.
- SINGAPORE AIRLINES selected STELIA AEROSPACE, to design and manufacture their new business class seats.
- ROCKWELL COLLINS and THALES were selected by Airbus to supply high-bandwidth connectivity (HBC) solution for A320s, A330s and A380s; companies will collaborate with Airbus to develop and deploy line-fit and retrofit systems.
- Hainan Airlines selected THALES to supply Android-based AVANT IFE for its new A330s. Deliveries start in the second half of 2017.
- PANASONIC AVIONICS eXO overhead IFE system was selected by Saudi Arabian Airlines for 30 A320s currently on order.
- STG AEROSPACE launched new saf-Tglo blu photoluminescent floor path system that uses a cool blue glow instead of the traditional green glow, and liTeMood LED a newplug-and-play replacement for incandescent reading lights on the 737NGs. They also secured Design Organisation Approval (DOA) from EASA. Additionally, STG Aerospace expands its emergency and informational cabin signage product range with Malaysia Airlines. Lastly, Eastern Airlines improves passenger experience by installing STG Aerospace’s LED mood lighting system.
Summit selected TELEFONIX PDT to secure STC for its IFEC hardware for 737-700/800/900ER.
- HAMBURG AVIATION presented 2016 Crystal Cabin Awards to B/E AEROSPACE (Cabin Systems), BOEING (Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment), ETIHAD(Cabin Concepts), LUFTHANSA SYSTEMS (Electronic Systems), REBEL.AERO (Passenger Comfort Hardware), SEKISUI SPI (Material and Components), TU DELFT (University) and ZODIAC(Visionary Concepts).
- AFI KLM E&M received an EASA STC to install ROCKWELL COLLINS PAVES PSS on A330.
- ROCKWELL COLLINS announced a new virtual training simulator for maintenance and operation of its seat-centric PAVES and overhead IFE systems. Rockwell Collins was also selected by AIR ASTANA to provide onboard broadband connectivity
- GORE unveiled HDMI 2.0 cables to provide higher video resolution for IFE systems.
- GOGO released: From the Ground Up: How the Internet of Things will Give Rise to Connected Aviation, which was created to spark an industry wide conversation about how the Internet of Things will reshape aviation. Free Also, GOGO partnered with Airbus Corporate Jet Centre to install 2Ku technology on new A350 aircraft. Delta Air Lines will take delivery of 2Ku-equipped A350s in 2017.
- FOKKER SERVICES displayed iShade dimmable technology integrated into its new panoramic window at AIX.
- INMARSAT to enhance airline passenger broadband offering with roadmap for aviation capacity growth. Global Xpress will serve as the foundation of an integrated global network that can be shaped to fit any airline route system and built upon to meet future demand.
- INFLIGHT DUBLIN strikes worldwide IFE agreement with Sony Music.
- DMD (Dawson Media Direct) welcomes digital media expert Andrew Wiltshire to head Digiredoo their digital newspaper and magazine delivery service to airlines independent airport lounges and major rail operators across the world.
- MEZZOGLOBAL launched low cost wireless In-Flight Passenger Entertainment App for Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD).
- PANASONIC AVIONICS is first to offer NFC Technology with multiple aircraft OEMs.
- ASTRONICS CORPORATION awarded Emergency Lighting and Passenger Service Unites (PSU) contract for the Embraer E2 program.
- SITA released that Australia Border Exit Checks are now powered by SITA’s advanced technology. Automatic advance security checks now being run on all passengers exiting Australia.
Lastly, we apologize to those folks we missed at AIX. We tried but it has finally come down to time versus the number of IFEC displays and presentations. If you have something you want to say, send it to us and we will get your message out… we hope!
Lake Forest, CA | March 23, 2016– Panasonic Avionics (Panasonic), the world leader in inflight entertainment and communications, today announced it has been selected to supply the Cabin Services System (CSS) on the new family of Boeing 777X aircraft. Panasonic is currently the supplier of CSS on all Boeing 787 Dreamliners and 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft.
Panasonic’s CSS is a scalable, database driven, Ethernet-based network that provides core cabin functions such as passenger address, cabin interphone and environmental controls. CSS directly integrates with external subsystems such as cabin lighting and other airplane member systems across the airframe networks, including the inflight entertainment and connectivity solutions.
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics said, “This agreement is the reflection of a growing relationship between Panasonic and Boeing. It shows the success of our efforts to combine reliability crucial for Cabin Services Systems with continued innovation benefitting flight crew and passengers, something that’s core to the 777X program.”
The 777X is the largest and most efficient twin-engine jet in the world with 320 orders and commitments for the aircraft. The cabin interior will include larger windows, a wider cabin, new lighting, and an enhanced architecture with cabin electronics controlled by the Panasonic Cabin Services System.
(Editor’s Note: Looking for an innovative company in the IFEC space? Try IFPL – InFlight Peripherals. The Queen-awarded product offerings are the result of CEO Geoff Underwood (front row, 2nd from the left) and his team’s interface product creativity and ingenuity. IFExpress wanted to let our readers see them in front of their offices on the Isle of Wight!)
One of the biggest issues when traveling on an airplane is interfacing with it. By that we mean, controlling or interfacing with the devices and power that entertains and provides power for travelers on a plane – like NFC payment interface devices that allow us to buy goods or services or USB connections that provide entertainment, data, or power. If you ever wondered who makes the interface hardware, look no further that this Hot Topic as we want to introduce you to InFlight Peripherals Limited, or IFPL, as they are know by most. The Queens Award winning company (three times to be exact) and their website (ifpl.com) says it all, but we wanted to dig a little deeper into Geoff Underwood’s company, so we contacted them and asked then to enlighten our readers about a few of their primary products: specifically NFC Payment Capability, the Reversible USB Plug, new USB 3.0 Data and Power Plug, and their new Dual Breakaway/Triple Breakaway Audio Jacks.
Before we get into the technology, a little about the company: IFPL is a Queens Award winning international product development company based on the Isle of Wight in the United Kingdom. They specialize in tailored engineering solutions for the Global Inflight Entertainment (IFE) Industry. The company was founded by Managing Director Geoff Underwood in 1996 and Initial production took place in Geoff’s garage at home, before progressing to a modern design and production facility in Newport on Isle of Wight. In the summer 2011 IFPL relocated five miles west to larger offices in Calbourne where 53 staff are now employed. IFPL first introduced its Long Life Audio Jack in 1999. This reliable jack has been tested to 100,000 headset insertions. From this beginning, the company now boasts a range of over 35 innovative passenger interface products including IFPL’s Rapid Fit range of quick change audio jacks, as well as Passenger Control Units (PCUs), USB, Ethernet, and INCAM noise cancellation headset connectors. In recent years the company has diversified into the design and manufacture of multimedia docking stations and video deployment arms. customer requirements. We should also note the range of their products and they include: Contactless Retail Systems, Breakaway Jack, USB Reversible Jacks, USB Power Jacks, Self Testing Audio Jacks, a Microphone Compatible Jack, Stacking PCU’s, Audio Jacks, Passenger Call Units, Remote Power Outlets, and other products for aircraft and rail markets. We asked CEO Geoff Underwood to tell us a little about their company and their products and he sent the following:
“IFPL is rightly proud to supply some of the world’s leading IFEC manufacturers and airlines who have come to rely on us to provide inspiration to the enhancement of their passenger experience. This has been achieved by our proven reputation for reliability and innovative product design. After recently supplying our one-millionth product to Panasonic, we look forward to a 2016 full of exciting product developments within the IFE industry.”
1. NFC Payment Terminal
“The total value of Near Field Communication (NFC) payments in the US is expected to *grow by 210% in 2016. The IFE industry is not exempt from this growing trend with the possibility of IFE NFC integration. IFPL’s payment terminal facilitates this demand enabling passengers to purchase items from compatible devices and cards without the presence of cabin crew. This enhances airline passenger’s personalization and convenience and enables the passenger to shop, order and pay at their own convenience. Not only does the terminal support contactless bankcards, Apple Pay and mobile wallets, it enables other data to be transferred to enable personalization through Personal Electronic Devices (PED) applications and NFC enabled loyalty cards. From a design viewpoint, our payment terminals contain no mechanical moving parts and use durable and cost effective materials to provide a lifetime of use. IFPL is currently in detailed negotiations with a leading IFEC supplier, so expect this product to be on your flight soon.”
He went on: “The company recognized over three years ago the need to make payment onboard simple and straight forward and launched our CRS concept. This concept showed how simple payment on board could be using NFC. In addition, we recognized that the payment industry requirements would change in 2015, moving away from the traditional magnetic strip to NFC or Chip and Pin. IFPL identified that NFC could be used for both payment and transmitting other small amounts of data which could be used to confirm the person in the seat and personalize the IFEC experience. IFPL has worked with Thales to bring this technology onboard. Both the airlines and IFEC vendors see the advantage of making payment simple and personalizing the IFE as well as maximizing the retail experience.”
2. Reversible USB-A1337
“IFPL’s latest reversible USB leverages itself off our successful 1281 USB jack. It provides a single unit integrating both power and data, ensuring passengers can charge their Personal Electronic Devices (PED) at ease. Feedback from airlines suggested that there was a tendency for Customer Induced damage (CID) in standard USB ports. IFPL has addressed this issue by enabling passengers to insert their USB plug either way around. This has created a robust and reliable USB solution to CID while enhancing passenger experience. It boasts a reliability of 10 times the industry standard and has been tested to 60,000 cycles enabling airlines to achieve significant long-term savings. Furthermore, both the light guide color and decal print are customizable to support airline branding and cabin aesthetics.
With the proliferation of PED’s, limited battery life and the ability for PED’s to become a second screen, IFPL recognized passengers need to charge their PED (up to 2.0A and 5V) and for the PED to be able to interface with the IFE system. IFPL have worked with both airlines and IFE companies to make this available.
In addition IFPL recognized that CID and reliability is a key design weakness of a traditional USB A socket, which may typically only provide 6,000 insertions/extractions before failure. In addition, as the passenger can only place their plug in one way it can cause the passenger to apply excess force in frustration and break their USB plug or the IFE systems USB socket resulting in high CID. IFPL’s bi-directional insertion and clever design eliminates the problem of CID and massively improves availability.”
3. USB 3.0 1342 – Delivering data and power to a new standard
An exciting new development at IFPL is our latest addition to the USB unit family.
At IFPL, we appreciate the importance of PEDs in today’s IFE environment and feel it’s vital to allow passengers to stay connected to their devices. With more demanding PED’s being used in flight year-on-year, higher transfer speeds are required to meet viewing demands. IFPL’s USB 3.0 provides a solution to this and coincides with IFPL’s commitment to innovation. It boasts transfer speeds of up to 5Gbits/s, 10 times faster than products centralized around the USB 2.0. This allows passengers to continue viewing media from their devices at ease while simultaneously charging them.
As well as supporting high PED power USB 3.0, IFPL offers a step change for data via a USB port as it supports up to 5Gbits/s enough to stream data to or from and IFE system using an attached device.
4. New Dual Breakaway and Triple Breakaway
“New are IFPL’s Dual and Triple Breakaway solution which addresses the issue of broken jacks, including: Containing *MagSignal technology which virtually eliminates customer induced damage, commercially attractive cost neutral solution for both the headset and the jack and two Long Life™ jacks, enabling the use of single or dual IFE headsets.”
In closing David Thomas, Business Development told IFExpress: “IFPL has recently supplied its one-millionth part to Panasonic and is expecting to deliver its two millionth product to the industry towards the end of Q1 2016.”
If you need more information on any IFPL product please call David at: + 44 (0) 1983 555900 or he can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Also, please note that IFPL will be exhibiting at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, 5-7 April 2016 at stand 2C40. For further information on the featured products or more of their industry leading solutions, please contact:
IFExpress would like to thank Geoff Underwood and Jason Davies for their help in developing this Hot Topic. We now see why the company is so successful – Thank You!
- PANASONIC AVIONICS was selected by Air Europa to provide eXConnect onboard Wi- Fi connectivity for retrofit on two A330-200s and one A330-300, plus its new 787s. The installation of Wi-Fi service on-board Air Europa aircraft, that aims to improve in-flight entertainment, ensuring a great comfort and amenities; is a new step in the modernization that the airline is immersed in and that aims to establish itself as one of the best and most modern airlines in the world.
- Gogo announced today that it has signed a term sheet with Beijing based Shareco Technologies to install its 2Ku in-flight connectivity technology on 50 commercial aircraft for Shareco’s airline partners, including Hainan Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines. This is the largest announced in-flight connectivity deal in China and the first airline deal for Gogo in China. In addition to in-flight connectivity, Gogo will also provide its wireless in-flight entertainment solution – Gogo Vision – for Shareco to install on these aircraft. Beijing Shareco Technologies Co., Ltd. is a leader at providing in-flight entertainment and connectivity related services to Chinese and international commercial airlines. Gogo and Shareco will work together on necessary regulatory approvals to install the technology on these aircraft. The goal is to install all 50 aircraftwithin two years following execution of a definitive agreement. Shareco is a high-tech company dedicated to building an ecosystem in the cabin that will create unique in-flight experiences which will benefit both airlines and passengers,” said Pan Yunbin, CEO of Shareco. “We have been looking for great partners to find the best that can customize in-flight connectivity and in-flight entertainment solutions, as well as other things the passengers may be interested in. We believe that Gogo, as a pioneer in this field, is one of the best at providing these services.”
- Philippine Airlines (PAL) has launched a freemium Wi-Fi service for all passengers as part of its 75th anniversary celebration. PAL is using SITAONAIR’s Internet Onair technology to deliver the service, rebranded as myPAL Wi-Fi. Jaime J. Bautista, PAL president and COO said: “This myPAL Wi-fi freemium offering is a key part of our commitment to give the best possible service to our passengers. With 30 minutes each across all travel classes, this is the APAC region’s best free inflight internet offering, at least doubling almost every other airline.” The airline launched the freemium service to passengers on the first of March and this offering will continue to run for one year. The airline has 21 aircraft equipped with connectivity, including six B777-300ER and 15 A330-300s.
- You had better be aware that the IoAT (Internet of Aircraft Things) is real and that data requirements from new engines alone will boggle your mind – check out this article.
Lake Forest, CA | February 23, 2016– Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS), the national airline of Switzerland, is renewing its focus on passenger experience in partnership with Panasonic Avionics by introducing inflight connectivity and a new user interface design.
The first of nine SWISS Boeing 777-300s has entered into service providing global inflight Wi-Fi and 3G phone services from Panasonic’s Global Communications Services. All are being line-fit at the OEM with the state-of-the-art system. Serving 104 destinations in 48 countries worldwide, SWISS is leveraging Panasonic’s unique broadband offering, which will allow passengers to email, surf the Internet, use social networks and even make calls.
SWISS also has introduced Panasonic’s eXcite2 software to its inflight entertainment (IFE) systems, which dramatically increases functionality and modernizes design, benefitting both the passenger and the airline. It introduces enhanced touch-screen performance for passengers with faster navigation and response, 3D effects and animation, as well as more dynamic graphics and richer content. eXcite2 allows airlines to dramatically reduce the time required to redesign their user experience and it makes frequent updates easier than ever before. It also allows SWISS to easily brand its own content, which can be used to create uniformity across both in-seat monitors and synchronized passengers’ own personal devices.
Paul Margis, CEO and President of Panasonic Avionics, said: “With such a significant global network, Panasonic is the natural choice for SWISS as it looks to offer its passengers a fully connected journey. Our provision of eXcite2 for the airline will also help transform not only the passenger experience, but also the ability of SWISS to open up revenue opportunities and enhance its brand through its entertainment systems.”
“The recently deployed inflight connectivity will allow our passengers to enjoy a new dimension of air travel experience,” says Markus Binkert Chief Commercial Officer and Member of the Executive Board of SWISS.
Last month we saw an interesting news release from SITA about biometric passports and the European Unions’ use of this technology for fast-tracking through airport security.
Here is a bit of the news release: NAPLES – 19 January 2016 – Naples International Airport is offering passengers from the European Union who hold a biometric passport, a fast track through the airport with the introduction of self-service immigration control technology from air transport IT specialist, SITA. Using world-leading facial recognition technology to confirm that the passenger is the passport holder, SITA’s iBorders BorderAutomation ABCGates provide a smooth “walk-through” experience. The Automated Border Control Gates (ABCGates) confirm that the passenger has an authentic, valid passport and is authorized to enter the country while fingerprint verification is also provided to further enhance security when required. With an average processing time of only 20 seconds, this process enables eligible passengers to use self-service facilities to reduce wait times and optimize passenger flow through the airport. The ABCGates (departures and arrivals) allows more than 2,000 passengers a day to clear immigration at the airport using this latest technology.
Alessandro Fidato, Director of Infrastructure & Operations at Naples International Airport said: “The new technology has helped improve the passenger experience at Naples Airport by speeding them through immigration while ensuring that we meet the highest security standards at Italy’s borders. The ABCGates are really a win-win technology for airports.”
Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe, noted: “We continue to work with airlines, airports and government agencies around the globe to provide the best-in-class self-service border technology. Through the use of biometrics, we are able to enhance the passenger experience by providing a swift passage through immigration while adhering to the highest possible security standards.”
So we asked a few more questions of Mr. Bakker and he told IFExpress the following:
1. IFExpress: How long have the ABCGates in Naples been in operation?
Answer: “The first four iBorders® BorderAutomation ABCGates went into operation at Naples International Airport’s departures in September last year while four additional ABCGates were introduced into arrivals in January this year. “
2. If an optical condition occurs (like an eye operation) to a pax who has signed up for optical recognition and fails the test, what happens?
Answer: “Whenever a passenger is not successfully processed by the gate, an agent at a monitoring station is called for intervention.”
3. IFExpress: How many eyes are scanned for each person?
Answer: “The ABCGates use facial recognition technology and fingerprint matching.”
4. IFExpress: Is there a cost for the application and setup for the passenger?
Answer: “Any traveller from the EU holding a valid e-Passport can use the ABCGates. There is no cost for the traveller to use the ABCGates.”
5. IFExpress: Actually, what equipment is involved?
Answer: “The most important and visible element are the e-gates themselves. They include gates with passport readers, face recognition cameras and fingerprint readers, as well as the necessary software to allow integration of the data into the authorities’ databases.”
6. IFExpress: Any test results on percent error you can mention?
Answer: “For security reasons, the exact percentage is confidential. However, the ABCGates are configured to be compliant with the Frontex guidelines for processing travellers in the EU in a self-service environment.”
7. IFExpress: How long have the ABCGates been in the dev/test phase?
Answer: “SITA’s ABCGates were first launched two years ago, after 18 months of development.”
8. IFExpress: Is this more accurate or reliable than fingerprints?
Answer: “The type of biometrics used depends on the government requirements. Our ABCGates can accommodate all ICAO-approved biometrics. In the case of Naples, both facial recognition and fingerprint matching are included.”
9. IFExpress: Can you give our readers a bit more on how this database works?
Answer: A: “Each travelers details including their biometrics are captured and vetted at the time they apply for their e-Passport. When the traveler uses the ABC Gate their live biometrics are checked against the biometric data stored securely on the e-Passport chip. At the same time the passport details are checked against central government databases to ensure that the passenger is eligible to cross the border.”
Finally, Dave Bakker told IFExpress: “We continue to work with airlines, airports and government agencies around the globe to provide the best-in-class self-service border technology. Through the use of biometrics, we are able to enhance the passenger experience by providing a swift passage through immigration while adhering to the highest possible security standards.”
On another front, Panasonic signed a multi-year contract for high throughput capacity on Telesat’s new Telstar 12 VANTAGE satellite. In this latest agreement, Panasonic has contracted for nearly all the high throughput satellite (HTS) Ku-band capacity covering the Mediterranean, Europe and Middle East on Telesat’s new Telstar 12 VANTAGE. Telstar 12 Vantage became fully operational at 15 degrees West in December 2015 and will provide Panasonic with HTS capacity over key aero routes from Western Europe to the Middle East enabling them to bring the very latest in in-flight Wi-Fi to carriers across the region. Panasonic will also be using the HTS capacity of Telstar 12 VANTAGE to expand their mobile broadband offerings to growing maritime markets in the Mediterranean and European waterways as well as to oil and gas operators in the North Sea.
“Telesat is highly respected for their ability to design innovative satellites,” said David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communications Services at Panasonic Avionics. “Their cooperation in adjusting the position of the HTS spot beams on Telstar 12 VANTAGE to meet Panasonic’s requirements was outstanding. This further optimizes the service for Panasonic and gives us an edge in winning mobile broadband business in the air and at sea. Panasonic now has Ku-band capacity on four Telesat satellites and, with this latest contract for nearly all the HTS Ku-band covering the Mediterranean, Europe and Middle East on Telstar 12 VANTAGE, we are well positioned to expand in maritime and energy markets across Europe. Panasonic values our close ties to the Telesat team and we are truly excited to be making use of Telstar 12 VANTAGE – the first satellite with significant HTS Ku-band over the Mediterranean and North Sea.” Also note Bruner; “The story here from Panasonic’s perspective is that by April we will have high throughout capacity online continuously and overlapping from the west coast of the US to the Middle East. By October all the way to Asia. Next year we complete the initial HTS coverage with a new satellite over the Pacific, Eutelsat 172B.” This might be a good time to view the map coverage of Telstar 12 VANTAGE.
Lastly, Thales just closed a big sale deal for AVANT IFE and connectivity with Singapore Airlines for their A350 aircraft and IFExpress will have more on the deal soon! Stay Tuned!
- Over the next twenty years, the folks at Boeing see an Asia-Pacific demand of some 14,550 aircraft valued at over $550 B!
- Last week we found an amazing, crazy video. You are never going to believe what the band OK Go does to an aircraft interior, never. The tune “Upside Down & Inside Out” should give you a hint. The band traveled to Russia to work with S7 Airlines and film the video, described on the OK Go Facebook page as “the craziest thing they’ve ever done.” It is… OK Go breaks gravity habit in spacey ‘Upside Down & Inside Out’ video
- Correction: Last week we noted some trade show information that occurred at the Aircraft Interiors Middle East event this year. Mr. Botts, who reported on the show and award event for us noted flydubai as the overall winner and mentioned an IFE vendor whose equipment he thought was on their planes – he was wrong. The correct IFE vendor is Lumexis. In fact, flydubai was the launch customer for Lumexis’ FTTS IFE system. Here are links to flydubai’s past awards: 2014, 2015, and 2016. Mea Culpa!
Interesting Industry News:
- Cabin certification is getting challenging – delethalization is a big issue!
- With some 3,072 B737 MAX backlog, certification is becoming a big issue!
- AA sues Gogo for speed and improvements
And Finally, a B727 Story…
For some time now we have been following the reconstruction and re-certification of a 53 year old Boeing 727 by an ex-Boeing good-guy, Robert Bogash. The plane is destined for Boeing’s Museum of Flight but is located some 50 Kilometers away in Everett, WA. Bob is driven and never gives up, I know because many years ago, I worked with him. The rebuilding process is documented on his website and we have a link for you below and has well over one million “hits” so far. Mostly, we wanted to show our readers the challenge in re-certifing an older plane destined to fly this spring. Mr. Bogash and the team have documented virtually every step in the process (text and images) and if you ever worked in aircraft maintenance or certification, this is for you. If not, you are going to learn a lot about the B727! We asked Bob, what it took to get the job done so far and he said: “Patience. Persistence. Hard Work. Long Journey. I’ve probably got about 600-700 hours into it — in the last 5 or 6 weeks, that is… We are shooting to fly March 1 – weather is the big unknown and determinant. That’s me in the Left Seat in the video, and yes, I will fly the trip down to Boeing Field, but not as Pilot in Command. Thanks for the kudos. Daily E1 Status Reports are being provided in near Real Time on my Status Page.” Also, he noted; “It’s also important that they look into buying a souvenir that will fly on the flight or contribute directly, since none of this comes free, and I’ve blown my budget.”
- Panasonic’s latest commitment to Telesat driven by innovative coverage of Telstar 12 VANTAGE – first operational satellite with significant HTS Ku-band capacity serving aero and maritime routes over Europe, the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Sea
Ottawa, Canada and Lake Forest, California | February 15, 2016– Telesat, a leading global satellite operator, and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) announced today that Panasonic has signed another multi-year contract for Telesat satellite capacity.
In this latest agreement, Panasonic has contracted for nearly all the high throughput satellite (HTS) Ku-band capacity covering the Mediterranean, Europe and Middle East on Telesat’s new Telstar 12 VANTAGE. Telstar 12 VANTAGE became fully operational at 15 degrees West in December 2015 and will provide Panasonic with HTS capacity over key aero routes from Western Europe to the Middle East enabling them to bring the very latest in in-flight Wi-Fi to carriers across the region. Panasonic will also be using the HTS capacity of Telstar 12 VANTAGE to expand their mobile broadband offerings to growing maritime markets in the Mediterranean and European waterways as well as to oil and gas operators in the North Sea.
“It is always gratifying when a knowledgeable industry leader like Panasonic compares a number of satellite alternatives and decides once again that Telesat is their best choice,” said Tom Eaton, Vice President, International Sales for Telesat. “Telstar 12 VANTAGE is a powerful high throughput satellite designed to provide customers like Panasonic important operational and commercial advantages. Panasonic’s multi-year commitment validates the advanced capabilities of Telesat’s newest satellite and we look forward to continuing to deliver to Panasonic the superior technical performance and outstanding support they have come to expect from Telesat.”
“Telesat is highly respected for their ability to design innovative satellites,” said David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communications Services at Panasonic Avionics. “Their cooperation in adjusting the position of the HTS spot beams on Telstar 12 VANTAGE to meet Panasonic’s requirements was outstanding. This further optimizes the service for Panasonic and gives us an edge in winning mobile broadband business in the air and at sea. Panasonic now has Ku-band capacity on four Telesat satellites and, with this latest contract for nearly all the HTS Ku-band covering the Mediterranean, Europe and Middle East on Telstar 12 VANTAGE, we are well positioned to expand in maritime and energy markets across Europe. Panasonic values our close ties to the Telesat team and we are truly excited to be making use of Telstar 12 VANTAGE – the first satellite with significant HTS Ku-band over the Mediterranean and North Sea.”
Lake Forest, CA | February 1, 2016– Panasonic Avionics today confirmed that over 1,000 commercial aircraft are operating on its Global Communications Services network. Panasonic’s worldwide Ku-band satellite network today delivers broadband communications services and global live television over 99.6 percent of all commercial aviation routes.
The 1,000th aircraft was a B777-300 that was line fit at the OEM and delivered in mid-December to China Eastern Airlines. Since then, Panasonic has equipped an additional 25 aircraft, bringing the total number to 1025.
Over 50 percent of all airlines with connected aircraft have chosen Panasonic Avionics. The company has approximately 70 airlines and 3,000 aircraft committed to its global broadband connectivity service. It expects to add an additional 12,000 to its network by 2025.
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics said, “Our connectivity solutions combine operation benefits with an elevated passenger experience. Reaching the benchmark of 1,000 connected aircraft shows that our customers realize Panasonic’s compelling business proposition. Over the next 12 months our focus will be on helping customers better utilize our network to improve efficiency and the way they can engage with their passengers.”
In 2016, the company projects to add another 600 aircraft to its network, and 34 percent of these installations will take place at the OEM during production. Today, Panasonic is the only inflight connectivity provider that is line fit offerable at the major aircraft manufacturers.
David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communications Services for Panasonic Avionics said, “This year, we will introduce several new enhancements to our network, the passenger experience, and the ability of our customers to monitor their aircraft in real time.”
Bruner continued, “In April, we will introduce high throughput satellite (HTS) service over North America and the Atlantic. Europe and the Middle East will follow later that year, and by mid-2017, we will complete our HTS network, offering over 200 megabits per second in regions that cover 80 percent of all traffic routes.”
“Leveraging our unique HTS design, we’ll be able to tailor the inflight experience to match passenger expectations for bandwidth and give them even more access to the services that they use every day on the ground. We will also be able to expand the number of channels available in our global live television service, which continues to become increasingly important to our customers and their guests,” added Bruner.
In conclusion, Bruner also stated that 2016 will be an exciting year for airlines that wish to leverage connectivity for operational efficiencies. “We are actively working with our customers on several key operational initiatives. Whether it’s highly accurate, real-time weather and EFB applications that help pilots make better informed inflight decisions, global flight tracking, real time remote monitoring and data analysis or even telemedicine, we are committed to helping our customers realize the real value of the connected aircraft.”
Isle of Wight, UK | January 4, 2016– November 5th 2015 marked a major milestone for leading IFEC provider IFPL who provided their one-millionth part to Panasonic Avionics.
The landmark was celebrated in a meeting at IFPL’s offices and manufacturing facility on the Isle of Wight in the UK, where Mr.Mark Jennings and Mr.Teruki Hisakawa of Panasonic were presented with the one- millionth part in a presentation case by IFPL Founder and Managing Director Geoff Underwood.
The landmark part is an IFPL Integrated Jack Unit (IJU) designed and built in collaboration with Panasonic for integration into their eXLite IFE Eco 9 Monitor, Geoff comments: “This is a significant milestone for us at IFPL, reaffirming our relationship and reflecting Panasonics commitment to provide world-class IFEC solutions to the world’s airlines.”
IFPL’s relationship with Panasonic started in 2004 with this latest milestone confirming the solid and trusted professional relationship developed between Panasonic and IFPL, something that has built over these years to now see IFPL attain a Strategic Partner relationship with Panasonic Avionics.
The Integrated Jack Unit (IJU) is amongst an extensive range of products and IFEC solutions available from IFPL which also includes their new reversible USB power and data module, Dual-pin MagJack and the latest in Contactless Payment technology.
Last week we noted a few IFEC related products/services at this year’s NBAA in Las Vegas, thus, this week we will continue the dialog, specifically, those folks we normally visit at APEX and AIX… and a few that you might not see. Lets start with one you will see.
Aircraft Cabin Systems
One of the video display companies at the show was Aircraft Cabin Systems and this year we saw a few surprises in their booth. First, the retractable displays were shown available in the standard and new HD (1080P) models and because they retract, they present a new solution to more headroom in already cramped biz jet cabins . We asked ACS Sales Manager, Ken Muse, about the hardware – Attached are spec sheets for the 9.7″ and 12.1″ Retract.
Both of these units are designed as a drop-in replacement for Airbus. ACS is currently working on a Boeing drop-in replacement as well. As you can imagine, the design priority comes from our customers priorities.
The screen images of the new mounted HD video display units we also saw were stunning. Ken also noted: “The larger bulkhead mounted displays were all HD LCD Monitors displaying 1080p content with 32”, 42” and 65” models on exhibit. The 24” bulkhead mounted display was our Network HD LCD Monitor which is capable of displaying preloaded content and/or being controlled from an iPad or Android hand-held device.” Stay Tuned!
Panasonic and AeroSat (Astronics)
We visited Panasonic and their team at NBAA and were surprised at their involvement with Business jets as this a new market for them. David Bruner noted that the new partnership was formed to deliver high speed connectivity and global live television programming to the business jet community. Astronics will deliver the incredibly small Ku Band antenna (AeroSat) intended for tail mounted installation and Panasonic will deliver the “network”. By that we mean, the code and control of the system that handles the connectivity – all the while, the antenna and receivers are designed and built for others. Panasonic has a wealth of experience in the delivery of Ku Band satcom solution from satellites around the world. Basically, Panasonic has global coverage and massive download capacity, the biz jet market was a natural. David told IFExpress, “teaming with AeroSat allows us to enter the market immediately as the service provider. Looking at it another way,” noted Bruner, “when you get phone service from a company like AT&T, you don’t have to buy the phone from them – that’s how we look at this solution.” He mentioned that Panasonic has been looking for the right opportunity to get into this market. We should also note that a typical tail mounted antenna, because of size at Ku Band, doesn’t deliver the best gain characteristics, but when Panasonic saw the testing and performance data of the AeroSat model, they signed on. “From a performance point of view, Panasonic will be offering 3 levels of service,” noted Bruner, “So we are offering three different bandwidth levels that guarantees minimums – 1.5 Mbps, 2 Mbps or 4 Mbps that is guaranteed, most of the time we deliver more.”
Perhaps, SmartSky’s news release said it all: “SmartSky Networks, a next-generation aviation communications provider, is pleased to announce the launch of the nation’s first airborne 4G LTE-based network, SmartSky 4G. SmartSky’s technology will provide more than 10 times the typical speed and capacity of networks currently in the market by using 60 MHz of spectrum for its Air-To-Ground (ATG) data communications. SmartSky 4G will serve both business aviation and the airlines beginning with an exclusive beta-customer trial launch in the continental United States in late 2015. The rollout of nationwide commercial service will follow in 2016. Because the system hardware design can work at multiple frequencies, SmartSky is positioned to expand internationally in the future and provide coverage in locations where different frequency bands might be required. SmartSky is partnering with a leading group of airframe manufacturers, maintenance companies, and equipment and service providers to distribute SmartSky 4G to the business aviation community and will revealed these launch partners at NBAA2014. Similarly, the company is approaching the airline market through established distribution channels, including incumbent connectivity providers.” SmartSky President, Ryan Stone, said: “Last year the company filmed a live flight demonstration with multiple users on-board engaged in video conferences, streaming movies, sending and receiving large files, and other bandwidth-intensive activities all at the same time. SmartSky 4G provides an experience that exceeds the current gold standard of network performance – it enables live, two-way, high-definition video conferencing. SmartSky 4G’s robust performance means that we can also support communications needs beyond cabin Wi-Fi, including many emerging operational applications,” said SmartSky President Ryan Stone. We note the company would not talk about frequencies or beam patterns but as we learn more we will clue you in. From their limited tech hints, it looks like they plan their ground-based US solution to include towers that project an upward antenna pattern is a rough conical shape. Oh yes, and by the way, Mary Rogozinski (847 903-45540 has joined the Smarty Sky team – Avionics Magazine :: SmartSky Receptive to Partnering ATG with Satellite
As we noted earlier, Astronics and Panasonic are teaming for biz jet delivery of inflight internet connectivity and global live TV, and AeroSat designs and builds the tail mounted antenna. Their booth features also their other antenna and antenna installation products (including the adapter plate from the Astronics Armstrong division) and, of course, their WebFB product that delivers wireless connectivity to aviation handheld devices. WebFB (or web flight bag) is a clever device that connects to almost any device and is secure.
Presently, we are waiting for a presentation abut their NEXIS and PaTIO Security devices that look interesting if there is concern over inflight security – Stay Tuned!
The folks at FSB caught our eye when they showed us a free iPhone app (Android too) that you can download (Look up FSB Aviation in the iTunes store) and it gives a bit of info on virtually every commercial, regional, business and (US) military aircraft. You get dimensions (FBS is in the hangar space business) and, perhaps, next year, they will include a pix of each plane model and a bit of data on the average seating?
Of course you have been paying attention to the Lithium battery issues but while at NBAA, we saw something that you might see on a future flight as the folks at PlaneGard promote a personal device fire containment unit. “Hydrogen does not appear to be a problem when there is a thermal runaway in a single device in the cabin or cockpit, based on Tech Center testing. Those are more of a nuisance type of fire,” says Hill. “The probability of it getting out of control in the cabin is next to nil, but you have to know what to do.” Standard procedures call for dousing the device in water or other liquids to cool the cells. Other uses in the cabin could be of concern, particularly for airlines that may want to use tablets or iPads in lieu of inflight entertainment systems. “If you put 50 of them in a closet and start charging, that could create a fire that could bring down an aircraft,” says Aviation Week’s John Croft. Perhaps, the PlaneGard product we saw might be in order for Pad-based flights?
Airbus provides dedicated iPad mount capability for A320 Family pilots: “Certified in May 2015, the iPad ‘mount’ is now available for our A320 Family customers. The mount, which consists of a mechanical support installed on each window frame and a power supply connection (USB), can be used with an iPad (models 2, 3 or 4) and iPad Air (models 1 and 2). This solution enables the use of the iPad as an Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) during all flight phases. The first Service Bulletin (SB) is expected shortly with an entry-into service in 2016. The solution which can be embodied during a night shift has been developed following a strong customer demand for an Airbus solution.” Check out the Airbus release and image.
Additionally, according to a report from 9to5Mac, Apple is considering dropping the 3.5mm headphone jack from future iPhones in favor of its proprietary Lightning connector or Bluetooth-enabled earpieces. The report states that the next iPhone would come bundled with a pair of the new Lightning connector headphones that plug into the phone’s charging port. Looks like the potential for a lot of Bluetooth radiation could be in your inflight future, but don’t worry, there is a lot of testing at your back:
Of course you have heard about the LED modulation (Li-Fi) as being a future potential for data transmission, but the jury is still out for in-aircraft usage. Much like a parallel, multi-visible light communications solution emanating from LED’s. Here is a good way of looking at it – “Using a digital modulation technique called Orthogonal Frequency Divisional Multiplexing (OFDM), researchers enabled micro-LED light bulbs to handle millions of changes in light intensity per second, effectively behaving like an extremely fast on/off switch.” Speeds of up to 1 – 1.5 Gb/sec have been achieved, however, it is unknown if, or how, this transmission effect would affect passengers, airplane equipment or personal devices that have light sensitive/controlled equipment. Further, it is known that lighting and microwaves can cause issues with Wi-Fi. Perhaps the folks at Lumexis might prefer a fiber optic cable output at each seat so your devices could “talk” to the network?
This may be a new “data and money-saver” feature for web-based satcom connectivity.
Lastly, we wanted to let you know what we have been planning something for a few months now and you might find it interesting. As you know, we talk to a lot of engineers and technical folks and our goal has been to develop a better understanding of some of the technology that is inherent in this business. As time advances, we are seeing even more need for this kind of subject matter, whether it be a hacking security issue or the use of previously overlooked technologies like Bluetooth, the times are getting more technical and IFExpress is developing a weekly feature to frame it. Stay Tuned!
Lake Forest, CA | November 10, 2015– Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) today announced an agreement to supply its advanced global aircraft weather data to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) through the National Mesonet Program.
Panasonic’s proprietary high-resolution atmospheric observations will improve forecasts from the regional and global weather models run by the National Weather Service. Dr. Neil Jacobs, Chief Atmospheric Scientist for Panasonic Weather Solutions, which is part of Panasonic Avionics, “We are very excited to continue our long-term relationship with NOAA to improve the quality of weather forecasting in the United States. The distinct advantages of our aviation-based observational data will enhance NOAA’s mission of protecting life and property.”
TAMDAR data provides observations of wind, temperature, and moisture every 5 seconds as TAMDAR-equipped aircraft descend and ascend at nearly 300 airports across North America. Each day, these take offs and landings provide upwards of 1500 “vertical profiles” in the vicinity of these airports, greatly supplementing the vertical profiles observed with National Weather Service balloons. TAMDAR also provide about 3500 profiles each day from several hundred additional airports located in East Asia, the Pacific, and Europe.
“The National Weather Service has long recognized the utility of TAMDAR data for analysis and numerical forecast models and I’m pleased about this path forward to incorporate these data in our day-to-day operations,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.
“The provision of this unique TAMDAR dataset continues to steer the National Mesonet Program in a direction consistent with the National Academy of Science’s ‘Network of Networks’ vision of a broad range of non-federal data to improve situational awareness at National Weather Service forecast offices and to enhance our high-resolution modeling capabilities,” said Curtis Marshall, Ph.D., National Mesonet Program Manager at the National Weather Service.
The National Mesonet Program is the National Weather Service’s primary program for acquiring meteorological observational data from networks operated by non-federal partners, including the states, academia, and the private sector. Global Science and Technology, Inc. was awarded the most recent umbrella contract, which includes nearly three dozen network partners, including Panasonic’s TAMDAR network.
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 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 Panasonic’s data center.
Portland, OR | September 29, 2015– Soundchip SA, a Swiss-based global leader in wearable sound technology, and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) the leader in Inflight Entertainment and Communications (IFEC) have today unveiled a new strategic partnership to enhance the inflight digital audio experience.
The partnership will see Soundchip SA license its advanced audio technology to Panasonic resulting in the development of a range of innovative inflight audio products for the world’s airlines and their passengers.
Mark Donaldson, Soundchip CEO, said, “Soundchip and Panasonic Avionics share an ambitious vision for the future of inflight audio. We have co-developed break-through products such as Panasonic HD Audio™ and continue to invest in solutions that offer the airline passenger an inflight audio experience second-to-none.”
“It is a natural and important evolution of our working relationship that we forge closer ties and we are thrilled to announce Panasonic as a technology licensee and a strategic partner for the inflight audio market”, said Donaldson.
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics, said, “Soundchip is a unique and innovative company that delivers unparalleled, rich audio solutions. We believe that Soundchip’s unique solutions will improve our inflight entertainment offerings and enable our customers to provide enhanced travel experiences to their passengers.”
This latest development follows the companies’ collaboration in 2014 where they introduced Panasonic HD Audio™ – a revolutionary audio solution for inflight entertainment, which immerses aircraft passengers in a fully digital sonic experience.
Panasonic HD Audio™ is the world’s first fully digital inflight audio system. It delivers an authentic, high definition sound reproduction, the way that artists intended, and features an impressive array of exciting audio features, including hybrid noise cancelling, 3D surround sound, open-ear talk-through and VoiP calling.
Airline customers wishing to learn more about Soundchip and Panasonic’s collaboration, including joint initiatives such as Panasonic HD Audio™, should contact Soundchip directly or their airline’s Panasonic representative.
Portland, OR | September 29, 2015– Peninsula Airways (PenAir), one of the largest regional airlines in Alaska and the Northeast U.S., has selected Panasonic Avionics’ (Panasonic) FlightLink® for 18 SAAB SF340 and three SAAB 2000 aircraft. With FlightLink, PenAir adds aircraft operation center (AOC) voice, data, and aircraft positioning and tracking to its fleet of SAAB aircraft.
Danny Seybert, Chief Executive Officer for PenAir said, “Given our location, and the unique routes we fly, we wanted a solution that would allow us to stay in constant contact with our aircraft. After reviewing all the options, only Panasonic could deliver the hardware and services that would help us run our airline even more safely and efficiently.”
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer, Panasonic Avionics said, “PenAir has been a valued customer for many years, and we are very happy to deepen that relationship with a connectivity service that is so critical to their operational efficiency. FlightLink gives PenAir a cost-effective way to improve their situational awareness, even in areas where traditional satellite solutions are not available. This is a perfect example of how an airline can look to Panasonic to satisfy their critical communications needs.”
FlightLink lets airlines make better-informed operational decisions and track their aircraft during flight. It supports hundreds of commercial aircraft operated by over a dozen partner airlines with flight-deck voice and data communications over Iridium’s satellite network These connected aircraft benefit from a wide range of aviation applications that enhance the operations of partnering airlines, including automatic, global real-time aircraft position reports.
It provides real-time non-transponder based aircraft position reports anywhere in the world. The system includes a dedicated Iridium satellite data link and operates automatically, requiring no crew involvement. Each FlightLink-equipped aircraft can be monitored in real time through a web-based tracking tool. Additionally, the system can independently capture and relay aircraft systems’ information, and the weather environment in which the aircraft is flying.
FlightLink also includes the small and lightweight TAMDAR sensor, which collects thousands of highly detailed and accurate readings from the upper atmosphere each day. The atmospheric data being gathered off of these aircraft provides better situational awareness back to PenAir’s AOC. The data can also be used by Panasonic to develop future improved weather forecasts that would benefit the Alaska aviation community as a whole.
Portland, OR | September 29, 2015– Singapore Airlines and Panasonic Avionics Corporation are launching the industry’s first companion mobile app.. The app is an intelligent, personalized IFEC solution that allows airlines to curate a, seamless travel experience integrated with their mobile strategy.
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics said, “We believe personalization will be the one of the key trends in the inflight experience going forward, and we’re very excited Singapore Airlines shares that vision. The symbiosis of the onboard IFEC network and the travelers’ personal devices will be the key to a seamless travel process. As the launch customer for our companion application functionality they will deliver the first mobile app ever that spans across the whole travel process. This represents the first in a series of new innovations around mobile device integration from Panasonic that will transform the in-flight entertainment experience.”
Using the software development kits and API’s available through Panasonic’s Open Platform IFE strategy, Singapore’s companion app features will immerse passengers in the unique Krisworld experience both on and off the aircraft. Before their flight, Singapore’s guests can enter their flight details and review the upcoming entertainment choices for their trip. They can watch movie trailers, read reviews and synopses, and even queue movies, TV shows, and other media that they will want to view on their flight. They can also read the in-flight magazine, find information about the aircraft, and access destination information.
Once onboard, Passengers simply synchronize their mobile device to their seat and call up their queue of preferred entertainment or review the entire media library onboard. The app also lets passengers control their entertainment experience right from their own personal electronic device.
The Companion App also creates a second screen for passengers, where they can review the entire in-flight entertainment library, read a digital inflight magazine, or watch the moving map, without interrupting their movie and overall seatback passenger experience.
Portland, OR | September 29, 2015– IMG, a global leader in sports, fashion and media, and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in Inflight Entertainment and Communication (IFEC), have signed a five year extension to their existing agreement, which will see Panasonic continue to provide the technology for Sport 24 – the world’s only live 24/7 sports channel for the airline industry.
Sport 24 is exclusively available on Panasonic’s market-leading live television system, eXTV, which is broadcast via satellite to over 250 specially-equipped planes on ten airlines, showing live coverage of major sporting events including the NBA, Formula 1™, the NFL, Barclays Premier League, Bundesliga, Grand Slam tennis and golf’s Majors.
Panasonic’s eXTV television network uses the company’s eXConnect inflight Ku-band communications service, including the same Ku antenna and onboard components, to deliver high-quality television programming to passengers during their flight. It provides live, uninterrupted content to aircraft flying all over the world, even over oceans.
Richard Wise, Senior Vice President, IMG, said: “Sport 24 has revolutionised the way passengers watch sport on aircraft, watching live action from thousands of feet in the air as they travel for business or pleasure. IMG’s strong and long-standing relationships with federations have allowed us to negotiate these unique sporting rights and, together with our production expertise and facilities, provide a unique live offering to travellers.”
He added: “The relationship with Panasonic Avionics as the world leader in this field is fundamental to the success of Sport 24 and we are delighted to continue our partnership for another five years.”
David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communication Services with Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “We are very excited to continue our relationship with IMG. Over the past three years, Sport 24 has emerged as the most exciting and in-demand programming available through our global live television service. After all, nothing beats watching your favorite sport live, and with IMG we are now delivering the world’s most popular sporting events everywhere our customers fly.”
IMG owns Sport 24, which was launched in February 2012, and produces the channel from its London-based production facility at Stockley Park, near London’s Heathrow Airport. The channel is currently showing live action from the Rugby World Cup and has also broadcast live coverage of the last summer and winter Olympic Games and FIFA World Cup.
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.”