London | February 9, 2017– This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) 2017, which takes place in Hamburg, Germany from 4th – 6th April, is the global stage to see the latest innovations and product launches from the world’s leading suppliers in aircraft cabin interiors and Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity.

This year, AIX welcomes 55 new exhibiting companies, including Adient, Bombardier and airtango. They will join more than 500 companies at the event including longstanding exhibitors such as; Airbus, B/E Aerospace, Boeing, Inmarsat, Panasonic Avionics and Zodiac and newer entrants such as Acro, and Mirus Aircraft Seating.

Across AIX as a whole, 125 companies are expanding their presence taking an additional 3,000 sq. metres between them.

According to the IATA’s 2016 Global Passenger Survey, a key concern for passengers, particularly those under 24, is having the same connectivity in the air as on the ground, highlighting the need for continued airline investment to meet passenger needs. This is reflected in the continued growth of the IFEC Zone. It is now the world’s largest event dedicated to content and service providers. There are 18 new showcasing companies including Philotech, LiteAir Aviation Products and Otonomy Aviation, alongside 100 existing exhibitors in the Zone.
AIX is part of the Passenger Experience Week, which also includes the World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo, co-located with AIX at the Hamburg Messe from 4th – 6th April. Organised by Reed Exhibitions, some 20,000 visitors are expected to register to attend Passenger Experience Week.

The first of the events taking place at the Hamburg Messe during Passenger Experience Week is the renowned Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on 3rd April. The event is dedicated to the future of the passenger experience industry and incorporates a broad choice of presentations and panel discussions on the key themes of generating revenue, the connected journey and comfort and wellbeing. Leading speakers on these topics come from inside and outside the passenger experience industry including Dick Powell, the Chairman of design agency Seymourpowell, Paul Edwards, head of Industrial Design at Airbus and Blake Emery, Direction Differentiation Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

New to the PEC this year is the Airline Breakfast Forum. This addition presents an opportunity for airline attendees to network, debate informally with their peers about issues relevant to improving the passenger experience in their businesses and to share best practice insights. Attendees at the Airline Breakfast Forum will also be invited to a keynote by Jeff James, vice president and general manager of the Disney Institute.

Polly Magraw, Event Director of the Aircraft Interiors Expo, says: “2017 is set to be a landmark year for AIX, with record growth from both new and existing exhibitors, much of it in our burgeoning IFEC zone.

“With such a wealth of companies exhibiting at the show, and more than 1,000 airline executives expected to attend, it’s no surprise that AIX is becoming firmly established as the event that sets the agenda for the aircraft interiors sector.”

Also taking place during AIX will be CabinSpace LIVE, a theatre style series of seminars where visitors can learn and be inspired on a variety of pressing issues within the IFEC, Interiors and MRO sectors.

Passenger Experience Week also incorporates the 11th annual Crystal Cabin Awards, which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 4th April, with seven award categories that celebrate the most innovative ideas in cabin design and technology.

  • Defining the future of the global passenger experience industry

London, UK | February 10, 2016– Now in its fourth year the Passenger Experience Conference (PEC), the leading global conference and networking forum delivering content, driving innovation and developing connections for the global passenger experience industry, returns Monday 4th of April in Hamburg, Germany.

The annual conference will offer delegates a chance to learn from industry specialists and visionaries, exchange knowledge and engage in lively debates, centred on the future trends of the passenger experience industry.

The conference will focus on the three elements critical to the passenger experience, exploring opportunities to improve air and rail travel through:

· innovation of cabin interiors
· in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC)
· hospitality, service and retail

In-depth breakout sessions, with moderators including Blake Emery, Director of Differentiation Strategy at Boeing and Rich Salter, Chief Technology Officer of Lumexis, will discuss and debate these elements of the passenger experience.
Keynote speakers at each session include Garen Moreno from BMW Group Designworks, who will lead a discussion on ageing travellers and the digital age.

Juan Carlos Iglesias from Immfly will discuss e-commerce onboard in the IFEC session and Chris van Rÿswÿck from Pragma Consulting will explore the game changing ancillary to create a seamless digital experience.

Joining Chris to discuss hospitality, service and retail opportunities, Vassilios Georgakopoulos, Director Product Marketing and Michael Wahl, Vice President Product Marketing and Innovation of LSG Sky Chefs will discuss the evolution of industry and passenger needs.

Other experts speaking at the global conference and networking forum will be Ian Scoley, Vice President Industrial Design of ZEO, Zodiac, Niels Steenstrup, Senior Vice President of Global Airline Sales at Gogo and Alexis Steinman, Senior Vice President of Digital Media Solutions at Global Eagle Entertainment.

Katie Murphy, Senior Exhibition Director, says:

“This is an exciting time to be a part of the passenger experience industry and the Passenger Experience Conference cannot be missed. Travellers are looking for so much more than just a flight from A to B and the conference is all about defining the future of the passenger experience industry and showcasing what it has achieved in the cabin, in IFE and in hospitality.

“The experiences on board, from physical to digital, are rapidly evolving and the possibilities to revolutionise the passenger experience are endless.”

Closing the day before the Industry Networking Party, will be the highly anticipated Leaders in Innovation session where delegates will be provided insights on how to drive innovation from speakers Don Buchman, VP and General Manager Commercial Mobility at ViaSat and Michelle Lee, Director of Marketing and Guest Experience, Aer Lingus.

Following the speaker sessions, visitors, exhibitors and industry VIPs will also meet at the Industry Networking Party, providing a further networking opportunity with leading figures and decision makers representing the entire passenger experience industry.

The PEC will kick off Passenger Experience Week, followed by the Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) and World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE) from 5th to 7th April 2016.

AIX, now in its 17th year, will present the latest innovations, technologies and products in the cabin interiors, inflight entertainment and passenger comfort industries. This year’s event will host more than 60 first time exhibitors including Spafax, Comfly, Mirus Aircraft Seating, and long-attending exhibitors from 530 companies across the interiors industry such as Panasonic Avionics, B/E Aerospace, Airbus S.A.S. Zodiac, Boeing, alongside several others. AIX will also announce the winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards, who will be celebrating their 10th anniversary at the event.

Returning to Hamburg for its 5th anniversary, WTCE is the leading event for travel catering, onboard retail and passenger comfort. 2016 will offer a unique platform for professionals across the air and rail industry to source a wide range of product innovations from over 300 international industry suppliers including exhibitors such as LSG Sky Chefs, Global Inflight Products, gategroup, Albéa, Colpac Ltd, Anaik and The Bake Factory, part of the Crantock Food Group. With new products and fresh ideas for the onboard offering on show, WTCE 2016 will also host a wide range of networking events and demonstrations from world-class chefs.

Earlybird conference rates are currently available, offering delegates the chance to save over 20 percent. To book a place at the conference, delegates must register for either Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) or World Travel Catering & Onboard Services Expo (WTCE). For more information or to register today, please visit

  • Can virtual reality help overcome the physical constraints of the airline cabin to improve the passenger experience? This intriguing subject will be under the spotlight at the annual Passenger Experience Conference, which takes place on 13 April 2015 at the CCH – Congress Centre Hamburg.

Hamburg | April 2, 2015 — A session led by Dr Betty Mohler, Independent Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics will draw on the European Commission funded VR-HYPERSPACE project. The goal of the three-year project, which was completed last year, is to improve passengers’ comfort in 2050 and beyond by enabling them to personalise and adjust their onboard experiences using virtual illusion. There will be a question and answer session when Dr Mohler will be joined by Eric Brown, Director of User Experience, BMW Group, DesignworksUSA; Fred Schreiner, Chief Technology Officer, In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity, Thales; and Lynne Slowey, Head of Digital Content, Thomas Cook Group.

In-flight entertainment, another exciting area of technology, is also on the agenda. Developments in this sector offer an ever growing portfolio of possibilities for airlines to offer their passengers. But what is the optimum content mix when early-window movies, Youtube, Facebook and social media all have to be considered? And what are the expectations of the binge-watching Netflix generation? Delegates will benefit from the insights of Aditya Chatterjee, Chief Technology Officer, Global Eagle Entertainment; Ian Dawkins, Chief Executive Officer, OnAir; Axel Jahn, Managing Director/VP Business Development, Zodiac Inflight Innovations; Andrew Kemmetmueller, Vice President of Airline Applications, Gogo; Mike Moeller, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity, Thales; and Duc Huy Tran, Director Airline Sales & Marketing, Air Transport Cabin, Rockwell Collins.

Wider areas of cabin environment operations will be debated in a session entitled ‘Unbundling Future Onboard Ancillary Revenue Opportunities.’ A panel of experts comprising Rodrigo Llaguno, Vice-President Customer Experience, Avianca: Gary Mayger, Director, Sales & Business Development – EMEA, GuestLogix; Sue Walker, Managing Director, New Business and Product Innovation, Gate Retail Onboard; and Brian Yuen, General Manager, Inflight Services, Hong Kong Dragon Airlines, will discuss the consumer trends, behaviours and experience demands that will shape future revenue opportunities. This will include the tailoring of the onboard offering and the need for regional differentiators. While technology advances tend to make the news, the human element is still important and the role of the cabin crew in personalising the service will also be discussed.

Seating is always high on the agenda whenever the passenger experience is discussed. This year the issue will be debated by Ian Moore, Chief Executive Officer, NuBax; Ben Orson, Managing Director, JPA Design; Cristian Sutter, Cabin Design Specialist; and Gary Weissel, Managing Officer, Tronos Aviation Consulting. Among the subjects under review are what impact passenger cultures will have on seat design and how the industry can keep abreast of fast changing passenger expectations.

Sustainability is another key challenge for airlines and will be addressed in a session featuring Dr Yener Girisken, Chief Executive Officer, ThinkNeuro; Dr Stathis Kefallonitis, Founder & President,; and Vicky Stennes, Senior Consultant, Mulberry Consulting. The wide ranging discussion will include strategies that airlines currently use to encourage sustainability throughout their networks.

Katie Murphy, Senior Event Director for Aircraft Interiors Expo, said: ‘The Passenger Experience Conference is growing in authority year on year. This is because the event provides a platform for internationally renowned experts to inform and educate influential audiences from across the air transport industry, tackling the cabin interiors subjects that are critical to its future.’

The Passenger Experience Conference will be followed by Aircraft Interiors Expo, which will be staged at Hamburg Messe on 14 -16 April.

As you probably know, AIX-Seattle is a US version of the big Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg each year. We suspect Seattle is the chosen venue because of Boeing (who does not exhibit but sends representatives; however, that is another story) and parallels the one in Hamburg (Airbus). The show consists of one day of presentations whereby speakers (like Google) in the AM cover a lot of related or informative topics while the afternoon sessions cover general areas of interest. After the break session in the morning of the first day this year, the “Branded Experience Concept” was front and center. No doubt, the discussions of airline brand strategy, by Mark Krolick were some of the most revealing snapshots of an airline we have ever seen – great job. Show visitors then had an afternoon of presentation choice (Plenary Sessions) about IFE and Connectivity, The Cabin, and Hospitality Service. We chose IFEC and we will let Michael Planey sum up his panel“The e-Aircraft panel took a brief look at the many improvements to operational efficiency that can be achieved with the proper allocation of bandwidth and the development of new applications. The seven panelists highlighted how both flight and cabin crews can use new tools such as tablets to receive updated weather forecasts, passenger preference information, and customs and immigration data. Perhaps the most important information, however, is that while progress is coming it will not happen at the same pace as new consumer electronics trends. Placing this new technology into the aircraft is a complex process touching almost every department in the airline and it’s more important to get it implemented correctly than to get it done quickly.” Michael Planey.

Two of the many presentations on Tuesday afternoon blew us away. First one was the presentation from Pradeep Rathinam from ADITI. The company, to our way of thinking, looks at company (airline) and customer data in a new way, and their website might give you a better clue on what they do and how they do it.  One quote from their website might help to understand what they do and we think it sums up their services in the travel sector: “Delivering Stress Free Travel Experiences For Your Customers – The new breed of travelers uses digital technology to make their holiday experiences better. They rely on smart devices to research more options online, pick recommendations from digitally connected friends to share and relive their entire travel experience on social media. We helped TUI change their business from carrying out one-time transactions to building lifetime relationships. This was delivered through an engaging and interactive system that answers the need of the traveller and collecting feedback at every touch point. The result was a rich, immersive and always available mobile application, which learned from users. built context, and made relevant travel suggestions. As you may see, the company deals in data but that is only part of the story. By intercepting the customer data experience, the company serving them knows a lot about their wants and needs. The trick, of course, is interpreting the data and developing a feedback to the airline and the customer. This is what Aditi does and with 7500 employees, they must be doing something right. Don’t get too lost in the Oculus Rift product, it is only an example (and for those with a weak stomach, a moving plane is a recipe for air sickness). Rather, look at their problem/solution as a two way data environment and using onboard IFE or their devices, an airline can look at the potential for more revenue by understanding the customer better. In our opinion, there is a fine line here about how much data gathering is acceptable vs passenger privacy. We have included the ADITI presentation but don’t look at it as a “product solution for airlines”, hardly,  you should focus on the customer access challenges, customer digital footprints, asymmetric data involved, immersive experiences generated, and especially Systems of Record (Cost) vs Systems of Engagement (Revenue). As aircraft connectivity becomes a reality and access to the Internet is commonplace, there will be a few smart companies (and airlines) that take a different view of customers (via their data footprints) and figure a way to deliver a “personalized, connected, multichannel, experience!” You will see more of these folks in our industry – and remember, you read it first here in IFExpress.

We said two presentations, because we would be remiss in not mentioning the presentation by Sally Glen-Lee in the Cabin Session. She covered the history of the inflight experience (great old photos) and the advance of the jet age, and a bit about the future… and yes she is still with JetBlue (but worked for many, many more airlines). Married to Tom Lee, who never wants to be quoted, we note he was quite proud of the presentation by his wife. Probably why he couldn’t stop smiling…

Here is what a couple of other visitors had to say about the Conference:

Ben Fuller (digEcor): The weather was great and so was the show – both of which we had pre-conceived reservations about. We were also pleasantly surprised at the airline turnout.

John Courtright (SIE): The Zodiac stand was by far the most impressive because they showed their ascendancy in the cabin systems market – IFE, galleys, seats, and engineering services to support their growing market share.

From a numbers point of view his year, we saw an increase of visitors at AIX’s Seattle show over last year and an increase of booth floor space. To get some actual data we contacted AIX’s Marc Holloran and Katy Murphy for an update. Marc told IFExpress: Aircraft Interiors Americas exhibition and conference welcomed over 1700 attendees when it took place 14-16 October at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. Recognized as the region’s largest dedicated event for the airline interior and cabin management sector, this year’s exhibition included 122 companies from 14 countries, 40 of which were first time exhibitors. Representatives from over 30 airlines attended to view the latest products in IFE, seating, galley equipment, lighting, soft furnishings, leather & textiles and discuss the future of cabin interior development.” AIX further noted ”We’ve been pleased with the number of international companies and visitors at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas, which included first-time exhibitors from countries such as Japan, Israel and France. The Seattle event saw the launch of CabinSpace LIVE, which was well attended and the Passenger Experience Conference provided an invaluable platform to discuss a wide range of key topics within the industry. We look forward to welcoming all exhibitors and visitors to Aircraft Interiors Expo from 14-16 April 2015 and Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas 2015, which will take place from 3 – 5 November, said Katie Murphy, Event Director for Aircraft Interiors Expo. On a side note, we will have pictures of the show uploaded onto flckr in the next few days – just click on the Photos @ Flckr image in the upper right hand corner of IFExpress.

Finally, we wanted to end this AIX Seattle round-up with a question: Why go to a shows like AIX or APEX? The answer is simple: Because in a year of sitting at one’s desk and reading every IFE magazine instead, you would not get the complete view of what is new and what is important, and besides, you can’t ask questions – especially in real time. Why is this of value? Simple, because we are all focused or biased by something in our mind-set and by seeing new “stuff” one has the ability to refocus and ask questions and re-think the possibilities when they face presenters and get answers immediately. A perfect example of this spontaneity, was chance meeting with (drinking with) Steve Hester, President of United States Flight Corp. who makes the lightest onboard, collapsible wheelchairs for aircraft. While wheelchairs are not an IFE subject, we discovered that: “USFlight has about 3 competitive Inflight wheelchairs; however, our Inflight Wheelchair is the only documented Boeing tested unit. There are now about 4500 of our chairs in service, with at least one per aircraft, however I would think there would be 2 units on the A-380. The application is for all aircraft types of 35 seats or more, for domestic and international air carriers flying to, or in, the US, Canada and EU. This is mandated by the US Department of Transportation & FAA thru US Federal requirement 14 C.F.R. Part 382, which is the (ADA) Americans for Disabilities Act, As well as Transport Canada under a parallel law.” Bet you didn’t know that! Check out USFlight

On different note, no news release was submitted to IFExpress but you might find this interesting. It is an email we got from Giame Porcu at Thales: “I wanted to alert you to a news item that came out of the NBAA show here in Florida. Thales has been selected to provide it’s wireless IFE system on the Gulfstream 500 and 600 unveiled in October 2014. The Thales Wireless IFE system will be offered baseline making it the first wireless IFE to be standard on Gulfstream platforms. Operators will be able to pick from different content packages which will include the latest available content from all major Hollywood studios and global TV networks.This solution will work on both the embedded displays as well as passenger PEDs. The system bundles together the hardware supplied by Gulfstream, with the end to end solution supplied by Thales. This includes network application content and all related services. “The Thales Wireless IFE offers both flexibility to passengers and operators because it is a scalable solution adapted to different applications. Passengers can stream content to any device and utilize it’s android functionalities to access TV and movies updated periodically, with the full support of the Thales content management team.” Thanks, Giame. IFExpress readers, we would love to hear from you as well!

Ever see a B787 stripped for parts? Check out this reader’s input

Every once in a while we all go to a meeting, see a presentation, or visit an industry show that is a significant event in our industry’s persona… this year it has to be Aircraft Interiors in Hamburg, Germany. Obviously a lot of our readers could not attend and we are aware of that fact. We planned to talk to as many folks as we could to provide some of the experience but the job is becoming so bigger than the IFExpress team… much bigger. From a numbers perspective, there were over 135 vendors (out of 500+) who featured inflight entertainment and/or connectivity. With the cabin interiors market growing at almost 9% per year, it’s no wonder that the IFEC portion of the show saw some 13% increase in space. We fully expect the final total number of show visitors to reach 10,000+ this year as a new best.

One of the first things that struck us was the preponderance of iPads. They were in the products, they were in the hands of the product demonstrators, and they were in the hands of visitors. They were everywhere. Yes, there were tablets too, and phones… but the world of mobile connectivity is here, but of course, you knew that. But it was obvious this year that the vendors and the airlines now know it as well. About the only thing we did not see with an iPad was a mechanical drop down frame for an iPad retractable IFE system. Wait till next year!

And speaking of trends, wireless connectivity is what the inside of the cabin is all about. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, data communication and cell frequencies will flood the cabin with information in forthcoming cabin solutions. This means that there is a huge amount of data about you and your preferences flying in every direction in the plane. We are quite interested in who owns that data, and believe us, everyone has a different answer about who does. We asked there and we will keep this question alive in future issues.

The first day of AIX (before the booth opening on day 2) holds a very interesting Passenger Experience Mini Conference. This meeting consists of a morning general session and splits into 4 afternoon plenary sessions.

Of particular interest in the morning session was Teague’s (Devin Liddell) presentation on “Co-Making”…the process of a brand (an airline in our case) collaborating with a like-minded brand in a different industry. What makes this interesting is the fact that they are not about traditional co-branding and more about breakthrough innovations. Here are some quotes that we found interesting:

  • “Partnerships are our most powerful currency.”
  • “The capacity to partner has a big impact on influencing the passenger.”
  • “We need to go beyond – we must make things together.”
  • “The old philosophy was co-branding = co-marketing. The new philosophy is co-branding = co-making. The concept is more about innovation together.”
  • “An example of a co-making scenario that exists today is JW Marriott and TSA.”

Editor’s Note: The above example places TSA approved and checked luggage in a secure storage at Marriott, thus providing more for Marriott customers.

If you made it to the Break Out Sessions the first day of PAXEX, you got a valuable inside to the connected passenger and the coming PED environment as well. In fact there is good and bad in the approach! First the good: The four Breakout Sessions were one of the best things at AIX and were titled: 1. Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity: A Voyage of Discovery and Opportunity, 2. Hospitality and Service – Making the Onboard Experience Memorable, 3. The Cabin: Getting Smarter about Space and Comfort, 4. Protecting the Brand: Cabin Maintenance. Which one would you go to? And that’s the Bad… one can’t go to them all, but there is an answer. The presentations are available here (they will cost you 50 Euros) and you can find them here:

And yes, we do have one story about the sessions. In Breakout Session 1, Angela Vargo of Southwest Airlines spoke about their use and focus on the value of gate-to-gate connectivity. After her presentation IFExpress asked if Southwest realized that with satellite connectivity, there was no antenna “shading” by buildings that ground-based connectivity towers face, a fact that was not mentioned in the presentation. “Boy do we,” she said emphatically! We guessed that was a marketing yes!

Next week we will start the booth coverage in detail and by then we hope to have Flicker images online (Just click on the Flicker image at the top right of IFExpress)… that is, if our bag arrives!

December 10, 2013–The organisers of Aircraft Interiors Expo – Reed Exhibitions – has confirmed that the 2014 Passenger Experience Conference will include for the first time a stream dedicated to aircraft interiors Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO). Taking place on Monday 7 April at the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg – this addition clearly cements Reed Exhibition’s intention to support the professional growth and development of individuals within the aircraft interiors and passenger experience industry.

The stream, entitled ‘Protecting the Brand: cabin maintenance’, will be chaired by Mike Kotas, Director of Cabin Maintenance at Delta Air Lines and will focus on how airlines can avoid the pitfalls of spending too much money fixing poorly designed elements of its cabin and will consider strategies for ensuring that the cabin product is robust and sustainable throughout its lifecycle.

Vern Alg, Consultant for Aircraft Interiors Expo, said, “According to a recent forecast by Visiongain, the world commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul market reached $48.8 billion in 2012.  MRO is vital in not only ensuring the desired life expectancy of an aircraft, but it also has a direct correlation with passenger satisfaction”.  Vern went on to say, “The traditional role of the MRO providers has also changed over the last few years as airlines opt for a total support function rather than a one-off approach.  A vital component of this is ensuring engineers are included in the design stages to warrant a more straight-forward maintenance process throughout an aircraft’s operating shelf-life; historically this has not been the case. I’m really excited about this addition to the Passenger Experience Conference.”

Following the opening remarks the agenda will drill down and address ‘Designing for ease of future maintenance’.  All too often the design of the cabin components are already procured before the maintenance team is asked for its input, so this session will debate how to insert the topic of maintenance into the design process, promote and educate cross communication on specific needs, in order to achieve the panacea of design and development teams actively obtaining sign-off from maintenance teams.

The agenda will then focus on the relationship between the cabin and brand values of the airline.  ‘Setting the standard – keeping the condition of the cabin up to spec’, will offer conference delegates the opportunity to listen in on industry experts imparting their knowledge on how to ensure a cabin’s interior is a fresh embodiment of brand values, and importantly how to sustain this on each journey, for every passenger, over a long period of time.

Materials and their reliability play a key role in MRO and the final session will look at ‘Improved products for wear resistance’.

The Passenger Experience Conference will open on Monday 7th April 2014 with two plenary sessions looking at both ‘The Future for Passenger Experience’ and ‘Challenging the status quo – new directions for the passenger experience’.  The afternoon programme will then split into four breakout sessions:  ‘Protecting the Brand: cabin maintenance’; ‘Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity: a voyage of discovery and opportunity’; ‘Hospitality & Service – making the onboard experience memorable’; and ‘The Cabin: getting smarter about space and comfort’.

For more information please visit


The Aircraft Interiors Expo is over for another year and we thought a report on what we observed and overheard might be useful for readers who did not get the chance to attend, as well as, serve as an update for those who manned their company booth. To that end, we plan to cover the events in at least three issues of IFExpress. Also, we thought you might like to hear from your favorite IFE personalities so we will intersperse their thoughts about the show in the next few editions of IFExpress as well. Lets start at the beginning, The Passenger Experience Conference (PEC), the day before AIX began.

Located off the show campus in a nearby convention center, PEC is a new feature of the AIX roster. In the past, the pre show activity was co-hosted with APEX and now that Reed and the Aircraft Interiors EXPO folks have gone their own way, the mini conference really rocks! Primarily sponsored by Teague, Gogo, BAE Systems, and DHL, the one day session is one NOT to miss in the future. Why? PEC featured some 36 top notch speakers and panelists and 2 plenary sessions plus we counted 19 meetings and optional cabin related choices of update seminars from catering to IFE. Next year, plan to attend this event as the organizers did a great job of selecting topics and speakers… not to mention the after work get-together. Two additional items: borrow, beg, or steal the Frost & Sullivan “Global In-Flight Entertainment market Assessment”, and keep checking the Aircraft Interiors website for the presentations. We asked Michael Planey, Meeting Moderator and he told IFExpress: “Reed said last week that the presentations would get posted online soon and that they would email a link to them. No word yet as to when they will be made available.”

“This year’s Hamburg Expo was tremendous.  There is exciting growth of Connectivity Delivery Systems with the expansion of Ku-Band platforms and the emergence of the Ka-Band platform.  These types of Satcom mobility technologies means many more opportunities for delivering content to the passenger.  The future is very bright.”- John Courtright

Aircraft Interiors EXPO

Over the next three days at the Messe in Hamburg the exhibition halls were abuzz with every aspect of the passenger experience – catering, seats, lighting, galleys and IFEC. This was a banner year for IFE and Connectivity and fully 25% of the show floor was dedicated to vendors who serve those markets. You can imagine the challenge of covering the exhibitors and we will do our best in the next few issues of IFExpress to impart the information we gathered, but if we missed you, let us know and we will try to get your story out next year. We asked a few attendees what they noticed about the show and got some interesting answers: “Boy, connectivity was all over the place!” –  “The two ‘big deals’ I remember were the OnAir/Saudia announcement  and the Thales/Gogo tie-up.” –  “I think it is interesting that we are now seeing new products and new companies in the IFEC space.”

From a trend point of view, there were enough to go around. If you were to guess, you would probably say that Connectivity and Wi-Fi were big at AIX, and you would be correct. From our perspective, those topics were even expanded from previous years. For example, aircraft Wi-Fi was associated with cockpit and aircraft monitoring efforts by some. Further, Wi-Fi projects were the topic at roughly 9 out of the 11 IFE vendors we visited… some were wireless only! Additionally, the “battle for eyeballs” is becoming evident as some vendors touted the value of double screening that is so pervasive in all our lives. We note; however, that pay-per-click is still not as big as it probably will be someday and only a couple of vendors extolled those virtues.

“The future of inflight connectivity is the Connected Aircraft 3.0. Communication is social, driven by new generation applications; it is relevant to users because it is location based and therefore provides local content; it is accessed through mobile devices – and, of course, by people who are traveling. It also goes beyond passengers to the cabin crew and the cockpit, providing connectivity for aircraft and airline operations.”  – Francois Rodriguez of OnAir

There is a belief by some that inflight Wi-Fi will replace embedded IFE but that thought is difficult to defend considering that today fully embedded systems represent 75% of in-flight entertainment hardware expenditures. While connectivity is growing at a rate some 2X that of IFE, it will take some time to dispel the belief that seatback video is the connection to the passenger. In a discussion with Paul Margis of Panasonic, he told IFExpress, “Seatback screens are the ‘last mile’ for the airlines and they ‘own’ the space, unlike personal devices where Google or whomever control the experience.” Airlines are beginning to realize that they are competing with PEDs and that there is money to be made directly via real sales and indirectly by click-thru’s. Yes, times are changing and AIX is a perfect stage for the preview.

It is pretty obvious that airlines are in a hurry to increase both load factors and passenger count to help raise revenues and there were quite a few seat solutions to aid that desire. Basically, airlines see thinner seats as a way to reduce seat pitch without passengers noticing the reduction in legroom and we found a  great article on the subject. The game here is to keep the belief that nothing has changed and from airlines testing the thinner seat concept, it seems to be working. We wonder if a newer IFE paradigm is needed to keep abreast?

“It seems that the simpler it needs to be for passengers to be connected, entertained, fed and watered, the more complex it has to be technically.  What a great challenge to keep us motivated.” – Claire Underwood of IFPL

Lastly, while there were trends aplenty, another was the relatively new in-between embedded or semi-embedded inseat IFE – the hybrid solution for in-flight entertainment. You may remember that the IMS (now Zodiac) seat solution includes an ‘almost’ portable seatback module and now the folks at digEcor introduced their own device, called GLIDE, that began as a portable too. These solutions are lightweight, sport individual content and processors, and are generally less expensive than embedded systems. In fact, there may be a case for no processors at the seat in the future. Check out where we think embedded IFE may go,at least, Jeff Bezos thinks so!

Next time, we will look at some of the vendor products form outline – Stay Tuned!