Paris, France | March 18, 2019– The French startup SKYdeals reinvents travel retail thanks to its solution of Inflight Shoppertainment. SKYdeals strengthens its ties with the group by partnering with Air France to launch a pilot of its technology on several lines of the medium and long-haul networks of the airline.

SKYdeals is now on AIR

Since January 2019, the e-commerce platform SKYdeals is available on long, medium and short-haul flights equipped with an Internet connection to travelers from all countries: North America, South America, Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Asia and Oceania.

Julien Sivan, CEO of SKYdeals, says: “We are pleased that Air France is giving SKYdeals the opportunity to deploy our new inflight shoppertainment services. From now on, we can experience a large number of preferred offers to passengers. It will be interesting to measure the evolution of buying behaviors on board, which is a world premiere. We would like to thank Air France for their trust and supportWith the arrival of Wi-Fi on the majority of the fleets worldwide, we hope to be able to reach an audience of more than 200 million passengers a year within five years.”

A major innovation for inflight entertainment 

Freely accessible from any device, SKYdeals is available to passengers from Air France Connect, the connectivity portal of Air France.

Considered as the future of travel retail, SKYdeals relies on two major innovations.

The first marketplace dedicated to travelers currently flying which allows brands to promote preferred offers to passengers available during the time of their flight.

The unique targeting capacity of SKYdeals allows to offer a unique shopping experience on board. SKYdeals has the ability to target offers based on the travelers’ profiles and destination. Premium brands or confidential brands, already present or not duty free, will have the opportunity to offer passengers a series of exclusive offers on the platform, up to 50% off. 

Inflight Shoppertainment features, consisting of a set of dynamic commercial offers, allow passengers to be entertain while enjoying advantageous offers:

  • Flyover offers: preferred offers triggered according to the area and the country overflown and are only available during the flyover time.
  • Group Buying offers: passengers on the same flight may grouped together to obtain more advantageous offers.
  • Flash sales:  these offers are valid for 15 minutes at specific times during the flight.
  • Flying Auctions: Real auctions lasting the time of the flight.

With these features available, each connection to SKYdeals promises to be both entertaining and advantageous.

The ambition of this first deployment is a live trial of all these new offers with travelers from all nationalities and on a large number of routes.

With much going on this week we would like to get started with our IFExpress BUZZ message and give you a little background on why it is in this week’s issue.

Firstly, we were contacted about the new secure content streaming technology implemented by IdeaNova, and we are certain you will hear a lot about them and their new technology in the future. We will delve in this further in a future issue this soon in IFExpress, but we wanted you to meet their CEO, Juraj Siska. In discussing the IdeaNova technology, Juraj told us that it used a new and special “Hardware Secured” server noted Juraj:” ‘Hardware secured’ server means that DRM cryptographic operations and certain security functions are executed in special hardware, which is separate from the main processing unit, making it harder to compromise and almost impossible to replicate for malicious purposes. This is unlike traditional software implementations where software is much easier to copy.”

We will have more on this content security technology in an upcoming issue; however, we should mention that Rich Salter is now an independent consultant and is advising IdeaNova. It is also worth noting that the APEX Technology Committee has a Working Group co-chaired by Phil Watson (Panasonic) and Juraj Siska (IdeaNova) that has created a draft of APEX 0415 version 2 that adds security provisions for premium content.

However, as we previously stated, we will cover more on this new content security in a forthcoming issue.

Now, let’s get on with the news from the past 7 days:


AEROMOBILE
Inflight mobile connectivity provider AeroMobile announced the addition of TAP Air Portugal to its connected fleet. TAP Air Portugal’s first connected Airbus A330-900neo entered into service in December 2018. This launch marks an exciting time for TAP Air Portugal, which is the first airline in the world to operate the next generation A330-900neo aircraft. The onboard AeroMobile service allows TAP Air Portugal passengers in all cabin classes to use their mobile devices to send and receive SMS, catch up with emails and browse the internet from 20,000 feet. Following the successful launch of its first aircraft with inflight mobile connectivity, TAP Air Portugal will add an additional 37 aircraft over the next year, reaching a total of 71 aircraft by 2025. The A330-900neo fleet with inflight mobile connectivity will be deployed on services to Sao Paulo, with four other Brazil destinations launching across 2019. And just in case you didn’t remember, AeroMobile is a subsidiary of Panasonic Avionics!


ASTRONICS
Astronics Corporation announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Astronics PECO, was awarded a multi-year contract extension to provide custom manufactured interior and structural components to Boeing for multiple aircraft platforms.

Under the contract extension, Astronics PECO will continue to provide its innovative passenger service units (PSUs), fuel tank access doors and environmental control system components, among other parts. The products will serve on a variety of Boeing aircraft, including Boeing 737, 747, 767, 777 and KC-46 models.


THALES

  • Aireon and Thales, through this agreement, look at ways to improve aviation efficiency by globally leveraging the space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) service. Aireon and Thales will collaborate and utilize live space-based aircraft positioning data via the Thales TopSky-ATC system as well as the Thales aviation data platform, ECOSystem. Aieron will go live in weeks, providing global air traffic surveillance coverage via satellites. It is supported by the leading Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) around the world
  • Thales and Gemalto announced that they have received Regulatory Clearance for US antitrust approval, as the Stipulation and Order related to their agreement with the United States Department of Justice, which was announced on 1 March 2019, has been entered by the court.

SITAONAIR
SITAONAIR successfully expanded the operational capacity of air traffic service (ATS) datalink across Brazil’s airports, in a crucial step towards modernizing air traffic control operations in the country as air traffic continues to rise. The development of the service follows SITAONAIR’s instrumental work with Brazil’s Department of Airspace Control (DECEA), as part of the wider Brazilian Air Navigation Modernization SIRIUS program to advance ATS Datalink services. The deployment of services for The Commission for the Implementation of the Airspace Control System (CISCEA) to 24 control towers across Brazil began in June 2016, ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Since then, the initiative, in partnership with SITAONAIR’s specialist air traffic control partners Saipher and ATC Systems has continued to evolve, increasing safety, sustainability and operational efficiency. As a result, DECEA has seen an increase in aircraft opting to access voice and datalink ATIS (D-ATIS) as well as DCL (Datalink Departure Clearance Service) information in a more digital, convenient and secure manner, with approximately 250 departure clearances issued a day and 20,000 D-ATIS requests a month from the country’s major airports. SITAONAIR’s most recent infrastructure development in 2018 includes establishing services at two additional airports, Rio de Janeiro’s Santos Dumont and São Paulo’s Campinas, bringing the total number of fully-equipped control towers to 26.


AIRBUS
Wizz Air, the largest Central and Eastern European low cost carrier, took delivery of its first of 184 A321neo aircraft on order at an event in Hamburg, with József Váradi, CEO Wizz Air and Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer. The new generation aircraft is powered by two Pratt & Whitney GTF engines and features the widest single aisle cabin with 239 seats in a single class configuration and offers operators maximum flexibility, fuel efficiency and low operating costs. Wizz Air is an all Airbus operator, with more than 100 A320 Family aircraft operating all around Europe with 261 more to be delivered. With 184 of the larger A321neo aircraft on order, Wizz Air is the largest Airbus customer worldwide of the type.


BOEING

Boeing completed the acquisition of ForeFlight, a provider of innovative mobile and web-based aviation applications. ForeFlight partnered with Boeing over the past two years to bring aviators Jeppesen’s aeronautical data and charts through ForeFlight’s popular mobile platforms. Now, the teams will integrate talent and offerings to bring innovative, expanded digital solutions to all segments of the aviation industry. The acquisition of ForeFlight aligns with Boeing’s growth strategy of complementing organic investments with targeted, strategic investments that position the company for long-term growth. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, ForeFlight has approximately 180 employees.

EDITOR’S NOTE: With the second recent B737 MAX-8, belonging to Ethiopian airlines, crash many passengers are getting nervous. While no connection to the issues with the first crash (Lion Air) have been proven, potential MAX 8 flyers are concerned. Since the US FAA notes that there are 387 B737 MAX jets flying (operated by 59 airlines) this could have a significant impact. The wonderful folks at the Seattle Times News Service have provided a number of good articles on the plane and you can read and link to them all here: Worried travelers seek answers about the 737 MAX 8. Here is what passengers should know. | The Seattle Times IFExpress notes that Boeing has developed a flight control enhancement: “For the past several months and in the aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610, Boeing has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer. This includes updates to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training. The enhanced flight control law incorporates angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabilizer trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading, and provides a limit to the stabilizer command in order to retain elevator authority.” Further they state: “Boeing has been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on development, planning and certification of the software enhancement, and it will be deployed across the 737 MAX fleet in the coming weeks. The update also incorporates feedback received from our customers.”


OTHER NEWS

This week in IFExpress we are covering a broad spectrum of IFEC and airframer topics. You can certainly tell that we, as an industry, are spooling up for AIX. Let’s get started on the road to Hamburg!


IFPL

IFPL, the innovative inflight peripheral specialist, will be demonstrating award-winning integrated peripherals solutions and power products at AIX Hamburg in April 2019, ranging from innovative USB Power Delivery solutions to integrated audio and USB technology. They have delivered over 2.5m products to date.

In case you didn’t know, IFPL is an award winning company specializing in the design and manufacture of passenger interface solutions to the global In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity industry (IFEC). Founded 20 years ago by CEO Geoff Underwood, IFPL today enjoys the largest portfolio of proven IFEC products and services in its sector. As a proud and dedicated supplier of the world’s leading in-flight entertainment manufacturers and airlines, IFPL continues to inspire and enhance aircraft passenger experience by delivering innovative product design with proven reliability. IFPL is based on the Isle of Wight, just off the South Coast of England, in modern offices which house an award winning manufacturing facility that boasts extensive product design, R&D and manufacturing capabilities.

During AIX Hamburg they will be showcasing ‘Charge to Charge’, the smart way to monetize USB power. Powering passengers’ Personnel Electronic Devices (PEDs) is now an important requirement in support of the passenger experience.

With consumer devices increasingly adopting USB-C as standard, visitors can experience IFPL’s USB-C and USB-A units that provide high speed data and power for passengers’ portable devices. These units seamlessly integrate within the seat.

When you stop by their booth you will also be able to see the IFPL innovative integrated seat concept that supports the design language, aesthetics and ergonomics required for true IFE and seat integration.

Further, IFPL is leading the industry with its fresh approach to peripheral integration, with design and technology innovation and they have supplied over 2.5m innovative products to date. Be sure to see:

  • Innovative inductive charging solution – delivers wireless charging at the seat
  • MagSignal audio jack – solves the problem of broken headphone sockets for passengers and airlines
  • Charge To Charge: Is one of the latest IFPL solutions and is the smart way to monetize USB power
  • High Power and data USB-A outlet: In-service
  • 2020 USB-A outlet: This ‘line fit’ unit provides seamless integration within the seat while delivering an economic, ergonomic and aesthetic advantage over traditional outlets enhancing the passenger’s experience
  • Inductive charging unit: these units have been designed to enable seamless integration and deliver wireless charging at the seat. IFPL will show design concepts for seatback PED holders and trays that provide USB and/or inductive charging. Through working with leading seat vendors, IFPL will be demonstrating successful integration of inductive charge units within the seat
  • Latest audio jack technology: IFPL is the world-leader in audio jack technology, enhancing the customer experience while providing a total cost of ownership advantage to the airline. The audio jack is a critical component of any IFE system. Quality sound with high unit reliability and minimizing Customer Induced Damage (CID) is vital in maintaining passenger satisfaction.

IFPL has also developed proprietary technology and products that differentiate their audio solutions within the market. These include:

  • Long Life Range: Delivers a highly robust and reliable audio jack that minimize the effects of CID
  • Rapid Fit Range: Technology delivers a solution to allow rapid on wing maintenance
  • INCAM Range: The Integrated Noise Cancelling Audio Module cancels noise in the jack rather than the headset, reducing initial and replacement headset costs
  • Breakaway MagSignal Range: Patented MagSignal technology virtually eliminates CID

The IFPL booth is on stand 4B20 at Hamburg Messe, Germany, from Tue 02/04/2019 to Thur 04/04/2019.


ASTRONICS

Here are some highlights from their press release:
• Fourth quarter sales up 18.4% to $203 million; full year sales up 28.6% to $803 million
• Achieved record Aerospace segment sales in fourth quarter and full year 2018
• Record Aerospace backlog of $326 million at year-end
• Earnings per diluted share for 2018 of $1.41 compared with $0.58 in the prior year
• Strong cash flow from operations of $39.5 million for the quarter and $54.9 million in 2018


GOGO

Gogo, a global provider of broadband connectivity products and services for aviation, announced its financial results for the quarter ended December 31, 2018.

  • Q4 2018 consolidated revenue of $217.2 million, up 16% year over year, with a net loss of $59.7 million
  • Q4 2018 Adjusted EBITDA(1) of $19.4 million, leading to full-year 2018 Adjusted EBITDA of $71.2 million, exceeding the recently updated financial guidance
  • BA Segment Profit reached $35.6 million in Q4 2018, up 33% year over year
  • More than 1,000 2Ku aircraft at 14 global airlines as of December 31, 2018, with 109 2Ku aircraft placed online in Q4. 2Ku backlog of approximately 1,000 aircraft as of December 31, 2018(2)
  • Delivered excellent 2Ku performance with 98% availability in the month of December
  • Q4 2018 Cash Flow from Operating Activities of $9.6 million and Free Cash Flow of $2.3 million(1)
  • Projecting $100 million improvement in Free Cash Flow in 2019 versus 2018

THALES

A first-of-its-kind Engineering Competence Centre in India to focus on civil and defense activities, serving Thales’ global needs.

The Centre to significantly contribute to job creation and skill development in India; Thales seeks to hire 3000 people in next 3-5 years for this Centre.

Localization of R&D activities in India will enable a closer day to day work with our Indian Supply Chain Partners, which will favor the competitiveness of manufacturing in India.
Thales continues its development in India by today announcing the launch of its Global Engineering Competence Centre (ECC) in Bengaluru. The centre aims to accelerate innovation and digital transformation to serve the needs of both the Indian market, and the Group’s global objectives.


IMMFLY (see image above)

On February 20, 2019, Iberia Express surprised passengers on its Madrid-Copenhagen-Madrid flight with a showing of the Oscar-nominated film Bohemian Rhapsody via its free inflight entertainment Platform – Club Express Onboard – provided by Immfly.

In addition to being given headphones and support stands for their viewing devices, passengers were also provided with popcorn, making it a truly cinematic experience.

Bohemian Rhapsody, one of the favorites for the Oscars 2019 with 5 nominations, was the chosen film for this “blockbuster” flight in which passengers were gifted with headphones, disposable stands to support their viewing devices while they watched the film and tubs of popcorn.

This debut welcomed the blockbuster as one of the latest films available completely free of charge on ​Club Express Onboard, the inflight entertainment platform provided by Immfly. ​The platform’s Movie Channel offers a wide variety of premieres in multiple languages ​​including Spanish, English, and French.
The continual updating of the content on ​Club Express Onboard reflects the committed effort on the part of both companies to offer a service with a difference, a service which is ​highly valued by customers as ​reflected in the airline’s latest satisfaction surveys.​ ​A significant share of respondents (31.6%) gave the platform a top score (scoring the service an 8, 9 or 10 out of 10), and are considered “Platform Lovers.”
Paloma Cabañas, Head of Customer Experience and Inflight Services at Iberia Express said: ​”We strive to offer an exclusive travel experience to our passengers throughout the entire customer journey, and it is a proven fact that the Inflight entertainment platform provided by Immfly, is a key contributortooursuccess”.​

Cabañashighlighted,”Moreover,ourattractiveentertainmentofferis paired with very selective catering, both in tourist and business class”.

Julia Maruny, Head of Content at Immfly added: “​With this event, we wanted to offer passengers a truly unique and immersive experience so they could sit back, relax and enjoy the best cinema on board while flying to their destination.”


AIRBUS

  • Airbus inaugurates its Innovation Centre in China at an office opening ceremony in Shenzhen, China, one of the world’s leading innovation hotspots. Airbus China Innovation Centre has been operating since early 2018 and currently focuses on designing, testing, and certifying new technologies relating to five areas: Hardware Lab, Cabin Experience, Connectivity, Manufacturing Innovation and Urban Air Mobility. With its full operation, ACIC commits to identify the next big change to transform the aerospace sector while tapping into the local talent, technology and partner pool and will further enhance Airbus’ innovation capabilities to shape the future of flight. At the ceremony, Airbus also signs a Memorandum of Understanding with Shenzhen Municipal Commerce Bureau to exlplore Urban Air Mobility (UAM) solutions in Shenzhen. The two parties will cooperate closely on accelerating the R&D, application and industrialization of Urban Air Mobility (UAM) in Shenzhen. With extended regional partners, Airbus aims to further develop the local mobility ecosystem and promote the UAM solutions fitting the local transportation needs. As Airbus’ first innovation centre in Asia and second worldwide after A3 in Silicon Valley, Airbus China Innovation Centre’s mission is to fully leverage local advantages including talents, enterprises and ecosystem, combining it with Airbus expertise in aerospace, to identify, explore and accelerate breakthroughs in technologies, business models and new growth opportunities.
  • Air Vanuatu, the national flag carrier of the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, signed a firm order with Airbus for four A220s (two A220-100s and two A220-300s). Air Vanuatu’s first ever order with Airbus makes it the launch customer of the A220 in the Pacific region. Based at Bauerfield International Airport in the capital Port Vila, Air Vanuatu operates to 26 domestic airports and internationally to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia. It began services in 1987, and has played a vital role in establishing Vanuatu as a tourist and investment destination. Currently the airline operates a Boeing 737 and ATR 72 fleet. With an order book of over 530 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100- to 150-seat aircraft market, estimated to represent at least 7,000 aircraft over the next 20 years.

OTHER NEWS

Paris, France | February 25, 2019– Interactive Mobility released at the Aviation Festival Asia a pioneering technology that makes using its portable W-IFE solution easier and safer for airlines.

Flymingo Box now includes automatic passenger announcement pause. This feature allows to pause the IFE streaming system for PA announcements without crew or pilot intervention.

This evolution, which uses a proprietary technology is available on any Flymingo box connected to the aircraft electrical network. This industry-first solution works by picking up signals from the passenger announcement system.

“This is a long awaited product feature. Airlines came to us because they wanted a fully automatized way to comply with passenger announcement regulations. Flymingo Box now enables our customers to address safety standards while offering streaming for up to 100 passengers” said Tanguy Morel, CEO at Interactive Mobility.

A crew-friendly service

This development highlights Flymingo’s expanded capability and the value of options for airlines striving to allow smooth usage for crew members whilst deploying a flexible IFE service.

“Flymingo is a hassle-free IFE solution which improves both passenger and crew experience on board” said Tanguy Morel.

Flymingo Box can be entirely monitored via a dedicated mobile application. Crew members can access a dashboard on their electronic device to oversee and control the service. The application allows for example flight attendants to view the Wi-Fi status, check the number of connected devices, and even receive orders.

Flymingo Crew Application is available on any electronic device, and has an Apple Watch version.

Flymingo Box : An Aircraft-Powered Device

Earlier in 2018, Interactive Mobility set up a partnership with a DOA partner to develop a new version of Flymingo Box as an aircraft-powered portable wireless solution, offering an option to connect to the aircraft power system.

This connected option for Flymingo Box, involves the bracing of the streaming unit in a certified cradle. Developed with Interactive Mobility’s engineering partner, which will be responsible for any required minor-mod certification and fitting of the combined cradle and power supply to Flymingo Box, the solution ensures the wireless device offers a solution that is cost-effective and flexible but that can also accommodate an airline’s appetite to ease operations significantly.

Interactive Mobility was selected to provide this new featured IFE equipment to four European airlines. Flymingo Box will be installed on thirty A320 and A321 aircrafts by mid 2019.

Interactive Mobility is attending the Aviation Festival in Singapore (27-28th Feb 2019) and will discuss these product developments at booth #B08.

This Hot Topic is about a new inflight network technology that the Galgus (galgus) folks are developing. The product is called Wireless Intrusion Detection System and it is a software that “watches” the Wi-Fi network in an airplane by checking for Rogue access points that a bad actor might bring aboard an airplane and transmit to unsuspecting passengers via their wireless reception on their computer. The definition of a rogue access points is as follows: Any Wi-Fi access point that is used on a network that is not authorized to do so – It is definitely under that airline network administrator – It routes user traffic thru its Access Point. Basically, the bad actor makes you think you are connected to the Wi-Fi system on an airplane. They do so by using their own equipment and software to basically trick you into thinking it is the airline “talking” to you – but you aren’t!
Security is the issue here in this week’s issue of IFExpress and we asked the folks at Galgus about their recent developments, specifically on the Wireless Intrusion Detection and they told us: “Security is seen as one of the most important problems today. In fact, wireless communication has inherent vulnerabilities as the signals share the electromagnetic spectrum.” They went on: “This year we will introduce the WIDS (Wireless Intrusion Detection System) and WIPS (Wireless Intrusion Protection System) features. As you can imagine, (the industry is) quite focused on aspects related to security around WiFi environments, an increasingly growing concern and to which we intend to add value with these new features.”
Next, let’s look into the problem a little bit and as you can see in the above illustration (today’s rectangle) a simple description of the problem. Galgus writes: “Security is seen as one of the most important problems. In fact, wireless communication has inherent vulnerabilities as the signals share the electromagnetic spectrum. For network owners and system integrators, ensuring the secrecy and privacy of communications is a major concern when operating a Wi-Fi network. Public networks with high user density, such as those present in convention centers, trains or airports, are the most vulnerable, as they are quite attractive for those who want to make malicious use of Wi-Fi. The most common attacks, such as RougeAP or man-in-the-middle, are very easy to carry out with free tools, and are the easiest to deceive unwary users.”
“A RougeAP is a wireless access point able to fake one of the legitimate AP’s on your network. It does so by either cloning the SSID announced by your teams, the MAC address of one of them (BNSSID), or even the beacon frames and the web applications used (especially critical with captive portals). These rogue AP’s are deployed instantly by people who want to use your users’ devices to connect to them, thus allowing access to sensitive data (from user login passwords, to credit cars).”
“In this context, Galgus has developed and patented Cognitive Hotspot(trademarked) Technology (CHT), an embedded software that is installed within AP’s of a wide range of manufacturers. CHT has modules to optimize the network, to reduce the energy consumption or to locate devices, but also has modules to mitigate the outbreak of security problems such as rogue AP’s.”
Galgus went on: “Security is seen as one of the most important problems today. In fact, wireless communication has inherent vulnerabilities as the signals share the electromagnetic spectrum. Further, security is on everyone’s minds. A concern which led Galgus to incorporate two new features in its technology: WIDS (Wireless Intrusion Detection System) and WIPS (Wireless Intrusion Protection System).
Next we asked about the system and any testing:
Q. Have you tested it on an airplane?
A: “We have run a pilot with a major Rail Operator in the US and another one in UK. Now this feature is available on the nMAP2 access point from VT Miltope to be tested and used in the Aviation industry. The aforementioned financing from the European Commission will be a turning point in the history of our company. It will help us to improve our products and it will allow us to carry out pilots in many complex environments. It will also allow us to get more directly involved in your own  projects.”
Q. Can you tell us and our readers why this is important?
A: “The European Commission recognizes Galgus as one of the most disruptive startups in the EU and supports our growth with EU funding. This is important because over 93% of the startups supported by the EU has been successful and therefore, this endorses Galgus technology with the EU seal of quality.”
Q. Will you have a demo of this in Hamburg?
A:”We will demo this in Hamburg this April.”
IFExpress also asked the folks at VT Miltope who carry Galgus products and they told us: ”VT Miltope is discussing this Galgus offering and how it might be incorporated into VT Miltope products along with RazorSecure solutions.”
So there you have it, Stay Tuned for this technology in Hamburg.

Mike Hettich Named CEO of Satellite Startup LeoStella

Smart satellite manufacturer LeoStella of Tukwila, Washington named the affable Mike Hettich as its new CEO. LeoStella is a joint venture company owned by Spaceflight Industries and Thales Alenia Space. Congratulations, Mike!


INMARSAT

Inmarsat, a leader in global mobile satellite communications, has been named winner of Inflight Middle East’s Connectivity Enablement Award for the second consecutive year. The prestigious accolade was announced in Dubai yesterday, after an independent panel of industry experts voted for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation as the inflight broadband solution of choice for airline passengers in the Middle East and beyond. GX Aviation is the world’s first and only global, high-speed inflight connectivity service delivered through a wholly-owned and operated network of high-throughput satellites. It enables airline passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights, with a wi-fi experience comparable to mobile broadband on the ground. The ground-breaking service is currently being offered to passengers by a growing list of airlines across the world, including Qatar Airways, Singapore Airways, Norwegian, Air New Zealand, Avianca and Lufthansa Group. Global take-up shows no signs of slowing over the course of this year, with a healthy pipeline of aircraft due to be installed with the service. In addition to retaining Inflight Middle East’s ‘Connectivity Enablement’ Award, Inmarsat has been named ‘World’s Leading Inflight Internet Service Provider’ at the World Travel Awards for two consecutive years. These recent accolades are the latest in a series of industry recognitions for Inmarsat’s world-leading inflight Wi-Fi services in the last year.


SITAONAIR

Air Senegal selected SITAONAIR to deploy its best-in-class high-speed inflight connectivity (IFC) on its new-generation A330neo fleet – making Air Senegal the first airline on the African continent to activate GX Aviation passenger connectivity onboard.

With a growing demand for connectivity from Africa’s young population and a change in the overarching aviation landscape, Air Senegal’s new inflight connectivity offering comes at a crucial moment for economic growth. SITA Air Transport IT Insights figures show that 90% of the world’s airlines plan to have major wireless inflight connectivity programs in place for enhanced passenger experience by 2021, indicating a prominent shift towards global connectivity as standard. Senegal’s new flag carrier is ambitious to expand its footprint by connecting 2 million passengers on routes between Dakar and Paris, and drive innovation in the West African market. Air Senegal appointed SITAONAIR as the inflight connectivity service provider best-placed to support its goal by pioneering its connected passenger experience.

Under the deal, SITAONAIR is activating its market-leading Mobile ONAIR and Internet ONAIR inflight connectivity solutions – via Link ONAIR over Inmarsat’s GX Aviation network – across Air Senegal’s new A330neo. Following the launch of its first commercial flight in February 2019, passengers can now enjoy cutting-edge cabin connectivity across Air Senegal’s Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy offerings, on routes connecting West Africa with Europe. Further, with SITAONAIR’s Internet ONAIR solution over GX Aviation, Air Senegal passengers can access a personalized and seamless inflight connection, keeping them connected with their digital lives, business and loved ones as they fly. In another breakthrough deal for the African market, Mobile ONAIR will give passengers a seamless mobile connectivity experience, providing them with the opportunity to make calls and send texts from the air, just as they would on the ground.


AIRBUS

Emirates, following a review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies, Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook from 162 to 123 aircraft (39 ). Emirates will take delivery of 14 further A380s over the next two years. As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021.

Emirates has also decided to continue growing with Airbus’ newest generation, flexible widebody aircraft, ordering 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft. Airbus will start discussions with its social partners in the next few weeks regarding the 3,000 to 3,500 positions potentially impacted over the next three years. However, the ongoing A320 ramp-up and the new widebody order from Emirates Airline will offer a significant number of internal mobility opportunities.


OTHER NEWS

Before we get started, we wanted to give a “tip-o-the-hat” to Jovita Toh at Encore Inflight (Hong Kong) who has developed the engaging orange shirted team of IFE content providers. They were highlighted in her Encore Expose web newsletter (Check it out here Encore Exposé – Feb19), and we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce them to you. We also wanted to highlight to our readers how successful their efforts are using their ‘teamwork’ approach, and perhaps, give you an idea of the value of working together. While not every industry content organization can (or will) use the same techniques, we suspect that the ‘team thinking’ and group planning can be of value, and obviously is, in Encore’s case. By the way, just so you know, Jovita is the lady in today’s rectangle holding a yellow arcade prize! As she notes in the website visual; “Team Spirit conquers all.” Armed with the excitement of a ‘Change In The Air’ theme, the encore team set off on a corporate retreat to be re-acquainted with each other, explore and discuss the mission of the company, and to have a bit of fun. As she notes: “Three nights in Shenzhen with a group of people that have come to be my family, they certainly were Notti Magiche (magical nights).” And yes, I now have an orange T-shirt too!

Now, lets get on with this week’s news.


SITAONAIR

Air Senegal selected SITAONAIR to deploy its best-in-class high-speed inflight connectivity (IFC) on its new-generation A330neo fleet – making Air Senegal the first airline on the African continent to activate GX Aviation passenger connectivity onboard.

With a growing demand for connectivity from Africa’s young population and a change in the overarching aviation landscape, Air Senegal’s new inflight connectivity offering comes at a crucial moment for economic growth. SITA Air Transport IT Insights figures show that 90% of the world’s airlines plan to have major wireless inflight connectivity programs in place for enhanced passenger experience by 2021, indicating a prominent shift towards global connectivity as standard. With SITAONAIR’s Internet ONAIR solution over GX Aviation, Air Senegal passengers can access a personalized and seamless inflight connection, keeping them connected with their digital lives, business and loved ones as they fly. In another breakthrough deal for the African market, Mobile ONAIR will give passengers a seamless mobile connectivity experience, providing them with the opportunity to make calls and send texts from the air, just as they would on the ground.


GOGO

Gogo Business Aviation announced that its most robust and highest-performing system – Gogo AVANCE L5 – has been installed and is now flying on 500 business jets. It took just 16 months to achieve the milestone from the date of the first installation – one of the fastest adoption rates of any inflight connectivity system for business aviation. With more than 770 systems shipped to date, AVANCE L5 is Gogo’s most-popular inflight connectivity system, delivering a 4G experience to a wide variety of business aircraft. From the time AVANCE L5 launched in the fourth quarter of 2017, nearly 55,000 flights have taken off with the system onboard. Gogo and its OEM partners and dealers have received certification for AVANCE L5 from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) across 79 aircraft models. The system is actively being installed at all MROs and aftermarket OEM service centers. The Gogo AVANCE L5 system connects to the Gogo Biz 4G network delivering faster speeds and enhanced network capacity enabling activities such as live streaming video and audio, video conferencing, on-demand movies, faster web browsing, personal smartphone use, real-time data for cockpit apps, and remote diagnostics and support while in flight. Early in 2018 Gogo launched AVANCE L3, a system that delivers the benefits of the Gogo AVANCE platform to passengers and flight departments in a lightweight, smaller form factor compared to L5. AVANCE L3, which currently has nearly 170 systems installed, allows users to customize their inflight experience based on their unique needs and can be installed on business aircraft of all types and sizes, but is an ideal solution for smaller aircraft including turboprops and light jets.

In total, at the end of the third quarter 2018, Gogo Business Aviation reported 5,019 aircraft flying with its air-to-ground (ATG) systems onboard and another 5,137 utilizing satellite connectivity.


FlightPath3D

FlightPath3D announced that they have been selected by over 50 airlines in just five years and they are one of the fastest growing airline app companies. They deliver their award-winning 3D Moving Map on any IFE platform and to any passenger device, empowering the digital traveler to explore destinations and travel globally like a local.

FlightPath3D’s President, Duncan Jackson says, “We’re delighted to have many airline customers flying with our wireless IFE map including, Southwest, Air Europa, Air France, All Nippon Airways, Air Arabia, Arkia, Jet Airways and WestJet.”

Commenting on the milestone, Alexis Capdevila, Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Manager at Air Europa says, “We selected FlightPath3D as the map provider for our fleet as they have the most innovative feature-rich product, providing an immersive game-like 3D experience for our passengers enabling them to follow the flight path, explore things to do at their destination and for our younger travelers discover the animals of the world.”

Jackson continues, “Our use of personalization and new artificial intelligence will enable passengers to travel globally like a local. For example, we’ve analyzed hundreds of millions of traveler data points to recommend hyperlocal attractions in every town and back corner of the world and even sorted them by popularity – it looks amazing!”

“We also want to help airlines drive revenue, allowing passengers to explore flight times and destinations to promote airline ticket sales, and estimate journey times from aircraft to hotel to promote ground transportation partners. It’s a potent cocktail when you combine rich passenger experience features with revenue generating capabilities.”


AIRBUS

  • Airbus opened its 2019 activity with 39 aircraft deliveries for 27 customers during January, raising the overall total of jetliners provided by the manufacturer to 11,802. The month’s deliveries involved 33 aircraft from Airbus’ single-aisle A320 Family, along with five A350-900s and one A330 from its widebody product lines. Notable delivery milestones during January included the initial A321neo aircraft to U.S.-based American Airlines (which has 100 on order) and to Cebu Pacific (the largest low-cost carrier in the Philippines). Also in January, Acropolis Aviation of the UK received Airbus’ first ACJ320neo, with this corporate jet version to undergo its cabin outfitting in Switzerland. Airbus’ backlog of aircraft remaining to be delivered as of 31 January stood at 7,525 aircraft.
  • Airbus and Dassault Systèmes have signed a five-year Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to cooperate on the implementation of collaborative 3D design, engineering, manufacturing, simulation and intelligence applications. This will enable Airbus to take a major step forward in its digital transformation and lay the foundation for a new European industrial ecosystem in aviation. Under the MOA, Airbus will deploy Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform, which delivers digital continuity, from design to operations, in a single data model for a unified user experience, making digital design, manufacturing and services (DDMS) a company-wide reality for all Airbus divisions and product lines. DDMS paves the way for breakthroughs in new product design, operational performance, support and maintenance, customer satisfaction and new business models, as it represents a move from sequential to parallel development processes. Instead of first focusing on product performance, Airbus will be able to co-design and develop the next generation of aircraft with the manufacturing facilities that will produce them, reducing costs and time to market. “We are not just talking about digitalisation or a 3D experience, we are rethinking the way aircraft are designed and operated, streamlining and speeding up our processes with customer satisfaction in mind.” said Guillaume Faury, President Airbus Commercial Aircraft. “DDMS is a catalyst for change and with it we are building a new model for the European aerospace industry with state of the art technology. Our target is a robust production setup that offers a reduction in product development lead time.”“Nothing exemplifies the intersection of technology, science and art more than aviation. When we reflect on how the industry has evolved to where it is today, it’s a blend of technical prowess, digital precision and inspiration,” said Bernard Charlès, Vice Chairman and CEO, Dassault Systèmes. “The Aerospace industry has a proven track record of fast transformation, faster than in most industries. It delivers high quality innovation and new services for operations in highly complex and regulated environments. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform will accelerate the digital transformation of Airbus. Airbus can capture insights and expertise from across its ecosystem to deliver new experiences that only the digital world makes possible.”
  • Air Race E – Airbus has announced a global partnership with Air Race E, the world’s first electric airplane race set to launch its inaugural series in 2020. Airbus is the Official Founding Partner of Air Race E. The competition aims to drive the development and adoption of cleaner, faster, and more technologically advanced electric engines that can be applied to urban air mobility vehicles and, eventually, commercial aircraft. Air Race E will follow a format similar to the popular Air Race 1 series of the sport known as formula one air racing. Eight electric-powered airplanes will race directly against each other on a tight 5-km circuit, just 10 meters above the ground, and at speeds faster than any land-based motorsport. Airbus will work alongside other Air Race E partners, including the University of Nottingham. The University is currently developing a prototype race airplane powered by an integrated electric motor, battery, and power electronics system. The plane will help shape the model and rules for the inaugural Air Race E race in 2020.
  • Aero India – From flying and static displays of its best-in-class products to showcasing its cutting-edge aerospace services, Airbus has planned one of its biggest-ever participation at Aero India to be held in Bengaluru from 20 to 24 February, 2019. The centrepiece of the flying displays will be the A330neo – the latest addition to the leading Airbus widebody family featuring advanced materials, new optimized wings, composite sharklets and highly efficient engines that together deliver 25% reduced fuel burn and CO2 emissions. Demonstration flights will be performed by the new generation tactical airlifter C295 which can perform multi-role operations under all weather conditions.

BOEING

Boeing projects the Middle East will require $745 billion in aviation services through 2037 to keep pace with growing passenger and freight traffic in the region, according to a new report released today at MRO Middle East in Dubai. The high value services market is largely driven by the demand for nearly 3,000 new commercial airplanes in the Middle East over the next twenty years, more than tripling the existing fleet. The growing fleet requires aviation services, including supply chain support (parts and parts logistics), maintenance and engineering services, and aircraft modification.
Boeing’s Services Market Outlook (SMO) 2018-2037 – Middle East Boeing: Services Market Outlook

Perspective forecasts growing need for services that increase fleet productivity and reduce operating costs. Among the report’s findings:

1. The Middle East will drive more than 8 percent of global demand for aviation services, representing $745 billion, and growing at a projected 4.6 percent annually.
2. Nearly 218,000 new personnel – 60,000 pilots, 63,000 technicians, and 95,000 cabin crew – will be needed in the Middle East over the next 20 years.

Other News From Boeing:

Uzbekistan Airways – Boeing reached an agreement with Uzbekistan Airways to provide services that will enable the airline to more efficiently and effectively maintain its 787-8 Dreamliner fleet through the Boeing Landing Gear Exchange program. The flag carrier of the Republic of Uzbekistan will rely on Boeing to support its fleet with quick and reliable landing gear exchanges when and where they need them. This program greatly reduces maintenance time, helps the airline quickly return airplanes to service, and enables the airline to focus its resources on core operations. Boeing’s 787 Landing Gear Exchange program provides a simple and economical solution for managing landing gear overhauls, while building on Boeing’s successful history of exchange programs. Through the offering, a carrier can exchange landing gears that need to be repaired or overhauled for another set of certified landing gear from a pool that Boeing maintains. This service eliminates the need for operators to contract, schedule and manage the overhaul process.


OTHER NEWS

Lufthansa Systems enables new financing model for IFEC solutions / Successful project for Citilink impresses parent company Garuda Indonesia

Raunheim | January 31, 2019– Demand is growing in the aviation industry for partially or fully financed IFEC solutions. Lufthansa Systems is cooperating with technology partners to offer a flexible new refinancing approach for making on-board entertainment and Internet attractive to airlines of all sizes with different business models.

“Many providers offer financing models, but they often lack an understanding of the aviation industry. We are closing this gap with our expertise in IFEC solutions and with BoardConnect, an open IT platform that allows hosted applications to be integrated into the IFEC system,” said Jan-Peter Gänse, Head of Passenger Experience Products & Solutions at Lufthansa Systems.

Lufthansa Systems’ first partner for partially and fully financed IFEC solutions is Mahata Aero Teknologi. Their e-commerce solution is based on commercial offers and advertising partners, which generate revenues in order to refinance the Internet services. This makes it possible to allocate costs in the long-term if necessary, so that airlines can offer their passengers free Internet access.

This new approach has already proven itself in practice. In mid-January, the Indonesian airline Citilink celebrated the official launch flight of the first aircraft with the new, free connectivity service – just six months after the contract was signed in the summer of 2018. Mahata Aero Teknologi is working alongside Lufthansa Systems in addition to Inmarsat and Lufthansa Technik. While Inmarsat, the leading satellite provider, is supplying the broadband Internet connection with its global GX Aviation network, Lufthansa Technik is providing the hardware and performing the installation design and certification.

“Lufthansa Systems brought us together with its partners Inmarsat and Lufthansa Technik so that we can cooperate with the world’s leading connectivity experts,” said Iwan Setiawan, Managing Director of Mahata Aero Teknologi. “The first two customers using our solution have shown that we can provide models to suit low-cost carriers as well as airlines with large fleets.”

This successful cooperation and smooth implementation impressed Citilink’s parent company, Garuda Indonesia enough to order the same setup for its fleet. The contract for this was signed in December 2018.

“We are very proud of these two projects and the successful cooperation with our partners. The demand for on-board Internet is very high particularly in the Asian market. The new financing models, which are tailored to the individual needs of each airline, also give rise to new opportunities and partnerships in the market,” said Olivier Krüger, Chief Executive Officer at Lufthansa Systems.

Citilink is a low-cost carrier and subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia’s National airline. With a fleet of 51 aircraft, Citilink flies to national destinations as well as Dili in East Timor year round. Garuda Indonesia is Indonesia’s national airline. It serves domestic and international destinations in the Middle and Far East, Australia and Europe with a fleet of 142 aircraft. Both airlines are based in Jakarta and are currently expanding their fleets.

Research Triangle, North Carolina | February 5, 2019– The aviation industry’s transformative inflight internet provider, SmartSky Networks, announces the closing of a total of $104M in funding, including $75 million in debt commitments from funds managed by the Global Credit team at BlackRock and equity investments by private equity firms Tiger Infrastructure, WP Global, Platform Partners, and Meritage Investors. The funds will be used in the on-going rollout of SmartSky’s nationwide air-to-ground network. With this new round of financing, SmartSky has raised almost $350M in funding to date. The company is advised by Allen & Company LLC.

“This investment represents an expression of confidence in SmartSky by these sophisticated investors, including some of the most highly regarded institutions in the world,” said SmartSky CEO Haynes Griffin, “and comes only a few days after the announcement of our first commercial aviation customer. Both of these milestones were preceded by firsthand flight trials which demonstrated conclusively to these partners the ability of SmartSky’s blazing-fast, affordable two-way internet connectivity to fundamentally transform aviation.”

Last week, CEO Alex Wilcox of JetSuiteX, a rapidly growing regional air carrier, stated, “After a rigorous selection process including my personal inflight evaluation, we chose SmartSky’s state-of-the-art, high-speed technology because it delivers the most compelling user experience.”  

SmartSky’s first-of-its-kind, real-time system provides over ten times the speed of legacy airborne connections and is the most secure and affordable inflight internet solution available. The ground-based components of the system are being deployed throughout the contiguous United States using a mix of 4G LTE and emerging 5G technologies, similar to some of the recent improvements in terrestrial cellular networks. The inflight connectivity network will be commercially available later this year.

This week there is a lot of news but we thought you might like to start off with something we might do more of in coming issues.

TechTips

Readers: Sometimes we like to use IFExpress to start many of our friends thinking about the IFEC business and this week we found something that many of you may use in the future for your business research and writing because it uses AI and speedy searches to look up subject matter — in places you might have never thought to search. What is it? Well it is called “Talk to Books” and while you may not find exactly what you are looking for online, this may be one solution and a good place to start. Lets begin by testing this Google AI-based data development. And, please try it out for yourself and see if it can help you. Here we go:

  • First, go to this Google invented website: Talk to Books.
  • Next, in the sentence box, type in your book-based search need. We tried “What is inflight entertainment?”
  • Next, click the “dashed ground sign” to filter your searches, and we used “Current Events”; and then hit “GO”.

We won’t list what we found but we strongly suggest you try it out. There seemed to be no end the IFEC the book references we found; and if you can’t use it for just about anything you are researching, well, at least you know about it. Further, your kids and friends in school just might be able to do better information search retrievals looking for their data! Cool!


Next, Bob Bogash sent this Boeing story/info  “Nobody picks up on this, but note that G-OSRA, shown in the article, was line number 1832 and hence the last 727 built. It seems to have many years ahead. See my webpage here and some nice pix here. If you notice at the end of the page, the aircraft was converted to a an oil dispersant sprayer – here is the story!


And now, on with the latest aviation news.

THALES
CENTECH and Thales launch AI@CENTECH to boost start-ups to success in Artificial Intelligence. To support the development of start-ups working in the field of Artificial Intelligence, Thales has teamed with CENTECH, Québec’s largest start-up incubator, created by the École de Technologie Supérieure in Montreal. This strategic partnership will provide start-ups with access to the Thales Group’s technological expertise, business insights and digital capabilities that will take their concepts and prototypes to the next level of maturity. Thales has invested close to 7 billion euros in digital technologies since 2014, including the planned acquisition of Gemalto.

The explosion of digital technologies is an essential ingredient to boost innovation, accelerating the creative process to develop new solutions for a world that is increasingly data-driven, connected, immersive and reliant on autonomous systems. Thales has an important role to play in accelerating the digital transformation of its partners around the world. Working with CENTECH, Thales will support projects created by start-ups in the field of Artificial Intelligence, which is one of Thales’ four key digital technologies, alongside connectivity, big data and cybersecurity. CENTECH has been recognised by the University Business Network (UBI) as one of the most effective accelerators in the world.

Also from Thales:

The Air Navigation Service Provider for Papua New Guinea, PNG Air Services Limited, has completed a transition to the TopSky-ATC system provided by Thales. This transition represents a jump from a 30 year old paper strip system to a state-of-the-art electronic system, helping to reduce air traffic controller workload and increase safety throughout the airspace. PNGASL are responsible for the safe movement of more than 50,000 flights per year through their airspace, which includes many high level overflights. The deployment by Thales includes a main operational system and combined backup & training system. The TopSky-ATC system provides the controllers with modernized flight data processing, multi sensor surveillance processing and advanced alerting functions. Seamless coordination between neighboring states allows safe transition of flights to and from Papua New Guinea.


AIRBUS
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has approved the A330-900 for ETOPS (Extended-range Twin engine aircraft Operations) “beyond 180 minutes” diversion time. This significant achievement means that operators of the A330neo, which is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, will benefit from the most efficient, reliable and direct long-range routings. The approval, which includes ETOPS 180 min. capability in the aircraft’s basic specification, now also includes the option for “ETOPS 285 min.” This extends the potential air diversion distance to around 2,000nm. The U.S. FAA’s respective ETOPS certification is expected soon.

A330neo operators which choose the ETOPS 285 min. option will be able to serve new direct ‘non-limiting’ routings. Meanwhile, operators flying on existing routes (currently flown with up to 180-minute diversion time) will be able to traverse a straighter, quicker and more fuel efficient path, and also have access to more – and possibly better equipped – en-route diversion airports if needed.

Airbus has launched a global competition in quantum computing, inviting experts to propose and develop solutions, for complex optimization and modelisation across the full aircraft life-cycle, using newly available computing capabilities. The Airbus Quantum Computing Challenge (AQCC) aims to take science out of the lab and into industry, by applying newly-available computing capabilities to real-life industrial cases. With traditional computers approaching their limits, the quantum computer promises to deliver a new level of computational power. As an active user of High Performance Computing (HPC), Airbus is already extending current capacity by integrating and leveraging quantum technologies in fields such as route optimisation and satellite imagery. Through the challenge Airbus is looking to further explore solutions that quantum technologies can bring through the sharing of in-house and external knowledge, data and expertise. Five distinct challenges have been identified in the flight physics domain that have an impact on all aspects of Airbus’ business, from design and operations, to airline revenue streams. With varying degrees of complexity, the statements range from the simple optimization of aircraft climb to the more complex optimization of wing-box design. Open to post-graduate students, PhDs, academics, researchers, start-ups and professionals in the field of quantum computing, individuals or teams will compete for hardware access and for the opportunity to mature their ideas for industrialisation, working collaboratively with Airbus industry experts. The AQCC will run throughout 2019.
The granting of this ETOPS capability is a testimony to the aircraft’s design and systems maturity, which has been demonstrated to be as good as its predecessor – the versatile and extremely reliable A330-200/A330-300 family, proven over many millions of flights. In 2009, the Airbus A330-200/-300 became the first airliner family to gain an ETOPS ‘Beyond 180min’ certification, which was granted by EASA. Airbus twin-engine airliners have accumulated over 20 million ETOPS flight hours, most of which have been accumulated by the A330 Family. (Editor’s Note: “ETOPS” is a set of rules initially introduced by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in the mid-1980s to allow commercial operations with twin-engine aircraft on routes beyond 60min flying time from the nearest airport and which were previously operated only by aircraft with more than two engines. These rules, which are now named “EDTO” (Extended Diversion Time Operations) by ICAO have been progressively revised to allow operations beyond 180min diversion time.)


BOEING
Boeing last week successfully completed the first test flight of its autonomous passenger air vehicle (PAV) prototype in Manassas, Virginia. Boeing NeXt, which leads the company’s urban air mobility efforts, utilized Boeing subsidiary Aurora Flight Sciences to design and develop the electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft and will continue testing to advance the safety and reliability of on-demand autonomous air transportation. The PAV prototype completed a controlled takeoff, hover and landing during the flight, which tested the vehicle’s autonomous functions and ground control systems. Future flights will test forward, wing-borne flight, as well as the transition phase between vertical and forward-flight modes. This transition phase is typically the most significant engineering challenge for any high-speed VTOL aircraft.

Powered by an electric propulsion system, the PAV prototype is designed for fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing, with a range of up to 50 miles (80.47 kilometers). Measuring 30 feet (9.14 meters) long and 28 feet (8.53 meters) wide, its advanced airframe integrates the propulsion and wing systems to achieve efficient hover and forward flight. The test flight represents the latest milestone for Boeing NeXt. The division works with regulatory agencies and industry partners to lead the responsible introduction of a new mobility ecosystem and ensure a future where autonomous and piloted air vehicles safely coexist. In addition to the PAV, the Boeing NeXt portfolio includes an unmanned fully electric cargo air vehicle (CAV) designed to transport up to 500 pounds (226.80 kilograms) and other urban, regional and global mobility platforms. The CAV completed its first indoor flight last year and will transition to outdoor flight testing in 2019.

And, here is the flight of the PAV in Manassas, Va.
Boeing: Boeing Autonomous Passenger Air Vehicle Completes First Flight


OTHER NEWS

Self-flying aircraft an overlooked opportunity in autonomous transport – Axios It’s coming?

January 23, 2019– Starting Jan. 23, on Delta flights around the globe boarding zones will be renamed to reflect the branded fare purchased, while still prioritizing customer loyalty.

The new branded boarding order introduces additional boarding groups, encouraging fewer customers to line up in the gate area at any given time and easing crowding during the boarding process. This marks the latest evolution in Delta’s multi-year work to bring consistency, simplicity, clarity and less stress to the gate and boarding experience, efforts that have driven all-time high customer experience scores.

Here’s what customers can expect on day one:

Previous mobile boarding pass

On boarding passes:

  • Customers will see the branded fare purchased, or Sky Priority, on their mobile or printed boarding pass – this indicates their boarding group.

At the gate:

  • Instead of featuring numbered zones on gate screens and signs, and in boarding announcements, customers will see and/or hear the branded fare they purchased or Sky Priority, letting them know it’s time to board.
  • For most customers, their place in the boarding order doesn’t change – the new name simply makes it easier to recognize. SkyMiles Medallion Members* and eligible Delta SkyMiles American Express Credit Card Members will continue to receive priority boarding.
  • Gate area boarding screen

    Customers will also see new color accents distinguishing each of Delta’s fare products and Sky Priority on screens and signage at the gate.

On the Fly Delta app and delta.com:

  • Those same new colors associated with each branded fare will be visible to a small number of customers in the digital shopping experience to start. A gradual roll out to all customers on delta.com and the Fly Delta app in 2019 is in accordance with best practices for large digital changes. And, this phased approach will allow Delta to gather customer feedback for continuous improvements.

Delta.com mobile

Branded boarding builds on Delta’s latest boarding enhancement, the addition of zone 4 in 2018 for Basic Economy customers. This change resulted in better customer satisfaction scores in every zone, with dramatic improvement for the reduced number of customers in zone 3 and double digit improvement for Main Cabin zones.

Delta continues to put boarding under the microscope, looking at new ways to organize and test concepts – such as the use of digital screens instead of static boarding signage, like pillars. To help keep customers informed, the airline has also been a leader in adding larger display screens above the door to Jetways and pushing boarding notifications from the Fly Delta app.


This is the last edition of IFExpress for 2018 and it is a big one! There was a lot happening over the past 7 days, so let’s dig in.

Boeing

Boeing, COMAC, 737MAX:
Boeing and joint venture partner Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd (COMAC) celebrated the delivery of the first airplane from the new 737 Completion and Delivery Center in Zhoushan, China. (See rectangle) Air China received the first plane, marking a new era in Boeing’s partnership with the Chinese aviation industry. Delivery of the first MAX 8, assembled in Renton, Washington and completed in China, comes 20 months after construction began at the 100-acre site.

Boeing 737 MAXs for Chinese airlines will be flown from Seattle to Zhoushan, where the joint Boeing-COMAC Completion Center will complete interior work on the airplanes. The statement of work will gradually expand to include painting with the addition of three paint hangers.  Once completed, airplanes will move to the adjacent Boeing-operated delivery center for customer acceptance activities and delivery formalities.

The facility, which covers 666,000 sq ft in total, is designed to support the entire 737 MAX family of airplanes, from the long-range MAX 7 to the high-capacity MAX 10.  With about one third of all 737 deliveries going to Chinese customers, the Zhoushan facility will enable Chinese airline customers to update and expand their fleets with the most technologically-advanced Boeing single-aisle airplanes available. In addition, the business and the partnerships Boeing is developing in China are integral to adding capacity and aerospace jobs in the U.S China is on course to become the largest commercial aviation market in the world.  Boeing’s latest Commercial Market Outlook forecasts that China will need 7,680 new airplanes worth $1.2 trillion USD over the next 20 year and another $1.5 trillion USD in commercial services to support the country’s growing fleet of airplanes.

787th Dreamliner:
Boeing  delivered the 787th 787 Dreamliner to come off the production line, marking a special milestone for the super-efficient airplane family and the fastest-selling twin-aisle jet in history. Since its first delivery in September, 2011, the 787 family has flown nearly 300 million passengers on more than 1.5 million flights around the world, including more than 210 new nonstop routes made possible by the airplane’s superior fuel efficiency and range. The airplane was delivered to AerCap, the world’s largest lessor and 787 customer. Sporting a special logo commemorating the production milestone, the airplane will be leased and operated by China Southern, which continues to expand its long-haul fleet of 787 Dreamliners, including 10 787-8s and eight 787-9s. China Southern Airlines first ordered 10 787-8 Dreamliners in 2005 and further increased its capability on long-haul routes when they placed an order for 787-9s in 2016. The 787s have enabled the airline to launch a number of non-stop global routes, connecting Guangzhou to London and Rome in Europe; Vancouver, British Columbia, in North America; and Perth, Auckland, and Christchurch in the Oceania region.

ELG:
Boeing and ELG Carbon Fibre announced a partnership to recycle excess aerospace-grade composite material, which will be used by other companies to make products such as electronic accessories and automotive equipment. The agreement – the first of its kind for the aerospace industry – covers excess carbon fiber from 11 Boeing airplane manufacturing sites and will reduce solid waste by more than one million pounds a year. Carbon-fiber reinforced material is extremely strong and lightweight, making it attractive for a variety of uses, including in building the super-efficient 787 Dreamliner and the all-new 777X airplane. As the largest user of aerospace-grade composites from its commercial and defense programs, Boeing has been working for several years to create an economically viable carbon fiber reuse industry. The company improved its production methods to minimize excess and developed a model for collecting scrap material. But technical barriers stood in the way of repurposing material that had already been “cured” or prepped for use in the airplane manufacturing process. UK-based ELG developed a proprietary method to recycle “cured” composites so they do not have to be thrown out.

To prove that the recycling method can be applied on a grand scale, Boeing and ELG conducted a pilot project where they recycled excess material from Boeing’s Composite Wing Center in Everett, Wash., where the massive wings for the 777X airplane are made. ELG put the excess materials through treatment in a furnace, which vaporizes the resin that holds the carbon fiber layers together and leaves behind clean material. Over the course of 18 months, the companies saved 1.5 million pounds of carbon fiber, which was cleaned and sold to companies in the electronics and ground transportation industries. Based on the success of the pilot project, Boeing says the new agreement should save a majority of the excess composite material from its 11 sites, which will support the company’s goal to reduce solid waste going to landfills 20 percent by 2025.

Boeing and ELG are considering expanding the agreement to include excess material from three additional Boeing sites in Canada, China and Malaysia. As a result of the partnership, ELG estimates the number of its employees will nearly triple from 39 in 2016 to an expected 112 by the end of 2019 as the recycling market continues to expand.

Embraer:
Boeing and Embraer have approved to the terms of a strategic partnership that would position both companies to accelerate growth in global aerospace markets. The approved terms define the joint venture comprising the commercial aircraft and services operations of Embraer, in which Boeing will hold an 80 percent ownership stake and Embraer will hold the remaining 20 percent. The transaction remains subject to approval by the Government of Brazil, after which Embraer and Boeing intend to execute definitive transaction documents. The closing of the transaction will then be subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. Under the terms of the proposed partnership, Boeing will acquire an 80 percent ownership stake in the joint venture for $4.2 billion. The partnership is expected to be neutral to Boeing’s earnings per share in 2020 and accretive thereafter. Estimated annual pre-tax cost synergies of approximately $150 million are anticipated by the third year of operations.


Gogo

Gogo, a global provider of broadband connectivity products and services for aviation, announced that modifications to its 2Ku installations on North American aircraft to protect against de-icing fluid contamination have achieved positive results. Gogo is providing an update on the performance of its 2Ku system in order to respond to investor inquiries stemming from recent significant winter storm activity, including Diego, which occurred just this past weekend.

As of December 10, Gogo had experienced no incidents of 2Ku system degradation on aircraft installed with Gogo’s recent de-icing modifications. Based on Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) data listing airports that have experienced deicing activity, Gogo estimates that aircraft with Gogo deicing modifications have been de-iced prior to 2,601 flights so far this winter. And as of December 10, Gogo’s de-icing modifications had been installed on more than 600 aircraft, representing almost 95% of the Company’s North American fleet. While the vast majority of global de-icing activities occur in North America, Gogo will modify existing 2Ku installations on international aircraft as part of each airline’s maintenance program. All newly equipped 2Ku aircraft globally will include the de-icing modifications at the time of installation.As of December 10, 2018, 2Ku availability across the entire Gogo 2Ku fleet was approximately 98% month to date, as compared to 92% for the same period last winter.


Thales

Singapore Airlines is known globally for its high standards of service and cabin experience. The airline has been awarded the internationally acclaimed five-star rating from Skytrax and was recognized by the organization in 2018 as the ‘World’s Best Airline” for the fourth time, operating a modern passenger fleet of more than 100 aircraft. For the upcoming fleet of A350-900 medium haul aircraft, Singapore Airlines has entrusted Thales to sustain their brand promise of improving service excellence, retaining competitive advantage and continuing to meet and exceed customer expectations. This new fleet of aircraft will be equipped with Thales’s AVANT IFE system, featuring an innovative and personalized user experience uniquely designed for Singapore Airlines. The 40 Business Class passengers will enjoy 17” High Definition touch screen monitors with a complementing handset that operates similarly to a consumer smart phone, enabling passengers to use it as a secondary device to control the seatback monitor. The 263 Economy Class seats will feature the latest 11.6” touchscreen monitors. The sleek and lightweight design of AVANT provides travelers an exceptional inflight experience with Singapore Airlines’ vast choice of entertainment. The IFE solution is designed with a new Signature user interface that is unique to Singapore Airlines, and offers a more intuitive user experience with new additional navigational options.

Some key features on AVANT include:

  • Media Filter: This enables passengers to efficiently locate desired media by filtering content through the various categories, genres, languages and available flight duration;
  • Flight Info Map: When enjoying movies or TV shows, passengers are able to concurrently bring up flight info without exiting the media player; and,
  • Air Mouse (available in Business Class): The touch screen handset functions as a remote control by directing the onscreen cursor on the seatback monitor.

Airbus

FLY YOUR IDEAS:
Airbus selected 51 international student teams to go into round two of its sixth Fly Your Ideas global challenge. Students were invited to innovate in six key areas covering Electrification, Data Services, Cyber Security, Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality.

PEOPLE:
Airbus SE appointed Philippe Mhun, 56, as Chief Programmes and Services Officer for Airbus Commercial Aircraft, effective 01 January 2019. Mhun, currently Head of Customer Services at Airbus, will succeed EVP Head of Programmes Didier Evrard, 65, who retires around the turn of the year after 41 years associated with Airbus, 20 of those in top management positions.

ACIC:
Airbus China Innovation Centre (ACIC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Royole Technology – a global pioneer in flexible displays, flexible sensors and foldable smartphones. The two parties will collaborate to develop applications that implement flexible electronic technologies in cabin environments and investigate the possibilities for commercial cooperation. Airbus has been dedicated to design and manufacture aircraft that provide a better cabin experience for passengers. By investigating the use of flexible displays and flexible sensors in the cabin, Airbus plans to cooperate with Royole Technology by building a futurized, digitalized and personalized cabin to further improve the cabin environment, cabin safety and energy saving. Based in Shenzhen, Airbus China Innovation Centre is the first Innovation Centre set up by Airbus in Asia. Its mission is to fully leverage local advantages including innovative talents, partners and the eco-system, and combine this with Airbus’ expertise in aerospace to explore breakthroughs in technologies, business models and new growth opportunities. ACIC is now fully operational with the official office opening ceremony due to take place in early 2019.

AVOLON:
Dublin, Ireland-headquartered aircraft lessor Avolon firmed up an order for 75 A320neos and 25 A321neos. The agreement is the single largest order for Airbus aircraft ever placed by Avolon. The agreement takes Avolon’s cumulative orders with Airbus to 284 aircraft (240 single-aisles and 44 widebody aircraft) including the A321neo, the A330neo and the A350 XWB. The new order for 100 aircraft, together with the 22 single-aisles and four wide-bodies already delivered, increases Avolon’s Airbus backlog to 258, the largest of any lessor. Featuring the widest single-aisle cabin in the sky, the efficient A320neo Family incorporates the very latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklets, which together deliver more than 15 percent fuel and CO2 savings from day one and 20 percent by 2020 as well as 50 percent noise reduction. With more than 6,200 orders received from over 100 customers, the A320neo Family has captured some 60 percent of the market.

ANA:
The first A380 for All Nippon Airways (ANA) rolled out of the Airbus paint shop in Hamburg, Germany, bearing the airline’s distinctive and unique Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle livery. ANA has firm orders for three A380s, becoming the first customer for the superjumbo in Japan. The airline will take delivery of the first A380 at the end of Q1 2019 and will operate the aircraft on the popular leisure Narita-Honolulu route. The three ANA A380s will be painted in a special livery depicting sea turtles which are native to Hawaii. The first aircraft is blue, the second will be green and the third orange. The ANA A380 livery is one of the most elaborate ever painted by Airbus. It took 21 days for the Airbus team to paint a surface of 3,600m2 using 16 different shades of color.The aircraft will now have completion of its cabin and enter a final phase of ground and flight tests in Hamburg, during which all cabin systems will be thoroughly tested, including air flow and air conditioning, lighting, galleys, lavatories, seats and in-flight entertainment. In parallel, Airbus will also undertake advanced aircraft performance tests before it flies back to Toulouse for preparation of its delivery and ferry flight. As one of the world’s most prestigious airlines, ANA will be able to benefit from the A380’s proven operating economics and unrivaled passenger appeal. Offering more personal space than any other aircraft, the A380 is the most efficient solution to meeting growth on the world’s most heavily traveled routes, carrying more passengers with fewer flights at lower cost and emissions. At the end of November, Airbus has delivered 232 A380s, with the aircraft now in service with 14 airlines worldwide.

MJET:
MJet GmbH of Austria became the first ACJ319 operator to sign up for Skywise, enabling it to integrate its own operational, maintenance, and aircraft data into the Skywise platform. MJet will store, access, manage, and analyze selected Airbus data together with its own data and global benchmarks without the need for additional infrastructure investments. This service will provide MJet new insights at aircraft, company and global level while allowing it to enhance its operations by improving operational reliability, reducing operational interruptions and identifying efficiencies, cost savings and enhanced revenue opportunities. MJet will share its Airbus operating-data and in return access the platform to benefit from other A319 operators’ aggregate aircraft reliability fleet data. MJet will also work with Airbus to further develop product and support services specifically for ACJ operators.

Skywise provides all users with a single access-point for their enriched data by bringing together aviation data from multiple sources, across the industry, into one secure platform. The more data that airlines share into the Skywise platform, the more accurate the predictions and models for all connected. All data is anonymized to ensure data confidentiality. More than 190 Airbus corporate jets are in service around the world, flying on every continent, including Antarctica.


FlightPath3D
Interactive 3D moving map company, FlightPath3D has secured its landmark 50th airline customer in five years, in the form of All Nippon Airways (ANA), which will make the system available across its fleet. (Editor’s Note: Boris Bubresko noted: “Our next FlightPath3D map implementation will be on our Wi-Fi solution and to our customer’s personal device.”)


Other News

INMARSAT

Inmarsat, a leader in global mobile satellite communications, has been named ‘World’s Leading Inflight Internet Service Provider’ for the second year in a row at the World Travel Awards. The prestigious accolade was announced at a gala ceremony in Lisbon, Portugal last weekend, following a vote by travel and tourism executives across the world, who were impressed by Inmarsat’s continued success in transforming the airline passenger experience with game-changing inflight broadband solutions.

Inmarsat has pioneered a major step-change in inflight connectivity with its next-generation offerings, including its GX Aviation solution with seamless, high-speed global coverage, and the European Aviation Network (EAN), which offers unprecedented performance over Europe’s congested skies by combining satellite coverage with a complementary ground network. Both solutions enable passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more, with onboard connectivity comparable to what they receive on the ground.

More than 1,400 aircraft are currently expected under signed contracts for GX Aviation and EAN, with a new business pipeline of approximately 3,000 aircraft worldwide. Airline customers include Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, British Airways, AirAsia, Singapore Airlines, Norwegian, Avianca, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the World Travel Awards are considered the global hallmark of industry excellence, rewarding and celebrating excellence across all key sectors of the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors.

As well retaining the World Travel Award for ‘World’s Leading Inflight Internet Service Provider’, Inmarsat has received a number of other significant accolades for its inflight Wi-Fi services this year. These include the Inflight Middle East ‘Connectivity Enablement’ Award for GX Aviation and the prestigious German Innovation Award for EAN. In addition, EAN was a finalist in the Crystal Cabin Awards at Aircraft Interiors Exhibition (AIX) earlier this year.


AERKOMM

Aerkomm Inc. announced that through its wholly owned subsidiary, Aircom Pacific, Inc. (Aircom Pacific), it has begun developing a new and innovative Ka-band solution for the provision of broadband voice and high-speed internet access for passengers in Airbus ACJ319s, ACJ320s and ACJ321s – as well as Airbus’ airline commercial aircraft equivalents. Called Aerkomm K++, the solution will offer a broadband rate of 20 Megabits/sec experience per passenger. It combines Aircom Pacific equipment – based on a low-profile antenna – with a retrofit installation designed and implemented by Airbus to EASA and FAA certification standards, which will also be validated by China CAAC. Aerkomm K++ will provide worldwide coverage including, specifically, within China for Chinese registered aircraft. (You might want to read this link as well: AirCom Pacific Gains Momentum in IFEC Regional Business – Via Satellite -)


SKYLIGHTS

SkyLights announced it has partnered with new air wellness company Mataki Group to bring fear-of-flying relaxation videos to its Allosky VR Inflight Entertainment (IFE) catalog. Guided by airline pilot and flight-phobia expert Mathieu Leroy, the videos walk passengers through a program specifically designed to counter flying anxieties felt by around 43% of passengers.

SkyLights, the market leader in immersive IFE, announced it is adding fear-of-flying relaxation videos from new air wellness company Mataki Group to its Allosky VR IFE catalog. The videos are aimed to address the 43% of people that feel either ‘quite’ or ‘very’ worried about flying, as recorded by a UK survey. In the videos, Mathieu Leroy, an aircraft pilot and flight-phobia expert, draws on human factor and neuroscience techniques to put passengers at ease during their flight and educate them about flying, turbulence and flight safety.

Over the past 13 years, Leroy, Mataki Group founder, has been flying Airbus A320s and Boeing 777s for Air France, while also contributing to its Stress-Less-Flying center as a human factor’s expert. Through specialized seminars, he has leveraged his expertise to help hundreds of passengers tackle their fear of flying. In founding Mataki Group, he aims to enhance passenger wellness and help airlines attract the estimated 500 million people that refuse to fly as a result of their phobia.

“The conscious brain processes around 7 pieces of information every second, the majority of which comes from visual stimuli with audio coming in a close second. Thanks to the immersive environment created by SkyLights’ Allosky headset coupled with noise-cancelling headphones we have the fantastic opportunity to leverage all of this sensory input to diffuse flight anxieties in a highly effective way.”, said Mathieu Leroy, Mataki Group’s CEO

“Leveraging the immersive capacity of the Allosky headset to help passengers escape the cabin and relieve their flight phobia makes all the sense in the world. Mataki Group’s content will improve the flying experience for so many people and we are delighted to make it part of our new air wellness category.”, said David Dicko, SkyLights’ CEO.

The addition of Mataki Group’s content comes as part of SkyLights’ strategy to further diversify its catalog to offer greater choice and customization to its airline customers. Today, SkyLights’ catalog consists of over 200 hours of content, covering 2D and 3D Hollywood blockbusters as well as short travel, wellness and forward-facing 360° content.


ATMOSPHERE

ATMOSPHERE has announced that it is part of a team awarded a prestigious Group Achievement Award by NASA for ground-breaking research into interval management.

ATMOSPHERE’s crucial contribution was the software used to create traffic and situation awareness, called PLANET. It used inflight connectivity to transmit ADS-B data from the three test aircraft and all surrounding aircraft, creating a real-time display of aircraft position, all relevant information about that aircraft, location of airspace and route structures, as well as weather and wind conditions.

The most critical use of PLANET was by the Flight Test Director, who was aboard one of the aircraft and had the responsibility of coordinating the correct sequence of test runs between the three aircraft and the air traffic control facilities.

Brian Baxley, the NASA Principal Investigator of the experiment, said, “Without the real-time and constant traffic and situation awareness that PLANET provided, the Flight Test Director could not have conducted the flight test in the safe and efficient manner that it was.”

The PLANET display was also used aboard all three aircraft by flight crew and researchers, and in the flight test coordination room set up at a Boeing Commercial Aircraft facility. Additionally, it was used by observers at NASA Langley and Ames Research Centers, as well as the NASA and FAA Headquarters during the two-month flight test campaign.


INTERVAL RESEARCH

The premise for the interval management research was to study new methods to enable the expected doubling of aircraft passengers within the next twenty years. The current air traffic management process is very manually intensive and relies on less accurate radar data, a technology that originated in the 1940s.

Interval management uses more precise ADS-B data from nearby aircraft to allow avionics in the cockpit to automatically calculate the speed needed to achieve and then maintain a set spacing interval behind the previous aircraft. This spacing interval is assigned by the controller, and varies based on traffic density, type of aircraft, and the speed of the aircraft.

The result is that controllers can space aircraft more precisely at a safe and efficient interval, thereby increasing the number of landing slots available at the runway, and reducing the need for additional fuel consumption. Ultimately, it improves the passenger experience by reducing delays, particularly when traffic is very heavy, or during bad weather.


GOGO

Gogo Inc. announced the closing of its approximately $238 million offering of 6.00% convertible senior notes due in May 2022. Under the terms of the transaction, Gogo effectively extended the maturity of approximately $200 million of its outstanding convertible senior notes from March 2020 until May 2022. Approximately $162 million in convertible senior notes due 2020 remain outstanding.


OFCOM/INMARSAT

The Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in London handed down its judgment dealing with ViaSat’s challenge to Ofcom’s January 2018 authorization of Inmarsat’s UK complementary ground component (CGC) forming part of Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network (EAN). The Tribunal comprehensively found in favour of Ofcom and Inmarsat and determined that all of ViaSat’s arguments failed. On that basis, the Tribunal dismissed ViaSat’s case. The CGC authorization granted by Ofcom to Inmarsat for the EAN system remains in full force and effect.

Inmarsat was awarded the S-Band frequencies enabling the roll-out of the EAN system through the first (and so far the only) pan-European spectrum award procedure. That procedure was managed by the European Commission through an open and transparent selection mechanism. Inmarsat competed with other bidders and was ultimately selected as one of the two winners.

Inmarsat has spent hundreds of millions of pounds as well as significant human capital and years of hard work to deploy the EAN state-of-the art integrated platform. The EAN system is made of two components, namely a satellite (which was launched in July 2017) and a network of about 300 ground towers deployed across the European continent. In order to operate the EAN, Inmarsat needs certain national authorizations, including in particular CGC authorizations. Ofcom granted the UK CGC authorization to Inmarsat in 2018 and ViaSat challenged that authorization before the CAT.


OTHER NEWS

BOSE QuietControl 30

This week we thought our readers needed a rest from show news so we start off IFExpress with a review about a clever and great new set of earphones from BOSE that use Bluetooth to interact with your personal electronic device and provide the ability to manipulate the level of noise cancellation, depending on the need and circumstances. Lets get started with the latest earphones from the BOSE folks:

They are called “quiet control” for a reason, but we will get to that later. What you probably want to hear right off is: How was the sound? To get that out of the way, the sound was incredible, and by sound, we mean audio quality, we mean wide dynamic range, treble clarity, and bass smoothness and “punch”. Again, as BOSE always does, their QuietControl 30’s are wonderful sound devices and one of “the” most important things to take on an airplane if you want to listen to your own music, carry a lightweight device, while using the smallest sound product. To clear up the differences between the carry-on BOSE products we have reported on, see the following list:

Headphones:

BOSE QC 3 – Wired Noise Cancelling

BOSE QC 35 – Wired/Wireless Bluetooth Noise Cancelling

Earphones:

BOSE QuietComfort 20 – Acoustic Noise Cancelling (wired)

BOSE QuietControl 30 – Wireless Bluetooth Adjustable Noise Cancelling

The one airplane mode that you should be aware of is the ability of your headphones/earphones to physically plug into the aircraft audio system jack. This permits you to not only listen to your devices, it allows the listening of the aircraft audio system as well. However, if you want to listen to both, you can bring along you BOSE QC 35 Headphones or the BOSE QC 20 Earphone. And if you just want to listen to your device’s music on Bluetooth, you can use either the BOSE QC 35 or the BOSE QuietComfort 20 earphones or the BOSE QuietControl 30 earphones (neckband) wireless device, and that is the unit we want to discuss today.

First, if you are not into wires and cabling to your devices, then a Bluetooth solution is for you. We have tested this device on a plane, inside the house while working, and outside while car cleaning and the QC 30 is a dream. As we said, two features stand out: no wires and an adjustable outside noise control. This feature is really of value if you need to hear external noise or even voices. The value of not removing you earphones is obvious – when you are in public adjustable external audio control is a real advantage. And no, we did not use them while driving!

All the BOSE audio earphones and headphones have excellent audio capability and we wanted to note one other thing. With the terrific audio reproduction, it is easy to focus on the sound reproduction and the “new” high and low sounds in your existing music. So much so that while recently waxing our car, the job was not seemingly as long or that repetitive. We guess that while improved listening is very pleasant, it keeps your mind off work and interruption. You can also control how much of the external environment you want to hear and with no wires below the neckband, you don’t tangle your hands or tools in them. Never again will a car be waxed here without the BOSE QC 30 earphones!

The unit does feature a 10 hour battery and noise reduction and great audio were working fine after the 6 hours we tested them. We think if you like to walk, the adjustable noise cancellation is of great value. While where we live auto traffic is limited, in general, cars are a safety problem and adjustable external volume/noise cancellation can be of great value while walking down a road. Actually, it is a safety issue too. The QC 30’s have a precise arrangement of microphones inside and outside the earbuds to continuously measure external noise. The system produces an equal and opposite noise signal to cancel it. Also, the new seal tips are very comfortable and really limit outside noise – the noise cancellation is adjusted by the user and external hearing adjustment if really obvious.

We should also note that the software app easily loaded on our phone and it worked perfectly with the earphones. And the “voice” of the assistant really helps the installation and use process.

The Bose QC 30 is a great product if you don’t want wires and desire to listen to something transmitted around you (like a flight crew announcement), yet listen to your music while reducing the amount of outside noise, this is the way to go. Further, if you move or exercise while using them you can still hear others in the gym. But more importantly, our walking has increased and we can hear cars and external noise. We look forward to using them on our upcoming trips!


INDUSTRY NEWS:

Panasonic
TRT World has teamed up with Panasonic Avionics, the worldwide leader in inflight entertainment and connectivity, to launch in-flight broadcasting. The service is being broadcast via satellite to specially-equipped aircraft. TRT World, the international news platform launched in 2015 and headquartered in Istanbul, offers an alternative viewpoint on global and domestic events, challenging perceived narratives and providing a new perspective on news. With this agreement with Panasonic, TRT World will extend its reach to passengers on airlines around the world.

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) provides in-flight connectivity and infotainment content for over 80 connectivity customers around the world. This partnership enables Panasonic to extend TRT World’s live broadcast to many of the world’s leading international carriers, including Turkish Airlines.

“It is important to stay informed and up-to-date on world events. Passengers tune in to different outlets for news and it’s vital to have variety in your sources to have a more well-rounded view of current events. Thanks to Panasonic for making this challenge a lot easier during flight” said Fatih Er, Director of News and Programmes, TRT World “Partnering with Panasonic to deliver our content in-flight is a major achievement to fulfill our promise to offer our service everywhere, whatever platform our audience prefer to receive it.”

Julie Lichty, Head of Digital Solutions and Services at Panasonic Avionics said, “Panasonic is proud to offer the world’s only truly global inflight live television services. Whether it’s the best in current affairs, sports and entertainment from a selection of the world’s premier media brands, our mission is to keep passengers informed and entertained with quality programming. We believe that TRT World is a significant enhancement to our portfolio, and will be a tremendous enhancement to our airline customers’ passenger experience”.


Inmarsat
Inmarsat has expanded its global network of Value Added Resellers (VARs) for its GX Aviation inflight broadband solution with the addition of Honeywell Aerospace. The agreement builds on Inmarsat’s long-standing partnership with Honeywell, who already manufactures the JetWave hardware for GX Aviation and sells Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX inflight wi-fi service for the business aviation market, through its GoDirect retail services business. In addition, it is further endorsement of Inmarsat’s commitment to operate the reference inflight connectivity network for airlines around the world. GX Aviation is the world’s first and only global, high-speed inflight broadband service, delivered through a wholly-owned and operated network of Global Xpress (GX) High-Throughput Satellites (HTS). This award-winning solution allows passengers to seamlessly browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights, with onboard connectivity comparable to the mobile broadband services they receive on the ground. As part of the agreement, Honeywell will now market GX Aviation to airlines worldwide through its rapidly growing GoDirect retail services business. This increases the company’s focus on end users, allowing it to tailor smart connectivity solutions directly to individual customers – whether in the airline or business aviation space. It addition, Honeywell will continue to manufacture and sell the JetWave hardware to airline and business aviation customers.


Spafax

Spafax’s innovative Business Traveller TV has been awarded for “Best Native/Sponsored Content” at the prestigious Drum B2B Brave Awards 2018 in New York recently. Congrats Spafax!


digEcor
Aerospace and electronics industry executive, Ariel Abam, has been appointed Vice President, Procurement, Manufacturing and Quality at digEcor. Ariel brings more than 25 years’ progressive experience managing medium to large manufacturing enterprises.

Also, digEcor is teaming with Jade in Singapore for aircraft retrofit of their cabin technology products for Asia.


Safran
Safran and Boeing got regulatory approvals a joint venture to build APU’s for aircraft, presently in San Diego CA.


Morgon Stanley put out a minor review of the Lion Air incident and in it, they said: “Ultimately, in our opinion, discovering the root cause will matter most for the stock and preliminary findings are expected to be released in late November, according to media reports. We believe that in a worst case scenario, Boeing could be forced to ground all 737 MAXs in order to rectify the issue, thus could impact deliveries in the near term. However, we believe this should not pose a material threat to EPS / FCF in the long-term.” Stay Tuned on this one!


OTHER NEWS:

Panama City | November 20, 2018– Latin American air travel is expected to double in the next two decades thanks to anticipated growth of the region’s middle class from 350 million people to 520 million by 2037, and evolving airline business models making travel more accessible.

Passenger traffic in the region has more than doubled since 2002 and is expected to continue growing over the next two decades — increasing from 0.4 trips per capita in 2017 to nearly 0.9 trips per capita in 2037. Historically, domestic traffic was the fastest growing segment, but in 2017 intra-regional traffic grew faster. Less than half of the region’s top 20 cities are connected by one daily flight, creating a great potential for the region’s airlines to build intra-regional traffic.

According to the latest Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF), Latin America and the Caribbean region will need 2,720 new passenger and freighter aircraft to meet this rising demand. Valued at US$349 billion, this forecast accounts for 2,420 small and 300 medium, large and extra-large aircraft. This implies that the region’s in-service fleet will almost double from the 1,420 aircraft in-service today to 3,200 in the next two decades. Of these aircraft, 940 will be for replacement of older-generation aircraft, 1,780 will be accounted for growth, and 480 are expected to remain in service.

“We continue to see growth in the region’s air transport sector, despite some economic challenges. With two of the world’s top 13 traffic flows expected to involve Latin America, and traffic expected to double, we are very optimistic that the region will continue to be resilient. Also, with intra and inter-continental demand rising, Latin American carriers will be in a very strong position to increase their footprint in the global long haul market segment.” said Arturo Barreira, President of Airbus Latin America and Caribbean, at the ALTA Airline Leaders Forum.

 

In 2017 Panama City joined Bogota, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, Santiago and Sao Paulo in the list of aviation megacities in Latin America. By 2037 Cancun and Rio de Janeiro are expected to be added to the list. These aviation megacities will account for 150,000 long-haul passengers daily.

Airbus has sold 1,200 aircraft, has a backlog of nearly 600 and nearly 700 in operation throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, representing a 56 percent market share of the in-service fleet. Since 1994, Airbus has secured nearly 70 percent of net orders in the region.

Food For Thought:

We don’t think anyone in our industry will dispute the fact that connectivity is here to stay. Passenger expectations are driving that demand, and airline operations are too. However, have any of you IFEC aficionados noticed that the rate of connectivity installations is slowing down? This may seem a bit surprising given all the hype over connectivity, point in fact, over the past five- or six-years connectivity has been the primary focus of every trade show this publication has attended: AIX, APEX, FTE, etc. Think about the buzz phrases: gate-to-gate, end-to-end passenger experience, the connected aircraft – they all focus on the use of connectivity to improve the airlines’ ability to touch the traveler throughout their journey and tailor their experience to meet expectations. So why the slow down? One factor we believe is that operators are grappling with decisions regarding Ka- vs. Ku-band. A connectivity decision is a costly venture and is typically a hardware commitment for their fleet for the next 7 – 10 years. The airlines are faced with sifting through all the pros and cons of each solution to determine which is the most viable and reliable option to fit their model. Now throw in the possibility of the LEOs and things became a lot more complicated. Also, antenna installations are not a penny a dozen – they are expensive and complex. Add to that the recent statements released by the FAA regarding antenna/radome installations and the Airworthiness Directive issued by EASA and airlines are likely to pause over making a quick decision. Given these issues, we also expect it to be more challenging for some connectivity suppliers to generate near-term investment capital.

Needless to say, connectivity suppliers and hardware vendors have made a large commitment and there are many players in the field – maybe too many. As we mentioned in an earlier issue of IFExpress, we expect continued consolidation within our industry. Along those lines, we have heard that one of the majors in the IFE arena is making a play for the commercial division of a major connectivity company, as well as, the connectivity portion of second significant industry vendor – despite one or both of the potential acquisition companies having issues with significant debt. We are hearing DIP (debtor-in-possession) financing is being discussed. The company making the acquisition overtures evidently sees the potential is greater than the risk involved. And interestingly, they will also become a Ku-band operator, as well as, a GX Aviation (Ka-band) reseller.  If the stars align, these acquisitions will launch them into the first-tier position in the Big Three – at least as far as connectivity is concerned. We live in interesting times.


SmartSky:

During APEX we had the opportunity to sit down with Nancy Walker, the new CCO, and Ryan Stone, president of SmartSky Networks, to discuss the status of their 4G LTE air-to-ground (ATG) connectivity service roll-out. Nancy joins SmartSky with 30+ years of experience in the aviation industry having worked for NASA, Harris, LiveTV and Thales.

We were told that SmartSky is in the process of standing their ground towers, and at the time of the interview 77% of them were in the final stages of installation/completion. Currently, the company is focusing their ground-based installation activity on very specific channels: New York to Chicago and Chicago to Florida. The team said they are well on the way to launching their first business aviation customer and that they are in an active demonstration phase. Nancy told us that they have 1,000 of ours of flight test time logged on three different aircraft models and that they had just received their 96th patent!

What SmartSky offers using their 2.4 GHz unlicensed spectrum and patented 4G LTE beamforming technology is a path to get data off the aircraft very quickly. In fact, they claim their high bandwidth capability off the aircraft is unique to their service offering. The SmartSky ‘pipe’ is designed to provide 4 GB/hour to the aircraft and 3 GB/hour off the aircraft. What this translates to is a low latency network that allows users to receive large attachments in their email, and easily stream video on their Wi-Fi enabled PEDs. Ryan Stone went on to say that SmartSky is using a highly patented technology that helps make the system more secure. Not only do they use encryption technology, but the system utilizes a very narrow and specific beam, requiring a low power level to transmit to the ground; therefore, security is innately enhanced.

Since our interview in Boston, Penstastar Aviation developed an Approved Model List (AML) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) that permits SmartSky installations on the Gulfstream GIV-X models and GV-SP as well, and the first customer installation has occurred in the business aviation market.  The company is looking to enter the commercial realm but firmly believes that more general aviation operators will be utilizing the system before airlines enter the mix.  It wouldn’t surprise us if a North American carrier were to add the SmartSky Network onto their aircraft in conjunction with an already installed connectivity system. After all, that is a current airline trend: multiple suppliers for connectivity. This is one to watch!


AIRBUS

A330 – 800
The first A330-800 development aircraft to fly, MSN1888, landed at Toulouse-Blagnac, France at 2:35pm local time after successfully completing its first flight which lasted four hours and four minutes. The aircraft, the second member of the A330neo Family, is powered by the latest technology Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 turbofans. “Today’s first flight of the A330-800 is the latest addition to our efficient Widebody family,” said Guillaume Faury, President Airbus Commercial Aircraft. “The A330-800 is an exceptionally versatile ‘route-opener’, offering unbeatable economics for airlines – encompassing everything from short to very-long haul widebody missions.” He added: “We look forward to the successful flight-test campaign, leading to certification next year.”

The A330-800’s development program will include around 300 flight-test hours, paving the way for certification in 2019. Its sibling, the larger A330-900 family member, recently completed its development testing and certification program which validated the A330neo Family’s common engines, systems, cabin and flight & ground operations.

The A330neo comprises two versions: the A330-800 and A330-900. Both of these widebody aircraft incorporate new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, nacelle, titanium pylon, new wings and offer an exclusive ‘Airspace by Airbus’ passenger experience. The larger A330-900 will accommodate up to 287 seats in a typical three-class layout, while the A330-800 typically will seat 257 passengers in three classes. At the end of September 2018, Airbus’ order book includes 13 customers who have placed orders for a total of 224 A330neos, with more to be added soon.

Airbus will fly an airBaltic A220-300 new generation single aisle aircraft, to five cities in four countries as part of a world demonstration tour.  The A220 demonstration tour is a great opportunity for Airbus to showcase its newest family member in front of airlines and media and to offer a close up view of the aircraft`s outstanding characteristics, comfort, and performance, that benefit both operators and passengers alike. airBaltic’s A220-300 features a comfortable cabin arrangement able to accommodate 145 passengers in true widebody comfort. The Latvian airline already operates 13 A220-300s out of a total of 50 ordered. The A220 is the only aircraft purpose built for the 100-150 seat market, it delivers unbeatable fuel efficiency and true widebody comfort in a single aisle aircraft. The A220 brings together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney’s latest-generation PW1500G geared turbofan engines to offer at least 20 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft. With a range of up to 3,200 nm (5020 km), the A220 offers the performance of larger single aisle aircraft.With an order book of over 400 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100- to 150-seat aircraft market.

A220 – 300 TOUR

The A220-300 will first attend the Zhuhai airshow (China) from November 5th until November 8th before flying to Chengdu on November 9th. The aircraft will continue on its journey with a stopover in Koh Samui (Thailand) on November 10th  before flying to Kathmandu (Nepal) on November 11th. After that the airBaltic A220 will go to Istanbul (Turkey) on November 12thbefore returning to its home base in Riga (Latvia) on November 14th.


IATA

The  group forecasts an annual increase in global traffic growth over the next 20 year-end to double emplacements (8.2 Billion) by 2037. Interestingly (and expectantly), China will become the world’s greatest aviation market (to, from, within) the country supposedly by mid – 2020’s. Look for India to become third!


ICELANDAIR & WOW AIR

It looks like Iceland Air just bought out Wow Air and they will still operate separately out of the Icelandic aviation market. With less than 4% of the transatlantic market, both airlines have “challenging” profit issues and this may be a start to reduce that stress. While Wow had been working on a public offering before this announcement, the airlines appear to have seen value in the joining before that event occurrence. The naming of the final organization might be interesting.


GOGO

Gogo Announces Third Quarter 2018 Financial Results as follows:

  • Consolidated revenue of $217.3 million, up 26% from Q3 2017
  • Net loss of $37.7 million, an improvement of 17% from Q3 2017
  • Adjusted EBITDA(1) increased to $21.1 million, up 63% from $13 million in Q3 2017
  • BA segment profit increased to $35.2 million, an increase of 65% from Q3 2017
  • 898 2Ku aircraft online on 14 global airlines, with 113 aircraft coming online in Q3 2018

OTHER NEWS

  • Perhaps it’s time for women to be more involved with the aviation industry because it sure seems so in some other areas? Here’s a quote from an interesting article in Business Insider: “In what may well have been a first in any country’s history, Iceland’s government actually studied whether macho posturing led to its economic meltdown. Its conclusion can be summed up in one word: yes.” Iceland ranks high for gender equality – Business Insider
  • Looking for work? Read this!! Here’s What Hiring Managers Actually Care About

A few more reports from APEX Boston

digEcor:

During APEX, digEcor had several significant announcements. One was the new EASA and FAA STCs for the digEcor power solutions on the B737 and A320. The company stated that by using their flexible AML STC they can offer rapid implementation of the light weight and easy to install USB or 110V power solutions offered by digEcor for both models of aircraft. Apparently digEcor has released their power seat kit for the BE Pinnacle and Recaro 3520 seats, which cover thousands of aircraft currently in service. The kit is comprised of a two=piece assembly that outlet mounting and cable shrouding – taking just minutes per seat to install. digEcor stated they have 200+ aircraft orders for their power solutions.

The new slim line NV monitor was also on debut in Boston. This is the latest and newest iteration of the GLIDE NV screen and is the slimmest to date at 3/8th of an inch (10mm). The new thin technology screen is easily embedded in any seat back or bulkhead while delivering all the capabilities and functionalities of GLIDE. The NV monitor boasts the latest IMX8 processor with increased memory, allowing future application options and also supports the latest HD content – all while being significantly lighter in weight than its predecessor. The NV can be mounted in a seat back, arm, or monument. It can also be used as a secondary cabin management solution or a cabin lighting controller.

digEcor also announced that they will be releasing their first Android offering in Q1 2019 for all of their existing and new GLIDE customers. Some of the benefits Android brings is more flexibility to the user interface by allowing airlines to rapidly innovate and achieve a common look and feel across their various fleets operating different hardware from multiple vendors. It will also provide a modern new look and feel that is comfortable for the passengers to interface with.

A new cabin management crew interface was also on display during APEX.  Improved performance and user interface for cabin systems controls are areas of significant improvement. The new interface has Embedded IFE, lighting and PSS, and can be controlled from anywhere in the cabin via remote control from the crew device. It also can provide convenient food and beverage ordering for the passengers. The key here is that the new interface not only improves usability at the terminal but also allows the crew to take control and interface with them throughout the cabin.

New additions to the digEcor executive team were announced during APEX. Gene Connelly has joined the company as President – Americas. Gene was previously Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Customer Support for Panasonic Avionics. He brings 28 years of experience in the IFEC industry with him. Tina Kazmer also joined digEcor as Vice President Marketing & Sales Support. Tina will oversee the strategic direction of Marketing and Communications which will include marketing, communications, events, proposal management, sales training & market research. She was previously with Advisian, the consulting arm of Worley Parsons Group.

Global Eagle:

When we had the opportunity to tour the Global Eagle booth in Boston last month, one of their primary areas of focus was Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellations and their great potential to significantly boost capacity while decreasing communication latency. However, LEOs are 3 – 5 years away from being a viable option. The network currently only has one LEO satellite in orbit, but Global Eagle is using the flying Albatross as a test bed for their Ka-band solution with Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite.  They are testing the hand-off between the LEO Telesat Phase 1 and the GEO (geostationary) Anik F3 in orbit. This hand-off is a critical component in the transition between LEO satellites. That isn’t to say they are planning on throwing in the towel on the GEOs but they do see the benefit of sending the right data over the right pipe in the future. Why all the hype over LEOs? When the LEO constellation is up and running it will provide 10 TB of capacity over the poles, have 30 milliseconds of latency vs. 700+ in the GEOs, and there will be at least 7 LEO satellites in orbit over the USA alone that will facilitate gate-to-gate. In a nut shell, the LEOs will provide global coverage with low latency and high capacity. As Mike Moeller, vice president of Aviation Sales said to us during our interview, “The LEOs will be like bring fiber connectivity to the aircraft without the fiber!”


MORE NEWS

Gogo:

Gogo announced that Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aereas, will become the launch partner for Gogo’s Aircraft Data Service, Wireless Quick Access Recorder and Automated Turbulence Reporting – tapping into aircraft data to drive operational efficiency. Gogo’s partnership with GOL launches a new business line for Gogo, and enables GOL to access real-time information, streamline processes, and generate new service opportunities by securely bonding aircraft data through Gogo’s 2Ku high-speed global satellite connectivity system.

“Gogo is rapidly moving beyond passenger connectivity to connect pilots, flight attendants and the aircraft itself so airlines can access real-time information. By leveraging inflight connectivity, airlines will be able to provide better service in flight, improve safety and operate more efficiently,” said John Wade, president of commercial aviation at Gogo.  “GOL has been at the forefront of technology adoption in the aviation industry; now they will be leading the way in leveraging aircraft data to drive efficiency. We are excited to work with them to bring Gogo’s Connected Aircraft Services to their aircraft.”

GOL will become the launch partner for Gogo’s Aircraft Data Service and Wireless Quick Access recorder. Aircraft Data Services allows for the integration of real-time operational data with GOL’s Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) applications to improve pilot situational awareness and application intelligence. Gogo’s Wireless Quick Access recorder more quickly provides aircraft data for use in airline operational and quality assurance programs.

In addition to leveraging Gogo’s data management products, GOL will be able to leverage Gogo’s Automated Turbulence Reporting, which utilizes real-time aircraft sensor data inputs. These reports are then sent to the ground using Gogo’s 2Ku, enabling faster and more accurate dissemination of real-time turbulence information.

Gogo has been connecting pilots and flight attendants in flight since 2014 and has developed several other capabilities in the following areas:

  • eEnablement – empowers airline crews with connectivity to their devices such as Electronic Flight Bags (EFBs), flight attendant connected devices and associated applications
  • Data management  gives airlines access to aircraft data anywhere in real-time
  • Operational solutions  optimizes airline operations with end-to-end solutions for safer, more efficient flights and improved passenger experience

To learn more about Gogo’s Connected Aircraft Services product portfolio, visit here.


Lufthansa Technic & LG Electronics:

LG Electronics (LG) and Lufthansa Technik AG will jointly develop, produce and market LG’s innovative OLED displays for commercial airplane cabins. The new venture will be based in Hamburg, Germany and will commence operation in the first half of 2019. The new joint venture will combine LG’s advanced, lightweight and flexible OLED display technology with Lufthansa Technik’s aviation business capabilities to create new markets for on-board aircraft applications such as welcome board screens and interior linings.

“We are very excited to be joining hands with Lufthansa Technik to expand the reach of LG’s innovative consumer electronic technologies to commercial aircrafts,” said Kwon Soon-hwang, president of LG’s Business-to-Business Company.

“Both partners contribute a globally recognized reputation in their respective business areas to create a new flying experience for the passengers,” added Dr. Johannes Bussmann, chairman of Lufthansa Technik’s executive board.Closing of the agreement, which was inked last week in Hamburg, is subject to regulatory approval and planned startup will deliver items such as interior lighting in first quarter next year.


Airbus:
Airbus welcomed Delta Air Lines as the first U.S. carrier to take delivery of the Airbus A220 aircraft.  On hand for the delivery ceremony at the aircraft’s assembly line in Mirabel were members of the A220 team as well as government officials and executives from Delta, Airbus, Bombardier and Investissement Quebec. Delta’s A220 will enter service in early 2019, making Delta the fourth global airline to operate the aircraft previously known as the Bombardier C Series. The C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP) welcomed Airbus as lead partner earlier this year, prompting the change of name to the Airbus A220.  Delta is the largest A220-100 customer, with a firm order for 75 aircraft.

With an order book of over 400 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100- to 150-seat aircraft market, estimated to represent at least 7,000 aircraft over the next 20 years. As of the end of September, Delta was operating a fleet of 235 Airbus aircraft, including 182 A320 Family members, as well as 42 A330s and 11 A350 XWB, or eXtra Wide Body aircraft. The airline has more than 275 additional Airbus aircraft on order. Next year, Delta will become the first U.S. airline to operate the new Airbus A330neo.

Also from Airbus:

Airbus released The Great Enabler: Aerospace in Africa – a White Paper on the role of aerospace technologies and their impact on socio-economic development in Africa.The extensive report looks at how different segments of the industry can address a core set of challenges on the continent by: increasing access to healthcare; enhancing food security by making African agriculture more competitive and sustainable; promoting education, training and innovation; empowering businesses with innovative products and solutions; and breaking down barriers to the movement of people and goods across Africa.

The white paper analyses the role of aerospace technologies in sectors with the greatest possible impact on social and economic development including manufacturing and industrialization, civil aviation, agriculture, healthcare and humanitarian assistance:

  • On manufacturing and industrialization, many African countries are final consumers in the global aerospace value chain. Joining the ranks of producers in this value chain is challenging for many but not impossible. The examples of Africa’s current leaders in aerospace – South Africa, Tunisia and Morocco – demonstrate the complexities but also the opportunities for African countries to develop aerospace manufacturing and industrialization capacity. Key among these opportunities is Africa’s potential demographic dividend, which will be achieved by investing in its youthful and increasingly techno-savvy population.
  • In the aviation sector, the key question remains how to connect people to markets and goods in a faster, cheaper and more efficient way in order to maximize the sector’s role as an economic engine and a vehicle for greater integration in Africa.
  • Agriculture is perhaps the most consequential pillar of the continent’s sustainable development. However, despite employing more than 60 percent of Africa’s population, the sector contributes only about 15 percent of the continent’s GDP as underlying challenges persist. Aerospace technology such as precision farming could potentially reverse this situation by enabling farmers to produce more with less.
  • Access to healthcare is still a challenge for many rural populations. While building on the existing technologies in the sector – such as air ambulances – new technology will further change the dynamics of access to medical care and emergency response in terms of quantity, distance and data collection.

The report also stresses the need for clear government policies to harness the power of aerospace technology, concluding with key recommendations on human capital development, partnerships and financing.


OTHER NEWS

  • So, if a couple robots can build a chair, when will they be involved in aircraft construction? Robot builds an Ikea chair. Everyone goes nuts. | ZDNet
  • Don’t think the Tesla cars technology are driving the auto market changes? Read this – then think about airplanes! We don’t know if Tesla products are, or are not, top tech; however, you might find this description a bit different than others.
  • Okay, okay, the Bloomberg China-chip story caught a lot of electrical tekkies off guard and we have read a little technical jargon supporting (mostly denying) the possibility of the chip intrusion security technique. It is not easy stuff; however, if you are into the code/chip security issues, you might try reading some of the best electrically technical, intercept possibility articles we have seen on the subject here: Investigating Implausible Bloomberg Supermicro Stories And yes, its not aviation, but as electronics overtakes aviation solutions for things like operation and connectivity, perhaps it might be worth reading. And by the way, you have to read the Comments, they are by some folks that really know their stuff. Good Luck!

IFPL:

Charge-to-Charge is a patent pending solution that IFPL unveiled during APEX. As the name suggests, the new product enables an airline to monetize the USB power. There are two scenarios for a passenger to pay for USB inseat power inflight. 1) During the purchase of an airline ticket, a payment option to include for power during the flight may be selected. 2) Or via a preloaded mobile app, most likely the airline app, a passenger in route could elect to purchase inseat USB power. The USB outlet would communicate with the traveler’s PED via the app, allowing that device to be charged.

IFPL also showcased a reversible power outlet that supports both USB-A to USB-C as many consumer electronics are making the transition from one standard to the other. The company is always innovative, and they also demonstrated a concept seatback 15-watt Qi wireless inductive charging feature. They anticipate certification for the product by year-end.

Lufthansa Systems:

BoardConnect Portable was the focal point for Lufthansa Systems during APEX. The next generation system is capable of streaming inflight entertainment content to 100 passengers, which is more than double its previous capacity. It can be combined with a product from Lufthansa Technik called BoardConnect Portable/Link that facilitates low bandwidth SMS messaging and real-time online payments during flight. Furthermore, the product needs an antenna but requires no STC! Operational health and usage statistics are also features that the new BoardConnect boasts.

PDT an Astronics Company:

One of the forward-thinking technologies we experienced at APEX came from PDT/Astronics. They demoed a concept technology called LiFi. This wasn’t the first time we have heard about LiFi, far from it. However, it was the first time we experienced such a successful demonstration of the technology and we can see future applications for this technology inflight 5 or 10 years down the road. What is LiFi? LiFi is a high speed, bidirectional, and fully networked wireless communication of data using light. When an electrical current is applied to an LED light bulb, a stream of light (photons) is emitted from the bulb. LED bulbs are semiconductor devices, which means that the brightness of the light flowing through them can be changed at extremely high speeds, allowing a signal to be sent by modulating the light at different rates. The signal can be received by a detector which interprets the changes in light intensity as data. This cannot be seen by the human eye. This technique allows data to be transmitted to-from an LED light bulb at very high speeds. In fact, LiFi can get up to 11 Gbps, whereas, standard 802.11ad is in the 7Gbps range. LiFi only works for line of sight transmission but there is no interference with critical instrumentation. LiFi is significantly more secure than other wireless technologies because light can be contained in a physical space – physical barriers and adjustments can be implemented to contain and protect the light. It also works with 10%-90% light illumination. In other words, Li-Fi is rapidly modulated LED that has the capability to securely link a passenger’s PED well beyond traditional Wi-Fi. We realize it was a demo, but we watched a movie streamed via LiFi. There was virtually no latency and you could block the light, stopping the movie, and move your hand and the movie played right where we left off without any noticeable delay. We were impressed and cannot wait for this technology to be available in the home and in the air in the future!

RebelRoam:

One of the reasons we so enjoy attending expos like APEX is having the opportunity to meet new entrants to the IFEC space. RebelRoam is one such company. The Estonian-based company has developed a smartphone app, dubbed RebelRocket, that addresses three issues: speed, cost, and security – all frequent issues affiliated with public Wi-Fi networks whether they be on the ground or airborne. Here is a broad view of how it works. First, the app automatically encrypts all the content secure to any public Wi-Fi network. Secondly malware and ads can be blocked which reduces webpage load time. Third, it also optimizes video streaming. In other words, the app enhances any connection made through any Wi-Fi network. This sounded like a pretty cool product to us and we expect to hear more from RebelRoam over the coming months!

Kontron:

Kontron unveiled their portable Cab-n-Connect P100 wireless streaming platform for the commercial avionics market. The new platform is stated to be both flexible and robust while being in a small form factor (9.8 inches x 3.5 inches x 12.6 inches). It utilizes 802.11ac/abgn radios and features dual hot-swappable batteries to enable 12+ hours of streaming video. The P100 platform has up to 8 TB of onboard storage, as well as, RSSD for quick content updates.

Immfly announced that they selected Kontron for the Pegasus Airlines wireless IFE program. The Turkish-based low-cost carrier selected Kontron to supply their A320 and B737 fleet (81 aircraft) with the ACE Flight 4600 airborne servers, RSSDs, CWAPS and installation kits.

The company also inked a deal with Air Esurfing, a fully owned subsidiary of Air Media online Group, to jointly explore the China aviation Wi-Fi market. The Air Esurfing system solution plans to integrate Kontron’s ACE Flight Server and Cab-n-Connect WAPs for inflight connectivity application for China’s Ku-band and Ku/Ka-band HTS capacity.


MORE INDUSTRY NEWS

Astronics:

Astronics Corporation, a leading provider of advanced technologies for the global aerospace, defense and semiconductor industries, announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Astronics AeroSat, had its FliteStream connectivity solutions tested, qualified, and approved to operate across Intelsat’s FlexExec business aviation service. Astronics Aerosat’s FliteStream connectivity solutions are the first inflight terminals to obtain approval to operate over Intelsat’s FlexExec service. FliteStream is a widely deployed satellite broadband data solution of fuselage- and tail-mount SATCOM products designed for government, commercial, business and VVIP aviation operators and passengers.

Spafax:

Global content agency Spafax was nominated this week for two B2B Brave Awards, an initiative hosted by global media platform and Europe’s largest marketing website: The Drum. The B2B Brave Awards celebrate excellence in B2B campaigns produced for digital and Out-of-Home as well as strategic initiatives in data, artificial intelligence, PR, social media and more. The awards are judged by a panel who have extensive experience in the B2B industry, including representatives from Stein IAS, LinkedIn, IBM, Momentum Worldwide, Adobe, MRM McCann, Ogilvy and more.

Spafax is a finalist in the following two categories:

  • Best Use of Artificial Intelligence: Spafax Profile with Amazon Alexa for American Airlines
  •  Best Native/Sponsored Content Program: Business Traveller TV

About Spafax Profile with Amazon Alexa

Powered by AI, the Spafax Profile with Amazon Alexa Skill that allows airline passengers to “ask Alexa” about what movies, television shows, and music will be available on board their upcoming flight. The first of its kind, the Skill was launched with American Airlines, who wanted to introduce a way for their customers to use their Alexa-enabled devices to plan their journey and get excited about the entertainment on their upcoming flight.

Skywise:

Airbus has presented its new reliability analysis software at MRO Europe 2018. Called “Skywise Reliability”, this new solution has been developed by Airbus and is offered with Skywise Core. The application integrates all relevant fleet-wide data – such as part replacements, flight plans and delays and historical maintenance actions – and fully automates reliability reporting, saving airlines hours per week. Furthermore, it allows users to ‘drill down’ into trends to truly diagnose root causes so they can allocate resources to mitigate recurring operational interruptions (OIs).

Skywise Reliability also complements internal data with worldwide anonymised fleet data so that airlines can proactively assess reliability performance against industry benchmarks and understand whether a recurring issue is unique or a more systematic issue. Thanks to Skywise Reliability, airlines have already reported that they can typically reduce the reliability process time from one week to one day – saving significant time in collecting / sorting / processing the data and producing reports. Since its launch in June 2018, 28 airlines have been connected to Skywise Reliability, including easyJet, Allegiant, WOW Air, Bangkok Airways, and Etihad. The service provides interactive and ready-to-use dashboards to simplify the reliability process and increase its efficiency. It allows users to measure in-service fleet performance, explore operational data and benchmark fleet data (eg. fleet utilisation, operational interruptions and in-service issues, LRU removals, logbook data etc.) with other operators and the worldwide Airbus fleet. Thanks to Skywise Reliability, airline engineers and technicians can easily set up alerts (for example on mean time between unscheduled removal (MTBUR) of a line-replaceable unit (LRU) versus guaranteed MTBUR), and analyse trends, build reliability reports and collaborate.

Inmarsat:

Inmarsat, a provider of global mobile satellite communications, announced the appointment of Kai Tang as Senior Vice President of Business and General Aviation (BGA). Kai joins the Inmarsat Aviation business from Inmarsat Government, where he held the role of Chief Commercial Officer. Kai is an experienced satellite communications professional with industry expertise ranging across government, maritime and aviation. During his seven years at Inmarsat, he has held the role of Vice President of Commercial Strategy and Operations for Inmarsat’s U.S. Government Business Unit, and also played a key role within the company’s Global Xpress development programme.

He will be responsible for Inmarsat’s ground-breaking portfolio of connectivity services for the business aviation industry, including its global, high-speed Jet ConneX inflight Wi-Fi solution, which delivers an in-the-air broadband experience comparable to on-the-ground connections. In addition, he will oversee next year’s business aviation launch of the European Aviation Network (EAN), the world’s first inflight broadband that combines dedicated satellite coverage with a complementary LTE-based ground network.

SITA:

SITA announced that it will deploy a further 15 Scan&Fly units at Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2 (klia2), following the successful implementation of 15 units earlier this year. Baggage processing time has been cut in half for AirAsia passengers using SITA’s Scan&Fly bag drop technology at klia2 terminal, taking between 30-40 seconds on average compared to 75 seconds previously and reducing the wait time for check-in by 40%. The addition of SITA Scan&Fly into the check-in process has resulted in dramatic improvements in the overall check-in times. Prior to implementation the average wait time for passengers at klia2 terminal was around seven minutes but with SITA’s efficient baggage processing technology supporting the airline agents this has fallen 40% to just four minutes and increased the capacity of this area of the airport.


OTHER NEWS

SkyLights

At APEX in Boston, SkyLights announced their partnership with STELIA Aerospace for their premium inseat cinematic VR IFE solution. STELIA is one of the leaders in the field of Business and First class passenger seats The new product combines SkyLights’ Allosky headset, STELIA’s new Opal business class seat and InSeat Solutions’ interactive massage system. The combination of these products provides an unparalleled 4D experience and simplifies the logistics of SkyLights’ entertainment. We tried the Allosky headset and were blown away by the Full HD virtual experience. The audio system is linked into the seat so the massage system, which is equipped with an audio vibration mode, delivers content-synchronized vibrations for a truly immersive interactive experience. As well as upgrading the passenger experience, the inseat solution reduces the logistical complexity and cost of VR IFE for airlines. The devices do not need to be loaded/off-loaded when an aircraft is at its base and can be cleaned onboard by the same crew that cleans the aircraft. SkyLights stated that the new in-seat solution is planned as a line-fit product for airlines that are seeking to upgrade and differentiate their upper-class passenger experience. Airlines looking to implement the benefits in a shorter term, the SkyLights entertainment can be integrated into existing seats certified on a fleet-by-fleet basis.

Alaska Airlines will be the first airline in North America to implement the Allosky VR headset. The inflight experience has 2-D and 3-D screens and forward-facing 360-degree films will be available in the airlines’ first-class service on the Seattle-Boston and Boston-San Diego routes.

FTS

FTS had several significant announcements that were unveiled in Boston. First, FTS and Global Onboard Partners announced their agreement to collaborate to promote, design, and offer a seamless inflight entertainment and ancillary revenue service for airlines around the globe. FTS is a provider of wireless IFEC solutions and Global Onboard Partners is a provider of inflight advertising products. The two will combine their patented onboard technologies, hardware and products in an effort to provide airlines with a comprehensive revenue generating IFE solution.

Additionally, FTS announced their partnership with Qingdao Airlines of China, a private company, to equip its fleet of 14 A320 aircraft with XStream-SAT Broadband Connectivity system. This arrangement is achievable with the Civil Aviation Authority of China’s relaxation of regulations in early 2018, allowing passengers to use smartphones during flight.

Another landmark agreement announced during APEX was Donghai Airlines plan to equip its fleet with XStream-Sat Next Generation Inflight Broadband system from FTS. The significance of this deal is that it will be for the first fully ‘Connected Aircraft’ implementation in China to integrate both flight deck and passenger cabin application over inflight broadband connectivity service. Rich Salter, Chief Technology Officer of FTS added, “The seamless integration of the aircraft data network with the airline’s IT infrastructure enables the aircraft to become more intelligent and data-centric. Airlines can provide precise support to flights through analysis of real time data transmitted via the air-ground broadband network.  By remote monitoring of flight systems’ performance and leveraging AI deep learning, airlines can even preemptively predict defects, recommend preventive measures and thereby greatly improve flight reliability.”

Viasat

One of the primary topics of discussion from Viasat during APEX was the selection of Aeromexico of the ViaSat Ka-band satcom solution for 18 of their B787 MAX, 16 B737 MAX aircraft are new. The first line-fit installations have already begun and there are options to extend the agreement to 60 other jetliners in the Aeromexico fleet. According to ViaSat the airline evaluated the Viasat inflight internet service and selected them based on its proven, scalable network platform. Furthermore, the ability for them to tap into the ViaSat-2 satellite and future satellites, like Viasat-3, provides the airline with greater inflight Wi-Fi reliability, faster onboard internet speeds, better internet performance, and a futureproofed approach to inflight Wi-Fi. As the Viasat technology is both forward and backward compatible across all of Viasat’s spacecraft, ensuring that the Aeromexico’s jetliners can stay connected.

La Compagnie Business-Class Airline partnered with Viasat to offer inflight connectivity to the boutique airline’s twice daily flights between New York and Paris. The airline’s A321neo aircraft will be installed with high-speed Wi-Fi Capabilities and will enter into revenue service in April 2019. The satellite design and its ability to meet the connectivity demands in high-density areas like major airport hubs and congested air corridors appealed to the boutique carrier.

SITAONAIR

SITAONAIR forged an agreement with Etisalat, a mobile network operator, to transform how inflight cellular services are offered to airline passengers. Etisalat is based in the United Arab Emirates and allows subscribers of their business roaming packs to use their data and minutes inflight as part of their bundle with no additional fee. This new roaming agreement provides their travelers with a seamless mobile connectivity experience whether they be on the ground or in the air.

New Caledonia-based airline, Aircalin, also chose SITAONAIR for their in-flight connectivity solution. The airline will install their A330-900s and A320neos over the next 3 years.


IFEC NEWS:

Panasonic

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) has appointed Donny Cheah, as Regional Vice President, China. This strategic hire will bolster Panasonic’s presence in China which is the fastest-growing region in the world for air travel. To date, Panasonic has sold more than 2,000 inflight entertainment and connectivity solutions to airlines based in this region. Donny will also serve as the president of Panasonic Avionics (China) Co., Ltd. (PACN) which will be newly established in Shanghai, China this year. In his business management role, Donny will oversee account management, customer support, repairs & maintenance, media & creative services, along with the service functions of quality, human resources, IT, and customs compliance in the China region.

Astronics

Astronics announced that it has joined the Seamless Air Alliance as an “Adopter Member. ” The Seamless Air Alliance is a consortium of companies dedicated to the development and promotion of aircraft connectivity standards to facilitate a simple, delightful experience for passengers. The goal of the organization is to create standards that ensure continuous connectivity from gate-to-gate anywhere in the world with the additional potential benefit of reducing the hurdles associated with the acquisition, installation and operation of inflight connectivity systems.

Astronics FliteStream: The company also announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Astronics AeroSat, is introducing its next generation FliteStream T-310 SATCOM connectivity solution for business aircraft. Astronics is offering the FliteStream T-310 solution to the business aircraft market in partnership with Satcom Direct (SD), the launch customer, as part of its SD Xperience end-to-end solution. The T-310 is fully qualified and approved to operate on the Intelsat FlexExec business aviation network. The FliteStream T-310 SATCOM connectivity solution includes the next generation iDirect CX780 modem, providing compatibility with both Ku-band wide beam and high throughput spot beam satellite (HTS) networks.

Gogo

Gogo Business Aviation has surpassed 5,000 systems activated across the AVANCE platform and its other ATG (air-to-ground) systems. Presently, Gogo has nearly 450 Gogo AVANCE systems flying on business aircraft, including AVANCE L5 and L3, which is the fastest adoption of connectivity systems across the broadest range of business aircraft models in the history of business aviation. AVANCE L5, Gogo’s solution that can provide bandwidth-intensive activity such as streaming video, has been in the market for a little more than a year. To date, Gogo has more than 350 L5 systems installed and activated, with an additional 300 that have been shipped. AVANCE L3, which began shipping earlier this year, continues to gain momentum and is expected to reach 100 installations by mid-November, less than one year after launch. Since the start of the year, the AVANCE L5 system has been in use on more than 28,000 flights, delivering a 4G experience that allows heavy-bandwidth activities such as streaming video, video conferencing, email with large attachments, and fast web browsing.

Gogo DASH

Connectivity is often the biggest influencer on passenger satisfaction today. Passengers on business aircraft expect reliable, seamless connectivity, but they also want visibility into the performance of the connectivity systems on board their aircraft. To help provide greater insight and better diagnostic tools, Gogo Business Aviation is introducing Gogo DASH, a powerful new toolkit that gives operators and pilots visibility into the Gogo network and the connectivity systems they have installed on their aircraft.  Gogo DASH is comprised of the DASH mobile app and DASH portal and provides information for a single aircraft or an entire fleet.

SITA

Moscow Domodedovo Airport and S7 Airlines have implemented SITA’s Scan&Fly self-bag drop technology, providing passengers with a faster, more efficient process to check-in their own bags. The process takes less than a minute. The technology was developed by SITA, the world leader in IT and telecommunications solutions for the air transport industry. The self-bag drop solution was tested on S7 check-in counters since early September and positive feedback was received from more than 1,000 passengers that used the service. By the end of the year, 24 check-in counters at Domodedovo will be equipped with the self-bag drop technology, allowing other airlines to use the service. Scan&Fly will accelerate and simplify the check-in process for passengers. Equipped with a document scanner and a hand-held infrared barcode reader, it takes only three simple steps for passengers to check-in a bag. First, the boarding pass barcode (printed or digital) is scanned, a bag tag is printed and then the passenger attaches the tag to their bag before depositing it for processing.

ATPCO and SITA announced that British Airways, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, the airlines of the LATAM Group, and Finnair will participate in NDC Exchange, a platform that enables content interoperability across the airline distribution ecosystem and is a trusted bridge between IATA’s NDC (New Distribution Capability) and traditional distribution methods. “By connecting to NDC Exchange we have access to these first movers, as well as other airlines as they join. By building a single connection to NDC Exchange, we are being more efficient with our development resources, letting us focus on customer experience rather than content acquisition. We’re excited about the momentum this is getting and can’t wait for the next airline,” said Rich Miller of Serko, an industry-leading corporate booking tool. NDC Exchange is a community platform that enables API connectivity between airlines and sellers (GDSs, travel agents, aggregators, OTAs, and TMCs) so that they can exchange messages easily and cost effectively. NDC Exchange supports shopping, booking, and servicing workflows and enables the cross-selling of ancillary services between airlines, and among airlines and sellers. Using a common data model, it normalizes messages regardless of version or format, creating interoperability across the distribution ecosystem. Travel sellers can access multiple airlines via NDC Exchange, hence lowering the cost of their implementation.

As world leaders gather in Bali for the IMF-World Bank Group meetings, PT Angkasa Pura I Persero (AP1), which operates 13 airports across Central and Eastern Indonesia, announced that it will be leveraging world-class technology, from air transport IT provider SITA, to manage the country’s rising passenger numbers. The commitment to leverage world-class technology was reiterated through a partnership signing event, between SITA and PT Angkasa Pura Supports (APS), AP1’s subsidiary company, held at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport today. Indonesia is the biggest aviation market in South East Asia with more than 110 million passengers in 2017 and it is growing rapidly. By 2036, Indonesia is expected to be one of the top four markets globally with a forecasted 355 million passengers. The economic and social benefits of aviation are well recognized and SITA’s proven airport technology will support AP1’s vision to run world-class operations providing a great passenger experience during this period of rapid growth. Since 2014, SITA has provided AirportConnect Open to AP1. This common-use platform enables carriers to operate smoothly at AP1’s 13 airports, including at two of Indonesia’s busiest and award-winning airports Denpasar (Bali) and Surabaya. This platform also enables the future introduction of SITA’s self-service check-in kiosks, bag-drop and boarding gates; and SITA ControlBridge, which seamlessly integrates the command and control capability of an airport to deliver efficient operations.


OTHER NEWS

OK, let’s kick off this IFExpress with some “trends” we saw at the show in Boston. These aren’t predictions but just observations and we will of course talk about them in the weeks to come.

  • Big IFE seems very interested in satcom. This sort of makes sense, especially if there is a future payback.
  • Show booths are seemingly getting a little smaller?!
  • Connectivity is becoming more of industry focal point.
  • People’s personal devices are affecting the industry in at least 2 ways: They may impact the future IFE embedded installations and the inseat power folks are all smiles.
  • There is a next generation system and it looks amazing, especially since it can help you enjoy the flight experience better.
  • Software Analytics in a big supplier’s booth blew us away because they have a working user system hardware/software application. If you have their hardware, they can provide an incredible total aircraft system monitor that knows if and where failures are. Further, the application allows the airline to monitor content usage, per tail, per seat, per route! (More on this later).
  • As satcom frequency bands go up, aircraft satcom dishes are getting a little smaller and lower in height.
  • Speaking of satcoms, LEO systems are garnering more interest every day.
  • There is a new player knocking on the door of the Big 3 IFEC camp.
  • One vendor has found a way for you to pay for your PED power usage – on the plane!

Some Highlights from APEX EXPO:

PANASONIC

During Panasonic’s media briefing, Panasonic’s Chief Technology Officer, David Bartlett discussed the three overall areas of focus for the company: 1) Improving customer satisfaction by providing the passenger a seamless experience, 2) Improving operational efficiency, and 3) How to use digital transformation to drive revenue and new business opportunities. As a result, Panasonic has been focusing heavily on artificial intelligence and machine learning and their new NEXT cloud-based platform allows them to leverage these new technologies. Panasonic has also strengthened their existing relationship with Black Swan for Artificial Intelligence.

Andrew Mohr, Head of Innovation at Panasonic Avionics, unveiled their new Wellness Suite of products, which is one of the four pillars of the NEXT product line. The Wellness suite features five products: premium lighting, active noise control, nanoe air quality, the Detalytics Health app, and Mimi personalized audio. The premium LED lighting product is targeted to hit the market in 2020 and will have various scenarios that the traveler can select from, including circadian rhythm, sleep, mealtime, and/or entertainment. The noise control product that was discussed, and demoed in the booth, was in a premium seat whereby the external noise was reduced by 15 decibels without the use of headphones. The technology is adaptable to each seat configuration and will calibrate inflight to each passenger’s seat. It has a frequency range of 80-400Hz and in-seat controls, integrating with the passenger IFE. It too will be launched in the 2019/2020 time frame.

Nanoe was another wellness feature. This is an air cleansing technology, that is currently used on the ground in Japan and in automobiles including Range Rover and Jaguar, that creates nano droplets of water to remove airborne odors and pathogens. But get this, the ionized water droplets are 15,000 times smaller than a human hair follicle!! The nano-sized electrostatic atomized particles are distributed at 480 billion nm particles per second, resulting in the removal of viruses, bacteria, fungi and odors from the cabin.

Artificial intelligence comes into play with the Detalytics health app. AI is used to assess various aspects of a passengers’ health/wellness and deliver accurate recommendations to them via the app. Perhaps the most amazing offering in the Wellness product suite came from Mimi audio technology. Mimi is an app that uses a specialized algorithm that tests and tunes the audio headphones to the passengers’ specific hearing requirements.  The passenger can either answer a series of specific hearing related questions or simply select their gender and age – the results are truly phenomenal! The health and wellness market has been a huge success on the ground with all the wearable technologies available today, whether it be a FitBit, Apple Watch4, Garmin, etc. It was only a matter of time before this booming industry reached into the airline market.  As expected, Panasonic indicated they have an undisclosed launch customer. All this is attainable because of the NEXT open platform.

Panasonic also announced an IFEC deal with Uzbekistan Airways for 3 B787-8 and 2 A320neo aircraft. The X-Series IFEC system, in conjunction with a suite of connectivity services, will be line-fit installed on the new jets. A personalized, home theater experience, with HD screens and high-power USB charging at every seat, AVOD, and capacitive multi-touch screens. The aircraft will also be outfitted with inflight Wi-Fi service. The B787-8 will also have live television and the ability for passengers to use their mobile phone in flight. All the aircraft in this contract are slated to enter into service in January 2019.

Egyptair also selected Panasonic for 15 A320neo aircraft. The X-Series IFEC platform will be line-fit installed on the new narrow-body aircraft, starting in 2020. Business Class will boast 13-inch HD personal screens, a video handset and high-power charging facilities at every seat. Economy Class will have 10-inch HD screens incorporating a USB power point, with charging facilities at each seat group. Inflight Wi-Fi service will also be available; as well as, inflight shopping options and a 3D flight path moving map. Egyptair has also opted to use OneMedia, Panasonic’s advertising platform, to target onboard advertising campaigns by categories including seat class, flight destination, origin city, content categories, and languages.

GOGO

On the opening day of the exhibition floor, Gogo announced that their IPTV product, dubbed Gogo TV, is up and flying on three global airlines, delivering live television to 550+ aircraft. Sports, news, and other content is either delivered to the passengers’ Wi-Fi enabled PEDs or enabled into the seatback IFE system. The airline can customize channel options, allowing their passengers to view popular networks in their country and/or region. Gogo TV is available via the Gogo 2Ku high-speed satcom service. Gogo TV uses High Efficiency Video Coding compression that facilitates bandwidth usage up to 40%. The system also combines multiple channels into a single multicast stream (statistical multiplexing), resulting in a highly efficient solution that offers the best possible perceived video quality while using the least total bandwidth.  Gogo also announced that Air France launched Gogo’s 2Ku high-speed connectivity system on an A330 and B777 with installations being underway on the balance of Air France’s long-haul fleet of 83 jetliners.

THALES

American Airlines and Thales announced during the EXPO that the airline has selected AVANT IFE System for their 22 new B787-8 Dreamliners that are scheduled to enter into service in 2020. Business Class travelers will have 17-inch HD Flex screens and the Thales handheld controller, Avii, that also has the capability to be used as a second screen. Premium Economy will have 12-inch Fit HD screens, while economy will have the 10-inch version.

In the Thales booth, the highlights were on their three-tiered IFEC offering: 1) CORE – their streamlined entertainment product that has a low time to market and uses the Thales developed standard GUI. This product is line-fit offerable at both Boeing and Airbus today, 2) AVANT– uses the current platform that Thales has developed but facilitates more design choices and a degree of customization for the airlines, and 3) PRESTIGE – which is a high-end product that is co-designed and co-innovated by the airline and Thales working closely together to tailor the passenger experience. Presently, both the CORE and AVANT products are available.

Thales also addressed their commitment to Big Data, which they said not only facilitates personalization for the passenger but also has implications for airline operations and its associated costs. Closely related is Artificial Intelligence (AI), with they see playing a significant role in preventative maintenance by utilizing just-in-time parts shipping. Thales stated they are fully dedicated to connectivity and their Ka-band technology investment. They added that they are presently looking into 5G as well. And lastly, but certainly not least, they indicated that Thales has a commitment to Cyber Security.  The indicated that the Thales IFEC group was fortunate to have the Thales Group investing in the aforementioned categories.

Thales also announced that Vietnam Airlines strengthened their partnership with the airline’s selection of AVANT IFE for their new B787-10 fleet of aircraft. This agreement expands their existing relationship for the airline’s A350 and B787-9 fleets with AVANT IFE and turn-key maintenance services.

HOT TEAM = ENCORE

For the past few years, we have been impressed by the inflight entertainment content folks out of Hong Kong and we wanted to introduce you to Jovita Toh’s Encore team …“is made of a group of in-flight veterans who have individually evolved within the inflight and content industries, enhanced their expertise with polished skills, exchanged personal time and effort for added knowledge, enabled the organizations they work for with necessary insights and are now joining forces to extend their collective experience to the exciting world of inflight entertainment”… we couldn’t have said it better! You can find out more here. Watch these folks because they will be content suppliers of the future! PS, they turn out a great monthly newsletter – contact Tommy Ko.


Other News:

AIRBUS

The Board of Directors of Airbus SE (stock exchange symbol: AIR) has selected Guillaume Faury as future Airbus Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Faury, 50, who currently serves as President Airbus Commercial Aircraft, will succeed Tom Enders, 59, who remains CEO until the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 10 April 2019, when the appointment of Faury as executive member of the Board will be submitted to shareholders. Guillaume Faury served in various senior management roles at Eurocopter from 1998 to 2008. Starting in Engineering, then Flight Test, he later became Executive Vice President for Commercial Programmes, then Executive Vice President for Research and Development. In 2009, Faury joined Peugeot S.A., where he served as Executive Vice President for Research and Development as a Member of the Managing Board. In May 2013, Faury returned to Airbus as CEO of Airbus Helicopters and in early 2018 he took the helm of Airbus Commercial Aircraft. Denis Ranque will continue as Chairman of the Board of Directors until the end of his mandate in April 2020, as foreseen in the staggered board succession process, introduced at AGM 2016. At that time and after seven years as Chairman, Denis Ranque has requested to leave the Board to pursue other interests. The Board will commence the process of selecting a new Chairman in due course having regard to, as expressed in its internal rules, the importance of maintaining international diversity at Board and Management level.

NOTES OF INTEREST

Los Angeles, USA | September 25, 2018–Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. [NASDAQ: ENT] today announced that it is bringing global destination recommendations to passengers’ finger tips inflight with trusted content from the world’s largest travel site, TripAdvisor – without the need for internet access or a seatback screen.

The new service is called “Air Cities” and is available through Global Eagle’s award-winning Airtime inflight platform, which wirelessly streams content and other services directly to passengers in flight. Jet Airways of India is the first customer for wireless Air Cities.

“Every passenger wants the world at his or her fingertips, and Global Eagle is constantly seeking innovative products to satisfy the rising demand for unique content on board,” said Global Eagle CEO Josh Marks.

Global Eagle’s Air Cities service provides destination guides that are curated from content supplied by TripAdvisor. This includes points of interest within specific categories, such as Accommodation, restaurants, and experiences Passengers will see locations that are top-rated by global travelers, photos, and reviews. No internet connection will be needed to view the content.

“Air Cities is part of an expansive product offering for airlines to offer passengers,” said Marks. “Global Eagle offers the leading movie, TV, music and gaming content in the industry, as well as flight tracking, education and other options, with advertising and sponsorship opportunities that generate revenue.”

Another APEX has gone by and there were some interesting changes and new technologies at the Boston Experience. Specifically, here are a few of the event “big deals” we saw. And you should note, some of the technologies and business deals will be with us for years and impact the industry for some time. Here are just a few of the deals and trends to watch, and note, in the forthcoming weeks, we will do future stories on many more vendors and many more products beyond the quick look presented here:

  • Panasonic and Inmarsat announced a strategic partnership to expand their relationship of inflight connectivity at Ku and Ka bands. This collaboration has the potential to offer a better inflight connectivity solution worldwide because of the existing fixed satcom installations at some 22,300 feet. Watch this relationship as it unfolds.We understand that the deal will be finalized by the end of October.
  • Another “big deal” is the clever acquisition of Rockwell Collins Paves IFE hardware, software, manufacturing, and manpower solution by digEcor. While the official announcement will be made later, almost everyone we saw had the story. The acquisition is a brilliant growth path for digEcor. Interestingly, Paul Margis and Gene Connelly were in the picture and no doubt were fans of a wider product base offerings. With some 1400 (est.) planes installed with Paves, digEcor is off and running with a full range of IFE, not to mention some items of which are line fit offerable at both Boeing and Airbus!
  • Astronics displayed a wide range of products including their IFE solutions. Included was an overhead bin sensor that will advise if passengers (or crew) left an object behind. This product can detect the bin environment including temperature, humidity, chemicals, as well as carry-ons left behind. Another potential product that we really liked was a light connectivity (LiFi) cabin solution displayed by Mark Schwartz of PDT. Their test displayed a video (high res) with no wired connection. More on this in future articles.

You will be able to see a lot more of the show on our website in the form of images in the coming weeks, as well as, finer tuned and more detailed articles on the expo.

In general, the expo this year told us the following:

1. In general, the IFE industry is developing smaller, lighter weight modular systems. A perfect example of this is the Panasonic NEXT System which is planned for the B777X in 2020. They cleverly built a room wall with the hardware laid out with connection paths so that the system and its options were easily understood – great communication concept.

2. One of the big aviation travel features is connectivity and passengers continue to demand contact with the ground. Further, since so many of today’s PEDs have entertainment capability, inflight bandwidth demand is escalating!

3. Analytics of everything on the plane is increasing and data requirements are growing to help improve plane/ground connectivity.

4. Panasonic is breaking some new ground in the application of improved passenger flight experience and wellness. This will be a big deal in future travel, especially in upper classes. To give you an idea of one of the areas impacted, entertainment hearing improvement was demonstrated with the software on an iPad that adjusted frequency response based on a traveler’s entered age. It was amazing!

6.The connectivity industry is now in a waiting pattern to see if LEO satcom technology will come on line as purported. Obviously, bandwidth requirements are growing and since the satcom density is greater with LEO’s, the ability of more bandwidth is there. Watch this one!

7. People are returning to the IFE industry and a good example, is Mythopoeia. The company is making a new IFE solution and it’s leader is Terrence Bonar!

8. Artificial Intelligence has landed in inflight entertainment and many airlines now use companies like Black Swan Data to better connect passengers from flight-to-flight and use algorithms to load products and prices.

9. No doubt you have heard, but people changes seem to be a big part of the industry this year. Stay Tuned on this one.

10. KID Systems has the slickest seatback USB plug – It just slides/snaps in and has no external power wires! We will have pix for you soon.

And yes, there was much more to see, which we will cover in future editions of IFExpress!


APEX OPENING SESSION SUMMARY

As usual APEX started of the week-long event with a Welcome & Introduction seminar, what was unique about this year’s opening was there were 6 C Level airline executives present that addressed their airline’s focus for the next 12 months. Their topics ranged from how to utilize personalization, the implementation of bio-metrics, and improving connectivity.  Below are the highlights from each airline representatives’ presentation.

The first to speak was American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, who focused on the airline’s transformation since the acquisition of US Airways in 2013. Mr. Parker stated that they have invested over $26 billion in the process of which $19 billion has gone to the acquisition of 500 new jetliners. He stated there is a night to day difference in their onboard offering over the past 5 years. An example is they no longer have an inseat IFE offering onboard their 737 MAX. Instead, they feature 12 channels of live television, as well as, paid for Wi-Fi streaming to PEDs. He also stated that premium economy will soon be available on all of American Airlines international fleet and that it has been well received and is in high demand on those aircraft that it has been installed on.

Stephen Kavanagh, CEO & executive director of Aer Lingus was the next to address the APEX throng. He stated that starting in 2019 the airline was going to refresh their brand. This will encompass free 20 MB of free Wi-Fi for economy class service. A new livery and new flight crew uniforms are included in the package. The refresh will be included on 12 new A321neo long-range jets. The updated image will reflect Aer Lingus’ modern outlook, as well as, their desire to be the leading value carrier across the Atlantic. The airline is also focusing on making changes based on Net Promoter Score (NPS) and are targeting to be in the 40 – 50 point range across all business categories. Examples of areas that have greatly improved their NPS yield are improved quality in their audio headsets and investing in better IFE screens – improvements that transformed their onboard passenger experience, bumping their NPS up significantly.

Passenger service improvements were the focus of Aeromexico’s CEO Andres Conesa. Mr. Conesa stated that it was irrelevant if you offered great inflight service, IFEC, or wonderful seats unless your flight departed on time. He stated that the most important thing is consistency and the way that Aeromexico is aiming to achieve this is through branded fares that allow the passenger to tailor their ticket to exactly what they want, as well as, standardizing their fleet from 7 different aircraft models down to 3 has also facilitated their plan. Presently, whether it is an international short, medium or long-haul flight passengers will have access to connectivity, IFE, free food and drink.

LATAM Airlines Group also considered NPS. Their NPS indicated that passengers were most concerned about the cabin experience. Consequently, the airline plans to invest $400 million over the next 3 years to retrofit the cabins on 67% of their fleet. Claudia Sender, CEO of LATAM Brasil and VP of Customers for LATAM Airlines Group said that the program will commence in January of 2019. The airline will be revamping the passenger experience in an effort to provide a more relaxing space. Simultaneously, LATAM will be expanding its route network through their joint venture with the IAG Group and American Airlines.

Calin Rovinescu, president and CEO of Air Canada, addressed the rebrand that Air Canada is currently undergoing. Having recently launched Rouge, the airline’s leisure brand, they wanted to make certain that Air Canada was distinguished as their mainline brand maintained its role as a leading brand globally. The first step towards maintaining this clarification between product offerings was the launch of a new livery for Air Canada – a black tail with the return of the red maple leaf. New food and beverage offerings, new uniforms and the rebranding of their premium product are part of the program as well. All of this sounds fairly normal until Mr. Rovinescu started discussing the 5-star restaurant and BMW limousine service for their full-fare international business class passengers at Air Canada’s Toronto hub! Mr. Rovinescu was also the recipient of the APEX Life Time Achievement Award.

Spirit Airlines CEO, Robert Fornaro spoke during one of the educational tracks dubbed Invest in The Guest: Utilization of Technology to Enhance PaxEx. During the breakout session Mr. Fornaro looked back to the early days of the leisure carrier, stating that what they had to offer the traveler was low prices and that was about it. When Fornaro took the helm he airline wanted to “invest in the guest” but didn’t want to select any connectivity offering, he wanted a solution that would fit Spirit’s business model. This led Spirit to be the launch customer for Thales’ FlytLIVE high throughput Ka-band satellite service. The system not only provides streaming capabilities, but the platform allows access to a large amount of analytics which facilitate ancillary revenue generation, understand the passenger, develop their value proposition, and truly fine tune their passengers experience.

Company says offer of award-winning IFE solution for visually impaired passengers is “the right thing to do”
APEX EXPO, Boston USA | September 24, 2018– At APEX EXPO, Bluebox Aviation Systems has announced that all existing and new customers of Bluebox’s iPad-based IFE platforms will benefit from the company’s development of Bluebox aIFE, an app for visually impaired passengers that won a Crystal Cabin Award earlier this year. For all Bluebox iPad devices currently in service, Bluebox offers to provide the upgrade free of charge, in line with device update cycles. The combined build platform will also be offered to any new customers of iPad-based IFE deployments at no extra cost. The combined build enables cabin crew to switch between the standard IFE mode (Bluebox Ai or Bluebox Hybrid, a Wi-Fi enabled version of Bluebox Ai) and accessibility mode (Bluebox aIFE) depending on a passenger’s needs.

“Since launching Bluebox aIFE with Virgin Atlantic, we developed a way of combining the standard and accessible versions on the same device,” said Kevin Clark, CEO, Bluebox. “Recognising how simple it is to update Virgin Atlantic’s iPads, we thought we would be just extend the same capability to all of our customers. Having worked with a group of visually impaired people in the system’s development, and hearing the feedback from Virgin Atlantic passengers about what it means to be able to use the system, we felt it was the right thing to do, and could be our contribution to directly improving the passenger experience of visually impaired passengers around the world.”
Bluebox worked closely with Virgin Atlantic and a group of visually impaired people from the UK charity Guide Dogs in the development of the original Bluebox aIFE platform, which has been entertaining passengers with visual impairments aboard Virgin Atlantic flights serving destinations across North America, the Caribbean, Africa, China, India and the Middle East.
The combined build offers airlines providing IFE a two-in-one solution for ensuring IFE is available to all passengers throughout their flight – at a tap of an on-screen button, a cabin crew member selects the accessible version for someone who is visually impaired, or the standard IFE mode. When the devices are offered for rent during a flight, it means visually impaired passenger can take up the offer just like anyone else. Or, where the devices are used for service recovery on an aircraft with seatback IFE, it means the same device can be used as the primary screen for a visually impaired passenger or as a backup if any other passenger’s seatback screen malfunctions.
Bluebox will upgrade devices in line with the deployment cycles of existing customers taking up the offer, working with them closely to ensure they understand how the new functionality works. For any new customer of Bluebox Ai or Bluebox Hybrid, the combined build with Bluebox aIFE can be included in the initial deployment.

Immfly offers the opportunity to airlines to engage passengers with an amusing experience that starts at the airport and continues while flying

APEX EXPO, Boston MA | September 24, 2018– The digital services platform Immfly, that, until now, could only be accessed onboard, can now entertain the passengers on the ground, while waiting for the flight. Based on the passengers’ access ratio and satisfaction level with Immfly’s platform, the company decided to extend, and specially, anticipate its offer to the airport. Airport vip lounges, or pre-boarding areas at the terminals can now have Immfly’s digital services at their disposal.

The day of the flight
The extension

The day of the flight means not only the flight but also beforehand in the airport, where only very few airlines can have a digital relationship with its customers.

From the moment someone looks for travel inspiration to the time it gets back home, there are several touch-points that constitute a commercial opportunity for airlines and its partners to interact with customers and get the most of those interaction in the form of revenue or in the form of customer satisfaction. Many airlines have done a great job using their digital channels and capabilities to communicate in a more personal and personalised way with their customers at most of those touch points, but still, there are significant gaps in that digital customer journey. There are still touch points that are not being used in a digital way. The biggest digital gap is the day of the flight, “the moment of truth” for NPS, the phase that most affects customer perception of the whole experience.

A seamless experience
Its benefits

Immfly offers now the opportunity to not only entertain passengers during that typically hectic time, improving their experience through personalization and choice, but also a new opportunity to monetize that digital relationship.

It is the chance to improve customer experience at the airport through entertainment and service at the same time that opens a new opportunity for ancillary revenues such as seatupgrades or activities at destination. Eventually, everything that could be done and enjoyed during the flight, can now be done before, on the ground.

Jimmy von Korff Martinez, co-founder of Immfly states “Combining the in-flight entertainment platform with the in-airport platform that offers the same entertainment content will allow customers to browse and select content before the flight for watching it later. In the same way will allow them to start watching a movie while waiting to board and continue watching the same movie in-flight, or to book or buy an activity on their final destination, which means passengers will benefit from a seamless experience and content consumption before and during the flight”.

From the airport, during the flight and post-flight, the Immfly wireless digital platform lets the airline expand the digital relationship with its customers, the data collection and revenue generation opportunities, and imp

Los Angeles | September 24, 2018– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. [NASDAQ: ENT] has announced Canadian North Airlines as the first customer for Global Eagle’s new product, Airconnect Go, a portable wireless in-flight entertainment solution.  Airconnect Go draws on Global Eagle’s award-winning Airtime entertainment platform and content leadership to allow quick deployment of a proven and superior passenger experience.

“Every passenger expects entertainment and Airconnect Go is a high-quality portable system that takes advantage of Global Eagle’s industry-leading passenger entertainment platform,” said Per Norén, Executive VP and Chief Commercial Officer of Global Eagle. “We thank Canadian North for being the launch customer and we expect a significant number of airlines to follow.”

“Throughout Canadian North’s history, we have continually grown and innovated for the benefit of our scheduled service and charter customers, always with warm hospitality and an unyielding commitment to safety,” said Steve Hankirk, President of Canadian North. “The launch of top-notch inflight entertainment options will further enhance our onboard experience. We’re thrilled to be working with Global Eagle to introduce this exciting new inflight amenity.”

The first deployments for Calgary, Canada-based Canadian North will be during December 2018 with four Boeing 737 aircraft. Canadian North operates daily scheduled flights to, from and across Canada’s vast Arctic region. It also operates charter flights in North America and beyond for energy companies, sports teams, tour operators, cruise lines, government agencies and other large groups.

Airconnect Go: The Best Combination

Airconnect Go, which was unveiled in April 2018 at the Aircraft Interiors show in Hamburg, combines a reliable hardware system with Global Eagle’s Airtime services, including a proven passenger experience and entertainment packages with industry-best movie, audio and video offerings. The product is so compact it can fit into the overhead bin of most commercial aircraft. A single Airconnect Go system, which is not much bigger than a loaf of bread, can stream concurrently to over 50 users. Passenger analytics can be tracked using Global Eagle’s Airview reporting system.

The system is a low-cost and fast option for airlines. There is no hardware to install and the system complies with avionics standards without the need for additional aircraft certification or Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs). Passengers can use their own devices to stream content. Airconnect Go integrates Airtime’s leading Digital Rights Management capabilities, enabling passengers to play back content via their web-browser without an additional application being required for Apple iOS or Google Android devices and laptops.

Global Eagle has experienced interest in Airconnect Go from a variety of airlines, including large and full-service carriers with service gaps, regional airlines, charter carriers, airlines with small or leased fleets and other companies where the combination of low-cost and high quality is the goal.

 

At this year’s APEX we thought it would be interesting to watch out for the following as examples of potential show announcements: consolidations; large companies seeking smaller companies and ancillary products; and even passenger apps that help expand business, save money and allow for personalized customer experiences. And without saying, there will be more industry changes to write about in the coming weeks. True to form, this week’s Hot Topic primarily pertains Astronics, a big player that is getting even bigger. With recent acquisitions, Astronics is expanding and diversifying within the aviation realm. We were fortunate enough to have some questions answered by Executive Vice President, Mark Peabody and several other company Division Presidents.

1. Mark, could you please provide us with a broad statement on company updates: number of subsidiaries, number of employees, locations, and a broad product focus to set the stage?

Astronics serves the world’s aerospace, defense, and semiconductor industries with innovative power, lighting, connectivity, interiors, structures, and service solutions. Comprised of 11 subsidiaries, the Company employs nearly 3,000 team members in locations around the globe.

2. How many of the Astronics’ subsidiaries deal with data and connectivity for the aviation industry and who are they?

Five of Astronics subsidiaries provide connectivity and data solutions for the aviation industry, as outlined below:

  • Astronics Ballard Technology – Aircraft data systems
  • Astronics AeroSat – Connectivity solutions including IFC antennas and radome systems
  • Astronics Connectivity Systems & Certification (formerly Telefonix and Astronics Armstrong Aerospace) – Inflight entertainment hardware systems, including installation design, kitting, and certification
  •  Astronics Custom Control Concepts – VIP IFE and CMS systems
  • Astronics PGA – VIP IFE and CMS systems

Astronics CCC and PGA often cooperate on providing solutions together for the VIP/BizAv markets. For the purposes of this article, we will include information from Astronics Ballard Technology, Astronics AeroSat, and Astronics CSC, where their product lines serve the needs of commercial transport.

3. What specific products/systems (antennas, WAPs, servers, data storage, etc.) does Astronics currently manufacture via their subsidiaries?

For commercial aircraft, Astronics offers a broad system of hardware and software components to help customers create complete system solutions. These include:

Aircraft Data Systems – New smart sensing systems, aircraft interface devices, avionics I/O computers, avionics test & simulation interfaces, and other data and connectivity related products.

Inflight Entertainment Hardware Systems – Cabin wireless access points, IFE content loaders and servers, modem managers, custom IFEC LRUs, corded and cordless control units, and systems certification services.

IFC Antennas and Radome Systems – Complete connectivity system solutions including Aircraft SATCOM Ku-band antenna systems, aircraft radomes, adapter plates, and other necessary system components.

Here is a link that outlines our offerings.

Power to Support IFE. In addition, we support inflight entertainment and connectivity for the airlines with integrated IFE seatback power systems. We also support the passengers in a BYOD environment by providing in-seat power systems to keep their devices charged while consuming content.

4.What features and benefits do the data and connectivity products from Astronics have over the competition?

  • Collaborative partner with product development, engineering, integration, and certification services for program success
  • Proven experience in the ecosystem – serve all major IFE ad IFEC providers with the most pertinent technology to provide a solution
  • Customer-centric solutions ranging from a simple LRU to an entire system
  • Breadth of product line, single supplier advantage
  • System agnostic hardware components, supports most IFE suppliers
  • Open architecture systems, putting the customer in control of their data
  • Vertically integrated engineering for fast solution deployment
  • Systems installation design, kitting, and certification, in house

5. Broadly speaking, how many aircraft have this type of your equipment installed today?

We have some systems with large installed bases, and some that are new to the market. Some of our product lines are on a few hundred aircraft, and in other connectivity product lines, we estimate that we supply about 85% of long haul aircraft. The numbers of installations, and the numbers of systems per aircraft, are not always reported back to us. In general, we estimate that Astronics connectivity and data solutions are in service on thousands of commercial aircraft worldwide.

6. We asked Mark what types of data and connectivity are provided. Specifically, is Astronics providing any other types of data connectivity besides passenger related – if any? Flight data, computational analysis, AI? And how is it used: on the aircraft, on the ground, both?

Here are the inputs from three of our various Division Presidents.

From Jon Neal, President of Astronics Ballard Technology: Astronics Ballard Technology provides connectivity from aircraft data systems to pilot and crew devices. Through our aircraft interface device products including the webFB and webCS, we host applications that can process that aircraft data and provide useful information in real-time to pilots and crew as well as off the aircraft (with a connectivity system). We work with third party software developers that create helpful applications such as en-route optimizations, fuel savings, weather avoidance, electronic logbooks, data processing/analytics on the aircraft, storage of operational manuals/procedures, and many more. We also provide a Quick Access Recorder application that allows for collection of aircraft data to be downloaded off the aircraft later for analysis.”

From Michael Kuehn, President of Astronics Connectivity Systems and Certification (CSC): “Astronics CSC’s Summit Line of connectivity products serve up passenger connectivity on board the aircraft. Our offerings include servers, content loaders, cabin wireless access points, and other related equipment for the industry’s inflight entertainment providers. We estimate that over time, we have enabled the internet of flight with 16,000 LRUs plus 20 million IFEC cradle and cord reel assemblies in both linefit and retrofit installations.”

And from Matt Harrah, President of Astronics AeroSat: “Equipment from Astronics AeroSat bridges the connectivity on and off the plane to deliver passenger connectivity via Ku-band satellite networks (both traditional wide-beam and next generation HTS spot-beam satellites). Passengers use our bandwidth for internet streaming (emails, text, videos, movies, etc). Our FliteStream Series antennas come in both tail-mount and fuselage-mount versions and serve as today’s highest performing antenna technology, with a bandwidth/spectrum RF efficiency that provides the least impact to satellite network operators while providing cost benefits for aircraft operators. Astronics’ IFC system incorporates an open architecture, with the ability to work across satellite networks and minimize connectivity costs. Finally, our new AeroShield Radom System delivers the lowest drag to reduce fuel burn costs for aircraft operators with connectivity.”

7. Let us now continue with Mark: As a result of these company acquisitions that can deliver complete IFE systems, has this caused Astronics to rethink what and how you sell? In other words, some of the newer subsidiary acquisitions never sold directly to the airline, instead they were suppliers to other IFEC vendors. Is there a new strategy now? Along the same lines, historically when we have visited the Astronics booth at a trade show we would see various ‘boxes’ that help comprise an IFE system. Can we now expect to see an “Astronics IFE System(s)” in the near future?

Astronics intends to remain system agnostic and primarily support our partners in creating complete IFE systems. Our solutions enable global airlines, inflight connectivity providers, systems integrators, and airframe manufacturers to create seamless connectivity experiences.

8. Was there a future company strategy involved in the acquisition of companies involved in data, data analysis, data transmission/acquisition or did acquisitions happen more based on dollars and/or complimentary diversification to the existing business model?

Astronics looks opportunistically at companies that are available to acquire and certainly considers long-term strategy as part of our decision to move forward.

9. In the past, Astronics has been a data communicator. Do you see a future whereby Astronics is going to be a data analyzer? In other words, historically Astronics data efforts have been directed more toward passenger data. Do you see Astronics adding more data sources and considering data analysis? Furthermore, since around 1990, aviation has seen an increasing value of, and usage of data, to-and-from the aircraft. As technologies like Artificial Intelligence and massive data analysis have provided better analytical information of things like engines and onboard computers, the use of data both to-and-from the airplane is helping things like maintenance, failure prediction and longer operational usage. Thus, data is becoming a very new and important part of aircraft operations, fault isolation and monitoring. Add this to an increase of passenger usage of data to-and-from the plane will be another part of data growth. The only question is will the airplane use one or multiple data systems and connectivity to deliver the data to the ground? While passenger data has been primarily (we guess) Astronics connectivity reason, we were wondering if this new data avenue is part of your future data goals?

Astronics understands the importance of data and analytics. Our goal is to enable our airline and airframe customers to access their data, and use this data to run their operations more efficiently. We provide the hardware, firmware, and software to make this happen. Let’s hear from Jon Neal, President of Astronics Ballard Technology on this subject as well: “The choices of what networks to use on the aircraft along with the number and types of off-aircraft connectivity systems to implement are challenging issues that our customers face. Given our breadth of experience in aircraft data systems and the integration of various hardware systems to all work together, we believe that we are a great partner to our customers when navigating these choices.”

10. One or more of your recent subsidiary acquisitions have established manufacturing business relationships with China and Astronics has successfully marketed the EmPower product line to Chinese airlines over the years. As an industry leader with this much experience in the PRC, how do you see the recent trade disagreements between the USA and Chine affecting the IFEC industry as a whole?

Business climates can suddenly change. Trade disagreements can affect our industry, and we focus on ensuring our business offers a balanced global reach so that we can absorb the ebb and flow of these issues.

11. What will Astronics be showing at APEX in Boston?

At this year’s APEX Expo, Astronics will display a variety of power and connectivity solutions that improve passenger experiences and aircraft operational efficiencies. For seamless passenger and crew connectivity, Astronics will demonstrate a newly certified FliteStream inflight connectivity system hardware plus their Summit Line inflight entertainment system hardware. In power solutions, Astronics will present a breadth of new EmPower in-cabin products for use by passengers and crew, including a new wireless charging module and a new USB Type-C passenger power system. The Astronics SmartTray passenger PED holder will round out the offerings.

During the show, booth visitors who tweet a photo from the Astronics booth with the tag @AstronicsCorp and the hashtag #APEXexpo will be entered to win an iPad with an Apple store gift card to enjoy IFE content on the way home. View all of these solutions and enter to win in the Astronics booth, #343.

For additional information on Astronics power and connectivity solutions, visit Astronics.com.

Astronics also plans to demonstrate some brand new technologies, including an intelligent bin sensing solution, which provides bin capacity and other bin data to crews for increased safety, faster passenger boarding times, and improved operational efficiencies. The other new technology Astronics will feature is an exploration of Li-Fi, and ideas for harnessing it for use on aircraft. Li-Fi leverages light to send information, in contrast to Wi-Fi, which uses radio waves. Proven capable of transferring unprecedented data at several Gigabits per second, Li-Fi could eventually empower passengers to download an HD video in just a few seconds, for example.


INMARSAT & PANASONIC

Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) have agreed a strategic collaboration, for an initial ten-year period, that enables them to combine their highly complementary market leading services to offer broadband in-flight connectivity (“IFC”) paired with high-value solutions and services to customers in the commercial aviation industry worldwide.

This collaboration will enable airlines, aircraft manufacturers and passengers to benefit from the combined expertise of two companies that have been at the forefront of technology and innovation for nearly four decades.

Under the terms of the agreement, Inmarsat will become Panasonic’s exclusive provider of Ka-band IFC for commercial aviation. Panasonic will now be able to offer Inmarsat’s high-speed, broadband connectivity service, GX Aviation, powered by Global Xpress, the world’s first global Ka-band satellite network, owned and managed by a single operator. Panasonic will continue to invest in its own network and, with GX Aviation as a primary offering for new business, will be perfectly positioned to serve both its current and future customers.

In addition, Inmarsat will now be able to offer Panasonic’s market-leading portfolio of services and NEXT solutions to Inmarsat’s commercial aviation customers. This includes customer support services available from Panasonic’s Customer Performance Center and Technical Services teams.

The collaboration, which is already being deployed with a mutual customer, presents a unique opportunity to leverage Inmarsat’s proven track record of high-quality and innovative global mobile connectivity, and Panasonic’s market-leading in-flight entertainment, digital services and connectivity solutions.

Looking forward, Inmarsat and Panasonic will also collaborate on the development of a next generation GX Aviation terminal, as well as new connectivity-enabled services, data analytics and technology to improve overall end-to-end performance.
By delivering this step-change in aviation services capability, airlines will have access to new and better solutions that address widely recognized industry challenges of capacity, coverage and compatibility. This will give greater quality, consistency of experience and more choice to airlines and their passengers in the IFC market, which by some estimates could exceed $100 billion by 2035[1].