IFExpress found a few data points on industry folks who will be at APEX. Check them out!

FTS Technologies Inc.
Booth: 665
Contact: Ben Fuller, Director of Sales for Americas.  Darrel Chua, General Manager of FTS (and Sales for Asia) – darrel@fts-aero.com

APEX Highlights: We will be demonstrating our latest Xstream Lite wireless streaming system, with new revenue-generating opportunities.  Will also be showing our FlightButler(tm) app for flight attendant’s smartwatch, and our Modman for Satellite Connectivity.

Come and have some fun with the FTS Superhero team at booth 665 !  (and get your own Superhero giveaway).

Latitude Aero
Booth: 411
Contact: Kelvin Boyette:, +1 336-676-3183.

Latitude Aero will be exhibiting in AIX Booth 2351, but will have seats on display on the APEX side in DDC’s (Pascall) booth, 411.

APEX Highlights: Latitude Aero is a FAA Part 145 Repair Station, specializing in aircraft seating refurbishment, upgrades, modifications, and repairs.  We look forward to meeting customer at both events.  Please stop by our booth at AIX, and definitely stop by Pascall’s booth to see our newest project, a prototype USB power system that will debut in our refurbished seats on their stand.  Latitude will have staff on both stands for the duration of the show.

Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems
Booth: 441
Contact: Dennis Markert (dennis.markert@astronics.com)

APEX Highlights: Astronics AES is looking forward to meeting with you at APEX Expo 2017.  We have several new, innovative products that we are excited to unveil.  Here is a preview of products and solutions that will be on display.

SIE
Booth: 902
Contact: John Courtright: +1-206-618-3128

APEX Highlights: SIE is a U.S. and European based engineering firm with AS9100C and ISO 9001 accreditation for Design, Engineering, Certification, Program Management, and Procurement of Aircraft Systems and Structures. Our specialty is the design, engineering, systems integration, certification (STC), and parts kitting for major IFEC installation programs for commercial, military, and VIP aircraft. Projects include  installation and certification for Ka/Ku-Band Satcom Systems and Cabin IFE and Interior Re-configurations on 737NG, 757, 777, MD-10, and A320 aircraft.  Customers include:  Southwest Airlines, Norwegian, IcelandAir, United Airlines, Honeywell, Global Eagle, Panasonic, and others.

VTMiltope
Booth:1211
Contact: Jeff.Drader@Miltope.com

APEX Highlights: VT Miltope is proud to be an APEX member exhibiting in Long Beach this year.  We are highlighting our upcoming Multi-Function Access Point 3 (MAP3) featuring:  faster WAVE 2, Enhanced CHT, an Embedded Server, and Cyber Security.  Please stop by VT Miltope booth 1211 to say hello and learn more about the remarkable MAP3.

Flightpath Labs
Booth: 949
Contact – Jackie Frimer <jackie@flightpath3d.com>

APEX Highlights: The Latest from our Flightpath Labs, FlightPath360 where passengers can take a virtual flight over a destination with panorama technology making you feel as if you are in the sky over major cities and destination. Jjoin us at our booth to see this full 360-degree immersive view of cities and destinations from the sky. It allows airlines to give passengers control of the viewing direction with stunning panoramic views to zoom, rotate or hover over wonders of the world. Book your appointment now for Booth #949 to see for yourself how we have transformed a simple inflight map into a powerful tool for passengers and airlines

And lastly, here is some show info that might help, APEX, IFSA, and AIX – Schedule | APEX EXPO

Gogo
Booth: 502
Contact: Meredith Payette <mpayette@gogoair.com>

Gogo is the Inflight Internet Company. We are the leading global provider of broadband connectivity products and services for aviation. We design and source innovative network solutions that connect aircraft to the Internet, and develop software and platforms that enable customizable solutions for and by our aviation partners. Once connected, we provide industry leading reliability around the world. Our mission is to help aviation go farther by making planes fly smarter, so our aviation partners perform better and their passengers travel happier. You can find Gogo’s products and services including Gogo 2Ku, our global satellite connectivity solution at Booth 502.

 


More News:

Lufthansa Systems
Passengers now expect the same level of connectivity in the air that they enjoy on the ground. This is why Lufthansa Systems is focusing on connectivity at this year’s Airline Passenger Experience Expo (APEX) in Long Beach, California. Group subsidiary Lufthansa Technik is sharing a stand for the first time. The two Lufthansa Group companies, who collaborate closely in providing on-board Internet and entertainment, are both presenting their own connectivity solutions. Lufthansa Systems will demonstrate the multi-award-winning BoardConnect wireless inflight entertainment (IFE) platform and its different hardware versions, while Lufthansa Technik will showcase its LConnect hardware and service package. The airline IT provider is also presenting its new mCabin/Messenger app, one of the apps of the mCabin Product Line. Visit Lufthansa Systems and Lufthansa Technik from September 26 to 28 at APEX at stand #453.

Thales
Thales (Euronext Paris: HO) announces today the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire the US company Guavus, a pioneer in real-time Big Data analytics.The acquisition of Guavus follows several acquisitions in the fields of connectivity, mobility and cyber security, and strengthens Thales’s positioning in one of the key technologies at the heart of digital transformation, the processing and predictive analysis of “big data”, an increasingly critical factor in real-time decision-making.Airlines, satellite, air traffic control, metro or train operators, armed forces or security officials of large urban or energy infrastructures rely on Thales’s high technology solutions to take the best decisions in real time. In a world facing exponential growth in the volume of data coming from increasingly connected sensors, Guavus’s acquisition opens broad opportunities for Thales in areas including predictive maintenance, cyber security, monitoring of critical infrastructures, network and telecommunication systems optimization. Guavus, a leader in real-time big data processing and analytics, is perfectly suited to the growing needs of an increasingly connected global ecosystem. The company has built a recognized industrial “big data” platform particularly suited to real-time analytics, designed to be easily implemented across any number of new markets. In addition, by bringing the expertise of its 160 strong R&D engineering workforce, Guavus will significantly enrich Thales’s expertise in this field.

Gogo
Gogo Business Aviation (NASDAQ: GOGO), long recognized as the leading provider of broadband connectivity products and services for business aviation in North America, is expanding its reach to become a global provider with the announcement of a high throughput satellite service for business aviation. The new service will utilize Gogo’s existing Ku-band satellite network, the same trusted high capacity satellite network that is currently providing bandwidth for more than 550 commercial aviation aircraft across 10 airlines globally. Gogo is currently bringing additional HTS (high throughput satellite) capacity online as part of its global satellite network, which will boost the performance of both its new business aviation Ku solution and its commercial aviation network solutions. Service is expected to be available in the second half of 2018.

INMARSAT/Rockwell Collins
Inmarsat has signed a strategic agreement with Rockwell Collins, a leading provider of aviation and high-integrity solutions, for the global distribution of its next-generation SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) flightdeck connectivity solution. The agreement builds on a successful long-term strategic relationship between the two companies and will bring new levels of safety and operational efficiency to the aviation industry.

SITA
Airlines and airports are estimated to spend nearly US$33 billion on IT this year, according to the SITA 2017 Air Transport IT Trends Insights released today. And they are focusing their technology investments on similar priorities. Top of the agenda for CIOs at both airlines and airports, are investments in cyber security and cloud services. In addition, they are prioritizing investments in passenger self-service. SITA’s research of the world’s airlines and airports shows that IT spend remains strong. Airlines’ spend as a percentage of revenue will rise to an estimated 3.30% or US$24.3 billion[1] in 2017. For airports, the rise is to an expected 5.05% for this year or US$8.43 billion. Looking ahead to 2018 over 70% of airlines and 88% of airports are expecting IT spend to increase or remain at the same levels as today. As IT spend increases, both airlines and airports agree that the number one priority for their investments is cyber security. Nearly all of them – 95% of airlines and 96% of airports – plan to invest in major programs or R&D on cyber security initiatives over the next three years. This shows alignment across the industry on the importance of investing in this area.

Cloud services are another top investment priority with 95% of airlines and 85% of airports planning to invest over the next three years, continuing an upward trend that SITA has recorded since 2015. The third key area of investment that was highlighted by both airlines and airports is to provide extra self-service options to passengers.

Airlines are focusing on providing mobile services. Today the vast majority of airlines provide check-in (73%), boarding (70%) and flight status notifications (68%) via mobile and by 2020 more than 97% plan to do so. A key area of growth will be providing real-time flight updates over social media which will jump from 31% of airlines doing so to 92% in the next three years.

Providing a seamless experience is key to the airlines. In total, 94% rate streamlining services into a single app as a priority, with 58% rating this as a high priority. Mobile app capabilities and usability are developing quickly and an increasing number of airlines plan to use mobile as a customer service tool, including at times of disruption.

At airports, self-service processes at check-in, bag drop and boarding are increasingly popular with passengers and 89% of airports are investing in these processes. Airports operators have a keen focus on improving the journey through the terminal and are looking to new technologies such as the Internet of Things, beacons and sensors, to support their goals. SITA’s insights show that 80% are investing, or planning to invest, in these technologies over the next three years. Nearly three quarters, 74%, are investing in way-finding solutions and 68% in solutions to improve personalization for the passenger. SITA’s IT Trends are well established as the global benchmark research for the air transport industry. Senior IT executives at the top airlines and airports took part in the research earlier this year. The 2017 results once again provide a clear insight on the air transport industry’s IT strategic thinking and developments.

Black Swan
Today, Black Swan Data, one of Europe’s leading data science technology companies, has announced the appointment of Patrick Prefontaine as Chief Commercial Officer at Black Swan Avionics (BSA).

Patrick’s appointment is part of the ongoing growth of BSA and its innovative work, including delivering inflight solutions for the 2017 launch of LEVEL, the International Airlines Group’s (IAG) new long-haul, low cost airline brand. Working in partnership with IAG, Panasonic, VISA, Cybersource and First Data, on the launch of LEVEL, and in collaboration with visual design agency MASSIVE, BSA has delivered in-seat interactive technology, portal and app development, crew applications, data resource management in a fully holistic solution. The innovative Pair & Pay functionality is unique to LEVEL and the first in the airline industry. Patrick will be at APEX EXPO 2017 in Long Beach, CA, from 24th-28th September and is available for interviews and meetings.


OTHER

With vacations and pre-show quietness, our IFExpress search and discovery for news and industry input is lightweight this week; however there are some stories that we found so lets get started with a couple of news pieces from Rockwell Collins – and no, we have no more on a potential UTC buyout.

Rockwell Collins
The company will showcase business aviation solutions for the Latin American market, including flight deck, connectivity, cabin and service solutions at the 15th Annual Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Expo, from Aug. 15-17.

“This year we are showcasing even more of our business portfolio at LABACE to meet the needs of our customers in the region,” said Fernando DosSantos, director of sales and marketing, Americas for Rockwell Collins. “We are committed to increasing our footprint here in Brazil with broader avionics, cabin, service and connectivity offerings.”
At the company’s exhibit (booth #2016), experts from Rockwell Collins will be available to discuss the following key offerings:

  • Venue cabin management system: Our leading, most reliable and innovative cabin management system on the market, now equipped on more than 1,000 business aircraft cabins
  • Stage content service: Total content delivery solution that enables passengers to stream media, including digitally-protected movies and TV shows, to their personal devices from an easily refreshed, robust onboard server through wireless access points
  • CASP: Three levels of service, all delivering superior customer support, budget predictability and consistent aircraft availability for all the Rockwell Collins components on board your aircraft
  • ADS-B Out compliant solutions: Regulatory agencies across the globe are mandating implementation ADS-B Out, as well as other airspace mandates, as part of overall airspace modernization programs. ADS-B technology enables aircraft to continuously broadcast GPS derived aircraft position, heading and velocity information to ground stations connected to air traffic control

Next, TCS World Travel has installed Rockwell Collins’ CabinConnect wireless in-flight connectivity system on its custom-configured Boeing 757, operated by TAG Aviation. The fully operational system was launched on August 9, 2017 when 50 guests departed for a 23-day trip across Eurasia. “Our brand is about redefining luxury travel by providing highly personalized, enriching experiences for our guests from the comfort and convenience of our private jets,” said Shelley Cline, TCS World Travel president. “We chose Rockwell Collins for cabin connectivity because we needed a dependable solution that will keep our guests connected almost anywhere in the world.”

Through the new service, TCS World Travel guests can use an aircraft-provided iPad or their own devices to check email or browse the internet in flight, as well as access news, sports and weather information with a reliable connection that is similar to the quality and speed they experience when on the ground. The TCS World Travel system includes Rockwell Collins’ Airshow Mobile for Browsers, a 2D moving map system that keeps pace with guests wherever they fly. “Rockwell Collins was able to customize the system to interface with our onboard lecture system,” continued Cline. “This allows our guests to receive a live presentation from a travel expert about an upcoming destination that is broadcast to interested guests via the provided onboard iPads.”

“As a leading aircraft communications and service provider, we worked closely with TCS World Travel to understand their individual needs and requirements, and were able to outfit their aircraft with an operational system in just seven months,” said Alexis Hickox, head of Business Development, Cabin Solutions for Rockwell Collins. “Bringing together our aviation expertise with our knowledge of the Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) network has enabled us to provide TCS World Travel with a service that is very much in line with their mission of creating unforgettable travel experiences for their guests.”

Astronics
Astronics Corporation , a leading supplier of advanced technologies and products to the global aerospace, defense and semiconductor industries, announced today that its wholly-owned subsidiary, Astronics PECO, was awarded a contract to provide its next-generation fuel tank access doors (FTAD) for the new family of long-range Boeing 777X aircraft. In addition, Astronics PECO received a follow-on award for its FTAD product for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The new 787 and 777X fuel tank access doors will utilize the latest in fuel tank door structural materials and designs for carbon fiber composite wing technologies. The doors will be manufactured by Astronics PECO in Clackamas, Oregon. These awards are in addition to a previous award in which Astronics PECO was selected to provide passenger service units (PSUs) for the 777X.

SITA
Lanseria International Airport is investing in SITA’s self-service technology that will add new convenience for passengers while providing improved common-use functionality for airlines. Using SITA’s self-service systems, passengers will now be able to quickly check-in and drop their bags before proceeding directly to the gate without having to visit a traditional check-in counter. In a first for a South African airport, passengers who have checked-in online or on their mobile device can now tag and drop their bags in less than a minute using SITA’s Scan&Fly self bag-drop units. Scan&Fly’s plug-and-play design allows the bag-drop solution to be easily installed onto existing airport check-in desks, maximizing terminal space while leveraging the speed of self-service. Using SITA’s Airport iValidate, Lanseria International Airport will be able to automatically verify all types of boarding passes, including home-printed A4 and mobile boarding passes, increasing security and speeding up the check-in process for passengers.

Behind the scenes, the airport will roll out new baggage reconciliation technology from SITA, providing passengers with greater confidence that their baggage will arrive with them at their destination. It will help airlines using the airport to comply with IATA’s Resolution 753, which requires that they track bags at key points during the journey. The airport is also upgrading its common-use kiosks and desk infrastructure to use SITA’s cloud-based solution, eliminating the need for local servers. This common-use infrastructure is critical in providing greater flexibility for airlines operating from the airport by allowing them to share common-use terminal equipment (CUTE) for check-in and boarding.

US MOBILE
A US wireless carriers going to launch unlimited access in aircraft from 120 countries and with some 20 airlines, so they say. We understand unlimited pricing of $10/ month for inflight Wi-Fi and with global coverage! The founder noted, ”Customers will also enjoy in-flight connectivity on all the major airlines at a more affordable price than what the airlines and other comparative services are offering. This Unlimited Wi-Fi plan is a game-changer when you travel abroad. Instead of paying for international roaming, which can be quite costly, you have a whole network of hotspots ready to be used anywhere in the world.” Stay Tuned!

Aircraft Interiors Expo – Long Beach CA.
In February, Reed Exhibitions and the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) announced a long-term strategic co-location agreement for the fall expo event in co-ordination with the International Flight Services Association (IFSA). This year’s event will take place from 26-28th September 2017 at the Long Beach Convention Centre, California, and is the only fall event dedicated to the Passenger Experience Industry. The events will welcome more than 300 exhibitors from a wide range of renowned companies exhibiting at AIX Long Beach and APEX, including Acro Aircraft Seating, Avio Interiors, Diehl, Gogo, Inmarsat, Isovalta, Panasonic, Geven, Thales to name just a few. Over 30 unique airlines such as; Etihad Airways, American Airlines, Singapore Airlines, British Airways and many more from across the world are already confirmed to attend with many more expected to register in the run up to the show. Katie Murphy, Senior Exhibitor Director at Reed Exhibitions, said: “To have virtually all of the exhibition space already sold is testament to the growing popularity of the fall event dedicated to the passenger services industry. “AIX Long Beach brings together APEX, IFSA and AIX into a powerful partnership and to have generated so much interest already gives us great confidence that it is quickly becoming established as the must-attend event for the passenger experience industry in the fall.” The co-located passenger experience event is the largest in the fall, showcasing the latest innovation, technologies and products in the industry, such as galleys, lighting, cabin management systems, IFEC and passenger services.


MORE

Committed to innovation and change of the travel paradigm

Oranjestad | August 14, 2017– James Fazio, the CEO of Aruba Airport Authority, and Miguel Leitmann, the CEO of Vision-Box, announced a new partnership between both organizations. Aruba Airport Authority and Vision-Box have decided to sign an exclusive partnership for the further evolution of the Aruba Happy Flow. The goal of the partnership is to:

• Sustain the leading position of the Aruba Happy Flow in the global aviation industry
• Ensure the usage of leading edge Vision-Box technology at Aruba Airport enabling unique value propositions for the airport and high-profile recognition and showcasing for Vision-Box
• Creating a knowledge and experience center on Seamless travel

“The Aruba Happy Flow Proof of Concept has exceeded our expectations during these 2 years, paving the way for a new direction for the airport,” said James Fazio, CEO of the Aruba Airport Authority. “On the other hand, with this new partnership with Vision-Box, we are now very excited to get the opportunity to establish a pioneering Centre of Excellence, where we aim to understand tendencies, develop new products and technologies in a real-life environment and support local economy. This combined effort will surely mark another milestone in the development of the future airport. “

The partnership will profile Aruba Airport as an airport that drives change with passenger centric focus, creating value for their stakeholders and an excellent passenger experience. Furthermore, the partnership should provide skills development for Aruban and international students through the Vision-Box Centre of Excellence, while building a strong foundation for sustainable airport solutions.

Miguel Leitmann, Vision-Box™ CEO highlights that “This is indeed a great partnership. Aruba airport has already embraced the new era of the digital airport concept and it will soon benefit further from our game-changing technology for the Gateway 2030 project. We are convinced that this partnership will be the ground base for the next generation of Happy Flow, reaffirming Aruba Airport as an innovation center for passenger facilitation and projecting Aruba with a highly recognizable worldwide airport”.

The Strategic Partnership is built on four pillars:

• Innovation
Both partners are committed to invest in evolving the Aruba Happy Flow platform. New functional solutions will be (co-)created and assessed at Aruba Airport.

• Gateway 2030, first airport designed for Happy Flow
Aruba Airport and Vision-Box share the vision that the design of the Gateway 2030 project, should fully harvest the benefits of the Aruba Happy Flow platform as a terminal-wide solution.

• Centre of Excellence
The Centre of Excellence (CoE) at Aruba Airport is designed to combine the strength of Aruba Airport as a facilitator for innovation with the strength of Vision-Box as a technology innovator.

• Showcase
Aruba Airport and Vision-Box will realize a high quality and continuous showcase for the Happy Flow solution.

Aruba Happy Flow is the result of a cooperative consortium composed of the governments of Aruba and the Netherlands, Schiphol Group, KLM, Aruba Airport Authority and Vision-Box.

Austrian Airlines is the second passenger airline of the Lufthansa Group to launch new interactive entertainment platform. 

London, Vienna | August 1, 2017– Austrian Airlines will be the latest international carrier to launch Profile, Spafax’s entertainment personalization platform. Using proprietary software developed by Spafax, Austrian Airlines’ passengers can access http://austrian-inflightentertainment.com to learn what entertainment will be available on their trip, as well as more in-depth information about each program all via a highly interactive web experience.

The new site features a full listing of all movies, television programs, music and games onboard. Profile’s responsive design allows visitors to navigate the site from any device, and its ease of navigation mirrors or exceeds what you would find on leading entertainment portals.

“In 2017, we committed to rolling out in-flight connectivity on our short- and medium-haul flights. As part of our digital transformation strategy, we are very pleased to partner with Spafax to take the way we present our entertainment program to our customers to the next level” noted Thomas Laxar, Director, In-Flight Entertainment & Connectivity, Content & Portal Austrian Airlines.

Spafax CEO, Niall McBain added, “We are always trying to help our clients use both content and technology to improve their customer experience. We are excited to be able to provide Profile to Austrian Airlines as a natural extension of their digital entertainment program.”

Barcelona, Spain | July 26, 2017– In line with Immfly’s ambition to work with best in class content suppliers that guarantee quality onboard services, the company has recently announced a new partnership with The Weather Network to provide passengers with live weather updates while in-flight. Starting from July 2017 passengers onboard XL Airways, Volotea, Iberia Express and upcoming clients, will be able to view their destination’s real-time meteorological conditions along with a 7 day forecast.

Available now, the Your Destination section of Immfly’s platform, which includes activities, transfer services and travel tips among others, extends its offering to embrace the weather report, hence providing users an 360º overview of their destination. Integrated with Immfly’s white labeled channels, The Weather Network’s and El Tiempo’s digital content performs seamlessly across devices creating an informational user-friendly section available in several languages.

“We are very excited to bring our company’s on board services one step further with the offering of this new channel hand in hand with a well-known worldwide provider,” states Martina de Santis, Key Account Manager at Immfly. “Our focus lies on continuously building projects around technological and content innovations that keep us and our airline clients ahead in the market, in order to reassure that we offer passengers a unique and wide-ranging digital experience.”

Carlos Astorqui, Managing Director for El Tiempo added Travel and weather go hand in hand, there’s certainly a need for weather information on this platform and we’re delighted to offer travellers an up to date, accurate forecast while in the air. It’s important that we’re able to provide forecasts and deliver content whenever it’s needed and Immfly’s network has allowed us to do this. It truly is your weather when it really matters. We will be working closely with Immfly in the coming months to further develop this partnership.”

Airbus

  • S7 Airlines, one of Russia’s leading carriers, member of Oneworld global airline alliance, has taken delivery of its’ first A320neo which is on lease from BOC Aviation. The aircraft is the first Airbus to feature the airline’s new livery and is also the first NEO to be operated in Russia. Powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, S7’s aircraft features a comfortable two-class cabin layout, (eight business and 156 economy class seats). The airline will operate the aircraft on domestic and international routes. Since the first aircraft entered service in 2004, S7’s Airbus fleet has grown to 44 A320 Family aircraft. And check out their nifty infographic!
  • Following the recent and hugely successful launch in Barcelona of International Airlines Group’s (IAG) low cost long-haul airline brand, LEVEL, the Group has selected the A330-200 as its aircraft of choice to further expand operations. LEVEL began operating in June 2017 with flights from Barcelona to Los Angeles, San Francisco (Oakland), Buenos Aires and Punta Cana, with two new Airbus A330-200s branded in its own livery and fitted with 293 economy and 21 premium economy seats. The A330 is one of the World’s most efficient and versatile widebody aircraft with best in class operating economics making it the benchmark product for the growing low cost long-haul model worldwide. The A330 is the world’s best-selling wide-body in its category. To date the A330 Family has attracted nearly 1,700 orders with over 1,300 A330 Family aircraft currently flying with more than 110 operators worldwide. With an operational reliability of 99.4 percent and various product enhancements, the A330 Family is the most cost-efficient and capable widebody aircraft to date.

Boeing
Boeing released its 2017 Pilot and Technician Outlook today at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh and projects a demand for more than 1.2 million pilots and technicians over the next 20 years. Now in its eighth year, the outlook is a respected industry study that forecasts the 20 year demand for crews to support the world’s growing commercial airplane fleet.
Boeing forecasts that between 2017 and 2036, the world’s commercial aviation industry will require approximately:

  • 637,000 new commercial airline pilots
  • 648,000 new commercial airline maintenance technicians
  • 839,000 new cabin crew members

The 2017 outlook shows a slight increase of 3.2 percent for pilots over the 2016 outlook, and a slight decrease in the need for airline maintenance technicians (4.6 percent), primarily driven by the reduction in maintenance hours required on the 737 MAX.
Projected demand for new pilots, technicians and cabin crew by global region for the next 20 years is approximately:

For information about the Outlook, including how the data is compiled.
Boeing Global Services, headquartered in the Dallas area, was formed by integrating the services capabilities of the government, space and commercial sectors into a single, customer-focused business. Operating as a third business unit of Boeing, Global Services provides agile, cost-competitive services to commercial and government customers worldwide.

Rockwell Collins
Working well after midnight on this day in 1977, a Rockwell Collins engineer named David Van Dusseldorp sat on the rooftop of a company building in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, adjusting an antenna every five minutes to receive a signal from the world’s first Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite known as NTS-2. Within a small window of time, the satellite was turned on and the message was successfully received and decoded by the team working the GPS receiver below.
Since then the technology has grown to be the standard of navigation around the world and Top Tech News: News & Product Reviews for Tech Leaders touches nearly every part of our daily lives. To commemorate the 40 year anniversary, Rockwell Collins invited retirees involved in the project to share their firsthand stories at an event held in Cedar Rapids today.
“We had leaders and team members working together and I knew we could meet the challenge put before us,” said Van Dusseldorp. “The future of GPS was uncertain at the time, but I really felt like we had just accomplished something important.”
Soon after successfully receiving the signal, the U.S. Air Force awarded Rockwell Collins the Navstar GPS user equipment contract. This was the first of many wins that would position the company as a market leader in GPS products for aerospace and defense. Since that time, Rockwell Collins has continued to pioneer advancements in GPS such as being the first to complete a transatlantic flight using GPS navigation in 1983. In 1994, a secure, military-grade Precision Lightweight GPS Receiver (PLGR) was first fielded that provided warfighters a tactical navigational advantage on the battlefield. And in 2014, Rockwell Collins achieved another milestone in navigation technology by successfully developing a prototype to track a satellite in the Galileo Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) being created by the European Union to provide global coverage for its nations.
A modern version of the GPS receiver used in 1977 is the Rockwell Collins GPS-4000S, which has the ability to process the transmissions of up to 10 GPS satellites and two Space Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) geostationary satellites simultaneously. Compared to the first GPS receiver station that was six feet tall, the GPS-4000S receiver is only 7.87 inches tall. Size and power of receivers have evolved for different applications, like the Micro GPS Receiver Application Module (MicroGRAM). The receiver is only one inch tall, can use data from up to 12 GPS satellites and consumes the least power of any receiver in its class. Other advancements in receivers include industry-leading anti-jamming and anti-spoofing technologies that are crucial to security and efficiency when used within critical military and aircraft operations.
Since that historic day 40 years ago, Rockwell Collins has introduced more than 50 GPS products including GPS anti-jam and precision landing systems, and has delivered more than one million GPS receivers for commercial avionics and government applications, helping shape how the world navigates both on the ground and in the air.

Panasonic
Asiana Airlines, one of Asia’s largest carriers, has begun revenue service with its first A350 aircraft using Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) industry-leading inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) solution. This first aircraft, which was line fit with Panasonic solutions by Airbus, entered passenger service on May 15th having been delivered to the carrier on April 26th. Panasonic’s eX3 system delivers a premium passenger experience through features including audio and video on demand, and a massive content library that can offer over 50 movies, 60 TV shows, games, music and more.
The aircraft will also offer Panasonic’s global connectivity service – the only broadband inflight connectivity service operating in every country in the world today – enabling passengers to access the internet via broadband inflight Wi-Fi, and to send and receive calls and text messages. Hideo Nakano, Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics said: “We are delighted to announce this partnership with Asiana Airlines. Our world-class systems provide their passengers with a globally available and premium inflight entertainment and connectivity experience.”


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Here is a great story on how to promote your airport (airline?) at the airport with an Augmented Reality (AR) device game. As the article notes: “Augmented reality can do a number of different things, from turning selfies into animals to creating virtual scavenger hunts, but now one more feature can be chalked up to the emerging tech — entertaining kids on an airport layover.” Perhaps, this says it all: “On July 14, London’s Heathrow Airport announced the new kids’ travel app, Around the World with Mr. Adventure, a kid-friendly game that hides digital badges throughout the terminals.” We want one! Check this out.

Sully

And lastly, go see “Sully,” the movie! Why? Because it sums up what some of the best folks in the world are doing to make your travel experience successful. Remember, on January 15, 2009, a US Airways had to land in New York’s Hudson River? Yes, we know it is about a emergency forced landing of an Airbus A320-214 in New York. And yes, if you are into movies, per se, you might give “Sully” a lower grade; however, if you are into aviation, this is a 5 star treat. While Clint Eastwood (at 86) directed this movie, he made it from good available event data, and obviously one for aviation lovers. As one review notes, ”..this story pits a true hero against the scowling National Transportation Safety Board bureaucrats with their flight simulators, computer analysis and insurance worries who dare to question Sullenberger’s ability to make lightning-quick decisions in the air. They would have rather he made it to a nearby airport after a flock of Canadian geese smashed into the plane and shut down the engines—a possibility he instantly assessed was not feasible given his 40 years of experience.” As to the airplane, we think it deserves more credit for staying afloat for some 29 minutes, allowing all 155 to be rescued on the floating fuselage. Notes Wikipedia: “Author and pilot William Langewiesche asserted that insufficient credit was given to the A320’s fly-by-wire design, by which the pilot uses a side-stick to make control inputs to the flight control computers. The computers then impose adjustments and limits of their own to keep the plane stable, which the pilot cannot override even in an emergency. This design allowed the pilots of Flight 1549 to concentrate on engine restart and deciding the course, without the burden of manually adjusting the glidepath to reduce the plane’s rate of descent.[50] However, Sullenberger said that these computer-imposed limits also prevented him from achieving the optimum landing flare for the ditching, which would have softened the impact.[91]”. And no, we doubt if you will see it on your next flight, but you never know.

(Editor’s Note: We understand for drama, the movie script did question Chester “Sully” Sullenberger (Tom Hanks) decisions; however, we understand that the NTSB didn’t actually question Sully’s decision or actions, it was just drama for the silver screen.)

July 7, 2017– For many holiday-goers jetting off to their dream destinations this summer, their vacation begins when they catch their flight.

A colorful new infographic from connected aircraft technology specialists SITAONAIR showcases 10 top ways that airlines can ensure the passenger experience is truly top flight for those heading off on hard-earned holidays.

“In the hyper-competitive business of air travel, passenger satisfaction ratings are king,” says Dominique El Bez, Vice President of Strategy, SITAONAIR. “Airlines across the world have to work harder than ever to give passengers the best-possible inflight experience, and to win – and keep – their customers’ loyalty.

“SITAONAIR works with hundreds of airlines around the globe, innovating bespoke services and solutions to improve airline passenger comfort and engagement.

“There are many different ways today’s airlines can enhance their inflight experience offer to passengers. More and more airlines are investing to deliver high-speed onboard internet services for connected passengers; develop exclusive airline internet apps for customers to surf the web, chat and stream inflight; and equip pilots with cutting-edge weather avoidance technologies to fly the smoothest course.

“Passengers can be rewarded with special inflight shopping treats, sent straight to their devices; aircraft can be retrofitted with 3G/4G voice-calling telephony, so passengers can stay connected in the clouds; and cabin crews can ‘go digital’, to deliver a more personalized and efficient customer service.

“Whatever an airline’s ambitions, SITAONAIR’s unrivalled industry heritage and expertise means we can support airlines to deliver their passenger experience goals.”

2017 Air Transport IT Summit – Barcelona, Spain | May 24, 2017– SITA, the IT specialist that is transforming air travel through technology, today rolled out several community innovation demos with an eye toward the future at this year’s Air Transport IT Summit. These forward-looking innovations are part of SITA’s 2016 multi-million investment across five main focus areas to explore new solutions to some of the air transport industry’s most pressing challenges.

The five areas are; new baggage tracking capabilities to meet IATA’s Resolution 753; identity management to enable secure and rapid passenger flow through airports; the facilitation of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC); an industry-wide disruption warning system; and enhancing cyber security across the industry.

Demos shocased included the innovative WorldTracer Ground Delivery Baggage Tracking App which allows airlines to track delayed bags until they reach their final destination and Travel Identity of the Future, a new approach to identity management to enable secure and rapid passenger flow through airports. The multi-million dollar community innovation investment is over and above SITA’s continued investment in new products. It is aimed at looking further into the future of promising technologies or new ways of doing things that could have a big impact and significant benefit to the air transport community.

In addition, SITA announced seven new member benefits to enhance nine offers made available in 2015. The offers, exclusive to SITA’s 400 plus members, consist of free trials and preferential contract terms for services. These include SITA’s Mobile Boarding Pass API, which gives airlines flexibility to easily create and distribute mobile boarding passes and SITA’s sophisticated baggage services BagConnect and WorldTracer Tablet. Members can also benefit from free consultancy services for SITA’s cloud services and Horizon solutions along with preferential terms for messaging services SITATEXT Online and the new MessageIntelligence Archive.

Jappe Blaauw, President of the SITA Council, said: “SITA is a member-driven organization and these offers are designed to offer value and support in the areas that we know our 400 plus members are interested such as improved baggage management, driving the adoption of mobile self-service and taking advantage of cloud services. These exclusive offers will allow our members to quickly evaluate and adopt new and efficient technologies across the air transport industry.”

The Air Transport IT Summit, which is attended by more than 400 air transport industry professionals, also provides SITA with the opportunity to recognize its valued members. Working with its air transport industry partners to define next-generation technology for more than 65 years, SITA recognized numerous milestone members including 60 years of partnership with Air Serbia, Middle East Airlines, Pakistan International Airlines and Qantas Airways. And 50 years of partnership with Adria Airways, Arabian Airlines, Libyan Airlines, Meridiana Fly, Saudi Arabian Airlines and United Airlines.

This week IFExpress features a few more AIX booths we visited, as well as, a bit more news. Keep your eyes on TelefonixPDT for greater market penetration and on digEcor for the same – there is a lot happening and we will have more in the coming weeks.

1. TelefonixPDT

TelefonixPDT is like a Swiss army knife – they have a solution for virtually every IFE hardware challenge! IFExpress had the opportunity to catch up with them during AIX earlier this month. As always, the company exhibited some great hardware components including some new iterations, specifically from their Summit Product Line. Now, Let’s look at some of the individual products that we saw in their booth.

CabinACe-2 WAP:
From an airplane perspective, TelefonixPDT has finalized an STC on the 737. In fact, CabinACe-2 Wireless Access Point (WAP) is the first commercially available ARINC 628 compliant 802.11ac, Wave 2 product for commercial aircraft wireless environments. The CabinACe-2 WAP enables the highest capacity performance and efficiency in extremely high-density environments for enhanced connectivity and passenger experience. The new WAP features a small footprint and low power consumption making it suitable for both linefit and retrofit installations. With a concurrent data rate of 1.73 Gbps in 5 GHz and 800 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz range (aggregated date rate of 2.5 Gbps), the CabinACe-2 product delivers next generation performance for passengers. Oh and by the way, TelefonixPDT told us that customers can use the STC for free!

CabinPinnacle:
CabinPinnacle general-purpose airborne server/router is a complete, highly integrated, application-ready platform for Ethernet-based network installations. The server integrates a quad core 2.7 GHz Intel Core i7 processor with 16GB of DDR3 memory and supports connectivity and bandwidth demands utilizing features such as an L2/L3 managed Gigabit Ethernet Switch with eleven externally available Gigabit Ethernet ports. Designed specifically for aircraft environments, this ARINC 600 4MCU form factor includes six ARINC 429 channels, 20 aircraft discrete I/Os, and integrated self-healing health monitoring. The server also supports both Linux and Windows operating systems as well as the availability of integrated software APIs for maximum flexibility. The company told us that they are in the process of finishing linefit offerability at Boeing and in the near term the product will be offerable both linefit and retrofit for both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. The system architect, Eric Tartar said, “The CabinPinnacle is the Swiss Army Knife of routers! And as customers need it, we will add features.”

CabinEdge:
Another product that we found interesting was the CabinEdge stand-alone content loader that supports network delivery of In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) content and is meant to be permanently installed on cabin monuments. The content loader utilizes small form factor, low-cost, commercially available USB “thumb drives” as the content transfer medium. The unit loads digitally stored, encrypted content in the background in an unattended fashion. A keyed tumbler lock provides security and ensures that loaded content remains secure until the next update. Simply installing the small form factor USB drives and closing the interface door automatically sends the signal to the onboard software to “mount” the drives and begin the process of loading content to the front end server. The onboard software automatically cross-checks with the locally stored content and updates files as required at better than USB 2.0 speeds.

Encompass:
One of the more surprising products that we saw from TelefonixPDT was Encompass – a portable, low-cost, full-featured, wireless IFE product. The TelefonixPDT Encompass server is a small form factor, wireless IFE system designed to meet the requirements of short term aircraft trials and long term IFE solution needs. The unit’s small size and weight make it perfect for deployment in overhead storage bins; and with 12 hours of continuous battery operation, this open source solution is not only easy to operate, but is also easy to customize to meet airline needs. Software SDK is available to quick-start DRM and content management application and high capacity SSD storage ensures that there is ample content for streaming to passenger devices. Without the certification requirements of traditional embedded solutions, the Encompass all-in-one server is a solution that minimizes cost while still delivering the quality experience.

Editor’s Note: The Encompass is basically a portable server/WAP that the folks at TelefonixPDT note was redesigned after a number of application trials. They told IFExpress that they integrated the charging bay(s) into the unit. With the application of external power, the unit can charge its internal batteries while on the airplane. We note that there will probably be more one-box systems flying on more and more single-aisle aircraft in the near future and we see this as an evolving technology trend. Historically, this trend started back with the portable single-box IFE solutions (think AirFi). IFExpress believes this product is an excellent solution for the business jet wIFE market.

CabinVista:
The last component of the Summit Line that we saw was the CabinVista Cabin Control Panel. The panel interfaces directly with the IFEC. This multipurpose product can be used as the primary control mechanism to the passenger IFEC system and to initiate PA announcements and cabin chimes. The CabinVista unit also provides 2 external interfaces to allow for uploading and downloading content to onboard servers via USB thumb drives.

Lastly, we should note that TelefonixPDT is continuing their expansion into Europe and Asia. They have arrangements in place for a manufacturing facility in China that should come online before APEX of this year. The company will still maintain their manufacturing facility in the USA to sell to other markets, while the China manufacturing facility will focus primarily on the growing Chinese aviation market.

2. digEcor
IFExpress had the opportunity to touch base with David Withers CEO of digEcor during the AIX extravaganza. David told us that it has been four years since he purchased the company and that their focus since then has been on developing modular and flexible product offerings to the aviation industry. They have achieved this by leveraging on the digEcor product, introducing LED lighting and power; as well as, enhancing the GLIDE product offering and the Wi-Fi feature to their roster. “We want to offer modular and flexible solutions that any airline can use,” said Mr. Withers. “Wi-Fi has a place in our industry, especially alongside power.” Power at the seat is the highest demand and the company has been focusing on how to integrate power easily into their offering.

digEcor had a key new customer announcement during the week – Air Tahiti Nui for the rollout of their ENGAGE cabin crew mobile solution. David Withers, digEcor Chief Executive Officer said, “ENGAGE has many benefits including access to passenger information and preferences, efficient service recovery, electronic forms and messaging.”

The company also had a few announcements regarding their GLIDE offering, including a milestone of delivery of the Integrated Flight Experience into the market, launching four new product lines including: Passenger Service Solutions (crew call, reading light and optional audio controls), LED Cabin Lighting, Cabin Management as well as digEcor’s own Moving Map product. Additionally, Corendon, a leisure based airline in Turkey, selected the GLIDE embedded system solution for their Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The new system will replace their legacy tape-based IFE offering. Mr. Withers told IFExpress, “The GLIDE embedded system is a leading component of digEcor’s Integrated Flight Experience comprising IFE, in-seat power, LED cabin lighting, passenger services, crew applications, cabin management, tape replacement, Wi-Fi streaming and content services.”


Other News:

Gogo
Gogo announced that veteran financial leader Barry Rowan was to join the company as an Executive Vice President and will assume the position of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) on May 4, 2017 following the Company’s first quarter earnings report. Rowan will lead Gogo’s financial operations, which includes financial planning and analysis, accounting, treasury, tax and investor relations. He will report to Michael Small, president and CEO.

Rowan has more than 30 years of financial management experience including a track record of success leading public companies.

Also, Gogo and global satellite operator SES announced a new capacity deal to enhance in-flight connectivity services for key air travel routes over North America and the Pacific Ocean. As part of the new agreement, Gogo has leased all available capacity on SES’s AMC-4 satellite, which SES will move to a new orbital location to serve flights to, from and within the states of Alaska and Hawaii, flights along the west coast of the U.S. and over the Pacific Ocean.”SES has a global fleet of over 50 GEO satellites in orbit, and will be launching five more satellites this year, three of which have massive throughput payloads. SES is one of the global operators who can quickly and effectively move existing assets and scale up across regions and routes where connectivity demand is on the rise. This robust global network of scalable, flexible satellite capacity enables SES to stay ahead of the ever-growing demands and requirements of the aero industry,” said Elias Zaccack, Senior Vice President of the Americas region and Mobility Solutions at SES. “With the recent launch of the SES-10 satellite, SES will place AMC-4 in an orbital slot to meet the growing demand for Gogo’s inflight connectivity services and allow us to further expand our alliance.”

SITA
Bologna is the first Italian airport to install SITA’s Scan&Fly units. The new bag drop units will initially be used by low-cost carrier Ryanair before being extended to other airlines. Bologna Airport is a fast-growing hub for Ryanair with more than 20 destinations and 170 flights a week. SITA is a global provider of award-winning bag drop solutions. Airlines and airports globally have welcomed the high-quality interface of Scan&Fly, the ease of its retro-fit and the ability to fully integrate with the SITA AirportConnect common-use platform.

In the next few years, airplane passengers will be seeing a lot of changes to the process of flying from point A to point B. On the surface, they won’t notice a lot of difference in the mechanics of flight transportation, but it is what is going on behind the scenes, especially in the IFEC world that will have changed significantly.

Passengers will still use their personal devices on the ground to obtain a ticket, they will be using their devices to check-in and board planes, and they will still be using all sorts of portable devices while inflight. While recent rules of onboard laptop usage might be restricted for security reasons (APEX News Release), globally there is too strong a need to manage and organize one’s life with the aid of a portable phone or connected personal device, including laptops. Why? With the technological advancements of the modern portable device, be it smartphone or wearable, people everywhere are demanding more data in order to stay connected and informed. Face it, installed inflight telephony; think Claircom, Inflight Phone and GTE Airfone, in the 1990’s delivered scratchy voice connectivity when compared to flying with a smartphone today. Passengers utilizing the connectivity options available to them now; whether it be voice, data, or streaming entertainment to their PED, experience a quality of service that far exceeds those provided by their connectivity predecessors. However, there is room for improvement given the ever-increasing demand for a larger pipe and more information to flow both too and from the aircraft.

Panasonic’s NEXT ‘Platform’

The next step is what this article is about. The Panasonic development of the next generation system is the focus in this week’s IFExpress. While Panasonic entertainment and communication products have evolved with the data need, the solutions moved from analog to digital because the answer for more ‘everything’ is an electronic one that includes both hardware and software. Thus, the next generation IFEC system from Panasonic is coming to the front of technology and, naturally, it is called the Panasonic NEXT Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity System.

According to Panasonic, The NEXT IFEC platform was developed specifically in response to current generation’s trends and challenges. The system powerfully combines hardware, software, and functionality to provide a tailored solution to airlines. More importantly, it’s enabled by the Panasonic ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships. More on this later.

Panasonic’s vision with the NEXT platform was to help airlines overcome key challenges by transforming typically rigid entertainment systems into a flexible IFEC platform. With NEXT, Panasonic is introducing a scalable IFEC solution that blends the latest in inflight entertainment technology, connectivity services, and consumer technologies to help airlines reach their business objectives. This approach helps airlines maximize their investment by dramatically extending the lifespan of the IFEC platform.

A key differentiator with NEXT is its ability to help airlines maximize their investment by keeping IFEC perpetually and contextually relevant. It blends the latest advances in consumer technology, including 4K screens, Light ID, Bluetooth, and much more, backed by an intuitive interface that is simple for all passengers to use.

The value of the NEXT platform is increased exponentially by Panasonic’s integrated ecosystem of value-added services, tools, applications, and partnerships. This industry-leading ecosystem includes the company’s second-generation global connectivity network. More on this in a bit

To quote Panasonic; “By taking advantage of connectivity technology, today’s leading airlines are delivering experiences onboard unimaginable just ten years ago.” But note, improved connectivity to the plane is the first step in the process and Panasonic has been working this part of the solution for a number of years now. With the launch of numerous satellites with space/data allocated for Panasonic’s aviation use, the company claims worldwide connectivity coverage. Furthermore, they currently have over 1,600 aircraft with an installed base of satcom. It is also significant to note that the future of this connectivity service is not solely for passengers, especially in Panasonic’s eyes. Notes Panasonic: “Our connectivity service is configurable based on the airlines business objectives – the experience they want to offer their passengers and their operational data requirements … we will get back to the second part of this statement later. However, it is clear that both coming solutions will change the world of passenger and operational data.

The operational side of the equation includes: safety, operational performance, and real-time updates of hardware on much of the airplane that ordinarily would only be checked on the ground or during ground testing. This is a game changer for the airlines as well and Panasonic has planned services that will reshape the management of maintenance. Both airline and passengers will benefit from this real-time analysis. Hardware data analysis and tracking/reporting of onboard system monitoring and security analysis will improve airline operations and possibly ground operations, service times, turnaround and potentially inflight operations as well. Passengers get more data, ground and airborne interaction with the airline… not to mention more movies, more and better data services, which all add up to happier passengers and more profit potential for the airline. If this is not a big to deal to airlines now, it soon will be!

 

What is Changing?

We have mentioned what the passengers and crew get from a new technology and data driven system, so now let’s specifically look at the NEXT System or ‘platform  being developed by Panasonic. First, because the system is in development for the Boeing B777X (-X8 & -X9) and because this competitive solution is probably a tight competition, we cannot talk too much about the system capabilities. You can find out more about the Boeing 777 transport aircraft here. However, this might be a good time to note the Boeing future aircraft development possibilities. The Boeing B777-X8 is touted to be an approximately 350-passenger plane, while the B777-X9 is more like a 400+ passenger plane – and we understand that both are in the 2020+ development window. Obviously if the Panasonic NEXT ‘platform’ were to be for both aircraft models, a modular and scalable approach would be perfect for hardware, software, design, manufacturing, installation and even certification.

A good example of the integration of Panasonic technologies into the NEXT System is the ZeroTouch service, which was debuted at AIX Hamburg in 2016, and will definitely be integrated into the NEXT Service offering. Here is what Panasonic says about it: “The ZeroTouch Service Vision: Panasonic’s ZeroTouch service will reduce an airline’s need to physically touch the aircraft because all interactions are managed through a virtual dashboard. By providing access to real-time passenger data, software, media and content updates can be data-driven, helping to deliver a relevant and personalized passenger experience. Updates will be sent to an aircraft via three high-speed pipes – Wi-Fi at the gate, aircraft cell modem, or even in flight using Panasonic’s global broadband eXConnect service.” They went on to say: “When combined with dynamic content updates, the ZeroTouch service will offer an improvement from an airline’s traditional 30-day media update cycle by enabling live updates to data and files stored on a Panasonic inflight entertainment and communications system. Applications such as movies, games, advertising, live news, and more will be automatically loaded at any time, over any available communications pipe to an entire fleet. Strategic planning also will be made easier through the actionable insight solution provides. Airlines are presented with both a detailed picture of their aircraft and a broader overview of their fleet. This allows more informed decisions to be made in media consumption, system health monitoring, aircraft maintenance, and much more. The service automatically downloads critical operational data during flight meaning maintenance teams are notified of upcoming tasks and are able to prepare solutions prior to landing. Today Panasonic is in Phase One of its ZeroTouch service initiative, and is already delivering payloads of up to 700 Megabytes to aircraft over cell modem and its eXConnect service multiple times per day.”

 

What Is NEXT?

It is scalable, it is modular and NEXT is for widebody, narrow body, everybody!

Again, we should emphasize that the Panasonic NEXT System is considered to be a ‘platform’ by the company,  and this point was continually stressed throughout our discussions with them. There are several  reasons for this platform approach that make sense from a product and certification point of view: 

1. Because the new plane system will comprise multiple capabilities and offerings, different airlines will require different solutions; therefore, it has to be modular, and thus the ‘platform’ solution fits the general description of the Panasonic offering. By considering NEXT a ‘platform’ Panasonic can offer solutions with modular upgrades and/or product dash numbers that might include different software and/or hardware features. Here are a few that they specifically mentioned: aircraft and system monitoring, BITE, Maintenance centers and data communication, actionable analytics, passenger data integration software and solutions, and on and on. This ‘platform’ solution will keep potential certification issues at a minimum as they will not have Model/Box Numbers, but rather the ‘platform’ will only need the added box/software/card certs. This is only IFExpress’ speculation but if certification issues can be reduced, costs will be too.

2. The future of these airline/airplane required and selected capabilities, data storage, and management functions may make a ‘platformed’ system available as a design concept for other aircraft! A perfect example will probably be the Boeing 797 (the next, bigger-than-the-B737 plane) the potential Boeing midsize aircraft that is the required airplane series to address the ‘Middle Market’ – 4500 nm to 5500 nm sweet spot and carry somewhere between 180 to 280 passengers. The significant issue is that the NEXT platform will be scalable to address all different aircraft model types – single aisle, twin aisle, and the elusive middle market aircraft of the future. This will allow airlines to scale their systems depending on route, aircraft size, and demographics, while maintaining a ‘commonality’ across their fleet and it is NEXT’s modularity that allows this to happen.

Make no mistake, the NEXT platform will incorporate an improved modem for their new view of passenger and airline connectivity needs. Here is what Panasonic says: “The combination of our new modem results in the biggest improvement in connectivity Panasonic has made since the start of our service. It provides up to 250Mbps for passenger data, a 20x improvement in speed compared to our first-generation modem. Our connectivity service is configurable based on the airline’s business objectives – the experience they want to offer their passengers and their operational data  requirements!” Once again, it is the modular and scalable nature of NEXT that facilitates this choice by the airline.

To get a better idea of their improvement planning, here is their view of their IFEC product performance development:

Generation 1 (2009 – 2015)

Experience – email, social media, web browsing, 9 channels global TV, 2G mobile service, average 250Kbps speed/Up to 1 Mbps burst speed

Enablers – Global wide beam network, BC-01 (Up to 12 Mbps)

Generation 2 (2016 – 2018)

Experience – Rich web applications + light video streaming (i.e. YouTube) + 20 regional channels of regional live television + 3G mobile service + average 5 Mbps speed + up to 15Mbps burst speed (Editor’s Note: Be sure to make note of the plus signs!)

Enablers – Wide beam network + HTS, BC-03 (Up to 250 Mbps, 800GB SSD, 200 eXW SD Media Streams), cWAP (802.11ac), Dual panel or Single Panel Antenna

Generation 3 (NEXT)

Experience – Up to 250 SD media streams (i.e. Netflix, Hulu) ++

15 channels of HD live television ++ 4G Mobile service ++ Average 10 Mbps speed ++ Up to 250 Mbps burst speed (Editor – We assume the ++ means “plus and in excess of…”)

Enablers – Wide Beam Networks + HTS = XTS, BC-03 (Up to 250 Mbps, 800GB SSD, 200 eXW SD media streams), cWAP (802.112ac), Dual Panel or Flat Panel Antenna

Perhaps this is a good time to mention the industry activity surrounding the timing of the NEXT rollout in the future B777X program and a good place to start is ARINC and the ARINC CSS (Cabin Systems Subcommittee) workings. From their website and discussions with members, we see that ARINC has a lot of IFEC members hooking up with this subcommittee and their definition states clearly why: 

Goal: Passenger entertainment equipment is subject to frequent upgrades on the airplane. The goal of this AEEC activity is to develop cost effective equipment and valuable network infrastructure for the airlines to cope with the rapid and evolving electronics/entertainment industry that will exceed passenger expectations. This includes interface standards to allow airlines to implement preferred systems for their passengers. Cabin communications, connectivity, wireless distribution, cabin interface protocols, and connector standardization are all intricate components of this activity.

Scope: The scope of this project is to develop next generation standard cabin interfaces that will provide airlines with freedom of choice in the installation and expansion of cabin equipment. IFE, communications, interface protocols, seat integration issues, and connectors and cables standardization are also a part of this activity.

Benefit: Cabin systems provide entertainment and service improvements to the passenger. To keep up with passenger’s desire for better accommodations, systems are becoming more sophisticated and complex. Home entertainment and office type computing systems and peripherals are finding applications in the cabin to facilitate data handling and data link to the ground. The growing complexities and scope of cabin equipment has resulted in the expansion of ARINC 628. New series of specifications are added as new concepts and next generation systems and networks are developed. The benefits of the cabin standards are numerous. They provide the airlines freedom of choice, unit price reduction through increased volume, interchangeable spares, more upgradeable options, and creation of more sub- markets for integrators and software/hardware suppliers. These benefits are being realized on the new aircraft programs, possibly regional and business jets, and retrofit aircraft programs. The final message here is to keep your eye on this organization and its findings and reports as the next generation of IFEC is going to be outlined by this group!

Additionally, and because of the newer tremendous connectivity capability coming down the pike, IFExpress should mention cybersecurity and while Panasonic did not specifically mention the subject to any extent during our conversation, we know their engineers are very aware of the issues involved with improving passenger and plane connectivity.  We expect a big focus on keeping airplane data safe – both now and in the future. Some recent internet stories featured airplane hacking but Panasonic security people denied the reported ‘hacks’ and said: “The responsibility for security does not solely rest with an (in-flight entertainment) manufacturer, an aircraft manufacturer, or the fleet operator,” noted a company representative. “Each plays an important role in assuring a secure environment.” Further they called the news reports ‘misleading’ and ‘inflammatory’ and noted; “That one could use the exploit to steal credit card information is simply not true.” Further, Panasonic says it continually tests the robustness of its systems, and that it complies with or exceeds all regulatory requirements, which include regular third-party tests. After visiting their manufacturing and test labs, we believe they work to keep their systems hack free and we expect the new systems to move to the next level up the security chain.

While a few Boeing airplanes were mentioned, Airbus is the other solution that will no doubt seize the opportunity to take advantage of better passenger connectivity and improved inflight plane data but at this time we feel they are interpreting their market properly with the planes they have. Wait one year or two and this will probably change. For example, the Airbus A350 is a logical future prospect for ‘backbone improved’ data channeling and airline profit improvement based upon more and better connectivity and improved plane information updates.

And lastly, we should mention that other vendors are not asleep to this technology revolution and we feel based on interviews that they too see the value in building modular systems. Needless to say, we expect to see some of their developments at this week’s AIX. Readers might want to pay attention as the race for better, faster IFEC is going to eclipse everything currently in this industry in the next few years and note that the competition has moved into a new phase where both airlines and passengers will be the winner. Much of this will be achieved by the OEMs and IFEC companies working together to focus on the ever-developing ground-based technologies that have so far surpassed what traditional IFEC has been able to offer to airlines and passengers due to the lengthy certification process. With an ever-increasing installation base of satcom equipped aircraft and passengers bringing onboard data rich and powerful PEDs, such as the smartphone, a new window of opportunity has opened to our industry with the ability to be able to interact with those devices. We may finally see the ever-elusive connected travel experience become a reality. Stay Tuned!

 

March 24, 2017 —APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association), a four-decade old international airline trade association, called for immediate government-approved security solutions for the airline electronics ban announced this week by the United States and United Kingdom. IATA calculations indicate 393 flights per week impacted by the electronics ban.  By APEX load-factor calculations, this translates into more than three million affected airline passengers per year. With airline and government coordination, APEX believes that solutions may be rapidly implemented by airlines to further increase security and allow personal electronics on-board.

“The U.S. and U.K. this week pointed to a problem in airline security by banning electronics on certain flights.  When we take away personal electronic devices from passengers, we are bowing to a potential threat rather than providing an acceptable security solution.” APEX CEO Joe Leader stated. “Chemical detection machines utilized worldwide can detect illicit items in electronics. Turning on electronics checks functionality and non-functioning electronics could be banned from flights. The expense of hand-searching every carry-on for the personal electronics ban could instead be directed to a long-term solution that serves airline passengers and safety.”

APEX believes that without viable solutions provided to airlines, the electronics ban may spread well beyond the intended scope. Since the existing security scope includes individuals with travel privileges to the U.S. and U.K., these same individuals could connect via other airports where on-board personal electronics are not banned.

“Every threat placed against global air carriers has been met with viable solutions,” said Leader. “We now globally screen every checked bag, carefully scan all carry-ons, restrict liquids, conduct body-scans, and regularly conduct chemical analysis checks on items. When passengers connect internationally, they are frequently scanned again. Placing items into the cargo hold does not fully address the issue with a passenger-centric solution.”

In APEX’s global survey released last year, airline passengers frequently bring their personal electronics devices on-board aircraft for use in-flight:
 43% of worldwide airline passengers bring a tablet device on-board with 70% of these passengers using their tablet device in-flight;
 38% of worldwide airline passengers bring a laptop computer on-board with 42% of these passengers using their laptop in-flight; and
 22% of worldwide airline passengers bring e-Readers on-board with 77% of these passengers using their e-Reader in-flight.

APEX has directly engaged key U.S. and U.K. government officials on a solutions-oriented approach to make aircraft more secure and prevent the spread of the electronics ban. Until an aligned security solution has been developed by the U.S. and U.K. governments, APEX encourages full compliance of the ban by airlines, airports, and passengers.

  • Seamless Gateway: What it is and why everyone will want it!
  • Providing an on-the-move, contactless, and streamlined passenger journey, Seamless Gateway eliminates stops at airport control points and represents the next evolutionary step both in the way passengers interact with the airport and in stakeholder collaboration.

Lisbon, Portugal | March 16, 2017– Advancing the concept of the non-stop and contactless airport passenger journey, Vision-Box, the worldwide leader in passenger experience and border control solutions, in collaboration with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, is presenting its newest industry game-changer, the Seamless Gateway, during Passenger Terminal Expo taking place this week in Amsterdam.

Already causing a ripple of excitement throughout the airline industry, the Seamless Gateway technology is the first-ever, contactless, face biometrics passenger identification gateway. Offering the highest security levels at key moments of the passenger journey, it is certain to change the way airports envisage their relationship with passengers by revamping the interaction between travelers, airport, airlines and border authorities in important ways:

  • Provides travelers with a walkthrough identification experience, eliminating stops and direct interaction with officers. Identification is conducted in a few seconds, without compromising the biometric capture quality or matching accuracy of the single token.
  • Features a full, contactless journey obtaining a facial image on the fly, while the passenger walks naturally, but without eliminating the travel document from the equation.
  • Enables a streamlined, one-solution approach to all touchpoints, with the Seamless Gateway technology available to all travelers, adapting itself to each passenger’s unique behavior and features, and automatically activating alternative identification methods if needed.
  • A seamless journey providing a smooth and continuously integrated passenger-centric flow, combining data from different systems to deliver the highest level of security and a modern travel experience to travelers. The powerful Common Use IoT platform, Orchestra, promotes stakeholder collaboration and activates actionable intelligence towards excellence in Airport Management.

How does Seamless Gateway work?
During each clearance process, a facial image of each approaching passenger is captured on-the-move, and matched against a traveler data envelope which includes the biometric and biographic details of the expected arriving passenger.

As a safe and proven technology for Automated Border Control, the system employs the highest security standards and operates according to international regulations and best practices, under a rigorous Privacy-by-Design architecture.

CEO of Vision-Box Miguel Leitmann highlights that “We are thrilled to be at Passenger Terminal Expo along with Schiphol Airport, our long-time and valued partners in seamless passenger modernization. This year, we are proud to unveil Seamless Gateway, a brand new concept that literally allows a passenger to go through checkpoints without stopping and heralds a revolution in the dynamic between passenger, airport, airlines and border authorities. This innovation truly is a stimulating new chapter for the passenger services model and stakeholder collaboration.”

While the Seamless Gateway links the passenger with the airport, airline and border control authorities, via a simple, transparent and on-the-move interaction, the state-of- the-art Vision-Box IoT Service Platform Orchestra integrates the entire passenger identification and Common Use flow infrastructure of solutions and processes, leveraging all traveler and journey information into actionable intelligence. Orchestra unlocks a unique collaborative management ecosystem for all stakeholders, promoting synergies, maximizing advantageous interactions and offering a personalized, first-rate passenger experience within the Digital Airport Program.

Wilma van Dijk, Safety, Security & Environment Director of Schiphol Group, also states “Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has been boosting innovation in every aspect that concerns passenger experience together with our partners the Ministry of Security & Justice, Royal Netherlands Marechaussee, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Vision-Box. Now, to be the first airport in the world to offer a completely non-stop contactless journey and to demonstrate such innovation at Passenger Terminal Expo are great reasons to celebrate. For us, modernization goes hand in hand with innovative technology. The state-of-the-art Seamless Gateway supports us with our Digital Airport Program.”

Adding to the outstanding experience offered by this seamless approach is Vision- Box Mobile ID technology that uses highly secure biometric tokens for seamlessly, hands-free authentication in authorized IoT devices. The Vision-Box Mobile ID can be used to digitally store multiple identification documents in a smartphone to easily and securely network to numerous services while connecting various agencies and authorities. Using a network of IoT devices, each individual transaction is stored and distributed using Trustchain, Vision-Box’s cutting-edge approach to blockchain, which allows authorized IoT devices to perform risk assessments and estimate the level of confidence in the individual’s personal identity, based on the sequence of ID verifications in the person’s IoT history.

Visit Vision-Box Stand 10035 at the Amsterdam Passenger Terminal Expo for the unveiling of Seamless Gateway, the first-ever contactless face biometrics identification gateway. Distinguished guests and a large team of Vision-Box ambassadors are available for meetings and for a full, live demonstration of the new solution.

Come experience this revolutionary non-stop, contactless and streamlined passenger clearance gateway and see how it will change the face of air travel as we know it!

  • Rockwell Collins’ acquisition of Pulse.Aero expands the company’s strong passenger processing offerings beyond agent and self-service check-in to include new applications and services.

Annapolis, MD | January 4, 2017– Rockwell Collins (NYSE: COL) has acquired Pulse.Aero Limited, a UK-based company specializing in self-service bag drop solutions and airline applications, to enhance the company’s passenger processing services for airports and airlines. This acquisition further expands Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services strategy to enable the connected aviation ecosystem.

“As passengers seek to take more control of their travel experience, this acquisition expands our portfolio of self-service passenger processing solutions, enabling us to streamline and simplify the passenger journey through a fully connected airport”
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“As passengers seek to take more control of their travel experience, this acquisition expands our portfolio of self-service passenger processing solutions, enabling us to streamline and simplify the passenger journey through a fully connected airport,” said Dave Nieuwsma, senior vice president, Information Management Services for Rockwell Collins.

Pulse.Aero’s products and services will be integrated into the Airport Systems portfolio of Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services business.

The self-service bag drop market is experiencing significant growth due to the benefits it provides both airports and passengers. Airports can increase passenger throughput without capital expenditure on building and facilities, and passengers can move through the airport check-in process more quickly and efficiently.

Rockwell Collins and Pulse.Aero have worked together on several successful deployments, including Dublin Airport, where new self-bag drop units were installed, reducing queue times and improving customer service.

Watch a video to see how Rockwell Collins’ self-bag drop solution has impacted Aer Lingus’ operations at Dublin Airport: https://youtu.be/OG_4zANwLXo.

France | November 26, 2016– Airbus is evaluating a new standard high-bandwidth architecture that will provide faster and more wide-reaching connectivity services on-board its modern, market-leading jetliners.

Using the in-house A330 testbed aircraft this autumn, Airbus became the first in the industry to flight demonstrate such a high-bandwidth connectivity platform – which will enable faster internet, mobile telephone services and support applications for passengers and airlines via high-throughput satellites.

Applying high-bandwidth connectivity is an important part of the company’s focus on providing a superior on-board experience – and soon will allow airline customers to choose from the range of new high-throughput satellite technologies such as Ka-band and Ku-band for continuous worldwide connectivity.

Constant innovation to improve the passenger experience

“Our goal is to extend our connectivity portfolio in new production aircraft and as retrofit,” explained Bruno Galzin, Head of Airbus’ Connectivity Programme and Upgrade Services. “Our initial testing in high-bandwidth connectivity is a new step to improve the passenger and crew experience. We already are working on new solutions in line with the latest, fast-evolving technologies so anyone can be connected on-board just like at home.”

In-flight connectivity is becoming increasingly important for passengers, who now expect to always be connected – using their own electronic devices to access the internet, exchange with those on the ground and enjoy social media.

Airlines also are demanding the need for connectivity solutions to enhance their operational communications, such as with digital cabin logbooks, telemedicine or for credit card authentication, as well as to generate ancillary cabin revenues.

Cabin connectivity for the future

With the start of testing successfully underway this autumn, Airbus is expected to be the first aircraft manufacturer to offer this standard architecture on its commercial airliners – with service entry for this solution planned for the third quarter of 2017.

Airbus’ high-bandwidth connectivity architecture will be available from multiple suppliers for applications on its A320, A330 and A380 jetliners, which supplements the A350 XWB – a “digital native” that entered service with high-bandwidth connectivity capability.

“The number of connected commercial aircraft is expected to grow from 5,000 to a volume of 16,600 over the 2015-2025 period, accounting for 62 percent of the global commercial fleet,” explained Galzin. “The innovative solutions we are currently developing will help passengers and airlines benefit from a new generation of high-throughput satellite technologies in the Ka-band and Ku-band frequencies.”

  • Nesma Airlines is AirFi’s first Middle East airline customer and the 21st overall
  • The carrier will deploy AirFi’s Wireless IFE solution on its A320 and A321 aircraft
  • The solution will launch with Nesma in six weeks

Singapore | October 26, 2016– Market-leading Wireless IFE provider AirFi is proud to announce the signing of its first customer in the Middle East – and twenty-first customer globally – Nesma Airlines.

Nesma plans to deliver a streaming IFE solution to passengers flying on its Airbus A320 family aircraft in November this year, less than six weeks from contract signature. With over 20 airline customers flying with the AirFi solution every day, the AirFi team is experienced in enabling such speedy fleet-wide deployments of its system.

AirFi’s fully-featured portable Wireless IFE platform allows passengers to access DRM and non-DRM movies and TV shows, games, chat, duty free and post-flight shopping and daily updated news and social feeds. To provide such a wide range of content, the company currently works with over fifty content providers both big and small, including its official regional partner, Onboard International.

Furthermore, AirFi’s acquisition of a European technology firm earlier in 2016 means passengers can also play with a state-of-the-art 3D moving map. This new feature showcases numerous points of interest and offers the opportunity for geo-fenced advertising.

Passengers can access the content using their personal electronic devices to connect to a free onboard Wi-Fi network created by the AirFi boxes, which are positioned throughout the cabin in overhead bins. AirFi will initially offer Nesma’s passengers content in English, with the roll-out of Arabic-language content due soon after the solution goes live.

AirFi CEO, Job Heimerikx, comments, “We are delighted to welcome Nesma to the AirFi family and to open up another new region here in the Middle East with our partner Onboard International. We are dedicated to a continuous program of passenger experience enhancements and ensuring that the AirFi platform leads the market as the best-in-class hard and software solution for safety, performance, cost and speed of deployment.”

Martijn Moret, AirFi’s Chief Innovation Officer and Director of Operations in Asia, adds, “We’re very proud to announce our first Middle East airline customer, because it’s a new territory for us. It’s a tangible result of our expansion in focus from solely Europe out to the rest of the world.”
AirFi made the decision to expand its global reach earlier this year. So far, it has eighteen European customers, as well as one carrier based in the Philippines and one based in Mexico. Moret also hinted that further confirmed customer announcements could be expected before the end of the year.

The top global mega-trends in airline travel clearly define the present and future of aviation travel today and a few of the changing keywords and phrases are defining terminology that drove the Singapore APEX show: Connectivity, Innovation, Individual Empowerment, and Productivity are just a few of the terms that stood out to us. Another way to put it is basically travelers are using technology to improve their travel experience, lifestyles, and their world in general. Makes sense! In fact, “Connected” was probably the most commonly used word and we heard and saw it in action all over the show, in the city offices/buildings/shops, and in travel – folks have their smartphones and tablets out everywhere and find them more interesting than just about anything around them. But more importantly, this connected, informational lifestyle change has affected the future of travel locally and internationally. You had better believe folks like the airlines, retailers, and Google see that connectivity is the future.

CONNECTIVITY & TRAVELING TODAY

The APEX Conference in Singapore clearly demonstrated that connectivity is the heart of travel by Millennials and the rest of the device focused population.  Interestingly, some 40% of passengers carry all 3 devices – laptop, smartphone and tablet – and, yes, we did the same! One expert noted that some 83% of passengers carry a smartphone onboard while over 50% of passengers value onboard Wi-Fi as a key criteria in airline choice. This certainly explains the unofficial show focus on the subject of travel connectivity. It is what is needed and so it is what’s happening.

Mobile services are becoming a big deal: an amazing 57% of travelers are using self-service for check-in and some 89% are aiming to implement mobile check in and boarding by the end of 2016. And there is no end to the airline apps that provide utility and reward for uploading. One technical meeting even tried to sort out all the data communication and ticketing communication issues that exist because every airline and ticket information collection effort is different and standards are in need of development.

Make no mistake, connectivity is a big deal today but it is about to get even bigger. Presently, some 4,982 airplanes are “connected” aircraft, but by 2025 there will be 16,560 connected aircraft, and when we refer to the connected aircraft we mean passenger connectivity and airline operations data as there are already connections to and from the flight deck for pilots and flight critical information. Further, reported digital ancillary revenues are tracking connectivity growth. For example, one speaker reported that in 2015 revenues were $40.5 Billion and by 2020 they are predicted to reach $130 Billion!

Today’s modern traveler, as one speaker stated, is “embracing connected platforms, living online, and discovering more through digital technology” and by just visiting an airport you will find that statement true. And, of course, Google sees a place (market) in pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight, connectivity options – smart folks! As one industry panelist said: “The digital world enables the discovery of the real world!”

During APEX the IFExpress team talked to some 50 to 60 companies and we found a lot of real stories that we will deliver in the coming weeks; however, we thought that we would give our readers some hints, thoughts, views and temptations of what is to come in the next month or so.

WHAT WE SAW – SOME SURPRISES, SOME EXPECTATIONS

1) From a general perspective, companies were focusing on the end-to-end experience for the passenger. For example, enabling the airline to engage the passenger via the airline app after ticket purchase but before the date of flight. Continuing the engagement process through the airport, onto the aircraft and until the arrival at the hotel/home. This is mostly being implemented through software upgrades, software hooks, and data mining but there were some new products and services in the offering. Airlines want to be able to ‘engage’ their passengers more throughout the trip – providing a tailored experience even in drudge class.
2) This was a year where IFExpress saw more focus on software iterations vs. new hardware/technology developments. Mind you, this is a broad generalization as there were some updates to existing servers with larger SSD and one or two new technology applications being exhibited. However, on a whole we saw a focus on utilizing existing hardware with improved software to enable data acquisition to enhance the passenger experience and improve the real-time evaluation of aircraft operations all enhanced by increased memory. Both of these have been longtime goals either by the airlines, OEMs or both.

3) IFE vendors were also focusing on the ability to provide the airline with operations information real-time. For example, this will enable the airline to reduce down-time of aircraft, increase turnaround time when there is a mechanical issue. The benefits of real-time data acquisition will be achieved by utilizing the various methods of communication now available to the airlines – broadband (satellite), Wi-Fi, 3G/4G cellular, and gatelink. The method of transmission is determined by the critical nature of the data and the transmission environment. For example, if there was an engine issue, it could be transmitted real-time to the ground so a repair crew could meet the aircraft upon landing, facilitating a quicker turnaround of the aircraft and maybe even keeping the next flight’s departure on time, possibly through an existing non-engine data communication network. Obviously, certification of these and competitive solutions will greatly affect these connectivity solutions. But, all of this saves the airline money in the long run. Obviously this would work with more certainty for an IFE screen that was malfunctioning or a seat that was inoperable over a cabin connectivity ground-to-air link.

4) The aforementioned services also provide the vendors with the ability to offer the service of monitoring and evaluating other non critical (or not as critical) data to an airline – especially if the airline doesn’t want to analyze the data in house. This is a potentially new revenue stream for the vendors and possibly a field for new vendors.

5) Much of the software iterations we saw at the show allowed the airlines to tailor their GUI and media in house and real-time. As an example, airlines now have the capability to analyze whether movie “A” is being viewed as anticipated, if the viewing falls short of anticipated numbers the airline can switch it out with another option prior to the current media cycle being completed. This not only keeps the media fresh but allows the airline to get better value from their media expenditure. Also, the ease of using these software tools allows airlines to potentially have a smaller number of individuals working on media management. We should mention that with this approach to content monitoring the possibility of linked content loading is also an example of real-time performance monitoring.

6) With the advent of Wi-Fi, gatelink, etc. we are seeing faster media load times. We also saw the ability to load new content while the aircraft was in use as mentioned above. This all saves time for sure now, and money in the future.

7) Broadband solutions are finally coming online to make the aforementioned a reality by providing global coverage. Some vendors are investing heavily in either their own satellites or purchasing dedicated transponder space.

AND MORE OBSERVATIONS

8.) There were a few of 100+ airplane IFEC hardware deals pending (and done) that may be a surprise to some.

9.) There were a few new IFEC entrants comprised of young, technical developers who want a piece of the IFEC business and we will watch their growth. And yes, some of the troops were from the old school companies that have less to offer, or offer nothing at all new today.

10.) One company, and one company alone, offered a true Bluetooth in cabin wireless connectivity solution with both low data and high data solutions.

11.) USB – C is here and the folks from IFPL will have more to say about it in another story.

12.)  As Ka-Band connectivity makes the scene we might even see lower competitive data products, but that is, of course, a prediction.

13.) One company in the flight path mapping arena blew our minds with the way their ‘Silicon Valley’ Top Dog showed IFExpress his plans to deliver a planned and plotted solution to your travel plans, in the air AND ON THE GROUND.

14.) Some new entrants to the IFEC madness have a couple seemingly good ideas that we had never heard of and plan to surprise us all soon!

15.) It is always a surprise to visit a vendor that told us what was coming last year and we missed the big picture – only to get a personal awakening this year. ‘Passenger connectivity before, during, and after a flight’ is the subject and the folks at SITONAIR really had their act together about it.

16.) Happy 25th Birthday GoGo!

17.) There is no place better on earth to throw an outdoor reception than Singapore: The top of buildings provide a view unlike no other on this planet, and they feature the best of everything. Thank You Gogo, Panasonic, Thales, APEX and everyone else that provided an incredible list of evening entertainment and hosting – you folks are the best! Be sure to check out our flckr link for expo images!

OTHERS SAID
IFExpress talked to many attendees about the show and we decided to share some of their comments with our readers:

1) Attendance was noted: “I was surprised how well-attended it was, considering all the people from North America that I knew would not make the trip.”
2) “Education Day on Monday before the EXPO had some very good presentations – Hopefully they should all be posted on the APEX website soon (audio and PP slides).”
3)  We asked about technical/products announcements that made sense and one respondent noted: “FTS Technologies’ flight attendant app for the smartwatch was the best that I saw.”
4) Another area that really counts is networking and the value of getting together: “The networking was great – events were fun and talked with a lot of people.” We couldn’t agree more.
5) Industry news is always a big deal and we asked one news expert and she told IFExpress: “The biggest news had to be the Rockwell acquisition of BEA, depending on their strategy for ‘hands-off’ management vs integration into the Rockwell family. If RCI takes a hands off approach and lets BEA continue to operate on its own, then the news might be different. If RCI tries to integrate it into RCI operations or develop an IFE system to sell with seats as a package deal, then it’s possibly even bigger news!”
6) One vendor told IFExpress: “I don’t know if co-locating with AIX Asia and FTE really achieved any cross-over attendees that would not have gone to APEX anyway – every time I went down to see AIX and FTE the floor there it was really dead.”
7) Another IFE vendor told us; “Except for the wireless apps, no real standout technical or new product announcements that we saw.  Probably the next most interesting things were the VR experience by Neutral and the Immersive Glasses by Skylights.  Also, Ron Chapman’s Bluetooth text communications product working over Iridium is real interesting too.”
8) Another show goer told us we could also add a mention about the new APEX Awards and the fact that they were expanded from 2 to 8 categories this year. “It’s a step in the right direction since IFEC is too diverse a subject to shoehorn all the products and services into a couple categories.” And, we couldn’t agree more!

Lastly, we need to say that Joe Leader and his team of real experts did a great show job. Thank you for inviting us and keep up the good work!

Cedar Rapids, Iowa | October 18, 2016– As airlines and airports come together in Singapore for the Airline Passenger Experience (APEX) Expo and Future Travel Experience (FTE) Asia Expo, Rockwell Collins will be there showcasing its powerful portfolio of solutions that deliver a complete end-to-end experience for passengers.

At APEX, the focus will be on the company’s PAVES in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems, Inmarsat GX Ka-band connectivity and applications and value-added services — all aimed at engaging, connecting and entertaining airline passengers.

“Airlines are interested in how they can provide their passengers with the best experience in the airport, onto the aircraft and through to the final destination,” said Jeff Sare, vice president, Sales and Marketing, Air Transport Cabin Solutions for Rockwell Collins.

He continued, “We offer extensive experience in a connected aviation ecosystem. Airlines are already taking advantage of our latest solutions with unprecedented reliability and we look forward to meeting with airlines at APEX to find solutions that meet their specific needs, especially in the area of of Ka-band connectivity.”

At FTE, Rockwell Collins will promote and demonstrate its next-generation airport solutions that are improving efficiencies in passenger processing, security and passenger experience.

“APEX and FTE attendees will have the opportunity to experience the breadth of Rockwell Collins expertise across the entire curb-to-curb experience, including integrated passenger processing, biometric identity management, self-service baggage handling, and interactive flight information and wayfinding,” said Chris Forrest, vice president, Airport Solutions for Rockwell Collins. “Rockwell Collins is in a unique position. We’re excited to showcase how we can support the entire aviation ecosystem.”

Atlanta, Georgia | October 11, 2016– SITA today announced that JetBlue has selected the global IT provider to support 531 check-in and automated passport control (APC) self-service kiosks across 56 locations in the USA and Caribbean.

This three-year agreement will see SITA, the air transport industry expert, provide 24/7 remote and on-site service of JetBlue’s devices ensuring maximum up-time and the highest levels of passenger service across current and new destinations.

Eash Sundaram, Chief Information Officer, JetBlue, said: “Over the past number of years we have worked with SITA and become familiar with its expert global service provision for airlines and airports. Our kiosks, used by our customers for check-in and fast immigration processing, must be up and running at all times. SITA’s round-the-clock support will ensure that any problems can be identified and resolved faster than they were before, minimizing impact on service to our customers.”

Service quality is key in the airline industry and SITA’s contract with JetBlue includes tight service level agreements (SLAs) for the end-to-end support of the kiosks. SITA matched JetBlue cost reduction objectives by seamlessly combining its advanced remote management capabilities with field engineers available at airport locations.

Randy Pizzi, SITA President, Americas, said: “JetBlue is renowned for the high quality of service it provides to its 35 million customers and with the move to passengers using more self-service technology, it is important that this service excellence is guaranteed at every touchpoint. We at SITA recognize this and are providing proactive management of JetBlue’s kiosks so the airline’s passengers have them available for use at all times.”

SITA End User Computing offers airlines and airports an end-to-end managed service. It combines both advanced real-time monitoring technology with a global footprint of field engineers at airports. SITA’s central management platform manages devices including desktop PCs, thin clients, laptops, kiosks, monitors, bag tag and other printers, with real-time status all over the globe.

SITA’s dedicated multilingual operations team provides monitoring and support 24/7, ensuring global business continuity through a flexible service model. This ensures operational agility, accessibility and continuity – anytime, anywhere. With its truly global presence, SITA industry specialists can reach end users at 400 airports (including airside) and outstations in more than 190 countries and territories to offer a seamless end-user experience.

Berkshire, UK | September 20, 2016– The typical premium longhaul passenger is highly engaged with current events and uses print media alongside other channels to stay informed at the airport and inflight.

That’s the headline finding of an authoritative new study of media consumption among US travellers, commissioned by Dawson Media Direct.

The survey also turned up a stat some industry watchers might find surprising: that the so-called Digital Generation is marginally more engaged than its elders, with “staying informed” cited as more important to travellers in the 21 to 39 range than to those aged 40-plus.

‘Gen D’ is a more avid consumer of conventional print media too, despite owning multiple devices, and considers paper publications the best resource for reading longer in-depth content.

“DMD wanted to learn exactly how those key first and business class passengers use print and digital news content, in daily life and flying longhaul”, says Heather Browand, SVP for US sales and marketing, “so we worked with the independent travel industry specialist Atmosphere Research to develop a unique online survey of premium fliers in our market.”

The study targeted passengers aged 21-70 who in the last 6 months had taken at least three fully paid premium-cabin round-trips between the US and Africa, Asia- Pacific, Europe, India, Middle East or South America.

About 400 surveys were completed and analysed, revealing that print media becomes tangibly more important to this audience on a longhaul trip than otherwise.

77% of premium passengers view flight time as a key time to read the press, and 54% of them read some print media at the airport or onboard.

Premium fliers also tend to read more printed press during air travel, with the number spending over an hour a day reading newspapers increasing by a third compared to everyday behaviour.

38% of them rank reading a printed newspaper or magazine among their top three activities under surveyed conditions, placing it ahead of digital news content, print or digital books.

“The study throws up so many positives for us as a provider of both print and digital publications to the industry, says Browand.

“It affirms that both sides of the business are in good shape, and that by-and-large we’re delivering the media our premium end-user customers expect and value.”

Stockhom and Carlsbad, CA | September 8, 2016– SAS, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, has been focused on bringing innovation to its passengers since 1946. With a passion and vision to ‘make life easier’ for Scandinavia’s frequent flyers, SAS is making investments of MSEK 500 across its entire short and medium haul fleet – from installing the fastest WiFi on the market to completing a full cabin upgrade. By partnering with ViaSat, SAS can offer onboard WiFi speeds of 12 Mbps and higher to each passenger; ensuring time spent on board will be more productive and more enjoyable with streaming TV, music and movies.

“Many of our customers are frequent flyers and we play an important part in the lives of many people. The upgrade we implemented on our long haul aircraft gained a very positive reception and we are now upgrading our short and medium haul fleet, which will also include high-speed WiFi with speeds that enable time on board to be utilized for work or to relax and enjoy a streamed movie or TV series. As both passengers and crew on board are now connected, we can take our personal service to greater heights while continuing to develop our digital, smart solutions that make life easier,” says Rickard Gustafson, President and CEO of SAS.

Giving Passengers a Seamless WiFi Experience
SAS is committed to delivering seamless WiFi travel experiences where passengers can access all of their content and information from anywhere: at home, at the airport or on board. The new onboard high-speed WiFi service gives passenger’s gate-to-gate internet access with the fastest speed available on the market.

In addition to streaming, social media and traditional workplace applications, passengers can also expect to get better assistance from the cabin crew, which have been recently equipped with iPad Minis that will be connected to the WiFi system. With new high-speed WiFi capabilities SAS crew will be able to access flight and passenger information – before take-off, during the flight and after the flight lands. This includes helping passengers check if their flight is on time to the status of connecting flights, check their EuroBonus account or even book a EuroBonus flight, shop in the EuroBonus store, rent a car, book a taxi to meet them at the airport or even tell SAS crew members what they thought of the service – all while on board.

The first aircraft with the new WiFi-system will enter service in the second half of 2017. Onboard WiFi will be free on short haul flights for all SAS EuroBonus members and SAS Plus ticket holders.

“In working with SAS, we are making the internet accessible, fast and easy-to-use at 35,000 feet. Only by coupling the ViaSat end-to-end service platform with Eutelsat’s European satellite connectivity, can we enable airlines, like SAS, to offer a best-in-class onboard WiFi service in Europe for free to EuroBonus-members and SAS Plus passengers,” says Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO, ViaSat.

Upgrading the Cabin for a Better Overall Experience
The first aircraft with the refreshed cabin interior will be SAS’s new A320neo, which in addition to extra leg room, new and more comfortable seats, a lighting system that aligns with the time of day and USB outlets at seats to keep personal devices charged, will also offer 15-20% lower fuel consumption. The interior design is in line with the new cabin offered on SAS long haul routes, which was launched in 2015. The new interior quickly became very popular with both Scandinavian and international customers.

In addition to 30 new A320s, 70 existing cabins will also be upgraded between 2017 and mid-2019. The WiFi onboard and cabin upgrades are expected to amount to a total investment of approximately MSEK 500 over a three year period.

  • Airlines invest to keep passengers connected on the ground and in the air

Beijing, China | July 27, 2016– Airline passengers in China are heavy users of technology both in their everyday lives and throughout their travel journeys. Nearly one quarter perceive themselves as ‘hyper-connected’ – they value efficiency and use self-service technology more frequently. Airlines are meeting their needs with 80% adopting connected aircraft and 100% investing in mobile-based services and the Internet of Things.

In the 2016 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey, conducted across China and representing almost 60% of the country’s passenger traffic, IT provider SITA analyzed the behavior of four different types of passengers. The Careful Planner, Pampered, Hyper-Connected and Open-Minded Adventurer profiles each uses technology in different ways. China has the highest proportion of ‘hyper-connected’ passengers worldwide with 24% compared to the global average of 14%. These passengers tend to use technology, such as mobile devices to book, check-in and manage their trip, more frequently than the other profiles.

Airline passengers across the globe are so comfortable with technology today that they are choosing to use it rather than interacting with people. This is particularly evident in China where SITA reports 98% of passengers carry at least one mobile device and 49% carry a tablet. They also score very highly on an index of online and mobile service usage in their everyday lives at 7.1 out of 10 and increasingly are using mobile services for travel. Today nearly 17% of these passengers check-in using a mobile app and airlines are predicting a jump in adoption over the next three years.

Having the ability to make the passenger experience a fully-connected one with connectivity on the ground and in the air is vital. Today Chinese airlines are leading the adoption of connected aircraft because of their comparatively modern fleets. In fact, 80% of Chinese airlines already fly, or are just taking delivery of connected aircraft versus a 45% global average.

May Zhou, Vice President, SITA China said: “In today’s connected world of travel passengers prefer to use technology. SITA’s research shows that they expect to be connected and have services delivered to their mobile devices at every step of their journey, including during their flight. Today we see that airlines in China are responding to the needs of these ‘hyper-connected’ passengers by focusing their investments in connected aircraft, mobile-based services, and the Internet of Things. With this strategy they can meet passengers’ growing demands for information and services to their mobile devices.”

SITA’s survey shows that 40% of Chinese airlines believe that the key benefit of connected aircraft will be improving the passenger experience and 100% plan to invest in wireless in-flight services for passengers over the next three years. Already in China 58% of passengers use their mobile devices onboard for in-flight entertainment.

The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is also high on the agenda of airlines in China with 100% planning to invest in IoT over the next three years and 78% are planning major programs. Currently the only IoT initiative already implemented at Chinese airlines is fuel/engine monitoring and this by just 10% of airlines. The main areas of focus over the next three years are smart bag tags, asset tracking and monitoring the aircraft cabin environment.

  • SITA-operated center is key to managing airline’s reservations across 13 destinations


Baghdad, Iraq | July 4, 2016–
With the help of global aviation IT provider SITA, Iraqi Airways has opened its new reservation contact center in Amman, allowing the airline to better manage its reservations across 13 countries. The center will be operated by SITA.

As the airline continues to rebuild its international business, it requires reliable infrastructure that allows it to manage it reservations globally and at home from a single reservation center. It also needs to accommodate a growing demand from passengers for multi-channel support, including voice, email and chat.

Leveraging SITA’s Unified Communications portfolio has allowed the airline to consolidate voice, data and audio into one platform while the cloud-based infrastructure delivers secure, reliable connectivity which effectively links the airline to its far-flung destinations. With SITA’s global presence in more than 200 countries and territories as well as more than 1,000 airports, it was possible to connect all 13 destinations seamlessly to the central reservations center.

Having SITA’s Horizon® Passenger Management & Distribution system already in place, Iraqi Airways was also able to integrate the new center with the airline’s reservation, ticketing, e-commerce, inventory and departure control systems. Using a new-generation graphical interface, agents are quickly and speedily able to make or change bookings.

As part of the management agreement, SITA recruited all agents and trained them to use the various elements of the passenger services system.

Osama Al Sadr, CEO of Iraqi Airways, said: “As we continue to expand of our network across the globe, we needed a world-class reservation center that could assist our passengers across our network 24/7. SITA was able to quickly provide us with a global presence with a fully-trained team. It also ensured that the center was able to accommodate our future growth as our network and operation continues to expand.”

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India, and Africa said: “SITA’s global presence and infrastructure made it possible to quickly develop a reservation center to support Iraqi Airways’ international network expansion. We understood, as an emerging airline, they needed a solution that was both world-class and efficient. That helped us deliver a solution that fits and supports their business.”

The reservation center will be manned by agents who are able to assist passengers in English, Arabic and Kurdish.

  • Next-gen passenger management platform ensures a premium experience at every step

Riyadh | June 20, 2016– Sky Prime Aviation Services, a leading Saudi private aviation services company, is to deploy SITA’s next-generation passenger services system (PSS) to manage its new VIP flight service being introduced to its premium passengers.

Targeted at the region’s premium traveler, the success of the new service relies heavily on providing the very best customer service each step of the journey, from the moment a passenger makes a booking to when they leave the aircraft.

SITA has worked with Sky Prime to understand the aviation group’s new flight program to ensure the group is able to deliver a world-class passenger experience. Leveraging the functionality of the Horizon® Passenger Management and Distribution solution, SITA will provide a broad portfolio, ranging from a leading-edge mobile platform which allows passengers to book and manage their flights directly from their smartphones and tablets to ensuring a smooth and on-time departure. All systems are interconnected in real time to one database, providing instant access to any required service.

SITA recognizes that a successful journey starts with the first step. iTravel® and Reservations make it possible for passengers to book and manage their flight through a variety of channels – via a call center, website or mobile application – delivering a uniform experience across all platforms. Horizon® Loyalty will enable Sky Prime to provide tailored treatment to each of their VIP customers while seamlessly integrating their loyalty program with the service’s reservations and departures systems.

A memorable passenger experience is dependent on the smooth passenger operation. Here the Horizon® platform will help Sky Prime manage every aspect of their passenger operation and ensure quick and efficient boarding and departures through SITA’s Departure Control Services. At the same time, Horizon® Weight & Balance will support planning by centralizing and streamlining Sky Prime’s operational processes on the ground, improve safety and enable greater fuel efficiency.

Salem Abaid Al Muzaini, CEO of Sky Prime, said: “As Saudi Arabia’s leading private aviation operator, we have customers that demand the very best experience from the moment they make their booking to when they leave the aircraft. SITA has recognized our unique requirements and through the Horizon® platform are able to provide a solution that positions Sky Prime as the best aviation services company in the region.”

Ibrahim Saleh, SITA Vice President Sales for Middle East & North Africa, said: “Our Horizon® platform is used by more than 100 airlines across the globe. Yet its flexible infrastructure is able to meet the unique requirements of each airline, no matter what their operating model or size. This has allowed us to help Sky Prime position themselves as the region’s best private aviation operator.”

Sky Prime provides a wide range of services including in-house maintenance and technical support, ground support and consultancy services as well as aviation project and airport management.

  • SITA’s Horizon® portfolio to help ease passenger flow, speed up aircraft turnaround

Shajrah | June 1, 2016– With a rapidly growing global network served from regional hubs across the Middle East and North Africa, Air Arabia is to introduce SITA’s next-generation passenger management system to extract even greater efficiency across its operations.

Air Arabia carried close to 8-million passengers in 2015, serving 101 destinations spread across the Middle East, North Africa, Asia and Europe from five hubs in the UAE, Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. SITA’s latest passenger service system will help the airline better manage the boarding of passengers across all destinations while streamlining the turnaround of the airline’s aircraft.

Through the Horizon® Passenger Management and Distribution portfolio, SITA will provide the airline with its latest departure control and weight and balance systems.

Horizon® Weight & Balance will increase fuel savings for the airline by providing full load planning capabilities, including a graphical user interface framework, for all the functionalities required to load and dispatch an aircraft. This includes all legally required documentation for both airlines and ground handlers. SITA’s Horizon® Departure Control Services (DCS) is a fully integrated multi-host system for automated check-in, boarding and load planning and has been used to check in more than 167 million passengers worldwide.

Air Arabia has also renewed SITA’s Type B Messaging Service, underpinning every operational aspect of the airline business by facilitating the sharing of crucial operational updates across the globe.

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa said: “For any airline getting all passengers onboard on time while managing every aspect of an aircraft turnaround is an extremely complex operation. Our Horizon® portfolio brings all those elements together, providing Air Arabia with the tools it needs to maintain the smooth running of it growing operation without compromising on the passenger experience it offers.”

  • Top film releases, newspapers and magazines available to download from Heathrow ‘EntertainMe’ kiosks

2016 Air Transport IT Summit, Barcelona, Spain | May 25, 2016– Passengers departing from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 this summer will be able to access recent Hollywood movie releases on their iPhones or iPads to watch during their journey. Using Heathrow EntertainMe kiosks movies, magazines and newspapers can be quickly downloaded in around a minute to enjoy at the airport and in-flight.

Two Heathrow EntertainMe kiosks offering a mixture of free and paid content will be located at gate level in each of Terminal 5’s satellites as part of the initial trial. Alongside local and international newspapers and magazines, recent movie blockbuster releases and classic titles will also be ready for quick download. Passengers can simply select their content on an interactive screen and pay via ApplePay or with their contactless credit or debit card. Once the passenger has downloaded their content, they will be able to enjoy it during their trip without having to access Wi-Fi or data services.

Heathrow’s EntertainMe kiosks have been developed by SITA and its partners, Orange Business Services and Adaptive Channel, to allow easy access to the latest entertainment. Today 90% of passengers are carrying a mobile phone or tablet and the 2016 Passenger IT Trends Survey reports that 46% of them are using their devices to access entertainment.

Roberto Segala, Heathrow’s Head of Commercial Services, said: “We are constantly looking to enhance the travel experience for passengers at Heathrow and these new EntertainMe kiosks designed by SITA will provide a unique entertainment solution for our customers.

“The initial trial will take place in Heathrow’s iconic Terminal 5, which serves more than 30 million passengers a year. We are very excited about this newest addition to Heathrow and look forward to seeing our customer’s reaction to this innovative product.”

Dan Ebbinghaus, Senior Vice President, Communication and Infrastructure Solutions, SITA, said: “We know passengers want access to the latest entertainment on their mobile devices and Heathrow’s EntertainMe kiosks make that quick and easy. Passengers get the content in seconds and can then access it without needing, or paying for, any data connection. Having these SITA-designed kiosks at Heathrow Terminal 5, which was voted the ‘World’s Best Airport Terminal’ for the fifth year in a row, is a great testing ground for this innovative service.”

The Heathrow ‘EntertainMe’ kiosks include a range of the latest newspapers and magazines, movies, TV series and, of particular interest to many travelers, city guides, destination video tours and similar items. They will be regularly updated to include new movie releases and other key content as they become available.