Now Old Seat Back IFE Replacement is Available at a Fraction of the Cost!
This week IFExpress wanted to give our readers a better look into the world of IFE retrofits so we asked Web Barth, Director of Marketing of VTS (Video Technology Services), one of the best known IFE upgrade and retrofit companies in the industry, to tell our readers a bit about the company, their solutions, and the process of a refurbishing a seatback IFE system.
ANSWER: “VTS is focused on airlines with older seatback systems including Rockwell TES, Panasonic 2000 and 3000 series, as well as, other older systems. Based on our discussions with airlines in Europe and the Middle East there are about 400 aircraft still flying these older seatback systems in that region and the majority are wide bodies. Although the manufacturers of this equipment have accurate data collectively, year old industry estimates were that there are approximately 1,800 aircraft still flying older seat back systems worldwide.”
Q: Tell us a bit more about the retrofit process, and perhaps more importantly, is price a big deal to some airlines and finally, does newer technology gain value in these installations?
ANSWER: “Some airlines go back to the original manufacturers to replace outdated or broken seatback systems. The manufacturers are happy to provide the service, but it involves replacing the screen with modern electronics and sometimes cabling, which winds up costing in the neighborhood of $5,000 per seat for a new version of the removed seatback IFE system. If an average wide body aircraft has 340 seats and you combine that with the cost of installation per seat, the result is an estimated cost of $2 million per aircraft. This can be a daunting investment for many airlines, especially in older and perhaps end of life cycle jetliners.
The VTS SKY SIS II is targeted to provide an affordable means of providing modern-day quality entertainment, which would be closer to $600,000+/- per wide body for arguably an even better IFE offering. This is achieved not by repairing old technology, but using modern technology and eliminating the old system thus the expense of rebuilding the old electronics and heavy connection cables and boxes circuitry. Each VTS passenger monitor bypasses the old audio/visual circuitry and electronics by streaming directly to each touch screen monitor, each with its own processor and Wi-Fi antenna.
This VTS Touch Screen Display is considerably lighter than the old unit with its seatback electronics. Additionally, hundreds even thousands of pounds of unneeded cabling, PCU’s, and passenger annoying, heavy under-seat SEBs are no longer necessary and can be removed. Depending on the aircraft and type of system this could eliminate 1,000 to 2,500 pounds of extra weight saving $100,000 to $300,000 in fuel annually thus providing a modern inflight entertainment offering that pays for itself in a few years.”
Q: Why retrofit?
ANSWER: “There are instances where older seatback systems are adequate, except for the fact that individual units have failed or the screens themselves are dim or lack modern-day resolution. VTS routinely replaces old screens with newer/better ones and rebuilds broken units, which can provide a relatively affordable fix. However, the VTS SKY SYS II system provides a far superior approach offering years of modern quality performance and life.
The reason is that the VTS SKY SYS II System skips over all of that outdated technology, equipment and circuitry and streams right to every seatback where each passenger controls their own unit with their own touch screen eliminating the armrest PCU as well. The VTS system does keep the old seat power circuitry, which also provides for an appreciated new passenger USB power outlet for operating/charging their other devices.”
Q: Before we get into the actual workload, can you tell our readers about why retrofits need to be done?
ANSWER: “So, you want to get rid of that old IFE, here are some possible reasons why. 1) A paying passenger staring at a broken IFE seatback display is a huge customer service problem. Your old system & screen is cloudy, dim or just outdated grainy resolution, not in modern 16×9 format.
2) If your hardware is an older seatback system, you can change it out. Amazingly, many airlines don’t realize you can swap out your old seatback system and/or display. One airline told VTS that they were planning on replacing all the seats, just to upgrade the seat back IFE system. Yikes!
3) Here are some reasons why it may be difficult and possibly why you should not… Actually, we can’t think of any since the new VTS SKY SYS II Seat Back retrofit can work with any old system, and since it no longer needs the old system’s electronics, seat back display, arm rest PCU’s, video/audio cabling or annoying and heavy SEB for audio and video transmission.
Although VTS keeps the old seat power circuitry, the VTS SKY SYS II System, skips over all of that outdated equipment and streams right to every seat back where each passenger controls their own unit with their own touch screen, which also has an extra USB power outlet for operating/charging their other devices.”
Q: Can you give our readers a quick synopsis on the cabin retrofit work?
The Basic Process is as follows:
1. First, remove the old seatback screen and electronics unit by peeling back the upholstery on the upper seat. It is not very hard to do and an average technician can remove and install a new unit in about 20 minutes per seat.
2. Now or when convenient, remove 1,000-2,000 pounds of no longer needed a/v cabling, hardware, PCU’s and especially the under seat SEB’s, while greatly improving passenger foot room and comfort.
3. Install a high resolution, VTS Touch Screen Smart Monitor with its lightweight bracket and re-fit the headrest upholstery around the new screen.
4. Install a VTS Streaming Server & WAP system, which weighs less than 20 lbs. This hardware easily installs in the overhead baggage bins.
Q: What is the scope of the effort…time, down time, etc.?
ANSWER: “Actual time is approximately 15-20 minutes per seat. So, a wide body with 300 seats will require about 100 labor hours. If an aircraft is out of service it will only take 1-2 days. Form, Fit and Function can greatly reduce re-certification to a negligible effort.”
Q: Please tell us a little bit about the Feature improvement or loss, the Advantages of doing a retrofit, and the Benefit of doing so!
ANSWER: Web noted: “Better than new; Immediate System Improvement, cost, weight/fuel savings. Video: Resolution increases 400%, perhaps a larger screen 7″ vs 5.6″, in new format 16 x 9. A System Cost: one third of the cost of conventional system replacement of a seatback system. Then there is weight savings – eliminate 80% of the system’s weight, i.e. 1000 vs 2,000 pounds. Next, we have fuel savings: savings in extra fuel pays for this new/better system in 3 years!”
“There is more,” he said, “credit card function for Inflight shopping is included. The built in credit card program allows for secure purchases from seatback screens, or the passengers own devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops) for incremental revenue, additional passenger services and offers. Did I mention the USB Outlets? This means power at every seat for personal devices as well. Did I mention custom financing… Matching your expected aircraft life, that’s ideal for aged aircraft. And lastly, it’s satellite ready companion antenna and systems to be installed now, with port to VTS Streaming Servers and WAPs or at a later date.”
Q. Lastly, we asked if the VTS Director of Engineering had anything to say to our readers?
ANSWER: According to Philip LaPierre, 35 year IFE Engineering and Certification veteran, “We have found that adhering to near, or identical ‘Form, Fit and Function’ certification criteria, we can greatly reduce re-certification requirements to a negligible amount.”
Finally, Noted Mr. Barth: “Come see our new Seatback Retrofit System for yourself at Booth 219 APEX Expo, Singapore, Oct 24-27, 2016, you won’t be disappointed!”
(Editor’s Note: VTS provides many systems options: In Flight PCI Compliant Credit Card Processing, 4G/LTE Communication Module – On the ground, weight on wheels Communication anywhere in the world, Separate Iridium Communication Module – In flight communication worldwide, VTS Turnkey Entertainment Content Programs and Sourcing Packages, Customized Worldwide Equipment Financing Programs, Satellite Companion Antenna and System… so they tell us!)
Carlisle Companies Incorporated announced the acquisition of Star Aviation, Inc., a leading provider of design and engineering services, testing and certification work and manufactured products for in-flight connectivity applications on commercial, business and military aircraft. With annual sales of approximately $30 million and 150 employees, Star Aviation has manufacturing facilities in Mobile, Alabama and a technical services facility in Lynnwood, Washington. The company is a supplier to the world’s leading providers of Wi-Fi and other in-flight connectivity systems used on a broad range of aircraft platforms. The business will operate as part of Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, a global provider of specialty wire and cable, and interconnect components for commercial and military aircraft, avionics systems, in-flight entertainment, communications systems and medical devices.
IFExpress reached out to Carlisle for a bit more info and here is what they had to say:
- “Star Aviation has been a supplier of Design/Kits/certification for connectivity solutions dating back to the onset of Boeing Connexion (2004-ish)
- Today they support Boeing, Gogo, ViaSat and some others with design/kits/certification for aircraft installation
- All retrofit Gogo 2Ku installations use a Star Aviation adapter plate for the Thinkom antenna.
- The Everett branch is mostly involved in Boeing documentation updates and configuration control.”
Recently, IFPL has worked closely with GORE® to develop the new USB-A 3.0 module, that combined IFPL USB 3.0 with GORE Aerospace USB 3.0 cables and provides the ideal solution for delivering high power (2A, 5V DC) and data transfer (up to 5Gbps) as per USB 3.0 requirements. This gives passengers the ability to maximize the benefits of both charging their Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) and interfacing with the Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system and you can see it in Singapore! (Check out the news release section of this IFExpress)
Boeing and Qatar Airways announced an order for 30 787-9 Dreamliners and 10 777-300ERs, valued at $11.7 billion at list prices. The airline also signed a Letter of Intent for up to 60 737 MAX 8s, valued at $6.9 billion at list prices. The announcement builds on Qatar Airways’ current fleet of 84 Boeing aircraft, a combination of 787s and 777s, all delivered over the last nine years. With this new order, Qatar Airways increases its firm order backlog of Boeing widebody airplanes from 65 to 105, including 60 777Xs. Further, Aviation Week notes that Qatar Airways CEO said: “Boeing has been making airplanes decades before anyone else even thought of manufacturing airplanes, so the experience that they have in this field has made them so robust that they make one of the finest and more solid, reliable product of any company,” Al Baker said Oct. 7 in Washington. “I know that Boeing’s competitors would not like me saying this, but I’m sure that inside, they know that Boeing makes the best airplanes.””
Power – This should do it
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- Providing In Flight Entertainment Solutions from 16mm projectors to Wi-Fi streaming systems.
Syosset, New York | August 9, 2016– VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is employing cutting edge technology to launch its latest SKY-SIS II Program for older Seatback IFE replacement and upgrade.
This new product involves bridging thirty years of experience, combining traditional IFE systems with the latest new technologies and is an answer to requests from VTS client airlines, which is where all of VTS innovations have originated.
According to Philip LaPierre, VP Engineering, “The long list of engineering and successful product developments have come from airline requests and over the last 30 years there have been many VTS firsts including; the first LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) IFE Video Projector, first LCD monitors for IFE applications, first VOD Systems, first Digital Video Player (DVP) to replace conventional videotape, first affordable old seat back retrofit and upgrade solution and others.
VTS addresses common airline problems with turnkey solutions that airlines can afford, even on end of life cycle aircraft. For example:
• For Airlines still using Videotape Players: VTS DVP Systems -Videotape to Digital Conversion.
Plug and Play units match all brands and swaps out videotape for identical shape digital drive with new system performance in an hour without new certification.
• For Airlines Seeking the most Affordable Entertainment: VTS Streaming to Passengers’ Devices
Turnkey System; Server & WAPs software, installation and content, ultra light: < 20 lbs., easy to install overnight in overhead baggage bin and with many options including credit card processing.
• For Airlines with old or broken Seat Back Systems/Screens: VTS SKY SIS II – Streaming to VTS Touch Screen Monitors
Restore your IFE to Better-Than-New at 1/3 to 1/2 the cost, Video Resolution +400%, modern format 16 x 9, and many options including credit card processing, USB seat power
• For Airlines needing custom solutions: VTS Certification and Engineering Services
The technical staff at VTS represents over 100 years of combined experience in the development, engineering, manufacturing, installation and service of video products for airborne entertainment communications systems.
VTS has been providing affordable IFE solutions to airlines worldwide for thirty years as well as full engineering package with FAA and EASA certification of the systems and installation documents.
VTS holds a Repair Station Certificate FAA – VQTR106K and EASA 5340. VTS provides maintenance support for all its products at the home base and other stations as required worldwide,
- VTS Readies SKY-SIS II its Latest Seatback Streaming to VTS High Intelligent Touch Screens for Launches and Demonstrations at upcoming APEX, Singapore.
Syosset, New York | August 9, 2016– VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is working with several airlines to launch its latest SKY-SIS II Program for older Seatback IFE Retrofit.
According to Philip LaPierre, VP Engineering, “There was a time when all new seatback systems and monitors were “state of the art” unfortunately that may have been some time ago, which we know because we installed or repaired many over the last twenty to thirty years.” Consequently today these old seatback systems have two problems:
1. If they work the resolution is unacceptable
2. If a Seatback doesn’t work you have an angry passenger.
“A broken seatback system presents a huge passenger service problem, especially a long haul aircraft. But at $4,000 – $6,000 per seat for a new system ($2M-$5M) that investment on an older aircraft is daunting” according to LaPierre. Now we have a far less expensive, alternative solution”.
Put in a VTS video streaming system with VTS Intelligent Touch screen monitors that have their own WiFi receivers and remove video cabling and junction boxes. This could save 2,000 pounds/$200,000 in fuel annually on a wide body.
Simply remove the old Seatback monitor, with its heavy video cables and junction boxes then install a new VTS Streaming Server, WAPs and our high definition seatback, intelligent touch screens each with its own WiFi antenna and receiver, powered by the older system’s seat power.
A better than new IFE seatback system at a fraction of the cost.
You can restore your IFE to better than new in a couple of days at 1/3 to 1/2 the cost of conventional replacement systems and with no new certification required!
The SKY-SIS II System Benefits: Immediate System Improvement, cost, weight/fuel savings
• Video: Resolution increases 400%, Larger Screen 7″ vs 5.6″, New Movie format 16 x 9
• System Cost: 1/3 of Cost of Conventional System replacement seatback system
• Weight Savings: Eliminate 80% of the system’s weight, i.e. 500 vs 2,800 pounds
• Fuel Savings: Savings in extra fuel pays for this new/better system in 3 years
• Credit Card Function for In Flight Shopping Included: Built in Credit Card program allows for secure purchases from seatback screens or passengers own devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops) for incremental revenue, additional passenger services and offers.
• USB Outlets: Power or personal devices as well at every seat.
• Custom Financing: Matching your expected aircraft life, Ideal for aged aircraft.
About VTS: Providing Solutions for 80 of The World’s Greatest Airlines for 30 years
From installing 16 mm film projectors and screens on TWA, Eastern, Pan AM and other great airlines worldwide to the latest digital streaming system, the VTS team has been providing solutions to install, improve and maintain IFE systems for many loyal airlines for three decades. www.vts.global
VTS: Unique Solutions & Products
• DVP Systems – Videotape to Digital Conversion; slide out old slide in new
• VTS IFE Seatback Retrofit/Upgrade – Affordable upgrade to a better than new seatback IFE
• InFlight WiFi Streaming Systems -The most affordable, lightest, easiest to install; any aircraft
• VTS IFE Bulkhead, Overhead Monitors Complete range of sizes and applications.
• Certification & Engineering Services – Many years of FAA and EASA certification service.
Peterborough | July 18, 2016– Flying Colours Corp., the North American MRO, completions, and refurbishment company has selected Rockwell Collins’ Venue™ cabin management and high-definition entertainment system for retrofit installation on all future CRJ ExecLiner conversions.
The first installation has already taken place at the Peterborough headquarters as a Bombardier CRJ200 conversion nears completion to a VIP ExecLiner format, a business jet configuration that Flying Colours has made its own. The aircraft will now be able to maximize the capability to display HD movies, enhance digital audio throughout the cabin, and broadcast other high-resolution content, including the Rockwell Collins Airshow® 3D moving map.
Going forward the installation of the Venue system will be standard on all CRJ200 conversions undertaken by the Flying Colours team. A further five ExecLiners are currently inbound to the Peterborough workshops, and each will have the newly selected system integrated during conversion. In addition Flying Colours will be setting-up a Venue demo unit of the of the Rockwell Collins CMS product in the Peterborough client design room. This will enable aircraft owners, of all model types, to evaluate the system for potential installation.
“Having over 25 CRJ conversions completed we wanted to upgrade our CMS offering to ensure that we offer customers modern intuitive technology, that also supports improved functionality. From a passenger’s perspective it provides a whole lot more in terms of flexibility, reliability and innovation. This is why we are now incorporating it as standard” said Eric Gillespie, Executive VP Flying Colours, about the upgrade. Rockwell Collins’ worldwide support is available to Flying Colours customers via their Global network.
This latest selection of the Rockwell Collins product further bolsters the established relationship between the two North American companies as Flying Colours is already a preferred installation agent and recognized dealer of all Rockwell Collins products.
Syosset, New York | June 24, 2016– VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that Neil Morgan has joined the VTS team as Vice President of Sales.
“I have known the principals of VTS for thirty years and have always been impressed with the quality of IFE products, equipment, software and their unique engineering ability to solve airline IFE problems. Now with their latest innovations in 20 lb. streaming systems, seatback system retrofitting and true plug and play videotape to digital drive conversion with 35,000 MTBF, I am excited because they have the kind of affordable equipment, financing and other programs that any airline can afford today…thus making our sales job much easier than any other company that comes to mind.” Neil Morgan said.
Neil Morgan is a 30-year veteran of the IFE industry. He began his IFE career in 1980 as a Service Technician with Bell & Howell’s Avicom Division and later became the firm’s European Service Manager. He has held many, varied roles in the IFEC industry, working for, and representing: Avicom International; Matsushita Avionics Development Corporation; Jetphone; Hollingsead International; TNCi; IEC International; Rockwell Collins, The IMS Company and Thales UK.
According to Andres Sierra, Founder of VTS, “Neil has been a respected executive that we have known since 16mm projector days. We are very proud to have Neil on board to help us introduce our entire line of new and affordable IFE solutions.”
“Over the last thirty years we have listened carefully to the needs of our worldwide airline clients, which most often have to do with improving and maintaining aging airline IFE systems at a cost that airlines can afford. That has led to three breakthrough solutions: Plug and Play Affordable Videotape to Digital Conversion, VTS IFE Seatback Retrofit and Upgrade Systems and VTS In Flight Entertainment super lightweight and simple Streaming System to VTS touch screen seat back displays or passengers’ devices.”
United Kingdom | May 27, 2016– STG Aerospace, a leading aircraft cabin lighting OEM, is delighted to announce that prestigious British charter carrier Titan Airways is the latest airline to install STG’s market leading liTeMood® retrofit LED mood lighting system on its Boeing 757 aircraft.
With the first retrofitted aircraft installed during a cabin re-configuration earlier this week and already in commercial service, its sister aircraft will be modified later this summer. This adds to the increasing number of airlines across Europe, North and South America that have selected liTeMood® – making it the undisputed system of choice for operators of narrow-body Boeing fleets looking for a best in class but cost-effective solution for upgrading dated cabin lighting.
liTeMood® represents the next generation in simple, beautiful and easy-to-install retrofit LED mood-lighting aimed at significantly improving passenger comfort and reducing maintenance costs. The blue/white bi-colour system creates a calming and fresh cabin ambience by delivering outstanding quality and consistency of light throughout the cabin.
Whilst “Plug and Play” can be an abused term in the world of aircraft modifications, liTeMood® is a genuine example of a truly simple upgrade requiring no aircraft modifications, using all the existing wiring, mounting points, connectors and control panel. The system is typically installed in under five hours, independent of and with minimal impact to any other cabin work making it straightforward to accomplish during a short stop.
FAA and EASA approved, liTeMood® is significantly more reliable than traditional fluorescent lighting systems, reducing ongoing maintenance and operational costs, and offers both a 36kg weight reduction and at least 50% reduction in power consumption, substantially increasing both fuel efficiency and electrical efficiency.
Alastair Willson, Director of Titan Airways said: “At Titan Airways we are always striving to improve the in-flight experience and the investment in mood lighting is one more enhancement of the Titan Airways product. We selected STG Aerospace’s liTeMood® system due to their huge experience and expertise in upgrading Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft with LED cabin lighting. The simplicity and speed of installation was exactly as described and the transformation of the cabin was breath-taking. The latest investment follows installation of a state-of-the-art wireless in-flight entertainment system across Titan’s Boeing 757 and Airbus A320 fleets last year”.
Nigel Duncan, CEO of STG Aerospace, commented: “We are delighted that Titan Airways, one of the most prestigious charter airlines in the world, has selected liTeMood® for its Boeing 757 fleet. The installation, carried out at short notice the weekend ahead of a VIP charter operation, was an excellent partnership between STG and Titan engineering teams and is further evidence that liTeMood® has become the clear choice for operators of Boeing narrow-body aircraft”.
EBACE | May 16, 2016– Flying Colours Corp. returns to this year’s EBACE in a buoyant mood, (Booth WO63) having confirmed signing the first customer for INAIRVATION’s pre-engineered retro-fit cabin solution for Bombardier Global aircraft types. Flying Colours, which was named a North American partner by the Austrian-based joint venture between Lufthansa Technik and F/LIST during NBAA 2015, is already working with the European partners on the design engineering for the cabin. The undisclosed client confirmed the order in late April. Work on the project has already begun. The aircraft induction at Flying Colours is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2016, whilst re-delivery is anticipated to be in the first quarter of 2017.
The launch customer has selected the baseline INAIRVATION package to blend with the new interior. The refit will incorporate the nice® HD Cabin Management and Inflight Entertainment system (IFE/CMS) from Lufthansa Technik. The system’s functionality will be integrated into new ergonomic side-ledges which are pre-engineered and manufactured by F/LIST. These modules will be delivered and installed during the retrofit process, which will take place at the Flying Colours’ Peterborough, Ontario headquarters.
The INAIRVATION components are just one piece of the larger cabin refurbishment project. The Global Express will undergo extensive reconfiguration of just about every part of its interior. The existing seats are to be replaced with Global 6000 frames and covered in a variety of exotic leathers. The lighting system will incorporate a rainbow spectrum of choices all controlled by the nice® HD CMS. A stone granite floor will be installed in the entrance galley area, including the forward lavatory, as well as the aft lavatory, and will complement the veneers and design of the monuments and seats. Carbon fiber veneers will be laid on the cabinetry to enhance the contemporary style of the interior. The final designs are expected to be ready by the end of June 2016. The exterior of the aircraft will also be re-painted following a custom paint scheme using all metallic paints. The retrofit will be certified via an STC obtained by Flying Colours.
“We are really pleased to have signed up the first customer for the INAIRVATION offering. Having worked with the customer before on a number of other projects he trusts our engineering design experience, and knows we will effectively realize his cabin vision. We explored a number of options for him, but he chose the INAIRVATION concept knowing that combined with our interior capabilities it was the most cost, and time efficient solution for him. He really appreciates the value the INAIRVATION elements bring to the mix,” said Sean Gillespie, Executive VP Flying Colours.
INAIRVATION Co-CEO Philip von Schroeter adds, “When we started the JV, we had concerns that it could take us a while to really bring across the added value of the INAIRVATION offering to the market. Our excellent partnership with Flying Colours helped us to quickly develop the joint retrofit offering for the Bombardier Global family. The fact that only six months after announcement of our retrofit program we are well into our first project, with more in the pipeline, shows that we must have hit “a sweet spot” in the market. INAIRVATION and its shareholders Lufthansa Technik and F/LIST are very pleased with this outcome.”
This issue starts the review of show vendors we talked to during AIX 16 but, as you know, there were over 500 IFE booths so we will do the best in the next few issues to cover those we had the opportunity to interview. Noted also, we have uploaded all our show still shots and you can find them here. Over the next few weeks we will try to outline all we talked to so hopefully you will get a better understanding of the some of the show participants and their products, whether you went to Hamburg or not. Further, we try to dig a little deeper into company products and services – no matter what size the company we talk to, because quite often new ideas spring from new talent – let’s get started.
Hamburg really scored the visitors at their 17th annual AIX show and with well over 16,000 visitors and 180 airlines, it’s no wonder that Gogo brought their B737-500 test airplane to the Hamburg airport for demo rides on the 2Ku system. No we weren’t on it, but we got in contact with Gogo’s Steve Nolan and he had a few interesting comments that we wanted to share with our readers. Firstly, we note that the Gogo/Airbus installation partnering on Airbus Bizjets is a solution that encompasses the retrofit installation of 2Ku on new A350 aircraft. And while we are on this subject, Gogo announced that they have partnered with Airbus to install, on a retrofit basis, 2Ku on new Airbus A350 aircraft. Delta will be the first U.S. airline to launch domestic 2Ku service as its first narrow-body aircraft takes flight later this month. Currently, they have more than 850 aircraft commitments to 2Ku across 10 airlines. And why, Steve told IFExpress that connectivity is booming: “We recently conducted a global study on in-flight connectivity and entertainment and found that the demand for in-flight connectivity services continues to soar and drive passenger behavior. When it comes to Wi-Fi, wireless entertainment, Live TV, App messaging and mobile voice, all categories lead the international demand over the US/Canada. Our global study showed that when choosing a flight, more than half of global travelers factor Wi-Fi into their choice of airline. The U.S. market has become virtually saturated with in-flight Wi-Fi and wireless in-flight entertainment. But, the interest in these services is even greater for travelers in the rest of the world, where the proliferation of in-flight connectivity is still in its early stages. Outside the U.S. and Canada, 86 percent of travelers say they are interested in using in-flight connectivity vs. 75 percent within the U.S. and Canada. When it comes to wireless in-flight entertainment, 76 percent of global travelers show interest vs. 67 percent of U.S. and Canadian travelers. The percentage of passengers boarding a flight with at least one Wi-Fi enabled device also continues to climb. Today, 90 percent of global passengers brought at least one Wi-Fi enabled device on-board their last flight. When it comes to smartphones and tablets, Android is the operating system of choice among global travelers. There are more than twice as many Android powered smartphones as iPhones being carried onboard the world’s commercial aircraft but we serve iOs as well.”
We also asked Steve about their status of AeroMexico and he noted that If you don’t remember, Gogo has signed a definitive agreement with Aeromexico, Mexico’s global airline, to provide in-flight Internet and wireless in-flight entertainment service on Embraer and Boeing 737 aircraft operated by Aeromexico. They are flying with their first aircraft (more installed) and they have been touting their service. Aeromexico was the first airline to commit to 2Ku and Gogo expects to deliver peak speeds of more than 70 Mbps to the aircraft and more than 100 Mbps to the aircraft when next generation satellites become available. They note that their 2Ku antenna is two times more spectrally efficient than other antennas in the commercial aviation market, which makes it capable of providing more bandwidth at less cost. We think “Muy Pronto” says it all!
Lastly, we want to commend Gogo for their production and free distribution of their 100+ page book: “From the Ground Up: How the Internet of Things will Give Rise to Connected Aviation.” The book gathers insight from more than 30 of the foremost leaders in aviation and technology and is free here. Get one… It is a very good introductory aviation read on IoT.
Next we move on to Axinom, the European Software folks who absolutely understand data needed to supply inflight entertainment (content management system), DRM, and content delivery. Before we get lost in their buzz word methodology, we will let Marketing Manager Sara Pepic tell their story. But before we do, you might want to download the overview of their ‘products’ in aviation. Noted Sara: “The products/services we provide to the In-flight entertainment (IFE) service providers are: Axinom Content Management System (CMS), Axinom Digital Rights Management (DRM), Axinom Content Delivery System (CDS). We concentrate 100% on software, no hardware. We do not resell hardware, we provide software running on proven-standards based commercial off the shelf hardware certified for the aviation industry.” She went on to describe their software service: “There are three areas where you can understand the need for the above mentioned products:
a. The digital rights management and players (Google Widevine, Apple Fairplay, Microsoft PlayReady) to be able to play Hollywood content (this is “premium content”) on personal devices and any digital platform basically.
b. The content management system that allows you to manage all kinds of content (movies, newspaper, magazines, crew and passenger information, flight information, shopping items, payments, health data, etc.).
c. The content delivery system you need for two purposes: to bring all kinds of digital content over different pipes (4G 3G, Satellite, USB, SD, WiFi,…) to and from the vessel, and you need it to manage this in a protected and secure way.”
“Therefore,” she continued, “we recommend you watch the following video explanation. In this video, CEO Axinom Aerospace Ralph Wagner and Stefanie Schuster (Business Developer for Axinom Products) explain the entire workflow of Axinom Content Delivery System. How the content (e.g.news, magazines, live content, passenger data, aircraft and flight data, music, shop items, reporting data etc.) can be securely and robustly synchronized between on-ground and on-board storage. Some very important features of these products may be found on the following page under ‘Key Highlights’.”
Assuming you have downloaded the three (3) product charts, but in case you haven’t there are two reasons why you should – 1. Because it is clearly the way to understand what software and services they sell, and what their software does…and where it does it. 2. Never have we seen the full universe of related software, hardware, and task management needed for content handling in one understandable chart (3 actually). Get them and see what we mean, if for no other reason, Axinom understands the content universe and you need a copy of it to understand how and where the content lives in an IFE system – Brilliant!
After the show, we were curious enough about Axinom to ask their CEO to answer a few questions and you can find his answers here.
Finally, here are a few links to videos that explain the whole story – study them and you will probably know more about content management software than your boss!
Axinom in the aerospace industry:
(Editor’s Note: We were really impressed with this company for at least 2 reasons. First, they were the first group that developed a cartoon layout of the IFE content world that we never understood, and secondly, they are very nice people and helped us with the story considerably – give them a call if your content is in need of help!)
VTS is an off-shoot of Inflight Services Inc. the company which pioneered and very first to install a movie entertainment system on board a commercial aircraft about 45 years ago. Inflight was for many years the main supplier entertainment systems to the airline industry. When Inflight ceased operations at the end of 1986, the core of its senior technical staff joined in forming Video Technology Services Inc., VTS to continue supplying the customer airlines with advanced video products and the highest levels of service. The company was bought out recently, we chatted with Web Barth, one of the new management and he said: “An airline with 180 VTS DVP units on 17 aircraft has ‘documented’ a $1 Million annual savings on videotape maintenance and that does not include the savings from the videotape logistics and replacement expense.” He went on: “When you have some airline repeat for 15+ years, you get to know a lot about maintaining older systems and airlines needs with regards to maintaining entertainment quality with affordable practical solutions.” VTS’ products, we learned, include a full range of audio, video and communication equipment for system installation on any type of aircraft configuration including individual, overhead, and Audio/Video On Demand via seat integrated entertainment systems. The company stressed their ‘lowest industry price’ more than once and it seems that it is a feature they are quite proud of… noted Barth: “VTS understands how a broken seatback system provides a huge passenger service problem, especially on older long haul aircraft, but $4 – $6,000 per seat for a new seatback system ($2-$5 Million replacement) that investment in older aircraft can be daunting. The solution is the new VTS Seatback Retrofit and Upgrade System, which simply removes the old seatback monitor and very heavy video cables and junction boxes and then installing a new VTS Streaming Server and WAPs and VTS high definition seatback, touch screens, powered by the older system’s seat power, each with its own WiFi antenna and receiver. The benefits are: Immediate IFE System Improvement, cost, weight and fuel savings; Video resolution increases 400% and with new and larger screen 7″ vs 5.6″, with modern movie format 16 x 9”. The biggest benefits are savings; 1/3 of cost of conventional system replacement and very significant fuel saving by reducing 80% of the weight (500 pounds vs 2,500+pounds), which could pay for the new and better entertainment system in 2-4 years in fuel savings alone.” We asked about installation and he told IFExpress: “Now, airlines can have an affordable, super light weight In-flight entertainment system that can be installed in hours and on any sized aircraft from commuters, regional jets to Wide-bodies of any age providing the first entertainment system or IFE replacement/supplement system. Further, they can have fleet wide IFE even in their smallest aircraft or cost effectively replace/supplement an obsolete system. The VTS Streaming system server and WAPs weigh about 20 pounds and install in a few hours. For some airlines out VTS Turnkey Entertainment Content Programs can be very attractive as VTS can also provision and frequently refresh entertainment content in various languages for airlines worldwide.” It looks like airlines that want a low cost, lightweight system have another solution, VTS – check out their website or give Web a call.
VTS Video Technology Services, Inc., 8 Aerial Drive, Syosset, New York 90000
Telephone: +1 (516) 937-9700
- Ben Fuller is now with fts-aero and is Director of Marketing, Americas.
- Need a new, small earphone for travel? You might wait for the SONY Xperia. It could be the future of high tech earbuds!
- Heard about WebRTC? You might find someone on your next flight using it…legally or illegally, we guess? WebRTC – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- Want a bigger seat back screen on your plane? Please Let These Meganormous Screens Be the Future of Flying | WIRED
Trip Note: Lufthansa provided a great flight to Hamburg and here’s a great DLH B747 seat tip… try to get in row 29… same leg spacing as Economy Plus but at the regular economy price!