KID-Systeme’s SKYfi Club – a wireless streaming onboard platform for passenger and corporate aircraft – has been selected by Saudia as linefit on it’s fleet of 20 A330 and 30 A320. Saudia will present this premium content streaming service as unique passenger experience under their brand SAUDIA SKYfi . SKYfi Club streams content to passengers’ personal electronic devices, allowing them to access the available entertainment options, such as movies, e-books and magazines. The technology is based on the trusted ALNA (Airline Network Architecture) connectivity platform, which flies on over 650 aircraft already. Note: We had a few questions about the system and asked Product Manager Johannes Ferstl and Peter SchetschineKID-Systeme General Manager, but more on that in a minute.
The mature system provides a scalable and modular architecture adaptable to customer needs. It enables a wide range of additional services such as GSM telephony, internet access and data services. Further, SKYfi can be complemented by SKYpower, KID-Systeme’s in-seat power and cabin power management system. Of course, IFExpress got curious and asked the following:
1. Can you tell our readers a bit more about your featured ALNA (airline network architecture).
ANSWER: The ALNA system is able to provide GSM/GPRS and WLAN (IEEE 802.11) connectivity services within the aircraft cabin during cruise flight phase. The onboard telephony and WLAN services are enabled above an altitude of 3000m (10.000ft.) and disabled below an altitude of 3000m. During taxi, take-off and landing and below 3000m altitude all radio transmissions are switched off. During cruise flight the service can be de-activated manually at any time. Service activation and de-activation is indicated by a chime, the PAX signs (No-Mobile-Signs) and by the cabin crew (via passenger announcement). The ALNA system consists of several hardware devices e.g. the Head End Server Unit (HESU) and software applications e.g. the system monitoring software.
2. Can you tell us which airlines fly the SKYfi Club today?
ANSWER: As of today one airline flies SKYfi Club: Saudi Arabian Airlines. More than six hundred shipsets of SKYfi phone and web were deployed previously.
3. Your view, we assume, is that connectivity and flying are very important?
ANSWER: “Connectivity is more than staying in contact. It’s part of our lifestyle. SKYfi Club extends this lifestyle by being entertained.” Noted Johannes Ferstl, Product Manager Connectivity. Peter Schetschine, General Manager KID-System also said: “The industry demands more and more for flexibility and adaptable technical solutions. Based on a scalable and modular architecture SKYfi paves this way into a well entertained and connected world on board. Furthermore our streaming solution supports the BYOD trend which will continue to be strong and present in future.”
4. We assume the line-fit is in progress?
ANSWER: The first Saudia A330 Regional was our first line-fit installation. Further line-fit installations are in progress and deliveries will happen soon.
5. Lastly, could you provide a block diagram of the hardware?
ANSWER: See above.
Saudi noted: “We are very happy to continue working with KID-Systeme who has always been a reliable partner and supplier for our integrated cabin power systems, says Eng. Saleh Al-Jasser, Director General of Saudia. “Offering wireless content streaming is the next step paving the way to an improved inflight experience and satisfy passenger’s needs. Therefore we are very excited to cooperate with KID-Systeme to enlarge our inflight entertainment selection. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the connected passenger on board.”
Actually, the first aircraft delivery to Saudi Arabian Airlines was in mid-August 2016. All aircraft will be line-fit equipped with SKYfi lounge solution, starting with the aircraft type A330.
As you might know, Lufthansa Systems equipped nearly the whole Eurowings A 320 fleet with BoardConnect Portable at the beginning of August and their Corporate Communications Manager told IFExpress: “This award winning IFE solution really makes a difference, since the implementation on more than 70 aircraft only took one weekend and was a huge success. Since then Eurowings passengers can enjoy Entertainment with music and movies on short- and medium haul flights. At our booth at the Aviation Festival in London (8 – 9 September, New routes, new revenues, new business models | Aviation Festival 2016) we will show how BoardConnect Portable and our other BoardConnect products work. And we are happy to answer your questions regarding new IFE trends and the upcoming connectivity launches within and outside the Lufthansa Group. Our experts will be at the Aviation Festival both days and you can find us at booth #38.”
Gogo announced that it has promoted John Wade to the role of executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer of Gogo. Wade has more than 30 years of experience in the aviation industry including numerous leadership positions in the avionics and in-flight communications industry. For the past eight years, he has served as the general manager of Gogo’s business aviation division where he built the division into a market leader. Before joining Gogo, John served as the CTO at OnAir and also worked at Tenzing and GEC Marconi on their IFE and IFC products. Wade will now be responsible for Gogo’s operations, quality control, commercial airline account management and commercial sales. He will still maintain oversight over Gogo’s business aviation division, but Gogo veteran Sergio Aguirre is being promoted to serve as senior vice president and general manager of Gogo’s business aviation division. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress cannot go on without noting that John Wade is one of the ‘Best In IFE’, as we feel he is both a knowledgeable and gracious executive in his dealings with members of the press. John always takes the time to address our questions, no matter how technical or topical they may be. All the while presenting an air of ‘Nothing is impossible.’)
In a move that will provide Rockwell Collins’ customers and prospects with more aviation connectivity options, the company announced that it has been licensed to sell satellite services in Brazil. The global license, authorized by Anatel, gives Rockwell Collins the ability to sign distribution and service agreements with any satellite entities and customers operating in Brazil.
If your thing is next generation Avionics, you might want to visit AVIONICS for NextGen – 2016, in Washington DC, Sept 28 – 29, 2016: Check out the agenda.
- From the Color Correction Department comes a story that is probably better called Color Confusion. The issue here is cabin lighting and reading on LED devices. We stumbled on it after we read this online story; “Airlines Add Mood Lighting to Chill Out Passengers”. First you need to read this article on the color used in an a cabin lighting schemes designed to provide a restful inflight experience… possibly even sleep. Here is what stood out to us in the piece: “Like Virgin Atlantic, American uses amber during the dinner service, “sort of like candlelight in a restaurant,” said the managing director of onboard products. For sleep periods, it uses a deep blue, which designers chose after considering — and rejecting — a reddish glow. “Red is sometimes associated with fire,” continued the director of onboard products — “never a good thing on an airplane.” It makes sense, but we wondered if the nature of blue light effects might be more science based, because we had done a cabin lighting study a few years back and we remembered blue light differently? Next we did a bit of research and found an interesting light color/sleep study in of all places, Instructables. You can read it here. It’s a very analytical color-based evaluation made by an individual, all based on the test data he ran over one year. The conclusion? The color blue is the wrong color if you want to allow the generation of natural melatonin to help sleep come on. Further, Apple product makers and Android device products offer an app that limits the blue light. In devices like iPhones and iPads with iOS 9.3 (and on) offer a feature called “Night Shift” which is built in to the operating system. Just go to Settings>Display & Brightness> and turn on Night Shift. Perhaps, more study is needed to match passengers, rest, and time of day but we will be using it on our devices. You can read more about the issue here too – Amazon rolls out ‘blue shade’ tool for Fire tablets to allow people to read at night | Daily Mail Online
- Not long ago we reported that Singapore had not reported any Zika virus but we discovered we were a couple weeks behind the actual data, as it has now been discovered there. Take precautions – Zika virus: Singapore confirms 41 locally transmitted cases – BBC News
- And speaking of Singapore: Going to Singapore and have T-Mobile? You might find this interesting: “Visitors simply need to download a configuration file and perform a one-time setup for auto-connection to the participating cities’ hotspots,” IDA said in a release of the WBA’s City Wi-Fi Roaming Project. IFExpress will have more on Singapore later.
- Traveling to the US? You might have to cough up your online presence! – Traveling to US? Agencies want to Spy on your Social Media activities right from Airport
- And finally, Flyers Rights (NonProfit Airline Consumer Org.) has an interesting Report Card for US Congress and it’s not good!
- Thirty Old Aviation Sheet Music Covers:
30 Hundred-Year-Old Sheet Music Covers Celebrating the Joy and Thrill of Flight
- Amazon Video now lets you download video’s and TV directly to Android SD cards – for your next flight, of course! Amazon Video now lets you download movies and TV straight to Android SD cards | The Verge
- OnAir Wi-Fi is now even simpler to use
Aircraft Interiors Middle East, Dubai | February 2, 2015– SAUDIA has become the first airline to develop and provide passengers with a dedicated mobile phone application for free inflight Wi-Fi. Passengers simply scan their ticket’s bar code for free Wi-Fi access.
All of SAUDIA’s First class and Business passengers flying on the airline’s A330s and B777-300s on international routes receive a promotional code when they scan their Boarding Passes via the mobile application. They then use the code to access their free Wi-Fi on the OnAir portal.
“Our new app makes it as simple as possible for passengers to access the Internet by just using the Boarding Passes in their pocket,” said Mr. Abdulrahman H Alfahad, VP Marketing & Product Management at SAUDIA. “We know just how much passengers value being in touch on email and social media. We like to keep Saudi Arabia’s 7.8 million Facebook users connected when they fly.”
The mobile application is the easiest and most efficient distribution channel for free inflight Wi-Fi codes to date. Passengers download the app from Apple store and soon on Android devices.
Saudi Arabians are the most prolific users of the Internet via their smartphones in the Middle East. In 2014, 8.5 million people used the internet. Saudi Arabia’s smartphone penetration rate of 72.8% also places it in the world’s top three countries. In 2014, 35,000 SAUDIA passengers used the free Wi-Fi, a number which will certainly be enhanced by this mobile app.
“More and more airlines are providing free Wi-Fi as an integral part of the passenger experience and SAUDIA is the first to provide a specific app for inflight connectivity,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of SITA OnAir. “This is the right response to passenger demand. Airlines are developing new and innovative ways to differentiate their connectivity, particularly since Wi-Fi and mobile phone services become commoditized in the air, as they already are on the ground.”
Geneva | June 24, 2014– Saudia has become the first airline in the Middle East to offer free Wi-Fi to its first class and business class passengers. The promotion, which started on 19 May, is available on flights between the Kingdom of Saudia Arabia and US destinations, as well as London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Dubai.
Saudia’s inflight connectivity is provided by OnAir. The airline is giving all premium passengers vouchers for Internet OnAir, providing free Internet access for the entire flight. In the first few weeks of the promotion, Saudia has seen a dramatic rise in usage figures. The number of people using inflight internet is up 140% across the Saudia fleet and those people are consuming triple the amount of data, compared to figures immediately before the promotion started.
“Internet access has proved to be very popular with all our passengers since we started offering OnAir services nearly four years ago,” said Mr. Abdulmohsen Jonaid, Chief Commercial Officer of Saudia. “We are now breaking new ground by being the first Middle East airline to give free Internet access to our first and business class passengers. We firmly believe other airlines will, in due course, follow our lead.”
OnAir’s SwiftBroadband-based inflight connectivity first flew on Saudia’s A330s in September 2010. Three years later, the airline installed connectivity on more A330s, as well as on its three-class B777 fleet. And it was announced at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in April that when Saudia’s B787s start flying at the end of 2015, they will also be fully equipped with OnAir connectivity.
“Saudia is already at the forefront of cabin connectivity, providing both Internet OnAir and Mobile OnAir, our GSM product, on its long-haul fleets. By giving free inflight connectivity to premium passengers Saudia is really setting the standard.” said Stephan Egli, Chief Commercial Officer of OnAir. “Expanding OnAir connectivity to another fleet shows how much Saudia and its passengers value the ability to stay in touch throughout the flight.”
OnAir’s unique network of authorizations from over 100 countries combined with more than 375 roaming agreements is one of the key reasons Saudia has selected OnAir. It gives the airline’s passengers exactly the same service wherever they are in the world.
Aircraft Interiors, Hamburg | April 9, 2014– Saudia, through Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) has
selected the Thales TopCare service agreement for the maintenance of all its Thales IFE systems. TopCare is the preferred service arrangement for airlines that want a complete Turn-Key Maintenance solution allowing them to focus on core business activities whilst Thales performs IFE maintenance in line with highest industry standards combined with performance guarantees. The Programme guarantees exceptional seat availability across the airline’s fleet of 91 Airbus and Boeing Aircraft.
Thales will take 24/7 responsibility for all on-board maintenance and media content loading across three global hubs: New York, Paris and London. These locations have been chosen by SAEI from amongst the Thales global network of 22 TopCare Line Maintenance stations across 16 Countries. Strategically, these locations present the best fit for the airline’s operations, a strong proof point of the effectiveness of the global hub strategy employed by Thales to ensure all clients have access to state of the art maintenance.
Under TopCare, Saudia planes will be continuously monitored by the
Thales Airline Operations Center (AOC), a high-tech mission control
communications facility that monitors aircraft around the clock. As
required, experts will be dispatched to board the plane to service the equipment as soon as it touches down at any of the three airports chosen as maintenance hubs.
Aircraft Interiors, Hamburg | April 8, 2014– After equipping its A330 and B777 fleets with OnAir’s services, Saudia’s B787 aircraft will become the latest fleet to be connected. All of Saudia’s long-haul fleets are now connected with OnAir.
Saudia is the second B787 operator to offer OnAir connectivity, reaffirming OnAir’s position as the leading inflight connectivity provider.
The first of Saudia’s eight B787s is due for delivery in December 2015. Saudia’s decision to include OnAir connectivity on its Dreamliners confirms the success of OnAir’s GSM and Wi-Fi services on its other fleets. The airline has seen a 400 percent increase in mobile data usage and 254 percent increase in internet usage over the last 12 months. The aircraft will be equipped with a Thales TopConnect solution enabling access to OnAir’s Wi-Fi Internet and mobile phone services over Inmarsat SwiftBroadband (SBB).
The provision of OnAir connectivity services on this B787 fleet marks a significant milestone in Saudia’s efforts to implement a seamless, consistent brand offering across all its fleets. Saudia’s commitment to OnAir as its preferred service provider is integral to the effective execution of this strategy. The versatility of OnAir’s services make them the right ones to be launched across a variety of aircraft types.
“Saudia is very happy to be expanding our cabin connectivity with OnAir services,” said Mr. Abdul Mohsen Jonaid, Chief Commercial Officer of Saudia. “We have seen how well our inflight connectivity has been received by passengers and OnAir is the natural choice for us when we decided to include connectivity on our B787s. Passengers want and expect to be connected and we want to provide the best passenger experience.”
OnAir connectivity has been flying with Saudia for four years. During this time, OnAir has partnered with the airline through various fleet expansions, as well as providing connectivity for new routes that the airline has introduced. OnAir has provided the level of coverage necessary to maintain a high consistency of service across all the routes that Saudia flies.
“It is great to see new agreements coming as the result of existing relationships with airlines,” said Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir. “Saudia’s entire long range fleet is now connected with OnAir. We have gained Saudia’s trust by consistently delivering on all our commitments. This has cemented our long term partnership and put it firmly on track for future growth.”
Over the holidays, IFExpress heard about the promotion of Lou Sharkey to President of Lumexis Corporation and the news release noted: “Lumexis Corporation today announced the promotion of the company’s Chief Operating Officer, Lou Sharkey, to the additional role of President, continuing to report to Doug Cline, Chief Executive Officer. Chairman of the Lumexis Board of Directors, Ed Shapiro, explained that, “Lou has more than twenty years of operations and engineering management experience, including a key managerial role with Doug at Sony Trans Com. He has maintained that close collaboration with Doug at Lumexis and has been a central figure in the growth and success of the company.” While this statement covers it pretty well, we wanted to hear from Lou so we called him and his first comment was really typical of him: “I want to make it clear that this interview, while about my promotion, is really an affirmation of our (the whole Lumexis team’s) focus on our products and our customers. I am particularly pleased to have the opportunity to continue to relay the message that Lumexis’ remains dedicated to bringing the best, World-class products to the aviation industry.” Obviously, their other goal is to continue to grow the business. In fact, their first 44 installations of the fiber optic IFE system for flydubai are on-going and IFExpress went to ATS in Everett, WA to see the 3 day process for ourselves. Boeing delivers the aircraft after the first check flight and the B737’s are pulled into a hangar where the Lumexis installation turns around an empty aircraft to a passenger friendly solution for the airline… ready for service.
With regard to “line-fit” approval at Boeing and Airbus, we should note that Mr. Sharkey told us that Lumexis is working closely with Boeing under a Technical Services Agreement to be offerable on the B737 with first delivery target around the middle of next year. From what we can tell, they are on track to do so. “Additionally,” he noted, “we are similarly pursuing Airbus for line fit on its single- and twin-aisle models because our customers have asked for delivery of their new planes with Lumexis systems installed by the factory and we really dislike having to say ‘not yet!’ ”
A little background might be in order here. First off, Lumexis is the “Little Engine That Could”! Aside from the literary reference, Lumexis has a secret sauce – a small cadre of highly experienced dedicated individuals (around 50), plus partnerships and relationships with developers and vendors who are considered part of the team from kickoff to delivery. And, yes, it works. By controlling costs, building teamwork, outsourcing almost everything, they avoid the “overhead blues” of other suppliers. IFExpress asked about how these relationships are set up and Lou told us, “We have a handful of first tier partners and less that 10 in the second tier – a manageable group, for sure, but this way we can offload hardware manufacturing and testing so that we can focus on software development and system integration internally. Also we have integration partners that we manage during airplane installations. The key here is to get it right the first time and do a first class job of design, documentation and communication. In one sense, our partners are quite a bit like us but they are in a different building and have a different corporate name. The key is good teamwork and our people excel at it. We are not in the business of building infrastructure, just great products! From a personal perspective,” noted Mr. Sharkey, “I am a ‘business guy’, thru and thru, having previously worked in the industry for Sony and Rockwell Collins for some 15 years and spent quite a bit of time in other diverse organizations and industries. I would have to say that I have had the most experience – and certainly the most fun – in IFE. The business model that Doug Cline set up is a new industry paradigm and I have been fortunate to work for him for nearly fifteen years.”
The horizon looks bright for the only Fiber-To-The-Screen ® system out there and Lumexis can claim deals with flydubai, Transaero, and Turkish. Further, we understand on the rumor hotline that there is one highly significant, unannounced customer in the wings but we don’t have a name yet. Fiber optic connectivity to the seat is here to stay.
Lastly, we have in two releases in from OnAir – “Saudia’s free inflight Wi-Fi promotion” and “FCC launches public consultation into rule change on inflight cell phone usage” – click on the links for the story.
Aircraft Interiors Hamburg | April 9, 2013– Saudia is expanding its inflight connectivity programme on routes between the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and most of Saudia worldwide destinations. This comes after Saudia has been providing OnAir’s GSM and Wi-Fi on its A330s for nearly three years.
Saudia’s passengers have taken to social media to say how much they value staying in touch with family, friends and colleagues, updating social media and surfing the Internet during flights. Comments have included: ‘Thanks, it’s very good because it’s easy to use’; ‘I used my mobile on a flight today: excellent’; and, ‘Awesome: keep going’.
Saudia’s new A330s, which will be delivered throughout this year and next, will be equipped with Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir. They will join the A330s already flying with OnAir connectivity, bringing the total to 12. The airline’s existing and planned fleet of 20 B777-300ERs will also have OnAir’s GSM and Wi-Fi services fitted, enabled by the Thales TopConnect solution. Both fleets will use Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband, the only satellite network designed specifically to provide consistent global coverage.
“Our experience has shown very clearly that passengers want to be able to use their phones, tablets and laptops to stay in touch during flights. That alone is a good enough reason to provide connectivity more widely because we value customer satisfaction very highly”, said Mr. Tarik Sindi, VP Marketing & Product Management of Saudia.
The Connected Aircraft
OnAir is building on its heritage of passenger connectivity by optimizing the use of inflight connectivity pipe, providing applications for cabin crew and the cockpit which help streamline airline operations.
“The future of connectivity is very exciting. There is much more to it than connectivity for the passenger”, said Ian Dawkins, OnAir CEO. “Airlines run highly automated, complex IT systems. However, the interface between the crew and the ground relies heavily on paper. That is outdated, slow, inefficient and expensive. We help airlines utilise their IT better, using the connectivity pipe to make operations much more efficient.”