As expected, the recent events in Malaysia have brought about a lot of connectivity solutions and we have been inundated with them. In the spirit of airline support for these initiatives, we bring a couple of them your way.

The tragic disappearance of flight MH370 is still very present in all of our minds. In an initiative to improve the handling of similar situations in the future the United Nations’ ITU (International Telecommunication Union) and the Government of Malaysia hosed an expert dialogue on May 26-27 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Panasonic Avionics was invited to participate in this event, contribute to their technical expertise, and present FlightLinkTM, a fully integrated aircraft communication, tracking and weather information solution. FlightLink has been provided free of charge to airlines from its launch in 2004. It offers Iridium Communications for cockpit voice, text and operational data as well as real-time fleet monitoring and simultaneously tracks all Panasonic equipped aircraft – 24/7/365 around the globe. Aircraft tracking services range from positioning reporting at no more than 5-minute intervals to live flight data streaming. Additionally, Panasonic Weather Solutions delivers real-time weather analytics and fleet monitoring by communicating data from TAMDAR weather sensors installed on over 300 aircraft. This is the only global satellite network dedicated to aeronautical connectivity, and with it, Panasonic enables passengers, crew and aircrafts to stay in touch with the ground throughout their flights. FMI contact brian.bardwell@panasonic.com

Along the same lines as the above story, we got an input this week from Teledyne Controls that caught our eye.

Speaking at the Expert Dialogue on Real-time Monitoring of Flight Data in Malaysia on Monday 26th May, William Cecil, Director of Business Development of Teledyne Controls presented a case for providing virtually unlimited real time flight data monitoring by using existing aircraft systems and better ‘connecting the dots’: “It could be very quickly possible to enable black box data streaming in flight for many existing aircraft without installing any new technology,” he says. “By simply connecting a broadband flight data IP router on board with the broadband satcom systems that airlines are increasingly installing for the primary purpose of Internet access for passengers, we believe this is possible, and are planning to work with partner airlines and OEMs to prove this concept.”Broadband flight data IP router capability already exists on an increasing number of aircraft. Teledyne Controls’ own Wireless GroundLink® (WGL Comm+) unit that has this routing capability is being rapidly adopted by airlines to improve post flight analysis for flight safety. By way of context, Wireless GroundLink® systems are currently being installed on over two thirds of new delivery Airbus A330 and A380, and Boeing 747-8 and 777 aircraft and this adoption rate is increasing. “Connecting WGL Comm+ units to broadband satcom systems will enable airlines to realise real time flight data monitoring in a very short space of time,” adds Mr. Masood Hassan, President of Teledyne Controls, “and in doing so will resolve one of the last major headaches that airlines face – understanding the causes of an aviation emergency within moments of an event taking place.”

In another tracking endeavor, the improved SD Flight Tracker now has integrated position reports generated by Swift Broadband and features richer mapping capability using Google Maps. Satcom Direct’s Flight Tracker is a state-of-the-art global mapping solution that graphically displays precise fleet coordinates. Its ability to track aircraft globally has been enhanced with an additional source of position data. Satcom Direct has exclusive access to this data from Inmarsat and blends it with position data received from other sources including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), NavCanada and Satcom Direct’s own FlightDeck Freedom datalink to provide the most comprehensive flight tracking service available. “SwiftBroadband is updated every two minutes as compared to other sources. For some aircraft, this may be their only reliable source of position data. It allows our customers to track their aircraft worldwide and ensure they know its status at all times,” said Scott Hamilton, Satcom Direct chief strategy officer. “SwiftBroadband position reports are available globally whereas some sources, including the FAA and NavCanada, are only available regionally.” SD Flight Tracker also has been upgraded to use Google Maps which provides advanced mapping capabilities including street level maps which are useful for helicopter tracking. The SD Flight Tracker enhancements provide for a fast and intuitive user interface, and it can now be accessed on any mobile device. Previously, it was only available on PCs. Follow the link for more information regarding Satcom Direct.

You might have not heard about the IFEC.2014, but if not, here’s the story: More than ten local airlines from China have confirmed their participation at the 7th China IFEC Summit. The airlines confirmed are: Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines, JuneYao Airlines, Lucky Air, Beijing Capital Airlines, Shandong Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines and etc. Based on your cutting edge technology, new innovations and professional experience in in-flight entertainment and connectivity, can you help these airlines solve the following problems? How innovative inflight services improve a passengers’ experience?

  • How can airlines simplify the pricing models for in-flight connectivity?
  • How to secure the data for inflight media streaming?
  • How can airlines use in-flight media for marketing purposes?
  • How can you provide IFEC services that run on passengers’ mobile devices?

You can join the China IFEC Summit 2014 here.

Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: ENT) announced today that it has been selected by Indonesia’s flag carrier, Garuda Indonesia, to provide inflight entertainment (IFE) content to its passengers. Global Eagle will provide Garuda Indonesia with movies from studios in Hollywood, the Middle East, Europe and Asia. In addition, the content package will feature television programming, music, streaming radio, games and original productions that include destination films, safety films and entertainment guides. Content will be provided via the audio video on-demand (AVOD) seat-back systems on their wide-bodied aircraft.

We got a note from John Courtright who makes some good points about US taxation of frequent flier miles. He wrote: “I know the link below does not have a “clean” IFE or air-to-ground (ATG) reference but I bet many of your IFExpress readers would like to know that the IRS is looking to tax your frequent flyer miles as income. How would taxing frequent flyer miles affect airline choice? The IFEC industry bases most, if not all, of its value equation on the premise that the better, more up-to-date IFEC experience is a major contributing factor to a passenger buy decisions and passenger loyalty. But studies have shown that flyers first select an airline on a.) price and b.) schedule, and then other factors such as loyalty programs and the perception of better IFEC service come in further down the selection criteria list. If the IRS is successful in getting airline miles taxed, will this make IFEC an even more important factor in carrier selection? I think that’s a very good question? My opinion: I think IFEC’s importance will rise if miles are taxed. But I’d like to see an economic sensitivity model on this topic.” (IRS Sets Sights on Frequent Flyer Miles, Hotel Points)

Lastly, perhaps you read about Boeing’s Chief Exec, James McNerneys comments in the Seattle Times on next-gen planes. Having worked there in the past we were a bit surprised at this step-back from the problems at hand: “Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney said Wednesday the jetmaker won’t shoot for the moon in the foreseeable future by launching risky, game-changing new airplanes like the 707 in the 1950s or the 787 Dreamliner 10 years ago.” Meaning the B787 was a little too advanced for the existing engineering and manufacturing expertise there? The article went on – “All of us have gotten religion,” said McNerney, speaking to Wall Street analysts at the annual investor conference in the Fairmont Olympic hotel in Seattle. “Every 25 years a big moonshot … and then produce a 707 or a 787 — that’s the wrong way to pursue this business. The more-for-less world will not let you pursue moonshots.” After pointing out the above logic (or mis-logic) reader, Bob Bogash, wrote us, “I wonder what Mr. McNerney thinks of the stuff Apple has popped on the world the past 10 years or so?” (Meaning products like the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone, just to name a few.) He went on; “Bill Allen and all the great Boeing pioneers must be spinning in their graves.”