Thales’s newly expanded facility in Changi consolidates all avionics production and Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) activities under one roof for better synergies and process optimisation. Thales has also invested in equipment and human capital, as it builds for future growth.

    France and Singapore | June 30, 2017– Thales started its commercial avionics operations in Singapore over forty years ago and now produces key systems for the Airbus A320, A350 and Boeing 787 fleets. Singapore houses one of three avionics repair sites for the Group, with the other two located in Chatellerault, France and Piscataway, USA.

    In the past year, Thales in Singapore has grown its repair volume by over 30%. In addition to providing repair operations, Thales is also providing a Customer Support Centre (CSC) for Diehl’s Singaporean subsidiary, set up in November last year to better serve its regional customers. The CSC has been operational since 1st January 2017 at the expanded Thales facility in Changi North Rise.

    The widened scope of the extended partnership increases Thales’ repair volume in Singapore to an estimated 40,000 pieces of equipment per year, making Singapore the Group’s largest centre for avionics maintenance and repair services worldwide.

    The aerospace industry in Singapore has seen robust growth over the last two decades, and Singapore is home to one of the most advanced MRO clusters in the world. Singapore accounts for a quarter of the region’s MRO output and Thales worked closely with the Singapore Economic Development Board in bringing the project to fruition.

    This expanded facility underscores the importance of Singapore as a regional hub for the Group, as it aims to grow local capabilities and establish a strong regional base to serve customers in the Asia-Pacific region.

    New Air Travel Solutions global division to be led from Singapore
    Singapore | January 23, 2017– SITA, the air transport IT provider, today announced the appointment of Sumesh Patel as SITA President Asia Pacific. He will be responsible for developing and driving the strategic direction for SITA in the region.

    Sumesh is a global leader in the air transport industry with decades of experience working with airports and airlines across the world. Prior to this role, he was Vice-President of Business Management, Asia Pacific at SITA. He has guided teams in the design and implementation of major IT initiatives to meet the exacting needs of Asia Pacific’s leading airlines and airports.

    His appointment is part of an organizational change which includes the appointment of Ilya Gutlin as President of the Air Travel Solutions division of the organization. Ilya will lead a global team in the development and delivery of products and services to SITA’s 2,800 airline, airport and government customers. Part of this division includes hundreds of software developers located across the world who together design and support mission-critical systems for the world’s air transport industry.

    Ilya previously held the role of SITA President Asia Pacific at which time he drove growth and promoted innovation with SITA’s customers across the region. Prior to this he held the role of Vice-President of Airport Solutions and was the architect of SITA’s ‘Intelligent Airport’ vision. Both Sumesh and Ilya will be based at SITA’s Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore and Sumesh will join the Senior Leadership Team reporting directly to SITA’s CEO.

    Barbara Dalibard, CEO SITA, said: “The Asia Pacific region has a strong role in the development of the air transport industry as airlines and airports look to technology to support the region’s fast growth. These two appointments solidify SITA’s dedication to the region and will ensure innovation and a keen focus on our customers. Sumesh’s deep knowledge of customers in APAC and his broad experience of SITA and leadership experience combined with Ilya’s drive to develop our products and solutions mean that we are poised for success.”

    Sumesh began his career with SITA as an engineer in Mumbai, moving to sales in South Asia before working in both the areas of communications and airport business at SITA. He holds an MBA from the National University of Singapore.

    Ilya began his career at Ernst & Young before joining SITA as a financial controller. He graduated with distinction with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University in Montreal. He also has a CPA from Canada and completed an Executive Leadership Program at INSEAD.

    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!

    KID-Systeme:
    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.


    Lufthansa Systems:
    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:
    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.’)


    Rockwell Collins:
    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.


    Meetings:
    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.


    Other:

    • 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!

    Aviation Time-Wasters:

    • Confirms continuing strong appetite for best-selling, fuel efficient A320 Family

    France | January 7, 2016– BOC Aviation, the Singapore-based global aircraft leasing company owned by Bank of China, has announced an order for an additional 30 A320 Family aircraft, comprising 18 A320neo Family aircraft and 12 A320ceo Family aircraft.

    “This order underscores our continued confidence in the reliability and operational efficiency of the A320 family aircraft, and reflects its popularity among our customers for short- and medium-haul routes,” said Robert Martin, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of BOC Aviation.

    “BOC Aviation is a leading lessor based in a fast-growing part of the world, and its latest order not only demonstrates its continued confidence in our product for its airline customers but recognizes the A320 as a sound financial asset in its portfolio,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “We appreciate the mutually beneficial and strong relationship we have built with BOC Aviation over the past 20 years. With this order, BOC Aviation becomes one of Airbus’ top 10 customers.”

    Including this latest purchase agreement, BOC Aviation’s cumulative orders to date for new Airbus aircraft have reached a total of 306, comprising 12 A330s and 294 A320 Family, including 64 NEOs.

    With more than 12,300 aircraft ordered, and more than 6,800 aircraft delivered to more than 400 customers and operators worldwide, Airbus’ A320 Family is the world’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft family. The A320neo Family incorporates latest technologies including new generation engines and Sharklet wing tip devices, which together deliver more than 15 percent in fuel savings from day one and 20 percent by 2020 with further cabin innovations. With more than 4,400 orders received from close to 80 customers since its launch in 2010, the A320neo Family has captured some 60 percent share of the market.