<strong>Early research with Microsoft HoloLens shows potential of mixed reality

Air Transport IT Summit 2017, Brussels | May 23, 2017– A new world of mixed reality is emerging and SITA Lab, the research arm of air transport IT provider SITA, is exploring its potential for airlines and airports. Today it released early results of research carried out with Helsinki Airport using Microsoft HoloLens to analyze and manage airport operations in a mixed reality environment.

HoloLens is the world’s first self-contained holographic computer, enabling users to engage with digital content and interact with holograms in the world around them. It runs Windows 10, and enables the blending of the physical and digital worlds in ways that were previously impossible. SITA worked with Helsinki Airport to use HoloLens to reproduce the airport operational control center (AOCC) in this mixed reality environment.

For this project SITA Lab used a feed from SITA’s Day of Operations technology, which is used by Helsinki Airport, and presented a new way to visualize and interact with the airport’s operational data including aircraft movement, passenger movement and retail analytics. Wearing the HoloLens, the operators had a set of screens meshed into a 3D view of the airport allowing them to correlate events from the data dashboards with an immersive real-time model of the airport.

This new way of looking at the world can provide new insights into how the airport is functioning. HoloLens also opens the possibility of being able to access the AOCC environment from any location, on or offsite, allowing experts to provide input to situations remotely.

Jim Peters, SITA CTO and head of SITA Lab, said: “Mixed reality, which combines augmented and virtual reality, is more than a new interface, it is a new way of looking at the world and allows things to be done in a new way. It enables digital and physical data to exist together.  Our early research shows that there are potential uses for airlines and airports – for operations, maintenance and training. We need to learn how to interact in this new environment. In the same way that we moved from computers to smartphones and voice recognition, now we can go beyond the screen.”

Greg Jones, MD, Worldwide Hospitality & Travel, Microsoft Corporation, said: “HoloLens is now being used across various enterprises from healthcare to engineering. SITA’s work is an example of how to extend HoloLens capabilities to manage the complexity of data and decision-making in an airport environment.  It shows how this new technology can be harnessed for the air transport industry and add value in areas from training to complex operational management.”

The SITA Lab project interfaced into multiple data sources at Helsinki Airport to create the unique view of the ever-changing operations throughout the day. This included passenger real-time location and historic density data; aircraft position data; gate information; flight status information; security wait times and retail dwell times, segmented by passenger.

Eero Knuutila, Head of Service Development, Helsinki Airport, said: “This innovative work with SITA Lab has been hugely valuable to the team at Helsinki Airport. It has opened our eyes to the possibility of using mixed reality to improve our operations. It is exciting to be the first to work with SITA on this emerging innovative technology.”

SITA Lab’s early research results show that unlike virtual reality, the mixed reality experience tends not to make people feel disorientated or nauseous. The HoloLens device itself has proven easy to learn and has a good battery life and doesn’t suffer from over-heating issues.

Peters, SITA, added: “Mixed Reality hits a sweet spot of having an experience that is fully immersive for the user, but also keeps that person in the real world. The user can interact with both and avoids the disorientation or discomfort of fully immersive virtual reality.  There are benefits to having multiple people using the headset and simultaneously interacting with the same virtual display. This could be really useful for scenario planning exercises.”

While the technology shows potential, SITA Lab points out it is early days and before enterprise use at airports issues of weight, size and durability will need to be addressed. Users must also learn how to interact in this new environment to maximize its benefits.

Autonomous, mobile kiosks will move themselves to where they are needed in the airport

Geneva, Switzerland | May 22, 2017–  SITA Lab, which explores the future of technology in air travel, has unveiled KATE, an intelligent check-in kiosk that will autonomously move to busy or congested areas in the airport as needed, promising to relegate check-in queues to the past.

Using various data sources – including flight and passenger flow information – KATE can identify where additional check-in kiosks are required to reduce passenger queue times at check-in. KATE uses existing SITA data systems such as Day of Operations Business Intelligence and FlightInfo API.

Multiple robotic kiosks can be automatically or manually deployed simultaneously and in formation to assist passengers, providing airports and airlines greater flexibility in managing peaks in passenger flow. The kiosks can also communicate through a Cloud service to ensure that the right number of kiosks are at the right position when needed, making them highly responsive to changes in the airport. A design patent application for the kiosks is currently underway.

Renaud Irminger, Director of SITA Lab, said: “The peak and troughs in the flow of passengers presents a challenge to many airlines and airports and we have been approached by many customers requesting a solution. They want kiosks which can be easily deployed when and where they are needed. Building on SITA’s successful AirportConnect® Open platform, and our previous work with robotics, KATE leverages new technologies to provide operators much more flexibility and efficiency in the way they will use their kiosks in future.”

SITA’s cutting-edge robotic kiosk makes use of geo-location technology to find its way through the airport. KATE will use Wi-Fi to connect to vital airline and airport systems, dispensing with the need for cabling or other fixed attachments. This allows the kiosk to move around freely across the airport terminal, using obstacle avoidance technology to avoid bumping into people or things.

KATE and her fellow robotic kiosks will automatically return to their docking stations when they are low on power or need to be resupplied with boarding passes or bag tags.

One of the key benefits of SITA’s autonomous kiosk is that it can be deployed anywhere inside the airport as well as other offsite locations such as train stations. This is particularly relevant during periods of disruption – such as weather delays or flight cancellations – where additional kiosks can be moved from landside to airside to check-in large numbers of rebooked passengers. KATE provides passengers access to her easy-to-use interface to check-in and print bag tags.

KATE follows in the footsteps of LEO, SITA’s fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot launched at the 2016 Air Transport IT Summit in Barcelona, Spain last year.

KATE, SITA’s autonomous kiosk, will be on display at this year’s Air Transport IT Summit taking place in Brussels, Belgium from May 23-24, 2017.
Watch KATE in action in the following video clip: https://youtu.be/oQ69r-2VX-I

Airline industry improves baggage handling further as industry readies for June 2018 deadline

Geneva | May 4, 2017– Baggage management by the world’s airlines improved again in 2016 as the industry focuses on technology investments and prepares for a step-change in handling by June 2018. According to the SITA Baggage Report 2017, released today, the rate of mishandled bags was 5.73 bags per thousand passengers in 2016, down 12.25% from the previous year and the lowest ever recorded.

This is good news for the rising number of passengers, which last year hit an all-time high of 3.77 billion. Since 2007, the rate of mishandled baggage has fallen 70% due to investment in technologies and process improvements by the world’s airlines and airports. Over the coming 18 months, this is expected to improve even further. IATA members, the majority of the world’s airlines, have adopted a resolution requiring every piece of checked baggage to be tracked along its journey by June 2018.

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Air Travel Solutions, said: “It is frustrating for passengers and airlines when bags go missing but the days of not knowing where your bag is will soon to be a thing of the past. We are on the brink of a new era in airline baggage management because the world’s airlines are committing to track baggage throughout its journey. This requires data capture, management and sharing across airlines, airports and ground handlers giving a better view of where each piece of luggage is at every stage. At SITA we are providing several tracking innovations that will allow the air transport community to scale up their tracking capabilities without massive capital investments.”

The IATA Resolution 753 is coming into force in June 2018 and from then every bag must be tracked and recorded at four mandatory points – at check-in; aircraft loading; at transfer between carriers; and on arrival as the bag is delivered back to the passenger. When this is in place airlines will be able to share the information with their passengers and code share partners allowing them to track their bag, just like a parcel. Having this information means passengers will stay informed and all parties involved in their journey can take action if flights are disrupted and their bags are delayed.

A critical pinch-point in the bag handling process is when passengers and their luggage need to move from one aircraft to another, or from one carrier to another. Bags have a higher risk of being mishandled at this time, particularly if connections are tight. In 2016, close to half (47%) of delayed bags were in the process of being transferred. Introducing mandatory tracking at this point of the process will provide real-time data that can be used to avoid delays.

Mishandled baggage negatively affects both the passenger experience and the airline’s finances and SITA’s report shows that the financial costs remain high despite the 12.25% drop in the mishandled rate. SITA reports that the global bill for recovering and reuniting passengers with their bags was in the order of US$2.1 billion in 2016.

Gutlin added: “We are using technology to transform baggage management which will improve both the passenger experience and help to reduce the cost to the airlines. To be successful we need to cooperate and collaborate across the industry and challenge ourselves to find new ways of working and sharing data to upgrade the experience for air travelers and to improve operations.”

SITA provides IT and communications to the air transport industry and is the only single-source vendor covering all areas of baggage management from data capture to management and sharing using the latest technology. SITA has been the recognized leader in bag tracking and tracing for over 20 years with its systems in every major airport in the world. SITA WorldTracer is sponsored by IATA as the industry baggage tracing service of choice. SITA BagJourney is the world’s first community-based baggage tracking system that provides an end-to-end view of the baggage journey using data from multiple sources. Today SITA is leading the baggage community by providing technology and professional services to help the industry meet the IATA June 2018 deadline.

San Jose | May 3, 2017– Juan Santamaria International Airport (IATA: SJO), Costa Rica’s busiest airport, has selected SITA, the global IT provider to the air transport industry, to implement its ground-breaking control center technology solution. SITA ControlBridge will provide AERIS Holdings, the airport operator, with a centralized and integrated view of everything happening at the airport, from security to boarding gates, and from ground handling to facilities management. Importantly, it enables airport collaborative decision making (A-CDM) with all stakeholders.

SJO is one of the top airports in Central and Latin America and AERIS has an intensive investment program to deliver innovation and technology to strengthen its position. SITA ControlBridge plays an integral role in providing the technologythat enables the airport to coordinate, monitor and control all airport operations centrally and break down silos among the various departments and stakeholders operating at the airport.

Rafael Mencia, CEO of AERIS, said: “ControlBridge enables us to integrate and optimize operations across the entire airport into a single command center. It incorporates data from every stakeholder operating at the airport, providing a complete view of everything, all the time. This will give us much more flexibility in managing day-to-day airport operations, optimized resource management, quicker decision making and enhanced emergency response capabilities. Ultimately, it means we’ll be able to provide a better passenger experience.”

Mencia continued: “SITA was the obvious choice for this project because of its global expertize not only in the technology but also the operations and processes at an airport. As we implement ControlBridge, SITA’s broad and practical experience will be invaluable.”

As part of the project, SITA will also update the airport’s CCTV infrastructure and integrate it into the control center, along with radio communications. SITA’s dedicated delivery team will procure, install, configure, and test the ControlBridge components before it goes live in October.

Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President for Latin America, said: “This implementation of SITA ControlBridge will provide SJO an integrated command and control capability across what are traditionally standalone functions. This includes airport operations, physical security, engineering and facilities management, baggage handling, emergency response, the airport IT service desk and more. It is a significant move by AERIS to provide Costa Rica with a modern airport that helps improve the country’s competitiveness.”

SITA’s ControlBridge solution provides fit-for-purpose airport control center technology that facilitates enhanced functionality for airports of any size and with nearly any budget. To keep both implementation and maintenance costs to a minimum SITA uses common off-the-shelf hardware where possible. Combined with SITA’s unique in-depth knowledge of integrating data from diverse sources, SITA ControlBridge is the most comprehensive and cost-effective airport integrated control center technology solution available today.

Bologna, Italy | April 20, 2017– Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport is offering passengers new self-service convenience when checking in their baggage with the introduction of SITA’s Scan&Fly bag drop units. Passengers can now check in their own bags in less than a minute, resulting in fewer queues and a better passenger experience overall.

Bologna is the first Italian airport to install SITA’s Scan&Fly units. The new bag drop units will initially be used by low-cost carrier Ryanair before being extended to other airlines. Bologna Airport is a fast-growing hub for Ryanair with more than 20 destinations and 170 flights a week.

SITA is a global provider of award-winning bag drop solutions. Airlines and airports globally have welcomed the high-quality interface of Scan&Fly, the ease of its retro-fit and the ability to fully integrate with the SITA AirportConnect common-use platform.

Nazareno Ventola, CEO & MD of Aeroporto di Bologna, said: “Our passengers value the convenience of self-service technology from a customer experience point of view. From the airport’s perspective, Scan&Fly helps improve the passenger flow through the airport terminal, facilitating our rapid growth. The self-bag drop units are the latest in a series of options we have been developing recently, aimed at providing a smooth, effortless travel experience to all our passengers, with a direct benefit for our airlines’ operations.”

In 2016 Bologna Airport was the fastest-growing airport among Italy’s 15 busiest airports, with almost 7.7 million passengers. Over the last eight years, the airport has grown its passenger volumes twice as fast on average than Italy’s overall passenger growth.

Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe, said: “An increasing number of airlines and airports globally are recognizing the benefits that self-bag drop can bring to passengers as well as their own operations. The ability to quickly and securely check-in your bag is just one of the ways we can help airports streamline the passenger process using self-service, from the moment they check-in to when they arrive at the destination.”

SITA has for more than a decade supported Bologna Airport with new technology. Earlier this year SITA introduced SITA’s iBorders® BorderAutomation ABCGates, providing passengers with a smooth, self-service experience through immigration.

Selection of magazines now available via SITA DigitalMedia leveraging Adaptive technology
Singapore | April 6, 2017– Passengers using the Singapore Airlines mobile app can now get free digital magazines on their device. Powered by SITA DigitalMedia using Adaptive technology, the new feature is available on the Singapore Airlines app on both iOS and Android devices. Access to the free reading material is available to passengers before, during, and after the flight.

With this technology, provided by SITA and its partner Adaptive, Singapore Airlines’ customers can enjoy a wide selection of up to date magazines via its app. SITA DigitalMedia not only helps provide a better passenger experience but it also supports the Airline’s efforts to go green and reduce paper production and handling.

Sumesh Patel, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “Singapore Airlines is renowned for its great service and constant desire to enhance the travel experience of its customers. SITA is delighted to be able to offer a service that helps further those ambitions and SITA DigitalMedia is just one of the ways we are assisting Singapore Airlines in delivering this experience by providing entertainment easily and efficiently through its airline app.”

Every day, the airline industry loads up to 100,000 kilograms of newspapers and magazines, with no certainty that it will be read. It is costly to supply and dispose of it. At the same time, 65% of passengers have said they would access entertainment services on their own device while 46% would watch a movie on-board using mobile devices. It is this combination of needs that is driving the industry to provide media and entertainment via digital devices.

SITA DigitalMedia is a self-service entertainment platform which can deliver any kind of content directly to a passenger’s smart device, enhancing the user experience. SITA partners with Adaptive to provide this technology and ensure the latest content choices are available for airlines and airports to offer their customers, from international and foreign language newspapers and magazines to blockbuster movies.

In addition to providing the service on an airline or airport’s own app, SITA also provides DigitalMedia On the Move. This is a portable battery-powered device that can be positioned anywhere in the airport, including airline lounges, and easily moved based on changing requirements. Using any mobile device passengers can access fast downloads of content when they connect to its high-speed Wi-Fi. This can include a wide variety of content such as newspapers, movies, magazines, games and city guides.

The free digital magazines are now available to passengers on Singapore Airlines’ latest versions of the app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App store and Android Google Play.

Airport Management solution allows for more accurate planning, reducing potential delays
Nice, France | April 5, 2017– Nice Côte d’Azur Airport has taken another significant step towards streamlining aircraft movements across the airfield with the implementation of SITA’s Airport Management solution, providing a more predictable flow of aircraft departures and minimizing delays.

By combining its market leading Pre-Departure Sequencing (PDS) module with SITA’s AirportPulse – an intuitive, intelligence portal powered by an instant-messaging platform – the airport can better manage traffic flow by allowing the various stakeholders to quickly share information and make clear decisions. This provides a common view of the airfield to all relevant stakeholders – the airport, airlines, ground handlers and air traffic control – making for more accurate planning and more efficient use of resources.

The PDS departure management tool delivers planned traffic flows, reduced taxi times leading to fewer queues in front of the runways and less congestion on the apron or taxiways. It also allows the airport to improve the use of stands and gates with fewer last-minute changes. Passengers will also benefit from a reduction in delays and fewer missed connections.

The implementation of SITA’s technology takes the airport closer to joining 20 of Europe’s busiest airports in achieving Airport Collaborative Decision-Making (A-CDM) certification from EUROCONTROL, aimed at improving the overall efficiency of airport operations and the predictability of events. Increased predictability has been proven to be of significant benefit to all major airports, airlines and network operations.

Isabelle Baumelle, Head of Runway Operations and Resources at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, said: “During peak periods or busy events such as the Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival it is vital that the runways and airside facilities are used as efficiently as possible, maximizing our capacity and avoiding potential delays. To achieve this, we needed a modern and efficient tool and is the main reason why we have chosen SITA’s Airport Management solution.”

Jean-Pierre Torres, Head of IT at Nice Côte d’Azur Airport, said: “After being the first airport in Europe to obtain the Advanced ATC Tower certification in B2B from EUROCONTROL, SITA’s technology will be another key step to help us better collaborate, make quick decisions and streamline the flow of aircraft, benefiting both our airlines and their passengers.”

Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe, said: “Nice Côte d’Azur Airport continues to grow, with overall passenger numbers increasing to close to 12.5 million in 2016. Managing the flow of departing aircraft is crucial to maximizing the airport’s available capacity without impacting the overall passenger experience. It is pleasing that our technology can help benefit all stakeholders at the airport.”

New offer to allow immediate detection and remedial action

Geneva | April 3, 2017–
Airbus and SITA have launched new Security Operations Center Services customized for the specific needs of the air transport industry. This new incident detection services will provide airlines, airports and other air transport industry stakeholders with information about unusual cyber activity that may impact their businesses.

These services have been developed to specifically meet an ever-increasing demand for cybersecurity in this industry, fast becoming one of its top priorities. Highlighting the importance of proactive cybersecurity, SITA’s Airline IT Trends Survey 2016 shows that 91% of airlines plan to invest in cybersecurity programs over the next three years.

By joining forces, SITA and Airbus can provide the most advanced cybersecurity solution for the air transport industry. Almost every airline and airport in the world is a customer of SITA and it delivers solutions for the world’s most extensive communications network. Airbus works with companies, critical national infrastructures, governments and defense organizations to detect, analyze and counter increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks.

Together they will use their expertize to detect cyber activity relevant to airlines and airports. When requested, the joint Security Operations Center Services will provide appropriate containment and remedial action ensuring that a company’s digital assets are safe from attack.

Barbara Dalibard, CEO of SITA, said: “As an industry we need to move faster in developing new cybersecurity solutions that mitigate the risk of ever-changing threats. This requires constant collaboration and innovation. With SITA and Airbus CyberSecurity uniquely placed at the heart of the air transport industry, we can facilitate innovation and information-sharing through services such as the Security Operations Center Service, providing solutions our customers demand and need.”

François Lavaste, Head of Airbus CyberSecurity, said: “Air transport is part of the Airbus DNA, so it was only natural that we joined forces with SITA to adapt our innovative cybersecurity solutions to this new service area, which is experiencing exponential growth. Our standard solution mainly combines real-time monitoring services for applications and communications dedicated to air transport and incident response services.”

The joint Airbus and SITA Security Operations Center Service is the first of a new portfolio of cybersecurity products and services being developed by SITA. The portfolio will help airlines and airports identify, detect and react to cyber threats while protecting their company assets from attack.

In addition to creating a customized portfolio for the industry, SITA in 2016 identified cybersecurity as one of five keys areas where it is exploring new solutions on behalf of its members as well as the wider air transport community.

New technology allows airlines to make rapid and timely changes to its airfares
Cairo, Egypt | March 21, 2017– EGYPTAIR have selected SITA’s Airfare Insight to provide the airline better visibility

of its fares across all markets as well as the ability to deliver the most competitive fares to its passengers. EGYPTAIR is among 19 airlines globally that currently use Airfare Insight, leading the market with the most comprehensive fare management technology available today.

In an increasingly competitive environment, Airfare Insight, part of the Horizon® portfolio, allows the airline to make rapid adjustments to fares and rules in response to market conditions. Using Airfare Insight, EGYPTAIR can monitor, accurately analyze the competitor landscape and quickly react to changes in the market with the right fare at the right time.

Until now airlines have typically compared fares with competing carriers using base or “filed” fares that ended up bearing little resemblance to the price paid by customers. Airfare Insight’s unique “All in Fare” functionality provides EGYPTAIR with a true view of the market pricing with a comprehensive fare that includes the base price, taxes, fees and charges for each market. EGYPTAIR also benefits from Airfare Insights’ dedicated workflow, resulting in synchronized distribution, fewer errors and market prioritization.

The ability to manage its pricing globally is key to an airline such as EGYPTAIR, which has a strong network of routes throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia as well as New York and Toronto, serving 70 destinations in 48 countries.

EGYPTAIR Holding Company’s Chairman and CEO, Safwat Mosallam, said: “In today’s competitive marketplace, pricing can change dramatically in a matter of hours. For EGYPTAIR it is vital that we understand what is happening in the market so that we can respond with accurate and competitive fares. Airfare Insight allows us to do just that.”

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa said: “Our focus at SITA is to ensure that we make air travel easy at every step. With Airfare Insight, we deliver technology that meets this promise by simplifying how airlines manage airfares, optimizing their processes to improve their speed to market and delivering the most competitive fares available.”

Group to address today’s airport security threats and define roadmap for a safe and efficient end-to-end passenger experience
Atlanta, Georgia | March 16, 2017– SITA, the global provider of border security and IT solutions to governments, airlines and airports, today announced the formation of the Secure Journeys Working Group to address today’s airport security threats in the USA and to work towards creating a secure and efficient passenger experience throughout the airport.

The launch of the Secure Journeys initiative is in response to the current security climate and recent attacks on non-secure areas of the airport, including the Brussels airport bombing and Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. Members of the working group cite these incidents as examples that demonstrate the need to rethink the approach to getting passengers through the airport quickly and safely.

Brian Cobb, Vice President of Customer Services, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), said: “Because CVG is a mid-market airport, we have the unique ability to quickly test the effectiveness of emerging technology on security and efficiency. As a member of Secure Journeys, we can use our knowledge to help shape recommendations to the TSA and CBP based on real-world experience rather than untested concepts. We look forward to collaborating as a community to ensure the safety and convenience of the traveling public.”

Secure Journeys is an evolution and expansion of SITA’s Border Automation User Group which was formed in 2015 to facilitate implementation of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Automated Passport Control program.

The newly extended group will address growing challenges, including:

  • Moving passengers and baggage more rapidly through non-secure areas of the airport, such as check-in and baggage claim areas;
  • Reducing and effectively managing security wait times to reduce lines of people in non-secure areas;
  • Incorporating biometrics for passenger screening authentication;
  • Addressing ways in which identity management solutions can be used along with data analytics to reduce the growing concerns around the insider threat.

The value of Secure Journeys is its ability to bring together experts and representatives from across the air transport spectrum to provide input and recommendations based on their unique perspective and experience. Given the Administration’s focus on transportation security and commitment to large-scale investment for the nation’s infrastructure, the solutions and recommendations identified by Secure Journeys are vital to informing key decision makers.

David Menzel, Sales Director-Government Markets, SITA, Founding Member, Secure Journeys, said: “As the U.S. government looks for answers to a new set of threats passengers face, Secure Journeys will identify solutions to common ‘soft target’ challenges, passenger screening and insider threats and develop a set of recommended standards for U.S. airports to adopt. We look forward to continuing work with the Department of Homeland Security and our airline and airport partners to make America’s airports safer and improve the overall passenger experience from reservation to destination.”

As always just before AIX Hamburg, it gets newsy and so it isn’t surprising that this week we have a lot for our readers to peruse. And, we fully expect the media to continue to build leading up to AIX and throughout the first few days of the show. As 2017 moves ahead, Boeing and Airbus are increasing their production efforts to catch up with orders (Backlog: Airbus = 6792 planes and Boeing = 5678 aircraft) while airplane purchases are thinning out. The near term IFEC market is looking good but the real question is what happens 3 years from now? Stay Tuned on this one as it will be interesting to see IFEC changes that integrate with a multiplicity of connected carry-on devices and technology innovations. And with that said, lets get started:

Lufthansa Systems

At this year’s AIX Lufthansa Systems will showcase exciting new features of its multiple award-winning IFE solution BoardConnect and its enhanced crew app mCabin. The user experience stands at the heart of new developments. Lufthansa Systems will present a major new release of BoardConnect with a new user interface. “Airlines can differentiate and easily adapt the UI without costly and time-consuming reprogramming. Furthermore, the BoardConnect architecture will become even more flexible – it is easy for airlines to personalize, add or remove features – making it the best platform for the connected aircraft. Our unique container technology allows to integrate applications for cabin, cockpit and crew in addition to IFE and connectivity.”

Lufthansa Systems further expands its existing partner network. Thus, airlines can benefit from this flexibility by tailoring their IFE offer to the needs of their target group, which ensures satisfied passengers and brings in additional revenues. At AIX Lufthansa Systems will announce new partnerships, which will provide additional services and functionalities. “Thanks to our latest technology upgrade BoardConnect becomes kind of a cloud provider in the sky hosting complete applications of third parties within the open platform. Additional services can be included fast and flexible. This enables airlines to enhance the digital experience of their passengers and supports them to complete their digital transformation goals. The new digital platform is available with or without connectivity. Lufthansa Group started the go-live of the new BoardConnect based connectivity service in Europe early 2017. Together with Lufthansa Technik and Inmarsat, Lufthansa Systems is currently equipping aircraft of Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings. During the show, Lufthansa Systems will give an update on the current roll-out projects for connectivity services and announce new customers.”

The company will also present a whole new mCabin product suite. The mobile solutions for cabin crews are perfect for supporting airlines of all sizes and business models in their process of digitalization. Prior to departure and during the flight, the mCabin crew app provides the cabin team with all of the flight and passenger service information they need. This is an app designed for excellent passenger communication, smooth crew management and optimal processes at every stage of the crew duty day. mCabin is available on Windows and iOS and has been further enhanced in its modularity. Airlines can select modules and thereby tailor mCabin according to their individual needs. mCabin/CityGuide is an exclusive guidebook platform for the crew with local information and tips about the crew’s destinations. Additionally, Lufthansa Systems has developed some great new features for mCabin and another separate app in the mCabin suite which will be presented at the AIX. In general, Lufthansa Systems sees an increased demand for a mobile solution like mCabin in the market with both passengers and crew members expecting a greater digital experience on board. During the show, Lufthansa Systems will give an update on further developments and planned cooperations regarding the mCabin suite. Visit Lufthansa Systems and learn more about BoardConnect at booth no #2E24


Gogo

Gogo has reached a major milestone by installing its 3,000th commercial aircraft with in-flight connectivity. Today, the company has 3,000 commercial aircraft and more than 4,200 business aircraft, totaling 7,200 aircraft installed. More than 130 of the 3,000 commercial aircraft are now installed with Gogo’s industry leading 2Ku technology that leverages Gogo’s global satellite network. “The demand for in-flight connectivity continues to grow at a rapid pace and we are quickly moving beyond connecting passengers to connecting flight attendants, pilots and eventually components on the planes themselves,” said Michael Small, president and CEO at Gogo. “To meet this demand, Gogo has invested in the best broadband networks to meet the needs of global aviation — no matter the size of the aircraft or where that aircraft flies. “Most of the 7,200 aircraft are connected using Gogo’s North American ground network, but an increasing number of commercial aircraft are now flying on Gogo’s global satellite network.

2Ku relies on the new low profile, high efficiency Ku-band satellite antennas that outperform other connectivity solutions in the global aviation market. Since the announcement of Gogo’s 2Ku technology, 12 airlines representing more than 1500 aircraft have signed up for the service. Nearly all of these aircraft are expected to be installed by the end of 2018.

“Whether an aircraft is flying on our global satellite network or on our North American ATG network, we are delivering industry leading performance in terms of coverage, cost, capacity and reliability. With high-throughput satellites being added to our global network and an upgrade being made to our ATG network, both networks will bring even better performance in 2017 and beyond,” added Small.

Gogo, which provides aircraft connectivity, had revenue of $597 million in 2016, expects positive free cash flow in 2019, a year earlier than previous guidance, and expects 2Ku installs on 450 to 550 aircraft in 2017.


Thales

Thales, SES S.A. and Hughes Network Systems (HUGHES) announced a set of strategic agreements to enhance the delivery of FlytLIVE – Thales’ connected inflight experience solution, offering the most advanced and efficient aeronautical connectivity solution available in the Americas. Under the agreements, SES contracts capacity on Hughes EchoStar XVII and EchoStar XIX high throughput (HTS) Ka-band satellites to complement its AMC-15 and AMC-16 network giving FlytLIVE the only redundant coverage network in North America. SES will also purchase multiple JUPITER System gateways from Hughes to qualify Thales to deploy its FlytLIVE service on Hughes JUPITER Aeronautical platform. This will allow Thales to initiate its next-generation connected inflight experience offering in North America this year. Further, SES contracted Hughes for service on EchoStar XVII and EchoStar XIX HTS satellites, and combines them with its AMC-15 and AMC-16 network, to provide a four-satellite constellation for the launch of Thales FlytLIVE network. The four-satellite network strengthens Thales’ FlytLIVE network as it enters initial operations in 2017 and in advance of the milestone launch of SES-17 Ka-band HTS satellite, planned for 2020. Further, SES is to purchase multiple JUPITER System gateways from Hughes and contract ground segment operations to Hughes to bring seamless connectivity to Thales FlytLIVE network. SES will also purchase multiple Hughes JUPITER System gateways to support traffic carried over AMC-15 and AMC-16, as well as SES-17, when it enters service. FlyLIVE’s network will deliver industry leading speed and capacity for support of growing passenger service demands and will comfortably accommodate forecasted traffic increases through the launch of SES-17, which is manufactured by Thales Alenia Space and configured with close to 200 spot beams and coverage tailored to aviation and mobility markets. Lastly, we note that Thales selected Hughes JUPITER System Aeronautical platform for its next-generation IFC solution. At the center of the new service is Hughes high-performance JUPITER system that is already in operation for broadband enterprise and consumer services in other major markets globally and will be introduced for aeronautical use on the Thales FlytLIVE network. Unique features of the network include rapid beam-to-beam and satellite-to-satellite switching and DVB-S2x transmission. Thales has already begun service testing using its new Thales Ka-band aero antenna and the Hughes JUPITER technology.


Inmarsat

Inmarsat has announced today that International Airlines Group (IAG) has signed a contract to be the launch customer of Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network (EAN). IAG plans to equip in excess of 300 aircraft with EAN and aims to have 90% of its short haul fleet complete by early 2019. Airlines include Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling with installation having already commenced on the British Airways fleet, with three aircraft fitted to date. EAN allows European passengers to use their personal devices for internet browsing, video streaming, gaming and other online services, with unmatched high capacity and is the first solution in the world to integrate connectivity from a satellite, operated by Inmarsat, and a complementary LTE-based ground network, operated by Deutsche Telekom.


SITA

Drop&Fly, SITA’s bag-drop unit, has been awarded the prestigious 2017 iF Design Award: Public Product, in recognition of its state-of-the-art design and intuitive user interface.

Drop&Fly provides passengers with an easy-to-use interface which makes checking-in bags a convenient and pleasant experience. Its one-step self-bag drop process, which allows passengers to print their tags and check-in their bags at the same time, delivers a fast, customer-centric passenger experience. It is fully customizable to the individual needs of the airport and its hybrid functionality enables a switch from self-service to an agent-assisted mode in a matter of seconds. The iF Design Award, recognized as a symbol of design excellence around the world, confirms SITA’s expertize in matching form and function.


Other

  • Stockholders approved the ROCKWELL COLLINS and B/E AEROSPACE merger.
  • Kelvin Boyette’s Latitude Aero did the Aircraft Interiors promo right – he showed us where his booth is located
  • And lastly, Geoff Underwood, CEO of IFPL has a second calling, sorta – Check it out!

The modular design and intuitive user interface of SITA’s bag drop unit has judges sold

Geneva | March 13, 2017– Drop&Fly, SITA’s bag-drop unit, has been awarded the prestigious 2017 iF Design Award: Public Product, in recognition of its state-of-the-art design and intuitive user interface.

Drop&Fly provides passengers with an easy-to-use interface which makes checking-in bags a convenient and pleasant experience. Its one-step self-bag drop process, which allows passengers to print their tags and check-in their bags at the same time, delivers a fast, customer-centric passenger experience. It is fully customizable to the individual needs of the airport and its hybrid functionality enables a switch from self-service to an agent-assisted mode in a matter of seconds.

The iF Design Award, recognized as a symbol of design excellence around the world, confirms SITA’s expertize in matching form and function.

Matthys Serfontein, Vice President Airports at SITA, said: “Design was fundamental to SITA’s Drop&Fly solution, delivering both operational efficiency and a great passenger experience. Our understanding of the passenger process was instrumental in building a product that is fit for purpose. The compact and modular design makes it fit seamlessly into any airport in the world.”

Unique design features of Drop&Fly include LED lights that guide passengers through the bag drop process while the ultra-low conveyor belt allows passengers with heavy bags or in a wheelchair to use the bag drop unit. The fully enclosed design features a sliding door and advanced sensors to prevent tampering for a safe and secure bag drop.

Drop&Fly is part of SITA’s broad portfolio of bag drop solutions, that ranges from one or two bag drop units to a more comprehensive approach that can transform an entire airport terminal. More than 225 units have already been installed in 40 airports and their sleek design continues to attract the attention of airport operators around the globe.

Combination of increased flexibility, security and simplified network management is the winner

Mexico | March 3, 2017– Aeromexico, Mexico’s global airline, has selected SITA to provide network connectivity across more than 50 international locations. SITA’s world-class communications services will ensure Aeromexico will have full access to all its IT applications for back and front-office activities, including check-in and departure control, as the airline expands its routes across the world.

The three-year agreement includes the provision of SITA CorporateConnect services at 50 locations to transport mission-critical business internet traffic for Aeromexico’s daily operations. This service connects Aeromexico’s hubs and main sites to virtual private networks providing bandwidth at the highest availability (up to 99.95%).

In addition, 25 locations will have SITA CorporateConnect@Airports which will allow all of Aeromexico’s offices and devices at these airports to securely and cost effectively connect to its VPN via the airport LAN and AirportHub™, SITA’s shared infrastructure.

Benjamín Hernández, CIO, Aeromexico, said: “It is vital that Aeromexico has a world-class communications infrastructure that provides high availability service and access to our IT systems anywhere we operate. This ensures we can deliver a better travel experience to our passengers and minimizes any disruptions in our connected world.

“We were looking for the combination of a strong partner with an international footprint at airports, technical expertise and service quality. SITA delivers on all these counts and will now work together with us as we grow Aeromexico internationally.”

Elbson Quadros, SITA Vice President, Latin America, said: “Aeromexico has a tradition of providing high quality service to its passengers and needs a robust, cost-effective communications infrastructure to support it. SITA Connect will enable the airline to add new international destinations in a matter of weeks not months due to our continued investment in the AirportHub infrastructure, which is now at more than 300 airports across the world with more on the way. We are looking forward to providing Aeromexico with flexible, secure and simplified global network management as it grows internationally.”

SITA provides the largest worldwide communication network coverage to airlines and over the coming years Aeromexico expects to add more locations to the 50 already agreed. SITA enables reliable connectivity and with a footprint in over 220 countries and territories, and shared infrastructure at over 300 AirportHub equipped airports, it offers true global connectivity from a single supplier.

Aeromexico carried more than 19 million passengers in 2016 and is Mexico’s flag carrier with 86 destinations in more than 20 countries.

Investment to help SITA deliver new geo-location technology to airports and airlines

Geneva | March 1, 2017–

SITA, the air transport IT provider, has completed a strategic investment in dynamic mapping company LocusLabs, helping drive innovation for the benefit of the entire industry while supporting SITA’s own investment in innovation.

The investment also supports SITA’s continued focus on developing and delivering common-use geo-location technology which allows passengers to identify services using location. This solution, which merges mapping with a wide range of location data, allows airports and airlines to use the same dynamic maps and data but tailor them to their own requirements.

This additional funding will help LocusLabs further enhance its mapping capabilities, which is already in use at several major international airports as well as by airlines.

Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer at SITA, said: “SITA has a clear focus to fast track innovation on behalf of the air transport industry and provide new technology that makes air travel easier at every step. These investments complement our own research and development at SITA Lab, by investing in complementary technologies that add value to our overall portfolio.

“LocusLabs is a perfect example – its geo-location capability adds real value to SITA’s cutting-edge airport app and opens new possibilities to enhance the passenger experience using location.”

LocusLabs provides the world’s most accurate and up-to-date indoor maps for airports and is used by SITA to power its mapping functionality for its Day of Travel airport app, already in use by international airports globally, including Miami International Airport and Nice Côte d’Azur Airport. These graphically enhanced, vector-based maps, have built-in navigation functionality to guide travelers to their boarding gate or other airport locations. Rich content including images, attributes, keywords and other metadata enable easy discovery of points of interest, retail stores and other amenities at the airport.

LocusLabs CEO and Co-Founder, Campbell Kennedy, said: “While LocusLabs’ mapping technology continues to help millions of passengers find their way through airports globally, technology continues to change rapidly and we need to keep pace to remain relevant. Future smart buildings and augmented reality applications are the new frontier for maps and with the support of SITA, both as an investor as well as a technology specialist in the air transport industry, LocusLabs can bring these technologies to fruition.”

APEX/IFSA
The other day, we got a note from Robin Applebaum, APEX Marketing Communication Director we thought you might like to see: “I wanted to reach out to you today with some exciting news from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the International Flight Service Association (IFSA). This morning, APEX and IFSA announced a more tightly aligned relationship to better serve the global airline industry. This step will help to further solidify APEX as the industry’s most influential member-based organization dedicated to elevating the entire passenger experience; and will help IFSA to grow globally as the pivotal airline association of the catering and in-flight services market. While both APEX and IFSA will remain fully independent, this alliance triggers additional collaboration in the planning of association co-locations and events, joint working groups, reciprocal guest board member attendance at board meetings, as well as now having a common Chief Executive Officer serving both associations.”

When we asked for more background info, she responded: “As I am sure you are aware, APEX and the International Flight Service Association (IFSA), have had a long established ‘sister-association relationship.’ Last week’s announcement only serves to further align the two groups. As part of this strategic relationship, APEX will be leveraging IFSA to represent the foundation of the association’s catering and services sector. “This will not only help the association to grow its footprint, but will also further solidify APEX as the industry’s most influential member-based organization dedicated to elevating the entire passenger experience. For IFSA, aligning with APEX will help them to expand its reach globally, build additional strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations, and establish itself as the industry’s global representative of the growing catering and in-flight/onboard hospitality market.”

“Additionally, the inclusion of more catering and service elements at APEX events will attract greater numbers of senior airline decision makers who oversee this sector as well as IFE by offering a greater diversification of products, services and information. As demonstrated at APEX EXPO in Singapore, this type of approach yields an increase in potential customers for event exhibitors and other vendor participants. Finally, it will help to better position APEX events against the backdrop of assertive for-profit show competition.”


Gogo
“To celebrate the fleet-wide upgrade to their new JAL SKY NEXT product, the airline will start offering free Wi-Fi on all equipped domestic flights from February 1, 2017 till August 31st 2017. Connectivity is provided through Gogo using our satellite Internet technology. You’ll find the SKY NEXT product on select 777 -300, 777-200, 767-300 and 737-800 aircraft. JAL was our first international customer, and we’ve been honored to partner with them since 2014 on connectivity and entertainment for their domestic passengers.

This promotion from JAL is just one of the latest to offer Gogo products and services free to their passengers. Last year, we partnered with T-Mobile to provide free Wi-Fi to their subscribers, and most recently, Alaska Airlines rolled out their Free ChatTM product which lets passengers access popular chat apps like iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on their smartphone.

In addition to connectivity promotions, we also provide the technology allowing airlines to offer free wireless entertainment to their customers. The product, called Gogo Vision, streams movies and TV shows from our airborne server to most mobile devices, laptops and tablets. Movies and TV shows from Gogo Vision can now be found on more than 2800 aircaft on some the largest airlines in the world. Today, many of Gogo’s airline partners are offering all or some of the content free to passengers.”


AirSatOne
Aviation Satcom provider, AirSatOne, announces lower rates for its SwiftBroadband connectivity. Taking care of customers is a top priority at AirSatOne and one reason why the company maintains a 99% customer retention rate. So when Inmarsat, the leader in global satellite communications, lowered its prices AirSatOne was quick to pass the savings on to its customers.

Customers using AirSatOne as their service provider have access to its custom global network for the same price as the generic network used by the competition. AirSatOne’s custom network includes worldwide teleports and IP PoP (Internet Point of Presence) with advanced network security and our globally deployed Flightstream SA which provides web filtering, compression, consumption tracking and firewall customized for mobile communications.

“We think this is an exciting time for the Satcom market. With more and more operators and executives finding it essential to conduct business and stay in sync with the home office while traveling, we hope reducing airtime charges will encourage more aircraft owners to invest in installing Satcom systems in their aircraft,” says Kremsreiter. Satcom systems work everywhere (except at the poles) so in addition to increasing productivity, Satcom hardware increases the aircraft’s value and worldwide marketability when it comes time to sell.


SITA
Airlines and airports are investing in technologies to help predict and prepare for future events. This is according to The Future is Predictable, a report published today by air transport IT provider, SITA. It outlines how efforts are being made to tackle the estimated US$25 billion[1] cost of flight disruptions to the air transport industry by harnessing artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, predictive analytics and other progressive technical capabilities.

SITA’s analysis reveals that predictive tools using artificial intelligence and cognitive computing are likely to be adopted by half of airlines and airports over the coming five to 10 years. However, a few front runners are already trialing predictive modeling, machine learning, and data mining. These efforts are mainly focused on initiatives that will provide passengers with more relevant information about their journey to create more seamless and personal experiences.

During 2017, SITA Lab will be validating delay predictions with airlines and airports and expects to complete up to five trials with its industry partners. The next stage will be to incorporate its delay prediction algorithm and disruption warning feeds into SITA’s services to the air transport industry. In the report, leading airports and airlines share their experiences including Gatwick Airport where a seamless passenger experience from curb to gate is the goal. Here several different areas of airport activity are tracked to measure performance and move towards predicting it.

As artificial intelligence develops the importance of maintaining the human touch is not lost on the airlines and airports. Indeed, the combination of people and artificial intelligence is described as transforming the travel experience. The science of artificial intelligence is developing quickly and airlines and airports are turning to the academic community to help them with predictive tools to tackle disruptions. SITA’s report discusses research that is being carried out with scientists from Binghamton University, State University of New York; University of Nottingham as part the European Union-funded consortium PASSME; Carnegie Mellon University; Oxford University’s Data Science Laboratory in the Mathematical Institute and University College London School of Management.

The Future is Predictable combines SITA’s global industry experience and studies with commentary and case studies from airports and airlines that are investing in the latest research and technologies.

Check out the full press release here.
For further details download SITA’s full report – The Future is Predictable


Phitek
New Zealand-based audio equipment and technology developer Phitek Systems has been sold to New York-listed Amphenol Corp, providing an exit for a number of domestic VC investors. Phitek’s previous backers include Direct Capital-managed TMT Ventures and Stephen Tindal’s K1W1 investment vehicle. TMT, which has been invested since 2005, has a direct 27 per cent and a 14 per cent holding shared with the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. Meanwhile, K1W1 owns 39 per cent. Phitek designs and supplies aircraft in-flight entertainment interconnect products for the commercial aerospace industry. You can read more here.


Lufthansa Technik
Luftahansa Technik has announced a two-in-one solution (TIOS) antenna radome for the Boeing 737-700 and -800. The antenna, installed on the vertical stabilizer to reduce drag and positively affect the aircraft’s center of gravity, will make it possible to install Ka-band antennas to provide high-speed internet, TV connections and a high-definition camera. The radome is up to 200 lb. (100 kg) lighter than the original and is FAA validated and has an EASA Supplemental Type Certification. You can find satellite communication options, products, services and companies in MRO Links, MRO-Network.com’s searchable directory.

TIOS – Two antennas under one radome – YouTube


Notes

  • Rich Salter told IFExpress: “Re: data transmission via light (LiFi), I just signed on to Moderate a session at AIX’ Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on April 3 in Hamburg. It is the Tech Horizons session (last one of the day) in the Connected Journey track, and one of the presenters is Prof Harald Haas of Edinburgh who is founder of PureLiFi  – and he coined the term “LiFi” too.”
  • Richie Sugimoto reports that Aircraft Cabin Systems has just received Certification of ISO9001 and AS9100 – Congratulations!

More Stuff

Automated border solution helps reduce wait times for passengers at Italy’s fastest-growing airport
Bologna, Italy | January 31, 2017– Bologna Guglielmo Marconi Airport is to speed up the immigration process for passengers from the European Union who hold a biometric passport with the introduction of new self-service immigration control technology from air transport IT specialist, SITA.

Using world-leading facial recognition technology to confirm that the passenger is the passport holder, SITA’s iBorders® BorderAutomation ABCGates will provide passengers with a smooth “walk-through” experience. The automated border control gates (ABCGates) confirm that the passenger has an authentic, valid passport and is authorized to enter the country while fingerprint verification is also provided to further enhance security when required.

With an average processing time of under 20 seconds, this process enables eligible passengers to use self-service facilities to reduce wait times and optimize passenger flow through the airport. The ABCGates allows more than 10,000 passengers a day to clear immigration at the airport using this latest technology.

Nazareno Ventola, CEO of Aeroporto di Bologna, said: “Today passengers increasingly demand more self-service options across their journey that help provide a quick and seamless journey through the airport. SITA’s ABCGates help us meet this demand while ensuring we can accommodate an increasing number of travelers, particularly during peak arrival periods.”

In 2016 Bologna Airport was the fastest-growing airport among Italy’s 15 busiest airports, with more than 7 million passengers last year. Streamlining the immigration process on arrival with the deployment of the ABCGates will allow the airport to accommodate more passengers during busy peak periods.

Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe, said: “Not only do passengers value the convenience of self-service technology but it helps airports improve the passenger flow through the airport. Our ABCGates are a good example of how we have worked with airports across Italy to provide ease-of-use while supporting the country’s ability to manage its borders, keeping them safe and secure.”

SITA is a world leader in providing border control technology with about 30 governments globally using SITA’s iBorders® systems and capabilities to keep their borders secure and transform their border security operations. Bologna is the fourth airport in Italy to introduce ABCGates to fast track immigration.

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.

Well, well, another year has passed and IFExpress is now in it’s our 25th year and we still love the craziness of this entertainment and connectivity based aircraft business; albeit, it is getting harder to stay current with all the ups (and downs) of technology, personal preference, and airline profit-making. According to IATA, in 2015 U.S. airlines raked in a profit of $25.6 billion, a 241% increase from 2014. The drop in oil prices meant big savings for the industry. Airlines spent nearly $27 billion on fuel in 2015, 38% less than in 2014. The results from 2016 are yet to be compiled and it will be interesting to see how they have fluctuated.

This year (2017) looks interesting and potentially problematic for the following reasons: fuel price increases, growth of airline fees, and a large increase in delivered aircraft. In fact, IATA predicts a reduced profitability ($29 Billion) based on slower GDP and rising costs. The folks at Aviation Week are predicting a downturn as well: “After years of high profitability, the airline industry appears to be entering its next potential downturn. The International Air Transport Association is predicting much reduced profits for 2017 in most markets as airlines are no longer benefiting from lower oil prices and overcapacity increasingly becomes a problem in many segments.”

From the other side of the equation, the IATA predictions include a 5.1% increase in tourism (we have a hard time with this one because of all the political madness in the world) and the airlines will take delivery of approximately 1,700 new jetliners. New planes means new IFEC and this is good for our team. Furthermore, this obviously does not include IFEC retrofits which will increase as a result of data hungry passengers and crew. Although, focus shifts from entertainment to data connectivity demand may be in the offing. As noted almost everywhere, passengers carry-on devices, whether it is for entertainment and/or communication, is resulting in another competing growth area for IFEC, which may negatively effect some seatback entertainment growth as passenger device purchases technically outpace anything that an airline can provide. However, we do note that upper class big screens win out in the front of the plane since no one carries anything onboard with a screen over 15 inches, or so.We should also note that in-seat power is probably a related growth item and folks in this arena have seen, and will continue to see, a lot of action.

Now, lets look at what we predicted last year in the IFEC related world for 2016. We don’t want to blow our horn because a lot of our observations came from a ton of research time on the Internet –  we just did a good job of compiling the information:

A) Messaging

Last year we wrote: While 2016 may have a few techno-changes from 2015 and summary numbers differ, we are are riding the same messaging train! Since technology and media have grown so much (at least in the US) folks are spending more time on it than sleep or work (Business Insider), there appears to be plenty of opportunity time for messaging (Facebook, Twitter, and the like) but messaging will be even bigger. If you don’t believe it, just watch the ‘head down time’ at a public function where time is spent on devices – it’s less invasive and non interruptive. Why is this a boom time for messaging, you might ask? The answer must lie in new, portable communication technology for one. If, as some writers predict, we spend over half of our waking day with media and technology, and because the devices and connectivity mediums are there, plain and simple, we will text. From a broader perspective, time on major digital activities will increase and has done so for each year for the last 5 years. To a greater extent, these behaviors are clearly a dominating trend and will continue to grow for the foreseeable future. Further, as folks ‘cut’ their cable TV, products are rising up in the wireless world to support streaming TV via the Internet for portable devices. Check out this FierceCable article for more information on this subject.

On aircraft, we also expect to see this increase, after all some 97% of passengers (notes SITA) have devices with Facebook Messenger, What’s App, and WeChat. These devices (and apps) and limited connectivity channels are there, all we need are more lower price solutions (free or flat fee)… and yes, there are a few on the horizon and we will discuss them this year, but we digress for now. If anything will be a big deal in inflight lifestyle changes, it will be more messaging!”

We saw this one coming! Messaging just keeps growing and as the messaging options grow, so do the users. One of the best newer ones is SMS. Sending email to SMS is free for the sender, but the recipient is subject to the standard delivery charges. Only the first 160 characters of an email message can be delivered to a phone, and only 160 characters can be sent from a phone. Text-enabled fixed-line handsets are required to receive messages in text format.

Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging service and software application which provides text and voice communication. Integrated with Facebook’s web-based Chat feature and built on the open MQTT protocol, Messenger lets Facebook users chat with friends both on mobile and on the main website. In Asia WeChat is the big one while Android has HelloSMS, TextraSMS, and on and on. Further, the phone companies have a batch of their own connectivity applications. Face it, we are text message junkies and there seems to be no end because of our devices and lifestyle.

B) Audio

We noted in January of 2016, From an audio perspective, our daily life is a good predictor of what we want, and will do, on airplanes. Streaming audio is not new on the ground, with some predictors noting 4 hours of each day in that pursuit. On planes it is usually a ‘canned’ experience because connectivity to the ground is not cheap. However, with the demand of services like google Play, Amazon, MP3, NPR, Apple Music, Spotify and many more, there may be a future for advertised, real-time, (audio) streaming… if for no other reason than news. Today it’s the ‘under 17’ crowd that spend the most streaming time but they do get older and will replace the ‘over 55’ who rely mostly on AM/FM – something to think about for your next IFE system.” 

For sure, this audio solution has been replaced by video streaming requirements on our personal devices. While we have no data but our own usage, we find that if we want audio (music) on a flight, we use our portable devices. A good example is taking place on phones – the latest iPhone we obtained with 128 Gigabytes, streamed, stored audio and video are no problem. Live information like news is another story. However, we should note that with the increase of Wi-Fi, and potentially Bluetooth (and possibly optical), things in 2017 will certainly get better. With more bandwidth for storage, and increased ground connectivity, programming will expand so that even with portable stored content, more video entertainment and news will be appealing. We should note that we have heard that some low cost airlines plan no seatback entertainment but rather are relying on customers to use their personal devices for airline streamed audio and video.

C) Bags/Baggage

Last January we wrote: Perhaps the past year has been better (data not out yet), but in the previous year (2014), the passenger count that lost a bag reached 24.1 million and, we note, the trend has been dropping (2007 – 18.9 lost bags per thousand pax, down 61.3% to 2014 – 7.3 lost bags per thousand pax). However with increasing load factors, increased seating and increasing traffic, it will be a real challenge for airlines to keep up.” 

As it turns out, the airlines have been doing much better. SITA states: “2015 saw total airline passengers rise 7% from 3.3 to 3.5 billion and mishandled bags drop from 24.1 to 23.1 million, a 10% improvement with the extra passengers taken into account, costing airlines a total of US$2.3 billion. Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” While the data has not been available for 2016 it looks like the airlines are on a downward trend for lost bags. SITA says: “Numbers for the last decade show a steady downward trend in mishandled bags after lost bags peaked in 2007 at 46.9 million, dropping by 50% over the last nine years and saving the airline industry close to $23 billion in the process.” With the advent of electronic and passive tagging, things should only improve.

To be continued next week.

Publishers’ Note: We plan to publish your predictions on Jan. 17 so feel free to send us your IFEC predictions as well. Just tell us if you want IFExpress to attribute your words to you or not. PLW/TJW 

  • SITA Airport Management solution initially to be installed at airports in Portugal, France and Cambodia

Paris, France | December 20, 2016– VINCI Airports will be implementing SITA’s multi-airport Airport Management solution across its global network of airports, starting with 22 airports in Portugal, France and Cambodia. This operational unification will help the airport group deliver new efficiencies and synergies across its global network of airports.

VINCI Airports, a top five global player in the international airport sector, manages the development and operations of 35 airports: 13 in France, 10 in Portugal, 3 in Cambodia, 2 in Japan, 6 in the Dominican Republic and Santiago airport in Chile. Served by more than 170 airlines, VINCI Airports’ network handles more than 130 million passengers annually. To support its fast international expansion, the group has turned to global IT provider SITA to help optimize its airport operations by leveraging the most advanced integrated technology.

For SITA, this is the biggest and most diverse deployment of its Airport Management solution yet, demonstrating SITA’s ability to deliver the technology across numerous airports and countries. VINCI Airports will use the technology to streamline operations around the world by introducing common tools in the network. These will include new airport operational databases (AODB), resource management systems (RMS) as core modules, with the addition of complementary systems as needed, such as flight information display systems (FIDS), and passenger and capacity optimization systems.

Nicolas Notebaert, CEO VINCI Concessions and Chairman VINCI Airports said: “Given that we operate in airports that are geographically spread out and diverse in terms of size and markets served, we needed a solution that brought some commonality in the operational systems used by our airports yet was able to accommodate the unique requirements in each location. SITA understood our requirements and provides a fit-for-purpose solution.”

Dave Bakker, SITA President Europe, said: “SITA’s global reach means we are able to not only support VINCI Airports’ operational requirements today, but also their future growth plans no matter where they choose to expand and operate. Our experience in more than 1,000 airports around the world means we understand the challenges and opportunities of using cutting-edge technology to manage an airport.”
As part of the rollout, SITA’s AirportResource Manager system will provide VINCI Airports with the tools to manage equipment and staff in real-time, giving the airport operator more flexibility to effectively optimize and deploy resources to address changes across airports. SITA will also introduce its business intelligence portal, AirportPulse, which will provide VINCI Airports’ teams the ability to monitor, predict and manage daily airport operations. They will have a dynamic view of the airport passenger flows, allowing them to quickly respond to any changes on the airport floor.

  • AirportConnect® Open allows multiple airlines to use the same infrastructure

Athens | November 22, 2016– Fraport Greece, which will soon be responsible for operating, maintaining and upgrading 14 Greek regional airports over a 40-year concession period, has selected SITA’s state-of-the-art common-use terminal equipment (CUTE) to be implemented at all its airports.

Fraport Greece’s investment in the 14 regional airports is aimed at promoting the surrounding cities and regions as tourist destinations, driving increased passenger traffic, supporting both local and national economies, and providing high-quality services to passengers as well as other airport users and stakeholders. Key to this investment in infrastructure is SITA’s common-use systems, which will allow the airlines to work seamlessly at the Fraport Greece airports and to share check-in desks, kiosks and boarding areas while accessing their own airline-specific systems.

SITA AirportConnect® Open is the only common-use platform that fully integrates solutions both for agents and passengers. It delivers seamless self-service from check-in to security and boarding all the way to border security on arrival. It is Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant, supporting the security requirements of the credit card industry. SITA has supplied its AirportConnect® Open solution to more than 420 airports worldwide.

Alexander Zinell, CEO of Fraport Greece, said: “Well-managed airports worldwide have proven that they also serve as economic engines for their communities. Our aim is to reposition the 14 airports as modern, competitive gateways that support the growth of the regions and the country’s tourism industry overall. Technology will play a central role in achieving our vision for an improved passenger experience and SITA is a key partner in providing the state-of-the-art technology solutions required.”

Fraport Greece is currently working on development plans for the 14 airports that take into consideration the specific needs of each location. In total, Fraport Greece will invest around €330 million in the development of the airports’ infrastructure until 2020.

Dave Bakker, SITA President Europe, said: “With our experience in more than 1,000 airports globally, SITA has the expertise and technology to ensure that we provide the right solution for each airport. Our CUTE solution allows any airline to quickly set up and operate from any of the airports, helping Fraport Greece elevate the experience for airlines as well as their passengers.”

Adelaide | November 22, 2016– Adelaide Airport, Australia’s fastest-growing international airport, has selected SITA to provide smart new passenger and airport operational technology. The airport’s eight million passengers will enjoy new self-service bag drop and check-in kiosks, while SITA’s day of operations technology will ensure optimized airport operations.

SITA has provided technology to Adelaide Airport for more than ten years and the new five-year contract includes a move to common-use self-service (CUSS) which allows passengers to use self-service for any airline, at any check-in kiosk or bag drop point. In total SITA will provide 32 check-in kiosks and 14 bag drop units.

As part of the technology investment for the future, Adelaide Airport will use SITA’s AirportPulse. This day of operations technology includes a business intelligence portal which provides end-to-end visibility of what’s happening in the airport at strategic and operational levels. Data is pulled from all common-use infrastructure to analyze, report and benchmark passenger movements, providing a deep understanding of relevant activities and providing intelligent reporting to effectively manage the allocation of shared resources.

Vince Scanlon, Executive General Manager, Planning and Infrastructure, Adelaide Airport Ltd (AAL), said: “As the gateway to South Australia, we at Adelaide Airport want to deliver exceptional outcomes to our customers, partners, shareholders and community. SITA is providing us with world-class technology that will improve the experience at the airport. Passengers will enjoy efficient bag drop and check-in while the data collected will turn information into knowledge and allow us to focus on what matters for improved performance.”

The increased focus on using data to enhance operations will allow Adelaide Airport to be proactive and predict and identify imminent adverse conditions before they happen. AirportPulse makes sense of data to drive operational efficiencies and improve customer experience.

Ilya Gutlin, SITA President, Asia Pacific, said: “SITA has been Adelaide Airport’s technology partner for over a decade and during that time we have worked with the team to contribute to its growth and success. Over the coming years we will continue to seamlessly transition Adelaide to the latest innovative technology that supports the vision of Adelaide Airport becoming a top tier business center in the Asia Paci­fic region.”

Adelaide Airport’s annual passenger numbers are rising and it forecasts more than 18 million passengers by 2034. This growth comes with the investment in the Adelaide Airport Business District. This development is set to transform the airport into a full-fledged business district acting as the business gateway between the world and South Australia.

  • Gouvêa to oversee every aspect of SITA’s delivery and service excellence

Geneva | November 17, 2016– Global air transport IT provider SITA announced that it has appointed Alexandre Gouvêa as Senior Vice President, SITA Global Services (SGS) reporting to CEO Barbara Dalibard. He joined SITA on 1 November 2016.

In his new role, Gouvêa will be responsible for maintaining and enhancing SITA’s service delivery to its 2,800 customers across 200 countries and territories while driving efficient and effective delivery of new infrastructure and services. Gouvêa will lead a team of more than 2,000 aviation specialists and engineers that will oversee the delivery and management of numerous complex IT systems across airports, airlines and on aircraft. SITA’s portfolio covers everything from managed global communications and infrastructure services, to eAircraft, passenger management, baggage, self-service, airport and border management solutions.

Barbara Dalibard, CEO of SITA, said: “Our focus at SITA is to put the customer at the center of every decision and action we take. This starts from the moment a customer signs a contract, through the delivery process to ensuring we support our infrastructure and service every step of the way. Alexandre’s experience will be invaluable in delivering this service. He is a strong addition to the SITA team and I look forward to working with him to enhance our customer focus even further.”

Gouvêa, who brings to SITA more than 30 years of experience in the air transport and IT sectors, joins SITA from the Atos Group where he was CEO for Latin America (LATAM) and Member of the Group Executive Committee. Previous roles include SVP Customer Services & Operations for Orange Business Services where he was responsible for all services delivery (Data, Voice & Video Network Services plus Information Technology/IT Services) worldwide and SVP Customer Care & Integration Services for Equant.

He has a long and close history with SITA and the air transport industry having previously served as Director, Engineering and Operations for Latin America for SITA in Brazil.

Gouvêa is also a Board Member of the Chamber of Commerce France-Brazil and member of the International Trading Council of France (CCEF).

Gouvêa said: “It is a great pleasure to return to SITA and to lead a strong team of professionals committed to delivering and providing world-class service to our customers. Together we will provide our customers both the technology and support that will help transform air travel, making the industry stronger, more efficient and more welcoming to passengers.”

  • Manila International Airport Authority selects SITA technology for overhaul of Terminals 1 & 2

Manila | November 16, 2016– The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) today announced the selection of SITA technology as it takes the first steps to transform Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to be among the leading airports supporting IATA’s Fast Travel program. The airport is the main international gateway to the Philippines with more than 37 million passengers and serves as a hub for the country’s major carriers.

The agreement includes the implementation of the most up-to-date airport common-use technologies at Terminals 1 and 2 for fast check-in and bag drop, along with new bag tracking. SITA’s systems, which are used at the world’s top airports, are set to significantly boost ongoing efforts to improve the passenger experience at NAIA.

In this first stage of NAIA’s transformation, SITA will completely overhaul the passenger processing systems in Terminal 1 and 2 putting its next-generation technology SITA AirportConnect Open in place. This will be the platform for NAIA’s next phase of transformation over the coming months, allowing the airport to introduce common-use self-service kiosks, self-bag drop and self-boarding gates.

In addition, a new local departure control system (LDCS) will be implemented. This is the first time an LDCS will be available in Manila and it will provide vital back up to the airlines in cases of disruption of their systems.

Ed Monreal, General Manager, Manila International Airport Authority, said: “Our aim is to improve the airport experience for passengers at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. SITA’s next-generation technology allows the airlines to offer fast and efficient service in Terminals 1 and 2 and its baggage reconciliation system will also ensure bags are electronically tracked until aircraft loading, reducing passenger inconvenience of mishandled bags.

“We are starting with shared airport systems and as we progress in our transformation we plan to introduce self-service technology such as check-in kiosks, bag drop and possibly self-boarding. The airlines have committed to test these self-service systems in the coming months as we work together to alleviate the peak season passenger surge.”

MIAA’s strategic transformation of the two terminals is in line with international standards set by IATA in the Fast Travel program. This program addresses the future of travel and provides more choice and more control for ​passengers while lowering costs for the industry. It includes self-service options in six areas of a passenger’s airport journey to increase airport efficiency and deliver a better travel experience for the customer.

As part of its strategy to manage the balance between continuous passenger flow and stringent security measures, the MIAA is also evaluating systems which allow security agents to quickly and efficiently validate passengers’ paper and mobile bar-coded boarding passes. These will support the transformation and better facilitate the flow of passengers through airport security.

Ilya Gutlin, President, SITA APAC, said: “This is an exciting time for the air transport industry in the Philippines. Passenger traffic is growing and there is a clear commitment from the authorities to transform the passenger experience at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. SITA’s world-class technology will replace legacy systems at NAIA and underpin that transformation. It will provide the opportunity for a better passenger experience at every step of the journey while enabling efficient airport operations.”

Manila’s passengers are set to enjoy a world-class airport experience. They can expect faster check-in, better baggage management and a smoother journey through NAIA’s Terminals 1 and 2 as the new SITA technology is rolled out over the coming months.

  • AirportResource Manager allows the airport to optimize deployment of 300-plus employees in real-time

Dortmund | November 15, 2016– Dortmund Airport is set to introduce a new operations solution from global IT provider SITA that will allow the airport to optimize the deployment of its 300-plus workforce, ensuring that employees are always in the right place at the right time.

Using SITA’s AirportResource Manager, the airport operator will streamline its operation through intelligent and proactive decision-making, leveraging tools for planning, staff rostering, real-time scheduling and management as well as reporting. Overall this will deliver more accurate and flexible long-term and real-time workforce planning.

The technology also allows employees out in the field to access and update information using mobile devices as well as update in real time the statuses of their tasks. This will ultimately save costs and improve productivity across the airport operation.

Udo Mager, CEO of Dortmund Airport, said “Airports are extremely dynamic environments and having the ability to have the right person in the right place is crucial to a smooth, friction-free operation, benefiting both our employees and passengers. SITA’s technology provides us with a clear picture of which tasks are assigned to which staff member and therefore management can quickly make decisions and respond to developments in the airport as they occur.”

Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe said: “Technology is central to cost-effective and efficient airport operations while helping to improve the overall passenger experience. This is clearly illustrated by the deployment of AirportResource Manager at Dortmund Airport which will streamline the workforce planning function, allowing the airport to maximize their resources through smart, real-time planning, saving costs, improving efficiency and enhancing the airport journey for passengers.”

Dortmund Airport has long turned to SITA to provide its technology needs. Over the past decade SITA has supported the regional airport with several technology solutions, including Common Use Terminal Equipment and Common Use Passenger Processing Systems used across the airport.

  • Leo the robot to lend a helping hand to delegates departing from the city’s airport

Marrakech | November 14, 2016– Leo, the innovative baggage robot developed by air transport IT provider SITA, is in Marrakech for the COP22 climate talks taking place in the city from 7-18 November 2016. Leo, is being hosted by Royal Air Maroc, Morocco’s national carrier.

Leo will be on display in the main COP22 convention centre in Bab Ighli from 7-16 November before moving to Marrakech Manara Airport and Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport this week where the robot will assist delegates flying Royal Air Maroc to check-in their bags. SITA’s baggage robot will remain in Morocco until November 27 where the national airline will conduct numerous airport trials using Leo.

Abdelhamid Addou, Chairman & CEO of Royal Air Maroc, said: “The smart use of new technologies is undoubtedly the key to improving the passenger experience while helping airlines better manage a growing number of travelers in a more sustainable way. This requires out-of-the-box thinking and Leo is exactly the sort of innovative exploration that will help airlines and airports manage the new challenges we as an industry will face in the next decade.”

Leo is a fully autonomous, self-propelling baggage robot that has the capacity to check in, print bag tags and transport up to two suitcases with a maximum weight of 32kg. It also has an obstacle avoidance capability and can navigate in a high-traffic environment such as an airport.

Leo provides a glimpse into the future of baggage handling being explored by SITA Lab and is the first step to automating the baggage process from the moment passengers drop their bags to when they collect them. Using robotics and artificial intelligence, bags will be collected, checked in, transported and loaded onto the correct flight without ever having to enter the terminal building or be directly handled by anyone other than by the passengers themselves.

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India and Africa said: “Through the innovative work of the SITA Lab we are able to tackle some of the key challenges that face airlines and airports today. Leo demonstrates that technologies such as robotics can help the air transport industry manage the growth in traffic in a more sustainable way while offering passengers an unencumbered journey through the airport and onto the aircraft.”

Leo comes to the assistance of passengers as they approach the terminal building. Touching Leo’s Scan&Fly bag drop interface opens the baggage compartment doors to allow passengers to place their bags inside. After the passengers have scanned their boarding passes, the tags are printed and can be attached to the bag. With the bags loaded and tagged, the compartment door closes and Leo displays the boarding gate and departure time. Leo then takes the bags directly to the baggage handling area where they are sorted and connected to the correct flight.