Redmond,WA | October 15, 2013–

Sky Definition will debut its 50” 4k Ultra HD display at the NBAA Annual Meeting & Convention.

The monitor is designed for use with Business and Commercial Aviation Inflight Entertainment Networks. It includes the following features and capabilities:

  • 4K Ultra HD Video Playback
  • Built in Media Server
  • Share Media Content with other Network Devices
  • Stream Real Time Content

    Design Specifications include 4th generation Intel CoreTM i7 processor, 8GB Ram, and a 240GB Solid State Drive. Inputs consist of two GLAN, three USB, one HDMI and one RS-232 port.

    Audio Outputs include Digital S/PDIF and Analog Stereo. Other features include an Ambient Light Sensor, IR Sensor with Remote Control, LED Power/Signal Indicator and Programmable Discretes. Network Control of Display Settings is optional.

    Sky/Definition utilizes LED backlit Industrial Grade LCD panels which contribute significantly to the Low Power, Weight, and dimensions of the monitor.

    The 50” Production monitor, qualified to DO-160, will be available starting in early 2014. A 39” version will be available 2nd quarter 2014.

    Please visit the Sky/Definition Booth C11240 at NBAA 2013 in Las Vegas, October 22–24, 2013.


After APEX closed, IFExpress received a very good, and very short video about Panasonic show products that neatly explained their booth-featured product lines. There was an optional questionnaire at the end, however, we wanted to point out that the video itself presented a very concise summary of their show products and we now wonder if IFE companies with large, multiprogram displays should put out a booth summary before the show to help show-goers focus on their own personal preferences, given limited show viewing time… not too early though for competitive reasons, say a day or two before?

We wanted to tell our readers a bit about the ongoing aircraft interior developments at BAE Systems, a potential cabin powerhouse. The company brought some significant new products, some new and some next generation of the existing ones. We note the new Attendant Control Panel which is the cabin lighting controller (among other cabin control features) for B737NG aircraft with those wonderful collared LED lights (crew interface) which is just being introduced. The existing ACP is some 5 years old so watch for more on this new product as things develop from BAE. We want also to note their in-development in-seat power solution. Interestingly, the company has been working in-seat power from a different angle and we thought you might want a bit more information about it, so we talked with chief cabin honcho, Jared Schoemaker, Director of Cabin Systems (See Images LINK and note the 3D models of cabin hardware) and he told IFExpress, “The IntelliCabin power system is different because it does not perform power conversion at the seat. Existing systems convert 115VAC 400Hz power to 115VAC 60Hz at each seat group (3-4 seats). IntelliCabin converts the power on a larger scale, and 115VAC 60Hz is distributed to many seats.  Additionally, the smart outlet is able to sense how much power is being drawn by each outlet, and can be commanded on/off.  This allows us to “right size” the power conversion to the need, and manage the power distribution across the entire aircraft.  The result is a lower cost system with less impact (weight, size) to the seat.” We note that the system is not available today and if you want to stay tuned to developments, contact Shelby Cohen, Communications Manager.

Business Jet
Flight Display Systems will introduce this year’s new product launches at NBAA and we thought our readers might find this note we just got in somewhat interesting. “Be among the first to hear about our focus on aircraft cabin Wi-Fi technology. We will debut the next generation JetJukebox, which streams movies, music, and other content to handheld devices, with no internet connection required. Other products in our wireless suite include a Cabin Wi-Fi Router, a Dual USB Charger, and a 10X PED Synchronizer/Charger. Additionally, one final reveal involves streaming radio!” You might want to go to NBAA, it is in Las Vegas, Oct. 22 – 24 this month!

“Have you thought about Bluetooth in the Cockpit for EFB’s?” This was another note we received from Matt Cadwell, Business Development Manager at Blue Sky Networks. It went on, “Blue Sky Network recently announced a brand new iPad app that harnesses satellite networks for advanced 2-way messaging and forms (HawkEye Link, Press Release).

These completely customizable forms allow crew and dispatch to update flight plans, log maintenance issues, or fill out any custom form in real time during flight. It’s the industry’s first satellite-based dynamic forms application for the iPad, and it is available as an integrated avionics system, or in a portable device for smaller operations. In some cases, it can be used by passengers to stay connected using their familiar iOS or Android devices. Pass this along to your cockpit communications expert and they will thank you!”

That note also caught our attention so we asked him if his HawkEye Link App had any application to passengers in commercial cabins and he told IFExpress, “To answer your question in more detail,” he said, “the system allows for one connection via Bluetooth at a time, so it is definitely possible that PAX could use it, but that means the crew can’t. We do have customers interested in deploying it to small charter operations, where it is reserved for PAX. The messaging system is built 100% on email, so the aircraft has its own email address (usually [tailnumber] and they can email any other email address. Approved email addresses can email the aircraft directly (Approved list configurable by the client).” So there you have it – Iridium may be possible in the cabin!

AIX Americas
With all the talk lately of E.Coli, bacillus, staphylococcus, and salmonella tainted water, Zodiac has developed a clever UV water purification device that cleans potable cabin water via a small (LED-based, we think) UV source that delivers 12 GPM of the pure stuff. The 100 watt device fits in the plumbing line and is about the size of a loaf of bread – first one we have seen and you can find out more by contacting Dale Lauderback  at Zodiac in CA.

IFExpress had a chance to communicate with BOSE rep Hratch Astarjian last week and found out his new title is Manager, Global Aviation Sales and Service (Which includes their airline business, their pilot communication headset business and our military aviation business). He told IFExpress, “Things are going well, but I am incredibly busy… which is why Danielle Glassman is working on the airline business.” Now you know.

Late Breaking News – The last time we talked to the Baltra team at Sky Definition they told us to watch out for a surprise… here it is: Sky Definition will debut it’s 50″ Ultra HD display at this year’s NBAA. The monitor is designed for use in BizJets and on Commercial aircraft and features 4K Ultra Video Playback, Built-in Media Server, Media Share Capability and it will Stream Real-Time Content.

By the way, our IFEC BUZZ included a comment from a well known IFE expert and we thought the context was also of importance… It is a reference to people who are expert in, or very familiar with, one specialty (i.e., structures, stress analysis, electrical systems). Their only solution to any given problem is what they know. Hmmm?

The Boeing 787 program is facing some interesting times. Here are three relevant links.
The Battle for ANA has Far-Reaching Implications | AirInsight
Airbus chief eyes overtaking Boeing in production by 2018 – Yahoo News
A Company Restructuring Follows Boeing’s Heartbreak | Wall St. Cheat Sheet

This weekly issue of IFExpress will be the last for 2012. We hope you have had a good year and we are signing out of 2012 with our newest IFExpress Feature dubbed “TekTopic”. The idea here is to present an IFE solution or service with slightly more emphasis on the technology. Don’t worry, we won’t over-tech your synapses, but rather, try to explain the underlying technology that drives the newsy product. This is exactly what Bill Baltra did with today’s feature and if you have an IFE product or service that could stand some exposure, let us know… we like technology! – Patricia Wiseman | Editor

TekTopic: Sky Definition

Behind the door in our cover shot may be one of the most exciting developments in aircraft IFE video technology to come along in the last few years – and IFExpress has the story for you first.

To set the stage, we were contacted by a guy named Bill Baltra who is a savvy electrical engineer with a passion for watching high quality video. Bill told me, “Home entertainment systems have been changing. No longer are we limited to watching movies via DVD or Blu Ray players with their troublesome HDMI interfaces. We now have “smart” displays that are connected to our home network. The network connection allows us to stream on-demand movies or share video, music and photos with other devices connected to the network. At Sky Definition we have designed high definition network displays that deliver the same benefits of the network architecture to the business jet or VIP aircraft.”

The solution includes a small PC card with a network interface and powerful graphics processing that decodes the various HD video compression formats such as MPEG-4, H.264 and VC-1. “Our single board computer handles video content encoded at the highest bit rates ensuring the highest quality HD viewing experience”, says Bill. Media content can be stored locally in the network display or accessed from Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices, thus providing many hours of HD entertainment. These network displays also provide both analog and digital audio outputs enhancing the passenger experience by providing 5.1 surround sound audio.

Installation options are simplified as network displays interface directly with an aircraft’s network backbone. See: Basic Network Display System Configuration On the plus side you get nice long connections (150 meters) to the network router. There are no headaches of installing an external box with an HDMI output with cable length restrictions to a non-network display.

Rewind to the video technology backgrounder: there is little argument that as the pixel density of rich HD images appeared on the scene the difficulty of sending the images to displays that can exploit this video data has been limited by distance. In fact, sending HDMI video over standard HDMI cabling, especially on aircraft where noise can affect bits in a stream, is limited by the capability of the cable.

In real terms, 15 meters is for all practical purposes a limit of today’s HDMI transmitting sources without powered amplification. As newer, higher quality resolutions like Ultra HD with increased bit rates come along the airplane challenge becomes even tougher. The problem is not solved by cable alone, in fact, it gets even worse.

It is much like a highway that hits its’ congestion limit. For any given number of lanes, one can only make the cars so small. But if the goal is to carry passengers (bits of information) to a destination, why not pack the passengers in buses (compressed data) and arrive at the destination at the same time? That is just what Sky Definition saw as the company began researching the problem a few years back. Realizing that down a few data levels a PC card could easily handle decompressing the packets of information and protocols required for real time HD video playback. Adding the PC card means aircraft video monitors that eventually adapt this type system will cost more, but, and this is important, they will be able to do a lot more.

And speaking of more, in the Sky Definition demonstration, we saw playback of HD content (with 5.1 surround sound) via a wireless connection between a network display and remote media server that we could not believe! Bill controlled the HD playback from an app on his iPhone.

No doubt as the demand for quality outstrips cost applications like large, expensive business jets like the B787 and A380 will demand the best by their owners and this is where Sky Definition’s solution will find its first home. Readers should also note that Bill has held back a lot of tech tricks and experience-based knowledge but IFExpress saw the system in action on 24″ and 46″ monitors and we were knocked out. The network-based video display system is one of the best and most exciting developments in aircraft audio visual entertainment we have seen and if you are in the IFE business, you had better check this one out by contacting Bill and tell him IFExpress sent you.

Contact Bill Baltra at: 425 760 5985 or