KID-Systeme’s SKYfi Club – a wireless streaming onboard platform for passenger and corporate aircraft – has been selected by Saudia as linefit on it’s fleet of 20 A330 and 30 A320. Saudia will present this premium content streaming service as unique passenger experience under their brand SAUDIA SKYfi . SKYfi Club streams content to passengers’ personal electronic devices, allowing them to access the available entertainment options, such as movies, e-books and magazines. The technology is based on the trusted ALNA (Airline Network Architecture) connectivity platform, which flies on over 650 aircraft already. Note: We had a few questions about the system and asked Product Manager Johannes Ferstl and Peter SchetschineKID-Systeme General Manager, but more on that in a minute.
The mature system provides a scalable and modular architecture adaptable to customer needs. It enables a wide range of additional services such as GSM telephony, internet access and data services. Further, SKYfi can be complemented by SKYpower, KID-Systeme’s in-seat power and cabin power management system. Of course, IFExpress got curious and asked the following:
1. Can you tell our readers a bit more about your featured ALNA (airline network architecture).
ANSWER: The ALNA system is able to provide GSM/GPRS and WLAN (IEEE 802.11) connectivity services within the aircraft cabin during cruise flight phase. The onboard telephony and WLAN services are enabled above an altitude of 3000m (10.000ft.) and disabled below an altitude of 3000m. During taxi, take-off and landing and below 3000m altitude all radio transmissions are switched off. During cruise flight the service can be de-activated manually at any time. Service activation and de-activation is indicated by a chime, the PAX signs (No-Mobile-Signs) and by the cabin crew (via passenger announcement). The ALNA system consists of several hardware devices e.g. the Head End Server Unit (HESU) and software applications e.g. the system monitoring software.
2. Can you tell us which airlines fly the SKYfi Club today?
ANSWER: As of today one airline flies SKYfi Club: Saudi Arabian Airlines. More than six hundred shipsets of SKYfi phone and web were deployed previously.
3. Your view, we assume, is that connectivity and flying are very important?
ANSWER: “Connectivity is more than staying in contact. It’s part of our lifestyle. SKYfi Club extends this lifestyle by being entertained.” Noted Johannes Ferstl, Product Manager Connectivity. Peter Schetschine, General Manager KID-System also said: “The industry demands more and more for flexibility and adaptable technical solutions. Based on a scalable and modular architecture SKYfi paves this way into a well entertained and connected world on board. Furthermore our streaming solution supports the BYOD trend which will continue to be strong and present in future.”
4. We assume the line-fit is in progress?
ANSWER: The first Saudia A330 Regional was our first line-fit installation. Further line-fit installations are in progress and deliveries will happen soon.
5. Lastly, could you provide a block diagram of the hardware?
ANSWER: See above.
Saudi noted: “We are very happy to continue working with KID-Systeme who has always been a reliable partner and supplier for our integrated cabin power systems, says Eng. Saleh Al-Jasser, Director General of Saudia. “Offering wireless content streaming is the next step paving the way to an improved inflight experience and satisfy passenger’s needs. Therefore we are very excited to cooperate with KID-Systeme to enlarge our inflight entertainment selection. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the connected passenger on board.”
Actually, the first aircraft delivery to Saudi Arabian Airlines was in mid-August 2016. All aircraft will be line-fit equipped with SKYfi lounge solution, starting with the aircraft type A330.
As you might know, Lufthansa Systems equipped nearly the whole Eurowings A 320 fleet with BoardConnect Portable at the beginning of August and their Corporate Communications Manager told IFExpress: “This award winning IFE solution really makes a difference, since the implementation on more than 70 aircraft only took one weekend and was a huge success. Since then Eurowings passengers can enjoy Entertainment with music and movies on short- and medium haul flights. At our booth at the Aviation Festival in London (8 – 9 September, New routes, new revenues, new business models | Aviation Festival 2016) we will show how BoardConnect Portable and our other BoardConnect products work. And we are happy to answer your questions regarding new IFE trends and the upcoming connectivity launches within and outside the Lufthansa Group. Our experts will be at the Aviation Festival both days and you can find us at booth #38.”
Gogo announced that it has promoted John Wade to the role of executive vice president and Chief Operating Officer of Gogo. Wade has more than 30 years of experience in the aviation industry including numerous leadership positions in the avionics and in-flight communications industry. For the past eight years, he has served as the general manager of Gogo’s business aviation division where he built the division into a market leader. Before joining Gogo, John served as the CTO at OnAir and also worked at Tenzing and GEC Marconi on their IFE and IFC products. Wade will now be responsible for Gogo’s operations, quality control, commercial airline account management and commercial sales. He will still maintain oversight over Gogo’s business aviation division, but Gogo veteran Sergio Aguirre is being promoted to serve as senior vice president and general manager of Gogo’s business aviation division. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress cannot go on without noting that John Wade is one of the ‘Best In IFE’, as we feel he is both a knowledgeable and gracious executive in his dealings with members of the press. John always takes the time to address our questions, no matter how technical or topical they may be. All the while presenting an air of ‘Nothing is impossible.’)
In a move that will provide Rockwell Collins’ customers and prospects with more aviation connectivity options, the company announced that it has been licensed to sell satellite services in Brazil. The global license, authorized by Anatel, gives Rockwell Collins the ability to sign distribution and service agreements with any satellite entities and customers operating in Brazil.
If your thing is next generation Avionics, you might want to visit AVIONICS for NextGen – 2016, in Washington DC, Sept 28 – 29, 2016: Check out the agenda.
- From the Color Correction Department comes a story that is probably better called Color Confusion. The issue here is cabin lighting and reading on LED devices. We stumbled on it after we read this online story; “Airlines Add Mood Lighting to Chill Out Passengers”. First you need to read this article on the color used in an a cabin lighting schemes designed to provide a restful inflight experience… possibly even sleep. Here is what stood out to us in the piece: “Like Virgin Atlantic, American uses amber during the dinner service, “sort of like candlelight in a restaurant,” said the managing director of onboard products. For sleep periods, it uses a deep blue, which designers chose after considering — and rejecting — a reddish glow. “Red is sometimes associated with fire,” continued the director of onboard products — “never a good thing on an airplane.” It makes sense, but we wondered if the nature of blue light effects might be more science based, because we had done a cabin lighting study a few years back and we remembered blue light differently? Next we did a bit of research and found an interesting light color/sleep study in of all places, Instructables. You can read it here. It’s a very analytical color-based evaluation made by an individual, all based on the test data he ran over one year. The conclusion? The color blue is the wrong color if you want to allow the generation of natural melatonin to help sleep come on. Further, Apple product makers and Android device products offer an app that limits the blue light. In devices like iPhones and iPads with iOS 9.3 (and on) offer a feature called “Night Shift” which is built in to the operating system. Just go to Settings>Display & Brightness> and turn on Night Shift. Perhaps, more study is needed to match passengers, rest, and time of day but we will be using it on our devices. You can read more about the issue here too – Amazon rolls out ‘blue shade’ tool for Fire tablets to allow people to read at night | Daily Mail Online
- Not long ago we reported that Singapore had not reported any Zika virus but we discovered we were a couple weeks behind the actual data, as it has now been discovered there. Take precautions – Zika virus: Singapore confirms 41 locally transmitted cases – BBC News
- And speaking of Singapore: Going to Singapore and have T-Mobile? You might find this interesting: “Visitors simply need to download a configuration file and perform a one-time setup for auto-connection to the participating cities’ hotspots,” IDA said in a release of the WBA’s City Wi-Fi Roaming Project. IFExpress will have more on Singapore later.
- Traveling to the US? You might have to cough up your online presence! – Traveling to US? Agencies want to Spy on your Social Media activities right from Airport
- And finally, Flyers Rights (NonProfit Airline Consumer Org.) has an interesting Report Card for US Congress and it’s not good!
- Thirty Old Aviation Sheet Music Covers:
30 Hundred-Year-Old Sheet Music Covers Celebrating the Joy and Thrill of Flight
- Amazon Video now lets you download video’s and TV directly to Android SD cards – for your next flight, of course! Amazon Video now lets you download movies and TV straight to Android SD cards | The Verge
Firstly, we want to congratulate the folks at SmartTray (Astronics) for being a Crystal Cabin Award Finalist! Astronics cleverly saw the future of the product and set up an agreement “…to exclusively market, sell, and manufacture SmartTray’s new passenger device-friendly aircraft tray table solutions that facilitate hands-free use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) including smartphones.”
The SmartTray website tells the whole product story… almost. The device is pretty much as advertises: The X1 features a groove/clip in the rear of the tray that is a device stand (iPad etc.) in the rear of the tray table leaving room to work, eat, drink… you got the picture. Version X2 clips the tablet to the tray in the tray upright position and X4 is for First Class. Both Nick Pajic Sr. and Jr. of SmartTray were on hand at the Astronics booth and added a classy presentation capability for all their products.
However, it is the X3 that caught our attention! Here is text from the X3 page:
“SmartTray X3, in development, will transform decades old food tray designs into modern, cutting edge technology tablet device IFE at a fraction of the traditional seat embedded IFE systems costs. SmartTray X3 is economy class solutions for an airline with IFE capability wanting a cost-effective narrow body solution. Works with existing IFE servers. Content preloaded or streamed.”
This says to us, Astronics will be in the seatback, mechanical docking station business for airline owned IFE soon. The next question to ask is if FAA certification of installed tablets (or semi-installed, if you like) on the horizon? While we saw no tablet power solution on the SmartTray, and the company did not discuss this solution, can that be next? After all, Astronics major’s in aircraft passenger seat power. We understand there is a major airline installation deal in the works for this summer that will include trays installed inline and retrofit. You can read more about the Astronics deal with SmartTray here. Here is the real deal: If this all comes about with powered airline tablets, the next question to ask: Is this the future of IFE? (Editor’s Note: If you have a clever and safe solution to running power to the installed device interface plug over the moving tray arms and flopping trays, we bet Astronics might like to hear about it.)
We should also mention the newest member of the EMPOWER family, the Model 1191-4X that provides 110 VAC and 5 Volt USB (2.1A) for three seats. Note the lighted USB power jack above the 110 AC receptacle. The 1191-4X In-Seat Power Supply unit is a “smaller profile” than the USB-only (Model 1325-1 on the left) In-Seat Power Supply.
You remember Skypower, the inseat power source and perhaps, SKYfi an on-board connectivity platform for passenger and corporate aircraft to provide a wide range of on-board communication options, media applications and services. SKYfi can be installed on virtually every aircraft type and architecture. The lean system has certified hardware and uses different communication interfaces, making it very flexible… and attractive. We should also note, ‘SKYfi club’ is installed on Cebu Pacific Air, the largest airline n the Philippines.
At AIX, KID-Systeme also had their usual in-cabin connectivity solutions but what got our attention was their inseat display solutions shown. KID has been working with Lufthansa Tecknik for a Qantas installation using an iPad-based IFE solution.
While in the KID booth we were quite impressed with the in-seat concepts that the team has been working on and thought you might like to check them out if you did not get into to their exhibit at AIX. Their universal tablet holder solutions were really quite interesting and we note that they was an embedded IFE, noting that it is a concept study and a final product would not be a KID brand. In other words, KID would team with another vendor for the solution.
First, check out the tablet holder mechanism that resides behind the fold down tray.
Now, check out the tray tablet holder. Note that you can see the tablet holder mentioned in the previous shot. The spring loaded black clip is designed to provide a positive downward force holding the tablet in place.
This image is the protected insert device power source. Note: the area under the socket could contain available power information on a tag.
Here is an image of their simplest add-on device holder, probably for a small tablet or phone.
The seatback installation is an adjustable seatback display design and this image shows use of a clear sliding screen designed to hold a tablet, when the LCD display is recessed back in the seatback permitting the support of a personal device and meeting FAA HIC requirements.
We also wanted to mention that the folks from BAE Systems announced their launch customer at AIX for their Intellicabin IFE solution with India’s Vistara Airlines. With 3 aircraft now installed (6 Biz seats, 36 Economy Plus, and 96 economy), they have a total of 20 A320 installations ordered. The system uses one server, 3 Kontron WAP’s and we are told that some 50 passengers are covered per server. Here is an image of the system on display at AIX.
PDT + Telefonix did a great job of trend prediction and observation at AIX. Be sure to check out their new ad in this issue of IFExpress to see the report!
Here is a note we just got in from the folks at Zodiac Inflight Innovations and you might want to check the presentation: “We are very excited to be a part of the Global Connected Aircraft Summit again this year! Our VP of Business Development Connectivity, Dr. Axel Jahn is speaking on Tuesday, June 9, 2015 at 2:20pm. He will be speaking on the topic of Cyber-Security and How a Connected Aircraft can Manage this threat. Click Here to view the entire agenda!”
You might want to read this bit of analysis about the US Congress and flying…
Gogo secured an FAA STC to install new 2Ku antenna on its 737-500 flying lab for testing; it expects the second STC by end 2015 to launch commercial service.
Sadly, we note the passing of Arthur Jamieson, who is remembered from his early days at British Caledonian to the founding of the InFlight Entertainment Co. Services at St Mary’s Church, Church Street, Hartfield, East Sussex, TN7 4AG, on Friday 12th June, at 11.00 a.m. Followed by a wake, to be held at: The Gallipot Inn Upper Hartfield.
At the upcoming Aircraft Interiors Show in Hamburg, one of the must visit booths is KID-Systeme (Hall B6, booth # 6C40) – their SKYfi and SKYpower displays are not to be missed. What piqued our interested was the melding of information, media and entertainment – “mediatainment”.
Mediatainment is a made up word but in the case of KID-Systeme, it has the combined utility of providing airlines with pre-loaded content, flight information, connectivity and telephony solutions (independent and/or combined). SKYfi is an onboard connectivity platform for commercial and corporate aircraft that delivers a plethora of onboard communication options, entertainment applications and passenger and airline services; the SKYfi Lounge.
SKYfi delivers passenger’s connectivity needs – GSM telephony and data, Wi-Fi with streamed content on any device they choose to bring onboard… all driven by an airline branded app.
SKYfi is a modular on board system which can be easily customized to the airline specific operational requirements and requested functionality
The story here is ancillary revenue and service, with the airline customization at the heart of the solution. By making the system modular, the airlines can choose features based on their service offerings, and since almost any type of aircraft can be retrofit, fleet commonality is a non-starter. Today’s traveler wants seamless connectivity to network with their phones, tablets and laptops – all can be accommodated by the system. Social networks, entertainment, connectivity, and most important information, are all within reach via SKYfi. “We firmly believe the BYOD [bring your own device] trend is unstoppable and passengers expect the same access to the internet, telephony and media in flight as they have on the ground. Airlines need to ensure their passengers can receive streaming media, connect wirelessly with social media, watch movies or play games, and SKYfi provides a seamless transition,” said Peter Schetschine, Vice President Customer Affairs.
Now, a bit about the system: It is comprised of the following components: a) one server can cover all services for Wi-Fi connectivity, b) each WAP can serve roughly 50 PEDs, c) connectivity to the ground is provided by Swift Broad Band and (future) Ka-Band technology.
SKYfi can be easily integrated with the airline preferred billing system provider without impacting existing airline infrastructure.
The hardware will be completely supplied by KID-Systeme, using commercial off the shelve equipment which will be upgraded to satisfy the strong aviation requirements.
As we noted earlier, the SKYfi Lounge can provide the following telephony, Wireless Streaming (AVOD), and based on seats/users, airlines just add more WAPS. We asked about a moving map application and KID answered straight away with a solution. This will be available soon but we cannot say more yet. KID is now offering a full regime of mediatainment services for PEDs. KID will provide comprehensive Digital Right Management which has been approved by the Hollywood studios for streaming of their licensed content.
The app-based entertainment includes movies, music (pax can establish their own play lists), newspapers and magazines, and passenger survey opportunities. The system also allows passenger to listen to music and read a newspaper simultaneously – nice touch. KID is ready for an STC and boxes are certified and flying today. We were also told that both line-fit and retrofit applications are the target market for this product. You might want to check out the SKYfi Brochure.
Full Connectivity System
SKYfi is relying on hardware that has been developed for the KID connectivity system. 500 Shipsets have been delivered so far with an order book exceeding 700. The first system was rolled out in 2007 breaking the wall for GSM telephony on board of commercial airplanes and the system features Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir.
Full Power with SKYpower
Lastly, we should mention one of the other reasons to visit the KID-Systeme booth is the SKYpower system. SKYpower offers the flexibility to work with the latest cabin and consumer technologies and can be accessed via USB and 110 volts AC. The patented, state-of-the-art safety system allows fast and simultaneous recharging of multiple devices. The system’s scalable, modular architecture and functionality mean it is fully adaptable to customer requirements. The system is designed and manufactured by KID-Systeme, which constantly examines and anticipates new market trends and developments to ensure a long and dependable service life for its products.
Be sure to visit the website for more information.
(Editor’s Note: Some of the components of the Airbus ALNA system are comprised of SKYfi sub systems, which we saw last year at APEX.)