In a continuation of their collaborative efforts on the economy class JAZZ Seat; four industry expert companies have launched a new standard in business class seating that provides the passenger with a harmonized seating environment with increased comfort and control. Said Neil James, Executive Director of Corporate Sales and Product Management at Panasonic BE Aerospace, Formation, Panasonic, and Teague got together and holistically thought out how a business class seat and IFEC should work together. Our goal was to design and build the next generation passenger seat and a symbiotic IFEC solution for aircraft seating. The objective was to work with our partners to develop a superior business class seat that would a) integrate the IFEC into the seat structure b) enhance the customer experience in an environment that is calm, comfortable, captivating and immersive. I truly believe we have achieved these objectives with Waterfront.”

Waterfront was debuted to the public at CES Las Vegas 2016 and reflects approximately 18 months of product development and refinement. Like the JAZZ Seat, Waterfront was designed from a clean slate, eliminating many of the disadvantages of building on legacy hardware and electronics. BE Aerospace and Panasonic Avionics are targeting delivery of this innovative seat offering in 2019. And in case you were wondering if there is a significant market for a business seat growth over the next 8 years check out this presentation from Tronos Aviation Consulting Inc.  We should also note that the study clearly defines a 2014 seat market size of some 3.4 million seats in the airline world, 7% of which were premium seats, the market that the new Waterfront product will live in. Obviously this market size will grow in the coming years as Waterfront becomes available. (Also, see the Editor’s Note below for a bit more on seat market value.)

“Waterfront is an evolution in seat design,” said Alex Pozzi, Vice President, Advanced Design Group, of BE Aerospace. “We really focused on personalizing the passenger environment. By using reinforced thermo-plastics and stronger aluminum alloys, BE Aerospace was able to offer a trimmer, more efficient seat while enhancing the passengers comfort.” For those who travel in business class, this translates to: 1) temperature control and air flow in the seat back, upper neck and seat bottom 2) additional knee room when the traveler is sleeping on their side or getting up from the sleeper bed 3) ergonomic storage for the tray table and the passenger’s laptop, with a ‘push’ release 4) and overall, a seat frame that is lighter weight. These are just a few of the enhanced features but we will delve into these enhancements later on.

Before we describe the Waterfront Seat and IFEC solution specifics, we should address some of the challenges facing the business class experience today. A) airlines are continuously trying to find ways to differentiate themselves in an effort to remain competitive B) passengers are increasingly desirous of personalizing their private space C) and the ever increasing technological advances available on the ground. In other words, it is a changing world. Changing because of airline desires for customer product perfection, changing because of passenger wants and needs, and finally, changing because the world of technology is changing both the airplane technology and passenger carry-on technology as well. Waterfront addresses these factors by leveraging the digital experience of the IFE system and the advanced functionality of the seat to create a seamless responsive environment from the perspective of the passenger.

In order to develop the evolutionary design, the team began extensive research, consulting with strategic customers to better understand passenger behavior. Prototypes of the industrial and interactive design were paramount to the development of a seamless end product. “An anthropomorphic data study previously conducted on BE Aerospace’s JAZZ Seat helped in (determining) the comfort and shape of the back and bottom cushion of the seat,” said Alex Pozzi. Full-scale, functional models were created for both validation and testing purposes, which resulted in a design solution that met the program’s objective and requirements. Amazingly, the resultant product achieved an over 12% weight savings and a 15% reduction in part count over present day business class seats.

Waterfront Features IFEC & SEAT function:

  • 24-inch 4K touchscreen monitor with edge-to-edge glass structure
  • Virtual Local Storage per seat group
  • Streaming Content from Head-End
  • Gigabit Ethernet backbone
  • Wi-Fi Connectivity
  • Passenger controls via:
    • PED (via an airline companion app)
      • Light ID
      • Bluetooth
      • Wi-Fi
    • Mini PCU
    • Tablet pop-up
  • Tailored GUI interface
  • Inductive Charging (Qi)
  • USB Power Ports
  • PED connectivity supported by: Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC
  • An IFE User Interface coupled to hundreds of individually controlled LEDS with:
    • Full Spectrum LED lighting
    • Multiple modes that coordinate seat position, light intensity and color.
      • Passengers can tailor the lighting, temperature and the rest of their environment depending on what they are doing. For example they can create a “theme” environment for watching a movie, eating dinner, or sleeping… just to name a few!
  • An innovative seat mechanism with individual head, leg, and back rest adjustments.
  • Full range of motion – upright to a flat 79-inch bed
  • 16.7 inches in the foot-well
  • Individual articulation of the head, back, and leg rests
    • Fixed presets
    • Capacitive touch controls
    • Customizable presets via the IFE interface.
  • Pop up storage compartment
  • Full coverage sliding door
  • Herringbone design allows for high-density seating configuration
  • A large, single piece tray table
  • A large fixed side table
  • Cable pass-through areas for electronic devices
  • Individual temperature control
    • Thermoelectric modules in the shell, foot-well, and seating surfaces allow for controllable ambient and direct heating and cooling.
  • An independently heated or cooled side storage compartment
  • Note: Panasonic will also be using Virtual Local Storage (VLS) storage in this seat and while SD card memory is common storage, VLS has 5 – 6 times the storage capacity, and further, they feel that they will be able to double that capability in the next generation system.

Enhanced service will be the end result through the ergonomically placed ‘touch points’ and passenger interactions zones. Communication between the passenger and the flight crew will also benefit via the slim 7-inch touch wireless controller/handset, which will display custom messages and iconography on the seat shell OLED display. The overall heating/cooling, both convective and conductive, can reduce overall cabin heating/cooling demands while providing more immediate benefit to the traveler.

From the IFEC perspective, the system creates what Panasonic calls “a passenger-centric solution.” Waterfront features improved reliability since it boasts a balance of the following: a) local data storage for content per seat, b) Virtual Local Storage per seat group to share local content, as well as, c) streaming content from the head-end server from a Gigabit Ethernet server. In fact, a version of this service offering is available today from Panasonic and is flying on some of Air New Zealand and British Airways wide-body aircraft. Furthermore, we asked about the 24-inch 4K screens and the availability of content and were informed that even if the content is not available in 4K format the GUI and Interactive experience is “very rich”, as is HD 1080p content viewed on a 4K screen. Panasonic is using Bluetooth 4.0 built into the display for ‘lite streaming’ requirements, as well as, Light ID for super fast, local low data rate transmission to PEDS. Provisions for NFC payments have also been implemented. All these features are to provide the passenger with an enhanced, tailored flight experience.

Like their collaboration on the JAZZ seat, each company owns their own IP and can work with other vendors as airlines demand. In fact, they are looking at working on future projects with traditional vendors, as well as, new entrants but together the team has developed a product that ostensibly is more than their individual additions – the whole idea behind a team.

As an aside, in 2014 at the Passenger Experience Conference prior to AIX Devin Liddell of Teague gave a presentation on the power of partnerships and how they were the most powerful currency at our industry’s fingertips. In other words, the team-made product is bigger than the sum of its parts. At the time he stated in his presentation that the capacity to partner has a big impact on influencing the customer and that we, as an industry, need to think about co-making, not just co-marketing. In our opinion that is exactly what Panasonic, B/E and the rest of the team have done with both JAZZ and Waterfront.

All this collaborative teamwork and disruptive design technology will virtually and physically improve the inflight experience for both the traveler and the airline. When we asked Mr. James about Waterfront and the benefits to the passenger and the airline he noted, “Panasonic likes to be dynamic and react to the customers’ needs and we use our capabilities to solve a customers’ problems. Waterfront is a holistic solution – not just IFEC in isolation.”

The new Waterfront seat will be at AIX in Hamburg as the early design has been entered in the Aircraft Interiors Crystal Cabin Awards – we expect they will do well.

(Editor’s Note: We wrestled with market size and price a little bit for the benefit of our readers and while no one discussed market size or price in this effort, IFExpress contacted a couple experts and here is what they told us: “The aircraft seat market is probably bigger than you might think. While the market itself is probably half new and half retrofit, it is growing. The seat price (no IFEC) is all over the map but premium sets are around 5 times what the price is per a single coach seat. The lie flat seats are priced about twice that.” As an aside, one outside industry source estimated that lie-flat seats for business/first with IFE can easily reach the $100K mark per seat when development, testing, OEM requirements, EMI testing and certification expenses are taken into account. Lastly, when you run the numbers with the assumptions we made here, the value of the total premium seat market is roughly the same dollar size of the total coach seat market! Thus, it is a market worth pursuing!)


Gogo announced today that it will upgrade its satellite modem for use with its next generation 2Ku and Ku satellite technologies.  The new modem will begin flight testing on Gogo’s Boeing 737 test lab – the Jimmy Ray – in the coming months, with commercial delivery expected to begin in 2017. The proprietary features of the new modem will significantly increase throughput from the satellite to end users on the aircraft.  The modem will be capable of delivering 400 Mbps to an aircraft, which will be more than enough to support the anticipated capacity of next generation high-throughput satellites.  The modem will also have the capability to simultaneously support IP streaming and IPTV.  “Just like your home or office Wi-Fi set-up, you can make improvements to the amount of bandwidth delivered, but if the modem can’t support that bandwidth, you can create a choke point in the network,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s chief technology officer.  “Gogo’s next generation modem is being built with a lot of room to spare so it will be ready to handle data delivered from next generation high throughput satellites and beyond.” Gogo has partnered with Gilat Satellite Networks for the development of the new modem.  Gogo and Gilat together are developing advanced mobility management features that will be incorporated into the new modem.  Gogo has been lab testing the new modem, which has already delivered 200 Mbps using Gogo’s 2Ku antenna. Gogo has already begun the licensing approval process for the new modem through the FCC and the FAA.


  1. The world of short haul twin-aisle aircraft seems to still be growing even tho the “new” single aisle planes (B737NG & A320neo) are coming on strong. IFEC vendors have to think about what developments are next to come along and how to modify or change IFE for a new plane seat concept- especially involving multiple classes. Here is a report from the CIT folks who say; “This is not a zero-sum game. Instead of siphoning travelers from established carriers, new airline business models will open international travel for a new class of passengers. A diversity of airlines experimenting with an array of business models will expand the operator base, increasing demand for both new- technology and current generation aircraft. Sophisticated owners will be well positioned to generate returns from a growing market for twin-aisle aircraft. “ Interesting report
  2. Last time we told you Bob Bogash is now going to try to get that rebuilt 50-year-old B727 off the ground on March 1, 2016… now delayed till March 2. We note that his website has over 4 million hits on the site and story!
  3. If you cannot get enough “airplane stuff” into your life, try the Boeing Store.

Background: Now after almost two years and the brainpower of four unique and capable design/development/manufacturing organizations (BE Aerospace, Formation Design Group, Panasonic and, of course, Teague), the much anticipated JAZZ seat is about to hit the street… or should we say, “the rails”. If you look up the definition of the word “jazz,” you will find words like, “radically different” which sets up our sense of what the recent interview with Neil James, Executive Director of Corporate Sales and Product Management, Panasonic… was about.

“Well, we started with a clean sheet of paper,” began Neil, and then he went on to tell IFExpress how the Jazz seat/IFE design team set about some 18 months ago, with one goal – to design and build the next generation passenger seat and symbiotic IFEC solution for aircraft seating. During our interview, Neil proudly implied that they had achieved their goal… and then some. Perhaps better said, the goal is as follows: The corporate team worked with our partners to develop a superior, long-haul, economy class seat that would a) integrate the IFE into the seat structure, b) enhance the customer experience in an immersive and comfortable experience, c) reduce total weight, and d) reduce complexity. When IFExpress asked Mr. James why the design team elected to target economy class as their first initiative he said, “The biggest opportunity out there is in economy class. It is where the most people travel today. And we want to bring a touch of the premium experience to those traveling in economy.” He went on to say, “Panasonic has been pretty successful in the IFE industry today and we want to make sure the message is out there that we are not standing still. We are proactive. Panasonic is doing and funding these things without a current customer. We are investing in the industry and its future.

Before we describe the JAZZ seat/IFEC solution in specifics, we should address some of the issues that exist with the passenger experience on a jet plane today. Lets just say that in coach class, it could be better. Perhaps the biggest issue today is that there is not much room – legroom, knee room, and psychological room between you and your seat, and between you and the seat in front of you. Our interviewer referred to “the lack of vertical space.” While the new design provides more than just the illusion generated by the new black color, the mechanical features deliver more to the passenger in function and perception.

From the airline perspective, a new seat should be lighter, slimmer for more of the dedicated available space to be for flying guests. They should be less complex and more reliable… and if they do suffer a failure, they should be easy and straightforward to fix… after all, they are the part of the airline that is in contact with passengers longer that any other part of the service… and your trip.

Additionally, the entertainment screen could always be bigger and easier to see, there could be more adjustable lighting, there could be more and easier power availability, there could better storage for passengers devices. Issues like spillage and sliding (think: turbulence) and table size and storage are always at issue. Connectivity could always be better, and if your device, no matter who made it, could be charged without a special jack, that would help with the plug wiring nightmare. Tray tables could be more passenger-friendly and they could be better designed to secure cups with fluids. In other words, the airplane seat space needs be “adjustable” to fit your needs and the seats could always be better designed to fit “you”.

Basically, the team shrunk the seat while fitting it in the same dimensional footprint, and at the same time improved almost every feature and function of an aircraft seat… while keeping, or improving, seat safety and egress. We note that the weight savings are due to the integration and work between BE and Panasonic. The monitor and seat were designed with the attachment points built in. This eliminates additional brackets and weight from the system. In addition this modular design allows for fast removal of the monitor with a single screw. Here is a real-world definition of a “win-win”. While there is not enough room in an article like this to outline and describe each new feature of this industry changing development, here, in outline form, is a rundown of the feature list. Thus, you can see the advantages of this design above the competition, and at the same time, obviously note the improvements and benefits. Here is a quick look:


  • Two new internal seatback designs were developed for this project – called Sandbox and Beachfront. These offerings differ in mechanical features that give preference to the tray and/or storage. Both designs are mandrel free. An anthropomorphic study set the stage for a “new” back shape design. Another way to look at all this development is that the seat occupies less volume – virtually the same width and height, it is just “thinner”.
  • Redesigned cushion with new compression structure technology
  • An adjustable seat tray and cup holder – folding option
  • Peripheral station/storage in seatback – patented “Beachfront” option
  • Increased “knee room” mechanical design
  • There are two streamlined seatboxes: a SPM in the seat pan and a SIB on the leg.
  • An innovative seat cover
  • Lighter weight means less fuel burn – enough said!


  • New personal LED mood lighting control at the seat
  • A full screen touch remote display
  • New, 13.3, 1080p, LED display/touchscreen – integrated into an edge-to-edge glass seatback display monitor
  • Built-in attendant call, AC power, USB ports, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, and wireless device charging


  • The design included the concept of “more vertical space”
  • A bigger video screen will better replicate the home experience
  • Simplified installation maintenance and upgrades will change the airline and passenger view of long haul seating
  • More feature control, storage, space will help reduce the high level of aircraft travel angst that exists today
  • There is psychological value in a clean new look

All this teamwork and disruptive design technology will virtually (and physically) improve the flight experience – what’s not to like about JAZZ?

Look at it this way, if you have the same number of aircraft seats in a row, each passenger now has more room than with older seats – it looks better, it feels better, and it performs better. Another way to look at it, if the seat legs are installed in the same place, the seat has “shrunk” in actual dimensions giving you more room – at the same time the IFE has improved, storage and user interface has improved, thus improving your physical interface to the plane.

One caution, a thinner seat does not always mean a more comfortable seat. The Panasonic folks tell us that the seat comfort is a result of extensive studies on the seat shape that have been optimized for comfort on the seatback as well as the seat pan, while the cushion material plays a part too. We can’t wait to try it out.

When the IFExpress team asked Panasonic about the nature of the relationship between the seat vendor and the IFE vendor, we were told that the relationship is not agnostic. Each company owns their own IP and can work with other vendors as airlines demand. In fact, they are looking at working on future projects with traditional vendors, as well as, new entrants. Additionally, IFExpress anticipates this design concept to spread to the premium classes in the near future.

As an aside, last year at the Passenger Experience Conference prior to AIX 2014 Devin Liddell of Teague gave a presentation on the power of partnerships and how they were the most powerful currency at our industry’s fingertips. In other words, the team-made product is bigger than the sum of its parts. At the time he stated in his presentation that the capacity to partner has a big impact on influencing the customer and that we, as an industry, need to think about co-making, not just co-marketing. In our opinion that is exactly what Panasonic and the rest of the team have done with JAZZ.

The new JAZZ seat will be at AIX in Hamburg as the early design has been entered in the Aircraft Interiors Crystal Cabin Awards – we expect they will do well. (Editor’s Note: While JAZZ was quietly debuted at AIX 2014 then rolled out at CES 2015, the first delivery seat group may very well be a variant of the unit at AIX 2015.)

Every once in a while we all go to a meeting, see a presentation, or visit an industry show that is a significant event in our industry’s persona… this year it has to be Aircraft Interiors in Hamburg, Germany. Obviously a lot of our readers could not attend and we are aware of that fact. We planned to talk to as many folks as we could to provide some of the experience but the job is becoming so bigger than the IFExpress team… much bigger. From a numbers perspective, there were over 135 vendors (out of 500+) who featured inflight entertainment and/or connectivity. With the cabin interiors market growing at almost 9% per year, it’s no wonder that the IFEC portion of the show saw some 13% increase in space. We fully expect the final total number of show visitors to reach 10,000+ this year as a new best.

One of the first things that struck us was the preponderance of iPads. They were in the products, they were in the hands of the product demonstrators, and they were in the hands of visitors. They were everywhere. Yes, there were tablets too, and phones… but the world of mobile connectivity is here, but of course, you knew that. But it was obvious this year that the vendors and the airlines now know it as well. About the only thing we did not see with an iPad was a mechanical drop down frame for an iPad retractable IFE system. Wait till next year!

And speaking of trends, wireless connectivity is what the inside of the cabin is all about. Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, data communication and cell frequencies will flood the cabin with information in forthcoming cabin solutions. This means that there is a huge amount of data about you and your preferences flying in every direction in the plane. We are quite interested in who owns that data, and believe us, everyone has a different answer about who does. We asked there and we will keep this question alive in future issues.

The first day of AIX (before the booth opening on day 2) holds a very interesting Passenger Experience Mini Conference. This meeting consists of a morning general session and splits into 4 afternoon plenary sessions.

Of particular interest in the morning session was Teague’s (Devin Liddell) presentation on “Co-Making”…the process of a brand (an airline in our case) collaborating with a like-minded brand in a different industry. What makes this interesting is the fact that they are not about traditional co-branding and more about breakthrough innovations. Here are some quotes that we found interesting:

  • “Partnerships are our most powerful currency.”
  • “The capacity to partner has a big impact on influencing the passenger.”
  • “We need to go beyond – we must make things together.”
  • “The old philosophy was co-branding = co-marketing. The new philosophy is co-branding = co-making. The concept is more about innovation together.”
  • “An example of a co-making scenario that exists today is JW Marriott and TSA.”

Editor’s Note: The above example places TSA approved and checked luggage in a secure storage at Marriott, thus providing more for Marriott customers.

If you made it to the Break Out Sessions the first day of PAXEX, you got a valuable inside to the connected passenger and the coming PED environment as well. In fact there is good and bad in the approach! First the good: The four Breakout Sessions were one of the best things at AIX and were titled: 1. Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity: A Voyage of Discovery and Opportunity, 2. Hospitality and Service – Making the Onboard Experience Memorable, 3. The Cabin: Getting Smarter about Space and Comfort, 4. Protecting the Brand: Cabin Maintenance. Which one would you go to? And that’s the Bad… one can’t go to them all, but there is an answer. The presentations are available here (they will cost you 50 Euros) and you can find them here:

And yes, we do have one story about the sessions. In Breakout Session 1, Angela Vargo of Southwest Airlines spoke about their use and focus on the value of gate-to-gate connectivity. After her presentation IFExpress asked if Southwest realized that with satellite connectivity, there was no antenna “shading” by buildings that ground-based connectivity towers face, a fact that was not mentioned in the presentation. “Boy do we,” she said emphatically! We guessed that was a marketing yes!

Next week we will start the booth coverage in detail and by then we hope to have Flicker images online (Just click on the Flicker image at the top right of IFExpress)… that is, if our bag arrives!

HAMBURG, Germany – 18 May 2010 – Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), the world leader in state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and communication (IFEC) systems, received a Crystal Cabin award yesterday at the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany.

Panasonic was honored in the industrial design category for its Integrated Smart Monitor.  The Integrated Smart Monitor was born of a groundbreaking collaboration with Weber Aircraft and Teague to produce the industry’s first fully integrated IFE seat solution.

“When we started this project, we wanted to address the full realm of challenges with bolt-on IFEC solutions,” said Marshal H. Perlman, Director, Product Management of Panasonic Avionics Corporation.  “To do that, we knew we needed to work together to create an entirely new concept.  The Crystal Cabin Award validates our efforts and publicly demonstrates how collaboration can revolutionize both design and function.”

The vision was to create an integrated product that would decrease costs, reduce complexity and create a premium entertainment experience for travelers.  The result was an IFE seat solution that seamlessly
integrates Panasonic’s next-generation, touch-screen IFE monitor with an ultra-thin, lightweight economy seat for an unprecedented level of class and comfort.

It is significantly lighter than other solutions, offers improved reliability, and a home theater entertainment experience to airline passengers while streamlining the aircraft manufacturing process with fewer parts.

“Starting with R&D and at every step of the seat design, Weber ensures the IFE integrates in a way that creates the most living space while minimizing the impact to the overall seat weight. We’ve taken
cooperation a step further,” said Jean-Marie Daout, Senior Director, Business Development of Weber.

Sebastian Petry, Design Director of Teague, noted, “ This is a collaborative solution that allows airlines to offer a personal entertainment space, closer to the home entertainment experience. It will help make travel a better lifestyle experience.”

“Regardless of the capabilities of any IFEC system, weight, space and power draw are issues that loom large in the airline industry,” said Paul Margis, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation.  “Working together with Weber and Teague, we made considerable progress in changing the profile of our IFEC systems. But we can’t rest on our laurels.  We are dedicated to leading the industry with innovations in both function and footprint.”

The Crystal Cabin Award is the only international award for excellence in aircraft interior innovation. The award is donated by the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, Germany, and is intended to recognize significant improvements in passenger comfort.  Entrants are judged on unique features, market compatibility, aesthetics, engineering, usability and economics.  The award, established in 2007, has been presented annually at the Aircraft Interiors Expo.