Brussels Airlines introduced a new passenger service system in 2016. To make its departure control and adjacent applications accessible from the respective CUTE systems at each of the airports in its network, the Belgian airline is using cFront/LAGUNA from Lufthansa Systems. CUTE stands for Common Use Terminal Equipment. This software enables airlines to make shared use of airport IT infrastructures. This means that different airlines can use the same hardware to access their own servers for passenger and flight handling. The cFront/LAGUNA adapter software helps standardize the different versions of the CUTE systems.
“We have more than 100 destination airports in our route network. As an airline, it isn’t possible for us to develop interfaces for every version of CUTE and acquire the necessary certifications. This is why we are relying on the expertise of Lufthansa Systems,” said Paul Rogiers, Delivery Manager Outstations/IT at Brussels Airlines.
For many years, Lufthansa Systems has offered airlines comprehensive CUTE services – from setting up the applications to carrying out updates and maintenance. cFront/LAGUNA was modified by the experts to meet the specific needs of the Lufthansa Group. The software is based on the CUTE solution known as cGroup. It accesses an airline’s IT systems in a smooth, standardized way and supports all leading CUTE platforms as well as the new standards for Common Use Passenger Processing Systems (CUPPS). In addition to Brussels Airlines, other airlines in the Lufthansa Group are also using cFront/LAGUNA. This means different airlines in the Group can benefit from a shared check-in system if necessary. Users can access the system from anywhere with a web app. cFront/LAGUNA also offers monitoring functions that provide an overview of the status at all CUTE and CUPPS airports and enables the responsible management team to intervene quickly in the event of a disruption.
“Thanks to the shared certification and provision of cFront/LAGUNA, the Group solution was already available at many of the airports in Brussels Airlines’ network. During the implementation, we simply had to add the information specific to Brussels Airlines. This saved money and ensured a fast launch,” said Bjoern Steinbrecher, Head of cGroup Solutions at Lufthansa Systems.
Established in 2002, Brussels Airlines from Belgium is part of the Lufthansa Group and a member of the Star Alliance. With a fleet of 49 aircraft, Brussels Airlines connects the European capital of Brussels with more than 100 destinations in Europe, Africa, India and North America.”
On a similar subject, Vision-Box also has automated airport passenger electronic control devices. We realize this is not IFEC, but you are going to see a lot of this ground-based technology in the future. Since this technology free’s up a lot of people, border and airport automated technologies will increase for identifying passengers and visitors and a recent release about a Caribbean airport at St. Maarten caught our eye. “Juliana International Airport just upgraded to the new Vision-Box™ which is a self-service biometric Automated Border Control eGates intended to modernize the process, improve the security of the identification procedure, and expedite passenger flow at one more stage of the passenger journey across the airport!” The news release went on: “vb i-match ™ ABC eGates have now recently announced a seamless passenger journey designed by Vision-Box ™, joining the existing vb i-match ™ security checkpoint gates installed in the first phase of the project. Together, these solutions are streamlining identification processes for departing passengers, when entering airside and clearing immigration.” We also understand that the arrival of biometric ABC technology at SMX (Juliana) Airport means that after successfully entering airport side by using vb i-match ™ security checkpoint eGates, passengers crossing the border will be able to complete the entire immigration process in a few seconds using customer-centric, self service touchpoint vb i-match ™ ABC”. Here is how it works: “Once at the eGate, the passenger will first scan their ePassport, where facial biometric information from the echip is scanned and matched with a live facial image capture of the passenger. Once all identification and safety checks have been successfully conducted, the passenger is allowed to clear immigration. At the forefront of modernizing the immigration clearance procedure is cutting-edge fraud detection and self-clearing biometric identification capabilities, using an advanced eGate security algorithm authenticating the passengers ePassport and identifying identity through multiple fraud and security operations, which just takes a few seconds.” We note that “Newly appointed airport ambassadors are there to greet and guide travelers in the use of the eGates, additionally to the support of a passenger-centered, expertly designed user Interface, oriented towards the success of the operation! Additionally, every passenger transaction is closely monitored by an immigration officer using vb inspector ™, a monitoring system giving the officers immediate information on each passenger’s identity and transaction status, detecting identity fraud, leveraging biometric and biographic information during real-time checks of intelligence and criminal databases, and instantly alerting border officers in case of an emergency.”
Editor’s Note: If you think there is not enough electronics in the airport departure and entry areas, you need to keep your eye on companies like Lufthansa Systems and Vision-Box. www.vision-box.com. Here is another link about the coming technology.
We recently came across an interesting website about the use of Android apps for passenger devices.
While a bit old (2014 – 2015) we note their comments: “The average customer rating across Apple App Store and Google Play for the 12 major European airlines included in this study grew from 3.2 to 3.6 (on 1 to 5 scale) between January 2014 and October 2015. And you guessed it – this app stuff is getting a lot more important to travelers.
Airlines aiming at increasing personalization are aware of the importance of mobile apps. However, a prerequisite to unleashing new streams of ancillary revenues through tailored offers is offering an outstanding digital user experience.” The app importance is noted in the link above, but tnooz said: “The average customer rating across Apple App Store and Google Play for the 12 major European airlines included in this study grew from 3.2 to 3.6 (on 1 to 5 scale) between January 2014 and October 2015. While the airline average was around 3.1 to 3.6 (or lower) a reader sent us LATAM’s score (a few months old) – 4.0 Google/4.0 Apple – Guess who designed it? If you said Zii, you win!
And speaking of Zodiac Aerospace, Safran will buy them and merge the two companies with lots of financial machinations if all the business offers are accepted. In the end, Safran landing gear, nacelle, power systems, actuators and avionics would be combined with the Zodiac seats, cabin interiors, power distribution, lighting, safety, and oxygen/fluid/safety equipment.
Here are the involved Zodiac companies: Heath Tecna, Contour Aerospace, IMS (Zii), NAT, TriaGnoSys, PPP, and Greenpoint Technologies.
One expert said that the message here is clear, Safran see’s the future of electrical and avionic involvement in in aircraft. We believe, because of their native product differences, that management selection will be very critical as the two companies are so different and almost opposite talents. It is worth noting that the combined company would have about 92,000 employees and we understand Safran purchase is estimated to be approximately $9.5 Billion. Interestingly, Safran attempted this acquisition in 2010. FYI, if the deal goes through, Safran will be number three Tier 1 supplier behind GE and United Technologies. However, the purchase is still subject to shareholder approval and if so it will close at the end of 2017/ 1st Qtr. 2018. Stay Tuned.
Gogo announced that it has promoted Jon Cobin to Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer of Gogo. Cobin has served in a leadership position at Gogo for six years, most recently as head of strategy and global sales for Gogo’s commercial aviation division. In his new role, he will continue to manage strategy and sales, but will take on the added responsibilities of managing Gogo’s product and marketing teams. Under Jon’s leadership the company has experienced numerous successes, including adding more than 1,000 2Ku aircraft to the backlog in 2016. “Gogo is at the forefront of technology development and innovation and combining our strategy group with product, sales and marketing enables us to better align the organization around meeting the needs of our global airline partners,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “Jon’s proven leadership makes him the right person for this role.” Congratulations Jon!
JetBlue announced the completion of its fleet-wide Fly-Fi installations and they said: “Fly-Fi is the revolutionary Wi-Fi service offered to JetBlue passengers for free across the carrier’s 227 aircraft, including Airbus A320s, A321s and Embraer 190s. This Wi-Fi offering was developed by Thales InFlyt Experience to meet JetBlue’s expectation to offer connectivity services for every seat, on every aircraft. This service allows passengers to connect and remain connected from gate-to-gate. With the completion of these installations, Thales has again enhanced the passenger experience for JetBlue by providing high-bandwidth connectivity services that complement existing stored and live in-flight entertainment products.” For additional details on this service, please refer to this JetBlue press release.
Global Eagle Entertainment, CA secured a $500m senior-secured term-loan facility and a new $85m senior-secured revolving credit facility.
This came into us after publishing last Tuesday. It is a prediction submission from FlightPath3D: “We predict 2017 as the year the industry finally recognizes the PAX audience as the most highly coveted demographic for advertisers and begins real & sustained efforts to bridge the gap between them.”
An unnamed IFExpress reporter told us: “Yesterday, I spoke with a friend of mine at (US) FCC and he confirmed that there will be organizational structure changes within. The alleged purpose is to “streamline” the licensing process. We’ll see. I have my doubts with any Federal bureaucracy. However, it could make for an interesting scenario with the 14 GHz air-to-ground license auctions. I suspect the license costs will go higher. Notwithstanding the purported organization changes, with every presidential transition period, he told me, from Republican – to – Democrat, or vice versa, or has about a 3-4 month period when almost nothing happens.” We concur.
You gotta see this – it might work! The Worst Seat on a Plane Gets Better: New Middle Seats
London, UK | January 17, 2017– Technavio’s latest report on the global aircraft vertical stabilizers market provides an analysis of the most important trends expected to impact the market outlook from 2017-2021. Technavio defines an emerging trend as a factor that has the potential to significantly impact the market and contribute to its growth or decline.
Market size of aircraft vertical stabilizers is expected to reach USD 735.5 million by 2021,
The market size of aircraft vertical stabilizers is expected to reach USD 735.5 million by 2021, with APAC occupying a majority of the market share of over 43%. The APAC region will also be responsible for the maximum incremental growth during the forecast period.
The major drivers for the growth in APAC are due to increase in passenger traffic and airline numbers. This will call for the procurement of an increased number of aircraft and their control systems like actuators, ailerons, and stabilizers. With commercial aircraft number expected to almost triple in the next two decades, there will be a steady income to the vertical stabilizers market from the region.
Request a sample report: http://www.technavio.com/request-a-sample?report=55769
Technavio’s sample reports are free of charge and contain multiple sections of the report including the market size and forecast, drivers, challenges, trends, and more.
The top three emerging trends driving the global aircraft vertical stabilizers market according to Technavio aerospace and defense research analysts are:
- Adoption of cutting-edge actuators
- Development of next-generation flight control systems
- Fly-by-wire aircraft technology
- Adoption of cutting-edge actuators
“Actuation systems are the main drivetrain to the flight control systems, and offer increased efficiency, easy installation, malleability, self-monitoring properties, and decreased fuel consumption in aircraft. Therefore, most airplanes are adopting cutting-edge electrical actuator systems that are extremely reliable, cost-efficient, and easy to procure,” says Avimanyu Basu, one of the lead analysts at Technavio for aerospace research.
Some of the key advantages of advanced actuators are the enhanced aircraft performance regarding stabilization and control, flight at high angles of attack, protection against automatic stall and spinning, and gust alleviation. The entire range of Airbus A380 and Gulfstream G650 aircraft features hydraulic actuators, whereas the Boeing 787 aircraft implements electric actuators and electro-mechanical actuators for secondary flight control systems.
Development of next-generation flight control systems
As flight control systems evolve, their performance also improves. For instance, the traditional flight control systems are being replaced by the rudder-by-wire flight control system, which offers enhanced safety and passenger comfort. This technology has been widely being adopted by many North American business jet original equipment manufacturers, such as Gulfstream and Bombardier.
Another significant development is the Smart Electronic Control Units (SECUs) by Thales, which improves flight stability, smoothens flight trim, and enhances plane aircraft control. The system improves the flying experience by making the cruise smoother and providing an extended optimum performance, thus pushing for its increased adoption.
Fly-by-wire aircraft technology
“With the advent of fly-by-wire technology, the aircraft flight control has been automated. This technology allows a pilot’s commands to be transmitted electronically. This system has significantly reduced aircraft weight and complexity of aircraft manual controls, reflecting in a better fuel efficiency,” says Avimanyu.
The fly-by-wire technology has proved to enhance aircraft operation, and turbulent conditions can be dealt with more easily, decreasing component fatigue and providing passenger convenience. This technology fulfills all the regulations set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other regulatory authorities, leading to its large market penetration. The fly-by-wire technology has been widely adopted by aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing.
News From Thales:
IFExpress came away from our time at the Thales Booth in Singapore with a number of highlights that are outlined below:
1) First, in September of this year Thales announced their relationship with SES to provide a dedicated connectivity service over the Americas that will be optimized for the commercial aviation industry. The relationship with satellite operator SES will offer high throughput satellite connectivity in the Ka-band. Two of the satellites are already in orbit and the service will be launched in mid-2017. The third satellite in the network, manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, is targeted to launch in 2020. What is the benefit of all this? Thales states that the satellites are purpose built for aviation and are directed to cover where the majority of aircraft routes fly, which are much different than residential home coverage. In the interim, Thales has access to some of SES’s current transponder space. The service from Thales is dubbed FlytLIVE. Noted Thales, “To meet the needs of a growing market, SES will procure a new satellite specifically designed for the needs of FlytLIVE and manufactured by Thales Alenia Space to be launched in 2020. The satellite’s architecture is based on Thales Alenia Space’s all-electric version of the Spacebus NEO platform, the highest performing satellite in the global connectivity market.” FlytLIVE will be a full end-to-end solution that will include a modular antenna, multi-frequency radome, in-cabin Wi-Fi and portal platform. It will also provide bandwidth and session management, operational support tools, line maintenance, content delivery and turnkey service and support.
The company went on to say, “Thales InFlyt Experience, Thales Alenia Space and SES specifically developed the network and satellite architecture for the unique connectivity requirements of commercial aviation customers resulting in better services, more efficient operations and cost savings. SES will operate the satellites and the ground network. The services will be ready for airline and passenger use by summer of 2017 and will be provided by two satellites that are currently in-orbit. The third satellite in the network to be launched, SES-17, will be optimized for the fast-moving aviation and mobility market over the Americas. It will provide new Ka-HTS bandwidth over this region to meet the current and future speed, coverage and quality expectations of crowded skies and increasing passenger service demands as regional airline passenger traffic is forecasted to nearly double by 2030.”
We understand that the satellite will have some 200 spot beams of various sizes, allowing for flexible allocation over high-traffic airline routes assuring the most efficient delivery of Internet, real-time content delivery and live television. They went on to say that SES-17 will cover the Americas (North, South, and Central), Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean. IFExpress believes their goal will be to build a network that provides higher data rate broadband connections and improves coverage while keeping capacity and quality.
2) During APEX Singapore Thales and Emirates announced that the AVANT inflight entertainment system was selected for the airline’s future fleet of 150 777X jetliners. Here are the highlights of the deal: a) Thales plans to establish an innovation center, Discovery Dubai, and maintenance station in Dubai that will be managed by Thales. b) Thales will be the first to equip its inflight entertainment systems on the 777X aircraft platform. Deliveries are to commence in 2020.
The press release notes: “Thales is committed to using its strengths in technological innovation, communications, big data management and cyber security to enhance Emirates inflight experience leadership position. The airline’s award winning inflight entertainment system, ice is an industry leader in passenger experience, and Thales’s partnership with Emirates will focus on helping the airline drive the highest standards of innovation for ice, from in-seat entertainment to wireless cabin connectivity.”
3) During our interview with Duc HuyTran, Vice President, Marketing and Strategy for Thales InFlyt Experience, he stated that there are 3 pillars to Thales IFEC: connectivity, IFE, and their InFlytCloud service offering. “The combination of our state-of-the-art AVANT inflight entertainment solution, connectivity offerings and InFlytCloud platform are driving new innovations in passenger engagement,” said Tran during the meeting. “Thales is a solutions provider and we are working closely with airlines to build these customized solutions around their fleets, routes and passengers.” Throughout our interview, it was clear to IFExpress that Thales is customer driven at all levels of the organization.
One of the three pillars is the new InFlytCloud service. InFlytCloud is a platform that allows airlines to manage their operations and passenger experience related data via the InFlyt Experience Application Portal. The key here is data, something which the vendors need to provide and the airlines need to understand and use. In the past we have referred to this industry changing feature as ‘Big Data’. Tracy DeCuir, Vice President of Business Infrastructure and Services said, “One key feature of InFlytCloud is that the data is customizable by the user, not just the airline. With this feature the user can deep-dive in on any platform. More importantly, the data is accessible in real-time.” We should also note that the system is scalable, flexible, and brandable by both the OEM and airline. The reader should note that this is another instance of an IFE vendor who realizes the value of Big Data.
First, we want to introduce Gary DiLeo, BOSE’s IFEC Sale Representative, and welcome him to the industry. Gary is the new Hratch Astarjian who is now involved with “…sales, business development, marketing and service functions globally.”
Next, we have to tell our readers about something just short of amazing. OK, make that AMAZING. The BOSE QuietComfort QC35 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones are the best headphones we have ever tested! Here is what BOSE says: “Our other wireless headphones are the SoundSport Wireless Headphones (a Bluetooth, in-ear audio headphone), the SoundSport Pulse (similar to the SoundSport, but it also incorporates heart rate sensors, for people who workout), the QuietControl 30 Wireless Headphone (in-ear noise cancelling – like the QC20, but wireless. It allows you to increase or reduce the amount of noise reduction you get depending on your environment and preference). You can see all of these on our website.”
But we want to concentrate here on the BOSE QC35 – and we need to set up our readers, especially those who have used wired BOSE headphones in the past. You probably noted a couple things – BOSE headsets are the best sounding over-the-head earphones you can buy, because they deliver incredible bass notes, crystal clear highs, and if you have noise cancellation, they have virtually no background/outside noise. This has been progressively true with every model we have used over the last 10 years. The QC35’s offer something else with the aforementioned audio quality – they offer a few things more than great sound – no wires, and smart technology. But hold on – the BOSE QC35’s are also like no headphone you ever have used. Besides no wires, they are ‘smart’ and communicate to you in one of 11 languages (your choice) and represent the next generation in wireless audio headphone entertainment – all via the BOSE Connect app. We were expecting a good set of headphones with no wires, but instead it turned out to be fabulous set of headphones, with no wires and with ‘smart technology’ THAT TALKS TO YOU! Further, the built in voice prompt tells you what’s going on, and on my Apple hardware, it tells me what device I am connecting and connected to. This has value when you are streaming around more than one Bt device.
From an audio point of view, the audio is incredibly clean, pure, and very rich. The bass is most impressive (And yes, you can hear the base drum kick in Robert Palmer’s “Addicted to Love”…). Noise cancellation is splendid – no background SHHHhhhhh when the music is off. Move your head while the music is playing and no change, no phase shift, nothing – just the music. You’ve got your own controls on the headphones – volume up, volume down, power off/on/connect. A light tells you power on/battery-low and a blue light indicates Bluetooth searching. A white light (in the blue light lens) tells you that you are on hold for a call. When a call does come in if you are listening to the music on your phone, for example, it automatically switches the music on hold till the call ends.
Of course you have your standard controls on the headphones: volume up, volume down, power off/on/connect. We note that there is a light indicates power on/battery low and a blue light for Bluetooth searching. And when using them with a phone, the smart technology from the BOSE Connect app kicks in – just dial or answer the phone for a music fade down. When your call is done, Miss BOSE says, “Call ended” and delivers your music where the song was cut off. While they will work with your Bt phones, Bt iPods, Bt computers without the BOSE Connect app, we loaded the app on an Apple 5S and WOW it allowed us to name the headset, control volume, monitor the headphone dc power level, told us that the Bt was on, kept track of the past connections, on/off timer, voice prompt control, 11 languages, and touch NFC (touch and it connects via BT). It also features product details and a user manual in the app – nice touch. Move your head while the music is playing and there is no audio change, nothing – just the music. As for range – we tried 60 feet and around a corner and down a set of stairs with no degradation – absolutely none.
Lastly, we have to say they are not cheap – QC35 $349 – but since they are the best, they are worth every penny. When you buy these for a gift, you are not just giving a gift – You are delivering an EXPERIENCE. If you are going to test them in a store, load the BOSE Connect app first (its free), then plan to test the full EXPERIENCE, in the store. You won’t be disappointed. (Editor’s Note: As we noted above, from a range point of view, we don’t see why they won’t work on a plane. In fact, your audio source could be stored in your carry-on since you can control your audio entertainment from your seat without wires.)
A Late Discovery: If you think your playing device needs Bluetooth for the QC35s to work, guess again. As we were going to press we discovered that Bose provides a stereo cable that plugs into the headset and connects to your PED so that you can use them with non-Bluetooth equipped players. Cleverly, the end that plugs into the PED is thin enough to fit in it when you have a case or an external battery on it!
This year, Boeing was building 777s at a rate of 8.3 per month or 100 per year. The company then announced a cut to 7 jets per month, starting this month. They just announced that they don’t have enough orders to maintain the current 777 widebody jet program production rate of 7 airplanes per month and will cut production in Everett to 5 airplanes per month beginning in August. (B777x where are you?)
- Over 70 Airbus A320NEOs will be fitted with a full package of avionics components that include flight management system, T3CAS and Head-up Displays. Thales will also equip 110 Boeing 737 with the Low Range radio Altimeter.
California | November 2, 2016– China Eastern is one of the largest users of Thales/ACSS products in China. The Thales FMS system is the highest selling Flight Management System with over 90% market share in China. The T³CAS solution includes the Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) with Class A Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS), and Mode S Transponder updated for DO-260B with full ADS-B IN/OUT capability.
The T³CAS provides operators with proven performance and reliability of TCAS, TAWS, Mode S and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) functions with the benefits of reduced weight, size, power consumption and costs that come from an integrated platform.
The NXT-800 NextGen Transponder is FAA and EASA compliant to meet the global Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) mandate for aircraft that are required to have ADS-B Out capability. ACSS NXT transponders, installed on thousands of aircraft worldwide, are optimized for flight in the next generation air traffic environment and contribute to reductions in flight delays and fuel consumption.
- Thales strengthens its ties with China Southern Airlines with a major avionics contract to equip up to 80 Boeing aircraft.
California | November 2, 2016– Thales will install 30 B737NG and, with the intention to include 50 B737MAX with a package of components including the market leading Thales/ACSS TCAS3000 the Thales TopFlight SATCOM (Inmarsat) and Low Range Radio Altimeter.
China Southern is one of the largest users of Thales/ACSS products in China on both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. The system is fully compliant with all the main ATM requirements in China and is with DO260B ADS-B out, which guarantees the highest level of accuracy of information to pilots.
Topflight SATCOM (Inmarsat) is the most popular satellite communications terminal for all cockpit communications on Boeing and Airbus single aisle platforms.
“Thales considers China to be a key market for avionics components. Chinese airlines have to meet the requirements of a growing demand and they need an avionics supplier that can deliver fast, and guarantees service excellence. Thales success in China in this field testifies of the level of product maturity and service excellence Thales brings.”
Daniel Malka, Thales Vice President in charge of Avionics Services Worldwide activities
As the weeks pass after a show like the recent APEX in Singapore, it is easy to start thinking about the next one; however, IFExpress will try to continue to cover some of the more important show participants and their new products, accomplishments, and sales. Importantly, a post show head cold and a recent election has caused focus issues in the past few weeks, but we are now in better control and we will start off with one show item that keeps coming back to haunt us – the concept of aircraft and Big Data. While IFEC is not the whole story, it is part of the issue, and over the last few weeks we have been doing our homework a bit on the subject. The folks at companies like Panasonic, SITA, Thales and many others have been chanting the “data” subject into our ears at each meeting – we really have been trying to understand the problems and potential solutions – and believe us, it is no easy subject, with few easy answers. A number of years back, Mark Thompson of Thompson Aerospace warned us of the impending data monster we were about to see but we had little idea at the time of its value and challenges. This data thing is not new but it is getting bigger!
Looking back to the late eighties, we saw a document developed about the importance of airplane data, in general, and how McDonnell Douglas was looking at the future of its importance in tying an airline together by connecting the “movable asset” back to the airline itself with the one connectivity-based solution available at the time – live, real-time data. Back in the day, the connectivity links were minimal but the requirement was still there.
Today, it is a cry that still is the important connecting piece of the airline business, but it is getting louder. However, we note, now it entails better connectivity, more information, passenger involvement, better worldwide connections, and generally more need for planning and action throughout the airline and passenger environment. Perhaps a computer programmer said it better than we could: “You can have data without information, but you cannot have information without data.” – Daniel Keys Moran, an American computer programmer. Further, when you have 30 $250 million dollar assets buzzing around the world, data is the only way to see at any point in time, how your assets are delivering profits or losses. Further, it is a way to see what your customers are needing, in real-time.
We understand that we will not cover the issue in one IFExpress, and to that end, we have a few future interviews planned with IFEC companies and you will have the opportunity to see a bigger picture from them in the coming months. And speaking of ‘seeing the data’ issue, we really owe the folks at SITA a pat on the back for they have been trying to educate us on the value and need of standardized data.
Furthermore, not only satcom companies are part of the data solutions, as an example, the folks at SmartSky are developing a ground-to-air solution that may deliver the cheapest, and possibly the fastest over tera firma, data solution when it is up and running in the US. The point here is that data will be the driving factor when an airline executive or inflight passenger, or flight crew person, or a box on the plane needs to connect to a listener or data taker from the ground, and thus, it will be one of the next big things in our industry. Check out this Next Gen aviation connected electronic flight bag story;
With the growth of passenger data needs, the subject of data will become even a more important technology as time goes on. In SITAONAIR’s white paper published during the show, they noted that passenger connectivity is still the key motivating factor with airlines for adopting the service. Some 48% of their list of airlines in their study see it as the main passenger experience benefit. However, now some 20% of the airlines involved saw connectivity as a pilot and cabin crew enhancement driver, with some 15% seeing value in maintenance and ops monitoring. While a low number of planes today are outfitted with connectivity solutions, SITA expects three quarters will have some connectivity by 2017, and the big solution will happen by 2020 and some 12,500 planes will be so modified.
One big issue, notes SITA, is the lack of commonality or common standards in the aircraft data itself. Why is this important? We see it as a way to allow more entrants in the IFEC industry, more participants in the data business, more uses of the data itself, and a solution that becomes a standard where and when more people use it. Lest we forget, big data probably also means big bucks! If you want to see an example the application of common airport standards you might want to check out SITA’s AirportConnect Open.
Another area is the type of data from the various sources and its utility and application. The folks at Panasonic can see the data future and they call it “Big Data”. They envision the application of ground and inflight data as well as a lot more data applications from many sources – but we will have more on this subject in the future. We should also note that Thales has their version of big data and they are using their InFlyt Cloud for similar data solution for airplane data, metadata and big analytics. However, the message to folks in this business is perhaps, just perhaps, that the IFEC world might just be a smaller part of a bigger aviation world that uses data. It is a solution for bigger problems and future analysis – all way beyond IFE companies just selling hardware. Just possibly it may be the next generation of understanding about airplanes and passengers and the world of flying assets that are moving thousands of miles away from the home offices with hundreds of passengers all going to different places for many different reasons. Big Data has a future value that we don’t even understand today!
To make our point about where this is all heading, here is a very recent news release from Panasonic Avionics about their next generation of data connectivity solutions and it points out the widening of the acquisition of data sources sets the wider data picture being viewed by IFEC vendors. Said the release: ”The technology will enable the next generation of connectivity services to the aviation industry and multiple other markets.” The release went on: “Panasonic Avionics will implement Ericsson’s 5G-ready core solution through its subsidiary AeroMobile, a global inflight connectivity provider and registered mobile network operator. The contract is the first step of a long-term strategic collaboration between the two companies, which will focus on areas like 5G and the Internet of Things.” It went on: ”Panasonic Avionics can apply the 5G-ready core across a wide and ever-expanding range of markets, enabling connectivity for users not only onboard aircraft and ships, but also for the huge Internet of Things communication.” IFExpress notes the 5G is touted as the next generation of mobile technology because it “has the capability to radically lessen latency, accelerate download and upload speeds, enhance network reliability and spectral efficiency.” With this data, they also have the potential to support IoT development, by considerably escalating the number of devices that can connect to the network simultaneously.” Get the data picture? Stay Tuned on this one, soon we will talk more about data standardization and future data applications.
digEcor & IFPL
We like it when two companies in our industry combine their thoughts to develop a better product offering. We saw this during APEX Singapore this year when digEcor, in conjunction with partner IFPL, unveiled their GLIDE inseat power solution on AirAsia’s A320neos. The development effort was a collaborative one between digEcor, IFPL and Miras Aircraft Seating. The deal with AirAsia totals 55K seats and because AirAsia is a low-cost carrier they required a low-cost solution. This makes sense since inseat power is more and more significant as passengers are bringing their own devices onboard and the system is Wi-Fi driven by the onboard inflight connectivity. In fact, many LCCs are now looking to Wi-Fi for their IFE solution. From a hardware perspective, IFPL’s USB outlet is backlit and we understand that when power is available the unit is lit, making it easier for the passenger to find on the seat arm. If you are interested, we’ve attached images of the seat arm with the IFPL USB outlet and digEcor’s SEB!
Qatar Airways has implemented AeroDocs software from Arconics, a ViaSat company, to provide a single centralized repository to revise and track all operational and non-operational company manuals and documentation for operational readiness. The ability to create, author, edit and mark all changes in a visible manner over the web enables team members to easily keep abreast of, and be alerted to, relevant procedural modifications as and when they happen.
The Seattle Times wrote: “In a surprise move, Boeing announced Monday that Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner will step down from that position and be replaced by General Electric senior executive Kevin McAllister. In 2015, the Boeing board granted Conner a special award of 50,000 shares ‘to encourage him to forgo an opportunity to retire in the near future.’ With that award vesting on Dec. 1, 2017 provided he stayed at Boeing, it was expected that he would retire about then. Those shares are worth $7.35 million.” (Editor’s Note: Not a bad deal – $7 million & change for staying at Boeing for 2 years!)
Heard about Media Box? The Media Box, which Media Carrier offers as an exclusive service to tourism companies in particular, operates as a web-based service and can be easily and conveniently used with any web-enabled device. To download their preferred business magazine or their usual morning paper, guests connect to the Media Box of the airline or hotel and gain access to their own personal reading material. Newspapers and magazines are presented unabridged and in the same layout used in the print versions, and can be browsed through easily and intuitively – check out this image. Even after downloading, the downloaded publications remain available to the reader for an unlimited time. Established in 2011, the company is a subsidiary of the Munich-based MELO Group, whose central divisions are built on the two pillars: media and logistics. Media Carrier specializes in marketing and distributing digital content. It supplies the travel industry with e-papers through the Media Box. The digital media library is now successfully deployed with e.g. Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings as well as in more than 1,000 luxury and five-star hotels worldwide.
IFExpress: John, we assume you will be moving to the Chicago area… any expectations? Any trepidations?
J.W.: “Yes, I have relocated to the Chicago area and am thrilled to be joining my colleagues here to start launching the 2Ku era. As for trepidations, having spent the last eight winters in Colorado, I’m not quite sure what Chicago winters will bring, less skiing I’m sure.”
IFExpress: Regarding your new areas of responsibility (operations, quality control, commercial airline account management and commercial sales) which do you think will give you the most challenges and which the most enjoyment?
J.W.: “The role in itself will present many challenges as well as enjoyment across all departments as we begin the journey of rolling out 2Ku to our airline partners. Making sure that deployment goes as smoothly as possible is a large part of my new role as COO.
Over the years, I have discovered I have a natural love for optimizing operations within organizations and am really looking forward to leading those functions within Gogo’s commercial aviation business.
For one of my challenges, I’d say learning to manage the folks in sales, as I used to be one myself.
Putting in place the foundation of 2Ku for our airline partners that have clearly recognized 2Ku’s operational excellence is certainly the most exciting challenge. More than 1,200 aircraft across 12 airlines have made commitments to this technology that will change the face of air travel on a global scale. To be leading that innovation is not only a huge milestone at Gogo, but in aviation as well.”
IFEXpress: From a bigger perspective, can you: A. give our readers the today view of Gogo, B. tomorrow’s view under your new leadership, and C. the product view of the next 5 years at Gogo.
J.W.: “Right now is really a very exciting time for Gogo. As the summer travel season comes to an end for the airlines, we are truly stepping into full 2Ku production mode. By the end of the year, we have committed to having 75+ 2Ku aircraft installed and into 2017 and 2018, we’ll be ramping up production quite a bit to get through our backlog of 1,200 aircraft. Given how quickly the airline industry has taken to 2Ku and recognized its technological advantages, I expect in the next five years that we will announce many global partnerships for 2Ku. Additionally, we will continue to expand our product offerings, focus on bringing the connected aircraft to life and develop our next generation regional ATG network that will be a big benefit to both CA (commercial aviation) and BA (business aviation).”
IFExpress: We understand that is some markets (biz jet?), Gogo offers a text/data service (low speed), why is that not offered for a low cost solution for the many users who want minimum service on a commercial service airplane?
J.W.: “We actually do have a messaging pass for commercial aviation (CA) passengers. For CA, this messaging application enables passengers to stay in touch with the ground with popular messaging applications including iMessage, WhatsApp, Viber, etc. If passengers are T-Mobile customers, they can also take advantage of free in-flight texting on all Gogo equipped flights.
For BA and CA both, the service actually works on high speed networks. In general, we think that low speed networks will become increasingly more focused on the cockpit v. passenger services.”
IFExpress: Can you tell our readers a little about how the business aviation market differs from the commercial airline market and do you envision entering other markets like military, etc.?
J. W.: “If there is one major differentiator between BA and CA it’s in the size of the fuselage hence the antenna technologies which are applicable. With Gogo’s range of products for both BA and CA, Gogo is extremely well positioned to service both markets.
In terms of BA vs CA, from an operations perspective, there are striking similarities with the big difference being access to aircraft. Commercial airlines are not keen on taking planes down to change technologies, which creates challenges when you are delivering new technologies. But there are definitely more similarities than differences.”
In closing, John told IFExpress; “While I’ve had a lot of fun over the last eight years managing the BA group, I’m realizing my real passion is in the big airplane world. It’s truly great to be back in the airline world once again and I’m looking forward to seeing all my old friends in Singapore.”
With over 30 years in the aviation industry, Jorge Mompo has joined the digEcor team as the new Director North, Latin America and Caribbean Sales. Mompo will be based in the America’s office in Springville, Utah and will be handling all Sales and Marketing activities in the Americas’ region. Jorge began his aviation career in the areas of Business Aviation Technical and Support, subsequently moving into IFE where he held diverse Engineering and Sales & Marketing positions in companies including Sony Trans Com, Panasonic and Lumexis, serving mainly the Americas. Mompo commented, “There are numerous growth opportunities in the Region where digEcor’s comprehensive integrated flight experience suite of products for IFE and cabin will be a perfect fit for current and future needs. I’m looking forward to continuing my close working relationships with all the customers in the Americas Region encompassing Airlines, OEMs and MROs.” Jorge will be at Singapore at the digEcor booth and you can contact him here: +1 (305) 781-9798 Mobile – +1 (801) 691-7257 Office
Thales, a global leader in space, avionics, and connected inflight entertainment, announces two milestone agreements with SES, the world’s leading satellite operator. With these agreements, Thales will offer airlines and their passengers FlytLIVE, the most efficient inflight connectivity experience over the Americas. FlytLIVE by Thales will start operating mid 2017 using in-orbit satellites. Thales signed an agreement with SES for tailor made connectivity services over the Americas optimized for commercial aviation.
With FlytLIVE, inflight connectivity solution, airlines will receive the best connection speeds for passengers and passenger entertainment using Ka-band HTS, they claim.
Two currently in-orbit satellites comprise the initial network for the Americas; a third satellite provided by Thales Alenia Space – will be launched in 2020 to meet anticipated market growth over the Americas.
(Editor’s Note: IFExpress will have more on this deal soon.)
- ARINC, AEEC, Rockwell Collins are putting on their big show in Toulouse France this year (Oct. 13 – 14) and a couple meetings caught our eye – specifically 7E Next Generation Cabin Data Bus and New ARINC Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System. Here is more info – ARINC Industry Activities | AEEC | Upcoming Mid-Term | Meeting Material | Drafts for Adoption Consideration
- The FAA says don’t turn on or charge your Samsung’s new Note 7 on an airplane! FAA Warns Airline Passengers Not To Use Samsung Smartphone The Wireless Week reported: “There have been dozens of aircraft fires caused by lithium batteries, so many that the batteries are no longer welcome as cargo on passenger flights. In one of the most recent incidents, a Fiji Airways Boeing 737 was preparing for takeoff from Melbourne, Australia, when smoke was discovered coming from the cargo bay. The plane was evacuated and the cargo unloaded. The source of the fire turned out to be lithium-ion batteries in a passenger’s checked bags. Hoverboards and e-cigarettes are banned from flights for the same reason.” Here is another article on the subject.
- If you get a new iPhone (7) but you have earphones with a jack… no worries on board. Just get a Lightening Dock… or, here are four other solutions 5 Ways To Use Headphones With iPhone 7 And iPhone 7 Plus | Redmond Pie and use those jacked earphones!
France | September 12, 2016– Thales, a global leader in space, avionics, and connected inflight entertainment, announces two milestone agreements with SES, the world’s leading satellite operator. With these agreements, Thales will offer airlines and their passengers FlytLIVE, the most efficient inflight connectivity experience over the Americas. FlytLIVE by Thales will start operating mid 2017 using in-orbit satellites.
To meet the needs of a growing market, SES will procure a new satellite specifically designed for the needs of FlytLIVE and manufactured by Thales Alenia Space to be launched in 2020. The satellite’s architecture is based on Thales Alenia Space’s all-electric version of the Spacebus NEO platform, the highest performing satellite in the global connectivity market.
FlytLIVE by Thales, a simple and seamless connectivity solution for airlines, with unmatched performance for their passengers:
With FlytLIVE, passengers will enjoy full Internet services including video streaming, games, social media and live television, creating an immersive and engaging experience in the air.
Airlines will take advantage of Thales’s full end-to-end solutions including products such as the modular antenna and multi-frequency radome, in-cabin Wi-Fi and portal platform. The offering also provides bandwidth and session management, content delivery, operational support tools, line maintenance and turnkey service and support with high Service Level Agreements.
How it will be delivered:
FlytLIVE services will use the SES unsurpassed connectivity network of Ka-band High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) services optimized for airlines who want the best connection speeds for their customers.
Thales InFlyt Experience, Thales Alenia Space and SES specifically developed the network and satellite architecture for the unique connectivity requirements of commercial aviation customers resulting in better services, more efficient operations and cost savings. SES will operate the satellites and the ground network. The services will be ready for airline and passenger use by summer of 2017 and will be provided by two satellites that are currently in-orbit.
The third satellite in the network to be launched, SES-17, will be optimized for the fast-moving aviation and mobility market over the Americas. It will provide new Ka-HTS bandwidth over this region to meet current and future speed, coverage and quality expectations of crowded skies and increasing passenger service demands as regional airline 1 passenger traffic is forecasted to nearly double by 2030.
The satellite will be equipped with close to 200 spot beams of mixed size for more flexible allocation of capacity over high-traffic airline routes and field-of-view beams to enable the most efficient delivery of Internet, live broadcast television and real-time content delivery.
SES-17 will cover North America, South America, Central America, the Caribbean and the Atlantic ocean. The network will provide substantial gains over today’s broadband connections, ensuring ultra-high speeds, capacity, coverage and quality.
- Europe moves a step closer to offering air travellers the most powerful broadband experience in the sky after first-of-its-kind connectivity network achieves key milestone
United Kingdom | July 21, 2016– Inmarsat, the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, announced today that construction and associated sub-system tests of the satellite for its market-changing European Aviation Network (EAN) in-flight connectivity solution has been completed on schedule by Thales Alenia Space.
The key milestone was achieved on schedule following an extensive two-year build process in Toulouse and Cannes, France. The completed S-band payload module was shipped in early July to Thales Alenia Space’s testing center in Cannes, where satellite integration (‘mating’) was also successfully completed. The satellite is now undergoing rigorous system end-to-end testing before it is declared ready for flight in 2017.
EAN is the world’s first integrated satellite and air-to-ground network dedicated to providing a true in-flight broadband experience for Europe’s aviation industry and for millions of passengers who have been cut-off from fast, reliable and consistent broadband access during their flights.
The satellite has been custom-designed to provide mobile satellite services (MSS) to aircraft flying over the dense European routes, exploiting Inmarsat’s 30MHz (2 x 15MHz) S-band spectrum allocation in all 28 EU member states, plus Norway and Switzerland.
It will be integrated with a LTE-based ground network covering approximately 300 sites, operated by Inmarsat’s partner Deutsche Telekom. Aircraft will switch automatically between satellite and terrestrial connectivity using an on–board network communicator for optimal service delivery.
Leo Mondale, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “The European Aviation Network has been specifically engineered to meet the connectivity needs of the aviation industry and is a cornerstone in our expanding worldwide mobile cellular network. It will offer unprecedented high-speed capacity at 75Mb/s with near zero latency while flying over Europe, so passengers can enjoy an easy-to-use true broadband experience for internet streaming, gaming and other online services direct to their personal smart devices. In addition, with no moving parts on the aircraft, the solution is not only lightweight, but also easy to install, very robust and low maintenance.
“The on-time construction of our multi-beam satellite, as well as Deutsche Telekom’s ground network of approximately 300 new LTE sites across Europe, highlights the rapid progress we are making with the European Aviation Network. The coming together of Inmarsat and market-leaders across Europe, including Thales, Deutsche Telekom, Nokia, Cobham SATCOM and OTE, on this ground-breaking development will strengthen Europe’s position as a global technology innovator and support the continued growth of its aviation industry.”
Over the coming months, Inmarsat’s new S-band satellite will be put in a thermal vacuum chamber with no pressure to simulate the space environment and cycled through extreme high and low temperatures to ensure it operates nominally. Mechanical and acoustic testing will then replicate the launch environment, followed by final phase testing to compare any shifts or variations in measurements against the initial base line. Once these tests are complete, the satellite will be prepared for launch by SpaceX at Cape Canaveral in Florida, scheduled to take place in 2017.
Michele Franci, Chief Technology Officer at Inmarsat said: “We are really proud to have achieved this major milestone on schedule and look forward to the extensive testing, which will ensure the satellite is free from defects and will be able to survive the harsh launch and space environments that it will face. This will include an end-to-end verification of all components to ensure that every component is operating within its defined parameters.”
Farnborough, UK and Arlington, VA | July 11, 2016– Thales is pleased to announce a significant economic growth initiative in the State of Florida. This includes the targeted creation of 500 net-new jobs and a capital investment of greater than $20 million in the state over the next five years.
This supports the growth of the Thales’ InFlyt Experience business in central-Florida with the development of a 100-120 thousand sq. ft. facility in Brevard County and future expansion mandates for facilities in Orlando.
“Florida is the best place in the nation for aerospace and aviation companies to grow and succeed. It is great to announce that Thales chose Florida to expand and create 500 new jobs on our Space Coast at the Farnborough International Air Show today. I look forward to seeing their continued success,” said Florida Governor Rick Scott.
Thales’ constant investment in research and development (R&D) activities demands a sophisticated workforce. This local growth plan will help Thales further enhance its workforce to meet the R&D demands of a highly competitive technology-driven business environment. Together with a smart capital investment plan Thales will strengthen its R&D activities in the state to further develop cutting-edge passenger experience capabilities for today’s flying public.
Thales maintains a strong focus on the U.S. for the company’s global growth agenda and its historical investment record in the State of Florida is evidence of this long-term commitment to growth.
Announced earlier this year, Thales’ Plantation, Fla. based cybersecurity business successfully completed the acquisition of silicon-valley based Vormetric Solutions to enhance and expand its data protection and encryption offering. In 2014, Thales acquired a Florida-based in-flight connectivity company, marking the first major expansion of its InFlyt Experience business in the state.
Thales is proud to work with collaborative partners, such as the State of Florida, that help the company support a pro-growth agenda and drive digitally transformative technologies for is customers.
Hamburg, Germany | April 5, 2016– Thales has been selected by Airbus as Lead Supplier for HBC solutions to be deployed on A320, A330 and A380 aircrafts in linefit and retrofit mode.
Thales’ High Bandwidth Connectivity solutions will provide passengers the bandwidth they need to enrich their travel experience and airlines with the connectivity solution that satisfies their operational requirements.
This selection is an important milestone in the long-standing relationship between Airbus and Thales. In addition to the already selectable GX Connectivity solution for A350s, this agreement enables Thales to become linefit offerable for connectivity products and related VAR services on all legacy Airbus platforms, today and in the future.
HBC solutions are designed to operate standalone or connected to an IFE system.
Thales’ inflight entertainment and connectivity portfolio combines innovative technologies, a global support network, with a complete ecosystem that provides airlines valuable services to improve operational efficiencies and increase passenger engagement.
In this safety-critical and technology-rich environment Thales has a pedigree and global presence no other provider can match, across aviation, avionics, satellite networks, connected skies, cyber security and passenger entertainment.
Hamburg, Germany | April 5, 2016– Thales will equip Hainan Airlines with its AVANT In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system on its future fleet of wide-body A330 aircraft. The first aircraft is expected to enter service in late 2017.
AVANT is Thales InFlyt Experience’s state-of-the-art Android- based IFE solution. It includes a highly customisable passenger experience with a robust selection of features and applications. The fleet will be equipped with the latest AVANT full high definition monitors, the most lightweight ever deployed, featuring high power USB charging for personal electronic devices.
Hainan Airlines is a valued long-term Thales customer and a fast growing airline in the Asia-Pacific region. The airline already operates Thales IFE systems on both Boeing and Airbus aircraft. Thales is committed to providing a cherished experience for its passengers on their newest fleet additions. As part of this commitment, Thales is investing resources in China to further enhance software and media capabilities that will serve to enrich passenger experience and satisfy local market demands.
Today, AVANT has been selected by 19 airlines and globally more than 230 aircraft are flying with the AVANT system. The system is available to all new generation Boeing and Airbus platforms.
This year at the Singapore Air Show, the Asian growth that everyone talks about, raised it’s head and the folks at SpeedNews duly noted it and said: “A total of 50 deals were made at Singapore Airshow 2016, representing an increase of 14% over 2014. These included 10 deals with a total value of US$12.3 billion, as well as 40 deals with undisclosed values announced by 20 companies. Singapore Airshow 2016 saw close to 10% increase in trade visitors, as well as a nearly 5% increase in the number of VIP delegations. There was also an increase in the number of local companies exhibiting in the Singapore Pavilion, with 36 companies taking part this year, compared to 29 companies in 2014.”
As you know, this Hot Topic is partially about recent Thales activities in Singapore since they announced that they won a deal with Singapore Airlines and the Thales CEO told IFExpress: “This is a major win for us and a significant step forward in becoming number one in the IFE market. It’s a contract that is more than a year in the making.” Dominique Giannoni, CEO, Thales InFlyt Experience. He went on: “This presence was crucial in winning Singapore Airlines, the campaign to win over Singapore Airlines lasted more than a year, with major factors being Thales’s willingness to understand how the airline wants to integrate with passengers and customizing the system accordingly.” Here are some facts & figures from Thales’s Giaime Porcu, about the recent activity there to give our readers a frame of reference:
- Thales has been present in Singapore since 1973 and today boasts one of the largest local operations of any European Aerospace groups
- Production of Flight Controls and electrical systems for A320 A350 and B787.
- Avionics Equipment produced in Singapore is equipped across China Southern Airlines fleets and Philippine Airlines and Silk Air as well.
- 80% of market share in IFEC in China + a number of clients across the Asia Pax
- Singapore hosts 1 of 3 global repair hubs which handles MRO operations for one third of Thales’s global MRO operations.
- Thales is also responsible for the entire securitization of Singapore’s air traffic, with the LORADS III ATM system (the most advanced system in the world), all tower operations at Changi Airport and the operations and security systems at Changi airport.”
Further, he notes an interesting, Thales supported, design/innovation concept called the Innovation Hub. Here is what he had to say about it:
- Singapore Innovation Hub, a multidisciplinary establishment inspired by Asian concepts, Asian innovation and Asian thinking.
- The Hub will engage customers and utilize new concepts and practices such as Design Thinking to identify needs and jointly develop solutions.
- The innovation team benefits from government support and partnerships with Singapore’s institutions as well as a global network of Thales innovation teams. Strong focus on research and technology with launch of regional innovation centre to meet local requirements through Design thinking.
- The Hub engages customers and partners in user-centred innovation, enabling cross-functional collaborations in co-designing, prototyping and testing new concepts across areas ranging from aerospace, air traffic management, smart cities to defense and maritime security.
- The concept behind this Hub is to seek inspiration from Asian concepts, Asian innovation and Asian thinking, to arrive at a deeper understanding of the operational needs of clients in the region, and design new products and services that address these specific requirements.
- The innovation team has been trained by the Design Thinking and Innovation Academy from the DesignSingapore Council in order to apply the concept of Design Thinking innovation a new, goal-oriented, problem solving approach developed to look at all potential alternatives of a particular design problem.”
Jean-Noel Stock country director for Singapore rounded the whole issue off by highlighting how important some of the aspect of their presence in Singapore was to the signing of Singapore Airlines when he explained that the Thales Singapore Innovation Hub, the first such centre in the Eastern Hemisphere, centered around the concept of design thinking, was inaugurated in 2014 and one year later Singapore told Thales they had been chosen. After looking into some of the product features we asked a few questions about the deal:
1. IFExpress: How many and what type of aircraft are involved in the Singapore deal?
Answer: “A350XWB configured for medium haul operations. At this time we cannot disclose the number but delivery is set to begin in 2018.” (Editor’s Note: Singapore has 67 A350XWB on order.)
2. IFExpress: What all is included in the “line operation services” noted in the report and will these be at Singapore destination airports?
Answer: We will have service locations in Singapore and other airports around the globe for line services including maintenance, logistics, replacements and spares. A number of service locations around the globe allow us to be responsive to customer needs anywhere.
3. IFExpress: Can you expand on the “wide selection of connected services”?
Answer: “Though we cannot directly comment at this time on what is being offered to this customer we can say that our connectivity applications can run the gamut to include shopping, gaming, meals and beverage service, air to ground connectivity for operations, crew connectivity and more.”
4. IFExpress: One product feature caught our eye – please tell our readers about the “application portal”?
Answer: “The application portal is a service we developed in order to allow any android application developer to interface directly with us and the airline. This allows developers to tailor their apps to the airline’s needs. It’s a great way to ensure that passengers can access the latest and best applications available on the Android market and just another example of how we are innovating to ensure that the passenger experience is as close in the air as on the ground.”
5. IFExpress: Can you supply more information on the “Avii”?
Answer: “Avii is a second-screen application platform that enables premium-class passengers to select, control and enhance their multi-media experience. Avii provides contextual remote control capabilities for the monitor and can be used as an independent handheld screen for many applications, enabling multi-tasking. The Avii platform consists of a 5” LCD with 1080p resolution, multi-touch capacitive touch screen, and an Android operating system. With a balanced & ergonomic design and context based applications, Avii provides an intuitive user interaction.”
We thought you might like to check out Astronics Corporation 2015 Fourth Quarter results and Full Year Financial Results is a short, concise form – so here it is:
• Aerospace sales up 6% in quarter driven by Electrical Power & Motion products
• The company realized record annual sales of $692 million and record net income of $67 million in 2015
• Achieved record annual Aerospace sales of $550 million, up 11.1% over 2014
• 2016 sales guidance revised to $665 million to $725 million
That pretty much says it all – nice going everybody!
1. And speaking of Asian pacific airplane sales, Boeing is projecting demand in Asia Pacific for 14,550 aircraft worth $550b over next 20 years which means one heck-ova-lot of IFE
2. The folks at Gogo announced today that American Airlines has dismissed the declaratory judgment action it filed against Gogo on February 12, 2016. The flap was brought about by American who announced that they wanted to use ViaSat. (Editor’s note: We are thinking 2Ku might be in AA’s future.)
3. Icelandair and Global Eagle Entertainment, (Nasdaq:ENT) (“GEE”) announced the introduction of gate-to-gate Wi-Fi connectivity on the airline’s full fleet of aircraft. Passengers flying on Icelandair operated flights between North America and Europe can now connect to the internet from jetway to jetway. This airline milestone in Wi-Fi connectivity designates Icelandair as the first airline in both the European and North Atlantic markets to provide gate-to-gate connectivity.
Singapore | February 17, 2016– At the Singapore Airshow, Thales announces a string of successes for its avionics business in 2015. The group will equip a staggering total of over 700 Airbus single-aisle aircraft in Asia.
Thales cements its position as the most successful aerospace systems supplier in Asia with contracts signed with 16 airlines, including China’s Air China and Shenzhen Airlines, India’s GoAir and Singapore’s BOC Aviation.
Singapore is Thales’s primary regional hub for avionics, and handles both production of key systems as well as Repair and Overhaul.
Locally, the Group manufactures flight control computer displays and electrical systems for Airbus A320’s and A350’s and for Boeing B787’s.
Key contracts signed in 2015 include, in addition to a number of undisclosed airlines, Air China and Shenzhen Airlines choosing Thales TopFlight, Flight Management System (FMS) on a total of 91 Airbus single aisle aircraft. TopFlight FMS was also chosen by Mumbai-based GoAir, one of the fastest growing low cost carriers in India, for their brand new fleet of 72 Airbus A320NEOs.
Singapore-based BOC Aviation, one of Asia’s largest and most successful aircraft leasing groups with aircraft across more than 60 airlines, also chose the Thales FMS for their baseline avionics configuration.
Most of the contracts signed across 2015 also include the Thales Low Range Radio Altimeter (LRRA) and the Thales/ACSS T3CAS surveillance platform, the leader avionics surveillance.
Singapore boasts one of the three global repair hubs for avionics and In- Flight Entertainment systems. It is responsible for a third of Thales’s Avionics repair and overhaul activities worldwide covering the entire Australasian territory.
Last month we saw an interesting news release from SITA about biometric passports and the European Unions’ use of this technology for fast-tracking through airport security.
Here is a bit of the news release: NAPLES – 19 January 2016 – Naples International Airport is offering passengers from the European Union who hold a biometric passport, a fast track through the airport with the introduction of 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 provide 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 only 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 (departures and arrivals) allows more than 2,000 passengers a day to clear immigration at the airport using this latest technology.
Alessandro Fidato, Director of Infrastructure & Operations at Naples International Airport said: “The new technology has helped improve the passenger experience at Naples Airport by speeding them through immigration while ensuring that we meet the highest security standards at Italy’s borders. The ABCGates are really a win-win technology for airports.”
Dave Bakker, SITA President, Europe, noted: “We continue to work with airlines, airports and government agencies around the globe to provide the best-in-class self-service border technology. Through the use of biometrics, we are able to enhance the passenger experience by providing a swift passage through immigration while adhering to the highest possible security standards.”
So we asked a few more questions of Mr. Bakker and he told IFExpress the following:
1. IFExpress: How long have the ABCGates in Naples been in operation?
Answer: “The first four iBorders® BorderAutomation ABCGates went into operation at Naples International Airport’s departures in September last year while four additional ABCGates were introduced into arrivals in January this year. “
2. If an optical condition occurs (like an eye operation) to a pax who has signed up for optical recognition and fails the test, what happens?
Answer: “Whenever a passenger is not successfully processed by the gate, an agent at a monitoring station is called for intervention.”
3. IFExpress: How many eyes are scanned for each person?
Answer: “The ABCGates use facial recognition technology and fingerprint matching.”
4. IFExpress: Is there a cost for the application and setup for the passenger?
Answer: “Any traveller from the EU holding a valid e-Passport can use the ABCGates. There is no cost for the traveller to use the ABCGates.”
5. IFExpress: Actually, what equipment is involved?
Answer: “The most important and visible element are the e-gates themselves. They include gates with passport readers, face recognition cameras and fingerprint readers, as well as the necessary software to allow integration of the data into the authorities’ databases.”
6. IFExpress: Any test results on percent error you can mention?
Answer: “For security reasons, the exact percentage is confidential. However, the ABCGates are configured to be compliant with the Frontex guidelines for processing travellers in the EU in a self-service environment.”
7. IFExpress: How long have the ABCGates been in the dev/test phase?
Answer: “SITA’s ABCGates were first launched two years ago, after 18 months of development.”
8. IFExpress: Is this more accurate or reliable than fingerprints?
Answer: “The type of biometrics used depends on the government requirements. Our ABCGates can accommodate all ICAO-approved biometrics. In the case of Naples, both facial recognition and fingerprint matching are included.”
9. IFExpress: Can you give our readers a bit more on how this database works?
Answer: A: “Each travelers details including their biometrics are captured and vetted at the time they apply for their e-Passport. When the traveler uses the ABC Gate their live biometrics are checked against the biometric data stored securely on the e-Passport chip. At the same time the passport details are checked against central government databases to ensure that the passenger is eligible to cross the border.”
Finally, Dave Bakker told IFExpress: “We continue to work with airlines, airports and government agencies around the globe to provide the best-in-class self-service border technology. Through the use of biometrics, we are able to enhance the passenger experience by providing a swift passage through immigration while adhering to the highest possible security standards.”
On another front, Panasonic signed a multi-year contract for high throughput capacity on Telesat’s new Telstar 12 VANTAGE satellite. In this latest agreement, Panasonic has contracted for nearly all the high throughput satellite (HTS) Ku-band capacity covering the Mediterranean, Europe and Middle East on Telesat’s new Telstar 12 VANTAGE. Telstar 12 Vantage became fully operational at 15 degrees West in December 2015 and will provide Panasonic with HTS capacity over key aero routes from Western Europe to the Middle East enabling them to bring the very latest in in-flight Wi-Fi to carriers across the region. Panasonic will also be using the HTS capacity of Telstar 12 VANTAGE to expand their mobile broadband offerings to growing maritime markets in the Mediterranean and European waterways as well as to oil and gas operators in the North Sea.
“Telesat is highly respected for their ability to design innovative satellites,” said David Bruner, Vice President, Global Communications Services at Panasonic Avionics. “Their cooperation in adjusting the position of the HTS spot beams on Telstar 12 VANTAGE to meet Panasonic’s requirements was outstanding. This further optimizes the service for Panasonic and gives us an edge in winning mobile broadband business in the air and at sea. Panasonic now has Ku-band capacity on four Telesat satellites and, with this latest contract for nearly all the HTS Ku-band covering the Mediterranean, Europe and Middle East on Telstar 12 VANTAGE, we are well positioned to expand in maritime and energy markets across Europe. Panasonic values our close ties to the Telesat team and we are truly excited to be making use of Telstar 12 VANTAGE – the first satellite with significant HTS Ku-band over the Mediterranean and North Sea.” Also note Bruner; “The story here from Panasonic’s perspective is that by April we will have high throughout capacity online continuously and overlapping from the west coast of the US to the Middle East. By October all the way to Asia. Next year we complete the initial HTS coverage with a new satellite over the Pacific, Eutelsat 172B.” This might be a good time to view the map coverage of Telstar 12 VANTAGE.
Lastly, Thales just closed a big sale deal for AVANT IFE and connectivity with Singapore Airlines for their A350 aircraft and IFExpress will have more on the deal soon! Stay Tuned!
- Over the next twenty years, the folks at Boeing see an Asia-Pacific demand of some 14,550 aircraft valued at over $550 B!
- Last week we found an amazing, crazy video. You are never going to believe what the band OK Go does to an aircraft interior, never. The tune “Upside Down & Inside Out” should give you a hint. The band traveled to Russia to work with S7 Airlines and film the video, described on the OK Go Facebook page as “the craziest thing they’ve ever done.” It is… OK Go breaks gravity habit in spacey ‘Upside Down & Inside Out’ video
- Correction: Last week we noted some trade show information that occurred at the Aircraft Interiors Middle East event this year. Mr. Botts, who reported on the show and award event for us noted flydubai as the overall winner and mentioned an IFE vendor whose equipment he thought was on their planes – he was wrong. The correct IFE vendor is Lumexis. In fact, flydubai was the launch customer for Lumexis’ FTTS IFE system. Here are links to flydubai’s past awards: 2014, 2015, and 2016. Mea Culpa!
Interesting Industry News:
- Cabin certification is getting challenging – delethalization is a big issue!
- With some 3,072 B737 MAX backlog, certification is becoming a big issue!
- AA sues Gogo for speed and improvements
And Finally, a B727 Story…
For some time now we have been following the reconstruction and re-certification of a 53 year old Boeing 727 by an ex-Boeing good-guy, Robert Bogash. The plane is destined for Boeing’s Museum of Flight but is located some 50 Kilometers away in Everett, WA. Bob is driven and never gives up, I know because many years ago, I worked with him. The rebuilding process is documented on his website and we have a link for you below and has well over one million “hits” so far. Mostly, we wanted to show our readers the challenge in re-certifing an older plane destined to fly this spring. Mr. Bogash and the team have documented virtually every step in the process (text and images) and if you ever worked in aircraft maintenance or certification, this is for you. If not, you are going to learn a lot about the B727! We asked Bob, what it took to get the job done so far and he said: “Patience. Persistence. Hard Work. Long Journey. I’ve probably got about 600-700 hours into it — in the last 5 or 6 weeks, that is… We are shooting to fly March 1 – weather is the big unknown and determinant. That’s me in the Left Seat in the video, and yes, I will fly the trip down to Boeing Field, but not as Pilot in Command. Thanks for the kudos. Daily E1 Status Reports are being provided in near Real Time on my Status Page.” Also, he noted; “It’s also important that they look into buying a souvenir that will fly on the flight or contribute directly, since none of this comes free, and I’ve blown my budget.”
France | February 16, 2016– Thales In-Flyt Experience will equip Singapore Airlines with its AVANT In-Flight Entertainment system and Ka-band connectivity solution on its future fleet of A350 XWB aircraft configured for medium-haul operations.
Singapore Airlines is recognised for its high standards of service and cabin experience. As a visionary of connected IFE solutions, Singapore Airlines constantly seeks to renew and maintain its image for quality and passenger comfort by providing an in-flight experience that exceeds passenger expectations.
Thales, with its AVANT Android based system offers a flexible architecture that responds to these needs. Through its innovative User Application portal, Thales will assist Singapore Airlines to constantly introduce the newest and most sought after apps present in the consumer market, to their passengers.
The integration of Ka-band connectivity to the in-flight system, using the fastest airborne internet speeds will open up the world to the passenger. Delivery of the system will begin in 2018.
The fleet will be equipped with Thales latest AVANT monitors, the most lightweight ever deployed, featuring full high-definition video and integrating Avii, the newest evolution of the award winning Thales Touch Passenger Media Unit, in the premium cabins. Avii provides intuitive navigation, full android smartphone look & feel and acts as a second screen which greatly enhances the cabin experience for premium passengers.
Passengers will have access to a wide selection of connected applications, seamless personal device integration allowing a home experience in the air, High Power USB charging and NFC technology.
With strong roots in the Singapore market and over four decades in the region, Thales has developed an impressive local presence with more than 1000 people, innovation capability and business partnerships across the region.
Thales will provide Singapore Airlines with line operation services to ensure the highest level of performance of the IFE system. The local repair hub near Changi airport offers the capability to fully support Singapore Airlines by maintaining aircraft equipment while maximizing efficiency.
Melbourne, Florida and Paris, France | January 25, 2016– Thales has been selected by JetBlue Airways to upgrade the current and future A320 fleet with its next generation in-seat television solution called STV+. As the launch customer for STV+, JetBlue will benefit from an enhanced passenger experience produced by Thales.
The complete STV+ solution uses a new ultra lightweight, seat- centric design featuring live and integrated video content and broadband connectivity. JetBlue will be the first commercial airline to offer its passengers Direct Broadcast Satellite Television plus connectivity embedded in the seatback. Retrofit installations on the A320 fleet will begin in early 2017.
STV+ is an Android-based, high definition touch screen experience which includes a selection of over 100 channels of live TV, Audio- and-Video-on-Demand (AVOD) and real-time connected applications. The product will provide unlimited possibilities for custom app and widget development live content streaming, audio- and-video-on-demand, and personal device pairing to offer more entertainment options than ever.
Thales is offering this product as a turn-key solution for the A320 fleet which includes line maintenance and support services, software solutions, system engineering and Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for the aircraft.
APEX, Portland, Oregon | September 2015– On the opening day of the APEX show in Portland, Oregon, Thales InFlyt Experience announces that SriLankan Airlines has become the first airline in the world to fly the Thales AVANT In-flight entertainment and connectivity system with an application delivering Live News & Weather.
The carrier’s A330-300 fleet will all feature this capability enabled through the Thales AVANT IFE solution. Currently, there are four aircraft in-service with the final fleet delivery expected by the end of 2015.
SriLankan Airlines’ passengers are currently able to stay connected to the world with the latest news headlines and weather information. Live content from BBC News, AFP and AccuWeather is displayed on the passenger in-seat monitor with on demand access. Live News & Weather engages the passenger with news articles complete with full images plus 5-day weather forecasts for 50 selected cities.
SriLankan Airlines, Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Rakhita Jayawardena said, “Our new A330 aircraft is designed every way to suit the needs of the modern-day traveler. With this full featured aircraft, we are aiming to provide a greater customer experience. Last year, SriLankan’s new A330 fleet became the launch customer for the latest Thales Avant in-flight entertainment system. Today, we are marking another first with Thales, by offering Thales Avant Live News and Weather.”
News and weather feeds are transmitted to the aircraft via satcom during flight to provide rich, timely content, enriching the passenger experience by enabling passengers to Stay in touch with world events during flight.
AVANT, our state-of-the-art Android In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity solution features a highly customizable passenger experience with the latest applications on the market. It is available to all advanced, single and twin aisle Airbus and Boeing aircraft, and has already been selected by many worldwide airlines.
More than 300,000,000 passengers a year across 75 partner airlines use Thales InFlyt Experience solutions, making Thales a leading provider of IFE and connectivity solutions in the world.
Portland Oregon was a great place to hold the recent APEX annual IFEC soiree and IFExpress will deliver a few product summaries in this and the next IFExpress. We plan then to feature in-depth stories about what we saw… and we saw a lot. From a general observational note, the show looked to us as the beginning of an industry and technical turn-a-round. From a technology point of view, the inflight world is changing and new technology is partly responsible. Technology developed for products on the ground, and in the air, is very exciting to us and we will discuss and promote that change as best we can. The other part of the change we observed is you, our readers. The issue here is the attitude of the vendors and airlines. While the melding of ground-based and airborne technology is of great interest, the fact that a whole lot of people are now seeing the journey as a issue, not just the flight itself – the “experience”. How can you not be excited about that? We also want to be sure to say “Thank You” to our clients, advertisers, and all our industry associates – if it weren’t for you, we would not be in business. We apologize for asking so many questions and taking up your valuable time, but we have only one goal – technical truth. Stay Tuned!
First, the Show: “2750 Registrants from 51 Countries, and 207 exhibitors,” so noted new APEX CEO, Joe Leader. The IFEC event in Portland, Oregon this year clearly set out a new vision for the APEX team that now extensively focuses on the “experience” value of IFEC. This is a concept that is being heralded by more organizations as the new trip vision. The “Experience” tag line was noticed in print, on slides, and voiced by almost every show attendant. As noted by Mr. Leader, “We do not take a trip, the trip takes us.” – and there could just be some truth in this observation. Certainly, if travel gets difficult, as it often does, travelers do get an experience but it is frequently negative. When it does become a positive event, as many noted, it will result in a good experience. And, the APEX team see’s their job as helping to facilitate solutions throughout our industry.
Importantly, this positive experience includes a lot more than tickets, inflight movies, or food… a lot more. It includes the flight of course, but one can rationalize that the process of finding a destination, buying a ticket, waiting at the airport, interacting with airline personnel, getting one’s baggage… and so on, are all part of the trip; consequently, IFEC organizations and airlines are focusing on the “experience” moniker, and that is what this show is, and will be about, for some time to come. As a result, we detected a big change in the air this year and only time will tell if the IFEC crowd gets the message and forces change positively. Readers, this is a big deal so we hope you get on board with the concept. Last year alone, the airlines had $29.3B in profits, and that exceeds the previous year’s record of $16.4B. Many travelers say it could be that airline revenues are potentially inverse to joy of the experience… and thus there is a opportunity for the mechanics of change here. One way or another, experiences are being made for more and more customers and APEX now is in the thick of the change surrounding this growth. This ought to get interesting!
We should also say a few words about Joe Leader since we met and talked extensively with him. Joe is one of the most positive humans on the earth – that is a big deal. Why? Because if the new APEX mantra embraces positivism, the boss better be… and as far as we can tell, he is very positive. We asked a few show-goers what they thought and perhaps one discussion with a board member put it best. Michael Childers – APEX Board Member and Tech Committee Chair had this to say: “I think this APEX marks a new direction for this Association with the addition of Joe Leader as APEX CEO. With a full time executive working exclusively for APEX, and one who is technology savvy, we can do things we could not do before. I’m looking forward to working with Joe and with our Technical Director Bryan Rusenko to take technology to a new level of implementation.” So if you meet Joe, and you most certainly will, don’t be put off with the man’s ability to look at the good side of things. We had a few questions about the number of increasingly related meetings and groups that were overtly “experience” focused, and even some competitively so. His answers distanced his position from any competitive posture. Rather, he embraced the common focus and resultant teaming value as a beneficial result of multiple groups seeking a common goal or solution – a solution for a good trip “experience” and a future for many more of them.
With respect to this issue, we obviously, we can’t (and won’t) try to cover a show like APEX with one issue of IFExpress – it can’t be done. Rather, we will cover many of the speakers, vendors, products, meeting and general view of the next generation of IFEC with a lot more data. So, we chose to give you a rundown of tech teasers from many of the vendors we met with, and present a ton of teasers to wet your appetite for future Hot Topics, images, quotes, and product solutions with more to come next issue. And note here, this was a banner year for new stuff and while we did as much research and interviewing as we could, this is an intense and challenging communication job. Thus, we may be sending you a write-up for correction and updates about your products. Your help will produce a better IFExpress, and that is what we are all about. So, here are a number of tempting “bullets of information” or product teasers that impressed us early on:
GuestLogix: Craig Proud – SVP Platform of GuestLogix told us that purchase trends in consumer behavior included digital wallets, self-service retailing, and cashless & paperless payments. Further, he noted the global mobile payment forecast is growing some 30% per year. And if you don’t think some of that growth won’t happen on airplanes, ask yourself if you ever bought anything on a plane with a credit card and then note what you have done on the ground over wi-fi. This may also help generate drivers for inflight Wi-Fi. Hello Amazon Inflight!
The folks at Lumexis told us that they announced an order for 8 B737 FTTS + Screen systems from Caribbean Airlines. Also, they now are the first IFE company to implement the Android Lollipop OS. We think there a few more announcements coming soon too and we see more browser solutions in their future.
Panasonic, the Big Dog in the industry with over $2B in IFEC sales last year, had a ‘banner winning’ at the Pax Choice event. All 5 airline winners in the 13 “Best of..” award categories were using Panasonic hardware (Emirates won 7 of the 13 categories). Further, some 516 aircraft have Panasonic installed connectivity since April of this year with 400 more committed for wi-fi since the Hamburg IFEC show. This chart tells the story! We would love to talk about their industry party with the Portland food trucks but… More later!
BOSE is always a fun visit and we proved that the lightweight 20i portable headphones really make the world of inflight listening very similar to that with the fixed cups. Now, if they would just remove the wires and include a Bluetooth… sorry, we can’t say that!
Telephonix + PDT: The company highlighted the Summit Product Line of (IFEC) equipment for the show and we finally got a hands-on session. The Telefonix Summit line is comprised of state-of-the-art system components designed to enable unique and innovative in-flight connectivity and entertainment solutions. Here are the hardware elements: Cabin ACe Wireless Access Point (WAP), Cabin Pinnacle general purpose airborne server, Cabin Peak pico cell, and Cabin Vista attendant display can be added to enhance existing in-flight entertainment systems or combined to create a unique IFEC solution. More on this later, but in the meantime you might want to read this link… the security stuff intrigued us!
SIE, the folks that know how to get electronic equipment installed and certified on jet aircraft achieved notoriety along with others who provided technology updates and VooDoo doughnuts…
Thales: During an interview with Duc Huy Tran, new VP of Strategy and Marketing, he told IFExpress: “If an airline doesn’t have streaming video, they will have disappointed passengers, and if they don’t have a big enough data pipe they can’t cover the needs… but it has to be cost effective,” he said. “Devices will grow tenfold in the 10 years and the passengers want to be there.” He also told IFExpress “There is a trend toward two-way engagement, not just entertainment,” but he noted, “The more you engage, the more you can monetize,” and that tells the story of the connected aircraft and where this is all going!
The folks at Gogo are pretty B to B focused and as you might guess, they mostly talk to airlines and partners and this accounts for their Crew Connect and Voice tech apps. “It has noise canceling capability in it,” noted Steve Nolan. IFExpress asked about the 2Ku status, and he said; “We are most excited about 2Ku based on the performance we we have seen to date – we are also excited about bringing more bandwidth to the aviation market.” We will have more on this as many folks were talking about their 2Ku system. Visiting Gogo is always a tech trip… and this year they were one of the 5 or so booths that featured some Beacon technology. Further, they also showed robots, 3D printing and the best airplane seats ever… just kidding, they were vibrating massage chairs… with screens.
Lufthansa Systems BoardConnect – What you will see in the link below is one of the early shots of one of the more amazing things to be taken aboard an airplane. Amazing because it delivers streaming Wi-Fi to 50 passengers in approximately 1 Mbps streams, and runs on batteries (or fixed power)! It is about the size of a large book and it works by just turning the device on and placing it in a baggage bin for operation. “Much like your own streaming server, it uses no outside access points and the system is a faction the cost of an installed IFE system,” noted Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems. “… and the SSD storage holds a lot of movie choices as well.” Here is a picture of the device and we will have more on this one later.
We will have a lot more hot gadgets and stories about them, and yes, more data in the coming months, so if we ran out of room for your story in this issue, be patient! Stay Tuned!
Paris Air Show | June 18, 2015– Today at the Paris Air Show, Thales was selected by Air Caraibes to supply the AVANT inflight entertainment and connectivity solutions for their new fleet of six A350 XWB aircraft.
Air Caraibes will be an A350 XWB launch customer in France. The three
A350-900 and three A350-1000 series aircraft will be equipped with the
state-of-the-art Thales AVANT system based on Android technologies to
service business, premium-economy and economy cabins as a scaled
solution. The first deliveries are scheduled to enter service in December
Business class passengers will enjoy 17 inch screens with the Touch
Passenger Media Unit, in-seat power, dual audio jack and USB port. In
premium economy, passengers will enjoy 11.6 inch screens, dual audio
jacks and USB port. The economy cabin will be equipped with 10.1 inch
Ka-band connectivity will be offered to passengers through Wi-Fi and
seatback screens. In addition, passengers will have the possibility to
access wireless IFE for content streaming on their personal electronic
Thales has also reached an agreement with Air Caraibes to be the Value
Added Reseller (VAR), which will facilitate the airline’s management of
the connectivity solution to the passenger.
AVANT is available to all, single and twin aisle Airbus and Boeing aircraft
and has already been selected by many worldwide airlines. More than
130 aircraft currently fly with the AVANT system and total orders
750,000 passengers each day across 75 partner airlines use Thales
InFlyt Experience systems, making Thales one of the most successful
developers of IFE systems in the world.
Paris Air Show | June 16, 2015– At the Paris Air Show, Thales announces the AVANT in-flight entertainment system has been selected by Oman Air’s for its fleet expansion.
This announcement covers a total order of 16 B737, 3 A330s, and 6
B787 representing the newest and first Boeing wide body fleet being
delivered to Oman Air.
Oman Air will feature the AVANT state of the art Android system and
Thales award winning Touch PMU handset. Passengers will have access
to a wide selection of on-demand entertainment delivered through a
passenger experience interface developed specifically with Oman Air.
AVANT has been selected by 19 airlines; more than 130 aircraft are
flying with the AVANT system with total orders exceeding 500 aircraft.
The system is offerable on all new generation Boeing and Airbus
platforms. 750,000 passengers per day across 75 partner airlines use
Thales InFlyt Experience systems, making Thales one of the most
successful providers of in-flight entertainment systems in the world.
In Hamburg, on Aircraft Interiors International’s opening day, Thales announced a host of new technologies specifically designed to align the company strategies to enhance the passenger experience with increasing airlines’ return on investment. Having integrated LiveTV activities, Thales will now be able to offer a unique IPTV service for a near-real-time feed of live television programs. By using real-time satellite feeds, popular television events, such as sports matches, will be streamed to all airplanes equipped with IPTV services from a dedicated Thales lab tasked with controlling, transcoding, and disseminating the TV signal via the Thales connectivity system. This offer is made viable through Thales’s strong ability to develop global rights management and its effective use of content, which differentiates it from any other type of service, in that, Thales will broadcast only the valuable events from various content providers to the aircraft and record the programs for on-demand playback. This solution eliminates irrelevant programming and makes the most efficient use of the aircraft bandwidth. Traditional TV streaming services simply pipe content directly from TV networks, prohibiting any control over what is broadcast. The Thales solution is a significant step forward as it allows airlines to stream relevant content that effectively targets their customers, giving passengers more choice and control over their television experience.
Thales also introduced their near field communications (NFC) for payment transactions using its systems. Through the remote module developed for the AVANT system, airlines will now be able to configure their IFE to accept this growing “Tap and Go” technology to allow passengers to make instant payments for all on-board transactions. Regardless of the airline’s business model, ancillary revenue generation streams are becoming ever more important and NFC technology will facilitate payment transactions, improving the passenger experience and increasing airlines’ revenue streams. Another another new technology is an enhanced digital magazine experience, the result of a partnership with Zinio, the world’s largest digital newsstand, boasting over 6,000 titles in 33 languages. With the use of Zinio’s Android inflight application for digital magazines, available through the Thales App portal, passengers will be able to access an unrivalled choice of content ranging from the world’s biggest brands to niche specialist titles. Interests and topics covered include news, politics, technology, art, style, travel and more. Thales also offers a solution which provides an enhanced passenger experience while simultaneously opens up avenues of exciting new revenue generation to airlines, due to attractive licensing and sponsorship models, as well as potential new business relationships with publishing houses and advertisers.
The company continues to evolve its AVANT platform to ensure its continued technological superiority amongst all other in-flight entertainment systems. On the opening day of the Aircraft Interiors International show in Hamburg, Thales announced several new technology evolutions that will be made available on AVANT. These underpin the success of the modular design of the system and highlight the proven track record of the most advanced in-flight entertainment system on the market. First and foremost, the cornerstone of the passenger interface, the AVANT screen, will now be larger, with 10-22” HD in-seat displays for the economy cabin and up to a 24” and 32” Ultra HD for premium cabins. These new screens will bring passengers a vivid and cinematic picture quality, no different than what they can expect from the best home-entertainment systems. Airlines will incur a significant benefit from a 35% reduction in weight and 20% reduction in power per screen. Equipped with the latest generation quad-core processors, USB 3.0 for PED charging, the displays will be faster and will able to have a greater local storage capacity than 512GB units.
Additionally, Thales announced the long awaited next-generation Touch Passenger Media Unit (PMU) controller. With a 70% larger 5” multi-touchscreen, this evolution of the award-winning Android-based TPMU is equipped with haptic feedback, letting the user register their commands. It represents a game-changing user interface that lets the passenger interact with the seatback display in a unique manner. A revolutionary point-in-air motion sensor lets the user navigate the content simply by pointing the TPMU at screen. This allows the passenger to both navigate the content through the TPMU while keeping the trademark second screen experience. (Editor’s Note: We couldn’t do this Thales report with out the help of Mike Moeller and Giaime Porcu – Mike for his time in explaining the new InFlyt concept and Giaime for his excellent daily Thales write-ups – perhaps other vendors will consider this solution for reporters!)
Noted Giaime Porcu, Thales Communication: “From a market perspective the IFEC world faces three key challenges as we all know, 1) A growing global fleet and the growing demand for IFEC systems on single aisle and shorter routes, 2) A more tech minded passenger requiring higher levels of technology interaction at all times, and 3) Intense competitive pressure for airlines to differentiate their brand and foster brand loyalty.” He went on: “Thales estimates that by 2025 70% of the global fleet will be equipped with in-cabin connectivity. Already, all RFPs in the market for the past 2 years have included a form of connectivity. We also know that the market is reaching a level of maturity that is driving down costs which is opening up new segmenting opportunities in areas like low cost, single aisle and shorter routes. All this lead to our strategic decision to change the paradigm of our offer. As Dominique GIannoni mentioned in his press conference: 1) Our strategic vision is to become the Number 1 provider of IFEC solutions in the world, 2) Passengers want an immersive, personalised, and connected experience, and 3) Airlines no longer accept IFE to be a static cost centre, they want a positive branding and marketing tool to drive customer retention and direct monetization . The result is simple, with the integration of Thales IFEC and LiveTV we were able to bridge the gap on all these market needs and are the only ones in a real position to do so.”
(Editor’s Note: Here is an important piece about the “new” Thales reshaping (and rebranding) of the inflight experience – it is called InFlyt. Check it out.)
The microwave antenna world is in for a radical change and the folks from Kymeta are using metamaterials to make it happen! First, a Wikipedia definition: “Metamaterials are materials engineered to have properties that have not yet been found in nature. They are made from assemblies of multiple elements fashioned from conventional materials such as metals or plastics. The materials are usually arranged in repeating patterns, often at microscopic or smaller scales that are smaller than the wavelengths of the phenomena they influence. Metamaterials derive their properties not from the properties of the base materials, but from their designed structure. Their precise shape, geometry, size, orientation and arrangement gives them their properties.
Appropriately designed metamaterials can affect waves of electromagnetic radiation or sound in a manner not observed in bulk materials. Those that exhibit a negative index of refraction for particular wavelengths have attracted significant research. These materials are known as negative index metamaterials.”
And, thus we have an update of a IFExpress Exclusive story we ran in the summer of 2013. Kymeta, if you remember at the time, was the solid-state antenna company who didn’t want to say much about the technology as it was in the Ku Band, pre-development stage but from the looks of the unit shown at AIX, they are really up a couple of generations with a virtually flat device, a couple of inches thick.
If metamaterials are not your thing, here is a definition of the application from the Kymeta website: “Broadly defined, electromagnetic metamaterials result from arranging naturally occurring materials in such a way that they produce an electromagnetic response not found in nature. On the mTenna suite of products, tunable elements are arranged in a precisely calculated pattern. Radiofrequency (RF) energy is scattered when the elements are activated, holographically generating a beam. The direction of the beam is defined by the specific elements that are electronically activated—a design that allows for both continual and instantaneous changes in direction.” Look at the antenna like this – between two layers of special glass, metamaterials are deposited much like a printed circuit. The materials, “circuit” design, material used, and the activation elements develop a clean antenna waveform that, in many cases, can “see” beyond 180 degrees, with no moving parts – a star performer on the equator. We also understand that by 2016 they will have a conformal aviation antenna ready to go. Check out the picture we took at AIX with one of their engineers, Kenny Kirchoff (no kidding), and be sure to visit their website! (Editor’s Note: We should mention that clever Honeywell is the first partner we know for the Kymeta aviation product, but Boeing and Airbus will be in the loop because you just can’t pass up an external antenna a few inches thick.)
A couple weeks prior to the show, Rockwell Collins announced the choice of Craig Elliot as VicePresident, Airline Cabin Sales and Marketing, for the company as follows: “Rockwell Collins today announced that Craig Elliott has been named vice president, Airline Cabin Sales and Marketing. Craig brings strong industry knowledge and customer focus to his new role along with extensive business relationships that he has built through his 20 years working in a variety of positions at Rockwell Collins,” said Scott Gunnufson, vice president and general manager, Commercial Sales, Marketing and Support at Rockwell Collins. “Most recently, Elliott served as senior director of Airline Sales at Rockwell Collins, working with airlines throughout the world to equip their fleets with the latest avionics and IFE systems. In his new role, Elliott will lead a sales and marketing team focused on the Rockwell Collins’ full suite of cabin solutions for air transport aircraft. This includes a number of systems and applications, including PAVES™ On-demand, PAVES™ Broadcast, PAVES™ Wireless, ARINC Cabin Connect, Airshow® 3D Moving Map and air-to-ground high-speed connectivity. Elliott holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, Iowa.” So much for the news release… now, we have an opinion too – Craig is one of the smartest and nicest folks we have ever worked with in aviation! Our past experience is proof. He will be great with customers and the company engineers alike and we wish him the best. He told IFExpress; “Rockwell Collins won the #1 Supplier Supplier Award from Airbus as a Cabin Solution Provider. It revolved around the airlines giving their inputs regarding supplier products (Rockwell and their competitors) and out team won, even when we were up against other cabin suppliers, seats providers, galley hardware manufacturers and the like…we were number one, and we couldn’t be more pleased.” This points out why Craig Elliot will succeed… he is upbeat, positive, and a good role model for sales and marketing teams – her gets everyone involved. And, lest we forget, Rockwell (and ARINC) have some very interesting products on the cusp of announcement, but alas, that is all we can say for now!
IFExpress had a reason to contact Richie Sugimoto over at ACS and he told IFExpress: “We just delivered 42” HD LCD monitors that comply with DO-160G, Section 16, Current Harmonics (Variable Frequency Power) which directly applies to the A380, A350 and B787. Our brand new 65” HD LCD monitor will also meet these standards by the end of this year.”
The Airline Retail Conference (ARC) is coming up on 2nd & 3rd June at London Olympia it is the leading networking platform for airline buyers and suppliers in the fields of airline retail and ancillary revenue. The event also explores the impact and implications of the ‘Always-Connected-Passenger’ To give you a little more information, please see the link here which contains all the information for the up and coming event.
We are still trying to get our hands around this past month’s Gogo announcement – “Interest in In-Flight Connectivity Higher for Passengers Outside the U.S., According to Recent Gogo Global Study on In-Flight Connectivity.” You can find the report here. Here is what Gogo said: “(Gogo) recently conducted a global study on traveler interest in in-flight connectivity and connectivity related products and services. The study revealed that interest in these products and services is significantly higher outside the U.S. despite the fact that fewer connected aircraft are operating internationally as compared to within the U.S.” And, we thought, US travelers had more connected, carry-on devices? What gives? We would like to hear from you on why.
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France and Irvine, California | December 2, 2014– Thales announces that Japan Airlines’ new B787-8, which entered into revenue service on December 1, is equipped with the latest generation, Android based AVANT in-flight entertainment system. Japan Airlines (JAL) becomes the first carrier in Asia to fly Thales’s AVANT system on a B787 aircraft.
AVANT is a popular system on newest generation aircraft and has been selected by 15 worldwide airlines. Today, more than 120 aircraft are flying with AVANT with at least one aircraft delivery nearly every week. Total orders are approaching 500 aircraft.
The JAL Sky Suite passenger experience on the B787 includes a wide selection of on-demand entertainment, 3D Maps, JAL Shop, and Sky Manga; a world first for the cabin experience. Sky Manga is a service that allows passengers to enjoy digital manga on the Thales system. Available in all classes on international routes, passengers will have access to 90 Japanese and 30 English titles.
Business class passengers will enjoy their personal entertainment on 23” high definition displays and on the award winning Touch Passenger Media Unit. This unique unit, which resembles a smartphone, can be used as a control device or second screen, bringing more interactivity and newer Android applications to passengers than ever before.
Passengers in premium economy and economy seats will access their entertainment through large 12 and 10 inch displays offering a generous viewing experience. At every seat, passengers will find AC power and USB port accommodations for their mobile devices.
Japan Airlines have 15 line-fit B787 aircraft on order, all featuring AVANT. The airline and Thales have a developed a close partnership over the years. In addition to the B787, Thales systems are flying on Japan Airlines’ B767 and B777 aircraft, on both domestic and international routes.
“Our relationship with Japan Airlines spans many years and we have developed mutual respect and trust for one another. The launch of this new aircraft is a great milestone for all of us and we are confident that the quality, reliability and advanced technology of our systems will help Japan Airlines ensure their passengers continue to be satisfied by this airline’s exceptional level of service,” said Dominique Giannoni, Thales vice president and CEO of In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity activities
- Thales and JetBlue close the $399m LiveTV deal.
Neuilly-sur-Seine, France and Irvine, California | June 10, 2014– Thales today announced the closing of the acquisition of LiveTV from JetBlue. As part of the arrangement, the two companies will form a partnership that focuses on innovation for both passengers and airline operations.
Passengers increasingly expect broadband connectivity at all times. Airlines want to enable their passengers to have access to this connected environment within the aircraft, allowing them to interact with both social media and professional networks in the air. The acquisition of LiveTV is part of Thales’s strategy to meet passenger demands by delivering high quality, fast connections while meeting airline needs for greater operational efficiency. LiveTV has equipped more than 700 aircraft worldwide with a range of competitive products, focused on high performance connectivity services.
LiveTV provides outstanding solutions for passenger connectivity, live
television and wireless video services. The combination of this offering with the advanced Thales AVANT entertainment system firmly aligns the Thales In Flight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) business to its long-term focus on connected services for passengers and airline operators within all industry segments, from premium to low-cost.
Robin Hayes, President of JetBlue referenced the additional benefits of the
deal to the airline, “JetBlue was careful to find a buyer that will be a key partner in advancing IFEC solutions. I am confident that Thales will continue to deliver innovation and long term value.”
With more than 500 employees and projected revenues for 2014 estimated at over US$150m, Florida-based LiveTV is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Thales USA, reporting to Dominique Giannoni, vice president Thales IFEC business.
As a result, Thales strengthens its operational footprint in the USA and
enhances the Group’s global IFEC presence.
Hamburg, Germany | April 11, 2014– Ancillary Revenue represents a $46bn industry for the global commercial air transport sector. At present these revenues are experiencing a 30% year on year growth. Thales expects that the on-board portion of this revenue, which today accounts for 15% of the total, will become an ever more crucial driver for airline profits.
The IFE leader is therefore announcing the delivery of its onboard payment application that brings self-service to the air by enabling passengers to purchase items directly through the TopSeries AVANT system. The system platform is now compliant with the PCI Data Security Standards (DSS) and will fly onboard a major carrier in Q2 2014.
By bundling many different payment methodologies into a single package, Thales aims at enhancing the passenger experience whilst at the same time enabling airlines to further their ancillary revenue generation streams.
The application, developed by GuestLogix, allows for greater flexibility and ease of access to payment options for passengers, all linked to the easy to use credit card reader equipped on AVANT. This functionality opens the doors to a vast array of pay-for services including shopping for destination items such as ground transportation, tourist attraction packages and selected store catalogue shopping, as well as on-board shopping from duty free to in-flight entertainment access or inflight catering for airlines that do not offer these as a complementary service.