FLIGHTPATH3D

FlightPath3D announced that during Q1/2021, their install base has surpassed 3,000 aircraft and that they’re looking forward to continued and accelerated growth throughout 2021. Duncan Jackson, FlightPath3D President, says, “We’re seeing absolute signs of recovery in flights and see good growth going forward through 2021. We’re optimistic about the market and expect to surpass 4,000 aircraft within a year.” There is a sustained increase in air travel and aircraft returning to service. Geographic markets, domestic and international services, commercial and business sectors are all recovering, albeit at a different pace. Jackson adds, We are seeing some of our customers in Asia and Oceania flying close to their 2019 passenger numbers for domestic flights. In addition, our North American airline customers seem to be on the verge of a rapid increase in travel demand. Boris Veksler, FlightPath3D CEO “We’re pleased to see 737 MAX deployments once again as they make their way back into revenue service. Our optimism is further amplified by the news around forward bookings from our airline customers and the growth we’re experiencing in the business aviation sector.” In light of the pending rebound in travel demand, with people beginning to plan trips in numbers not seen for more than a year, FlightPath3D has been busy creating new applications that help passengers find flights, routes, and destinations based on personal profiles and experience desires. Veksler says, “We’re excited to help airlines with their recovery with new apps to facilitate passenger interests to be matched to destinations, and flights or activities matched with traveler motivations. Our engineers are levering data science and large data sets to solve this.”

For additional information, please visit the FlightPath3D website or email them at crew@flightpath3d.com


BOEING

Boeing and Southwest Airlines announced the carrier will continue to build its business around the 737 MAX family with a new order for 100 airplanes and 155 options across two models. The deal comes after a multi-year fleet evaluation by Southwest and means that Boeing and its suppliers could build more than 600 new 737 MAX jets for the airline through 2031. Southwest had been exploring options to modernize the largest component of its fleet: the 737-700 that serves the airline’s needs for a 140-150 seat airplane. With the new agreement, the airline reaffirmed the 737-7 as its preferred replacement and growth airplane. The jet will complement the 737-8, which serves Southwest’s needs for a 175-seat model. Both 737 MAX family members will reduce fuel use and carbon emissions by at least 14% compared to the airplanes they replace, helping to improve operating costs and environmental performance. Southwest said the solution allows it to maintain the operational efficiencies of an all-Boeing 737 fleet to support its low-cost, point-to-point route network. “Southwest Airlines has been operating the Boeing 737 series for nearly 50 years, and the aircraft has made significant contributions to our unparalleled success. Today’s commitment to the 737 MAX solidifies our continued appreciation for the aircraft and confirms our plans to offer the Boeing 737 series of aircraft to our Employees and Customers for years to come,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chairman and CEO. “We are proud to continue our tradition of being the world’s largest operator of an all-Boeing fleet.” “In addition to supporting our efforts to operate sustainably and efficiently, the 737 MAX offers Employees and Customers travel comforts such as a quieter cabin, larger overhead bin spaces, seating with adjustable headrests, and more galley space for onboard service,” said Mike Van de Ven, Southwest’s chief operating officer.

The new purchase agreement takes Southwest’s order book to 200 737-7s and 180 737-8s, more than 30 of which have already been delivered. Southwest will also have 270 options for either of the two models, taking the carrier’s direct-buy commitment to more than 600 airplanes. The airline also plans additional 737 MAX jets through third-party lessors. “Southwest Airlines has long been a leader and bellwether for the airline industry and this order is a big vote of confidence for commercial air travel. As vaccine distribution continues to pick-up, people are returning to the skies and fueling hopes for a full recovery and renewed growth across our industry,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “We are deeply honored by Southwest’s continuing trust in Boeing and the 737. Their fleet decision today brings more stability for our biggest commercial program and will ensure that our entire 737 family will be building new airplanes for Southwest for years to come.”

As part of the agreement, Southwest will also expand its use of Boeing’s digital solutions to support its 737 MAX fleet, including Airplane Health Management, Maintenance Performance Toolbox and digital navigation charting tools. Boeing will also provide system software upgrades and new wireless communications-enabling equipment to support Southwest’s operations.

About the 737 MAX Family
Designed and built in Renton, Washington, the 737 MAX family delivers efficiency, flexibility and reliability for the single-aisle airplane market. The 737-7 can fly 3,850 nautical miles, the longest range in the MAX family and 1,000 nautical miles farther than its predecessor. This derivative seats a maximum of 172 passengers, compared to the 737-8’s 210 maximum seats. The 737-8 can fly 3,550 nautical miles. This additional capability allows airlines to offer new and more direct routes for passengers. Every 737 MAX features the new Boeing Sky Interior, highlighted by modern sculpted sidewalls and window reveals, LED lighting that enhances the sense of spaciousness and larger pivoting overhead storage bins. Other technical specifications can be found here.


MORGON STANLEY REPORT (MS)

Airlines: Corporate Travel Survey 2021: Slow Recovery

Travel managers see a slower recovery for travel versus prior surveys, with a return to pre-Covid levels after 2023. Travel budgets are expected, on average, to be 15% below 2019 by 2022. The shift to virtual continues to increase, with one quarter of 2022 travel volumes expected to shift to virtual. MS conducted an online survey of ~200 corporate travel managers between March 3-15, who represent cUS$7B of typical annual travel spend. This survey is the third wave since the Covid pandemic started, which the company finds interesting to track changes in trends as we return to normal. Overall, recovery expectations have been deteriorating, likely due to extended travel restrictions, with a return to pre-Covid levels of business travel just likely post 2023.

Travel budgets still expected to be below 2019 levels by 2022.

MS thinks the increase in travel restrictions globally has had a negative effect on the return of business travel. In their prior survey (October 2020), respondents expected travel budgets in 2021 to fall on average 54% vs 2019; for 2H21, the expectation is for budgets to be down 44.7% vs 2H19, showing a slight improvement against 1H21. For 2022, respondents now expect a reduction of 15.5% on travel budgets vs 2019. While this implies a strong recovery expected in 2022 vs 2019, at this point respondents are not yet expecting a return to normal levels by next year: 67% of respondents expect 2022 travel budgets to still be below 2019 levels. Yields are expected to go down in 2021 (-2.6% vs 2019), likely due to subdued demand, with some recovery expected in 2022 (yields up 2% vs 2019).

Shift to virtual should reduce travel volumes by over ¼ by 2022.

The trend of some shift of travel volumes into virtual keeps increasing: on average, respondents expect that 27% of meetings will shift into virtual by 2022, an increase from 22% in October 2020 and 19% in July 2020. Only 7% of respondents expect minimal impact (<10%) on travel volume by virtual meetings in 2021, and 15% in 2022.

Mass vaccination continues to be the key catalyst for the return to travel. Widespread availability and administration of vaccination is the biggest catalyst to increase business travel in H2 2021, at 79%, followed by business requirement at 58%. This is largely unchanged versus the past surveys and could be a trigger for a faster recovery, if global programs are successful.

Conclusions for Europe: The results of the survey confirm the slow recovery in business travel. MS thinks the expected reduction in passenger volume of c40% for 2021 is in line with the market view for 2021 capacity, though MS sees some downside risk to this figure, given the continued delay in corporate travel and the replacement of travel by virtual meetings, unless mass vaccination programs progress faster than anticipated. All in all, weaker demand and 27% convergence of travel into virtual events should negatively affect legacy carriers (Lufthansa, IAG and Air France-KLM, in that order) more than low cost carriers (easyJet, Ryanair and Wizz). MS continues to prefer Ryanair and Wizz (OW), over Lufthansa and AF-KLM.

Conclusions for US Airlines: From a US perspective, the survey results are a reminder that despite the widespread optimism (that MS shares) on the pace and trajectory of re-opening related pent up demand, there remains uncertainty and choppiness around the recovery. It is also a reminder that much remains up in the air, especially with respect to corporate/international travel and timing of vaccination. MS notes that the airlines recently shared some of their own surveys/views around a corporate travel recovery, which echoed some of these findings – perhaps with a more bullish tone even. MS continues to remain bullish on the pace of recovery and expects a return to 2019 levels of traffic by late 2021/early 2022, though MS expects US Domestic Leisure/VFR travel to return first and International and Corporate to return “last” by early 2022. This drives our preference for LCC and ULCC carriers over Legacy carriers, which are more exposed to International /Corporate travel and on average have had more cap structure damage during the pandemic. LUV, JBLU, ALGT and DAL are our top picks in the space.


OTHER NEWS

  • BuzzFeed has this great trick: 3. “On an airplane, if my seat-mate is hogging the armrest or being too chatty, I grab the barf bag. Works every time.” People Are Sharing Effective Psychological Tricks They Use In Everyday Life, And I’m Blown Away By Some!
  • And speaking of the virus (we assume), if you have AstraZeneca questions, read this: How good is the AstraZeneca vaccine – and is it really safe? 5 questions answered
  • Electric & Hybrid Aerospace Technology virtual conference looks very good so check it out – Conference Programme | Electric & Hybrid Aerospace Technology Virtual ‘Live’
  • If you travel a lot (after the pandemic) and you wear glasses, you will no doubt notice that your glasses are smudged all the time. Here is a great solution for easy, NO CLOTH wiping! It’s a little plastic cleaner that fits in your pocket and works better than anything else we have ever used – PEEPS! Yep, that is the name of the product … and no … they didn’t pay us, it is just a great product and we thought we would share it with you

Abu Dhabi Airports Launches Rapid Covid-19 Testing

  •  In-airport laboratory facilities provide Covid-19 PCR test results in approximately 90 minutes
  • All arrivals from all destinations (except transit passengers) to benefit from free rapid testing
  • Rapid testing service launched in partnership with Pure Heath, the region’s largest laboratory operator, and UAE-based Tamouh Healthcare
  • Introduction of new testing process for arriving passengers is a reflection of Abu Dhabi Airports’ commitment to ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of passengers, staff and visitors while facilitating air travel procedures

Abu Dhabi Airports, in partnership with Pure Health and Tamouh Healthcare, has launched rapid free Covid-19 PCR testing for all arrivals, except those in transit, with results provided in around 90 minutes. The new state of the art RT-PCR lab offers testing within Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) to facilitate air travel procedures and support quarantine tracking procedures.

Designed to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of travelers and staff at Abu Dhabi International Airport, the new Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing process is free for arriving passengers and offers results in approximately 90 minutes. The laboratory has the capacity to test more than 20,000 travelers and staff per day.

The establishment of the PCR testing laboratory falls in line with the directives and vision of His Excellency Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Airports, to contain the spread of Covid-19 while continuing to deliver a smooth and seamless travel experience at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Shareef Hashim Al Hashmi, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, said: “Through partnering with Pure Health and Tamouh Healthcare, Abu Dhabi International Airport is now able to offer travelers state-of-the-art rapid testing services delivered by a dedicated laboratory facility. The introduction of the RT-PCR Covid-19 testing is a milestone achievement in our ongoing efforts to facilitate the safe resumption of international air travel and support the recovery of the aviation industry.”

“That we now offer a dedicated PCR testing laboratory within the airport is testament to our commitment at Abu Dhabi Airports to continuously innovate and look for new ways to deliver a safe, smooth and seamless travel experience for all our passengers. The new rapid testing facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport, developed in partnership with many of our stakeholders, will not only enable passengers to confidently travel to Abu Dhabi, but significantly enhance the efficiency of our operations while supporting global efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19,” added Al Hashmi.

All passengers arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport through both terminals 1 and 3 will be tested at the AUH PCR testing facility. Results of the Covid-19 tests will be shared by SMS and WhatsApp, as well as being available on the Alhosn mobile application. Passengers can leave the airport once they have finalized the PCR test processes.

Passengers who receive a negative PCR test and are arriving from the list of ‘green’ countries outlined by the government of Abu Dhabi, will not have to self-isolate. Those arriving from countries not on the ‘green’ list will have to self-isolate for a period of ten days, and will require a quarantine wristband fitted at the PCR testing tent attached to the airport.

Passengers transiting through the airport will not be tested prior to departing for their final destinations.

The lab, being developed and operated by Pure Health – the region’s largest laboratory operator – and the healthcare and passenger facility, being developed by UAE-based Tamouh Healthcare, will have the capacity to test more than 20,000 travellers per day. The 4,000 square metre facility will operate around the clock with up to 190 staff.

The launch of rapid Covid-19 testing services follows Abu Dhabi Airports’ introduction of a comprehensive range of health and safety measures at Abu Dhabi International Airport, including a specially trained team of Wellness Ambassadors equipped to support passengers by answering common questions relating to keeping healthy during travel, encouraging social distancing, and providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

In addition, the airport has deployed touch-less elevator technology, SterixEco Gates sterilization tunnels, thermal scanning cameras, as well cameras with facial recognition capabilities that alert staff if passengers or visitors to the airport are displaying symptoms of Covid-19 or not wearing facemasks.

Check out the link for the latest Covid-19 information at Abu Dhabi International Airport.


Satcom Direct Begins Airborne Validation of Plane Simple™ Ku-band Tail Mount Antenna System

One year after announcing the launch of the Plane Simple™ Satcom Antenna Systems, Satcom Direct has begun rigorous airborne testing of its advanced technology, purpose-built Ku-band tail mounted antenna system.

The transition from development to ground assessment to the aerial testing phase aims to validate the full performance capabilities of the Ku-band terminal. Inflight trials will also confirm the system’s integration with the SD ecosystem of hardware, software and supporting ground infrastructure. The antenna, which is now equipped on SD’s Gulfstream aircraft, will be stretched to the limits of its capabilities while providing empirical feedback about its functionality in an aerial environment.

“It is our company philosophy to always bring products to market that we have validated internally, and we are in a unique position to have the ability to undertake system testing on our own aircraft which gives us direct performance feedback,” says Satcom Direct Founder and CEO, Jim Jensen.  “The aerial validation is the next step in becoming a single source provider of end-to-end connectivity solutions for business and government operators worldwide, which will streamline the connectivity ownership experience and customer support services.”

The aerial testing follows successful completion of intense drive testing completed in Melbourne, Florida using a customized mobile platform. SD’s investment in the hardware series is satisfying the broadening segment of the business aviation sector’s appetite for flexible, reliable, cost effective connectivity solutions. The Plane Simple tail-mounted antenna system will support super-mid to large-size jets and is being developed in partnership with Germany-based QEST, Quantenelektronische Systeme GmbH, a worldwide market leader in innovative aeronautical antennas.

“Aviation is moving toward a digital industry, and data is the foundation for informed decision making by operations, finance and maintenance departments. It is essential that we can offer powerful connectivity solutions to a much broader business aviation audience which also support enhanced data management and analytics. The start of our inflight testing within a year of announcing the hardware expansion highlights just how committed we are to meeting these market needs,” concludes Jensen.
The Plane Simple Ku-band antenna is the first in a series of antenna systems being developed by SD.  As a Value-Added Manufacturer (VAM) and service provider (SP) for Iridium Certus, SD is also designing and manufacturing a Plane Simple antenna system for compatibility with the new network offering from Iridium, while also providing the service direct to the business aviation community. The company is aiming to launch a Ka-band variant tail mount antenna in 2022, followed by an electronically steered, fuselage mounted phased-array antenna which will deliver high-speed connectivity via upcoming LEO constellations.


Suspension of  Retaliatory Tariffs

US agreed to temporarily suspend all retaliatory tariffs on direct exports from UK resulting from the Airbus dispute in a new joint approach to longstanding trade conflict over aerospace tariffs; this follows UK’s decision to suspend Boeing tariffs against the US from January. – Source: Speednews


Other News

  • “All us engineers or retired engineers always look at math as a baseline of our education. Why? Because all our education was based on, or explained with, math. Obviously, if your education experience occurred a while ago, it is interesting to review it … I guess? Anyway, here are 17 equations that probably had a part in your education  … and yes, it may be a bit challenging. Keep up, that is the message here!” – TJW
  • This is a big deal. Why? Aviation competition … but find out what CRAIC is first:  CRAIC Plans 3 Versions Of Its New Widebody: The ‘CR929’ – Simple Flying

Amsterdam | November 6, 2019–

TripActions, the fastest-growing business travel platform trusted by the world’s most innovative companies, announced it’s adding the best of inventory from Lufthansa Group airlines to its New Distribution Capability (NDC) enabled marketplace for its 3,000+ enterprise customers and their travellers. Its new direct connection with Lufthansa Group airlines gives travellers the ability to book the best available inventory directly within the TripActions platform. Business travellers may now access inventory from the airlines in the Lufthansa Group including: Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa, SWISS, and Brussels Airlines.

“In all that we do, we look to drive a win-win-win in the marketplace: A win for business travellers, travel managers, finance leaders and their organisations, and our partners and suppliers”

With TripActions connected directly to Lufthansa Group airlines’ Direct NDC API, the benefits to business travellers will include the most competitive fares, bundles, and access to exclusive ancillary services. Content will be displayed as enabled by the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) NDC standard.

“TripActions joining Lufthansa Group airlines’ NDC Partner Program is an important step forward for corporate customers to benefit from modern airline retailing. With our combined technology, the Lufthansa Group airlines’ NDC Smart Offer and TripActions’ global reach, we strongly believe in the strength of our partnership and ability to enhance the traveler shopping experience across Europe, Asia, and North America,” said Heike Birlenbach, Senior Vice President Sales Lufthansa Hub Airlines and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) Hub Frankfurt.

“As a mission-driven company and culture focused on the user, we’re thrilled to expand our global inventory in partnership with Lufthansa Group airlines to continue delivering the best experience in business travel,” said Danny Finkel, VP of Booking Experience and Supplier Strategy at TripActions. “Enabling direct relationships with suppliers to bring expanded global inventory choice to travellers has been a top priority for TripActions––including leading NDC-enabled business travel first with United Airlines in June and launching a direct connection with Southwest Airlines in October. Following massive traction and positive traveller and travel manager response, we’re thrilled to expand our NDC deployment with the Lufthansa Group airlines.

“In all that we do, we look to drive a win-win-win in the marketplace: A win for business travellers, travel managers, finance leaders and their organisations, and our partners and suppliers,” added Finkel. “With this expanded inventory, business travellers win with increased choice. Travel managers, finance leaders, and their organisations win with increased cost savings, spend visibility, and the ability to fulfill duty of care. Finally, partners and suppliers win as they bring more of their content into our platform with increased personalisation opportunities.”

Lufthansa Group airlines’ NDC Smart Offer is expected to be launched in the TripActions platform over the upcoming weeks. For more information, visit the TripActions blog.

Los Angeles, CA | September 9, 2019– BBC Global News – the BBC’s commercial, international news arm – has announced the results of new research into the global appetite for inflight connectivity. It found that frequent flyers have substantial interest in staying connected while on a flight and are prepared to pay more for it.

Titled ‘Slipstream’, the research was commissioned by BBC Global News and conducted by independent research consultancy MTM, it was revealed today at the APEX EXPO in California. It shows that almost two thirds (63%) of regular travellers consider access to Wi-Fi important when booking a flight and 69% say it would significantly improve their inflight experience, with the main reasons being the desire to communicate, to be entertained and to keep up to date with what’s happening around the world.

The survey highlights a number of

commercial benefits for connected airlines including increased consideration in the mind of the customer because of a better inflight

experience and an improved reputation, particularly in terms of being seen as innovative, modern and exciting.

In addition, 62% of respondents said that they would be more likely to choose an airline if live TV was available – a figure which rose to 78% for business class travellers and 89% for first class passengers. Significantly, travellers consistently reported a willingness to pay more for it, with over half of those surveyed happy to pay 5% on top of their standard fare, and a third prepared to pay an additional 20%.

The specific TV and news brands an airline opted for also had a discernible impact on consumer perception, with almost half of respondents more likely to travel with an airline offering BBC World News, rising to two-thirds of first class travellers.

Zina Neophytou, Vice President of Out of Home at BBC Global News, said, ‘As bandwidth to aircraft increases, there are growing opportunities for airlines to offer passengers an enhanced inflight

experience. Our research demonstrates a resounding consumer demand for connectivity and access to live news programming while in the air. As airlines’ capacity grows, we look forward to our continued delivery of BBC World News’s unique blend of innovative, impartial journalism.

Food For Thought:

We don’t think anyone in our industry will dispute the fact that connectivity is here to stay. Passenger expectations are driving that demand, and airline operations are too. However, have any of you IFEC aficionados noticed that the rate of connectivity installations is slowing down? This may seem a bit surprising given all the hype over connectivity, point in fact, over the past five- or six-years connectivity has been the primary focus of every trade show this publication has attended: AIX, APEX, FTE, etc. Think about the buzz phrases: gate-to-gate, end-to-end passenger experience, the connected aircraft – they all focus on the use of connectivity to improve the airlines’ ability to touch the traveler throughout their journey and tailor their experience to meet expectations. So why the slow down? One factor we believe is that operators are grappling with decisions regarding Ka- vs. Ku-band. A connectivity decision is a costly venture and is typically a hardware commitment for their fleet for the next 7 – 10 years. The airlines are faced with sifting through all the pros and cons of each solution to determine which is the most viable and reliable option to fit their model. Now throw in the possibility of the LEOs and things became a lot more complicated. Also, antenna installations are not a penny a dozen – they are expensive and complex. Add to that the recent statements released by the FAA regarding antenna/radome installations and the Airworthiness Directive issued by EASA and airlines are likely to pause over making a quick decision. Given these issues, we also expect it to be more challenging for some connectivity suppliers to generate near-term investment capital.

Needless to say, connectivity suppliers and hardware vendors have made a large commitment and there are many players in the field – maybe too many. As we mentioned in an earlier issue of IFExpress, we expect continued consolidation within our industry. Along those lines, we have heard that one of the majors in the IFE arena is making a play for the commercial division of a major connectivity company, as well as, the connectivity portion of second significant industry vendor – despite one or both of the potential acquisition companies having issues with significant debt. We are hearing DIP (debtor-in-possession) financing is being discussed. The company making the acquisition overtures evidently sees the potential is greater than the risk involved. And interestingly, they will also become a Ku-band operator, as well as, a GX Aviation (Ka-band) reseller.  If the stars align, these acquisitions will launch them into the first-tier position in the Big Three – at least as far as connectivity is concerned. We live in interesting times.


SmartSky:

During APEX we had the opportunity to sit down with Nancy Walker, the new CCO, and Ryan Stone, president of SmartSky Networks, to discuss the status of their 4G LTE air-to-ground (ATG) connectivity service roll-out. Nancy joins SmartSky with 30+ years of experience in the aviation industry having worked for NASA, Harris, LiveTV and Thales.

We were told that SmartSky is in the process of standing their ground towers, and at the time of the interview 77% of them were in the final stages of installation/completion. Currently, the company is focusing their ground-based installation activity on very specific channels: New York to Chicago and Chicago to Florida. The team said they are well on the way to launching their first business aviation customer and that they are in an active demonstration phase. Nancy told us that they have 1,000 of ours of flight test time logged on three different aircraft models and that they had just received their 96th patent!

What SmartSky offers using their 2.4 GHz unlicensed spectrum and patented 4G LTE beamforming technology is a path to get data off the aircraft very quickly. In fact, they claim their high bandwidth capability off the aircraft is unique to their service offering. The SmartSky ‘pipe’ is designed to provide 4 GB/hour to the aircraft and 3 GB/hour off the aircraft. What this translates to is a low latency network that allows users to receive large attachments in their email, and easily stream video on their Wi-Fi enabled PEDs. Ryan Stone went on to say that SmartSky is using a highly patented technology that helps make the system more secure. Not only do they use encryption technology, but the system utilizes a very narrow and specific beam, requiring a low power level to transmit to the ground; therefore, security is innately enhanced.

Since our interview in Boston, Penstastar Aviation developed an Approved Model List (AML) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) that permits SmartSky installations on the Gulfstream GIV-X models and GV-SP as well, and the first customer installation has occurred in the business aviation market.  The company is looking to enter the commercial realm but firmly believes that more general aviation operators will be utilizing the system before airlines enter the mix.  It wouldn’t surprise us if a North American carrier were to add the SmartSky Network onto their aircraft in conjunction with an already installed connectivity system. After all, that is a current airline trend: multiple suppliers for connectivity. This is one to watch!


AIRBUS

A330 – 800
The first A330-800 development aircraft to fly, MSN1888, landed at Toulouse-Blagnac, France at 2:35pm local time after successfully completing its first flight which lasted four hours and four minutes. The aircraft, the second member of the A330neo Family, is powered by the latest technology Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 turbofans. “Today’s first flight of the A330-800 is the latest addition to our efficient Widebody family,” said Guillaume Faury, President Airbus Commercial Aircraft. “The A330-800 is an exceptionally versatile ‘route-opener’, offering unbeatable economics for airlines – encompassing everything from short to very-long haul widebody missions.” He added: “We look forward to the successful flight-test campaign, leading to certification next year.”

The A330-800’s development program will include around 300 flight-test hours, paving the way for certification in 2019. Its sibling, the larger A330-900 family member, recently completed its development testing and certification program which validated the A330neo Family’s common engines, systems, cabin and flight & ground operations.

The A330neo comprises two versions: the A330-800 and A330-900. Both of these widebody aircraft incorporate new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, nacelle, titanium pylon, new wings and offer an exclusive ‘Airspace by Airbus’ passenger experience. The larger A330-900 will accommodate up to 287 seats in a typical three-class layout, while the A330-800 typically will seat 257 passengers in three classes. At the end of September 2018, Airbus’ order book includes 13 customers who have placed orders for a total of 224 A330neos, with more to be added soon.

Airbus will fly an airBaltic A220-300 new generation single aisle aircraft, to five cities in four countries as part of a world demonstration tour.  The A220 demonstration tour is a great opportunity for Airbus to showcase its newest family member in front of airlines and media and to offer a close up view of the aircraft`s outstanding characteristics, comfort, and performance, that benefit both operators and passengers alike. airBaltic’s A220-300 features a comfortable cabin arrangement able to accommodate 145 passengers in true widebody comfort. The Latvian airline already operates 13 A220-300s out of a total of 50 ordered. The A220 is the only aircraft purpose built for the 100-150 seat market, it delivers unbeatable fuel efficiency and true widebody comfort in a single aisle aircraft. The A220 brings together state-of-the-art aerodynamics, advanced materials and Pratt & Whitney’s latest-generation PW1500G geared turbofan engines to offer at least 20 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared to previous generation aircraft. With a range of up to 3,200 nm (5020 km), the A220 offers the performance of larger single aisle aircraft.With an order book of over 400 aircraft to date, the A220 has all the credentials to win the lion’s share of the 100- to 150-seat aircraft market.

A220 – 300 TOUR

The A220-300 will first attend the Zhuhai airshow (China) from November 5th until November 8th before flying to Chengdu on November 9th. The aircraft will continue on its journey with a stopover in Koh Samui (Thailand) on November 10th  before flying to Kathmandu (Nepal) on November 11th. After that the airBaltic A220 will go to Istanbul (Turkey) on November 12thbefore returning to its home base in Riga (Latvia) on November 14th.


IATA

The  group forecasts an annual increase in global traffic growth over the next 20 year-end to double emplacements (8.2 Billion) by 2037. Interestingly (and expectantly), China will become the world’s greatest aviation market (to, from, within) the country supposedly by mid – 2020’s. Look for India to become third!


ICELANDAIR & WOW AIR

It looks like Iceland Air just bought out Wow Air and they will still operate separately out of the Icelandic aviation market. With less than 4% of the transatlantic market, both airlines have “challenging” profit issues and this may be a start to reduce that stress. While Wow had been working on a public offering before this announcement, the airlines appear to have seen value in the joining before that event occurrence. The naming of the final organization might be interesting.


GOGO

Gogo Announces Third Quarter 2018 Financial Results as follows:

  • Consolidated revenue of $217.3 million, up 26% from Q3 2017
  • Net loss of $37.7 million, an improvement of 17% from Q3 2017
  • Adjusted EBITDA(1) increased to $21.1 million, up 63% from $13 million in Q3 2017
  • BA segment profit increased to $35.2 million, an increase of 65% from Q3 2017
  • 898 2Ku aircraft online on 14 global airlines, with 113 aircraft coming online in Q3 2018

OTHER NEWS

  • Perhaps it’s time for women to be more involved with the aviation industry because it sure seems so in some other areas? Here’s a quote from an interesting article in Business Insider: “In what may well have been a first in any country’s history, Iceland’s government actually studied whether macho posturing led to its economic meltdown. Its conclusion can be summed up in one word: yes.” Iceland ranks high for gender equality – Business Insider
  • Looking for work? Read this!! Here’s What Hiring Managers Actually Care About

Survey reveals younger travellers want virtual reality tours, AR board games, high tech viewing and booking for tourist attractions, VR boxing matches, hologram clothes shopping and robotic medical help – before they even get on the plane. Older travellers are not so keen.

London | August 21, 2018–

An online YouGov poll commissioned by leading inflight entertainment and passenger engagement company Spafax published today reveals that younger travellers want airports to use technology to enhance their airport experience – but older travellers are more wary*:

The poll, of 2,110 respondents (gen UK adult population of 18+), asked about their wishlist for ‘an airport lounge of the future’ revealed:

  • 37% of people aged 18 to 34 would play augmented reality (AR) board games with other passengers but only 9% of of 55 and overs would
  • 17% of 18-24-year-olds would like to try on hologram clothes at an airport, while only 6% of 55 and overs would.
  • 36% of women would choose, when in an airport lounge, a virtual reality (VR) preview of tourist attractions at their destination, along with the opportunity to pre-book tickets once they’d browsed

Similarly, a second GB survey**, which asked respondents to envisage an upcoming long haul flight from London to New York  showed that 38% wanted artificial intelligence to help with speeding up the airport process and 35% wanted it to give information on news in their destination whilst on-board the flight.

Regional differences

A YouGov survey* regarding choices for the airport lounge showed a sharp difference in both ages and regions – given the option of taking a virtual reality ‘Great Wall of China’ experience in an airport lounge where the passenger would walk on a treadmill and in real-time experience the sights of the Great Wall of China – people from Wales were the most enthusiastic, with 31% saying that they would, while people from the North East of England were the least enthusiastic (16%).

Passengers from the South East were most likely to choose to test-drive the latest luxury sports cars using virtual reality headsets and sitting in real car seats at an airport (25%), while people in the North East were less enthusiastic at 16%.

Eleven per cent of people in the South West would like a VR experience that recreated their own sitting rooms in the airport lounge, the highest in the UK.

The second survey, where respondents were asked to think specifically about a hypothetical upcoming trip from London to New York, went on to confirm these regional differences**:

People in the South West (45%) were most likely to want technology to help them speed up the journey through the airport.

People in the South East (42%) and Scotland (39%) were the most likely to want AI to give them information on the latest news in the area they were going to.

Sharp difference in what the young and old want from airport experience

A recent survey* proved that retired passengers were possibly the most relaxed passengers, with only 2% of them saying they’d like to take part in a virtual reality boxing match to let off steam before the flight, while 17% of full-time students chose this option.

When comparing the working status of these groups, we can see that a full 44% of full-time studentssaid that they would choose to do the full China Wall experience while only 23% of retired peoplewould.

Nearly a half (48%) of retired people did not want any sort of personalized experience at an airport compared with a quarter (25%) of full time students.

Similarly, a second YouGov survey** confirmed these age differences in relation to AI for a hypothetical upcoming flight from London to New York:

Twenty-seven per cent of all respondents would not like artificial intelligence to assist them with anything for their trip with over 55s most resistant to AI in airports at 33% saying they would not like it to assist them, while only 17% of 18-24-year-olds didn’t want help from AI.

Students were most likely to want to use AI to teach them a new language or skill with 38% choosing this option.

Difference between men and women

One survey* suggested that women seem to be keener on a real-world sensory experience, involving direct human interaction – for the question “You will be served an array of small luxury handmade chocolates and a pink cider. The staff serving you will explain how each is made” it was a thumbs up from 21% of men while 30% of women chose the option.

Twenty-seven per cent of men would test drive a new luxury car in VR, while only 17% of women would.

A second survey**, about a potential future London to New York trip, similarly proved that women were significantly more likely at 33% to want a personalized guide to their destination than men (25%). Menwere more likely to want to AI to teach them a new skill or language (21%) than women (16%).

Most passengers are open to help and guidance from AI, but not with medical issues**

People in the East of England (14%) and full-time students (18%) are most likely to welcome on-board medical help driven by artificial intelligence, while those in the North East (4%) are less keen.

Charles Vine, Head of Brand Alliances at Spafax said:

“We commissioned this research to find out what the British public actually wants out of their airport and airport lounge experiences. Airport lounges in particular are evolving from faceless waiting rooms with chairs and a coffee machine to being providers of an experience in their own right. The results send a clear message to us that people want the introduction of technology, but only in a way that enhances their trip, entertains or is enjoyable.

“27% were against being helped by AI for a hypothetical upcoming trip, whereas a resounding 68% of the British public did want artificial intelligence AI to help them get the most out of their time at the airport – whether that be assistance navigating the airport terminals or speeding up the check in process. ”

After a successful tendering process launched in December 2016, Vision-Box is now ready to unleash one more world-premiere: a ground-breaking Automated Border Control solution will be delivered, further securing the country’s borders and providing a seamless biometric-driven experience to arriving passengers.

Canberra, Australia | July 27, 2017–Vision-Box has today entered into a contract with the Australian Government to deliver the world’s first automated ‘contactless’ traveller clearance processes for people arriving in Australia by air at all international airports.

This contract was celebrated in the scope of the Seamless Traveller program and will expand Vision-Box’s successful presence in Australia initially sustained by its important work on the project that began in 2015 after the Australian Government selected the company to provide biometric border control SmartGates at all Airports’ departures.

This three-year contract will deliver the next generation of Automated Border Control passenger-processing technology. Vision Box’s latest innovations will assist the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection to collect and verify biometric data from all passengers arriving at Australian International Airports.

It will also deliver a new capability that will enable known travellers to self-process through the border without the need to physically use a passport (contactless), entirely relying on facial recognition technology.

Miguel Leitmann, Chief Executive Officer and co-Founder of Vision-Box said that “This contract represents an unparalleled milestone in the history of automation at the border, since it is the first time a government will implement biometric identification through contactless services. We are permanently investing in R&D to bring innovation at the service of more secure and frictionless border control solutions. By selecting Vision-Box, the Australian Government once again puts its trust onto us, to build their leading ambition, which is an amazing recognition to our commitment to society in this respect. This is the result of our long-term dedication and the teamwork we have been able to nurture with the DIBP, and I am very proud of what our people have achieved for our customer and how they feel being part of something bigger: making the world a better place”

Berkshire, UK | September 20, 2016– The typical premium longhaul passenger is highly engaged with current events and uses print media alongside other channels to stay informed at the airport and inflight.

That’s the headline finding of an authoritative new study of media consumption among US travellers, commissioned by Dawson Media Direct.

The survey also turned up a stat some industry watchers might find surprising: that the so-called Digital Generation is marginally more engaged than its elders, with “staying informed” cited as more important to travellers in the 21 to 39 range than to those aged 40-plus.

‘Gen D’ is a more avid consumer of conventional print media too, despite owning multiple devices, and considers paper publications the best resource for reading longer in-depth content.

“DMD wanted to learn exactly how those key first and business class passengers use print and digital news content, in daily life and flying longhaul”, says Heather Browand, SVP for US sales and marketing, “so we worked with the independent travel industry specialist Atmosphere Research to develop a unique online survey of premium fliers in our market.”

The study targeted passengers aged 21-70 who in the last 6 months had taken at least three fully paid premium-cabin round-trips between the US and Africa, Asia- Pacific, Europe, India, Middle East or South America.

About 400 surveys were completed and analysed, revealing that print media becomes tangibly more important to this audience on a longhaul trip than otherwise.

77% of premium passengers view flight time as a key time to read the press, and 54% of them read some print media at the airport or onboard.

Premium fliers also tend to read more printed press during air travel, with the number spending over an hour a day reading newspapers increasing by a third compared to everyday behaviour.

38% of them rank reading a printed newspaper or magazine among their top three activities under surveyed conditions, placing it ahead of digital news content, print or digital books.

“The study throws up so many positives for us as a provider of both print and digital publications to the industry, says Browand.

“It affirms that both sides of the business are in good shape, and that by-and-large we’re delivering the media our premium end-user customers expect and value.”

  • Forms Leading Provider of Satellite-Based Connectivity and Media to Global Mobility Markets
  • Leverages Complementary Products, Technologies and Service Offerings Across Air, Sea and Land Verticals to Drive Growth
  • Annual Synergies Expected to Exceed $40 Million

Los Angeles, CA | July 27, 2016– Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (NASDAQ: ENT) (“GEE”) today announced that it has completed its previously announced acquisition of Emerging Markets Communications (“EMC”), a leading communications services provider to maritime and hard-to- reach land markets.

Combination Overview
The combination of GEE and EMC creates one of the world’s largest providers of satellite-based connectivity and media to the rapidly growing global mobility market. GEE has established a strong track record of successfully delivering media content and connectivity to airlines, while EMC has become a top provider of connectivity to maritime and hard-to-reach land markets. When combined with EMC, GEE benefits from significant economies of scale and an enhanced global infrastructure that enables it to deliver a comprehensive portfolio of products to customers.

With the combination, GEE possesses unique attributes that will provide additional opportunities to drive revenue growth and operational efficiencies, including:

  • An unparalleled portfolio of products and services tailored to mobility markets, including global connectivity, media content in 47 languages, live television, travel and entertainment apps, user interface platforms and data capture and operations analytics tools;
  • A global sales force and support organization that reaches all major mobility verticals including aviation, maritime, energy and remote locations;
  • A satellite and ground-based network infrastructure that can provide customers connectivity and media across multiple frequency bands anywhere in the world;
  • Proprietary, patented technologies that enhance the connected traveler’s user experience and reduce costs across market verticals;
  • A diversified revenue base with over 400 customers, balanced between media and connectivity, and over half of all revenue coming from international markets; and
  • Engineering, technical and managerial resources to effectively drive new product development, program management, product maintenance, and field support.

“This is a transformational acquisition for our company and in our industry,” said GEE Chief Executive Officer Dave Davis. “The combination of GEE and EMC enables us to provide our customers with a breadth of products and services unmatched in the markets we serve, whether in the air, at sea, or on land. GEE will continue to strive to be customer focused, product driven, and operationally excellent.”

Synergy Opportunities
GEE has a successful track record of integrating acquisitions and achieving synergies. With EMC, the Company expects to realize synergies of $15 million in 2017, growing to $40 million in 2018 and thereafter. A major source of savings is expected to come from network efficiencies, including the ability to optimize bandwidth costs through a consolidation of existing network assets, including space segment and ground infrastructure, as well as better capacity utilization. Savings are also expected through reductions in SG&A spending and the consolidation of facilities.

In addition to cost savings, GEE expects the combination to generate significant revenue synergies. Driving sales of GEE’s media, software, advertising and operations solutions products in the underserved maritime market are a key objective of the Company. GEE’s digital media team has had a long-term relationship with EMC and expects to launch new products to major cruise lines before year-end. EMC’s proprietary technologies are in use today to improve the connectivity experience and optimize bandwidth usage in the maritime market. GEE will soon introduce these technologies into the aviation market.

Corporate Structure
Dave Davis will continue to lead GEE as CEO. Abel Avellan, founder and CEO of EMC, will serve as President and Chief Strategy Officer of GEE. As part of the transaction, ABRY Partners, EMC’s largest shareholder, has a right to nominate a director to GEE’s board.

In conjunction with the transaction close, GEE has established three operational business units.

  • The Media Business Unit delivers films and television shows, live TV, music, games and other content to aviation and maritime customers, including approximately 6,500 aircraft and many cruise ships currently served by GEE. Other products include digital and streaming media offerings such as the Airtime Content-to-Go application and the Entice streaming media system. Wale Adepoju will lead the Media Business Unit as Executive Vice President of Media. Previously, Wale served as Chief Commercial Officer of GEE.
  • The Aviation Business Unit serves commercial airlines and private aviation using GEE’s proprietary Airconnect GlobalTM connectivity platform, which is currently installed on nearly 750 aircraft worldwide. The Business Unit also provides Navaero electronic flight bag (EFB) data interfaces and powered mounting systems, which are in place on nearly 4,000 aircraft today, as well as Masflight operational data analytics services. Joshua Marks, who previously led GEE’s Operations Solutions team, will lead the Aviation Business Unit as Executive Vice President of Aviation.
  • The Maritime and Land Business Unit delivers connectivity and mission critical services to cruise and ferry lines, yachts, commercial shippers and land-based users such as non- governmental organizations and mobile network operators. Through this transaction, GEE has acquired a strong maritime customer base, serving over 1,500 vessels and 100,000 cruise ship cabins. In addition to overseeing certain corporate functions at GEE, Abel Avellan will lead the Maritime and Land Business Unit.

 

  • Airlines invest to keep passengers connected on the ground and in the air

Beijing, China | July 27, 2016– Airline passengers in China are heavy users of technology both in their everyday lives and throughout their travel journeys. Nearly one quarter perceive themselves as ‘hyper-connected’ – they value efficiency and use self-service technology more frequently. Airlines are meeting their needs with 80% adopting connected aircraft and 100% investing in mobile-based services and the Internet of Things.

In the 2016 SITA Passenger IT Trends Survey, conducted across China and representing almost 60% of the country’s passenger traffic, IT provider SITA analyzed the behavior of four different types of passengers. The Careful Planner, Pampered, Hyper-Connected and Open-Minded Adventurer profiles each uses technology in different ways. China has the highest proportion of ‘hyper-connected’ passengers worldwide with 24% compared to the global average of 14%. These passengers tend to use technology, such as mobile devices to book, check-in and manage their trip, more frequently than the other profiles.

Airline passengers across the globe are so comfortable with technology today that they are choosing to use it rather than interacting with people. This is particularly evident in China where SITA reports 98% of passengers carry at least one mobile device and 49% carry a tablet. They also score very highly on an index of online and mobile service usage in their everyday lives at 7.1 out of 10 and increasingly are using mobile services for travel. Today nearly 17% of these passengers check-in using a mobile app and airlines are predicting a jump in adoption over the next three years.

Having the ability to make the passenger experience a fully-connected one with connectivity on the ground and in the air is vital. Today Chinese airlines are leading the adoption of connected aircraft because of their comparatively modern fleets. In fact, 80% of Chinese airlines already fly, or are just taking delivery of connected aircraft versus a 45% global average.

May Zhou, Vice President, SITA China said: “In today’s connected world of travel passengers prefer to use technology. SITA’s research shows that they expect to be connected and have services delivered to their mobile devices at every step of their journey, including during their flight. Today we see that airlines in China are responding to the needs of these ‘hyper-connected’ passengers by focusing their investments in connected aircraft, mobile-based services, and the Internet of Things. With this strategy they can meet passengers’ growing demands for information and services to their mobile devices.”

SITA’s survey shows that 40% of Chinese airlines believe that the key benefit of connected aircraft will be improving the passenger experience and 100% plan to invest in wireless in-flight services for passengers over the next three years. Already in China 58% of passengers use their mobile devices onboard for in-flight entertainment.

The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is also high on the agenda of airlines in China with 100% planning to invest in IoT over the next three years and 78% are planning major programs. Currently the only IoT initiative already implemented at Chinese airlines is fuel/engine monitoring and this by just 10% of airlines. The main areas of focus over the next three years are smart bag tags, asset tracking and monitoring the aircraft cabin environment.

  • SITA-operated center is key to managing airline’s reservations across 13 destinations


Baghdad, Iraq | July 4, 2016–
With the help of global aviation IT provider SITA, Iraqi Airways has opened its new reservation contact center in Amman, allowing the airline to better manage its reservations across 13 countries. The center will be operated by SITA.

As the airline continues to rebuild its international business, it requires reliable infrastructure that allows it to manage it reservations globally and at home from a single reservation center. It also needs to accommodate a growing demand from passengers for multi-channel support, including voice, email and chat.

Leveraging SITA’s Unified Communications portfolio has allowed the airline to consolidate voice, data and audio into one platform while the cloud-based infrastructure delivers secure, reliable connectivity which effectively links the airline to its far-flung destinations. With SITA’s global presence in more than 200 countries and territories as well as more than 1,000 airports, it was possible to connect all 13 destinations seamlessly to the central reservations center.

Having SITA’s Horizon® Passenger Management & Distribution system already in place, Iraqi Airways was also able to integrate the new center with the airline’s reservation, ticketing, e-commerce, inventory and departure control systems. Using a new-generation graphical interface, agents are quickly and speedily able to make or change bookings.

As part of the management agreement, SITA recruited all agents and trained them to use the various elements of the passenger services system.

Osama Al Sadr, CEO of Iraqi Airways, said: “As we continue to expand of our network across the globe, we needed a world-class reservation center that could assist our passengers across our network 24/7. SITA was able to quickly provide us with a global presence with a fully-trained team. It also ensured that the center was able to accommodate our future growth as our network and operation continues to expand.”

Hani El-Assaad, SITA President, Middle East, India, and Africa said: “SITA’s global presence and infrastructure made it possible to quickly develop a reservation center to support Iraqi Airways’ international network expansion. We understood, as an emerging airline, they needed a solution that was both world-class and efficient. That helped us deliver a solution that fits and supports their business.”

The reservation center will be manned by agents who are able to assist passengers in English, Arabic and Kurdish.