Perhaps the on big news release today was found on Digital Music News. They note that after a couple years of litigation, UMG settled for a $15 million dollar payment with an additional 1,360,544 shares of GEE stock. Some 4,500 songs were allegedly infringed as well as videos. Earlier, we estimated that worst case, the deal could hit GEE with a deal worth hundreds of millions, however, we now have a settlement with the lawsuit dismissal and no admission of guilt or liability. Actually, GEE will survive this story and we think they will continue to do well. We also note that GEE’s PR folks did not respond to our request for information (no surprise). Here is the whole story. And here is another link with a different spin.
Panasonic Avionics (Panasonic) and Yahsat today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore new ways to offer a broadband connectivity solution serving several mobility markets in the Middle East within the next three to five years. In addition, while final terms are still being negotiated, the MOU allows both parties to further investigate the launch of a Yahsat satellite constellation that would serve Panasonic’s general mobility needs in aviation, maritime and terrestrial transportation, and also give Yahsat the ability to use Panasonic communication related technologies and services where practical. Moving forward, Yahsat and Panasonic will assess the various technical requirements for such an offering. The companies will explore a wide range of factors including the type of frequency to be used, the coverage and capacity needed to serve flight routes in this region, the type of antenna and radome to be used, and the certification requirements of such a solution.
In addition to the previous news story, Virgin Atlantic builds on in-flight entertainment innovation by adding live TV to 787s. Customers travelling with Virgin Atlantic this summer will now be able to tune in to live television onboard its 787’s, thanks to a partnership with Panasonic Avionics and IMG. This new service will be available to customers travelling on the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner and initially three channels will be available – Sport 24 for all the live sporting action from around the world, and BBC World News and CNN International for breaking news around the clock. Sport 24 will be showing action from the Rio 2016 Olympics Games, Premier League, NFL, UEFA Champions League, NBA, Tennis Grand Slams, Bundesliga, Formula 1, Golf Majors, MotoGP, and the Ryder Cup.
Recently, the folks at Honeywell conducted an interesting IFE Survey that begins: “In Honeywell’s third connectivity survey passengers shared increased frustration with current in-flight Wi-Fi offerings. It’s clear that consistent, faster in-flight Wi-Fi is a must.”
Here is a quick review of the situation: “Nearly 3 of 4 passengers are ready to switch airlines today to have access to a faster and more reliable Wi-Fi connection. In addition, out of more than 1,000 American travelers polled, annoyance is growing, with just 22 percent reporting their in-flight Wi-Fi to be extremely reliable over the past 12 months, a dip from 27 percent in 2014.” The survey revealed three key reasons airlines need to act quickly or risk losing business:
1. Wi-Fi is the Premium Service Travelers Demand.
- Lack of in-flight Wi-Fi has become intolerable as passengers shared they’d be disappointed or frustrated without access to this service.
2. Wi-Fi Should Be Like Breathing. Simple, Reliable and Not Something Travelers’ Worry About.
- Reliable connections on flights anywhere in the world and fast speed to stream audio or video to sites like YouTube or Netflix are essential to passengers’ Wi-Fi experience.
3. Millennials Mean Business When it Comes to Wi-Fi.
- More millennials than older generations have switched from their preferred airline to an airline that has better in-flight Wi-Fi options.
Here is how the study unfolded: A survey of airline passengers by Honeywell (NYSE: HON) reveals more than increased frustration with current in-flight Wi-Fi offerings compared with the company’s 2014 study. Nearly 3 of 4 passengers are ready to switch airlines today to have access to a faster and more reliable Wi-Fi connection. In addition, out of more than 1,000 American travelers polled, annoyance is growing, with just 22 percent reporting their in-flight Wi-Fi to be extremely reliable over the past 12 months, a dip from 27 percent in 2014.
If you don’t want to sort out their findings, the following is a summary: 1. Traveler Loyalty Lies With Wi-Fi, 2. Consistent Connections Are Critical Everywhere, 3. Millennials Value Wi-Fi More Than Most.
IFExpress really found some results interesting enough to ask a few more questions of Honeywell’s Gwennie Chung.
1. We would like to know more about the questionnaire?
ANS: The Honeywell Aerospace Connectivity 2016 Survey was conducted between April 11th and April 20th, 2016 among 1,008 Americans ages 18 and over who have used in-flight Wi-Fi in the last 12 months.
2. Where were they interviewed – on-line, mail?
ANS: Using an e-mail invitation and an online survey.
2. Are you talking about working Millennials or any other factors?
ANS: In this survey, Millennials are (travelers) born between 1982 and 1998.
3. Was travel price/cost involved. If not, why not?
ANS: Yes, we did have a question on pricing but the way it was framed, we find that it may not be relevant/accurate relative to the current landscape and decided not to use this data.
4. Domestic vs International connectivity preferences?
ANS: We did not distinguish domestic vs international for every question but… For a majority of travelers, it’s essential to experience a reliable connection throughout their entire flight anywhere in the world (90%), and fast speed to stream audio or video from sites like YouTube or Netflix (83%). (I myself, also don’t care where I’m traveling too, I would like to have the same service anywhere I’m going to.)
6. Preferences (when I did this stuff) were: 1.Airline, 2. Price, Time….IFE and Connectivity was 5th or 6th…and
I realize that was when planes had props, however, I would be interested in today’s preference order.
ANS: We did not have this ranking.
7. Did you get any results for old timers (like me)?
ANS: We did compare Millennials to older generations.
More millennials than older generations (73 percent versus 63 percent) say Wi-Fi availability impacts the flights they book. Because they value a connected experience more than older generations, more millennials find it important to have fast speed to stream content (89 percent versus 77 percent), and more than 1 in 4 have switched from their preferred airline to an airline with better in-flight Wi-Fi options (27 percent versus 15 percent).
8. Can you get any validation of the required bandwidth for a full plane of connectivity mavens… I am trying to figure out how much is “enough”!
ANS: Most travelers find it essential to experience a reliable connection throughout their entire flight anywhere in the world (90 percent), and one that is fast enough to stream audio or video from sites such as YouTube and Netflix (83 percent).
We don’t have any information to share on this as there are too many variables.
9 Did you separate demand/price for staggered connectivity – 1. Texting, 2. Email, 3. Surfing, 4.Streaming. Does Honeywell see
a variable pricing as a solution – “The more you pay, the more you get”?
ANS: No, we did not.
10. So here is the bottom line: Will people change airlines, regardless of flight or connectivity cost, just to have Internet?
ANS: As the survey data shows, more than 1 in 5 (21 percent) have already abandoned their preferred airline for an option with better in-flight Wi-Fi (up from 17 percent in 2014).”
(Editor’s Note: A “Thank You” to Gwennie and the the entire Honeywell team and we would like to add one thing – while the study focused on Wi-Fi because that is the connectivity of today on aircraft, we are aware that cheaper, non-WiFi solutions are in the works and we suspect technology like Bluetooth, which is on the horizon just might cause the term “connectivity” to be used instead of just Wi-Fi!)
Gogo is announcing that they have received regulatory approval from various Chinese regulatory bodies through their local partner China Telecom Satellite, and will work with China Telecom Satellite to offer in-flight connectivity service on international flights operating in and out of China starting in October. “This is really a ground-breaking moment as we expand our global reach as an organization into China and other parts of the world. For passengers on Gogo equipped flights currently flying into China, this means they will be able to enjoy seamless service once they reach Chinese air space,” said Gogo’s president and CEO, Michael Small. “We believe China Telecom Satellite will be a very strong and effective partner for China’s in-flight communication market and both parties will extend the cooperation to Chinese airlines in the future.” We also note, Gogo currently has one International airline partner operating with service to China, and recently announced it has signed a term sheet with Beijing based Shareco Technologies to install its 2Ku in-flight connectivity technology on 50 commercial aircraft for Shareco’s airline partners, including Hainan Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines. In addition to in-flight connectivity, Gogo will also provide its wireless in-flight entertainment solution – Gogo Vision – for Shareco to install on these aircraft. Noted Michael Small: “For passengers, this means on Gogo equipped flights currently flying into China, they will be able to enjoy seamless service once they reach Chinese air space.” You can read more about this partnership on here on Concourse.
Sadly, we report: “I Just wanted to pass the news to you that I am leaving Thales for family reasons. I am moving back to TN and will be leaving the Aviation industry. Its been a great run but it is time to focus on my family after the last 10 years of much travel. Mike Moeller, Vice President, Business Development.”
(Editor’s Note: Mike, we will miss your animated presentations for sure, but mostly, we will miss your wonderfully fun and valuable show booth designs!)
United Kingdom | August 11, 2016– Customers travelling with Virgin Atlantic this summer will now be able to tune in to live television onboard its 787’s, thanks to a partnership with Panasonic Avionics and IMG.
This new service will be available to customers travelling on the state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner and initially three channels will be available – Sport 24 for all the live sporting action from around the world, and BBC World News and CNN International for breaking news around the clock.
Sport 24 will be showing action from the Rio 2016 Olympics Games, Premier League, NFL, UEFA Champions League, NBA, Tennis Grand Slams, Bundesliga, Formula 1, Golf Majors, MotoGP, and the Ryder Cup.
Jill Brady, Executive Vice President of Customer at Virgin Atlantic, said:
“We know staying up to date with current affairs and sporting events is really important to our customers and it’s fantastic we can now offer them the opportunity to view content live. We always put our customers at the heart of everything we do and this is just another example of us being able to expand on our promise of making travelling with us irresistible.”
Virgin Atlantic customers will be able to tune in to live TV via their seat-back screen or via their own devices using the onboard wifi, at no extra cost.
The service is being rolled out to the 787 Dreamliners now, and all thirteen aircraft will be fully equipped by the end of the year.
In 1991 Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to introduce individual seat back screens in all classes, and by Summer 2017 will offer wifi connectivity across all its aircraft.
- 12 A350-1000s to become a key part of both leisure and mainline fleets
Farnborough, UK | July 11, 2016– UK based Virgin Atlantic Airways has selected the A350-1000, the largest member of the A350 Family, to become the latest aircraft in its fleet, operating from both London Heathrow and Gatwick airports. The airline is purchasing eight A350-1000s for deliveries commencing in 2019, and four new aircraft on long term leases from ALC from 2020, including a lease “option” for a fifth aircraft.
The A350-1000 was selected after intense and detailed evaluation of the current and future alternatives. The airline will benefit from state-of-the-art technology and the latest cabin product innovations to satisfy the most exacting customer expectations. Airport operations and neighbouring communities will benefit from the use of an environmentally efficient aircraft with low pollution credentials and half the noise impact compared to rival aircraft.
The aircraft will be deployed initially at London Heathrow to strengthen the trans-Atlantic network on existing business routes, and subsequently at Gatwick airport on leisure routes to the Caribbean, where Virgin Atlantic will provide three classes of customer service in the A350s distinctive Airbus ‘Airspace’ cabin with roomy overhead bins and the latest concepts for ambience, comfort, service and design.
The United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron said, “I welcome the news of Virgin Atlantic’s investment. As well as being good news for passengers, it’s great news for jobs in the UK. The fantastic Airbus A350 is built in the UK, with Rolls-Royce engines and suppliers across the country. It’s an investment in the UK itself, and our world-beating aerospace industry.”
Craig Kreeger, CEO Virgin Atlantic said: “The size of this order demonstrates our absolute focus on investing in the future for our customers and our people, and confirms the strength of our business. The A350-1000 plays a pivotal role in our fleet programme, helping to create one of the youngest, cleanest, greenest fleets in the sky. We’re looking forward to introducing this aircraft to our customers, as its impressive economics, fuel performance, and quiet flying offer an irresistible proposition that makes long haul travel more enjoyable and better for the environment.”
“This agreement allows Virgin Atlantic to set the standard on its network by being amongst the first airlines into service with the A350-1000, with an Airspace by Airbus cabin, offering superior comfort including industry leading 18″ wide seats in economy,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer. “These modern, efficient A350s will complement Virgin Atlantic’s existing fleet of 10 A330-300s and offer Virgin Atlantic crews the advantage of familiarity with Airbus operating procedures around the network”
The world’s latest generation airliner, the A350 XWB, is the newest member of Airbus’ modern, comfortable & efficient widebody product family with 18” wide seating in economy. The long-range A350 XWB features the latest aerodynamic design, carbon fibre fuselage and wings for a lighter aircraft and quiet and low emission Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines that together deliver a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn. Together, these technologies translate into unrivalled levels of operational efficiency, with, lower environmental charges, and significantly reduced maintenance costs.
- Virgin Atlantic’s first Boeing 787 aircraft, Birthday Girl takes to the skies today, flying from London to Atlanta on a special celebration flight.
London, UK | October 23, 2014– Guests on board include BRIT Award-winning 4-piece Rudimental and hit-makers Gorgon City. The two London based bands will perform the first ever gig to be live streamed from over the Atlantic Ocean to the world and a plane packed full of VIP guests and an exclusive audience of super fans who won spaces on the flight.
Also on board is TV chef Lorraine Pascale. Best known for her hit TV series and recipe books, Lorraine has been working with the team at the airline to create signature dishes for Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class passengers along with a variety of children’s meals to be served throughout every cabin.
Dishes on-board will include Lorraine’s “Marvellous” mac’n’cheese with pancetta, Sweet & sour pork balls with sunshine rice and “Mum’s” chili con carne with calypso rice.
Lorraine’s new menu will be officially launched on services leaving the UK from 28th October but as a special one-off all guests on board the celebration flight to Atlanta will have the chance to experience her new dishes in every cabin.
To accompany Lorraine’s amazing food and making a special appearance on board for the first time is Virgin Atlantic’s new sparkling wine from English winery Hambledon Vineyard. Proudly grown and produced in Hampshire, Meon Hill Grand Reserve has been specifically selected to compliment the cabin pressure and humidity of the 787 cabin and has been found to stay bubbly for longer. The new sparkling wine will be launched on Birthday Girl and will be available exclusively on the 787 aircraft.
Birthday Girl will start her first commercial flight on 28th October to Boston and other Dreamliners will be deployed on other key London to US East Coast market initially, with subsequent services between Heathrow and Washington, Heathrow and Newark and Heathrow and New York JFK scheduled to start in the following five months.
London, UK | October 23, 2014– With a suite of new technologies onboard, the first Virgin Atlantic 787 Dreamliner will take to the skies on 26th October from London Heathrow to Boston. As one of the most efficient aircraft in its class, a key to its performance is its new technology and innovative design.
Dave Bulman, Director of Technology commented: “The 787 is a revolutionary aircraft and new technology allows it to perform more efficiently than any other aircraft of its size. We recognise that technology is an extremely important part of a customer’s journey, whether they are flying for business or pleasure, and this aircraft has given us a fantastic opportunity to look at what we can offer our customers onboard. We have been working really hard with our partners at Boeing and Panasonic to bring connectivity across all our cabins as well as updating our revolutionary touch screen inflight entertainment.”
Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with Panasonic and T-Mobile to offer all customers eXConnect KU Band wifi connectivity onboard its new 787 aircraft. Whether on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, customers can connect their devices to the wireless onboard internet with just a few clicks and start surfing the web. The cost of the internet is £14.99 for the duration of your flight; however customers can browse destination and aircraft information, Retail Therapy and further Virgin Atlantic services complimentary. With power now available to every seat throughout the 787, customers don’t need to worry about losing battery and can work or play throughout their journey.
Let us entertain you…
The 787 Dreamliner sees Virgin Atlantic role out Vera Touch 2 in-flight entertainment system throughout all cabins, boasting over 400 hours of carefully curated, on demand award-winning entertainment.
The cutting-edge next generation eX3 system from Panasonic features a widescreen smart monitor at all seats with a capacitive touchscreen interface allowing passengers to access content in just a few swipes and clicks. The IFE also boasts a new Skymap from Betria Interactive delivering a captivating 3D experience, infused with interesting and detailed point-of-interest content that can engage the passenger in a rich and informative interactive experience. All seats boast an integrated USB port allowing passengers to power their own devices. New to the Upper Class cabin is a 24” touchscreen monitor over the bar showing looped animations that complement the cabin environment, as well as the option to view the innovative map on a larger screen.
But first let me take a #SkyhighSelfie….
Virgin Atlantic is also introducing the ultimate #SkyhighSelfie, which offers customers the opportunity to update Facebook free of charge from the air. Developed in conjunction with Wavealot, this bespoke application will allow customers to check in on Facebook and share their location with their friends and followers mid-flight. The app will allow one check in per person and customers can purchase the wifi to continue the conversation. Virgin Atlantic is also developing certain #SkyhighSelfie spots in the cabin to offer customers the chance to take the perfect selfie onboard and share their experience. The app will also act as a mile high discussion forum where customers on the flight can chat and spark debate in the air.
Atlanta | July 24, 2014– Airlines can now offer their ultra tech-savvy passengers the chance to board their flight with a mere flick of their wrist and scan of their smartwatch. SITA Lab continues to innovate and lead in the area of wearable tech by providing boarding passes for Android watches via its API available now on developer.aero.
A simple alert via Android Wear technology will remind the passenger of their flight at the appropriate time and location. A quick swipe reveals the boarding pass and a second swipe displays the barcode allowing the passenger to get through the airport checkpoints and board the plane.
Jim Peters, CTO, SITA, said: “We have done considerable research into the use of wearable technology for the air transport industry and this is the first step to enable passengers to use their own wearable devices as they make their way through the airport.
“SITA’s boarding pass is fully compliant with international regulations, including the TSA, so can be used at airports across the world. We’ve made this available through our industry API platform so it will be interesting to see which airlines will be the early adopters.
SITA provides a selection of APIs for airlines and airports on its developer.aero platform including ones for beacons, baggage tracking and iTravel. Because the boarding passes are delivered via API a simple mark up in the code, which takes less than two minutes, enables Google Now operation and allows smartwatches to be a useful travel tool.
Peters added: “Smartwatches haven’t really taken off just yet but the predictions are very strong. The SmartWatch Group reports that 40 companies launched smartwatches in 2013 and it predicts these devices will become indispensable in the years to come. SITA has now made it possible for airlines to be ready for boarding when these wearable tech devices go mainstream.”
- Contract marks growth in Integration Test and Release for Spafax
London | July 17, 2014– Global content and media agency Spafax has extended its service offering through a new contract with leading airline Virgin Atlantic.
Virgin Atlantic selected Spafax to handle all technical services for their inflight entertainment system, Vera. As part of this role, Spafax will provide integration test and release, encoding plus timeline and metadata management.
“Our continued growth with Virgin Atlantic demonstrates Spafax’s ability to exceed Virgin Atlantic’s expectations and provide best in class services for its customers,” Tony Taverner, Chief Technical Officer, Spafax. “This opportunity is unique as we are able to further our talents with the addition of integration test and release to our offering.”
“Our inflight entertainment is a key differentiator and plays a vital role in the overall Virgin Atlantic customer experience. We know that we can rely on Spafax to provide a reliable service and have selected them for their proactive approach towards streamlining services, creating efficiencies and providing a cost effective service. The Spafax team provide an extremely high level of technical expertise and we look forward to a mutually beneficial long term partnership,” says Reuben Arnold, Brand and Customer Engagement Director at Virgin Atlantic.
Integration test and release is a specialty in the IFE sector and Spafax is proud to now offer this service to its clients.
The Technical Services work will be supported by a new team in London and Spafax’s Orange County, California office, the production and fulfillment hub for our worldwide inflight entertainment (IFE) business. Spafax currently works with over 25 major airline clients to program, license and deliver their IFE content.
This news follows the recent announcement of the summer launch of Spafax-published ruby magazine on Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red UK domestic flights.
Mobile data and text messaging at 30,000ft prove a hit with Brits
Hamburg, Germany | April 9, 2014– British travellers are more likely to pick up their mobile phones inflight to send an email or browse the web than to make a call from the aircraft cabin.
More than three quarters of travellers surveyed by AeroMobile, a leading mobile phone operator for the aviation industry, said they would use mobile-enabled internet access to check emails, browse the internet or update their Facebook or Twitter status at 30,000ft.
More than half (55 per cent) would opt to send a text message and a quarter would use an instant messaging service, but fewer than a third (17 per cent) would make a call inflight.
Almost half of respondents said that inflight mobile services would help them alleviate the boredom of long hours spent in an aircraft cabin and over a third are looking to their own mobile devices to keep them entertained.
Almost half of people questioned said they expect inflight mobile connectivity to become standard in the next few years and over a third believe an airline with an inflight mobile service is cutting edge.
“The results of this survey certainly reflect our experience at AeroMobile,” said Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile.
“In 2013 we saw close to an 80 per cent increase in the number of travellers using their mobile phones in the aircraft cabin and data usage on our network went up ten-fold. We also saw a 50 per cent increase in SMS traffic.”
The AeroMobile network allows passengers to roam just as they would abroad. The company has live roaming agreements with over 250 mobile phone operators worldwide, including EE, O2, Vodafone and Three in the UK.
The service is available across eleven airlines including Virgin Atlantic, Etihad, Emirates and Lufthansa.
That right, it’s called THER and we wanted to give our readers a quick first look at some of the highlights. As you may know, Rogerson is really Michael Rogerson of InTheAirNet, Rogerson Kratos, and Equipment Group and many may know of their beginning in the helicopter instrument business. We have followed Michael for years in the IFE business (InTheAirNet) and in the words of their website “InTheAirNet (ITAN) is a global supplier of IFE cabin distribution systems developed thru innovation for airline, business/VIP aircraft with advanced electronics, unique software applications and leading system solutions.” Our story this issue is about a newer product (THER) and we caught up with Michael’s son Mark, Director Business Development who was busily preparing for the Singapore Airshow Singapore Airshow 2014 – Asia’s Biggest For Aviation’s Finest, Feb. 11- 16 Changi Exhibition Centre Singapore. We understand the new THER will be featured there so if you are going, drop by their booth for a preview. This might be a good time to introduce what the acronyms stands for – Transporting Home Entertainment Reliably and in the words of their promotional material, this is the new line of “Personalized Technology” that they have been working on for the last few years. THER offers four distinct passenger entertainment/connectivity preferences: Broadband connectivity, On-board media storage (Audio/Video), “the most popular satellite image map”, and Device Charging. Here is a link to the Android-based product. Like us, you probably are interested in some of the features of the product, and the linked brochure should outline some of the system features.
Next, we chased down Mark and sent a list of questions to the busy ITAN marketeers and we have included the answers we got back here… and some were a bit surprising.
1. Q: Mark, many of our readers have not met you, what is your position at Rogerson?
A.: Mark J. Rogerson, Director, Business Development
2. Q: Is the THER product a new direction for ITAN/Rogerson?
A: Rogerson is continuing to develop new display products for the cockpit and cabin utilizing advanced displays, processors, and innovative software. InTheAirNet’s THER is focused on weight reduction (We are already the lowest), increased wireless efficiency in terms of redundant coverage, and new passenger control units.
3. Q: What system diagrams show the THER equipment list of hardware for an aircraft installation.
A: “Please see attached brochures”.
4. Q: Who are customers today for THER?
A: “Our customers include Boeing, European Airlines, and modification centers for “big iron” private jets.”
5. Q: Where can interested airlines find a demo of the THER system?
A. “We demo at major trade shows, our own demo room, and our portable demonstration system.” (Editor’s Note: We assume that THER will be shown at the Singapore Airshow).
6. Q: Will THER and ITAN be at Hamburg’s Aircraft Interiors Show in April?
A: “We are not exhibitors at Hamburg, but we will walk the floor. Our next exhibition show is Singapore and we will be doing regional shows in South America.”
7. Q: Could you outline some future applications that you might envision for the product?
A: “Our next application focus is a lower cost, lower bandwidth airline data connection.”
8. Q: Could you give our readers any information about price?
A: “Our pricing goal is to be competitive with a drop-down system but with a connection at every seat.”
9. Could you give our IFEXpress readers some idea of passenger coverage per WAP?
A: “WAPs are designed for 85 passengers. Redundancy is important, so that a loss of a single WAP does not delete a service area.”
10. Q: Passenger power conditioning in the server is something we have not seen before – could you address the subject?
A: “Power is designed to meet Boeing Harmonics requirements. It is a very power frugal system.”
11. Q: Any idea about system weight, especially when compared to other systems?
A: “System weight varies with number of passengers. In our experience, we have always been the lowest weight provider.”
12. Q: What is THER availability today?
A: ”The THER System is deliverable on 6 months lead-time. We currently accepted a 5-month delivery for a 737 trial with custom software. Challenging, but doable.”
13. Q: Mark, could you describe the market as you see it?
A: “The market still wants PED’s enabled with data and content, while being charged. That’s our sweet spot.”
Next, if you want to dig deeper, Rogerson has included PDF files of the data sheets for the individual LRU’s (WAP, PIP, ANM, ACM, APE, BOB, AIM). And, be sure to introduce yourself to Mark, he is an easy-going, eloquent spokesman for the Rogerson folks and you should see a lot of him in the future!
Contact Information: Mark J Rogerson – Business Development InTheAirNet LLC.2201 Alton Parkway, Irvine, CA 92606 ph. 949-442-2382 fax 949-442-2312
For the past 6 weeks we have been predicting the advent of “wearable” technology in “Predictions” and “Musings” and lo and behold, this week Virgin Atlantic announced their use of Google Glass for interactions with passengers. Count on Virgin to be first, and IFExpress, for that matter!
- SITA develops pioneering new technology for Virgin Atlantic concierges
London, UK | February 11, 2014– Virgin Atlantic passengers will be the first air travelers to experience the benefits of pioneering Google Glass and Sony Smartwatch technology as they arrive at London Heathrow airport, in an innovative pilot scheme which starts today. Concierge staff in the airline’s Upper Class Wing will be using wearable technology to deliver the industry’s most high tech and personalized customer service yet.
The cutting-edge technology is being introduced as Virgin Atlantic publishes the results of a major study of 10,000 airline passengers from across the world on the future of air travel (1). The results show that as the number of people travelling by plane has sky-rocketed in recent decades, the experience has lessened. Virgin Atlantic is joining with passengers and calling on the industry to introduce more innovations and radical fresh thinking to meet sky-high consumer expectations.
Virgin Atlantic, in collaboration with air transport IT specialist SITA, is the first in the industry to test how the latest wearable technology, including Google Glass, can best be used to enhance customers’ travel experiences and improve efficiency. From the minute Upper Class passengers step out of their chauffeured limousine at Heathrow’s T3 and are greeted by name, Virgin Atlantic staff wearing the technology will start the check-in process. At the same time, staff will be able to update passengers on their latest flight information, weather and local events at their destination and translate any foreign language information. In future, the technology could also tell Virgin Atlantic staff their passengers’ dietary and refreshment preferences – anything that provides a better and more personalized service. During the six-week pilot, the benefits to consumers and the business will be evaluated ahead of a potential wider roll-out in the future.
Virgin Atlantic’s new solution replaces an existing process for serving passengers traveling in the Upper Class Wing, the airline’s premium entrance at Heathrow dedicated to Upper Class passengers. Airline staff are equipped with either Google Glass or a Sony SmartWatch 2, which is integrated to both a purpose-built dispatch app built by SITA and the Virgin Atlantic passenger service system. The dispatch app manages all task allocation and concierge availability. It pushes individual passenger information directly to the assigned concierge’s smart glasses or watch just as the passenger arrives at the Upper Class Wing.
Dave Bulman, Director of IT, Virgin Atlantic, said: “While it’s fantastic that more people can now fly than ever before, the fact that air travel has become so accessible has led to some of the sheen being lost for many passengers. Our wearable technology pilot with SITA makes us the first in the industry to test how Google Glass and other wearable technology can improve the customer experience. We are upholding Virgin Atlantic’s long tradition of shaking things up and putting innovation at the heart of the flying experience.”
Jim Peters, Chief Technology Officer, SITA said: “2014 is shaping up to be the breakout year for wearable technology, and Virgin Atlantic is the first to bring its vision to reality. At SITA Lab, we’ve taken the lead in testing and trialing this new technology for the air transport industry, and it’s been fantastic to work with Virgin Atlantic to launch the industry’s first wearable technology application.”
Virgin Atlantic continues to push the boundaries with other technological advancements with SITA, including testing iBeacon with its Upper Class passengers at Heathrow, a new low-powered Bluetooth transmitter that can notify nearby iOS Apple devices of nearby services, discounts and updates on their flight boarding schedules. In addition, Virgin Atlantic’s newly enhanced mobile site means passengers will be able to book flights, check in online and check their flight status on the move, while also having access to the vast range of information on the main website, including destination and airport guides as well as details of baggage allowances and much more.
In 2013, SITA’s strategic technology research group, SITA Lab, began testing and comparing wearable technology devices and developing applications for airlines and airports. A paper outlining its findings for the industry is available here.
See here for more on the Virgin Atlantic story.
For you mobile device addicts, SITA announced recently that JetBlue is using the SITA Mobile Boarding Pass API for Apple Passbook. JetBlue customers can now simply check-in online and choose to store their boarding passes automatically on their iPhone to use at the airport. Passbook makes it easy for passengers to use mobile boarding passes because it automatically displays the right boarding pass on the passenger’s phone as they arrive at the airport. SITA’s Mobile Boarding Pass API, available from SITA’s API platform, developer.aero, simplifies boarding pass distribution for an airline by allowing them to send passes via email, SMS, push notification and now, Passbook. JetBlue is one of the first airlines to go live using the API and SITA’s technology research team, SITA Lab, is now working with other major airlines and ground handlers to help them offer this service to their customers. We asked Leidar’s Charlie Pryor about device capability and he told IFExpress, “Mobile boarding passes can be delivered to any mobile device. It needs some form of connectivity, typically WiFi or a cell phone network.” Enough said. Check out the opening image for an example of what you can expect on your mobile device.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) ST03276CH, which approves the installation of the Zodiac Inflight Innovations RAVE system on the Air Niugini Boeing 767 aircraft. We contacted Global Aero’s Todd Hamblin for a bit more information and he told IFExpress, “The installation and certification was made easy because of Global’s 30 years of experience doing these types of modifications. Air Niugini wanted a cost effective cabin upgrade that would best serve their customers for years to come and Global was focused on bringing it to them. Our engineers and tech’s greatly appreciated the trust and respect Air Niugini gave us during the program and the Zodiac product really puts them in a better position to compete with other airlines in the highly competitive business travel market entering Papua New Guinea. Airlines seeking new IFE equipment need to make sure they select the IFE solution that best fits the needs of the customers but, most importantly, they need to find an integrator that puts the needs of the customer above all others. Finally let me mention that our team is very good at these complex projects because our experience and dedication sets us apart from all others.”…. no sales pitch, we note. For more information, please contact Todd Hamblin at +1 513 444 4049, email@example.com.
You know about our love of infographics for conveying information, check out this one on airport IT trends and note if you ask IFExpress the world of apps is upon us and if you don’t carry a mobile device in the future, you could get a surcharge on your ticket!
Regarding inflight cell calling, it would not surprise us to find a tekkie frequent flier or two with a cell phone scrambler tucked away for use on a plane. Hey, they exist and are regularly used on buses. Our tech genius has been showing them to us for years! And yes, it is probably illegal.
RUMOR CENTRAL – A small flying creature told us that the Row44 folks should probably learn some Mandarin!
And finally perhaps, the best safety video ever from Virgin, of course!
– Inflight roaming with AeroMobile now available on all major UK networks
London, UK | July 24, 2013– AeroMobile, the leading inflight mobile phone operator, has confirmed EE as its latest roaming partner. The move gives EE’s 26 million* customers across the UK the option to use their own mobile phones inflight.
Now passengers using any of the UK’s main mobile operators can make calls, text or browse online at 30,000ft, simply by connecting to the AeroMobile network.
So far this year, more than 120,000 UK-based passengers have used the AeroMobile service, sending 175,000 text messages and making 25,000 calls.
The AeroMobile service is active on 150 aircraft across nine airlines including Emirates, Etihad, SAS and Virgin Atlantic. All Virgin Atlantic flights between the US and London Gatwick offer the AeroMobile service, as well as selected flights from Manchester and Heathrow. Many flights from the UK to Dubai with Emirates and Etihad’s services from Heathrow to Abu Dhabi also provide AeroMobile connectivity.
“Adding EE to our portfolio of roaming partners opens up inflight connectivity to even more UK passengers,” says Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile.
“EE joins the three other big operators in the UK in offering mobile customers the option to use their own phones inflight, and with more and more airlines offering the service, we expect to see increasing numbers of passengers opting to stay connected inflight. In fact, our research shows that 70 per cent of travellers would use their mobile inflight if they had the option.”
“So far this year, more than 7,000 flights have flown to or from the UK with the AeroMobile service onboard, and we’re adding more airlines and more routes every month,” continued Rogers.
Passengers who use the service are billed by their mobile phone operator, and prices vary depending on individual contracts. Prices are typically similar to ‘rest of world’ rates, or in some cases, lower.
If you heard about the mayhem in the famous Bellagio fountain last week, the image of Sir Richard Branson riding, or dumping, a jet ski in the water in Las Vegas is probably permanently etched in your brain. The event honored the 10 year anniversary of Virgin Atlantic’s non-stop flight service to Mcarran airport from the UK. As he usually does, Virgin’s Sir Richard, prompted a stunt to mark the event and we will give you some coverage of that madness next issue. The Virgin investment of $2 Billion in new planes and new service from Manchester airport, as well as, the 10th anniversary of the service to Las Vegas, were reason enough for the celebration.
The IFE story belongs to Panasonic because of the $70 Million invested by Virgin in the Panasonic eX2 and eXPhone System (via AeroMobile) on 10 new A330’s. The aircraft begin delivery next February, and initially, the hardware will be installed via retrofit. However, Virgin is pressing both Boeing (B747) and Airbus (A330) for future line fit (TC’d) solutions. The news conference last week (shown above) brought together Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson – President, Steve Ridgeway – CEO, Greg Dawson – Director Communications together with Panasonic’s Charles Oglivie – Executive Director, and Rossi Ralenkotter – President Las Vegas Convention and Visitor Authority.
Obviously excited over the fact that the Las Vegas destination was fourth on VA’s revenue generation destination list, he was very enthusiastic about the Panasonic system. Said Sir Richard, “The possibilities now are unlimited. We want mobile phones to be on silent, but there will be light alerts at the passenger’s seat when a call comes in. We might eventually establish silent zones if need be but we’ll see how things go. This means the business men and women will never be out of touch. Our train riders can add four work hours to their work day when traveling with us by rail. It will be no different in the air.” IFExpress talked to the VA and Panasonic representatives and it was clear that the new non-stop A330’s that will fly from the UK to Las Vegas are an important part of both the Las Vegas growth plan and the future of Virgin Atlantic.
The “take-away” here is that Panasonic is actively engaged with Virgin Atlantic today to bring their whole suite of phone-TV-Internet services to the aircraft – initially via Inmarsat and eventually via their broadband network. Paul Margis told IFExpress that they presently have consigned Ku-Band transponders in their network that cover the world routes and planes are operating with the capability today. It is obvious that Sir Richard is a fan of technology as he noted passenger preference for using connected devices; “Passengers will be able to email, make phone calls, use their iPhones to talk and text message.” Virgin Atlantic’s existing fleet of of 33 wide-body aircraft have to look pretty good to Panasonic and we expect that the negotiations are underway to upgrade their whole fleet. Time will tell.