We started the first installment of our 2016’s predictions review in last week’s issue, so here is Part 2, or the wrap-up, from last year’s crystal ball – you can see how we did:

A) Beacons:
While last year we wrote about the future of beacon technology to be used in airports and on baggage, the market did not grow as quickly as we anticipated and this was due to a lot of factors. The following quote from tnooz sums it up pretty well: “As airports still search for use cases with value, and there is no generally accepted platform for this technology and its applications, the adoption is consequently slow.” Standards are the issue but we are happy to report some airlines are evaluating the technology.

Here is what we wrote last January:
“We have shown a number of beacon devices in pictures from the IFE trade shows but basically we are talking about mobile location, mobile intelligence or mobile sales communication devices. These are small battery free or line powered devices that communicate with your device over Bluetooth (4.1) and Wi-Fi. The folks at SITA have been developing a lot of airport related solutions and it remains to be seen when they will come aboard planes. Developed at Apple, the iBeacon Registry is their effort to get this technology started in airports and here are their services: It allows beacon owners (airlines, airports or 3rd parties) to manage their beacon infrastructure and track where they are placed in an airport. The technology enables airports to monitor beacon deployment to prevent radio interference with existing Wi-Fi access points. It provides beacons owners with a simple mechanism to set the ‘meta-data’ associated with beacons. Also, it has an API for app developers who want to use these beacons for developing travel and other related apps.”

Notes SITA: ‘The aims of the registry are to promote the use of beacons in the Air Transport Industry and reduce the cost and complexity of deployment. This can be achieved with the following design goals:

  • Promote shared beacon infrastructure to reduce cost and complexity of deployment.
  • Introduce standard beacon types and data definition to encourage reuse.
  • Provide a simple to use API to discover beacons and get meta-data about beacons.
  • Provide tools to airport operators and beacon owners to visualize and track beacons.
  • Be vendor agnostic – the service should work with beacons from any vendor.”

While airport beacon technology has not taken off as well as we expected we provide this current list of the technology and its’ applications, and the further use of wireless devices used to find things.

B) Security:

“This topic is massive and we will cover it for many times and years to come but we wanted to share one thought from an online article we read – ‘People were reported to be ‘almost universally’ the biggest weakness in information security, ahead of technology and processes..” We note, of the respondents that reported to have an insider threat or policy, 70% offer employee training to minimize risk it said “The company employs intelligence teams that study different aspects of communications, user activity, social media, suspicious activity and other details,” said one respondent. “We’re seeing a lot more hands-on training, employee monitoring, and testing to address the issue,” said Ari Kaplan, security researcher. In fact, this human focused trend will be the number one item at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, the show of new gimmick things, one venue stood out: “#1 Say Goodbye to Cool, Hello to Security and Safety. At CES we have come to expect the latest new shiny gadgets but this is the beginning of change. The world is changing and aviation will be focused on this subject this year. Just consider how many folks touch technology that plugs into planes!”

If anything, we underestimated how big this subject was to become in our aviation lifestyle. The folks at Transparency Market Research noted that the total commercial aviation market is predicted to climb to $29.3 Billion by 2021 from $25.3 B in 2016 – roughly half of the market will be Avionics retrofits, but they note: “The use of modern commercial avionics systems also makes aviation vehicles more susceptible to online hacks.” Thus, our interest in security.

Another perfect example of interest growth is the increase in security related web links we save in our browser. In the beginning of 2016 we had 9 links identified – today we have 64. While we can’t begin to identify the many stories related to security failings at airports and from airlines and aviation hackers last year, this subject will get bigger and bigger – with a possible unacceptable number in 2017 – some possibly being potential horror stories.

C) Virtual Reality:

We noted VR last year: “Don’t get too excited about virtual reality for aircraft applications. In fact, here is the view from Rick Merritt in EE Times who seems to agree: “Some people will claim virtual and augmented reality will be the next big thing in the run up to the debut of a handful of major platforms in the spring. But by fall the heat will start to fade as consumers, chilled by their high price tags and underwhelming performance, give a pass on them as gifts for Xmas 2016.”Some airlines have been flirting with the concept of VR for a number of years and have even featured the technology in their airline lounges, but we believe this technology has a long way to go before it can migrate successfully to the airborne environment, especially if motion sickness is taken into consideration.”

It also begins to look like augmented reality might have a better inflight usage and acceptance this year. As an example the airline might transmit data to augmented devices to place information on glasses or phones like location, airspeed, whatever. However, The industrial market for augmented reality, and the logistics and manufacturing AR markets in particular, will soar by more than 400% in 2017, according to a forecast by ABI Research but it is hard to see IFEC applications, at least in lower classes, except those brought aboard by passengers.

D) Other:

Lastly, we noted in Other last year: “We probably don’t need to say it but Economy Class will get more crowded, competition will drop air fares as competition ‘crams’ up – possibly a new ‘mini or micro’ class, there should be more mergers as more airlines take on the Delta World concept, deals and freebies will exist for the frequent fliers while the rest of the travelers will pretty much just exist inflight (if that’s possible) you will need better pre-boarding ID, Airbnb and Uber concepts will tempt a new US airline concept but the idea will be killed (this is a tough one in the US), and in the end VR may be needed after all to blunt the reality of coach or class.”

We think we did pretty well last year and next week we will do a little predicting again and you will see what predictions our reader have too!


Boeing:
Boeing delivered 748 aircraft in 2016 (490 737s; nine 747s; 13 767s; 99 777s; 137 787s) vs a record of 762 in 2015 (495 737s; 18 747s; 16 767s; 98 777s; 135 787s).

Boeing booked orders for 848 aircraft in 2016 (701 737s, 18 747s, 26 767s, 23 777s; 80 787s) vs 878 in 2015 (666 737s; six 747s; 49 767s; 58 777s; 99 787s), net orders totaled 668 in 2016.

Boeing ended 2016 with a backlog of 5,715 aircraft (4,452 737s; 28 747s; 93 767s; 442 777s; 700 787s), down from 5,795 in 2015 (4,392 737s; 20 747s; 80 767s; 524 777s; 779 787s) – 550 737, 17 B747, 26 767, 17 777, and 58 787.

Technically, Boeing fell 80 planes short of their goal in 2016 – their lowest year orders since 2010 – and plane sales just may slow down in 2017 as well. However, Boeing does have a total of 5,715 jets on order.

Editor’s Note: Airbus is expected to announce the delivery of up to 688 planes, according to industry rumors, as their announcement is expected January 11th. If they announce 259 orders in Dec they could beat Boeing’s 668. Expect some surprises!


Rockwell Collins:
Rockwell Collins has acquired Pulse.Aero Limited, a UK-based company specializing in self-service bag drop solutions and airline applications, to enhance the company’s passenger processing services for airports and airlines. This acquisition further expands Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services strategy to enable the connected aviation ecosystem.“As passengers seek to take more control of their travel experience, this acquisition expands our portfolio of self-service passenger processing solutions, enabling us to streamline and simplify the passenger journey through a fully connected airport,” said Dave Nieuwsma, senior vice president, Information Management Services for Rockwell Collins. Pulse.Aero’s products and services will be integrated into the Airport Systems portfolio of Rockwell Collins’ Information Management Services business. Rockwell Collins and Pulse. Aero have worked together on several successful deployments, including Dublin Airport, where new self-bag drop units were installed, reducing queue times and improving customer service.


Valour Consultancy Study:

A new paid study is available from Valour, but here is what they say about it: “The connected aircraft represents a paradigm shift for airlines and many are now in the early stages of deploying various applications. Several have begun to embrace staged increases in electronic flight bag (EFB) capabilities often starting with one or two apps that they can later build upon, according to a new study from UK-based market intelligence firm, Valour Consultancy. The report – How the Connected Aircraft fits into the Internet of Things – thoroughly details the raft of connected aircraft applications airlines are exploring in the hope of realizing considerable cost savings and/or ancillary revenue gains. It finds that the benefits of eTechlog, eCabin Logbook and enhanced flight operational quality assurance (FOQA) programs using quick access recorder (QAR) data are becoming better understood, while aircraft health monitoring solutions are being enriched by the infusion of increased data flows from previously disparate sub-systems and other information sources on and off the aircraft. Though certain airlines are further along in their connected aircraft strategy than others, there are many challenges to be overcome, says report author, Craig Foster. “Suppliers have invested millions in developing differentiated offerings and this lack of standards has resulted in concern and confusion about investing in the wrong technology. Second, there exists little in the way of tangible metrics that show how quickly a return on investment (ROI) may be achieved from connected aircraft applications. Third, there is a perception that the act of harnessing vast amounts of data results in magical value with some undoubtedly having overstated the reality of what is possible”. Download the whole story about the study in the link above or you can contact Craig for more information at: craig.foster@valorconsultancy.com

We open this week’s Hot Topic after a very successful and interesting trip to Hamburg for the 2015 Aircraft Interiors Exhibition. From almost every perspective there was more of everything. So much so, that your IFExpress reporters were so overwhelmed with the 3 halls worth of IFEC/Cabin display areas (approximately 100 exhibits) that we never even got to the other buildings/halls for more aircraft cabin and related show exhibitors, where there were 4 or 5 times more booths. In fact, the IFE halls themselves saw an increase of 33% and there was even a US Pavilion that provided a lower cost display exhibit solution for small businesses – in 2016, this section should grow! It will be our effort in the next month, or so, to cover booths we visited in detail with the hopes that our readers that did not go to Hamburg will get a feel for the show and a bit more information on IFEC related products and services there. We should also point out that since general show floor visitors get in free, it might be wise to use some of your vacation time if you don’t get work-nominated to go yourself!


Carlisle
Perhaps the best lead-in to this next story on Carlisle (you know, the cable maker) and their new aviation product was best spoken by Marketing Guru, Kris Samuelson, and it went something like this: “We built FlightGear Universal Installation to provide an agnostic solution to the installation of satcom antennas on most commercial jet aircraft.” They note: “The universal solution provides an adapter plate to attach antenna to aircraft exteriors for virtually every Ku and Ka Band large format antenna!” You can see the device on this data sheet  and it looks like a large, milled aluminum plate with installation fixtures attached. “Carlisle Interconnect Technologies, in a partnership with Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, now offers a complete ARINC 791 solution for Ka- and Ku-band SATCOM installations. The complete package contains everything required for either retrofit or forward fit installations on large jet aircraft. Installation fittings are adjustable to cover the complete range of aircraft frame spacing while providing discrete interface loads to the fuselage. The aerodynamic fairing follows the fuselage curvature without requiring a large installation doubler, sealants, or fasteners through the fuselage. This design creates a simplified, standardized installation, easier maintenance inspections, and overall lower cost of ownership while enabling speed to market. Conformance to the ARINC 791 standard also helps future-proof the installation and makes upgrades to next generation antennas and SATCOM system equipment easier and faster with commonality across entire fleets.”

And yes, Carlisle is quite aware of drag implications. A detailed aerodynamic analysis is being performed currently as part of a final shape refinement to optimize the drag while still encompassing the required volume and keeping the overall installation as compact as possible for minimum weight. Lastly, we should point out that while lower profile antennas have entered the market, they are not yet a panacea. With a demand for increasing bandwidth and higher data rates, Carlisle believes that in the long term, a hybrid approach will actually be adopted by the industry, selecting the right antenna (or antennas) for the operating region of the fleet being modified. Carlisle has seen a tremendous degree of interest during, and immediately following, the Aircraft Interiors Expo probably because they have provided a solution to a seemingly widespread need.


JetPack IFE
One of the “little folks”, JetPack IFE at AIX caught our attention. Having the smallest booth there, we were surprised when we talked to Ed Playdell-Bouverie and James Vaughton, both tekkies, and very sharp, at that. Here is what they do, straight from their website –  “JetPack are a leading supplier of innovative portable solutions for Inlight Entertainment systems. Our proprietary software, VisionIFE, is the first iPad IFE platform to meet the rigorous security criteria necessary to secure Hollywood ‘early window’ content. We create branded systems for airlines and, by leveraging the technology of the latest iPads, we can significantly increase the depth and scope of content available in flight. At JetPack, we provide a full, comprehensive service from supplying technology solutions – tablets, charging and synching stations, and the world-beating support needed to support large deployments of iPads in an aviation environment – to providing a bespoke, curated content according to the exacting needs of partner airlines. We are constantly expanding and developing our offering to ensure there is not better entertainment system in the skies.” They told IFExpress that they offer iPads with content approval from “all major Hollywood Studios”, games, electronic books and music as well. You be the judge – check out their website.


On another front, we asked a couple folks in Hamburg what the future might hold in the IFE space, and one of the best responses we got was from -who else – Rich Salter at Lumexis. He noted “I thought the educational day (Passenger Experience Conference) was great this year – the Virtual Reality session and the Etihad presentation re: developing their custom interior/seating were especially interesting. A future IFE prediction, and don’t laugh – Virtual and Augmented Reality will play a part in IFEC sooner than you might think – VR is not just a Sci-Fi far-future concept anymore. Test results show that passengers immersed in a VR space (e.g., touring their destination in advance) may feel better and more relaxed after a flight even though they’ve actually been cramped into an aircraft seat.” IFExpress is waiting for more data on using a VR headset in a moving device, after an airline meal, with only 2 hours of sleep….


Before we forget, the 2015 AEEC upcoming General Session meeting in Prague will be one of the more interesting for those in the cabin interior and electronics arena. Specifically, there will be some 15 new ARINC Standards to be approved by the AEEC Executive Committee, many of which will be affecting all of us. One that we really thought was ancient history is the application of multi-core processors (Introduced in early 2000’s to personal computers) is proposed to be covered by an approval in a change to ARINC Specification 653; “This will enable avionics suppliers, for the very first time, to use multi core processors on avionics computing platforms,” said Paul Prisaznuk, AEEC Exec Secretary. “Today, every avionics computer on an airplane uses a single core processor. ARINC 653 will support dual core, quad core, multi-core type solutions.“ We note that today’s iPad Air uses a tri-core processor – you make the inference! Check out more of the proposed changes here