A few months back, we penned a story about one of the most important improvements in inflight connectivity… more specifically, the VT Miltope router called nMAP2 and asked Robert Guidetti , VP/GM Commercial Division of VT Miltope for more data about the technical capability of it and its associated improvements on an aircraft Wi-Fi system, specifically, the increased passenger connectivity performance by using Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT). This time, we would like to increase the background on the CHT story and cover a bit more on the 802.11ac technology. If you don’t remember the story, you can find it here . So let’s now continue with some questions whose answers will provide our readers with a bit more technical knowledge about CHT:

1. Bob, first can you give us a quick summary of CHT, including some of the benefits, and tell our readers what products in the industry currently have it?

Cognitive Hotspot(TM) Technology (CHT) optimizes network performance in highly congested wireless environments. As more passengers bring one, or more, Wi-Fi devices onto the airplane, with higher expectations for performance, VT Miltope recognized the need to actively manage the wireless spectrum, the wireless access points (WAPs) and the associated client devices. Although the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands have a finite spectrum, at times the appetite for these bands seems almost insatiable. With the rapid expansion of services such as Video-on-Demand (VoD), e-mail, web surfing, games, and more, the cabin wireless network can become highly congested.

CHT actively monitors the spectrum utilization, the number of Wi-Fi client devices assigned to the network WAPs, what services are being supported, data rate requirements, data utilization, etc. Using the information gathered from real-time monitoring, CHT manages the wireless network, including: client load balancing, band and channel assignments, RF power, client roaming, the data service type (VoD, e-mail, web surfing, games, etc.) and rogue WAP detection. Overall, CHT optimizes the bandwidth available to the Wi-Fi cabin network.

The overarching result of using CHT is to allow an airline to use fewer WAPs, and to increase the overall performance of the wireless cabin network. Therefore, the IFE&C system performs at a higher level, at a lower cost.

VT Miltope’s latest cabin WAP, the nMAP2, embraces CHT as a standard feature set.

2. Why does the “C” in CHT stand for “Cognitive”? Furthermore, would you please note some of the long list of features provided by the nMAP2 with CHT?

The “Cognitive” in Cognitive Hotspot(TM) Technology reminds us that CHT makes a WAP smart. With CHT the VT Miltope nMAP2 WAPs are able to talk to each other, to share information gathered about the wireless environment, and to make intelligent decisions to optimize the wireless network.

  • CHT is specifically designed to address the unique challenges of a dense and highly congested wireless environment, e.g. the aircraft cabin. The following summary list provides a smattering of the real-time CHT functions inherent within the nMAP2.
    Automatic Channel Assignment (ACA):
  • Advanced Load Balancing with QoS (ALB)
  • Smart Roaming (SR)
  • Automatic Failure Recovery (AFR)
  • Location-Based Services (LBS)
  • Interference Minimizer (IM)
  • Advanced User Interface (AUI)
  • Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS) (DFS is on the CHT roadmap)

With these and additional features, the nMAP2 becomes a Cognitive, knowledge gathering and decision making network device.

3. Mr. Guidetti, this is a repeat question but given the various standards (802.11a, b, g, n, and ac) can you again tell our readers what is/are the standard(s) used most often today and please give us a bit of information about the number of available channels and the bandwidth available for each and where this is all headed for fliers in the next few years?

Development of the original IEEE 802.11 standard was started in the early 1990’s with the initial release in 1997, with revision A being released in 1999. As we look at the 802.11a/b/g/n/ac evolution in the table below, we see that most of these revisions were multiple years apart with significant increases in theoretical data rates from 11a and11g, to 11n, to 11ac. Although the actual data rates do not normally match the theoretical data rates (on the ground or in the air), the actual data rate increases have been quite impressive as well.

Today, 802.11n has become commonplace with 802.11ac rapidly becoming the highest performing and dominant Wi-Fi offering, with most portable wireless capable devices (smartphones, tablet computers, etc.) now coming standard with 802.11ac radios.

4. Bob, we understand “the cloud” is an important part of the connectivity solution, can you tell our readers how it plays a part in your connectivity solution?

As airlines adapt cloud computing to the aircraft, the availability of high capacity, reliable wireless networks on the aircraft will play an important role. Having a wireless network that can be scaled to support the increasing utilization and demands of the cloud without having to add more wireless hardware will benefit airlines in multiple ways. nMAP2 with CHT and its ability to assign quality of service criteria to airline prioritized data ideally supports cloud services.

5. Streaming video has become an important part of the connectivity solution today and we wonder if you are seeing increased airline request for more and better data rates, if the CHT technology improves capability to stream video and exactly how does that occur?

Yes, streaming video and content loading are two of the most demanding connectivity applications – streaming video because of its relatively high data rate requirement and that it be nearly error free without error correction, and content loading due to the large amount of data that must be moved within a limited time.

A significant wireless challenge within the airplane cabin is RF congestion with potentially hundreds of client devices competing for connectivity to the network. CHT manages RF channel usage, RF power levels and re-assigns client devices to the correct WAP/nMAP2 to optimize the wireless network performance. Testing with and without CHT has shown a 2-to-1 performance improvement within crowded wireless environments.

6. Given that an airline installs a CHT capable wireless router, can you tell our readers what differences an airline can expect with the technology and typically how many can be served streaming content at one time?

The nMAP2 with CHT performance can allow an airline to use fewer WAP/nMAP2 units per cabin, or to increase performance to more client devices than traditional WAPs. Regarding the number of client devices per nMAP2, this will vary depending upon the airplane cabin configuration, the number of client devices vying for the same RF channels, the QoS requirements, etc.

However, a good rule-of-thumb for 1 Mbps streaming video per nMAP2 radio is: 36 to 54 client devices using the 5 GHz channels and 18 to 36 client devices using the 2.4 GHz channels.

7. Can you tell us a little about the most recent testing (or installations) of the nMAP2 product and the results that you saw?

We are very excited about the nMAP2 – with hundreds of aircraft installations; our customers are finding the on-aircraft performance results and lab test results to be similar. Since CHT is able to manage the wireless network utilizing real-time signal-to-noise (SNR), QoS requirements, RF power measurement and management, and other parameters the nMAP2 with CHT is able to improve performance throughput by up to 400% within highly congested environments.

8. Is there any new technology and/or new products on the horizon that VT Miltope has on the drawing board?

VT Miltope sees two technology opportunities coming. The first his here and is on our roadmap for this coming year, with the second being closely watched. The first is 801.11ac Wave-2. Wave-2 is advancement to the initial roll-out of 802.11ac, with Wave-2 providing the potential to add more clients with faster data rates in crowded environments such as the airplane cabin.

The second opportunity is IEEE 802.11ad, nicknamed WiGig (wireless gigabit). Since the standards’ release in 2012, WiGig has been getting some traction. WiGig is a 60 GHz based RF communication standard targeted at high data rate, short range applications, such as gaming and high performance video. WiGig is being combined with 2.4 and 5 GHz Wi-Fi devices to provide three band options depending upon the user’s needs. The industry is watching the roll-out of WiGig to see how well it is accepted within the consumer electronics market – in other words: when will enough people be carrying WiGig devices onto airplanes to start rolling WiGig into IFE&C systems?

9. Please add any products, services, or new features we have not covered.

VT Miltope’s latest product release is the cTWLU. The cTWLU provides flexible and cost effective wireless communications while an airplane is on the ground. Utilizing 3G Cellular, LTE and 802.11a/b/g/n & ac, the cTWLU is used to load IFE content, to load EFB data and to move maintenance data from the airplane to an airlines’ data center. The cTWLU is a much lower cost alternative to satellite communications, and satellite coverage is often spotty when an airplane is on the ground.

VT Miltope’s latest cabin WAP, the nMAP2, embraces CHT as a standard feature set. Soon VT Miltope’s latest wireless product, the cTWLU, will also harness the power of CHT. The cTWLU is an LTE, Cellular and 802.11a/b/g/n & ac enabled wireless Gatelink device for airplane to airport surface communications.

10. Also, any new or other changes we can note… such as people or customers we should mention?

The nMAPw is also incredible.

Unfortunately, most of our customers request anonymity. However, please come by our booth at APEX (Booth #1717 ) in Singapore and we can answer other questions you might have about the incredible cTWLU and nMAP2!


Other News:

IFPL
Seat integration is now a major game changer in the realm of in-flight entertainment and seat design. Rising to these challenges, IFPL has designed a new concept – a unique range of remote multi-port solutions that provide the airline, seat vendor and IFEC supplier with complete flexibility to integrate and combine design aesthetics with ergonomics. IFPL’s unique multi-port range allows airlines, seat and IFEC suppliers the ability to deliver maximum seat integration, creating an accessible and seamless design aesthetic. With flexibility at the core, IFPL have designed a multi-port range that provides options for customization such as: front or rear mounted, fascia material and color, soft light guide color and intensity An ingenious design, this new type of Multiport Jack offers airlines around the world the flexibility of choosing from a variety of easy to replace modules. These include a variety of audio Jacks, different types of USB outlets and a collection of wireless interface options with functions such as reading lights and passenger control buttons. The Multiport Range is available in a number of size (port) options to facilitate clean and neat integration including 2, 3 and 4 port solutions. To provide even more flexibility, IFPL is taking the same approach with its 110V A/C and USB-C 3.1 power outlets. Committed to working with industry partners and customers across the globe, IFPL strives to deliver a seamlessly integrated passenger in-flight journey, turning the mundane into a more enhanced experience.


Ideas Roadshow:

We received a last minute input from Irina at Ideasroadshow – “Here is the link on our YouTube channel. I am also sending you a link to the Motivational Moments playlist on our IFE YouTube channel. (Editor’s Note:  This is good stuff and thanks for sharing it with our readers!)


Singapore:

Singapore Uber Deal – Download the Uber app and register for an account. You’ll have the option to input your credit card or opt for cash payment. To enjoy a $15 FREE ride, simply enter the code “IFEXPRESS” into the Promotions tab! The code is valid until 31 October 2016.

Wireless personal communications have expanded at an incredible rate over the last 2 decades. The technological advances in hardware and software are truly remarkable. With these technological changes have also come the standardization of these technologies, including: GSM and CDMA for cell phones, Ethernet for wired computer connectivity, USB for wired computer and cell phone connectivity, and IEEE 802.11 Wi-Fi(TM) for wireless high speed data connectivity. With this standardization has come interoperability – the ability to develop products that can be used across multiple platforms, operating systems, and with imagination to grow into unexpected new products and services.

Wi-Fi has become the preferred wireless data communication link for many high speed data applications. Wi-Fi is now used globally in businesses, homes, hotels, coffeehouses, stadiums, and of course airports and airplanes. With smartphones, tablet computers, laptops and even the lowly desktop computer coming equipped with Wi-Fi, it has become the standard for short distance, wireless high speed data communications.

However, data now takes many forms from accounting information to audio and video, from databases to Netflix and Pandora, with Wi-Fi being used to move this “data” wirelessly.

With these opportunities and services on the ground, it’s clear why we expect the same level of connectivity and data communications in the air.

Many of our readers know a small amount about their Wi-Fi wireless access points (A/P) because they all use them – few really know about how they differ from ground units. As a result, IFExpress contacted Robert Guidetti, VP/GM Commercial Division, of VT Miltope for help to better understand the technology driving airborne wireless connectivity.

1. IFExpress: Many readers aren’t familiar with airborne wireless access points.  To begin, could you could give a short summary about the differences your engineers have to consider in designing a wireless access point (A/P) that works on an airplane? Basically, we are asking if there is anything different about an aircraft A/P from one used on the ground.

VT Miltope: Yes, there are a number of differences between airborne and ground-based wireless access points (A/Ps).

Safety comes first. First, there are the usual airworthiness certifications typical for flight safety; these deal with both environmental as well as electrical. In addition, 802.11 wireless access points include transmitting radios, which must be rigorously proven to be safe on airplanes. Therefore, multiple industry specifications have been developed to guide the design, testing and installation of these devices on airplanes. Those specifications include, but are not limited to:

Working with congestion. As we all know so well, the cabin is a congested environment with many people in a small space. This leads to a very high density Wi-Fi environment. There are few ground-based applications as densely populated with Wi-Fi A/Ps and client devices as an airplane. This is an increasing challenge as more passengers bring multiple Wi-Fi devices on board; progressively more passengers are connecting multiple Wi-Fi devices to the airplane network.

We need to keep in mind: The aircraft cabin dimensions stay roughly the same over decades, but the demand for bandwidth grows exponentially each year driven by:

a) Continuous increase in numbers of passenger devices
b) Higher quality of service expectations by passengers
c) Continuous increase in the kind of services in the cabin that use Wi-Fi network.

The on-board A/P network must not just survive the congested wireless environment; it must manage and optimize the data throughput, while embracing the plethora of different client devices, and the different needs of streaming video, e-mail, games, etc. VT Miltope’s solution to these networking challenges is Cognitive Hotspot(TM) Technology (CHT) – an advanced embedded software solution specifically developed to optimize wireless network performance. With CHT, nMAP2 units share information such as the number of associated clients, the QoS of those clients, data rate throughput, RF noise and interference, etc.  With this information, the nMAP2 network performs load balancing, band selection (2.4 or 5 GHz), channel selection, RF power management, etc.  Thus, CHT reduces interference and congestion, while significantly improving data throughput and network capacity.

• Beyond the safety and congestion aspects, hardware designs are tailored for airborne applications. For example, multiple A/Ps are often used on airplanes to provide full coverage across the entire cabin. To help reduce weight, Ethernet and power cables are “daisy-chained” from A/P to A/P. Designing for daisy-chaining is just one of several hardware design differences between airborne and ground-based systems. Other hardware differences also include:

o Unique power supplies
o Aviation grade connectors
o Designing for damp environments
o Designing for shock and vibration

Adding more A/Ps may reduce network performance. I mentioned multiple A/Ps, but in the confined tube of the cabin, the interferences between A/Ps will grow when the number of A/Ps gets too high. Again, it is therefore important to not just add A/Ps but rather aim to have as few as possible, but to manage the available capacity more effectively.

Installation longevity: Aircraft cabins and IFE systems are being installed to last for several years, or decades. Yet much of the IFEC world for the airline passenger is driven more and more by short life-cycle consumer devices, with aircraft life-cycles being much longer. It is therefore paramount that the cabin Wi-Fi network has the inbuilt adaptability to support the rapidly evolving passenger device and content landscape.

2. IFExpress: Given the various standards (802.11a, b, g, n & ac) can you tell our readers what is the standard used most often today and please give us a bit of information about the number of available channels and the bandwidth available for each?

VT Miltope: IEEE 802.11 is just over 20 years old, with more than 50 revisions issued. 802.11 specifies everything from RF power to RF frequencies to modulation characteristics to security aspects. Although each new revision normally includes specifications from prior revisions, the popular approach is to discuss 802.11a, b, g, n & ac as separate characteristics.

Rapidly becoming the most popular implementation over the last two years is 802.11ac, operating in the 5 GHz band, with theoretical data rates exceeding 8 Gbps. Two RF bands are used for normal Wi-Fi connectivity, 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. By far, the 5 GHz band provides the greatest bandwidth and the greatest opportunity for expanding data throughput. The latest 802.11ac only uses the 5 GHz band, with 802.11n supporting both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. Although actual data rates vary widely on the ground and on airplanes, the following table shows the theoretical maximum data rates for 802.11g, n and ac.

Both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands are divided into channels. The channels are of fixed bandwidth of 22 MHz in the 2.4 GHz band, but have bandwidths of 10 MHz, 20 MHz, 40 MHz, 80 MHz or 160 MHz (depending upon the channel) in the 5 GHz band.

Actual throughput varies by the amount of congestion, RF power level, number of spatial streams (antennas), number of channels used together (bonded), RF bandwidth, distance, RF noise, and many other factors.

In addition, country regulations vary widely regarding regulatory and legal requirements affecting the use of these RF bands. All countries restrict the use of at least some of the internationally allocated spectrum, and these restrictions tend to vary by country or region. To help with these differences in regulatory aspects, industry organizations including APEX, ARINC and RTCA are discussing how to harmonize the use of these bands for airborne applications. Although it will likely be several years before harmonization is realized, once completed, certification on airplanes will become easier and Wi-Fi performance can be further enhanced.”

3. IFExpress: Please tell our readers about the challenges of streaming video on inflight A/Ps.

VT Miltope: Streaming video is a challenge due to the relatively high bandwidth requirement, combined with a need for a very low error rate. Some data (such as e-mail) can be delayed without harm, and/or retransmitted if there are errors. However, video cannot be delayed without losing fidelity, and retransmission to correct errors uses a lot of bandwidth and delays the video stream.

One of the most severe wireless system tests is running continuous streaming video to every seat on an airplane. As you might imagine, this uses a lot of RF bandwidth, while creating interference and congestion across the cabin. Part of the A/P design challenge is to accommodate the large number of client devices within the airplane cabin. VT Miltope performs these tests as a routine part of our software verification and validation in the lab, and on airplanes in conjunction with our customers. Our customers what to know that the passenger and crew Wi-Fi performance meets and exceeds required benchmarks and expectations.

4. IFExpress: In today’s aircraft, how many A/Ps are typically used?

VT Miltope: This is a common question and the short answer is: it depends. It depends upon several parameters, including: the type of service required (e-mail, video, games, data loading, etc.), the number of passengers, how many passengers are expected to use which services, the data throughput requirements (speed and amount), the aircraft configuration, etc.

Fairly typical for a narrowbody airplane with 140 seats such as an A320 or B737 are 2 to 3 A/Ps distributed throughout the cabin, depending upon required services. Typical for a widebody airplane with 320 passengers such as an A350 or B787 are 5 to 7 A/Ps, again depending upon required services.”

5. IFExpress: Is there a difference in streaming from a server vs downloaded satcom streaming… we assume bandwidth is the issue?

VT Miltope: “In general, airborne servers are able to provide significantly higher network data rates than satcom links; although Ka band satellites are starting to change the dynamics due to the potentially higher data rates supported by Ka satcom. So for satcom connectivity, wireless A/Ps typically have greater bandwidth capabilities than the satcom link, therefore, the A/Ps are not the bottleneck. But for video on demand servers, A/Ps can become the bottleneck to these high bandwidth requirements. Beyond the data rate differences, the 802.11 A/Ps are simply a lower cost connection from an airborne server or satcom modem to the passengers’ client device than a wired solution.”

6. IFExpress: Do you have any idea about what percentage of passengers use your devices on any one flight?

VT Miltope: “Industry reports indicate an average take-up rate of 5 to 10 percent. This tends to vary by type of flight (domestic, international, business commuter, etc.), country and region, services available, and other factors. However, VT Miltope designs its A/P to support all passengers at an optimum data rate.”

7. IFExpress: Does the airplane internal structure effect the placement/number of wireless A/Ps – things like class of service dividers, for example?

VT Miltope: “Yes, at the Wi-Fi frequencies of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, aluminum and composite fiber are good reflectors of these RF signals. This leads to class dividers, monuments, lavatories, purser stations, bag bins, and other items needing to be considered when determining the best aircraft installation locations for A/Ps. A/Ps are normally located in the cabin overhead above the aisle(s), but can be located in bag bins, side panels, purser stations, or other imaginative locations.”

8. IFExpress: Can you tell our readers about any new technology or products coming along?

VT Miltope: “The greatest recent impact has been the increasing use of 802.11ac in mobile devices. Since 802.11ac uses the less congested 5 GHz band, and provides higher data rates, this provides significant opportunity to improve data throughput and overall wireless network performance.

VT Miltope’s approach has been to develop an A/P computing platform with high end performance, while developing a dynamic and flexible software solution providing real-time network connectivity optimization. We call this smart software solution Cognitive Hotspot(TM) Technology (CHT). Our nMAP2 combines the technology strides of 802.11ac performance with CHT to optimally manage today’s and tomorrow’s high density airborne connectivity requirements.”

9. IFExpress: What are the installation and certification aspects related to airborne wireless access points?

VT Miltope: “As mentioned above, the selection of A/P installation locations in the cabin needs to consider the RF characteristics of 802.11 radios and proximity to passengers’ Wi-Fi client devices. Certification aspects require testing of the A/P devices as components, and in addition there must be testing and certification of the aircraft for the safe use of Wi-Fi devices in flight. Testing at the component level shows compliance with RTCA DO-160, with aircraft certification including testing and evaluation to RTCA DO-294 or DO-307, or both.”

10. IFExpress: Does VT Miltope have any additional information you want to provide to our readers?

VT Miltope: “Yes, about Wi-Fi System performance measurement: We all know about the IFE system availability formulae of the past consisting of complex system diagnostic and reporting applications that give airlines the perception of control over more complex IFEC systems. CHT, our connectivity improvement technology, enables transparency to the system integrator and the airline with its unique CHT Manager application. Continuously measuring and recording key system availability parameters, the CHT Manager offers comprehensive system control and performance insight.”

VT Miltope will be at Aircraft Interiors booth 3B10 in the IFEC Zone

Featured Products:
• nMAP2 with CHT
• cTWLU with 4G LTE, 3G Cellular and 802.11a/g/n & ac

Notes:
Wi-Fi(TM) is a trademark of Wi-Fi Alliance
Cognitive Hotspot(TM) Technologies is a trademark of AOIFES Solutions

Contact:
Jeff Drader
Director, Business Development
VT Miltope
2082 Michelson Drive, Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92612

Jeff.Drader@Miltope.com
+1 (949) 752-8191


Breaking News From Rockwell Collins:

The industry-leading Airshow® now works on web browsers

  • By utilizing the HTML5 platform, Airshow Mobile for browsers is not tied to a specific operating system.
  • One solution supports HTML5 browsers on smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.
  • All major operating systems with compliant HTML5 browsers will run the map.
  • Since this mobile solution runs in a browser there is no app for passengers to download prior to boarding a flight.
    Available first in the Rockwell Collins Paves Wireless and coming to other platforms soon.

Airshow Mobile for browsers delivers real-time flight data from take-off to landing, with an interactive 2D environment, keeping passengers informed and entertained.

As the title mentions, we are going to explore a few more show vendors this week but we also wanted to give a tip-o-the-hat to AirBerlin, our transportation provider to/from Germany. Aside from a good food service and cheerful flight attendants, the IFE kept us entertained for nine hours each way. More importantly the IFE, RAVE from Zodiac Inflight Innovations was installed onboard and it worked PERFECTLY! AirBerlin had loaded over 1,000 songs, some of which we purchased online when we landed (iTunes take note), and over 100 movies. We cannot say enough about the system ease-of-use and we were impressed with the fact that on each flight, we saw a cabin crew member bring aboard a spare in case of a seatback issue – this is a brilliant solution to a down IFE screen – one special key click, a seatback hardware swap, and you are back in business. We decided to contact Harry Gray at Zii for input and he told us:

A couple of points on the replacement display issue.

  • IFE systems “will fail” at some point – it is a statistical fact
  • How you handle a failure is the key message
  • With a “server-centric” system architecture, there are several components in the network that could cause the problem.  Typically, a reset of sorts is the logical (and essentially only) method to try and fix a problem, which also has an impact on more than just the affected passenger(s).  The flight attendant/purser typically goes through a progression of steps to perform corrective action.  A reset at one seat (if that’s possible), a seat group (two to 4 passengers), a zone (30 to 50 passengers) or the entire aircraft cabin (300+ passengers).  Each reset takes approximately 10 – 20 minutes.  Doing the math, it could take perhaps between 10-20 minutes (for a single seat) or up to 40 – 80 minutes (for the entire aircraft).  Reset time will be dependent upon the IFE system type and will vary.  Additionally, there will likely be a lag (more time) between system resets, as the flight attendants/purser are busy with other passenger/flight services.
  • With RAVE – If there is a problem with a seat, that is the only seat that is affected.  If a reset is required, we have the “button” on the face of the display that when pressed for about 7 seconds, the display will reset.  RAVE has a reset time of about 60 seconds.  If the reset button at the seat does not fix the problem – the display can be hot-swapped during flight.  The flight attendant takes a Hot Spare from the back row, and swaps the passenger display with a good unit.  Within about a minute, the new display boots up and the passenger can continue the rest of the flight with a working IFE system.
  • Results:
    – The problem is contained at a single seat – does not affect any other passenger on the airplane
    – Reset takes about 60 seconds
    – Replacement unit (during flight) takes about 60 seconds
    – Total corrective action takes about 2-3 minutes (including walking time by flight attendant to get Hot Spare)
    – The Hot Swap of a defective unit is placed in the back row, and is automatically logged in the Crew Panel.  Maintenance can come onboard and know what occurred, and go directly to the last row to replace the unit that was swapped during flight.
    – The airline (and flight attendants) now have a simple way to fix an IFE system during flight, to maintain a high level of passenger satisfaction.  RAVE eliminates the problem of having a dark flight, and passengers having no entertainment for a 15 hour flight.

Now, back to task with a question: Are you ready for the future? The increased offerings of onboard IFE and Connectivity services we saw at AIX in Hamburg are showing how fast the industry is moving to try to keep up with the evolution of BYOD in our daily life on the ground. There are a new and continuously increasing showcase of solutions in the IFE market today that are going to motivate passenger expectations for onboard experience, and therefore, increase service uptake… and we note, most are taking place in the new generation of wireless routers. Heavy use of onboard IFE and Connectivity services is going to drive the need for a reliable wireless distribution system. A strong and reliable wireless distribution system, that can adapt to a mix of client devices, multiple service scenarios and increasing future demands, is going to help prevent in-service problems and therefore it will lead to a better passenger onboard experience. Period! The goal of the VT Miltope nMAP2 with Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT) is to optimize real-time performance, improve reliability and guarantee Quality of Service (QoS) for every passenger, ensuring a problem-free operation of the more demanding IFE and Connectivity systems. This is going to help systems operators and airlines to maximize the benefits of an overall better passenger onboard experience The trend is clear: broader service range, increasing system uptake and larger screen resolutions even on small screen sizes. Systems operators need to get their solutions ready for continuously increasing passenger bandwidth demand with a scalable and reliable solution that helps them to face todays and future challenges. “The answer is nMAP2,” noted Robert Guidetti, VT Miltope, VP of Marketing. IFExpress tracked down, Jose Ayub Gonzalez Garrido – CEO of Aoifes, Technology Developer for nMAP2 and he told us: “We have developed a very powerful unique product optimized to meet the most challenging requirements of the IFE & connectivity industry. Additionally we offer value-added applications that further helps integrators and operators to manage the network, analyze wireless performance in real-time, optimize and verify wireless installations, and monitor and troubleshoot the system operation. It is a win-win for everybody!”


We received some feedback about last week’s IFExpress from Steve Nolan, Gogo and we felt it useful to share with our readers: “I read the part (last IFExpress) about virtual reality and its role in IFE.  Scott Carmichael (Gogo) did a great white paper on Head Mounted Displays because we have been getting lots of questions from airlines on this subject.  Obviously, there’s also just a lot of hype about these technologies because there’s a “cool” factor here.
Scott put a lot of the technologies through their paces on our own aircraft.  I think you and your readers would find his takeaways very interesting.”


And speaking of airline inflight iPad usage, American Airlines had a Jeppesen-related App crash recently for a number of cockpit Apple iPad devices. Both pilot and co-pilot iPads crashed, in some cases rendering a stored flight plan useless. American took to Twitter to admit they had problems, further, many planes had to return to the ground for Wi-Fi to fix the problem.

So many observations, so little time!

Editor’s Note: A recent VT Miltope news release caught our eye and we wanted to set up this story for our readers with a bit of Cognitive Hot Spot background information, but then we saw this Innovation announcement in an Inflight’s e-message: “Inflight is pleased to award VT Miltope as the winner of the ‘Innovation in commercial airline cabins’ category,” said Mark Howells. “The company is a worthy winner with the development of its Cognitive Hotspot Technology which aims to provide airlines with a solution in facing the challenges of seamless connectivity in-flight.” It sort of says it all from a bottom line perspective!

However, to get a better idea of the company’s technology and its benefits, let’s start with their latest nMAP2 announcement. “VT Miltope has started delivering an IEEE 802.11ac Multifunction Access Point (nMAP2) as its latest wireless product. Building upon the success of VT Miltope’s wireless access point products, nMAP2 features Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT), an integrated MIMO antenna assembly and a second radio to support legacy 802.11n client devices.

Because of the advances that nMAP2 with CHT offers over other wireless access points (AP), we wanted to point out it in this pre-AIX issue so our readers check it out at the EXPO. Further, we wanted to relate what it is and what it does, as well as, how airlines and airline passengers will benefit from CHT. VT Miltope has the only wireless access point with this feature and, according to Mr. Guidetti, “We are very proud of our accomplishment and what it will do for cabin connectivity performance – it’s the latest advancement in wireless!”

There is a lot more in the above sentences than meets the eye… let’s look at a couple the concepts, one at a time:

nMAP2

VT Miltope’s newest Aircraft Wireless Router with CHT built-in.

802.11n

VT Miltope expects passengers to be bringing legacy 802.11g & n passenger devices onto airplanes for many years.  This will be similar to today, with passengers bringing 802.11g devices even though 802.11n has been available for 5+ years.  Given the added complexity and higher power requirements of 802.11ac, it may be that some passenger devices never migrate to 802.11ac. That’s why they have a second radio to support 802.11a/g/n.

802.11ac

The other radio in the access point operates in the 5 GHz band and will deliver data rates in the gigabit range. The good news about that is that there’s far more room in that frequency spread than there is in the over-used 2.4 GHz.

Benefits: The most significant improvements are more data spatial streams, 80MHz channel width operation, and data aggregation scheme that should increase data efficiency.

At the raw bit level, 802.11ac will support data rates of at least 1 Gbps on three streams using a combination of wider bandwidth channels and high-density modulation. Where 802.11n could run on 20 MHz or 40 MHz channels, 802.11ac can be deployed on 20-, 40-, and 80-MHz channels. Bigger channels translate into more potential bits per second. To pack more bits into the available radio spectrum, 802.11ac also uses a coding system that delivers up to 33% more efficiency.

Benefits: It is here today; faster, more efficient data, and more channels will also benefit the users. This means a network can support simultaneously streaming multiple HD-quality videos to multiple devices. And, we understand, VT Miltope has begun delivering this new product.

GigaBit Ethernet

nMAP2 has a built in Ethernet switch providing multiple Gigabit Ethernet ports to connect to the IFEC network server and for daisy chaining other nMAP2s to minimize cable installation to reduce weight and costs. VT Miltope completed nMAP2 qualification testing with all three Ethernet ports running during qualification testing.

Benefits: The improved 802.11ac data rates necessitate faster Ethernet capabilities with the wireless access point otherwise the wired interface becomes the bottleneck. nMAP2 has three Gigabit Ethernet ports, one for connecting to the IFEC network server, one to daisy chain to another nMAP2, and a third for connecting other IFEC systems or equipment such as Satcom. nMAP2’s preserve the Ethernet connection to the network and other nMAP2’s in the event there is a daisy chained nMAP2 failure because the Ethernet switch remains operational. Furthermore, to add redundancy the last nMAP2 may be looped back into the network so the last nMAP2 in the chain remains connected to the network even if an nMAP2 in the middle of the daisy chain fails. In the unlikely event that an nMAP2 wireless connection is interrupted; CHT senses the wireless interruption and reconnects those clients to the other operational nMAP2 or from a non-operational nMAP2 radio to the second radio. This improves the overall availability of the wireless network on the aircraft to meet the performance expectations of the passengers and crew. This is a reliability game-changer.

MIMO

Multiple-Input and Multiple-Output, or MIMO is the use of multiple antennas on both the transmitter and receiver to improve connectivity performance. Multiple antennas are used to perform smart antenna functions such as distributing the total transmit power over the antennas to achieve an array gain that improves the spectral efficiency (more bits per second per hertz of bandwidth), beam directivity and/or achieving a diverse gain that reduces fading and improves link reliability.

Benefits: Basically this is an antenna designed for aircraft cabin environments to improve connectivity performance at each seat with more seats served resulting in more happy users onboard!

Now, back to the news release:

Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT), available exclusively with nMAP2, is state-of-the-art wireless management technology tailored specifically to improve wireless performance in congested aircraft cabins… With CHT, nMAP2’s provide proactive cabin network management to optimize the total network capacity, thus supporting a substantially better passenger experience. CHT features various dynamically and automatically adapting modules such as intelligent roaming, wireless power control, channel assignment, load balancing, and interference minimization. These modules are customized according to each airline’s service and content delivery requirements and priorities.”

Cognitive Hotspot Technology

CHT is software embedded on VT Miltope Wireless Access Point that converts them into Smart Access Points. Smart APs are collaborative. They talk to one another and act together as a team to optimize the network capacity. Smart APs take their environment into account, continuously sensing it to adapt in real-time and deliver the best signal for each receiver (PED). Information is shared among the Smart APs to create aircraft network awareness and manage the available resources jointly. CHT helps to prevent interferences and network congestion, sets measures to guarantee network-wide Quality of Signal (QoS), enables seamless roaming and balanced networks, and improves overall network capacity. In other words, CHT delivers the best signal to each user, in each seat.

Benefit: The benefit is to your passengers. The Wi-Fi signal they receive on their personal electronic devices is higher in signal strength and faster in data rate. This means a more consistent wireless signal for better audio, better video, and a much better user experience.

Access Controller

Access Controller mode adds DHCP server capabilities with routing, traffic control, and prioritization for different user VLANS or traffic to nMAP2 operation.

Benefit: Basically, access controller is a mode of operation that allows for the creation of a wireless local area network on the aircraft. An nMAP2 operating as an access controller in conjunction with other nMAP2s operating as access points establish the wireless local network and provides intelligent data forwarding to maintain the security of the network. Access controller can take advantage of an external RADIUS server to store user accounts that can be locally defined. The access controller establishes links with the access points wirelessly.

And finally here is the ‘plane’ benefit to your airline and your passengers, also from the news release:

“Pioneering the introduction of wireless access point technology to aircraft cabins since 2001, VT Miltope has a proven history for delivering highly reliable wireless products. Improving on our current nMAP, nMAP2 incorporates the latest in wireless security, is more compact, weighs less further enhances reliability, and reduces overall ship set costs.”

The company continues to bring about innovation in their product line… that is what this business is all about. For example, the nMAP2 weighs less, is more compact, and improves reliability more than earlier products. Up to 64 VLANs (IEEE 802.1q) are available to support separate user networks.  Customized network and user group profiles are possible using 16 concurrent VSC (Virtual Service Community), each having configurable SSIDs, QoS, security, and filtering.”

In closing, we want to let you know that there will be more VT Miltope news coming during and after AIX, Mr. Guidetti told IFExpress, and the best advice we have for our readers is to Stay Tuned!


 

Astronics AES, known for bringing power to passengers and airline personnel,  announced its agreement with SmartTray International, LLC.  Astronics AES will exclusively market, sell and manufacture SmartTray’s new passenger device-friendly aircraft tray table solutions that facilitate hands-free use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) and smartphones for an improved passenger experience. This is a brilliant product diversification. Stay Tuned for what’s next! (Editor’s Note: Check out their website here TheSmartTray.com  for an idea of how this simple and useful product works!)

Surrey, UK | April 6, 2015–Inflight is pleased to announce that newly appointed editor, Piers Townley, will be attending this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg to meet with leaders in the in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) industry.

“Taking the editorial helm of a publishing team with world-class knowledge of the industry is a privilege and a challenge,” commented Piers. “I look forward to witnessing Inflight reach new heights as our team of respected journalists continue to push the editorial of the Inflight media portfolio to keep you at the forefront of IFEC.”

Whilst the event is taking place, Mark Howells, publisher of Inflight, will also be presenting Markus Gilges, director of business development at VT Miltope, with the Inflight award for ‘Innovation in commercial airline cabins’ which was announced earlier this year at the prestigious Inflight Awards Middle East event held in Dubai.

VT Miltope won the award after Inflight’s judging panel of experts selected the company from a number of nominations from leading industry suppliers. The winning criteria was based on VT Miltope’s Cognitive Hotspot Technology.

“Inflight is pleased to award VT Miltope as the winner of the ‘Innovation in commercial airline cabins’ category,” said Mark Howells. “The company is a worthy winner with the development of its Cognitive Hotspot Technology which aims to provide airlines with a solution in facing the challenges of seamless connectivity in-flight.”

The award presentation will take place on VT Miltope’s booth 3C28 at noon on Tuesday 14th April.

Inflight is also proud to be a media partner at The Crystal Cabin Awards.

To arrange a meeting with Piers Townley during Aircraft Interiors, please email piers@hmgaerospace.com.

Toby Walton, sales manager for Inflight, will also be present for the duration of AIX Hamburg. He can be reached at toby@hmgaerospace.com.

Visit us at Aircraft Interiors, Booth 2E61 in Hamburg, 14-16 April, to find out more information about our publications and events.

While preparing for our yearly sojourn to AIX in Hamburg, we began to think of what would be needed on the trip in the way of new apps for our portable devices that would be relevant and make the experience a bit easier. Let’s see, an app at the airports(s), an app or two in the plane for communication and possibly sleeping or game-play diversion and of course an app about Hamburg. We won’t go into the options here but this got us thinking as good little App Pupils: How big is this app ‘thing’ and why on earth are we thinking about device apps when an exciting trip is in the offing?

Rule Number One: If an app will get you through an airport and on or off an aircraft quicker or easier, it is probably a good idea. Further, and in general, if apps make the flight experience better we will try them. That may seem strange because we spend so much money and time on flying, but the flying experience is not really enjoyable anymore… at least not in economy! Perhaps we are willing to download and use device apps that have the potential to improve it… or at least, provide a diversion that keeps us from thinking about the “experience” while we are enduring it. At this juncture, we can’t help but think about dentistry’s Novocaine, but we digress. One can only guess that if the experience were better we would want it to last longer and would not look for apps to mask or improve the event.

Which brings us to the demand and usage of mobile connectivity. We read recently that “13 million passengers used Mobile OnAir last year – 65% used if for mobile data, which includes email, social media updates and surfing the Internet, 31% used it for text messaging, and 21% used it for phone calls, which includes listening to voicemail, we were told by a SITA/ONAir spokesperson, Charlie Pryor. He went on, “Basically, think of how people use their phones normally; with smartphones, the calling element is just another app. And people use their phones in the same way on a plane as they do on the ground.” Next, Mr. Pryor went on; “There are two OnAir products that provide passenger communication. Mobile OnAir is a mobile phone network. It works in exactly the same way as international roaming: you turn on your phone and start using it. The cost is included in your regular bill, as with roaming. So no, you don’t need any specific subscription – provided of course you have roaming enabled. You can use your phone for whatever you want – emails, social media, text messages, calls, reading the newspaper: the list is endless. Internet OnAir is Wi-Fi and to use that, you need to sign-up and pay with your credit card, just like any hotspot. Mostly: there is a growing trend for airlines to provide it free of charge. Again, you can use it for whatever you normally do on the Internet.”

Obviously, apps are well used and to prove a point, airline connectivity apps, developed in this case with SITA, are a big deal, and getting bigger. The company noted; “SITA OnAir is celebrating another successful year with 13 million people taking advantage of Mobile OnAir in 2014. The inflight mobile phone service, Mobile OnAir is now flying on 15 airlines worldwide. Over the year, 37% of passengers flying OnAir-equipped aircraft connected to the inflight network. They went on; “The demand for mobile connectivity has never been higher, with 80% of passengers carrying smartphones. In 2014, mobile data was the most popular service, used by 65% of the passengers who connected to OnAir’s onboard mobile network; mobile data includes email, social media updates and surfing the Internet. Text messaging accounted for 31% of usage and phone calls made up 21%. Many passengers use Mobile OnAir for all three activities, as people do on the ground. Over the coming years, mobile data usage will continue to grow, driven by smartphone penetration. Voice also remains an important service, especially for business passengers.”

The issue of flight connectivity brings us to one point we noticed while reading about apps and their use on personal devices – flying is becoming a “personal experience,” at least in the world of airline and airports – here is one document passage, again developed by the folks at SITA: “The ‘connected passenger’ has become a reality, with 97% of airline passengers carrying at least one personal electronic device. But global usage rates indicate passengers have been slow to adopt new airline and airport mobile services when traveling. Deeper analysis however, shows that some industry players are bucking the trend and achieving high levels of usage. This is according to The Future is Personal, the latest industry report from SITA, the leading global IT provider to the air transport industry. It combines SITA’s global research with commentary and cases studies from airports and airlines that have focused particularly on using mobile services to improve the passenger experience to great success. SITA’s industry insights are based on in-depth research directly with more than 6,000 passengers; carried out at 106 airports across the world that handled 2.35 billion passengers last year and with airlines that together carried more than half the world’s passenger traffic. The research shows airlines have made significant investments in mobile services over the past four years as smartphone adoption surged and the majority now enable passengers to buy tickets, check-in and access flight information via smartphone apps. Meanwhile half of the worlds’ airports also provide flight information via apps.”

Yes, apps are useful, but are they being used? SITA says; “Still global roll-out and adoption is proving to be slower and more complex than was anticipated. Half of passengers are keen to use their mobiles to find their way around the airport, access lounges or the aircraft, provide identification at checkpoints, or make payments. The reality is though, that despite these and other services, including mobile check-in and boarding passes provided by airlines, 24% of passengers have not yet used travel apps at all on their journey.

With the greater use of apps, we wondered a bit more about who develops them. In our discussions, Mr. Pryor noted: Apps are typically developed by airlines and airports; SITA provides developers with access to the relevant API data, through www.developer.aero.” He noted further that he had some interesting data on an airport app from Cork airport (Ireland) that we wanted to know a bit more about so he connected IFExpress with Kevin Cullinane and he answered the following airport app questions about which he had some interesting data on Cork Airport, Ireland:


Q. How many downloads of the Cork airport app to-date – Android… iOS?
A. There have been close to 10,000 downloads since its launch and the Cork Airport App currently has a 4* rating in the Google play store. It is also rated in iOS – the App is up to 29th place in the free iOS Apps in the Travel category in the Irish iTunes market. Nearly half the users are using iPhones to access the site.

Q. Why do passengers use it?
A. It is the essential guide to the full range of services at the Airport. It includes features such as live arrivals and departures information, car park booking, integrated maps and details of all of the retail and catering outlets within the terminal. The app also includes links to airport shopping services with all the latest offers from The Loop. It provides current weather details at Cork Airport, as well as live weather reports for all destinations. Cork Airport has also added bus and coach departure timetables to the App. The update makes it even easier for passengers to plan their journey to and from the airport.

Q. The App is called?
A. CORK Airport (Official) available to download for free on both iTunes and Google Play

Q. Why should travelers download the app?
A. The free Cork Airport app is the essential guide to the full range of services available at the airport. In addition to the new flight-tracking feature launched in January, the app features live bus and coach departure times, live arrivals and departures information, car park booking, integrated maps and details of all of the retail and catering outlets within the terminal. The app also includes links to airport shopping services with all the latest offers from The Loop. It provides current weather details at Cork Airport, as well as live weather reports for all destinations.

Finally we note, this business about apps and inflight connectivity got us thinking: Who is in the game? Noting that in the US, the government prohibits voice calls, we found an interesting study done at Stanford focusing on Gogo but talking about the worldwide competition, and, the study is worth a read. Here is what they say about inflight connectivity competition:

“Indeed, the main competitors on the market are OnAir, VIA SAT and Aeromobile. OnAir, a fully owned subsidiary of SITA, originally incorporated as a joint venture with Airbus is based in Switzerland and has operations internationally. OnAir is focused either on airlines but also on cruise ship since 2005. In 2014, they had equipped 22 airlines. They are offering to flyers an Internet connection of 56 Kbit/s and provide OnAir services with an integrated GSM. Recently they have equipped the innovative plane Solar Impulse.

Via Sat is an American company making 1 Billion Sales. They are specialized in global satellite services for government, commercial aircraft and cruises.

Aeromobile, part of Panasonic, is based in UK, since 2010 and generates 2 Million USD of revenues. Their technology is based on a component of Panasonic’s Global Communications services.

Honeywell Aerospace, the largest manufacturer of aircraft engines and avionics is based in the US, generating 31 Billion USD Revenue is acting in many segments of aviation. On a bigger scale, they have the objective to lead the market in a near future with an innovative Wi-Fi Satellite connection.

In conclusion, we are encouraged to note that Brazil is the leader in travel app usage (probably because of the dreadful telephone system), so noted a recent SITA release – “SAO PAULO – 5 March 2015 – More airline passengers in Brazil carry a smartphone than in other parts of the world. The SITA-ATW Passenger Survey reveals that 85% of passengers in Brazil carry smartphones compared to the global average of 81%. A significantly higher percentage of these passengers use apps from airlines, airports and travel agencies compared with passengers from Europe, Africa and the Middle East, making Brazil’s passengers among the most connected in the world.” The release went on to say: “When it comes to booking their flights, passengers in Brazil are also picking up their smartphones and tablets faster than their counterparts in other parts of the world. Some 43% of them regularly use their smartphone to book flights, this compares to the global average of 31%. In Brazil, 42% take advantage of the larger screen and regularly use tablets to book flights. This use of mobile technology is set to continue to rise – when asked which channels they would use more for tickets and services, if all equally available, 60% of passengers said smartphone apps and 53% tablets.”

Apps are here to stay and if the recent announcement of the Apple Watch has any influence and bearing on the situation, via GPS, one app on it will display your itinerary information when you near the airport. Make no mistake, wearable apps are next!


This Just In: IFExpress received a copy of the VT Miltope Press Release of their new nMAP2 – IEEE802.11ac Multifunction Access Point, featuring Cognitive Hotspot Technology. The company states that is is in the process of delivering its latest wireless product. And yes, it will be their “main focus” at AIX. More later…

Boulder, CO | February 25, 2015– VT Miltope has started delivering an IEEE 802.11ac Multifunction Access Point (nMAP2) as its latest wireless product. nMAP2 builds upon the success of VT Miltope’s wireless access point products. nMAP2 features Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT), an integrated MIMO antenna assembly and has a second radio to support legacy 802.11n client devices. Cognitive Hotspot Technology, exclusive to the nMAP2, is a state-of-the-art wireless network management solution, developed specifically to improve the performance of wireless systems in aircraft cabins. Aircraft cabins are becoming congested through increasing numbers of passengers, passenger devices and types of services available to enable passengers and crews.

With CHT, nMAP2’s provide proactive cabin network management to optimize the total network capacity, thus supporting a substantially better passenger experience. CHT features various dynamically and automatically adapting modules such as intelligent roaming, wireless power control, channel assignment, load balancing, and interference minimization. These modules are customized according to each airline’s service and content delivery requirements and priorities.

nMAP2 with CHT constitutes a paradigm shift in wireless cabin networks. Adding more access points, the option of the past, in a confined aircraft cabin only leads to more interference. CHT manages the entire cabin wireless traffic and its delivery points more effectively, thus increasing total capacity and optimizing your passenger experience.

Pioneering the introduction of wireless access point technology to aircraft cabins since 2001, VT Miltope has a proven history for delivering highly reliable wireless products. Improving on our current nMAP, nMAP2 incorporates the latest in wireless security, is more compact, weighs less further enhances reliability, and reduces overall ship set costs.

We are delighted to announce that our efforts to improve the passenger experience has also afforded us an award for “Innovations in commercial airline cabins” as part of the Inflight Magazine Awards, publicized during the recent Aircraft Interiors Middle East in Dubai.

One of the new products you will see at APEX is a new, seat integrated solution from Lufthansa Systems. So we contacted LHS in order to provide our readers with a glimpse of it prior to APEX and we asked them the following series of questions:

Q: Firstly, what is it called?
LHS: It’s called the “Seat Integrated Tablet Solution”. It’s another feature for its integrated wireless BoardConnect platform.
Q: Are we correct in understanding that the system described in the release will be basically a wireless IFE solution with a tablet replacing the existing IFE seatback unit?
LHS: Yes, high-resolution audio and video content can now be streamed over WiFi not only to passenger devices but also to tablets integrated in the seat. The in-seat tablet solution integrates commercial of the shelf (COTS) hardware into the seat. Therefore, a seat needs to be modified to accommodate a common tablet.  A seat structure is added to firmly mount the tablet onto the seat frame. In addition a tablet frame/case surrounding the tablet itself holds it in place. The tablet frame adapts to the dimension of the tablets which will be adjusted in case of replacement. This “adaptive frame” is mounted to the seat structure and can easily snapped in or off.
Q: What about head-strike and about certifying the tablet to DO-160?
LHS: It is mandatory for every seat to pass HIC. The same requirement applicable to legacy in-seat IFE systems applies to a seat integrated tablet solution too. To avoid additional HIC tests when updating to the next tablet generation we add a transparent polycarbonate cover (or similar materials) that need to be closed for the critical flight phases Taxi, Take-off and Landing (TTL.) The cover closes like a shade that is pulled up by the passenger. An appropriate announcement could be made as part of the cabin ready check (seat in an upright position and stow the tray table.)
Q: We assume a personal tablet works with the system? Android, iOS Windows… is there an app in use here… what OS?
LHS: Yes and no, personal tablets can be used, just like in any other BoardConnect installation, however they are not to be mounted into the seat integrated tablet frame.
The tablets inside the frame are airline supplied devices, enabling the airline to feature safety videos as well as early window content. The key differentiator to classical in-seat screens is the possibility of a cost efficient technology refresh in case newer tablets become available.
Q: We hear that you folks are working with an Airframmer and possibly a seat manufacturer for the product — any truth to that?
LHS: The prototype on display in Anaheim was developed with partners, however at current we are not in a position to reveal their names.
Q: Are you working with a connectivity service provider who will deliver the speedy Internet?
LHS: BoardConnect was and remains to be as a very capable and robust, wireless on-board platform coming along with a cutting edge wireless IFE offering. In respect to connectivity BoardConnect remains provider agnostic. We can attach both satellite and Air-to-Ground solution to our platform.
Q: Could your “new” system be considered an embedded wireless IFE solution?
LHS: In fact it is a more than this since it allows any form of hybrid solutions containing Personal Electronics Devices (PEDs), Airline Owned Devices (AODs) and Seat Integrate Tablets (SIT) all served by a single server and a high performance wireless network.
Q: If what we think is true, LHS has a real technical achievement, especially with using only wireless to each seat as there are many roadblocks like interference to keep the system from working, would anyone from LHS wish to comment?
LHS: Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems:
“Nowadays, it becomes more and more apparent that legacy IFE systems can’t keep up to speed with the developments in the consumer electronics sphere. To overcome this gap between customer expectations driven by consumer electronics and the current reality within an aircraft cabin we specifically designed the seat integrated tablet solution. This will allow our customers to integrate state of the art, affordable, commercial off the shelf devices into the seatback leading to an improved customer experience.”


 

Next, IFExpress got a sneak peek the the latest technology from VT Miltope, (via their new nMAP2 technology) and when you visit their booth at APEX, write this down – APEX Booth 1641 – you will be amazed! Why? Because for almost 6 months now, we have been told we can’t report on “Cognitive HotSpot Technology” but Stay Tuned. Take our word for it, this is a first in smart aircraft routers considering today’s access points can use only approximately 10% of their network capacity because of antenna technology, internal software analysis capability, and aircraft physical configuration … you will be amazed because now, routers from VT Miltope can collaborate!

Late Breaking Inside Info: Here is what we do know about nMAP2 – VT Miltope has added an IEEE 802.11ac Multifunction Access Point (nMAP2) as its latest wireless product. nMAP2 builds upon the success of VT Miltope’s wireless access point products and nMAP2 features Cognitive Hotspot Technology, an integrated MIMO antenna assembly and has a second radio to support legacy 802.11n client devices. Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT), available exclusively with nMAP2, is state-of-the-art wireless control technology tailored specifically to improve wireless performance in congested aircraft cabins. With CHT, nMAP2’s provide intelligent roaming, auto wireless power control, auto channel assignment, load balancing, interference mitigation, and failure recovery.

You probably know that as s a pioneer in introducing wireless access point technology to the aviation industry and VT Miltope has a proven history of delivering highly reliable access point products. Importantly, nMAP2 weighs less, is more compact, and improves reliability as far as we can tell. We do know that it is standards compliant, designed to ARINC 628a Part 1 and ARINC 836. Up to 64 VLANs (IEEE 802.1q) are available to support separate user networks.  Customized network and user group profiles are possible using 16 concurrent VSC’s (Virtual Service Community), each having configurable SSIDs, QoS, security, and filtering.

As an access point, clients connect to aircraft LAN via intelligent bridging that restricts client traffic to only flow to-and-from the access controller. In the absence of a router, nMAP2, we understand may also be configured as an access controller to provide router functionality with robust firewall. Incredible stuff, don’t miss it!


 

IFExpress got a call from a company seeking to acquire or invest in companies serving the inflight entertainment industry and rather than spin their message, here it is, and please contact them directly if you are interested. “Our Company is developing a unique IFE system offering including; passenger entertainment, e-commerce and other unique passenger and airline benefits. Additionally, the Company has very significant backing that will allow for the “roll up” acquisition(s) and/or investment(s) in related companies offering synergies within the IFE industry. These synergies might include; existing airline distribution, existing airline accounts, existing or near term revenues and profits, unique software and/or hardware technology, unique passenger or airline services, and services that can generate passenger and airline revenues either in flight or on the ground. All inquiries will be responded to and should contain a brief description of the opportunity, which can be followed up with a Non Disclosure Agreement where necessary. Please address all inquiries to MJEL@mjel.com.”


 

And lastly, do you want a great info-graphic on passenger Wi-Fi demand?

It’s no secret that AIX is the worlds biggest Aircraft Interiors show (perhaps up to 10,000 visitors this year) and we wanted to give you a quick look at a few show-goers who have contacted us with booth and product information. Of course IFExpress will be there searching for new products and product improvements, new services, and interviews with the folks who bring you IFExpress. You can reach us via email: plwiseman@gmail.com, Mobile/Text: +1 206 229 7899, and we will have the Fire Chat app turned on (TerryW).

Aircraft Cabin Systems:
Booth #: 6C37
ACS will feature IFE Displays (10.4”-65” and 9.7”) as well as their recently patented 12” Retractable monitor at AIX this April. Additionally, ACS is collaborating with TEAC during AIX. TEAC is introducing their new video player at the Expo.
Contact: Charles Reerink
Mobile: + 33 608 907 746
Contact: Rick Routly
Email: rroutly@aircraftcabinsystems.com
Contact:Yukio Sugimoto
Email: sugimotoy@aircraftcabinsystems.com
Contact: Richie Sugimoto
Email: rich@aircraftcabinssytems.com

Armstrong Aerospace
The Armstrong Aerospace PowerBox™ and PowerBar™ are revolutionary off-seat power solutions that are available today. PowerBox™ and PowerBar™ attach to the floor seat tracks and do not touch the seats they are installed to support. This greatly eases the installation and risk for upgrading your cabin, and it ensures no new seat TSO activities or seat recertification efforts are required. PowerBox™ and PowerBar™ are capable of being used with any outlets and electrical distribution on the market today, making them the most flexible for installation. The simplicity of this design ensures they can be installed rapidly, typically in less than one day for a narrow body, and two days for a wide body.

The Armstrong Aerospace BirdStriker™ is the bird deflector device that is available TODAY to meet your bird strike certification needs.
BirdStriker™ ensures operators can benefit by:
• Finding Compliance with 14 CFR 25.571e1
• Improving aerodynamic efficiency of existing radomes by up to 30%
• Maintaining RF integrity of existing radomes
• Avoiding expensive and heavy installations due to the BirdStriker™ lightweight, composite material design
• Installations can be performed in less than 10 hours
Furthermore, Armstrong Aerospace was actively involved in the recent ARC recommendations to the FAA. (Note: Armstrong Aerospace will be walking the 2014 AIX floor.)
Contact: Kevin Weppner
Email: kevin.weppner@armstrongaerospace.com
Mobile: +1.630.280.9295

Astronics Corporation
Booth #: 6B30
Astronics Corporation (NASDAQ: ATRO) is a leader in advanced high-performance lighting, electrical power, specialized avionics products and automated test systems for the global aerospace and defense industries. Astronics Corporation, and its wholly-owned subsidiaries, AeroSat*, Astronics Advanced Electronics Systems Corp.*, Ballard Technology, Inc., DME Corporation*, Luminescent Systems Inc.*, Max-Viz, Inc., PECO*, and PGA Electronic*, have a reputation for high-quality designs, exceptional responsiveness, strong brand recognition and best-in-class manufacturing practices. For company news and other important information, visit the website at www.astronics.com. (* – Exhibiting at AIX)
Contact: Dennis Markert
Email: dennis.markert@astronics.com
Mobile: +1.425.442.8195

digEcor
Booth #: 6B11
digEcor provides a low-cost, end-to-end cabin technology and inflight entertainment solution by specializing in personal media and AVOD platforms, mobile cabin crew applications, and being a global content service provider. We’ll be showcasing the GLIDE IFE embedded system, the next generation of digEplayer, Engage mobile cabin crew and passenger experience solution, as well as in seat power and the latest content services. Our focus is on increasing traveler satisfaction while creating easily executed customized solutions and generating ancillary revenue for clients. We are enabling airlines to create extraordinary travel experiences.
Contact: Ben Fuller
Email: Ben.Fuller@digecor.com
Phone: +1-801-691-7225

IFPL
Booth #: 6C10
IFPL will be showcasing their latest designs at AIX 2014 and will be demonstrating how you can BREAK FREE, CHARGE, PAY UP and GO!

IFPL is an established design and manufacturing company well known for its industry standard IFEC products. Their success is built on meeting passenger needs for multi-media connectivity and reliable access to the in-flight entertainment.

BREAK FREE! IFPL’s Breakaway Jack solves the problem of broken headphone plugs. Leading on from the Single Pin Jack, the Breakaway Triple Jack (1272) is an exciting new concept for use with powered noise cancelling headsets. The use of the 1272 Triple Jack requires no physical modification to the seatback.

CHARGE! IFPL have listened to their customers and are pleased to present a Stand-Alone USB outlet that will provide 2A output.

PAY-UP! IFPL’s Contactless Retail System uses NFC technology to allow passengers to pay using their contactless card. This payment system has shown an increase of up to 15% of sales in the vending market.

GO! IFPL’s Self-Testing jack enables quick and easy visual system audio check, verified with just a glance.
Contact: Neil Thomas | Business Development Manager
Email: neil.thomas@ifpl.com
Mobile: +44 (0) 778 698 7454
Contact: Mark Reed | Business Development Engineer
Email: mark.reed@ifpl.com

Inmarsat
Booth #: 6E31
Inmarsat will talk about the developments in its global satellite services, in particular with GX Aviation developments.
Contact: Paula Ferrai
Email: Paula.Ferrai@inmarsat.com
Mobile: +41 79 874 06 08

KID-Systeme
Booth #: B6C40
KID-Systeme will be exhibiting at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, from 8-10 April 2014, to demonstrate its two ground-breaking cabin systems: SKYpower, the internationally trusted seatpower system, and SKYfi, a revolutionary modular onboard connectivity platform. With a new design and an innovative product development, KID is looking forward to welcoming their customers on their booth in hall B6.
Contanct: Maren Müente
Email: maren.muente@kid-systeme.de
Mobile: +49 171 5660630

Lufthansa Systems
Booth #: Hall B6 6B47
Lufthansa Systems will be showcasing additional new products for its award-winning infotainment platform BoardConnect, presenting the solution as a fully-featured integration platform for the first time. Visitors to the company’s booth will be able to experience the user-friendly, versatile and innovative IFE solution using their own tablets, smartphones and laptops – as they would do on board. The appropriate apps for Android, iOS and Windows 8 are available for downloading from the app stores.

New features like chat, an online shop and a moving map with points of interest (POI) on different topics will add even more variety to the passenger’s in-flight experience. Passengers can find out about events taking place at their destination, obtain a restaurant recommendation, and even make a reservation online (via satellite, for instance). The BoardConnect platform’s content caching service maintains popular sites on the server, which not only speeds up access to these pages but also saves the airline expensive satellite bandwidth.

The new, easy-to-use, fast and automated Cabin Data Loader takes care of monthly content updates to the on-board servers and the latest LTE technology ensures speedy daily updates of dynamic content such as news and newspapers at speeds of up to 100 Mbps.
Other new hardware components to be shown by Lufthansa Systems will include the on-board Wireless Access Point developed by Lufthansa Technik, which supports 802.11 ac (the fastest current Wi-Fi standard) as well as delivering high-definition video throughout the cabin.
Contact: Sandra Hammer
Email: publicrelations@lhsystems.com

Lumexis
Booth #: 6E40
LUMEXIS FTTS IFE Systems – Best By Every Measure – Lightest Weight | Greatest Capacity | Highest Reliability. We invite you to visit Stand 6E40 during the 2014 AIX and allow us to demonstrate why FTTS has become the benchmark for the entire IFE industry. Please do not hesitate to contact me to make an appointment or to request further information. Looking forward to seeing you in Hamburg.
Contact: Jon Norris (VP Sales)
Email: jnorris@lumexis.com
Mobile: +1 949 436 1434

OnAir
Booth #:6D38
OnAir will be discussing its latest deals with airlines, as well as looking to the future of inflight connectivity, as it begins to include cabin crew, cockpit and airline operational applications.
Contact: Aurélie Branchereau-Giles
Email: aurelie.branchereau@onair.aero
Mobile: +44 78 676 15 46

Panasonic Avionics Corporation
Booth #: 6C36
At Aircraft Interiors in Hamburg, Panasonic will be showcasing the breadth of its IFE offering on its stand, demonstrating embedded and wireless IFE systems, and its award-winning Global Communications Services inflight connectivity offering.
Panasonic will be making a number of announcements at Aircraft Interiors, with several relating to the breadth and depth of its uniquely global satellite network.
Contact: Brian Bardwell
Email: Brian.Bardwell@panasonic.aero
Mobile: +1 949 573 6833

Stellar Group
Hall B6.1
With 40 years of experience as a Content Service Provider (CSP) Stellar’s focus is to work with Airilnes to understand the myriad of options in IFE, especially in regards to Tablets, streaming and connectivity. Afterall, Stellar Group was the first CSP to secure content onto iPads, as well as, the first CSP to secure content via wireless streaming.
Contact: Joel Joslin
Email: joel.joslin@stellargroup.com
Mobile: +61 414 944 302

Telefonix, Inc.
Booth #: 6C43
During AIX 2014 Telefonix will showcase products in 3 primary categories: 1)Passenger experience products, such as Passenger Control Units, Entertainment and Connectivity Hardware, which includes media loading devices, aircraft servers, etc. 2) Their CWAP design 3) And finally, in conjunction with their partner company Product Development Technologies (PDT), custom product design services.
Contact: Allison Burke
Email: aburke@telefonixinc.com

VT Miltope
Booth #: 6.1B17
Miltope’s family of network products offer the required functionality necessary to create custom airborne networks similar to how office networks are created. Our products optimize the combination of interfaces and computing resources to meet operational, spatial, and functional requirements of simple to complex airborne systems at minimum cost. Products include servers, Ethernet switches, wireless access points, TWLU aircraft to ground wireless link, control panels, and data storage devices. This year we will be featuring our latest wireless products, nMAP2 (wireless access point) and cTWLU (cellular ground link).
Contact: Markus Gilges | Director, Business Development
Email: mgilges@miltope.com
Mobile: +44 7793 758 755

Zodiac Inflight Innovations
Booth #: 6B20
Zodiac Inflight Innovations (formerly The IMS Company and TriaGnoSys) has been providing innovative solutions for the aviation industry for decades. Our business strategy can best be described as RAVE (Reliable, Affordable, and Very Easy). Already famous for our reliable passenger-centric embedded AVOD system (RAVE), we have recently expanded our product line to include connectivity features. Zii offers RAVE Wireless, a streaming IFE solution that lets passengers enjoy entertainment streamed directly to their personal devices. RAVE Cellular allows passengers to use voice, SMS and data services on their phones, which are billed directly to the passenger’s own mobile carrier. With RAVE Broadband, passengers can stay connected in the sky with unprecedented Ka-Band connection speeds. With this full line of IFEC product offerings, Zii uses a modular concept allowing customers to pick and choose which of these features are most important to them and their passengers. RAVE has had much success in the retrofit market and is currently making great progress toward line fit offerability at both Airbus and Boeing.
Contact: Harry Gray
Email: hgray@imsco-us.com
Mobile: +1 714 854 8633

Recently, VT Miltope announced the sale of the popular VT Miltope cockpit Ruggedized Printer Product line, which consists of rugged printers for use in commercial and military aircraft sold to aircraft manufacturers, tier one contractors, and directly to airlines around the world, to Astro-Med, Inc. VT Miltope has been an industry leader in cabin printers; as well as, cabin purser station devices, for 24 years and IFExpress thought our readers might like to hear why they sought out and found a buyer to carry the three printers (TP4429, TP4840, and nPrinter) to the next level while still maintaining a continuity of performance, quality and service.

As a seller backgrounder, VT Miltope is engaged in the design, development, manufacture and testing of rugged computer technologies and a family of aviation network products for military, industry and commercial applications and has been for more than 30 years. VT Miltope’s broad range of computers, tablets, handhelds, workstations, wireless products, servers, storage systems and other related products have served defense, government and commercial customers. VP Commercial Products, Bob Guidetti noted, “Astro-Med has acquired a product line that has been an aviation standard for 24 years and the proof is in the thousands of devices that have been sold.”

On the buyer side, Astro-Med was founded in 1971 and has been a world leader in data acquisition systems and ruggedized products for more than forty years. In the aerospace market the company started out with pen recorders and then developed ruggedized thermal recorders in the 1980’s for airborne and military applications. In the 1990’s the company invented full color thermal printing technology for the commercial label printing market. Then in the 2000’s Astro-Med’s thermal printer technology was adapted for use on the flight deck and cabin of commercial, business, and military aircraft.

We wanted to dig a bit deeper so we contacted Tom Carll, Astro-Med’s VP & Worldwide Director of Sales for Ruggedized Products, who told IFExpress that Astro-Med is a leading manufacturer of specialty high tech printing systems and data acquisition products. The products include color label printers and consumables sold under the QuickLabel Systems brand as well as rugged printers for avionics applications and data acquisition recorders sold under the Astro-Med brand. “Further, the fit of the VT Miltope Ruggedized Printer line matched perfectly with our Astro-Med printer line so the acquisition makes sense for us and our customers all over the world – it’s a win-win for both companies and it will increase our footprint in the flight deck.” He went on, “One of our goals was to be sure that there was complete continuity for existing VT Miltope printer customers during the transition, which is why we opted for a ‘cooperative acquisition’ plan in which VT Miltope and Astro-Med transition the manufacturing and service functions over the next 6 months. The printers eventually will be manufactured, sold and serviced in our West Warwick Rhode Island facilities when the transition is complete.”

The transaction closed on January 22, 2014. Astro-Med will fund the approximate $6.7 million cash purchase price with existing cash and borrowings under its credit facility. We note that Astro-Med purchased the assets of the VT Miltope printer product line less facilities and staffing. Here is the interesting part of the story – VT Miltope and Astro-Med entered into a manufacturing services agreement under which VT Miltope will continue to manufacture printers for Astro-Med for a period of time until Astro-Med transitions the manufacturing to its West Warwick, R.I. facility. According to Astro-Med’s CEO, “VT Miltope has been a leading supplier of ruggedized printers for the last fifteen years. The products have been consistently profitable and we expect the line to be accretive to our Test and Measurement product group earnings in the first quarter of ownership,” said Everett V. Pizzuti, CEO of Astro-Med. “The acquisition expands our penetration of the market for avionics printers, especially in the segment related to direct sales to the airlines.”

Since the deal looks like a winner for both companies, we asked about the VT Miltope decision to sell the printer line and a news release we found tells the whole story: “VT Miltope’s aviation market growth area is ruggedized computing and wireless products and services for in-flight entertainment and aircraft support. The divestiture of the airborne printer product line enables VT Miltope to focus our resources on the future core products,” said Julie Briggs, President and CEO of VT Miltope. From the IFExpress perspective, this is one of those deals that makes sense to the IFE industry and the airlines alike – one company purchasing a product line that compliments it’s line of products and strengthens its market connections to another company to use the proceeds of the sale to further strengthen their inroads in another (the cabin, to be exact). Mr. Guidetti told IFExpress, “I can’t say much now but stay tuned for some exciting cabin developments… coming soon!”

For more information contact rguidetti@miltope.com or tcarll@astromed.com

West Warwick, R.I. and Hope Hull, Ala. | January 13, 2014– Astro-Med, Inc. (NASDAQ:ALOT), and Miltope Corporation, d/b/a VT Miltope, a company of VT Systems, today announced that the companies have entered into a definitive agreement for Astro-Med to acquire the Ruggedized Printer Product line from Miltope. The Miltope products consist of rugged printers for use in commercial and military aircraft sold to aircraft manufacturers, tier one contractors, and directly to airlines around the world.

The transaction is expected to close on January 15, 2014. Astro-Med will fund the approximate $6.7 million cash purchase price with existing cash and borrowings under its credit facility. Astro-Med will purchase the assets of the Miltope printer product line less property and staffing. Miltope and Astro-Med will enter into a manufacturing services agreement under which Miltope will continue to manufacture printers for Astro-Med for a period of time until Astro-Med transitions the manufacturing to its West Warwick, R.I. facility.

“Miltope has been a leading supplier of ruggedized printers for the last fifteen years. The products have been consistently profitable and we expect the line to be accretive to our Test and Measurement product group earnings in the first quarter of ownership,” said Everett V. Pizzuti, CEO of Astro-Med. “The acquisition expands our penetration of the market for avionics printers, especially in the segment related to direct sales to the airlines”

“Miltope’s aviation market growth area is ruggedized computing and wireless products and services for in-flight entertainment and aircraft support. The divestiture of the airborne printer product line enables Miltope to focus our resources on the future core products.” said Julie Briggs, President and CEO of VT Miltope.

Each year we offer readers the opportunity to get their show booth information out there for show goers to print out and take with them for easy reference. This year is no different. Not only did we get a plethora of responses, a couple of the vendors called us with news about their show offerings; we suspect in part, due to the the booming economic conditions. However, we hope to reward the callers’ enthusiasm with footnotes to their exhibit information.

Aircraft Cabin Systems
Booth#: 1528
Contact:
Ben Ludlow e: ben@aircraftcabinsystems.com Cell: +1.206.612.1979
Product/Services: In 15 years Aircraft Cabin Systems (ACS) has grown to be the most respected manufacturer of IFE LCD monitors. We are committed to delivering the highest level of customer service, product support, and certification efforts. ACS offers LCD monitors ranging in size from 5.7” to 65” for any aircraft type.

Astronics
Booth#: 1413
Contact: Dennis Markert e: dennis.markert@astronics.com Cell: +1.425.442.8195
Product/Services: The aviation and IFE industry recognize that USB charging, specifically high-power USB charging, is necessary in order to keep passenger devices charged and available in the air. Astronics’ latest USB power supply provides enough power to charge 4 iPads simultaneously … while in use! The system delivers up to 2.1 Amps (configuration dependent) at +5 volts using aircraft 115AC power (360 Hz to 800 Hz AC) and is designed to the meet the latest aircraft OEM and regulatory requirements. Come see the latest product innovations from Astronics as you charge your devices at our latest charging station demonstration.

digEcor Inc.
Booth#: 1626
Contact: Ben Fuller e: bfuller@digecor.com Cell: +1 801.691.7225
Product/Services: digEcor provides the aerospace industry a low cost, turnkey in-flight entertainment solution by specializing in content sourcing and management, personal media platforms (PMPs), embedded systems, and end-to-end digital programs for the entire cabin. With years of experience, digEcor focuses on increasing traveler satisfaction, creating easily executed solutions, and generating revenue opportunities for clients.

Gogo
Booth#: 1034
Contact: Channing Fleetwood e: cfleetwood@gogoair.com Cell: +1.404.519.1322
Product/Services: Gogo is the global leader of in-flight connectivity and a pioneer in wireless in-flight entertainment solutions. Using Gogo’s exclusive products and services, passengers with WiFi-enabled devices can get online on more than 1,900 Gogo equipped commercial aircraft. In-flight connectivity partners include American Airlines, Air Canada, AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America. In-flight entertainment partners include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Scoot and US Airways.

IFPL
Booth#: 415
Contact: Neil Thomas e: neil.thomas@ifpl.com Cell: +(44).778.698.7454
Product/Services: Generate ancillary revenue with IFPL’s Contactless Retail System (CRS).

IFPL has developed an in-seat payment system that takes advantage of the new NFC contactless Credit Cards for low value purchases. These let your passenger pay quickly and simply with their credit card for on-board transactions at their seat, eliminating the requirement for cash on-board. Contactless payment is enabled by Near Field Communication (NFC).

CRS is easy to install with no in-seat wiring required. It will run for up to 24 months on the optional built- in battery, is easily configurable and can be used as part of an IFE or as a stand-alone system.

Our CRS is great for your installation engineers, cabin crew and passengers. Simple installation allows easy upgrade of you EPoS system, quick order fulfilment and pleased passengers. The service level is customisable for the grade of seat and enables easy catalogue updates over Wi-Fi for special offers or to simply update food menu options.

We look forward to working with you directly or with your EPoS retail partners. So whether you are a low cost or full service carrier, this CRS system will generate revenue for you.

Call, click or come to Booth 415 at the APEX Expo to find out more …

Inmarsat
Booth#: 1800
Contact: Paula Ferrai; e:paula.ferrai@inmarsat.com Cell: +41.79.874.0608
Product/Services: Inmarsat will be discussing GX Aviation, the only global Ka-band satellite network. Combined with SwiftBroadband, Inmarsat provides the most comprehensive inflight connectivity available. It is suitable for every type of aircraft, and is able to suit the needs of every airline.

KID Systeme
Booth#: 1433
Contact: Maren Münte e: maren.muente@kid-systeme.com Cell: +49.171.566.0630
Product/Services: At this years APEX in Anaheim, KID will display their innovative cabin systems. The company’s product portfolio encompasses seat power, onboard connectivity and wireless content services, enabling passengers to use their own personal electronic devices while in the air as if on the ground. KID-Systeme supplies the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers, including Airbus, Boeing and Embraer. We are looking forward to welcoming you on our booth.

Note: KID hinted to IFExpress that their booth may contain a new product -SKYfi… not to mention a new website coming soon as well. Sounds like a whole new plan game at KID.

Lumexis Corporation
Booth#: 1417
Contact: Jon Norris e:jnorris@lumexis.com Cell: +1.949.436.1434
Product/Services: Lumexis®, supplier of the highly successful Fiber-To-The-Screen®(FTTS®) IFE system, introduces its FTTS Second Screen™ capability to APEX EXPO 2013. FTTS Second Screen combines the best of all passenger experiences by providing uninterrupted HD video entertainment on a passenger’s seatback, in-arm or bulkhead-mounted main screen FTTS monitor, while allowing them to use their own PEDs to wirelessly access moving maps, order food, buy duty-free goods, play games or use every application available on the platform.

OnAir
Booth#: 1041
Contact: Aurélie Branchereau-Giles; e: aurelie.branchereau@onair.aero Cell: +41.78.676.1546
Product/Services: At APEX, OnAir will launch OnAirPlay, which is set to revolutionize the way airline passengers spend their time onboard by combining inflight connectivity with films, TV, live news, music, games, magazines and newspapers. Passengers will now have access to a full range of content including live news and sport, updated throughout the flight and can buy destination-based goods and services to ease their arrival.

Panasonic Avionics
Booth#: 1205
Contact: Rebecca Atchison e: Rebecca.Atchison@panasonic.aero
Product/Services: At the 2013 APEX Expo, Panasonic Avionics will demonstrate how IFE systems combined with broadband connectivity and technical services can positively impact key issues like competition, profitability, consolidation, managing costs and fuel prices, that airlines face every day.

Rockwell Collins
Booth#: 1000
Contact: Jerry Thomas e: jwthoma1@rockwellcollins.com Cell: +1.949.293.5295
Product/Services: Rockwell Collins will be showcasing its latest innovations for cabin management and entertainment, including its PAVES On-demand and PAVES Broadcast IFE systems. The two solutions bring unprecedented reliability and versatility to single-aisle aircraft for keeping downtime to a minimum and allowing flexibility for the different mission needs of airlines. Also, Rockwell Collins’ industry-leading Airshow 3D Moving Map will be on exhibit, as well as its Venue HD cabin management and entertainment system for VIP aircraft.

StoreBox InFlight
Booth#: 316
Contact: Web Barth e: info@StoreBoxInFlight.com Cell: +1.425.746.4335
Product/Services: StoreBox InFlight provides the E+ System; a complete in flight, video on demand WiFi streaming program that is turnkey for airlines (hardware, installation, content, advertising sponsors, content refreshment) that provides passengers with 60+ hours of free entertainment; movies, TV shows, music, games, books, popular magazines, daily newspapers, daily news show, shopping from popular catalogs and destination based information and coupons.

Note: New kin on the block, StoreBox InFlight, will be at APEX with news about their new E+SYSTEM Wi-Fi solution that promises no ongoing content charges for the airline adopting their low cost, light weight system. And yes, there are some high names involved.

Thales
Booth#: 1022
Contact: Lori Krans e: lori.krans@us.thalesgroup.com Cell: +1.949.923.0976
Product/Services: Delivering Innovation and Performance is the Thales theme for Apex 2013. With focus on Applications, Systems Flexibility, Connectivity and Future Innovations, Thales brings to APEX over 25 demonstrations for today and tomorrow. Come visit us!

Thompson Aerospace
Booth#: 1644
Contact: Lisa Nielesky e: LisaNielesky@ThompsonAerospace.com Cell: +1.714.501.3302
Product/Services: 1Net system demonstration showing ecommerce, advertising campaigns, usage statistics, and system integration for both wired and wireless systems. Stop by our booth, create your own advertising campaign, and your advertising artistry may win you a Samsung Galaxy Tablet!

Note: Mark Thompson called us with the exuberance of Christmas kid… and I don’t blame him. 1Net is now connected to a cloud server and talks to the Flight Operations Cloud. A couple little secrets – you have to see their real-time, airborne, advertising, QR code generator and be sure to enter the make-your-own-advert-and-win-a-Galaxy contest. Such creative solutions… go there!

TriaGnoSys
Booth#: 935
Contact: Axel Jahn e: axel.jahn@triagnosys.com Cell: +49.172.292.8125
Product/Services: TriaGnoSys will discuss the development of its ‘one-box-wonder’, the small, lightweight GSMConneX. It is used to provide mobile phone and Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as for the wireless streaming on IFE content. Importantly, TriaGnoSys will be discussing the airline customers that already use GSMConneX, and the prospects for the coming year.

VT Miltope
Booth#: 1822
Contact: Jeff Drader e: jdrader@miltope.com Cell: +1.949.278.5856
Product/Services: Miltope’s family of network products offer the required functionality necessary to create custom airborne networks similar to how office networks are created. Our products optimize the combination of interfaces and computing resources to meet operational, spatial, and functional requirements of simple to complex airborne systems at minimum cost. Products include servers, Ethernet switches, wireless access points, TWLU aircraft to ground wireless bridging, ARINC 744 network printers and ARINC740 printer, control panels, and data storage devices.

Zodiac Inflight Innovations
Booth#: 1400
Contact: Harry Gray e: hgray@imsco-us.com Cell: +1.714.683.3793
Product/Services: We are showcasing our latest developments of RAVE, the only IP-safe passenger-centric IFE system. System demonstration capabilities include business class and economy class integrated seats from Zodiac Aerospace. In addition, we have some new connectivity options that we are excited to discuss.

This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo, which played host to the world’s largest display of aircraft interiors products and services, welcomed 8906 (pre-audit) visitors through its doors between April 9-11.  This was a 12% increase on the previous year. The exhibition featured over 500 exhibiting companies from 26 countries, covering a record floor space on 18,000 sq m – the largest footprint to date. Organized by Reed Exhibitions and taking place in Hamburg, Germany, the exhibition attracted over 750 airline representatives that were ideally placed to witness the launch of many new innovations in the cabin interior sector. Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity hosted numerous product launches and upgrades, including, TriaGnoSys’ AeroConnex+ which offers greater data streaming capabilities, integrated gatelink to 3G and 4G mobile phone networks and WLAN access point.  Another key feature is its weight at only 4kg, making it 20% lighter than its predecessor.  Panasonic Avionics used the exhibition to launch its new conceptual 14-inch monitor developed specifically with economy class in mind, while Lufthansa Systems unveiled its e-reader functionality for its BoardConnect Wireless IFE system.

As noted last week, over 300 delegates attended the Passenger Experience Conference that took place on 8th April at the CCH – Congress Center Hamburg. The audience, which included senior representatives of major airlines, air framers and cabin interiors suppliers, heard Tom Costley, Director, Head of Travel & Tourism, TNS UK give some encouraging news for the industry, saying that despite what looked like being a prolonged period of depressed global economic conditions, the travel and tourism sector was proving more resilient than most. The older generation, having both the desire and money to see the world, was a major driver.  Don’t miss this one next year, and be sure to sneak over to the Food & Catering show – it rocks!

To continue to fill in the product mix, this week we have a few more for you to check out while planning your new flying product. First, lets note the Cellular Terminal Wireless LAN Unit (cTWLU) from VT Miltope. The specs look impressive – Wireless gateway from an aircraft LAN to a ground based LAN: GSM/GPRS/EDGE, GSM HPSA+UMTS, LTE, IEEE 802.11 a/b/g and IEEE 802.11n (two points if you get the alphabet soup). This unit is a powerhouse! Contact Bob Guidetti for more information.

Kontron displayed their ACE Flight 600 (4MCU) General Purpose Airborne Server. Intel core i7 processor (Sandy Bridge) and 16 GB RAM – front removable SSD’s (nice touch) and an internal managed Ethernet switch. Input power is 115 VAC, 360 – 800 Hz, with 200 msec holdup. Contact Alan Manns, Business Development Manager.

Yukio Sugimoto was there and quite proud of his new 12″ widescreen retractable overhead display. This is a great product from the master himself – you can get more information from ACS by contacting Yuko Sugimoto, President ACS. Check it out, Boeing and Airbus!

In case you are interested in the state of colored LED lighting, the folks at Bruce Aerospace kindly showed us a couple examples of LED colored wash lights that they have developed. In case you hadn’t noticed, this new lighting has taken the airline industry by storm. Shown here is a good example of colored wash lighting and Bruce tells us that LED’s have a power savings advantage of at least 20% with a payback of 2 to 3 years – reliability and power saving make LED’s a real winner. You can reach Bruce Aerospace at +1 775 246 0101 and ask for Steve Jaffe, General Manager.>

From the new product files, we really liked the SKYPower Combined from the KID Systeme folks. When airlines want to give it all to their upper class passengers, this is how you power them. The combined system delivers 110 AC and 5 volt USB power from one MCU. If your passengers need 110 AC power for their GSM phones and 5 volts DC USB for their iPads, they will not suffer “connectivity withdrawal”! For more info contact Peter Schetschine.

And Now For Something Completely Different

Coming to an airport near you soon – “Femtocells”. IFExpress talked to a retired IFE Genius recently about the use of Femtocells, and while they don’t have an airplane application, he told us: “As you may read HERE people are looking for “what if” the cell phone capacity of the world starts to ‘fill-up’? I already have a related issue in that where I live, I cannot get a reliable signal. I purchased a “Femtocell” device from ATT so that when I am at home, I can use my cellphone very reliably and not have dropped calls, etc. This device interfaces my cellphone to the Internet over my ISP, Comcast and somewhere along the line ATT picks up on it and puts the call back on its cellular network. HERE is another link to this subject.”

Aircraft Cabin Systems
Booth: 6B18
Contact: Ben Ludlow
Telephone: + 1 425 629 4129
Email: ben@aircraftcabinsystems.com

ACS will be debuting our new overhead retractable monitors in 9.7” and 12” sizes. The new ACS retractable monitors are a direct replacement for the existing retractable systems for A320 aircraft. Considering the frequency of removals and high cost of repairs to the old systems, making the switch is easy. ACS’ patented design allows us to offer a 50,000 operational cycle guarantee and a 5 year warranty.

Astronics
Booth: 6C40
Contact: Dennis Markert
Email: dennis.markert@astronics.com
Telephone: +1 425 442 8195

Come see the latest innovations from Astronics in power conversion, intelligent power management, and distribution to passenger devices and IFE. Also included are the other Astronics divisions including aircraft lighting products, safety devices, aircraft interface devices, and test equipment.

Bose Corporation
Booth: 6A31
Contact: Hratch Astarjian
Email:Hratch_astarjian@bose.com
Telephone: +1 508 766 4075

Products at show: Bose will demonstrate the QuietComfort® 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling® headphone and the A20® Aviation headset at its stand. The QuietComfort 15 is the best performing noise reduction headphone ever from Bose. The A20 Aviation headset is an active noise reduction, communication headset for the cockpit and offers an unmatched combination of noise reduction, clear communication and comfort.

digEcor
Booth: 6D39
Contact: Ben Fuller
email: bfuller@digecor.com
Phone: +1 801 691 7225

At the digEcor booth this year we’re excited to be launching our all-new low cost GLIDE IFE embedded system, a tape replacement solution, and our newest portable tablet dubbed the digEtab featuring the Samsung Tab 2 10.1. We’ll continue to tout our content services as well as introduce the industry to our new media management system. Being known as the traditonal portable IFE provider, we’re effectively evolving into a one-stop shop for all IFE needs and that will be on full display in Hamburg.

Gogo
Booth: 6A18
Contact: Steve Nolan
Email: snolan@gogoair.com
Connect with us at www.gogoair.com/international

Gogo will be showcasing its latest developments in global satellite technologies as well as focusing on its ground breaking wireless products including: Gogo Vision – Gogo’s wireless IFE solution; and Text and Talk – Gogo’s new text messaging and voice product.

Gogo is a global leader of in-flight connectivity and a pioneer in wireless in-flight digital entertainment solutions. Using Gogo’s exclusive products and services, passengers with Wi-Fi enabled devices can get online on more than 1,800 Gogo equipped commercial aircraft. In-flight connectivity partners include American Airlines, Air Canada, AirTran Airways, Alaska Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways and Virgin America. In-flight entertainment partners include American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Scoot and US Airways.

IFPL
Booth: 6C10
Contact: Neil Thomas, Business Development Manager
Mobile: +[44] (0778) 698 7454

We have brought airlines the hardware to enable the payment system of the future. Our Near Field Communication in-flight payment technology eases payment and therefore increases airline’s ancillary revenue generation. In addition, it can provide destination e-vouchers to the passenger so not only Improves the passenger experience, but also the operator’s revenue.

We also have other innovative products that the pioneering team at IFPL have developed; our brilliant Breakaway jack has no moving parts, offering minimized headphone operating cost for these cost-critical times; and our maintenance saving / time saving Self-Testing jack – we don’t need to tell you that if you are saving time you are also saving money!

KID-Systeme GmbH
Booth: 6B30, Hall B6
Contact Maren Münte
Email: Maren.muente@kid-systeme.com
Telephone: +49 40 743 71245

KID-Systeme GmbH, a hundred percent Airbus subsidiary, is well established in the industry since 1999. Focused on cabin electronic systems, KID started their business with their innovative In Seat Power Supply System. With a permanent development of its product portfolio KID is able to offer complete cabin system solutions in the field of Connectivity, such as mobile telephony and Internet access on board with the passengers own devices and In Seat Power. KID-Systeme GmbH is still on the cutting edge of the industry and is able to install their products in every type of passenger aircraft.

Lufthansa Systems
Booth: 7A7
Contact: publicrelations@lhsystems.com
Telephone: +49 69 696 90776

Lufthansa Systems adds new functionalities to its wireless IFE system BoardConnect. For the first time the new features were presented at the AIX 2013. In addition to accessing on-demand audio and video as well as information about their destination, passengers can now read electronic magazines by using the eReader functionality of BoardConnect. System maintenance will be further improved through the use of a so-called maintenance front-end.

Unlike conventional in-flight entertainment systems, BoardConnect does not require any complicated wiring for each seat. Instead, it works with a regular WLAN based on the established WiFi standard, meaning that just a few access points need to be installed in the cabin. This makes it possible for the first time to offer passengers an extensive range of information and entertainment on short- and medium-haul aircraft such as the Airbus A320 family and the Boeing 737. Since BoardConnect is lighter than conventional IFE systems, airlines can also achieve considerable fuel savings with it.

Lumexis Corporation
Booth: 6E40
Contact: Doug Cline, CEO
Email: dcline@lumexis.com
Mobile: + 1 714 813 8550

Lumexis will be demonstrating the leading-edge FTTS® system with its next-generation seat displays, and will be introducing its highly advanced FTTS Second Screen™.

OnAir
Booth: 6D38
Contact: Charlie Pryor
Email: charlie.pryor@leidar.com
Telephone: +44 7958 975 667

As well as issuing a number of stories about new customers and extensions of existing customer agreements, OnAir will be talking about the Connected Aircraft 3.0. This is the next stage in the development of the connectivity market, building from passenger communications to incorporate cabin crew and cockpit applications which will help streamline airline operations.

Panasonic Avionics
Booth: 6C20
Contact: Rebecca Atchison
Email: Rebecca.Atchison@panasonic.aero
Mobile: +1 949 421 8529

At this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo, Panasonic Avionics will showcase ways to amplify your brand, foster passenger loyalty, and generate more revenue. Check out our latest designs that deliver smaller, lighter systems, and witness firsthand how we are building business platform solutions that deliver more opportunities for you and your passengers.

Thales
Booth: 6A30
Contact: Lori Krans
Email: lori.krans@us.thalesgroup.com
Tele: +1 949 923 0976

Key Booth highlights: Thales will feature several new seat configurations with production TopSeries AVANT® equipment. Key announcements focus on three new partnerships tied to connectivity and advanced system applications. Innovations cover an end-to-end, home to hotel, connected passenger experience, and a first time ever shown, immersive seat that embraces more futuristic capabilities designed around passenger comfort. Come visit!

Thompson Aerospace, Inc.
Booth: 5E51
Contact: Mark Thompson, President/CEO
Email: markthompson@thompsonaerospace.com
Mobile: +1 949 690 8668

Thompson Aerospace will be showcasing their 1Net product. 1Net provides an Intelligent Aircraft for a Connected World, Accelerating Business Innovation for Airlines. The key aspect is Cabin Marketplace Enabler, to allow Airlines to monetize the passenger experience. 1Net provides the same levels of passenger satisfaction and revenues as the Internet.

TriaGnoSys
Booth: 6D40
Contact: Charlie Pryor
Email: charlie.pryor@leidar.com
Telephone: +44 7958 975 667

TriaGnoSys will be launching AeroConneX+. It is the latest in the company’s series of connectivity hardware solutions. It builds on the highly successful GSMConneX solution, that provides both GSM and Wi-Fi in a single box, enabling service providers to extend the connectivity solutions they provide passengers, as well as to cockpit and cabin crew. It also has the potential to incorporate machine-to-machine communications to make the maintenance process more efficient.

VT Miltope
Booth: 6B49
Contact: Markus Gilges
Email: mgilges@miltope.com
Telephone: +44 7793 758755

On Display: In addition to printers, servers, and Ethernet switches, VT Miltope will be exhibiting the latest in wireless products featuring developments of a cellular + Wi-Fi™ ground link (product: cTWLU) and an IEEE 802.11ac wireless access point (product: nMAP2).

Zodiac In-Flight Entertainment (formerly The IMS Company)
Booth: 6B20 (Hall B6
Contact: Harry Gray, Vice President Sales and Marketing
Mobile: +1 714 683 3793

Zodiac In-flight Entertainment (formerly The IMS Company) has provided innovative solutions for the aviation industry for over 17 years.

RAVE (winner of the 2011 Crystal Cabin Award) is on display and provides the latest innovation for Audio/Video On Demand (AVOD). Our (patented) seat-centric system architecture provides for a simple installation and operation, and the highest reliability of any in-seat design.

The system is fully certified and flying today on over 30 aircraft providing state-of-the art features, as well as a system that is about one-half the weight, power and price of the traditional IFE systems available today.

The installation of Wi-Fi access points and WAP’s in aircraft cabins is part science and part black magic, or so we are told. Often, airlines have the challenge of “space available”. Let’s face it, the black art of RF and antennas needs a little help and that is where VT MIltope’s cabin antenna and mounting bracket come in. At first we thought – no big deal – but we were so wrong. Firstly, the four horizontal dipoles are not only removable via connectors, they are installed horizontally when the WAP is mounted either flat or inverted horizontally. No separate antenna mounts adds up to less install time and easy replacement. The connectors do allow remote antenna installations; however, they do provide easy access for repair and replacement as well. If you look closely at the attached image, you will see four black 802.11 antennas on the mounting bracket. Working in conjunction with the VTM nMAP Access Point product, the antenna bracket optimizes both 802.11a/b/g transmit and receive signal antenna and the three 802.11n MIMO antennas. (Note: Wikipedia explains MIMO thusly: “MIMO technology has attracted attention in wireless communications, because it offers significant increases in data throughput and link range without additional bandwidth or increased transmit power. It achieves this goal by spreading the same total transmit power over the antennas to achieve an array gain that improves the spectral efficiency (more bits per second per hertz of bandwidth) or to achieve a diversity gain that improves the link reliability (reduced fading). Because of these properties, MIMO is an important part of modern wireless communication standards such as IEEE 802.11n (Wi-Fi), 4G, 3GPP Long Term Evolution, WiMAX and HSPA+.” The real deal here is the exact placement of the three MIMO antennas. You can see the precise spacing of the antennas one on each end and one centered, which are the 802.11n MIMO antennas. The exact placement (end-center-end) is for interference optimization while the one remaining antenna serves 802.11a/b/g. For more information contact Bob Guidetti.

As we went to press, we received a release from ACS detailing a joint development program between ACS and Gulfstream for HD LCD video monitors and touchscreens with a note: “We are finally able to release the news regarding our G650 Joint Development Program. It is now complete as GAC has received their STC for the G650. 25 Shipsets consisting of a 5.7” and a 10.1” TS (really PCs), a 17” and a 26” Bulkhead monitor and a 26” Credenza monitor have been ordered and are shipping now. These products are also being installed on Legacy Aircraft such as the G450 and G550 as well. The paragraph in the data sheet noting “fiber-optic distribution technology” and “single-point failures will be resolved or mitigated automatically” caught our attention. For more information contact Bill Baltra.

Don’t miss the Rockwell Collins booth if you happen to be at NBAA. Their latest news release (see our News Release section below) touts a new “Skybox” server, based on Apple compatibility. It looks like Rockwell has seen the light on PEDs and if we aren’t mistaken, this means they have a much closer relationship with Apple than most IFE vendors and are possibly using their hardware on the server side. At APEX, we saw some very clean Rockwell concepts displayed on iPads that looked like “apps” for portable Apple products. Now we are curious about the iTunes store and it’s app integration with Skybox. We were knocked out by the AIRSHOW “app”… expect to see more of this one, possibly in commercial aviation! For more data contact Josh Baynes of Rockwell Collins.

Meet Tom Mockler. Oh, you already know him! Well, he was with another company over the last 30 years but now he has his own start-up called InflightDirect. Tom saw an opening to sell airlines inflight amenities like headphones, amenity kits, blankets and so on directly from the manufacturers with out the middleman (middle person?). Anyway, Tom serves the travel industry and told IFExpress that he sells over 400 different kinds of headphones – overhead (noise canceling, passive, disposable, resale units with logos, etc). Headphones have become a very inexpensive commodity to manufacture as most of them are produced in automated factories and thus he saw a price market that his company could develop. He told IFExpress that his prices “… are lower than anybody!” You had better check that out and get a quote: www.inflightdirect.com or phone 401 714-4190

After the retirement of Tom Dickinson, CEO VT Miltope earlier this year, we asked the company about the new President and CEO, Julie Briggs and thought our readers might like to know a little more about the new president and hear her views on VT Miltope’s place in the IFEC industry. From a personal perspective, Julie has a strong background in rugged computer systems and products. Having previously worked for RCA/GE and BAE, her aerospace and defense experience includes program management, marketing, and business development. Prior to becoming CEO, Julie served as VP of Rugged Systems Program Development at VT Miltope for 9 years. Rugged Systems is the largest core business at Miltope. Bob Guidetti, VP Commercial Products told IFExpress that as a result of Julie’s business development background, she has a strong customer oriented focus. “Customers and their needs will drive VT Miltope’s product development and program participation in its core businesses,” he said. To echo the sentiment, Julie told IFExpress: “VT Miltope is focused on providing our customers and end users in the federal and commercial aviation market with rugged, affordable computing and networking equipment that meets the requirements of the intended applications and environments. We do 100 percent environmental stress screening on all of our products prior to shipment to enhance our field reliability. VT Miltope ensures that the value of our systems are enhanced by responsive customer and product support.”

We asked her how she see’s the impact of recent technological advances and the role of VT Miltope in our industry in the near term, and over the next five years: “VT Miltope has been a leading manufacturer of rugged computer, server/mass storage and network equipment solutions for military, industrial, and commercial aviation applications that call for reliable performance under demanding environmental conditions for over 30 years. In my opinion, both markets require products that have been ruggedized to the appropriate industry standards. My team will continue to develop products that are lower in weight and size, use less power, provide the latest technology, are competitively priced, and most importantly offer superior reliability. Watch us grow our capabilities to meet these expectations from our customers in both markets as well as develop improved business processes, systems, and procedures to provide better overall service and support to our customers. After all, support is key to success in the IFE industry!”

IFExpress queried Ms. Briggs about the “secret sauce” that has made VT Miltope’s products so successful and how she sees the product mix evolving: “In general, VT Miltope strives to sustain long term profitability through customer loyalty by meeting or exceeding our customer’s expectations so that those customers return to VT Miltope for future product needs, as noted earlier. More specific to the aviation market, as VT Miltope grows its aviation business, we will need to provide the worldwide services that meet the expectations of the global aviation customer base. We don’t need to organically grow these capabilities, instead we can leverage those capabilities that already exist within the overall ST Engineering family for product support, maintenance, repair, logistics, and in some cases product development. From a product mix point of view, Bob and his team plan to offer aviation customer solutions that include a family of VT Miltope hardware and software network products. This family of products can then be used as building blocks to support aviation systems and subsystems. Based on customer inputs and over the next several years, we will increase our offerings to include integrated solutions in addition to our products so that our customers can minimize the level of integration and test required at the systems level. System integration and testing are the keys here!”

On the technology front, IFExpress asked Ms. Briggs what new connectivity & entertainment products/technologies are on the horizon: “With the growth of wireless IFEC systems, VT Miltope’s wireless products have become widely adopted as the preferred solution for delivering wireless connectivity to passengers and flight crew. VT Miltope’s servers have also been adopted as the platform for running telephony services as well as applications providing Internet and email services to passengers. We plan to continue to support those applications with our current and planned servers, as well as, other enhanced and new products when building the network backbone required to support the future connectivity and entertainment systems. We have some exciting new product technologies that you will hear about in the near future!”

Naturally, this led to the next line of questioning and IFExpress wondered if there were any synergies between the commercial and military businesses? Furthermore, how would the product line be impacted? “VT Miltope’s entire product line leverages commercial off-the-shelf computer and network technologies. For both federal and commercial aviation, these products require ruggedization to industry standards that in many respects are somewhat similar,” noted Ms. Briggs. “So the core technologies of VT Miltope are in those areas that serve both markets. As to product impact, and generally speaking, the functionality of the servers, mass storage units, access points, and printers supporting our federal customers is very similar to the functionality of those products supporting our commercial aviation customers. However, the packaging and the standards are specific to the respective sectors. It would not be difficult to repackage and re-certify our full line of ruggedized computers currently used by federal customers on military aircraft and flight lines – handhelds, tablets, clamshell PC’s, and more—to meet the needs and standards of commercial aviation customers.”

From a technology trend point of view, we pressed for more specifics about trends in connectivity, entertainment and systems. Julie told IFExpress: “The airlines are demanding more reliable, lower weight, lower power, price competitive products that provide the latest future proof technology. By that I mean the processors, RAM, storage capacities, data busses, and I/O must be upgradable or designed initially to support future applications that they may have in 5 to 10 years. Commercial aircraft operators, much the same as military aircraft operators, don’t want to be upgrading hardware every couple of years to support new software applications and new services aloft.”

With all this emphasis on technology, IFExpress asked Julie how the company plans to educate their market on their broad product line and the various applications and system solutions that are available, and she said: “We provide both markets with technical marketing information to articulate how our skill sets translate into reliable, cost effective solutions. Further we leverage our website with examples of systems to better illustrate how our products can be used as the building blocks. We have some new approaches to that challenge and I will have have more to say on that later.”

Lastly, Ms Briggs said to IFExpress: “I look forward to meeting more of our present customers – and future ones too. Inflight entertainment is an exciting industry and VT Miltope is in the business of improving it and helping our customers deliver on their entertainment and communication promises!”

Panasonic: The Panasonic team showed up and caught our eye in three areas – Wireless, eX3 product line, and the ‘Cool Room’. Enhancements to the basic line of eX3 IFE products include a new seat electronics box we called “the turtle” because it looks like one. Incredibly, the carbon fiber or metallic impregnated plastic box fits in the palm of you hand and between the struts of an aircraft seats – it uses up zero leg room and foot space! We saw a pre-production model and this box will change SEB’s forever. We got a look at their eX Lite Server and there is a real technology story here. While we don’t have space to talk about it in this installment, the box uses 128 GB of SDXC memory! There also was an 802.11N wireless system entry that looked to be the next logical growth for the “eX” Series, and of course, the ‘Cool Room’. While there seemed to be a waning of interest to include the room in future conventions from Panasonic executives, IFExpress still finds this the heart of new development product potential at any IFEC show. Yep, we love it. the 3D flat screen display with touch controls blew us away. There is not enough space to laud Steve Sizelove and his team’s efforts to go where no other vendor has gone before. BTW, weren’t those iPads on a trolly. Hmm?

ITAN: Leave it up to Michael Rogerson to provide a real upgrade to his IFEC offerings. We were knocked out by the new technology in his latest building block modular IFEC system. Called the “A-Series ARM” and based on the Android operating system, Michael and his team have jumped into the latest vendor offerings as an equal. Using 5 (or so) modules, customers use them and ITAN’s app offerings to build a system that covers audio, video, data, Wi-Fi, and whatever else is needed for entertainment. Michael claims that now, users can plug into the ARM seat unit and get data, power and media – all with no server. While an admitted bizjet natural, the ITAN hardware is definitely suited for single aisle operation in the commercial space. Watch this one.

LiveTV: We will say it again: “Mike Moeller is one of the best Sales and Marketing dudes in the IFE industry.” The LiveTV cost per bit analysis is a story we will cover in an upcoming Hot Topic but suffice it to say, Moeller coined the phrase “Not all Ka Band Service is the same” and his analysis is one that needs to be understood by the IFE world. As Moeller put it, “Data costs are exceeding the price charged per passenger.” His message: delivering data to airline customers depends on the system, the data rate, the antenna capability and the aircraft location. His approach grows and adapts the jetBlue system and keeps costs in line. Without a doubt, clever xponder buying is also a must, but we will save that for later.

Lumexis: One lesson we learned from Lumexis – there are some 21 different platforms for PED’s and that really drives the need for a monitor at each seat. They plan on true 1080p HD for their next generation of systems. They claim that they can deliver true HD to all customers on any size plane at the same time. With fiber optics, bandwidth never seems to be an issue. We were told that Lumexis is concentrating on their first customers; however, there is another in the wings and we anticipate an announcement AIX 2012.

VT Miltope: As the OEM to many Wi-Fi and network-based systems, the military and commercial box and system manufacturer rolled out their new, small (in size only) 10/100/1000 Based Server Unit (NSUI). The 2 MCU box has a minimum 160 GB SSD, 1.8 GHz Athalon dual core processor. All this and a new president too!

Trends
OK, you say, what does all this new IFE stuff add up to? The trends we spotted seem to echo the past but because of newer technology, there are new directions and evolutions noted below.

The “seat focused” IFE concept is in full throttle. At least 5 vendors used the term “seat-centric” in their presentations and as many more exhibited that concept in their product design. In a sentence, putting the electronics and content at the seat improves the reliability and passenger experience. Accordingly, the centralized control of content and programming is on the decline. Boeing and Airbus, we understand, are not fans of this approach as they loose some control of the IFE platform and is less flexible in their eyes. As a result, it may be a while before line-fit approval is secured.

We hear there is no end to the need for connectivity with the Smartphone as one of the favorite and upcoming targets for content and data – but you knew that. Wi-Fi is the medium of choice and the folks at Gogo have proven that connectivity or no-connectivity is just a matter of cost/price. They are also proving that streaming wireless is here today and more of this trend is in the works with almost all system suppliers. Additionally, while not cheap, Wi-Fi reduces weight and wires. Watch the Virgin America/Lufthansa deal as a precursor of things to come.

Understandably, Early Window content is pretty much ruled out for PED’s in the above mentioned Wi-Fi systems but with Early Window content being squeezed down to 30 days or less, what is the big deal? And by the way, when will Google or Microsoft front, or reduce, Wi-Fi user costs?

SSDs are here with most opting for 128 MB. But by next year, 256 MB will be the norm and the year after, one terabyte will be common. Don’t know what an SSD is? Try Wikipedia.

While not a trend yet, card swiping (PIN and chip) is on it’s way. Just as the Smartphone resonated with travelers, easy payments are a demand driver. While prevalent in Europe, the use in the US and elsewhere will come slowly. Watch the innovators like IFPL, AIRVOD, ITAN, and PlaneBill.

There are a lot of small vendors with incredibly good product and product ideas. This can only mean that next year as budgets tighten, there is a good chance for industry consolidation. We smell mergers and acquisitions (M&A)!

In the content world, there seems to be a shift away from the tennis shoe network toward more automated and wireless content update. Mind you, it is not here yet but lots of folks are working the problem vigorously.

Finally, Ka Band connectivity was on everybody’s lips. As LiveTV put it – “Not all Ka is the same!”

Based on the above, the APEX TC in November (8 & 9) looks to be a ‘Do Not Miss’ event. Here are the topics – Airline & Studio Perspectives on Future Technologies,  Connectivity, Wireless IFE, HD Standardization,HD/File-Based Workflow, Interoperable Master Format, Cabin Trends, Chip & PIN for PCI Compliance, ARNIC 791 Satcom Update, Ka-band Radome Status. 

Each year, for the last umpteen years, IFExpress has delivered readers a show preview based on a published invitation to all. This year is no different and we urge all attendees to be sure to visit their booth and tell them IFExpress sent you!

Company: Astronics AES
Booth: 701
Contact: Dennis Markert / dennis.markert@astronics.com / 425 442 8195

Astronics AES will be displaying their latest product addition to the world leading EmPower(R) In-Seat Power Systems (ISPS) product line. The new EmPower(R) In-Seat Power Supply produces an industry leading 200VA for each Personal Electronic Device (PED) and includes three Universal Serial Bus (USB) power outputs for passenger devices such as smart phones, iPods, cameras, and other standard +5 Volt DC devices. This is all accomplished in a smaller form factor than previous generations of the industry leading EmPower(R) product line.

Company: digEcor
Booth: 627
Contact: Adam Williams / awilliams@digEcor.com

DIGECOR HIGHLIGHTS: We will showcase the digEplayer L7, which airlines around the world have rapidly adopted, as a low cost yet rugged and feature rich IFE solution. Airlines can also find out more about In-flight Content Services, including the ability to support handhelds, overheads, and AVOD systems independent of a digEplayer agreement. Interested in Ancillary Revenue? We’ve been a long time supporter. Our customers have been generating revenue and operating self-sustaining IFE programs for years. So stop by our booth and chat with us about rental programs, shopping solutions, and advertising. We may not have a cool and highly publicized theme for the show, but if we did, it would probably be, “Come for the coffee, stay for the movies.”

Company: Goodrich
Booth number 1309
Contact Dan Vargas / dan.vargas@goodrich.com / (323) 837-2717

Goodrich digital video reproducers (VRUs) are a cost-effective way to update existing tape systems for an enhanced passenger entertainment experience. Be certain to stop by and visit us during APEX.

Company: IFPL
Booth#: 819
Contact: Claire Underwoord / claire.underwood@ifpl.com

Near Field Communication Demo
IFPL has developed an interface between NFC and IFE systems. This takes the mobile wallet concept onto aircraft and addresses the security issues of high value payments. The system on show can be used in a number of ways: as chip and pin; with NFC enabled ‘connect’ cards and with NFC enabled mobile ‘phones. This opens up a range of possibilities from renting movies, buying drinks and food and accessing destination information (i.e. increasing advertising revenue).

Self-testing jack
Currently airline maintenance personnel have to plug a headset into each audio jack to check it is receiving sound. This is time consuming and therefore costly and inefficient in short turnaround times. The self-testing jack has an LED that shows it is receiving a signal, meaning that all personnel have to do is play the IFE and walk through the cabin, spotting faulty jacks at a glance. The really clever thing about this jack is that is does not need any extra power to the seat to work, the light draws power from the audio signal.

Breakaway jack
IFPL’s highly reliable Long Life jack (tested to 100,000 insertions) has been developed to have a 90˚ pull out feature. This means that if a passenger stands up without removing their headset, it will pull away at any angle, without breaking the pin. IFPL has worked with headset suppliers to produce headsets with a smaller pin at the same cost as regular headsets. The breakaway jack will still accept a regular pin if necessary. IFPL see this as a low cost alternative to magnetic jacks.

Competition
As usual, IFPL will be holding a simple competition on their booth. The prize is a Nikon Coolpix digital projector camera. This neat little camera allows immediate projection of your photos onto any flat white surface.

We’re pleased to announce that IFPL will be showcasing an extra product at the APEX show next week!
The “Self Testing Audio Jack” is a neat solution to a common problem. Maintenance personnel have to walk the aircraft with a headset and plug it in to each audio jack at every seat to check that the audio is working. This is a time consuming job, and often means that seats don’t always get tested before a turnaround. Our new product is simple – it has a built-in LED that illuminates when audio is present. A quick scan of the seats tells you whether the jacks are working or not. This means you can go straight to any faulty jacks without wasting time checking every one manually. This simple device will improve IFE Availability and save airlines time and money. The really clever part is that this device doesn’t require power, or batteries – it runs off the audio supply! So, if you want to retrofit an old IFE system without power at the seat, it couldn’t be easier.

Just another reason to come and see us on booth 819 during the APEX show. Hope to see you this week!

Company: The IMS Company
Booth 1210
Contact: Harry Gray, vice president sales & marketing / hgray@imsco-us.com

Building up a head of steam at last spring’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX), seat-centric IFE has become a juggernaut and none more so than The IMS Company’s RAVE™ with a backlog of more than 50 aircraft awaiting installation in 2011. If all of the options these orders are activated, the number of aircraft more than doubles. With Lufthansa, airberlin, SriLankan and Brussels Airlines onboard, additional announcements are expected at the Conference—bringing the total to seven or more.

But seat-centric IFE is not all that IMS is up to nowadays. Its new EDGE portables focus on Android OS as a platform that can support multiple versions of tablets. Look for announcements during the Conference.

Company: Panasonic Avionics Corporation
Booth: 301
Contact: Please stop by the Panasonic booth to arrange a tour or set up an appointment.

PANASONIC AVIONICS HIGHLIGHTS: At this year’s APEX Expo, Panasonic Avionics Corporation will be unveiling the three newest members of its X Series family. During the show, attendees are also invited to stop by the Panasonic booth for a chance to ask our eXPerts questions about the most exciting topics in IFEC today including seat centric vs. server-based architectures, Ka vs. Ku, and more. In addition, we are pleased to once again showcase our Cool Room where we’ll demonstrate how some of the most cutting-edge products in the consumer market can be applied to IFEC.

Company: PlaneBill
Booth: 850
Contact: Massimo De Sanctis / Mob: +39 335 222908 / Massimo.DeSanctis@planebill.com

On board portals for passengers (JetPortal) and for crew (CrewPortal).

PlaneApps for the emerging mobile platforms, Apple iOS, Google Android, Microsoft/Nokia Windows Phone 7, RIM QNX. Apps for smartphones (iPhone/iPod/iPad, Android phones and windows phone 7) and tablets (iPad, Android tablets) will be on show.

Before flight data crawler (DataCatering) for flight location based Services (origin/destination). Data mining to provide airline with useful information captured during flight on passengers devices,services, messages, behavior and feedback PlaneRoaming for reaching passengers on their mobile number without a cellular infrastructure.

Company: Rockwell Collins
Booth# 1001
Contact: Kelly Holland / 949-872-3308 (mobile) / klholla1@rockwellcollins.com

Rockwell Collins plans to unveil a new IFE solution for the single-aisle market tomorrow at APEX that will deliver unprecedented versatility for airlines and maximum reliability for passengers. The company also plans to announce stunning enhancements to its dPAVES IFE system, and a new entertainment solution for the regional jet market. Stop by Rockwell Collins’ exhibit to learn more about these new offerings and solutions to enhance the passenger experience.


Company: THALES
Booth#: 1401
Contact: Suzane Treneer / suzane.treneer@us.thalesgroup.com

THALES HIGHLIGHTS: CONNECT, NETWORK, PLAY is the Thales theme this year with focus on the Passenger Experience. Thales will be making significant announcements around in the air and on the ground wireless connectivity. Center stage will be the latest addition to the TopSeries product family, TopSeries AVANT. Installed into a new premium class Contour seat, TopSeries AVANT will include some future system navigation and audio concepts. Other demos include system integration into B/E Aerospace, Weber and Recaro economy seats. In the B/E Seat is a new innovative arm mount designed by Bucher. The up and coming new Thales Application Portal will be featured as well as future modules for Passenger Electronic Device interface capabilities.


Company: TriaGnoSys
Booth# 829
Contact: Charlie Pryor / +44 (0) 20 7031 8270 / charlie.pryor@leidar.com

TriaGnoSys and Siemens CMT have today launched IFEConneX, a complete inflight entertainment and communication (IFEC) solution. It incorporates an entertainment and media distribution system into the TriaGnoSys inflight GSM solution, GSMConneX, which was launched at Aircraft Interiors in April 2011. The lightweight modular system provides three services: GSM, WLAN and wireless streaming of IFE content, enabling business jet operators to combine the three services.

IFEConneX enables passengers to use their own mobile phone, tablet or laptop for calls, text messaging, emails, Internet connectivity, and for Audio and Video On Demand (AVOD). The solution has the capacity to stream individual content to up to 100 passengers simultaneously.

Company: VT Miltope
Booth: 1301
Contact Name: Jeff Drader / jdrader@miltope.com / 949 752 8191

Miltope’s family of network products offer the required functionality necessary to create custom airborne networks similar to how office networks are created. Designed to be readily expanded, they may be configured to define a network that optimizes the combination of interfaces and computing resources to meet the operational, spatial, and functional requirements of simple to complex airborne networks at a minimum cost. Products include servers, Ethernet switches and routers, 802.11 a/b/g/n wireless access points, TWLU wireless bridging from an aircraft LAN to a ground LAN, ARINC 744 network printers and ARINC740 cockpit printer, cabin control panels, and data storage devices.

Editors Note: We thought Seattle visitors might like a bit more info on restaurants and we suggest visiting the Yelp website. While there are too many to name here, IFExpress has heard a few “WOW” comments on the following:
Within walking distance to the Conference:
RN 74 – 1433 4th Ave. (4th & Pike), Regional French Cuisine, 206 457 7474
Driving Distance from the Conference:
Revel – 403 N 36th St., Fremont District, Korean Fusion, 206 547 2040
Walrus & Carpenter – 4743 Ballard Ave. NW, American Seafood, 206 395 9227

This year we are going to do something different. The Hot Topic will summarize all we saw at Long Beach and then as the weeks roll on, we will dig deeper into the ones you need to hear about. Firstly, the thousand pound gorilla in the room was the Android operating system, the background chatter was Ka Band inflight connectivity, and the word on almost everybody’s lips was ‘iPad’ – not to mention that silly stand-up seat with the 23 inch pitch. Having said that, we will probably look into each topic separately, but for now, let’s press on. On the last day of the show, and after he left, John White announced his retirement from the Avion magazine. He exited without fanfare, we hear, to avoid all the “good bye’s”, so, here is a public one – Thanx John, for it was you who got us int this mess!

Next, our overall impression was, from a technical perspective, great. Some vendors were mumbling about the lack of visitors, but you can decide for yourself by looking at the show photo’s on Flickr. At almost every booth we visited, and we visited over 20, there was something we had not seen or heard about. We do this because there is a lot of innovation that gets overlooked or doesn’t warrant the benefit of a press release. Not to mention the newbies, characters, friends, and the just plain weirdos. After all, isn’t that why you read IFExpress? Lastly, we are sorry for those vendors we missed. Mostly, you were busy with customers and we understand that. If you feel that your product or service was slighted, send a note to ifenews@airfax.com and we will follow up with a telephone or email interview!

Astronics: Big with the power folks is a new set of USB seat power outlet concepts. They are also introducing a 225 VA ISPS with a USB power outlet at each of 3 seats as well as 110 AC.

ACS: Aircraft Cabin Systems rolled out their new thin line of LCD aircraft displays. Looks to be 33% slimmer than the standard size and ACS offers 4 sizes up to 42″.

AirCell: We got a good AirCell update from John Wade. Over 1,015 aircraft jets installed with paid sessions going up each month and no peak in sight. The bizjet market is smoking and the order from NetJets (approx 800 in fleet) is certainly a big deal!

Carlisle: Cable maker, Carlisle, displayed their usual offering of aircraft cable assemblies and we were interestingly challenged to pick out the ones made in their offshore factories. Their latest Ethernet product looked no different than their other products and we were a bit surprised to find out they were made in their Dong Guan (Shenzen) factory. The company controls the process, quality and sourced materials – their AS9100 certification is proof.

digEcor: Brent Wood and Adam Williams laid out their new inflight shopping portal “Mill Creek Shoppe” and demo-ed the L-7 player (Lafeel) with a great built-in mouse. Watch for new advertising co-op features that support independent advertising suppliers. Oh, and we thought their flying monkey was great fun!

Goodrich: Recent acquirer of TEAC, their show entry featured their V01HDD player that has a Blu-ray drive for more storage via DVD disk. We noted a terrific Electronic Flight Bag device on the table but it was a bit early to tag an IFE application with it. Alas, sad news for IFE as Al McGowen is now Mr. Military.

IMS: The RAVE system is now ready for prime time and the final product (powered hot-swap and all) has quite a few features that looked VERY airline friendly. Rumor has it that a few customers have stepped-up to the plate already. Joe Renton pulled us aside for a sneak peek that their new COTS re-purposed player, and yes, it is built by IMS. Check out Flickr.

Inflight Peripherals: The Geoff and Claire show was a hit again this year, and yes, they had a contest to assemble one of their inset headphone jacks. The ‘wall of shame’ told the whole story with one entrant blowing away the competition with a speed around 10 seconds.

Interact: Seldom do we cover content providers, however, this year, we hope to do a Hot Topic devoted to these folks. We like their focus on customer support and regional content in providing audio and video programming, creative content/content management, and encoding services.

Airbus KID-Systeme: Perhaps the biggest effort we saw at KID was their integrated seat power program with Recaro. We saw the production prototype and here is a picture of the inseat-power-supply-that-mounts-in-the-seat-beam.

Live TV: After looking at the Iridium satcom hardware for 2 days, we finally got the story on the LiveTV Aero OpenPort system. Using the 66 satellite constellation, they have found a way to deliver 128K continuously to the aircraft. Don’t scoff, this a PERFECT blackberry data solution, served in the airplane via Wi-Fi. Here’s the clincher, they can demonstrate offering it as a freebie! BTW, Mike Moeller gets our nod as the best pitchman at the show!

Lumexis: The F.O. IFE company out did last show record by bringing a COMPLETE wide-body IFE system, up and running to the show. Some 243 seats worth of IFE (fiber-to-the-seat), and 2 small servers (4 MCU each). This is the low calorie IFE winner, and frankly, we do not expect the hardware to return to Irvine!

Mezzo : Dave Sampson, CEO, shared his new COTS Personal Media Player with IFExpress.

SmartJog: Wow, did Christiane Ducasse and Jodynne Wood knock our socks off! Smartjog is THE purveyor of digital content between IFE entities. By placing a Smartjog server/hub at each end of a communication line, security and daft integrity is guaranteed. These folks are suck a household name that they have become a verb – “Just Smartjog it to the customer”. Hot Topic territory for sure.

Panasonic: The Cool Room is back! What more can we say? A lot, in fact. Too much to cover it here. Suffice it to say, we saw all the bells and whistles in the CR, got the lowdown on Ku and Ka Bands, sat in the integrated seats, played with the Android IFE system, watched a 3-D interactive product, and visited the Panasonic App store. We promise a Hot Topic on each of these topics as there is NO WAY we can do it here. As an afterthought, there is no one that can throw a party like Panasonic – thanx!

Thales: Winner of the Best Innovation Technology with their TouchPMU, the folks we met with were justifiably proud of their tethered handset-entertainment player-controller. A perfect product for single aisle player and on twin aisle planes, it is a great controller that can be used to control entertainment or games on a bigger screen. Oh yes, there was an app on that – the OS is Android. Thales demonstrated a very flexible integrated seat that is in an very mature state (orders on the way) and a novel LCD/mirror display. What a bizjet product!

Rockwell: New kids on the block, Joel Otto and John Darvell talked up the Digital Paves (D Paves) but would not talk to much about the Android OS that others were exploring. We think the next IFE show will bring some Rockwell surprises and they may first show up on the Bizjet side.

VT Miltope: What’s not to like with the ‘OEM supplier to the aviation industry’? As a platform agnostic, peripherals and system supplier, Bob Guidetti told IFExpress that they have been spec-ing and supplying connectivity products for B787, A350 and B777 aircraft and now have a MIMO Wi-Fi WAP.

Honorable Mention: We cannot let this opportunity to go by without mentioning 2 of the “little guys”. Sitting off in one corner was Plane Bill and in the other G.U.E. Tech. We loved both these companies for different reasons. Plane Bill, the Italian software innovator showed us a fistful of Android apps, specifically designed for airlines. After getting infused with Android platforms by all the big players, here sits Plane Bill, with some of the most innovative software we have seen. They even developed an app that an Android Smartphone equipped Muslim can use to find Mecca directions for prayer. On the other hand we really do not have a clue what G.U.E. Tech does. Having said that, we know that it has something to do with 3D rendering engines, game software, and generally computer graphics. Hey, any company that authors a video game called “Lurking Horror” cannot be all bad! What was so doggone impressive was the enthusiasm of it’s CEO, Max Lingua, and his complete love for what he does. Please visit their websites and send some business their way – they are gems!

Miltope
Earlier this week someone asked us if an 802.11N aircraft router was in existence. Yep, and VT Miltope has one newly developed, approved, and ready for service…it is called the nMAP. Contact Bob Guidetti if you need more information (rguidetti@miltope.com). Check out the PDF data sheet below.

Airbus told us that they are going to raise prices this year by an average of 5.8% and it applies to all new aircraft sales beginning in 2010. This is the first price rise in two years. The price increases were calculated according to the Airbus standard escalation formula over the January 2008 to January 2010 period. “We have tried to keep prices down for as long as we can,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “However, even with record aircraft deliveries and impressive orders in recent years, the continuing strength of the Euro against the US Dollar and the ongoing financial challenges ahead have forced us to take action.” An ongoing US Dollar weakness, an increased cost of materials as well as commodities are all factors in the decision.

Here are a couple more tasty bits: You probably remember the story we broke a couple weeks ago about AeroMobile filing under “administration”, well now it seems that AeroMobile has finalized a deal in which it will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Telenor Group. The deal will enable AeroMobile to emerge from “administration”, where it has been since late last year. On the airborne Wi-Fi front, Southwest Airlines is to begin installing equipment in an agreement with Row 44. The Ku Band solution will be installed on the Southwest fleet beginning in the second quarter 2010. The airline plans to install at a rate of 15 aircraft per month, accelerating to 25 per month later, with all installations complete by 2012.

We have been expecting a YouTube video chronicling the Airbus/Boeing subsidy struggle. You will find it in a link called Launch Aid below.

A long-time reader sent us pictures of a new South African regional carrier…”if these folks have a sense of humor on their livery, I’m flying with them the next time I am in South Africa.” Check out the detail, it is hilarious. We need more of this stuff! See the link below.

Like the little boy digging enthusiastically in a large pile of manure and exclaiming, “There must be a pony in here somewhere…”, we faced a daunting task again this week (plainly visible) as bits and pieces of inflight entertainment and aviation news came dribbling in to our offices. Not necessarily news, recent events on the supply chain front also piqued our interest. Both Boeing and Toyota have brought some new focus to the supply chain, and from our perspective, some overreaching in the value side of the supply chain is at issue here. This focus will no doubt, come into play on the airline side as well, but are by their nature, a bit less immune. As you may know, the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg is May 18 thru 20, 2010, and it looks like the supply chain is an issue here as well. “For this reason an important theme at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo will be how the cabin interiors supply chain can prepare for the expected upturn, while recognizing that conditions are still challenging. ‘Airlines are looking for a changing mix in the cabin – some will look to change the cabin interior to be able to fine tune to meet both demand and current capacity,’ said Ian Crawford, Group Exhibition Director at Reed Exhibitions.” We found a good accounting of a real world Boeing fastener problem that has to be a classic in the fastener SC…it’s in the links below. Also included are a couple other supply chain finds that may help you in your next meeting. As Boeing will no doubt tell you, tackling supple chain value is not without attendant risk.

Links:

Bonn/Hamburg, 31 March 2009 – T-Mobile presents its inflight communication solution at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. Together with its partners, VT Miltope and ViaSat, T-Mobile shows the latest inflight broadband and GSM telephony solution for all major passenger aircraft.

With this solution, connectivity for the traveller can be expanded: With connectivity on the road, on the train or at the airport and now also in the sky the traveller enjoys seamless mobility. Through WiFi Hotspot in aircraft, passengers will have the possibility of broadband access via their own laptop or smartphone during their flight. Complemented by a GSM telephony solution, passengers can use their mobile phones to receive and send both text messages and emails, or do voice calls in exactly the same way as on the ground. Business travellers can stay in touch with their business partners, leisure travellers will be able to receive information on their travel destination and families stay connected with their loved ones. The inflight broadband solution presented in Hamburg with on-board portals can provide airlines with a competitive advantage and allow them to excel in customer services. Through the WiFi portal, passengers will be able to check real-time information quickly for connection flights, browse for onboard shopping products, or utilize loyalty programme incentives.

The combined effort of T-Mobile and its partners result in a unique offering for all airlines: An integrated, future proof connectivity solution that caters to all passenger connectivity and communication needs under one brand. T-Mobile contributes the expertise of a mass market mobile operator and the knowledge of how to design user friendly communication services. This will help ensure that the needs of the end-customer will be satisfied. T-Mobile’s sophisticated billing system will allow airlines to implement various payment methods. Interface with the airlines’ loyalty programs will also be possible. With these capabilities T-Mobile is able to accommodate the increasing demand by airlines for a worry-free end-to-end in-flight connectivity solution.

T-Mobile’s initiative is driven by a clear vision of tomorrow’s inflight entertainment situation. Passengers are expecting universal connectivity for all their phones and devices, bandwidth like at home and an intuitive user experience. Instead of offline in-seat devices, customers want to use the services and information they are used to for making flights as entertaining and efficient as possible.