Now in its 16th year, the WAEA TV Market & Conference remains the only global industry event focused specifically on bringing together In-flight Entertainment (IFE) TV content buyers and leading providers of short-subject and TV movie programming.

Throughout the two day market, representatives from content distributors and airlines around the world meet in private, one-on-one, pre-scheduled appointments to discuss and sample the latest TV and short-subject offerings. As IFE suppliers recognize TV Market to be the most direct and efficient vehicle to showcase their upcoming releases, many airlines rely upon the conference to guide their annual TV product planning. Each airline will meet some 35 leading international and independent TV content providers at the market, providing airlines with the chance to see the latest and greatest TV from around the world.

The year’s first Single Focus Workshop/Conference will be held 12 May following the market at the same location and concentrate on the key issues facing airlines today related to content programming and passenger satisfaction.

“With IFE now central to the passenger experience, the value of TV Market and conference continues to grow in importance for both airlines and distributors,” said Patrick Brannelly, WAEA president. “The WAEA is pleased to facilitate a not-for-profit event that, at the heart of it, helps make flying more enjoyable.”

Due to the event’s pre-set appointment structure, attendance is strictly limited, and airlines are encouraged to book early. Plenary, educational and networking events are also planned. Exhibit space for this event is already sold out. For registration information, please contact Steven Mindel at steven@mindelpartners.co.uk .

WHAT: 16th Annual WAEA TV Market and Conference

WHEN: TV Market: Monday, 10 May and Tuesday, 11 May, 2010
Single Focus Workshop & Conference: Wednesday, 12 May, 2010

WHERE: InterContinental Hotel
Frankfurt, Germany

CONTACT: Steven Mindel
Phone: +44.208.748.9104
Email: steven@mindelpartners.co.uk

To keep the WAEA flame alive we again cover people, products, and services you may have missed, we present another walk down the show floor.

While Fred Faulk (eDigital Prez) smile is almost as big as the latest 8” eVU portable entertainment player. Now the eDigital folks are offering Early Window content as well as 20+ hours of battery life, the latest eVU offers a customizable GUI and a new touchscreen option. With 160 GB of hard disk storage one could think of the new eVU as a long haul entertainment solution…it looks like the plane will run out of gas before the battery does. We bet the next generation will do away with the buttons! www.edigital.com

Got Power? Our next solution is from George Smallhorn and the folks at Inflight Canada who saw the need for inseat power in retrofit applications but re-thought the certification solution and avoided adding boxes to the seat. What did he do? Simple, build a clamshell box to hold the Astronics power module, connect it to power, and affix the unit under the seat and to the existing seat rail via a couple of seat cleats.. Clever, huh? No doubt this concept could grow to an interesting Seat Power/IFE/Connectivity imbedded system by next WAEA www.inflightcanada.com

This is Part 1 of a series on the WAEA interviews about products and services we saw and inquired about at the WAEA Conference – September, 2009 in Palm Springs CA.

Lumexis: Generation II of the Lumexis hardware is shown here. The server delivers hi-definition 720 p images (1024 x 600). Ideal for premium class, the hi-def signals can be sent to any size monitor. The second-generation server is capable of delivering video streams to 400 seats. However, and as an example, 5 servers would cover an A380, which would cover redundancy and back-up. All drives are now solid-state and the new generation delivers a “daisy chained” architecture. The second-generation system still uses single-mode fiber with gigabit optical transceivers – there is no copper anywhere.

Goodrich (TEAC): Designed as a plug-and-play replacement for Hi-8 and SVHS reproducers, the VE-801HDD player supports (without modification) RS232C, RS485, or TTL serial interfaces. This means the new VE-801HDD delivers composite analog, NTSC or PAL, and/or digital video with 720 p resolution. Still delivering two (2) languages, the unit supports high-speed data loading, 802.3 Ethernet, and delivers 50 GB of video content in MPEG-1, MPEG-2, or MPEG-4 content. The new TEAC player features a lot of solid-state memory and a front-slot loader for media content. We expect this to be a “work horse” product for the next generation of Hi-Def IFE.

IMS: You can refer to the IFE Hot Topic of 10/19/2009 for specific information but the RAVE system from IMS is really a semi-imbedded, multiple architecture, IFE system. Noting that the system will eventually be DO160-C, etc covered the seatback unit with its replaceable video module remains on the aircraft, unlike portable units. However, the IMS engineers designed the display to be removable with a special key and we are told the unit can be removed and replaced inflight. Content can be loaded in the background via the copper-based Ethernet and the column architecture is closed-looped to provide higher reliability in case of failure. A Wi-Fi option exists that can provide content update, but is also a configurable data network option for email and Internet. The Video Presentation is probably an idea whose time has come because it relies on passenger provided data content. This means you can look at iPod movies, SD video and images, not to mention associated audio as well. We like the card reader feature and we think airlines will too because it is a potential revenue stream if an airlines ops for self contained SD card movies – pay as you play.

Row 44: Working in conjunction with five partners, Row 44 rolled out their portal application dubbed Skytown Center. Destined for airline applications that may not require a fee, the Ku-Band portal gives airline passengers a way to connect to the aircraft provided intranet with advertising supported features. For more information check out our October 5, 2009 Hot Topic, found through the www.airfax.com/blog homepage.

WorldConnect: One of the best things about the WAEA Conference are the “little guys”…the people who bring interesting, new travel concepts and products to the IFE industry. WorldConnect AG brought product lines from Scross and Swiss Travel Products that featured innovative and clean designs. You are looking at an AC to USB (5 volts) converter. Sure, everybody makes one, but this one (when plugged in) glows a very cool red!

eDigital: eDigital brought their new 8” touch screen eVue to the show. The unit (still with a hard drive) features a 20+ hour battery with a very responsive and intuitive touch control. The next generation machine is easy to use and we expect eDigital to eventually do away with buttons all together. At the show eDigital announced a sale to Air Seychelles via Mezzo.

Inflight Peripherals: We really liked Inflight Peripherals’ iPod docking station. The unit has virtually one moving part, which consisted of a spring-loaded iPod connector cable (Beldin, and others). The units look to be a design slated for a business jet installation. The unit we saw was a low run, CNC milled block of aluminum that was anodized a beautiful blue. IFPL never fails to demonstrate products with simple and elegant designs. We would also note that if anyone needs a gold plated LCD seat arm assembly, this is your source!

Telefonix: You are looking at the future of energy drinks developed by none other than Telefonix’s Paul Burke. Paul is holding his latest invention (concoction) called EXE. Setting aside the software allegory, EXE is a B vitamin based energy drink. You’re probably asking yourself why we are writing about this in an IFE blog and here is your answer: A couple mornings we couldn’t have made it through the interview intensive days with out this stuff! Oh and we imagine it would help a bad case of jetlag too. It is not like coffee but rather it makes you feel good all day. We understand hospitals are experimenting with B vitamin drinks and we expect you will see this product in that type of application in no time. If you want some for yourself you will have to contact Paul since it is not in distribution at this time. In fact, we wrote this blog hoping Paul will send us a case of this stuff. We will keep you posted. Oh, and last but not least Telefonix was celebrating their 20th anniversary at the show – congratulations!

McLEAN, Va., USA and PALM SPRINGS, Calif., 5 October 2009 – Thirty-eight commercial airlines from around the world competed for the 21st Annual WAEA Avion Award of distinction honoring excellence in inflight entertainment and voted on by passengers around the world. The winners in each of the four regional categories as well as Best Overall in large and small airline categories were announced at the grand opening of the WAEA 30th Annual Conference & Exhibition in Palm Springs. V Australia won Best Overall for small airlines and Emirates received the other top honor as Best Overall for the large airlines.

Tonight, during the 21st Annual Avion Award Ceremony, winners were congratulated by the entire inflight entertainment and communications (IFE&C) industry. Retired industry veterans were also invited to join in the celebration.

Regional winners included:

Best in Region – Americas
Virgin America
Best in Region – Asia and Australasia
Singapore Airlines
Best in Region – Europe
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Best in Region – Middle East and Africa
Emirates

The winners were ranked highest by airline passengers in opinion polls administered online in eleven languages by Skytrax; a leader in airline passenger opinion studies. Skytrax assessed the data collected over a two-month period from 60,000 worldwide passengers who rated their IFE experiences. The airlines with the highest ratings in passenger satisfaction received the 2009 Avion Award mark of excellence.
Additionally, WAEA recognized the superior accomplishments of Virgin America for the Avion Awards for Best Single Achievement in IFE and Aircell LLC for the Best Achievement in Technology category. These Avion Award winners were judged by a jury of industry peers and selected for their significant success in each category.

Airlines entering the Best Single Achievement in IFE competition submitted 1,000-word essays detailing their accomplishments. A panel of industry experts evaluated the submissions and the top six finalists made oral presentations yesterday to a group of peer judges. The winner, First Runner Up Thomson Airways and Second Runner Up Continental Airlines were announced at the ceremony tonight.

The Avion Award for Best Achievement in Technology this year was open to any WAEA member, airline or vendor. Companies submitted essays outlining their technological accomplishments in IFE&C and entries were reviewed by a jury of industry representatives from each segment (airline, hardware, software, distributor, lab, and service companies).

“Congratulations to all of our 21st Annual Avion Award participants and winners,” says Christine Ringger, president of the WAEA. “In its twenty-first year, the WAEA Avion Awards encourages healthy competition and increases the appetite for excellence in the inflight entertainment and communications industry. It is this spirit of competition that drives the industry to higher standards and innovation year after year.”

For more information about the WAEA Avion Awards or the inflight entertainment industry, visit the WAEA Web site at www.waea.org or contact Liz Jayankura-Jones, ljones@waea.org or +1.703.610.9039.

About WAEA
Founded in 1979 as a non-profit organization, The WAEA is the official worldwide network representing nearly 400 airlines and airline suppliers committed to excellence in inflight entertainment and communications and the continual improvement of the airline passenger experience. For more information regarding the WAEA and the IFE and communications industry, please visit www.waea.org.

With a new format, the World Airline Entertainment Association annual big show kicked-off the conference in Palm Springs. First day is now devoted for intro’s, updates, inflight entertainment discussion panels, and a full day of meetings that covered topics from airborne connectivity to passenger generated profits. Tomorrow begins the fun part – show schmoozing, booths, and individual product rollouts that promise to be very interesting in these tough economic times. To be sure, airline profit is a lost word, and almost every pitch here revolves around how to squeeze another penny from the traveling public. And why not…as this issue of AVION Magazine pointed out, IFE is the second most expensive system on new commercial aircraft (engines are first). Most airlines are hemorrhaging money so next year it’s payback time and passengers will be doing the paying. The new gadgets are center stage here and while we can’t officially get in to the booths today and report on what we see, we keep hearing about goodies that our readers will be most interested in. Soooo not to tip off who told us what, here is a small rundown of what we are about to see, reported by sources with no names!

  • Someone has invented a way to avoid the $800k seat certification and still provide a retrofitted in-seat power solution – this is very cool!
  • Rumors still abound about a new DC (USB) power network.
  • There is a supplier who has developed a pico-projector (bizjets) IFE screen.
  • There is a new smart card system that allows passengers to “buy” credits from an airline for use on the plane or ground. IFE vendors have spent millions to solve the card swipe security issue.

In the coming months, we plan to follow up on many of the new products and services showcased at the WAEA – Stay Tuned!

Lastly, here is a hot scoop from Row44, the Ku Band aircraft Internet specialist. It seems that the company has developed a so-called “walled garden” for airline customers. Loosely translated, the “walled garden” in this context is a fee free bit of Internet browsing available to customers who don’t want to shell out about 10 bucks for Internet that lasts one battery charge cycle during a flight. Dubbed Skytown Center, at no charge, passengers get flight info, destination info, a couple games, travel info, SkyMall and the Home Shopping Network. Eventually to be airline branded, Skytown Center will also include the ability to deliver text messaging to ground devices at a price point approximately 50% below the $10 to $13 Internet fee. Obviously an advertising paid service, this is a clever marketing attempt to give Row44 airlines a way to get their customers to use their laptops and Smartphones – good idea. Row44 has also assigned a partner for each of these areas that does the heavy lifting in their own area of expertise. The image accompanying this story is a snapshot of the portal that, when airline branded, will show up on passenger’s laptops and on Smartphone screens.

Eratta : We got a lot of justifiable static last issue because we didn’t have our satellite rates (bits per second and kilobits per second) correct. Here is a link to some satcom bit rates that we covered in the Hot Topic. We guess that this is the price for free news!


Time to get your reservations for the WAEA Conference & Exhibition – the 30th year of the oldest Inflight Entertainment conference. The show runs from October 5 thru the 8th in Palm Springs, CA,You can download a brochure from WAEA.org with all the details but we thought you should know of a few changes. For one, the educational sessions will only run one day, Monday, Oct. 5th. Be sure not to miss the education day because these topics will put a lot of the current technology initiatives into focus: Sessions will cover : who’s doing what in airplane trials, inflight accessibility, ancillary revenues of the connected aircraft, improving operational efficiencies onboard, the economic climate of IFE today and in the future, using the latest technology to offer new applications, the future of IFE, case studies of usage statistics, how to use reliability measurements, and much more…!

Registration coincides with the sessions with the Avion Awards…the last item on the work agenda followed by the usual poolside reception. There will also be Technical Education Sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. Be sure not to miss the Single Focus Workshop Review in one of these sessions because they will summarize the excellent wireless session in Everett this past July. We have gotten calls asking if the walk-in policy has changed to that of the Aircraft Interiors Conference. Nope! And speaking of AI, they will not be co-located with the WAEA Conference this year…you will have to wait till next year!

On a different tack, there has been a lot of chin music lately on inflight internet security. The article (linked below) is particularly interesting because the writer identifies an attack vulnerability from a Link Layer hack called “Man In The Middle”. While we do not pretend to be hack experts, the problem stems from non-encrypted communication between clients and the wireless server. Sources tell us that “packet sniffer” software can inject malicious code into Wi-fi data streams even VPN level communications. And speaking of Wi-fi, here is a link to a recent WSJ article on the take-up of recent installations on aircraft.

McLEAN, VA, USA, 17 August, 2009 – The World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) proudly revealed today the finalists in the Avion Awards, honoring excellence in inflight entertainment. Winners will be announced at the ceremony during the 30th WAEA Conference & Exhibition in Palm Springs, California on 5 October 2009.

This year, an overwhelming 60,000 passengers rated their IFE experience on 38 airlines that competed for the prestigious Avion Awards for Best in Region and Best Overall categories. Passengers completed online surveys administered by Skytrax, the leader in research to the world airline and air transport industry.

“Passenger voting makes this award truly representative of passenger comfort and satisfaction with their inflight entertainment experience,” says Christine Ringger, president of WAEA and IFE System Engineer and Project Manager for Swiss International Air Lines. “With incredible participation from industry and passengers, the Avion Awards will continue to increase standards for innovation in inflight entertainment.”

Skytrax administered the online survey in 11 languages to determine passenger satisfaction. The five finalists in each category listed alphabetically are:

Best in Region

Americas
Air Canada
Delta/Northwest Airlines
LAN Airlines
TAM Airlines
Virgin America

Asia and Australiasia
Cathay Pacific Airways
Korean Air
Qantas Airways
Singapore Airlines
V Australia

Europe
Air France
British Airways
Swiss International Air Lines
Turkish Airlines
Virgin Atlantic Airways

Middle East and Africa
El Al Israel Airlines
Emirates
Etihad Airways
Qatar Airways
South African Airways

Best Overall (Large Airlines)
over 25 IFE-equipped in fleet
Cathay Pacific Airways
Emirates
Qatar Airways
Singapore Airlines
Virgin Atlantic Airways

Best Overall (Small Airlines)
up to 25 IFE-equipped in fleet
Air Tahiti Nui
SAS Scandinavian Airlines
SriLankan Airlines
Swiss International Air Lines
V Australia

The 21st Annual Avion Awards Ceremony will be held on 5 October at 17:00 during WAEA’s 30th Annual Conference & Exhibition, the IFE industry’s premier event. Delivering 30 years of innovation, the WAEA will celebrate by honoring Lifetime Achievement and Outstanding Contribution awards during this special ceremony wtih video production sponsored by Post Modern Edit and SKYLINE IFE. All conference delegates and members of the press are invited to attend.

The WAEA 30th Annual Conference & Exhibition attracts hundreds of leaders from airlines and airline-suppliers with a full day of focused education sessions and the most comprehensive display of inflight entertainment and communications products and services in the world. The industry event will take place 5-8 October at the Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs, California, USA.

For the complete agenda, event information and to register, please visit www.waea.org.

About WAEA
Founded in 1979 as a non-profit organization, The WAEA is the official worldwide network representing nearly 400 airlines and airline suppliers committed to excellence in inflight entertainment and communications and the continual improvement of the airline passenger experience. For more information regarding the WAEA and the IFE and communications industry, please visit www.waea.org.

The tedious but necessary world of aircraft electronics specifications were a topic of the last WAEA Single Focus Workshop and Boeing’s Gerald Lui-Kwan (Boeing Cabin Systems Tech Center) did a yeoman’s job of covering the areas of activity that Airbus and Boeing both participate in via ARINC and AEEC associations. Our industry technical professionals deal in this world on a regular basis, however, we thought all our readers might like to see Gerald’s list of current committee projects that affect connectivity – some are really going to be big deals. First, here is the list:

Specifications

1. A-741, A-761, A-781-3, These all deal with Inmarsat Communication
2. A-821 The Aircraft Network Server Functional System (NSS) Description.
3. A-822-1 The Air/Ground IP Communication spec. (Gatelink).
4. A824 – On-Board Mobile Telephony Specification (Recently Adopted)

Project Papers (In-Work Specifications)

5. A-791 – Ku Band Satellite System
6. A-830 – Aircraft /Ground Information Exchange System (AGIES)
7. A-830 – Wireless Distribution
8. MAGIC – Manager of Air Ground Interface Communications

Technical Application Bulletin

Network Security Bulletin

If you are a member of the WAEA, be sure to check out his presentation on the WAEA website. The block diagrams of the scope of this work is really impressive!

If you do an Internet search, we found it best to type your search as follows; “arinc/aeec project paper a-791″. We should also note that the one of the advantages of these groups and specification development programs is in the protocol level whereby various users (like in A-830) can enable multiple, different platforms to communicate by only building or modifying drivers and avoiding physical or hardware layer disturbances – this translates to shorter development times and lower cost of entry.

The last two items “MAGIC” and Network Security efforts are going to be big deals. “Magic” because it affects virtually all data whizzing around the airplane and may entail whole new ways of looking at aircraft data, hardware, and software controls affecting link management, traffic management, and information exchange. Network Security, well, that is an area that one can experience on their own PC. Security in data networks on the ground are routinely attacked by hackers of all sorts… now imagine that business on your plane at 35,000 feet. Scary!

On another but possibly related, check out this story on Endgadget about exploding iPods. Now, imagine the ramifications if this happened on an airplane.

Footnote: By the way and FYI, the Boeing Cabin Systems Technical Center is responsible for equipment management all of the Cabin equipment for Boeing airplanes e.g. Cabin Services (PA, Cabin Interphone, Lights, Passenger Services), In-Flight Entertainment Systems and the On-Board Network Systems.

Suffice it to say, the latest WAEA Single Focus Workshop on connectivity was a hit. If airline uptake is any indicator of the rush to provide inflight Internet, our money is on the success of the next “big thing” in onboard amenities. The real importance of this meeting lies not only in the value of the service to travelers, but as a result of the almost universal acceptance of new gadgets, airlines are willing to invest in connectivity. While the presentation papers for the most part were terrific, also were not available at this writing. They will be forthcoming we are told and they are dynamite. We hope to update our readers on higher level messages provided when we get a few more in. From observation we gleaned that there were some 100+ attendees, 15 airlines registered and a very full schedule, including a an eye-opener Boeing tour. One could not bypass the universal mantra chanted by almost all the illuminati – with a smile. Naturally, the broadband providers touted the value of “more” – more bandwidth, more users, more services, and more money. Conversely, the narrow-banders tended to gather around the “less is more” banner – less space, less disruption to the usage patterns, less hassle. Probably the middle ground is where it’s at! We can safely say, this was one of the most open exchanges of information put on by any organization and we urge the WAEA to continue this work, even provide open review of the presenters. We will be happy to promote this access if it occurs because the folks who do not regularly get to participate in the workshops will benefit greatly.

IFE and Connectivity consultant, Michael Planey had some good advice to airlines. He told IFExpress, “I suppose the most important thing that I would stress is the need for the airlines to stop viewing Inflight Internet as a program separate from the overall IT strategy for the company. A connected airliner is another node on the network for the IT staff to address. It is imperative for the airlines to have their senior IT management involved in the requirements development, sourcing, testing and implementation for these systems. After all, they are the true experts in network design and optimization within the airline.” About 5 years ago, our team saw a presentation from McDonnell-Douglas that debuted in the 90’s (we think) and one statement stood out to us long before airborne Internet was a gleam in the sky. It stated, and we paraphrase, ” The only node in the airline system that is not automated is the aircraft”. One can guess that that dream is now fulfilled.

Here are a few highlights to look for:

Astronics shared their laptop battery study and it looks like there is going to be hole in the service provision if longer connectivity sessions are not enabled with electrical power.

Boeing and Airbus are rapidly being dragged into network-centric aircraft. The good news is they are aware of the issues ahead.

Big battles are looming in service provision – license VS unlicensed bandwidth, not to mention, there are providers on the ground and in the Clarke Belt who are coming online.

The good news is passengers like this stuff! Internet, phone calls, email and so on. There may be money here for airlines and vendors alike.

We should note those presenters who shared their data and thank them; AirCell, OnAir, Astronics, AeroMobile, Row44,ViaSat, Thin-Kom, Boeing, Airbus, ITS Electronics…just to name a few. It is the data from you folks that makes these functions useful and informative. Thank You and the WAEA!

July 13, 2009, McLEAN, Va., USA – The World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) will host the Single Focus Workshop: Connectivity where top inflight entertainment and communications (IFE&C) experts will gather to share options available for inflight communications and innovations for the future. The WAEA expects a record-breaking number of attendees from global airlines, vendors of IFE&C and press at the Workshop being held on 14-15 July 2009 in Seattle, Washington, USA.

This much anticipated industry event promises to help senior executives better understand the airborne connectivity market and make more informed decisions to elevate their businesses. Never before has airborne connectivity been covered with this much depth and insight from the leading experts in the field. The two-day workshop will focus on:

Airline programs and trials;
Myths of connectivity;
Value-added applications;
Differences between air-to-ground, Ku-band satellite, and L-band satellite;
In-flight TV;
Applications and content; and
Updates on the latest trends and regulatory activities.

Keynote sessions each day will feature top airlines experienced in airborne connectivity beginning with John Tiliacos from American Airlines on Tuesday morning. Peter Lewalter from Lufthansa German Airlines will discuss “Connectivity – Future Success Story or Disaster?” on Wednesday morning.

“An event specifically focused on airborne connectivity is undoubtedly timely and necessary,” says David Coiley, Co-chair of the WAEA’s Technology Committee, “inflight entertainment is expanding its scope to include communications. The acronym IFE has evolved to IFE&C and the ‘C’ for communications is clearly one that our industry wants and needs to know more about.”

Other speakers include connectivity experts from JetBlue, AirTran, Delta/Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, RAJCO Services Company, H&M Planey Consultants, IMDC, Aircell LLC, Inmarsat, Ltd, Panasonic Avionics Corporation, Thales, ViaSat, Inc., WI-SKY Inflight, Inc., Row 44, Astronics, EMS Technologies, ThinKom, ITS Electronics, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Airbus, Microsoft, AeroMobile, ARINC/SkyBuy, OnAir, Live TV, and CGP Solutions, Ltd.
“The Workshop will build on the connectivity sessions held at our recent WAEA Technology Committee meeting and the Educational Workshop in Kuala Lumpur,” says Rich Salter, Co-chair of the WAEA Technology Committee. “It will be two full days of education with the aim to get everyone up to a level playing field of knowledge, share lessons learned, and chart where the business is headed in the future.”

In addition to this special event focused on connectivity, WAEA’s educational offerings include an entire day dedicated to seminars during the 30th Annual Conference & Exhibition being held 5-8 October 2009 in Palm Springs, California. Attracting hundreds of airlines and vendors involved in IFE&C, the day of education will be followed by three days of Exhibition showcasing many of the telecommunications and connectivity technologies discussed at the Workshop.
“During a time when overall conference attendance is down in all industries, the overwhelming interest in attending the Workshop in Seattle and the Annual Conference later this year is a sign that the IFE&C industry is committed to progress and innovation, ” says Bruce Wardle, WAEA’s Interim Executive Director.

This year’s Conference theme, 30 Years of Innovation, will be evident in education seminars catering to different industry sectors, including updates on airborne connectivity not presented at the Workshop in Seattle. The WAEA received over 40 proposals for education seminars and presentations at the Annual Conference – more than any other year – and the WAEA Education Committee has the difficult task of narrowing them down to just one day of sessions.

“The WAEA is proud to be the resource for knowledge on this cutting-edge, complex technology. The knowledge sharing about connectivity and other topics impacting IFE&C within our industry will translate to a better inflight experience for passengers,” says Wardle. “If you are not at this event or the Annual Conference & Exhibition in October, your company will be left behind in the fastest growing trend this industry has seen.”

Entrance to the Single Focus Workshop: Connectivity is open to WAEA members and non-members. Registration for the Workshop the will be available onsite at the Future of Flight Aviation Center. For information on the Single Focus Workshop: Connectivityor to register for the WAEA 30th Annual Conference and Exhibition, please visitwww.waea.org.

About WAEA
Founded in 1979 as a non-profit organization, The WAEA is the official worldwide network representing nearly 400 airlines and airline suppliers committed to excellence in inflight entertainment and communications and the continual improvement of the airline passenger experience. For more information regarding the WAEA and the IFE and communications industry, please visit www.waea.org.

With today’s tragic news about Air France 447, the subject of aircraft connectivity takes on a new and urgent meaning for the aviation industry. Given that the last contact with the Airbus A330 was via automatic condition monitors, connectivity now has dual interest – aircraft and passenger.

The upcoming WAEA Single Focus Workshop, Tuesday, July 14 – Wednesday, July 15 2009 in Everett, Washington, USA has the passenger focus, and the WAEA noted in their communication; “This special two-day educational event will feature keynote and breakout sessions covering the very basics of connectivity to the advanced levels of this dynamic and ever changing subject in the Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity. Individuals from all aspects of the IFE&C industry, as well as experts in engineering, technology and forecasting will be in attendance and attendees will have time to mingle with colleagues from around the world at the networking events.” From an entertainment perspective, this will be your chance to look into the technologies and business practices that In-Stat predicts will be a $12 Billion dollar business by 2012! Check out some of these topics like “Service Enhancement and Ancillary Revenue”…this one should be very interesting! Here is the topic list at this time:

  • Airline Trials
  • Clear up the misconceptions of connectivity
  • Systems, technology and capability offerings
  • Onboard access and distribution
  • Connectivity from the Airframers’ perspective
  • Ground-based trends and it’s affect on other systems
  • Applications and Content
  • Service enhancement or ancillary revenue discussions
  • Regulatory and industry activities
  • In-flight TV

You can get more information at the WAEA website and please note, WAEA Members and non-members alike are invited to attend. We talked to one WAEA contact and were told, “Yes, I think one of the sessions that is going to be a highlight is the morning of the first day and it’s entitled “Who’s Doing What?” – we will have a lot of airlines giving reports of their trials, sharing lessons learned, and what they are planning next – it’ll be a great sharing and learning session for everyone on everything that’s hot in Connectivity.” See you there.

The 21st Annual WAEA Avion Awards season is underway and we are proud to announce airlines competing for Best in Region and Best Overall IFE. These prestigious awards are judged solely on passenger feedback though www.ifesurvey.com. Skytrax, the leader in airline passenger opinion studies, will administer the survey.

In 2008, more than 30 airlines competed for the Avion Awards mark of distinction with more than 55,000 passengers worldwide rating airline performance in IFE and selected their favorites. The survey for the 2009 Best in Region and Best Overall IFE awards will be administered during 1 May and 30 June 2009 and available in English, Spanish, German, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Korean, French, Hebrew, Russian and Portuguese.

This year, 37 airlines will compete and the top five finalists from each region will be eligible for the Best Overall IFE in one of two categories, Large Airlines and Small Airlines.

Award winners will be announced at the WAEA 30th Annual Conference & Exhibition in Palm Springs, California on 5 October 2009.

Airlines competing for the 21st WAEA Avion Awards for Best in Region and Best Overall IFE are:

Afriqiyah Airways
Air Canada
Air France
Air New Zealand, Ltd.
Air Tahiti Nui
Avianca
British Airways
Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd.
Delta/Northwest Airlines
El Al Israel Airlines, Ltd.
Emirates
Etihad Airways
Finnair
Gulf Air
Iberia Lineas Aereas De Espana
Jet Airways (India), Ltd.
Kenya Airways
Korean Air
Kuwait Airways
LAN Airlines S.A.
Malaysia Airlines
Qantas Airways, Ltd.
Qatar Airways
Royal Brunei Airlines
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Scandinavian Airlines System
Singapore Airlines Ltd.
South African Airways
Swiss International Air Lines
TAM Airlines
Thai Airways International
Thomsonfly
Turkish Airlines
V Australia
Virgin America
Virgin Atlantic Airways, Ltd.
Virgin Blue

Good luck!

Click here for entry form and complete rules and entry information for other WAEA Avion Award categories.

Have you ever wondered what all the MPEG4 settings mean? With names like Video Input (Interlaced/Progressive), Field Order (TFF-BFF), Pixel accuracy, Slice, and about 20 others, what’s a technologist to do? Well, the next WAEA Tech Committee meeting is for you. Michael Childers and Mark Thompson are said to be preparing a session on MPEG4 settings to educate WAEA members up to a “level playing field” such that the TC can ultimately make an informed decision on whether it’s worth it to standardize on any settings for IFE. Accordingly, if you have ever mused over the use of Wave Division Multiplexing (WDM) for IFE (The use of multiple wavelengths of light to multiply the channels available over a single fiber optic cable) this meeting is also for you.  Without a doubt, the industry has been moving rapidly to get things standardized in preparation for the use of fiber in IFE and avionics in general. Further, Dan Martinec will be leading a session to describe the requirements document that has been prepared while others will present their technology and products for use in airborne fiber systems. He plans to bring folks up-to-speed on the WDM LAN work that AEEC is doing which should be interesting too. Additionally, if you are interested in the latest happenings in the world of onboard connectivity, David Coiley has a panel of presenters prepared to give a view of what’s currently flying and trialed. They will address some of the long misunderstood issues about satellite and air-to-ground systems (like latency, etc.). This is a session designed to help airlines and suppliers alike understand the state-of-the-art in airborne connectivity. Throw in a few other sessions like Best Practices for IFE and Closed Captioning, and this meeting is shaping up to be one not to be missed. Plus, insiders tell us that pre-registration is at an all-time high (read networking opportunity!).   Take a look at the upcoming WAEA TC agenda (February 24-25) at www.waea.org – and if you can’t get out of the office for two days you can register to attend via real-time webcast – you can’t beat that!  

Next, we have secured a special website for our readers with incredible space graphics from the AGI folks. It links to the best graphic depiction of the satcom Iridium-Cosmos collision over Russia – bar none. www.agi.com/iridium-cosmos. For more information contact sclaypoole@agi.com . 

Did you watch the Sir Richard Branson video on AirCell? We asked Brenda Chroniak (AirCell PR) about the system capability to send video and she noted; “For a bit more detail, what I meant by the system being designed to scale is that Aircell has a proprietary compression technology that substantially enhances the throughput on the network. Handling 30, 40 or 50 passenger sessions on a flight – or a live TV broadcast – are well within its capabilities. Though compression techniques are fairly widespread in the Wi-Fi world, Aircell’s was built-in as a fundamental part of the network. AirCell knew the demand that was coming when they developed the system, and it’s certainly paying off, as demand has been higher than expected.” Here are the links:

Now, with regard to the recent wildfires in the Melbourne, Australia, we asked long IFE’er Ron Chapman (ASIQ) to chime in on their status and he wrote: “Dear IFExpress Readers: We are OK, The fires were coming in our direction and about 8K away when the wind changed and sent it north up to the mountains. Major disaster up there! The wind change happened so fast no one in the path had a chance. It was 48.5 degrees at my place and blowing a gale. Week before we had three days at 44+ degrees. Everyone knows friends that lost homes and unfortunately some did not survive. We are still waiting to hear – they say it might be high as 300 and the fires are still going. We are used to bush fires but this was a firestorm that no one could imagine. What is uplifting is the way the community is pulling together. That’s life in the bush, Ron”  

Lastly, we are working on a big airframe expose story that will blow your mind….Stay Tuned!

Image courtesy of Analytical Graphics, Inc. (www.agi.com