• Southwest is First U.S. Carrier to Offer Messaging At All Phases of Flight and Still the Only Airline Offering Inflight WiFi Below 10,000 Feet

Dallas, TX and Los Angeles, Ca | December 11, 2013– Adding to the list of services it now offers Customers inflight, Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) and its inflight entertainment and connectivity partner, Global Eagle Entertainment Inc. (Nasdaq: ENT) announced today the launch of a messaging service designed to work in all stages of flight. The new service enables passengers with Apple devices operating on iOS 5 or later the ability to iMessage gate-to-gate for the introductory price of $2 per day. Android-friendly messaging apps will be added early in 2014.

Currently available on 435 aircraft, Southwest is the only U.S. carrier to offer WiFi below 10,000 feet, and with the addition of Global Eagle’s texting product, the airline continues to build upon the extensive entertainment and connectivity services that are available to its Customers at all stages of flight. Customers now have the opportunity to choose the inflight connectivity services that meet their needs, from free TV courtesy of DISH, to WiFi gate-to-gate, to messaging.

“It is our pleasure to say that regardless of whether we’re parked at the gate or flying at 30,000 feet in the air, we are able to provide a truly robust entertainment and connectivity service for our passengers,” said Kevin Krone, Southwest Airlines Chief Marketing Officer. “Our partnership with Global Eagle has afforded us the opportunity to be first with the services we offer, and has truly helped to differentiate Southwest Airlines in ways that are meaningful to our Customers.”

With today’s announcement, Global Eagle and Southwest continue to reinforce the value of satellite-based connectivity and its ability to deliver a broad range of services to improve the passenger experience inflight.

“When the ban on inflight connectivity below 10,000 feet was lifted, we knew we were in a great position to take some significant strides in terms of passenger experience with Southwest Airlines,” said John LaValle, Chief Executive Officer of Global Eagle Entertainment. “Our messaging service breaks new ground, and embraces the changing face of communication, one where texting has already surpassed voice calls as the preferred method of phone use among young adults, and continues to grow.”

How It Works:
– Once onboard, Customers can switch their phones to “airplane mode” and connect to the Southwest WiFi network.

– From the WiFi portal homepage, Apple users with devices operating iOS 5 or later can select “Messaging” from the “Connect” tab and pay $2 for all day texting with other iMessage users on WiFi-enabled planes.

– For Customers that prefer to do more, WiFi is still available for $8 all day per device and texting is included in that purchase automatically.

– No need to power down! Customers can send messages gate-to-gate like they never left the ground.

Southwest, serving more than 100 million passengers each year, continues to offer the most comprehensive inflight entertainment and connectivity experience at all phases of flight, which now includes:
· Inflight WiFi available from gate-to-gate for $8 per device per day

· iMessage, available from gate-to-gate for $2 per day, for iPhone users with iOS5 or later

· Live Television streamed directly to passengers’ own personal electronic devices, free of charge, courtesy of DISH

· Video-on-Demand television content and movies

Powered by Global Eagle’s satellite-based connectivity platform, the new service—in sync with gate-to-gate Wi-Fi—is also optimized to work in all phases of flight, including on the ground.

I don’t think IFExpress has ever done a story on a software company that moved into satellite connectivity hardware… until now.

We about dropped our teeth at AIX when we saw the new Inmarsat connectivity hardware from TriaGnoSys, the connectivity software folks headed by affable Axel Jahn. As a bit of name background, TriaGnoSys (pronounced Treea-g’no-sis) is made up of two words: tria, the Greek for three and gnosis, for knowledge. It is named after the three researchers who founded the company: Matthias Holzbock, Axel Jahn, and Markus Werner. Our Hot Topic image is a picture of the trio in the lab in the TriaGnoSys offices in Oberfaffenhofen, Germany where the new hardware is manufactured. Axel, on the left, Matthias is in the middle and Markus on the right.

As you probably know, the company has designed and sold software, the principals having been on the Wireless Cabin team which carried out the original research into the use of mobile phones on planes. It was that work that led them to set up TriaGnoSys, with the main aim of commercializing inflight connectivity software – which they have done quite well – thank you. The latest iteration of that software is VoCeM, which makes the most efficient use of the available satellite bandwidth. A product sheet is linked below if you wish to dig deeper. In terms of radio links, the solution currently uses Inmarsat SwiftBroadBand, but can be easily configured for any link they say, including Ka-Band and Ku-Band, as well as DVB-RCS. The system can also can also support air to ground links.The bandwidth savings for VoIP and GSM calls, which you’ll find on the second page, are particularly striking.

 Last year it became clear to their marketing team that there was room for TriaGnoSys to produce the hardware. TriaGnoSys understands the technology required for inflight connectivity very well, “So”, noted Jahn, “the decision to start offering the hardware as well as software was both logical and easy.” The result is GSMConneX. When we interviewed Axel, he nonchalantly described their foray into hardware, however, we were stunned. Satellite communication gear is no walk in the park and we discovered that the TriaGnoSys team teamed with knowledgeable hardware suppliers to design, develop and deliver some of the esoteric modules. But, it was Jahn who emphatically told IFExpress that the company knew their product requirements every step of the way.

Of particular interest is the Base Transceiver Station (BTS+). It is the same size as a standard BTS, but also contains the server, which includes the switch software, as well as a hard drive. The two System boxes (Base Teansciver Station and Network Control Unit) are connected to each other, and the aircraft, by a simple Ethernet cable. Check out the product sheet also linked below. You can see the Ethernet ports in the images. The flanges on the side of the BTS+ are for anti-vibration, we are told. Of additional note is the fact that NCU uses passive cooling, hence the fins. The boxes are small and can be installed almost anywhere in the aircraft – just add antennae. They are currently configured to be used on business jets and the design work to make them ready for commercial aircraft has been completed. (Editor Note: The difference lies in the different power supplies and the solution is relatively straightforward.)

TriaGnoSys is going through the DOA and POA process with EASA at the moment and expects to have both by the third quarter of this year. We also note that TriaGnoSys has a launch customer, who will use the hardware – and software – on business jets. However, they have not yet announced the name. There was also a lot of interest at Aircraft Interiors and we expect that there will be more activity as they near connectivity validation and certification.

Hats Off the Axel and his team – IFExpress is impressed, we hope the airlines are as well.

VoCeM Product Sheet
GSMConneX Product Sheet
GSMConneX Press Release

Advanced battery makes the TrueNorth unit the smallest available

Ottawa, Canada – March 29, 2011 —TrueNorth Avionics, the fast-growing developer of executive airborne telecom solutions, has developed the industry’s first FAA-approved and DO-160 qualified wireless telephone handset using a new high-capacity Lithium-Ion (Li-I) battery technology that meets the stringent TSO criteria while delivering unprecedented energy density, resistance to ‘memory effect’ and slow charge loss when not in use. In addition to the battery TSO the light and compact handset has been tested and passed the stringent flammability tests and rigorous environmental testing that is required to be able to be certified by the FAA and other worldwide airworthiness authorities. The handset is currently being installed on a number of aircraft types but notably an Airbus A318 Elite aircraft completed by Lufthansa Technik, and the Airbus Corporate Jet Centre has also ordered units.