We have a lot to review this week so, for the sake of organization, let’s cover it all alphabetically. Here we go!

1 – Astronics
Below are a couple of product offerings that Astronics AES will be exhibiting at AIX Hamburg at Stand 3B30.

  • UltraLite System
    The Astronics EmPower® USB “UltraLite” System is an innovative passenger In-Seat Power System (ISPS) architecture that provides High Power USB (HPUSB) using zonal power converters. This architecture is a departure from the traditional seat-mounted power supply. The result is a system providing lower cost, lower weight, and less impact on passenger foot and baggage space when compared to traditional seat based architectures.
  • Wireless Charging Module
    The new wireless charging module from Astronics will also be on display at Aircraft Interiors Expo. This innovative product is able to charge passenger Wireless enabled SmartPhones and supports a large charging area. The module is intended to be installed in multiple seat locations and provides up to 15W power per module. This new product meets both Qi and PMA wireless charging standards. The small form factor allows for a wide array of installation locations and is easy to install. (Editors Note – We want to see this one and we promise a future story on it!)

2 – IFPL

IFPL are excited to be demonstrating their high value contactless payment PIN on screen system at AIX 2017 on stand 2C10. Using the IFPL NFC payment system, passengers can quickly and securely buy not only low-value items such as beverages and food, but higher-value items including perfume, luxury gifts and high-end audio technology. The higher-value purchases are enabled by using an additional card holder verification method to allow high value transactions; the contactless limit is usually around $30 (depending on the card issuer). By utilizing PIN on-screen technology, IFPL is able to offer this step change benefit to airlines and enable them to increase their ancillary revenue. IFPL use a secure kernel embedded into the Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) that is located in the processor of the seatback monitor. This offers the same level of security as the traditional Point of Sale (POS) terminal, that enables both online and offline transactions. Using the IFPL Near Field Communication (NFC) contactless payment module, the TEE payment solution allows airlines to process compliant EMV (EuroPay, MasterCard, Visa) transactions without compromising confidential cardholder data or PIN. The PIN on screen payment system is one of our latest innovative products that IFPL will be demonstrating at AIX 2017.

3 – Lufthansa Systems
At this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Lufthansa Systems is presenting the new generation of its multi-award-winning BoardConnect wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) platform, with new features and a new user interface. Visitors can also find out about the mCabin product family, which offers new functions and additional apps to drive the digitalization of crew processes. Visit Lufthansa Systems from April 4–6 at AIX at stand #2E24.

New release:BoardConnect 5.0
BoardConnect enables passengers to stream content from an airline’s entertainment offering to their own tablets or smartphones during a flight. The BoardConnect product suite is available in three hardware versions. In addition to the permanently installed classic BoardConnect IFE solution, there is also the flexible BoardConnect Portable version. It combines all of the technical components in a single device which can be installed quickly and easily on any aircraft. BoardConnect Portable received the Crystal Cabin Award at AIX 2016. The third option available is the BoardConnect Plus connectivity solution. Lufthansa Systems is responding to the growing demand for new on-board digital services by further developing its software – with the new BoardConnect 5.0, which runs on all three versions of the system. BoardConnect 5.0 features a fresh design with a new user interface and an open platform architecture.

New products from the mCabin suite
Lufthansa Systems is also presenting new products from its mCabin suite at AIX. Passengers and crew members now expect digitalized services on board like those they use on the ground – but many airlines haven’t reached this stage yet. Mobile solutions for the cabin crew optimally support airlines of all sizes and business models in the digitalization of their on-board processes.

mCabin/Library+ brings together all crew documents in a digital form. This includes crew manuals and airline-specific information. An easy-to-use document management system also keeps the documents up to date and facilitates the search for specific information. The mCabin/Messenger service connects an airline’s cabin crew and ground staff based on their respective functions. This enables colleagues to communicate even if they don´t know each other by name. mCabin/CityGuide is an exclusive travel guide platform for crews with local information on all of an airline’s destinations, including organizational details about layovers such as contact details, crew hotels and pick-up times, as well as personal tips from the crew relating to excursions and restaurants, for example.

4 – P3
P3 aero systems has developed an outstanding set of services and methodology which, for the first time ever, will allow the complete analysis, simulation, testing and optimization of wireless networks within commercial aircraft cabins already during the early phase of cabin definition. P3 aero systems combines P3’s 20 years of global expertise in both fields of aerospace and telecommunication industries. Once being given an early configuration and layout, P3 aero systems can reliably model the wireless cabin and the potential risk of interference much prior to the aircraft delivery. For that matter wireless networks such as IEEE/Wi-Fi (2.4/5/60GHz), BT (2.4GHz) and 3G/LTE/5G were evaluated in relation to performance requirements, user functionalities and passenger experience. P3 has become a global player in both fields of defining, testing and improving mobile communication networks in the aviation industry coupled with global STC capability through part 21J design organization approvals held, enabling also advisory and technical solutions for a range of aero products. P3 will located be at stand 2C50 and in the IFEC zone.

5 – PXCom
At Hamburg AIX 2017, Vision Systems will unveil a new release of its IFE solution called Visi-Stream, that ensures a high passenger satisfaction and ancillary revenues. It comprises Wi-Fi AVOD with a rich and varied content including movies, music, games, daily press, extensive tourist information and ticketing. Advertising can be global and local, and priority data flows for safety videos put the tablets on hold. Options include broadcast or connectivity as well as remote diagnosis, software and content updates via a ground platform. The IFE manufacturer has decided to integrate XPlore by PXCom, the end-to-end solution that enables digital content management on the ground, and automatic roll- out on the onboard servers.

6 – Rockwell Collins
Aircraft Interiors Expo attendees are encouraged to visit the company exhibit at #4C40 in Hall B4 or schedule a meeting by contacting Rockwell Collins (CabinSystemsEvents@rockwellcollins.com) to learn more about our Cabin Solutions portfolio, including:

Broadband connectivity services, featuring Inmarsat’s Global Xpress for the most extensive and consistent global coverage of airline routes and the fastest broadband in the skies, as well as applications for crew connectivity, real-time credit card authorization and wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE)
Wireless IFE, bringing Wi-Fi accessible audio video on demand content in flight Venue™ high-definition cabin management and entertainment system that delivers a wide range of features and technology to satisfy the most discerning passengers Airshow® 3D, the industry’s most widely used and award-winning moving map to keep passengers informed throughout their flights Passenger Services System (PSS), a lightweight, low-cost reading light and cabin crew call system with optional USB charging port AirVueTM interactive, a touchscreen kiosk designed to provide passengers with wayfinding, news, weather and other information as they move through the airport and beyond A new electronically scanned array (ESA) antenna design supporting extreme high throughput (EHT) and global coverage in a smaller, lighter and lower profile package.

7 – Telefonix PDT
Located in Hall B2, Booth # 2D70 Telefonix PDT will be highlighting a number of product feature enhancements at this year’s show, including product and certification updates to the company’s Summit line of IFEC hardware. 

8 – True Blue Power
TC280AC-to-DC Converter
True Blue Power’s TC280 AC-to-DC Converter is quickly gaining popularity on European airlines. The TC280 is currently installed on Airbus A320, Boeing 767 and Boeing 757 aircraft. The highly efficient converter is designed to deliver enough energy to power electronic equipment throughout the aircraft, including in-seat, cabin and cockpit power applications. The TC280 produces 280 watts of power from an aircraft’s 115 VAC input. The converter is engineered to run cooler and features a fanless design delivering energy and weight savings. Installation is convenient, as the TC280 can be mounted in the floor or cabin wall.

TA202 Hi Power USB Port/TA102 Dual USB Port
There is a great deal of focus on passengers’ ability to keep their Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) fully charged during flight. True Blue Power’s line of high power and dual USB charging ports allow passengers to stay fully charged and connected during their flight.

The TA202 Series High Power USB Charging Port offers single and dual port, USB Type-C and Type-A configurations. Delivering 3.0 amps per port, the TSO-certified TA202 powers current and next-generation electronic devices. Units are available in lighted and non-lighted versions and do not require bulky, external power converters for 10 – 32 VDC installations. The TSO-certified TA102 Dual USB Charging Port simultaneously provides 2.1 amps per charging port to any consumer product requiring a USB interface. The TA102 protects itself and the charging device from short-circuit, power surges and over-current potential. It is a modern addition to any interior cabin, available in lighted and non-lighted versions. For more information visit the True Blue Power stand 1E53 during Aircraft Interiors Expo April 4 – 6 at the Hamburg Messe und Congress in Hamburg, Germany

9 – VT Miltope
Débuting at Aircraft Interiors will be VT Miltope’s 802.11ac Wave 2 wireless access point. Wave 2 uses the available 5 GHz bandwidth more efficiently, providing passengers and airlines with significant improvements in overall data rates (up to 3.6 Gbps using 4×4 MIMO) and the ability to transmit simultaneously to multiple users. With wireless data rates climbing well into the Gigabit range, the opportunity to support airline wireless IFEC ambitions will certainly be improved. Combining Wave 2 with the capabilities of CHT (Cognitive Hotspot Technology) used in VT Miltope’s current nMAP2 access point will keep VT Miltope at the leading edge of wireless products ideally suited for cabin environments.
In addition, VT Miltope will be displaying its ground connectivity product, cTWLU, featuring 4G LTE, 3G cellular as well as 802.11a/b/g/n and ac. The 2 cellular LTE radios provide global coverage. cTWLU brings cost effective aircraft to ground communications to the aircraft with the goal of eliminating “sneaker net” and paper based approaches and enabling the internet of Things (IoT) to aircraft. cTWLU has already received certification approval in 2016 and is currently supporting airline operational data. Typical applications include: EFB connectivity, FOQA data, eTechlog, eCabin logbook, weight and balance download, aircraft health monitoring, and may be used for IFE multimedia refresh.

Visit VT Miltope in Hall B2, booth 2D40 – Contact: Markus Gilges Email: mgilges@miltope.com Mobile: +44 7793 758 755


Other:

APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association), a four-decade old international airline trade association, called for immediate government-approved security solutions for the airline electronics ban announced this week by the United States and United Kingdom. IATA calculations indicate 393 flights per week impacted by the electronics ban. By APEX load-factor calculations, this translates into more than three million affected airline passengers per year. With airline and government coordination, APEX believes that solutions may be rapidly implemented by airlines to further increase security and allow personal electronics on-board.
“The U.S. and U.K. this week pointed to a problem in airline security by banning electronics on certain flights. When we take away personal electronic devices from passengers, we are bowing to a potential threat rather than providing an acceptable security solution.” APEX CEO Joe Leader stated. “Chemical detection machines utilized worldwide can detect illicit items in electronics. Turning on electronics checks functionality and non-functioning electronics could be banned from flights. The expense of hand-searching every carry-on for the personal electronics ban could instead be directed to a long-term solution that serves airline passengers and safety.”

APEX believes that without viable solutions provided to airlines, the electronics ban may spread well beyond the intended scope. Since the existing security scope includes individuals with travel privileges to the U.S. and U.K., these same individuals could connect via other airports where on-board personal electronics are not banned.

“Every threat placed against global air carriers has been met with viable solutions,” said Leader. “We now globally screen every checked bag, carefully scan all carry-ons, restrict liquids, conduct body-scans, and regularly conduct chemical analysis checks on items. When passengers connect internationally, they are frequently scanned again. Placing items into the cargo hold does not fully address the issue with a passenger-centric solution.”

Thales
AirAsia has contracted Thales to provide long-term repair-by-the-hour support for the avionics systems Thales and its ACSS joint venture with L3 Aviation Products will provide for the 304 Airbus A320neos the Asian low-cost carrier group has ordered.

Thales will equip AirAsia’s 304 A320neos–deliveries of which began last October–with its TopFlight flight management system (FMS), along with the Thales/ACSS T3CAS Surveillance platform. ACSS (Aviation Communication & Surveillance Systems) is 70 percent-owned by L3 Aviation Products and 30 percent-owned by Thales.

IFEC’ers, it is almost here – AIX 2017 that is – and we cannot wait. Over the next few issues, IFExpress will be providing a ‘sneak peek’ from a few AIX vendors. Additionally, we have a ‘Special Story’ for the AIX Show Edition – stay tuned and read on!

Aircraft Cabin Systems

ACS is very busy these days with the design on their second-generation 12.1” retractable monitor. Even though their first-generation model was highly accepted in the marketplace, “We are constantly striving to give our customers what they want” says Richie Sugimoto (shown above) including a very robust design offering high value. Customers have appreciated the overall simplicity of the unit, including the lighter weight and less moving parts providing a quieter unit in operational mode. Most importantly, customers love the ease of installation when upgrading their aircraft from older monitors. These units are offered for both the Airbus and Boeing series of aircraft. They are designed for AC power and with HDSDI video input, provide a clear, crisp quality picture. The first-generation retractable monitors utilize a patented, mechanical design developed by Mr. Yukio Sugimoto and was developed to be a mechanical plug-and-play attachment to either the existing B737 PSU’s or for the Airbus planes.

ACS has also been working on a new design of 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) Modular Monitors. This new design concept allows the support of customizable input/output modules, allowing for the unit functionality with a wide variety of IFE systems. This unique design concept can meet the industry multiple demands with adding additional or different modules. This design is in the testing phase and expect production to release product to the marketplace in Q2. Available screen sizes range from 27” up to 75”.

All products are designed and manufactured in their Redmond, WA facility that is an AS9100 Certified facility. ACS will be at the upcoming AIX show in Hamburg, if in the area, stop by and see all of the new technology they are working on at stand 2C30 to discuss your needs.


digEcor

This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg will be unprecedented for Chief Executive David Withers and team as far as depth and breadth of solutions and in an increased presence both in size of booth and team in the IFEC zone, Hall B4 at stand 4E20. digEcor having recently expanded their sales team to include additional resource in the Middle East and Africa Region with the appointment of Eduardo Protasio, (from EuroAtlantic Airways) a new appointment for Asia Pacific in Stu McGraw commencing 27 March (previously QinetiQ and Virgin Australia) as well as Jorge Mompo’s appointment (previously Lumexis) as Sales Director of the America’s since AIX 2016. Headed by VP Global Sales, Paul Thorpe, digEcor are looking forward to what this will mean for the developing growth of the company and are looking forward to introducing this new team to visitors this year.

digEcor has been busy these past 12 months and has a handful of announcements to make at AIX 2017 they are keeping close to their chest. The GLIDE embedded system is making headway in the market as well as the continued success of digEcor’s passenger power for 2.1A USB and 110V power solutions, including pre integrated solutions with innovative seat vendors. Since AIX Hamburg 2016 digEcor has launched four new product lines including Passenger Service Solutions, LED Cabin Lighting, Cabin Management and digEcor’s own Moving Map.

digEcor’s mission to enable all airlines to create an extraordinary travel experience is still personified through their modular, flexible and tailored approach to meet the needs of airlines and vendors alike. The Integrated Flight Experience portfolio is still the only fully integrated system from one single vendor available today comprising GLIDE Embedded and Portable IFE, In-Seat Power, LED Cabin Lighting, Passenger Service Solutions, Cabin Management, Wi-Fi to stream content, ENGAGE application for crew, Tape Replacement and Content Services.

digEcor is showcasing this experience at AIX this year by cabin for Economy, Premium, Business and First class. In partnership with Avio Interiors, Geven Spa, Skypaxx, Thompson Seating and Pitch Aircraft Seating Systems, digEcor is primed to educate visitors by cabin or product, depending on the interest.


FTS New Brand Logo Identity

This past week, FTS proudly launched their new company logo. Here is what they had to say:

Over the past two years, FTS business has grown and evolved. In line with our expansion globally, across U.S. and Europe, as well as the addition of new exciting product range, it’s time for a change!

With a sharp and crisp font and brighter blue used, it is a modernized look which reflects our core values – constantly innovating, cutting-edge technology and revolutionize the business.

Being a newcomer, FTS strives to revolutionize the IFEC industry with new business ideas, innovative product offerings and high quality hardware.

We do not follow the norm. We set ourselves apart. This is what we strive for and we are excited to share that with you.

Our new logo will have its first appearance in AIX 2017.

Check us out and see you at booth 2E34!


AIX

Twenty One products and ideas are in the finals of the 2017 Crystal Cabin Awards, the world’s most renowned prize for innovation in aircraft interiors. From a parking guidance system for cabin baggage to a lavatory mirror that displays on-board video and information as if by magic, the finalists’ submissions include innovative ideas for pretty much every aspect of the cabin – revealing today how we will be flying in the world of tomorrow. In the field of “Cabin Concepts” in particular, the giants are lining up for a showdown: Bombardier, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines are all hoping for a trophy in the same category. With 85 shortlist entrants from 21 nations, the 2017 Crystal Cabin Awards have been more popular and more international than ever before in their 11 years of history. The seven winners of the coveted Crystal Cabin Award trophies will be announced on the first evening of the Aircraft Interiors Expo (4 – 6 April, 2017) in Hamburg, Germany.


Boeing

Boeing and CDB Aviation Lease Finance (CDB Aviation) announced an order for 30 737 MAX 8 airplanes. The order, valued at $3.3 billion at current list prices, was previously unidentified on Boeing’s Orders & Deliveries website. Based in Dublin, Ireland, CDB Aviation operates as a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co LTD (CDB Leasing) (HKEX stock code:1606). With registered capital of $US50 million and a fleet of over 200 aircraft, CDB Aviation has over 10 years’ experience in the business and is one of the largest and most influential Chinese-owned aviation leasing companies.
And while we are on Boeing, keep your eye on the new midsize airplane demand for the companies next new plane. Boeing expects to launch a new larger B737 beyond the B737 MAX by the end of 2017. Also expect it to fall below the B787 passenger payload. The so-called B797 will probably seat from 200 to almost 300 passengers over a range of some 4300 to 5300 nautical miles – in the older B767-200 payload-range footprint. Single vs twin aisle is a big deciding factor as well as competition with their existing B737 fleet and it’s growth. Here is more reading for your airplane interest

Customers Press Boeing To Launch New Midsize Widebody Aircraft Soon | Commercial Aviation content from Aviation Week

Boeing’s Plan For Bigger 737 MAX Meets with Industry Doubts 

Boeing’s talking with airlines about a ‘797,’ and they like what they hear | The Seattle Times

The Boeing 737 MAX Is the Most Underrated Plane of All Time — The Motley Fool


SITA

SITA, recently announced the formation of the Secure Journeys Working Group to address today’s airport security threats in the USA and to work towards creating a secure and efficient passenger experience throughout the airport. The launch of the Secure Journeys initiative is in response to the current security climate and recent attacks on non-secure areas of the airport, including the Brussels airport bombing and Fort Lauderdale airport shooting. Members of the working group cite these incidents as examples that demonstrate the need to rethink the approach to getting passengers through the airport quickly and safely. The newly extended group will address growing challenges, including:

  • Moving passengers and baggage more rapidly through non-secure areas of the airport, such as check-in and baggage claim areas;
  • Reducing and effectively managing security wait times to reduce lines of people in non-secure areas;
  • Incorporating biometrics for passenger screening authentication;
  • Addressing ways in which identity management solutions can be used along with data analytics to reduce the growing concerns around the insider threat.

Bad Aviation Joke: A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at him and says, ‘I’m sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger.’ OK, the worst science joke then: Two hydrogen atoms meet. One says, ‘I’ve lost my electron.’ The other says ‘Are you sure?’ The first replies, ‘Yes, I’m positive.’

PXCom

This week we got a tip-off about a new product that Cyril Jean at PXcom developed for airline inflight content. To start off our discussion with him, we asked for a simple statement of what XPlore is, and he told IFExpress; “A comprehensive on-the-ground solution that generates interactive apps for your IFEC platforms.”  But the real solution is a bit more elegant than that. The true beauty of XPlore is it bares the workload of locating, selecting, developing and providing IFE solutions. Further, we note that their total operation is handled by their SaaS (Software as a Service) model. After we heard more about the program, we thought our readers might like to see how content and advertising providers could take the load off the airlines and we asked Cyril if he would give our readers a few answers to some relevant questions:

Q. What is XPlore?

A: XPlore is an end-to-end solution, focused on destination content, deals & services, that enables content creation, aggregation and management on the ground and automatically generates the inflight apps or updates for the inflight apps, that are aimed at being integrated into the IFEC platforms.

Q. How does it work?

 A: XPlore is divided into a back office, and bespoke inflight apps. On the back office side, we agree with airlines on the kind of content that they want to onboard: interactive destination guides, sponsored content, editorial content, destination deals (activity booking or couponing), destination services (taxi booking, car rental, hotel pre-checking, etc.) Meantime, we create for the airline the interactive experience they want to deliver onboard. That means that we create the app(s) that they want to be integrated into their IFEC platform, whether seatback screen, w-IFE and/or IFC portal, or airline’s app. The GUI is always customized to provide a consistent and seamless experience on the IFE. And automatically, we “populate” the apps with the content updates that are managed on our back office.

At the end, when the aircraft lands, we off-load all the usage data, transactions…and update the dashboard both for the airline, PXCom, and all the involved partners. Except for destination services that require IFC, our technology doesn’t need to rely on any IFC.

Q: So, XPlore is on the plane and on the airline ground data sources – but it looks to also be on your computers to monitor it as well. Can you sort out for our readers what each part does – Airplane, Airline Back Office, and PX Com office computers/monitoring equipment? Do they talk to one another? If so, how?

A: Actually our back office is on a SaaS mode (Software as a Service). There are as many accesses as an involved stakeholder:

  • PXCom has an access to upload and manage all the destination guides contents from the travel guide editor we partner with, as well as the destination deals inventories
  • All the sponsors and advertisers access to upload their promotional content and define the call to action they want (booking/prebooking, landing pages, lead generation form, downloadable coupons, etc.), and monitor the results of their advertising campaigns
  • Each airline we work with, has a dedicated access, both upstream, to manage the content they want to add, clear/ban the advertisers, sponsors, destination service providers – and downstream to monitor the usage data as well as the generated ancillaries.

Then PXCom’s team controls, monitors and manages on the back office the whole content which is ready to be onboarded, and, through a simple click, the team generates the content or content’s update, including the possible GUI changes. All this digital content is then sent to the considered airline’s IFEC through its IFEC manufacturer, and when an aircraft lands, all the relevant data is automatically sent to our back office and feed the usage figures.

Q: Why did you and your team develop XPlore?

 A: Actually, this architecture (on-the-ground back-office “connected” to inflight) was developed for our internal needs, and is part of PXCom’s patented technology. The principle is exactly the same as for regular media (music, movies, digital press) managed by well know CMS (Content Management System), but the big difference is that we only manage digital and interactive content.

Q: Will XPlore work on seatback and personal device alike?

A: Correct. All our solutions are designed to work regardless of the InFlight Entertainment platform (seatback screen, w-IFE, IFC portal, airline mobile app).

Q: Have you developed many airline solutions for XPlore and are airlines interested? 

 A: By AIX we will be integrated on 11 airlines. 100% of what we provide the airlines with, is managed by XPlore and we will welcome all the IFEC industry to booth 3C40B.

Q: OK, XPlore sounds very airline friendly but how will it help airlines?

 A: PXCom is dedicated to both leverage the #PaxEx and generate ancillaries for the airlines. XPlore is a cost-effective solution that introduces a maximum agility both in the GUI and the content management of the inflight apps. For example, should an airline produce for its website some destination tips or editorial content they want to onboard additionally to their interactive inflight destination guides, we just need to connect via an API, and automatically the content produced for its website can be retrieved and aggregated with the rest of the destination content that we onboard.

Regarding the ancillary generation, our technology acts like an aggregator, especially for destination services. Let’s consider an important car rental company. This company has partnerships with X airlines that all have different IFEC platforms. For this car rental company, we create once the inflight app, and rolls it out on all the airlines-partners IFEC/IFC platforms. On the reverse side, for an airline that wants to “populate” its inflight connectivity portal and maximize the ancillary revenues we position as a single technology entry point for all its partners.

Q: That all sounds great but what are airlines doing with your content application solutions?

 A: We have closed a deal with an airline that has chosen to add its own cabin crew tips (specific Points of Interest and/or specific reviews). That means that the airline’s cabin crew management has organized the collection of the tips, and upload them on our back office to be aggregated with the interactive destination guides that we provide.

Another airline has chosen to “plug” its own destination content, initially written for its inflight magazine, to the destination guides we will integrated into both its seatback screens & IFC portal.

Q: Will this product reduce airline costs or provide other benefit like more usage and customer interest data?

 A: All of these! Regarding the costs, we can change the whole content as well as 100% of the GUI of the apps without going through costly software update assessments.

Regarding the customer interest data, when we talk to airlines, we show them the day+1 live monitoring of our apps’ usage data. These data help us in delivering more accurate content, whilst offering “sponsors” the right insights for their inflight digital advertising campaigns

Q: Sounds exciting Cyril, when it be flying?

A: It’s already flying on 160+ aircraft!

(Editor’s Note: The XPlore Main Architects are shown in the picture above but not the whole team were included. Also, be sure to checkout the XPlore Brochure!)

You may contact Cyril via email. Or visit the PXcom website.


Gogo

Gogo has taken its 2Ku performance to the next level, exceeding speeds of 100 Mbps. “When we launched 2Ku, we knew that the performance would get better with our next generation modem and new high-throughput satellites,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s chief technology officer.  “We have capacity on HTS satellites in orbit today and 2Ku’s open architecture allows us to take advantage of satellite innovations over time. We also continue to improve our aircraft hardware – servers, modems, antenna, and wireless access points. This performance achievement demonstrates the progress we’ve made on both fronts.”

Gogo’s new modem upgrades the performance of both its 2Ku and Ku global satellite services. The proprietary features of the new modem significantly increase throughput and reliability to and from the aircraft.  The modem also will support access to streaming video through the internet and live television programming through Gogo’s IPTV product – Gogo TV.

“There are now more than 100 2Ku aircraft flying with our first-generation modem utilizing existing wide-beam satellite technologies. Under these conditions, the technology is already delivering industry leading performance.  With the new modem and HTS satellites, we are setting a very high bar for the industry,” said Michael Small, president and CEO of Gogo. “We are going to deliver this technology upgrade to our airline partners without needing to take an aircraft out of service, which is incredibly important for their operations.”

The new modem will be installed beginning in the second half of 2017. Eventually, it will be installed on more than 1500 2Ku and 250 Ku aircraft across 13 leading airlines.


Lufthansa Systems

The company has developed EASA-certified Lido/SurfaceData database of worldwide obstacles designed for avionics manufacturers and software providers.


Astronics Aerospace

They earned $78m on $534.4m revenues in 2016 vs $85.1m on $549.7m in 2015.


Boeing

They booked orders from unidentified customer(s) for eight 737NGs, 18 737 MAXs (nine converted 737NGs) and five 787s, increasing its 2016 order total to 61 (50 net). Also, they were selected by flydubai to provide data analytics to manage its 737 MAX fleet.


Other

  • ACI reports year-over-year world airport traffic increased 5.5% in 2016. Lets see what 2017 does!
  • Here is why you might want to be Wi-Fi careful in the airport or even on a plane.

Well IFExpress readers, it’s that time again – Aircraft Interiors and here is the story: “This year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) 2017, which takes place in Hamburg, Germany from 4th – 6th April, is the global stage to see the latest innovations and product launches from the world’s leading suppliers in aircraft cabin interiors and Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity. This year, AIX welcomes 55 new exhibiting companies, including Adient, Bombardier and airtango. They will join more than 500 companies at the event including longstanding exhibitors such as; Airbus, B/E Aerospace, Boeing, Inmarsat, Panasonic Avionics and Zodiac and newer entrants such as Acro, and Mirus Aircraft Seating. Across AIX as a whole, 125 companies are expanding their presence taking an additional 3,000 sq. meters between them.”

The show news release went on: “According to the IATA’s 2016 Global Passenger Survey, a key concern for passengers, particularly those under 24, is having the same connectivity in the air as on the ground, highlighting the need for continued airline investment to meet passenger needs. This is reflected in the continued growth of the IFEC Zone. It is now the world’s largest event dedicated to content and service providers. There are 18 new showcasing companies including Philotech, LiteAir Aviation Products and Otonomy Aviation, alongside 100 existing exhibitors in the Zone.”

Last year, over 16,000 folks visited the expo and this year we expect no less. In fact, see what the folks at AIX are saying; “AIX is part of the Passenger Experience Week, which also includes the World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo, co-located with AIX at the Hamburg Messe from 4th – 6th April.  Organized by Reed Exhibitions, some 20,000 visitors are expected to register to attend Passenger Experience Week. The first of the events taking place at the Hamburg Messe during Passenger Experience Week is the renowned Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on 3rd April. The event is dedicated to the future of the passenger experience industry and incorporates a broad choice of presentations and panel discussions on the key themes of generating revenue, the connected journey and comfort and wellbeing. Leading speakers on these topics come from inside and outside the passenger experience industry including Dick Powell, the Chairman of design agency Seymourpowell, Paul Edwards, head of Industrial Design at Airbus and Blake Emery, Direction Differentiation Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes.”

AIX also mentioned: “New to the PEC this year is the Airline Breakfast Forum. This addition presents an opportunity for airline attendees to network, debate informally with their peers about issues relevant to improving the passenger experience in their businesses and to share best practice insights. Attendees at the Airline Breakfast Forum will also be invited to a keynote by Jeff James, vice president and general manager of the Disney Institute.”

Polly Magraw, Event Director of the Aircraft Interiors Expo, noted: “2017 is set to be a landmark year for AIX, with record growth from both new and existing exhibitors, much of it in our burgeoning IFEC zone. With such a wealth of companies exhibiting at the show, and more than 1,000 airline executives expected to attend, it’s no surprise that AIX is becoming firmly established as the event that sets the agenda for the aircraft interiors sector.”

Additionally, we should note that CabinSpace LIVE, a theater style series of seminars where visitors can learn and be inspired on a variety of pressing issues within the IFEC, Interiors and MRO sectors, will also be taking place during AIX. And by the way, Passenger Experience Week also incorporates the 11th annual Crystal Cabin Awards, which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 4th April, with seven award categories that celebrate the most innovative ideas in cabin design and technology.

(Editor’s Note: This is the Big One and we hope our readers come to Hamburg – and for US visitors, we hope you can get back in the USA…”)


QANTAS & NETFLIX

Netflix has announced plans to offer in-flight on-demand entertainment from its app with every Qantas flight, allowing passengers to stream live sports, news and TV shows for three days without a subscription. Qantas passengers on Wi-Fi equipped flights will be able to binge-watch Netflix and stream songs from Spotify. The midair entertainment game-changer will be delivered over high-speed Wi-Fi, which Qantas claimed would be “10 times faster” than its rivals, and will be available on one Boeing 737 late this month, with the rest of the fleet following in June – and yes, you need an App. Also we note that under the scheme, Foxtel television will offer passengers three days of free streaming, while Netflix and Spotify offer 30-day free trials as long as passengers subscribe. By the way, there will be no seat back screens onboard so you will need your own device. Stay Tuned on this one, it could be a world wide game changer.


BIOMETRICS

A new biometrics-based seamless passenger-walkthrough in Schiphol Airport will modernize passenger journey experience in the scope of the ongoing Digital Airport Program. Schiphol Airport selected Vision-Box, the Passenger Experience leaders responsible for processing over 200 million passengers per year at borders worldwide, to take up the challenge. New technology will be tested from 2017 to offer passengers a seamless experience, increase throughput and eliminate bottlenecks, thus enhancing capacity within the existing footprint!


SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE AIRLINES signed LOI to order 19 more (now 49) Trent-powered 787-10s for delivery from FY20/21 and 20 GE9X- powered 777-9s for delivery from FY21/22, and option six 787-10s and six 777-9s. Noted Boeing: “The 787-10 is the third member of the super-efficient, passenger-pleasing 787 Dreamliner family. With its greater passenger and cargo capacity, high degree of commonality and passenger-pleasing features, the 787-10 will complement the family while setting a new benchmark for fuel efficiency and operating economics – 25 percent better fuel per seat and emissions than the airplanes than the competition it will replace. Since its introduction, the 787 Dreamliner has opened more than 130 new city pairs, connecting the world as never before.”


AIRBUS

AIRBUS plans to donate four of its flight test aircraft to the Museum of Air and Space in Paris-Le Bourget and Aeroscopia in Toulouse: A320 (001), A340-600 (360), A380 (002), and A380 (004), which as first of the four will arrive in Paris on Feb 14.


VTS

According to Web Barth: “The world’s largest selling digital player just got even better – VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is introducing a new DVP digital player that will solve problems with videotape drives for entertainment and PRAMS while adding an optional Moving Map.

He went on: “VTS had maintained old videotape players and drives for many airlines around the world since the 1980s and has firsthand experience with the problems & expense of videotape including: Videotape shortages & tape replacement due to video/sound degradation, Videotape Logistics (collecting, accounting, sending/receiving), and the growing videotape player, drive maintenance expense

To solve these problems, VTS introduced the first “Plug and Play” digital drive replacements for all existing VHS Reproducers/Hi8 Players.

“VTS DVP was the first player to meet the ‘form, fit and function’ criteria: “Slide out VHS player, slide in DVP Digital Player, turn new system on. See for yourself, continued Web.

“The new VTS DVP digital player can improve cabin wide video and an audio performance to modern day expectations; eliminate maintenance expense and logistics problems associated with tape drive units. Further it can eliminate the problem of tape driven PRAMS combining the ease of digital audio as well as companion video to go along with the prerecorded announcement and music. They come with a moving map feature to bring the existing IFE to better than new.” VTS believes there is no more affordable or faster means of making an older IFE system better than new. You can contact VTS via webbarth@vts.global.com


INDUSTRY GROWTH

The Airline Monitor expects unprecedented 7-year run of >6% annual growth to soon come to an end; in effect, that above average traffic growth will continue independently, so when it doesn’t – deliveries will have to decline.

(Editor’s Note: IFExpress saw this coming and can you guess what might be the cause?)

 

 

 

 

 

 

APEX/IFSA
The other day, we got a note from Robin Applebaum, APEX Marketing Communication Director we thought you might like to see: “I wanted to reach out to you today with some exciting news from the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the International Flight Service Association (IFSA). This morning, APEX and IFSA announced a more tightly aligned relationship to better serve the global airline industry. This step will help to further solidify APEX as the industry’s most influential member-based organization dedicated to elevating the entire passenger experience; and will help IFSA to grow globally as the pivotal airline association of the catering and in-flight services market. While both APEX and IFSA will remain fully independent, this alliance triggers additional collaboration in the planning of association co-locations and events, joint working groups, reciprocal guest board member attendance at board meetings, as well as now having a common Chief Executive Officer serving both associations.”

When we asked for more background info, she responded: “As I am sure you are aware, APEX and the International Flight Service Association (IFSA), have had a long established ‘sister-association relationship.’ Last week’s announcement only serves to further align the two groups. As part of this strategic relationship, APEX will be leveraging IFSA to represent the foundation of the association’s catering and services sector. “This will not only help the association to grow its footprint, but will also further solidify APEX as the industry’s most influential member-based organization dedicated to elevating the entire passenger experience. For IFSA, aligning with APEX will help them to expand its reach globally, build additional strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations, and establish itself as the industry’s global representative of the growing catering and in-flight/onboard hospitality market.”

“Additionally, the inclusion of more catering and service elements at APEX events will attract greater numbers of senior airline decision makers who oversee this sector as well as IFE by offering a greater diversification of products, services and information. As demonstrated at APEX EXPO in Singapore, this type of approach yields an increase in potential customers for event exhibitors and other vendor participants. Finally, it will help to better position APEX events against the backdrop of assertive for-profit show competition.”


Gogo
“To celebrate the fleet-wide upgrade to their new JAL SKY NEXT product, the airline will start offering free Wi-Fi on all equipped domestic flights from February 1, 2017 till August 31st 2017. Connectivity is provided through Gogo using our satellite Internet technology. You’ll find the SKY NEXT product on select 777 -300, 777-200, 767-300 and 737-800 aircraft. JAL was our first international customer, and we’ve been honored to partner with them since 2014 on connectivity and entertainment for their domestic passengers.

This promotion from JAL is just one of the latest to offer Gogo products and services free to their passengers. Last year, we partnered with T-Mobile to provide free Wi-Fi to their subscribers, and most recently, Alaska Airlines rolled out their Free ChatTM product which lets passengers access popular chat apps like iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp on their smartphone.

In addition to connectivity promotions, we also provide the technology allowing airlines to offer free wireless entertainment to their customers. The product, called Gogo Vision, streams movies and TV shows from our airborne server to most mobile devices, laptops and tablets. Movies and TV shows from Gogo Vision can now be found on more than 2800 aircaft on some the largest airlines in the world. Today, many of Gogo’s airline partners are offering all or some of the content free to passengers.”


AirSatOne
Aviation Satcom provider, AirSatOne, announces lower rates for its SwiftBroadband connectivity. Taking care of customers is a top priority at AirSatOne and one reason why the company maintains a 99% customer retention rate. So when Inmarsat, the leader in global satellite communications, lowered its prices AirSatOne was quick to pass the savings on to its customers.

Customers using AirSatOne as their service provider have access to its custom global network for the same price as the generic network used by the competition. AirSatOne’s custom network includes worldwide teleports and IP PoP (Internet Point of Presence) with advanced network security and our globally deployed Flightstream SA which provides web filtering, compression, consumption tracking and firewall customized for mobile communications.

“We think this is an exciting time for the Satcom market. With more and more operators and executives finding it essential to conduct business and stay in sync with the home office while traveling, we hope reducing airtime charges will encourage more aircraft owners to invest in installing Satcom systems in their aircraft,” says Kremsreiter. Satcom systems work everywhere (except at the poles) so in addition to increasing productivity, Satcom hardware increases the aircraft’s value and worldwide marketability when it comes time to sell.


SITA
Airlines and airports are investing in technologies to help predict and prepare for future events. This is according to The Future is Predictable, a report published today by air transport IT provider, SITA. It outlines how efforts are being made to tackle the estimated US$25 billion[1] cost of flight disruptions to the air transport industry by harnessing artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, predictive analytics and other progressive technical capabilities.

SITA’s analysis reveals that predictive tools using artificial intelligence and cognitive computing are likely to be adopted by half of airlines and airports over the coming five to 10 years. However, a few front runners are already trialing predictive modeling, machine learning, and data mining. These efforts are mainly focused on initiatives that will provide passengers with more relevant information about their journey to create more seamless and personal experiences.

During 2017, SITA Lab will be validating delay predictions with airlines and airports and expects to complete up to five trials with its industry partners. The next stage will be to incorporate its delay prediction algorithm and disruption warning feeds into SITA’s services to the air transport industry. In the report, leading airports and airlines share their experiences including Gatwick Airport where a seamless passenger experience from curb to gate is the goal. Here several different areas of airport activity are tracked to measure performance and move towards predicting it.

As artificial intelligence develops the importance of maintaining the human touch is not lost on the airlines and airports. Indeed, the combination of people and artificial intelligence is described as transforming the travel experience. The science of artificial intelligence is developing quickly and airlines and airports are turning to the academic community to help them with predictive tools to tackle disruptions. SITA’s report discusses research that is being carried out with scientists from Binghamton University, State University of New York; University of Nottingham as part the European Union-funded consortium PASSME; Carnegie Mellon University; Oxford University’s Data Science Laboratory in the Mathematical Institute and University College London School of Management.

The Future is Predictable combines SITA’s global industry experience and studies with commentary and case studies from airports and airlines that are investing in the latest research and technologies.

Check out the full press release here.
For further details download SITA’s full report – The Future is Predictable


Phitek
New Zealand-based audio equipment and technology developer Phitek Systems has been sold to New York-listed Amphenol Corp, providing an exit for a number of domestic VC investors. Phitek’s previous backers include Direct Capital-managed TMT Ventures and Stephen Tindal’s K1W1 investment vehicle. TMT, which has been invested since 2005, has a direct 27 per cent and a 14 per cent holding shared with the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund. Meanwhile, K1W1 owns 39 per cent. Phitek designs and supplies aircraft in-flight entertainment interconnect products for the commercial aerospace industry. You can read more here.


Lufthansa Technik
Luftahansa Technik has announced a two-in-one solution (TIOS) antenna radome for the Boeing 737-700 and -800. The antenna, installed on the vertical stabilizer to reduce drag and positively affect the aircraft’s center of gravity, will make it possible to install Ka-band antennas to provide high-speed internet, TV connections and a high-definition camera. The radome is up to 200 lb. (100 kg) lighter than the original and is FAA validated and has an EASA Supplemental Type Certification. You can find satellite communication options, products, services and companies in MRO Links, MRO-Network.com’s searchable directory.

TIOS – Two antennas under one radome – YouTube


Notes

  • Rich Salter told IFExpress: “Re: data transmission via light (LiFi), I just signed on to Moderate a session at AIX’ Passenger Experience Conference (PEC) on April 3 in Hamburg. It is the Tech Horizons session (last one of the day) in the Connected Journey track, and one of the presenters is Prof Harald Haas of Edinburgh who is founder of PureLiFi  – and he coined the term “LiFi” too.”
  • Richie Sugimoto reports that Aircraft Cabin Systems has just received Certification of ISO9001 and AS9100 – Congratulations!

More Stuff

This issue of IFExpress always always raises a few feathers so let’s get started with some IFExpress predictions, then we will present the inputs from folks who were willing to provide their names, and finally, those who wish to remain anonymous will contribute as well. We should probably note that not all predictions landed in the IFEC category and thus it looks to be an interesting year – and things just might change anywhere!

IFExpress 2017 Predictions

  1. Narrower aircraft seats are coming in 2017, especially in newer low class offerings where only certain sized carry-on baggage will be permitted – smaller and surely less comfortable as well. We already know United Airlines has a new low cost Basic Economy package that will be copied by others. The rub will be what limitations will be placed on passengers who do not have the airline reward travel card! Hey, many folks can travel short flights and put up with almost anything. It is all a function of what they have to take with them. And yes, it will be in the back of the plane.
  2. More colored cabin environments will be here in 2017, but also as a result of new LED lighting in the plane – probably more blue! [We note: A recent Boeing study concluded that passengers will perceive that the airplane is cleaner, more comfortable, newer, and with better air and more room, all with the correct lighting. Even one German university test proved while flying with light that contains increased red, (not blue) light components, is more calming and cause less passenger stress.]
  3. We cannot say this enough but Data will be the big deal in 2017, whether it is an airline examining their routes with a goal for less fuel, to using social media to communicate directly with passengers or even potential travelers, to connection with the aircraft for more inflight system information for operation or security. OK, this is not much of a surprise!
  4. Some folks predict that light will be used to deliver connectivity. However, with all the issues involved with outside solar, safety lighting, and other sources of interference (Hasn’t this been tried earlier?), we think otherwise. Anyway, Bluetooth as a connectivity radio frequency has slipped under the radar and since most connectivity devices have the capability and the corporate jet world has adopted it, we expect an inflight commercial airline installation this year. With Bluetooth 5.0 alive there may be even more interest in a Bt connectivity solution. Hey, 4X range, 2X speed, and 8X capacity, and no power increase, what’s not to like?”
  5. Watch for an airline to test ground-based, high bandwidth 2.4 GHz, directed connectivity service like those proposed for SmartSky and Gogo. This is more of a 2017 sure thing than a prediction.
  6. We fear aviation manufacturing layoffs, let’s see what happens there but don’t look for that job just yet. The layoff scenario has already started at Boeing, who is downsizing to the tune of some 8,000 employees, and could reach 10% there. Airbus is next after production continues for a bit.
  7. Maintenance of aircraft will see more outsourcing, new technology products like AI and voice technology used in maintenance products, and more consolidation in the MRO world (Maintenance Repair Overhaul).
  8. While we hope it does not happen, but be very concerned that a hacker doesn’t get aboard a plane this year, transmit a fake Wi-Fi service and install a lot of ransomware (like doxware) on folks trying to get Wi-Fi service. In 2017 it is a possibility and be sure you know how to get online when onboard!
  9. What’s next for future SATCOM? How about Q/V bands: 33 – 75 GHz?  If the FCC auctions get it together, perhaps even 14 GHz has a chance?
  10. We shy away from talking about aircraft control hacking, but have you thought about hackers using a DDoS attach or ransomware on an airline reservation system – might happen?
  11. The Boeing 787 will finally get the proper acclaim that it is the only commercial jet airplane where cabin/crew air is taken directly from the atmosphere with electrically powered compressors and not from engine ‘bleed air’! The health guru’s will help.
  12. Cybercrime damages will continue to grow (costing the world $6 trillion annually by 2021), up from $3 trillion last year; ransomware will be the fastest growing threat in terms of new attacks and costs. Global spending on cybersecurity products and services will exceed $1 trillion cumulatively over the next 5 years from 2017 to 2021. Easy procurement of cheap IoT devices or Wi-Fi enabled products introduces a serious level of risk — of which many people are unaware. As one expert noted: “Transportation systems may be immobilized.” Or, as another one said: “My second prediction for 2017 is that cyber personnel will become a rare commodity like we have never seen before. Organizations have received the message, and are staffing and investing, but that demand generates a supply that is not available.” Don’t you think there will be plenty of openings in aviation security in 2017? We do!
  13. Lastly, as strange as it seems, “a self-driving” aircraft concept for passenger planes will be talked about this year – perhaps just for parcel delivery but projects like ALIAS are just the beginning.

Named 2017 Reader Predictions

Here are our reader IFEC predictions and we start of with those from APEX CEO, Joe Leader:

  1. Connectivity announcements and deployment will hit a new high for the industry.
  2. In-flight entertainment continues its expansion with more global IFE system installations and upgrades.
  3. Airline passenger experience will become less siloed inside of airlines as carriers look for greater market differentiation.
  4. On flights without built-in IFE or connectivity, “Near-FI” solutions offering, entertainment will become much more common. This will escalate in particular on low-cost carriers looking to differentiate their products.
  5. In-flight advertising will see the beginning of a new age of renaissance.
  6. The Internet of Things (IoT) will broaden from case-studies on aircraft to first tangible implementations.
  7. With the Bluetooth 5.0 specification released, we will see first announcements about Bluetooth connectivity to IFE in future products.
  8. Long-haul business class will enter a new era just as British Airways introduced the first lie-flat for business class in 1999.  We could call it the suite era or the privacy era.  This period will begin this year marked by increasing level of suite-like privacy on long-haul business class products.  It will be initiated by visionary airlines in different manners and progress to a new bar for long-haul business class passenger experience over the next two decades.

Next, from Henry Chen Weinstein at Cockpit Innovations we have:

“I think 2017 in Tech will be about the upcoming implications of new technology on our current way of work. The [changing] place of startups in our space as more players understand the value of innovation on a global scale. Establishing new ways to take our aviation business forward.”

Here is the prediction note from John Courtright at SIE:

“I predict that the Modular Cabin Concept will generate a lot more attention from airline operators.  The ability to transform a commercial aircraft from a “domestic” (2-Class) configuration to an “international” configuration (3-Class) on an overnight or less using palletized modules to swap out interiors will generate great interest from operators.  Aside from the aircraft utilization flexibility, the Modular Cabin Concept will generate increased operational revenue (ROI) from a given aircraft asset by allowing the operator to customize their service level to different markets at a relatively low cost.”

Rich Salter, now with FTS chimed in with:

“All the talk about the death (or not) of seatback IFE is not the relevant question: the real interesting question is where will displays be located next – on the wrist, on entire seatbacks, baggage bins, sidewall of fuselage, VR or immersive glasses, etc., not to mention non-cabin locations like cockpit, baggage, lounges, etc.  They could be thin as paper, and could be foldable/rollable (as are OLEDs).  They will consume extremely low power and be fed data via wireless (WiFi). Smartwatches are only the beginning. In summary, advances in wireless streaming and display tech will lead to some fascinating implementations of IFE displays in unconventional places!”

Todd Hamblin at Global (GADC) told IFExpress in 2017:

  1. The Wireless IFE market will continue to grow, with Portable Wireless IFE being a subset for those ultra-low cost carriers.
  2. Companies based in China will become a larger part of the IFE and Connectivity landscape.
  3. An airline will attempt to install a Portable Wireless IFE system on their aircraft without permission from the FAA or EASA even though the server contains Lithium Ion batteries and might interfere with existing aircraft systems.
  4. The FAA will be impacted and safety compromised by the changing political climate.
Next, we asked Ron Chapman, President/Founder ASI, and he told IFExpress:

“I predict that the first elastic virtual servers will creep into the cabin on airliners and it just might be Bluetooth that drives it. Elastic devices are the latest generation of server that expands and contracts based on demand. It’s a floating platform that can replicate itself in virtual space.”

Kelvin Boyette CEO of Latitude Aero observes:

  1.  Mergers will dominate 2017, allowing the larger multi-national companies to offer a menu of turnkey services to both airlines and aircraft OEMs.
  2. 2017 will be the year that seat refurbishment emerges from its “niche” status. New products, such as IFE and ISPS, are emerging faster than new seat OEMs can get them into the seat, so the refurbishment centers are where the airlines will turn to offer the most up to date, modern, passenger experience to their clientele.
  3. Both BYOD and embedded IFE will flourish. I do not believe only one will succeed. Both will explode this year.

Michael Reilly, VP Entertainment Services, Arconics – A ViaSat Company notes:

  1. My key prediction for the year is that those airlines who don’t take the step into connectivity in 2017 will certainly take steps on the ‘path to connectivity’ – and there’s a couple of different ways to define that… I think a lot of airlines apart from the obvious cost barrier to entry to connectivity are waiting for other developments – competitive and even marketplace ie: changes to the vendor side of the industry – be that product, pricing etc.
  2. Naturally as we get more airlines closer to connectivity, security is becoming a hot topic, as is bigger and better use of data.
  3. Another prediction is that effective use of data will help break down the traditional siloing that has always gone on in the airline business and that’s exciting.
  4. I’d sum up my prediction by saying that 2017 is ‘finally’ the year where. Connectivity, Wireless and Mobile finally made the strides forward that moved the needle on the bottom line for airlines.

Craig Foster of Valour Consultancy said:

  1. We will see one of the in-flight connectivity service providers acquired by a much larger company. Additionally, we’ll also see at least one wireless in-flight entertainment vendor snapped up by someone with much more clout.
  2. The number of aircraft with in-flight connectivity systems installed and activated will surpass 7,000 by the end of the year. Regions aside from North America will continue to witness strong growth and we will likely see another carrier based in Latin America announce connectivity plans before long (in addition to Avianca Brasil and GOL).
  3. More and more airlines will announce plans to deploy IFE systems that allow passengers to pay their personal electronic devices to the main screen in an effort to match expectations around second screening and to better personalise the experience.

Unnamed 2017 Reader Predictions

We start off with predictions from a “Cabin Solution Provider”:

  1. The exponential growth of cabin Wi-Fi usage within the confines of the same aircraft will lead to more congestion in the cabin. One prediction says that passenger data to and from aircraft will more than quadruple in 2017. We knew that something like this was coming. However, what’s new is the speed at which this is happening.
  2. In 2017 the speed of the PED-pull in terms of passenger experience, apps etc. will increase even further. It certainly will be very much faster than the gentle ambling in which many of the aircraft hardware-push industry players are used to operate.

Another few from another Unnamed Predictor:

  1. Low cost carrier mergers and acquisitions will accelerate globally.
  2. With airline capacity surpassing global market demand, this will be a year including news of airline deferments and reductions.  The exception to this rule will be in next-generation aircraft connecting previously unconnected city pairs.  For the industry, this will be a relatively landing.
  3. Airlines in a more challenging global environment that raise their passenger experience will outperform carriers that focus on reducing passenger experience to reduce costs.

And lastly, still another Unnamed Predictor told IFExpress:

  1. Hacking the Baggage Systems at major hubs will occur to misdirect luggage?
  2. Hacking will occur to shut down refueling facilities at major airports.
  3. Hackers will find a way to infect the IFE system to download passenger data and airline sales information direct from the aircraft, putting at liability Airlines and IFE suppliers.  Class Action suit to follow.  Revenue streams will be jeopardized for both airlines, IFE suppliers and product/service providers accordingly.
  4. All economy seats on American / Domestic airlines will follow the pay as you go scheme:  everything short of the toilets will be ‘pay to play’:  boarding sequence; stowable baggage; check-in bags; food; drink; entertainment; EVERYTHING.
  5. Donald Trump’s administration will make significant progress to privatize government agencies and systems – a la Russian Model – Air Traffic Control will be privatized and sold off; FAA will be privatized; and the Space Programs under NASA will also be spun off.  If not in this coming year, the effort may take at least part of his first term. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress apologizes to this predictor as we just did not have the space (nerve?) to post all the input – Sorry!).

Thank you to everybody who contributed and we close with the words of Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Dallas, Texas | December 13, 2016– Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) is committed to enhancing the inflight Customer experience and improving connectivity on Southwest® flights across the U.S. and near international destinations. This commitment is demonstrated with the carrier’s announcement today that it has entered into connectivity agreements with Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) and Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE). The agreement with Panasonic provides for their Global Communications Services, which include WiFi and live television, to be offered on a portion of the carrier’s fleet, with the first Panasonic equipped aircraft scheduled to enter service in late 2017. The agreement with GEE extends the carrier’s use of the company’s Airconnect connectivity system and services. Both of the agreements support Southwest’s focus on yielding greater WiFi bandwidth available to Customers on WiFi-equipped aircraft.

Southwest’s agreements with Panasonic and GEE align with next year’s planned retirement of the carrier’s non-WiFi-equipped 737-300 Classic aircraft and the introduction of the new Boeing 737-8 (MAX). By the end of 2017, Southwest Airlines is targeting to operate a 100 percent WiFi-equipped fleet of more than 700 aircraft.

“As the largest domestic airline in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded, carrying more than 100 million Customers a year, we are committed to providing an enhanced inflight experience for our Customers,” said Ryan Green, Vice President Marketing for Southwest Airlines. “We’ve led the way in Customer experience, being the first U.S. carrier to offer gate-to-gate connectivity to our Customers while having the foresight that Customers prefer to use their own devices to stay connected. Going forward, our Customers will have the capability to stay connected on Southwest Airlines flights with even more bandwidth at their disposal.”

The Customer experience with connectivity remains a top priority for Southwest. Southwest’s agreements with GEE and Panasonic demonstrate the Company’s focus to keep Customers connected to what matters most in their lives, especially onboard their Southwest flights. In mid-2017, Customers will be able to browse the Internet at increased speeds as a result of an expected bandwidth increase of at least three times more than what they currently experience, with an additional expected bandwidth increase in mid-2018. Connectivity speeds are expected to increase, and Southwest plans to develop relationships with content providers to bring even more exclusive content to its Customers while on flights.

“We are pleased to extend and grow our relationship, including continuing to install GEE’s Airconnect system, WiFi and television services on Southwest Airlines aircraft,” commented Dave Davis, CEO of Global Eagle. “We’re committed to continuously improving the inflight connectivity experience for Southwest’s passengers with our next-generation high performance network, our live television portfolio, and our new passenger experience platform. Global Eagle’s new agreement and contract extension with Southwest Airlines highlights our long-term commitment to enhancing inflight entertainment and connectivity.”

Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic Avionics said, “We are both honored and excited to partner with Southwest on a program of this size and magnitude. Over the past year, we’ve been rolling out industry-leading high throughput satellite services, and we’re already evaluating new technologies such as XTSTM (Extreme Throughput Satellite) services, new modem designs and cutting-edge antenna technology that will ensure the best possible WiFi and entertainment experience for our customers and their passengers. We look forward to being a valued partner for both WiFi and entertainment services with Southwest for many years to come.”

“Panasonic has a longstanding reputation within the inflight entertainment and connectivity space and we are excited for them to join our inflight experience. Global Eagle Entertainment has been the inflight connectivity provider for Southwest over the past six years and has continued to grow with our business, extending connectivity to millions of our Customers annually,” Green said. “We are pleased to have both partners helping to provide an improved inflight experience over the next 18 months as we continue to see an increase in demand for inflight WiFi connectivity.”

Customers will continue to enjoy the current onboard entertainment offerings they experience with Southwest today, such as free live TV and $8 per device per day for WiFi connectivity across all WiFi-equipped planes.

  • Inmarsat Aviation’s high speed broadband a “world-class” solution for one the world’s leading carriers

New Zealand and the United Kingdom | December 7, 2016– Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, today announced that it has signed a contract with Air New Zealand to provide Global Xpress (GX) connectivity across the airline’s long-haul and short-haul fleets. GX for Aviation, the world’s first globally available high-speed broadband network designed for mobility, will be deployed by Air New Zealand to deliver a reliable, seamless broadband in-flight Wi-Fi experience across the world.

“We’re very excited about working with Air New Zealand. They’re an innovative organisation and have taken a fresh approach to finding the right connectivity partner,” says Inmarsat Aviation president Leo Mondale.
“GX for Aviation is the only in-flight broadband solution that is fast, reliable and truly consistent, with seamless coverage across the world provided by a single operator. Our focus is on ensuring customers enjoy a frictionless inflight broadband experience,” continued Leo Mondale.

Air New Zealand’s Chief Digital Officer, Avi Golan, said “We wanted a world-class solution that would meet the high expectations of our customers, offering both a consistent and reliable service. We then spent time testing the GX live experience on Honeywell’s B757 test aircraft, as part of Inmarsat Aviation’s global test tour. We‘ve been monitoring the developments in inflight connectivity for some time and with GX, we believe we will be able to offer broadband on-board in innovative ways that will further set Air New Zealand apart as one of the world’s leading airlines.”

For the first time, GX for Aviation connectivity will be integrated with Air New Zealand’s Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system provided by Panasonic. This was specifically requested by Air New Zealand and all parties have embraced the opportunity to come together to meet their needs.

GX for Aviation is the ideal solution for Air New Zealand. The global nature of the GX network means that Air New Zealand’s ultra-long-haul routes, across the Pacific and on to the United Kingdom are covered, whilst the ability to layer-in capacity over Air New Zealand’s key regional destination hubs, such as the East Coast of Australia, will ensure that the customer experience will be of consistently high quality.

The first GX-equipped aircraft are expected to begin proving flights in the second half of 2017, with services progressively available on Tasman, Pacific and long-haul fleets from the end of next year. It is anticipated that domestic routes will be added to the connected fleet from 2018.

Air New Zealand is joining a growing fleet of airline customers who have chosen GX, including Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Singapore Airlines.

Telefonix PDT:

Telefonix PDT(TM) announced that they now have an STC for  Boeing 737NG – 700, 800 & 900 aircraft types for both the CabinPinnacle(TM) server and CabinACe(TM)wireless access point. The STC was just awarded prior to APEX in Singapore, and we understand that Kaiser Charter was the first installation completed in October. This STC represents the first phase of certifications and it is our understanding that phase 2 will include the CabinEdge(TM) content loader. The content loader works while the aircraft is in service and data is trickled, loading into shadow memory, and eventually ending up in the operational memory as the update is installed. Telefonix PDT is also working on garnering a similar STC for the A320 aircraft family. The STC/PMA was strategically planned to grow the company’s customer base for the 737 in the Asia region. The airlines have the data rights to use the system, with the hardware being sold, not leased. Lest you forget, Telefonix(TM) has had a long standing relationship with production in China; and, in 2017, the company has plans to establish a repair station in China, in addition to their current repair station in Waukegan, Illinois. One point that was stressed in our interview at APEX was that Telefonix PDT is not just an equipment provider, but a design and engineering services provider as well. (Editor’s Note: IFExpress has watched Telefonix PDT grow over the past 20+ years and we feel that they have developed excellent, low-cost IFE system components and the China relationships, as well as their involvement with many hardware manufactures within the industry, is proof of this. You should watch this company in the coming year – we think they are going to grow!)


Industry News:

  • Panasonic

Have you heard about the Panasonic Blog? We asked Panasonic how it came about and here is what a spokesperson said: “Matthias Walter and Estel Carbo worked very hard on this and have a plan that we thinks helps give more insights into the IFEC landscape.” Matthias Walther, Senior Manager of Integrated Marketing at Panasonic Avionics said, “Marketing these days has many facets. Hard sales has its place in marketing too but in an industry as relationship-driven as ours it’s essential to engage in a dialog that is more about education than promotion, more about solutions than product and more about value than price. Of course we will occasionally talk about us and what we bring to the table but only if we and what we write adds value to the daily lives of our customers will our blog be successful.”  Noted Panasonic: “One of the business principles of Panasonic’s founder Knosuke Matsushita describes customer focus always trumping sales concerns. In that spirit our blog intends to drive knowledge, our relationship with our customers and the quality of decision making in one direction, UP. Check it out here.

Panasonic Weather Solution

Panasonic Avionics Corporation and Safety Line unveiled a strategic partnership that will enable airlines to benefit from significant fuel savings. Panasonic Weather Solutions (PWS) provides Safety Line with enhanced global weather forecast through real-time weather data collection from its TAMDAR sensors and FlightLink Iridium system. TAMDAR data provides observations of wind, temperature, and moisture every five seconds as TAMDAR-equipped aircraft descend and ascend at nearly 300 airports across North America. It also collects about 3,500 profiles each day from several hundred additional airports located in East Asia, the Pacific, and Europe. This data is used by Panasonic’s Forecasting Center of Excellence (FCoE), which develops detailed station-based weather forecasting, as well as enhanced weather forecasting. The process is fully automated from the weather live feed to flight plan analysis and climb schedule issuance to the pilot. Airlines can reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 percent during ascent thanks to OptiClimb’s unique patented solution, which uses a combination of machine learning performance models for each individual aircraft, and the computing of optimized climb profiles issued ahead of each flight.

Also check this link The Connected Aircraft (Part I) – Curating the Internet of Me – UP – Panasonic Avionics Blog if you want to know a bit more about the connected aircraft.

  • Inmarsat

We should note that Hawaiian Airlines has experienced the benefits of SwiftBroadband-Safety delivered through Cobham advanced AVIATOR avionics and has now chosen to expand its commitment to high speed broadband in the flight deck with its A321neo. But to see the features that are provided, you must check out this Inmarsat Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System feature download – this is the future of aviation safety and you need to check it out!

  • Boeing

The FAA issued a new rule that forces Boeing 787 operators to periodically shut down and restart airplane power that reboots onboard computers to overcome a glitch that shuts down flight control computers during flight! Finding and fixing this “inconsistency” will be very, very interesting. Stay Tuned!

  • Satellite 2017

Be a part of the world’s largest gathering of the international satellite community. Taking place in Washington, D.C. March 6-9, 2017 the SATELLITE 2017 Conference and Exhibition don’t miss this opportunity to hear from executive speakers from commercial airlines, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Air Force!

  • THE ‘Donald’

Donald Trump says the new Air Force One contract should be cancelled! Perhaps Airbus will make a better offer? Then Boeing put this news release out – Boeing Statement on Air Force One – Dec 6, 2016 Or, you might want to read the following story from Gizmodo – beware there are x-rated words, so watch out!

  • Other

If you have been wondering where IoT and cloud computing are going, one answer is ‘physically portable data’. This is going to be one of the markets of the next generation cloud because of security and access as large (and now medium) data portability and cloud interaction become involved. We suspect that the airlines will see value in this if hacking gets any worse Amazon Cloud Gets A Bit More Hybrid  This just may be one futures of the medium and big data cloud storage and security.

In-Flight hook-ups now supported with AirDates “This is achieved using Multipeer WiFi between smartphones, eliminating the need to rely upon the Plane’s WiFi network or other connection.” Check it out here –  but you might need the Trusted Contacts app as well.


Quick Study: Millennials

While in Singapore, we heard one word over and over – millennial- so we thought after the show we would do the research on who they are and why they are so important to some industries. While this quick bit of data is just a speed read, we think the answers are telling and important to IFEC, especially C (Communications).

First what is a millennial? It is a person ‘reaching young adulthood around the year 2000’ the dictionary said.  Noted Goldman Sachs: “The Millennial generation is the largest in US history and as they reach their prime working and spending years, their impact on the economy is going to be huge. Millennials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization and economic disruption. That’s given them a different set of behaviors and experiences than their parents.They have been slower to marry and move out on their own, and have shown different attitudes to ownership that have helped spawn what’s being called a ‘sharing economy.’ They’re also the first generation of digital natives, and their affinity for technology helps shape how they shop. They are used to instant access to price comparisons, product information and peer reviews.” Further, a company called iGR interviewed and surveyed millennials to get their views on communication and technology and here is what they said: “As the largest and highly communication-tech-savy generation; they are at the epicenter of our curiosity to drive decision-making for the next wave of innovation in infrastructure. Take note! The most successful service providers over the next 5-10 years will be those who best understand the emerging generations communication behavior, accurately anticipate core service wants and needs, proactively adapt and adjust business strategies, and finally, provide the most relevant solutions and services.” That about says it all and explains why the word ‘millennial’ was so popular in Singapore, especially with those who dealt with communications, connectivity, and cost!

  • The industry leader in wireless in-flight platforms since 2014 in Europe, Immfly, is already providing airlines a game changer autonomous system in the rapidly growing In-flight Entertainment & Connectivity market

Barcelona, Spain | November 24, 2016– Pioneering the IFE-C Market in Europe since its launch with Iberia Express two years ago, Immfly, owning an STC for A320 and A330 aircraft, offers airlines a unique solution ready to be installed in just one night. Its unprecedented system, currently operational on three airlines, consists of one server, several WAPs and one switch in the cockpit, and proves to autonomously upgrade and download the content and the software every time the aircraft lands. The company, having achieved an industry first with its technological approach, steadily responds to the market demands and sustains its position as the industry’s prefered wireless solution in Europe.

“One of the key reasons that brought us to partner with Immfly was its unique operations management value proposition, which leaves the airline a margin of any manoeuvre” states Ricard Falomir, CIO from Iberia Express. “Upon landing the system automatically connects to the Cloud to download passenger data and process payment transactions. With Immfly onboard we just have to make sure that the hardware is on, the rest is successfully managed either by their operations team or by the system itself”.

Moreover, Immfly substantiates that connectivity is just around the corner. “According to how the market is taking shape, we propose airlines a flexible 2 step approach with no operational disruption: First Wireless IFE and then Wireless IFE & Connectivity” says Alfredo Ibáñez, CTO of the Barcelona based company, Immfly. “Given that our product is compatible with most connectivity operators and integrators, adding a connectivity system to an Immfly equipped aircraft involves a seamless integration with significant cost benefits and technological synergies”.

  • Performance and Ease of Accessibility Offered by First Intelsat EpicNG Satellite Enable Gogo to Begin Immediate Delivery of Improved Infight Wi-Fi for Passengers

Luxembourg | November 17, 2016– Intelsat (NYSE: I), operator of the world’s first Globalized Network, powered by its leading satellite backbone, announced that Gogo (NASDAQ: GOGO), the global leader in providing broadband connectivity solutions and wireless entertainment to the aviation industry, has signed an agreement for services on the Intelsat 29e satellite.

Gogo will use high-throughput services from the first satellite in the global Intelsat EpicNG network to deliver inflight Wi-Fi service to passenger airplanes operating in the heavily traveled North Atlantic route. The connectivity provided by Intelsat 29e, which began operations earlier this year, will deliver bridge services for Gogo until Intelsat 32e becomes operational in 2017. Intelsat is also providing Gogo with IntelsatOne managed services via its Mountainside, Maryland teleport.

In March 2016, Gogo signed an agreement for Intelsat to deliver next generation in-flight connectivity services via multi-layered Ku-band services on the Intelsat EpicNG satellites combined with OneWeb’s planned low earth orbit satellite constellation. Coverage will include high-performance connectivity provided by Intelsat 32e, Intelsat 33e and Horizons 3e.

“The performance of the Intelsat EpicNG satellites demonstrates the value of high-throughput satellite technology,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “When factoring in the ease of integration to Intelsat EpicNG services, we opted to begin services with Intelsat 29e immediately and transition to Intelsat 32e when it becomes operational. We look forward to expanding our reach as more Intelsat EpicNG satellites become available.”

Intelsat 33e will expand Gogo’s services across Europe, the Middle East and Asia when it begins service in the first quarter of 2017 at 60° East, and the Horizons 3e spacecraft will create a true global HTS service for Gogo when it begins operations over the Asia-Pacific region in 2018.

“Intelsat is delivering on the promise of HTS with Intelsat EpicNG, with a unique design that provides immediate improvement in performance of up to 165 percent,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler. “Customers are easily transitioning to the platform, validating our backwards-compatible, open-architecture design, and this enables Gogo to begin delivering broadband-enabled inflight Wi-Fi services in the North Atlantic today. We’re proving every day that the higher performance, improved economics and simplified access delivered by Intelsat EpicNG position aeronautical service providers to rapidly scale networks on a global basis, while staying ahead of explosive data-performance requirements.”

  • Nesma Airlines is AirFi’s first Middle East airline customer and the 21st overall
  • The carrier will deploy AirFi’s Wireless IFE solution on its A320 and A321 aircraft
  • The solution will launch with Nesma in six weeks

Singapore | October 26, 2016– Market-leading Wireless IFE provider AirFi is proud to announce the signing of its first customer in the Middle East – and twenty-first customer globally – Nesma Airlines.

Nesma plans to deliver a streaming IFE solution to passengers flying on its Airbus A320 family aircraft in November this year, less than six weeks from contract signature. With over 20 airline customers flying with the AirFi solution every day, the AirFi team is experienced in enabling such speedy fleet-wide deployments of its system.

AirFi’s fully-featured portable Wireless IFE platform allows passengers to access DRM and non-DRM movies and TV shows, games, chat, duty free and post-flight shopping and daily updated news and social feeds. To provide such a wide range of content, the company currently works with over fifty content providers both big and small, including its official regional partner, Onboard International.

Furthermore, AirFi’s acquisition of a European technology firm earlier in 2016 means passengers can also play with a state-of-the-art 3D moving map. This new feature showcases numerous points of interest and offers the opportunity for geo-fenced advertising.

Passengers can access the content using their personal electronic devices to connect to a free onboard Wi-Fi network created by the AirFi boxes, which are positioned throughout the cabin in overhead bins. AirFi will initially offer Nesma’s passengers content in English, with the roll-out of Arabic-language content due soon after the solution goes live.

AirFi CEO, Job Heimerikx, comments, “We are delighted to welcome Nesma to the AirFi family and to open up another new region here in the Middle East with our partner Onboard International. We are dedicated to a continuous program of passenger experience enhancements and ensuring that the AirFi platform leads the market as the best-in-class hard and software solution for safety, performance, cost and speed of deployment.”

Martijn Moret, AirFi’s Chief Innovation Officer and Director of Operations in Asia, adds, “We’re very proud to announce our first Middle East airline customer, because it’s a new territory for us. It’s a tangible result of our expansion in focus from solely Europe out to the rest of the world.”
AirFi made the decision to expand its global reach earlier this year. So far, it has eighteen European customers, as well as one carrier based in the Philippines and one based in Mexico. Moret also hinted that further confirmed customer announcements could be expected before the end of the year.

Newport Beach, CA | October 26, 2016– FTS Technologies Inc. today announce that their revolutionary Cabin Wireless Solution has been selected by an undisclosed North American airline for installation on their fleet of B737’s. Launching in Q1 of 2017, passengers on both charter and commercial flights will enjoy FTS’ newest and premium entertainment option.

“We are delighted to be working with FTS to introduce Cabin Wireless Solution on our B737 fleet,” said the airline executive. “We are committed to delivering superior customer service and exceeding passenger satisfaction so adding FTS next generation IFE will allow us to achieve that standard.”
FTS Cabin Wireless Solution is completely designed and manufactured in-house within the organization. The system features a high performance 2-MCU embedded file server, 2 wireless access points that support the latest 802.11ac standard and a revolutionary 3G/4G cellular modem that takes up to 4 sim cards. Passengers can connect to the onboard wireless network through their own mobile devices and enjoy streaming HD-quality video and audio entertainment, play single/multiplayer games, read latest news, view 2D/3D flight progress maps and indulge in shopping.

“We are very excited to secure our first launch airline customer in the Americas region and we look forward to partner them to immerse their passengers into a whole new level of service and onboard entertainment,” said Mr. Duan Shiping, President and CEO of FTS. “We are working closely with the airline and FAA to apply for STC (Supplemental Type Certification) approval. With the expected issue of STC in early 2017, that will start opening up new opportunities worldwide and establish ourselves as a respectable global player.”

  • The European leader focused on revenue services, eCommerce onboard and Newsfeed, Immfly, lands on its first Apex Award, and is finalist for the Best In-Flight Connectivity Innovation

APEX EXPO, Singapore | October 25, 2016– Being its first time participating in the Awards, Immfly’s wireless solution received double recognition during the ceremony held at the 2016 APEX Expo in Singapore. Selected by a number of industry professionals, the Spanish company was announced finalist for the Best In-Flight Connectivity Innovation category, and additionally won The Newcomer of the Year Award, designed to recognize a unique achievement successfully implemented in the past year.

This year, with more than 100 qualified entries, the Apex Awards program expanded from two to eight categories to embrace the high number of competitive submissions. A panel of industry peers judged entries and selected those airlines and / or vendor partners that had recently launched an innovative and brand new product or service. Immfly’s digital solution, which is the only one in Europe that offers tailored, quality, content-rich platforms specialised in revenue optimisation, was recognized as one of those products. Moreover, this Award comes on the heels of a year of milestones, new airline partnerships, and opened maritime market.

“We are delighted about having received two recognitions at once since it sets our solution as a game-changer on both a national and an international scale, shining a spotlight on what differentiates us from the competition” states Jimmy M. von Korff, co-founder of the Spanish company, who was present at the ceremony and collected the price. “Moreover, it has an exclusive motivational effect on the team and our partners, as it recognizes their hard work and celebrate success”.
The Barcelona based company is currently at the 4-day premier event in Singapore, meeting regional and global airlines to discuss the latest strategies and technology in the air travel industry, committed to elevating the airline passenger experience, and getting closer to their objective of becoming the travel industry’s favorite on-board monetization partner, reaching 100 million connected passengers by 2018.

The top global mega-trends in airline travel clearly define the present and future of aviation travel today and a few of the changing keywords and phrases are defining terminology that drove the Singapore APEX show: Connectivity, Innovation, Individual Empowerment, and Productivity are just a few of the terms that stood out to us. Another way to put it is basically travelers are using technology to improve their travel experience, lifestyles, and their world in general. Makes sense! In fact, “Connected” was probably the most commonly used word and we heard and saw it in action all over the show, in the city offices/buildings/shops, and in travel – folks have their smartphones and tablets out everywhere and find them more interesting than just about anything around them. But more importantly, this connected, informational lifestyle change has affected the future of travel locally and internationally. You had better believe folks like the airlines, retailers, and Google see that connectivity is the future.

CONNECTIVITY & TRAVELING TODAY

The APEX Conference in Singapore clearly demonstrated that connectivity is the heart of travel by Millennials and the rest of the device focused population.  Interestingly, some 40% of passengers carry all 3 devices – laptop, smartphone and tablet – and, yes, we did the same! One expert noted that some 83% of passengers carry a smartphone onboard while over 50% of passengers value onboard Wi-Fi as a key criteria in airline choice. This certainly explains the unofficial show focus on the subject of travel connectivity. It is what is needed and so it is what’s happening.

Mobile services are becoming a big deal: an amazing 57% of travelers are using self-service for check-in and some 89% are aiming to implement mobile check in and boarding by the end of 2016. And there is no end to the airline apps that provide utility and reward for uploading. One technical meeting even tried to sort out all the data communication and ticketing communication issues that exist because every airline and ticket information collection effort is different and standards are in need of development.

Make no mistake, connectivity is a big deal today but it is about to get even bigger. Presently, some 4,982 airplanes are “connected” aircraft, but by 2025 there will be 16,560 connected aircraft, and when we refer to the connected aircraft we mean passenger connectivity and airline operations data as there are already connections to and from the flight deck for pilots and flight critical information. Further, reported digital ancillary revenues are tracking connectivity growth. For example, one speaker reported that in 2015 revenues were $40.5 Billion and by 2020 they are predicted to reach $130 Billion!

Today’s modern traveler, as one speaker stated, is “embracing connected platforms, living online, and discovering more through digital technology” and by just visiting an airport you will find that statement true. And, of course, Google sees a place (market) in pre-flight, in-flight, and post-flight, connectivity options – smart folks! As one industry panelist said: “The digital world enables the discovery of the real world!”

During APEX the IFExpress team talked to some 50 to 60 companies and we found a lot of real stories that we will deliver in the coming weeks; however, we thought that we would give our readers some hints, thoughts, views and temptations of what is to come in the next month or so.

WHAT WE SAW – SOME SURPRISES, SOME EXPECTATIONS

1) From a general perspective, companies were focusing on the end-to-end experience for the passenger. For example, enabling the airline to engage the passenger via the airline app after ticket purchase but before the date of flight. Continuing the engagement process through the airport, onto the aircraft and until the arrival at the hotel/home. This is mostly being implemented through software upgrades, software hooks, and data mining but there were some new products and services in the offering. Airlines want to be able to ‘engage’ their passengers more throughout the trip – providing a tailored experience even in drudge class.
2) This was a year where IFExpress saw more focus on software iterations vs. new hardware/technology developments. Mind you, this is a broad generalization as there were some updates to existing servers with larger SSD and one or two new technology applications being exhibited. However, on a whole we saw a focus on utilizing existing hardware with improved software to enable data acquisition to enhance the passenger experience and improve the real-time evaluation of aircraft operations all enhanced by increased memory. Both of these have been longtime goals either by the airlines, OEMs or both.

3) IFE vendors were also focusing on the ability to provide the airline with operations information real-time. For example, this will enable the airline to reduce down-time of aircraft, increase turnaround time when there is a mechanical issue. The benefits of real-time data acquisition will be achieved by utilizing the various methods of communication now available to the airlines – broadband (satellite), Wi-Fi, 3G/4G cellular, and gatelink. The method of transmission is determined by the critical nature of the data and the transmission environment. For example, if there was an engine issue, it could be transmitted real-time to the ground so a repair crew could meet the aircraft upon landing, facilitating a quicker turnaround of the aircraft and maybe even keeping the next flight’s departure on time, possibly through an existing non-engine data communication network. Obviously, certification of these and competitive solutions will greatly affect these connectivity solutions. But, all of this saves the airline money in the long run. Obviously this would work with more certainty for an IFE screen that was malfunctioning or a seat that was inoperable over a cabin connectivity ground-to-air link.

4) The aforementioned services also provide the vendors with the ability to offer the service of monitoring and evaluating other non critical (or not as critical) data to an airline – especially if the airline doesn’t want to analyze the data in house. This is a potentially new revenue stream for the vendors and possibly a field for new vendors.

5) Much of the software iterations we saw at the show allowed the airlines to tailor their GUI and media in house and real-time. As an example, airlines now have the capability to analyze whether movie “A” is being viewed as anticipated, if the viewing falls short of anticipated numbers the airline can switch it out with another option prior to the current media cycle being completed. This not only keeps the media fresh but allows the airline to get better value from their media expenditure. Also, the ease of using these software tools allows airlines to potentially have a smaller number of individuals working on media management. We should mention that with this approach to content monitoring the possibility of linked content loading is also an example of real-time performance monitoring.

6) With the advent of Wi-Fi, gatelink, etc. we are seeing faster media load times. We also saw the ability to load new content while the aircraft was in use as mentioned above. This all saves time for sure now, and money in the future.

7) Broadband solutions are finally coming online to make the aforementioned a reality by providing global coverage. Some vendors are investing heavily in either their own satellites or purchasing dedicated transponder space.

AND MORE OBSERVATIONS

8.) There were a few of 100+ airplane IFEC hardware deals pending (and done) that may be a surprise to some.

9.) There were a few new IFEC entrants comprised of young, technical developers who want a piece of the IFEC business and we will watch their growth. And yes, some of the troops were from the old school companies that have less to offer, or offer nothing at all new today.

10.) One company, and one company alone, offered a true Bluetooth in cabin wireless connectivity solution with both low data and high data solutions.

11.) USB – C is here and the folks from IFPL will have more to say about it in another story.

12.)  As Ka-Band connectivity makes the scene we might even see lower competitive data products, but that is, of course, a prediction.

13.) One company in the flight path mapping arena blew our minds with the way their ‘Silicon Valley’ Top Dog showed IFExpress his plans to deliver a planned and plotted solution to your travel plans, in the air AND ON THE GROUND.

14.) Some new entrants to the IFEC madness have a couple seemingly good ideas that we had never heard of and plan to surprise us all soon!

15.) It is always a surprise to visit a vendor that told us what was coming last year and we missed the big picture – only to get a personal awakening this year. ‘Passenger connectivity before, during, and after a flight’ is the subject and the folks at SITONAIR really had their act together about it.

16.) Happy 25th Birthday GoGo!

17.) There is no place better on earth to throw an outdoor reception than Singapore: The top of buildings provide a view unlike no other on this planet, and they feature the best of everything. Thank You Gogo, Panasonic, Thales, APEX and everyone else that provided an incredible list of evening entertainment and hosting – you folks are the best! Be sure to check out our flckr link for expo images!

OTHERS SAID
IFExpress talked to many attendees about the show and we decided to share some of their comments with our readers:

1) Attendance was noted: “I was surprised how well-attended it was, considering all the people from North America that I knew would not make the trip.”
2) “Education Day on Monday before the EXPO had some very good presentations – Hopefully they should all be posted on the APEX website soon (audio and PP slides).”
3)  We asked about technical/products announcements that made sense and one respondent noted: “FTS Technologies’ flight attendant app for the smartwatch was the best that I saw.”
4) Another area that really counts is networking and the value of getting together: “The networking was great – events were fun and talked with a lot of people.” We couldn’t agree more.
5) Industry news is always a big deal and we asked one news expert and she told IFExpress: “The biggest news had to be the Rockwell acquisition of BEA, depending on their strategy for ‘hands-off’ management vs integration into the Rockwell family. If RCI takes a hands off approach and lets BEA continue to operate on its own, then the news might be different. If RCI tries to integrate it into RCI operations or develop an IFE system to sell with seats as a package deal, then it’s possibly even bigger news!”
6) One vendor told IFExpress: “I don’t know if co-locating with AIX Asia and FTE really achieved any cross-over attendees that would not have gone to APEX anyway – every time I went down to see AIX and FTE the floor there it was really dead.”
7) Another IFE vendor told us; “Except for the wireless apps, no real standout technical or new product announcements that we saw.  Probably the next most interesting things were the VR experience by Neutral and the Immersive Glasses by Skylights.  Also, Ron Chapman’s Bluetooth text communications product working over Iridium is real interesting too.”
8) Another show goer told us we could also add a mention about the new APEX Awards and the fact that they were expanded from 2 to 8 categories this year. “It’s a step in the right direction since IFEC is too diverse a subject to shoehorn all the products and services into a couple categories.” And, we couldn’t agree more!

Lastly, we need to say that Joe Leader and his team of real experts did a great show job. Thank you for inviting us and keep up the good work!

APEX Expo, Singapore and Raunheim Germany | October 25, 2016– Lufthansa Systems is currently presenting new modules for its multi-award-winning BoardConnect inflight entertainment platform at APEX in Singapore (24–27 October). These include an innovative sound experience and a new Moving Map.

“Airlines are constantly striving to make the passenger experience even more pleasant and varied. We are therefore interested in continually expanding the range of entertainment and service options offered by our BoardConnect platform,” said Norbert Müller, Senior Vice President BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems.

With the new Virtual Sound module, passengers can enjoy a cinema-like sound experience while watching movies on board – on their own smartphones or tablets, regardless of the type of headphones they use. Lufthansa Systems is working with various technology partners whose solutions simulate a virtual surround sound to boost the excitement and drama of blockbusters.

Along with the latest films, one of the most popular inflight entertainment offers is the Moving Map. Travelers like to know where they are currently flying and how far it is to their destination. The new Moving Map gives passengers a virtual view out the window. Instead of displaying the route in 2D on an atlas map, the landscape is now shown from a realistic perspective, as if you were actually flying over the mountains, rivers and cities. Passengers can also switch between the window view and the cockpit view, which allows them to virtually see the landscape from the pilotsʼ perspective.

Airlines that opt for the wireless BoardConnect IFE platform can offer their passengers varied entertainment on the passengersʼ own devices, thus avoiding complicated installation and certification procedures. Depending on their target groups and needs, airlines can choose from a wide range of entertainment options including movies, TV shows and audio programs as well as shopping opportunities and destination guides. These new optional product features are available to customers as of now.

In the past 25 years there has only been 2 methods of connecting via satellite in an aircraft. The first for crew via Data3, initially Windows terminal interfaces or embedded aircraft terminals like CMU’s or inseat screens. The second is browsers using Internet protocols and Wi-Fi.

In today’s App world on the ground we are always connected and that’s where a quantum leap in aircraft technology is about to happen.

This article is about a new way to connect called fflya, and what you may not know is, its already flying on business jets and an A340, plus the military are about to fly it!

Why the Internet of Things (IoT) takes the risk out of installing Wi-Fi
The general definition of The internet of things (IoT) is “The internetworking of physical devices, vehicles (also referred to as “connected devices” and “smart devices”), buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data”(source Wikipedia 2016).

However, in 2013 the Global Standards Initiative on the Internet of Things (IoT-GSI) defined IoT as “the infrastructure of the information society. IoT allows objects to be sensed and/or controlled remotely across existing network infrastructure, creating opportunities for more direct integration of the physical world into computer-based systems, and resulting in improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit” (Wikipedia 2016).

When you consider that Boeing launched commercial inflight Wi-Fi on Lufthansa in 2004. Why is it so many airlines are still reluctant to get involved in Wi-Fi twelve years later? The answer is user price!

When it comes to price, the hardware cost of inflight Wi-Fi pales in significance to the cost of an aircraft. With technology moving so fast on the ground, there is that underlying concern that installing connectivity now will lead to it becoming quickly outdated or that financial expectations and passenger needs won’t be met.

Now more than ever people rely on connectivity when they move which means it’s no longer a question of whether airlines should install connectivity, but when and how they will do it. Many airlines have spent years looking and when comparing what Boeing had in 2004 with today’s technology, it’s hard to see a quantum leap!

What’s more disconcerting is that current Wi-Fi utilization levels, even on the most affordable US domestic network, show only 6% of passengers are prepared to pay for the service; the same as what Boeing experienced. It appears that justifying the cost of Wi-Fi as viable for the general public is a real challenge. We hope technology will provide the answers but satellite speeds and cost limitations continue to soften expectations in the air.

For decades people have relied on Wi-Fi for home and the office, and 3G or 4G when on the move. The industry persist with 3G in aircraft, however, the high roaming charges and slow speeds means it is not practical or commercially viable. This leaves the airline world with only one method to connect – Wi-Fi. This is where IoT is of great importance.

Wi-Fi vendors are reluctant talk about IoT because their business models rely on big data, yet it’s small data that’s enveloping the world. Small data is utilized on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, SMS and most emails. Small data costs are so miniscule that it seems free of charge to people using it. A societal mindset that believes small data is virtually free to use which is why 94% of passengers are reluctant to pay for connectivity inflight.

There is a Wi-Fi war in aviation pitting company KA band speeds against KU band speeds, and satellite against satellite. The intensity of this industry war makes it easy to get caught up in big data. We are lured into thinking there is no alternative given the significant size and cost of Wi-Fi platforms and the fact they all appear the same.

IoT is a paradigm shift and will change the way you think about connectivity. It creates an alternative platform that changes the way we connect, more inline with what we already do on the ground, that is, communicate with small data.

Why is it possible now?
Change is possible right now because of Bluetooth Smart, which is driving IoT faster than any other communication technology. While Wi-Fi vendors were busy launching billion dollar networks a new connectivity phenomenon was evolving. In simple terms, Bluetooth Smart capability opened up a portal for connecting devices and efficiently transmitting small data. Importantly, Apple is at the front Bluetooth advancements so it comes standard on all mobile devices.

For the first time you can now segregate aircraft bandwidth into narrowband and broadband applications by adding Bluetooth capability. This concept is similar to how airlines segregate business and economy: a standard service is delivered via Bluetooth and the premium service is supplemented with Wi-Fi.

Airlines can implement any satellite system in a staged approach by controlling the connection path with technology. This is because IoT lets you ‘shift gears’ as the demand increases. It begins as a simple no-frills messaging service and expands to include value-added services and live credit card processing that generate revenue to fund the platform upgrades as you go.

The benefit is: Airlines only need to gear up gradually and segregate live Internet for the very few willing pay, while the rest use minimal bandwidth down the same pipe. The ratio is similar to that of economy and business class: 6% of live internet passengers can be leveraged off 95% of the bandwidth, while the remaining 94% of passengers can be easily accommodated on remaining 5% bandwidth.

The objective is to control the delivery of passenger services with the ability to expand offerings as revenue dictates.

Corporate aircraft today already have this capability however it’s taken time to migrate to the realm of airlines. This is because connecting hundreds of devices simultaneously down a single link needed a revolutionary approach – this is what Bluetooth Smart delivers.

It eliminates the need to provision high bandwidth to accommodate everyone onboard. Twelve years of aircraft connectivity confirms that only 6% of passengers will pay for broadband meaning the remaining 94% expect it to be free. The provision of free services to the vast majority of passengers who expect it can only be a positive for airlines as bandwidth can be dramatically reduced. Delivering free services allows you to control the size of the pipe and what users see and do. App-based connectivity solutions still appear fast, yet it’s actually the servers managing the link that determines what you receive and when. This is the complete opposite to Wi-Fi…as once connected you are consuming bandwidth constantly, particularly in background mode.

IoT gives you a choice about what services to provide and at what charge (free or paid). The bandwidth is then staged to meet the demand. You can start with just a 200kbps link that can deliver free messaging, destination services and live credit card processing to hundreds of passengers at once. Importantly only one Bluetooth access point is required for all this to work!

How is this possible?
With the fflya solution, Bluetooth Smart keeps everyone connected and maintains a status of what devices are onboard and active. What makes Bluetooth Smart unique is that logged in devices run in parked mode meaning they are essentially offline. The link automatically activates when the user sends a message or processes a transaction, completing these events in milliseconds. As a result no one person can occupy a large portion of the bandwidth at any point in time. The security is quite unique not only for the way it switches channels, but is a closed network and when combined with encryption and proprietary protocols is more secure than open Wi-Fi as there is no external way to access it.

Imagine hundreds of passengers sending and receiving free messages or booking holiday tours at the same time – all occupying less than 10% of a 200 kbps link.

IoT takes the risk out of installing Wi-Fi as there is little or no outlay in the early implementation stages and by the time the demand for broadband increases the program is self-funding. The staged approach of the program means adding further capacity is not an issue as the revenue justifies the system upgrade.

One of the most difficult elements of managing any network is working out how to implement and how much capacity do you need. On the ground Wi-Fi access is random and bandwidth can be easily balanced. In contrast, when a crewmember announces that Wi-Fi is available inflight, you will notice the majority of passengers all log on at once regardless of whether they need it or are just curious. This is why Wi-Fi needs multiple access points, as the system can be easily overloaded. Having to reset the system when it grinds to a halt is frustrating for the crew and passengers. App-based Bluetooth messaging platforms do not have this issue, as users are not occupying bandwidth just to login. The network identifies them and parks them until they do something, which is why you only need one access point to cover an entire aircraft.

IoT leverages off bits of data using Bluetooth Smart whereas, Wi-Fi requires Kilobytes to deliver similar services. Let’s compare WhatsApp to the fflya messaging services. WhatsApp must stay online by maintaining touch with a ground network. Even if you do nothing you still consume bandwidth. So on a typical flight WhatsApp is occupying valuable bandwidth constantly. Sure you can be turn background mode off, but now you are disconnected and have the inconvenience of routinely checking in. In addition, as Wi-Fi is high power your battery will drain quicker

The fflya messaging app allows you to stay logged on for the entire flight as it consumes no bandwidth even when you are waiting for a reply. Furthermore, Bluetooth Smart uses the latest Low Energy technology so your phone battery lasts longer.

How does it work
The fflya IOS or Android App can be downloaded from the App Store via multiple means before a flight. The airline can embed fflya in their own booking App for easy access, mass-mail their frequent flyers or send the passenger a link to fflya upon booking a ticket. Since fflya is only 10Mb in size making it quick and easy to download compared to a typical WhatsApp or Facebook update that can be up to 150Mb.

Once you have the app all you need to do is to enter your user credentials for validation. You can do this on the ground or inflight.

Your credentials are your normal email address and cellphone number. We need this for 3 reasons:

  1. Security
    Like all modern messaging platforms fflya has 2 levels of verification to protect your security.
  2. Late Delivery
    Once you leave the aircraft the system automatically changes to ground mode, so any late replies are routed to you on the ground.
  3. Destination Offers
    The app hosts attractions and savings on services based on the destination you are flying too, so discounts on items of interest selected inflight are reconfirmed to your mobile or email account on arrival.

Upon opening the App inflight, the Bluetooth access point updates your destination status with any new offers and you are registered on the network at the same time. Knowing you’re onboard, the app will automatically revert to park mode, only alerting you with regular notifications when necessary.

Our product fflya is an engaging product as it targets people who are captive, bored, disconnected, and destination-focused. This sort of connectivity is precise and impossible to achieve on the ground because the person is nowhere near as attentive. It creates a major opportunity for real-time marketing with immediate impact because of passenger focus. Further, fflya generates revenue and brand appreciation when passengers download the App, thereby increasing an airlines digital reach. Furthermore, fflya flags frequent flyers creating endless interaction both inflight and on the ground. By offering the App and free messaging, passengers become brand advocates since every App downloaded and message sent promotes the airline. As the connectivity is now free passengers will access it.

Our fflya app delivers revenue from day one with AEROS
AEROS are attraction discount vouchers available in the fflya App that deliver travel savings in hundreds of destinations including the passenger’s hometown.

  • Once inflight, fflya displays a number of AEROS for the upcoming destination. When a passenger selects something they like, fflya uploads a message from the sponsor that confirms the discount and code.
  • Then fflya sends an email to the passenger’s email account showcasing the sponsor and the attraction with a booking link. Passengers can also communicate directly with the sponsor.
  • Upon arrival, passengers begin to save money on shows, restaurants and tourist activities. On arrival they have the opportunity to select more AEROS at the destination.

Interestingly, fflya’s AEROS enhance the airline’s reputation by giving passengers more value for money. The advantage of AEROS is that you have a captive audience who is destination focused and ready to spend. The simplicity means there is no activation required. Sponsors are incentivised to come on-board as it’s free to join the program and they only pay commission on real interactions and receive immediate passenger feedback. The AEROS systems profiles the interaction providing airlines with a unique insight into their passenger based which creates even more marketing opportunities.

What additional revenue services are offered?
With the evolution of Bluetooth Smart the promotional opportunities are endless. Note: fflya’s ability for passengers to interact directly with sponsors opens a whole new world and the airlines ability to host its own products can enhance revenue further.

What do I need on an aircraft?
The fflya system is compatible with any satellite network and all you need is a Bluetooth access point. The Bluetooth access point is flexible and can be installed on an aircraft in a variety of ways:

  1. It latches onto any existing Wi-Fi network.
  2. A hardwired connection to an existing satellite transceiver.

Evaluating any new service is a challenge and this is where fflya has a very unique solution that avoids any modification to the aircraft. Airlines can test the service with a fully self-contained portable system including SATCOM and custom window antenna. The system is classified as a carry on device and with supporting documentation there is no aircraft certification required, just operational approval. The following image illustrates an example of a flight test system onboard an A340 airliner.

The following image illustrates an example of a flight test system onboard an A340 airliner.

The benefit of this approach is airlines can evaluate and refine the services prior to selecting permanent hardware which removes the uncertainty of what do we need and will passengers pay to use it. Entry-level permanent hardware starts with the Inmarsat 200kbps link and it should be noted the test bed is also backwards/ forwards compatible with the new Iridium Next satellite platform that meets the same entry-level requirement. The business model is fully self funding so there is no equipment outlay.

When it comes the production level access point certification, it will be industry standard DO160, DO178 and DO294 compliance. Importantly as a low power device Bluetooth is already documented and tested as safe for use in aircraft, which eliminates the complexity associated of Wi-Fi installations.

The system requires an STC and the STC cost can be included subject to fleet size. The airline provides the installation manpower and fflya underwrites all the transmission costs including airline communications sent via the App.

System Diagram

Why haven’t we seen this before?

Bluetooth was originally designed as a one to one interface for tethered devices with its primary justification in mobile phones as Audio hands free. More recent developments saw it evolve into Personal Area Networks, Scatternets and Mesh networks but again it focused on controlling devices. The challenge and barriers of building a bidirectional communication network capable of accommodating hundreds of passengers in the aircraft environment without consuming valuable satellite bandwidth were endless. It has taken 10 years of development including 4 years of flight-testing and 4 years of working with Apple and Android to develop a proprietary BLE characteristic that connects via a custom satellite protocol to a purpose built ground based network with algorithms that manage every user by file type, flight number and aircraft.

For a demonstration of the new fflya system visit Ron Chapman ASIP Tech Inc. at APEX booth 1937


Other Stuff:

Want what the folks at IFPL will be showing in Singapore? Check this out.

Melbourne, FL | October 17, 2016– This official approval by the FAA marks SD as an authorized manufacturer for avionics, as well as an authorized maintenance repair and overhaul center for all SD avionics.

The certification was awarded for its development of the SD WiFi Hub, the standalone router and WiFi solution that enables onboard voice and data communications. Over the last five months, the associated processes, manufacturing quality manuals, and the physical setup at their World Headquarters location in Melbourne, FL, have been audited by the Orlando Manufacturing & Inspection District Office (MIDO), in order to gain the approval.

The PMA certification will allow SD to use Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) to quickly obtain approvals on future hardware developments.

“This milestone accomplishment demonstrates our ongoing commitment to aerospace manufacturing, and our continued efforts to expand our capabilities as a technology innovator,” said Ken Bantoft, SD Chief Technology Officer.

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.

Museum of Flight at Boeing Field:

I recently had a meeting at the Seattle Museum of Flight on Boeing Field. While my visit was business… I left the meeting… and lost my sense of time and history – because once you see an old aircraft that fought in a war, or provided the transportation for a historical event, or was the first of it’s kind, you just get lost… lost in time, and possibly lost in space. Interestingly, you become part of the event that the person, plane or spacecraft was famous for… or you become immersed in the art background and signage describing the history and achievement of the craft. One visitor told us that he and his kids were fascinated by the description and experiences of the museum’s individual plane tour guides, who in many cases had flown that aircraft. It is also easy to get wrapped-up in the in mood lighting surrounding the planes in the halls, especially in the periods like those in the WW1 Hall and WW2 Halls. While it has been a long time, as a child, I would have given anything to see what I saw last week at the Museum of Flight. One suggestion, however, don’t let your children say the same thing.

OK, if you want a fast tour of the Museum here it goes: Museum Galleries, Airpark, Great Gallery, Lear Gallery, Personal Courage Wing, Red Barn, & Space Gallery. That’s 7 galleries, many halls, 29 exhibits + a museum store, 140 real aircraft, 12 spacecraft, pre-1900s to 2010s types, from 73 manufacturers… and some 40 of 140 shown planes in the air and on the ground in the Great Gallery. Founded in 1965, the Museum of flight has been growing since it’s inception, but we think the real hero was T. Wilson… he made “The” museum building on Boeing Field happen.

As a bit of museum background, here is what the website says:
“Museum of Flight is devoted to the preservation and sharing of aviation and aerospace history and technology.
Founded as the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation in 1965 by a group of local Boeing engineers and aviation enthusiasts, the Museum’s collection was established out of a desire by the group to preserve artifacts and materials representing the entire evolution of flight and to prevent them from being lost, destroyed and forgotten with time. Since 1965, The Museum of Flight’s collection has come to be regarded as one of the best air and space museum collections in the world. The Museum’s collection contains over 150 aircraft, over 25,000 small objects (classified as anything smaller than an aircraft), over 90,000 books and periodicals, over 15,000 aircraft manuals and technical reports and nearly 5,000 cubic feet of archival materials including an estimated four million images. As a Smithsonian Affiliate institution and an accredited American Alliance of Museums institution, we continuously endeavor to meet their standards and best practices in all aspects of our operations, especially in regards to caring for and preserving our collection.”

The Pavilion (across the street form the main Museum building) is incredibly large and hosts an many big planes in a covered outdoor building. One writer said it is larger than two football fields! The new “hanger” effectively doubles the museum foot print, in fact it adds 3 acres of aviation history floor space! It is home for some 19 iconic planes like the world’s first Boeing 747 Jumbo, the 787 Dreamliner, the British Airways Concorde (SST – the last to fly in revenue service), B-17, B29, and B-47 bombers. The site has a convenient “air” bridge to get you there. This inclined walkway is defiantly a better way to reach the Pavilion, not to mention, listening to Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” playing on the loudspeakers there topped the experience. As with all airplanes, pictures never do them justice but here are a few shots we took that should give you a better idea of the flight scene there are here.

You can fly in on your own plane or in a commercial airline to Boeing Field or Sea-Tac, and if you have a child that likes aviation, you MUST take her or him to see the real planes. You might ask why is this trip worth the effort? The answer is simple: because they can climb in and touch and feel what aviation is all about… and it is about more than planes. It is about flying, it’s about education, and it’s about history… but it is also about fun!


Panasonic:

OmniAccess, a leading supplier of integrated communications solutions to super yachts and cruise-ships, and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), today unveiled a tailored XTS “extremely high throughput” satellite network for multiple mobility markets. Details on this new communications service are available to key customers that visit the OmniAccess booth at the Monaco Yacht Show. OmniAccess and Panasonic began collaborating on XTS high-throughput satellite designs in September 2015 in order to bring unprecedented levels of capacity and performance to OmniAcess’ existing Super yacht and cruise customers. Through this agreement OmniAccess has secured access to Panasonic’s existing HTS capacity, currently contracted capacity and the future XTS satellite network, bringing industry-leading capacity and performance to its yachting and cruise ship markets. Leveraging Panasonic’s existing global high-speed satellite network, OmniAccess is already providing industry-leading connection speeds of over 200 Mbps to select individual customers.

Paul Margis, CEO of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “We announced our partnership with OmniAccess at the Monaco Yacht Show last year, and since then, we’ve been able to develop solutions that have improved our operational efficiencies and also delivered higher performance and better service to OmniAccess’ super yacht customers. We look forward to continuing our collaboration with OmniAccess to establish a new standard in high-bandwidth services for the mobility market.”

(Editor’s Note: Normally we wouldn’t place a news release that predominately refers to maritime in our publication. However, in this instance we believe it to have relevance as the relationship between Panasonic Avionics and OmniAccess refers to “multiple mobility markets”,  “XTS high-throughput satellite” and “Leveraging Panasonic’s existing global high-speed satellite network”. After all, a revenue stream is a revenue stream whether it is initiated from an ocean or the air! And we wouldn’t be surprised to see more of these relationships in our industry.)


IFPL:

APEX 2016 will see the very latest in connectivity, payment and power solutions from IFEC specialists IFPL, on Booth 1745 at the Singapore based show.

IFPL leads the way when it comes to deploying contactless payment systems NFC (Near Field Communication) on-board aircraft, with global OEM’s and airlines using this technology for seat back in-flight retail and customer personalization. APEX 2016 will see IFPL demonstrate its new NFC ‘Pin-On-Screen’ solution that enables high value off line transactions by removing the current low value payment barrier. This step change will allow airlines to expand and sell high value items thus increasing ancillary revenues.

With portable and wearable tech now widespread, visitors to APEX can also see IFPL’s USB- C and USB-A units, both providing hi-speed data and power.

As always, innovation from IFPL will be on display with the company demonstrating its new integrated seat arm concept. This will reflect its ability to customize peripherals to support the design language, aesthetics and ergonomics required for true IFE and seat integration.

IFPL will be demonstrating their ‘Charge-2-Charge’ solution for both inductive and USB charging – this will enable airlines to generate additional revenue from passengers wishing to charge their portable devices during flights. Demonstrations will also be available for their popular 110V A/C power outlet and its combination 110V and USB-A & C.

Solving the problem of broken headphone sockets are IFPL’s MagSignal Audio units. Cost neutral when compared with traditional sockets, MagSignal Technology allows the headset cable to be pulled and detached from any angle without detriment; reducing customer induced damage (CID) and maintenance disruption to aircraft.

As always IFPL’s established range of IFEC products and solutions will be on display and the team from IFPL will be on hand to discuss any requirement that visitors to APEX 2016 in Singapore may have.


Gogo Partnering:

Gogo recently announced that it will partner with Air France-KLM to connect its existing long-haul fleet representing 124 aircraft, with an airline option to install the technology on additional aircraft in the future. The fleet of aircraft receiving Gogo’s 2Ku technology will include numerous aircraft types, including the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330s. “We are delighted to bring Gogo’s industry leading 2Ku technology to one of the largest airlines in the world and two of the most iconic brands in commercial aviation,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “2Ku delivers a ground-like performance to aircraft flying around the world today, including the ability to stream video. One of the many benefits of 2Ku is that it’s built on an open architecture and can leverage new technology advancements in the future, which means the technology will get even better over time and will provide passengers with a superior connectivity experience now and in the future.” The first aircraft is expected to be in service end of next year, with the bulk of the installations taking place during 2018-2019.

Gogo Next-Gen:
The company also announced that it is developing its next generation ground-based technology to better serve the connectivity needs of business and commercial aviation in North America. This technology will offer a ground-like performance, including the ability to stream videos, for business aviation aircraft, commercial regional jets and select narrow-body aircraft operating within the United States and Canada. The new network will use unlicensed spectrum, a proprietary modem and a new beam-forming antenna to produce peak network speeds of more than 100 Mbps. This next generation ground-based network for the aero market will utilize LTE technology and leverage Gogo’s existing first generation North American network and infrastructure of more than 250 towers.

“Leveraging our first generation network is key to making this next generation network highly reliable and economical to deploy,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s CTO. “Gogo’s next generation network will also be backward-compatible with Gogo’s first generation network, which means an aircraft will be able to seamlessly switch between Gogo’s fthe two networks networks similar to how a cell phone on the ground connects to the fastest available network.”

The benefits of this new network for commercial aircraft operating within the United States and Canada include: low equipment cost and weight, overnight installation, and low drag on the aircraft due to the small size of the antennas. It also has big advantages in terms of latency compared to satellite solutions.

Aircraft outfitted with one of Gogo’s earlier generation air-to-ground technologies will simply need to be outfitted with a new modem and blade antenna to take advantage of the new service.

The service is expected to be available in 2018. Great article this morning. Separately, we have got big news this morning from Gogo as we announce our next generation ground network to support IFC in North America. We now have upgrade paths to more than 100 Mbps for both our North American ground-based and our global satellite networks. This will enable passengers to do everything they can do on the ground, in-flight. The network will use unlicensed spectrum and will require minimal updates for an aircraft.

(Editor’s Note: You should probably read this as well.)


SmartSky:

SmartSky Networks’ patented SmartSky 4G radio system completed the major milestone of receiving FCC certification, clearing the way for deployment of the ultra-fast SmartSky 4G air-to-ground network later this year, with nationwide service launching in mid-2017. Haynes Griffin, SmartSky Chairman and CEO, stated, “After investing tens of millions of dollars and over five years of research and development effort, SmartSky’s now certified technology has unlocked enough spectrum to be able to offer, for the first time, the reliable use of a sophisticated, custom-designed 4G system that can deliver an office-like internet experience in the air for both business aviation and commercial aviation customers.”FCC certification is the culmination of work to develop and patent protect the multiple bodies of technology that uniquely enable SmartSky to make use of the unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum band, all without causing harmful interference to or receiving interference from the operation of the same band on the ground. Despite the widespread assertion that aviation-related spectrum reuse in the unlicensed band would not be feasible, SmartSky has successfully solved the challenge by implementing new technical methods that are broadly covered by its robust and growing portfolio of 20 granted patents. Additional patents are pending.

Reed Hundt, SmartSky’s Vice Chairman of the Board and former Chairman of the FCC, remarked, “Long ago, the FCC authorized the allocation of large blocks of unlicensed spectrum to foster innovation and encourage competition. Today, we see the amazing results of that prescient regulation, which has resulted in ubiquitous Wi-Fi on the ground. By application of novel technologies using 2.4 GHz unlicensed spectrum, SmartSky’s breakthrough will finally give the aviation industry the superior connectivity now taken for granted terrestrially.”

Roberson and Associates, a highly regarded independent wireless industry consulting firm, investigated the ability of SmartSky’s radio technology to seamlessly coexist with terrestrial Wi-Fi. CEO Dennis Roberson, who is also Chairman of the FCC’s Technical Advisory Council, commented, “SmartSky’s technology solution is transparent to Wi-Fi users on the ground, enabling the air-to-ground sharing of the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band.”

SmartSky’s technology and patent portfolio is not limited to the unlicensed band. Most of the patents apply to any frequency and any waveform in any high speed air-to-ground network. Because these are broad patents, SmartSky enables underlying technical advances to be incorporated into its conceptual solution. “Over time, this will allow SmartSky to keep pace with the latest advances in computing, antennas, radios and networking while still being protected by our foundational patents,” said Griffin.


Rockwell Collins:

Continuing a relationship that has lasted over 70 years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has renewed its Aeronautical Mobile Communications Service (AMCS) agreement with Rockwell Collins. Under the agreement, the company will continue to provide Air Traffic Control (ATC) communications, including position reports, aircraft requests and ATC clearances, between the FAA and aircraft flying in U.S. oceanic airspace.


Uber Transportation in Singapore!

Lastly, here is a Singapore treat from the nice folks at Uber, the transportation app company. It’s easy to use: In the app, choose your ride and set your location. Once you get matched, you’ll see your driver’s picture and vehicle details, at the same time, you can easily track their estimated time of arrival on the map. No phone calls to make, no pick-ups to schedule. With 24/7 availability, request a ride any time of day. Here is how you can get started: 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! Hurry – the code is valid until 31 October 2016.

  • The SmartSky 4G network is on track to provide nationwide in-flight connectivity service in 2017

Charlotte, NC | September 28, 2016– Today, SmartSky Networks’ patented SmartSky 4G radio system completed the major milestone of receiving FCC certification, clearing the way for deployment of the ultra-fast SmartSky 4G air-to-ground network later this year, with nationwide service launching in mid-2017. Haynes Griffin, SmartSky Chairman and CEO, stated, “After investing tens of millions of dollars and over five years of research and development effort, SmartSky’s now certified technology has unlocked enough spectrum to be able to offer, for the first time, the reliable use of a sophisticated, custom-designed 4G system that can deliver an office-like internet experience in the air for both business aviation and commercial aviation customers.”

FCC certification is the culmination of work to develop and patent protect the multiple bodies of technology that uniquely enable SmartSky to make use of the unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum band, all without causing harmful interference to or receiving interference from the operation of the same band on the ground. Despite the widespread assertion that aviation-related spectrum reuse in the unlicensed band would not be feasible, SmartSky has successfully solved the challenge by implementing new technical methods that are broadly covered by its robust and growing portfolio of 20 granted patents. Additional patents are pending.

Reed Hundt, SmartSky’s Vice Chairman of the Board and former Chairman of the FCC, remarked, “Long ago, the FCC authorized the allocation of large blocks of unlicensed spectrum to foster innovation and encourage competition. Today, we see the amazing results of that prescient regulation, which has resulted in ubiquitous Wi-Fi on the ground. By application of novel technologies using 2.4 GHz unlicensed spectrum, SmartSky’s breakthrough will finally give the aviation industry the superior connectivity now taken for granted terrestrially.”

Roberson and Associates, a highly regarded independent wireless industry consulting firm, investigated the ability of SmartSky’s radio technology to seamlessly coexist with terrestrial Wi-Fi. CEO Dennis Roberson, who is also Chairman of the FCC’s Technical Advisory Council, commented, “SmartSky’s technology solution is transparent to Wi-Fi users on the ground, enabling the air-to-ground sharing of the 2.4 GHz unlicensed band.”

SmartSky’s technology and patent portfolio is not limited to the unlicensed band. Most of the patents apply to any frequency and any waveform in any high speed air-to-ground network. Because these are broad patents, SmartSky enables underlying technical advances to be incorporated into its conceptual solution. “Over time, this will allow SmartSky to keep pace with the latest advances in computing, antennas, radios and networking while still being protected by our foundational patents,” said Griffin.

Panasonic Avionics Corporation is engaging with elite ‘white hat’ hackers through leading bug bounty provider HackerOne to ensure the security of its inflight entertainment systems. HackerOne has helped major companies such as General Motors, Uber, Twitter, Airbnb, DropBox and Adobe identify and fix security vulnerabilities as part of authorized bug bounty and vulnerability coordination programs. “Panasonic Avionics has always taken a proactive approach to security,” said Michael Dierickx, Director of Security Engineering and Information Security Officer at Panasonic Avionics Corporation.“We have extensive processes in place to identify potential and emerging vulnerabilities, and we also engage with security consultation firms who provide penetration testing and other services. Still, these teams bring a fresh perspective and innovative ways to search for potential issues. We want to harness this out-of-the-box thinking and create a win-win scenario that rewards both Panasonic and this community for our hard work and dedication.” With the HackerOne platform Panasonic Avionics has access to the world’s most powerful external security team, the global hacker community, to continue enhancing the security of their internet-connected systems,”said HackerOne CEO Marten Mickos. “Inviting white hat or ethical hackers to hunt for bugs is a powerful method for making connected technology safer for everyone.” Having noted the release, we asked a few questions:

1. “Panasonic Avionics Corporation is engaging with elite ‘white hat’ hackers through leading bug bounty provider HackerOne to ensure the security of its inflight entertainment systems.” Does this NOT include inflight connectivity? If not, what are the sources of hacker data inputs only for IFE?

ANSWER: Our focus at Def Con was on our eXW system, which uses our inflight API (IFAPI) software architecture. Our decision to prioritize the eXW system was due to customer demand. More and more, airlines want the opportunity to interface with our IFE system, and IFAPI is our gateway. While our program’s initial focus is on IFAPI, and our ultimate goal is to include all of our systems.

2. What OS’s are included in the Panasonic Entertainment systems, and are they typically, or ever been, hacked?

ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics uses a variety of operating systems based on the configuration. As we’ve moved into open platform architectures, we’ve responded by enhancing our own internal processes to ensure the security of the systems.

While we can’t comment on systems that have been delivered to our airline customers, we can say that stories in the press about someone’s ability to take control of the aircraft using the IFE system is almost always theoretical. Remember that our IFE system software is certified at Level-E per DO-178B, with ‘No Effect’ to aircraft safety for any failure. We do not expect that classification to change.

3. We assume some receipt of transmitted data is involved in the IFE systems? Correct? If so, what onboard/off-board data streams are involved.

ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics reviews and protects all required data streams as determined in the review.

4. Is Panasonic looking at data sent from IFE systems to the aircraft? What type of data? Is the reverse true as well? What kind of data, if so?

ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics works with the various OEMs, other suppliers, and in the associated standards and regulatory forums to align on the necessary security measures and means to protect the interfaces and data.

5. Is loaded content today checked for malicious code that a hacker would induce at a ground station after being created in California?

ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics adheres to the MPAA security standards for media and conducts internal and independent third party security audits.

(Editor’s Note: IFExpress should mention, that Panasonic’s inflight entertainment data content facilities in California are some of the best and most secure we have ever seen. Check out this link for an earlier story by IFExpress on the Media Content Service operations and interview with Julie Lichty.)

6. Will the ‘Bug Bounty’ program include passenger messaging, connectivity engagement signals, airborne RFI (hacker), onboard radiation, etc.?

ANSWER: The bug bounty program will eventually be opened up to the entirety of the Panasonic Avionics product portfolio.

7. Does Panasonic have a ‘brick wall’ between the connectivity systems and the IFE, and the aircraft, or are there places that might be in question? If so, please give us an example of where such an external infection might cross over into the IFE or aircraft.

ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics deploys the necessary security practices to protect the assets.

8. What hardware/software did Panasonic provide at DefCon? Will there be a similar effort at the California IFE data facility? If not, why not?

ANSWER: Our focus at DefCon event was on our wireless eXW platform, which uses our In-Flight (IFAPI) software architecture. Our customers want more opportunities to interface with our IFE system, and IFAPI is our gateway. While our program’s initial focus is on IFAPI, our ultimate goal is to include all of our systems.

9. Who is Panasonic’s head of IFEC hardware security?

ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics addresses security from many vectors and does have a dedicated Director of Security Engineering.

10. Please describe any hacks, if any, in today’s IFEC or aircraft that Panasonic has found… ?

ANSWER: While we can’t comment on systems that have been delivered to our airline customers, we can share that Panasonic Avionics security practices includes secure code reviews, penetration testing, and vulnerability scanning as part of the product life cycle. Carrying out these processes is intended to discover quality issues (aka: Hacks) early on and convert these into security improvements in our products.

11. Has Panasonic attempted under test conditions to induce ‘bad data’ or hacker data into Panasonic modules in the lab? Does Panasonic have any ‘hacker testing’ today?

ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics has put in place extensive best practice processes to identify potential and emerging threats and vulnerabilities. Panasonic engages in both internal and 3rd party based, vulnerability scanning and penetration testing.

12. Are Boeing and/or Airbus into this as well with you…will they be advised if issues are found?

ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics actively engages with both Airbus and Boeing Security to share information and discuss issues that impact product security,as well as our participation in the A-ISAC.

13. Please describe how Panasonic will handle issues if discovered… and there will be issues!

ANSWER: Panasonic Avionics follows its security incident response standards for monitoring, alerting, prioritization, and remediation.

(Editor’s Note: HackerOne is the world’s most popular bug bounty platform, connecting organizations with the world’s largest community of highly-qualified security researchers. More than 550 organizations, including The U.S. Department of Defense, General Motors, Uber, Twitter, Yahoo!, GitHub, Square, Dropbox and the CERT Coordination Center trust HackerOne to find critical software vulnerabilities before criminals can exploit them. HackerOne is headquartered in San Francisco with a development office in the Netherlands. Visit this website for more information.)


INMARSAT:
Inmarsat, provider of global mobile satellite communications services, has signed an agreement with Beijing Marine Communication & Navigation Company (MCN) and Aviation Data Communication Corporation (ADCC) to provide aviation safety services to Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and Operators. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was unveiled at ATC Global 2016, which is taking place in Beijing this week, and outlines MCN/ADCC’s intention to offer cockpit communication services, including Inmarsat’s Classic Aero and next generation SwiftBroadband-Safety services, in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Classic Aero is a high-quality voice and data safety service currently used by most of the world’s airlines. It offers reliable and secure satellite surveillance and communications (FANS/ACARS) that meet International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) global flight tracking requirements.

SwiftBroadband-Safety utilizes secure IP-based broadband capabilities that far exceed those of other connectivity alternatives. It offers global, high speed, connectivity for cockpit and aircraft operations, with airlines benefitting from greater efficiency, reliability and capacity at a lower cost. The solution is always on and always secure, delivering next-generation applications, including flight data streaming (‘Black Box in the Cloud’) and real-time Electronic Flight Bag applications such as graphical weather. Inmarsat’s partnership with MCN and ADCC is expected to be finalized later this year and fits with the announcement made earlier this year of plans for a MCN and Inmarsat joint venture to provide comprehensive aircraft cabin and connectivity solutions across the PRC.


SATCOM DIRECT:
Global aeronautical communications provider, Satcom Direct (SD), announced today it has acquired AircraftLogs (“Stewart-Ratliff Aviation Services, Inc”), a company based in Columbus, OH, that offers the latest technology in aircraft flight scheduling software and tax reporting tools for corporate and private flight departments. With the purchase of AircraftLogs, SD adds scheduling and tax capabilities to its Integrated Flight Operations Management portfolio.


VTS:
VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is employing cutting edge technology to launch its latest SKY-SIS II Program for older Seatback IFE replacement and upgrade. This new product involves bridging thirty years of experience, combining traditional IFE systems with the latest new technologies and is an answer to requests from VTS client airlines, which is where all of VTS innovations have originated. According to Philip LaPierre, VP Engineering, “The long list of engineering and successful product developments have come from airline requests and over the last 30 years there have been many VTS firsts including; the first LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) IFE Video Projector, first LCD monitors for IFE applications, first VOD Systems, first Digital Video Player (DVP) to replace conventional videotape, first affordable old seatback retrofit and upgrade solution and others. Stop by their booth 219 at APEX Expo, Singapore, Oct 24-27, 2016 and see for yourself.


OTHER:

  • Providing In Flight Entertainment Solutions from 16mm projectors to Wi-Fi streaming systems.

Syosset, New York | August 9, 2016– VTS (Video Technology Services) today announced that it is employing cutting edge technology to launch its latest SKY-SIS II Program for older Seatback IFE replacement and upgrade.

This new product involves bridging thirty years of experience, combining traditional IFE systems with the latest new technologies and is an answer to requests from VTS client airlines, which is where all of VTS innovations have originated.

According to Philip LaPierre, VP Engineering, “The long list of engineering and successful product developments have come from airline requests and over the last 30 years there have been many VTS firsts including; the first LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) IFE Video Projector, first LCD monitors for IFE applications, first VOD Systems, first Digital Video Player (DVP) to replace conventional videotape, first affordable old seat back retrofit and upgrade solution and others.

VTS addresses common airline problems with turnkey solutions that airlines can afford, even on end of life cycle aircraft. For example:
• For Airlines still using Videotape Players: VTS DVP Systems -Videotape to Digital Conversion.
Plug and Play units match all brands and swaps out videotape for identical shape digital drive with new system performance in an hour without new certification.
• For Airlines Seeking the most Affordable Entertainment: VTS Streaming to Passengers’ Devices
Turnkey System; Server & WAPs software, installation and content, ultra light: < 20 lbs., easy to install overnight in overhead baggage bin and with many options including credit card processing.
• For Airlines with old or broken Seat Back Systems/Screens: VTS SKY SIS II – Streaming to VTS Touch Screen Monitors
Restore your IFE to Better-Than-New at 1/3 to 1/2 the cost, Video Resolution +400%, modern format 16 x 9, and many options including credit card processing, USB seat power

• For Airlines needing custom solutions: VTS Certification and Engineering Services
The technical staff at VTS represents over 100 years of combined experience in the development, engineering, manufacturing, installation and service of video products for airborne entertainment communications systems.
VTS has been providing affordable IFE solutions to airlines worldwide for thirty years as well as full engineering package with FAA and EASA certification of the systems and installation documents.
VTS holds a Repair Station Certificate FAA – VQTR106K and EASA 5340. VTS provides maintenance support for all its products at the home base and other stations as required worldwide,

Stockhom and Carlsbad, CA | September 8, 2016– SAS, which celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, has been focused on bringing innovation to its passengers since 1946. With a passion and vision to ‘make life easier’ for Scandinavia’s frequent flyers, SAS is making investments of MSEK 500 across its entire short and medium haul fleet – from installing the fastest WiFi on the market to completing a full cabin upgrade. By partnering with ViaSat, SAS can offer onboard WiFi speeds of 12 Mbps and higher to each passenger; ensuring time spent on board will be more productive and more enjoyable with streaming TV, music and movies.

“Many of our customers are frequent flyers and we play an important part in the lives of many people. The upgrade we implemented on our long haul aircraft gained a very positive reception and we are now upgrading our short and medium haul fleet, which will also include high-speed WiFi with speeds that enable time on board to be utilized for work or to relax and enjoy a streamed movie or TV series. As both passengers and crew on board are now connected, we can take our personal service to greater heights while continuing to develop our digital, smart solutions that make life easier,” says Rickard Gustafson, President and CEO of SAS.

Giving Passengers a Seamless WiFi Experience
SAS is committed to delivering seamless WiFi travel experiences where passengers can access all of their content and information from anywhere: at home, at the airport or on board. The new onboard high-speed WiFi service gives passenger’s gate-to-gate internet access with the fastest speed available on the market.

In addition to streaming, social media and traditional workplace applications, passengers can also expect to get better assistance from the cabin crew, which have been recently equipped with iPad Minis that will be connected to the WiFi system. With new high-speed WiFi capabilities SAS crew will be able to access flight and passenger information – before take-off, during the flight and after the flight lands. This includes helping passengers check if their flight is on time to the status of connecting flights, check their EuroBonus account or even book a EuroBonus flight, shop in the EuroBonus store, rent a car, book a taxi to meet them at the airport or even tell SAS crew members what they thought of the service – all while on board.

The first aircraft with the new WiFi-system will enter service in the second half of 2017. Onboard WiFi will be free on short haul flights for all SAS EuroBonus members and SAS Plus ticket holders.

“In working with SAS, we are making the internet accessible, fast and easy-to-use at 35,000 feet. Only by coupling the ViaSat end-to-end service platform with Eutelsat’s European satellite connectivity, can we enable airlines, like SAS, to offer a best-in-class onboard WiFi service in Europe for free to EuroBonus-members and SAS Plus passengers,” says Mark Dankberg, chairman and CEO, ViaSat.

Upgrading the Cabin for a Better Overall Experience
The first aircraft with the refreshed cabin interior will be SAS’s new A320neo, which in addition to extra leg room, new and more comfortable seats, a lighting system that aligns with the time of day and USB outlets at seats to keep personal devices charged, will also offer 15-20% lower fuel consumption. The interior design is in line with the new cabin offered on SAS long haul routes, which was launched in 2015. The new interior quickly became very popular with both Scandinavian and international customers.

In addition to 30 new A320s, 70 existing cabins will also be upgraded between 2017 and mid-2019. The WiFi onboard and cabin upgrades are expected to amount to a total investment of approximately MSEK 500 over a three year period.

Helsinki and Carlsbad, CA | September 1, 2016– Finnair has signed an agreement with ViaSat Inc., (NASDAQ: VSAT) a global broadband services and technology company, to install a high-speed wireless internet network on its entire Airbus A320 series short-haul fleet flying in Europe. The installation of the Wi-Fi equipment will begin in May 2017, and will be completed by June 2018.

With a connection speed of 12 Mbps or higher per passenger, the new system will offer the fastest in-flight internet connection currently available on the market, which will also enable the use of increasingly popular video streaming services. ViaSat will ensure end-to-end in-flight connectivity service across the Finnair fleet, and has partnered with Eutelsat to deliver the high-speed satellite-based internet service, which will cover the entire European continent.

“Our customers increasingly value the possibility of being connected during their flights and this change will also create great opportunities for Finnair to further develop its in-flight portal that will serve customers with news, entertainment and great shopping opportunities on their portable devices,” says Piia Karhu, SVP, Customer Experience Development at Finnair. “We are very pleased to partner with ViaSat on this project as we will be able to offer our customers the best possible Wi-Fi offering available on the market today, and that has the ability to scale, once the installations are completed.”

“Finnair is a forward-looking airline that is recognized worldwide for customer service,” says Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, Commercial Mobility at ViaSat. “With the ViaSat in-flight Wi-Fi system, enabled across Europe by Eutelsat’s service, Finnair can deliver greater value to its customers by giving them the freedom to use their own device to engage with the internet in new ways – from enhanced online shopping to out-of-the-box online entertainment experiences.”

Last July, Finnair announced that its entire long-haul fleet of Airbus A330 aircraft would be retrofitted with Wi-Fi connectivity by May 2017. Finnair is currently operating six A350-XWB aircraft which already offer wireless connectivity for its passengers. The airline is expected to receive an additional five A350 aircraft by the end of next year. With both the long-haul and short-haul fleet set to offer internet connectivity by June 2018, over a thousand route pairs in Finnair’s network will offer Wi-Fi connectivity for transiting passengers. Additionally, Finnair’s Wi-Fi coverage over Chinese airspace has recently been opened, having been closed previously due to limitations by the authorities.

Finnair’s wireless internet access is free for Business class passengers, Finnair Plus Gold and Platinum customers, and oneworld Sapphire and Emerald level customers. Economy class passengers can purchase internet access at an hourly rate or for the duration of the flight.