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


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

Project Papers (In-Work Specifications)

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

Technical Application Bulletin

Network Security Bulletin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few highlights to look for:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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