Onboard tech news

Global Eagle in LEO deal with Telesat

May 22, 2018

Telesat, a global satellite operator, and Global Eagle Entertainment, a provider of satellite-based connectivity services to maritime and aviation customers, have agreed to collaborate in optimising the capabilities of Telesat’s low-earth orbit (LEO) system to serve the growing broadband requirements of these markets.

Global Eagle specialises in the provision of satellite connectivity for single-aisle airliners worldwide, broadcasting live television services to airliners and cruise ships, and providing content services to aviation. The collaboration will include user terminal development, service-offering design, marketing, in-flight and at-sea performance testing.

After a comprehensive review of planned non-geostationary-orbit (NGSO) constellations, Global Eagle plumped for Telesat’s innovative LEO system. It is designed to provide low latency, high throughput and global coverage – including over polar and oceanic regions – to deliver a consistent, responsive and scalable experience for airline and cruise line passengers.

The two companies will work together on design and testing activities for Telesat’s planned LEO constellation using Telesat’s recently launched Phase 1 Ka-band LEO satellite. The focus will be on airline and large cruise ship applications in polar and high-latitude regions. For aviation, Global Eagle will be testing its newly developed, mechanically steered Ka-band antenna.

“Global Eagle uses Telesat geostationary satellites today to deliver high-performing wireless broadband to millions of airline and cruise passengers,” said Josh Marks, ceo of Global Eagle. “We believe advanced LEO systems like Telesat’s can offer important advantages for aviation and cruise markets, including consistent global coverage, very low latency, and gigabit connections. Telesat’s open architecture can provide Global Eagle’s customers with an easy upgrade path to add LEO capacity to existing GEO systems, avoiding technological or economic lock-in to legacy technologies.”

“We are very pleased that Global Eagle has decided to collaborate on serving aviation and cruise markets, beginning with live testing on Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite,” said Dan Goldberg, president and ceo of Telesat. “Telesat’s LEO system is designed to deliver low latency, high speed broadband with the ability to instantly allocate bandwidth where it’s most needed – a key benefit for mobility customers.”


Spirit Airlines chooses Thales FlytLIVE

May 16, 2018

Spirit Airlines, the ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC) in the US, has selected Thales’s Ka-band FlytLIVE connectivity solution to improve its passenger experience. Spirit has over 550 daily flights to 65 destinations in the US, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Spirit Airlines is the first US-based airline to select FlytLIVE, and will be the only ULCC in the Americas with connectivity. With FlytLIVE, Spirit’s guests will enjoy full internet services including video streaming, games and social media, for a much more engaging experience in the air.

Spirit Airlines announced that installations are going to begin this autumn on its Airbus fleet and that it will be offering wifi by next summer. The carrier will charge around $6.50 per flight for the wifi and the prices will depend on flight duration and bandwidth use.

The service will use SES High-Throughput satellites, which cover 97% of the airline’s network of routes. Spirit Airlines’ president, Ted Christie, commented that offering high-speed internet “doesn’t mean that we have to charge everybody a little bit more in their fare to cover the cost of the wifi.”


Qatar opts for GX Aviation

May 9, 2018

Inmarsat has announced that Qatar Airways has chosen to equip its fleet with the new GX Aviation in-flight broadband solution. The service will initially be available to Qatar Airways passengers on board more than 130 Airbus A350s and Boeing 777s.

Qatar Airways has already equipped its latest Airbus A350s with GX Aviation. The remaining Airbus A350s, together with the Boeing 777s, will be retrofitted with the connectivity equipment, including JetWave terminals produced by Honeywell Aerospace, starting this summer.

Inmarsat says that its GX Aviation service enables passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, and check social media during flights, with an on-board connectivity experience similar to broadband services available on the ground. The service will integrate with Qatar Airways’ existing IFE system.

Qatar Airways has also activated a new system, supplied by Inmarsat, to track its flights around the world. This uses Inmarsat’s satellite technology to provide the exact real-time location of all the airline’s aircraft.


Kid-Systeme in iCabin project

May 1, 2018

KID-Systeme, a supplier of electronic cabin systems and services for aircraft, has recently announced its involvement in a consortium of aerospace companies in the i-Cabin research project. This is aimed at connecting separate cabin applications such as seating, galleys and lavatories without cabling. The resulting network will offer increased comfort and a better travel experience for passengers as well as optimised maintenance cycles and cabin operations for airlines.

Other partners in the project include Boeing, Diehl, Zodiac Aerospace, Etihad Airways Engineering and the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH). The German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is contributing 3.9 million Euros to iCabin. The project has already started and is scheduled to complete on March 31, 2021.

At the AIX show in Hamburg in April, Johannes Ferstl, vp Marketing and Programs, talked about the four solutions in the wide-ranging KID-Systeme portfolio. First, SkyPower, which supplies MCUs and an in-seat power module (ISPM) including a new USB C-type socket. This has a customer base of over 80 airlines.

The SKYpower USB system will be seen on the Hawk seat as part of Mirus’ major launch contract with AirAsia. The contract is for the delivery for 300 aircraft over a ten-year period.

Next, Watchdog, an Airbus-only solution for both linefit and retrofit to avoid inadvertent slide deployment. This is a costly mistake which costs around 20,000 euros a time.

Thirdly, a Universal Video Surveillance System (UVSS) for cargo, Cabin and First-class suites, which is supplied to both Airbus and Boeing and 20 airline customers.

Finally, a wireless IFE streaming system incorporating a mains-powered server and Wireless Access Points (WAPs), which Ferstl described as a ‘modern inflight app store’. This enables an airline to choose which partners it wants to work with for its IFE and e-commerce Solutions. The launch customer for this is Saudia Airlines.


Black Swan to cut down on wastage

April 25, 2018

Exhibiting in the new Passenger Technology Solutions section of AIX, Black Swan benefited from the publicity generated by a conference presentation about its ‘formalised alliance’ with gategroup. This focused on a joint project to start using state-of-the-art analytics to save catering waste on aircraft.

Steve King, ceo, said that this could not be done before because of the missing piece of the puzzle. “Connectivity allows us to start using data in a really modern way, the way we would on the ground.”

Simon de Montfort Walker of gategroup had said at the conference that loading food and beverage onto planes for multiple journey legs was a “really complex” business. Getting it wrong contributed to the 5 million tonnes of food wasted by airlines per year. Collecting data and using AI and machine learning analytics to predict what was going to be needed could prevent up to 60% of this waste, as well as saving time, money and fuel.

On the Black Swan stand, Gary Townsend, chief innovation officer, said that the company was working with gategroup not only on reducing waste, but also on how to engage passengers more fully, not just in the cabin, but also before and after the journey. One example was ‘chef to seat’ whereby passengers using the airline app preflight got rewarded with a special meal supplied to them onboard.

Townsend said that the company had been working with Panasonic for five years to create portals for 75 of its airline clients. Currently it was working with Iberia and British Airways on the universal IAG wifi portal, designed to be operated with connectivity from various partners, including Gogo and the European Aviation Network via Inmarsat.


Panasonic to invest in inflight experience

April 25, 2018

At a press conference at the AIX show in Hamburg, the new ceo of Panasonic, Dave Bartlett, said that the company “was on a mission to invent the next generation of the Inflight experience.” He pointed up a growing market: 4 billion passengers flew in 2017 and that figure was rising exponentially.

Updating the order book, he reported 553 IFE linefits, 200 IFC linefits, 9000 aircraft with Panasonic IFE and 2000 with IFC. Recent new deals include 50 Turkish Airlines widebodies to be fitted with IFC, and six Egyptair B787s.

He introduced Panasonic’s Solutions: Next XT hardware and software platforms, Next Online, driven by major investment in connectivity, and Next Cloud, which he claims to be the first global data analytics centre for the IoT infrastructure.

These enable Panasonic to offer Next Loyalty, a personalised digital platform for the whole journey, incorporating a companion app including personalisation and targeting, a loyalty program, and advanced data analytics to find out how the passenger is using it. Bartlett said that this platform was currently used by Singapore Airlines for their MyKrisworld companion app.

Next Marketplace is a comprehensive retail platform, revolutionising the sale of goods and services. It is designed to entertain passengers with shopping, and to accommodate present and future needs with its adaptable storefronts. It enhances revenue generation possibilities and adjusts the offering in real time with analytics.

Next Theatre offers the highest level of entertainment in an immersive experience, enabled by 4K detail, HD audio and noise-cancelling in-seat speakers, Circadian lighting, and analytics. It is designed to delight passengers and differentiate airlines from their competitors. The content options are diversified to include global media. Next Theatre creates AR opportunities through advertising and sponsorship.

After the conference, Jon Norris, senior director Marketing, said: “The Next structure is changing the way we approach the market. We are traditionally strong on the Theatre side. It used to be all about the next shiny box. But the world has changed. We have been listening to the airlines; they want to drive costs down and revenue up, and they want to increase passenger loyalty. The Next initiative, with the new emphasis on Marketplace and Loyalty, gives us the tools to achieve the range of outcomes that our customers want.”


Skylights debuts Allosky headset

April 18, 2018

At AIX in Hamburg, SkyLights ceo David Dicko had just taken delivery of the brand new Allosky headset for 3D and 180/360-degree viewing. This is 40% lighter than the previous version, with adjustable frame size and bioptics for spectacle wearers. It has a resolution of 1080p per eye and comes with headphones and battery lead.

SkyLights has just received DO-160 section 21 and 4 safety certification to comply with FAA and EASA regulations, and now has an integrated passenger announcement solution to gain users’ attention.

Users will have access to a library of early window movies from the major Studios in 2D and 3D and 180-degree content. The leasing model to airlines includes hardware, software, and content, plus uploading, cleaning and maintenance servicing by airline caterers such as Gategroup, LSG and DSF, with up to 25 headsets on an airline trolley or Atlas box.

Airlines that have already deployed the technology include Air France’s new Joon airline for millennials, Corsair, and XL Airways. Jetfly will be using the headsets on its new aircraft. All will be supplied with the new headsets over the next few months. The Allosky headset is also on trial with Etihad and Emirates in their Business and First lounges in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.


EAN and Inmarsat set up S-band satellite

April 18, 2018

At the Europan Aviation Network stand, Frederik van Essen was showing off the hardware to be used on this combined satellite and ground network. The stand is installed with an antenna and radio-head, just like the 300 towers that Deutsche Telekom have built in the 28 countries of the EU, plus Norway and Switzerland.

The air-to-ground signal is claimed to provide up to 100Mbps to the aircraft, with 30Mbps on the uplink. It will combine with Inmarsat’s S-band satellite to provide an inflight connectivity service for the crowded European air routes.

The IAG Group is currently installing the system on up to 341 of its A320 aircraft, and British Airways is expected to launch the service in the summer.

Inmarsat has also announced that they are to supply Indonesian LCC Citilink with its GX Aviation connectivity. The deal is in conjunction with Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Systems, and is to retrofit 50 of the airline’s A320 aircraft.


Smartsky to launch 4G LTE system

April 18, 2018

On the Smartsky stand at AIX, Michael Toedtli, director A&S Partnerships, said that its new 4G LTE system would be operational in the second half of this year. It will be used first on business jets in the US, and rolled out to commercial aircraft later.

The air-to-ground (ATG) system is claimed to have 20 times more spectrum and be 10 times faster than current ATG networks in the US. Smartsky claims multi Mbps speeds to and from the aircraft, with low latency.


SITAONAIR offers tailored service

April 18, 2018

David Lavorel, ceo, said that the company’s crew tablet solution, currently used by Etihad, Virgin Australia and Aeroflot, was effective in creating a crucial link between cabin crew and passengers. It can be used not only for manifests, briefings and safety notes, but also for capturing passenger details such as meal selections and frequent flyer status. In this way, passengers can be offered a tailored service.

“An airline is essentially offering a physically rigid product. It is a seat on an aircraft, with limited food, drink and entertainment options. The crew tablet is a way to bring flexibility or the appearance of flexibility to this fixed product.”

Asked about the benefits of satellite connectivity on an aircraft, Lavorel said that their eWAS electronic Weather Awareness Service (eWAS) was an important safety tool, warning pilots of dangerous turbulence in flight and enabling them either to avoid it, or to warn cabin crew to take measures to secure the cabin.

Other business-critical benefits were real-time reporting of faults, for example in seats or IFE Systems. “If faults can be reported while in flight, an engineer can be waiting on the tarmac when the plane next lands, to fix the problem. This has the much-to-be-desired outcome that a business-class passenger on the next leg gets a working seat and the IFE service he has paid for.”


PX Com introduces Xplore system

April 18, 2018

Ceo Cyril Jean was eager to talk about its Xplore system for interactive digital content to go on an airline’s seatback IFE setup. “It is designed to populate the IFE system with as many digital sections as you like, filled with compelling content. When you have the passenger’s attention, then you can monetise.”

The IFE mock-up he demoed included a meals menu, with links to micro sites including chef profiles, food information, and vineyards. He said: “Airlines spend a lot on their menus for the premium classes, with celebrity chefs and top wines, and then fail to tell their customers about it. This gives the passengers compelling content, and can include a ‘call to action’ button, so that you can, for example, order some bottles for home.”

The Xplore system is a bundle that operates between the back office system on the cloud and any airline apps. The airline gets a set of templates that it can use to populate the IFE system with an ‘About the Airline’ section, details on the Frequent Flyer programme, the corporate social responsibility programme, and partner details (for example car hire firms, hotel groups, and sports and entertainment options). There is also the potential to add elearning modules, for languages or business skills, for example.

The system has been adopted by Air Dolomiti and Air Caraibes for its destination content, and is waiting to go live with Air France. Air Canada has a corporate section and destination content for 30destinations.


Lufthansa Systems has a winning Technik

April 18, 2018

Jan-Peter Gaense was displaying the Onboard Hospitality award the company won at the show for the BoardConnect suite of products. He expressed the view that consolidation was coming to the industry.

“There are too many providers doing the same thing for a market that is not limitless. In the wireless IFE space, for example, in order to survive, you need something special. We have got great technology, lots of customers, and both Retail in Motion and Lufthansa Technik behind us to support our customers.

“In the past, we have lowered our prices to compete. I think that was wrong. With our resources, we can offer something special to our customers in terms of strong technology and solid support.”

Gaense showed off the Power and Safe solution, which is designed to fit into the overhead stowage bins of most narrow-body and long-haul aircraft. It provides ventilated storage for portable equipment, and used with a power supply option, can run and charge portable equipment.

Gaense announced that new customers for Board Connect Portable included Virgin Australia, who are installing the boxes on the smaller aircraft used on their regional services. They have been BoardConnect customers since 2013, and are currently upgrading their existing BoardConnect Classic Systems with Gogo connectivity.

Lufthansa Systems is also equipping 50 of Indonesian Airline Citilink’s A320 aircraft. The retrofit is to be undertaken by Lufthansa Technik, with connectivity by Inmarsat’s GX Aviation.


Growth for Gogo 2KU

April 18, 2018

Speaking at AIX, Steve Nolan of Gogo said that the company’s order book for 2Ku installs was over 2000, with 600+ completed, the majority being Delta Airlines Aircraft, and a target of 1000+ to be completed by the end of 2018. Alaska, Iberia, Gol, British Airways and American had all started installations, with AirFrance/KLM and Cathay Pacific in the pipeline.

The company has linefit agreements with Airbus and Bombardier, and are in the process of certification of linefit with Boeing.

Nolan talked about Gogo’s new FlexDeveloper toolkit, for airlines to customise their own connectivity. This will help airlines to make the passengers’ experience seamless, no matter which providers they use in their suite of connectivity solutions.

British Airways are using this kit to build their own portal, partnering with Black Swan for data analytics, and KLM are going to use it too.

Asked about what comes after 2Ku, Nolan said: “The 2Ku solution was designed to improve over time, as the systems and networks improve around it. We have already upgraded the modems, and more HTS satellites will increase performance too. New LEO satellites will further upgrade bandwidth, with lower latency and, for the first time, coverage over polar regions.”


Pegasus chooses Immfly

April 18, 2018

Immfly announced at the AIX show that its onboard digital services are going to be used on 76 aircraft of Pegasus Airlines, Turkey’s low-cost airline. Pegasus Airlines increased its passenger numbers by 15.2% to 27.82 million in 2017, and will soon start to install Immfly’s solution on its full-fleet roll-out to 70 international and 38 domestic destinations.

Last year, Immfly tripled its number of aircraft installs and now supplies airlines such EasyJet, Volotea and XL Airways, among others, and partners with companies such as American Express and Rakuten. “Together with Pegasus we are bringing one of the most dynamic in-flight digital services platform to the Turkish market. It will give the airline a wide range of engagement tools and next-generation ancillary options in line with the digital spirit of Pegasus, said Pablo Linz, co-founder and md of Immfly.

Pegasus Airlines cco Guliz Ozturk commented: “This is a significant step in our strategy to offer more choice, digitalise and improve every aspect of our guests’ journey; as our guests will now be able to enjoy onboard content such as films, TV, music, games and media through their own personal devices.”

Immfly has recently created a subsidiary in Turkey, to ensure 100% operations coverage in the region. Alfredo Ibanez, cto at Immfly, is confident that the installs, on B737 and A320 Aircraft, can be done fast. “We recently managed a Volotea install in one night, and we have also done five easyJet Aircraft in 10 nights. We typically put one server in the avionics bay, and between two and six WAPs in the cabin.”


News from the Aircraft Interiors Expo

April 11, 2018

This year the Aircraft Interiors Expo once again incorporates the IFEC Zone, showcasing major entertainment and connectivity providers alongside satellite companies, hardware suppliers and content service providers (CSPs).

Our specialist technology writer Richard Williams is touring the stands and attending the press conferences to bring you all the latest news, deals and technological developments.

In addition, our newest correspondent, Benjamin Coren is covering the new Passenger Technology Solutions (PTS), running alongside AIX and WTCE and showcasing the latest technology products and services transforming the onboard passenger journey. News so far…

Seize sales with ECR: Amongst PTS exhibitors ECR Retail Systems is showcasing its electronic point of sale (EPoS) hard technology with supports buy-on-board programmes. The onboard retail tech specialist is also running a competition in Onboard Hospitality offering airlines the chance to win a six-month trial of its systems. For full details of the competition check this out: http://www.onboardhospitality.com/ecr-comp/. ECR’s AirPoS software delivers data vital for customer revenue management and for developing passenger profiles based on purchasing preferences.

Skylights VR headsets on trial: SkyLights ALLOSKY VR headsets are being introduced by both Emirates and Etihad in their airport lounges in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The headsets have noise-cancelling headphones and deliver an immersive, HD cinematic experience in 2D and 3D from a catalogue of recent blockbuster movies, selected 360° short films, TV series, documentaries and children’s programming.

The headsets are being trialled by Emirates in the Business Class lounge in Concourse B in April and in the First Class lounge in Concourse B in May. The service is free for First and Business-class passengers, and Emirates plans to roll out the experience across all its lounges in Dubai if the trial is successful.

Etihad Airways has started trialling SkyLights headsets at its flagship First Class Lounge and Spa and Business Class Premium Lounge, at Terminal 3 of Abu Dhabi International Airport. The month-long trial aims to gather customer feedback to decide the airline’s future lounge entertainment offering at Abu Dhabi’s state-of-the-art Midfield Terminal.
Skylights stand: AIX 3UB45

Easy pay from Lufthansa: Lufthansa Systems has announced that it is launching a pilot project with its partner optile to optimise payment processes within its aircraft IT platform BoardConnect. The project will enable passengers to make convenient in-app payments for digital content and shopping services. Lufthansa Systems is demonstrating a prototype of this solution at the AIX trade show in Hamburg.

Passengers will only need to enter their payment data once when booking their ticket through the airline app. They can then make further payments using these details. This simplifies purchasing and increases security, but also enables airlines to maximise their ancillary revenue potential. The new technology has already proven itself in a trial by Eurowings, Retail inMotion, Lufthansa Technik, optile and Lufthansa Systems.

During the trial, Eurowings passengers used the payment method provided by optile and BoardConnect in Retail inMotion’s on-board shop.

“Partnering with optile allows us to offer our airline customers an open and flexible payment solution, enabling payment with a single click and supporting multiple payment methods (e.g. AliPay, PayPal, etc.),” commented Jan-Peter Gaense, head of Passenger Experience Products & Solutions at Lufthansa Systems.

“Passengers will love the seamless payment process which makes is really easy to buy products and services. This will help airlines to keep the passenger in their ecosystem throughout the entire journey.”
Lufthansa Systems stand: AIX 4B11

Airfree reinvents shopping: Airfree is an innovative technology allowing a seamless e/m-commerce experience inflight. It digitally connects travellers to duty free retailers and service providers by offering a digital marketplace dedicated to inflight shopping, allowing carriers to use flight time as an opportunity for valuable incremental sales. The company is giving the first live demonstration of its technology during PTS by reproducing the connectivity conditions of an aircraft (satellite connectivity bandwidth and latency), so visitors can see first hand how the platform is designed to minimise bandwidth consumption and optimise loading time for passengers.
Airfree stand: PTS24

FAA awards Parts Manufacturer Approval on SmartSky 4G Aircraft System

March 28, 2018

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has awarded Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) to SmartSky Networks’ radio and antenna manufacturing partners.

This enables full-rate production of the SmartSky 4G LTE aircraft system and catalyzing STC projects on numerous popular business aircraft. Avidyne secured a PMA for the production of the airborne radio, while AeroAntenna received PMA for the manufacture of SmartSky’s aircraft antennas.

“SmartSky has examined every aspect of airborne connectivity, seeking better ways to deliver Wi-Fi performance and capacity to customers,” said Joe Klein, founder and ceo of AeroAntenna. “As their many demo flights have confirmed, SmartSky 4G LTE represents a quantum leap improvement over the incumbent air-to-ground system. Whether it’s through their advanced technical capabilities as evidenced by SmartSky’s 32 granted patents, or utilizing our highly innovative, customized, and active antennas that are now ready for full-rate production, SmartSky is raising expectations for ATG capabilities and consistently delivering.”

The PMAs assure installers, such as Pentastar, Chicago Jet Group, and Clay Lacy, that each of the unique components of the SmartSky 4G LTE aircraft system are manufactured to the same exacting standards. The FAA approval through its Manufacturing Inspection District Offices further facilitates the ongoing supplemental type certificate (STC) process on many popular aircraft models by enabling SmartSky’s partners to more rapidly develop new STCs using the PMA’d components.

“This approval accelerates the full implementation of the SmartSky 4G LTE-based network,” says Brian Campbell, vice president of global sales for StandardAero. “The industry demands more options when it comes to inflight connectivity, and I’m confident SmartSky 4G LTE answers that need. It is hands-down the best performing network I’ve ever experienced. This certification is an important milestone in allowing customers to experience first hand transformative inflight communication services in both the cabin and cockpit.”


BoardConnect IFE to go app-less

March 21, 2018

Lufthansa Systems and partner castLabs are soon to introduce browser-based playback of films protected by DRM (Digital Rights Management) on iOS devices, using the wireless BoardConnect IFE solution. This means that passengers will no longer need to pre-install an app to enjoy movies and TV series on their own iOS devices while in flight.

The latest 11.2 version of iOS from Apple enables DRM-protected video content to be played on mobile devices in the Safari browser, which was only possible previously using a separate player app.

Jan-Peter Gaense, head of Passenger Experience Products & Solutions at Lufthansa Systems said: “If passengers can simply enjoy our entertainment offering on their own devices as they wish instead of having to install an app before departure, we believe this will increase the number of users. This not only improves the passenger experience but also creates a larger potential target audience for the airline’s advertising activities and ancillary revenue opportunities. Airlines also benefit from greater usability, as they no longer need to offer a separate app for their entertainment offerings.”

Various operating systems and devices currently use different encryption formats for video file copy protection. Content therefore has to be stored in several different formats for all passengers to be able to access it. The new DRMtoday Onboard solution from castLabs uses the Common Media Application Format (CMAF), which has a secure encryption converter. Airlines will only need to store a single encrypted video file on the aircraft for each movie or TV series, which can then be used on any device.

Michael Stattmann, ceo of castLabs said: “We are delivering technology that makes DRM-protected movie files playable on all devices, and in BoardConnect, Lufthansa Systems has a proven and comprehensive IFEC solution with which to provide its entertainment offering – a perfect combination.”

DRMtoday’s new functionality is currently being incorporated into BoardConnect. Passengers will simply connect their devices to the aircraft’s wifi to be automatically taken to the airline’s entertainment homepage. From there, they can watch all content through their browser, regardless of their device’s model and operating system.


Oceania Cruises introduces high-speed internet

March 21, 2018

Oceania Cruises will introduce its Wavenet high-speed internet fleetwide allowing passengers to download and stream with ease.

Free and unlimited Wavenet service will be included for all stateroom and suite categories on all sailings. A streaming upgrade, Wavenet Prime, is available for $9.99 per day for guests who wish to stream movies, music or videos.

“With our new Wavenet high-speed internet, our guests and crew can continue to surf, post and stream aboard our ships from anywhere around the globe, just as they would at home,” stated Bob Binder, president & ceo of Oceania Cruises.

Wavenet and Wavenet Prime will be available on all vessels by the end of April.


Cobalt Air chooses Bluebox Wow

March 13, 2018

Startup airline Cobalt Air has signed a three-year deal with Bluebox Aviation Systems for the deployment of the Bluebox Wow portable wireless IFE platform across its fleet of Airbus A319-100s and A320-200s, based in Larnaca, Cyprus.

Andrew Madar, ceo, Cobalt Air, commented: “As we make the rapid transition from low-cost to full-service carrier, we recognise the role that delivering a high-quality IFE experience has to play. Bluebox Wow enables us to do this quickly and cost-effectively, and with virtually no disruption to our service, which would have happened if we’d attempted to implement a fitted system.”


New from Lufthansa Systems at AIX

March 13, 2018

At the AIX show in Hamburg in April, Lufthansa Systems and Retail inMotion will demonstrate how their aircraft IT platform BoardConnect works with Retail inMotion’s e-commerce solution for the first time. A new recommendation engine comes up with suggestions for content based on a personal profile. The algorithm learns over time so improves its content recommendations.

Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Systems will also be demonstrating the new Power & Safe solution for BoardConnect Portable. The BoardConnect Portable Mobile Streaming Unit (MSU) is stowed in a safe inside the overhead storage compartment, and powered by an additional electricity supply, eliminating the need for battery replacement. Air Europa is the first airline customer using this solution.

Jan-Peter Gaense, Head of Passenger Experience Products & Solutions at Lufthansa Systems, says: “The interest in IFE has always been very high. After a phase of mostly gathering information and evaluating, we now see more airlines ready to commit to a solution. Depending on the focus of the airline they either opt for a short-term commitment with a portable solution or move straight to IFEC. Lufthansa Systems is one of the few providers who can deliver customised solutions based on the BoardConnect platform to cover all solution variations and fleet types along the entire value chain.”


United signs new deal with Viasat

March 13, 2018

United Airlines has contracted Viasat to install its latest generation IFEC system on more than 70 aircraft, including at least 58 of its new Boeing 737 MAXs.
United, which already uses Viasat connectivity on 300 of its aircraft, will use the Ka-band system including the ViaSat-1, ViaSat-2 and ViaSat-3 satellite platforms. Its existing Boeing 737 fleet currently uses air-to-ground (ATG) connectivity.
Passengers will be able to browse the internet and access business applications, such as a corporate VPN and email. They will also be able to stream films and TV shows from their own laptops and mobiles using United’s Private Screening wireless IFE platform.


AirFi gears up in Asia-Pacific

March 8, 2018

IFE technology provider AirFi has announced major new growth milestones in the Asia-Pacific region. Formed as a joint venture only three months ago, AirFi Indonesia has announced deals with home-based airlines Sriwijaya and NAM Air.

Satish Mahtani, AirFi Indonesia md, said: “I’m thrilled to announce the signing of our first two AirFi Indonesia client airlines. Sriwijaya are Indonesia’s third largest airline, operating an all-Boeing 737 fleet of 40 aircraft. NAM Air is the feeder airline subsidiary of Sriwijaya, operating a fleet of 10 Boeing 757 and 5 ATR turboprops. Both airlines are now gearing up to launch the passenger-centric AirFi wireless IFE streaming platform and crew-centric Connected Crew onboard retailing EPOS system.”

Netherlands-based AirFi has key operational hubs at Bangalore, India, and Jakarta, Indonesia, and has announced another regional partner agreement, with a major Singapore-based ground-handler and in-flight caterer serving Changi Airport.

Job Heimerikx, AirFi ceo, said: “I’m again extremely proud to announce another landmark regional partner agreement. Mirroring our strategy in the Middle East and North Africa, we can now rapidly scale up our presence and capability across Asia-Pacific – which IATA forecast will see the biggest increase in passenger numbers over the next 20 years. Together with the successes at AirFi Indonesia, we have a really strong foundation to help more regional clients transform their onboard crew and passenger experiences.”


Adnexa promises AR from advertising

March 8, 2018

Comtrade Digital Services has announced that it has developed a digital platform called Adnexa that could make airlines millions in ancillary revenue per year. Adnexa, which pairs passenger data with relevant advertising content, was unveiled at the Aviation Festival in Singapore at the end of February.

The fully automated application allows advertisers to create custom-made campaigns and to match them with passenger profiles within their target demographic. Airlines can keep control over what advertising their passengers see but also which channels are used, for example, boarding passes, booking confirmations or in-flight entertainment. Comtrade says that the tool will help to grow profits for airlines by generating a steady and easy-to-manage revenue stream.

Marko Javornik, vp/gm mobility & travel at Comtrade Digital Services, said: “The airline business is being commoditised and pressured for profits. Airlines need to look into their digital assets and monetise them properly. Targeted advertising is a great additional revenue stream that airlines have not embraced yet in a fully modern and digital way. Adnexa allows them to do this in a simple way, covering multiple channels and maximising the return.

“The platform not only allows airlines to improve the experience of the customer and capitalise on advertising space, it also enables advertisers to deliver campaigns to specific audiences and leverage valuable data. It truly is one of the most advanced and targeted tools on the market, which benefits everyone involved.”


Award-winning films from BA

March 8, 2018

British Airways has created a new category in its inflight entertainment to include a selection of award-winning films. The new Award Worthy category features movies that won 12 Oscars and 12 BAFTAs in this year’s awards season.

Films include The Shape of Water, which had 13 Oscar nominations and picked up four awards including ‘Best Picture’. The standout film at the BAFTAs, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, is also in the category, having received nine nominations with five awards.

British war drama Darkest Hour, featuring an outstanding performance from Gary Oldman, has also been added. Oldman picked up the ‘Leading Actor’ BAFTA, while the film won the award for ‘Makeup and Hair’. Oldman also got an Oscar for ‘Best Actor’.

“For many of our long-haul customers, being able to watch some of the latest film releases is one of the parts of the flight they most look forward to,” commented Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience. “That’s why we do everything we can to make sure our in-flight entertainment systems are loaded with up-to-date, award-winning content, guaranteed to keep customers entertained.”

A number of film classics with awards from previous seasons will also be added to the channel. These films include Raging Bull, Dunkirk, Thelma & Louise, Silver Linings Playbook and Silence of the Lambs.

British Airways long-haul passengers have free access to over 1,000 hours of films, top TV shows and audio programmes on their seatback screen. The content is updated regularly, with new categories being added for major holidays or special calendar events. The Award Worthy category is on about two-thirds of the long-haul fleet inflight entertainment systems, while the rest will have a selection of the new content.


Gogo uses new SES-15 satellite

February 28, 2018

Gogo has announced that it has more than 200 aircraft equipped with its 2Ku inflight connectivity technology, which is now using the new high throughput satellite SES-15. SES-15 entered service in January, and is SES’s first hybrid satellite, providing both Ku-band wide beams and Ku-band spot-beams over North America, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.

All aircraft fitted with Gogo’s next-generation modem will benefit from SES-15’s HTS beams. All new 2Ku installations use the upgraded modem, and all 2Ku equipped aircraft are expected to have it installed by the end of this year.

“We designed the [2Ku] technology with an open architecture so it could take advantage of numerous enhancements over time,” said Anand Chari, Gogo’s cto. “As we layer in more HTS capacity from satellites like SES-15, 2Ku’s performance will get even stronger without having to touch the aircraft.”

“Deploying HTS connectivity requires a coordinated and collaborative approach because of the spot beam design,” said Elias Zaccack, evp global sales at SES Networks. “We are proud of our strong working relationship with the entire Gogo team.”
Gogo has signed agreements with SES to use 11 of its satellites, including agreements for HTS capacity onboard SES-15 and SES-14. This latest satellite launched in January 2018, and will provide extra HTS coverage over Latin America, the Caribbean, and the North Atlantic.


Star Alliance introduces Digital Services Platform

February 28, 2018

Star Alliance has launched a Digital Services Platform (DSP) as part of an overall enhancement of digital and mobile services offered to passengers travelling with its 28 member airlines.

The DSP gathers data from individual member airlines or third-party sources and makes it available to all members, enabling them to build it into their own customer-facing apps. The aim is to allow customers to use any member airline’s websites or app to obtain all information they require for travel on Star Alliance member airlines.

Lufthansa and United are the first two carriers using the platform. A seat selection feature allows United Airlines customers to select a seat on Singapore Airlines flights booked via United.com or the United app.

Lufthansa is using it to provide baggage tracking information for customers on journeys including flights on other Star Alliance carriers.

The platform was developed and implemented in conjunction with Accenture.

“A seamless travel experience for airline customers depends on an airline’s ability to participate in a broader travel ecosystem spanning the whole spectrum of the aviation, travel and tourism industry,” said Robert Zippel, who leads technology consulting within Accenture’s Travel industry practice. “Airlines need to embrace collaboration with their alliance member carriers and associated ecosystems to orchestrate a greater understanding of a traveller’s fast-changing requirements. By offering real-time data exchange and standardised applications to improve a customer’s travel experience for multiple carrier journeys and beyond, the Star Alliance DSP is a great example of a system that enables this kind of collaboration.”

Star Alliance will continue to work with its members to roll out further services and enhancements, focused on enabling customers to receive an improved digital experience on their interline journeys.


Air Nostrum rolls out Immfly tech to entire fleet

February 28, 2018

Air Nostrum is introducing Immfly’s digital services platform across its entire fleet from April this year, providing passengers with entertainment content via their personal electronic devices.

Immfly and Nostrum’s onboard digital services platform, Air Nostrum Play, will be available as a ‘freemium’ model (very basic features come free but others are offered at price) to passengers and utilises Immfly’s plugged portable solution called SkyCube.

Through a set of access points inside the plane, passengers will be able to connect to the platform and enjoy multiple entertainment modules among other airline services.

The technology for regional carriers is adapted for aircraft operating short-haul and low budget. It avoids time-consuming installation processes which are usually found with fixed solutions.


Free wifi from BA

February 21, 2018

British Airways is partnering with Visa to offer a free hour’s wifi on its newly connected aircraft. The airline plans to fit 118 of its long-haul aircraft with wifi over the next two years. However, installation of the 2Ku wifi system supplied by Gogo involves significant modifications to the aircraft, and only three have been connected so far.

Passengers are informed when boarding if their aircraft is fitted with wifi. The service is available about 10 minutes after take-off, when the aircraft has reached an altitude of 10,000 feet.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience, commented: “Staying connected is important to our customers who want to be able to work, browse and stream in the air. They can now look forward to enjoying the latest-generation wifi across our long-haul fleet over the next two years.”



Panasonic IFE for Kenya Airways

February 21, 2018

Panasonic Avionics has announced a deal with Kenya Airways to provide IFE services for 24 of the airline’s narrowbody and widebody aircraft. The agreement includes ten Embraer 190 aircraft line-fitted with Panasonic Avionics’ eFX IFE system, five Boeing 737-800 aircraft fitted with eX1 and nine Boeing 787-8 aircraft equipped with eX3.

The eFX system for single-aisle aircraft delivers entertainment including music, movies, games, TV series, destination presentations and a moving map. The eX1 is Panasonic’s most advanced linefit IFE system for single-aisle aircraft. With high-definition display and surround sound audio. The eX3 system can deliver over 700 hours of audio and video entertainment.

Sean Gavin, vp of Panasonic Technical Services at Panasonic Avionics, commented: “Having worked very closely with Kenya Airways to develop a customised package to fit their needs for both narrowbody and widebody aircraft, we are delighted to welcome them as a Panasonic customer. Our world-class IFE systems will offer the airline and its passengers an unrivalled and memorable entertainment experience.”

Kenya Airways is a leading African airline flying to 53 destinations worldwide, carrying over three million passengers a year. Kenya Airways has one of the most up-to-date fleets in Africa, with 36 aircraft, including its flagship Boeing 787 Dreamliner.



British Airways feels the love

February 14, 2018

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, British Airways is adding a romantic touch to its IFE with the introduction of a new section: Love is in the Air. This category hosts a selection of romantic films, TV shows and audio programmes.

This new category will run until the end of February and includes classics such as Love Me Tender, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, When Harry Met Sally, Chocolat and more recent releases such as Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool. TV shows include love-themed episodes from series, such as Friends – The One with Candy Hearts, Modern Family – Do You Believe in Magic, Big Bang Theory – The Large Hadron Collision, and two episodes of Sex and the City.

The romantic collection also features love poems, with audio excerpts from William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Thomas Hardy, William Wordsworth, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and DH Lawrence.

British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience, Carolina Martinoli, says: “We’re always looking at ways we can enhance our extensive range of films, TV shows, documentaries and audiobooks. So, whether customers are in a relationship, looking for love, or happily single, we hope they enjoy the category and look forward to welcoming them onboard.”


Garuda chooses Thales IFE

February 14, 2018

Garuda Indonesia announced at the Singapore Air Show that it had selected the Thales Avant IFE system for its A330neo aircraft fleet.

The Avant system features high-definition monitors for Business and Economy. Business passengers will also get Avii touchscreen handsets, an advanced android-based smartphone-like controller.

Dominique Giannoni, ceo, Thales InFlyt Experience, says: “We are excited to partner with Garuda Indonesia, the world class airline rich in service culture. As the carrier evolves digitally and implements the latest technologies to enhance the travel experience for passengers, Thales is pleased to work with Garuda and help accelerate their digital journey by delivering state-of-the art in-flight entertainment.”

Garuda Indonesia expects to see a double-digit growth in passengers this year. The contract is to equip 14 aircraft in the airline’s fleet, to be delivered in 2019.


EAN ready to launch by July

February 14, 2018

The European Aviation Network (EAN) – the hybrid S-band satellite and air-to-ground (ATG) service developed by Deutsche Telekom, Inmarsat and Nokia – will be ready to provide commercial connectivity services by the end of Q2 this year.

The EAN consists of about 300 base stations across all 28 EU member states, as well as Switzerland and Norway. These are complemented by the S-band satellite, which has been operational since September 2017.

“Bringing connectivity to the skies is a complex effort and we could only realise this through strategic collaboration with our European partners,” said Frederik van Essen, svp at Inmarsat Aviation.

International Airlines Group (IAG) – the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling – is the sole confirmed EAN customer so far. It has already started to install EAN equipment on its aircraft.

Deutsche Telekom claims that the service can currently provide over 75 Mbps connection speed to the aircraft. Rolf Nafziger, svp, international wholesale business at deutsche Telekom, says: “The network is specifically designed to meet future capacity demands for connectivity in the European airspace, with passenger volumes expected to double in the next 15 years.”


Kaelis makes listening easy for Air Europa

February 7, 2018

Air Europa has introduced a new headphone for Business passengers, designed and supplied by Kaelis.

The headphones offer noise-cancelling properties which allow passengers to disconnect from the flight environment and immerse themselves in the inflight entertainment.

Removable ear cups made of ABS and foam high technology ensure a perfect fit to the ears, designed to offer a superior sound experience. They also feature a 1,5 meter cable length and speakers that have 40mm diameter.


SIA launches first blockchain-based loyalty wallet

February 7, 2018

Singapore Airline’s KrisFlyer frequent-flyer programme is introducing a world-first blockchain based airline loyalty digital wallet that will enable everyday spending at retail partners.

The new digital wallet app will be introduced in around six months, allowing members to use ‘digital KrisFlyer’ miles’ for point-of-sale transactions at participating retail merchants.

“This groundbreaking development in which we will be using blockchain technology to ‘digitalise’ KrisFlyer miles is a demonstration of the investment we are making to significantly enhance the digital side of our business for the benefit of our customers”, says Singapore Airlines CEO, Goh Choon Phong.

“It is in line with our recently unveiled Digital Innovation Blueprint, under which we aim to be the world’s leading digital airline.”

The digital wallet app is the first of its kind for an airline loyalty programme. Following a successful proof of concept exercise in collaboration with KPMG Digital Village and Microsoft, KrisFlyer will now be signing up retail partners, initially in the Singapore market.


Mobipax app uses blockchain and AI

February 7, 2018

Thailand-based startup mobipax has launched an inflight cabin service app incorporating blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve customer service, customer recognition, claims management and in-flight sales.

The cloud-based mobile solution gives flight attendants access to information including passenger preference data and customer feedback, enabling them to offer better, more personalised service. Since it runs on Android and iOS devices, the app requires no upfront investment, instead earning revenue through a per-flight fee.

Mobipax will be exhibiting at the Passenger Technology Solutions Show at Hamburg on stand PTS52.


New networks from Panasonic

January 16, 2018

Panasonic has improved its satellite connectivity service with the introduction of its third-generation communications network.

The improvements are expected from the combination of a new modem manufactured by Newtec and Panasonic’s high-throughput satellite (HTS) network that now covers all the regions that experience dense mobile traffic. Jon Norris, senior director of corporate sales and marketing, claimed that data rates would be 20 times better.

Improved data rates will lead to faster and more responsive internet and the ability to stream video. Panasonic is also promising better TV quality, more channels to choose from, and the option of 3G phone services supplied by Panasonic’s subsidiary company Aeromobile.

The chairman and ceo of Panasonic North America, Tom Gebhardt said that United Airlines and Southwest Airlines would be the first customers to benefit from the performance improvement, in the first three months of 2018.

Hideo Nakano, ceo of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “Our new satellite communications network is more than just greater bandwidth – it represents a major evolution in our approach to partnering with customers to deliver the highest standards of service and to ensure that their passengers enjoy an unmatched, connected experience inflight.”

Other innovations include the Customer Performance Center, which supports traffic shaping tools, live monitoring and management of the user experience, and Panasonic’s ZeroTouch™ service for real-time content loading, validation and management. New business intelligence tools and reports provide data and analytics to deliver targeted pricing and advertising campaigns.

At the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, the company reported it has now fitted its Ku-band satellite connectivity solution to 1,900 aircraft, with 2,000 to be completed by Q1 2018. It has deals for around 4,000 planes to receive the equipment, with a target of 10,000 by 2025.

Air Astana installs inflight connectivity on Boeing 767s

January 16, 2018

The national carrier of Kazakhstan, Air Astana, has completed the installation of Rockwell Collins’ cabin system, which supports Inmarsat’s GX Aviation inflight connectivity (IFC) service, across its fleet of three Boeing 767 aircraft.

The IFC service is available to both Business and Economy passengers, who can now connect to the internet, use various applications for instant messaging and social networks, listen to audio and check their mail using personal computers, tablets or smartphones.

Air Astana’s passengers can choose from three connectivity packages: the Light option covers 15 MB; the Regular option 50 MB; and the Super option 100 MB. All services are estimated to operate at an average speed of 2 to 5 Mbps.

In September last year Air Astana became the first airline in the world to offer Inmarsat’s GX Aviation onboard a widebody aircraft when the installation on its first Boeing 767 was completed.


Amazon Prime gets onboard with Eurostar

January 10, 2018

Eurostar is introducing a range of critically-acclaimed Amazon Prime video content on board its fleet of e320 trains via a new app.

The cross-channel train company will be the first transport operator in Europe to feature Amazon Prime Video on board, offering its customers a range of its original drama, comedy and kids TV shows.

The new programmes will add to Eurostar’s existing line-up of over 300 hours of TV shows and films. They include: The Grand Tour, featuring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and Man in the High Castle, a dystopian alternative history television series produced by Ridley Scott. The catalogue will be refreshed on a regular basis.

Neil Roberts, head of digital, Eurostar, said: “Our on board entertainment system offers passengers more than 300 hours of free content, all available through the new app, accessible on their own device. With our new Amazon Prime Video partnership, we’re delighted to offer our travellers even more choice, as they speed across the channel on our new trains.”

The new Eurostar app is designed to offer business and leisure travellers a more streamlined experience with a sleek new design, simple navigation and new features including a booking engine allowing customers to book travel to connecting destinations; Apple Wallet storage for digital tickets; a facility allowing customers to update or change bookings on the go; a digital loyalty card with quick access to the exclusive discounts and benefits unique to Club Eurostar members; and live departures and arrivals.


Air New Zealand explores translation technology

January 10, 2018

Air New Zealand is trialling Google’s wireless Bluetooth Pixel Buds headphones, which enables live translation of 40 languages via Google’s Pixel handset, to overcome language barriers.

Air New Zealand chief digital officer, Avi Golan, says: “We operate to 30 international destinations and our customers speak an even more diverse range of languages. Google’s Pixel Buds could assist in areas such as check-in and boarding as well as inflight to help our staff communicate effectively with international customers.

“In this increasingly digital world our customers expect us to provide a fast and personalised experience. It’s crucial we embrace technology solutions and collaborating with like-minded partners helps us keep ahead of the game.”

Air New Zealand says its aspires to be a leading digital airline and this trial follows on from other initiatives involving Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality and Social Robotics.


New deals for AirFi

January 03, 2018

AirFi has revealed a new IFE roll-out with Jettime, a Danish airline flying eight planes out of Copenhagen. It is currently supplying its new Venus portable streaming wireless box to the airline for installation on its B737s. The wireless streaming service is scheduled to go live in the next few weeks.

AirFi ceo Job Heimerikx said: “We are currently delivering our boxes to six new airline clients, who will be implementing their wireless streaming capabilities in the New Year. We will soon have some major new developments to announce, with new deals in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Indonesia. 2017 has been incredibly exciting, with new airlines joining every single month.

“On the other side of the business,” continued Heimerikx, “our Connected Crew tablet solution with MPOS is also proving popular, now successfully rolled-out with a major French railway and some big implementations on-going in the Middle East. Just like this year, 2018 is going to be full of surprises; there’s never a dull moment in our industry.”


SITA Reports on Airline IT Trends

January 03, 2018

The technology advance that airlines will most covet for their IFEC services leading up to 2020 is a destination services app, according to SITAONAIR in its 2017 report on Air Transport IT Trends Insights.

SITAONAIR reports that around 72% of carriers wanted this, closely followed by a Duty Free shopping app (61%).

Passengers’ preference for enjoying IFE with a ‘second screen’ of their own was confirmed, with 24% of airlines having invested in wireless IFE to passengers’ own devices and 46% planning to do so by 2020. Providing infotainment to personal devices or apps – news, magazines and books – and inflight communication services, was also a priority for airlines.

Over 90% of carriers are going to increase investment in wireless services for cabin crew and pilots over the next three years to 2020, and 69% are committing either to a major programme (40%) or R&D/trial (29%) to provide full satellite broadband connectivity to aircraft.

Enhancing the passenger experience is the connected aircraft’s biggest perceived benefit, according to 43% of airlines. A total of 31% cited operational benefits across maintenance and aircraft health monitoring, cockpit and cabin, as the chief advantages of connectivity.

SITAONAIR’s vp of strategy, Dominique El Bez, commented on the report: “Our industry’s connected aircraft vision, with its complete, connected inflight experience, is irrefutably here to stay. Airlines are increasingly aware of the value-added benefits presented by in-flight connectivity options that we at SITAONAIR are experts in delivering, to advance their ROI [Return On Investment].

“We also see accelerating industry interest in managing and harnessing the power of aircraft data. Such innovation advances flight and MRO operations with predictive and enriched aircraft operations. Amongst the emerging technologies reported by airlines, 67% plan to invest into initiatives around the internet-of-things, 52% around artificial intelligence and 44% on wearable technology for staff. All present amazing potential for enhancing airlines’ operations inflight and on the ground.”


Solaseed Air takes Bluebox Wow

December 12, 2017

The Wow wireless content streaming system from Bluebox Aviation has been adopted by Japanese airline Solaseed Air.

The regional carrier has deployed Wow across its fleet of 12 Boeing 737-800s, operating out of Tokyo’s Haneda airport and throughout Japan.

Bluebox Wow provides wireless content streamed to passengers’ personal devices in the aircraft cabin, offering up to 1.6TB of film, TV, audio, and games. The system supports advertising, inflight shopping, and payment processing, which provides opportunities for generating ancillary revenue. Bluebox Wow is a standalone, portable, lunchbox-sized unit, designed to be simply stowed in overhead lockers. Each box has a single swappable and rechargeable battery that offers 15 hours of streamed content to 50 passengers.

Kevin Clark, ceo Bluebox Aviation, said: “We’re honoured that Solaseed Air has selected Bluebox Aviation Systems as a partner in the development of their new IFE service. IFE is evolving rapidly – no longer is it just a service to entertain passengers, but a channel for revenue generation, an important factor for any regional or low-cost carriers, which has not traditionally offered IFE.”


easyJet launches Air Time

December 12, 2017

The first five easyJet aircraft to be equipped with the Air Time service developed by Immfly are now in operation. The digital platform provides passengers with personalised entertainment options on their own smartphones, tablets and laptops, avoiding the need for seat-back screens.

Air Time is available in English, Spanish, French, Italian and German, and will initially be available on select services covering over 90 destinations, including London, Manchester, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Lisbon, Rome and Madrid, with Geneva and Basel as the main hubs.

Internet service provider Rakuten, which has one billion members worldwide and an ecosystem of more than 70 services, will be the official sponsor of the easyJet onboard entertainment platform. It will include films, series, books, kids’ programmes, games, newspapers, magazines, practical information, language courses, destination guides and more.

“We specialise in maximising revenue and engagement opportunities through wireless on-board connectivity, increasingly supported by success stories that are relevant to the airlines we collaborate with,” said Jimmy Martínez von Korff, co-founder of Immfly. “Today we allow easyJet to provide a complete on-board digital services platform based on exciting content and online shopping possibilities, offering a fully integrated platform with leading brands and their services.”

Andrew Middleton, easyJet’s ancillary revenue director, commented: “Air Time will allow us for the first time to offer customers in-flight entertainment in a way that replicates how they consume their media at home. We are delighted to be collaborating with other innovative partners, such as Rakuten, who will help us curate engaging content, and Immfly who are providing the unique easyJet portal with a dedicated customer support team, ensuring that easyJet crew are able to continue conducting an excellent standard of safety-focused service and on-board hospitality.”

Immfly expects to reach 100 million connected passengers in 2018 after making deals with airlines including Iberia Express, Volotea, XL Airways and now easyJet.


Fiji Airways taking digital steps

December 12, 2017

Fiji Airways is to launch a passenger app powered by Travelport Fusion, providing the carrier with digital analytics on booking trends and behaviours, and allowing them to put in place effective sales and marketing strategies.

A recent Travelport Global Digital Traveler Research report highlighted the need for a strong mobile app solution with findings indicating that 64% of travellers in Asia Pacific look for a good digital experience when choosing an airline to travel with. Further findings show 46% book leisure trips on a smartphone and 73% believe digital boarding passes make travelling much easier.

Marc Cavaliere, chief commercial officer Fiji Airways, said: “We recognise the importance of mobile engagement and being able to connect with our customers, bringing them the highly relevant, personalised information and services they need, at every step of their journey. Travelport Fusion allows us to implement this mobile app rapidly.”

Travelport Fusion is designed to help airlines keep up with the rapid changes in mobile technology. The new app allows the carrier to maintain its brand identity and offer a consistent customer experience.


Tech event added to Passenger Experience Week

December 12, 2017

Next year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo and World Travel Catering and Onboard Services Expo in Hamburg will next year include a new event called Passenger Technology Solutions (PTS).

The event will showcase and explore the latest technology trends transforming the passenger journey. It is designed to provide bespoke technology suppliers with a platform from which to showcase their products and services to airline and rail operators.

Archana Sharma, exhibition director, PTS says: “The launch of PTS comes at a transformative time for the passenger experience industry. Today’s passengers not only expect the same level of connectivity and seamless communication throughout their journey as they have at home or in the office, they now demand it.

“For the thousands of airlines and rail operators who visit Passenger Experience Week each year, PTS will be the destination to source innovative, tech-enabled solutions and hear from industry-leaders who will join the dots of the passenger technology ecosystem.”

PTS will take place in Hamburg, Germany from April 9 to 12, 2018.


Virgin Atlantic accommodates blind customers

December 4, 2017

Bluebox Aviation Systems has launched an accessible IFE (aIFE™) platform with Virgin Atlantic, designed specifically for passengers with visual impairments.

Virgin Atlantic will be the first global airline to make IFE accessible for passengers with sight loss on its whole fleet, serving destinations across North America, the Caribbean, Africa, China, India and the Middle East.

Bluebox worked closely with Virgin Atlantic and The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in the development of the platform. It has a fully-customised iPad-based user interface enhanced for IFE.

Its features include: controls and menus that are easy to detect and navigate for different types of sight loss, support for multiple languages, closed captions, and audio-described content; and all the security of the original Hollywood-approved Bluebox Ai platform, offering Early Window Content.

“We distilled the most critical elements of our Bluebox Ai IFE platform into a simple design that someone with sight loss can easily and consistently navigate, enriching this with additional background functionality,” said James Macrae, cto, Bluebox Aviation Systems. “For example, information like film synopses are read out after a single tap of the film title.”

Mark Anderson, evp – customer at Virgin Atlantic, commented: “Nearly thirty years ago, Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to offer seat-back entertainment in all cabins, so it’s apt that we should be the first to ensure our entertainment is fully accessible across all flights. Working with Bluebox and Guide Dogs we’ve been able to create a world first that ensures customers with sight loss can experience the full range of onboard entertainment including the latest blockbusters, TV shows and albums.”

John Welsman, Policy Business Partner for Travel and Transport for the charity Guide Dogs, said: “As someone with sight loss who flies quite often myself, I think it’ll be wonderful to access entertainment and information on Virgin Atlantic planes without needing to ask for help. Not having to call for cabin crew, or disturb fellow passengers around me who might be sleeping, will be great.”

Bluebox claims that its aIFE solution provides a low-cost alternative to updating seat-back systems and is effective across mixed fleets with diverse entertainment setups. It promises a simple and quick route for an airline to get compliance with future government legislation on accessible IFE provision.


Backing augmented reality

December 4, 2017

KIDZinflight has teamed up with Zappar to bring augmented reality to childrens’ in-flight entertainment.

Accessible via an app, Zappar is able to recognise images and objects in the world around us through using zap codes. It then uses augmented reality to make visuals come alive, adding a new dimension to onboard activities and keeping children engaged for longer.

The new technology has been proven to enhance the passenger experience and has increased brand loyalty.


We want you!

November 29, 2017

Onboard entertainment and connectivity is changing fast and technological innovations in the passenger experience are becoming a key differentiator for airlines. If you are at the cutting-edge of these developments we want to hear from you now!

This year’s Onboard Hospitality Awards will recognise the best in onboard technological innovations. We’re looking for tech solutions which improve service, enhance the passenger experience or support effective operations. They could be customer touchpoints such as headphones, pre-ordering apps or entertainment systems; or perhaps technology which supports crew, onboard security or retail.

We’re looking for tech used by air, rail or cruise operators for our
Best Use of Onboard Technology category, or if your technological innovation is not yet onboard check out our Ones to Watch category designed to profile products with onboard potential. This category will put you in front of onboard experts fast.

Full details of the awards and entry form

Full details of the benefits of entering

Virgin Australia offers free wifi

November 29, 2017

Virgin Australia is going to offer free inflight internet on some flights to Los Angeles by the end of this year. Gogo is equipping the airline’s five B777-300ER aircraft with its 2Ku satellite wifi system, and the first two will be ready for live consumer testing in December.

The two wifi-equipped aircraft will be shared across the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane routes to LA. The rest of the B777 fleet will be fitted out by May 2018, when all the routes will get wifi.

Gogo is using the Intelsat and SES Ku-band satellites to provide coverage for the flights between the US and Australia. US airlines United, American and Delta already offer internet access on flights across the Pacific, but Qantas is focusing on equipping its domestic fleet, and lags behind on international routes.

Pricing options for the service will be announced in December, and seem likely to be various data- or time-based packages. Virgin Australia ceo John Borghetti promised a range of options, commenting: “You want to try and have a structure in place that meets all customers’ needs and segment the market.”

Virgin Australia is also equipping its Boeing 737 fleet, which flies domestic routes, with Gogo’s 2Ku wifi, to be completed by the end of 2018. The Airbus A330 fleet, which covers mainly transcontinental routes, will follow by the second half of 2019. On domestic flights, Virgin Australia has promised a base level of free wifi, with premium options.


Emirates connects with Thales

November 29, 2017

Emirates has signed a deal with Thales to fit their newest Boeing 777X fleet with broadband inflight connectivity using Inmarsat GX Global Network.

With over 800,000 passengers per month connecting while inflight, Emirates plan to offer customers best-in-class connectivity with speeds of up to 50Mbps on its Boeing 777X aircraft by 2020.

The new agreement is part of Emirates and Thales’s plans to develop state of the art IFEC for the 777X fleet and boost passenger experience.


Trainline launches travel app

November 29, 2017

Train ticket retailer, Trainline, has created a voice activated rail app designed to simplify journey planning.

Built in partnership with Google Assistant, the voice app allows rail travellers to ask everyday travel queries with real-time updates on important information such as timetables and delays.

The app features 12 levels of conversational depth – making it the most advanced voice activated rail app in the UK and is available on eligible Android phones on the Assistant app on iOS and on Assistant-enabled devices such as Google Home.

Daily commutes can also teach the app to recognise their commuting patterns to allow regular updates.

Dave Slocombe, Product Director, at Trainline, said, “Trainline’s mission is to use technology to make travel as smart and simple as possible. Trainline’s voice app is the latest in a long line of innovations that make this possible. We’re proud to have worked with Google and its powerful new Assistant platform on the creation of voice capabilities that can deliver complex travel information in a quick, simple and personal way.”


SAUDIA chooses Panasonic IFE

November 29, 2017

Panasonic Avionics has announced a new deal to supply inflight entertainment to 35 aircraft in the Saudi Arabian Airlines fleet. The eXO overhead entertainment system is to be line-fit on 20 Airbus A320neos and 15 A321neos that the airline has on order. SAUDIA previously committed to eXO for 30 Airbus A320neo aircraft in April 2016.

SAUDIA has opted for Panasonic’s X-series solutions, the eXO and eX1 systems, for installation on its fleets. This new order follows an earlier contract for Panasonic to install its eX1 IFE system across the airline’s existing fleet of seven A320s.

Panasonic’s X-Series inflight entertainment solutions feature a large selection of options including HD monitors, capacitive touch handsets, and in-seat power.
Hideo Nakano, ceo Panasonic Avionics, commented: “With our proven track record in delivering innovative inflight entertainment solutions, we will help Saudi Arabian Airlines optimise their investment in next-generation aircraft with an unmatched experience for all their passengers.”

The Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines, His Excellency Eng. Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, said: “Once the new entertainment solutions by Panasonic are retrofitted on the existing A320 fleet, and new A320 aircraft are delivered, our guests onboard will be able to maximise their time in the sky with a wide range of entertainment solutions to make their onboard journeys even more enjoyable.”

The fleet of A320neo/A321neo aircraft is expected in Q3 of 2019, and the previous order for retrofitting seven A320 aircraft with the eX1 IFE system is scheduled for completion in Q2 of 2018.


Panasonic and Singapore Airlines get personal

November 15, 2017

Panasonic Avionics and Singapore Airlines recently introduced innovations in personalisation with the launch of myKrisWorld – the airline’s newest IFE offering. It is built around the concept of ‘the Internet of Me’, gathering together all the things people care about to deliver personalised and contextualised experiences.

The myKrisWorld, experience starts before boarding. Passengers can use Singapore Airlines’ app or website to preview content and customise their playlist. Once onboard, they can either synchronise their smartphone or tablet or log in at their seat to access their content.

myKrisWorld will use crowd-sourced data to offer alternative titles, and make recommendations based on a passenger’s individual habits and what content is trending. Travellers will be allowed to finish the movie that they started on the previous flight.

Hideo Nakano, ceo for Panasonic Avionics, commented: “Today, we are proud to partner with Singapore Airlines to introduce the latest tectonic shift in our industry — personalisation. Last year, we helped Singapore Airlines introduce their award-winning companion app. Today, we’re taking that personalised experience to even greater heights with a series of innovative features that include passenger log-in at their seat; playlist, bookmark, language preference storage and wallpaper customisation between flights; customised and personalised entertainment spotlights; popular, trending and recommended content; and exclusive content based on frequent flier tier.”

Nakano continued, “By embracing the culture of mobile, we can increase the rate of evolution in the passenger experience, transforming what was once a passive entertainment system into another digital channel that airlines can leverage to better serve their customers.”


Cathay Pacific partners with PressReader

November 15, 2017

Cathay Pacific has teamed up with PressReader to enable passengers to access thousands of digital newspapers and magazines via an app.

The Cathay Pacific app allows customers to gain access to PressReader 48 hours before departure. Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon customers can download full issues of their favourite publications to their own smartphones or tablets for free before they fly.

PressReader’s 7,000-strong library features same-day titles such as The Washington Post, The Guardian and Los Angeles Times, in addition to travel and lifestyle periodicals, including Business Traveller, Vogue and GQ. More than 300 popular newspapers and magazines from Hong Kong and mainland China are also available, in addition to airline’s award-winning inflight magazines, Discovery and Silkroad.

Passengers can also access useful travel information and functions such as flight booking and check-in.

Cathay Pacific director customer, Simon Large, said: “Partnering with PressReader is an investment that strengthens our news and entertainment offering. It enables our customers to have a much bigger range of choice in reading materials, ideally making their travel experience a richer and more relaxing one.”


Air Europa introduces new IFE platform

November 15, 2017

Air Europa is to offer a personalised inflight entertainment service to smartphones and tablets starting early 2018.

Lufthansa Systems, Lufthansa Technik and Epteca have collaborated to produce the simple and cost-effective IFE solution, which will allow passengers to enjoy films, TV series, music and personalised content on their own smartphones or tablet devices.

Using the latest cloud container technology enables the users to access new services such as this Epteca travel platform. The platform is able to present context-specific offers tailored to the individual needs of passengers. In addition to offering booking options for tourist attractions, the platform provides advertising opportunities.

The new solution will be rolled out across Air Europa fleet of 15 Boeing 737s and 11 Embraer 195s through 2018.


SWISS focuses on film

November 01, 2017

SWISS is featuring the Flying Film Festival in its inflight entertainment programme on all long-haul services from the beginning of November until the end of this year.

The Festival showcases 10 short documentaries from all over the world and will offer an extra dimension of entertainment onboard in addition to the regular inflight programme. The best of these will also be awarded a special Judges’ Prize in January 2018.

The Festival has been jointly devised by SWISS and the Le Système D association, which is based in Fribourg, Switzerland; and this is its second manifestation after the début event in 2015.

The aim of the Flying Film Festival is to support promising young directors all over the world and make their brief but powerful documentaries available to a broader audience by including them in the inflight entertainment programme on SWISS’s long-haul flights.

Film productions from Switzerland, Ukraine, Mexico, Japan, Italy, the UK and Germany are available. Full details of the films and their directors are available at flyingfilmfestival.com


Big Brazilian deal for Gogo

November 01, 2017

LATAM Airlines Brazil has chosen Gogo’s 2Ku technology to introduce inflight connectivity to 100 of its A320 aircraft, operating domestically and within Latin America. The IFC service will begin in the first half of 2018 and the technology rollout is scheduled to be completed within a year.

Michael Small, Gogo’s president and ceo, commented: “We are delighted to partner with LATAM to bring the industry’s leading inflight connectivity solution to their passengers. 2Ku delivers a ground-like internet experience, including the ability to stream video, to passengers on aircraft flying around the world. Importantly, 2Ku’s technology outperforms all competing solutions.”

Jerome Cadier, ceo of LATAM Airlines Brazil, said: “We have selected the most modern and innovative in-flight internet technology available in order to offer an unrivalled and diverse onboard experience to our passengers in Brazil. The new service will complement LATAM Entertainment, our wireless entertainment system, and will provide our passengers with the freedom to choose how they want to enjoy their journeys.”

Gogo’s 2Ku technology is now installed on more than 350 aircraft and the company claims performance of more than 15 Mbps to each passenger device, covering more than 98 per cent of all flight hours around the world with 98 per cent system availability. The equipment installed on LATAM’s aircraft will include Gogo’s new modem, which is said to significantly increase throughput and reliability to and from the aircraft.


GoMedia gets on track

November 01, 2017

GoMedia is bringing a selection of HBO’s hit-shows, including select episodes from the first and second seasons of Game of Thrones and the first season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Wire and The Sopranos to rail customers for the first time, as part of its latest on-board entertainment package on TransPennine Express (TPE).

The service, named Exstream, was launched to TPE passengers by Kristian Nairn, best-known for playing the role of Hodor in Game of Thrones.

Roger Matthews, md at GoMedia, says: “We are excited to be working with TransPennine Express in launching an ambitious entertainment package, the quality of content we’re making available to customers is certain to boost satisfaction levels. The TPE entertainment package will also include content from ITV and its catch-up service, reality TV from hayu, Hollywood movies and Sky News updates; all available for customers to watch on their own smart devices once connected to the free onboard wifi.

GoMedia already works with Virgin Trains, Eurostar, National Express coaches and c2c.


Air Inuit Wowed by Bluebox

October 24, 2017

Air Inuit, a Canadian airline serving Quebec’s northernmost territory, has selected Bluebox Aviation’s portable wireless IFE system, Bluebox Wow, for its fleet. Air Inuit has nearly 30 aircraft specially adapted for northern operations, and the first installations will start in November.

Bluebox Wow provides wireless content streamed to passenger devices in the aircraft cabin, including film, TV, audio, and games, accessed through any web browser. The portable, lunchbox-sized unit is stowed in overhead lockers, and so needs no STC to fit. The system can store up to 1 terabyte of content in four micro-SD cards, and the swappable rechargeable battery offers 15 hours of streamed content to 50 passengers.

Kevin Clark, ceo Bluebox Aviation Systems, said: “Our award-winning Bluebox Wow is helping make IFE an accessible and affordable option for those airlines that might not have otherwise considered it previously. And we’re delighted to help regional airlines such as Air Inuit enhance their passenger experience with an IFE service.”

“We were looking for a system to offer our passengers a courtesy entertainment service under a ‘BYOD’ model,” said Christian Busch, vp Operations and coo for Air Inuit. “Plus, as our Boeing 737s and Dash 8s are combi Passenger/Cargo aircraft operated in flexible passenger configurations, the portable Bluebox Wow solution suited our mixed-use and mixed-fleet requirements. Its simplicity, power, portability and passenger friendly interface convinced us Bluebox Wow was the right solution for Air Inuit’s onboard customers.”

Air Inuit joins a growing list of Bluebox Wow customers that currently includes Pakistan International and the Saudi Royal Fleet.


Airline security solution by VT Miltope

October 17, 2017

VT Miltope is partnering with RazorSecure to improve the security of its MAP3 wireless access ports (WAPs) to comply with the EU’s Network Information Security directive, due to take force in May 2018. The regulation requires active monitoring and anomaly detection for aircraft and airports, rather than the passive security systems hitherto used such as firewalls and encryption.

RazorSecure specialises in cyber-security for transport systems, and uses machine learning to provide advanced intrusion protection. Robert Brown, executive chairman, said: “Our system is active in seeking out anomalies in usage of the network that typically precede an attack. This type of protection is what is required by the new regulations for transportation networks.”

RazorSecure is applying its technology to VT Miltope’s WAPs to protect IFE systems from nuisance or malicious damage. “The problem in the future is less likely to be the hoodie, but more likely to come from international sabotage,” said Brown.

Markus Gilges, business development director of VT Miltope. said: “Airlines seem to be blissfully unaware of their responsibilities under this new regulation taking force next spring in every country in the EU. The penalties for non-compliance are 20 million euros or 4% of turnover, whichever is the higher.”

“Our MAP3 access point is integrated with location-based technology and can offer a secure, personalised experience for the next generation of connectivity. The RazorSecure technology is exclusive to VT Miltope.”


Inmarsat updates on GX and EAN

October 17, 2017

At a round table meeting with Inmarsat at APEX, Frederik van Essen, svp Strategy and Business Development, gave the latest update on its GX Aviation connectivity service, which went live last year at the Singapore show. Installations as part of the launch contract with Lufthansa Group are currently underway by Lufthansa Technik, with more than 100 installations now completed for Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Eurowings.

Inmarsat announced a new customer at the show, AirAsia Group, who will be retrofitting more than 120 aircraft with GX, plus any future additions to the fleet. Inmarsat partner SITAONAIR also announced it has activated GX Aviation on the first Singapore Airlines aircraft and secured a new contract for the service with Philippine Airlines (PAL). Also at APEX, another Inmarsat partner Rockwell Collins announced it had been selected by a large Asia Pacific-based airline to provide GX Aviation on a fleet of 100 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.Other airlines that have selected GX Aviation include Air New Zealand, Qatar Airways, Norwegian and Avianca.

Van Essen said that there was now 1300 aircraft under signed contracts, both installed and under backlog, for Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and European Aviation Network (EAN). He stated that MRO was not a bottleneck, and neither were supplies of equipment from Honeywell. The delay was simply getting airlines to release planes for fitting during busy periods.

Van Essen said: “We have learned a tremendous amount; GX is now well established. A fifth GX satellite by Thales Alenia Space is to be launched in 2019. This is a Very High Throughput Satellite (VHTS) providing capacity across the Middle East, Europe and the Indian subcontinent.”

Contracts have been signed with Airbus for two satellites in the 6th generation fleet. These will have both an L- and Ka-band payload. The first is being built and is due for launch in 2020 by the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries HIIA launch vehicle. “Now we have global coverage and can add traffic-optimised capacity in line with customer orders.”

Talking about EAN, van Essen said that the satellite launched in June had completed tests and was ready for commercial service. EAN itself would be live by the year end. The first pilot phase was taking place in England later this year. Van Essen said he and the team were delighted with the recent Apex award for EAN for Best Inflight Connectivity Innovation. EAN’s satellite and complementary ground component will offer speeds of 75 Mbps.

Van Essen mentioned that ViaSat and Eutelsat had launched a case against the regulators aimed at delaying or preventing the launch of EAN. There was no case to answer in Inmarsat’s view, since Inmarsat had been working closely with the regulators since 2007.


Gogo set to disrupt the IFE Market?

October 11, 2017

Gogo has launched a new solution called Gogo Vision Touch, which takes a radical approach to IFE, eliminating the need for seatback screens.

Announced at Apex Expo, this new solution sees a commercial grade tablet mounted in the back of the seat using Gogo’s existing onboard wireless network to stream content to the tablet, in addition to a customer’s personal device.

Gogo has partnered with Delta Air Lines to launch the new solution. It will be installed by Bombardier with Gogo’s 2Ku connectivity technology on Bombardier CS100 aircraft. Gil West, Delta’s coo, commented: “The new system from Gogo that our Delta Flight Products team played a key role in designing will feature all free in-flight entertainment via Delta Studio, wirelessly.”

At the beginning of the year American Airlines chose to remove seatback screens from their new 737 MAX aircraft. The screens were viewed as heavy, expensive, and obsolete from the moment they are installed. It is Gogo’s view that connectivity technology is now bringing enough bandwidth for passengers to do what they want on their own device.

Speaking at the show, Steve Nolan from Gogo said: “The model is broken. The old seatback systems are heavy, expensive, and costly to buy and replace. We are working with Delta and Bombardier to deploy this new system on Delta’s C series deliveries in 2018. The tablet is is a Hitachi Android-based model using the inseat power instead of a battery. It uses our internal wifi system of a wireless server and two wireless access points (WAPs) which is optimised for TV and video.”

Installation involves simply putting a tablet into the seat; if it malfunctions, it can easily be replaced. This gives the airline a lightweight, modular, inexpensive, touch-screen system that can be maintained and upgraded at much less cost than traditional seatback screens.

The company’s existing Gogo Vision product uses the same technology to wirelessly bring IFE content to a passengers’ own device. That solution is now installed on more than 2,500 aircraft.


New 3D headset and content for SkyLights

October 11, 2017

SkyLights has revealed its second generation immersive-IFE solution which combines the new AlloSky headset with new content partnerships with Warner Brothers, National Geographic, Lionsgate and BBC.

Unveiled at the APEX Expo, launch partners for the new solution include Air France and its new airline Joon, gategroup, AccorHotels, Corsair and Jetfly. The new content partnerships complement SkyLights’ existing suppliers, 20th Century Fox and Dreamworks, to offer a bigger selection of films, series and documentaries in 2D, 3D and 180°.

The AlloSky headset was co-created with immersive headset producer Allomind. AlloSky brings full HD resolution, a 60% weight reduction to the previous version, and dioptric correction to suit all customers’ eyesight. It can also be connected in-seat, reducing cost and logistical complexity for airlines.

Immersive cinema is an innovative and potentially revolutionary concept for IFE. With the SkyLights AlloSky headset and noise-cancelling headphones, passengers are transported to their own private cinema, where they can enjoy the latest 2D and 3D films in isolation from cabin noise and distraction.

“Our new solution is guided by our learning from thousands of flights commercially deployed with our first generation. We have identified what matters most and have kept this knowledge at the core of the second generation solution. It’s more premium, more comfortable and has streamlined logistics. We believe this is a breakthrough, making the future of IFE a reality today. For the first time, airlines will introduce an entertainment experience which is better than anything else yet available on the ground,” said David Dicko, SkyLights’ ceo.

SkyLights is running an early-access launch programme as part of the solution’s inauguration. Air France will start the deployment in April next year through its new airline Joon. At the same time, leisure airline Corsair will launch the solution in its 15 aircraft as a complimentary service in their new, full-flat, business class cabins. Corsair plans to make the service available as a rental for $15 in Economy. Other members of the early-access programme will be announced in the near future.


Lufthansa Systems powers up its Portable

October 11, 2017

Lufthansa Systems has announced that its BoardConnect Portable is being installed on Air Europa together with the Power & Safe solution developed in conjunction with Lufthansa Technic. The new IFE solution will be rolled out across the fleet of 15 Boeing 737s and 11 Embraer 195s starting in early 2018.

Jan-Peter Gaense, director Project & Certification at Lufthansa Systems, speaking at Apex Expo said: “Airlines are finding out who can deliver and who cannot. Our systems are ideal for the short and medium-haul markets and come in three flavours: BoardConnect Portable, BoardConnect, and BoardConnect Plus, with connectivity.”

BoardConnect Portable combines all technical components such as a server and access points in a single device called the Mobile Streaming Unit (MSU). MSUs are about the size of a conventional tablet computer, and qualify as non-permanently installed equipment. They can easily be mounted or removed without affecting other components, reducing hardware, fitting and certification costs.

The Power & Safe solution means that the BoardConnect Portable Mobile Streaming Unit (MSU) is stowed in a safe inside the overhead bins, with an additional power supply that eliminates the need for battery replacement. This offers airlines security for their IFE system and prevents unauthorised access. It also avoids any battery overheating problems and has the advantage that it is more powerful and can serve a whole aircraft on its own.

“We are confident about this concept, which combines the benefits of both a portable and an installed IFE solution, and are sure that other airlines will soon follow Air Europa’s lead. Flexible IFE systems are the future for the low-cost sector and on short and medium-haul routes in particular,” commented Gaense.

Another new development announced at the show is a battery-powered Iridium modem to provide passengers with messaging services using the BoardConnect system. This low-bandwidth solution may be attractive to LCCs encouraging interaction between their passengers on leisure flights.

In addition to Air Europa and Spicejet, who signed up for BoardConnect Portable earlier in the year, two other so far unnamed carriers have selected BoardConnect. One of them is currently implementing the classic IFE solution and will announce the Go-Live later this year. The other airline is about to finalise the Go-Live planning with BoardConnect Portable. With these new customers, Lufthansa Systems will increase to nearly 700 the number of aircraft using a BoardConnect product.


APEX EXPO REPORT: New deals for Panasonic

October 2, 2017

Richard Williams toured the stands at the APEX Expo last week for the latest news on inflight entertainment and connectivity. A full report will follow and in the next issue of Onboard Hospitality magazine.

At the APEX show in Long Beach, Dave Bruner, vp global sales and marketing, Panasonic Avionics Corporation, announced a strategic partnership with Tascent, a biometrics and identity innovation company, with a view to bringing biometric passenger identification to every stage of the passenger journey.

The aim is to use Tascent’s biometric identity devices and software with Panasonic’s IFEC systems to provide identity recognition before departure, during flight, and upon arrival. This should further the trend toward smart airports and the connected passenger journey, and bring closer innovations such as seatback integration, streamlined personalisation and inflight biometric payment.

Bruner also announced a new deal with Mexican airline Interjet for its eXO overhead IFE and connectivity on its fleet of A320 and A321 NEO aircraft. The first plane will be delivered in November and will be the first Airbus aircraft to be linefitted with Panasonic connectivity.

Panasonic has 90 airline customers and has fitted its solutions to 1800 aircraft, with a further 2200 in backlog. Since April this year, the company has installed IFEC on 185 aircraft, with 85 linefit, and IFE on 626, with 397 linefit. Bruner said that they had three years of orders in the book, and the projected turnover this year was $2.5 billion.

Bruner said that the key to its success was that only Panasonic had global regulatory approval for every aircraft type, including in China. “We have the scale for a global business and we are growing in line with the industry. We have fitted 500 aircraft with mobile phone technology and 750 with our live TV service.”

On satellite connectivity, Bruner said: “We are looking to double our network capacity in 2018 with the help of Eutelsat-172b and SES-15. Our network is available on 99.8% of routes. We’ll be deploying XTS satellites in 2019 to meet airline needs.”


APEX EXPO REPORT: EasyJet chooses Immfly

October 2, 2017

EasyJet announced at APEX Expo in Long Beach that it is partnering with Barcelona-based Immfly to launch its wireless IFE service, to be named Air Time. The first five aircraft equipped with the service will be operational this autumn.

The platform will feature content from Fox Non-Theatrical and Euronews, including popular TV shows. It will also enable passengers to stream audio books, eBooks, interactive maps, language tutorials and retail catalogues on their own smartphones and tablets. Content will be available in multiple European languages.

Jimmy Martínez von Korff, co-founder of Immfly, said: “We specialise in maximising revenue opportunities using wireless connectivity in flight. We are enabling easyJet to deliver a compelling in-flight entertainment service, with exciting content and online shopping capabilities delivering a platform fully integrated with leading brands and their services.”

Tokyo-based e-commerce company Rakuten will be the official sponsor and content curator of easyJet’s IFE service. Arden Van de Vall, president Rakuten Europe, commented: “We are confident Rakuten can bring strong value and create a high quality showcase of its services through the onboard Immfly platform, offering a best in class user experience.”

“Air Time will allow us for the first time to offer customers IFE in a way that replicates how they consume their media at home,” said Andrew Middleton, easyJet’s ancillary revenue director.

Immfly is already working with Iberia Express, Volotea and XL Airways. EasyJet carries over 78 million passengers annually, and Immfly expects to reach 100 million connected passengers by 2018.


APEX EXPO REPORT: Inflight broadband set to soar

October 2, 2017

Inmarsat announced at APEX in Long Beach the results of a research study carried out in conjunction with the London School of Economics (LSE) which estimated that inflight broadband would be a $130 billion global market within 20 years. David Coiley, vp aviation, said that ancillary revenue, of which connectivity charges formed a part, was a significant contributor to airline profitability. The AR market had doubled since 2010, and would double again by 2020.

The Sky High Economics study is the first comprehensive independent study into the effect of connectivity on airline profitability. Dr Alexander Grous, dept of media and communications, LSE, said that the revenue could be broken down into four categories: broadband connectivity, sales and fulfilment, advertising, and premium content.

He emphasised that this was a profit opportunity for both airlines and partners. The broadband connectivity slice of the cake alone would be worth $30bn to the airlines In 2035, half of which is connectivity charges, half ancillary services. The total market will be $130bn, with the remaining $100bn split between technology providers and retail and content partners.

Dr Grous gave three reasons for the step change that was happening now. He said that 67% of passengers no longer see broadband as a luxury, but more as a necessity. Over 80% of passengers will pay for a high-quality connection. Another factor is the new generation of satellites going up, whose number and capacity is a tipping point. Airlines are digitising now; their passengers are already digitised and waiting for the service to catch up.

Dr Grous said that the reliability of broadband is crucial to this market. Given that, airlines need a retailer mindset to benefit. That means they need to generate the ability to purchase onboard, to build passenger confidence and encourage exponential growth in sales. Effective customer relations management will give the airlines in-depth knowledge of their passengers. Airlines can then pre-target them effectively to generate and maintain sales growth.

By 2028 the additional revenue is projected to be $2.60 per passenger and could be as much as $4 by 2035.


Juxta digital gets onboard

October 2, 2017

Trolex|Aporta, a global supplier of digital onboard services to transportation markets, has announced a new partnership with India’s Northern Railway to roll-out Juxta digital onboard services – a closed network solution that delivers infotainment directly to mobile devices.

Juxta digital onboard service is a significant technological step for Indian transport, and after successful trials is scheduled to be implemented on the 12001 and 12002 New Delhi Habibganj Shatabdi Express. Passengers will be able to stream the latest entertainment and news directly to their mobile device, without buffering issues, as they travel at 150 km/h one of India’s fastest trains.

Junta has previously worked with Greyhound, Volvo and Scania, delivering hardware, software, content package and fully managed digital services.

Glyn Jones, group ceo of Trolex|Aporta, said: “We’re excited to begin rolling out Juxta after a series of successful trials in India. We’re hoping that this partnership will prove to the transport market that these passenger experience solutions are available now, they don’t cost the earth to implement, are extremely reliable and always well received by passengers.”

Jones added: “The Juxta package doesn’t require a lengthy download, providing users with the latest entertainment with 100% availability through a secure local wifi network, meaning that users remain connected even when there is no connectivity to a public network. In addition to delivering a far better experience for passengers – Juxta provides new opportunities for transport providers to create additional revenue streams. This can be through delivering premium content, luggage alert systems, at-seat ordering, seat-reservation systems and much more.”


Japan Airlines’ new 787-9 with AVANT

September 20, 2017

JAL has brought into service its newly-configured 787-9 aircraft with the Sky Suite cabin fitted with Thales’s Android-based AVANT IFE system.

The system made its debut on the airline’s Tokyo Narita to Kuala Lumpur route. The Boeing 787-9 aircraft uses the latest AVANT Magic VI system, which includes audio and video on demand (AVOD), games and applications customised for JAL – onboard shopping, meal order and the popular Sky Manga eBooks. Magic VI offers in total 300 movies, videos and music programmes.

Dominique Giannoni, ceo, Thales InFlyt Experience, comments: “Japan Airlines and Thales have developed a close partnership based on mutual respect and trust for one another. With the advanced technology of our IFE systems onboard the newly configured JAL B787-9 Dreamliner, passengers will enjoy an engaging and memorable travel experience.”


Airport targets inflight movie appeal

September 20, 2017

London Gatwick is building on the popularity of movie viewing during long-haul flights with the appointment of its own official film critic and distribution of an ‘altitude-optimised’ umami-flavoured popcorn at the airport.

Mark Kermode has been appointed as the airport’s first official film critic and has produced a handy brochure for passengers, critiquing the in-flight movie selections of airlines flying from the airport

Kermode says: “Watching movies is one of the greatest pleasures of flying – the perfect time to catch up on the latest releases or revisit old favourites. Even long-haul journeys can fly by if you pick the right film, whether it’s a tear-jerker, action adventure or rom-com. As someone who has spent hundreds of hours watching i-flight movies, it’s been great fun teaming up with Gatwick to look at the films on offer to passengers this autumn.”

Alongside Kermode’s guide, the airport has created ‘altitude-optimised’ popcorn, which will be available for passengers to pick up in the terminal and enjoy inflight. The popcorn is flavoured with toasted cheese, Marmite and goats cheese – all foods which are rich in umami, the only one of the five main taste sensations which is completely unaffected by altitude.

Jeju Air gets flighttracker

September 20, 2017

SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM FlightTracker has been deployed across Jeju Air’s fleet of 29 B737s.

The South Korean low-cost-carrier (LCC) has chosen SITAONAIR’s solution to meet the incoming International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) 2018 flight-tracking regulations.

AIRCOM FlightTracker gathers data from multiple global feeds, filling gaps between terrestrial tracking sources to help improve flight operations. The system uses equipment already on most aircraft, without the need for modifications or additional avionics. This makes it cost-effective and quick to deploy.

The Jeju Air fleet will also be upgraded with SITAONAIR’s FlightMessenger, for cockpit communications. FlightMessenger integrates and translates cockpit data into a format that feeds directly into airlines’ pre-existing IT infrastructure, to improve data communication efficiency.

“Jeju Air selected SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM® FlightTracker and FlightMessenger after extensively evaluating the full range of products on the market,” comments Kim Sanghoon, director of operations control center at Jeju Air. “SITAONAIR’s solutions appealed to us for their rich functionality, seamless integration with our airline systems, their user-friendliness, and top-quality customer support.”

Katrina Korzenowski, vp Asia-Pacific at SITAONAIR, said: “Our AIRCOM FlightTracker arms airlines with the powerful flight-tracking capabilities they need to actively enhance their flight operations and meet the ICAO’s forthcoming 15- and one-minute tracking best-practice requirements. By pulling together and integrating a wealth of aircraft position sources, including ACARS, ADS-B, radar and ATC Datalink, our AIRCOM® FlightTracker offers 100% global, real-time coverage to all airlines – without the need for costly modifications.”


SAS partners with iPass

September 12, 2017

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has partnered with mobile connectivity company iPass to enable its customers to buy monthly access to the iPass global wifi network. iPass is working with mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) enabler Teleena, which manages service setup and delivery for iPass customers. SAS EuroBonus loyalty members will also soon be able to earn points from the purchase of wifi connectivity.

Didrik Fjeldstad, vp Brand & Marketing at SAS, said: “Working with iPass and Teleena, we are delighted to be the first airline to offer our customers unlimited global wifi, helping them to stay connected without running up huge mobile roaming bills.”

“SAS is taking an exciting step in becoming the first airline to offer truly global connectivity to its customers, and we hope it won’t be the last,” said Gary Griffiths, ceo of iPass. “Internet connectivity has become another essential service demanded by travellers, just like car hire and accommodation, and it could become an important new revenue stream and competitive differentiator in this hotly contested market.”

SAS currently offers wifi onboard its long-haul fleet plus ten Boeing 737-800 aircraft that fly within Europe. Wifi is currently free for EuroBonus Gold and Diamond members and for travellers in SAS Plus and SAS Business.


AirFi expands to 40 clients

September 12, 2017

Portable wifi platform specialist AirFi has secured its 40th airline client as it continues its expansion.

Having announced six new customers in the run up to Aircraft Interiors in April, AirFi has now unveiled 10 client signings made since the Hamburg show.

Job Heimerikx, ceo AirFi, said: 
 “We are seeing the breadth of successful deployments across all aircraft types and more new-use cases for AirFi drive this remarkable interest and the sharp increase in client acquisition over recent months.”

The company is dramatically expanding its offer, primarily through new premium content management service, gaining new content clients each month for its premium non-DRM options across multiple languages, cultures and demographics.

AirFi has added new-to-IFE Mashable You Tube/viral content, same-day catch up ITV soaps and dramas and the latest Hollywood, international and Arabic movie content and boxsets – all accessible without the need for apps.

The company’s latest generation AirFi Box has 24 hours of operational battery life, 1TB data storage and up-rated hardware and software. It weighs under 2kg and retains AirFi’s hallmark flexibility, reliability and speed of deployment. It enables more features, use and revenue streams.


Virgin claims European wifi first

September 5, 2017

Virgin Atlantic has become the first airline in Europe to offer wifi across its entire fleet – ensuring customers can remain connected across flights to and from the U.S., Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Passengers can now email, browse and socialise at 35,000ft from as little as £2.99 as the airline completes its ambitious wifi programme – said to be at least a year ahead of other European long haul carriers.

To celebrate the initiative, Virgin Atlantic is kicking off a series of fun events from the sky, connecting together with #LiveFromVirgin. One of the first #LiveFromVirgin events will be a comedy set in the sky.

Using a combination of Panasonic and Gogo technology, wifi is now available across the fleet of 39 aircraft and connectivity is available above 10,000ft so customers will be able to connect shortly after take-off, and remain online until shortly before landing.

Results so far have shown that 42% of customers opt for the wifi max package which lasts the entire flight, and the most popular routes for wifi use are London Heathrow to New York (JFK), San Francisco and Atlanta.

Customers travelling on the 787 will use wifi from Panasonic, while the A330s, 747s, A340-600s are powered by Gogo technology.

Prices range from £2.99 for messaging access to £14.99 for 150MD of data and full internet access.


Dubai airport offers free films

September 5, 2017

Dubai International Airport is giving travellers free access to a large catalogue of films which they can watch on their personal electronic devices while waiting for their plane.

Dubai Airports has partnered with Dubai-based media firm ICFLIX to distribute its video-on-demand streaming service through the airport’s free wifi service, called Wow-Fi. Passengers waiting at the airport can view a selection of Hollywood, Bollywood and Jazwood (Arabic) content, which is available in three languages: Arabic, English and French.

“Dubai Airports is on a mission to engage more directly with our customers and transform the airport experience for millions of travellers each month,” said Eugene Barry, executive vp of Dubai Airports’ Commercial and Communications Group.

“Thanks to our partnership with ICFLIX, travellers at DXB can now enjoy a wide range of streamed entertainment before and between flights, and this is a service which is completely free of charge to users.”

Other airports offering entertainment services to travellers include Heathrow, which started trialling EntertainMe kiosks in its Terminal 5 last year. The kiosks, designed by SITA, offer entertainment content such as videos, destination guides, newspapers and magazines as quick downloads to passengers’ own devices.

The move comes as recent research by Santander showed that 84% of British holidaymakers expect wifi to be free at the airport.


GEE’s Airtime now linefit option

August 23, 2017

Boeing has added the Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) Airconnect 3.0 in-flight wifi system as a factory installation option for its 737 MAX aircraft family. This is the first connectivity system to be added as a linefit option for the 737 MAX.

Offering it as a linefit rather than retrofit provides substantial time- and cost-saving benefits to airlines, avoiding costly engineering review and testing time.

The Airconnect portal is now on 865 aeroplanes worldwide. It can be personalised and offers opportunities for data analytics, e-commerce, branded campaigns and integrated advertising.


SmartSky to launch ATG network mid-2018

August 9, 2017

Inflight connectivity provider startup SmartSky Networks announced on August 3 that it was putting back the start date for its terrestrial air-to-ground (ATG) network from late 2017 to mid-2018. It had notified its Early Bird customers and distribution partners.

North Carolina-based SmartSky said that 86% of the tower sites for its network of 250 ground stations in the US had completed initial on-site testing. The remaining ground infrastructure was being installed and commissioned as local permits were obtained. Production of base station radios and software optimisations related to supplemental-type certifications (STC) required by the FAA were taking the extra time.

“Customers are unanimously impressed after experiencing inflight demos, confirming that we have significantly raised the bar for what will constitute best-in-class, future-ready airborne connectivity going forward,” said SmartSky chairman and ceo Haynes Griffin. “They seem equally appreciative of the fact that the few months of additional schedule to meet the high standards we have set for this network is ultimately to everyone’s benefit.”

SmartSky is set to join a small group of IFC providers who are using ATG networks to supply aircraft flying in zones with dense traffic. Gogo has an ATG network across the United States and London-based satellite operator Inmarsat is developing a European Aviation Network (EAN), operated in partnership with Deutsche Telekom. SmartSky has not so far added a satellite connectivity element to its network.


Virgin gets social

August 9, 2017

Virgin Atlantic is marking 25 years of flying to Orlando by offering free wifi messaging throughout August.

Customers travelling to Orlando this month will enjoy complimentary messaging wifi access throughout their journey, thanks to a partnership with Gogo, and will be able to share their journey through Whatsapp, Instagram and other social media outlets as they go.

Virgin Atlantic is also close to becoming the first airline in Europe to offer wifi across its entire fleet.


Air China chooses Panasonic

August 1, 2017

Air China has announced that it will use inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) solutions from Panasonic Avionics for its fleet of Airbus A350 aircraft. Panasonic will provide its eX3 inflight entertainment for 10 Air China A350s, the first to be delivered in December 2017.

Panasonic’s eX3 service includes audio and video on demand, a content library offering up to 300 movies, 200 TV shows, games, music, and a moving map. The A350 aircraft will also offer global connectivity services, enabling passengers to keep in touch with friends, families, colleagues and current events. Panasonic operates connectivity service in 210 countries, including China.

Hideo Nakano, ceo of Panasonic Avionics, commented: “We are honoured to partner with Air China on its A350 program. Because the airline’s route structure includes very long flights to all seven continents, it needed an IFEC solution that would help keep passengers entertained and offer new opportunities for it to generate revenue. The reliability, performance and flexibility of eX3 and our connectivity service makes it an ideal choice for these aircraft.”

One of Asia’s largest airlines, Asiana, recently began revenue service with its first A350 aircraft using the eX3 IFEC system from Panasonic. The first aircraft was line-fitted with Panasonic solutions by Airbus, and entered passenger service on May 15th.


GoEuro survey reveals UK’s trains are mostly connected

August 1, 2017

According to GoEuro, a website and app for comparing and booking train journeys, buses and flights across Europe, more than three quarters (78%) of the UK’s most popular routes now offer onboard wifi.

Out of the 150 of the most popular UK train routes, based on bookings made through GoEuro, 63 offer free wifi, 54 offer wifi at a cost, and 33 offer no wifi at all.

The data collected by GoEuro revealed that the top two train providers in terms of total additional services onboard are Great Western Railways and Abellio Greater Anglia. Both providers offer wifi, onboard plug sockets, air conditioning, toilets, seat reservations and luggage racks.

The top two UK cities with the highest number of outbound train journeys that offer free wifi are London (19) and Edinburgh (eight).

Whilst London holds the record for the number of train journeys that offer free wifi, it is also the city with the highest number of train journeys without any wifi.

Popular UK train journeys that do not offer wifi include Cambridge to London Kings Cross with Great Northern, Brighton to London Victoria with Southern and Thameslink; and Manchester to Birmingham with London Midland.

To see the full research, please visit:


Wifi now a necessity not a luxury

August 1, 2017

Inflight broadband is revolutionising passenger expectations and influencing how they choose their airlines, according to the third annual Inflight Connectivity Survey published by Inmarsat.

The survey reveals that the majority of global passengers (60%) now see inflight connectivity as a necessity, not a luxury. The results come as Inmarsat prepares to extend high-speed broadband in Europe through its European Aviation Network which will deliver a seamless wifi to European carriers.

Launch partner IAG Group, which owns British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling, has begun fitting its planes for launch in the second half of 2017 and aims to have 90% of its short haul fleet complete by early 2019.

The global survey also showed that 61% of passengers who have experienced good inflight wifi consider it more important than inflight entertainment when choosing an airline. Some 66% of parents travelling with children said IFC is a “life saver”.

The ability to connect to personal devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets now sits within the top three considerations when choosing an airline, behind ticket price (53%) and flight slots (44%) for 40% of passengers who have used inflight wifi.

What’s more, the ability to remain online and work during a flight is greatly improving passenger experience, according to almost half (49%) of European business travellers who have previously used inflight wifi.

The survey reflects the responses of 9,000 airline passengers from 18 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and North and Latin America, and is the largest global passenger survey of its kind.


Norwegian extends deal with Global Eagle

July 26, 2017

European low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle has awarded a five-year contract to Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) to cover the airline’s Boeing 737 New Generation fleet of more than 120 aircraft until 2023. GEE promises to improve the passenger experience by providing enhanced wifi connectivity, live television, portal-based content, services and support.

In 2011, GEE contracted with Norwegian for 40 aircraft. GEE launched the first live TV on a European airline in 2015 on Norwegian’s Boeing 737NG. The new agreement is for additional new-generation 737 aircraft on transatlantic routes.

Norwegian’s first transatlantic flights using the brand-new Boeing 737 MAX took off from Edinburgh in July, with British low-cost aviation maverick Sir Freddie Laker featured on the aircraft’s tailfin. Norwegian will take delivery of six Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in total this summer, and has 110 on order. The airline prides itself on flying new, efficient aircraft, with an average age of only 3.6 years.

“Our cooperation with Norwegian improves how its passengers experience the airline’s inflight entertainment service on board,” commented Per Norén, GEE senior vp Aviation. “We currently have Global Eagle passenger features on more than 100 Norwegian aircraft, and this agreement widens the scope of both the fleet size and products that the airline can offer on board.”

GEE won a Crystal Cabin Award for its AirtimeTM wireless IFEC portal at AIX in Hamburg in April. Now in use on more than 800 aircraft, Airtime enables inflight streaming of live TV, on-demand movies, games, music, publications, and flight tracking to passengers’ mobile devices. GEE’s portfolio of studio-licensed movies, music, TV series, magazines and newspapers, adds to the offering.


SkyGuru aims to improve the inflight app experience

July 26, 2017

Founder of the SkyGuru mobile app, Alex Gervash has launched a universal platform for airlines, aircraft manufacturers, airports, and developers of mobile aviation apps.

The API was built specially with the aviation industry in mind and gives partners access to the professional flight data including meteorological updates, turbulence indices, wind changes and aircraft position.

Partners can use this information in their own software or use the system to develop infotainment offerings on planes that don’t have built-in entertainment systems. SkyGuru API can be used to improve the quality of services, give passengers a better inflight experience, and even create a safer cabin environment by, for example, alerting passengers of upcoming turbulence.

More than 55,000 SkyGuru users have used the app on over 10,000 flights in more than 60 countries. Alex Gervash says: “This is the first platform of its kind to give passengers clear and accessible information about their flight in real time. We hope to see our technology integrated into the infotainment systems of the world’s major airlines and other aviation apps soon. But this is only the first step toward realizing our goal of helping every passenger become more well-informed, confident, and comfortable.”


IdeaNova launches INPLAY INSTANT

July 26, 2017

IdeaNova Technologies has unveiled its newest multimedia player – INPLAY INSTANT.

Airline passengers can use this system to quickly and easily play back any DRM content—such as Hollywood movies—on their laptop or any web browser, regardless of the supported DRM content decryption module (CDM).

INPLAY INSTANT utilises a simple user-friendly installation process that does not require connectivity or installation of plugins, giving passengers an uninterrupted multimedia streaming experience. It is a full-featured player with support for adaptive streaming, adaptive download, in-flight chat, multi-language subtitles and audio, data analysis tools and ad integration with DRM content.

Operators can use the new system to incrementally rollout DRM platforms without impacting a consumer’s ability to watch content in their platform of choice. Since the player is DRM agnostic, customers can choose which platform to support.

Juraj Siska, CTO of IdeaNova Technologies, believes this gives operators the ability to extend the life of existing legacy solutions, like Widevine Classic or Marlin DRM, without hassling with periodic Flash updates. Siska said: “We believe this will have a huge impact as it gives operators more time to rollout new technology while providing entertainment to customers on their existing platforms.”


AirFi gets same-day ITV shows

July 19, 2017

AirFi, provider of portable onboard wifi platforms to airlines, has teamed up with major UK broadcaster ITV to show its content onboard on the day of transmission.

The move means that passengers using the AirFi system onboard will not have to wait to watch iconic programmes such as Coronation Street and Love Island.

AirFi ceo, Job Heimerikx, explained how it works: “AirFi has secure access to ITV catch-up content in advance of UK transmission. We automatically ingest this content into the AirFi content management system which, in turn, pushes the content overnight to all the aircraft AirFi Boxes via the daily content update.”

AirFi’s platform is browser-based, so passengers don’t have the hassle of downloading an app in order to watch the shows. AirFi will be announcing its launch customer for the AirFi/ITV service in a few weeks.


Qantas uses chat bots to connect

July 19, 2017

Qantas is stepping up its use of chat bots as part of its tech commitment to be at the forefront of innovation in the way it communicates and connects with passengers.

The Qantas Concierge service uses a Facebook Messenger bot that gives customers personalised travel inspiration and forms part of a Qantas strategy to give customers faster responses and more relevant information through easily accessible channels.

Kristin Carlos, Qantas head of digital and entertainment, said Qantas Concierge is an evolution of the airline’s customer communications, boosting its presence on a hugely popular social media platform while offering immediate travel solutions. The service is backed by artificial intelligence which makes it more user friendly and effective over time.

Throughout 2017 Qantas plans to grow the chat bot’s capability to offer a full suite of concierge services including operational notifications such as itineraries, flight and gate change updates and boarding passes.

The partnership will see Facebook work closely with Qantas to connect with new customers via the social networking site and engage with existing audiences in new ways. Qantas was recently the first airline to work with Facebook on advertising through Instagram Stories.

Qantas is one of the first Australian brands to introduce a chat bot following in the footsteps of innovative international brands such as eBay, Disney and Uber. Qantas is also the first airline in the Asia-Pacific region to be announced as an official Facebook partner.


Attraction booking tech gets onboard

July 19, 2017

Mobile point of sale (MPoS) specialist, ECR Retail Systems (ECR) has launched an inflight attractions ticketing service exclusively for the airline industry.

The service, available to airlines through ECR’s MPoS technology, covers attractions and venues across 16 locations globally, including London, Paris, New York, Rome and Hong Kong.

The service enables airlines’ cabin crew to book passengers into top attractions in the destinations they are visiting using the onboard MPoS system. No additional equipment or printed tickets are required as the ECRGo2 hand held terminal issues each unique ticket via an inbuilt printer and takes fast payments, both card and contactless, all from the same device.

This commission-based approach to selling tickets to tourist attractions during travel enables airlines to enhance the role of cabin crew and incentivises them to play a crucial part in increasing ancillary revenue and improving the onboard customer experience. The customer pays the same price for the ticket as they would on the gate, whilst crews and airlines earn revenue from the attractions.

ECR’s system can process the entire transaction and offer complete transaction visibility. Ticket-holding customers can benefit further by avoiding queues at their chosen destination.


Business travellers prioritise tech

July 19, 2017

A survey by Egencia, the business travel arm of the Expedia group, highlights an increasing desire from business travellers for technology access and cross-device integration throughout their travel experience.

The Egencia Business Travel and Technology Survey shows that incentives such as priority boarding and airport lounge access tops the business traveller’s wish lists. The study also shows business travellers are looking to technology to make the corporate travel journey more productive and manageable.

Accessibility is the key theme: two-thirds (66%) of business travellers across the world want to manage and book their business travel on every mobile device, not just on their smartphone.

“We are at a turning point in business travel where standalone products are just not enough. Expectations of global business travellers are higher than ever before: they want instant access to information and management tools on every device, while operating autonomously,” said Rob Greyber, president of Egencia.

According to the survey, business travellers are optimistic when it comes to technology’s role in improving their business travel experience. 41% believe advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) will help improve their travel experiences.


US lifts laptop ban from Dubai and Istanbul

July 12, 2017

The US rescinded its recent ban on large personal electronics devices in the cabin last week for inbound flights from Dubai and Istanbul. This was after new security measures were implemented. The announcements from Emirates and Turkish Airlines came a few days after the US lifted the ban on Etihad Airways’ flights from Abu Dhabi.

Emirates is the Middle East’s largest airline and had blamed restrictions imposed in March by President Donald Trump’s administration for a significant drop in demand on US flights. Emirates flies to 12 US cities but had to cut flights to five of these cities in May.

A statement from an Emirates spokesperson said: “Emirates has been working hard in coordination with various aviation stakeholders and the local authorities to implement heightened security measures and protocols that meet the requirements of the US Department of Homeland Security’s new security guidelines for all US-bound flights.”

Meanwhile, Turkish Airlines said in a statement that passengers travelling to the United States could now take their laptops onboard. It was announced in a tweet to passengers on July 4th: “Dear Passengers, #WelcomeOnBoard to our US-bound flight. Please fasten your seatbelts and enjoy your own electronic devices.”

Turkish Airlines ceo Bilal Eksi commented that the airline expected similar restrictions on flights to Britain to be lifted soon. The airline was waiting for a technical team from Britain to come out to check that the new security measures had been put in place.


Inmarsat launches EAN satellite

July 4, 2017

Arianespace launched the Inmarsat European Aviation Network (EAN) S-band satellite onboard a 700-tonne Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou in French Guiana at 22.15 BST on June 28.

Following separation from the rocket, signals from the satellite were received by Inmarsat’s Mingenew ground station in Western Australia at 22:50 BST. This will be Inmarsat’s 13th operational satellite.

Among those watching the launch on a live link from Inmarsat headquarters in London were Frederik van Essen, svp strategy and business development, Inmarsat Aviation. He reported that the EAN, consisting of the new S-band satellite and 300 LTE ground-based stations operated by Deutsche Telekom, was on schedule and would enable the EAN to leapfrog the US, currently the leaders in this technology, in efficiency of service.

The system saves weight and drag on the aircraft by using a light top antenna of only 9kg and a very small ground antenna. He said that it will improve the passenger experience because it is uniquely qualified for European airspace, which has congested hubs and corridors and miles of routes over water.

The launch partner for the service is the IAG airline group, consisting of the 300 aircraft of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling. The first service will start in 2018, and 90% of the short-haul planes will have the kit fitted by 2019.

Rolf Nafziger, svp international wholesale business at Deutsche Telekom, said: “Our mission is that we always want to provide the best connectivity. The one space we cannot do that, up until now, is in the air. In Europe we have the most congested airline routes in the world, with half a billion passengers flying per year.”

He explained that this integrated ground network of 300 sites across 28 EU countries, plus Norway and Switzerland, would at last “give passengers the same experience with their phones, tablets and laptops as they have on the ground.”

Leo Mondale, president, Inmarsat Aviation, commented: “For too long, millions of passengers have been cut-off from fast, reliable and consistent broadband during flights in Europe. This is a significant milestone for Inmarsat and the many leading European companies that are involved in the project, including Deutsche Telekom, Thales Alenia Space, Arianespace, Cobham SATCOM, Nokia, OTE and others.”


JAL offers free domestic wifi

June 28, 2017

Japan Airlines (JAL) is offering its passengers flying on domestic routes free inflight connectivity. The service is available from five minutes after take-off until five minutes before landing.

A ‘Free Flight Pass’ button appears on the portal page after customers connect to the inflight wifi. Programmes, such as sports, cooking, music and cartoons, are also available free of charge on wifi-equipped flights, and can be viewed on customers’ own personal electronic devices.

The inflight connectivity service, provided by a Gogo Ku-band satellite system, is available on all JAL and JTA (Japan Transocean Air, a JAL Group subsidiary) domestic routes operated by wifi-equipped aircraft. Gogo says that subsidiary JTA has committed to receiving its 2Ku solution. The free internet service is not available for international aircraft equipped with wifi operating on selected domestic routes.

JAL’s international fleet of Boeing 767, 777 and 787 aircraft continues to offer wifi in one-, three, and 24-hour packages, at $10.15, $14.40 and $18.80 respectively.

Gogo’s inflight connectivity service went live onboard JAL in June 2014. In May 2016 Gogo and SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, Asia’s leading satellite provider, announced a partnership for increased Ku-band connectivity over Japan. Gogo uses the JCSAT–5A satellite high throughput beam to increase capacity and improve performance.


New Planes and IFEC for EL AL

June 28, 2017

EL AL Israel Airlines is upgrading its fleet by acquiring 16 new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The first Dreamliner will start operating flights to Europe in September, and at the end of October will start flying to EL AL’s long-haul destinations in North America and the Far East.

The airline has also launched a new service class, aimed at providing its passengers with a premium experience. The innovations include a new advanced AVOD entertainment system by Panasonic, with HD screens for all passengers. The new fleet will also be getting high-speed internet provided by ViaSat from 2018.

“These aircraft, which will gradually enter service until 2020, will replace the 747-400 fleet by early 2019,” said an EL AL spokesperson. “The Dreamliner aircraft will join the new 737-900 aircraft the company has purchased, which are already operating on European routes, making the El Al plane fleet younger and less polluting.”

The airline is investing $1.25 billion, possibly in response to a poor result in Heathrow’s “Fly Quiet and Clean League” table, which listed El Al as the least clean, quiet and efficient of 50 airlines using the airport. Airlines are rated on criteria such as nitrogen oxide emissions and efficient landing approaches.

David Maimon, president and ceo of EL AL, commented: “The expected arrival of the new 787 aircraft will be the peak of EL AL`s renewal momentum, creating a revolution in customer experience across all flight interfaces.

“We continue to implement EL AL’s vision – to lead the aviation market in Israel and to be the first choice airline for all customers travelling to and from Israel, while providing quality and uncompromising service for the benefit of our customers.”


Expert views on laptop ban at APEX TECH

June 20, 2017

At the APEX TECH conference on June 13 in Los Angeles, APEX ceo Joe Leader, Google’s partner development manager Max Coppin, JetBlue Technology Ventures’ Raj Singh and Qatar Airways’ Babar Rahman made up a panel to assess the impact of the recent in-flight electronics ban. The panel members shared reactions, ideas and the potential for short- and long-term solutions.

Leader began with a list of four potential solutions suggested by APEX during discussions with the US Department of Homeland Security. These included improving airport chemical testing, stress tests, biometrics, and the use of Trusted Platform Modules (TPM). This would enable airline security to test laptops for full battery charge, full battery capacity, and whether the machine is real, fully intact and fully operational.

Qatar’s Babar Rahman emphasised that the ban came as a surprise. Their immediate solution was to buy hundreds of laptops and start offering them to passengers. They also offered passengers free wifi for a longer duration than usual to allow them to continue with business as usual.

Google’s Max Coppin suggested that the ban may promote a new way of thinking about owning computer hardware. “Why do I need my laptop and not just a laptop. What’s personal about it?” said Coppin.
Raj Singh from JetBlue Technology Ventures commented: “It’s difficult to predict what happens next because I personally don’t understand why the laptop ban exists. I’m sure there’s a sensible reason but nobody’s explained it to us.”

Panel members raised concerns about the security risk of concentrating large numbers of laptops containing lithium-ion batteries in the baggage hold. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently highlighted this issue at their AGM, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is now planning some tests on batteries stored in the cargo area.

JetBlue’s Singh sounded a positive note when he said that the technology exists to provide all these solutions. What happens next depends on how credible and large the threat is and how much money airlines want to spend to address it.


Immfly partners with Amex

June 14, 2017

Immfly’s onboard wifi entertainment solution has added American Express to Vodafone and Halls on its list of advertisers and sponsors. Immfly, branded as XL Cloud, has been used by more than 30,000 passengers flying on XL Airways long-haul A330 fleet since the beginning of this year.

Paris-based XL Airways offers Immfly’s wireless platform on routes to the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the US. Passengers can access the platform using their personal electronic devices via the app – available as a free download before the flight – or the web. They can browse a large selection of movies, TV shows, newsfeeds, magazines, kids’ channels and travel guides. The catalogue, which is available in English and French, includes free content and a Premium offer, available for 9.95€ per flight, or for 15€ when renting an iPad Mini onboard.

Samuel Gombervaux, chief revenue officer at Immfly, said: “We are thrilled to include partners such as American Express on our advertiser portfolio. The inflight digital advertising industry is growing year on year at three-digit speed, which opens great perspective for the future. Our Immfly platform enables digital advertising interaction where and when others can’t reach. It’s a moment when our audience is relaxed and receptive: during their flight.”

Jimmy M. von Korff, co-founder of Immfly, commented: “The IFE industry is evolving towards smarter digital services that add value to the passenger’s experience, and as airlines seek to enhance it, they must also identify innovative ways to increase revenue. Via performance marketing and platform sponsorship, we aim to cover these two needs, since we provide airlines with a strong ancillary tool while still enhancing the passenger’s travel experience and ultimately benefiting brands and other third parties”.


Entertainment upgrade for SAS Business

June 6, 2017

Business passengers flying on SAS’s new fleet of A330s are set to experience an upgraded on-demand in-flight entertainment system, with full programme offerings accessed via high-resolution screen.

The A330-300 incorporates the RAVE in-flight entertainment system – a fully customisable and lightweight entertainment set up from Zodiac. This new system offers each passenger their own personal television screen, featuring an intuitive, full-capacity and simple interface. The navigation will be available in six languages: English, French, German, Chinese, Portuguese and Spanish.

In addition, passengers will be able to stream a selected set of content to their own personal device, such as a smartphone or tablet. The additional content consists of a selection of digital magazines, a newsfeed offered by Agence France-Presse (AFP) offering global news updates directly to your device, short tourism clips, a moving map which allows you to zoom in and out of the area you’re flying over, and more.

The offering will be expanded in the future with cached websites and additional short TV content. The SAA in-flight entertainment app Airscape needs to be downloaded before travel for iOS and Android devices. Passengers will be able to access over 100 movies to enjoy – from the latest blockbusters to old favourites and a wide selection of African and Asian titles.

Up to 100 TV features are on offer, including the latest full-season series and comedy shows. Gaming enthusiasts can take their pick from 15 games (including a selection of multi-player games). There are also 14 radio station channels and over 170 music albums to choose from.

There is a special kids’ section and SAA has a family-friendly feature whereby parents can ask a flight attendant to limit movies for a certain seat to kiddies’ view (movies for toddlers with no age restriction) or teen view (PG and PG 13 movies and programmes).

The system can also be used to wake passengers for meals or show they wish to remain undisturbed by simply choosing the feature on the monitor, displayed at a low light, just bright enough for the crew to identify the passenger’s wishes.


Lufthansa provides cabin staff with iPads

June 6, 2017

Lufthansa has issued 20,000 cabin mobile devices to crew as part of a year of digitisation.

Loaded with Lufthansa crewFlight apps, the technology gives crew access to the seating plan and plenty of information on passengers onboard.

Flight attendants have received iPad Minis and an Electronic Flight Bag is already in operation in the cockpit and used by 4,300 pilots for flight planning and operations.

The move allows crew to access all the data they need to work onboard, from important service manuals to service schedules, and easily view any changes in plans. It heralds a new way of paperless working and simplifies existing processes so that staff have more time for customers. It also improves communication with the personnel on board.

The Cabin Mobile Device project is part of a major current programme of transformation called ‘OPSession’, which aims to further digitise the operational areas of Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian Airlines. Employees with no fixed workplace are to be equipped with mobile devices so that they may meet the needs of the customer in an even better and more personalised way.


Icelandair chooses ViaSat

May 31, 2017

Icelandair has partnered with global broadband services company ViaSat for its inflight connectivity and internet streaming service. Icelandair bridges America and Europe through its hub at Keflavik International Airport, serving 18 destinations in North America and more than 25 airports in Scandinavia, the UK and Europe.

Icelandair will use the brand new ViaSat-2, which launches on June 1, 2017 from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. It is a geostationary Ka-band satellite, designed to offer high-capacity connectivity and wide coverage, and promises to enter service in early 2018 with more than 300 Gigabits per second (Gbps) of network capacity.

Passenger devices will connect directly to the ViaSat-2 Ka-band satellite network over North America and the Atlantic, and then switch over to the European KA-SAT network, a high-capacity Ka-band satellite system part-owned by ViaSat in a European joint venture with Eutelsat.
Icelandair will also use ViaSat’s latest generation (Gen-2) in-flight internet system. By using the latest technology, Icelandair expects to be able to offer full internet and streaming services to all its passengers who need them.

“Our investment in new technology, from ViaSat, will deliver one of the best internet experiences in the skies,” commented Guðmundur Óskarsson, svp, Sales and Marketing, Icelandair. “In partnering with ViaSat we continue our strong reputation of putting our passengers first by giving them the opportunity to use the internet the way they want to – by providing internet with fast web browsing speeds and video streaming.”

“This is a watershed moment for ViaSat – as this is the first time an airline will use our technology to offer full internet connectivity and internet streaming to passengers over the Atlantic Ocean,” said Don Buchman, vp and general manager, Commercial Mobility at ViaSat.
Icelandair plans to install ViaSat’s in-flight internet system on its fleet of 16 Boeing 737MAX aircraft post-delivery. The installation programme is scheduled to begin in March 2018 and continue until 2020.


European laptop ban off – for now

May 23, 2017

At a four-hour meeting with EU officials in Brussels last week, the US decided not to impose its proposed ban on large electronic devices including laptops and tablets in hand luggage on aircraft travelling to the US from Europe.

The airline industry, represented by International Air Transport Association (IATA), had advised strongly against the ban, saying that it would seriously affect the economy. Passenger traffic between the continents stands at 65 million per year on 400 daily flights.

The proposed ban would have been much more disruptive than the current one, which started in March and affects nine airlines and 50 flights a day from 10 cities in the Middle East and North Africa. The existing ban, also partially adopted by Britain and now being considered by Australia, apparently focused on specific countries because their hand baggage screening equipment is not as effective as US machines.

At the meeting in Brussels, officials from the US Department of Homeland Security and the EU shared information about security threats to air travel. They also talked about aviation security standards and detection capabilities, and agreed to meet again in Washington next week.

It seems likely that Europe will try to allay US concerns by committing to closer scrutiny of laptops and tablets at the departure gates of US-bound flights, including electronic-trace detection. Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) ceo Joe Leader has proposed a solution using facial recognition to white-list passengers carrying electronic devices on specific routes.

APEX has also warned that a further electronics ban could come at short notice, so has put together guidelines under five distinct headings to help passengers and airlines to prepare for the worst.

This issue might go either way: a satisfactory solution might enable US officials to call off the original ban; but some airline analysts say it is simply a matter of time before the wider prohibition of laptops and tablets onboard is enforced.


SES launches first all-electric satellite

May 23, 2017

On the morning of May 18, SES-15 was launched by Arianespace aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle from Kourou in French Guiana. The launch vehicle lifted its payload to a geostationary transfer orbit.

The telecommunications satellite is SES’s first to use an all-electrical ion propulsion system to move to its final position. Located at 129 degrees West, SES-15 will be SES’s first hybrid satellite, offering a mix of Ku-band wide-beam coverage and Ku‐band High Throughput Satellite (HTS) capacity, with connectivity to gateways in the Ka‐band.

The Boeing-manufactured satellite is designed to serve the aeronautical sector and will enable other traffic‐intensive data applications for government, VSAT (very small aperture terminal) networks and maritime. SES’s HTS coverage will enable subscribing airlines to offer their passengers Panasonic Avionic’s inflight wifi and live television services.

SES-15 will serve North America, Mexico and Central America, with coverage from Arctic Alaska to the south of Panama, and from Hawaii to the Caribbean.

It is one of three Ku-HTS satellites scheduled to be launched by SES this year. They include another electric satellite SES-12, manufactured by Airbus. All will be geostationary, orbiting at 36.000km above the earth at the speed of the earth’s rotation.


US electronics ban: airline reactions

May 16, 2017

The ban on passengers carrying laptops and tablets on routes to the US and UK from the Middle East and parts of Africa has provoked protests from the carriers affected – and a few attempts at solutions.

The electronics ban introduced in March affected nine airlines on flights to the US from Jordan, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey. Britain followed with a similar ban on six Middle Eastern countries. Now the UK government is overseeing plans to ban laptops, tablets and e-book readers in hand luggage from British airports to American cities.

Emirates reacted by reducing the number of flights to five US cities. It has also introduced a ‘laptop handling service’ to allow passengers to use their large personal electronic devices up until the last moment of passing through the gate in Dubai.

Other airlines have tried workarounds. In an interview soon after the ban was introduced in March, Qatar Airways ceo Akbar Al Baker said: “I didn’t think this ban was necessary at all. “People who want to disrupt aviation will do it from other places where there is no ban.

“Yes, we have had a drop in passengers but it’s a manageable drop and people have started to realise that there are other ways to use laptops. For example, Qatar Airways supplies laptops for use by Premium passengers on the aircraft.”

Etihad Airways is also offering First and Business Class guests iPads and a free wifi voucher on all its US-bound flights from Abu Dhabi.

Turkish Airlines is offering onboard laptops to its business class passengers on flights to the United States. The airline said it would provide the same service to its UK-bound business class passengers from May 12.

The Turkish Airlines system works like this: travellers give their laptops or tablets to staff before their flight and then ask the cabin crew for a laptop to use onboard. The laptops have a high-security system that protects the personal information of passengers by automatically and permanently deleting it from the system when the computer shuts down. Users can copy their work onto a USB memory stick.

Meanwhile, US Department of Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan said that the agency is considering expanding the ban. APEX ceo Joe Leader has called for a hold on this: “Having the electronics ban spread to the European Union for flights to the United States would damage the personal freedoms integral to international air travel,” he said.

Instead he suggested a solution that would use facial recognition to white-list passengers carrying electronics on certain routes. “Biometric identification of passengers that are pre-cleared to travel with electronics would enable a viable potential solution, with the Department of Homeland Security ready to provide immediate technological facilitation.

“Fighting potential threats means finding government solutions that do not take the laptops, tablets, e-readers, cameras, and large phones out of the hands of the millions of law-abiding passengers that use them every day,” said Leader.

Lufthansa adopts paid GX Aviation service

May 09, 2017

Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines have completed their four-month GX Aviation Ka-band free internet trial on ten aircraft flying short- and medium-haul flights. According to a spokesperson from Inmarsat: “Performance targets were successfully met and feedback from passengers as well as Lufthansa Group cabin crew was extremely positive.”

The system uses Inmarsat’s three Ka-band satellites with Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect server and Wireless Access Points (WAPs) in the cabin. Lufthansa has made the planned transition to a paid service based on three levels: messaging at €3, surfing at €7, and streaming at €12. Another member of the Lufthansa Group, Eurowings, is about to launch its commercial internet service in the near future.

Lufthansa has partnered with Inmarsat in a ten-year strategic agreement, and plans to fit the service to around 300 Airbus A320-family aircraft. Speaking at the AIX show in Hamburg in April, Inmarsat’s Frederik van Essen, svp strategy and business development, aviation business unit, said that it was “a partnership to ensure they get their hands on the latest technology”.

He also said that the installation of GX for Aviation on Lufthansa’s short- and medium-haul fleet was proceeding well at a rate of eight planes a week. The entire fleet of Lufthansa, Austrian and Eurowings aircraft should be completed by the year-end.

“This is a significant milestone for GX Aviation too, which took more than five years to develop as the world’s first inflight broadband solution with seamless global coverage delivered through a single operator,” commented Inmarsat aviation president Leo Mondale.

lufthansagroup.com; inmarsat.com

New launch date for ViaSat-2

May 09, 2017

ViaSat has confirmed the launch date for the ViaSat-2 satellite as June 1, 2017. It will be aboard an Arianespace Ariane 5 ECA launch vehicle taking off from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana. It will be sent into orbit by the launch vehicle and will provide broadband services from 69.9° west longitude.

ViaSat-2 is a geostationary Ka-band satellite, designed to offer high-capacity connectivity and wide coverage, with the flexibility to move capacity to areas of highest demand. It promises to double the bandwidth of ViaSat-1, with more than 300 Gigabits per second (Gbps) of network capacity. When it enters service in early 2018, it is expected to provide seven times the broadband coverage of its predecessor.

The new satellite system is expected to significantly improve speeds, reduce costs and expand the footprint of broadband services. It will cover North America, Central America, the Caribbean, a portion of northern South America, and the main air and maritime routes across the Atlantic Ocean.

The launch date was delayed for just over a month because of social unrest in the area around the spaceport in French Guiana.


Eurostar and Sony launch ‘Sound Menu’

May 01, 2017

Eurostar and Sony have partnered to offer passengers a new ‘Sound Menu’, optimised for use with Sony’s 1000X wireless headphones with noise-cancelling technology. The Sony Sound Menu is on all trans-Channel Eurostar e320 and e300 trains from April 27 for a month’s trial.

It has been developed with senior lecturer in Music Psychology at Keele University, Dr Alexandra Lamont. She has used studies conducted on music and mood regulation to recommend five playlists to help travellers prepare, relax and focus on the way to their destination.

The inspiration behind the idea is from UK research into the music listening habits of travellers. Over a quarter (27%) said they can never fully relax on a journey; 39% blamed the noise made by others as being one of the biggest stress factors. Over two-thirds of passengers said that music helps them relax.

Matt Coupe, head of sound, UK & Ireland at Sony, said: “Our 1000X headphones give travellers the opportunity to experience our best in noise-cancelling headphones to be able to cut out the chaos around them. Plus, with our ‘Quick Attention Mode’, travellers can simply touch the side of their headphones so they’re still able to hear announcements or order a coffee onboard.”

Neil Roberts, head of digital, Eurostar, commented, “Our onboard entertainment system gives travellers more than 300 hours of free content, all available through their own device. We’re always looking for ways to improve our passengers’ journeys, and the new Sound Menu created by Sony offers our travellers a way to get more out of their time on board, whether it’s focusing on work, or relaxing after a busy day.”

eurostar.com; sony.co.uk