Onboard tech news

APEX calls for solutions to airline electronics ban

March 28, 2017

The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) has called for government-approved security solutions for the recent airline electronics ban, believing the ban may spread beyond the intended scope without a solution.

The Department for Transport imposed a ban on passengers carrying any electronic devices larger than mobile phones on UK-bound flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

IATA calculations indicate 393 flights per week will be impacted by the ban, which translates to more than three million affected passengers per year, based on APEX load-factor calculations.

“The US and UK, pointed to a problem in airline security by banning electronics on certain flights. When we take away personal electronic devices from passengers, we are bowing to a potential threat rather than providing an acceptable security solution”, said APEX CEO, Joe Leader.

“Chemical detection machines utilised worldwide can detect illicit items in electronics. Turning on electronics checks functionality and non-functioning electronics could be banned from flights. The expense of hand-searching every carry-on for the personal electronics ban could instead be directed to a long-term solution that serves airlines and passengers safely,” said Leader.

APEX has engaged key US and UK government officials on a solutions-oriented approach.


Cube gets onboard

March 20, 2017

The Media inMotion “Cube” is now providing an inflight media solution for passengers on all SunExpress Germany flights.

Media inMotion is a subsidiary brand of LSG Group’s Retail inMotion, and director Thomas Rilling said: “The implementation of our inflight media solution on SunExpress Germany flights is a huge milestone for Media inMotion. It is a confirmation to the industry that our customisable solution has a proven track record of success.”

Weighing in at 11 kilograms, the Cube allows for up to 40 users to simultaneously stream content. Browsing capability is concurrently available to all passengers on a flight. Content provided on the system includes feature-length films, television shows, newspapers, magazines, travel guides, SunExpress-specific content, order-to-seat functions, advertising and games.

Media inMotion’s Cube offers full integration with Retail inMotion’s onboard retail software suite, Vector, and works seamlessly with its Point of Sale (POS) solution. The team is currently developing additional product capabilities for the Cube, including the integration of video advertising and third-party service options like home delivery services.


April launch for ViaSat-2

March 20, 2017

ViaSat has announced that construction of the ViaSat-2 satellite is complete. The scheduled launch date for ViaSat-2 is April 25, 2017, from the Arianespace launch site in French Guiana, and it will be operational at the end of 2017.

ViaSat-2 promises to deliver much more capacity and better coverage to airline partners JetBlue, United, and American Airlines. ViaSat expects 350 Gbit/s of Ka-band capacity over North and Central America, the Caribbean, and the North Atlantic.

ViaSat and Boeing concluded the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for two of the next-generation ViaSat-3 class satellites in November 2016. The companies are now doing detailed design work, and the first ViaSat-3 class satellite is expected to be ready for launch in 2019.


Spafax appointment

March 20, 2017

Inflight entertainment, media sales and content specialists, Spafax has appointed Tullia Vitturi di Este-Lochra as head of luxury & international partnerships.

She joins from a position as head of luxury at the Wall Street Journal, London and will be leading Spafax’s media sales division in Europe.

Vitturi di Este-Lochra brings a wealth of experience from across the luxury sales industry and a strong proven track record for increasing revenue across highly-competitive markets. In previous roles, she delivered dramatic increases in new business sales including a 17% increase in advertising sales from new business across Time Inc.’s affluent media portfolio.

Vitturi di Este-Lochra will work closely with Katrin Kopvillem, EVP, Global Corporate Development, Spafax, to further bolster the group’s market-leading portfolio of global brand partnerships.


Thales, SES and Hughes in deal to launch FlytLIVE

March 15, 2017

Thales, SES and Hughes Network Systems have signed agreements designed to improve the delivery of Thales’ FlytLIVETM inflight connectivity solution. The deals see SES leasing capacity on Hughes EchoStar XVII and EchoStar XIX high throughput (HTS) Ka-band satellites to complement its own AMC-15 and AMC-16 satellites. SES will also buy JUPITER™ System gateways from Hughes to enable Thales to offer its connected inflight experience in North America this year.

Using four satellites strengthens Thales’ FlytLIVE network in advance of the launch of the SES-17 Ka-band HTS satellite, planned for 2020. SES-17 is being manufactured by Thales Alenia Space and has around 200 spot beams and coverage specifically designed for aviation and mobility markets.

The combination of currently operating SES satellites and Hughes satellites will provide significant capacity over the Americas, including coverage redundancy over North America. The new onboard connectivity equipment will also have elements of redundancy, with multiple modems to connect to the various satellites.

Dominique Giannoni, ceo, Thales InFlyt Experience said: “With these strategic agreements with SES and Hughes, Thales FlytLIVE service will be uniquely able to deliver airlines and their passengers with an unsurpassed, connected inflight entertainment experience.”

Elias Zaccack, svp of SES’s Global Mobility Team and the Americas region, added: “Not only are we developing SES-17, a next-generation satellite that Thales will use to meet the future inflight connectivity demands of the next decade, but we are also providing a superior, tailor-made, multi-satellite and multi-beam solution today, in 2017, utilising assets already in orbit. This is only possible thanks to the combination of our existing robust and flexible network with our long-standing relationship with Hughes and Thales.”


Qantas in deal with Foxtel, Netflix and Spotify

February 21, 2017

Qantas passengers on flights with wifi will have access to Foxtel pay TV, Netflix shows and audio from Spotify. Foxtel is offering passengers three days of free streaming, while Netflix and Spotify offer 30-day free trials as long as passengers subscribe.

High-speed wifi is available on one Qantas Boeing 737 from February, flying routes between Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne. The rest of the fleet will be equipped in June. Passengers need to download an app and bring their mobile or tablet onboard to get the shows.

The app will also deliver flight path information and Sky News. Passengers will be able to access travel information, including real-time flight data, hotel, restaurant and transport options at the destination and the latest weather.

The streaming wifi service uses NBN’s Sky Muster satellites. Qantas is also considering extending wifi services onto its international and regional fleets.

Qantas brand, marketing and corporate affairs group executive Olivia Wirth commented: “We know that email, online shopping, and general web browsing will be popular uses when we switch on wifi but what a lot of people relish about flying is being able to catch up on their favourite TV shows or watch movies they didn’t get to see at the cinema.”


Intelsat’s Epic 32e launched and 33e in service

February 21, 2017

The Intelsat 32e satellite was successfully launched from French Guiana on an Ariane 5 rocket on February 14. It is designed to overlay some beams from Intelsat 29e, the first Intelsat EpicNG satellite, increasing the throughput over the Caribbean and North Atlantic shipping and air routes.

Stephen Spengler, ceo Intelsat, said: “This is the first of three Intelsat EpicNG satellite launches planned for 2017 as we continue to deploy our high-performance overlay on the world’s first globalised network. With the addition of Intelsat 32e, Intelsat is now the only satellite operator with HTS resiliency over the world’s busiest air route. Intelsat 32e also increases our capabilities to support the growth of our maritime customers in the Caribbean and the Atlantic, such as the exclusive use of our services for broadband to most of the world’s largest cruise ships sailing the Caribbean right now.”

Intelsat 33e, the second EpicNG high throughput satellite (HTS), successfully completed testing and entered service on January 29. It will extend the company’s HTS services in C-band, Ku- and Ka-band to Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean regions. Customers for its services include IFEC providers Gogo and Panasonic Avionics.

Two more EpicNG satellites – I-35e and I-37e – are scheduled for launch in 2017. The global footprint of EpicNG will be completed with Horizons 3e, with a launch planned before the end of 2018.


April launch for ViaSat-2

February 21, 2017

ViaSat has announced that construction of the ViaSat-2 satellite is complete. The scheduled launch date for ViaSat-2 is April 25, 2017, from the Arianespace launch site in French Guiana, and it will be operational at the end of 2017.

ViaSat-2 promises to deliver much more capacity and better coverage to airline partners JetBlue, United, and American Airlines. ViaSat expects 350 Gbit/s of Ka-band capacity over North and Central America, the Caribbean and the North Atlantic.

ViaSat and Boeing concluded the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for two of the next-generation ViaSat-3 class satellites in November 2016. The companies are now doing detailed design work and the first ViaSat-3 class satellite is expected to be ready for launch in 2019.


XL Airways upgrades IFE with Immfly

February 14, 2017

Paris-based XL Airways upgraded its IFE at the beginning of this year by using Immfly’s wireless platform, which is now flying on routes to the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean and the States. Passengers access the XL Cloud platform using their mobiles and tablets via the free, downloadable app or the internet.

On XL Cloud, they can view a range of movies, TV, news, magazines, kids’ channels and travel guides. The catalogue, available in English and French, includes free content plus a Premium service, which costs €9.95 per flight, or €15 to rent an ipad Mini onboard.

Since its launch with Iberia Express two years ago, Immfly has got STC certification for installation on A320 and A330 aircraft, and is currently operational on three airlines. In August it announced its first cruise line partnership with Trasmediterránea, operating routes between mainland Spain, the Balearic Islands, and northern Africa.

The system is easy to operate, says Ricard Falomir, cio of Iberia Express. “Upon landing, the system automatically connects to the Cloud to download passenger data and process payment transactions. With Immfly onboard we just have to make sure that the hardware is on; the rest is successfully managed either by their operations team or by the system itself”.

Alfredo Ibáñez, cto of Immfly, commented: “According to how the market is taking shape, we propose airlines a flexible two-step approach with no operational disruption: first Wireless IFE and then Wireless IFE and Connectivity. Given that our product is compatible with most connectivity operators and integrators, adding a connectivity system to an Immfly-equipped aircraft involves a seamless integration with significant cost benefits and technological synergies.”

Voted Newcomer of the year at APEX in Singapore in September 2016, Immfly is now shortlisted for the Crystal Cabin Awards at AIX in Hamburg.


Lufthansa gets new connected A350

February 6, 2016

Lufthansa’s brand new A350-900 was presented to the media at Munich airport at the beginning of February. The A350 is the first of ten new aircraft to be based at Munich, with another 15 on order.

Lufthansa’s A350 fleet has an upgraded IFE system which enables passengers to customise their onboard entertainment up to six weeks before flying. Passengers can use the ‘Lufthansa Companion’ app to create playlists from a range of 100 films and 200 TV programmes. They can also choose whether to watch on the seatback screen or on their personal electronic devices (PEDs).

The A350 fleet will also offer wifi connectivity through Lufthansa’s Flynet portal, which allows passengers to connect either via WLAN or GSM as soon as the aircraft has reached cruising height. This service costs €9 for one hour, €14 for two hours or €17 for the whole flight.

The A350 is the first Airbus aircraft to feature on-board LED lighting technology designed to synchronise with passengers’ body clocks, which is claimed to ease jetlag. The system has 24 lighting settings intended to simulate light conditions from morning to evening. The lighting system will also be retro-fitted to Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-800s.

Lufthansa plans to replace its A340s with the A350. Claimed to be the world’s most advanced and most environmentally friendly long-haul aircraft, the A350-900 uses 25% less fuel, produces 25% fewer emissions and is quieter on take-off than its rivals.


Free wifi from JAL and Gogo

January 30, 2016

Japan Airlines is offering free wifi on all equipped domestic flights from February 1 until August 31 this year. The airline has been offering 15 minutes of free inflight wifi on domestic flights since August 2016, but is now removing the 15-minute time limit.

Passengers access the internet service with a ‘Free Flight Pass’ button that appears on the portal after connecting to inflight wifi. The service is available five minutes after take-off until five minutes before landing.

JAL is promoting its fleet-wide upgrade to their new Sky Next product, using satellite Internet technology from Gogo. Inflight video programmes on topics including sports, gourmet food, music and animation are also available to passengers free of charge and can be streamed wirelessly using mobile devices.

The Sky Next service is being installed on 77 select 777-300, 777-200, 767-300 and 737-800 aircraft.



American drops seatback screens

January 30, 2016

American Airlines has decided not to specify seatback monitors for IFE on the new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft it has ordered for delivery later this year.

The airline plans to keep seatback screens on its widebody aircraft such as the Boeing 777, 787 and Airbus A330 flying international routes. However, with more passengers bringing personal electronic devices (PEDs) on board, American Airlines is changing its approach to IFE on domestic routes.

“Every customer with a phone, tablet or laptop will be able to watch free movies and TV shows from our extensive on-board library, as well as free live television channels, all without purchasing an in-flight internet connection,” said a spokesperson from American.

American Airlines has ordered four Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery this year without seatback screens. It has also ordered 40 Boeing 737 and Airbus A321 aircraft with seatback monitors and power at every seat.

The airline decided last year to use two satellite internet providers to outfit its planes with in-flight wifi. It is using ViaSat’s technology on its new Boeing 737 MAX fleet and upgrading 134 existing Airbus A319 and A320 aircraft using Gogo’s 2Ku solution.

American also plans to have power outlets at every seat on half its domestic narrowbody aircraft by the end of 2018 and more than 85 per cent by the end of 2019.

“It makes sense for American to focus on giving customers the best entertainment and fast connection options rather than installing seatback monitors that will be obsolete within a few years,” commented the airline spokesperson.


Share your news

January 30, 2016

Onboard Hospitality is currently putting together the latest edition of its onboard entertainment and connectivity supplement.

The team is committed to bringing its readers all the latest developments and trends in onboard technology and will include features on inflight entertainment apps and content, new products, company profiles, interviews and predictions.

This supplement is designed to update and guide our international readership through the buying and supplying of onboard technology and help them gain a clearer understanding of the main providers and suppliers of onboard entertainment and connectivity to air, rail, cruise and ferry operators. We focus on the concepts, suppliers and innovations driving growth in this sector.

The supplements are distributed with Onboard Hospitality in hard copy and digital form to our international database of more than 14,400 industry buyers and decision-makers. They are also available online prior to APEX and AIX and are distributed at these exhibitions free of charge.

This new issue will be distributed at AIX in Hamburg. To be a part of it please contact sue.williams@onboardhospitality.com at your earliest convenience.

Recognising the best

January 24, 2016

Do you know your plugins from your platforms, your apps from your androids? Then we need your help. We have six innovative and exciting technology entries in our 2017 Onboard Hospitality Awards and they are all looking for your vote to help them gain greater recognition.

Voting closes in one week on February 1, so check out our entries and cast your vote to give them the support they deserve.

Entries include the INPLAY media platform which delivers media content to passenger devices so they can stream the latest movies/TV shows as they go; and the BEAM app developed by Virgin Trains to bring airline-quality entertainment to the railways.

There’s the Touchstar Onbaord Retail Solution helping to make inflight sales easy and efficient; while the SkyTrack technology by Spiriant is created to alleviate logistical troubles and create transparency when tracking trolleys.

Qantas has been turning its attention to tech solutions with its durable Q-Bag Tag, designed by Buzz to keep track of luggage; and its Qantas RED App which gives cabin crew real-time information about customers so they can connect and care for them as they travel.

Check them all out, and tell us your favourite. View and vote before February 1.

We are currently pulling together our next dedicated Onboard Technology supplement which will be distributed at AIX in Hamburg. To be a part of that supplement please contact sue.williams@onboardhospitality.com at your earliest convenience.

Ticket technology opens up

January 24, 2016

UK rail operator Chiltern Railways has partnered with travel technology company SilverRail to develop a ‘ticket-free travel’ trial.

The proposed technology would allow passengers to use their smartphones to detect commencement of travel, use Bluetooth to open ticket gates and automatically be charged the best price for their journey at the end of the day.

A smartphone app would also include personalised real-time travel updates, passenger advice and multi-modal journey options, plus a journey history, prices and details of how fares have been calculated.

The pilot has commenced on Chiltern’s newly-built route between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone and will continue through 2017.

“This partnership marks a breakthrough for rail customers, allowing them to seamlessly travel through stations without having to stop at a ticket machine, while being charged the best priced ticket for on the day travel,” says Aaron Gowell, CEO of SilverRail.


Film censorship at 30,000 feet

January 24, 2016

In an article in the Economist magazine, Joe Leader, ceo of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), lifted the lid on how and why the films you watch at 30,000 feet are not always the same as the ones you see in the cinema. Films depicting airline disasters are obviously unpopular, and do not feature on IFE catalogues.

But on short-haul flights with shared screens, the article points out, “the goal is to find something that appeals to everybody.” At the same time, movies including terrorism, nudity, sex scenes, drug use, profanity, racist or prejudiced comments about any religion, culture, or nationality have to be avoided.

Joe Leader said that guidelines are more relaxed on long-haul flights, when passengers can choose their own films to watch on their seatback screens.

Terrorism and airline crashes are still likely to be avoided, but content providers can choose from a wider selection of movies and edit them according to who is likely to be on the flight.

Leader said that the “best litmus test for regional in-flight entertainment practices” is local television. In Europe, “some nudity may be readily seen on broadcast television” but violence is less acceptable, while in America and the Middle East violence is tolerated but nudity is considered offensive.

Asked whether censorship at 30,000 feet is still appropriate, Leader said that seatback entertainment can still be seen by other passengers. So limiting films to PG-13 and “common-sense guidelines” are “completely appropriate”.

The Economist article went on to say that many flyers find censorship irritating, and some prefer to watch their own films on tablets and laptops – a trend that would continue as onboard wifi becomes more reliable and widespread. It quoted a 2016 survey from airline association IATA, which found that IFE was among the least satisfying parts of flying, and half of passengers would prefer to stream content on personal devices.


Rest of world chases US wifi lead

January 17, 2016

A new survey by Routehappy, a merchandising content platform for flight shopping, reports that more than 70 airlines now offer in-flight wifi, with 11 more airlines joining the club since last year. Around 39% of available seat miles (ASM) worldwide now offer at least a chance of wifi.

In 2016, a number of non-US airlines, including British Airways, Eurowings, Qantas and Air New Zealand made large-scale commitments to installing in-flight wifi. Robert Albert, ceo of Routehappy, observed, “In-flight wifi continues to grow in both airline adoption and capability, and this trend is only going to continue in 2017. 2016 was the year that airlines outside the US committed to high quality in-flight wifi at a rate only previously seen by US carriers, and 2017 will see those commitments come to life.”

Wifi has become commonplace on US airline flights. US airlines now offer flyers at least a chance of wifi on 83% of ASMs, which is 8.7% more than last year.

All three major US airlines added significant available seat miles with wifi in 2016. Of these, United offers the most long-haul ASMs with 2800 miles. Virgin America (now owned by Alaska Airlines) is the only US airline with wifi on all its flights.

Of all airlines worldwide, Emirates, United and Lufthansa are the top three to offer wifi on long haul routes, by total number of ASMs.

The company also looked at the quality of in-flight wifi, which it ranks as basic, better or best. Last year, the report says, best wifi was available on 6% of flights. That number has since grown to 7.2% and is expected to increase significantly in 2017.

Routehappy expects to see substantial gains in wifi quality in the future. “The mere availability of wifi is no longer enough. Passengers now demand a home broadband-like experience, and more airlines are now delivering this. JetBlue is nearing completion of a fleet-wide broadband rollout, allowing access to Netflix and other streaming services with no access charges; Virgin America has also recently introduced the same system.”

The report continues: “Gogo’s 2Ku system has recently launched with multiple major global airlines such as Delta, Aeromexico and Virgin Atlantic. Inmarsat’s GX for Aviation is also in the beginning stages of going live to passengers. Deutsche Telekom’s high-speed air-to-ground network is being built throughout the European Union and UK, and British Airways will use this network starting in mid-2017; SAS and Finnair have also tapped Viasat for European wifi.”

The Routehappy report concludes that in-fight wifi speed and quality “will dramatically improve” in the near future, with significant reductions of costs to the passenger.


Lufthansa trials internet on European network

January 17, 2016

Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are both trialing high-quality internet access onboard their short-haul flights.

The airlines, which have both offered connectivity on their long-haul flights for some time, will each now trial the service on five A320 aircraft operating in Europe.

“I am pleased that we can soon offer broadband internet to our passengers on inner-European flights, giving them the chance to have a seamless digital experience,” says Harry Hohmeister, member of the board of directors of Deutsche Lufthansa.

“Since the launch of Lufthansa Flynet, it has been our goal to offer added value on board to our customers through innovation – and that also includes our internet provision,” he adds.

In the first quarter of 2017, the number of Lufthansa aircraft fitted with internet access will rise to around 20, and the entire Lufthansa A320 fleet is to be equipped with the latest technology by the middle of 2018.

The re-fitting of all 31 aircraft at Austrian Airlines is due for completion before the end of April 2017.


BBC launches at sea

January 10, 2016

BBC Worldwide has launched a global entertainment channel, BBC HD, the company’s first channel produced exclusively for cruise ships.

The channel will go live through Global Eagle Entertainment’s (GEE) MTN TV network, with P&O Cruises and Cunard being the first to offer it to their passengers. Content on the new channel ranges from drama, comedy and factual entertainment to natural history and documentaries. UK soaps such as Eastenders, Holby City and Casualty will also be on BBC HD.

BBC HD complements BBC World News, which launched on MTN TV in 2010 and is available on cruise ships throughout the world.

Zina Neophytou, Vice President, Out of Home, BBC Worldwide said: “There has always been a strong demand for BBC content within the travel and hospitality sectors including cruise ships so launching a bespoke global entertainment channel on MTN TV alongside BBC World News is an obvious step. BBC HD will be the one-stop shop for the best of British TV content.”

“The BBC was our initial launch partner when MTN TV was rolled out in 2010, and once again they are leading the way in pioneering more TV programming choices for cruising passengers around the world,” said Walé Adepoju, Executive Vice President, Media & Content at GEE. “The addition of the BBC HD channel is part of our expansion plan for MTN TV to provide more entertainment options relevant to today’s cruising market.”

As the launch customer BBC HD will be available on all P&O UK and Cunard ships with the channel also becoming available to the wider cruise industry in due course.


Carnival launches digital disc for cruise passengers

January 10, 2016

The Carnival Corporation has developed the Ocean Medallion, a wearable device that enables a high degree of personalisation for its guests onboard.

The Ocean Medallion can help guests embark and disembark from the cruise ship, order food and drinks, explore various parts of the ship and interact with one another. It will be aboard Princess Cruises from November.

The Ocean Medallion has no obvious technology – no on-off switch, no charging port, no navigation menu – and can be worn as a pendant, on a wristband or placed in a pocket. The little blue disc is part of a network of sensors using near-field communication (NFC) and Bluetooth technologies. Before the cruise guests will provide preferences and requirements so that their onboard experience can be personalised.

Paired with the Medallion is the Ocean Compass™, which is used by both guests and crew. This is a personal digital concierge accessible by all guests using interactive displays throughout the ship, on cabin TVs or on guests’ own devices. For example, guests can find their way around; locate family or group members; make reservations at the restaurant or spa, book shore excursions; arrange celebrations; view photographs; and learn about the destinations and activities at each port of call.

Beacon and sensor technology has applications beyond the cruise industry. At Miami International Airport, for example, beacons help passengers to find their way around the terminal, and also push targeted products and services. Airlines such as Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Virgin Atlantic are now using beacon technology to track baggage and provide real-time flight and boarding formation.

Arnold W. Donald, ceo of Carnival Corporation, said: “We recognise that each guest is different, and the things that make them happy are different.” Talking about Ocean Medallion and Compass, he added: “It’s simple. It’s personal. It’s elegant, and it will power our guest experiences like never before.”


Eurowings first LCC with GX for Aviation broadband

January 4, 2016

Eurowings is the latest airline from the Lufthansa Group to choose to install Inmarsat’s new GX for Aviation in-flight broadband. The first aircraft to be equipped are 69 Airbus A320s from the fleet. Some aircraft have already been fitted with the new solution, and all are expected to be completed by the middle of this year.

Eurowings will be the first low-cost carrier to offer GX for Aviation. The solution promises to deliver reliable, seamless high-speed global coverage, enabling passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, and check social media, with similar speeds to broadband on the ground. The new service will be integrated with the existing IFE system based on Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect platform.

The connection to the GX network will use new JetWave terminals produced by Honeywell Aerospace. The terminals are designed for ease of installation and maintenance to reduce downtime. Inmarsat partner Deutsche Telekom will be the Internet Service Provider for Eurowings passengers.

This contract is part of a 10-year deal between Inmarsat and the Lufthansa Group, including the selection of GX for Aviation for Lufthansa’s European continental fleet of over 180 aircraft. The GX service will also be deployed on more than 30 Austrian Airlines’ aircraft from the Airbus A320 family, with installation and testing currently underway.

“We look forward to working with Eurowings as our latest airline customer from the Lufthansa Group and the first low-cost carrier that will offer GX for Aviation,” said Leo Mondale, president of Inmarsat Aviation. “Airline passengers want to be connected and Eurowings recognises the commercial benefits of committing to GX for Aviation. It is the only high-speed in-flight broadband solution with uninterrupted global coverage powered by a single operator. Our global satellite infrastructure offers a seamless service, allowing us to provide high quality connectivity whenever and wherever it’s needed, even over Europe, the world’s busiest air traffic space.”


Air New Zealand joins the GX gang

December 21, 2016

Inmarsat has signed a contract with Air New Zealand to provide Global Xpress (GX) connectivity to its long-haul and short-haul fleets. GX for Aviation is a high-speed Ka-band network tested by the US government and in operation today. It is designed for mobility, and promises to give a reliable, seamless broadband in-flight wifi experience across the world.

Air New Zealand has joined Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Singapore Airlines in choosing GX for connectivity. GX has been selected for its global reach, which covers Air New Zealand’s ultra-long-haul routes across the Pacific and on to the United Kingdom. At the same time it has the potential to layer-in capacity over key regional destination hubs, such as the east coast of Australia, to ensure a good customer experience.

Air New Zealand’s chief digital officer, Avi Golan, commented: “We wanted a world-class solution that would meet the high expectations of our customers, offering both a consistent and reliable service…. We‘ve been monitoring the developments in inflight connectivity for some time and with GX, we believe we will be able to offer broadband on-board in innovative ways that will further set Air New Zealand apart as one of the world’s leading airlines.”

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

GX for Aviation connectivity will be integrated with Air New Zealand’s Inflight Entertainment (IFE) system, provided by Panasonic. The first GX-equipped aircraft are expected to begin flights in the second half of 2017, with services progressively available on Tasman, Pacific and long-haul fleets, and domestic routes will be connected from 2018.


Turkish Airlines chooses Panasonic IFEC

December 21, 2016

Turkish Airlines has chosen Panasonic Avionics to provide IFEC to its new fleet of narrowbody aircraft. Panasonic will be installing its eX1 system and supplying its Global Communications Services (GCS).

The system will include Panasonic’s Passenger Data Integration (PDI) service, which enables the carrier to recognise the travel preferences of its passengers and so recommend specific content, services and amenities to enhance their experience both during the flight and at their destination.

PDI works with a custom-designed Companion App that enables passengers to pair their mobile device to the IFEC system and personalise their entertainment by adding custom playlists and a second-screen environment.

The GCS package includes high-speed, global wifi and multiple channels of live television. Airline passengers will use the service to connect to their friends, families, and colleagues through high-speed access to the internet, social media platforms, and corporate VPN networks. Passengers will also receive Live Text News created for Turkish Airlines by a Turkish news agency, Anadolu Agency (AA).

The television service will feature TRT World Turkish News Channel plus eight additional global channels including Sport 24. Sport 24, which is owned and operated by IMG, offers live coverage of the world’s most popular sporting events.

The new IFE system, with global fast wifi and live television services, will be available on 92 Airbus A321 NEOs-ACF, 65 Boeing 737 MAX 8s and 10 Boeing 737 MAX 9s. Turkish Airlines has retained the option to install its own affiliate’s IFE system on the last 45 planes, when it is ready to be linefit.

M. İlker Aycı, chairman of the board and the executive committee of Turkish Airlines, commented: “We needed a solution not only capable of providing a reliable system, but also a truly immersive inflight experience to our passengers…. The personalised interface designed for an optimal viewing experience combined with the industry’s largest library of games, audio, and video is what made eX1 a proper decision for our flag carrier in this regard.”


Demand up for voice calls

December 13, 2016

Inflight connectivity provider AeroMobile has announced its one millionth connected flight enabling passengers to use their mobile devices to text, make calls and access the internet, being billed by their own mobile operator.

Aircraft equipped with AeroMobile now fly to 110 countries, with 40 million users to date. Over half the equipped airlines use the faster 3G service. So far in 2016, call minutes have doubled, mobile data is up 50 per cent, and text messaging is up five per cent.

Kevin Rogers, ceo of AeroMobile, commented: “We’ve seen significant growth over the years with additional airlines and aircraft connecting to the AeroMobile network, and the one million mark is just the start as our network continues to grow.”

Not all countries allow voice calls on planes, however, and they are currently banned in the US. The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has just aired a proposal to require airlines to notify passengers if they allow voice calls. “The Department of Transportation is proposing to protect airline passengers from being unwillingly exposed to voice calls within the confines of an airplane,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

Over 40 jurisdictions, including the European Union and Australia, allow mobile services to send texts and data during flights, according to the DOT, and 24 airlines, mostly in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, allow voice calls.

But there is apparently serious opposition to lifting the ban in the US. The DOT says it received more than 1,700 comments on the subject in 2014, with 96% wanting to ban voice calls and 2% favouring a ban except in emergencies. Only 2% of respondents said airlines should set their own policies.

Flight attendants in particular are against passengers making calls during flights.“The American public does not want voice communication in flight,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA. “Anything short of banning voice calls is reckless. It threatens aviation security and increases the likelihood of conflict in the skies. It threatens safety for crews and passengers.”

The DOT plans to collect comment about the proposal for 60 days before proceeding.


Digital support for flydubai

December 13, 2016

Flydubai has signed an agreement with SDL to use SDL Web to support the way its customers consume digital information.

The airline which has a network of 90 destinations in 44 countries, wanted to ensure that its customers have a unique and relevant user experience no matter their location. By using SDL Web and working with its partner Indivirtual Dubai, flydubai can deliver mobile optimized and scalable websites in multiple languages globally.

SDL Web gives flydubai’s customers access to relevant targetted web experiences as well as localised content based on a user’s background and location. SDL’s solutions can be integated with current and future IT projects.

“flydubai is committed to investing in product innovations and technologies that enhance our passengers’ travel experience. Having worked with Indivirtual Dubai for many years, it was a natural fit to partner with SDL. We look forward to continuing to work together to bring a best-in-class website browsing experience to our passengers,” said Ramesh Venkat, Chief Information Officer (CIO), at flydubai.

flydubai has been working with Indivirtual Dubai for over five years and the company provides support to flydubai’s in-house IT department.


GoMedia spreads its reach

December 13, 2016

Infotainment provider, GoMedia, is launching its innovative entertainment platform beyond rail and onto National Express coaches in the UK.

GoMedia platforms are currently available on Eurostar and Virgin Trains, but this will be the first time Sky News and Sky Sports News will be available on public transport.

Roger Matthews, managing director, GoMedia said: “Our partnership with National Express will bring world-class entertainment onboard coaches for the first time, representing a revolution of the onboard experience. Many people remember coach travel from their school days, but it is one of the most comfortable and efficient ways to travel for leisure and business. Along with National Express, we intend to change the coach passenger experience for good, providing outstanding content that will make journeys entertaining and informative.”

Named VUER (View, Unwind, Enjoy, Relax), the system designed specifically for National Express is now live on the company’s fleet of 618 coaches.

Content will be regularly updated as with GoMedia’s other products and will include Sky News, Sky Sports News bulletins alongside movie title and TV box sets.

The platform streams content to passengers’ own devices over an existing wifi infrastructure.


Successful test for European Aviation Network (EAN)

December 6, 2016

At the end of November, Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, together with their technology partners Nokia and Thales, achieved key milestones on the EAN project. Live over-the-air connection was achieved in Germany and a test flight was successfully conducted in the UK.

The European Aviation Network (EAN) is an integrated S-band satellite and LTE-based terrestrial network aiming to bring unprecedented passenger connectivity to the aviation industry in Europe. It claims to be unique in the capacity and quality of broadband internet service it will offer to the dense European aviation routes, in a small and lightweight package.

The flight trial tested the onboard equipment being provided by Thales and the ground network supplied by Deutsche Telekom and Nokia. The network successfully connected to the ground system at all four test sites in the southwest of the UK. There were multiple successful handovers between sectors and cell towers, and the connection remained stable while data was transferred to and from the aircraft.

Deutsche Telekom and Nokia are on track to deliver the ground component of the project, with rollout of around 300 antenna sites. Inmarsat and Thales completed construction and associated sub-system tests of the satellite earlier this year. With test flights now underway, the introduction of EAN is planned for mid-2017.

“EAN is progressing extremely well, both on the ground as well as in the air, to achieve the world’s first integrated service providing true in-flight broadband experience,” said Leo Mondale, president of Aviation, Inmarsat. “The actual performance and quality of the in-flight datalink exceeds design expectations and is truly game changing for European airlines. We look forward to further successful testing milestones working with all the EAN partners to bring together this integrated system.”

“With these successful tests we once more underline our goal to be the leading European telecommunications operator,” commented Claudia Nemat, board member Europe and Technology at Deutsche Telekom. “The EAN allows us to offer our customers outstanding connectivity services not only on the ground but also in the sky. The new technology based on LTE standard makes sure that EAN is flexible for any further technology developments in the future.”


Intelsat in HTS deal with Gogo

November 23, 2016

Intelsat has signed an agreement with aviation broadband connectivity solutions supplier Gogo for services on its Intelsat 29e satellite. Gogo will use high-throughput services from this satellite, the first in the global Intelsat EpicNG network, to deliver inflight wifi to aircraft on the busy North Atlantic route.

Intelsat 29e began operations earlier this year, and will deliver bridge services for Gogo until Intelsat 32e becomes operational in 2017. Intelsat is also providing Gogo with IntelsatOne managed services through its teleport in Mountainside, Maryland.

Gogo signed an agreement last March for Intelsat to deliver in-flight connectivity (IFC) via multi-layered Ku-band services on the Intelsat EpicNG satellites, combined with OneWeb’s planned low earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellation. This includes high-performance connectivity provided by Intelsat 32e, Intelsat 33e and Horizons 3e.

“The performance of the Intelsat EpicNG satellites demonstrates the value of high throughput satellite (HTS) technology,” commented Michael Small, Gogo’s president and ceo. “We opted to begin services with Intelsat 29e immediately and transition to Intelsat 32e when it becomes operational. We look forward to expanding our reach as more Intelsat EpicNG satellites become available.”

Intelsat 33e will improve Gogo’s services across Europe, the Middle East and Asia when it becomes operational in the first quarter of 2017, and the Horizons 3e spacecraft will provide a global HTS service for Gogo when it begins operations over the Asia-Pacific region in 2018.

“Intelsat is delivering on the promise of HTS with Intelsat EpicNG, with a unique design that provides immediate improvement in performance of up to 165 per cent,” said Intelsat ceo Stephen Spengler. “Customers are easily transitioning to the platform, validating our backwards-compatible, open-architecture design, and this enables Gogo to begin delivering broadband-enabled inflight wifi services in the North Atlantic today.”


ViaSat acquires Arconics

November 16, 2016

Broadband services and technology company ViaSat has acquired Dublin-based Arconics, the aviation software solutions provider. ViaSat thereby gets access to Arconics’ connected aircraft software platform that includes wireless In-flight Entertainment (IFE), Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), Airline Document Management and Cabin Management solutions, as well as its software expertise and personnel.

Through this acquisition ViaSat gains aviation-grade software and mobile applications to help pilots, cabin crew and flight operations teams make flying safer and more efficient. In addition it acquires applications that make it possible for airlines to improve their passenger entertainment offering and to access new service and revenue opportunities.

Arconics has a solid aviation industry background, with airline customers including Qatar Airways, Cathay Pacific, Ryanair, Aer Lingus, Philippine Airlines, Tigerair Australia, and SpiceJet. ViaSat has an advanced high capacity Ka-band satellite network.

“By acquiring Arconics, we are bolstering our ability to serve the global aviation market,” commented Don Buchman, vp and general manager, Commercial Mobility business, ViaSat. “We believe combining our strengths with Arconics will position ViaSat to be the market leader for connectivity, passenger services and flight deck applications and operations.”

Arconics has already been partnering with ViaSat to serve the wireless IFE needs of multiple airline customers. “ViaSat offers Arconics a strategic match – both culturally and technologically,” said Arconics ceo Niall O’Sullivan. “We know ViaSat well, having partnered with them on a number of opportunities to deliver our world-class CloudStore wireless IFE product. Together, we believe the complementary nature of the technologies and products of Arconics and ViaSat will enhance the combined company’s ability to deliver exceptional end-to-end experiences across the entire aircraft value-chain.


Inmarsat supplies broadband to Lufthansa and British Airways

November 8, 2016

Inmarsat has announced the ‘soft launch’ of GX for Aviation, heralded as the first truly global broadband service.

GX for Aviation is currently being installed on Lufthansa’s A320 fleet, with an ongoing contract for 150 aircraft, and will be in service next month. Inmarsat president Leo Mondale speaking at the APEX show in Singapore said: “Anyone lucky enough to be on one of the installed A320 aircraft will be able to log on and connect.” Other customers for this new connectivity solution include Singapore Airlines and Air Astana.

Mondale commented: “GX for Aviation is now live and offering unparalleled in-flight broadband to passengers. We have moved from systems integration and testing to rolling out the most robust and comprehensive global connectivity solution for airlines across the world.

“GX for Aviation is not a patchwork solution. Our customers are not subject to the intermittent services and handover issues experienced by other providers…. Passengers using GX for Aviation will have on-the-ground levels of connectivity and uninterrupted access to the applications they use day-to-day, including email, web browsing, social media, video and music streaming, and online shopping, among others.”

In a separate announcement after the show, Inmarsat said that International Airlines Group (IAG) had confirmed its intention to install Inmarsat’s European Aviation Network (EAN) high-speed, inflight passenger connectivity service on up to 341 of its narrowbody aircraft.

IAG will first deploy the EAN service on a British Airways A321 in summer 2017. The 341 IAG short-haul aircraft will include 132 from British Airways, 125 from Vueling, 45 from Iberia and 39 from Aer Lingus.

EAN is a combined-connectivity platform that will give passengers flying in Europe broadband of similar quality and speed to that they experience on the ground. The network combines Inmarsat’s new S-band satellite with a new 4G LTE mobile terrestrial network.


Panasonic streamlines airline services

November 8, 2016

Panasonic has unveiled two new solutions for airlines, ZeroTouch and Captify.

The first, ZeroTouch, is a revolutionary data transfer service managed through a virtual dashboard. Updates will be sent to an aircraft via three high-speed pipes – wifi at the gate, aircraft cell modem, or even in-flight using Panasonic’s global broadband eXConnect service.

The ZeroTouch service will improve an airline’s traditional 30-day media update cycle by enabling live updates to data and files stored on a Panasonic IFEC system. Applications such as movies, games, advertising, live news, and more can be automatically loaded at any time, to an entire fleet.

The second innovation, Captify, is an inflight marketing platform combining software tools and support teams to reach an expanding market of 1.3 billion passengers per year.

Captify enables airlines to target by seat class, route, device, language, and passenger data. It can adjust advertising loads, cap the frequency of marketing campaigns, and deliver real-time usage data. This enables airlines to optimise promotions for a wide range of optional services, partnerships, loyalty programmes, and paid advertising.

Panasonic also announced several deals at the show. China Eastern Airlines has selected Panasonic’s eX3 IFE system and wifi connectivity for its 35 new A350s and B787s. Air Tahiti Nui has chosen Panasonic to equip four B787-9s with global connectivity and IFE. Aeromexico has contracted to install the eX1 IFE system as linefit on its 60 new B737 MAX aircraft. Cedric Rhoads, executive director corporate sales and product management, commented: “This order shows that airlines are continuing to invest in embedded IFE systems for narrowbody aircraft. It debunks the idea that connectivity and tablets are going to kill embedded IFE.”

Finally, Biman Bangladesh Airlines has selected the eX3 system for its new fleet of four B787-8s. Biman’s new planes will feature hi-definition screens, advanced touch-screen handsets, and a ‘home theatre’ experience for passengers.


Display Interactive’s soft approach to IFE

November 1, 2016

Thierry Carmes, strategy and development director at Display Interactive, spoke at APEX Expo about UGO Solutions, a software-based streaming IFE solution currently flying on five airlines.

“We want to offer airlines a comprehensive service throughout the IFE value chain. Our system includes a Content Management Solution (CMS) and obviously the content is protected by Digital Rights Management (DRM). We can also provide content for the system, and even leasing of tablets for the passengers, or the airline can manage that itself.”

The system has a simple, clear interface, fully customisable by the airline, and a mini-moving map and weather guide. It runs on Kontron, Thales and Donica hardware, and the content management and synchronisation is operated through the Cloud, with servers currently in Ireland. Late window movie content and comic strips are popular with passengers and the system usage is monitored by Google Analytics.

The system can be monetised with advertising, pre-roll, post-roll, banners and mini-sites, as well as ancillaries, but the cost per person viewing is already low, claims Carmes. Onboard retail services can be supported by different ways, though PCI-DSS has not been taken up by the current customers. More practical options have been preferred. The system is now ordered or flying on 60 aircraft from six fleets, including Air Caraïbes, French Blue, Corsair, Pakistani carrier Shaheen and the latest customer, Czech airline Travel Service. The 6th company, confirmed during the APEX Expo, will be announced shortly.


New mobile apps and games from GEE

November 1, 2016

Global Eagle Entertainment rolled out several mobile apps and games at the APEX Expo, including ‘Mickey Mouse Date Dash’, a new seatback game developed with Disney Studios. The idea is to get the famous mouse to a date with Minnie, picking up flowers on all 15 levels to make up a bouquet for her.

GEE also introduced a jet lag recovery app to enhance its existing Airhealth passenger wellness programme, which includes health tips, inflight exercises and a quiz. The mobile app allows passengers to enter their flight schedule to get a personalised jet lag recovery programme with instructions and ideas for managing their sleep-wake cycles and melatonin levels.

GEE’s Airtime Content-to-Go app enables passengers to download their favourite TV shows and films to take with them on a flight. A new feature allows them to also access newspapers and magazines from around the world. Travellers can select and download the content before takeoff and access it on their journey.

Alexis Steinman, GEE’s svp Digital Media Solutions, commented: “Airhealth and the new jet lag recovery app will put passengers at ease about flying, and Airtime Content-to-Go will keep them informed and entertained. These offerings are part of GEE’s commitment to provide a rich and highly personalised entertainment experience for passengers throughout their entire journey.”


Thales wins Emirates deal

November 1, 2016

Emirates has signed an agreement with Thales to equip its Boeing 777X fleet with Thales AVANT inflight entertainment system.

The airline will work in partnership with Thales to develop and enhance the inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) system to be fitted on its new Boeing 777X aircraft due for delivery starting in mid-2020.

Adel Al Redha, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Emirates Airline, said: “Our partnership with Thales represents a significant investment and emphasis on customer experience, which has always been a priority for us. The new Boeing 777X aircraft will herald a new era for the Emirates fleet, and we want to ensure that our product offering on these fuel-efficient planes will be a benchmark for the industry, including the inflight entertainment experience. We look forward to revealing more details when the time is right.”

The deal covers IFEC systems for Emirates’ first 50 (of 150 ordered) Boeing 777X aircraft and the AVANT system will feature an innovative and customisable user experience.


digEcor powers up a game changer for Air Asia

November 1, 2016

The first pre-integrated in-seat power solution in the market has become a reality in a partnership between digEcor and IFPL on Mirus Aircraft Seating’s Hawk slimline seat.

The solution is to be installed on 300 new A320 Neos with Mirus on Air Asia. David Withers, ceo digEcor said: “We worked well with IFPL and Mirus to develop a power capability that was at a price attractive to a low-cost carrier”.

One notable feature is that the charging port changes colour according to status – blue for full power, green for low power, red for faulty – which helps both the passenger and the maintenance process. The outlets feature a reversible USB jack.

The order is a big one for digEcor, more usually known for its portable and embedded IFE systems, and establishes it as a long-term partner in the in-seat power market. This type of power supply is likely to be increasingly in demand as streaming wifi to passengers’ smartphones and tablets continues as a popular IFE option for LCCs and regional airlines in particular.


Intelsat focussing on reliability

November 1, 2016

Intelsat, operator of the world’s first globalised network, powered by satellite, and Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) have entered into a new and expanded contract to deliver reliable, high-performance broadband connectivity across five continents and multiple vertical markets across air, land and sea.

The multi-year, global service will utilize C- and Ku-band services on eight satellites in Intelsat’s current mobility infrastructure as well as two Intelsat Epic satellites, Intelsat 33e and Intelsat 35e.

GEE has contracted satellite services on three out of the seven planned Intelsat Epic satellites and 17 Intelsat satellites in total.

Earlier this year, Intelsat successfully launched Intelsat 29e and Intelsat 33e, the first two satellites in its next-generation, high throughput satellite (HTS) platform, Intelsat Epic. Since late March 2016, new and existing networks have seamlessly transitioned to Intelsat 29e, with customers experiencing up to 165% improvements in efficiency. Using next generation hardware, Intelsat and its partners have demonstrated potential efficiency gains of up to 330%.

The flexibility of Intelsat Epic’s open architecture and backward-compatible design enables service providers such as GEE to seamlessly transition to the Intelsat Epic platform and immediately improve efficiency, delivering higher throughput enterprise-grade broadband services.


AirFi win in the Middle East

November 1, 2016

Wireless IFE provider AirFi has signed its first customer in the Middle East

Nesma plans to deliver a streaming IFE solution to passengers flying on its Airbus A320 family aircraft in November this year, less than six weeks from contract signature.

Nesma is AirFi’s twenty-first customer globally to opt for AirFi’s fully-featured portable Wireless IFE platform which allows passengers to access DRM and non-DRM movies and TV shows, games, chat, duty free and post-flight shopping and daily updated news and social feeds.

The company currently works with over fifty content providers both big and small, including its official regional partner, Onboard International and acquired a European technology firm earlier in 2016 to offer a state-of-the-art 3D moving map feature. This new feature showcases numerous points of interest and offers the opportunity for geo-fenced advertising.

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

AirFi CEO, Job Heimerikx, comments, “We are dedicated to a continuous program of passenger experience enhancements and ensuring that the AirFi platform leads the market as the best-in-class hard and software solution for safety, performance, cost and speed of deployment.”

AirFi made the decision to expand its global reach earlier this year and so far it has 18 European customers, as well as one carrier based in the Philippines and one based in Mexico. More are expected before the end of the year.

AirFi won the 2016 Onboard Hospitality Award for Best Use of Onboard Technology. Learn more.


Gogo ramps up install capacity for 2Ku

November 1, 2016

Steve Nolan of Gogo confirmed during APEX Expo that the company’s order book included 1300 aircraft waiting to be installed with its 2Ku connectivity solution.

With 40 planes installed so far, Gogo is ramping up its capacity to cope with the demand, planning to get 75-100 aircraft completed this year, and 400 next year, with a target capacity of 750 a year.

Announcing an agreement to partner on research and development with Washington DC-based antenna company Phasor, Nolan stressed their ‘breakthrough’ technology. He said that the electronically steered antenna was superior because it had no moving parts, and its modular design made it more suitable for smaller aircraft.

“Gogo is committed to offering our aviation partners a roadmap for the future that will bring the most bandwidth at lower costs to the aero market,” commented Gogo’s president and ceo, Michael Small. “Whether it’s satellite advancements, new modem technologies or best in class antenna technologies, our focus is on what’s best for aviation, and Phasor is developing ground-breaking satellite antenna innovations for the aero market.”

Nolan confirmed that the original 2Ku connection speed of 25 Mb per second had been doubled to 50Mbps by a software upgrade, and that installing a new improved modem in 2017 would increase this to 70Mbps. New High Throughput satellites coming on stream from partner SES, combined with the new antenna, would, by 2017, give 100Mbps, he claimed.

Adding to the four airlines currently flying with Gogo connectivity, Delta, Aeromexico, Virgin Atlantic and Brazilian carrier GOL, Nolan confirmed recent deals with IAG, comprising British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus. Recently signed up also was American Airlines and Air France/KLM.

About developments in the Chinese market, Nolan said that an agreement was in place with technical company Shareco, already working with Hainan and Capital Beijing Airlines, to install antennas for them. In addition, agreement with the Chinese regulatory authorities had just been reached and the first connected aircraft from Delta were now flying into China.


Lufthansa Systems guide crew

October 25, 2016

Lufthansa Systems has added a new feature to its mCabin crew app.

The mCabin/CityGuide is a guidebook platform for the crew with local information about all of an airline’s destinations. As well as layover information such as contact details, the crew hotel and pick-up times, the app offers tips for excursions and restaurants.

The content is supplied by the crews themselves, which makes the app highly personalised. Recommendations are continually checked and updated by crew management, using an editing and administration tool.

Pre-departure and during the flight, the mCabin crew app supplies the cabin team with all the passenger service information they need, including a manifest with information about the passengers’ seats, status, food preferences and special requirements. The BoardConnect crew front-end has also been integrated into mCabin.


Inflight wifi for Air New Zealand

October 25, 2016

Air New Zealand will start rolling out inflight wifi on its jet services in 2017.

Internet connectivity is to be supplied by Inmarsat’s new global GX satellite constellation and integrated with Air New Zealand’s in-cabin Panasonic Avionics technology.

Flights between Australia and New Zealand will be the first to receive connectivity in the second half of 2017, with internet services progressively available on Tasman, Pacific Island and long haul jet fleets from the end of next year. Domestic New Zealand jet services are likely to offer a wifi service from 2018.

Ceo Christopher Luxon commented: “Given Air New Zealand operates some of the longest flights in the world, and in oceanic areas where there has historically been poor quality satellite service, we have patiently worked with partners until comfortable that a service which meets the high expectations of our customers is available.”

Luxon revealed that the new system will allow the airline to enhance real time features within its IFE system, as well as providing flight crew with an enhanced ability to manage customer requests related to their ground travel.

He added: “Customers will be able to use their social media channels, stay on top of emails and browse the internet.”


GOL leads the way in South America

October 17, 2016

GOL has become the first South American airline to launch an onboard wifi service.

The airline now offers next generation 2Ku satellite-based service on its fleet, powered by Gogo satellite technology. The service is expected to deliver peak speeds more than 20 times the bandwidth of the first generation air-to-ground solution, pioneered by Delta and Gogo in the U.S. seven years ago.

GOL President Paulo Kakinoff traveled on the first connected flight to announce this new service milestone to customers in person, a video of which has been shared on GOL’s social media channels. He said: “Today you may have noticed a different approach on our flight, and this is due to a historical moment,” Kakinoff said. “We are now on the first flight run by a South American airline equipped with onboard Wi-Fi.”

GOL partners with Delta which operates the world’s largest 2Ku satellite wifi–equipped fleet, including all its 660 domestic mainline aircraft. More than 1,000 Delta aircraft, including nearly all Delta Connection two-class regional jets and 99% of its long-haul international fleet, are equipped with onboard wifi, offering about 370,000 customers on more than 3,500 flight in-flight internet access each day.


Aeromobile puts 3G on Aer Lingus

October 10, 2016

AeroMobile, partnering with Panasonic Avionics, is extending its 3G inflight network by connecting two new Aer Lingus A330 aircraft.

Aer Lingus has just opened two new routes from Dublin to the US, to Bradley International and Newark airports, and the new aircraft can accommodate 317 passengers, 30 in business and 287 in economy, all of whom have access to the service. The 3G connectivity rollout will begin on the two new A330s, making a total of ten connected Aer Lingus aircraft.

AeroMobile, as a mobile network operator, has more than 340 roaming agreements in over 145 countries. Their service is very user-friendly, as passengers simply turn on their smartphone or tablet to connect to the network and are then billed directly by their mobile operator. Prices are similar to international roaming rates.

Aeromobile’s 3G connectivity means a faster service. Since the company launched the world’s first inflight 3G service, half of its airline partners have taken it up for some at least of their aircraft.

Announcing the news, Kevin Rogers, ceo of AeroMobile, said: “We’re thrilled to announce the continued expansion of our connected fleet from Dublin. The expansion of Aer Lingus’ inflight connectivity service demonstrates the value of providing a better passenger experience onboard by allowing them to use their phones as they would on the ground.”


Omniaccess and Panasonic in XTS yacht and cruise deal

October 10, 2016

OmniAccess, supplier of communications solutions to superyachts and cruise-ships, and Panasonic Avionics have unveiled a bespoke XTS (Extremely High Throughput) satellite network for multiple mobility markets.

OmniAccess and Panasonic began collaborating on XTS designs last September to try to bring much greater levels of capacity and performance to OmniAcess’ existing superyacht and cruise customers. The company now has access to Panasonic’s existing HTS capacity, currently contracted capacity and the future XTS satellite network.

Using Panasonic’s existing global high-speed satellite network, OmniAccess is already providing industry-leading connection speeds of over 200 Mbps to select individual customers.

Announcing the rollout, Bertrand Hartman, ceo of OmniAccess, said: “Thanks to our collaboration with Panasonic we have recently been able to roll out the first maritime Ku-band HTS service with truly unprecedented levels of performance. The combination of the unique RF performance of the XTS satellite topology and OmniAccess’ cutting-edge network infrastructure has allowed us to successfully meet the increasing of demands our customers, significantly raising the bar for maritime high-performance connectivity services.”

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


FCC certification for SmartSky 4G

October 4, 2016

Aviation communications company SmartSky Networks has just received Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certification for its 4G radio system, clearing the way for deployment of its 4G air-to-ground (ATG) network later this year. Nationwide coverage in the US is expected to follow in 2017.

Announcing the news, Haynes Griffin, SmartSky chairman and ceo, said: “After investing tens of millions of dollars and over five years of research and development effort, SmartSky’s now certified technology has unlocked enough spectrum to be able to offer, for the first time, the reliable use of a sophisticated, custom-designed 4G system that can deliver an office-like internet experience in the air for both business aviation and commercial aviation customers.”

SmartSky has developed multiple technologies to make use of the unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum band, without interfering with the operation of that band on the ground. Despite the widespread assertion that aviation-related spectrum reuse in the unlicensed band would not be possible, SmartSky has solved this problem with technical solutions that are broadly covered by its portfolio of 20 patents, with additional patents pending. SmartSky takes a software-defined approach to network infrastructure, using network functions virtualization (NFV), which is more flexible and cost-effective than a hardware-based approach.

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


Ryder Cup takes to the sky

October 4, 2016

Golf enthusiasts were able to view The Ryder Cup 2016 while flying over the past weekend thanks to Sport 24, the 24/7 sports channel for inflight and inship.

The channel showed live coverage of each day of The Ryder Cup 2016, starting on September 30 at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Minnesota, USA.

Sport 24, owned and operated by sports and media company IMG, showed 30 hours of live coverage from the biennial event between the United States and Europe, plus a repeat of the exciting final day’s play.

Commenting on the coverage Richard Wise, senior vp, IMG Media, said: “Showing The 2016 Ryder Cup on Sport 24 is another example of our commitment to travelling sports fans. We have already broadcast live action from some of the biggest sporting events of the year, including UEFA EURO 2016 and the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – not forgetting all four golf majors – and we are delighted to be able to show the latest instalment of this famous event.”

Sport 24 also broadcasts live action from the Premier League, NFL, NHL, UEFA Champions League, NBA, Bundesliga, Formula 1™, MotoGP and each of the tennis Grand Slams. The channel is exclusive to Panasonic’s market-leading live television system, eXTV, and is currently available across 11 airlines and six cruise lines.

Earlier this year IMG launched another channel, Sport 24 Extra, to give passengers a choice of live events in an increasingly busy sporting calendar.


Air France-KLM to add Gogo’s 2Ku

October 4, 2016

Gogo is to install 2Ku connectivity on Air France-KLM’s long-haul fleet of 124 aircraft, with an option to add additional aircraft in the future.

The fleet includes a variety of aircraft types including Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 and the first equipped aircraft is expected to be in service at the end of next year, with most of the installations in 2018 and 2019.

Michael Small, Gogo’s president and ceo, said: “2Ku delivers a ground-like performance to aircraft flying around the world today, including the ability to stream video. One of the many benefits is that it’s built on an open architecture and can leverage new technology advancements in the future, which means the technology will get even better over time and will provide passengers with a superior connectivity experience now and in the future.”


Jet Airways extends connectivity

October 4, 2016

Jet Airways has launched of an innovative and first of its kind inflight entertainment service in the Indian skies.

Using wireless streaming technology, Jet Airways passengers can now stream a wide variety of video and audio content directly on their own devices such mobile phones, tablets and laptops.

JetScreen, Jet Airways’ inflight entertainment service will now be available on domestic flights. Over 225 hours of video and audio content such as leading Hollywood and Indian movies, TV shorts, music from multiple genres, interactive games, as well as special children’s programmes are now available to Jet Airways’ passengers directly on their own devices.

In the longer term Jet Airways plans to offer fully-fledged, broadband-enabled wifi connectivity (subject to regulatory approvals) for internet surfing, e-mail, social media, connecting flight information, instant messaging, real time travel services and destination deals.

JetScreen has been introduced on five Boeing 737 next-generation aircraft in the Jet Airways fleet that operate on key domestic and international routes. In the coming months, it will be rolled out in a phased manner on the entire Jet Airways Boeing 737 fleet.


Gogo’s next generation

October 4, 2016

Gogo is developing next-generation ground-based technology for business aviation, commercial regional jets and selected narrow-body aircraft in the United States and Canada.

Michael Small, Gogo’s president and ceo, said: “We now have upgrade paths to more than 100 Mbps for both our North American ground-based and our global satellite networks.”

The new network will use unlicensed spectrum, a proprietary modem and a new beam-forming antenna plus LTE technology. It will leverage Gogo’s existing first-generation North American network and infrastructure of more than 250 towers.

Gogo claims that the benefits of this new network include: low equipment cost and weight, overnight installation, and low drag on the aircraft due to the small antennas. It also has advantages in terms of latency compared to satellite solutions. The service is planned to come into operation in 2018.

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


Hockey in flight

September 19, 2016

Inflight sports channel, Sport 24, is to feature live coverage of both the National Hockey League (NHL) and the World Cup of Hockey 2016 on its two channels.

Strarting from last week, every World Cup of Hockey tournament game will be shown live on either Sport 24 or Sport 24 Extra,
as well as three games a week from the NHL, beginning with the opening game on October 12. Sport 24 will also feature the games of the 2017 Stanley Cup Play-Offs and 2017 Stanley Cup Final. The two sports channels are owned and operated by IMG.

The World Cup of Hockey features eight teams in two groups for a preliminary round that will run September 17-22. The top two finishers in each group will advance to the semi-finals, which will be played September 24 and 25. The winners meet in a best-of-three final, with games played September 27 and 29 and, if necessary, October 1. All tournament games will be played at the Air Canada Center in Toronto.

The eight teams participating in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will include Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Europe, Team Finland, Team North America, Team Russia, Team Sweden and Team USA.

Sport 24 recently broadcast coverage of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and regularly shows live action from the Premier League, NFL, UEFA Champions League, NBA, Bundesliga, Formula 1, MotoGP, all four golf majors and each of the tennis Grand Slams.


Saudia chooses SKYfi Club

September 12, 2016

Saudia has selected KID-Systeme’s SKYfi Club IFE wireless streaming platform for its fleet of 20 A330s and 30 A320s.

SKYfi Club streams content to passengers’ PEDs, allowing them to access movies, e-books and magazines on their own smartphones and tablets. The technology is based on the ALNA (Airline Network Architecture) connectivity platform, which is already flying on 650 aircraft. The system enables a range of additional functions such as GSM telephony, internet access and data services. SKYfi can be complemented by SKYpower, an in-seat and cabin power management system.

Peter Schetschine, gm of Hamburg-based cabin systems supplier KID-Systeme, said: “We are pleased to announce Saudia as our launch customer for SKYfi. This is a groundbreaking milestone and proof of success for KID-Systeme.”

Eng. Saleh Al-Jasser, director general of Saudia, commented: “We are very happy to continue working with KID-Systeme who has always been a reliable partner and supplier for our integrated cabin power systems. Offering wireless content streaming is the next step paving the way to an improved inflight experience and satisfying passenger’s needs. Therefore we are very excited to cooperate with KID-Systeme to enlarge our inflight entertainment selection. This opens up a whole new world of opportunities for the connected passenger on board.”

Saudia is a pioneer of IFE, and was the first airline in the region to offer streaming capability and inflight wifi. Saudia SKYfi was linefit on the airline’s new A330-300 regional aircraft delivered in August, and will be installed on future deliveries.

KID-Systeme is based in Buxtehude, near Hamburg, Germany. The company also has service centres in Beijing, Buxtehude, Dallas, Dubai, Sao Paulo and Seattle.


Intelsat launches new HTS satellite

September 12, 2016

Intelsat has launched the second in its planned series of seven EpicNG high-throughput satellites (HTS). Intelsat 33e, manufactured by Boeing, was launched from the Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana aboard an Ariane 5 rocket. The first HTS in the series, Intelsat 29e, was launched back in January.

Intelsat 33e is larger than Intelsat 29e, and will bring high-throughput capacity in C- and Ku-band to Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It will be used by inflight connectivity providers such as Gogo and Panasonic Avionics. Three more HTS satellites — Intelsat 32e, 35e and 37e — are scheduled for 2017.

Intelsat ceo Steve Spengler commented: “Our first high throughput satellite, Intelsat 29e, is already in service and exceeding our customers’ expectations in the Americas. With Intelsat 33e, customers operating in EMEA and the Asia Pacific regions will now be able to leverage Intelsat EpicNG’s differentiated capabilities and greater efficiencies to grow their businesses and deliver enhanced value to their customers.”

“Intelsat 33e and the Intelsat Epic architecture are fully backwards compatible and interoperable with Intelsat’s existing satellite fleet and terrestrial infrastructure. This allows customers to cost efficiently use currently deployed network hardware so that they can have immediate access to high performance connectivity. Intelsat 33e also brings us one step closer to providing the first global, fully interoperable wide beam and high throughput Ku-band broadband service.”


Deutsche Telekom partners with iPass

September 3, 2016

A recent partnership between iPass and Deutsche Telekom will enable iPass customers to access in-flight wifi on 12 international airlines. The three-year agreement is to make iPass available on 330 long-haul aircraft from airlines including Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, Etihad and American.

iPass is the world’s largest wifi network, covering 120 countries with 57 million hotspots in airports, hotels, planes, and public areas. Patricia Hume, cco iPass, commented: “We are delighted to extend our partnership with Deutsche Telekom, and this is a further endorsement of the value we offer service providers. This reaffirms iPass’ commitment to providing unlimited wifi access for our customers by extending our footprint across major airlines. We look forward to working with Deutsche Telekom on further in-flight opportunities in the future.”

“Our continued partnership with iPass helps our airline customers to stay connected easily,” said David Fox, vp in-flight, Deutsche Telekom. “In-flight wifi continues to enjoy strong growth in usage, therefore seamless and convenient internet access is essential to delivering a superior customer experience to this ever-growing audience.”

This new agreement extends iPass’ existing relationship with Deutsche Telekom. It currently has over 30,000 hotspots in Germany that make up part of the iPass worldwide network.


Live sport with Aeromexico

AUGUST 31, 2016

Aeromexico has partnered with Panasonic Avionics to add live television to its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircrafts.

The new service will initially offer two channels: Sport 24 for live sport from around the world and CNN International. The service will be available to passengers from both the seatback IFE and on their own PEDs.

Sport 24 offers live coverage of the world’s most popular sporting events. The channel showed live action from the Rio 2016 Olympics Games and also covers big events like the Premier League, NFL, UEFA Champions League, NBA, Tennis Grand Slams, Bundesliga, Formula 1, Golf Majors, MotoGP, and the Ryder Cup.

Aeromexico will begin rolling out the service in August to four of its nine Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, which operate to Tijuana within Mexico and to international destinations such as Buenos Aires, London, Los Angeles, Madrid, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Santiago and Tokyo,

David Bruner, vp of global communications services, Panasonic Avionics Corporation said, “Live Television has become extremely important to both airlines and their passengers. After all, news and sports never stop. We’re continuing to evolve our eXTV service, bringing a unique experience to passengers all over the world.”


GEE gets EMC for land and sea

AUGUST 18, 2016

Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) has completed its acquisition of Emerging Markets Communications (EMC) thus becoming one of the world’s largest providers of satellite-based connectivity and media to the fast-growing global mobility market.

EMC is a communications services provider to maritime and remote land markets and benefits to GEE include an increased portfolio of products, including global connectivity, media content in 47 languages, live television, travel and entertainment apps.

The deal also includes user interface platforms and data tools; a global sales force in mobility markets; a satellite and ground-based network infrastructure providing connectivity across multiple frequency bands worldwide; a diversified international revenue base of over 400 customers; engineering, technical and managerial resources for new product development, programme management, product maintenance, and field support.

“This is a transformational acquisition for our company and in our industry,” commented GEE ceo Dave Davis. “The combination of GEE and EMC enables us to provide our customers with a breadth of products and services unmatched in the markets we serve, whether in the air, at sea, or on land.”


SmartSky promises the Earth

AUGUST 18, 2016

A new air-to-ground (ATG) network specifically designed for aircraft use promises to revolutionise the connectivity market. The SmartSky 4G network takes flight later this year, with the US nationwide network rolling out in 2017.

SmartSky achieves optimum performance by taking a new approach to high-bandwidth aircraft connectivity. Patented 4G beamforming technology delivers a signal that locks onto each aircraft. This minimises the slow speeds caused by spectrum sharing, which is currently a problem on high-density flight routes.

SmartSky 4G uses 60 MHz of spectrum – 20 times the current industry ATG standard of 3MHz. It also installs equipment on existing cell towers rather than satellites. This enables real-time, two-way communications without satellites’ latency – a bonus, especially in the cockpit. The ground-based architecture allows for scalability, since adding focused capacity across targeted flight routes is easy and cost effective.

“SmartSky 4G opens up full-throttle, unrestricted access to the web for aviation,” comments SmartSky Networks president Ryan Stone. “We offer an excellent, value-priced and much-needed new connectivity solution for airlines, whether it is to augment their satellite service and use least-cost routing to likely save a million dollars or more over 10 years, or as a standalone option.”


Chinese passengers ‘hyper-connected’

AUGUST 18, 2016

A recent Passenger IT Trends Survey from SITA reports that 98% of Chinese passengers carry at least one mobile device and 49% carry a tablet. Around 17% of them check-in using a mobile app and airlines are predicting a sharp increase in this over the next three years.

Chinese passengers are heavy users of technology and a quarter see themselves as ‘hyper-connected’ – against a global average of 14%. These passengers tend to use technology, such as mobile devices, to book, check-in and manage their journey.

Chinese airlines are leading the adoption of connected aircraft because of their comparatively modern fleets. Around 80% of Chinese airlines already fly, or are just taking delivery of, connected aircraft, compared to a 45% average worldwide.

May Zhou, vp, SITA China commented: “In today’s connected world of travel, passengers prefer to use technology. SITA’s research shows that they expect to be connected and have services delivered to their mobile devices at every step of their journey, including during their flight. Today we see that airlines in China are responding to the needs of these ‘hyper-connected’ passengers by focusing their investments in connected aircraft, mobile-based services, and the Internet of Things.”

SITA’s survey demonstrates that 40% of Chinese airlines think that the main benefit of connecting aircraft will be improving the passenger experience. All of them plan to invest in wifi services for passengers over the next three years. Already in China 58% of passengers use their own personal electronic devices for IFE.

All Chinese airlines plan to invest in the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) during the next three years. Today the only IoT initiative already implemented is fuel/engine monitoring – by just 10% of airlines. The main areas to focus on in the next three years are smart bag tags, asset tracking, and monitoring the aircraft cabin environment.


Gogo gets go-ahead in China

AUGUST 18, 2016

Gogo has received approval from the Chinese regulatory bodies through its local partner China Telecom Satellite. The company plans to offer its inflight connectivity service on international flights operating in and out of China, starting in October.

In March it announced its first airline deal in China. This was with Beijing-based Shareco Technologies to install its 2Ku IFC technology on 50 commercial aircraft for Shareco’s airline partners, including Hainan Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines. It will also provide these planes with its wireless IFE solution, Gogo Vision.

Releasing its earnings results for Q2 recently, Michael Small, ceo of Gogo, said that 2Ku installations are now expected to reach 75-100 this year, with 350-450 in 2017. He reported that 2Ku was now up and flying with three airline partners – Aeromexico, Delta and Virgin Atlantic. A recent software upgrade has doubled throughput to the seat, and 100Mbps is expected by 2017.

Six STCs are now in place for installation on aircraft, including Boeing 737-800, Airbus A319, A330 and A340. Recent new deals with IAG (British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus) and American Airlines have also been announced.