Onboard tech news

AK-Service brings augmented reality onboard

January 21, 2020

AK-Service has gathered a team of professional mobile developers, Augmented Reality (AR) enthusiasts and artists to deliver next-generation amenity kits featuring modern mobile technologies and interactive media.

The team is currently developing a new augmented reality application for an undisclosed airline. Tech will be used to support gifting opportunities, for example AK-Service has constructed a collection of porcelain aircraft models to be given to Business passengers at the end of their journey. By using mobile apps can then learn more about the distinguishing features of the aircraft through AR, create an interactive collection and play an AR game with the model.

The team is also working on games and other entertainment for children using AR technology. Starting from simple 3D characters animations to the challenging and interesting logic games and educational content, the team has already developed and launched a few mobile apps with AR games for its amenity kits.


Gogo and Hispasat sign capacity deal

January 21, 2020

Gogo, a global provider of broadband connectivity products and services for aviation, and Spanish satellite operator, Hispasat, have announced a capacity agreement on Amazonas Nexus satellite to meet the growing global demand for high-speed inflight connectivity services.

Gogo has leased multi-gigahertz of Ku-band capacity onboard Hispasat’s new satellite, set to launch in the second half of 2022, to provide service to its customers in the Americas and the Atlantic region. Hispasat and Gogo worked closely to optimise the satellite design to provide superior performance and capacity for inflight connectivity.

Amazonas Nexus is a High Throughput Satellite (HTS) that will replace the Amazonas 2 in the 61º West position. The new satellite will have a payload specifically dedicated to aero connectivity and will offer additional capacities oriented to vertical segments like mobile connectivity, corporate communications and cellular network deployment. It will feature an advanced Digital Transparent Processor (DTP) that will substantially increase satellite flexibility when dealing with changes in demand.

“Amazonas Nexus will significantly enhance our Ku network over the Americas and the Atlantic region, providing Gogo with scaled capacity at the right economics,” said Oakleigh Thorne, president and ceo of Gogo. “Through our partnership with Hispasat, Gogo 2Ku will continue to meet the growing demand for high-speed inflight connectivity.”


Air Canada continues to modernise fleet

January 21, 2020

Air Canada has unveiled the newest member of its fleet, the Airbus A220-300 complete with Panasonic inflight entertainment.

Every seat on the A220 features the Panasonic system with content available in 15 languages and featuring more than 1,000 hours of entertainment, including content from Bell Media’s entertainment service, Crave, and Montreal-based multi-platform audio service, Stingray. The system also offers dynamic closed captioning for the deaf and is accessible to the visually impaired. The A220 will also have satellite-based, high speed wifi access.

The two-class Airbus A220-300 cabin has 137 seats: 12 in a 2×2 configuration in Business and 125 in a 3×2 layout for Economy. Economy seats are the widest in the fleet at 19 inches, and also feature the largest overhead stowage bins for an aircraft this size.

Additional features include larger windows and full-colour LED ambient and customisable mood lighting that contribute to reducing fatigue while travelling.

The A220 will also help Air Canada reduce its carbon footprint through a 20% reduction in fuel consumption per seat.


Delta unveils consumer innovation

January 14, 2020

Delta CEO Ed Bastian announced several technology innovations rolling out this year and beyond at CES 2020. These innovations include transformation of the Fly Delta app, PARALLEL REALITY display screens, captivating entertainment options, full-body wearable exoskeletons and an AI machine learning operations platform.

In partnership with Misapplied Sciences, Delta will pilot the first-ever PARALLEL REALITY display experience, allowing many customers traversing the airport to see personalised content on a single screen simultaneously – and in their preferred language.

Delta is also partnering with Sarcos Robotics to test the world’s first full-body, self-powered and untethered wearable exoskeleton, Guardian XO, which is designed to enhance strength and endurance while reducing the risk of injury.

In the air, Delta’s in-house startup Delta Flight Products will test new IFE features allowing customers to take more control over their inflight experience, while emphasising gender parity. Furthermore, as part of its efforts to seek diversity and promote inclusion, Delta will partner with the Society of Women Engineers and Girls Who Code to increase gender representation in tech roles at the airline and in the STEM workforce.

In addition, Delta is investing in efforts that reverse the effects of deforestation in countries such as Kenya and Uganda to make all its flights to and from CES 2020 carbon neutral. The airline will also invest in verified projects to offset the carbon footprint of air travel associated with Global Citizen’s Global Goal Live: The Possible Dream campaign.


American Airlines tests Google’s interpreter

January 14, 2020

American Airlines has become the first airline to test Google Assistant’s interpreter mode technology in its airport lounges. The airline is testing the new technology at Admirals Club lounges at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).
With the ability to translate in real-time, Google Assistant’s interpreter mode will help premium customer service representatives provide more personalised service to customers. Running on a Google Nest Hub, interpreter mode will be used to assist customers only when a multilingual team member is not available.
The device can translate 29 languages, including Arabic, French, German, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.
“The science fiction universal translator is now science fact,” said Maya Leibman, chief information officer, American Airlines. “Incorporating technology like the Google Assistant’s interpreter mode will help us break down barriers, provide a worry-free travel experience and make travel more accessible to all.”
The Google Assistant is the latest in a raft of new technology enhancements American Airlines has introduced to enhance the passenger experience. Other recent introductions include mobile passport scanning, boarding notifications, online virtual 3D aircraft tours, a redesigned self-service kiosk menu that simplifies the check-in process and an improved family seating approach, which ensures adults and kids under 14 are seated together.


This article was originally published by Future Travel Experience

Surinam Airways installs Moment’s Flymingo Box

January 7, 2020

Moment has been selected by Surinam Airways (SLM) to integrate the Flymingo Box solution aboard the airline’s fleet.

Based in Suriname, in the city of Paramaribo, SLM operates as the country’s national carrier, and has flights to international destinations including the Netherlands, the Caribbean, Netherlands Antilles, United States, Guyana and Brazil. SLM was looking to offer its passengers a unique service in terms of entertainment and to optimise the travelling experience.

The Flymingo Box is a wireless inflight entertainment solution based on a patented portable server with the capacity to broadcast a catalogue of 10,000 hours of content to 100 passengers simultaneously. It enables passengers to access a smooth streaming service from any type of device, without the need to download an application. Passengers will be able to enjoy SLM’s DRM-protected content directly from the browser on their personal device.

Moment will also be responsible for the acquisition of content for Surinam Airways’ wireless IFE and Panasonic seat-back screens. As a result, passengers will access a varied catalogue of content including recent movies and television series, documentaries, cartoons, games and music playlists.

Radjesh Radjkoemar, ceo at SLM, says: “As an international airline, it was essential for us to differentiate our service by offering passengers an enjoyable entertainment solution that responds to their needs. Moment was the right partner since their solution Flymingo Box met all of our criteria in terms of reliability, installation, choice of content and price. ”


Gogo connectivity now available on Air Canada Rouge

January 7, 2020

High-speed satellite-based connectivity provided by Gogo is now available across the entire Air Canada Rouge fleet.

“Customers can access Rouge wifi high-speed internet connectivity on their own devices whenever they are onboard an Air Canada Rouge aircraft anywhere in the world, giving everyone the ability to stay connected to email, surf the web, or stream their favourite movies and TV shows from services like Netflix and YouTube,” says Andrew Yiu, vice president, product at Air Canada. “We are excited to now offer fast, reliable wifi options onboard all Rouge aircraft for the increasing numbers of customers seeking connectivity when flying.”

Customers can choose from a selection of wifi packages to suit their requirements with starting prices of $8.50 CAD simply by connecting to the “Rouge Wifi” network onboard and following the instructions.

In addition to the full Air Canada Rouge fleet, satellite based wifi is already available on all Air Canada Boeing 777s, and most Boeing 787s and Airbus A330s with the remainder to be completed early 2020. Air Canada wifi connectivity is also available across the carrier’s entire mainline narrow body fleet and the Air Canada Express Embraer 175 and Bombardier CRJ-900 fleets. Air Canada’s new Airbus A220 fleet, which it began taking delivery of at the end of 2019, will come equipped with satellite based wifi.


British Airways trials 3D printing

December 16, 2019

British Airways is exploring the possibility of using 3D printers to create aircraft parts. These printers would be located at airports around the world to reduce delays for customers and emissions caused by transporting items.

The airline’s innovators predict that non-essential cabin parts will be first on the list to be generated, including pieces of tray tables, entertainment systems and toilets. While these components do not impact the safe operation of the flight, they can reduce the number of seats or toilets available for customers and cause delays as engineers wait for the parts to be flown to wherever the aircraft is.

Ricardo Vidal, head of innovation at British Airways, says: “We work with start-ups and innovation partners from around the world to explore and implement the very latest technologies, from artificial intelligence to speed up turnaround times to biometrics, helping us to deliver a seamless airport experience for customers. 3D printing is yet another advancement that will keep us at the forefront of airline innovation.”

Printers can produce parts that are as strong and durable as traditional components but weigh up to 55% less. Every kilogram removed saves up to 25 tons of CO2 emissions during the lifespan of an aircraft.


Panasonic Avionics delivers XTS inflight connectivity

December 16, 2019

Panasonic Avionics Corporation has signed a multi-year agreement for Ku-band capacity on two multi-beam payloads on the EUTELSAT 10B satellite, due to be launched in 2022.

This contract with Eutelsat Communications will enable Panasonic to provide multiple gigahertz of new extreme throughput Ku-band connectivity to airlines and their passengers flying over a wide area across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Panasonic will continue to optimise its worldwide network and add more satellite capacity in high-density regions to ensure it can deliver high performance everywhere its customers fly. This satellite also provides high performance over lower density areas such as Africa.

Ken Sain, chief executive officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “Panasonic Avionics is continuing to invest in its Ku-band connectivity network. This contract with a long-standing partner such as Eutelsat, with whom we already work with globally, illustrates our strategy to constantly expand our worldwide network with additional capacity, to create value for our airline customers and satisfy the needs of their passengers. We have collaborated closely with Eutelsat on this satellite design and we are very excited to see these efforts come to fruition.”

Philippe Oliva, Eutelsat’s chief commercial officer, said: “We are delighted that Panasonic Avionics has selected us once again to further extend its resources. This capacity commitment on our upcoming EUTELSAT 10B satellite reflects the quality of coverage at our 10° East location as well as our focus on developing competitive solutions to meet growing inflight connectivity needs worldwide.”

EUTELSAT 10B will be the second XTS satellite to join Panasonic’s connectivity network. Today, approximately 2,200 aircraft flying routes all around the world use Panasonic’s global high-speed inflight connectivity service.


Moment launches entertainment platform for rail

December 9, 2019

Moment has announced the launch of its multimedia platform for railway companies to help them diversify their onboard offering and provide new services.

Based on wireless technology and operating without connectivity, Moment’s digital platform allows passengers to connect from their electronic devices, via browser or application, to a range of services.

The platform enables railway companies to personalise their offering, allowing travellers to access content (including films, series, music and travel information), in addition to enjoying offers proposed by the company, for example ordering meals onboard or booking a taxi upon arrival.

The platform has been designed as a digital touchpoint enabling railway companies to analyse passengers’ data, providing more personalised services onboard and maintain contact with them after the journey.

“With this new offering developed for the rail sector, we want to help railway companies meet the digital challenge and transform the perception of rail journeys, making them an exclusive and relaxing moment”, says Tanguy Morel, ceo and co-founder of Moment.

With its modular software, the entertainment platform can be easily adapted to the operator’s existing infrastructure.


Inflight VR brings award-winning content onboard

December 9, 2019

Inflight VR has teamed up with EMMY award-winning Immersive Entertainment company Felix & Paul Studios to bring four of their productions to airline passengers.

“We’ve taken audiences around the world in extraordinary settings; from the White House, to Eminem’s Detroit, to the plains of the Serengeti and the International Space Station,” says Félix Lajeunesse, Emmy-winning founder and creative director of Felix & Paul Studios.

“We’re excited to team up with Inflight VR to take airline passengers on a journey to some of the most immersive experiences available.”

The content collaboration between the two companies will start with Space Explorers 1: A New Dawn and Space Explorers 2: Taking Flight; Strangers, and The People’s House. 

“Seeing passengers onboard leaning back relaxed into their seats forgetting where they are, shouting out “Wow!” or even shedding tears of amazement after experiencing our product is the most rewarding part of our work,” says Nikolas Jaeger, co-founder and head of content at Inflight VR. “The collaboration with Felix & Paul Studios will take the immersiveness of the passenger experience we provide to our airline customers to another level and positively impact their net promoter score.”

Inflight VR’s engineering team has completed the adaptation of Felix & Paul Studios’ content to make it immediately available for all airline customers.

inflight-vr.com; felixandpaul.com

Successful launch of GX5 satellite for Inmarsat

December 4, 2019

Inmarsat has confirmed the successful launch of GX5, the fifth satellite in its Global Xpress (GX) network delivering GX Aviation and Jet ConneX (JX) inflight broadband services.

The satellite was launched by an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana. It will bring additional, focused capacity over Europe and the Middle East to meet growing demand for high-speed passenger wifi in the airline and business aviation markets.

GX Aviation customers include Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, Lufthansa, AirAsia and Singapore Airlines, while JX has been activated on more than 600 business jets.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “The successful launch of GX5 represents a pivotal moment in the development of GX Aviation and Jet ConneX. This next generation satellite will deliver more capacity to Europe and the Middle East than the combined entire existing GX fleet (GX1-GX4) does worldwide, ensuring that Inmarsat’s aviation customers remain at the cutting-edge of passenger connectivity technologies as their needs evolve.

“The launch of GX5 also marks the start of our ambitious development roadmap for the GX network, with seven additional satellites being launched in the coming four years. This will cement our ability to provide gold standard connectivity to the airline and business aviation markets, meeting fast-growing demand throughout the world for decades to come.”

The launch teams from Inmarsat and Thales Alenia Space will now deploy the satellite’s solar panels and antenna reflectors while raising its orbit to geostationary altitude (approximately 36,000km above the Earth). They will then carry out testing and calibration before the spacecraft enters commercial service.


Astronics collaborates in China

December 4, 2019

Astronics Corporation has announced a new cooperation with China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC).

The collaboration will create a channel for Astronics to provide Chinese airlines, OEMs and service providers with its inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) hardware and certification services, for compliance in China and the United States.

Michael Kuehn, president of Astronics connectivity systems and certification and Ruan Guang, chairman of CMC, signed the cooperation agreement at the Second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, China.

“This agreement enables Astronics to serve Chinese aircraft enterprises with the world’s most advanced IFEC hardware technology and certification services, and strongly positions us in the fastest growing aerospace market in the world,” says Michael Kuehn.


GX Aviation now on Air France

November 26, 2019

Inmarsat has announced that its GX Aviation inflight broadband solution can now be accessed by passengers travelling on Air France’s new Airbus A350 aircraft.

Air France’s first Airbus A350, named ‘Toulouse’, was delivered with GX Aviation installed. The aircraft entered commercial service in October with an inaugural flight to Toronto, which it will serve daily throughout the winter season. The aircraft will eventually operate to six destinations on four continents from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Air France is one of the world’s most established and respected airlines and we are delighted to be playing a key role in enhancing their passenger experience with high-speed inflight broadband. This contract is testament to how well the ongoing successful development of GX has been received and strengthens our leading role in the European airline connectivity market.”

Catherine Villar, Air France senior vice president of customer experience, said: “Wifi is a service that is in high demand by our customers to stay in touch with their loved ones or work during their flight. Our Air France Connect pass offer, which includes a free messaging service, will be available throughout our fleet by 2020, perfectly meets their expectations by delivering much-anticipated seamless, reliable and high-speed broadband in the sky.”

GX Aviation is a key part of Air France’s Airbus A350 onboard experience in all three cabins – economy, premium economy and business. The airline offers three different wifi packages: a free ‘Message’ pass to send and receive messages throughout the flight; a ‘Surf’ pass costing to surf the internet, read and send emails; and a ‘Stream’ pass to enjoy high-speed internet, streaming and downloads, with the ‘Message’ and ‘Surf’ passes included.


Iberia launches facial recognition app

November 26, 2019

Iberia has unveiled a facial recognition pilot project at Iberia’s hub in Terminal 4 at Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport.

Along with the Spanish airports and air traffic control authority Aena, IECISA, Gunnebo, and Thales companies, the project aims to improve customer experience at the airport by enabling customers to identify themselves at both general and fast-track security control and at the boarding gates with their biometric profile, eliminating the need to show travel documents.

The new system will be tested during a period lasting between six and twelve months with Iberia passengers bound for Asturias or Brussels, both destinations served with up to five daily Iberia flights. Travellers will be able to register via an app on their mobile devices, and also available on the kiosks placed at check-in counter 848 and in front of the security control area of T4. The facial recognition system is also installed at T4 boarding gates J40 and J58.

The app will ask each user to take a photograph of his or her photo ID, and then to take a brief “video selfie”, which allows system software to verify there is a good match between them. The biometric profile is then transmitted to the Aena database. Before the flight, customers will have to associate their boarding pass to Asturias or Brussels with its biometric profile, so that when they check-in online, the system will offer them the possibility of using facial recognition to go through security control and boarding gate.

Gabriel Perdiguero, Iberia’s chairman and ceo, commented: “Facial recognition and the recording of biometric profiles via our application are a part of our project of connected operations and will enable our customers to have a better experience in T4, which is the main reason behind Iberia’s commitment to innovation.”


Air Canada reveals new app

November 19, 2019

Air Canada has launched a next generation mobile app designed to deliver faster, more reliable performance and customer service.

New features include interactive airport maps with turn-by-turn directions for travellers, and the foundations of Air Canada’s new loyalty loyalty programme launching next year.

The interactive airport maps cover Toronto Pearson International Airport, Montreal Trudeau International Airport and Vancouver International Airport and can guide customers through flight connections, help them find gates, restaurants, facilities, and the closest Air Canada lounge, along with estimated walking times.

Other features include real-time upgrade/standby lists, inbound flight tracking, downloadable boarding passes and automatic flight notifications. Updates will rollout regularly.


SunExpress launches LEGO VR collaboration

November 19, 2019

SunExpress has unveiled a new virtual reality (VR) experience in collaboration with Inflight VR as part of a LEGO branding initiative.

The onboard experience consists of a branded cabin environment inside the VR experience, several LEGO City VR movies, and a magazine in each seat that folds out into a poster. The carrier has also unveiled LEGO-branded liveries.

Moritz Engler, founder and ceo of Inflight VR, says: “This collaboration will immerse passengers into some jaw-dropping or incredibly relaxing experiences and deepen their relationship with the brands of LEGO and SunExpress who truly care about them.”

Peter Glade, chief commercial officer at SunExpress, adds: “For SunExpress everything is about the flight and giving more choices to our passengers. Innovation is about pushing the envelope of the passenger experience and letting them explore technology and places they’ve never been exposed to. We love to partner with creative companies like LEGO and Inflight VR who help us make that happen.”

Inflight VR is also working with other airlines on similar projects, and is in dialogue with other major brands to utilise virtual reality technology and the airlines’ onboard products to create cross-marketing initiatives.


This article was originally published by Future Travel Experience

Vueling debuts high speed wifi

October 30, 2019

Vueling has become the first European low-cost carrier to debut fast inflight broadband through The European Aviation Network (EAN).

The airline has commenced a soft launch of the service on five initial short-haul aircraft. The rollout will continue over the coming months with installations expected to be completed on its fleet of more than 110 Airbus A319, A320 and A321 aircraft by early next year.

Passengers purchasing wifi on Vueling flights will have access to a full range of packages, including ‘Fly and Chat’ for messaging, ‘Fly and Surf’ for browsing and ‘Fly and More’ for streaming.

EAN’s integrated system delivers consistent wifi that enables passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media, enjoy real-time interactive applications such as gaming, and more.
Vueling is the third airline to make the connectivity solution available to passengers. In total, EAN can now be accessed on more than 250 routes covering key destinations across Europe.

Developed by Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom (DT) in partnership with leading European companies such as Thales, Nokia, Airbus, Cobham and EAD Aerospace, EAN marks a paradigm shift in the airline passenger experience.


Film Festival takes flight

October 30, 2019

SWISS is to supplement its regular inflight entertainment programme with the “Flying Film Festival” onboard its long-haul flights.

The Festival, running from the beginning of November to the end of December, will feature 13 varied short documentaries by young filmmakers from all over the world.

The Flying Film Festival is a collaboration between SWISS and the Fribourg-based, Le Système D association, and was first staged in 2015, being repeated every other year since.

The Festival is designed to support and promote innovative young directors of short documentary and docu-animation. This year’s selection includes short documentary films from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, France, India, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Slovenia. Details of the programme and the films’ directors can be found at swiss-inflightentertainment.com


Wireless charging from Astronics

October 30, 2019

Astronics Corporation, a provider of advanced technologies for global aerospace, defence, and other mission critical industries, is now offering new wireless charging module (WCM) to business aircraft and rotorcraft markets.

Astronics’ WCM provides wireless charging capability for passenger smart phones and other devices, and positioned as ideal for both forward fit and aftermarket retrofit.

The new wireless charging module has already been adopted by some seat manufacturers to provide fast, safe charging for passenger electronic devices (PEDs) including smartphones. The WCM integrates into the aircraft cabin with options to fit it in passenger seats, furniture, or galleys, and provides quick charging of Qi-enabled wireless devices.

Astronics’ EmPower in-seat power is already used by 280 airlines and business aircraft OEMs and the new wireless charging module represents a way to provide the convenience of wireless charging easily.

The 15 watt charger is Qi certified and compatible with the most popular mobile devices. Astronics’ WCM is the only Qi-certified wireless charging module available for aircraft, and it is already linefit offerable by both Airbus and Boeing. Qi certification ensures safety through testing as well as device compatibility.


EGYPTAIR partners with AeroMobile

October 30, 2019

EGYPTAIR has launched mobile connectivity onboard its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, in partnership with Panasonic Avionics Corporation subsidiary, AeroMobile

The move sees the deployment of mobile and internet connectivity across the carrier’s entire fleet of Dreamliner aircraft. In addition to the onboard wifi and a live TV service, passengers will be able to access the AeroMobile network to connect their roaming-enabled GSM mobile phones to use mobile data services, send and receive SMS messages and emails, and make and receive calls.

The roll-out will be complete by the end of autumn 2019.

Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile, Panasonic Avionics, says: “EGYPTAIR has reached an exciting milestone through developing mobile connectivity to its passengers with seamless connectivity in most of the flight. The airline joins our ever-growing connected fleet enabling inflight mobile connectivity to become more accessible to travelers than ever before. We look forward to continue working with the team to provide a great passenger experience.”


Cathay Pacific increases selection of inflight entertainment

October 21, 2019

The Cathay Pacific Group is quadrupling its amount of inflight entertainment available to passengers.

Travellers can now expect to see more new-release movies, more complete boxsets and more sports coverage, as well as more Asian content. The increased content means customers could fly non-stop around the world 45 times and never have to watch the same thing twice.

The airline has partnered with channel Sport 24 to offer customers flying on Airbus A350 aircrafts live coverage sporting events from around the world. Passengers can catch the Rugby World Cup Finals live this month, and next year live coverage of the Tokyo Olympics and the Hong Kong Rugby Sevens will be shown.

The move also makes Cathay Pacific one of the first airlines to offer multi-season boxsets, meaning passengers can binge-watch series, starting with the pilot episode all the way to the finale. Its large library of Asian content includes HD movies, TV collections and worldwide exclusive titles.

Passengers can also explore specially curated collections compiled by renowned celebrities and entertainment experts.


AeroMobile partners with TrueMove Thailand

October 21, 2019

Panasonic Avionics Corporation subsidiary, AeroMobile, and telecommunications operator TrueMove Thailand, have partnered to launch an inflight data roaming bundle.

Customers who subscribe to the inflight service will be able to use their mobile phones to browse the internet, send and receive emails, texts and calls and stay in touch with friends on social networks, whilst travelling on AeroMobile-equipped aircraft.

Parinthon Tansuthepverawong, general manager of True Corporation, says: “Our customers expect a high-quality user experience, and through our partnership with AeroMobile we are now able to offer valued inflight roaming service at an attractive price.”

Kevin Rogers, ceo AeroMobile, adds: “With the new inflight roaming bundle, TrueMove’s customers no longer need to worry about continuing to communicate whilst travelling. This new market-leading package shows a continued commitment to providing the very best service to customers.”

The service is currently available to post-paid customers that purchase the inflight bundle and will enable TrueMove Thailand’s customers to enjoy more value and convenience when travelling.


Vision-Box to present Seamless Flow at FTE-APEX Asia 2019

October 21, 2019

At FTE-APEX Asia 2019, Vision-Box will present a multi-stakeholder One-ID ready platform enabler of the digitalisation of passenger experience and of frictionless journeys.

Seamless Flow orchestrates a trusted digital identity ecosystem that allows for a seamless, contactless and on-the-move passenger walkthrough. It proposes an identity management model, where passenger identity is vetted and enrolled at an initial stage, i.e. at home or at check-in, and no further lengthy verifications are required. The passenger moves to the boarding gate without the need to show passport or boarding pass or stop for identity checks.

A glance at a camera is enough to gain access to airside, clear the border, access the lounge, make purchases at airport boutiques, and finally board on time. Any process, whether crossing security, border control or boarding, is contactless, on-the-move and can deliver a personalised experience. Passengers take full control of their journey, using their biometrics features to clear checkpoints, book services, shop and receive personalised information.

Vision-Box’s line of seamless interaction points is ready: self-service, on-the-go, with minimum environmental footprint, One-ID ready, IoT-enabled, using biometrics and mobileID for speedy on-the-move transactions. Orchestra, the passenger-centric 4.0 Common-Use-compliant Services Platform, interconnects all IoT-enabled devices and integrates multiple data sources, including bookings, API/PNR, passenger profiles, check-in, baggage, etc. into a fully-connected multi-stakeholder collaborative ecosystem. It delivers value in real-time operations control, business intelligence, sustained by Privacy-by-Design.

Vision-Box will present Seamless Flow at FTE-APEX Asia 2019 at booth A19.


Vietnam Airlines launches inflight wifi

October 15, 2019

Vietnam Airlines passengers flying the airline’s Airbus A350 are now being offered wifi internet inflight.

Available on routes between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai, Osaka as well as between Ho Chi Minh City and Osaka, Singapore. The airline will continue its research to develop this service on Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 with better speed and accessibility.

“With the goal of becoming a digital airline, Vietnam Airlines continues to take the lead in adopting information technology to bring customers added service,” says Le Hong Ha, executive vice president of Vietnam Airlines. “By providing the first inflight wifi service in Vietnam, we hope to bring passengers a brand-new experience and convenience by allowing internet usage during the flight.”

With prices ranging from $2.95-$29.95 USD, Vietnam Airlines passengers can choose their package based on their desired usage length and data capacity (up to 80MB). Passengers make their selection and pay online via Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB, or Diners Club credit cards once the aircraft completes its ascent. The registered package is valid until the end of the journey and can be used on a variety of device platforms but cannot be used on multiple devices at the same.

To help passengers to identify flights equipped with wifi service, Vietnam Airlines will notify passengers at the check-in counters, through signage at the aircraft gate, and also through inflight announcements.


First ever inflight internet for China

October 15, 2019

Lufthansa Technik has increased its market presence for connectivity modifications in Asia by signing an agreement with Chinese service provider Air Esurfing Information Technology Co., Ltd.

This will help in providing aircraft with the first ever inflight connectivity solution for the Chinese market. Further contract partners include Honeywell (antenna hardware provider) and China Satcom (satellite provider).

According to a new five-year agreement, Lufthansa Technik will design and certify Ka-band-based connectivity retrofit packages for both the Airbus A320ceo and A320neo aircraft families as well as the Boeing 737NG and 737MAX. The company will also work with Air Esurfing Information Technology Co., Ltd. to provide the respective CAAC validated EASA Supplemental Type Certificate (VSTC) to support Chinese airlines. Moreover, Lufthansa Technik will take care of material supply and material handling services for the installation of the packages, which can be tailored to each of Air Esurfing’s airline customers and their specific requirements.

“As an inflight solution provider on connectivity, the company’s strategic cooperation with Lufthansa Technik signals a new chapter in our history, as we take a big step forward empowering Chinese airlines with high-speed inflight internet services,” said Herman Guo, chief executive officer of AirNet, Air Esurfing’s parent company.

“The partnership with Air Esurfing is a significant step in Lufthansa Technik’s global focus to meet a promising market demand in China,” said Gerald Steinhoff, vice president corporate sales Asia Pacific of Lufthansa Technik. “As a joint force, we shall exploit the full potentials of the Chinese market


TV first for Singapore Airlines inflight

October 07, 2019

Singapore Airlines has partnered with Sky Sports for the world’s first live broadcast from a commercial Airbus A380 flight.

The first-of-its-kind event saw Sky Sports presenter Craig Slater interview Ruth Buscombe, senior strategy engineer for the Alfa Romeo Racing Formula One team, on their flight to Singapore for this year’s Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix. The live broadcast took place one one of Singapore Airlines’ new Airbus A380 aircraft.

This world first was made possible thanks to inflight wifi connectivity powered by SITAONAIR’s high-speed Internet ONAIR over GX Aviation.The portal enabled Sky Sports to stay connected and bring the live broadcast to television.

Subhas Menon, regional vice president Europe from Singapore Airlines, said: “This was a great way to celebrate the excitement ahead of the Singapore Night Race. It is testament to the sophistication of our aircraft and our commitment to innovation that this technological feat could take place.”


Iberia adds whatsapp ibot

October 07, 2019

Iberia customers can now use the airline’s new WhatsApp channel for general information about their trip, or to check the status of their flights and check-in.

The launch of the new virtual assistance service through WhatsApp is part of Iberia’s ongoing digital transformation programme.

The move is designed to bring the airline closer to its customers and provide a service suited to their needs. The new Spanish-language virtual assistance channel is available through the airline WhatsApp number +34 676 67 60 04.

Iberia has worked with Mindsay to develop this new customer assistance channel, following a successful chat collaboration for iberia.com. Guillaume Laporte, Mindsay’s co-founder and ceo, comments: “From automated check-in to live flight information and FAQs, Mindsay technology allows Iberia to provide its customers with a personalised service.”

Iberia is currently engaged in a digital transformation process towards a new culture and a 100% digital experience with connected operations for both customers and employees.


Inmarsat progresses to Iris phase two

October 07, 2019

Inmarsat has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) for phase two of the Iris air traffic modernisation programme, which will include important flight trials across Europe to assess the service in a real operational environment.

Iris is being developed to deliver powerful benefits to European aviation by enabling high bandwidth, cost-effective satellite-based datalink communications over Europe.

John Broughton, senior vice president of aircraft operations and safety services at Inmarsat, said: “We are very excited to embark on the next phase of Iris with all of our partners. Important progress has already been made on various critical elements and as a result of strong industry-wide interest, several important agreements have been signed with major European ANSPs, aircraft manufacturers and airlines. Today’s agreement brings us another step closer to delivering the Iris programme.”


Airline Edition push for OM3 retail

October 07, 2019

Michael Raasch, former head of consulting at LSG Group, has joined the OM3 team at AOE to support deployment of the company’s Airline Edition.

Raasch brings more than 20 years of experience to the company and says: “Compared to other approaches, OM3 is, in my opinion, the most innovative solution and far ahead of its time and interesting for airports and airlines alike. I am looking forward to working actively on the further development of the platform and to further positioning the OM3 Airline Edition in the market.”

Raasch spent four years developing inflight concepts for the Lufthansa Group before joining the LSG Group in 2006 as project manager A380. His focus has been on innovative concepts that optimise the airline customer experience, and was responsible for the conceptualisation and development of the LSG Group’s global E-Commerce platform strategy and onboard concepts ofor Lufthansa.

The OM3 Airline Edition was recently launched on Singapore Airlines. Raasch says: “It’s obvious that all airlines are currently reorienting their business models for travel retail. This is why there is so much interest in our solutions and we currently have a number of airports and airlines that are in discussions or planning with us.”


Panasonic Avionics names Vistara as launch customer for Arc and Games

October 01, 2019

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) has today announced Indian airline Vistara as the launch customer for its new Arc Inflight Map Platform and Games, part of its Theatre solution.

Arc and Games are newly-launched entertainment solutions developed by Panasonic to create an immersive and engaging travel experience.

The solutions will be installed on Vistara’s fleet of Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A321neo aircraft from 2020.

Arc is a personalised 3D inflight map application and solution for Panasonic’s inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) systems. It brings a wide range of innovations to the traditional inflight map, while expanding that into a fully- integrated experience within its IFEC eco-system, in particular by aligning it with Panasonic’s Theatre (inflight entertainment) and Marketplace (e-commerce) solutions, all backed by its NEXT Cloud infrastructure.

Arc’s innovations include the industry’s first personalised maps capability, and new Map-as-a-Service technology that enables further applications using the map engine. The system features set, premium destination and point-of-interest content, and money generating opportunities through Panasonic’s Marketplace e-commerce platform. It can also be integrated with airline advertising and promotions.

Games was launched by Panasonic in April 2019 to meet the needs of the 2.4 billion gamers worldwide and is part of its Theatre entertainment solution. It will enable Vistara’s passengers to play premium games created by globally recognised brands creating a fun and engaging travel experience inflight.


Ethiopian Airlines rolls out onboard wifi

October 01, 2019

Ethiopian Airlines has launched onboard wifi internet connectivity on its A350 fleet using the latest broadband satellite technology (Ka-band).

Tewolde GebreMariam, group ceo of Ethiopian Airlines, says: “This launch is part of our relentless effort to add to passenger comfort, keeping pace with the technology of the day. As customer-centric airline, we will remain focused on continuous service excellence, taking advantage of emerging technologies and infrastructure.”

Passengers can access the inflight connectivity service by purchasing vouchers at Ethiopian Airlines sales outlets including Addis Ababa International Airport customer service desk, boarding gate and cabin crews onboard the fights. Online sales through credit/debit card and ShebaMiles miles are also available.

The inflight wifi is initially launched on the A350 fleet of Ethiopian with further plans to expand the service on other airplanes deployed on long haul flights.


American’s insight into movie viewing

October 01, 2019

New research commissioned by American Airlines has shown that almost a quarter (23%) of Brits say catching up on the latest film releases is what they look forward to the most about flying, but more than half (53%) find it difficult to choose which films to watch.

The carrier has created a unique movie menu in partnership with the BFI to help make choosing iconic films much easier.

Kicking off in time for the BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express, the menu has been curated by BFI London Film Festival Director Tricia Tuttle and recommends must-see movies to alleviate the dilemma of choosing what to watch.

Over half (51%) of Brits find films more memorable when they watch them on board a plane and almost a third (32%) feel more emotional watching films at altitude. Almost a fifth (17%) of Brits say their favourite thing about flying is watching films.

Jon Bird, Director of International Marketing at American Airlines said: “Our customers love watching movies when they fly, but with over 285 movies and hundreds of box sets to choose from, it can be difficult to make a decision.

To tackle this we’ve launched this new movie menu – just in time for the BFI London Film Festival – so our customers can enjoy a selection of the best films on offer.

For more than 60 years, we have supported filmmakers on both sides of the Atlantic. Our new menu is the perfect way to ensure every film customers watch will stay with them long after they’ve landed.”

Comedy came out on top as the genre of films Brits most like to watch when they fly (32%), followed by action (16%) and horror (8%). Romantic films scored the lowest at just 6%.


GX Aviation now available with AirAsia

September 20, 2019

Inmarsat has announced that its GX Aviation inflight broadband solution has entered commercial service with low-cost airline AirAsia.

AirAsia is currently offering GX Aviation to passengers onboard a number of initial aircraft through its RedBeat Ventures subsidiary, ROKKI, marking a significant upgrade to their inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) experience. To celebrate the occasion, passengers are being offered a free trial on GX Aviation-equipped aircraft until September 30 2019.

The service integrates with the airline’s entertainment and e-commerce platform, allowing passengers to access a variety of free entertainment, music, games, news and shopping using their personal mobile devices. It will be rolled out across AirAsia’s Airbus A320 and A330 fleet over the next year.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, says: “AirAsia’s launch of GX Aviation services is a significant milestone, as it brings to life the airline’s bold and innovative new digital offering for passengers. We are confident that its upgrade from basic connectivity to the industry’s gold standard inflight broadband will be warmly embraced by passengers.”

Aireen Omar, AirAsia group president (RedBeat Ventures), says: “As the pioneer of LCC inflight wifi in the region, we are always looking for ways to redefine the inflight digital experience for our guests. Introducing Ka-band, powered by ROKKI, is the next logical step in this process, with the enhanced inflight connectivity allowing our guests to stay connected throughout their journey and perform data-intensive activities such as live-streaming. This also enables better real-time analytics, allowing us to offer more personalised services to AirAsia’s 100 million guests annually.”


Inflight Dublin releases next-generation Everhub Portable Wireless Server

September 20, 2019

Inflight Dublin has announced the launch of its next-generation Everhub Portable Wireless Server. It claims the device is the most powerful and advanced wireless IFE solution available, and its DO-160G certification is stated to makes it one of the safest and most reliable solution on the market.

The new hardware is accompanied by the Everhub software platform, which is fully customisable to suit clients’ requirements.

The server can be powered by batteries or directly from the aircraft. It can also deliver secure, high-definition, browser-based DRM content to 75 passengers per unit. The Everhub portable server minimises logistics costs through its swappable battery configuration and remote loading of content.

The device comes preloaded with Everhub software for inflight entertainment and ancillary services and supports secure Digital Rights Management (DRM) content streamed to browsers. It is available as a standalone portable box using batteries or hybrid (aircraft powered) option.

John White, ceo of Inflight Dublin, says: “The next-generation Everhub server further enhances Inflight Dublin’s position as the only true end-to-end wireless IFE solution provider in the market. With the launch of our own server hardware, we are in complete and direct control of all the elements that airlines need in order to implement a wireless solution, namely hardware, software, content (including Early Window Hollywood movies) and design services”.

David Miller, Inflight Dublin’s cto, adds: “We started looking at an option for our own server based on our experience providing wireless IFE solutions on a number of fixed and portable platforms. We fed this learning into the design of our new server to provide a robust and scalable system which seamlessly integrates both our cloud and aircraft hosted services to deliver the best passenger and airline experience in a single offering.”


IdeaNova Technologies innovates Inplay

September 20, 2019

IdeaNova Technologies has continued to innovate its Inplay IFE Portal, this time offering the ability for passengers to choose their content before entering the aircraft. The Inplay Portal and its secure Inplay Players integrate with an onboard chat function and moving maps for convenient flight tracking while watching the entertainment.

The player offers multi-language audio, subtitles and accessibility features all suited for either in browser or application-based playback.

“The new Inplay IFE Portal is a result of the collaboration of various technologies with one single goal: to improve passenger experience on and off the aircraft,” says Juraj Siska, ceo of IdeaNova Technologies. “The entertainment playback now allows passengers to interact with chat and moving maps without leaving the portal or the player. Customers can also build a watch list for binge watching their favorite shows on or off the aircraft.”


GX Aviation takes flight on Virgin Atlantic

September 17, 2019

Inmarsat’s GX Aviation inflight broadband solution is now available on Virgin Atlantic’s new Airbus A350-1000 flight from London to New York.

The high-speed coverage will enable Virgin Atlantic’s customers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media and more during flights – with speeds comparable to mobile broadband on the ground.

Between now and 2021, the carrier will take receipt of 12 Airbus A350-1000s with GX Aviation pre-installed on delivery. Virgin Atlantic has selected Deutsche Telekom as the internet service provider for the aircraft, having already worked together on the airline’s 787 and A330 fleets since 2014.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said the partnership between Inmarsat and Virgin Atlantic will transform passenger experience as the airline’s customers begin to benefit from the high standard of inflight broadband.
“As one of the aviation industry’s greatest innovators, Virgin Atlantic is focused on providing a world-class experience onboard its aircraft,” he said.

“And that’s exactly what customers can expect when flying on the airline’s brand new Airbus A350s. In addition to exciting new suites and social spaces, they will have access to a broadband service with fast, reliable and consistent coverage powered by GX Aviation.”

Virgin Atlantic’s head of inflight services, Gail Yates, also applauded the airline’s maiden A350.

“Today we celebrated an exciting milestone for Virgin Atlantic as the first aircraft in our new Airbus A350-1000 fleet took to the skies,” she said.

“We are always looking to raise the bar and provide our passengers with a world-class experience. We are delighted to have Inmarsat’s GX Aviation onboard to offer high-speed inflight broadband to our customers.”


Airbus trials connected cabin technologies

September 17, 2019

Airbus has commenced in-flight trials of IoT connected cabin technologies onboard an A350-900 Flight Lab aircraft, revealed to customers at APEX EXPO 2019. In doing so, Airbus has become the first aircraft manufacturer to undertake such flight-testing of actual connected cabin innovations.

The platform, known as the Airspace Connected Experience, was unveiled at the APEX EXPO last year. It will usher in a new personalised experience for passengers and provide opportunities for improving airlines’ ancillary revenues and operational efficiencies.

The Flight Lab aircraft is one of the original A350-900 certification flight-test aircraft – MSN002 – and is fitted with an Airspace cabin which now serves as a platform to evaluate the new connected cabin technologies inflight.

An initial set of working elements have been installed, including prototypes of the Connected iSeat (Recaro), the Connected Galley (gategroup), a remote wireless cabin management control system, a large OLED display and, the first step of Airbus’ new “IoT backbone” which includes an open software platform.

The tests allow the various elements to be operated and monitored during a normal flight cycle. The next steps will continue testing of the current setup, then close the feedback loop with airlines using Airbus’ Customer Experience Teams (CET) forum, by around year-end.


Global Eagle powers next generation IFE/C experience

September 17, 2019

Global Eagle has announced its cloud-based content delivery platform Open and data software Pulse.

Open enables airlines to deliver passengers connectivity and entertainment at 40,000 feet, with aim to both match and exceed their expectations. The cloud-based platform gives airlines the agility to curate their content to challenge traditional IFE monthly cycles, so passengers can enjoy fresher entertainment, maximising its release window value.

Pulse harnesses user behavior data to curate personalised entertainment experiences that increase satisfaction. By tracking what passengers are watching and when, airlines can more precisely and predictively curate their content and market it directly to passengers to suit their individual personas.

Chris Esposito, chief technology officer, Global Eagle, says: “Airlines want to take advantage of new technologies to meet passengers’ demand for a high quality, personalized IFE experience. Cloud-based solutions are the only option for airlines to scale, and Open and Pulse are the next generation platforms to power future experiences.”


Burrana introduces 4K overhead inflight entertainment

September 17, 2019

Burrana has announced the development of its next generation ultra-high definition 4K overhead solution.

Burrana claims that its 13” displays are now the largest and highest resolution overhead screens in the industry. Each display will feature the latest in high brightness and high dynamic range LCD technology, which should enable passengers to enjoy wide viewing angles and a crisp picture, regardless of where they’re sitting in the cabin. Additionally, the displays will feature an anti-glare coating, which will help minimise reflections and the impact of sunlight.

An all-new server has also been developed, which will support 4K entertainment streams for the new overhead displays as well as wireless streaming entertainment to passenger devices. The server will offer 4TB of solid-state storage. This enhancement in storage capacity, combined with high compression video streams will efficiently support larger 4K media files. The system will also utilize USB 3.0 technology, enabling airlines to load content at up to 4.8Gbps – 10x faster than previous generations.

“With over 8.2 million pixels each with over 16 million life-like colours, the latest generation overhead displays from Burrana will deliver an immersive and unforgettable passenger experience”, says David Withers, Burrana ceo.

Burrana’s 4K overhead solution is intended to be made available for single aisle Airbus platforms in Q2 2020, with Boeing availability to follow shortly thereafter.


Interactive Mobility rebrands as Moment

September 2, 2019

Interactive Mobility has announced its new identity as Moment. This new name aims to support the development of the brand internationally and place the passenger at the core of its digital solutions.

In recent years, the French company has developed partnerships with airlines, airports and shipping companies, and wanted to adopt a new name to support its ambition and enhance its knowledge as an agile and innovative company. Moment focuses its expertise on onboard services and aspires to deliver entertainment experiences similar to those of mainstream streaming platforms like Netflix or Spotify.

The choice of this new brand was inspired directly from the strategy of the company. The main observation pointed that up to now the digital routes of travellers lacked coherence, simplicity and did not offer enough diversity to satisfy more and more demanding customers. The new name is intended to describe a positive and unprecedented experience that allows travellers to enjoy personalised content and services before, during and after their trip.

“We are proud of this change and this new identity that perfectly characterises our business and that will henceforth accompany the development of our business, as well as the new challenges that we want to take up,” says Tanguy Morel, ceo and co-founder of Moment.

“Through this brand name, we are committed to creating a strong, unique and attractive identity. Finally, we want to emphasise the importance of mobile technologies and the user experience that are two essential pillars in the valuation of travel”.


Luftahansa Systems enhances inflight gaming

September 2, 2019

Lufthansa Systems has announced that it will be showcasing the new inflight gaming component on its BoardConnect open IT platform at this year’s Airline Passenger Experience Expo (APEX EXPO).

The company has digitally adapted the fantasy card game Galaxy Duel and integrated it into the platform in partnership with gaming provider Gladi8tor. Galaxy Duel offers features such as an eSports league, leader boards and live streaming.

The BoardConnect technology enables airlines to use the onboard IT platform for their specific applications, with possibilities extending far beyond mere entertainment. By integrating onboard gaming into BoardConnect, airline IT specialist provider Lufthansa Systems is responding to the ever-expanding gaming market, where it sees an opportunity for airlines to adapt their inflight entertainment to their passengers’ different needs and stand out from their competitors by offering an enhanced passenger experience.

“With 17 airlines having already opted for BoardConnect, our platform is being used on almost 900 aircraft,” said Jan-Peter Gänse, head of passenger experience solutions at Lufthansa Systems.

“By developing the open BoardConnect Dock platform, we have enabled our customers to expand the inflight entertainment solution to include a wide range of applications and thus offer their passengers a personalized service. The possibilities are endless. Inflight gaming is just one of many conceivable enhancements.”

APEX EXPO is being held from September 9-12, 2019 at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, USA. Visit Lufthansa Systems at stand 1901.


iPhone XRs help cabin crew improve service

August 28, 2019

British Airways has announced that all of its 15,000 cabin crew will be issued with iPhone XRs to help them offer a more personalised service to its passengers.

The new phones will be loaded with a selection of apps to help crew offer customers instant additional assistance during their journey. They will also have access to a range of customer information at their fingertips, including previous flights and meal preferences, enabling them to personalise every interaction.

Bradley Smith, 27, one of the first cabin crew to receive a brand-new iPhone XRs says the phones are enabling a step-change in customer service: “Recently, when a customer realised that he had forgotten to order a special meal, he was really impressed when I quickly took out the phone, logged onto ba.com and ordered a meal for his return journey – all within a matter of minutes in the middle of the flight.

“All my crew reference guides are also loaded onto the phone, so everything I need is in my pocket throughout each flight; it really has made a huge difference already.”

Karen Slinger, British Airways’ head of inflight customer experience, said: “Our customers spend up to 14 hours with our cabin crew on a single flight. This investment is about further empowering our crew and providing them with everything they need to deliver the very best service to our customers while in the air.”


ThinKom unveils new gateway solution got next-gen satellites

August 28, 2019

ThinKom Solutions has revealed its new solution for efficient land-based gateways designed to accommodate current and next-generation low-Earth-orbit (LEO) and medium-Earth-orbit (MEO) satellite constellations.

The new gateway concept, which ThinKom describes as an “array of arrays,” will provide a superior alternative to the large “antenna farms” of parabolic dishes currently used for support of geostationary (GEO) satellites. It is based on ThinKom’s phased-array antenna technology, which is currently in use on over 1,300 commercial aircraft installations worldwide, in 10M+ hours of proven high-reliability operation.

“The proliferation of cubesats, nanosats, microsats and other miniaturised satellites will require a new way of thinking when it comes to gateway antenna technology,” said Bill Milroy, chairman and chief technology officer of ThinKom Solutions. “The answer is not to deploy more and larger dish farms. Instead, we’re proposing an entirely new paradigm that’s designed for the future yet employs currently available proven phased array technology.”

ThinKom’s new approach uses multiple, tightly-arranged, phased-array antennas, which are coherently (and reconfigurably) combined. The antenna units work together to track multiple LEO, MEO and GEO satellites simultaneously with look angles between 5 and 90 degrees in elevation and full 360-degree coverage in azimuth.

The software-defined system is reconfigurable in that a single array is capable of supporting multiple links, modifying the number of beams and radiation properties dynamically to meet the link budget and throughput demands of the ever-changing number of satellites in view.

The array, to be initially deployed in S- and X-band operation (with higher frequencies brought on line as the market demands), is constructed in a fixed convex shape in order to provide maximum low-elevation coverage and minimize signal blockage while promoting the shedding of rain and snow. The visual signature of an array is less than two meters tall serving to eliminate the effects of high wind conditions and the footprint for a typical array (equivalent to eight 2.4-meter dishes or three 4.5-meter dishes or any mixed combination) occupies less than seven square meters, uniquely enabling flexible deployment in areas with limited real estate, such as rooftop locations.


British Airways launches centenary IFE channel

August 28, 2019

To celebrate British Airways turning 100 on August 25, the airline has created a dedicated channel onboard to highlight the very best of inflight entertainment from over the years.

The channel, named Celebrate BA100, includes The Lost World, the very first film ever shown on an Imperial Airways flights in 1925, and other British favourites including Billy Elliott, romantic comedies Four Weddings and a Funeral and Notting Hill, and award-winning movies including Shakespeare In Love. The television selection includes episodes from Blue Planet to Ab Fab, as well as Downton Abbey.

In audio, 100-minute centenary mixes have been specially created by DJs including Groove Armada, Paul Oakenfold and Deadmau5.

The channel will be featured on board throughout August, September and October.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience, said: “We know that for many of our customers, being able to settle down and enjoy the inflight entertainment is one of the best bits of travelling so we’re serving up some of the best of film, television and audio throughout the ages to help our customers celebrate our centenary.”

These changes to British Airways’ in-flight entertainment system are just one of a number of ways that the airline is improving experiences for its long-haul customers. This year it was announced World Traveller customers will receive a renewed food offering on board including, on longer flights, a full second meal, while in Club World new dining and White Company bedding is being rolled out across the network. These changes come as part of the airline’s £6.5 billion investment for customers over the next five years.


“Inflight VR is here to stay”

August 21, 2019

Inflight VR has successfully closed its largest equity financing round to date, resulting in an overall total of over €4 million funds secured.

The funds are intended to support further rollouts with multiple clients and to generate valuable data about content performance, user behaviour and business models. The funds come mainly from existing shareholders, Venture Capital firms such as Motu Ventures and CBC Investments. In this round they were joined by new high profile investors such as Stefan Lauer, a former executive board member of Lufthansa and Dr. Carsten Berrar, partner at Sullivan & Cromwell and winner of the 2018 Transatlantic Dealmaker of the Year Award.

Inflight VR has appointed Matthias Walther as chief marketing officer. He brings two decades of strategy, business development and communications experience at Panasonic Avionics, Rockwell Collins, Lufthansa and Condor to the company.

Moritz Engler, co-founder and chief executive officer of Inflight VR, says: “We believe in the tremendous opportunities VR provides for airlines and bus operators who push the envelope of their customers’ travel experience. From the beginning, we focused on a multi-dimensional return on investment for our customers, seeing VR as a business solution.”


British Airways to trial VR entertainment

August 21, 2019

British Airways customers will be transported to their own 3D cinema in the skies as the airline exclusively trials a new virtual reality headset.

From now until the end of 2019, customers travelling on select flights in First from London Heathrow to New York JFK will be able to enjoy a selection of award-winning films, documentaries and travel programmes in 2D, 3D or 360° formats.

The headsets from VR eyewear specialists, SkyLights, allow customers to fully immerse themselves in 3D view regardless of the position they are sat in. The experience even works when they are lying fully flat.

British Airways is the first UK airline to trial the technology and has worked with experts to select a range of therapeutic programmes, including guided meditation and sound therapy, specifically designed for customers who have a fear of flying.

Sajida Ismail, head of inflight product at British Airways, said: “We are always looking at the latest technology to enhance our customers’ experience on the ground and in the air. Virtual reality has the power to revolutionise inflight entertainment and we’re really excited to trial these new glasses as they should create a unique and memorable journey for our First customers”.


Singapore Airlines challenges entrepreneurs

August 21, 2019

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is offering budding UK entrepreneurs the chance to take part in its AppChallenge, a global digital innovation challenge.

The challenge, now in its fifth year, calls on innovators and entrepreneurs to propose digital solutions that will address business challenges and redefine the passenger travel experience with a focus on sustainability. Winners of the challenge will be offered a place in Singapore Airlines’ Accelerator Programme, which provides up to S$150,000 in development funding.

The SIA Accelerator Programme is a joint initiative by NUS Enterprise and SIA, which aims to boost efficiencies and the customer experience within the travel sector, while simultaneously creating new business opportunities for innovative start-ups. As part of the Accelerator Programme, participants will go through mentoring, coaching and a validation programme run by NUS Enterprise covering areas such as customer discovery, tech solution identification, product-market fit and business model viability.

Twelve teams will be invited to pitch at the AppChallenge final in Singapore on October 18 where teams will be evaluated based on innovation, business value, technical competency, operational feasibility, scalability and user experience.

Singapore Airlines’ general manager for the UK and Ireland, Sheldon Hee said: “We are very excited for the Singapore Airlines AppChallenge’s fifth year. Innovation is core to our business; our ambition is to be the world’s leading digital airline. With the AppChallenge, we want to inspire and nurture the next generation of aviation industry pioneers.”


3D coffee parts spare the wait

August 14, 2019

Germany’s national rail operator, Deutsche Bahn, has begun creating spare parts for trains and catering galleys using a 3D metal printer, cutting delivery times and reducing service downtime.

DB first began exploring 3D printing in 2015, when it made thousands of plastic hooks for customers to hang their coats and jackets on next to their seats.

The new metal printer welds together thin strands of stainless steel wire, layering them up to create items such as axle box covers which are hard to source and can take up to 24 months to be delivered. Now DB is able to produce more than 120 different items including electrical terminal boxes to protect sensitive onboard communications and even spare parts for coffee machines.
Developed by Berlin-based Gefertec, the system is able to recreate objects from existing plans or scans.

Sabina Jeschke, DB’s board member for digitalisation and technology, says: “With the breakthrough in metal printing, we can ensure a faster supply of spare parts and quickly get trains back on track. The goal is to make around 10,000 different spare parts available via 3D printing by 2021.”

The company says the system saves time and resources, as spare parts are no longer stored in large quantities but manufactured on demand.


Star Alliance partners on biometrics

August 14, 2019

Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, and NEC Corporation, global leader in IT, network and biometric technologies, have signed a partnership agreement to develop a biometric data-based identification platform that will significantly improve the travel experience for frequent flyer programme customers of Star Alliance member airlines.

The platform advances a strategic vision of delivering a seamless customer journey, while strengthening the loyalty value proposition. Once implemented, Star Alliance customers who opt-in to biometrics will have a seamless and hands-free passenger experience, allowing them to pass through curb-to-gate touch points within airports, such as check-in kiosks, bag-drop, lounges, and boarding gates, which traditionally require both a passport and boarding pass, by using a secure identity management solution featuring facial recognition technology.

The service will be available to customers who are enrolled in one of the Star Alliance frequent flyer programmes and who have authorised the use of their biometric data. Star Alliance and NEC aim to introduce the first biometric solution at a Star Alliance airport hub by the first quarter of 2020.


BAGTAG takes flight with China’s largest airline

August 14, 2019

BAGTAG, a digital alternative to the traditional paper luggage label, has entered the Chinese market in a collaboration with China Southern Airlines.

China Southern Airline’s passengers departing on domestic flights from Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport will be able to check-in using BAGTAG starting mid-August. The service will be extended to other domestic and international airports within China including the new Beijing Daxing International Airport which is scheduled to come online in September 2019.

“China is soon to be the largest aviation market in the world, therefore it makes perfect sense that we partner with China Southern Airlines, the largest Chinese airline, to introduce the electronic bag tag concept”, said Jasper Quak, managing director of BAGTAG.

BAGTAG attaches to any type of suitcase or travel bag, its e-paper display replaces thermal paper stripes, making this an eco-friendly solution to keeping luggage secure and easily trackable. Check-in is done on the airline’s mobile app and bags dropped off at airport bag drop kiosks.


Singapore Airlines launches new mobile app

August 7, 2019

Singapore Airlines has launched a new mobile app for Android and iOS smartphones.

The new app is designed for faster performance and improved usability, and introduces new features that offer customers a more personalised experience. Based on a ground-up rebuild and all-new underlying technical architecture, the new app delivers customers significantly enhanced booking and check-in flows, improving transaction time by up to 60%.

In addition to significant improvements in existing functions, the app adds new features. These include ‘Translation Assistant’, a feature that uses real-time language translation by voice to help travellers communicate better when they are overseas; and ‘Measure Your Baggage’ to help travellers determine if the size of their bag is within cabin baggage limitations.

Another new feature is ‘Capture & Discover’, a new search function that uses image recognition as well as speech and natural language processing to identify the user intent, match it to a Singapore Airlines destination, and present relevant destination content and fare deals.

Users continue to enjoy greater personalisation, with the enhancement of in-flight entertainment features in the mobile app. These include extended access to e-Library magazine and newspaper content based on KrisFlyer membership tier, as well as a new search and filter function to allow for easier content browsing in the e-Library and KrisWorld catalogue. The app continues to enable customers to bookmark their movies, so that they can pick up where they left off on subsequent flights with the newest in-flight entertainment systems.

For Android users, the new app is being released by country progressively between July and September 2019, while iOS users may download the new app from the App Store in September 2019.


ISO 9001 certification for Phasor

August 7, 2019

Phasor, a developer of electronically-steered antenna (ESA) systems for satellite-based mobile broadband, has announced that it has achieved ISO 9001 Certification for its quality management system ahead of the commercial release of its products for the land mobile, maritime and aviation markets.

Phasor’s very low-profile ESA is solid-state, with no moving parts, eliminating several components associated with traditional connectivity solutions, and allows dual satellite signals to be tracked electronically. The ESA is flexibly designed to work with traditional Geostationary Orbit (GSO) satellite networks, High Throughput Satellites (HTS), as well as Non-Geostationary (NGSO) satellite networks.


Virtual kitchen for inflight catering

July 31, 2019

SATS and Dassault Systèmes have successfully implemented the world’s first digital twin experience of a central kitchen using technology to boost efficiency and minimise food waste.

SATS used Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud to create a 3D digital twin experience of a virtual kitchen that pairs virtual and physical operations to provide data-driven analytics for better resource planning. SATS can use the system to capture decades of operational know-how to simulate different food production processes in order to improve capacity planning and production scheduling, prevent bottlenecks, and enhance productivity. SATS is also able to better-forecast ingredient usage in its large-batch food production to reduce food wastage.

SATS’ virtual kitchen captures and integrates all process data and information into one 3D virtual environment to ensure consistency, enabling the facility’s operation managers to respond faster and more efficiently to changing situations.

“The use of digital twin technology helps SATS to simulate different production scenarios and cooking processes to optimise resources within our kitchens,” says Albert Pozo Hernandez, chief digital officer, SATS.

“We selected Dassault Systèmes because of its powerful 3D visualisation and data management tools that enable us to make more informed, data-driven business decisions to ensure SATS consistently delights our customers.”


Global Eagle IFE offers Drops language app

July 31, 2019

Global Eagle has done a deal with language learning app, Drops, to offer its service to airline passengers. Global Eagle’s IFE packages, currently used by 105 airlines and cruise ships, will include language learning from Q1 2020.

Drops’ new product Travel Talk will be available on seatback screens. Travel Talk is a basic form of the Drops app, with categories such as ‘Meet and greet’ and’ Safety and security’ teaching the language travellers need to get around. The Travel Talk feature will start with 25 languages, with more in the pipeline.

Daniel Farkas, co-founder and ceo of Drops, commented: “Whether you’re actively learning a new language and want a quick refresher mid-flight, or just want to pick up some new phrases before your holiday, Travel Talk is the perfect tool. It’s effective and fun, so you can arrive feeling like a true local.”

Dina Dumenko, vp of software engineering at Global Eagle, said: “We are always looking for ways to bring cutting-edge content and technology to our customers, enabling them to meet the growing demand and expectations of the modern airline passenger.”


Live TV on Air France

July 31, 2019

In mid-July, Air France’s passengers were given complimentary access to TV channel France 24’s full live content. On medium-haul flights equipped with the Air France CONNECT connectivity service supplied by Global Eagle, the company’s customers can use an entertainment portal, in addition to their wifi service.

The portal offers a wide selection of films, series and documentaries on their smartphone, tablet or PC. It also gives them access to real-time news bulletins throughout their flight, thanks to France 24 channel’s live-streaming TV, in French and English.

On its long-haul flights, with connectivity supplied by Gogo, Air France also offers customers a selection of France 24 documentaries and programmes as part of its seatback IFE. The France 24 channel is also broadcast live in most Air France-KLM airport lounges, in French, English and Arabic.

The Air France CONNECT service is available on all wifi-equipped Air France medium and long-haul aircraft. Customers can choose from three levels of wifi – a free ‘Message’ pass, the ‘Surf’ pass for internet and emails, and the ‘Stream’ pass for a faster connection.

With the target of a fully connected fleet by the end of 2020, wifi continues to be rolled out on Air France’s medium and long-haul aircraft. So far, 35 long-haul and 15 short and medium-haul aircraft have been connected, and half of the medium and long-haul fleet will follow by the end of this year.


Global Eagle delivers Apple Pay on Southwest Airlines

July 24, 2019

Passengers with an Apple Pay-enabled device can now use their face or fingerprint ID to securely pay for inflight wifi on Southwest Airlines via Global Eagle’s Airtime Portal and Airtime Framework.

“We are focused on customer-centered design solutions to enhance the inflight experience,” said Per Noren, president of Global Eagle.

“With the integration of Apple Pay, we are smoothing passenger payment access to key services, quickly, simply and efficiently.”

Tara Bamburg, Southwest Airlines manager of inflight wifi and entertainment, says: “Inflight wifi allows our customers to remain connected to what matters most in their lives and we are happy to bring Apple Pay onboard as a seamless payment option.”


AirFi number one in portable wireless IFEC

July 24, 2019

According to a recent study, wireless IFEC provider AirFi has become the fourth largest global wireless IFEC service provider, with 11% market share of aircraft both equipped and under contract, after Gogo, Panasonic and Viasat. It is also the number one supplier of portable wireless IFEC systems.

Valour Consultancy’s quarterly review of the wireless IFEC market (Q1, 2019) also found that AirFi had contributed more than half of the industry’s best-ever quarter in terms of number of new aircraft additions (417 of the 753 quarterly increase).

Job Heimerikx, ceo AirFi, said: “I’m delighted AirFi has risen in the rankings to become a Top 4 Global Wireless IFEC provider and is the only portable provider in the top tier. This past quarter we signed our biggest-ever landmark deals, amongst them with Global Top 20 LCC, Lion Air, and major flag carrier and the world’s oldest airline, KLM. These new clients have not just grown our fleet numbers by over 50%, but have contributed more than half of the growth in the overall sector – across both fixed and portable providers.”


New aircraft USB port from Garmin

July 24, 2019

Garmin International has developed a small, lightweight USB charger for aircraft use. The GSB 15 has dual USB configuration giving simultaneous fast 3A charging from each port. It can charge two full-size iPad tablets or similar smart devices while using them at full brightness.

The design is tailored to aircraft use in lowlight and cramped conditions. Halo lighting around each USB port makes connections easy in dark conditions, and two charger formats – for straight or 90-degree power wiring connection – help simplify installation in tight spaces such as armrests or sidewalls. There’s built-in protection against circuit and temperature overloads.

The slimline GSB 15 charging hub measures just over 1.5” square and stands less than an inch deep – making it one of the smallest dual-port USB charging hubs ever designed for aviation use. It comes in two formats: one to be wired into aircraft power from the back of the unit – and one that connects to aircraft power through the bottom of the case.

It has FAA TSO and consequently European approval. Its retail price is US$349.


Two new payloads for Inmarsat

July 17, 2019

Inmarsat has announced a contract for two new payloads for its Global Xpress (GX) network in partnership with Space Norway and its subsidiary Space Norway HEOSAT.

The new payloads, GX10A and 10B, are designed to provide Inmarsat’s airline and business aviation customers with increased capacity to meet the growing demand for high-speed mobile inflight broadband. Inmarsat says the satellites will be fully compatible with current and future terminals.

GX10A and 10B, to be launched in 2022, will be the first satellites in the GX network to be placed into Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO. They are designed to deliver more capacity for aircraft flying in higher elevations and across the Arctic. They will be operated by Space Norway’s Arctic Satellite Broadband Mission (ABSM) team and seamlessly integrate into the GX network.

This contract comes soon after Inmarsat’s decision to invest in three new transformational satellites (GX7, 8 and 9) to be built by Airbus Defence & Space. These are intended to increase network flexibility and efficiency through multi-beam, high-throughput capacity that can be directed to service areas of high demand.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “We have now committed to a total of eight more payloads that will join the GX network’s four existing satellites starting from later this year. However, GX is much more than just a satellite network, it’s a complete end-to-end solution and we have been equally ambitious in developing our ground stations, hardware, software and cybersecurity framework. This infrastructure, built specifically for robust and secure mobility, is unique to Inmarsat and will position us as an innovator putting our customer needs at the heart of our business decisions.”

The GX network powers Inmarsat’s GX Aviation, which has airline customers such as Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, AirAsia, Norwegian, Avianca, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings, Citilink, Garuda and Philippine Airlines. The network also powers Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX inflight broadband solution, which has been installed on more than 500 business aviation aircraft worldwide.


Emirates to connect over North Pole

July 17, 2019

Emirates’ passengers will soon be able to enjoy wifi, mobile service connectivity and Live TV broadcast when flying over the North Pole and Arctic circle.

Emirates already boasts some of the best inflight connectivity capabilities in the industry, with every aircraft connected for wifi, voice and SMS services. However, on its flights to the US, which often travel over the polar region, passengers can find themselves without connectivity for up to four hours. This is due to the fact that most satellites that connect aircraft are geostationary, located over the equator. Aircraft antennae cannot see the satellite when in the far north due to the earth’s curvature.

Emirates partner Inmarsat will soon solve this problem with the addition of two elliptical orbit satellites, thus providing coverage over the North Pole by 2022.

The new satellites will also provide Live TV broadcast on Emirates flights allowing customers to watch live news or sports over the polar region. Emirates’ Live TV is currently available on 175 aircraft including all Boeing 777 and select Airbus 380s.

Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ executive vice president and chief operations officer, said: “Over the years, we have worked closely with Inmarsat and our supply partners to continually raise the bar on inflight connectivity, and we look forward to further enhancing that experience, taking advantage of new technologies and infrastructure.”

A popular service amongst Emirates’ customers, over 1 million wifi connections are made onboard the airline’s flights in an average month.


SAS chooses Inmarsat GX

July 10, 2019

Inmarsat’s GX Aviation inflight broadband service has been selected by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) for its brand new fleet of Airbus A350 aircraft.

The first new A350 will be delivered from the Airbus factory in Toulouse at the end of 2019 with GX Aviation pre-installed. The aircraft will enter service in January 2020, serving long-haul routes to destinations such as Chicago, San Francisco, New York, Beijing, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The GX network is gaining additional capacity with three new satellites launching in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Inmarsat also recently signed an agreement with Airbus Defence & Space to develop a new generation of GX satellites. These satellites, named GX7, 8 and 9, are optimised for real-time mobility and feature thousands of dynamically formed beams that direct capacity over high-demand areas.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “GX Aviation is already the gold standard for inflight broadband and our extensive long-term development plans for the service have been extremely well received by the aviation industry, as this contract win with Scandinavian Airlines has shown. The superior capabilities of GX Aviation and its status as the only solution with global coverage was a perfect fit for the airline’s new Airbus A350 aircraft, which will cover high demand long-haul routes from Scandinavia to the United States and Asia. We look forward to working with the airline on the service’s rollout to passengers from early next year.”


Inflight VR takes to the road

July 10, 2019

Following successful deployment of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets on bus routes in the U.S, FlixBus has partnered with Inflight VR to offer immersive entertainment to its passengers on three routes in and between France and Spain.

“Virtual Reality is one of the emerging technologies with the most potential at present,” says Pablo Pastega, managing director FlixBus Spain and Portugal. “Our collaboration with Inflight VR and its customised solution will surprise our passengers and make them enjoy the trip even more.”

FlixBus is providing 15 devices for free on routes between Barcelona and Montpellier, Paris and Rouen and between Paris and Cabourg to get additional passenger insights on usage preferences before considering an expanded deployment of Inflight VR’s solution.

Moritz Engler, co-founder and chief executive officer of Inflight VR, says:
“We believe in the tremendous opportunities VR provides for companies like FlixBus who push the envelope of their customers’ travel experience. Our approach addresses all technical, logistic, usability and rights management aspects to make this a seamless way for FlixBus to amaze their passengers and build a closer relationship to their brand.”

As a result, passengers can explore FlixBus city destinations, relax through guided meditation, climb Mount Everest, swim with whales in the Pacific Ocean or watch movies in their own movie theatre.

Raphael Baumann, chief commercial officer of Inflight VR, adds: “Having been the first company to launch a virtual reality flight entertainment solution for eight airlines, airport lounges and FlixBus U.S. over the past year, we are very proud to see other sectors of mobility in different regions of the world beginning to adopt our services.”


Three new clients for AirFi

July 3, 2019

Bamboo Airways, one of Southeast Asia’s newest low-cost carriers based in Hanoi, Vietnam, has announced it will use AirFi’s Wireless IFE system across its fleet of eight A320-family aircraft. AirFi will provide a fully managed service offering covering all hardware, software, content provision and ancillary revenue generation.

Last year, the airline signed agreements to acquire 24 A321NEO and 20 Boeing 787-9 aircraft to support its fleet growth plans.

Air Seychelles, the national airline of the Republic of Seychelles, has also selected AirFi for its new Airbus A320neo entertainment platform to modernise the onboard digital experience, with passengers using their own smartphone, tablet or laptop devices.

Following a successful 10-aircraft trial, Air Arabia too has signed with AirFi for its fleet of short- and medium-haul aircraft based in Sharjah. The ‘SkyTime’ platform will feature multi-language, premium AVOD content tailored to their demographic of family and price-conscious business travellers around the Gulf region, Northern Africa, Indian subcontinent, Russia, Central Asia and Europe.

Job Heimerikx, ceo AirFi, commented: “We are thrilled to welcome Air Arabia to our wireless IFE family as we further strengthen our leadership in this exciting, fast-growing aviation region. Our long-standing track record of success enables us to serve ever larger and more complicated fleet networks like the new operation in Sharjah.”


New digital food delivery service

July 3, 2019

Interactive Mobility has launched “Shop-to-me”, a food delivery technology service at Paris Aéroport-Charles de Gaulle. Developed in partnership with fast food chain EXKi, this unique service enables passengers to get meals, snacks and drinks directly delivered to their boarding gate.

Shop-to-me enables airports to support improved passenger experiences, and gives retailers and fast food chains the chance to increase their reach.

The Shop-to-me service allows passengers to order their meals directly from iPads available in Terminal 2F business lounge. Passengers can then relax while the delivery is taken to their gate before boarding.

The application’s user interface is personalised to respond to EXKi’s requirements and users can easily choose amongst a large range of products. It is already contributing to an increase of 10% in EXKi daily sales.

Tanguy Morel, ceo of Interactive Mobility, comments: “Airports offer always more comfort and services. An on-demand delivery service such as Shop-to-me is a good example of how easy and efficient solutions can enable to considerably improve airport retailers’ sales.”


Finnair completes Viasat wifi installation programme

July 3, 2019

Finnair has completed its installation of inflight connectivity on its narrowbody Airbus fleet, flying within Europe. The Ka-band connection provided by Viasat enables connection speeds of 12 Mbit/s or more, which makes it possible to use streaming services during the flight.

The airline offers two options to use internet onboard: a browsing package for using email and browsing the internet or a streaming package with VPN for using Spotify and watching TV and movies from various streaming services. The price varies depending on the package and connected flight time.

The service covers most of Finnair’s flights in Europe, apart from the least densely populated regions and Russia.

Inflight connectivity on European flights includes a selection of digital newspapers and other services offered through Finnair’s Nordic Sky portal.


Norwegian tunes into wifi trends

June 25, 2019

Passengers using low-cost carrier Norwegian now have immediate access to wifi the moment they step aboard their aircraft.

The new ‘gate-to-gate’ access means travellers will be able to stay connected throughout their journey – previously wifi was only available once aircraft had climbed to an altitude of 10,000ft.

“We know how important it is for our passengers to have internet access. Until recently, flights were hour-long black holes when it comes to internet coverage. Now, Norwegian makes it possible to be online from the moment you board the aircraft until you step outside again,” says chief customer and digital officer at Norwegian, Kurt Simonsen.

“We launched free wifi onboard in 2011 and since then millions of passengers have been surfing the internet onboard, so we are looking forward to offering the new gate-to-gate experience to our passengers”. Earlier this year, Norwegian became the first low-cost airline to introduce free wifi on intercontinental routes, currently being rolled out on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. Customers have two choices – Basic free wifi for the full duration of long-haul flights or a Premium high-speed option fast enough to stream TV shows and movies.

Norwegian expects to have the roll out of wifi completed on 50% of its Dreamliner aircraft by 2020. The carrier has also introduced premium wifi on European flights.


Virgin Trains hopes to keep travellers app-y

June 25, 2019

Virgin Trains is attempting to improve the passenger experience with the roll out of two new tech initiatives.

Designed to enhance communication, particularly during disruption, the new apps – called Back on Track and Track ‘n’ Travel – provide real-time information and support to travellers.

Both apps have been created by digital workflow specialist ServiceNow and Track ‘n’ Travel will be built-in to Virgin’s new onboard portal vthub.uk, which was recently launched along with free onboard wifi.

Chris Pope, vp innovation, ServiceNow said: “Through digital transformation, Virgin Trains is accelerating the industry towards a personalised rail experience that puts the customer experience front and centre. Using our platform, Virgin Trains has replaced manual processes with digital workflows to ensure the right information reaches employees and customers when they need it — fast, simple, easy – and importantly, putting the focus back on creating great experiences for all.”


Swissport and SITA collaborate on data modelling

June 25, 2019

Ground handler Swissport International and tech specialist SITA have joined forces to develop a new predictive analytics model.

Sergio Colella, SITA president, Europe, said: “Today’s passenger journey is highly integrated, involving numerous stakeholders. To deliver a truly seamless passenger journey requires each of these parties to work closer together. Now we can harness the power of data to make smarter, more intelligent decisions that ensure a smooth operation of airports and airlines with real benefits for passengers.”

By collating and analysing data from flight information, baggage and wait-time, the SITA-Swissport partnership aims to develop a standard format to securely share common data with stakeholders using blockchain technology. The predictive analysis data will help enhance cross-company services.

SITA covers 60% of the air transport industry’s operational data, handling 3.9 billion business and mission-critical messages each year, while Swissport provides the ground support for hundreds of airlines across over 300 airports in 50 countries on six continents.


Phasor heralds antenna revolution

June 19, 2019

Speaking at the 2019 Global Connected Aircraft Summit, JP Szczepanik, cto of Phasor, said he believes that electronically steered antennas (ESAs) will be the disruptive technology for the next generation of in-flight connectivity antennas.

Phasor has been one of the most active developers of ESAs for the commercial aircraft market. In partnership with Astronics, it has developed three new E-Series ESA SATCOM antennas, which were launched at the AIX show in Hamburg in April. It is also partnering with connectivity provider Gogo to package their technology into a new airborne terminal.

Szczepanik said: “We’re working toward a fully electronically steered antenna with no moving parts at all which brings with it inherit reliability and improvements, but you still have to prove that out and get it on aircraft, that’s what we’re going through today.”

Gogo and Phasor’s development partnership is progressing to the product phase, when the technology will be packaged as an airborne terminal to address the commercial aviation market.

Phasor’s very low-profile ESA is solid-state, with no moving parts, eliminating several components associated with traditional connectivity solutions, and allows dual satellite signals to be tracked electronically. The ESA is flexibly designed to work with traditional Geostationary Orbit (GSO) satellite networks, High Throughput Satellites (HTS), as well as Non-Geostationary (NGSO) satellite networks.

Gogo ceo Oakleigh Thorne commented: “We identified the promise of Phasor’s innovative solution due to a range of factors, including its multi-constellation capabilities and form factor. We see a number of potential applications for this technology, with initial applicability targeted at smaller commercial aviation aircraft. We are pleased with the progress to-date and look forward to continuing our partnership during the next development phase.”


British Airways looks to tech innovation

June 19, 2019

British Airways has hosted a unique competition for start-ups on a flight between San Francisco and London Heathrow. The airline joined forces with Founders Forum, a private network of leading digital and technology entrepreneurs, to give startups the chance to pitch their ideas to a host of judges on board the flight, including BA’s chairman and ceo, Alex Cruz, and leading tech entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs.

Using BA’s onboard high-speed wifi, the startups were on the ground in the UK, while a team of judges cruised at 30,000 feet on flight BA284 from San Francisco.

Following the pitches and a Q&A session, the judges chose three finalists who will pitch their idea face-to-face at an upcoming Founders Forum. Experts taking seats on the judging panel included the President of WeTransfer and GM of Robotics at Google X.

Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO of British Airways, said: “British Airways has a long-standing history of driving innovation in the aviation industry and it remains a huge focus for us this year. Being able to run a pitch process between the ground and the air is something we’d have never dreamed possible, now with the introduction of high-speed wifi at 30,000 feet it’s a reality. We look forward to harnessing the talent that exists globally to remain at the forefront of aviation.”

British Airways is currently introducing wifi for streaming on its long-haul flights with more than 50 aircraft already equipped with this service, while 80% of the airline’s long-haul fleet will be fitted by the end of 2020. The airline’s entire short-haul fleet will be wifi enabled by summer 2019.

British Airways is also encouraging entrepreneurs and startups to submit proposals to its parent company International Airlines Group’s (IAG) accelerator programme, Hangar 51. The 10-week accelerator nurtures startups with a broad range of technologies, enabling them to develop and test their products on a global scale.

Among tech innovations being developed through the AI team is machine learning algorithms to adjust the volume of fresh food being loaded onto individual flights to help meet customer demand and minimise waste.

This article was originally published by Future Travel Experience

Heathrow Airport announces plans to introduce CT security scanners

June 12, 2019

Heathrow Airport has announced the rollout of new computed tomography (CT) security equipment throughout the airport over the next few years.

When fully deployed, the 3D equipment is expected to end the need for passengers to remove their liquids and laptops from cabin baggage when passing through security.

With the support of the Department for Transport, Heathrow is beginning a programme to install the new equipment across its terminals by 2022. Once complete, the technology will have the potential to cut the amount of time required for security screening, with passengers no longer required to put their liquids in plastic bags before being screened.

The new CT technology is the latest generation of security equipment, providing even better images of cabin baggage more quickly. The move to install this equipment airport-wide will make the screening process even more robust, helping the airport¹s teams to provide a more efficient and seamless search experience. Once the rollout is complete, it will have the potential to transform the journey through the airport.

Heathrow is the first UK airport to trial the technology and is working with the Department for Transport to help other airports up and down the country as they look to begin trials of their own in the coming months.

This rollout, valued at over £50 million, is the latest in a series of purchases by the airport to improve the passenger experience, culminating in the airport being ranked by passengers as one of the top 10 globally. This rollout will also prepare the hub airport for the additional capacity that will be unlocked with Heathrow’s expansion.

Heathrow Chief Operations Officer, Chris Garton, said: “Heathrow has a proud history of investing in making every journey better and that’s why we¹re delighted to be rolling out our new CT equipment. This cutting-edge kit will not only keep the airport safe with the latest technology, but will mean that our future passengers can keep their focus on getting on with their journeys and less time preparing for security screening.”

Aviation Minster, Baroness Vere added: “Passenger safety remains our top priority and this programme clearly shows the huge importance we place on security. This innovative new equipment will ensure Heathrow continues to provide a safe and smooth travel experience for passengers, as we look to roll out this new screening technology at airports across the country.”

This article was originally published by Future Travel Experience

JAL chooses Spafax for IFE

June 12, 2019

Entertainment and media agency Spafax has announced that it has been chosen by Japan Airlines (JAL) to license, curate and deliver its short-form content on all the airline’s aircraft. Short-form entertainment includes TV shows, documentaries and compilations.

Ryoichi Ikeda, president at JAL Brand Communications, said: “This is the first time in over a decade we announce a new in-flight entertainment partner. We are impressed with Spafax’s proven track record of content delivery and I’m confident they will help us bring a fresh perspective on entertainment for our passengers.”

In the build-up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games scheduled for Tokyo in 2020, the Japanese Transport Ministry is expecting more than 40 million foreign visitors.

Niall McBain, chief executive at Spafax, commented: “All eyes will be on Japan with the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and we’re thrilled to help Japan Airlines elevate its onboard experience and deliver a top-notch service to their passengers.”

Spafax will manage the JAL contract from its Hong Kong office, supported by its entertainment teams in London and Southern California. Spafax’s first content cycle for JAL is due in August 2019.


New Airbus satellites for Inmarsat

June 5, 2019

Inmarsat steps up its plans to build a new generation of satellites for its Global Xpress (GX) network. The satellites, named GX7, 8 and 9, are to be optimised for real-time mobility, with thousands of dynamically formed beams that direct capacity over high-demand areas.

Inmarsat claims that the network will immediately relocate capacity in line with real-time flight patterns, new airline routes and seasonal demand surges across the world, enabling airline customers to invest in a consistently high quality of service for passengers into the future.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Building upon our 40-year heritage in global mobile connectivity, the next evolution of GX is made possible by our investment in an infrastructure built specifically for robust and secure mobility – from high performance satellites, ground stations, hardware, software and cybersecurity, to our unrivalled partner ecosystem.”

The new satellites are scheduled to launch from 2023 and build upon the existing GX high-speed global network, which consists of four satellites already in operation and three more being launched over the next three years, starting with the GX5 satellite later in 2019.

The GX network powers Inmarsat’s award-winning GX Aviation inflight broadband, whose airline customers include Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines, AirAsia, Norwegian, Avianca, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings, Citilink, Garuda and Philippine Airlines. The new satellites will provide backward compatibility, allowing existing customers to benefit from the improved GX network.


Finnair adds biometric boarding at LAX

June 5, 2019

Finnair has become the latest airline to enable passengers flying out of the U.S to board using biometrics – without needing to show their boarding passes or passports.

The Finnair flight from LAX to Helsinki Airport was the first to use the new biometric eGates powered by Vision-Box technology.

”Biometrics have great potential in enhancing both customer experience, speed and security”, says Sami Suokas, ground experience manager, Finnair. “Customer feedback was very positive, and we are looking forward to having more stations to utilise biometrics in the future – including our home hub Helsinki Airport, where we plan to start biometrics tests with the airport operator Finavia and Vision-Box.”

When a passenger approaches a self-boarding eGate, a biometric-enabled camera ergonomically integrated in the eGate captures the passenger’s facial image and sends it to the CBP TVS (Traveler Verification Service), which conducts a matching process with the stored digital facial token, captured at the initial immigration process.

Within a few seconds, the system reconciles the passenger and his flight, recognises the passenger as eligible to enter that flight and opens the eGate door to boarding.

The solution is based on Vision-Box Traveler flow orchestration platform.