Onboard tech news

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.


New Inmarsat package for business jets

May 29, 2019

Inmarsat has announced a new top-end package for its Jet ConneX business aviation inflight broadband solution at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva. The new ‘JX-Pro’ package has unlimited data usage and 33% higher speeds.

Jet ConneX is the only global, high-speed inflight broadband option available in Ka-band for business jets today. Powered by Inmarsat’s wholly-owned and operated network of high-throughput satellites, it provides fast and reliable connectivity, with coverage across 100% of major routes.

Kai Tang, svp of Channel at Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Jet ConneX has received an extremely positive response from the business aviation market. More than 500 installations have already been completed and take-up rates show no signs of slowing down. We strive to evolve the service in response to market feedback, as the launch of JX-Pro today has shown. Demand is expected to be strong and we look forward to rolling out the ground-breaking new capabilities of this package offering with our global network of partners.”

Inmarsat has confirmed investment in new Ka-band payloads to further enhance its global service, with new satellite launches scheduled in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Planning is also currently underway for Inmarsat’s next generation of satellites.


Singapore delivers passengers a digital library

May 29, 2019

Singapore Airlines is to be the first Asian airline to offer Media Carrier’s premium e-paper library.
Media Carrier will deliver a selected collection of international digital newspapers and magazines to passengers via Singapore Airlines’ mobile app. Passengers will be able to choose from more than 120 publications from 22 countries in 12 languages to individually curate their on-board reading.

Passengers using the app can download and read as many publications as they like free of charge within a time frame specified in the app. Downloaded publications remain saved as PDFs in the app so that passengers, if needed, can continue reading later. The publications are provided in their full versions and familiar print layout for easy and intuitive reading and browsing.

Media Carrier managing director Philipp J. Jacke, says: “Digital tools such as our e-paper library enable airlines to offer their passengers the first-class service they expect. Digitalisation has by now become part and parcel of the modern service industry and value-enhancing digital products considerably contribute to increasing customer satisfaction.”


E-commerce is no longer enough

May 22, 2019

3Sixty Duty Free, previously the DFASS Group, has claimed it is “redefining travel retail” by embracing a new omnichannel approach, typified by its KrisShop joint venture with Singapore Airlines and SATS.

Speaking at the TFWA Asia Pacific Exhibition & Conference in Singapore, the retailer’s executive vice chairman, Roberto Graziani, said: “The development of the smartphone and tech has dramatically changed the retail industry in the past few years and will certainly continue its impact. So, the question is how we can grow the industry in a healthy way, leveraging the power of digitalisation.”

The average person spends nearly four hours daily on their smartphone, and Graziani explained that 25% of all e-commerce sales in the US are made on mobile.

It is evident that online channels will soon overtake offline channels, and Graziani predicts that this will happen faster in travel retail categories. Referring to the biggest online retailer in the world Amazon, he said: “Successful retailers are directing their efforts toward a more customer-focused model, and e-commerce is no longer enough.”

However, to fully leverage the omnichannel experience, airports and airlines must engage customers at every step of the journey. For instance, 51% of customers make purchasing decisions prior to arrival at the airport, so Graziani highlighted that full digital engagement prior to travel is essential to capturing these potential purchases.
Graziani concluded that omnichannel can elevate duty free retail to compete with new domestic omnichannel retailers, but only if all stakeholders are partnering effectively.

Providing the airline perspective, Campbell Wilson, SVP sales & marketing at Singapore Airlines, said: “As part of our onboard transformation, we took a fresh look at what we wanted to achieve. The only time we can interact with customers is onboard, so we are taking this opportunity. The omnichannel model is giving the customer what they want, when they want it, whether they are onboard or at the airport.”

Wilson also shared that currently the airline is trialling purchases completed 60 minutes before departure and exploring the potential of retail through inflight entertainment (IFE).

Pictured: Campbell Wilson, sip sales & marketing, Singapore Airlines (centre) joined Roberto Graziani, executive vice president, 3Sixty Duty Free (right) on stage to discuss the airline’s latest KrisShop joint venture. The session was moderated by The Moodie Davitt Report president Dermot Davitt.

This article was originally published by Future Travel Experience

Viasat in deal with China Satcom

May 22, 2019

Viasat and China Satcom have set up a partnership to provide IFC services in China for domestic and international airlines.

This will enable Viasat’s global airline customers to have roaming connectivity when flying over China. It will also allow Viasat to provide IFC service to domestic flights within China, and enable Chinese airlines to roam onto Viasat’s global network.

China Satcom owns and operates the most extensive Ka-band spotbeam satellite system in China, which is the only Ka-band system currently available for IFC service in the country.

China is the second largest aviation market in the world, according to IATA research. There is a strong demand for high-speed, high-quality IFC, but only about four percent of flights within China are currently connected.

Don Buchman, vp and general manager, Commercial Aviation, Viasat, said: “Our partnership is a natural way to extend state-of-the-art services specific to China Satcom’s fleet and the China domestic market, and create a global roaming alliance for our existing and new domestic and international customers and the rapidly growing Chinese global commercial airline fleet. We are honoured to work with China Satcom in China to make IFC-at-scale a reality.”


TAP selects Panasonic IFEC

May 15, 2019

TAP Air Portugal has announced an agreement with Panasonic Avionics for inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) solutions for its new fleet of 14 A321neo LR aircraft. Panasonic’s X Series IFE system, along with connectivity services, are being line-fitted on the new aircraft.

Passengers will have HD screens and surround sound audio and video entertainment plus in-seat power USB charging facilities at every seat. All planes are being fitted with Panasonic’s inflight wifi service powered by its new satellite modem, giving up to 20 times greater bandwidth.

Panasonic recently agreed to provide IFEC solutions for TAP’s new fleet of 21 A330-900neo aircraft.
Hideo Nakano, ceo of Panasonic Avionics, said: “Panasonic Avionics is honoured to partner with TAP Air Portugal as they launch their next generation A321neo LR fleet, and we are delighted to help them deliver an enhanced passenger experience with our entertainment and connectivity solutions.”


A smart time at NS

May 15, 2019

Netherlands Railways (NS) has announced that from May 2019 it will provide all 1900 of its train guards with smart watches. It is convinced that after positive test results it will improve punctuality of departures.

The watches will be set to vibrate just before departure time to make sure the guard can prepare the train ready to leave as scheduled, counting down the minutes and seconds to the correct time.

The guards watches and those of the drivers (who already have smart watches) will also be synchronised so all the service staff are coordinated to act at the same time. Additionally, each of them will receive relevant operational and passenger information directly to the watch, helping them to manage on-board communications and deal with customer enquiries in real time.

A spokesman for NS said, “The focus is to ensure a safe and punctual departure by reducing the time spent checking station clocks. It means guards can also assist passengers


New intercity trains for ENR

May 15, 2019

Following a competitive tender, Egyptian National Railways (ENR) has awarded train builder and maintenance experts Talgo a €158m contract to supply and maintain six 160km/hr intercity trains. The trains will provide the service on the main route of the country, connecting the Mediterranean city of Alexandria with the capital city, Cairo, and the southern city of Aswan, covering a population of over 12m people.

The new trains, which will be introduced in 2021, will be operated at a maximum commercial speed of 160 km/h, and will be based on similar technology used by Talgo for other demanding hot climate railway environments such as in Spain, the United States, Kazakhstan and Russia.

Each train will have capacity for 492 passengers distributed between first and second class, an on-board cafeteria, as well as spaces specifically designed for travellers with reduced mobility.

Interior design has been based on Talgo’s experience in high-comfort long-distance trains and services such as those supplied for the Meca-Medina Very High Speed line in Saudi Arabia, with certified indoor climate control for extreme temperatures, onboard WiFi connectivity throughout the train, and infotainment systems with LED screens in each of the seats located in first class.


Gulf Air chooses Thales and GX

May 8, 2019

Gulf Air has chosen Thales’ Ka-band connectivity solution for its B787-9 and A321Neo-E (LR) aircraft.

Thales will deliver a complete end-to-end connectivity solution using the Inmarsat Global Xpress satellite network. Through the connectivity portal and onboard wifi network, passengers can browse the internet, check social media, and shop onboard during their flights.

In 2016, Gulf Air selected Thales’s AVANT inflight entertainment system for its fleet renewal program. AVANT offers a highly customisable passenger experience with Full High Definition displays and a selection of features and applications.

Philippe Carette, ceo Thales InFlyt Experience, said: “It is an honour to equip Bahrain’s national carrier with our connectivity solution and the AVANT high-performing IFE system onboard their newest aircraft. Thales is committed to support Gulf Air in driving innovations and the highest standards in passenger engagement.”

Krešimir Kučko, ceo Gulf Air, commented: “We are proud to announce our partnership with Thales once again for the onboard connectivity project. Back in 2016 we selected AVANT IFE system for our yet-to-receive orders of new aircraft and today we complement this partnership with Thales for another product – all to elevate the customer experience during the flight.”


Panasonic goes gaming

April 30, 2019

Panasonic Avionics announced the launch of its new portfolio, Gaming, at the Hamburg AIX show. Gaming is the latest addition to Panasonic’s Theatre inflight entertainment solution, and offers premium games from global brands such as Toca Boca and Gameloft. Other partnerships will be announced later in the year.

Panasonic is planning to enhance the passenger experience by helping airlines gain access to the 2.4 billion gamers worldwide. This new segment of passengers is interested in new digital experiences, and offer a better cost-to-value ratio than traditional media, providing a long-lasting return on investment.

Gaston Sandoval, vp of Product Management and Marketing, said: “We are strategically partnering with leading gaming brands and pairing them with our industry-leading hardware and infrastructure. For airlines, these innovative solutions provide a game-changing way to differentiate themselves in the market, and a unique way to drive ancillary revenue generation.”

“We are thrilled at the prospect of partnering with Panasonic,” said Caroline Ingeborn, president and coo, Toca Boca. “We know our high-quality, engaging content will be in good hands with Panasonic’s outstanding technology, and we hope to make travel a bit more fun for families.”

The global games market was worth $135 billion in 2018, increasing 10.9% from 2017, with the mobile games market growing at the faster rate of 12.8% in 2018 due to the mass adoption of smartphones.


Immfly’s first U.S. client

April 24, 2019

Immfly has announced its first American customer, with the WIFE platform set to be installed on nine Eastern Boeing 767s in the coming months.

Eastern Airlines operates a long-haul fleet of B767 aircraft providing leasing services to a number of international airlines. Eastern is currently awaiting government approval to schedule flights from New York to destinations in China, the Caribbean and South America.

Eastern passengers will be able to enjoy a WIFE portfolio of video and audio content from Hollywood studios. The platform will also be available in various languages to serve the airline’s demographic profile. Immfly‘s platform of integrated digital services is also said to include a combination of breakthrough revenue generation tools.

Eastern’s president and ceo, Steve Harfst, said: “Eastern looks forward to launching Immfly’s Connected Digital Services Platform across its full fleet. We see a clear opportunity to enhance our service and operations with one of the most innovative propositions in the market delivering a premium IFE experience to our passengers while fortifying our competitive edge.”


Global Eagle’s OPEN for content

April 24, 2019

Global Eagle’s new OPEN system incorporates 1000 videos and output from the distributors EIM, Emphasis and Fairdeal plus the four main music labels.

The international movies and assets are live across Global Eagle’s international facility and the metadata and scheduling are currently being trialled by three customers.

The system enables airline customers to move from a monthly cycle to choosing content immediately. It would enable a new customer to populate its fleet’s IFE system in real time.

Demonstrating the system for IFE content provision at AIX in Hamburg, Duncan Abell, Global Eagle’s vp marketing and communications, said it had taken 20 months to develop and will be ready for the company’s 180-plus customers to move onto within the next 12 months.

Abell said: “The phrase ‘content service provider’ is outdated. The content and the connectivity are now intertwined. We are already unique as a provider of content and connectivity to airlines, but now we are investing heavily in creating a digital supply chain in the cloud – this is what airlines are asking for.”


Lufthansa Systems introduces BoardConnect Dock

April 16, 2019

At the AIX show in Hamburg, Franziska Stachl, head of Global Sales Support and Strategy, spoke about the company’s expanded BoardConnect portfolio. It has been developed in response to changing demand in the market and the various needs of airlines and partners.

“BoardConnect is the perfect open platform for combining all the features needed for inflight entertainment & connectivity (IFEC). In order to meet customer requirements even more precisely, our portfolio will now distinguish between solutions for airlines and partners,” said Stachl.

The new BoardConnect Dock solution gives technology, content and financing partners a BoardConnect framework for creating their own onboard program. Depending on the partner, this might include a connectivity portal, classic IFE content or a platform with booking options and targeted advertising to generate additional revenue. This approach has been followed by successful projects carried out with Epteca at AirEuropa and Mahata Aero Teknologi for Citilink and Garuda Indonesia.

For its refinancing models, Lufthansa Systems is working on a trial basis with providers such as WhileFly and repay.me. Its partner network of content providers includes Touch, Lasker, IMM and PXCOM.

Stachl also demonstrated the new, more powerful BoardConnect Portable device, which, when connected to aircraft power, can handle 100 concurrent users.


Safran connects

April 16, 2019

Trolley specialist Safran has launched a new catering solution, SOPHY, a universal trolley tag that makes it possible for airlines to measure and enhance their catering operations across the catering process chain.

With a SOPHY tag applied to the trolley door, airlines get access to key information about their catering operations, including handover, cleaning, food quality, stock and maintenance.

The insights can support airlines in taking logical business decisions to improve efficiency and reduce costs while enhancing their inflight product offering.

SOPHY can be integrated in existing and new trolley fleets and is designed to operate in demanding conditions. All tags are watertight and temperature resistant and comply with worldwide regulations.

The technology has been developed with Undagrid, a specialist in Internet of Things Solutions for the aviation industry. The company already provides autonomous dynamic asset management at more than 20 airports worldwide.

Undagrid CEO Rolf van de Velde says: “The introduction of SOPHY is the result of the cooperation between our two companies. From the initial design-thinking process to the final steps for this market introduction: Safran has shown leadership in future-acting. Their belief in a connected trolley and how to make this a reality, can be seen as an example how new initiatives can be launched in the global aviation industry.”

New portable wifi from Kontron

April 16, 2019

Kontron has incorporated all its own components in its new wireless streaming Cab-n-Connect portable box, including processor modules, cellular LTE modem and integral WAP. It is battery-powered, with a facility to convert to aircraft power, and has 8Tb of storage plus removable SSD.

The box can provide 12 hours of video on its batteries, and can handle 50-100 concurrent users, so only one is typically required for a narrowbody aircraft. It is aimed at the regional and LCC market, particularly in Europe, where the unconnected portable wireless streaming model has recently become popular.

RJ McLaren, Systems Product Manager, said that the box is being sold to airline customers through third parties. “We are looking to create a reliable product line, so that customers can buy the same product in two years’ time. We make all our own components and we control the quality. We want to be the hardware provider for this market.”

The open architecture of the box means that airlines can seamlessly switch between content providers, and it has an Ethernet port, which allows for the potential addition of low-level connectivity.

The box comes with a two-year warranty, extendable to five, with a 15-day service cycle to debug and replace components. Says McLaren: “It is not the cheapest box of its type on the market, but it is a more thought-through product for LCCs.”


Gategroup innovates with tech

April 9, 2019

gategroup and aircraft manufacturer Airbus have signed a cooperation agreement which will enable big data and analytics to be used across all areas of an airline’s business.

The cooperation will include a fully digital dynamic galley and optimised layout of passenger accommodation to allow innovative service redesigns and best use of space. The digital galley will support trolleys and galley inserts across the catering process – from airline to caterer, caterer to aircraft and aircraft to caterer and airline.

The new digital set up will allow data delivered by the trolleys and the connected galley to be linked in real-time and support inflight data processing.

Extensive post-flight data analytics will enable accurate future demand predictions across both individual flights and aircraft types.

The dynamic galley will enable galley inserts or equipment to be configured on a flight basis, entirely driven by the needs of each route or service concept.

The enhancement of the catering service will enable airlines to optimise the galley configuration, save space in the cabin and implement new service concepts designed by gategroup with its airline customers

“gategroup aims to introduce new and innovative technologies that transform how we and our customers operate,” says gategroup CEO, Xavier Rossinyol. “The connected galley experience is a breakthrough innovation for the market that will radically improve both the customer journey and the way cabin crew interact both with the cabin infrastructure and their guests.”


APEX ups its expo profile with FTE

April 9, 2019

The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) has agreed to acquisition terms for the purchase of Future Travel Experience (FTE), bringing the global events, media, and innovation hub company under APEX’s nonprofit direction. Alongside all of APEX’s current global events, APEX will now feature FTE Global, FTE Europe/Middle East/Africa (EMEA), FTE Ancillary, FTE Asia EXPO, FTE Media, and the FTE Innovation & Startup Hub.

With the acquisition of FTE, APEX will serve the end-to-end passenger experience with the International Flight Services Association (IFSA). This will allow APEX to immediately hit new levels of airline engagement and supplier participation while increasing the value the association provides to the entire industry from in-the-air to on-the-ground.

“APEX with FTE will effectively double our size, scope, and ability to be a more powerful driving force for industry change and collaboration serving all of our global members,” APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader stated. “The idea for this approach came from the APEX Board of Directors strategic planning session early last year. Combining the power of APEX, IFSA, and FTE together furthers our ability to inspire global air-transport stakeholders to accelerate the advancement of the future travel experience and in-flight service.”

APEX/IFSA members will continue to see the existing price structure for existing APEX and IFSA events in addition to discounted member rates for attending FTE events around the globe. The acquisition engagement is expected to increase the association’s overall membership, as well as significantly increase the overlap of attendance at regional events, by attracting new airlines, suppliers, and on-the-ground service providers to the organisation’s already robust membership.

“We have already enjoyed incredibly strong working relations with four years of in-depth partnership with APEX,” said FTE Founder Daniel Coleman. “I think the association has a huge role to play in driving important industry change that we are very proud to now more directly support. By teaming up, we can strengthen and amplify our respective propositions greatly. There remains a tremendous, real opportunity now to consolidate and build mega-events together in the territories of Asia-Pacific, EMEA, and the Americas to better serve our global industry.”

APEX members are encouraged to join the full slate of relevant, thought-leading FTE events around the globe. In addition, APEX airlines and technology leaders should engage with the FTE Innovation & Startup Hub.

APEX will maintain FTE’s branding, identity, innovation, and independence as the two organisations become more closely intertwined and integrated over a four-year time horizon.

Burrana sets out its stall

April 9, 2019

At the show, David Withers said that Burrana’s team of engineers in Brisbane and California have been busy developing the product roadmap for its cabin technologies, including the evolution of the PAVES and Glide IFE Systems.

Stuart Ketchion, vp Engineering, said: “Our current solutions are lightweight, low power and easy to install and the next generation solution will take these benefits to the next level. Our new super thin screens enable increased passenger space. They are available in 10”, 12”, 15” and 18” sizes (21”, 24” and 32” widebody) and all are 4k High Definition and High Dynamic Range ready.

“Also improving power efficiency is an updated lightweight Universal Seat Box that drives our range of screens and seat peripherals. Wireless IFE is also now part of our offering. Our configurable hybrid IFE solutions will continue to be a key area of our roadmap.” In addition, Burrana is now offering a wider range of Inflight mapping, including Airshow® ASXi, FlightPath3D and digEcor’s original MovingMap.

Withers said: “We start by listening to the customer and then devise a bespoke solution for them based on our 50 years of innovation experience. The question is, how do you supply the right technology to provide a premium experience to the aircraft?”

He added: “After the acquisition of the Collins Aerospace IFE portfolio, we are now number three in the IFEC space. We have a full suite of products but we are always innovating, and anticipating the future needs of passengers with investments in next generation product development.”


Gogo focuses on 2Ku installations

April 9, 2019

At the show, Blane Boynton, svp Product Management, said: “Gogo is proud of the 1000+ 2Ku installations we’ve completed over the course of the past two years. Our remaining backlog of approximately 1000 2Ku installs is a testament to 2Ku’s ability to deliver industry leading connectivity experiences to the world’s leading airlines for many years to come.”

All the new installations had the new modem, which significantly improves performance, so that with the new generation of HTS satellites, speeds to the aircraft are up to 100 Mbps. The 200 aircraft flying with JAL and Delta with Gogo Ku connectivity have also all been fitted with the new modem.

Boynton said that Live TV had now been installed on five airlines: American, Delta, JAL, GOL and JTA. “We try to deliver innovation to give passengers consistent experience across the fleet, so our IPTV works on both the 2Ku and the Ku-connected aircraft,” said Boynton.

Gogo has also developed its Captive Portal, a service it has delivered to Delta. The more direct route through to connectivity has reportedly increased the takeup rate significantly.

Boynton said that the company is also a major supporter of Free Messaging, which has been taken up by Delta and Alaska Airlines, and now by Aeromexico on its 2Ku-connected planes. This service gives a period of free connectivity for simple communications, sponsored by the airline or phone company, and often improves takeup rates for the full connectivity service.


New Wellness app from Etihad and Panasonic

April 9, 2019

Etihad Airways and Panasonic Avionics Corporation took advantage of the AIX show in Hamburg to announce a partnership to jointly develop and trial wellness solutions to enhance the traveller experience.

Etihad will be the first airline to trial Panasonic’s new wellness solution, the Jet Lag Adviser, developed in collaboration with Detalytics. The solution will be integrated into the airline’s passenger app.

The Jet Lag Adviser takes a range of passenger inputs including chronotype, circadian rhythms, height, weight, the nature of travel, and travel information such as flight times, routes and zones and uses its artificial intelligence engine to produce personalised jet lag plans. Each plan incorporates the pre-flight, flight and post-flight phases, and provides a schedule of recommendations for specific times in each phase on what to do to reduce jet lag, such as sleeping, exposure to light, exercise, hydration, and what food to consume.

Throughout each phase, the Jet Lag Adviser will send reminders of recommended actions to passengers via the app. Panasonic’s full Wellness solution includes a comprehensive Soundscapes feature, with customisable relaxing music options from ‘Japanese Garden’ to ‘Irish Coast’. A link to the Marketplace module enables sales of useful travel paraphernalia such as eyeshades, pillows, toothbrushes, etc.

Robin Kamark, Etihad Aviation Group cco, said: “With the Jet Lag Advisor, we can now leverage artificial intelligence to improve the travel experience. This will be the first of many wellness initiatives we will explore together.”

Hideo Nakano, ceo of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “We are delighted to be working with Etihad Airways to introduce technology that can help their passengers reduce jet lag, and so enhance their travel experience.”


Reporting from the AIX show in Hamburg

April 3, 2019

At the Passenger Experience Conference that opened the AIX show in Hamburg, Joe Leader, ceo of APEX, spoke of how the main change from last year was the advances airlines had made in individualising the passenger experience, and how more Ancillary Revenue attaches to this. He mentioned how Etihad, for example, was experimenting with adding business-class touches to its Economy class.

Leader had assembled a heavy-hitting lineup of airline ceos to kick off the conference. Johanna A Bergi of Faroe Islands carrier Atlantic Airways spoke of how the adoption of the AirFi wireless streaming service with its mix of films, news, kids’ entertainment suited the airline’s profile, and how it was the launch partner for Airfi’s low-bandwidth-and-proud-of-it LEO connectivity service.

Christian Lange, chief digital officer, Lufthansa Group, emphasised the importance of new technologies in helping achieve the key ‘brilliant basics’,: being on time, cleanliness of cabin, and ecological footprint. He said how aircraft interiors could learn vital lessons from car interior design, the other place where we spend long hours with the common objectives to rest, communicate, be fed and entertained. Car design was on a turnaround of about 18 months, a fraction of aircraft design time. Lange: “We must speed up our innovative cycles – and not just by 10%.”

Juha Jarvinen, executive vp of commercial at Virgin Atlantic Airlines, gave an insight into their Velocity programme for the next three years to 2021, and their bid to be the ‘most loved travel company’. Jarvinen said that though digital technology was important, it was easy for your competitors to copy, while the focus should be on the people in your company and their positive personal interaction with the passengers. VAA now encourage their cabin crew to ‘be themselves’, no longer with the emphasis on looks, so that they can decide whether or not to wear makeup. This they call ‘Red on the inside’. ‘Red on the outside’ refers to their new routes to expand their long-haul network, to Sao Paolo and Tel Aviv. ‘Best in partnering’ refers to their recent acquisition of FlyBe and its 8.5 million customers, to enhance their European and UK network.

In a later session, Creating the Complete Digital and Physical Journey, Anne de Hauw of InAir Travel Experience reminded the audience that “Time is your passenger’s most valuable resource.” She supported Jarvinen’s view of the role of the airline staff. “Airlines should be selling meaningful and authentic experiences and you have to rely on your crew for this. The service has to be excellent and technology is the enabler. The premiumisation of the experience comes from the human crew.”

PXCom launches consultancy

April 3, 2019

PXCom has launched its new 360° consulting offering to the IFEC industry at the AIX show in Hamburg.

For six years, PXCom’s flagship solution, XPLore by PXCom, has been enabling airlines and their partners to manage any kind of content regardless of the hardware platform. It also delivers editorial and sponsored content to passengers throughout the entire journey via various channels (mobile, web, and IFEC).
Its comprehensive Inflight Services platform is aimed at both the passengers and the airline crew, in the air as well as on the ground. This benefits airlines by reducing IFEC costs, improving the passenger experience and generating direct and indirect ancillary revenues.

Relying on the expertise it has developed through a variety of managed projects, PXCom is now offering airlines what it describes as a platform agnostic one-stop-shop consultancy experience.

Cyril Jean, PXCom’s ceo and co-founder, explains: “At PXCom we don’t claim to have the full range of expertise internally. However, we federate more than 40 partners ranging from hardware testing to passenger marketing. Thanks to that, our customers benefit from independent consulting of the utmost value, from very specific topics, to a full project management support, enabling them to take the best decisions meeting their expectations, requirements and constraints.”
Meet PXCom at AIX Hamburg in the IFEC zone.


FlightPath3D launches big data apps

April 3, 2019

Moving map company FlightPath3D announced just in advance of the AIX show in Hamburg that it is launching two new big data driven apps. The Favorite Places app enables passengers to see what destination experiences are trending or search for new ideas. Experiences are prioritised based on billions of travellers’ social media records to show what’s popular, make recommendations and create a wish list.

FlightPath3D president Duncan Jackson said: “There are literally billions of experiences being consumed each year driving demand for travel. Instagram, for example, has 100 million new photos every single day. Airlines that leverage this rise in available data can create a competitive advantage that will leave other airlines behind.”

Where We Fly can filter flights and routes for a passenger-specific search and show the flight schedule and daily flight times within a calendar view. Flight and route data are stored aboard the aircraft, eliminating the need to constantly stream data. With inflight connectivity, passengers can see pricing, seat availability and make flight bookings.

“The data gathered from passengers’ searches can help an airline plan routes, rank destinations, and find out what’s important to passengers when booking a trip,” says Jackson.

FlightPath3D’s moving maps are currently available to 275 million passengers. Says FlightPath3D ceo Boris Veksler: “We’ve been working hard in our labs using billions of data sets to make the passenger feel more understood and allow airlines to collect valuable data from those same passengers.”


Retail inMotion acquires mCabin app

March 20, 2019

Ireland-based Retail inMotion has bought the mCabin app from Lufthansa Systems to optimise crew processes onboard. Retail inMotion will integrate the mCabin software modules into its own digital retail platform in order to reinforce and extend its capabilities.

The mCabin application is designed to enable crew productivity and promote effective crew management in-flight, and has modules that help crew members give passengers a more personalised service. A purser, or cabin manager, can use the crew-facing mCabin application to manage required tasks before, during and after a flight. mCabin gives real-time information on the other crew members on board and also any passengers with special requirements or rewards status. From a back-office perspective, mCabin offers services to support crew management, including service reports, crew reviews, maintenance information and feedback collection.

Retail inMotion and Lufthansa Systems, under the influence of parent company the Lufthansa Group, have been cooperating for several years to maximise synergies within the areas of inflight entertainment and ancillary revenue generation.

Jan Blanchard, cco Retail inMotion, said: “The vision we have for the Retail inMotion digital retail platform is coming alive more and more each day. The integration of mCabin is a major milestone in the expansion of our platform’s competencies with special functionalities for crew members.”

Fabian Prange, senior director Business Development & Innovation at Lufthansa Systems, commented: “We are pleased that we have found a new home for our mCabin app within the Lufthansa Group where it can continue to grow. With this minor portfolio adaptation we are continuing our focus onto enabling airlines to achieve operational and commercial excellence in their core processes.”


SKYdeals get onboard

March 20, 2019

French shoppertainment startup SKYdeals is strengthening its ties with Air France to launch a pilot of its technology on several medium and long-haul routes.

The e-commerce platform is available on long, medium and short-haul flights equipped with an internet connection to travellers from all countries: North America, South America, Europe, North Africa, Middle East, Asia and Oceania.

Julien Sivan, CEO of SKYdeals, says: “We are pleased that Air France is giving SKYdeals the opportunity to deploy our new inflight shoppertainment services. From now on, we can experience a large number of preferred offers to passengers. It will be interesting to measure the evolution of buying behaviors on board, which is a world premiere. We would like to thank Air France for their trust and support. With the arrival of Wi-Fi on the majority of the fleets worldwide, we hope to be able to reach an audience of more than 200 million passengers a year within five years.”

Shoppertainment is freely accessible from any device, and available to passengers from Air France Connect, the connectivity portal of Air France.

It allows brands to promote preferred offers to passengers during the time of their flight and can target offers based on the travellers’ profiles and destination. Premium brands or confidential brands, already present or not duty free, have the opportunity to offer passengers a series of exclusive offers on the platform, up to 50% off.

Options can include Flyover offers triggered according to the area and the country overflown and only available during the flyover time; Group Buying offers: passengers on the same flight can be grouped together to obtain more advantageous offers; Flash sales valid for just 15 minutes and Flying Auctions: Real auctions lasting the time of the flight.

ECR Retail Systems

March 20, 2019

ECR Retail Systems, specialists in secure mobile payment solutions has launched a new slimline hand-held device offering a more customer-centric and personalised experience.

The new GoFree device offers a complete inflight Point of Sale solution by supporting all inflight sales including IFE, stock management, logistics, passenger loyalty, staff rostering, crew commissions and extensive reporting
enabling in-depth data mining.

It is designed to help airlines increase revenue and drive crew engagement to deliver a customer-centric approach and enhance the customer experience.


Anevia and Quadrille offer OTT by satellite

March 13, 2019

Anevia, provider of over-the-top (OTT) and internet protocol (IPTV) software solutions, and Quadrille, specialising in file and live content by satellite, have partnered to offer OTT live streams to smart devices over satellite links. The joint solution promises to enable content providers and operators to offer live-TV services where they were previously unavailable due to limited bandwidth – such as high-speed trains, inflight, and off-shore sites.

The OTT-over-satellite solution includes Anevia’s Genova smart transcoder and NEA-LIVE packager to prepare live channels. The OTT stream is delivered via satellite using Quadrille’s QuadriLive™. On the receiving side, Anevia’s Flamingo embeds Quadrille’s software to re-transform the signal and enable a multi-screen viewing experience on any smart device. This scalable TV solution promises ultra-low latency and high-quality video services.

Xavier Battas, ceo Quadrille, said: “Quadrille is a leader in delivering content over the air, so our DNA has always been broadcast. Working alongside Anevia is an excellent opportunity to expand our OTT offerings to help content providers keep up with consumer expectations and their viewing habits.”

Ivonne Prugnaud, vp Sales Worldwide Enterprise, Anevia, added: “Consumers increasingly want to watch TV anywhere, at any time, all with a high-quality viewing experience. From live streaming to video on demand, the growing partnership between Quadrille and Anevia will help service providers deliver a unique experience across any network.”


Immfly moves into Asia

March 5, 2019

Digital connected services and IFE company Immfly has announced that it is expanding its operations into Asia. Immfly, which has a reach of over 65 million passengers with its current airline customers, including easyJet, IAG’s Iberia Express, Pegasus, and Sun Express, already covers more than 50 destinations on the Asian continent.

Immfly has begun recruiting locally, already contracting personnel established in Hong Kong. Establishing a local presence in Asia will enable Immfly to better serve aviation customers in the region.

Immfly’s IFE enables passengers to use their own smart personal devices instead of seatback systems, to enjoy curated content and services. Because the service does not rely on an external internet connection, airline customers can enjoy fast onboard streaming speeds at consistent quality.

Jimmy Martinez, co-founder of Immfly, commented: “It is clear Immfly can actively support Asian aviation customers as they look to benefit from a competitive edge with innovative operational solutions and profitable IFE strategies. Immfly continues to lead by demonstrating unrivalled bottom line results with its state-of-the-art Inflight Digital Services and IFE platforms. Establishing a local presence in Asia is part of our strategy as we expand and develop our relationships in key markets.”


Award Worthy films on BA

March 5, 2019

British Airways is launching a channel featuring award-winning and nominated films as part of its in-flight entertainment. The channel, named Award Worthy, features films that collectively won eleven BAFTAs and ten Oscars in this year’s awards season.

Films in the category include The Favourite, nominated for 12 Baftas and ten Oscars. The film scooped eight awards including ‘Best Actress’ at both ceremonies for Olivia Colman, who also appears in the British Airways safety video and in the airline’s most recent advertisement for BA100.

The channel also hosts Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which picked up 12 nominations and six awards across the two ceremonies, plus the most popular romantic drama of 2018, A Star is Born. Passengers can also enjoy award winners from previous seasons including Three Billboards outside of Ebbing, Missouri, Get Out, and cult classic The Godfather.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of Brand and Customer Experience, said: “We know that for many of our customers watching the latest films when they fly is a real treat they look forward to, so we make sure that we’re serving up the best the cinema has to offer.”

The IFE content on British Airways is updated regularly, with categories often added for major holidays or key calendar events – a ‘Wonder Women’ channel is also available for the month of March to celebrate International Women’s Day. The Award Worthy category is available on approximately two-thirds of the long-haul fleet inflight entertainment systems. Other systems will have a selection of the content.


El Al wifi on US flights

February 27, 2019

Israeli airline El Al has launched its new wifi service on flights across the Atlantic. The onboard connectivity is supplied by the ViaSat-2 satellite, which provides a fast Ka-band service. It is available on El Al’s eight new B787 Dreamliners, eight B737-900s and two B737-800 aircraft.

El Al ceo Gonen Usishkin said: “We are well aware of our customers’ needs and interests in having an onboard reliable wifi system. We are proud to present the best inflight wifi product – delivered by our partner Viasat – that will enable connectivity for our passengers flying from Israel to north American destinations.”

El Al offers three in-flight wifi packages – Basic, Social and Business – which can be purchased during the flight through the El Al wifi portal. The service is free to El Al’s top Platinum Matmid members.


Inflight VR on Iberia

February 19, 2019

Inflight VR is taking part in a six-month trial to incorporate virtual reality technology on Iberia aircraft. Virtual reality devices will be available for passengers to hire on Iberia’s two daily Madrid-New York flights in its Airbus A350-900s, and on the daily Madrid-Tel Aviv flight in an Airbus A330-200.

The second-generation Pico devices enable viewers to experience three-dimensional content in games, films, city travelogues, and documentaries, including dives into the depths of the Red Sea. Nikolas Jaeger, founder and md of Inflight VR, said: “We think virtual reality has a great potential and it can change the air passenger experience as a part of the in-flight entertainment programme. The viewer is no longer a mere observer, but can take a stroll in the city he or she will be visiting, or simply relax before arriving at the destination.”

Ignacio Toval, Iberia’s Digital Transformation director, commented: “We learned about Inflight VR through Hangar 51, IAG’s start-up accelerator programme. Since 2017, we’ve been working together to develop a VR solution that can offer a new experience to our customers. An important aspect of Iberia’s digital transformation push lies in the incorporation of new technologies and digital innovation during the entire travel experience, from the moment they think about buying a ticket to arrival at the destination.”

After an evaluation of the trial, a decision will be taken about expanding the service to other medium and long-haul Iberia routes.


AirFi launches DANCE24 onboard

February 19, 2019

Portable wireless IFE provider AirFi has launched DANCE24, an onboard dance music streaming platform. DANCE24 has the exclusive rights to live event streams and a catalogue of over 1200 hours of content from major festivals and global DJ talent. DANCE24 has also teamed up with trance DJ, Shane 54, to launch the new in-flight edition of International Departures, a weekly dance music radio show.

Martin Cunnison, gm and executive producer DANCE24, said: “DANCE24 went live initially to over 200 aircraft across 15 AirFi airline clients worldwide. DANCE24 taps into dance music’s massive global following, particularly skewing to a younger, digital native generation which increasingly we see more airlines and brands want to reach inflight.”

He added: “DANCE24 brings the biggest names in dance music to the captive and captivated in-flight marketplace, for the very first time. We’re really excited that DANCE24 will launch to over one million passengers in our very first month on AirFi. We’re making DANCE24 available on other major IFE systems and revealing a stack of fresh content and new user features too in the coming months.”

Cunnison says that last year more than 200 dance festivals were held in over 60 countries, drawing bigger live attendances than Formula 1 or the Winter Olympics, and generating over 5 billion global online streams.

DANCE24 has begun talks with potential advertisers and sponsors, to take advantage of these demographics. Fans using the platform will be able to compete for prizes such as back-stage passes, VIP meet and greets, and be able to buy tickets and merchandise, generating new ancillary revenues across the board.


Mapping service for Belgian National Railways

February 19, 2019

Belgian National Railways (SNCB) has launched an online map offering a real-time overview of nearly all passenger services running on the Belgian network.

The ‘Train Map’ enables passengers to search a route, train type, station or train number to view a live schedule, updates on possible delays, planned stops and platform numbers.


FlightPath3D celebrates 1,000th installation

February 12, 2019

FlightPath3D’s Moving Map has been chosen by over 50 airlines since its launch five years ago, and the company is now celebrating its 1,000th aircraft install. FlightPath3D delivers its award-winning 3D Moving Map on any IFE platform and to any passenger device.

FlightPath3D’s president, Duncan Jackson, said: “We’re delighted to have many airline customers flying with our wireless IFE map, including Southwest, Air Europa, Air France, All Nippon Airways, Air Arabia, Arkia, Jet Airways and WestJet.”

Commenting on the milestone, Alexis Capdevila, Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Manager at Air Europa, said: “We selected FlightPath3D as the map provider for our fleet as they have the most innovative feature-rich product, providing an immersive game-like 3D experience for our passengers, enabling them to follow the flight path, explore things to do at their destination, and for our younger travellers discover the animals of the world.”

Jackson continued: “Our use of personalisation and new artificial intelligence will enable passengers to travel globally like a local. For example, we’ve analysed hundreds of millions of traveller data points to recommend hyperlocal attractions in every town and back corner of the world and even sorted them by popularity – it looks amazing!”

“We also want to help airlines drive revenue, allowing passengers to explore flight times and destinations to promote airline ticket sales, and estimate journey times from aircraft to hotel to promote ground transportation partners. It’s a potent cocktail when you combine rich passenger experience features with revenue generating capabilities.”


Neos chooses Viasat IFC

February 12, 2019

Viasat has announced that its in-flight connectivity service will be offered on a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft operated by Neos, the Italian leisure airline. As well as tapping into Viasat’s high-capacity satellite network, Neos will also work with Viasat on a customised portal, giving passengers an easy interface to connect to the onboard wifi system.

Carlo Stradiotti, ceo Neos, said: “Viasat has a reputation for delivering superior, highly-reliable in-flight internet experiences – and we are happy to provide this level of service to all Neos guests today and well into the future. We’re excited about Viasat’s global communications roadmap – as we’ll have access to the world’s most advanced satellite systems to help realise our goal: to deploy fully connected capabilities across our entire modernised fleet.”

Neos will have access to Viasat’s current satellite communications systems: in North America as far as the Caribbean and tip of northern South America; over the Atlantic Ocean; in Europe, through its jointly-owned satellite; as well as the ViaSat-3 satellite constellation currently under development.

Don Buchman, vp and general manager Commercial Aviation at Viasat, said: “We’re driven to meet our airline partners’ current and future connectivity needs by bringing proven, scalable communications technology to their fleets. In working with Neos, we recognised their interest to bring a best-in-class and reliable in-flight internet experience to every passenger – with fast in-flight web browsing and rich online media streaming. We’re confident that our system’s superior capacity, consistency and growing reach will meet Neos’ long-term IFC requirements.”


Smart ticketing app for Japan

February 12, 2019

A new Hitachi smart ticketing App, currently operating in Tokyo and already handling 50m journeys a year across Japan, has been designed to aid inter-model travel.

It helps customers identify the cheapest fares, breaking down the costs by route, and even sends notifications about delays. Train companies also benefit in revenue protection from revolutionary check-in technology, so that when a customer joins a train a special beacon detects the passenger’s smart device, triggering the App to send information to a central system and confirm the journey. Eventually this means no barriers, less queues and far less resources used in checking tickets.


Free Apple Music on American Airlines

February 5, 2019

From February 1st, passengers on domestic American Airlines flights with in-flight connectivity supplied by Viasat can access their Apple Music accounts and stream songs, playlists and music videos free of charge. American is the first commercial airline to provide exclusive access to Apple Music through complimentary inflight wifi.

Passengers without an Apple Music subscription can sign up to a three-month free trial period while on board to get immediate access. Passengers can also tune in to American Airlines’ unique, city-themed playlists.

Oliver Schusser, vp Apple Music, said: “With the addition of Apple Music on American flights, we are excited that customers can now enjoy their music in even more places. Subscribers can stream all their favourite songs and artists in the air, and continue to listen to their personal library offline giving them everything they need to truly sit back, relax and enjoy their flight.”

Janelle Anderson, vp of Global Marketing at American Airlines, commented: “Our customers want to make the most of their time when flying with us. That’s why we’re investing in high-speed wifi, the newest movies, live TV and now Apple Music. Providing customers with more ways to stay connected throughout each flight is one way to show we value their business and the time they spend with us.”

American Airlines has so far installed high-speed in-flight wifi across 570 of its domestic aircraft, with the rest of the fleet due to be completed by the middle of this year. The airline is also adding free live TV on more than 400 domestic and 155 international aircraft.


Citilink offers free IFEC with Lufthansa Systems

February 5, 2019

In mid-January, the Indonesian low-cost carrier Citilink celebrated the official launch flight of its first aircraft with a free connectivity service – supplied by Lufthansa Systems working alongside Mahata Aero Teknologi with Inmarsat and Lufthansa Technik.

This is the first example of an initiative by Lufthansa Systems to work with technology partners to offer a flexible new refinancing approach for making on-board entertainment and Internet attractive to airlines of all sizes, with different business models. The e-commerce solution supplied by Mahata Aero Teknologi is based on commercial offers and advertising partners, generating revenues that refinance the Internet services. This makes it possible for airlines to offer their passengers free Internet access.

For Citilink, Inmarsat, the leading satellite provider, is supplying the broadband Internet connection with its global GX Aviation network, and Lufthansa Technik is providing the hardware and performing the installation design and certification. Citilink’s parent company, Garuda Indonesia, ordered the same setup for its fleet in December last year.

Iwan Setiawan, md of Mahata Aero Teknologi, said: “Lufthansa Systems brought us together with its partners Inmarsat and Lufthansa Technik so that we can cooperate with the world’s leading connectivity experts. The first two customers using our solution have shown that we can provide models to suit low-cost carriers as well as airlines with large fleets.”

Olivier Krüger, ceo Lufthansa Systems, commented: “We are very proud of these two projects and the successful cooperation with our partners. The demand for on-board Internet is very high particularly in the Asian market. The new financing models, which are tailored to the individual needs of each airline, also give rise to new opportunities and partnerships in the market.”


British Airways launches Valentines-themed IFE

February 5, 2019

British Airways is adding to its in-flight entertainment with its Valentine’s Day category – Love is in the Air.

The channel, which will run until the end of February, hosts a collection of romantic films, TV shows, audio books and music.

The film offering includes classics like Gone with the Wind to the newly released rom-com Crazy Rich Asians and the award winning The Shape of Water, Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, True Romance and more.

As part of its TV show offering, First Dates: Valentine’s Special is available for viewing as well as cult classic Sex and the City and some love themed episodes of Friends.

For audio book fans, author and biographer Sue Roe reads In Montparnasse while music lovers can enjoy Elgar and Finzi’s Violin Concertos and Lisa Stansfield’s album, Deeper.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience, said: “For many of our customers, being able to settle in to watch some latest film releases as well as much-loved classics is a real treat that they look forward to. Whether our customers are travelling with someone special or wanting to enjoy a good film, we look forward to welcoming them on board with our Love is in the Air channel.”


Lufthansa Group partners with Hopper on AI

January 29, 2018

The Lufthansa Group and the Lufthansa Innovation Hub have formed a research alliance with Hopper, an app-based flight price prediction and booking platform, focused on artificial intelligence (AI).

Founded in Montreal in 2007, Hopper runs one of the world’s most innovative travel booking apps. Its proprietary technology uses powerful machine learning and AI to accurately predict flight and hotel prices and offer its users personalised recommendations at the optimal booking time, as well as alternative travel offers.

With this research project, the two companies are entering into a long-term collaboration on predictive analytics models and flight-demand forecasting. The project will also use AI to learn more about customers’ preferences, in order to provide personalised recommendations about additional services or upgrades.

Christian Langer, vp digital strategy, Lufthansa Group, commented: “Hopper operates one of the world’s most successful flight booking apps and has developed a unique AI-based technology. With this research alliance, the Lufthansa Group is further expanding its expertise in this area. This will enable us to provide our customers with even better data-driven, tailor-made offers in the future. This is one of the central goals of our digital strategy for this year.”

Supported by this partnership with the Lufthansa Group, Hopper is continuing with the development of its technology and services. Its recent US $100 million financing round will help it to grow its global market presence.

Frederic Lalonde, ceo of Hopper, said: “We are thrilled to have Lufthansa Group and Lufthansa Innovation Hub as partners in research as we further our expansion into Europe. The combination of local market knowledge and dedication to exploring the upper bounds of AI makes this an ideal partnership for Hopper as we double down on our efforts to bring the best in travel booking to a global audience.”


digEcor rebrands as Burrana

January 22, 2019

On 18 January, digEcor officially acquired the commercial In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) business from Collins Aerospace (formerly Rockwell Collins) and has now rebranded as Burrana.

The acquisition brings together the PAVES family of seatback and overhead solutions, as well as PAVES™ On-demand, Total Entertainment System (TES), Enhanced Total Entertainment System (ETES) and content services, with digEcor’s GLIDE, Engage, Power, PSS and Lighting products. The combination will enable Burrana to offer a range of tried-and-tested solutions for airlines looking to deliver an enhanced passenger experience.

David Withers, ceo Burrana, said: “Burrana’s global employee base will deliver innovative cabin technologies reliably and affordably to the market, serving an installed base of more than 1,400 planes and 300 customers, positioning us as the number 3 player in the IFE market – and we are not stopping there. We will achieve our vision of taking the passenger experience to the next level by collectively bringing the right new technology to market and leveraging our engineering expertise and proven ability to rapidly develop and certify new products.”

JW Hill Capital, a California-based private equity company, supported digEcor in the transaction.


Bluebox Wow on Jeju Air

January 22, 2019

Jeju Air is soon to deploy Bluebox Wow portable wireless IFE across its fleet of Boeing B737-800s flying from Incheon airport to destinations such as: Bangkok, Guam, Saipan, Vientiane, Hong Kong, Macau, Kota Kinabalu and Da Nang. The new IFE service has been tested in a free trial to passengers onboard 10 aircraft, and will be rolled out to 39 planes in April 2019.

Bluebox Wow provides wireless content streamed to passenger devices, including a range of film, TV, audio, and games, accessed through any web browser. Bluebox Wow is a discrete, portable, lunchbox-sized unit stowed in overhead bins. The system now has the “KC Mark”, a mandatory certification scheme in South Korea that verifies safety as well as Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) and Radio Frequency (RF) requirements.

Kevin Clark, ceo Bluebox, commented: “We are excited to welcome Jeju Air to the growing list of airlines flying with Bluebox Wow. We’ve watched as Jeju Air has expanded its reach across Asia and how they innovate in so many areas, so it is an honour to be part of their growth story, and more importantly, that they’ve put their trust in Bluebox to enhance their passenger experience on board.”


Thales’s IFEC for Singapore Airlines

January 16, 2019

Singapore Airlines’ new A350-900 medium-haul aircraft started operations from Adelaide on December 17. The new fleet is equipped with the Thales AVANT inflight entertainment system and Inmarsat’s Global Xpress Ka-band satellite connectivity solution, which offers passengers high-speed broadband internet.

Thales’s AVANT IFE system provides passengers with a personalised inflight entertainment experience. The 40 Business Class passengers have 17-inch HD touchscreen monitors with a complementing handset that works like a smartphone, usable as a secondary device to control the seatback monitor. The 263 Economy Class seats feature the latest 11.6-inch touchscreen monitors.

Other features of AVANT include the Flight Info Map, which enables passengers to bring up flight info without exiting the media player.

Philippe Carette, ceo Thales InFlyt Experience, said: “At Thales, we are committed to enriching and expanding Singapore Airlines’ passenger experience through the digital transformation of airline services. Singapore Airlines leads the industry in aircraft innovation and we are proud to be partnering with them to create the ultimate inflight experience for their customers.”

Singapore Airlines’ myKrisWorld complements the new IFE system, offering
passengers over 1,800 movies, TV shows, audio selections, and interactive games. KrisFlyer members and premium passengers have access to additional content. Passengers can personalise preferences upon sign-in and bookmark partially watched films and TV shows to be resumed on subsequent flights.


Tech show gets set for Hamburg

January 16, 2019

The second edition of Passenger Technology Solutions (PTS) will showcase latest tech innovations designed to enhance the passenger experience.

With almost a third of airlines now estimated to be running major Artificial Intelligence (AI) programmes and 59% investigating opportunities to implement blockchain solutions, PTS will open in Hamburg during Passenger Experience Week ‪from 2-4 April 2019‬‬.

Game-changing new technologies will be on show both within the exhibition and from the PTS seminar theatre where last year the l