Onboard tech news

Panasonic Avionics’ first XTS satellite goes live

February 17, 2021

Panasonic Avionics has announced a major evolution in its inflight connectivity offering as its first extreme high throughput satellite (XTS) enters service over the Asia-Pacific region.

The APSTAR-6D satellite is Panasonic Avionics’ latest investment in inflight connectivity for passengers on commercial aircraft. It is an integral part of its third-generation communications (Gen-3) network of high speed, high bandwidth Ku-band satellites, placing capacity where it is most needed to meet the growing needs of airlines and their passengers.

Panasonic Avionics is set to complete the upgrade of the 2,544 aircraft installed with its connectivity service to its Gen-3 network within the next month. Over 1,000 commercial aircraft are committed to being installed with its connectivity services and linked to the Gen-3 network from the outset.

Connectivity is integral to the success of Panasonic Avionics and enables a wide range of services to airlines and their passengers. In addition to inflight wifi, these include Live Television with the world’s only global live sports channels delivered in partnership with IMG, an integrated solution with OneMedia to deliver real-time ads, real-time transactions that open up a huge range of in-flight retail possibilities, and the ability to personalise the passenger experience through solutions such as Panasonic Avionics’ Companion App and much more.

Ken Sain, chief executive officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said, “Today is a milestone moment for Panasonic Avionics as we go live with the newest generation of in- flight connectivity. Our third-generation communications network delivers the targeted, flexible use of extreme high throughput capacity, ensuring we can meet the needs of our airline customers with cost-effective and reliable high bandwidth services well into the future.”


IdeaNova Technologies introduces Inplay Video Chat

February 10, 2021

IdeaNova Technologies has introduced Inplay Video Chat function to its IFE portal, allowing passengers to communicate with crew and watch inflight entertainment with friends and family – all whilst respecting safety guidelines that limit passenger movement around the cabin.

Inplay Video Chat is an extension of the text chat. With a click of a button, passengers can initiate video communication with their friends or crew, creating a friendly atmosphere interacting safely and digitally onboard – ensuring passengers can fly with confidence.

Inplay Video Party brings new functionality for the next generation of flying affecting how passengers not only interact with their entertainment options, but also each other. Together passengers can enjoy their favourite movies and TV shows, allowing for better engagement between friends and family while taking advantage of all IFE content onboard.

IdeaNova DRM infrastructure has gone through many changes driven by self-driven need for new features and better performance as well as by external changes imposed by vendors such as Google, Microsoft and Apple. Inplay Portal has recently been enhanced with Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) compliant advertising features giving airlines another revenue stream option.

“Our mission has always been to create beautiful products that enrich the passenger journey and that is no exception with Inplay Video Chat. This time, we are making it both enjoyable and safe” says Juraj Siska, IdeaNova CEO.

“Introducing this new functionality is exactly within airlines highest priorities – moving us forward towards safe travel again. The continued innovation in our airline industry will help us to exceed previous passenger experience and bring new innovation to the cabin. Together with the newly released ad serving functionality we provide a combination of safe and income generation features.”


Qatar Airways upgrades IFEC experience with Thales

February 10, 2021

Qatar Airways has announced that it is upgrading its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner fleet with the latest Thales AVANT IFE system, aiming to provide “the best inflight experience” to its passengers.

The upgrade includes the latest High Definition (HD), capacitive touch screen technology enabling passengers to seamlessly navigate the graphical user interface (GUI) using familiar gestures from their smartphone or tablet. The lightweight screens are two to three times brighter than the former technology, featuring more than 16 million colours for an enhanced viewing experience.

The AVANT system offers a large selection of features and applications with high capacity servers to store over a terabyte of media content including the latest HD movies, TV show episodes and music collections. Business class passengers will enjoy 17-inch Full HD touch screens, while the main cabin will feature the same high-quality experience with 12-inch smart displays.

Qatar Airways Senior Vice President, Marketing & Corporate Communications, Salam Al Shawa, said: “As a leader of innovation within the global aviation industry, we are always looking for ways to further enrich our already exceptional 5-Star on board experience for passengers. With the latest in-flight technology, including lightweight screens, greater content storage and full HD touch screens, we are delighted to work with Thales in bringing the most advanced AVANT IFE system on board our Boeing 787-8 fleet.”

Thales has developed an upgrade programme to adapt the existing legacy system to incorporate new AVANT screens and servers into the existing seats and aircraft infrastructure. This turnkey approach includes delivery of full seat modification, hardware and all required certifications, as well as the ability to leverage media integration commonality across the Qatar Airways’ fleet equipped with AVANT.

Philippe Carette, Chief Executive Officer, Thales Inflyt Experience, commented: “Qatar Airways continues to be a leader in the recovery of the aviation industry, maintaining a paramount commitment to service and to the enrichment of the passenger journey. Together we have developed a turnkey upgrade program with a seamless customer experience and continued installation despite the crisis. With the AVANT IFE system, passengers on Qatar Airways Boeing B787-8 aircraft will enjoy a 5-star experience.”

This article was originally published by Future Travel Experience

British Airways trials VeriFLY

February 3, 2021

British Airways will begin trialling a new travel health app, VeriFLY, with customers who are eligible to travel between London and the US from February 4.

The new digital health travel passport, which can be downloaded to a mobile device, is designed to offer peace of mind before travel by checking customers meet the entry requirements of their destination by providing digital health document verification and confirming eligibility. Use of the VeriFLY app will be optional and customers will also continue to be able to evidence they meet the US entry requirements at check-in.

The trial follows the recent announcement that American Airlines now allows all customers to use VeriFLY when they are travelling to the US from all international destinations. Since American became the first airline to use VeriFLY in November for selected routes, thousands of customers have travelled using the app, with many providing positive feedback to the airline on its ease of use.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ CEO said: “Although flying is currently restricted, it is essential we do as much as we can now to help those who are eligible to fly and prepare to help our customers navigate the complexities around changing global entry requirements when the world re-opens.

“We remain focused and committed to finding user-friendly, evidence-based solutions to make journeys as seamless they can be. Through these trials, we hope to provide travellers and governments on both sides of the Atlantic with the tools and the reassurance they need to make safe travel possible.”

VeriFLY will allow people to combine travel verification documents and Covid-19 test results in one place, ensuring travellers are fully compliant with the entry requirements for their destination before leaving home. Certified customers will be fast-tracked through the airport where specially designated desks will be available for check in.

VeriFLY can be downloaded to a customer’s mobile device. After creating a secure profile, the platform prompts customers to confirm their flight information, upload details of a negative Covid-19 test result and any other essential documentation. The software confirms the test matches the country’s regulations with a simple ‘Pass’ or ‘Fail’ message.


FTS to provide inflight connectivity for MSFL

February 3, 2021

FTS, a provider of wireless Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity solutions announced that it has signed a cooperation agreement with Minsheng Financial Leasing (“MSFL”) to provide an inflight highspeed connectivity solution for MSFL’s fleet of more than 300 aircraft.

The agreement was sealed in a signing ceremony held on December 11 2020 at the FTS headquarter in Beijing. By the end of 2019, China had a total fleet of 464 operational business jets, making the country the largest operator of business jets in Asia-Pacific. While the pandemic was wreaking havoc to the commercial aviation industry, the business jet charter market was thriving and carried on key functions such as medical, logistics and appeal especially to the VIP and corporate travel market.

MSFL claims to be the largest overall financial service provider of corporate jets in Asia, with more than 90% of China’s cooperate aircraft market share. It has partnerships with all major aircraft manufacturers like Gulfstream, Dassault, Bombardier, Embraer, Airbus, Boeing and its fleet of around 300 aircraft are serving in China, Asia Pacific region and other European countries.

FTS’s XStreamSAT Kaband satellite connectivity system has received CAAC, EASA and FAA STC certifications and was successfully launched on Qingdao Airlines A320 aircraft. Under this cooperation agreement, FTS and MSFL will collaborate to develop full-scale connected aircraft and digitalisation solutions for MSFL’s current and future corporate jet fleet. This project shall include (but not limited to): aircraft satellite broadband connectivity systems, inflight entertainment systems, smart cabin management, inflight IOT and ground operations platform.


IMG and Panasonic extend inflight partnership

January 27, 2021

IMG and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) have extended their agreement in a deal that will see the technology partner make Sport 24 – the world’s only live 24/7 sports channel for the inflight industry – available to all airlines worldwide.

Panasonic will exclusively market both Sport 24 and its sister channel Sport 24 Extra to airlines using other connectivity networks for the first time, enabling the service to be shown on any carrier featuring inflight entertainment.

Richard Wise, SVP, content and channels, IMG Media, said: “This latest agreement with Panasonic will bring Sport 24 to millions more passengers across more global airlines in the years ahead. This new deal also conveys the confidence both parties have in the recovery of the airline industry after the pandemic, especially now that vaccines are being rolled out around the world.”

Ken Sain, chief executive officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “Our long-standing relationship with IMG enables us to broadcast live sports coverage to passengers all over the world. Watching sport live in-flight creates unforgettable moments for passengers and we’re delighted to be able to exclusively provide this service to airlines, no matter which connectivity network they are using.”

Sport 24 is available on Panasonic’s market-leading live television service, which is broadcast via satellite. In 2021, Sport 24 will show live coverage of the world’s major sporting events, including the rescheduled UEFA Euro 2020, Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Ryder Cup, in addition to UEFA Champions League, Premier League, NBA, NFL, NHL, Tennis Grand Slams and Golf’s Majors.

IMG, which owns and operates Sport 24, launched the service in February 2012. Both Sport 24 and Sport 24 Extra are produced from IMG’s production HQ at Stockley Park, near London’s Heathrow Airport.


New AI functionality by the WE by West platform

January 27, 2021

West Entertainment (West), a specialist inflight entertainment content service provider, has announced the new AI functionality of its platform WE by West, following its partnership with Qloo.

WE by West, West’s workflow engine, is a central platform offered to airline clients and key partners, where stakeholders can inform and manage all tasks due and accomplished, increasing efficiency while providing visibility and transparency on all steps of the process. Users can search content availabilities, watch trailers, read reviews and select the content from their phone, laptop or tablet, as well as track orders and access financials and reports for each programming cycle.

Following the partnership with Qloo and based on its 750 billion plus cultural correlations already mapped by its AI engine, WE by West will now also predict consumer tastes. For each title selected on the platform, WE by West will provide West’s airline clients with a number of recommendations for movies, TV shows and music, all based on the title initially selected. This, along with West’s Data and Analytics solution, will enable West to help its clients strengthen their customer satisfaction.


Malaysia Airlines launches new online shopping platform

January 20, 2021

As part of its Enrich frequent flyer programme, Malaysia Airlines has introduced a new online shopping platform called Enrich Shoppe.

Powered by RebateMango, Enrich Shoppe provides an easy and quick way for Enrich members in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Philippines to earn Enrich Miles for purchases from over 500 famous e-commerce brands such as Tumi, Sephora, Michael Kors, Watsons, JD Sports, Uniqlo, Cotton On, and many more.

The airline says that the initiative adds significant value and provides convenience for Enrich members to instantly earn up to 10X Enrich Miles earned for every US$1 spent on the new shopping platform.

The acquired Enrich Miles can then be utilised to redeem flights, hotel stays via Enrich Hotels and Temptations’ inflight duty-free products, as well as a variety of lifestyle vouchers, exclusive dining vouchers or seat upgrades and Golden Lounge Access.

Malaysia Airlines’ Group Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer Lau Yin May said: “Online shopping has become the better alternative these days, especially now in light of the current restrictions and the second phase of the movement control order in Malaysia, hence we embarked on this collaboration with RebateMango to meet customers’ preferences. This partnership is a great opportunity for customers to enjoy a safe and seamless shopping experience with their favourite brands from the comfort of home and to be rewarded with Enrich Miles for the four million Enrich members when they shop with Enrich Shoppe. As we continue to provide more options and flexibility to earn Enrich Miles, we believe this latest addition will be rewarding for our members. If you are not a member yet, sign up as Enrich member now which is absolutely free of charge to start enjoying many exclusive benefits by Enrich!”

Paul Koh, co-founder of RebateMango, added: “Once again, we are able to integrate a valuable partner in the rewards space and enhance their offering to members in a cost-effective and non-tech-heavy way. We are delighted to launch with Malaysia Airlines and look forward to their members being able to earn more Enrich Miles whenever they shop online!”

RebateMango has already seen success in its standalone B2C platform, which is currently live in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Philippines, with plans to expand further. Members of the RebateMango platform can choose from a choice of rewards such as cashback, air miles and points from some of the most popular brands.


This article was originally published by Future Travel Experience

Ricochet Digital Media partners with West Entertainment

January 20, 2021

West Entertainment has been chosen by Ricochet Digital Media (Ricochet) to supply technical services for airline and maritime markets.

Ricochet is an independent film distribution company for both airlines and cruise ships, formed by industry experts Delisa Hudson and Jason Szymanski.

Ricochet’s first new release title is Chick Fight, available for April bookings. The company also has a vast library of great Classic titles that have been acquired from Jaguar Distribution.

West will provide technical services including digital asset management, mastering, audio and video editing, language localization and origination services, encoding and transcoding for all IFE and maritime deliverables.

Delisa Hudson, partner at Ricochet states: “Ricochet Digital Media is looking forward to bringing quality content to the travel industry, in the form of new release titles or the Jaguar film library. I’ve known the team at West for a long time. They are highly qualified industry experts and have a state-of-the-art lab which combined with their exceptional service and on time delivery meets our needs perfectly.”

Shafin Virji, VP labs at West says: “We are excited to service Ricochet’s non-theatrical post-production lab requirements. West is the lab of choice for independent distributors, based on our understanding of their sales strategy and their needs for technical proficiency, flexibility and on-time delivery.”


European Aviation Network reaches 250 aircraft

January 20, 2021

The European Aviation Network can now be accessed by passengers on more than 250 aircraft, highlighting its accelerated rollout since entering commercial service.

The connectivity solution has been available to over 20 million passengers to date, travelling on more than 200,000 flights throughout Europe, covering key destinations such as London, Madrid, Barcelona, Geneva and Rome. It is currently available with British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, which are all part of International Airlines Group (IAG).

EAN has been developed by Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom, in partnership with leading European companies such as Thales, Nokia, Airbus, Cobham and Eclipse Technics.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “EAN has transformed the inflight broadband market in Europe, offering unprecedented performance that has been truly embraced by airlines and their passengers. Usage has consistently increased since it entered commercial service and EAN experienced record data traffic in the summer and autumn months last year, reflecting an even stronger desire to stay connected amongst passengers flying during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“An important factor in crossing more than 250 aircraft activations, including British Airways’ entire short-haul fleet, has been the record-breaking installation time we have achieved with EAN – less than nine hours per aircraft. This will ensure a smooth rollout on remaining IAG aircraft and we’re excited that even more passengers will soon have access to the industry’s best-in-class inflight connectivity, providing the same quality of broadband that people expect on the ground, from the comfort of their cabin.”


Airbus signs multi-satellite contract with Intelsat

January 13, 2021

Airbus has signed a contract with Intelsat to build two OneSat satellites operating in multiple frequency bands for Intelsat’s next-generation software-defined network. The contract was signed on December 31 2020.

The satellites will be based on Airbus’ OneSat product line, the latest generation of fully flexible, in orbit reconfigurable, Software Defined Satellites (SDS).

Airbus will deliver an end-to-end fully integrated solution, including design and manufacture of the satellites. The ground segment software components, when fully integrated into Intelsat’s next-generation software defined network ecosystem and advanced digital suite will allow dynamic operation of end-to-end satellite resources. The two next generation SD satellites will be delivered in 2023.

Jean-Marc Nasr, head of Airbus Space Systems, said: “This important contract with our long-standing and valued partner Intelsat, has a special significance for Airbus. With six satellites now in production – plus options – for three major operators, OneSat has proven that when it comes to fully reconfigurable satellites, Airbus is the winning choice. Our new industrial capabilities put in place at our sites across Europe, together with our solid experience in Eurostar geostationary satellites and mega-constellation manufacturing, will enable production of our truly disruptive OneSats at an unrivalled pace.”

The Airbus Software Defined satellites will deliver powerful performance for Intelsat customers across multiple geographic regions. This agreement also marks the beginning of a radical evolution of Intelsat’s network; Intelsat is pursuing an aggressive, multi-year network transformation plan with investments in new assets that are designed for extremely high speeds, enhanced capacity flexibility, redundancy and backwards compatibility.

Intelsat chief executive officer Stephen Spengler said: “Intelsat’s investment in Airbus software defined satellites marks an important first step in evolving the world’s largest, most resilient, integrated space and ground network. Intelsat’s next-generation software-defined network will be the catalyst for our growth, enabling future Gogo Commercial Aviation inflight broadband services, as well as other managed services across Intelsat’s customer segments.”


ThinKom completes successful over-the-air tests

January 13, 2021

ThinKom Solutions recently completed successful over-the-air tests of a pair of 17-inch active diameter K/Q-band phased-array antennas communicating through an Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite.

The tests verified that the antenna, based on ThinKom’s patented Variable Inclination Continuous Transverse Stub (VICTS) architecture, meets or exceeds all performance metrics for operating effectively with the frequency-hopping waveform of the AEHF protected communications satellite network.

A broad range of uplink and downlink communication plans and modes were tested on an operational K/Q-band satellite, exercising full 1 GHz and 2GHz “hopped” bandwidths. The VICTS antennas successfully acquired, tracked, logged on and joined downlink and uplink services in all cases at elevation angles from 24 to 73 degrees.

“The stabilized beam of the VICTS antenna eliminates the need for ‘de-hopping,’ requiring substantially less processing power than electronically steered antennas and given that VICTS is the only phased-array technology that can work with very widespread waveforms, it uniquely enables use on new communication waveforms such as the Protected Tactical Waveform,” said Bill Milroy, chairman and CTO of ThinKom Solutions.

The conformal flat-panel VICTS phased-array antennas can be cavity mounted on a variety of aero, naval and land-mobile platforms, according to Milroy.

The constellation of six AEHF satellites provides secure, survivable, jam-resistant and near-worldwide satellite communications for U.S. sea, ground and air assets.


Smartvel adds Covid entry restrictions to its content solution

January 6, 2021

Smartvel, a B2B SaaS tech company specialised in destination content solutions for the travel industry, has retrained its AI technology to gather Entry Restrictions to travel due to the pandemic.

This can help companies give their travellers peace of mind about regulations, something crucial to restore confidence to travel.

Smartvel’s AI gathers the latest information from reliable sources, official websites and institutions such as IATA Timatic, and enhances the content by adding more information from Government sites and other official bodies.
It checks and validates all the sources of information within the system every hour in order to ensure everything is updated, resulting in more than 5000 checks daily.

It also offers a Covid-19 Safety Index, allowing passengers to check how affected a certain country or region is in a heat map. It provides a comprehensive ratio with total new daily cases in the last 14 days per 100,000 inhabitants, and a projection using R0 ratio and different levels of confidence for the next 5, 10 and 20 days with a SEIRS model.

Customers are able to decide which regions or destinations to include.


Etihad Airways partners with PressReader

December 16, 2020

Etihad Airways has partnered with PressReader, an all-you-can-consume digital newspaper and magazine platform.

The new partnership brings global content to Etihad’s international passengers wherever they fly worldwide. Access will open to guests 30 hours before flight time, unlocking more than 7,000 newspapers and magazines from 120 countries in over 60 languages.

Through PressReader’s digital platform, passengers also access features such as offline reading, audio listening, and translation of publications into 21 languages for those travellers who wish to read in their dialect of choice (including Arabic).

“As part of our commitment to reducing the spread of COVID-19, we removed high-touch surfaces including printed newspapers and magazines from the customer journey and enhanced the experience by partnering with PressReader,” notes Terry Daly, executive director guest experience, brand & marketing, Etihad Aviation Group.

“To encourage a contactless experience, this new partnership gives our guests choice and convenience to download as many digital publications as they would like, before their flight, to read at home, across our lounges, at the airport, or during their flight.”

A strong commitment to the customer experience and sustainability brought Etihad to PressReader from a previous digital platform. The switch was motivated by Etihad’s wish to offer the widest selection of choice and best reading experience to their passengers while moving to 100% digital.

“We’re thrilled to bring quality publications to Etihad travellers wherever their journey takes them,” notes Alex Kroogman, CEO, PressReader Group of Companies. “With the largest selection of publications globally to choose from, we’re personalising the guest experience with relevant content. With our solution, that’s possible not just inflight, but also before and after, in the safest possible way.”


West Entertainment collaborates with Qloo on Jetset AI

December 16, 2020

West Entertainment has formed a partnership with Qloo, a leading cultural AI company to provide the airline industry with Jetset AI, bringing intelligence around content and passenger preferences.

This will enable West to empower airline clients with a variety of new revenue generating initiatives while strengthening customer satisfaction scores.

Qloo’s AI has mapped over 750 billion cultural correlations across a catalogue of more than 150 million cultural entities and over 4 billion individual opinions.

The AI partnership and machine learning solution will predict consumer tastes across over a dozen major categories, including music, film, television, podcasts, dining, nightlife, fashion, consumer products, books and travel. Jetset AI will offer completely anonymised insights and recommendations adhering to the strictest regulatory standards in data processing.

The solution will enable airlines to build a 360-degree view of its passengers, opening up new brand partnerships, and through deeper engagement, offer personalisation such as trip planning and destination recommendations.

westent.com; qloo.com

AERQ and JOLED collaborate

December 16, 2020

JOLED Inc, an OLED expert and manufacturer of 4K OLED by printing technology, and AERQ, a promoter of digital transformation for aircraft cabins, have announced a collaboration aiming to integrate medium-sized OLED displays in aircraft cabins.

AERQ is a joint venture between LG Electronics and Lufthansa Technik, founded in 2019 with the aim to make airlines the playmaker of their digitalised cabin experience by introducing innovative technologies to the aviation industry. It provides a digital ecosystem for aircraft cabins that consists of an open IT platform, in seat system, and Cabin Digital Signage. By leveraging LG Electronics’ knowledge in display technologies, AERQ is aiming to utilise OLED displays in aircraft cabins.

AERQ has demonstrated its Welcome Board, is working on ceiling panels using large OLED displays, and has also revealed a concept for a class-divider using transparent displays – all part of AERQ’s Cabin Digital Signage.

JOLED specialises in R&D and production of medium-sized OLED displays. With a view to start shipping soon from a new mass production plant, JOLED is working to expand its display applications and exploit the aircraft cabin displays as one of the most interesting applications.

In the collaboration, JOLED and AERQ will work together to deliver the benefits of OLED displays and integrate them as a new standard to the aircraft industry through presenting a variety of touch points utilising medium-sized OLED displays such as Cabin Digital Signage and an inseat system.

Sang Soo Lee, managing director at AERQ says: “OLED displays have the potential to change the conventional concept of cabin displays, and we have been working to bring this innovative display technology on board to the aircraft in a variety of ways. By the collaboration with JOLED, we are completing our OLED line up by adding mid-sized displays from JOLED on top of our existing portfolios that are 55″ and 65” from LG Electronics.”

aerq.com; j-oled.com

ACE Flight 2780 Auxiliary Modem Unit from Kontron

December 16, 2020

Kontron has announced the addition of the ACE Flight 2780 Auxiliary Modem Unit to its ACE Flight product line.

The Auxiliary Modem Unit (AMU) is based on a new evolution of the ARINC 791 and 792 Ku/Ka Band Satellite Communication System standard, which is planned for approval in early 2021. The AMU provides commercial and business aviation customers with the ability to experience global connectivity coverage and cost optimised network service in a very small 2MCU form factor. The AMU standard allows scaling from a single modem connectivity solution up to a multi-modem system, which enables roaming between multiple global networks.

The ACE Flight 2780 AMU extends the portfolio of inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) solutions and is available now with an integrated SATCOM modem card which supports high throughput aircraft connectivity to many networks around the world. Additional modem card types are planned in upcoming variants of the Kontron AMU product. The ACE Flight 2780 AMU initial release supports AC aircraft input power and FAA PMA approval for this version is expected in February 2021. Other configurations are planned, including a 28V DC aircraft input power version to support business and regional jet requirements.

“We are excited to be first-to-market with our 2MCU ACE Flight 2780 AMU which provides the aviation industry with the smallest form factor auxiliary modem solution.”, says RJ McLaren, avionics system product manager for Kontron. “We have extensive experience in packaging SATCOM modems from different suppliers into compact ruggedized systems for all types of mobile airborne platforms – from commercial airliners to business jets to helicopters to UAVs.”

Kontron has been closely involved with the ARINC subcommittee working group in the development of the AMU standard. Using an open architecture, standards-based approach means that AMU system configurations will have a long lifetime and can be adapted as new modem technologies become available.


Etihad joins UK digital aviation research project

December 9, 2020

Etihad Airways has joined the £65 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) consortium, due to open next year at Cranfield University in the UK.

As the first airline to join the DARTeC consortium, Etihad states its expertise across the fundamental fields of sustainability, operational efficiency, safety and improved passenger experience will lend valuable insight and real-world operational capability to the DARTeC initiative.

Specific topics Etihad and DARTeC will collaborate on include: reducing aircraft emissions both in the air and on the ground; creating safe, secure and efficient airspace; better understanding of whole-life sustainability impacts of aircraft; enhancing the passenger experience, and increasing the reliability and availability of aircraft.

Professor Graham Braithwaite, project lead and director of transport systems at Cranfield, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Etihad to the DARTeC project, with construction of our building now nearing completion at Cranfield’s global research airport. As an innovative airline focused on the future challenges of safety, efficiency and sustainability, there is much overlap between Etihad’s aims and the research themes of DARTeC. We look forward to working together to deliver the innovation required to enable the industry to ‘build back better’ from COVID-19.”

Mohammad Al Bulooki, chief operating officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “Etihad has long been known as a leader for innovation in aviation and our role in the consortium reinforces our commitment to driving the industry forward through technology, and corporation.

“As an innovative, future-focused carrier, membership of DARTeC is a natural fit for Etihad, providing a unique opportunity to expand exploration of key topics across sustainability, safety and passenger experience with industry leading partners.”

Researchers attached to DARTeC are already working with industry on projects to reimagine what airports and airlines look like post-COVID-19, and driving forward innovations in digital airspace and airport infrastructure that will help the UK reach its target of net zero carbon emissions.

Etihad Airways joins Aveillant, Blue Bear Systems Research, Boeing, BOXARR, the Connected Places Catapult, Cranfield University, Inmarsat, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the IVHM Centre, Saab, the Satellite Applications Catapult and Thales in the consortium which has also received co-investment support from Research England.

etihad.com; cranfield.ac.uk/dartec

gategroup trials Epax for easyJet retail

November 25, 2020

gategroup and its long-term analytics partner, Black Swan Data, is to launch a winter trial of its Epax digital retail solution, with one of Europe’s leading airlines easyJet.

Claiming a global first, the system enables access to a full onboard retail offerings from one location from the passengers own personal device, keeping physical contact with equipment or material onboard to a minimum. Epax is designed to be intuitive, convenient, and engaging.

The system is enabled via a simple connection to an onboard wireless network through a passenger’s own browser and aims to make the experience more convenient but also more targeted, using machine learning and data driven innovation to personalise the inflight retail experience.


Inflight Dublin chosen by Uganda Airlines

November 18, 2020

Inflight Dublin has been awarded a five-year contract for the provision of IFE by Uganda Airlines, the national flag carrier of Uganda.

The agreement sees Inflight Dublin providing IFE content services to Uganda Airlines with quarterly updates commencing in January 2021. Inflight Dublin is the largest CSP in Africa, currently in partnerships with more than ten airlines in the African region. This experience and knowledge of the African market allows Inflight Dublin to curate a bespoke content package for Uganda Airlines’ passenger audience, including Local and International content. The extensive catalogue also consists of Hollywood movies, TV Shows, Boxsets, Music, Games and Publications.

Maintaining a current fleet of four Bombardier CRJ-900 aircraft, Uganda Airlines links Uganda to the rest of Africa by operating flights to nine destinations across the continent including Kenya, Somalia, Burundi, South Sudan, Tanzania and Democratic Republic of Congo. In December 2020, Uganda Airlines will take delivery of brand new Airbus A330-800neo and therafter launch intercontinental flights to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

“As this is a new venture into the inflight entertainment space for Uganda Airlines, we wanted to choose an experienced and stable partner and Inflight Dublin ticked all the boxes. To partner with such a prominent operator will ensure a smooth entry into service and we look forward to working with them to continue providing the highest level of service to our passengers,” said Cornwell Muleya, Uganda Airlines’ CEO


ZIPAIR selects Panasonic Avionics for inflight connectivity

November 11, 2020

ZIPAIR has selected Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) to provide inflight connectivity solutions for its Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

ZIPAIR’s B787s will be fitted with Panasonic’s inflight WiFi service. Panasonic’s next generation connectivity enables a host of connectivity benefits, from fast internet to video streaming, all powered by its new satellite modem featuring bandwidth up to 20 times greater than previously available.

The announcement marks the beginning of Panasonic’s relationship with ZIPAIR, the new Japanese low-cost carrier which is a 100% subsidiary of Japan Airlines.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with ZIPAIR to enhance their passenger experience with our world-class inflight connectivity,” said Ken Sain, CEO of Panasonic Avionics Corporation. “Our advanced inflight solutions will help ZIPAIR drive brand loyalty, encouraging their passengers to return time and again.”

ZIPAIR was established in 2018. It is a low-cost carrier and is due to operate medium to long-haul international flights. It currently operates a fleet consisting of two Boeing 787-8s, transferred from its parent’s fleet.

zipairtokyo.com; panasonic.aero

Retail inMotion partners with e-Mersion Media

November 4, 2020

Retail inMotion (RiM) and digital magazine publisher e-Mersion Media (e-MM) have announced an exclusive partnership focussed on expanding the provision of digital content into the international airline and rail markets.

“Personalisation is becoming more important than ever in the airline industry and offering the right products to the right person at the right time makes the difference between a good onboard experience and a great one,” said Stefan Patermann, CEO of Retail inMotion.

“Through our partnership with e-Mersion Media, we hope to further digitise and break new ground in inflight retail. By combining e-Mersion Media’s high-end digital magazine publication platform with our retail capabilities and end-to-end technology platform, we are able to upgrade the passenger experience and provide them with a more flexible and custom-built retail offer.”

e-Mersion Media provides brands with innovative digital publishing solutions. The interactive bespoke mobile platform delivers a fully-immersive experience to the users while also driving significant ancillary revenue channels for advertisers.

Founder and managing director of e-Mersion Media, John Iliopoulos, said: “The e-Mersion Media team are delighted to be partnering with Retail inMotion, one of the world’s best onboard retail and end-to-end customer experience providers.

“We very much look forward to working closely with RiM to be able to expand their unique offer to both their current and future clients. We are confident that our ground-breaking fully interactive digital publishing platform will not only enhance the entire customer journey of passengers but also open up new revenue opportunities for RiM’s partners”.

retailinmotion.com; e-mersion.media

Inmarsat and GDC technics develop new terminal

November 4, 2020

Inmarsat has unveiled details of a next-generation terminal for its GX Aviation inflight broadband solution, which has been developed in collaboration with GDC Technics.

The lightweight, low-drag terminal is now available to airlines across the world and has been designed to ensure that the connectivity needs of data-hungry passengers are met for generations to come, allowing them to stream high definition videos, enjoy online video games, download documents and more using their personal devices.

Following a range of technology assessments and test flights over the past 12 months, the new terminal has demonstrated its ability to consistently deliver the highest levels of connectivity onboard aircraft, even over the world’s busiest airspaces. In addition, upcoming enhancements to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite network will further bolster the terminal’s performance in the near future.

The next-generation terminal includes a robust flat panel antenna developed by Thinkom, which has millions of flight hours behind it. In addition, it has been integrated with smart dual aero modem technology that supports Inmarsat’s new GX+ North America service, announced with Hughes Network Systems last week.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “GX Aviation is well established as the gold standard in inflight broadband and we have a fully-funded technology roadmap to ensure it remains the unrivalled choice for aviation connectivity. This includes the addition of seven more satellites into our global GX network over the next four years, as well as cutting-edge hardware innovation such as this new terminal.”

The new GDC Technics terminal has been certified and is now flying on Boeing 737-700 aircraft. Additional retrofit and linefit certifications are currently in progress and expected to be available by the end of this year, including retrofit options for the Airbus A320/330 family, and the Boeing B787 and B777 aircraft.


AOE launches e-commerce and supply chain solution

October 28, 2020

AOE has announced an e-commerce model for airlines following its acquisition of onboard sales and supply chain specialist SHIFTEO.

The agreement includes SHIFTEO’s inflight ePOS, supply chain management and back office for catering management solutions.

The enhanced capabilities of AOE’s new integrated platform enables airlines to seamlessly integrate and manage their revenue-driving operations with existing onboard sales operation for both Travel Retail and F&B. The result is a self-managed, supplier-independent ecosystem combining stronger customer engagement with end-to-end delivery capabilities.

The unique functionality of the vendor-independent platform integrates with simplified vendor management to give airlines the freedom to select and manage multiple caterers and duty-free suppliers right across location hubs and service stations. This strengthening of operational control enables the precise tailoring of the passenger experience, free of the traditional model’s constraints of solution-specific vendors and time contracts.

Michael Raasch, CCO, AOE Aviation, comments: “AOE’s new platform provides airlines with powerful operational and competitive advantages that will drive new and stronger ancillary revenue opportunities.

“Additionally, in a new strategic cooperation with onboard technology experts Airfree, we also offer airlines complete connection and digital solutions on inflight and IFE transactions. This completes an inflight solution that can not only accelerate airline recovery from the current crisis but also deliver stronger long-term performance.”

AOE has also incorporated stronger IFE accessibility to support the integration of all aspects of its digital solutions following a partnership agreement with Airfree.

The partnership enables AOE to further expand its platforms reach to the passenger in low-connectivity onboard settings, supporting the airline and expanding revenue opportunities across every stage of the seamless passenger journey.


Inmarsat launches GX+ North America

October 28, 2020

Inmarsat has launched GX+ North America as part of a strategic collaboration with Hughes Network Systems

GX+ North America is an aviation connectivity solution that has been specifically designed for North American commercial airlines. It claims to seamlessly integrate the capacity of the Hughes JUPITER High-Throughput Satellite (HTS) constellation across North America with Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) HTS satellite network, bringing a unique combination of capacity, speed and reliability to the region.

The new solution underscores Inmarsat’s strategic vision as it looks past the pandemic and into the future needs of commercial airline fleets in North America.

The ultra-high capacity of GX+ North America will make it possible for North American airlines to meet increasing passenger demand, including the surge in traffic expected from free-of-charge inflight wifi.

GX+ North America offers full flexibility for route planning, even on short notice, as the solution can cover any route worldwide through the GX global network — whether to Hawaii, Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean, across the Gulf of Mexico, to Central and South America, across the Atlantic or even to the most extreme northern latitudes.

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “GX has firmly established itself as the reference inflight connectivity solution for today’s demanding passengers and is used by airlines worldwide. We are very confident that this game-changing collaboration with Hughes, combining their market-leading depth of capacity with Inmarsat’s award-winning passenger connectivity solution, uniquely delivers inflight broadband that is consistently superior regardless of the number of passengers using the service or where they are travelling.”

The new solution will be provided and managed end-to-end by Inmarsat. Prototype flights are expected to start later this year with commercial availability scheduled for 2021.


FlightPath3D extends Flying Over Places offering

October 21, 2020

FlightPath3D has announced that Flying Over Places is now included as a new view in all 3D map products. A retrofit is available for all existing 3D map installs.

FlightPath3D president Duncan Jackson said, “Flying Over Places significantly expands our map feature set with the integration of over 50,000 points of interest (POIs) that auto-play as the flight progresses, providing historical information about landmarks, attractions, and places as they’re flown over en route.”

Jackson adds, “We want every airline to be able to inform their customer what they can see out the window, with each point displaying its distance and direction.”

“This, and our many other map features, help provide an innovative and consistent passenger experience across multiple aircraft types and IFE systems. So you can continue to elevate your brand and differentiate your inflight service”, says FlightPath3D CEO Boris Veksler.

Veksler continues, “We design and deploy apps that are available as an Android, iOS or Linux app, can be streamed as a web service or API, and as widgets that can be embedded in other applications.”

To conclude, Veksler says, “We have the largest team of map specialists and geospatial engineers in the industry, building software selected by all the leading IFE vendors, and we’ll continue to lead, innovate and elevate the passenger experience.”


Condor cabin crews receive ‘SkyTabs’

October 21, 2020

Condor cabin crew now have their own tablets, called SkyTab, developed in association with long-term partner Retail inMotion.

The use of the personal devices will not only optimise onboard sales and communication, but also provide flight-related documents. With the digitalisation, Condor will save paper and reduce the weight of their aircrafts, which ultimately leads to less fuel being used.

SkyTabs include an inflight sales software, which is specially adapted to the needs of Condor. Guests can pay cashless with all common credit and giro cards – quickly and contactless.

Payment is also possible with Apple and Google Pay. Receipts can be received digitally on request. Product availability is displayed in real time through live tracking of sales on each flight. The software also optimises communication with all interfaces of the supplier process for efficient logistics.

“With the launch of SkyTab, we have the possibility to respond even better to the needs of our guests on board and to customise onboard sales according to our customers’ wishes, as well as with our suppliers and partners”, explains Christian Schmitt, chief operations officer Condor.

“With this we lay the foundation for further optimisation of the onboard experience. As an example, in the future our crews could receive customer information in their SkyTabs, in compliance with data protection regulations so that they can address them by name. This will make the onboard experience even more personal for our guests, which supports our service promise as Germany’s most popular leisure airline.”

The new inflight sales process with unique Condor software is supported by partner Retail inMotion, whose CEO Retail, Stefan Patermann, commented: “We are delighted to partner with Condor. With the launch of the Retail inMotion digital platform, Condor passengers and crew will benefit from a fully integrated end-to-end solution, which provides not only a best-in-class retail solution, but also an integrated platform across the entire process from supply chain to onboard sales.”


Camfil and CTT Systems partner improve air quality onboard

October 14, 2020

Camfil has announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with CTT SYSTEMS AB (CTT).

The partnership will see Camfil’s air filtration technology for aircraft and the aviation industry incorporated in CTT’s humidifier products.

The cooperation aims to explore innovative air filter applications that improve air quality in the aircraft cabin, where Camfil’s air filtration solutions can be applied in cooperation with CTT’s knowledge and footprint in the aviation industry.

Primarily, CTT opts to incorporate air filtration in its humidifier products, to further improve air quality for pilots, crew, and passengers. CTT will then be able to complement existing clean air solutions without adding additional maintenance or overhaul for airlines.

The initial objective is to reduce Ozone and/or Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). By integrating filter technology in the pad module that is aligned with the service interval of the pad material, airlines can rip-and-replace the entire pad module.

“We look forward to working with CTT to develop filters that can add additional value to its customers and further improve air quality in aircraft…with very specific, high performance filtration and low pressure drop,” said Mark Simmons, CEO at Camfil.

Torbjörn Johansson, CEO at CTT Systems, said: “The premium-air-pad will be developed for our humidifiers in flight deck, crew rest and passenger cabin on Boeing 777X and Airbus A350, as well as for crew rests on the 787, improving air quality without adding extra service or maintenance.”

camfil.com; ctt.se

Lufthansa Group partners with SKYdeals

October 7, 2020

Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines are testing a new shopping experience offering on their medium and short-haul routes based on the SKYdeals platform.

Available only during the flight, SKYdeals offers real-time, exclusive, and personalised deals on over 1,000 products and services, delivered at home.

Passengers can access SKYdeals for free by connecting to the the FlyNet portal. After browsing the product and service selection, passengers check-out and pay online. The order is then fulfilled by the partner brands and service providers.

“We are particularly proud of this partnership with Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines,” said Julien Sivan, CEO and co-founder of SKYdeals.

“SKYdeals not only offers a new way to buy and sell products onboard but also a real and exciting new inflight entertainment experience. This is a concrete proof of Lufthansa Groups’s interest in innovative projects related to passengers’ experience.”

SKYdeals operates partnerships with over 80 brands from small arty designers to internationally renowned brands. By leveraging inflight WiFi it offers an innovative and exciting inflight shopping experience, featuring flash sales and fly-over sales (additional time-bounced discounts based on the country overflown by the plane).

Passengers use their own device, pay on their mobile phone and will be home delivered for a contact free experience, compliant with post-Covid recommendations.


EVA Air launches 360° immersive panorama tours

September 30, 2020

EVA Air has launched new 360° immersive panorama tours of the airline’s lounges and cabins on its website.

The virtual tours include are designed to enable EVA’s customers to experience feature services before boarding.

The interactive guide is translated in ‘Traditional Chinese’, ‘Simplified Chinese’, English and Japanese.


Panasonic Avionics unveils Welcome Aboard Collection

September 23, 2020

Panasonic Avionics Corporation has unveiled the ‘Welcome Aboard Collection’ – a selection of inflight products and solutions designed to help airlines address passenger concerns during COVID-19.

The Collection can be customised to an airline’s existing fleet. It consists of both inflight entertainment (IFE) elements and other solutions designed to help augment airlines’ efforts to create a safer and healthier travel experience, while reducing costs and reinforcing their commitment to the passenger and their crew.

Ken Sain, chief executive officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “These are challenging times for the airline industry, and we have leveraged our proven track record in digital innovation in the aircraft cabin to deliver solutions that can help make travel a safer experience for passengers and cabin crew.”

Other solutions in the Collection help airlines to reduce touchpoints through smarter ‘less touch’ technology such as Onboard Reader to digitise print publications and Companion App to integrate the passengers’ trusted personal device into the IFE experience. This can help ensure that seatback IFE consoles are complementary to the traveller’s personal devices, thus limiting passengers’ touch while still enabling the full IFE experience.

The Collection also includes solutions to enhance the cabin experience and deliver care through wellness solutions such as the nanoe™ Air Cleanser, which improves air quality by generating nano-sized electrostatic atomized water particles that can suppress odours and inhibit certain viruses, bacteria, and allergens.


SITA partners with Safety Line for sustainability

September 23, 2020

SITA is partnering with start-up Safety Line to help pilots and airlines limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and operational costs by reducing fuel consumption of aircraft at key flight stages.

Safety Line, a French company that specialises in predictive big data solutions for airlines and airports, has made it its mission to help save aircraft fuel and reduce CO2 emissions during the three flight phases – climb, cruise and descent – with a software suite called OptiFlight. The focus currently lies on the climb-out – the most fuel-consuming phase of a flight – and the cruise phase.

Safety Line’s software solutions, collectively called OptiCruise, have been integrated in SITA’s eWAS Pilot mobile application, part of SITA FOR AIRCRAFT’s ‘Digital Day of Operations’ portfolio.

eWAS Pilot provides 4D weather forecasts and real-time updates from various sources to warn about weather hazards such as thunderstorms, lightning, clear air turbulence, strong winds, icing and even volcanic ash.

SITA now also offers Safety Line’s OptiClimb software. OptiClimb uses tail-specific machine learning performance models in combination with 4D weather forecasts, to recommend customised speed changes at different altitudes for each climb.

Safety Line data shows that climb fuel savings of 5-6% are possible for each flight without affecting passenger safety or comfort. On a yearly basis, this could reduce CO2 emissions by several thousands of tons and operational costs by several million dollars, depending on the size of the airline fleet. Safety Line estimates that 5.6 million tons of CO2 could be avoided if all airlines in the world were to use OptiClimb.

Sébastien Fabre, CEO for SITA FOR AIRCRAFT said: “We at SITA continue to seek smarter ways to use existing and new technologies and collaborate with partners in the air transport industry with the goal of making airline operations more efficient and environmentally friendly.

“The partnership with Safety Line is another important step for us that will enable airlines to embrace the digital shift that is needed to reinvent the operation of aircraft. It is about adopting more sustainable and cost-effective practices.”


GX Aviation inflight broadband hits milestone with Qatar

September 16, 2020

Inmarsat’s GX Aviation inflight broadband is now available on 100 aircraft with Qatar Airways.

The advanced connectivity service, which is being rolled out across Qatar Airways’ fleet of Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft, has become a popular addition to the airline’s premium onboard experience, allowing passengers to browse the internet, stream videos, check social media, and shop online during flights.

Qatar Airways passengers receive one hour of free access to GX Aviation on equipped flights, with the ability to purchase full-flight access if more online time is needed. The service, marketed as ‘Super Wi-Fi’ by Qatar Airways, has been used by millions of the airline’s passengers since 2018, when it became GX Aviation’s launch customer in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Qatar Airways is world renowned for offering a superior onboard experience, which is enjoyed by millions of loyal passengers across the world. We are pleased that our GX Aviation inflight broadband has become such an important component of that experience on the airline’s extensive fleet of Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft. Feedback from passengers has been hugely positive and now, with the service being available on 100 aircraft, even more can enjoy the best connectivity in the skies.”

Qatar Airways will also benefit from major upcoming enhancements to Inmarsat’s GX network, with additional capacity being introduced by seven new GX payloads scheduled to launch in the coming four years. This includes the entry into service of GX5 later this year over the Europe and Middle East region.

The GX7, 8 & 9 satellites, which feature thousands of dynamically-formed beams that direct capacity over high-demand areas, will follow soon afterwards with the innovative new GX10A & 10B Arctic payloads, which will be the only broadband satellite service dedicated to this region and a perfect match for Qatar Airways aircraft flying in higher elevations and across the Arctic.


Global Eagle releases ‘app-free’ entertainment across Southwest Airlines fleet

September 16, 2020

Global Eagle Entertainment is launching a series of improvements across Southwest Airlines’ Inflight Entertainment Portal, which will allow customers to stream inflight content directly to their smartphone, laptop or tablet without having to download an app before they board.

Hollywood movies and TV series protected under Digital Rights Management (DRM) can now be played on Southwest’s Inflight Entertainment Portal via selected iOS, Android or Windows operating systems on selected browsers. Global Eagle utilises the latest media encryption standard – Common Media Application Format (CMAF) – to reduce encoding requirements so that multiple DRM technologies can be used on a single video file.

“At Global Eagle, we are passionate about providing airlines and their customers with seamless access to inflight entertainment,” says Per Norén, president, Global Eagle. “This release enhances the customer experience, helping to drive engagement and consumption of onboard content and connectivity.”

As part of the series of updates, Global Eagle is introducing Cinemagraphs to the Southwest Inflight Entertainment Portal, displaying an animated movie poster to further engage customers.


Intelsat acquires Gogo

September 2, 2020

Satellite and connectivity specialist, Intelsat is to acquire the commercial aviation business of Gogo, the largest global provider of in-flight broadband connectivity, for $400 million.

Gogo’s commercial aviation business provides Intelsat with key airline relationships and customer-facing capabilities, including a leading software platform, ISP and network management infrastructure. It currently serves 21 commercial airlines, including 9 of the top 20 global carriers.

This transaction will combine Intelsat’s next-generation high throughput space assets with Gogo’s best-in-class 2Ku antenna to uniquely position Intelsat to deliver more cost-effective and advanced commercial aviation broadband connectivity services. Passengers will benefit from an enhanced in-flight connectivity experience that delivers fast and reliable video streaming, browsing and cloud-based applications from gate to gate. Airlines can expect a fully integrated platform offering high reliability, flexibility and passenger satisfaction.

“Consumer demand for in-flight connectivity is expected to grow at a double-digit rate over the next decade, notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19. The addition of Gogo’s commercial aviation business provides compelling strategic value for our stakeholders and makes strong commercial sense,” said Intelsat’s ceo, Stephen Spengler. “Gogo’s business is a perfect fit with Intelsat’s expansive satellite network and infrastructure due to the breadth of Gogo’s technological solutions, global reach and operational excellence.”

Spengler continued: “A priority growth objective for Intelsat is to extend our reach closer to the millions of customers who use our satellite capabilities to stay connected around the world. The addition of Gogo’s commercial aviation business is a significant step toward this goal. We are growing beyond satellite connectivity to expand into consumer-optimized managed services.”

“We are excited to welcome the talented people of Gogo’s commercial aviation business to the Intelsat family and look forward to pairing their aviation expertise with Intelsat’s owned network capability to unlock new opportunities for growth. Our ability to execute this transaction in the midst of our financial restructuring speaks to the strength of our underlying business, our vision for the future, the commitment of key Intelsat stakeholders and the momentum that we have maintained over the past several months,” Spengler concluded.


SITA supports biometrics in China

August 26, 2020

SITA has unveiled its most extensive biometric deployment to date and a new completely contactless experience for passengers travelling through Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA).

The busiest airport in China and the second busiest in the world, BCIA has completely automated the passenger journey – from check-in and bag drop through to immigration, security, and finally boarding. Passengers only need to enrol once during check-in, then experience a seamless journey through the airport enabled by facial recognition.

The resulting processing efficiency means shorter queuing times and more social distancing for all passengers and, with no need to touch any airport equipment, risks of COVID-19 infection are further reduced.

SITA Smart Path can process over 400 passengers boarding an Airbus A380 in less than 20 minutes and also enables hands-free and touchless duty-free payment, removing the need to retrieve and show a boarding pass at check out.

The deployment includes the implementation of over 600 biometric checkpoints through the airport including 250 lanes of automatic gates, 80 kiosks, and 30 self-bag drop stations which will process passengers from international flights.

Sumesh Patel, SITA’s President of APAC, said: “Automation is more important than ever in this COVID-19 environment to better enable social distancing and passenger flow without compromising processing times. The BCIA implementation is our most comprehensive deployment of next-generation technology and signposts growing interest from the market to automate and optimise airport operations through smart technology.

BCIA had passenger volumes exceeding 100 million between 2018 and 2020. It is positioned as the international hub airport in the overall design of the Jing-Jin-Ji airports group. To date, it serves 31 domestic airlines and 62 foreign airlines, with 133 international routes, and 161 domestic routes.


IdeaNova focuses on communications

August 26, 2020

IdeaNova Technologies is championing its Inplay IFE Portal as the new way to keep passengers and crew connected inflight post-COVID-19.

As airlines work out new ways to provide service while also limiting person-to-person contact on a flight, and recognise less physical interaction between crew and passengers is required, the team believes its chat feature can help support positive communications inflight.

The system also offers an cabin crew and passengers the chance to interact around entertainment as it includes a feature which allows them to rate and make recommendations about certain entertainment offerings on the flight.

IdeaNova’s newest product, Intouch is a platform specifically designed to keep people connected safely, with security for customised video, audio and text conferences. Both Intouch and Inplay products can be fully customised to meet client aesthetics and user needs, no additional application downloads are required for use directly in browser with a secure link, but apps are available if required. Currently, Intouch is free to use for a trial period.


Touch-free with Vision-Box

August 12, 2020

Travel technology specialist, Vision-Box, has launched new touch-less automated pre-security gates at the Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan.
The initiative supports Kansai Airports’ wider efforts to promote a ‘Fast Travel’ experience for passengers, allowing for a smoother departure procedure.

By automating the boarding pass confirmation procedure at the departure gate, the self-scan will replace the need for inspectors to manually check and scan passenger boarding passes, speeding up the overall travel experience.Fast contactless operation also helps prevent the spread of infectious diseases especially during the current covid-19 pandemic.

Miguel Leitmann, CEO of Vision-Box, said: “The team at Kansai International Airport share our vision to modernise and change the landscape of the travel and aviation industry for the better. While Vision-Box continues to drive such technology in the field, Japan is no doubt one of the leaders in technological development and this partnership is testament to our hard work and expertise in delivering such innovation.”

Vision-Box has been at the forefront of contactless automation technology, having installed Europe’s first facial recognition e-Gate at Faro International Airport in 2007. The company’s key partners and customers include the UK Home Office, US CBP, London Gatwick Airport, Eurostar, Air Asia, Emirates, KLM, Dubai Airport, Schiphol Airport, Bangalore International Airport and JFK.


Call for wellbeing tech solutions

August 12, 2020

The Aviation X Lab, led by Emirates Airline, Thales, Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation and Airbus, has launched a virtual competition to find new solutions to support traveller wellbeing.

The competition calls for submissions from international businesses – from start-ups to corporates – whose innovative, market-ready solutions will improve health and safety standards for consumer travel, and help restore confidence to global travel markets.

Submissions are not limited to the traveller journey but can be solutions and products that the traveller can continue using after they arrive at their destination.

A top eight will be selected to pitch directly to the Aviation X Lab Board, following a three-day virtual workshop.

Aviation X Lab spokesperson Amna Al Redha: “Global aviation and travel are key industries that generate tremendous economic and social value. The pandemic has hit these industries hard, but it also presents opportunities to rethink existing industry practices or offer travellers new products and services. We’re calling on the international business community to bring their innovative market solutions to us so that we can inspire greater confidence in the industry and enable people to do what they’re desperate to do again and travel the world in the safest, and most sustainable way possible.”

Interested applicants can submit their proposals and sign up to a webinar to find out more by visiting area2071.ae

Hygiene measures tracked for confidence

August 12, 2020

In a bid to build passenger confidence, tech supplier Travelport, has launched the Travelport Airline Health & Safety Tracker detailing airline initiatives around health and hygiene.

The tool, which is free of charge and available to both Travelport customers and the wider industry, highlights the safety measures being undertaken by more than 80 of the world’s largest airlines – all available at a glance.

It is delivered to both online and offline travel agencies through the recently launched Travelport COVID-19 Smartpoint Plugin, Travelport’s API-based merchandising solution, Branded Fares Data File, and the company’s COVID-19 Resource Hub, which is also available to the general public.

Kyle Moore, Global Head of Customer Strategy and Marketing, Travelport, said: “As we sit at the heart of the industry, both aggregating, and enabling the merchandising of, travel content from all corners of the world, we are in a natural position to bring this information into a single place and deliver it to travel agents and travellers. We believe this tool will help travellers to match their travel needs with the safety measures they expect, bringing back confidence in travel and supporting a strong industry recovery.”

The tracker monitors the use of seven sought-after safety measures: mandated use of face masks, socially distanced seating, temperature checks before boarding, improved air filtration, enhanced cleaning programs, reduced onboard food and beverage services, and mandated traveller health certification or declaration. The data is presented in a simple visual format and is updated by on a weekly basis.

FlightPath3D celebrate with Airbus

July 22, 2020

FlightPath3D has been recognised for its app and innovation in the first online hackathon run by Airbus.

Responding to the news that the company had been recognised as ‘Preferred App’ and jointly acknowledge as the ‘Best Innovation’, FlightPath3D president Duncan Jackson said: “Now more than ever, our industry needs to realise the potential of digital transformation. There is synergy in our app community, and we observed our map being integrated into more services, and more services using our API features than any other app. We integrated duty-free merchandising, advertising, and the ability to buy with a payment solution into our map. Third party apps used our destination content, street maps, and flight tracker to augment their already highly-functional apps.”

The Airbus hackathon was designed to develop onboard digital solutions on an Airbus open software platform, to support better operations in a post-COVID world, and was part of the company’s #KeepTrustInAirTravel initiative.

FlightPath3D ceo, Boris Veksler, added: “We leveraged our HTML/WebGL streaming 3D map and via our Open API platform integrated 3rd party content into our map, and vice versa provided map features into third party apps. The innovation we achieved is linked to the openness of the Airbus platform, and to the eco-system of app developers that are compatible with the platform.”

To learn more about our Map API features go to flightpath3d.com/map-api

Middle East Airlines ups its inflight tech offer

July 15, 2020

Panasonic Avionics has been selected by Middle East Airlines-Air Liban (MEA) to provide inflight entertainment and connectivity solutions for 15 of its Airbus A321 family aircraft.

Upon delivery from July 2020 onwards, nine A321neos will become the first connected aircraft to join MEA’s fleet. They will be line-fitted with Panasonic’s eX1 seatback IFE solution, designed specifically for narrowbody aircraft.

The eX1 solution offers full HD seatback monitors, complete with touch displays and handsets, and an intuitive, personalised interface. Passengers will have access to USB and laptop charging power points at every seat as well.

MEA’s A321neos will also be fitted with Panasonic’s inflight wifi service, with next generation connectivity benefits including fast internet and video streaming, powered by its new satellite modem which offers bandwidth up to twenty times greater than previously available.

The high-performance connectivity is seen as a powerful way for airlines to build brand loyalty by delivering new and personalised content to passengers inflight.

Mohamad El Hout, chairman – director general of MEA, said: “We are happy to partner again with Panasonic Avionics. MEA’s new aircraft is equipped with its state-of-the-art inflight entertainment systems including wifi connectivity for the first time, reflecting the company’s ambition to provide customers with the best products the industry has to offer.”


Boeing 777X leads the way for the connected cabin

July 1, 2020

Inmarsat and Boeing have taken a further step towards delivering digital aircraft transformation with the launch of innovative new ‘smart pipe’ technology on the 777X.

This new advance in communications technology provides fast and secure inflight broadband connectivity, from the cockpit to the cabin, allowing airlines to use multiple third-party applications at the same time onboard, and is a key feature of the new Boeing 777X aircraft.

The infrastructure has been designed to independently allocate connectivity bandwidth to multiple applications. This enables airlines to unlock important operational benefits such as predictive maintenance, route optimisation, modernised air traffic management and real-time crew communications, while also offering enhanced passenger entertainment, including high-speed internet and live television.

The ‘smart pipe’ functionality means applications delivered by GX Aviation and SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) have a unique service level agreement and guaranteed performance levels, independent of other applications that are also operating through the same terminal.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SB-S are already established as the aviation industry’s most advanced global connectivity solutions. Now, with the addition of ‘smart pipe’ functionality, we are paving the way for a more connected and integrated future, which is crucial for airlines around the world that are transforming their business with the power of digital technology.

“This is a significant milestone in developing the truly connected aircraft and reinforces Inmarsat’s key role in serving the aviation industry with a suite of operational and passenger connectivity services. The results from initial tests for our ‘smart pipe’ are promising and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with Boeing in preparation for the forthcoming entry into service of its new 777X aircraft.”

Inmarsat’s new ‘smart pipe’ technology will initially be available to airlines that have either ordered or plan to order the Boeing 777X. In addition, these capabilities will be available as upgrades on other aircraft models.

The connected aircraft is predicted to save the aviation industry $15 billion annually by 2035 and this brings that goal a step nearer.


SIA seeks start-ups

July 1, 2020

Singapore Airlines has launched its 2020 app challenge, seeking digital solutions to address business challenges. Tech startups have until August 31 (extended from July 12) to put their initiatives at the forefront of innovation, working with the airline to drive change in the way we travel.

This year, the app challenge sees Singapore Airlines in search of startups with the most innovative solutions to 10 Problem Statements across 6 Challenge Themes. Startups can be teams or individuals from anywhere around the world, from any industry and submissions can be made to address one or multiple challenge statements across the six themes.

There are four stages to the challenge, with the first being the submission round. Submissions must be made via https://appchallenge.singaporeair.com/startup and the closing date is 2359 (GMT +8) on July 12 2020.

The challenge theme include: Seamless Travel Experience, People and Operations, Beyond Travel, Travelling in the New Normal, New Business Opportunities and Sustainability.

Finalists will be invited to pitch to Singapore Airlines’ senior management and top executives. Solutions with business potential will be fast-tracked into the SIA Accelerator Programme, where startups will build a proof-of-concept of their solution with the airline.


PEC goes virtual

July 1, 2020

The Passenger Experience Conference goes virtual again today with a webinar session focuse on rethinking the “what next” and addressing how to best reassure customers.

Moderator, Jennifer Coutts Clay, author of JETLINER CABINS proposes the questions. How do we ensure passengers feel safe, cared for, and in control, by designing experiences that rebuild trust, moment by moment.

She will be joined by Johannes Lampela, Director of Design, Los Angeles, Designworks (a BMW Group company) who will describe how a “post-COVID design brief for a better cabin experience should focus on what matters to the customer and draw on learnings from recent disruptions in the automotive space.

The debate proposes an “experience first – inside out approach” to cabin design. Lampela leads a multi-disciplinary team of designers and creative directors, and has led significant design projects with BMW Group brands, B/E Aerospace, Singapore Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta, EVA Air, Bay Area Rapid Transit and Hyperloop One.


Burrana upscales its IFE offer

June 24, 2020

IFE and cabin technology specialist Burrana, has launched a new IFE platform, RISE. created to solve airlines’ most challenging issues regarding inflight entertainment, supporting easier updating and featuring flexible, airline-controlled adaptability.

David Pook, vp marketing and sales aupport at Burrana said: “The RISE platform consists of hardware, software, apps, and services which can be scaled up or down depending on aircraft type and business need. Enabled by shared hardware and a common 48VDC power backbone, the RISE platform can be configured to include seatback, wireless, or overhead entertainment, as well as in-seat power – or any desired combination of these.”

“We are approaching IFE in a different way, working to be more nimble than the competition with a fresh approach and competitive price point. We have drawn on our Digicor and Rockwell Collins legacies and added new opportunities to create more flexible products through a layered, modular format providing increasing levels of value for airlines.”

All the displays within the RISE platform are 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution and feature High Dynamic Range (HDR), large amounts of local storage, and robust processing power, packaged in a very thin and modern design. Each seatback display also supports integrated single-pin audio, Bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC), and the airline’s choice between USB-C or the industry’s highest power USB-A offering.

RISE also leverages crowd-sourced data and intelligent algorithms to deliver a dynamic entertainment experience that adapts to the passenger as they use it for a Netflix type experience. Targeted advertisements, a powerful recommendation engine, and comprehensive accessibility settings give passengers an intuitive more personalised IFE experience. Airlines’ IFE management teams will also benefit. Airlines could also build in quick and fun feedback features – perhaps asking immediately after food service, whether passengers enjoyed their meal.It also brings new opportunities for pre-order and post flight delivery shopping.

Airline teams will have far more control over the look and feel of the system and the ability to change things quickly. “RISE has completely eliminated the need for time-consuming and expensive change requests, ATPs, and FSATs. Airlines can add or remove apps from aircraft via a simple, web-based tool and make changes to their GUI by themselves, without the need for formal acceptance testing”, says Pook.

RISE also offers numerous ultra-high-speed content loading options, easier maintenance, and is 30% lighter than competitive solutions. The system will be available for retrofit on single and twin aisle aircraft starting Q1 2021 and available for linefit installations shortly thereafter.


Retail inMotion ups its tech connections

June 24, 2020

LSG Group’s Retail inMotion has partnered with IFE systems specialist Bluebox Aviation Systems to offer an enhanced touch-free retail proposition for airlines worldwide.

Through this partnership, airlines can secure a deeply integrated, end-to-end solution offering opportunities for new and innovative sales channels in the post-COVID-19 world.

John Vaughan, head of product management at Retail inMotion, said: “Airlines today face an increasingly challenging and evolving environment in meeting the levels of service passengers have come to expect. By combining the expertise of Retail inMotion and Bluebox, we can help address these challenges both now and in the future while increasing ancillary revenues.

David Brown, director of business development at Bluebox, added: “Airlines wish to get back to delivering inflight experiences that delight passengers without compromising the safety protocols that are being implemented to protect both passengers and cabin crew. This partnership offers a touch-less shopping experience for food, beverages and other goods on our battery or aircraft-powered wireless IFE platform, Bluebox Wow. Virtualising the trolley and facilitating touch-less payments, we’re enabling passengers and crew to maintain as much social distance as possible, while keeping open an important revenue stream for the airline.

Bluebox Wow already supports the hygienic provision of seatback information such as inflight magazines and safety cards and this has been extended to deliver a touch-less payment option that integrates with the inventory management systems onboard.


Etihad taps tech for passenger health

June 24, 2020

Etihad Airways is partnering with Austrian-based healthcare technology company Medicus AI to launch a COVID-19 risk-assessment tool that will empower guests to make informed decisions about travelling.

Powered by Medicus AI’s technology, the risk-assessment tool will guide Etihad’s guests in evaluating the probability of having contracted the COVID-19 coronavirus by responding to a set of 22 questions. The self-administered assessment, which takes less than five minutes to complete, is based on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines that are updated daily.

With this risk-assessment tool, guests will understand their individual probability of having contracted the virus alongside advisories and recommendations, allowing them to make informed decisions about travelling.

Frank Meyer, chief digital officer at Etihad Airways, said: “We know that health and wellbeing will be a major factor impacting the travel decisions of our guests and are committed to ensuring their continued safety and peace of mind when they choose to travel with Etihad Airways. As flying operations begin to resume globally, we want to empower our guests to make informed decisions on travel. Partnering with Medicus AI on this innovative new tool is just one of the ways we are adapting our operations and guest experience to meet the new demands placed on the travel industry as a result of COVID-19.”

The tool is now available on Etihad.com and soon on the Etihad Airways mobile application on the Apple iOS, Android and Huawei platforms, and will be accessible in English, with additional language editions such as Arabic, French, German and Portuguese being added in phases.

Etihad Airways has been actively sourcing and investing in innovative solutions to enhance the safety and wellbeing of its employees and guests in light of the impact of COVID-19 and has also recently announced trials of COVID-19 triage and contactless technology at Abu Dhabi International Airport.


Inflight Dublin brings YouTube Dude onboard

June 17, 2020

IFE specialist Inflight Dublin has announced an exclusive inflight content deal with American sport and comedy YouTube sensation, Dude Perfect.

The deal gives Inflight Dublin the distribution rights for Dude Perfect content on airline inflight entertainment. The content targets sport and trick-shot lovers around the world, with an extensive catalogue of stunt videos and humorous skits, and new videos uploaded weekly. The YouTube channel has an impressive 51 million followers and over 10 billion views.

The Texas-based group is known for collaborations with top global brands such as Oreo, Pringles and Gilette and the deal supports Inflight Dublin’s strategy of creating bespoke content packages for airlines through innovative, on-trend content such as Viral, YouTube and Wellness videos.

“The ‘Dudes’ fun and entertaining videos are a great addition to our traditional IFE offering, and growing catalogue of YouTube and Wellness content. With the online popularity of Dude Perfect and Inflight Dublin’s position as a global leader for IFE and Wireless solutions, we expect this high quality content to be a great hit with airlines and passengers across the world,” says Barry Flynn, Inflight Dublin’s CCO.


Think Tank solutions come to the fore

June 10, 2020

Onboard Hospitality partners at the Future Travel Experience (FTE) have unveiled a Post-COVID-19 Passenger Experience Think Tank detailing a series of immediate and longer-term strategies for the post-pandemic normal.

Pulled together through discussions with airlines and airports, the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and members of the FTE Innovation & Startup Hub, the solutions aim to provide a roadmap for businesses to ensure they adapt and thrive in the new normal.

In addition to detailed guidance and best practice specifically tailored to each passenger touchpoint – pre-travel, check-in, security, departure hall, boarding, onboard, and arrivals & immigration – the Think Tank includes 10 recommendations for the short, medium and long term. The full document can be downloaded for free via the FTE website.

The comprehensive co-created guidance and recommendations include:

• A call for the industry to accelerate the adoption of touchless kiosks, offsite processing and biometric processing, including offsite biometric pre-enrolment, to help deliver a seamless and touch-free airport experience.
• A recommendation that airports and airlines empower travellers to use their personal electronic devices to order and pay for items onboard aircraft, and in airport restaurants and retail stores.
• A recommendation that airports use 100% fresh air for ventilation, and if the air is re-circulated for energy efficiency reasons, the use of HEPA filters or UV disinfection.
• A call for airlines and airports to proactively engage with government authorities, health agencies and other relevant stakeholders on initiatives relating to the development of health passports or immunity passports, instead of pursuing onsite rapid COVID-19 testing.
• An emphasis on the importance of customer care and compassion, which should be a central pillar of every airline and airport’s strategy moving forward.

Ryan Ghee, head of strategy & development, Future Travel Experience, who led the Think Tank project, said: “The motivation behind the launch of the Post-COVID-19 Passenger Experience Think Tank was to provide the industry with a realistic and implementable vision for the post-COVID-19 end-to-end passenger experience, and to offer guidance as air travel demand returns. Having worked closely with APEX and representatives from major airlines and airports around the world on this unique thought leadership project, the final document is filled with guidance, examples of best practice, and solid recommendations for airlines, airports and all other air transport industry stakeholders, regardless of the size of the organisation or their budget.

“This Think Tank document goes way beyond simply recommending the use of personal protective equipment and plexiglass shields, which are now a given. This is about how the industry can embrace technology and digital innovation – things like touchless biometrics, proactive multi-channel communications, e-commerce and digital health passports – to not only survive this crisis but thrive in the long-term. I’m delighted that we’re able to make this Think Tank white paper available to the entire industry for free.”

APEX/IFSA CEO Dr Joe Leader stated: “As a key part of the APEX family, Future Travel Experience has always excelled at bringing the industry together as our team continues to deliver invaluable insight to airlines, airports, and their partners. Being personally involved in this Think Tank project once again demonstrated our FTE team’s ability to bring together best-in-class experts from across the industry to collaborate for the benefit of the entire air transport world.”

Onboard Hospitality will work to further the debate with FTE at the forthcoming Onboard Hospitality Forum – Asia to be held in Singapore in November.


AI in action – the new next normal airport experience from Yates+

June 3, 2020

Yates+ has partnered with Neoma, the AI hospitality systems specialist to launch trials of an AI-driven app which facilitates the journey through the airport.

Designed to present the next normal airport experience, the truly contactless experience, SafeGo, will be trialled in a Middle Eastern airport in the next months.

Using highest intensity camera facial bio-screening at every point of contact, the airport journey with this app requires no paper ticket, no baggage tags, no human contact at any point – from curb to aircraft door.

SafeGo has been developed by a Yates+Neoma joint-venture, and Yates+ CEO Keith Yates said: “We recognised a seismic shift in customer sentiment. Safety of self and family is now the dominant theme. Safety translates to a desire for no face to face human contact on the airport journey. So we set about digitalising the airport experience, building in the most advanced AI technology plus an app managing the journey coupled with the latest camera bio-match technology to secure the customer at each connecting point.”

Watch the SafeGo experience


Virtual event focuses on ancillaries

June 3, 2020

Representatives from over 100 airlines and 65 airport operators from around the world are now registered for the FTE APEX Ancillary event taking place tomorrow.

This online event will include speaker contributions from airlines on how they are evolving their commercial approaches before a series of pitches from a selection of ancillary revenue vendors. Each will present their latest products, services and visions, and airline participants will then be able to ask questions and follow-up directly with vendors of interest afterwards.

Participants will include Cebu Pacific, American, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic, Spirit and Heathrow. Registration is free to airlines and airports.


IdeaNova Technologies launches updated Inplay IFE player

May 13, 2020

IdeaNova Technologies has introduced its new Inplay player – the 6th generation of the company’s popular IFE component.

The player provides a single platform for playback of all DRM and non-DRM content and uses modern React based technology to provide the same experience in mobile and laptop environments, at a lower cost.

The player now supports Google Widevine, Apple FairPlay and Microsoft PlayReady DRM along with playback of mpd and HLS non-DRM content. Customers who already licensed earlier versions of this software can upgrade to Inplay Web 6 free of charge.

Enhanced features include picture in picture, scene seek, playlist and customisation, allowing user interface and experience to be adjusted based on customer preferences.

IdeaNova’s CTO, Janne Pelkonen, said: “This latest web player has more features and better customisability, but at the same time it is easier to integrate and use.”

IdeaNova founder and CEO, Juraj Siska added: “We believe airlines and IFE vendors should consider upgrading their IFE platforms during this COVID-19 downtime to improve the overall passenger experience. Passengers will return to travelling and would likely prefer high quality inflight entertainment on their own devices. We are excited about the future and eager to see the benefits we bring to inflight entertainment and passengers around the world.”


Withers hands over Burrana CEO role

May 13, 2020

David Withers, founder and CEO Burrana, is moving to the role of non-executive chairman and has been replaced as CEO by board member Neal Nordstrom.

Withers will remain actively engaged in the business helping to drive the company’s technology development and product positioning. Paul Margis will step down as chairman but remain on the board.

Nordstrom brings extensive experience of helping newly-acquired businesses transition to fully functioning, high performance teams, and has also supported privately held, high technology companies in southern California as a board member or advisor.

Withers said: “It is of course with very mixed emotions that I make this announcement. For 12 years Burrana has been the single focus of my energy but it is the right time for me personally and the right time for the company to have a new CEO. I thank Neal for accepting the challenge and assure all our customers, suppliers and partners that I remain fully engaged and committed.”

Nordstrom said: “I am inheriting a strong team and competitive product range. Our immediate focus is of course navigating COVID-19 and coming out of it strong and ready to compete. Our recent award by Airbus as their IFEC supplier of the year is just one indication of the capabilities of this great company.”


Inmarsat pulls industry together online

May 6, 2020

A unique all-day broadcast event, hosted by Inmarsat and APEX, last week saw more than 50 leading voices exchange views on the present and future of aviation, as over 3,000 viewers in almost 100 countries watched.

Designed to encourage collaboration during these challenging times, FlightPlan: Charting a Course into the Future, saw experts express confidence in an eventual bounce-back and highlight the importance of technology in spurring passenger return.

Nick Careen, senior vp of airport passenger cargo and security at the International Air Transport Association (IATA), observed that although the COVID-19 pandemic has “no parallel to draw upon in recent memory… the airline industry has illustrated time and time again that if there’s any industry in the world that knows how to deal with a crisis, it’s this one”. Careen predicted that changes to come may include staggered boarding processes, alongside faster adoption of biometrics and self-service technologies in the airport.

In an interactive poll during the event, FlightPlan viewers were invited to share their own predictions on the COVID-19 recovery. Results showed: 43% predicted recovery will take 18 months to three years; 44% said the industry was poorly prepared for COVID-19; and 36% stated governments have helped the industry but could have done more.

New passenger processes

Some 87% expect to see more deep cleaning and slower turnarounds while 86% believe that personal protective equipment (PPE) will become standard for cabin crews in the coming months. 80% also expect thermal scanners to become part of the passenger journey although only 9% see blood tests for airline passengers becoming the norm.

Discussing the ambitious sustainability targets the industry has previously set itself, such as net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, the experts agreed that collaboration was fundamental. Anko Van Der Werff, ceo of Avianca, argued that “the whole ecosystem needs to work together on this.” Paul Stein, chief technical officer at Rolls Royce, added that the impact of single-nation initiatives has been limited and a “coalition of the willing” with industry bodies, airlines, manufacturers and fuel providers is needed.

Industry speakers were largely confident COVID-19 would not interrupt progress on sustainable aviation and felt it may even push the topic higher up the agenda. Stein said: “The post-COVID-19 world is going to be one that recognises the fragility of the planet…sustainability isn’t just going to come back to the point it was before COVID – it’s going to be an even stronger issue.” In the FlightPlan poll 40% of respondents agreed COVID-19 will accelerate the drive to reduce emissions.

Digital imperatives

Rupert Pearce, ceo of Inmarsat, spoke about the power of connectivity to drive global development and industry recovery. “I believe that digitalisation lies at the heart of our ability to first survive this crisis, and then to drive our ability to rebound from it and start to thrive in whatever new reality lies in front of us.”

The next generation of passengers were at the centre of a discussion around the need for airlines to continue preparing for the future with Generation Z’s now seeing travel as a right and inflight connectivity as a driving force in their decision-making.

Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “As we look towards recovery and ensuring long-term resilience, there will be no one-size-fits all approach. However, it will remain important that airlines can differentiate for customers. It’s clear that the safety of consumers will continue to be at the forefront in this new world, and that digitisation and innovation will be crucial to driving much-needed efficiencies, reducing environmental impact and improving passenger experience.”


Linstol forges new partnerships

April 22, 2020

Linstol has entered into a new business agreement to operate all headset-related activities under license from Phitek/Amphenol.

The agreement will allow the engineering and product characteristics of Phitek to benefit from Linstol’s production capabilities, supply chain network and customer service, and the move is expected to significantly improve the customer experience and ensure long-term satisfaction.

Mark Russell, Linstol’s CEO, said: “We are excited to be a leader in the industry and continue to raise the bar for our airline partners. Our team is pleased to add the Phitek brand to the Linstol portfolio and is committed to driving the technology and engineering that has made the Phitek brand a benchmark product.

Aaron Gough, general manager Amphenol Phitek, added: “Linstol’s market leadership within the aviation industry, combined with Amphenol Phitek’s historical and ongoing development of high-performance engineered audio products, will provide airlines a full suite of high performing audio solutions now and into the future. Amphenol is pleased to have found a perfect complimentary partner to move forward the Phitek brand.”


Fit to fly technology trials

April 22, 2020

Automated check-in specialists, Elenium, has partnered with Amazon Web Services to offer a touchless check-in kiosk, which can evaluate a person’s vital signs and provide an early warning indication on fitness to fly.

The self-service technology can detect a passenger’s temperature, heart rate and ask a series of questions from a distance of 1.5 metres at any airport touchpoint such as a kiosk, bag drop, security or immigration – enabling the self-service device to act as a screening station for potential symptoms of COVID-19.
In partnership with Amazon Web Services, Elenium has also developed hands free technologies that enable touchless use of self-service devices, voice recognition and head movement detection, thereby further minimising the potential of any viral or bacterial transmission.
CEO and co-founder, Aaron Hornlimann, says: “The potential benefit of such enhancements is to provide peace of mind to passengers and staff that symptoms of illness can be detected at any self-service terminal, so anyone who presents with these symptoms can be intercepted before boarding an aircraft.”

Elenium has created a triage kiosk prototype and is currently in discussions with existing aviation customers and trialing it with Etihad Airways at Abu Dhabi Airport.
Hornlimann adds: “While it is a very difficult time for the industry, airports have an opportunity during this shut down to make changes now that inspire greater confidence in their processes and solutions, especially when it comes to passenger safety and inclusiveness. We believe the introduction of touchless devices and automated health screening will encourage passengers to return to travel sooner.”

Jorg Oppermann, vp HUB and midfield operations at Etihad Airways, adds: “We are testing this fit to fly technology because we believe it will not only help in the current environment but also into the future with assessing a passenger’s suitability to travel and thus minimising disruptions.”

The system automatically suspends the self-service check-in or bag drop process if a passenger’s vital signs indicate potential illness symptoms. A remote agent can then make further assessments and manage that passenger as appropriate.

Elenium has more than 700 check-in kiosks in use by 30 airlines across thirteen airports globally, including Hong Kong, Auckland, Avalon, Bangalore and Sydney airports.


Armchair travel to make you smile

April 15, 2020

Suffering from travel withdrawal symptoms and longing to get onboard a plane again? Well technology can of course help with a little virtual exploration.

The creativity of armchair travel experts is really coming to the fore, encouraging us to experience places virtually and escape our home environment without even opening our front door.

The ingenuity of some is impressive. Check out this creative airborne adventure doing the rounds, created by one imaginative homeworker eager to get his feet off the ground

Watch the video

FTE adapts with new virtual events

April 15, 2020

Difficult times call for new ways of thinking and new ways to do business, so we are pleased to support our event partner, FTE, as they launch their FTE APEX Ancillary virtual event and a series of post-COVID brainstorming webinars.

Having successfully hosted webinars for its FTE Innovation & Startup Hub members since 2018, in the coming months the team will be taking this further and hosting webinars and virtual events for the entire industry to engage and collaborate at this pivotal moment in the air transport sector’s history.

The first two webinars will include insight from industry leaders on how the airport and cabin experience must be evolved quickly to restore consumer confidence, enhance operations, and prepare for the post-COVID-19 reality.

They will also include pitches from suppliers with unique solutions and visions for this new world in which air transport will need to comply with social distancing practices and deliver a more contactless, seamless, automated, sanitised and digitally powered travel experience.

Speakers confirmed include Rohit Talwar, futurist and CEO, Fast Future, Daniel Coleman, Founder & CEO, Future Travel Experience and Joe Leader, CEO, APEX & IFSA, with more to be announced.

The webinars entitled Post-Covid-19 Airports (Wednesday May 13 at 15.00 BST) and Post-Covid-19 Aircraft (May 20 at 15.00 BST) .

In addition on Thursday June 4, 15:00 BST, the team will hold its FTE APEX Ancillary virtual event including speaker contributions from airlines on how they are evolving their commercial approaches.

There will also be a chance to hear pitches from a series ancillary revenue suppliers who will present their latest products, services and visions, and respond to airline questions.

All these events and webinars will be completely free to attend for airlines and airports and $50 for vendors. Attendee places are limited. To book register here/a>.

APEX is also encouraging airlines to look to the future through a collaboration with Inmarsat Aviation to host a one-day online broadcast event.

Entitled #FlightPlan the digital event aims to bring together aviation experts, analysts and leaders to share insight and direction and share best practice and strategies at this challenging time. The event will take place on Wednesday 29 April 2020 from 9am – 4pm BST.

For more information: flightplan.wavecast.io

Preparing for the new reality, and Singapore

April 7, 2020

Our event partners at the Future Travel Experience are looking beyond the COVID-19 crisis and encouraging airlines and suppliers to stay ahead of the curve and reimagine the new reality.

The team has been forced to cancel its June FTE EMEA/Ancillary show in Dublin and has postponed FTE Global in Las Vegas to December 7-9, but it is confident the rapidly-growing FTE APEX Asia EXPO will go ahead as planned in November (10-11), in collaboration with our own Onboard Hospitality Forum – Asia.

Daniel Coleman, FTE founder and ceo, said: “This is our show for the fast-recovering Asia market and it will go ahead as scheduled at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. It will now include the FTE APEX Commercialising IFEC Summit and focus on everything from digital transformation to urban air mobility. Uniquely, we will now offer a level of complimentary VIP access for airlines and airports to support their essential need to plan for the future, whilst they operate on tighter budgets through 2020.”

Planning for the event is underway and to help identify key issues and ideas for debate, the team has researched a deep dive into the way the industry will look once global air travel is able to resume. Check out their predictions for new innovations in the passenger experience here.

See more details on the Onboard Hospitality Forum

AK-Service brings AR to a market

April 2, 2020

Amenities specialist AK-Service has launched a high-tech division, AK-Digital, to bring Augmented Reality (AR), amenities, interactive media and mobile devices together.

AK-Digital’s goal is to create a new approach to the way the industry entertains its customers and a new, augmented dimension to ordinary things.

Using AR the team’s designers are adding digital elements to products using the smartphone to create an illusion that content on the screen is a part of a real world, adding 3D objects, animations, graphics, videos and sounds to inflight entertainment.

The technology can be used in children activity books or colouring pages, or for onboard menus and inflight shopping magazines making these interactive and animated. Ordinary things become more visual and engaging.

AK-Digital has already created a number of AR applications and participated in the number of AR projects including children travel kits with AR 3D-puzzles and a premium series of collectable porcelain airplanes with AR effects. Others, including onboard retail applications, are under development.

Md, Aleksandr Ferents, says: “The AK-Digital team includes professional mobile developers, AR-enthusiasts and artists all well trained and excited to deliver next-gen kits – quality amenities made by AK-Service with modern technologies by AK-Digital.”


Gategroup focuses on data

April 2, 2020

Gategroup is launching what it calls ‘a data revolution’ using data and predictive technologies to better understand and address the wishes of consumers while travelling.

A spokesman says: “Technology and data are at the heart of everything we do. We are constantly developing our business intelligence capabilities to adapt to market dynamics and to meet ever-changing consumer needs to deliver the superior travel experience that our airline partners and passengers expect. This includes leveraging social media and artificial intelligence to accurately predict consumer behaviour through key partnerships with Airbus and Black Swan.

“The company has already joined forces with Black Swan in an exclusive partnership to develop a ground-breaking travel retail digital platform. The partnership combines gateretail’s industry knowledge, capabilities and retail software platforms with Black Swan’s data-driven predictive analytics improving airline crew sales capabilities and passenger interaction dynamics.

The spokesman adds: “We are also utilising Trendscope, the first-ever social prediction tool developed by Black Swan. Trendscope is capable of analysing millions of real-time online consumer conversations which then evaluates, ranks and predicts every category trend by its future growth potential, helping you determine which trends will matter most to your consumers.

This in turn promotes sound sustainability practices in the industry, customer satisfaction and in turn, profitability. Indeed, leveraging this information together with gategroup’s culinary and retail expertise, gategroup is able to drive critical insights that drive innovation in menu development, waste reduction, product range and category optimisation.”


Novo Onboard Retail acquires Touchstar

April 2, 2020

Novo Onboard Retail has acquired Touchstar’s onboard retail division and is predicting a surge of demand for onboard retail in aviation to help drive the post-COVOD 19 recovery.

Novo’s ceo, Jon Hall was a former board member and chief operating officer at Touchstar and personally spent 23 years with the company, including over a decade within the airline sector.

Hall has been instrumental in the specification and design of the Novo cloud-based onboard retail software suite and takes with him the full support team, and their prestigious client base in the airline and mobile retail sectors.

Hall says: “The newly-formed limited company will trade as Novo Onboard Retail Ltd. The new name is a nod to the organisation’s original formation as ‘Novo IVC’ and I am delighted to be inheriting that team legacy of more than three decades of involvement within the airline sector.

The onboard retail team has created an excellent feature-rich enterprise-level software suite for managing and optimising ancillary revenue. We now look forward to building upon this foundation, creating innovative cutting-edge technology solutions for the onboard ancillary sales revenue industry.”

He is confident inflight retail will be key to aviation recovery post COVID-19 and adds:“We are expecting a surge of activity in the airline onboard retail sector once the COVID-19 virus has been contained. Airlines, hard hit by the cessation of services are looking to every revenue channel to aid recovery. We have already been approached by a number of airlines and concessionaires looking for a SAAS-based (software as a service) onboard retail solution that can be rolled out quickly anywhere in the world with online training, in order to be ready for the predicted surge in travel.

In the words of one airline executive: “We need an onboard retail system because if we can’t sell food, wines and spirits, the passengers expect it for free!” We are looking forward to helping facilitate the recovery in the airline, rail and ferry sectors in the post-COVID-19 era.”


Inflight Dublin launches EASE

March 31, 2020

IFEC specialist, Inflight Dublin, has launched its latest innovation, EASE: Wellness Breathing Exercise – a wellness product designed to promote the wellbeing of passengers in the air or on the ground.

EASE is a user-centred, brand-aligned breathing exercise that helps anxious travellers feel more relaxed during their flight or at home – particularly during these difficult times. Compatible with all inflight entertainment systems, the exercise can be housed on any wireless or seatback IFE platform. Adopting binaural beats (audio frequencies), resonant breathing techniques, and comforting visuals, the goal of the video is to instill a calming and positive experience for the user throughout their flight.

EASE is fully customisable and through the complementary application of an airline’s logo, colour palette, and typography the exercise can reflect each airline’s brand. This on-trend product is designed and managed entirely in-house by Inflight Dublin.

John White, Inflight Dublin’s CEO says: “We are delighted to announce our latest innovation, EASE: Wellness Breathing Exercise. Recognising the fast-growing wellness trend, we wanted to create something simple and user-friendly that would help ‘ease’ the anxiety or fear that many passengers suffer when flying. I am proud of the team for continuing to innovate and creating something positive during such a tough time for the industry.”


Startup access goes virtual

March 24, 2020

The Future Travel Experience (FTE) Innovation & Startup Hub is offering airlines and other industry stakeholders the chance to meet new startups without leaving the office, through virtual pitch sessions online.

The FTE Innovation & Startup Hub is the first-ever innovation network for the air transport industry and already includes a number of the world’s most forward-thinking airlines and airports including the likes of United Airlines, Vancouver Airport Authority, Japan Airlines, Los Angeles World Airports and Southwest Airlines.

Launched two years ago, the Hub has added new features to ensure members get the most possible value out of joining. Virtual Pitch Sessions are the latest addition and allow members to meet with startups from the comfort of their own office.

The Hub connects needs with curated personalised video pitch sessions. Members can watch the startups pitch and then ask them any follow-up questions during the Q&A.

Learn more

Air New Zealand launches new safety video

March 10, 2020

Air New Zealand has hatched its latest safety video called A Journey to Safety.

The video highlights the impact of New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis through the story of a young girl who transports a lost takahē bird to his new home with help from Air New Zealand and the Department of Conservation (DOC).

The airline’s latest offering builds on its eight-year partnership with DOC. The two organisations have been working together since 2012 to help protect and enhance New Zealand’s natural environment. Under the partnership the airline has transported more than 3,200 threatened species to safety, funded pest traps across 38,000 hectares of the country, and supported marine science and research within New Zealand’s marine reserves.

New Zealand’s landscapes are also a feature of the video, with the Murchison Mountains in Fiordland, Tiritiri Matangi in the Hauraki Gulf and Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari in Waikato all making an appearance.

Air New Zealand’s general manager global brand and content marketing, Jodi Williams, says the newest video is a charming story with a serious message behind it.

“While it’s lighthearted on the surface, it conveys a really important message – our native birds need our help. Our safety videos have collectively generated more than 180 million views over the past decade, so what better medium to shine a spotlight on New Zealand’s biodiversity crisis.

A Journey to Safety will be rolled out across Air New Zealand’s international and domestic fleet from and is available to view online here.


Vistara introduces innovative cabin lighting

March 10, 2020

Following the unveiling of the first of six new wide-body aircraft, Vistara is enhancing passenger wellbeing and reducing jetlag with the introduction of new customised lighting on its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

The customised lighting scenes have been jointly developed by Vistara and jetlite, with the support of Boeing, by considering corporate design, cultural background and effect on colours, material and finishing.

Vistara is Asia’s first airline to adopt jetlite’s cabin lighting onboard, joining premium airlines such as Lufthansa to place greater focus on the positive effects of lighting on the human body.

jetlite’s Human Centric Lighting helps reduce travel-related fatigue and brings the wellbeing of passengers into focus. According to the startup, adjusting light colour and intensity throughout the flight, encourages passengers to adjust sleep schedules and arrive well-rested and less jetlagged.

Vinod Kannan, chief commercial officer at Vistara, commented: “Since inception, Vistara has focused on delivering an exceptional inflight experience that enhances our customers’ wellness. Cabin lighting is one of the elements that makes this possible and we are delighted to partner with jetlite for their cutting-edge Human Centric Lighting. This will help us to take the Vistara flying experience to the next level for travellers.”

Dr. Achim Leder, co-founder and managing director at jetlite, also commented: “Vistara´s lighting scenes are backed by extensive research studies and real test flights. jetlite customises Human Centric Lighting solutions individually for each airline, taking factors such as corporate design, the effect on CMF (colours, material and finishing) and cultural background into consideration.”

airvistara.com; jetlite.de

This article was originally published by Future Travel Experience

SES and Isotropic Systems enter new phase of development

March 10, 2020

Isotropic Systems and SES have announced a new developmental phase of their collaborative partnership to produce scalable, cost-effective multi-beam customer edge terminal antennas capable of unlocking access to the O3b mPOWER system.

Together with SES, Isotropic Systems will review, refine, and test key components of its full line of customised digital software-defined terminals throughout 2020, optimising the tiered platform to meet specific performance, cost, power, and connectivity requirements of user cases around the world.

The development roadmap will culminate in a series of comprehensive engineering evaluations of Isotropic Systems’ multi-beam antenna components, prior to the commercial launch of the customer edge terminals and the O3b mPOWER Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) system in 2021.

Many of the upcoming trials will focus on maximising the effectiveness of the circuits behind the optical beam-forming lens modules at the core of the Isotropic Systems adaptable multi-beam antenna. The patented lens module technology is a major differentiator, enabling seamless switching between SES’s multi-orbit fleets, and opening the door to a new age of widely accessible and tailored high-performance Ku- and Ka-band connectivity.

“The SES-Isotropic Systems partnership is driving the development of innovative multi-beam customer edge terminal antennas using digital beamforming that will light up new market opportunities for the tailored scalability and flexibility of our O3b mPOWER network and our unique multi-orbit MEO-GEO constellations,” said Stewart Sanders, SES’s executive vice president and O3b mPOWER programme lead. “Our shared vision is keenly focused on bringing game-changing, high-performance broadband to both highly sophisticated and mass markets across the globe, on land, at sea, and in the air.”

John Finney, founder and CEO of Isotropic Systems, explains: “Our terminals are customisable to meet the performance, cost, and power requirements of countless applications – from the most complex government defence systems and mobile backhaul solutions capable of extending 5G, to next-gen connected experiences aboard commercial airliners, cruise ships, offshore rigs, and even small fishing boats at sea.”


Qatar Airways introduces Inflight VR

March 4, 2020

Qatar Airways is trialling virtual reality (VR) onboard in a partnership with Inflight VR.

The system is exclusively available to Qsuite and Business travellers onboard flights from Doha to Singapore and London as part of a pilot project running until mid-March.

“We are excited to have the opportunity of working with Qatar Airways,” says Moritz Engler, ceo of Inflight VR. “They have continued to put the customer first and remain a game changer in the aviation industry, proving time and again why they are masters of their craft.”


Japan Airlines deploys Viasat’s Aerodocs system

March 4, 2020

Viasat has announced that Japan Airlines (JAL) has deployed its Aerodocs document management system to support the airline’s safety and compliance objectives.

Aerodocs is an aviation-grade document management solution that is providing JAL with complete control over the editing, distribution and viewing of original equipment manufacturer documentation, in addition to critical flight reference handbooks, maintenance manuals and operational manuals.

Recently named the most on-time mainline airline in 2018 in the Asia-Pacific region by FlightGlobal, JAL continues to invest in solutions to further enhance their award-winning operations.

“We continue to invest in the enhancement of aircraft operational safety, as it is a top priority. Viasat Aerodocs allows us to effectively organize and manage documents to further enhance aircraft safety while helping us meet critical regulatory and compliance requirements,” said Captain Tatsuo Mori, vice president and chief pilot, Flight Operation Department, Japan Airlines.

He added “the system’s intuitive approach and unique capabilities ensures that critical information is maintained in the right place and is accessible at all times. Having the ability to manage workflows in a more integrated manner, along with tracking read and unread documents, delivers significant value in helping us enhance our safety. While we evaluated a number of different solutions, we agreed that the Viasat Aerodocs product delivered the most comprehensive offering to transform our information management strategy.”


Thales reports 2019 results

March 4, 2020

Thales has reported its 2019 full-year results.

Key figures from the report include the order intake in 2019 amounting to €19,142 million, up 19% from 2018. Order momentum was particularly strong in the Defence & Security segment. At 31 December 2019, the consolidated order book stood at €33.8 billion.

Sales totalled €18,401 million, up 16.1% compared to 2018 and up 0.8% at constant scope and currency (“organic” change), with the decline in sales in the Aerospace and Transport segments offsetting the robust performance in Defence & Security.

“Thanks to the commitment of its 80,000 employees, Thales ended 2019 with a commercially very dynamic fourth quarter,” says Patrice Caine, chairman and ceo. “The booking of 12 projects over €100 million in the last quarter drove us significantly above our order intake objective. After recording growth above 5% in the past three years, sales slowed down due to the commercial Space market downturn and an exceptionally high basis of comparison in Transport. EBIT and adjusted net income were up 19%, boosted by the smooth integration of Gemalto.

“Our roadmap between now and 2023 remains unchanged. We are focused on generating profitable growth sustainably. In a global 2020 environment with several uncertainties, Thales’s business model, which is both balanced and resilient, is more than ever creating value.”

Read the full report


The Joker boards Iberia Express

February 25, 2020

On February 18, Immfly and Iberia Express screened Joker in a special event onboard flight I2 3730 flying between Madrid and Copenhagen.

The onboard event, which featured the film that secured the most Academy Award nominations this year in addition to the Oscar for Best Actor and Best Soundtrack, marked the introduction of Warner Bros content on board Iberia Express’ IFE platform, Club Express Onboard.

The wireless inflight entertainment platform provided by Immfly enables passengers on all Iberia Express flights to enjoy a wide variety of content for free. From blockbusters, featuring stars such as Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in A Star is Born, to superheroes such as Aquaman, and wizards such as Harry Potter, the rich cinematic portfolio is complemented with popular TV series and a broad range of other content including games, newspapers and magazines, destination guides and more.

Passengers who found themselves on the special celebratory flight todaywere surprised with free popcorn, earphones and mobile device holders to enhance their IFE experience.

Paloma Cabañas, head of customer experience and inflight services at Iberia Express notes: “A new catalogue of movies will be refreshed regularly and can be accessed for free in three languages: Spanish, English and French. One of our ongoing objectives is to provide a differentiated experience to our customers. Onboard entertainment is a key component of our value proposition.”


Inmarsat launches connectivity services in Saudi Arabia

February 25, 2020

Inmarsat will bring its connectivity solutions to customers based in Saudi Arabia through new partner agreements.

The company has also secured new spectrum licenses to deliver both its narrow-band (L-band) and high-capacity broadband (Ka-band), Global Xpress (GX), services in Saudi Arabia, enabling Saudi-based businesses to deploy these services for the first time.

Fixed and mobile satellite telecommunications distributor Sada Al Ammah and Global Beam Telecom have been appointed as Inmarsat’s first distribution partners in the region and they will work closely with Inmarsat’s Maritime, Aviation and Enterprise businesses to roll-out services.

Inmarsat’s Maritime business will partner with Sada Al Ammah to distribute connectivity services for merchant and offshore vessels operating in Saudi waters.

Inmarsat’s Aviation business will work with Sada Al Ammah to deliver cockpit safety services and passenger cabin broadband wifi connectivity (GX Aviation for commercial airlines and Jet ConneX for business jets) to companies based in Saudi Arabia, enabling airline passengers to browse the internet, stream video and music, check and update social media and more during their flights.

“Saudi Arabian shipping and offshore companies have shown an increasing appetite for the latest digital services to improve operating efficiencies and Inmarsat is delighted to offer our Fleet Xpress service in Saudi and the region in conjunction with our partners, Global Beam Telecom, Sada Al Ammah and Master Systems,” said Ronald Spithout, president, Inmarsat Maritime.

“Owners now see the need for an ecosystem of value-added services to enable digitalisation, rather than just buying a Ku-band VSAT connectivity pipe. That’s why we are seeing demand for Inmarsat’s Fleet Data IoT platform, our Fleet Secure suite of cyber security services and our crew welfare and retention solution, Fleet Hotspot.”

”Saudi Arabia is a fast-growing and important market for aviation connectivity solutions,” said Philip Balaam, president of Inmarsat Aviation. “Inmarsat looks forward to working with commercial airlines in Saudi Arabia to enable them to upgrade to the world’s leading aviation connectivity solutions, covering high-speed inflight passenger broadband in the aircraft cabin and gold standard operations and safety in the cockpit.”


Get involved with Onboard Tech Innovation

February 18, 2020

As we count down the days to AIX in Hamburg, we’re adding the final touches to our next Onboard Tech Innovation supplement.

Our bi-annual supplement has been expanded to cover technology across every element of the passenger experience. Now going beyond entertainment and connectivity, we include technologies, company profiles, apps and hardware across retail, F&B, wellbeing, crew service, airports, design and innovation.

The AIX issue will focus on: Using tech to identify trends and enhance the passenger experience; Gaming onboard; Inflight retail; Inflight connectivity; enhanced dining experiences, and more.

There’s still time to get involved – view our media pack here.

We want to hear from you! Send your news and views to april.waterston@onboardhospitality.com.

Viasat partners with fuboTV

February 18, 2020

Viasat and fuboTV have announced a video streaming distribution and technology partnership to advance content delivery and consumption inflight.

The partnership is the first to leverage innovative technology standards from the global technical association, the Streaming Video Alliance (the Alliance), and apply them to inflight connectivity.

These standards enable airlines that sign-up for the Viasat/fuboTV partnership to make fuboTV’s live streaming premium over-the-top (OTT) and video on-demand (VOD) sports, entertainment and news programming available to all passengers – at no charge – on U.S. flights equipped with Viasat satellite internet.

As the first to implement the open caching specifications of the Streaming Video Alliance inflight, Viasat and fuboTV are using multicast techniques to deliver live OTT and VOD content at-scale. Specifically, the companies have implemented the Alliance’s specifications over Viasat’s network, to optimise video delivery of fuboTV’s live TV streaming service, including its free linear channel, fubo Sports Network.

Participating airlines that choose to take advantage of the Viasat/fuboTV technology partnership will be able to give its passengers free access to fubo Sports Network.

“We aim to lead the way in creating differentiated inflight, online entertainment experiences and digital OTT provides the features, convenience and choice that passengers love when they’re on the ground,” said Don Buchman, vice president and general manager, commercial aviation, Viasat.

“We’re working with airlines to explore and develop new and innovative technology tools and business models that align with their brand and their interest in engaging more passengers with inflight wifi at the lowest cost. Our partnership with fuboTV uses state-of-the-art technology to leverage our bandwidth advantage even further to offer reliable, high quality OTT, live or on-demand, as efficiently as possible.”

viasat.com; fubo.tv

How Aviation X Lab aims to transform human mobility

February 18, 2020

Today’s aviation industry operates in a land of opportunities that are vast and require a radically different and innovative approach to fully capitalise on their potential. Aviation X Lab, an ambitious aviation-specific incubator which was unveiled last October, brings together some of the largest global pioneers, namely Emirates, Airbus, Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation and Thales, to address these challenges by championing moonshot-thinking, innovation and collaboration.

In partnership with Dubai Future Foundation, the programme has been launched to innovate and create the next era of aviation with its bold vision to positively impact the lives of one billion people. To find out more about the project, FTE spoke to Amna Al Redha, Project Lead of Aviation X Lab.

Aviation X Lab was launched in November last year in partnership between Emirates, Airbus, Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation, Thales and du as digital innovation partner. Can you please provide some more details on the initiative?

Amna Al Redha: “Aviation X Lab is a bold and ambitious aviation-specific incubator that brings together five global aviation giants: Emirates, Thales, Collins Aerospace, GE Aviation and Airbus. UAE telecom provider du is the Lab’s Digital Innovation Partner. Based in Area 2071 at the Emirates Towers, Aviation X Lab was founded in October 2017 with an MOU signed in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

In partnership with Dubai Future Foundation, Aviation X Lab aims to enhance the air travel experience, innovate and create the next era of aviation through a sustained programme of funding and collaboration with global players in the innovation ecosystem. Its vision is to impact one billion people through innovation.

The cycles of 12 months are split into five key phases: launching challenges; sourcing brightest minds, startups and corporates globally; validating concepts; conducting rapid feasibility; and funding. Through this journey, The Aviation X Lab offers hands-on support, logistics, research, resources, peer feedback, validation, mentorship, and close collaboration or co-creation.”

How are all of the partners working together to achieve this vision?

“The Aviation X Lab has a unique value proposition; it is the only platform that offers its participants direct access to five global aviation conglomerates. This access enables knowledge sharing, mentoring, validation and potentially co-creation. Our partners are directly and equally involved in all stages of the programme. We are open to all collaborations, and we are building a network from Academia, Research & Development, centres of excellence, startup hubs, incubators, accelerators, or any potential feeder that can help us solve our moonshots. Anyone is welcome to reach out to us.”

What is the biggest motivation behind the Aviation X Lab?

“Our goal is to innovate, co-create and positively impact over a billion individuals through our moonshots. We are not here to work on quick solutions, or incremental innovations – our focus is on the next radical idea that will transform the aviation industry.”

Are there any particular technologies or trends that you’re really looking out for at the moment?

“Anything and everything. We want to be as open as possible because the less boxes and restraints we have in our sourcing process, the more room there is for creative innovation. Our focus is on ideas rather than technology, because with the right idea the technology component becomes part of the conversation rather than the conversation. Our challenges are “Carbon Negative Aviation Industry” and “Airport to Airportals”, we are looking for the brightest and most radical ideas that can help us solve our moonshots. The topics chosen for this cycle are reflective of the aviation industry’s focus today, and where opportunity lies for tomorrow.

What would be your advice to startups and individuals that are thinking of applying to the Aviation X Lab?

“We are looking for thinkers, change makers, creators and innovators. We are looking for the brightest minds, the most innovative startups that are thinking about the next wave of innovations and if you believe you are that person with that idea we encourage you to apply.”

This article was originally published by Future Travel Experience


SWISS brings classic Swiss films onboard

February 11, 2020

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is now showing selected classic Swiss movies as part of its regular inflight entertainment.

SWISS further expanded its inflight film programme at the beginning of this month. In collaboration with the filmo online Swiss film catalogue, the airline now also offers six selected works that are of particular significance in the history of Swiss film. SWISS aims to promote awareness of and familiarity with Switzerland’s film heritage through the partnership, while also increasing its existing range of Swiss-themed inflight entertainment under the “Made in Switzerland” banner.

To kick off its new filmo partnership, SWISS is offering the following six films: San Gottardo (1977); Les petits fugues (1979); Reise der Hoffnung (1990); War Photographer (2001); Das Fräulein (2006), and Home (2008). The films will be available for a six-month period after which they will be succeeded by a new partnership selection.

swiss-inflightentertainment.com; filmo.ch

Panasonic Avionics to provide IFE on Kuwait Airways

February 11, 2020

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) will be providing inflight entertainment (IFE) for Kuwait Airways’ new fleet of eight Airbus A330-800neo aircraft.

Kuwait Airways will become the first airline in the world to operate the A330-800neo aircraft, starting in the second quarter of 2020 when it joins the airline’s existing fleet of Airbus A320 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft which are already equipped with Panasonic’s X series IFE experience.

The fleet will feature Panasonic’s full HD touch screens, touch video handsets, electronic device charging facilities, both universal and USB charging and more, together with comfortable seats and space.

Ken Sain, chief executive officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, says: “As Kuwait Airways develops its long-haul network with the introduction of its new A330-800neo fleet, Panasonic Avionics is honoured to be their partner of choice in enhancing their inflight passenger experience.

“Our X Series inflight entertainment systems are the most-awarded in the industry and we are confident that the memorable inflight experiences they create will help Kuwait Airways further increase passenger engagement and loyalty.”


SkyLights’ Cinematic VR introduced onboard KiwiRail ferries

February 4, 2020

Passengers on KiwiRails’ Interislander ferry service in New Zealand can now access Cinematic VR entertainment onboard.

Furnished by immersive entertainment specialist SkyLights’, the VR cinema glasses provide customers with their own private movie theatre where they can enjoy the latest 2D and 3D blockbuster films as well as travel and relaxation content.

The service is available to passengers travelling on KiwiRails’ three Interislander ferries. It is available for free in the onboard Plus lounges and to rent elsewhere onboard for NZ$20 per adult and $15 per child.

Passengers will be able to choose from a catalogue featuring recent films as well as documentaries. There are also separate headsets with programming for children.

The decision to deploy this new type of entertainment follows the success of a two-month pilot program, in which 92% of passengers were either very satisfied or satisfied with the service and is a major milestone in Skylights strategy to expand beyond its origins in the airline industry.

“Waiting times, whether inflight or on a ship, offer an ideal opportunity to discover the unique and memorable entertainment experiences that VR has to offer. This industry-first is an exciting step forward in establishing premium immersive entertainment as a part of people’s daily lives,” said David Dicko, SkyLights’ CEO.


GX Aviation hits milestone with Air New Zealand

February 4, 2020

Inmarsat’s GX Aviation solution has now powered more than one million free inflight broadband sessions for Air New Zealand passengers.

The milestone was achieved approximately one year after Air New Zealand switched to a free-of-charge model for its inflight broadband service. GX Aviation is currently available on almost 25 aircraft within the Air New Zealand fleet, operating on Trans-Tasman, Pacific Island, US and London routes. This includes a combination of Boeing 777-200, 777-300 and 787-9 aircraft, in addition to Airbus A320 and A321 neos.

Chris Rogerson, Inmarsat Aviation’s regional vice president for Asia Pacific, said: “Air New Zealand is one of the airline industry’s biggest advocates of free inflight broadband. Whenever and wherever passengers fly with them, they will be offered unrestricted internet access at zero cost. It is a prime example of how this leading airline always seeks to delight and surprise their passengers.

“The fact that over one million sessions have been enjoyed by passengers since the free-of-charge model was introduced in December 2018 is testament to incredibly strong demand for high-speed, reliable and easy to access inflight broadband. It also underpins Inmarsat’s leadership in providing ‘gold standard’ aviation connectivity that empowers our airline customers to offer a world-class experience that meets the demands of today’s passengers.”

In addition to reaching the one million milestone, last December was Air New Zealand’s biggest month ever for free inflight wifi sessions, with more than 122,000 customers connecting.


Immfly investment from Boeing

February 4, 2020

Immfly has revealed that it received a strategic investment from Boeing Horizon X in late 2019.

“This investment will help further establish Immfly as the industry’s leading partner for pioneering cabin digitalisation and reinforce our ability to provide global services,” said Immfly executive chairman Jimmy Martinez von Korff.

“Boeing and Immfly share a common vision to continue growing the digital capabilities provided to airlines to enhance their onboard experience and develop new revenue streams.”

“Boeing’s strategic investment in Immfly drives innovation across the entire passenger journey.” said Brian Schettler, senior managing director for Boeing HorizonX Ventures. “Immfly’s digital cabin solution is fundamentally changing how airlines around the world are engaging with their passengers during flight.”

Boeing HorizonX, an innovation and venture organisation within Boeing, aims to discover, shape and accelerate the next generation of ‘game-changing’ ideas, products and markets through ventures investments in companies developing transformative technologies and business models, partnerships and trend discovery.

Immfly is one of just four companies outside the United States to join the Boeing HorizonX portfolio. The company will showcase its digital services in the Boeing HorizonX “What’s Next” booth at the Singapore Airshow this month.


SWISS unveils upgraded A340 fleet

January 29, 2020

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS ) has concluded the cabin refurbishment programme for its Airbus A340 aircraft fleet in mid-January. All five fleet members have now been provided with a totally new cabin and a new inflight entertainment system. As a result, SWISS now offers its passengers internet connectivity onboard throughout its long-haul fleet.

SWISS has newly equipped the cabins of its five Airbus A340 aircraft with the First, Business and Economy seats, which already feature on its Boeing 777s, together with a new inflight entertainment system that includes internet connectivity. Passengers also enjoy a new cabin lighting concept on the refurbished A340 fleet.

“With the completion of our Airbus A340 cabin refurbishment programme we are further underlining our quality commitment, and now offer all our customers the same premium air travel experience, including inflight internet connectivity, on all our long-haul flights,” says SWISS chief commercial officer Tamur Goudarzi Pour.


Amipak invests £1.5m in new technology

January 29, 2020

Amipak has recently invested £200,000 in a new Brausse folding and gluing machine from UK and Ireland agent ipack solutions for its growing range of carton packaging products for the food-to-go and out-of-home sectors.

The new Brausse Forza 1100 C6 machine is now fully operational at Amipak’s Croydon site, and is the latest investment in technology and modernisation of its production facilities totalling over £1.5m.

“Investment is critical to meet increasingly growing demand for more sustainable packaging solutions, with the flexibility to match fast moving food-to-go trends,” explains Amipak director of communications and sustainability, Daniel Schwitzer. “The carton packs we produce on this new improved line are often made from easily recyclable material and are pulpable or compostable in an industrial facility, which fits well with current consumer expectations.”

The new folder gluer machine brings the latest technology for faster running speeds, quick make-readies including memory positioning system for quick re-call and setting of repeat jobs.

“Fully operational from mid-January 2020, the new machine enables us to deliver the shorter lead times, with increased capacity, reliability and flexibility required to meet the fast-changing demands of this sector,” explains Daniel Schwitzer. “It is used to fold and glue trays and food packaging such as cake or food boxes, and in addition to reducing waste, creates the opportunity for Amipak to convert more glued products.”


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.