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News : 2014 Passenger IT Trends Survey shows mobile technology boom

2014 Passenger IT Trends Survey shows mobile technology boom

Results from the 9th annual ‘Passenger IT trends survey’ published by SITA have revealed that passengers are more tech-savvy than ever, with many wanting to make use of yet more mobile services from gate-to-gate.
97% of the 6,277 passengers surveyed carry a smartphone, tablet or laptop when flying, and one in five travels with all three electronic devices at once! However, interestingly only half of the respondents seem to desire tech which would enhance their in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC)
capabilities. 56% say they would use in-flight internet to access IFE on their personal devices, and 54% want to be able to check emails, send texts and make phone-calls in the air. 
From the results, it looks as though passengers are adopting the use of mobile technology on the ground far more quickly than in-flight. A huge 76% of participants said they were already making use of airline apps, even though only 43% of those felt the apps definitely improved their journey. 
72% of those who responded said they were willing to share personal information in order to receive more personalised services, aided by new technology such as iBeacons (mobile tracking devices positioned throughout the airport). 53% of passengers want customised alerts about any delays sent directly to their phones and 57% want airport maps and directions.
Half those surveyed would like to use their smartphone for boarding, but an overwhelming majority are happy for airport and airline staff to use technology to aid passengers both on the ground and in the air: 77% said they would be comfortable with the presence of google glass and smartwatches.
Information sharing isn’t so popular when it comes to ancillary revenue, however, with less than a third of passengers wanting to receive personalised retail offers, and only 40% saying they would use in-flight broadband to purchase duty free goods using their personal devices. 
No wonder airports and airlines are investing heavily in mobile technology, with nearly 100% of passengers having access to the marketplace, and with Virgin Atlantic saying they’re already testing technology which identifies a passenger by their heartbeat, who knows what next year’s survey will uncover. 
The 2014 Passenger IT Trends Survey was carried out on passengers travelling through the world’s top 30 airports spread across 15 countries worldwide, which account for 76% of total global passenger traffic.
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News : APEX Passenger Choice Award winners 2014: De-brief

APEX Passenger Choice Award winners 2014: De-brief

It’s been nearly two weeks since the winners of the 2014 Passenger Choice Awards were announced at the APEX EXPO in Anaheim, California. Now they’ve had time to reflect on their success, finds out what the in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) winners think makes them stand out from the crowd.
Don Buchman, VP of Exede Mobility, explains why he believes ViaSat’s ‘Exede in the Air’ connectivity service won the Avion award for ‘Best Achievement in Technology’. Buchman says, “We have a different objective than other providers: To provide a really great service that encourages more people to use it.
“Just like our Exede residential service, Exede in The Air is delivering 12 Mbps to each passenger, regardless of how many people use it, rather than providing only a single ‘bucket’ of bandwidth to the plane that passengers must share. Where traditional uptake has been less than 10% of passengers, we’re seeing an average of 40% logging on to our service; with a record of 148 personal devices connected on one trans-continental JetBlue flight.” 
Buchman concludes, “There is also new technology behind the service. We invented a new satellite system that focuses on maximising bandwidth for customers. The new ViaSat high-capacity Ka-band satellite system features ViaSat-1, recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s highest capacity communications satellite.”
Virgin America won the award for ‘Best In-flight Video’ for the second time in four years. The video in question was the first ever domestic safety video set entirely to music and performed in dance, with the airline even running a competition to see passengers win a spot in the film.
Chief marketing officer, Luanne Calvert, told that the video sets the tone for the rest of the Virgin America flying experience, which it aims to make just as enjoyable.
Calvert says, “At Virgin America, we’re always looking for ways to change the game and our safety video is a great example of this, putting a fun and irreverent twist on the traditional format to bring important safety messages to life through dance and song. 
“It’s a great introduction to the Virgin America flying experience which is equally unique – from our signature mood-lit cabins, innovative on-demand menu and seat-to-seat chat. We also understand the importance of in-flight connectivity to our guests, which is why we offer power outlets at every seat and Wi-Fi across the entire fleet. We will continue to look for ways to reinvent flying to deliver an airline that our guests love.” 
If the Passenger Choice Awards are anything to go by, Virgin America really is delivering quality passenger experience from beginning to end. The airline took home the most awards, also winning ‘Best Overall Passenger Experience’, ‘Best in Region: Americas’, ‘Best Cabin Ambiance’ and ‘Best Ground Experience’.   
To watch Virgin America’s ‘VX Safety Dance’, click this link:
Norwegian also won an Avion award for ‘Best Single Achievement in Passenger Experience’ for its interactive ‘geotainment’ moving map, a feature which is being rolled out across the IFE systems of more and more airline fleets this year, including KLM and Virgin Atlantic. 

Stephanie Taylor, editorial assistant, Inflight /
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News : EASA clears the way for gate-to-gate PEDs

EASA clears the way for gate-to-gate PEDs

EASA (the European Aviation Safety Authority) has amended its rules regarding personal electronic devices (PEDs), allowing passengers to use smartphones and tablets in-flight without the devices having to be in ‘flight mode’.
The update, which was implemented as of 26 September, follows EASA’s previous revision on PED rules in 2013, when they first made it possible to use them in-flight with ‘flight mode’ enabled. Unlike before, EASA predicts that the latest changes won’t be adopted immediately, forecasting that it will take 8 months for passengers to begin benefitting.   
EASA specify that the introduction of a gate-to-gate PED experience is at the discretion of each European airline, which must first have their aircraft certified as ‘PED tolerant’. The assessment process will determine whether electronic devices, including e-readers and mp3 players, interfere with a flight whilst they’re transmitting (i.e. not in flight mode).   
This means airlines may have differences within their fleets depending on the aircraft type, which is why EASA are encouraging passengers to check the individual circumstances before they fly. 
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News : GEE and Budge Studios create kids IFE games

GEE and Budge Studios create kids IFE games

Global Eagle Entertainment (GEE) has teamed up with Budge Studios to bring popular children’s characters to in-flight entertainment (IFE) in the form of gaming.
Noemie Dupuy, Co-CEO and co-founder of Budge Studios, explains, “As a mother of two young children, I know how much games come in handy during family trips. We’re thrilled to offer some of our best titles to airlines around the globe through our partnership with GEE, while helping families achieve a fun travel experience with no more ‘are we there yet’ moments!”
Budge’s partnership with GEE will see children’s characters such as Caillou, Strawberry Shortcake, Chuggington and Miss Hollywood make their way onto airline’s IFE systems in five new games. The kids app company has already had over 45 million downloads to date outside of the commercial aviation industry.
“We’re excited to bring Budge Studios’ original and highly popular gaming titles to the skies,” commented Alexis Steinman, senior VP of software and development at GEE. “These renowned children’s games will provide even more compelling and relevant content to our extensive market-leading in-flight gaming portfolio.”
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News : Ryanair holds 2014 AGM, raises pax and profit forecast

Ryanair holds 2014 AGM, raises pax and profit forecast

After holding its 2014 AGM, Ryanair has decided to raise its full year traffic forecast from 86 million to 87 million passengers and to push its predicted full year net profit towards the upper end of its €620 to €650 million range.
CEO Michael O’Leary explained one reason for Ryanair’s increased traffic and profit predictions, commenting, “We now expect slightly stronger traffic growth in the winter schedule, as we open new bases in primary airports at Cologne, Gdansk, Glasgow and Warsaw Modlin, as well as significantly increasing flight frequencies and schedules from Dublin to UK cities, and from Dublin to European capitals.”
During the AGM, which took place at the airline’s Dublin office, Ryanair also briefed stakeholders on the success of its ‘Always Getting Better’ customer experience initiatives and the strong early uptake of its new business product, Ryanair Business Plus.
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News : Alexandria Marren becomes COO of ExpressJet

Alexandria Marren becomes COO of ExpressJet

SkyWest, Inc. has announced that Alexandria Marren is to become the new chief operating officer (COO) of subsidiary ExpressJet as of 1 October.
Marren will replace Brad Holt in managing over 9,000 ExpressJet employees as well as the airline’s 388-strong aircraft fleet. As COO, she will also oversee ExpressJet’s flight operations, inflight operations and maintenance and partner relationships. 
SkyWest, Inc. president Chip Childs describes Marren as “a smart, strategic and thoughtful leader, with a proven track record for excellence, accountability and execution, all of which will be essential to positioning ExpressJet Airlines for success.”
Marren’s aviation experience is varied, ranging from customer service to technology. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a certificate from the Advanced Executive Programme at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. 
Meanwhile, Childs paid tribute to Brad Holt, who will retire after more than 30 years at SkyWest and ExpressJet. “We appreciate Brad’s extensive contributions to SkyWest, Inc. He has dedicated his life to our airlines and people and we wish him the best in his retirement,” he remarked.
“Brad has held many responsibilities at our airlines over the last three decades, including VP of flight operations at SkyWest Airlines before being named president and COO of Atlantic Southeast in 2007. There, he oversaw the integration of ExpressJet and ASA in 2010 and has since led the new ExpressJet,” noted Jerry Atkin, SkyWest, Inc. chairman and CEO. “We’re grateful for all the good that Brad has contributed, both at SkyWest and at ExpressJet.”
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News : Macquarie AirFinance becomes largest lessor of Bombardier CS300

Macquarie AirFinance becomes largest lessor of Bombardier CS300

A wholly owned affiliate of Macquarie AirFinance has signed a firm purchase agreement for 40 Bombardier CS300s and taken options for a further 10, with plans to lease the aircraft to airline operators across the globe.
The CS300s, which will be delivered to Macquarie AirFinance between 2017 and 2019, will add to the company’s existing fleet of 136 aircraft, which are leased to 73 operators in 43 different countries.
“The CS300 will allow us to offer our customers the only type of aircraft optimised for the upper end of the 100- to 150-seat market segment. Its advanced technologies, attractive economics and environmental attributes were key factors in our selection of the CS300,” remarked chairman of Macquarie AirFinance, Stephen Cook.
"Macquarie AirFinance's selection of the CS300 aircraft is a strong endorsement of the aircraft type and we are looking forward to working with this unique lessor to expand the market for our 100%-new jetliner," added Mike Arcamone, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft’s president. "We anticipate continued momentum in the CSeries aircraft programme as we confirm our performance predictions for the aircraft.”
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News : Emrise receives $1.4m order for IFE technology

Emrise receives $1.4m order for IFE technology

UK-based Emrise Corporation (Emrise) has announced an order for $1.4m worth of electronic devices and subsystems for in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) equipment on commercial aircraft.
The company, which manufactures defense and aerospace electronic devices and communication equipment, expects to have completed shipment of the order by mid-2015.
Emrise refrained from revealing the name of its client, instead saying the order is for “a longstanding customer for use in a well-established IFEC programme by the Company’s Pascall Electronics Ltd subsidiary in England."
“Industry forecasts for future aircraft shipments by the major aircraft manufacturers continue to be strong,” explained Emrise CEO Carmine Oliva. "At the same time air carriers are also refurbishing newer aircraft in their fleets as they strive to create new revenue sources that improve a passenger’s air travel experience, increasing the demand for IFEC systems.” 
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News : DMD Phantom appoints new director of sales

DMD Phantom appoints new director of sales

DMD Phantom has announced with immediate effect that Jörg Schiffmann is taking on the role of director of sales, overseeing sales and marketing activity across the company’s media and technology brands.
Schiffmann’s career in the in-flight entertainment (IFE) industry includes 23 years as Managing Director of Atlas Air Film + Media Service GmbH and Commercial Director of IFE Services Ltd.
During his time at Atlas Air, Schiffmann transformed the company from a local content service provider (CSP) into the industry’s market leader, playing a significant part in building the stock-listed ‘Advanced Inflight Alliance’ into a global group of content distributors and service providers to airlines. 
DMD Phantom’s MD John Howe, commented, “This is a highly significant appointment for DMD worldwide, reflecting a recent phase of growth that merits the recruitment of such a heavy hitter as Jörg, and clearly signalling both our commitment to the industry and our expectations of greater success to come.”
“Our brand portfolio includes digital press products, full CSP services, iOS and HTML5 games and of course the Bluebox range of portable IFEC solutions,” continues Howe. “These are all areas that Jörg understands well, and he’s had proven success at the very highest level integrating them into one rich and compelling proposition to customers.”
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News : Cleveland becomes latest city in Spirit’s network

Cleveland becomes latest city in Spirit’s network

From 15 January 2015, Cleveland will become the 57th city in Spirit Airlines’ route network, with services to eight destinations: Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Myrtle Beach.
Mark Kopczak, the airline’s VP of network planning, declared, “Cleveland and Northeastern Ohio have endured high fares long enough.”
Each service will be daily, apart from those to Tampa and Fort Myers, which will operate three and four times weekly, respectively.
All new flights will operate out of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE). CLE’s director, Ricky Smith, commented, “Today's announcement further establishes CLE as the preferred low-fare airport in the region.”
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News : Rex cuts back on marginal routes in New South Wales

Rex cuts back on marginal routes in New South Wales

From 27 October, marginal Regional Express (Rex) flights between Sydney and New South Wales, including routes to Taree, Grafton, Lismore and Newcastle, will be significantly reduced in capacity as the airline undergoes the most wide-ranging network review in its history.
Rex gained approval from the Board to maintain service on all routes, but to improve operating efficiencies some routes are being linked to another port.
"This network review is the second phase of our overall strategy to improve profitability. Earlier the Board announced, for the first time in our history, redundancies affecting various positions across the Rex Group. This will again be reviewed at the next Board meeting at the end of November," explained Neville Howell, COO of Rex.
“The review was triggered by 2 consecutive years of steep profit declines which saw the airline's profits plummeting by 75% during this period,” continued Howell.
However, the network changes will introduce a daily service between Sydney and Broken Hill, with whom the airline entered into a partnership in July.
Howell added, “Rex will be providing the community with a direct early morning flight to Sydney and a direct evening return from Sydney in order to facilitate same day return travel from Broken Hill to Sydney. Currently all services to/from Sydney are via either Dubbo or Mildura.” 
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News : Airbus A320neo completes first flight

Airbus A320neo completes first flight

At noon Central European Time today, the first Airbus A320neo took to the skies from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport and was flown around Southern France by Airbus experimental test pilots Philippe Pellerin and Etienne Miche de Malleray for around two and half hours.
MSN6101 (registration F-WNEO), which is powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PW1100G-JM engine, was rolled out in July, having begun assembly in March. Since then, the aircraft has undergone numerous checks and ground tests in preparation for the first flight.
Flight-test engineers Manfred Birnfeld and Sandra Bour-Schaeffer were both monitoring the progress of the flight profile from the ground via a direct telemetry link, and test-flight engineer Jean-Paul Lambert accompanied the pilots in the cockpit.
The A320neo’s successful maiden flight, which explored the aircraft’s flight envelope and systems operation, is just the beginning of flight test campaign involving eight aircraft encompassing all models and both new engine options: the aforementioned Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM and the CFM International LEAP-1A turbofans. 
The NEO development fleet is  expected to perform a combined total of approximately 3,000 hours of flight testing. The A320neo with Pratt & Whitney engines will be the first variant in the Neo Family to receive type certification followed by its entry into airline service in the 4th quarter of 2015 with Qatar Airways as the first operator.
“I congratulate the whole A320neo development team, ground crew and air crew for making this day happen. The A320neo which has taken to the air today builds on the outstanding success of the A320 Family,” announced Fabrice Brégier, Airbus’s CEO. “The aircraft through its incremental innovations combines the most efficient engine and aerodynamic technologies, as well as new cabin features to bring to market a product which will consume 20% less fuel per passenger.”
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News :  JetBlue reveals Tartan tailfin

JetBlue reveals Tartan tailfin

JetBlue’s tenth iconic tailfin has been unveiled, showing a jaunty-angled tartan pattern on a blue background with clean, bold lines and a dash of green.
This is the airline’s second nod to Gaelic fashion, after it incorporated a plaid design into its 200 strong fleet in 2003.
“Design plays such an integral part in our story,” stated Lisa Borromeo, JetBlue’s director of brand management and advertising. “While others may push revamped logos or disorienting paint schemes, we feel it's important to build a visual language as we grow. Our tailfin patterns will always reflect a fresh style, with a timeless appeal that is core to who we are as a brand.”
The first JetBlue aircraft to carry the new tailfin was "Bippity Boppity Blue" (N565JB).
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News : TransNusa takes delivery of first ATR 42-600

TransNusa takes delivery of first ATR 42-600

TransNusa Aviation Mandiri is bringing the first ATR 42-600 to Indonesia as part of its movement towards fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) operations. 
The aircraft will begin its first FIFO service with six return flights per week from Jakarta's Halim Airport to Matak Airport in Natuna Island, and is scheduled to enter into service this November.
TransNusa won a 5-year contract from one of Indonesia’s largest oil consortiums earlier this year, which the airline believes shows a demand for turboprop services in the Indonesian market. 
“Placing our turboprop services with ATR 42 aircraft on the stringent FIFO operations represents great value for money for energy companies,” commented CEO of TransNusa, Jodjana Juvenile. “It will increase their efficiencies as it enables companies to consolidate their FIFO schedule and still travel direct to their sites even on gravel and narrow runways, while increasing passenger comfort.”
The airline will cover its aircraft with the Global Maintenance Agreement (GMA) signed recently with ATR, ensuring the supply of spare parts as well as the management of maintenance activities for the ATR 42-600 for 5 years.
ATR’s CEO Patrick de Castelbajac remarked, “The ATR-600 series aircraft will provide TransNusa and its customers with important reductions in operating and maintenance costs optimising and reinforcing its economic advantages to suit differing needs of the operation.”

TransNusa has options for three more ATR 42-600s. 
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News : Virgin Australia reveals Business and Premium Economy redesign

Virgin Australia reveals Business and Premium Economy redesign

Virgin Australia has released information about the new premium economy and business class cabins designed for its wide-body fleet by Tangerine London and manufactured by B/E Aerospace.
The airline’s Boeing 777 aircraft will benefit from the changes as of November next year, whilst the first Virgin Australia Airbus A330 featuring the upgrade is scheduled to enter service in March 2015.
The redesign is part of Virgin Vision, the airline’s new three-year strategy until 2017. “Our Virgin Vision to 2017 is to become Australia’s favourite airline group and today’s announcement is central to our strategy as it will see Virgin Australia deliver the best premium travel experience in Australia,” commented Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti.
In-flight entertainment components on the A330s include a 16” ‘Red’ Panasonic eX2 system graphical user interface with more than 300 hours of entertainment. The 777 will have the same technology but on an 18” screen. On-board connectivity on both types of aircraft will be provided by Lufthansa Systems. 
Business class will introduce suite-like seating, which B/E Aerospace named the ‘Super Diamond.’ The Super Diamond suite has a built-in unique tablet holder specially designed for Virgin Australia, a side console with a USB port and universal power socket and multiple lighting settings (reading light, soft ambient lamp and brighter overhead light). The business cabin upgrade will also feature a new bar. 
Passengers in Premium Economy will see fewer seats available in the cabin to offer a 41 inch seat pitch, which means three inches more legroom per seat than the previous design. 
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