- Click here to nominate a business for the Inflight Awards at the Inflight IFEC Pavilion at AIME 2015.
- Click here to register for the Inflight Workshop in the IFEC Pavilion at AIME 2015.
- Pre-Order your 2015 Low-Fare & Regional Aviation Handbook by the end of November and receive a 10% discount. Quote code WHBLR2015
VLM Airlines becomes member of IATA
VLM Airlines, already a member of the ERA, has now also become a member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
“The fact that VLM Airlines has become a member of IATA is very positive news,” noted Arthur White, CEO of VLM Airlines. “Thanks to this membership VLM Airlines belongs, from now on, to the Premier League of the international airline industry. This membership offers many advantages of which our clients will be the first beneficiaries.”
IATA’s 240+ airline members across 115 countries represent 80% of total available seat kilometres worldwide, supporting airline activity and helping formulate industry policy and standards, including safety, security, business, environment and services.
Lantal’s cushions offer air-tight passenger experience
Lantal’s Pneumatic Comfort System (PCS), or more simply, air-filled seat cushions, are being chosen for business and first class seats by SWISS, Lufthansa and British Airways, amongst others. Inflight-Online.com finds out how the system offers passengers a luxury passenger experience, whilst remaining cost-effective for airlines.
Harald Riner, head of sales for PCS, explains that the stand-out advantage of the product is its weight. He suggests PCS cushions can save between 1.5 and 3kg per business class seat, and an even more impressive 3 to 5kg on first class cushions. Combined with the lower operational cost of the PCS, Riner claims, “The operator can expect a return on investment in less than 3 years.”
The save in operational cost is in comparison to more traditional foam seating, Riner says. “The natural usage of foam leads to degradation over time, which reduces the support and comfort of the passenger dramatically. Foam cushions cannot recover and premium airlines replace them every few years to maintain the comfort level – PCS cushions are maintenance free and never degrade. They provide the same exact quality and comfort for the entire lifespan of the seat, making a periodical cushion change needless.”
But the operational benefits Lantal’s PCS product gives airlines aren’t a squeeze on passenger experience like other airline money-savers, such as reducing seat pitch. Riner argues that PCS does the contrary, that it actually improves passenger experience.
Visually, passengers are treated to a more pristine looking seat. Riner points out, “The daily usage of ordinary foam will decrease its volume over time. The textile covers will start to wrinkle. Due to the constant air pressure in the PCS cushions, the covers will always be tight fit.”
The PCS also offers a massage function, which Lantal believes is a luxury that first and business class passengers have come to expect. However, once again, there’s no need for airlines to install any additional infrastructure, as “Lantal’s PCS just works with air pressure.” Riner elaborates, “The lordosis and massage function consists of two cushions which are placed behind the backrest cushion. The cushions get inflated alternately and this generates a massage for the passenger.”
Furthermore, the company says, “passengers are able to individually control the firmness of the cushions to accommodate their personal comfort level. The PCS knows the seat position from sensors and changes the firmness in the individual chambers accordingly.”
The PCS also has both safety and hygiene benefits. The company explains, “The majority of the weight consists of non-flammable material. Therefore, PCS significantly reduces the amount of flammable material in the cabin,” and that, “Unlike foam, the PCS seat cushions have a closed surface and can easily be cleaned or even sanitised on the spot.”
When Inflight-Online.com asked about the company’s future developments, Lantal confirmed that a PCS system for economy class is already under development. Is a luxury passenger experience product finally cost-effective enough to be enjoyed by more than just the privileged few? Watch this space.
Air France to launch in-flight Wi-Fi with Orange
Air France and Orange Business Services (Orange) are equipping two Airbus A320s with in-flight connectivity for a three month trial phase, with the official launch for the platform due in summer 2015.
Air France Industries is in charge of installing the equipment required for operating and maintaining the in-flight broadband service on the two aircraft. Orange is overseeing the supply of the satellite network, which allows a Wi-Fi connection on-board.
Using this Wi-Fi connection, passengers on the two A320s (which operate on the airline’s short and medium haul networks) can connect to a portal offering both internet and a selection of in-flight entertainment, including live TV, box-sets, films and music as well as practical information such as connecting flight times and services available at their destinations.
A recent study by market and opinion research agency BVA, carried out among over 2,000 Air France passengers, revealed 78% of Air France customers were interested in in-flight connectivity. 28% of these passengers said they were willing to pay for the service if the price was suitable. Air France does plan to charge a fee for in-flight Wi-Fi, with terms and conditions becoming available from Orange in 2015.
“In-flight Wi-Fi is something that everyone is eager to experience and we are very happy to be able to meet their expectations thanks to this project conducted with Air France,” commented Delphine Ernotte Cunci, deputy senior executive at Orange France. “This is a new demonstration of the Orange group's capacity to innovate, which is mobilising all its expertise in the area of networks, content and business.”
Frédéric Gagey, chairman and CEO of Air France, remarked, “Being permanently connected has become an integral part of many of our customer's daily lives, notably for business travellers on our short and medium-haul flights. This innovative project conducted in partnership with Orange intends to meet this high expectation as closely as possible. With this Wi-Fi offer on-board our aircraft, we also wish to remain on the cutting edge of developments in digital technology.”
Lion Group reaches 100 firm orders with ATR
The Lion Group has become ATR’s largest ever customer, by announcing that it has increased its firm purchase order from 60 ATR 72-600 aircraft to 100.
“ATR 72-600 aircraft enable us to achieve a brilliant economic performance. They are very competitive, as they enable us to ensure a high frequency service,” explained Lion Group chairman, Rusdi Kirana. “With these new generation aeroplanes in our fleet, the Lion Group will continue to contribute to the economic development in Indonesia, Malaysia and Asia, including remote regions as well as tourist driven markets such as Bali, Java, Kalimantan (Borneo) and Sumatra.”
The Asia-Pacific region accounts for nearly 40% of the sales of the ATR-600 series. Today, more than 300 ATR aircraft are operated by Asia-Pacific carriers, while there are 100 more on order.
Patrick de Castelbajac, ATR’s CEO, added, “We also thank the strong financing support provided by SACE, Italy’s Credit Export Agency, which has considerably contributed to develop and consolidate such a fruitful partnership.”
The new contract was signed at a special ceremony in Rome, witnessed by Matteo Renzi, Italy’s Prime Minister.
Former United pilot to head safety ops at Inmarsat
Captain Mary McMillan (pictured) has been appointed as the new vice president of aviation safety and operational services for Inmarsat Aviation.
McMillan was previously vice president of aerospace safety and environment at Tetra Tech AMT, where she was responsible for the development of safety risk strategies and safety management systems for air navigation service providers, airports and airlines. She also contributed subject matter expertise in aviation safety reporting and data analysis. At the same time, McMillan was independent safety advisor to Airservices Australia’s board of directors.
McMillan also provided development expertise and support during the creation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Air Traffic Safety Action Program (ATSAP), the largest voluntary safety reporting system in the world.
Furthermore, working as a pilot, standards captain and flight operations duty manager with United Airlines (Airlines) for almost 20 years, Captain McMillan has recorded over 12,000 hours flight time in aircraft ranging from B747s to B767s and Airbus A320s, authoring the first edition of the United Airlines Flight Safety Manual.
“The appointment of Captain Mary McMillan to head up our aviation safety services is a real coup for Inmarsat,” said Leo Mondale, president of Inmarsat Aviation. “Mary brings a unique combination of airline, air traffic, regulatory, and international aviation experience, which will be of great benefit our partners, airlines and Inmarsat as we continue to see the introduction of new satcom aviation services, driven by an unprecedented investment programme in our aviation business.”
Flybe–Aer Lingus deal opens North America to Southampton passengers
A new codeshare between Flybe and Aer Lingus means that passengers travelling from Southampton Airport can now access new destinations in North America such as Boston, New York, San Francisco, Orlando, Chicago and Toronto, with a single stopover in Dublin.
“Our new codeshare agreement with Aer Lingus is another exciting development for Flybe and we are delighted to be working with such an excellent and well-respected airline,” explained Paul Willoughby (pictured), Flybe’s regional general manager in the UK. “It further demonstrates our commitment to becoming ‘One Stop to the World’, providing seamless connectivity from the UK regions for our customers so they no longer have to endure the hassle of travelling long haul via the UK's over-crowded south east hub airports.”
Passengers who book through the Aer Lingus website or travel agents will travel on one ticket for the entire journey, also having the option to be pre-cleared for US customs at Dublin Airport.
Air France group short-haul activity brought together under Hop! AF brand
From summer 2015, all short-haul activity in the Air France Group will be operated under a simplified structure, Hop! Air France, which will bring together both Air France's point-to-point services and HOP! services.
Air France’s point-to-point team, based in Paray Vieille Poste, and the HOP! team, based in Rungis, will come together in Montreuil under Lionel Guérin, who is currently acting chairman and CEO of HOP!
“Short-haul activity sits in competition with trains, cars, and low-cost airlines. We need to restructure our company to be even more responsively market-oriented, and accessible to our customers,” commented Air France chairman and CEO, Frédéric Gagey. “HOP! Air France provides a response adapted to the specific characteristics of short-haul carrier activity, and the travel needs of our customers. I am counting on the efforts of all staff to achieve the ambitious targets for this business.”
The idea for this new structure was proposed by a group of experts, who recommended a corresponding commercial offer and economic model for each market, whether in terms of costs or revenue, at a recent Air France Works Council meeting. Its objective is to quickly generate value for the group, and recover profitability in the short-haul market within three years.
In-flight Wi-Fi providers offer free internet access on first ‘Connection Day’
Verizon held its first ‘Connection Day’ on Wednesday 26th November, prior to Thanksgiving, partnering with companies like JetBlue and Gogo to offer passengers free in-flight connectivity services on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
As part of their connection day celebration, Verizon focused on the fact that the national long-distance travel average in the US increases by 54% during the Thanksgiving holidays.
Regardless of their network provider, passengers travelling on Gogo-equipped flights were treated to 30 minutes of complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi, whilst JetBlue passengers travelling between November 26th and December 31st will have access to the airline’s Fly-Fi connectivity service throughout the entire duration of their flights.
“As we approach the holiday season, we wanted to show how much we appreciate our customers,” remarked Ken Dixon, vice president of marketing for Verizon Wireless. “We hope that not only our customers, but everyone, will take advantage of this day—a day to connect with family and friends, to learn something new about their device, or just to provide a little more entertainment during what can often be a hectic kick off to the holiday season.”
Dragonair introduces Bluebox Hybrid on A320 fleet
Business class passengers travelling on Dragonair’s A320 aircraft will now have access to iPads fitted with Bluebox Avionics’ ‘Hybrid’ technology.
Bluebox Hybrid, which currently has 14,000 units flying, offers early window content from many studios as well as access to streamed in-flight entertainment (IFE) in one integrated proposition, using a secure app for iPad Air and iPad Mini. Bluebox claims the app interfaces with its Hollywood-approved wireless streaming solution to complete a premium IFE platform as content-rich as any fitted system.
“Out of the 25 airlines now employing Bluebox, Dragonair is the first customer to adopt our application specifically to integrate with in-cabin wireless IFE”, notes Bluebox spokesman Kevin Birchmore. “We like to take that as a vote of confidence in our recent work around hybrid IFE, from a highly respected and, quite rightly, a highly demanding new client.”
Inmarsat and ESA partnership to transform ATM in Europe
Inmarsat has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) entering into the Iris Precursor partnership, under which Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadbandSafety product will be upgraded in order to play an integral part in the future European air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure.
The upgrades will see Inmarsat providing satellite overlays to terrestrial VHF data links in Europe, allowing the sending of information between aircraft and ground stations. The technology may also go on to be deployed across North America, Asia Pacific and other regions, where the growth of air traffic is placing strain on ground-based VHF networks.
The upgrades will then enable Single European Sky’s ATM Research (SESAR) flight management concepts, so flight plans can be continually updated during flight to maintain an optimal trajectory to destination.
This trajectory management allows air traffic control to offer better routings, sequence aircraft far in advance and maximise airport and airspace capacity, reducing flight time and airborne holding. It also supports other concepts such as continuous descent operations, creating less fuel burn, reduced delays and lower CO2 emissions.
“Iris Precursor is a project within the framework of ESA’s Iris Programme, born in 2008 to provide a satellite system as part of a wider initiative driven by the European Commission for the modernisation of the air traffic management,” explained Magali Vaissiere, ESA’s director of telecommunications and integrated applications. “It represents a first milestone of a fruitful collaboration in the long-term modernisation of air traffic management: a challenge that we can only do if we join forces, ready to tackle step by step.”
Inmarsat’s CEO, Rupert Pearce, claimed, “Today’s announcement cements our role in providing aviation safety services. We have been committed since the launch of Future Air Navigation Systems in the 1990s to support safety communications for the world’s airlines. Our aim, and the purpose of this partnership, is to continue to provide airlines across the globe with improved safety services, aircraft routing, and environmental and cost efficiency benefits.”
VietJetAir receives 1st direct-from-Airbus A320
VietJetAir has marked the beginning of its major fleet expansion, taking delivery of the first of up to 100 Airbus A320 family aircraft at a ceremony in Toulouse – its first directly from the OEM.
63 of these potential new aircraft, including 14 A320ceos, seven A321ceos and 42 A320neos, are already on firm order with Airbus, with VietJetAir holding purchase rights with Airbus for another 30 aircraft, as well as planning to lease seven more from third party lessors.
“The A320 has proven to be extremely efficient in service with VietJetAir and is a favourite with our passengers,” announced Luu Duc Khanh, MD of VietJetAir. “Based on this experience, we look forward to developing our business across the Asia-Pacific region, with the most economic and comfortable aircraft.”
“This ceremony marks a new exciting milestone in our relationship with VietJetAir and with Vietnam, one of the fastest-growing markets in the world,” added John Leahy, COO–customers for Airbus. “We are confident that the reliable and proven A320 family will play a key role in enabling VietJetAir to fly to even greater heights.”
VietJetAir began operations in 2011 and currently has a fleet of 17 leased A320s.
JetBlue signs MTU Maintenance Canada for V2500 support
MTU Maintenance Canada has signed a six year contract to provide JetBlue with V2500 accessories and Line Replaceable Unit (LRU) coverage from its Accessory Repair Centre (ARC), which is co-located with MTU Maintenance Canada’s engine shop in Richmond, British Columbia.
The company has been the exclusive maintenance provider for JetBlue’s V2500 engines over the past nine years, with the airline being one of the largest operators of V2500 engines worldwide.
MTU Maintenance Canada’s ARC provides accessory repairs and LRU management solutions for CF34, CFM56, V2500, CF6-80, PW2000, and GE90-115B engines.
More capacity for Aegean’s Birmingham–Athens route
Following the launch of a new route between Birmingham and Athens in July this year, Aegean Airlines is upping capacity on the summer 2015 service between the two destinations by 8,500 seats.
“It’s no surprise that this Athens service from Birmingham has been such a success as it provides direct access to Athens and choice across the Greek Islands, which are hugely popular with British tourists,” noted William Pearson, aviation development director at Birmingham Airport. “We are therefore delighted that the team at Aegean has not only recognised the demand in the Midlands region to recommence services in April, but also increase capacity over the summer months from Birmingham.”
Between April and October 2015, the Birmingham–Athens service will be operated on a 168-seat Airbus A320 aircraft with a dual class configuration each Wednesday and Sunday.
Flybe to fly for SAS in new white label deal
From October 2015, Flybe will begin a six year agreement with SAS, initially operating four ATR 72-600s on short-haul services, with four extra aircraft being brought into service if required.
“We are delighted to announce this agreement with SAS which provides a turnkey regional capacity solution,” declared Flybe’s CEO, Saad Hammad. “This white label agreement with Scandinavia’s largest carrier confirms Flybe’s twin-engine growth strategy and we are excited about its long-term potential. We look forward to starting operations in Scandinavia next year.”
“It’s always a great pleasure to take in brand new aircraft in our traffic. We already have very good experiences with the ATR turboprop, and our customers can look forward to high quality and a pleasant and joyful journey with Flybe for SAS,” commented SAS COO Flemming Jensen. “This agreement means that SAS’s production can become even more effective and we also streamline our fleet with respect to the type of aircraft external carriers fly for us.”
The aircraft will operate under Flybe's Airline Operating Certificate (AOC) and are being provided with full flight and cabin crew as well as maintenance. The companies say that there is scope for the agreement to be extended.
Trans State Holdings’ carriers to use Lufthansa Systems’s iRouteManual
Trans State Holdings, which operates three regional airlines – GoJet Airlines, Compass Airlines and Trans States Airlines – has signed a five-year agreement with Lufthansa Systems for pilots to use electronic iRouteManual charts from the Lido product group.
iRouteManual, optimised for Apple iPads, contains apps giving pilots access to general maps, takeoff and landing charts, instrument flight rules (IFR) charts and depictions of airport runways, all of which are generated directly from the Lido navigation database and are always up to date.
The charts provide true-to-scale depiction of terrain and topographical information, such as the height of mountains and course of rivers, to improve a pilots' situational awareness. Pilots can also access additional flight information – communication frequencies, control zones, route-specific features – by switching between charts and other relevant documents using the touchscreen.
Lido’s iRouteManual product is not a permanently installed device. This means pilots can not only use the charts for flight preparation wherever and whenever they like, but also that they can individually select the desired level of detail on the charts using the touchscreen and zoom function as well as the usual iPad controls.
Dan Reed, vice-president flight operations for Trans States Holdings, stated, “Lido/iRouteManual gives our pilots the flexibility they need in terms of time and space to optimally prepare for a flight. The clear, self-explanatory charts reduce the flight deck workload during a flight and help ensure safe flight operations.”
Trans State Holdings also opted for Lufthansa Systems’s Integrated Operations Control Center (IOCC) platform – an integrated, modular IT platform for monitoring and controlling all of an airline’s operating processes across departments – in May this year.
Search the site
Latest Blog entries
WTM 2014: New leaders, new strategies, new directions
Stephanie Taylor discovered at WTM how much airlines with di...
Awesome Orlando – this year’s NBAA was bigger and better than ever before
Whew! Am just recovering from one of the fastest paced NBAA show...
November 6, 2014
Inflight editor scoops top prize at Oman Air UK Media Awards
November 3, 2014
Inflight nominated for Oman Air Media Award
August 20, 2014
Nominations open for 2015 Inflight Awards Middle East