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News : APEX 2014: BAE Systems opts for WISE streaming

APEX 2014: BAE Systems opts for WISE streaming


BAE Systems is to integrate Global Eagle Entertainment’s WISE inflight streaming solution with IntelliCabin its own inflight entertainment (IFE) offering for commercial aircraft.
 
WISE will provide the software backbone for the entertainment solution available with BAE’s modular and scalable cabin management architecture developed for applications ranging from in-seat power and dynamic LED cabin lighting, to wireless, tablet-based in-flight entertainment.
 
IntelliCabin’s state-of-the-art IFE system offers Samsung tablets at every seat, as well as wireless support of passengers’ own devices, compatible with inflight connectivity. The IFE solution features a wide range of content programming options such as movies, TV shows, a moving map, games, and digital publications.
 
Through its contract with BAE Systems, GEE will provide its technological and digital media expertise, enabling airlines to benefit from a complete content delivery chain, ranging from software solutions to local and international content selection, distribution, technical services, delivery and support.
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News : APEX 2014: Hubei Ali Jiatai Paves the way for Rockwell Collins in China

APEX 2014: Hubei Ali Jiatai Paves the way for Rockwell Collins in China


Rockwell Collins is teaming with Chinese airline seat maker Hubei Ali Jiatai for the latter to install PAVES On-demand in-seat in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The two companies have entered into a memorandum of understanding to achieve technical offerability for the complete IFE seat solution on Next-Generation Boeing 737 aircraft.
 
Greg Irmen, vice president and general manager, Flight Controls and Information Systems for Rockwell Collins says, “As China’s airline industry rapidly expands, so will the demand for reliable, easy-to-maintain IFE systems.”
 
Rockwell Collins’ PAVES system has a seat-centric architecture that prevents multi-seat disruptions. It also has a quick-release mechanism for easy removal and replacement of in-seat displays if necessary.
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News : APEX 2014: Bombardier launch customer for Honeywell’s high speed JetWave internet

APEX 2014: Bombardier launch customer for Honeywell’s high speed JetWave internet


Along with show releases, this news came in today. Canadian airframer Bombardier is to be the launch customer for Honeywell’s Ka-Band-based GX hardware and Inmarsat’s Jet ConneX satellite connectivity system.  Honeywell’s JetWave hardware exclusively supports Inmarsat’s forthcoming Jet ConneX (JX) service which, when it goes live in 2015, is slated to provide business jet passengers with high-speed, in-flight connectivity virtually anywhere in the world.
 
Bombardier will be the first business aviation manufacturer to equip JetWave and plans to offer the technology across the Global 5000, 6000, 7000 and 8000 platforms. A retrofit offering will also be available for all Global aircraft in service.
 
Honeywell’s JetWave hardware will allow passengers to video-conference, send and receive large files and access streaming content while on the move by enabling them to access the JX service. A range of service packages will be available to Bombardier customers, enabling them to select the speed that is right for their operations. In an industry first, each service package will be covered by a minimum service guarantee ensuring passengers experience a remarkable step forward in connectivity when compared to currently available technologies.
 
In 2012, Honeywell signed an agreement with Inmarsat to be the exclusive hardware provider for its Ka-Band GX Aviation connectivity service, branded Jet ConneX for the business aircraft market. Honeywell is also the master distributor of airtime for the business aviation market, working alongside channel partners Satcom1, Aircell, Arinc Direct, Satcom Direct and OnAir.
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News : APEX 2014: Panasonic introduces NFC for aircraft cabins

APEX 2014: Panasonic introduces NFC for aircraft cabins


Panasonic Avionics Corporation is introducing EMV-compliant Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology in its in-flight entertainment (IFE) system in the summer of 2015. Neil James executive director of corporate sales & product management explained, “The longest touchpoint an airline has is throughits onboard experience with the passengers during the journey.

 

He added that the H.265 standard is now supported in the latest iteration of theIphone. “PEDs are a virtual value driver for airlines. People have their trusted devices. We have unveiled the new technology to studios and developers to work together with us.”

 

From next year, passengers and crew will be able to use NFC-enabled smart phones and cards in-flight in many unique ways including:

  • High value transactions and purchases
  • Synchronisation of personal data to create just-for-me experiences
  • Recognition of a passenger’s Frequent Flyer status via NFC card or phone, giving access to benefits or promotions, such as free Wi-Fi for Gold members
  • Enabling crew to check in and out for duty using NFC
  • Pairing of NFC-enabled devices with the embedded IFEC system, allowing airlines to push information to passengers during their flight

According to Panasonic, analysts expect there to be huge growth in the use of NFC-enabled phones, with 200 million phones already in circulation capable of offering mobile payments. This prediction was reinforced by the recent announcement that the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will use NFC for their new Apple Pay service.

 

Research has shown that 70 per cent of airline passengers take smart phones on board and it is estimated that by 2016 55 per cent of smart phones will be NFC-enabled. All the top 50 mobile carriers globally are committed to NFC contactless payment.

 

James also pointed out that the company has built the world’s largest aviation MRO with 32,000 turns per month via 65 maintenance stations and eight repair shops.

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News : APEX 2014: Royal Jordanian to become launch customer for Avant on the B787

APEX 2014: Royal Jordanian to become launch customer for Avant on the B787


Royal Jordanian Airlines has become the launch customer for the Thales Avant inflight entertainment system on the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner type, which will offer some of the largest screens on the market, plus a host of new functionality.
 
Avant has an open platform, built on Android technology. The system offers passengers some of the largest in-flight entertainment seat back screens on the market, 17” in Crown (premium) and 10.6” touchscreens in Economy, and debuts several newly introduced features.
 
The inaugural commercial flight started between Amman and London, Heathrow. The second B787 aircraft is to join the fleet in late September. Another three will follow during October, November and December with the remainder being introduced to the fleet over the next few years.
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News : APEX 2014: Panasonic launches new ultra low profile aeronautical antenna

APEX 2014: Panasonic launches new ultra low profile aeronautical antenna


Panasonic to introduce an ultra low profile phased array antenna that is the same height as an iPhone. The 140lb antenna is designed to curve over the aircraft, eliminating the need for a radome, offering huge reductions in both weight and drag. Dave Bruner vice president of global communications services explained that the equipment is geared to narrowbodies especially in the Asia Pacific region and China. He said that the low-profile architecture “cuts operational expenses for wi-fi-equipped aircraft.
 
The firm is developing the broadband electronically steered with Boeing Network and Space Systems. It will deliver Panasonic’s eXConnect broadband in-flight Wi-Fi service, and, thanks to its low profile, reduces fuel burn and emissions through what the company says will be a 65 percent reduction in operational weight and drag “without compromising connection speed.”
 
The new antenna will be available to the commercial aircraft market in 2016. In addition, Panasonic plans to offer it to a much broader range of narrow- and wide-body aircraft. Bruner added that there is potentially a market for widebodies, too, with several Boeing 777-300 types operating in regional airways throughout Asia.
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News : APEX 2014: SES announces next generation bandwidth management

APEX 2014: SES announces next generation bandwidth management


Satellite operator SES announced today that it has developed in-house air traffic analysis processes and in-orbit reconfiguration capabilities to help airlines and in-flight entertainment (IFE) service providers get the most from their satellite bandwidth during flights around the world.
 
SES also announced that it is designing a strategic mix of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) and wide beam Ku-band technologies into its global fleet to meet the worldwide demand among airline passengers for in-flight connectivity.  
 
Two SES satellites are already under construction with next generation designs to serve the growing IFE, maritime and mobility markets across the Asia-Pacific region. Under construction by Boeing Satellite Systems, SES-9 features expansive mobility beams designed to provide both airliners and ships travelling through Asia, including the busy Indian Ocean Region, with high-speed broadband quality video services.
Being built by Airbus Defence and Space, SES-12 is a hybrid communications spacecraft capable of enabling IFE providers to reallocate high-powered capacity on the fly, to meet evolving airline entertainment and communications demands.
 
Steve Corda, vice president of business development for SES in North America said, “SES and the leading in-flight entertainment service providers are innovating new IFE solutions through collaborative partnerships that really begin when the satellite is in the early design phase. IFE providers will be able to reconfigure their SES capacity in orbit to meet the ever-changing demands of the global airline industry.”
 
SES-9 is scheduled to be lifted into orbit in 2015 by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket – the second SpaceX launch for SES. The Ku-band satellite will reside at the prime location of 108.2 degrees East. SES-12’s powerful 14 GHz HTS payload will deliver up to 24 gigabits per second of data connectivity for a diverse mix of applications, while the spacecraft’s wide beam Ku-band capacity will provide high-quality television services.
 
SES-12, set for launch in 2017, will be located in the coveted orbital location of 95 degrees East, with seamless coverage from Europe to the Pacific Rim, and will expand SES’s capabilities to deliver both broadband and broadcast services to airline passengers travelling domestic, transcontinental and transoceanic flights across Asia and beyond.
 
“There is a proliferation of airlines across Asia, now one of the busiest air traffic regions in the world,” added Corda.
 
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News : APEX 2014: Apex needs your votes by the end of September

APEX 2014: Apex needs your votes by the end of September


Michael Childers, Apex Technology Committee chair called upon members to make their voices heard today on an issue that will affect many of them. He wants voting members to respond on the draft closed captioning white paper, which needs to go back to the US Department of Transport (DOT) by 26 September.
 
Speaking on a panel at the education sessions at the organisation’s annual Expo today, Childers was joined by Geoff Freed – director of technology projects and web media standards, for the US National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM). Andy Rosen, Consultant and Bryan Rusenko – APEX Technical Consultant also joined the discussion.
 
The DOT has stated it will announce new regulations requiring closed captioning for inflight video in US airspace to assist deaf and hard-of-hearing passengers. Other regulations intending to assist the visually impaired may also be in the notice from DOT. Childers said, “Clearly, new closed captioning and similar rules have the potential to seriously impact many segments of our industry and present challenges from economic, practical and technical standpoints.” APEX has taken the lead on this matter and is dealing directly with DOT on behalf of the industry.
 
Critical issues include how to integrate a new standard with older analogue technologies and systems still flying, as well as different standards used by international carriers flying into US airspace. One clumsy solution would be for foreign carriers to turn off the IFE when they enter US airspace, although this would patently be untenable in the long term.
 
The committee would like to see the adoption of Timed Text Mark-up Language as an industry standard, which integrates with many older technologies and offers a high degree of interoperability between devices.
 
Earlier this year Rusenko compiled a member survey, and reached out to 60 APEX members, comprising suppliers and airlines. Childers said, “We are under pressure to respond to the DOT with facts and recommendations.”
 
The transition could potentially cost the industry billions of dollars, unless APEX can help manage a smooth stepped transition, since every component of the IFE must be CC capable. Given that the average lifecycle of an IFE system is 12-15 years, we are looking at a ten-year time frame before older analogue systems are completely phased out. New CC technology may be required to support perhaps three or more generations of IFE systems simultaneously across a fleet, since multiple edited versions of content may be necessary. Given that IFE systems may cost as much as US$5 million per aircraft, that is a huge cost to the industry.
 
The committee is calling for a “Defined and easily achievable specific workflow,” for such integration and needs members’ votes and opinions in order to achieve the best possible outcome.
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News : APEX 2014: SES announces next generation bandwidth management

APEX 2014: SES announces next generation bandwidth management


Satellite operator SES announced today that it has developed in-house air traffic analysis processes and in-orbit reconfiguration capabilities to help airlines and in-flight entertainment (IFE) service providers get the most from their satellite bandwidth during flights around the world.
 
SES also announced that it is designing a strategic mix of High Throughput Satellite (HTS) and wide beam Ku-band technologies into its global fleet to meet the worldwide demand among airline passengers for in-flight connectivity.  
 
Two SES satellites are already under construction with next generation designs to serve the growing IFE, maritime and mobility markets across the Asia-Pacific region. Under construction by Boeing Satellite Systems, SES-9 features expansive mobility beams designed to provide both airliners and ships travelling through Asia, including the busy Indian Ocean Region, with high-speed broadband quality video services.
Being built by Airbus Defence and Space, SES-12 is a hybrid communications spacecraft capable of enabling IFE providers to reallocate high-powered capacity on the fly, to meet evolving airline entertainment and communications demands.
 
Steve Corda, vice president of business development for SES in North America said, “SES and the leading in-flight entertainment service providers are innovating new IFE solutions through collaborative partnerships that really begin when the satellite is in the early design phase. IFE providers will be able to reconfigure their SES capacity in orbit to meet the ever-changing demands of the global airline industry.”
 
SES-9 is scheduled to be lifted into orbit in 2015 by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket – the second SpaceX launch for SES. The Ku-band satellite will reside at the prime location of 108.2 degrees East. SES-12’s powerful 14 GHz HTS payload will deliver up to 24 gigabits per second of data connectivity for a diverse mix of applications, while the spacecraft’s wide beam Ku-band capacity will provide high-quality television services.
 
SES-12, set for launch in 2017, will be located in the coveted orbital location of 95 degrees East, with seamless coverage from Europe to the Pacific Rim, and will expand SES’s capabilities to deliver both broadband and broadcast services to airline passengers travelling domestic, transcontinental and transoceanic flights across Asia and beyond.
 
“There is a proliferation of airlines across Asia, now one of the busiest air traffic regions in the world,” added Corda.
 
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News : APEX 2014: Big mother is watching you

APEX 2014: Big mother is watching you


The trend for wearable technology will shape passengers’ cabin experiences in years to come. So says Patrick McEneany (pictured) – director, creative consulting, BMW Group DesignworksUSA.
 
He explained that in future passengers are likely to come on board wearing a device that monitors their heart, blood pressure and body temperature, and which will then synch with the aircraft’s in-flight entertainment (IFE) system allowing travellers to create the most healthy journey. Such devices would then alert passengers to phases of flight where they are most tired, and work out when is best to sleep in accordance with their circadian rhythms and the time at the destination they are traveling to. They could also remind them to hydrate and to stretch, or to watch a soothing movie rather than an action adventure should they be anxious.
 
McEneany added that automotive and aviation manufacturers are challenged at times to keep pace with the expectations of connectivity passengers expect from their consumer electronics and mobile devices. But while both industries focus on integrating the latest generation of devices and interfaces into their current architecture, the real learning comes from anticipating the trends and characteristics of devices and experiences that are still evolving. BMW Designworks/USA envisions the future of connected mobility.
 
He added that aviation should bypass on its ambition to keep up with the latest developments in technology as it is evolving too fast for IFE systems to be certified and built.
 
The company is working today on a project with Google that tracks a passenger’s journey through the airport to the aircraft and tries to assist at different ‘pain points’ in that process – i.e. the gate, security and assessing how long a person has before take off. This works by a personalised overlay on top of a device showing the passenger where she/he is with iconography depicting how long before reaching the gate or where the bathrooms are etc. For children company adds on Disney characters to take the child right to their seat. The characters could then join in a game while at the seat.
 
McEneany said, “This could create an unparalleled travel experience for the emotional and physical comfort of the passenger, on a par with the expectations and needs of an airline, and what its business model would sustain.”
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News : APEX 2014: APEX gets off to a bright start

APEX 2014: APEX gets off to a bright start


The APEX expo opened its doors today with the annual educational sessions and one of the industry’s leading experts, Edward Shapiro, partner and vice president of PAR Capital Management and long-time investor in airlines, services and IFEC, kicking off with a riveting programme.
 
As chairman of Global Eagle Entertainment, Legend 3D Inc. and Lumexis, Shapiro had a unique point of view on what is necessary in the industry and spoke to the advent of new ground based technologies and how they will shape the passenger experience in the cabin.
 
The APEX/IFSA EXPO is the largest industry-driven tradeshow devoted to the entire passenger experience and is slated to draw 3,500 attendees. Hosted by the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the International Flight Services Association (IFSA).
 
“We are honoured to have Mr. Shapiro kick off our 2014 EXPO. His airline savvy and reputation for knowing what will and won’t move this industry promises invaluable insight into how airlines are leveraging technology, differentiating products and generating new sources of ancillary revenue. I’m sure attendees will gain some new perspective on how the rapidly evolving media and entertainment industries are impacting the airline passenger experience,” said Alfy Veretto, APEX president and manager of IFE and Partnerships at Virgin America. 
 
Other sessions included disruptive and immersive internet experiences; the latest developments in satellite technology and how the industry should address closed captioning.
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News : WestJet introduces fees on first checked bag

WestJet introduces fees on first checked bag


From 29 October onwards, WestJet passengers flying within Canada or between Canada and the US on an ‘Econo’ fare will have to pay $25 for their first checked bag on journeys.
 
The airline predicts this change will affect only 1 in 5 WestJet customers, as passengers travelling internationally and those who select a ‘Flex’ fare still receive a first checked bag at no additional charge, and ‘Plus’ fare holders receive two checked bags as well as other benefits.
 
The launch of WestJet’s tiered rewards system also allows passengers the opportunity to check in their first piece of baggage at no extra cost. The tiers are divided into Teal, Silver and Gold, with Silver WestJet customers getting one bag for free and Gold members receiving two. 
 
Signing up to WestJet’s RBC World Elite MasterCard credit card programme also offers passengers their first piece of baggage at no cost as a reward.
 
Baggage allowances for military personnel (with identification), infant and child equipment, mobility devices and codeshare and interline customers will not change.
 
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News : Southwest to fly to Costa Rica

Southwest to fly to Costa Rica


From 7 March 2015, Southwest Airlines will operate its first service to Central America with a daily roundtrip between Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) and Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San Jose, Costa Rica.
 
Costa Rica will be the first new destination following Southwest’s integration of AirTran Airways, which is due to be completed at the end of this year. Tickets for the route will become available once the airline has received the necessary approval from the US Department of Transport (DOT).
 
The integration of AirTran has recently seen the launch of other near-international flights by Southwest to the Dominican Republic, Aruba, Jamaica and Cancun, amongst others.
 
Gary Kelly, CEO of Southwest, commented, “We're ready to add the adventure and beauty of Costa Rica to a growing horizon of international possibility available to the more than 100 million customers who fly with us each year.”
 
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News : Etihad Regional increase frequencies on Geneva flights

Etihad Regional increase frequencies on Geneva flights


As part of its winter schedule, from October 26 Etihad Regional will introduce more services between Geneva and other key European destinations including Nice, Bordeaux, Venice and Toulouse.

Due to seasonal passenger demand the airline has plans to operate five flights per week to Nice and six times per week to Bordeaux, as well as upping its Venice and Toulouse flights so they become daily services.

“This increase in our services is indicative of the huge confidence we have in the Swiss market and underlines our enduring commitment to build an attractive, well-connected regional network which offers our guests more choice and greater flexibility when travelling to Switzerland and beyond,” explained Maurizio Merlo, Etihad Regional’s CEO. “We are increasing frequencies and doubling our services out of Geneva in line with strong demand, not only to serve the point-to-point market, but also to enhance connectivity beyond the Geneva hub to numerous key destinations across Europe.”

All additional flights will be operated on a 50-seat Saab 2000 configured with 5 premium economy seats and 45 economy seats. They will bring Etihad Regional’s year-round services to European destinations to 25 in total.

The airline’s fleet currently consists of eight Saab 2000s and four 68-seat ATR 72-500s. 
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News : Tigerair enforces stricter carry-on baggage rules

Tigerair enforces stricter carry-on baggage rules


Following eight months of ‘penalty-free education’ for passengers exceeding Tigerair’s carry-on baggage measures, from 18 September the airline’s stricter enforcement will be put into effect.
 
Tigerair passengers who attempt to carry on any more than two bags weighing a combined total of over 10 kg or exceeding sizing requirements (54cm x 38cm x 23cm) will face a penalty charge, as well as being charged accordingly for having their baggage stored in the hold. However, the airline has agreed to discount the fee by 40% for the first three months to further educate its travellers.
 
Penalties are charged for sports equipment and excess baggage per kg after the 15 kg mark. It’s also more expensive for passengers on a flight time of longer than an hour and forty-five minutes.
 
“The airline has also recently invested in further website enhancements that allows passengers to add bags or buy excess baggage weight after booking their flight (up to four hours before travelling) to take advantage of the lowest bag charge,” commented Adam Rowe, commercial director for Tigerair Australia.

Tigerair will also send out reminders of the changes to those due to travel with Tigerair in the coming weeks.
 
Rowe continued, “The majority of people understand and support these requirements as there is only a finite amount of overhead locker space available and fellow passenger safety and comfort are key considerations, as is the considerable impact on the airline’s on-time performance when bags need to be transferred to the hold. From now on we are simply asking all passengers to play by the rules as there will be increased monitoring and the risk of a penalty charge for those that ignore them.”
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