Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

The 7th edition of Inflight Middle East concluded with the annual awards ceremony celebrating regional excellence and innovation in onboard cabin products and services.

The awards event perfectly capped two days of insightful discussion and debate on the issues and challenges facing the region’s carriers and suppliers.

While Emirates deservedly won the Inflight Airline of the year award, its decision to reduce its A380 orderbook from 162 to 123 aircraft has precipitated the announcement from Airbus that it intends to wind down production of the A380.

Emirates will take delivery of 14 further A380s over the next two years but in the light of the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021.

Instead Emirates has committed to Airbus’s newest generation of more flexible widebody aircraft, ordering 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft.

“As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021,” said Airbus chief executive officer, Tom Enders.

“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators,” Enders added.

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Satair is to distribute Honeywell’s JetWave high-speed in-flight connectivity system to the business jet market in EMEA and to Indian-based Honeywell Dealers.

This also includes Part 145 MRO and repair facilities that will undertake the installation work and are not part of the Honeywell network.

Allan Riis, business development director, Satair commented: “We now have dedicated Single Point of Contact (SPOC) order desks for JetWave and other business aviation products and we see JetWave as part of a continuous journey by Satair into the important business and general aviation market.”

Raghed Talih, director, Aftermarket Sales & Services, Honeywell Aerospace, Middle East, Turkey, India and Africa, added: “We are very pleased to further expand our relationship with Satair, and our history of collaboration especially on the Primus and ADS-B mandate program has demonstrated that Satair is a proactive and likeminded partner when bringing our products to market.”

Falcon Aviation secured further accreditation to service business jet and regional aircraft MRO at its UAE bases by Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation  (GACA).

“This is a significant endorsement for Falcon Aviation to be recognised by GACA and we look forward to delivering the same high level of service and support to customers of Saudi-registered aircraft that we provide to our UAE and international customers,” commented director of engineering Nicolas Tejera. “We are looking forward to welcoming Saudi operators and private owners here in the UAE,” he said.

Falcon Aviation will soon complete its new MRO facility for business jets at Dubai South, DWC Al Maktoum International Airport, which will its aircraft interior management solutions to include full cabin refurbishment and aircraft seating upgrades.

DWC will complement its established MRO and HQ at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi, which is being expanded to become a leading centre for third party regional aircraft MRO, supporting Bombardier Q400 aircraft and eventually, other types.

Air Senegal has selected SITAONAIR for its high-speed in-flight connectivity (IFC) on its new-generation A330neo fleet, becoming the first airline on the African continent to activate GX Aviation passenger connectivity onboard in the process.

Under the deal, SITAONAIR will activate Mobile ONAIR and Internet ONAIR in-flight connectivity solutions, via Link ONAIR over Inmarsat’s GX Aviation network, on routes connecting West Africa with Europe.

David Lavorel, SITAONAIR CEO, said: “We are pleased to support and pioneer the in-flight connectivity landscape, in what is a growing innovation area in Africa.

SITAONAIR’s knowledge and expertise, both in establishing aircraft connectivity in burgeoning markets and in working alongside African telecommunications organisations and governments, makes us perfectly placed to enable all of Africa’s airlines to realise their connectivity ambitions. Our telecommunications experts have been at the heart of the significant work done with regulators and we look forward to advancing further for the benefit of the region.”

Philippe Bohn, CEO of Air Senegal added: “We at Air Senegal are extremely proud to say we are leading in-flight innovation in Africa’s aviation industry, and delivering, thanks to our carefully-considered partnership with SITAONAIR. With our new A330neo fleet, we can connect passengers from Europe with the heart of our country within six hours. These passengers have high standards, needs and expectations when it comes to in-flight connectivity and Air Senegal is ready to empower them, thanks to SITAONAIR’s support and solutions.”