APEXEXPO2018: Astronics AES integrates wireless charging module into seat models

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Astronics Advanced Electronic Systems (AES), is providing its new wireless charging module (WCM) for integration into several suppliers’ seat models. The first integrations are scheduled to roll out on aircraft in early 2019.

Mark Peabody, president of Astronics AES, commented, “Astronics AES envisioned the wireless charging module to augment existing EmPower products offered today. This is becoming a reality as it provides airlines another way to give passengers all the comforts of the home or office right at the airline seat. The wireless charger can be integrated with existing EmPower products offered from Astronics or from IFE suppliers using Astronics power supplies in their IFE offering.”

EmPower in-seat power is already the industry’s most adopted PED charging option with more than 240 airlines providing EmPower systems. The new wireless charging module represents an easy way to provide the convenience of wireless charging while creating a superior passenger experience, maintenance, and support model for WCM installations.

The 15 watt charger is Qi (“chee”) certified and is compatible with the most popular mobile devices offered from Apple, Samsung and others that are Qi-enabled.

Astronics AES is also working with additional seat suppliers to outfit wireless charging programmes that will occur later in 2019 and beyond.

APEXEXPO2018: Air China Selects Global ONE Media for IFE

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Air China Media Co. Ltd has selected Global ONE Media to license and deliver in-flight entertainment content for television, as well as domestic and international movies in multiple languages for its massive global fleet. The contract was signed in September 2018.

“We are delighted that one of the world’s leading airlines selected the premium service provider, Global ONE Media,” said chief executive officer of Global ONE Media, Mohamad El Assaad.

“We are very excited to contract with Global ONE Media and we are positive they will add great value to our passenger experience”, said Air China content director, Le Zhang.

Global ONE Media’s Beijing team will lead Air China’s contract with support by IFE teams in One Inflight Ltd. U.K. and the company’s global network

APEXEXPO2018: ThinKom demonstrates first aero terminal connectivity with O3b MEO satellites

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ThinKom Solutions, has completed the first ground test of its ThinAir Ka2517 Ka-band phased-array satellite antenna with the SES O3b constellation of medium-Earth orbit (MEO) satellites.

The test was conducted in August 2018 at ThinKom’s facility in Hawthorne, California, in collaboration with SES Networks.

For the ground test, a vehicle-mounted ThinKom Ka2517 aeronautical antenna acquired successive O3b MEO satellites at 13-degree elevation and successfully tracked them for 30-minute periods while the satellites traversed from west to east.

ThinKom said this test is a precursor to a flight test, expected to take place before the end of 2018. This will be the first in-flight demonstration of a ThinKom antenna communicating through a non-geostationary (NGSO) constellation and will demonstrate the ability of ThinKom’s phased-array antenna to auto-track and perform seamless beam switching through aircraft roll, pitch, and yaw motions.

O3b is the first NGSO satellite constellation capable of delivering commercial broadband communication services. The constellation orbits the Earth at about 8,000 km altitude, along an equatorial path, allowing much larger visible Earth angles than low-Earth orbit (LEO) constellations currently being evaluated.

“ThinKom’s unique patented low-profile phased-array antennas have been designed for interoperability on geostationary (GEO) and MEO satellites with the agility and switching speed to move seamlessly from beam-to-beam and constellation-to-constellation. Agility tests have proven that our antenna achieves switching speeds of less than one second, more than fast enough to support beam switching with no interruption in connectivity,” said Bill Milroy, ThinKom CTO.

“The ground test, and the coming aero tests, are important steps in showing the ability of the ThinKom antenna to operate on the O3b MEO satellite network, and will pave the way to full commercialisation,” said Milroy.

“Innovation in terminal technology is key for scaling SES Networks’ proven MEO system for mass connectivity. We’re delighted to collaborate with ThinKom and to continue growing a partner ecosystem that will redefine the standard for our industry,” said Stewart Sanders, executive vice-president of Technology at SES Networks. “This development aligns with our aim to make it faster, easier and more affordable to expand service reach to our customers and their end users.”

Air New Zealand partners with Allbirds

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Air New Zealand and footwear brand Allbirds have partnered to develop an eye mask designed to help customers sleep better.

The airline collaborated with Allbirds on the design of the mask, including conducting onboard trials to provide feedback through the development process.

The mask, dubbed ‘the Bird Mask’, will be available exclusively in Air New Zealand’s business premier cabin on selected North American routes throughout October, including the airline’s daily NZ1/NZ2 service between Los Angeles and London.

The mask is made from sustainable ZQ-certified New Zealand merino wool and castor bean oil-based foam.

The design includes moulded eye indentations to allow for natural eye movement, while the birdlike-beak provides a comfortable seal against the face to completely block out light, the companies say.

Discussing the collaboration, Air New Zealand chief marketing and customer officer Mike Tod said: “By putting our heads together we’ve created a product our customers will truly value and re-use again and again, while also benefiting New Zealand’s international brand awareness.”

“We jumped at the chance to work with Air New Zealand, a brand that similarly prioritises thoughtful design and customer experience,” said co-founder and co-CEO of Allbirds Tim Brown. “By bringing our comfort expertise to the Bird Mask, we’ve been able to create a product that’s perfectly aligned with Air New Zealand’s empathy for the consumer.”

Immfly selects Kontron for Pegasus Airlines wireless IFE programme

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Immfly has selected Kontron’s integrated in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) equipment for deployment on Pegasus Airlines, the Turkish low-fare carrier.

Kontron and its partners will supply all hardware for the open-architecture system, including its ACE Flight servers, CWAPs and aircraft installation kits. The equipment is being installed over the next two years on Pegasus Airlines’ A320 and B737 current fleet of 81 aircraft.

“Part of our ongoing strategy in supporting partners such as Immfly is to provide the critical system components that make up the wireless and network backbone for the connected aircraft,” said RJ McLaren, Avionics Systems product manager at Kontron. “This is the launch customer for Kontron’s new B737 STC and installation design for Wireless IFE, which will be available to global customers by the end of this year. We look forward to the success of this latest deployment of our products with Immfly and Pegasus Airlines.”

Immfly’s software and media platform for eCommerce, entertainment and connectivity onboard aircraft allows passengers to purchase activities and schedule transport from their destination during flight. The channel also offers more than 100 types of sponsored entertainment, including TV programmes, newspapers and news channels, along with travel guides for principal European destinations.

As the Immfly software has already been pre-validated on the Kontron hardware platforms, Kontron says the installation and deployment activities can be completed quickly, and with a low risk of encountering integration problems.

The equipment to be deployed includes Kontron’s ACE Flight 4600 Airborne Server, Removable Storage Devices (RSSDs), Cab-n-Connect A100 Cabin Wireless Access Point (CWAP) and aircraft installation kit.

“Immfly continues to partner with Kontron for its highly reliable and open architecture platforms that are fully qualified to D0-160G with PMA and optimised for a full range of flight services,” said Jimmy Martínez von Korff, co-founder of Immfly. “Using Kontron platforms allows us to focus on designing the most compelling in-flight entertainment services that include engaging new content and other capabilities that are in high demand by today’s airline passengers.”

Earlier this year, Pegasus Airlines signed a deal with Immfly during Aircraft Interiors Expo in April for the digital services company to be its IFE partner.

APEXEXPO2018: Immfly unveils Immfly Active portal

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Immfly has launched a new portal to enable airlines to check and manage their passenger data and the performance of its Immfly onboard digital platforms.

The portal, Immfly Active, provides monitoring and management tools for airlines, and features an intuitive dashboard that shows the main KPIs. The portal also includes tools for aircraft health management, survey management and content management.

Filters are also available to customise views for data analysis and comparison – allowing airlines to filter data per time-frame, per aircraft, flight, and compare old reports versus recent ones, in order to analyse the variances and changes in behaviour.

“We believe that this tool adds a lot of value to the airline because it is allowing a flexibility and a dynamism that it never had before,” said Maria Cardenal, product & digital services director at Immfly. “We have started with these four services following the needs of our customers, but there will be much more to offer. Immfly Active will be the vehicle for many of the digital services that we are providing to our customers to support them on their onboard digital transformation.”

The Aircraft Health tool allows the airline to monitor the flight status of aircraft equipped with Immfly digital services through an interactive operational map. There are four status based on tracking variables, that exist to control the compliance of the Service Level Agreement.

The survey management tool will allow airlines to develop, edit, publish and manage surveys in Immfly’s platform. Airlines will be able to access the results of the survey ‘live’ or download them for further analysis, the data could also be integrated with the airline’s own survey management tool or CRM systems.

The content management tool enables airlines to manage their content on their microsite on the Immfly Digital Platform, such as announcements, campaigns, promotions and video, advertising, surveys or feedback. By enabling airlines to manage their content assets, Immfly suggests this would give them a higher flexibility and greater autonomy.

Finally, the AdServer tool helps airlines to manage and check the status of advertising campaigns, introduce all segmentation filters and upload assets.

APEXEXPO2018: Kontron introduces wireless streaming IFEC platform

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The portable Cab-n-Connect P100 wireless streaming platform has been introduced by Kontron.

The small form factor IFEC system utilises dual 802.11ac/abgn radios to deliver high-quality streaming for up to 100 client devices enabling airlines to support an individual aircraft’s in-flight entertainment needs.

At 9.8-inches (25 cm) x 3.5-inches (9 cm) x 12.6-inches (32 cm), the portable Cab-n-Connect P100 system features dual hot-swappable batteries that enable more than 12 hours of streaming video, in addition to offering up to 8 TB of onboard storage.

A removable storage device (RSSD) allows for quick content updates, while the operating system supports Docker Applications and Virtual Machines to further simplify IFE content management system integration. The unit provides an intuitive interface for the cabin crew to manage the system and it also provides status information via an OLED display.

Based on Kontron’s open-architecture COMe-bDV7R Computer-on-Module, the Cab-n-Connect P100 provides Intel Atom processor C3000 series server-grade processor performance with 8 GB of RAM. Different C3000 series and Broadwell-DE series processors along with memory options are possible. Further options include an integrated 4G LTE cellular modem.

APEXEXPO2018: La Compagnie selects Viasat

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Business-class boutique airline La Compagnie, which flies between New York and Paris, has partnered with Viasat, to equip its brand-new, all business-class A321neo aircraft with high-speed Wi-Fi capabilities.

The Wi-Fi service is scheduled to enter into service in April 2019, alongside 76 full flat seats.

“We are excited to offer unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi to all the passengers onboard our new aircraft,” said Jean Charles Périno, executive vice-president of sales and marketing for La Compagnie.

“Business class democratisation is in our DNA. This is a perfect match with Viasat’s solution: we will be offering this unlimited Wi-Fi access at a fraction of the cost of competitive solutions, following our low-fare approach. We are proud, as a small airline, to have the best in the market to offer to our passengers.”

“La Compagnie is reinventing the business-class experience, giving passengers uncompromised service quality and high-end perks, which include having Viasat’s best-in-class Wi-Fi service onboard,” said Don Buchman, vice-president and general manager, Commercial Aviation at Viasat. “Given La Compagnie’s primary flight routes over the Atlantic, they will use our latest satellite system, ViaSat-2, giving passengers an optimal connectivity experience – with industry-best speeds, performance and reliability – gate-to-gate.”

APEXEXPO2018: Spafax raises profile of SAS

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Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and global content agency Spafax have launched Profile, Spafax’s entertainment personalisation platform. Using proprietary software developed by Spafax, SAS passengers can access https://inflightentertainment.sas.se/en/ to learn what entertainment will be available on their trip, as well as more in-depth information about each programme all via a highly interactive web experience.

The new site features a full listing and trailers of movies, television programmes, music and games as well as a curated “Kids Zone” section for passengers travelling with children. Spafax Profile’s responsive design allows visitors to navigate the site from any device, and its ease of navigation mirrors or exceeds what you would find on leading entertainment portals.

Gunilla Ait El Mekki, entertainment & connectivity manager, onboard product & services at SAS, commented: “After the total refresh of our long-haul cabins we have been looking for a way to inform and engage our passengers before the flight about the entertainment offer onboard. Spafax’s Profile is the perfect platform for this, since it has the ability to further develop personalised information and to link in to other technologies such as AI.”

Future releases of the site will feature additional options, including the ability to personalise content recommendations based on passenger preferences.

APEXEXPO2018: Air Canada to benefit from IFE IQ

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Air Canada is set to benefit from the launch of Spafax IQ: a data analytics platform that gives airlines insight on what content passengers are engaging with.

Using software developed by Spafax, Spafax IQ will provide Air Canada’s entertainment and product teams with a set of dashboards showing category and item performance, media and advertising performance and cost per engagement. The software will also provide Air Canada with a customised “IQ Index” that assesses content performance against its unique key performance indicators and content strategy.

While Spafax and Air Canada will be pulling from multiple data streams in their analysis – including Google Trends and Air Canada’s proprietary data – all data sets are stripped of all passenger identifying information and no customer information such as names, preferences, frequent flyer status is accessible or provided.

Kevin Birchmore, director sales, technical products and solutions at Spafax, said: “Many airlines receive data from several sources, in varying formats and complexity and, as a result, analysis can be a tedious and manual process. We wanted to empower our clients and provide them with a tool that would give them one view of their passenger engagement across all IFEC systems.”

Future releases of Spafax IQ for Air Canada will feature a predictive performance algorithm that can estimate content performance even before Box Office data is available.