Three degrees of economy as Virgin Atlantic unveils latest cabin investment

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As part of a multi-million pound investment in its economy cabin experience, Virgin Atlantic is to introduce three new ways to fly.

Craig Kreeger, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said, “We’re unveiling the biggest change to our economy cabin in over a decade – launching three new ways to fly, and a host of innovations on the ground and in the air as part of a wider £300 million investment in our customers. We know that one size doesn’t fit all, and from spring our customers can afford to be choosy and still travel in the UK’s leading economy cabin.

“We always want flying with Virgin Atlantic to be more special than other airlines, and we’ll never compromise on excellent service, industry leading food and drink and cutting edge in-flight entertainment – regardless of which economy ticket our customers are travelling on, they’ll be able to enjoy all this on-board.”

In a move echoing its partner Delta, Virgin’s economy delight, economy classic and economy light will complement Delta’s Comfort +, Main Cabin and Basic Economy products.

According to Virgin, “economy delight will offer the leading economy product of any UK airline.” The airline is retrofitting its fleet to provide up to 36 economy delight seats on every flight – offering passengers a 34 inch legroom, priority check in and boarding as well as advanced seat assignment.

economy classic will offer free seat assignment – enabling families and groups to sit together.

The new economy light ticket will always offer Virgin Atlantic’s lowest fare and will permit hand luggage only.

Regardless of the ticket type, all passengers will receive a three course meal plus complimentary drinks and snacks – with a focus on supporting independent suppliers such as UK based Fairfield Farm Crisps, and the Grown Up Chocolate Company – Wi-Fi, and hundreds of hours of in-flight entertainment, USB charger in seat and blanket, pillow and headphones.

For the first time Virgin Atlantic is also introducing automated bag drop at London airports, with four kiosks to open at London Gatwick this summer, followed by a further 18 kiosks at London Heathrow from winter 2018.

In addition,12 new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft will join the fleet from spring 2019 – offering a brand new economy cabin designed with Virgin Atlantic’s customers in mind.

British Airways brings award category to IFE

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In celebration of the 90th Academy Awards ceremony (the Oscars), and the British Academy Film Awards (the BAFTAs), British Airways has added a new in-flight entertainment category which offers a collection of award-winning films.

The category, called ‘Award Worthy’, features films which won 12 Oscars and 12 BAFTAs in this year’s awards season, as well as receiving 87 nominations across the two ceremonies.

Films in this category include The Shape of Water which gained 13 Oscar nominations and won four awards including ‘Best Picture’, building on the 12 nominations received at the BAFTAs and the three awards won.

Thee Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is also in the category, receiving nine nominations with five awards last month at the BAFTAs.

British war drama, Darkest Hour, has been added to the category. Gary Oldman won the Oscar for ‘Best Actor’ for his performance and also picked up the ‘Leading Actor’ BAFTA, while the film won the award for ‘Makeup and Hair’.

The category also hosts Call me by Your Name which won ‘Adapted Screenplay’ at the BAFTAS and was nominated for four Academy Awards, and Roman J Israel, Esq. which received one nomination.

“For many of our long-haul customers, being able to watch some of the latest film releases is one of the parts of the flight they most look forward to,” said Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience. “That’s why we do everything we can to make sure our in-flight entertainment systems are loaded with up-to-date, award-winning content, guaranteed to keep customers entertained.”

A number of films which have performed successfully in previous award seasons will also be added to the channel, spanning a range of genres, from Silver Linings Playbook to the Silence of the Lambs.

MAC Interiors completes cabin modification project for Med-View Airlines

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MAC Interiors has completed the full cabin modification of a Med-View Airlines Boeing 767 aircraft.

The UK-based aircraft interior specialist served as a total technical care partner to Med-View, unlike previously when MAC Interiors was limited to kit supplies.

The project started with a galley refurbishment, before Med-View identified the potential to amplify the scope of the project to complete cabin modification; covering the design of the full concept, lavatory updates, installation of surveillance cameras and lighting throughout the entire cabin, production & installation of carpets, curtains and new dividers, stowage installation, GPS installation, as well as the modification of all business, premium and economy class seats.

“This is a benchmark project for MAC Interiors to emphasise our umbrella brand’s ‘Total Technical Care’ attitude.” said Rubin Flower, VP of Sales. “This has been a very exciting and educating challenge for us, the significance of such an experience is unmeasurable. We certainly are looking forward to similar business in the near future as we will apply our experience and knowledge from the whole project.”

“We are delighted to team up with MAC Interiors and fully satisfied with their service quality that truly enhanced our cabin.” stated Med-View Airline’s CEO Alhaji Muneer Bankole. “We are about to conclude a long-term collective agreement and looking forward to working together again for future projects.”

Phasor unveils new London-based Technology Development Center

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Phasor has opened its new Technology Development Center in London and made key appointments to the company’s senior leadership team.

The new research and development facility will host all of the phased-array antenna innovator’s design, development and testing of current and next-generation connectivity solutions tailored to commercial mobility markets, including high-speed broadband for maritime, aviation, and land-based vehicles.

“The launch of our Technology Development Center in London and the appointments to our senior leadership team marks an important milestone for Phasor, as we approach commercial readiness”, said Dave Helfgott, Phasor CEO. “Since its inception in 2014, Phasor has quickly made the transition from the early R&D stages to mature product development and it is now poised to enable a whole new generation of mobile broadband communications.”

“This senior team brings years of rich experience to the markets we serve, and the new facility will enable an advanced level of integrated design and development, testing, certification and product release,” Helfgott noted. “We are all very excited to meet the growing opportunity that the enterprise wideband mobility market brings, with the right team and the right resources.”

Phasor senior leadership team appointees include Kevin Walsh as chief financial officer; Phil Schryber, head of R&D; David Garrood, senior vice president of business development, and Tim Esparon, senior vice president of operations.

Gogo announces new chief executive as Small steps down

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Oakleigh Thorne (pictured right) has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Gogo, in the immediate aftermath of the decision of Michael Small to step down from the role as a director of the Company.

Thorne currently serves as chief executive officer of Thorndale Farm LLC, the family office of the Thorne family, and largest Gogo shareholder, owning approximately 30% percent of the Company’s outstanding common stock.

“I am excited to work with the Gogo team as we move forward with urgency to execute on four strategic priorities: driving quality for airlines and passengers, sharpening our operational focus, achieving profitability with the money we have in the bank and driving shareholder value,” said Thorne. “We are highly confident in our ability to achieve our strategic and financial objectives as we improve execution and realise our significant growth opportunities.”

Ronald T. LeMay, chairman of the Gogo Board of Directors, said, “With our best-in-class technology and capabilities, the Board believes that Gogo has a clear path to achieving our objectives and that now is the right time to transition leadership. After a comprehensive search process, the Board determined that Oak is the best person to help Gogo achieve our next phase of growth. Oak is a seasoned executive with a strong track record and his interests are aligned with all shareholders. Oak has made significant contributions to Gogo as a member of our Board and has a deep understanding of our business, strategy and operations.”

Crystal Cabin Award

Crystal Cabin Award announce finalists

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The Crystal Cabin Award have announced the finalists for this year’s 12th annual award, with a total of 24 products and concepts in the final round of eight categories.

The 24 finalists will now have to present their ideas in person to the 28 expert jury members. The winners will be announced as part of the Aircraft Interiors Expo (10-12 April in Hamburg) at a gala dinner to be held at the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski on the evening of Monday 10 April. This year, for the first time, the white trophies will be produced using 3D printing technology.

New to the awards is the IFEC or In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity category. Finalists include Bluebox Aviation Systems with the Bluebox Accessible IFE platform which provides access to in-flight entertainment for visually impaired passengers on long-haul routes, the product is already in use in partnership with Virgin Atlantic. The European Aviation Network from Inmarsat has also made the finals. More than 300 Deutsche Telekom ground stations will provide passengers with LTE network access in-flight throughout Europe this year. United Screens has become a finalist with the first on-board 3D television, which can be used without the need for 3D glasses.

In the final of the Cabin Concepts category this year is Airbus with the Airspace cabin for the A320 range of aircraft with extra-large overhead lockers and atmospheric lighting to improve the flying experience. PriestmanGoode has made the final with a long-haul Business-Class product, the QSuite for Qatar Airways, while Singapore Airlines is in the final with its new A380 First Class suites.

The PASSME Consortium’s PASSME Innovative Aircraft Seat, a finalist in the Cabin Systems category makes it possible to push the seats of an economy row together during boarding, creating more aisle space, resulting in less congestion and quicker boarding. Rockwell Collins ‘Silhouette MOVE’ is in the final – a flexible partition between business and economy that curves to allow economy passengers behind to stretch their legs or stow heavy cabin baggage. While finalist Zodiac Aerospace’s aircraft urinal cabin Durinal, will reduce the queue for the rest of the cabin.

Boeing’s Cabin Dry Floor has made the final of the Greener Cabin, Health, Safety and Environment category with its absorption of moisture to leave a dry, germ-free surface. Villinger has also made the final with its allegedly indestructible heated floor panel. The third finalist is VT Miltope with security software for wireless cabin networks.

In the Materials and Components category, Airbus and Altran aim to make heavy, space-consuming cable harnesses behind the cabin wall panels a thing of the past, in the future, wiring – for lighted signs, for example – will be produced by a direct Printed Electrics process. Rockwell Collins made the final in this category with the Secant Luminous Panel that lights up the complete cabin ceiling with high-resolution images. Weigele Aerospace reached the final with its ‘Airborne Cooking Robot’, an energy-saving oven for the gallery that allows for cold and warm food to be prepared on one plate at the same time.

The Passenger Comfort Hardware category finalists include LIFT by EnCore, which in collaboration with Boeing, has developed a comfortable approach to long-haul seating ‘even in tourist class’ for the 787. Rockwell Collins developed the Valkyrie Bed, a form of roll-up mattress for business class, which can be drawn from the side panel across the seat. Zodiac Aerospace also made the final with the Eco Zlounge that enables economy class passengers to stretch their legs onto empty seat surfaces in front.

Britain’s Cranfield University made it to the ‘University’ category final with E-tom Smart, a water tap that atomises water to achieve on-board water savings of up to 90% without impacting the cleaning effect. Also in the final is University of Edinburgh with it’s Li-Fi technology, using light to transmit data. The third finalist- America’s University of Cincinnati, together with Boeing, students have developed a hologram surface that turns the aircraft cabin into a virtual extended space.

The Visionary Concepts category sees Airbus a finalist with the Day and Night concept, dividing premium cabins into a living/working zone and a separate sleeping zone. Finalist Renacens provides a virtual view of the cabin with a 3D Seat Map VR that allows passengers to choose their preferred seat for their next flight. Meanwhile, Rockwell Collins has made the final with its Universal Passenger Seat Interface concept: an electronic system for seating that can be deployed everywhere from aircraft to private cars.

Norwegian promotes female-led IFE comedy channel

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Norwegian has launched the world’s first female-driven in-flight entertainment comedy channel in an exclusive partnership with online comedy platform PYPO (Put Your Pretty On).

The on-demand in-flight video channel will be on-board all of Norwegian’s Dreamliner-operated long-haul flights, including 45 routes from the US

The next step in the partnership includes the creation of exclusive content which will premiere on Norwegian in-flight entertainment system before it’s accessible on PYPO’s own platform.

“We could not be more excited for our comedy channel to take flight with Norwegian as comedy is truly without borders. We hope to entertain passengers on-board in a different way with our unique approach to comedy. Our partnership with Norwegian will allow PYPO to take on new opportunities on a more global scale and highlighting female comedic talent to new audiences,” said Stephanie Laing, Founder, PYPO.

“This is an exciting partnership for Norwegian as it focuses on providing even better entertainment on-board for our passengers. By joining forces with PYPO, we will be able to offer exclusive content and never before-seen opportunities, which we will be able to announce more details of in the coming months. We are thrilled that Stephanie Laing and her team will work with our creative team to create something extraordinary,” said Anders Lindström, director of communications US, Norwegian, and project manager.

Iridium Certus readies for takeoff

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Honeywell Aerospace, SKYTRAC, Avitek and Navicom Aviation are the first Iridium Certus service providers to be selected for the aviation industry. As Iridium Certus service providers, each company will be able to offer the new, best-in-class L-band broadband satellite connectivity to its customers.

Enabled by the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, Iridium Certus will bring broadband functionality, with enterprise-grade quality of service, to the aviation industry. It will feature a range of throughput and service options that will enable everything from graphical weather reports, multi-user internet/VPN and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) redundancy to flight data recorder streaming, video conferencing, and, upon formal approval, safety services. The Iridium Certus high-gain antenna (HGA) solutions will provide data speed options of up to 704 Kbps, and eventually as high as approximately 1.4 Mbps following full Iridium NEXT deployment, with an antenna size of approximately 24 x 10 x 6cm, while the low-gain antenna (LGA) solutions will enable data speeds of up to 176 Kbps.

“Iridium Certus is poised to introduce a revolution in aircraft communications,” said Brian Pemberton, vice president strategic planning and general manager aviation at Iridium. “Iridium Certus leverages the inherent advantages of the Iridium network and architecture and combines that with enhanced capabilities of the Iridium NEXT constellation to redefine best-in-class aircraft connectivity. Iridium Certus not only satisfies the connectivity requirements for the flight deck but also serves as an ideal cabin connectivity solution for many business aviation users.”

Initial flight trials will take place later this year, with Iridium Certus commercial service introduction expected in mid-2019 for aviation users. Iridium NEXT is the Company’s next-generation satellite constellation. To date, there have been four successful Iridium NEXT launches, deploying more than half of the new constellation. Four additional launches are planned for 2018.

Dassault Aviation launches new long-range, large-cabin Falcon 6X

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Dassault Aviation has unveiled the Falcon 6X, the most spacious, advanced and versatile twinjet in business aviation.

This new 5,500 nm aircraft will make its first flight in early 2021 and begin deliveries in 2022.

“We wanted to further push the boundaries with this new aircraft, to provide the best flight experience possible using today’s aviation know-how,” said Eric Trappier, chairman & CEO of Dassault Aviation. “The Falcon 6X will offer a mix of range, comfort and capability no other large cabin business jet can match while guaranteeing fully mature systems and a proven powerplant.”

The Falcon 6X cabin is six feet, six inches (1.98 m) high and 8 feet 6 inches (2.58 m) wide – the highest and widest cross section in a purpose built business jet – and is nearly 40 feet 8 inches (12.3 m) long. The cabin can accommodate 16 passengers in three distinct lounge areas, affording room for multiple configurations including a large entry way/crew rest area and a spacious rear lounge.
Every element of cabin style and design has been totally rethought, the result of an extensive survey of customer tastes and inputs from Dassault Aviation’s own in-house Design Studio. Flowing uninterrupted lines enhance the feeling of space and declutter the cabin.

Significantly more natural light floods into the cabin thanks to 29 extra-large windows including a unique galley skylight – the first in business aviation – designed to provide additional brightness in an area usually devoid of natural light.

“The industry has been moving towards ever wider and higher interiors, and customers told us what they wanted most in our new Falcons was more space,” continued Trappier. “So we designed the Falcon 6X from the cabin out, making it as passenger-centric as we could while still delivering the high performance and other flying qualities that customers value in Falcons.”

“There is still today a strong market need for a brand new long range aircraft with a very large cabin. The Falcon 6X will be best value for money in the 5,000 nm segment, a class all its own.” concluded Trappier.

New alliance aims for a better connected passenger experience

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A new alliance has been created with the intent of allowing member mobile operators to extend their services into airline cabins.

Seamless Air Alliance, formed by Airbus, Delta, OneWeb, Sprint, and Bharti Airtel, will allow operators to continuously provide their customers – via satellite technology – with the same high speed, low latency connectivity from ground, to air and back again. It will also significantly reduce costs for everyone involved while creating a smooth, positive user-experience.

The alliance – which aims to attract additional industry operators beyond the five initial members – will eliminate the immense costs and hurdles commonly associated with acquisition, installation, and operation of data access infrastructure by streamlining system integration and certification, providing open specifications for interoperability, increasing accessibility for passengers, and enabling simple and integrated billing.

There will be a variety of Working Groups that members will all contribute to and lend their industry expertise to help develop new specifications and recommendations. The Working Groups will focus on technical specifics such as equipment needs, billing and deployment models.

The Alliance is welcoming interested parties to join as members at www.seamlessalliance.com.