Biden Harris Administration

Editor’s comment: Presidential terms

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Biden Harris Administration

Ex-British Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson reportedly said that “A week is a long time in politics.”

Yet hours into his Presidency, Joe Biden, the 46th US President has already begun reversing some of the policies of his predecessor, and shaping the future direction of US politics.

One of the Executive Orders already signed is a 100-day mask mandate for interstate travel and aviation. Supporting the call, the Air Line Pilots Association said “Voluntary implementation leaves too much risk of COVID-19 exposure for frontline aviation workers.”

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA responded via Twitter: “We applaud @POTUS’s mask mandate for interstate travel/aviation. It is fantastic to finally have this leadership we’ve been calling for for a year. The Biden Admin is demonstrating in the first days that combatting #COVID19 is a priority & essential to our health/economic stability.”

US airlines have for some months vigorously enforced their respective mask-wearing requirement. For example, Delta has confirmed it has banned in excess of 800 passengers for non-compliance of the rule which came into place last May.

These passengers may be allowed to fly again once the requirement is lifted.

Image courtesy of The White House. 

Passenger checks in using QR code on phone

Editor’s comment: Needlepoint

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Passenger checks in using QR code on phone

Despite the progress of vaccinations, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA CEO, has not mixed his words with his recent remarks during the first media briefing of the year.

“Governments’ tightened borders in a knee-jerk response to a virus mutation. Canada, UK, Germany, Japan and others added testing to their COVID-19 measures without removing quarantine requirements. In other words, they have chosen policy measures that will shut down travel,” he said.

“This approach tells us that these governments are not interested in managing a balanced approach to the risks of COVID-19.  They appear to be aiming for a zero-COVID world. This is an impossible task that comes with severe consequences – the full extent of which it would be impossible to calculate,” he added.

For de Juniac, testing and vaccinations should replace quarantine requirements to safely reopen borders. But will vaccines boost forward bookings?

In November last year, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce faced a backlash when he said that the airline was considering making travel pursuant on proof of vaccination.

“The Qantas Group acknowledges some people have concerns regarding vaccines. However, we believe we have a duty of care to everyone on board our aircraft to create a safe environment. All our policies are ultimately shaped by this.

“We don’t intend to formalise the detail of our vaccine requirement (including how long it might apply for) until a safe and effective one is well-established; and only then once international travel from Australia is ready to restart in earnest, which we are estimating will be between the middle-to-end of 2021,” the airline said in a statement.

This week, Gloria Guevara, WTTC President & CEO, said: “It will take a significant amount of time to vaccinate the global population, particularly those in less advanced countries, or in different age groups, therefore we should not discriminate against those who wish to travel but have not been vaccinated.

“Only a tiny percentage of people around the world have so far received the vaccine, whereas there are vast numbers who have not, but who could be tested, show a negative result, and travel safely.

“The common-sense approach is to allow the free movement of people who can prove a negative test result, rather than reserve travelling or jobs for a small minority who have been vaccinated.

“Furthermore, the most vulnerable groups should be prioritised, a blanket vaccination requirement would simply discriminate against non-vulnerable groups, such as Generation X, Z and Millennials, who should be able to travel with proof of a negative COVID test.”

The restoration of international travel seems a long way off.

Colour changing ‘smart labels’ ensure face masks keep passengers safe in the skies

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Technology that will alert users to the need to replace their face mask has been unveiled by smart packaging company, Insignia Technologies.

Designed to encourage safer mask practice while bringing peace of mind to the public, Insignia’s smart label changes colour to indicate when a disposable face mask has reached the end of its recommended lifespan or when a re-usable mask requires to be changed.

As COVID-19 cases rise in countries around the world, face masks are now part of everyday life, with requirements in place for people to wear them in public spaces including onboard aircraft. However, little attention has been given to whether people are changing their masks regularly enough.

Whilst the recommended maximum time to wear a mask is dependent upon a number of factors, The Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine has published its recommendation – typically between four to six hours – alongside recommendations from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Public Health England (PHE).

Face masks and coverings are now a mandatory part of travel, with many airlines requiring passengers to wears masks during flights and when in airports. Despite major carriers such as British Airways requesting that passengers change their mask every four hours, there is little regulation in place to monitor compliance and ensure both airlines and travellers are wearing masks that are still safe for use.

Insignia’s solution provides an additional level of reassurance to both passengers and flight attendants, reminding mask wearers to change their masks regularly and ensuring that the safety of all parties remains the top priority.

Founded in 2012, Insignia Technologies’ smart labels are used across the food and drink sector. With an estimated 18 million tonnes of edible food sent to landfill in the UK each year, Insignia set out on a mission to reduce food waste by developing a label that uses smart pigment technology to change colour over time to show how long a packet of food has been open.

When COVID-19 hit the UK, Insignia’s team of scientists redeveloped its label technology so that it could be suitable for application on face masks.

Dr Graham Skinner, Product Development Manager at Insignia Technologies, said: “We modified our labels so that they fit the recommended time frames given for effective mask use. The label sits on the outside of the face mask and changes colour to indicate when the end of the recommended time has been reached, providing an easy to use visual reminder and marker of reassurance.”

David Kilshaw, CEO of Insignia Technologies, said: “We want to educate mask users of the importance of following recommended guidelines when it comes to face masks. The travel industry has been heavily impacted by COVID-19, and now passengers and crew are required to wear masks in airports and for the duration of their flight. With these requests in place, it’s important that both passengers and airline workers remember to change their masks regularly to ensure they continue to practice safe mask use. By including our innovative label technology on masks, we can ensure that PPE is being used responsibly and isn’t being worn for too long, or thrown away too quickly.”

Do not touch sign

Editor’s comment: Can’t touch this

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Do not touch sign

This is the final Inflight e-newsletter of 2020, a year whose end cannot come fast enough.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the fabric of the aviation industry to a degree we may only discover in the years ahead.

One big change has been in the passenger experience, the new normal of which is touchless.

As Geraint Edwards, the new Global Head of Service Design at Tangerine says, “Tactility is dead. Now no one wants to touch. How do we go about designing for an untactile experience in a world where your phone becomes not only a communication tool but also becomes your gateway to the world?”

University of Arizona researcher Dr Katalin Gothard, inspired by her work at a Romanian orphanage, is seeking to understand how the brain interprets the social, emotional and physical aspects of touch.

Her team has compared the influences of the various touch parameters on emotional state and found that although the objective parameters of touch are processed first, the social aspects were more important in influencing amygdala activity and resulting emotional states. The amygdala is the almond-shaped mass within the brain, shown to perform a primary role in the processing of memory, decision-making and emotional responses.

With touchpoints along the passenger journey being minimised and, in some cases, removed entirely, how will a lack of tactility impact our passenger experience which is so sensory based? How will it affect our perception of an airline, onboard hospitality and service?

We’ll be back in 2021, ready to discuss, provide insight and showcase the inspirational and inventive responses of the industry.

Thank you for being a subscriber – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Flightpath3D VTOL screenshot

FlightPath3D gets VTOL lift

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Flightpath3D VTOL screenshot

FlightPath3D has announced its 3D Map is now capable of supporting Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) applications. The product was launched on a fleet of Sikorsky S92 helicopters with an undisclosed private customer.

The moving map features a direct point to point flight travel set in a game-like 3D interactive experience with high-resolution satellite imagery, immersive virtual reality cockpit head-up-display, and VTOL 360 view.

“Building our VTOL 3D Map application to support direct point to point travel required additional intelligence to generate a dynamic route in 3D, enhanced cockpit view and upgraded satellite resolution imagery to zoom down to 60 cm”, said FlightPath3D CEO Boris Veksler.

The VTOL 3D Map is customised for the operator with their own personal livery. It provides valuable flight information like time to destination, expected arrival time, altitude, groundspeed, and bearing and mission-specific data. Any time the pilot changes the route, passengers are automatically updated, and the route reflects those changes.

Blue Sky Network AS9100 certification

AS9100 Certification awarded to Blue Sky Network’s Scottsdale, Arizona site

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Blue Sky Network AS9100 certification

Blue Sky Network, a provider of mission-critical fleet management, business continuity, and operational analytics solutions for commercial and government customers, has received AS9100 certification for its Scottsdale, Arizona facility.

The certification for its Aerospace Quality Management System, includes the design and manufacture of asset tracking, communications equipment and software.

“The AS9100 certification puts Blue Sky Network in a very select group of manufacturers” said Gregoire Demory, Blue Sky Network President. “It also reaffirms our dedication to delivering industry-leading quality and customer service.”

“We are extremely proud to have Blue Sky Network AS9100 certified,” stated Tucker Morrison, Blue Sky Network CEO. “After acquiring Applied Satellite Engineering in 2018, the certification of both our San Diego and Scottsdale locations secures our unwavering commitment to our customers as well as our continued drive to develop the most reliable and quality satellite connectivity solutions in the market.”

Editor’s comment: Clean and keen

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It seems that the various cleanliness and hygiene programmes airlines have been vociferous in promoting, are influencing the travel decisions of passengers.

According to a survey conducted by YouGov PLC on behalf of Honeywell, cleanliness/hygiene was the top factor (57%) for US respondents in determining their choice of airline – outranking cost and every other factor.

The online interview was composed of 3,336 adults in both the US and UK and was undertaken between 6-10 November 2020.

Among those who have travelled since March, some 58% of those who travelled by plane gave positive ratings to the cleanliness and safety procedures in flight.

“Travel and hospitality companies that lead the way on safety and cleanliness protocols during the pandemic are likely to be better positioned when global travel rebounds,” said Bill Kircos, Vice President, Global Marketing, Honeywell Aerospace. “It’s evident that airlines, airports and lodging providers must address safety and cleanliness as part of their core brand offering now and in the future.”

In our forthcoming January/February issue of Inflight, we look at how technology is playing a key role in onboard safety protocols.

A dog recognised as a service animal

Editor’s comment: Animal crackers

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A dog recognised as a service animal

This week, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) issued a final rule regarding service animals travelling by air.

As Open Doors Organisation (ODO) explains: “By aligning the definition of a service animal with that of the Department of Justice under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the DOT has ensured that untrained animals, classified as emotional support animals, are no longer travelling uncrated in aircraft cabins, making air travel safer for everyone and eliminating the stigma for legitimate service animals.”

This final rule defines a service animal as a dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. For the first time, it allows airlines to recognise emotional support animals as pets, rather than service animals, and permits airlines to limit the number of service animals that one passenger can bring onboard an aircraft to two service animals.

The final rule is expected to generate annual cost savings to airlines between US$15.6 million and $21.6 million and annual net benefits of $3.9 to $12.7 million.

The final rule puts an end to the growth in fraud surrounding the use of service animals, a practice ODO Director Eric Lipp has called “a cottage industry where medical professionals are selling forms to allow these untrained animals to fly as emotional support animals.”

We can now say goodbye to the sights of peacocks, monkeys, pigs, ducks and other animals more appropriate to being on the ark rather than on an aircraft.

Boeing Digital Direct GUI

Editor’s comment: IFE’s X-factor

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Boeing Digital Direct GUI

In late 2019, Boeing HorizonX, the venture fund arm of Boeing, invested in Madrid-based Immfly.

Speaking at the time, Immfly Executive Chairman Jimmy Martinez von Korff stated: “Boeing and Immfly share a common vision to continue growing the digital capabilities provided to airlines to enhance their onboard experience and develop new revenue streams.

A year on, the first fruits of that investment have been made public with the introduction of Boeing Digital Direct.

Boeing Digital Direct is a new wireless IFE and digital services platform that can be installed in an overhead bin or integrated into an existing wireless network.

An intuitive user interface gives access to a range of entertainment options via a PED, as well as airline-branded channels. The digital platform also supports ecommerce modules with in-flight retail integration for food and beverage ordering, destination experience sales, and targeted advertising.

Positioned to help complement an airline’s COVID response efforts, Boeing Digital Direct minimises flight attendant and passenger interaction.

With news that regulators around the world have begun paving the way to allow the 737 MAX to resume operations, Boeing is certainly ending the year on a more positive note than it started with.

Tony Douglas, Etihad Aviation Group GCEO and Gonen Usishkin, EL AL Airlines CEO sign MOU agreement LR

Editor’s comment: What the Dickens!

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Tony Douglas, Etihad Aviation Group GCEO and Gonen Usishkin, EL AL Airlines CEO sign MOU agreement LR

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It’s certainly been a tale of two carriers this week, with mixed fortunes for Norwegian and Etihad.

Following the Norwegian government’s decision to withhold further support from the airline, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA has applied for Irish Examinership as it seeks to reduce its debt, right-size the fleet and secure new capital. This reorganisation process protects the assets of the Norwegian group while allowing the company to focus on the right-sizing of the group and is expected to take up to five months.

Jacob Schram, Norwegian CEO, commented: “Our intent is clear. We will emerge from this process as a more financially secure and competitive airline, with a new financial structure, a right-sized fleet and improved customer offering.”

Meanwhile, following the normalisation of diplomatic ties between the UAE and Israel, Etihad continues to develop its links with the country.

In October, Etihad became the first GCC carrier to operate a commercial flight to and from Tel Aviv. It has now confirmed that it will launch daily scheduled year-round flights to the city from 28 March 2021.

Now the airline has signed an MOU (pictured) with EL AL to deepen cooperation in areas of cargo, engineering, loyalty, destination management and the optimal use of pilot and cabin crew training facilities.

Gonen Usishkin, Chief Executive Officer of EL AL Israel Airlines, stated: “This MOU is only the start and we believe that together, the two flag carriers will be able to provide our mutual customers with the best possible product and service.”