flydubai encourages “Surf and drive”

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flyubai is offering passengers unlimited connectivity for only US$8 per flight, as it launches “Surf and drive” and the chance to win one of two new Toyota Rush SUVs.

The promotion is available on all flydubai Wi-Fi enabled aircraft until 30 September 2018. To enter the draw, passengers simply purchase a Wi-Fi package on board a flydubai flight and provide their details to be automatically enrolled.

Commenting on the offer, Daniel Kerrison, vice president Inflight Product at flydubai, said,”At flydubai we are committed to offering passengers innovative product choices such as on-board connectivity which meets the travel needs of our customers. Summer is a popular time of year for travel and with our Wi-Fi offering, our passengers can keep in touch with their family and friends while getting the chance to win a fantastic prize.”


Written by: Alexander Preston

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Video summary of the latest news from the IFEC and cabin technology sectors

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Inflight Two Minutes provides a convenient summary of recent headlines and topical content for our followers.  This week features news on the home-grown W-IFE for Turkish Airlines, Norwegian slims down 737 MAX seating, Caribbean Airlines in Wow move and Air France enhances family entertainment.

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Guest comment: Tablets and Apps hold the key

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Technology already exists to make air travel as seamless and comfortable for those with disabilities, but it seems it’s being underused. Molly Watt, a usability and accessibility consultant, specialising in assistive technology and design for those with sensory impairment, gives a personal insight.

I continue to travel by air and sadly it really is a lottery for many like myself travelling with disabilities.

My feeling is that it is very clear that there is insufficient disability awareness training for both airport and airline staff, who do not seem to be aware of “invisible disabilities” like mine. Even when I travel with my guide dog, more often than not I am asked by staff, firstly, if she is a guide dog and, secondly, what paperwork I need to have: surely these are things they should know.

I’m already horrified at the extra work I have to go through just to take my guide dog with me. To give you an idea: Firstly, I must contact the airline and advise them I am travelling with my guide dog – note they will be aware of her before the flight. Then it is my responsibility to arrange relevant injections/tablets that she needs, not to leave the country but to be allowed back in. It should also be noted here that I cannot be trusted to give my guide dog – who I value with my life – her tablets. Instead, it must be a vet that administers them. So even before arriving at the airport, I have been running around doing these things. I then have to provide copies of my guide dog’s passport showing the various jabs and tablets she has had for them to approve her travel.
I should make it clear here that one particular tablet has to be taken 24 hours before she travels, and should she be overseas for more than 5 days, I would have to find a vet abroad who could provide and administer the relevant medication or she would be denied re-entry to the UK!

So that’s before I even leave for the airport and of course being deafblind and preparing for travel isn’t stressful enough.

Customer service
I live fairly close to Heathrow Airport, so it is my preferred place to depart. However, in November 2017, I was travelling with Aer Lingus from London Gatwick. As usual the airline had been advised of my disability and, as I was travelling long haul, I would be using my cane and travelling with a guide.

The woman at the check-in desk was unaware of my disability or my particular travel needs. I was offered a wheelchair, which I refused. Frustratingly, this is the norm when asking for assistance. If I refuse a wheelchair, the assumption is I’m OK, which I’m not as my anxiety goes into overdrive in crowded and unfamiliar areas. Why not ask how they can help, rather than wheelchair or nothing?

I did get to board among the first passengers, and my guide led me to my seat. An air hostess provided me with a Braille safety instruction sheet, the quality of which was so poor the “risen dots”, which is Braille, had been flattened and there was clearly scores across the card making it totally illegible. That said, while I can read a little Braille, I am not a Braillist – my preference is for large text and that was not available. I was not offered a one-to-one briefing about safety; I did not know where the toilets were, nor where the lights were or how to call for help. I had to rely on my guide. It is however, not her responsibility to keep me safe on the aircraft: the duty of care is with the air crew.

As travel experiences go, this was a poor one, and even more so on the return flight which was an overnight flight, and the cabin was so dark; I am completely blind in the dark.

Then, later that month, I flew to Sweden with SAS and their service was very poor. I was pretty much ignored on the outward flight even though they saw me enter the aircraft with my guide dog. They did allow a space for my guide dog on the outward journey though. However, on my return to the UK, the flight was overbooked and as a result there was no space for my guide dog. This was very stressful as although Isabella is a small Labrador she had to go in my footwell, meaning it was a very uncomfortable trip for both of us.

Contrasting fortunes
A recent trip to Copenhagen was with British Airways and they did OK. Still no large print or Braille safety instructions, which baffles me. While I am registered blind, I’m sure lots of older people would have trouble accessing such tiny print and the glare from the laminate is unbearable. Again, I return to the idea of either providing a tablet or maybe a fully accessible app so that we are all privy to safety instructions.

For me personally, if the simplicity of an accessible app isn’t taken up by the airlines why not send me an email detailing my seating, where the emergency exits are, where the safety gadgets are and how they work, how the entertainment system works and most importantly how I summon help!

Another simple way for all airlines to better serve passengers with disabilities would be for them to enable those of us with specific needs to build a travel profile so each time we fly we do not have to go to so much trouble trying to access what we need. At least then we would not have to continually repeat what we need, and staff should be very aware well before any flight. An email or text message to offer assurance that all is in place for my flight would make so much difference and take away some of the anxiety that travelling by air brings.

Lastly, as I write, I am just about to return from Mexico. My flight out was from Gatwick with British Airways and again things did not go quite the way they should.

When I booked my holiday, I advised BA of my disabilities and also informed them through social media that I was travelling. They did make sure check-in was aware of my needs and that I was travelling with my cane and a friend.

Interestingly, check-in was straightforward, and I was told of a quiet area where I could wait to board that would be stress-free and away from the busyness of the airport. Great idea I thought, until I got there and to my shock, the area was shared with lots of young children excited and running around playing – my idea of a nightmare. Not that I don’t like children, but an accident waiting to happen, as my box of vision is small. I have no peripheral vision and therefore I can be of danger to small moving people or objects. As a result, I felt very uncomfortable and vulnerable so didn’t stay in that area.

I can say thank you to BA for allocating my friend and I bulkhead seats and on this occasion an empty seat between us, appreciating I can be very clumsy as a result of being deafblind.
We were boarded first and made comfortable as the other passengers boarded. The usual safety instructions were presented on a small screen that I couldn’t see nor hear and of course the standard safety leaflets I cannot read, and I couldn’t see the stewardess doing her safety demo. I know the stewardess stands pointing and demonstrating safety gadgets, because I was born sighted and have seen it but not anymore.

Back to basics
We were in the air and some 30 minutes after I asked my friend to press the help button did somebody come to talk to me. I don’t want special treatment or anything more than any other passenger, but I do need all staff from the booking office to check-in to the air crew to be trained and aware of how to assist people with accessibility needs. I also need them to appreciate their duty of care to me to ensure that I know the safety procedures and how to use the safety equipment on board the aircraft, and where the nearest exit is, and where the toilets are and that I know how to find the help button. It would be good to be shown how the in-flight entertainment works, that it has subtitles or there is access to an iPad or something so I can access entertainment during the flight; maybe I’d like to buy some duty free! I’d like to be able to read the menu to know what I will be eating and drinking. Basic things. Is it really too much to ask for?

To say it’s frustrating is an understatement, and today, now, in 2018, this should not be happening. If staff are not being trained or the training is such that people like myself have to take a deep breath and hope for the best, then something major is wrong. Utilise technology, enable people like myself to be independent on board. We don’t want to be a burden, why can’t we just make life easy?

I am now preparing to return to the UK, and already I am feeling incredibly anxious as I will be on a night flight which means totally blind. I have as usual contacted BA to request the assistance I require, even though they should know from my outbound info, and I have been told the crew have been advised of me and my needs. I have been advised where my seat is and told how many seat rows from my seat it is to the toilets and emergency exits, and I have been advised they will try to put me near a bulkhead which should mean more room, near a toilet and near a galley should I need help. I’ve been told the crew have been asked to do a one-to-one safety briefing for me.

I wish I could say, “thank you, that’s great” and know that this is exactly what will happen, but sadly what gets promised all too often breaks down in practice.

Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating they say, so you watch this space!

Find out more about Molly and her ambassadorial role and advocacy on behalf of Molly Watt Trust and Sense at www.mollywatt.com and www.molly-watt-trust.org

Image: Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic became the first airline to offer entertainment for blind passengers. The technology developed by Bluebox Aviation audio describes the entertainment and has been tested by the charity Guide Dogs.

Editor’s Comment: Practical luxury

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

William Morris, the English textile designer and driving force behind the British arts and crafts movement, believed that you should “have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

It’s an ethos some airlines are keen to stand by.

At the beginning of July, Delta’s first 777-200ER to be refreshed with a new interior took flight from Detroit to Beijing. All eight of Delta’s 777-200ERs and all 10 777-200LR aircraft will be retrofitted by the end of 2019. Each will feature 296 seats total, including seating for 28 in the award-winning Delta One suites, 48 in the popular Delta Premium Select cabin, and 220 in Main Cabin which offers 9-abreast seating versus the industry norm of 10 across. Across all cabins, seatback entertainment screens provide access to thousands of hours of free content, and there is also full-spectrum LED ambient lighting with customised lighting schemes depending on the phase of flight.

According to Delta, its Delta One Suites offer each customer a private space accessed by a sliding door with thoughtfully designed personal stowage areas and premium trim and finishes to create an unparalleled business class experience with a comfortable, residential feel.

Over in the Middle East and Emirates has been busy reconfiguring its fleet of 777-200LR aircraft. To date, two have been converted from three cabin classes to two, with the remaining eight to be progressively reconfigured by mid-2019.

As part of the US$150 million investment, the reconfigured aircraft features new, wider business class seats in a 2-2-2 format, a new social area in business class, as well as a fully refreshed economy class.

While three becomes two cabin classes for Emirates, Oman Air has gone the other way, introducing a new first class featuring eight fully enclosed private suites on its 787-9 Dreamliner. I was lucky enough to be among those welcoming the first flight from Muscat to London Heathrow last weekend.

A new exclusive collection of chinaware, cutlery, glassware, linens and bedding will be launched to provide Oman Air premium guests with a unique, bespoke experience. In economy class, a new meal service, amenities and comfort items will be introduced to ensure Oman Air consistently enhances its award-winning economy class product. For children, a new set of activity kits called Junior Sinbad will also be launched to keep the airline’s young passengers entertained.

All classes will feature ‘Aria’, a new state-of-the-art Thales Integrated In-Flight Entertainment System designed exclusively for Oman Air featuring an immersive cinematic interface design, showcasing the latest in on-demand blockbuster movies, TV programmes and audio selections. Exclusively curated content will be available for visitors to Oman, who will experience the very best of Oman culture from the moment they step on board.

For William Morris, the true secret of happiness came from taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. It seems that for passengers, it’s the finer details of both product and service that make for a happy and comfortable flight.


The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Inflight e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

Boeing and Embraer sign MoU to form strategic partnership

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Boeing and Embraer have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish a strategic partnership.

The non-binding agreement proposes that the companies will form a joint venture (JV), made up of the commercial aircraft and services business of Embraer aligned with Boeing’s commercial development, production, marketing, and lifecycle services operations.

Under the terms of the agreement, Boeing will hold an 80% ownership stake in the joint venture while Embraer will own the remaining 20% stake.

Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva, Embraer chief executive officer and president said the deal would strengthen both companies’ leadership in the global market. He continued: “The business combination with Boeing is expected to create a virtuous cycle for the Brazilian aerospace industry, increasing its sales potential, production, creating jobs and income, investments and exports, and in doing so, adding more value to customers, shareholders and employees.”

The transaction values Embraer’s commercial aircraft operations at $4.75 billion, and contemplates a value of $3.8 billion for Boeing’s 80% ownership stake in the JV.

The proposed partnership is expected to be accretive to Boeing’s earnings per share beginning in 2020, and to generate estimated annual pre-tax cost synergies of approximately $150 million by year three.

Boeing’s chairman, president and chief executive officer, Dennis Muilenburg, said that by forming the strategic partnership: “We will be ideally positioned to generate significant value for both companies’ customers, employees and shareholders – and for Brazil and the United States.”

“This important partnership clearly aligns with Boeing’s long-term strategy of investing in organic growth and returning value to shareholders, complemented by strategic arrangements that enhance and accelerate our growth plans,” he added.

Once finalised, the commercial aviation joint venture will be led by Brazil-based management, including a president and chief executive officer. Boeing will have operational and management control of the new company, which will report directly to Muilenburg.

The JV will become one of Boeing’s centres of excellence for end-to-end design, manufacturing and support of commercial passenger aircraft, and will be fully integrated into Boeing’s broader production and supply chain.

The companies will also create another joint venture to promote and develop new markets and applications for defence products and services.

Finalisation of the financial and operational details of the strategic partnership and negotiation of definitive transaction agreements are expected to continue in the coming months.

It would then be subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals – including approval from the Government of Brazil, as well as other customary closing conditions. Dependent on the receipt of approvals, the transaction is expected to close by the end of 2019, 12 to 18 months after execution of the definitive agreements.

Greg Smith, Boeing chief financial officer and executive vice-president of enterprise strategy & performance, called the strategic partnership “a natural evolution” of the long-standing history between the companies, adding: “It is aligned with Boeing’s enterprise strategy of pursuing strategic investment opportunities where they demonstrate real value and accelerate our organic growth plans. This partnership will strengthen the vertical capabilities of Boeing and enhance value for our customers through the full lifecycle of industry-leading products and services.”

The companies say they will benefit from a broader scale, resources and footprint, including global supply chain, sales and marketing, and services network and that the strategic partnership will also provide opportunities to share best practices in manufacturing and across development programmes.

The transaction will have no impact on Boeing and Embraer financial guidance for 2018 or Boeing’s cash deployment strategy and commitment to returning approximately 100% of free cash flow to shareholders.


Written by: Kimberley Young

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Editor’s comment: A team effort

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

We’re halfway through the FIFA World Cup and for some the journey is over. While there may be a sense of schadenfreude at the exploits of some teams, many fans will be experiencing a sense of gemütlichkeit – feeling relaxed and comfortable.

It’s a sense Turkish Airlines is bringing to passengers on its fleet of narrow-body aircraft which don’t offer seatback screens. To overcome this, the airline is installing wireless IFE. Downloading an app onto a PED, passengers will be able to access a wealth of entertainment options.

The flag carrier of Turkey is really flying the flag for its indigenous aviation industry as the system has been developed by Turkish engineers in cooperation with Turkish Technic Inc., and Havelsan.

Team play has also been in evidence at Spafax’s recent inaugural 48-hour hackathon, which saw two groups challenged to create AI-powered digital products, which could be integrated into Spafax Profile, Spafax’s entertainment personalisation platform with Amazon Alexa solution launched this past year (the first IFE solution of its kind), currently used by American Airlines, Lufthansa and Swiss International Airlines (SWISS).

So Alexa, who will win the World Cup?


The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Inflight e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

Editor’s comment: A numbers game

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

This week, research studies have been like London buses. You wait ages for one to appear, and then three turn up in quick succession.

That’s been the case for reports on the state of in-flight connectivity.

According to EuroConsult, over 23,000 commercial aircraft will offer connectivity to their passengers by 2027, up from 7,400 aircraft in 2017. The report authors contend that the need to improve profit margins, and to benefit from economies of scale, vertical integration and consolidation in the IFC value chain is needed. Are we set for some robust M&A activity in the coming months?

They also say the next 10 years will see the full emergence of the SmartPlane concept or connected aircraft. Aircraft being more and more connected will start to support all the latest IT trends such as IoT, Big Data, analytics, cyber-security and so forth, allowing aviation to enter a new era with connectivity at its heart.

It’s a picture supported in the latest findings by Honeywell in its new ‘Connected Aircraft Report’, which says that investment in connected technologies is expected to rise significantly during the next 12 months, and to increase even more rapidly over the next five years. The focus of the spending is expected to be beyond the cabin, with maintenance a key area.

In news that will please airline CFOs, the London School of Economics claims that the potential for multiple savings, efficiencies and safety opportunities could equate to a 0.75% – 1.00% reduction in the IATA consolidated US$764 billion annual global airline costs of operation.

In a co-authored report with Inmarsat, LSE forecasts that if technology is introduced such as using real time data to create a live electronic tech log, in which flight performance data is digitally integrated with maintenance suppliers, allowing airlines and advanced algorithms to identify any maintenance required before the aircraft arrives at its destination, it could halve maintenance costs and deliver annual cost savings of $5.6 billion.

Elsewhere, the operational benefits from enhanced broadband are forecast to generate up to US$15 billion for the global airline industry by 2035, as greater connectivity is adopted.
Such projections might just make discussions with CFOs just that much easier.


The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Inflight e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

 

SkyWest deploys eaML technology fleet-wide

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SkyWest has become the first commercial airline in the US to equip and operate its entire fleet with newly FAA-approved Electronic Maintenance Log (eAML) technology.

“The eAML provides a significant boost to our already-robust maintenance program,” said SkyWest chief operating officer Mike Thompson. “The elimination of paper streamlines processes from the flight deck to maintenance technicians and our operations control centre teams, resulting in improved reliability that benefits employees and customers alike.”

The deployment across 443 aircraft comes after years of preparation and cross-departmental collaboration.

Video: The latest news from the IFEC and cabin technology sectors

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Inflight Two Minutes provides a convenient summary of recent headlines and topical content for our followers. This week features updates  SunExpress and its new partnership with Immfly to introduce a new IFE system, SAUDIA’s new free Whatsapp plan, Air Astana has enhanced its international network and Virgin Australia has officially launched international Wi-Fi!

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Inflight entertainment

Carlisle in acquisition joy

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Carlisle Interconnect Technologies (CarlisleIT) has acquired UK-based Tenencia Ltd, which specialises in the integration and certification of electrical/avionics systems, cabin systems, internal and external structure, VIP interiors and commercial aerospace applications on a wide range of aircraft.

Tenencia is an EASA Part 21 Design and Production organisation which operates under AS9100 and carries CAA Part 21 production approval and is approved to both AS9100D and BS EN ISO 9001:2008.

In acquiring Tenencia, US-based CarlisleIT broadens its global capabilities for design certification of commercial aircraft to both EASA and FAA design and production requirements.