Hanwha Systems acquires Phasor Solutions

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South Korea’s Hanwha Systems has acquired the business and assets of the UK-based Phasor Solutions, the technology development arm of Arlington, US-based Phasor.

Hanwha Systems had been searching for its future growth engine and looked at possible investment opportunities in the satellite communication antenna business since last year and were attracted to Phasor’s antenna technology for Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) satellite communications.

Hanwha plans to enter into the satellite communication antenna business, where its existing communication and radar technologies can be fully utilised, and securing proprietary technology for Low-Earth-Orbit satellite antenna, thereby strengthening Hanwha Systems’ aerospace system capabilities.

Phasor’s electronically steerable antennas (ESAs) are based on patented innovations in dynamic beam-forming technologies and system architecture.

The Phasor ESA will be capable of supporting high bandwidth data communications with Ku-band satellites in both commercial GEO and LEO orbits and will also include an integrated radome, as a single line replaceable unit (LRU).

Youn Chul Kim, CEO of Hanwha Systems, said: “Our company made a swift decision for the investment as this market has the big potential for the growth and this technology is of strategic importance for Hanwha Systems.”

In April, Phasor Systems appointed Duff & Phelps as administrators, following the collapse of a proposed sale, and the subsequent failure to meet financial obligations, largely attributed to the impact of COVID-19.

Consortium looks to acquire OneWeb

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A consortium led by HMG (through the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy) and Bharti Global Limited, is set to acquire OneWeb in connection with its court-supervised sale process. The bid is designed to capitalise the company sufficiently as a going concern to effectuate the full end-to-end deployment of the OneWeb system.

Bharti Airtel has its own extensive mobile broadband networks and enterprise business, which will act as the testing ground for all OneWeb products, services, and applications.

Adrian Steckel, CEO of OneWeb commented: “We are delighted to have concluded the sale process with such a positive outcome that will benefit not only OneWeb’s existing creditors, but also our employees, vendors, commercial partners, and supporters worldwide who believe in the mission and in the promise of global connectivity. The combination of HMG and Bharti will bring immediate value as we develop as a global leader in low latency connectivity. This successful outcome for OneWeb underscores the confidence in our business, technology, and the work of our entire team. With differentiated and flexible technology, unique spectrum assets and a compelling market opportunity ahead of us, we are eager to conclude the process and get back to launching our satellites as soon as possible.”

The transaction remains subject to approval by the US Bankruptcy Court, as well as regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2020. In the meantime, the purchasing consortium will work with the OneWeb management team to further develop the strategy and business plan and to resume the Company’s launch schedule.

PXCom launches in-flight social distancing management

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PXCom has launched the In-Cabin Mobility Management (IC2M by PXCom) software suite to improve in-flight social distancing.

Each suite comprises of four modules that the airline can choose to select individually or as part of a bundle:

  • Toilets Queuing Management to avoid passengers gathered around the restrooms;
  • Overhead bin access regulation to ensure minimum distance as a passenger wants to access to its personal belongings;
  • Disembarkation Process, to organise a guaranteed social distance as the passenger leave the aircraft;
  • Multi-chat: Passenger chat to avoid passengers from different rows physically connecting to discuss and also, passenger to cabin crew chat to minimise surface contact.

“Our customers are really excited about these capabilities, as we anticipate a 60% drop down of unmanaged in-cabin movement” states Cyril JEAN, PXCom CEO, “Of course all these digital services are fully customisable in order to integrate each of our customer’s management rules in consistency to its product experience.”

PXCom has also launched the digitised safety & hygiene card.

Upon accessing the IFE system, the passenger is displayed a swipeable safety and hygiene card in their preferred language, with content specific to their aircraft. Content is managed from a cloud-based back office and can be updated as often as the hygiene measures evolve, through the media content update process.

At the end of the swipe, the passenger can either acknowledge and be redirected to the homepage of the IFE GUI or jump into the destination airport’s specific hygiene measures.

Gogo Business Aviation looks at robust recovery

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Gogo Business Aviation has reported an uptake in the number of reactivations, as more aircraft return online.

On 25 June, the number of flights flown with active Gogo service onboard reached 3,039 flights, close to Gogo’s pre-COVID average of 3,500 flights per day. The company is actively working with customers to reactivate service quickly as flying activity increases, and installations of new AVANCE L5 and L3 are on the rise.

In mid-April, witnessed a single-day low-point of 378 daily flights, as many aircraft owners chose to park their aircraft and 30% of Gogo Business Aviation’s accounts chose to reduce their spending through either account suspensions or service-plan downgrades.

“I’m encouraged because we’re seeing several positive trends taking shape in the market,” said Sergio Aguirre, president of Gogo Business Aviation. “We’ve strived to be a good partner with our customers to get through a very difficult time together, and we’re now in the midst of a measurable recovery as flight activity increases.”

“I’ve been amazed with the level of productivity and engagement our employees have delivered to help our customers, and the company, get through this unique and challenging time,” Aguirre added. “And from an innovation standpoint, we have several positive developments that will be released in the coming weeks that will make your Gogo in-flight experience even better.”

Aerkomm to cooperate with Telesat

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Aerkomm’s wholly owned subsidiary, Aircom Pacific has entered into a cooperation agreement with Telesat Leo to develop technical and commercial activities around Telesat’s Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) Network.

The two parties’ technical collaboration includes testing network performance, leveraging Telesat’s Phase 1 LEO satellite which has been in polar orbit since 2018, ensuring compatibility with existing Aircom solutions and future user terminal solutions, and end-to-end implementation within regulatory guidelines. Commercial collaboration will include optimising business and operating models, joint presentations and information sessions with key customers and partners, and exploring a long-term joint development plan.

Louis Giordimaina, CEO of Aerkomm, commented, “Our research leads us to believe that a hybrid geostationary/low-earth-orbit solution will have the ability to provide such capacity, and Telesat’s LEO Network, a multi-terabit, high-throughput, low-latency open network infrastructure, is a fitting complement to our existing geostationary solution.”

NextComm antenna

NXTCOMM completes design of its AeroMax flat panel antenna

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NextComm antenna

Atlanta-based NXT Communications has completed the design of a low-cost, flat-panel satellite antenna for the commercial and defense aviation markets.

The design uses standard PCB manufacturing technology with commercial off-the-shelf components and a unique modular sub array topology scalable to any form factor.

“AeroMax fills a critical broadband need facing airlines and operators as they resume flights in a changed connectivity environment,” said Dave Horton, Co-founder and CEO of NXTCOMM “Unlike traditional mechanically steered antenna designs, our antennas are modular and easily mass producible.”

NXTCOMM’s low-profile design maximises the usable space under the radome, allowing for more panels, and ultimately greater performance.

Leveraging advancements in RF and semi-conductor packaging and manufacturing technology, the AeroMax antenna optimises a highly integrated silicon-based chipset and sub-array design, which serves as the building block for a portfolio of next-generation, lower-cost commercial satellite antennas. The core aperture that drives the NXTCOMM antenna is field and flight tested, having been deployed in defense aviation and ISR applications.

“Our design represents a real breakthrough opportunity to bring proven, low-cost, high-performance flat panel satellite antennas to the commercial aviation marketplace,” says Carl Novello, NXTCOMM’s Chief Technology Officer, who is overseeing all antenna product design, development, and engineering activities. “The AeroMax antenna features no moving parts, is electronically steerable, and delivers significantly enhanced performance in both Ku and Ka frequency bands,” he adds.

NXTCOMM plans to conduct over-the-air testing later this year, with AeroMax antenna low-rate initial production (LRIP) available in early 2021.

SmartTray strengthens IP capabilities

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SmartTray International has received grants for six additional utility patents for Personal Electronic Device (PED) holders in passenger seats and tray tables for use in aviation and other modes of transportation.

The company now has 18 granted patents including a design patent.

Patented claims encompass integrated slot/groove, integrated kick-stands, independent and biased rotatable walls, self-adjusting mechanisms that expand and retract automatically to the thickness of PED’s firmly gripping mobile devices when placed in SmartTray proprietary PED holders.

According to SmartTray, its patented mobile device holders make it more ergonomic, convenient, safer, and easier to use travellers’ smartphones and electronic tablets on airplanes. There are more than 200 patented claims to PED holders in seatback tray tables (SBT), in-arm-tray (IAT) tables, and PED holders in passenger seats covering broad range of integrated PED holder geometries, including USB and wireless charging. Proprietary PED holders are conveniently located within arm’s reach of each passenger and in full sight.

“Adding new parts to the already certified passenger seats require that modified seats be recertified, a significantly more costly option. New parts add extra weight and extra weight costs more to fly around. Replacing existing seats with new or modified seats requires that airplanes be taken out of service at significant loss of revenue to airline operators. Therefore, SmartTray’s focus is on solutions that can be installed in minutes per passenger seat, require no disruption in service, or costly recertification,” said Nick Pajic, Founder, President & CEO of SmartTray.

“To expand our global footprint as quickly as possible, SmartTray works with suppliers to mass transit like OEM’s, MRO’s, IFE providers as well as FAA/EASA approved repair stations,” added Pajic.

“We can play a small or a larger role in supporting our customers through direct patent licensing agreements or manufacturing SmartTray proprietary PED holders in tray tables and passenger seats through SmartTray approved supply chain,” added Pajic.

To assist SmartTray with licensing and protection of its extensive patent portfolio, SmartTray has appointed intellectual property law firms, Niro McAndrews and Weiss & Moy.

“We are very excited to represent SmartTray in the licensing and enforcement of its important intellectual property rights,” said Raymond Niro, Jr., a Founding Partner at Niro McAndrews. “Our firm specializes in intellectual property and technology law, with an emphasis on the trial and appeal of complex disputes. We are hopeful that companies are amenable to accepting licenses for the use of SmartTray’s technology, but we are also prepared to initiate litigation if necessary,” added Niro.

Boeing 777X to benefit from ‘smart pipe’ technology

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Inmarsat is collaborating with Boeing to offer ‘smart pipe’ technology onboard its 777X aircraft.

The technology independently allocates connectivity bandwidth to multiple applications from the cockpit to the cabin. Operational benefits include predictive maintenance, route optimisation, modernised air traffic management and real-time crew communications. Passengers will benefit from enhanced passenger entertainment, including high-speed internet and live television.

Applications delivered on Inmarsat’s GX Aviation and SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) are each able to have a unique service level agreement and guaranteed performance levels, independent of other applications that are also operating through the same terminal.

Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “With the addition of ‘smart pipe’ functionality, we are paving the way for a more connected and integrated future, which is crucial for airlines around the world that are transforming their business with the power of digital technology.

“This is a significant milestone in developing the truly connected aircraft. The results from initial tests for our ‘smart pipe’ are promising and we look forward to continuing our collaboration with Boeing in preparation for the forthcoming entry into service of its new 777X aircraft.”

Inmarsat’s new ‘smart pipe’ technology will initially be available to airlines that have either ordered or plan to order the Boeing 777X. In addition, these capabilities will be available as upgrades on other aircraft models.

Air Canada offers entertainment for streaming at home

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Air Canada has made a broad selection of entertainment content free to members of Aeroplan, the Canadian coalition loyalty program owned by the airline.

The carrier is making over 200 titles, including films, shorts and other video from its Canadian partners, available for streaming at no charge until 22 July.

“With summer’s arrival, together with respected Canadian cultural partners, we are making a selection of acclaimed entertainment available at home through streaming to all Aeroplan members based in Canada. Through the great content we have curated for our customers, we are bringing summer celebrations to Canadians,” said Andrew Shibata, Managing Director of Brand at Air Canada.

Content includes classic films featuring the best of Canadian and cultural cinema, presented by Telefilm Canada, as well as content from Canadian cultural organisations, including among others the National Film Board of Canada, the imagineNATIVE film festival, Reel Asian film festival and Prends ça Court. In recognition of Pride Month, the carrier is also offering a wide variety of LGBTQ2+ content from OUTtv.

Burrana RISEs to IFE challenges

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Burrana has unveiled its RISE IFE platform, which the company claim approaches traditional IFE challenges in a different way.

“RISE was created to solve airlines’ most challenging issues regarding in-flight entertainment, while providing passengers with an experience unlike any other,” commented David Pook, Vice President of Marketing and Sales Support at Burrana.

The RISE platform is modular and scalable and hardware, software, apps, and services which can be added or removed depending on aircraft type and business need. It is also a natural upgrade to the PAVES system inherited by Burrana following its acquisition of Rockwell Collins’ embedded IFE systems.

“We’ve been really clever about how we’ve architected our software, apps and services”, says Pook. “RISE has completely eliminated the need for time-consuming and expensive change requests, ATPs, and FSATs. Airlines will be able to add or remove apps from aircraft via a simple, web-based tool and make changes to their GUI by themselves, without the need for formal acceptance testing,” said Pook.

RISE sits on a shared hardware and a common 48VDC power backbone and can be configured to include seatback, wireless, or overhead entertainment, as well as in-seat power, or any combination of these.

All displays are 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) resolution and feature High Dynamic Range (HDR), more local storage, and robust processing power, packaged in a very thin (10 mm) and modern design. Each seatback display also supports integrated single-pin audio, Bluetooth, Near Field Communication (NFC), and the airline’s choice between USB-C or USB-A offering.

The new GUI has been designed to offer a Netflix-like experience using crowd-sourced data, such as social content ratings  and intelligent algorithms (including real-time recommendations and contextual feedback) that adapts to the passenger as they use it.

Another new feature includes the ability to easily create advertising campaigns, with targeted adverts placed in proximity to high value hotspots.

As Pook explained in a virtual demonstration to media, RISE has been built to solve, and thus offers numerous ultra-high-speed content loading options, easier maintenance, and is claimed to be 30% lighter than competitive solutions.

Originally to be launched at this Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX), the availability of RISE has been shifted due to the current pandemic and airlines delaying new deliveries. Both RISE Power and RISE 4K overhead are available to offer now, with retrofit on single and twin aisle aircraft starting Q1 2021 and available for linefit installations shortly thereafter. RISE Wireless for Seatback will be market ready in 2021, with retrofit and linefit options from 2022 and 2023 respectively.