BizjetMobile launches CrewX

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BizjetMobile, a distributor for ASIP Tech, has begun shipments of the CrewX global messaging platform.

Evolved from ASIP Tech’s commercial airline product fflya, to provide core communications for aircraft crew, CrewX is the only global Bluetooth solution leveraging off the latest Iridium Next satellites.

BizjetMobile’s CEO, Adam Chapman, said: “BizjetMobile’s goal is to provide the most versatile and affordable connectivity solutions in the industry. No longer will pilots and owners be concerned about bill shock. With CrewX they can stay connected with unlimited messaging data for the entire flight for a low monthly rate of US$199. With the entire system only costing $2,490 there is no other comparable solution.

Providing the ability to stay in touch with friends and family via Text, conduct business communications via Email and improve flight operations with a simple app-based Messaging system CrewX is the core of any aircraft operations. All you need is our CrewX small light-weight router that is easy to install and a 3-inch patch Iridium antenna. Compatible with both IOS and Android devices.”

Inflight Dublin upgrades web app

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Inflight Dublin’s wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, Everhub, has been upgraded with new features to minimise physical touchpoints and increase ancillary revenue opportunities. The upgraded web app is available as part of Inflight Dublin’s recently announced six-month free trial of the Everhub wireless IFE solution.

The web app has a new design with switchable light and dark themes and new Material User Interface (Material UI) and Progressive Web App (PWA) features that allow the web-based interface to appear as a native application without the need for any app/SDK installations on the end-users device.

Everhub supports banner ads, pre-roll video ads, and interstitial ads which can appear on a timed basis or popup when navigating through the system. With the growing need for contactless and paper-free initiatives, health and safety information and onboard protocols can be fully digitised, reducing risks by eliminating unnecessary touchpoints onboard.

The web app is integrated with Everhub’s cloud-hosted Control Centre which provides back-office capabilities at no additional cost to the airline. The upgraded web app also includes Inflight Dublin’s data analytics platform, IFD Insights. This offers airlines access to content usage trends, advertising reports, and survey feedback, providing constant updates on the performance of their IFE offering onboard.

“The upgraded passenger web application enhances our established Everhub product which combines a flexible hardware platform with software, content, and revenue-generating services. This provides airlines with a one-stop-shop solution which can be deployed onboard in a matter of weeks. The upgraded web app comes just in time to complement our 6-month wireless free trial offering and will be a core part of our wireless solution going forward,” stated David Miller, Inflight Dublin’s CTO.

OneWeb prepares for launch restart

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OneWeb is to restart its launch programme with Arianespace.

The amended agreement with Arianespace sees launches resume in December 2020, increasing OneWeb’s in-orbit fleet to 110 satellites. A further 16 launches will place another 34–36 satellites per launch to complete the deployment of its full global constellation of Low Earth Orbit satellites by the end of 2022.

Commercial services are planned to be introduced by the end of 2021. Initial regions will include: The UK, Alaska, Northern Europe, Greenland, Iceland, the Arctic seas and Canada.

The amended agreement remains subject to confirmation and consummation of OneWeb’s restructuring plan, as it plans to emerge from Chapter 11 protection, with HM Government and Bharti Global as the prevailing bidders in OneWeb’s bankruptcy sale process.

OneWeb anticipates the closing of the planned sale of the company in Q4 2020, subject to confirmation and consummation of OneWeb’s restructuring plan, court approval and regulatory consents.

Panasonic welcomes passengers aboard

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Panasonic Avionics has unveiled its “Welcome Aboard Collection” – a suite of in-flight products and solutions designed to help airlines address passenger concerns during the current pandemic.

Customisable to an airline’s existing fleet, the collection consists of both in-flight entertainment (IFE) elements and other solutions.

To reduce touchpoints through smarter “less touch” technology, Onboard Reader digitises print publications, while Companion App integrates a passengers’ personal electronic device into the IFE experience.

Enhancing the cabin experience and promoting wellness solutions, the nanoe Air Cleanser improves air quality by generating nano-sized electrostatic atomised water particles that can suppress odours and inhibit certain viruses, bacteria and allergens.

The Collection includes other solutions such as Active Surfaces that allow for easy wipe-down from flight-to-flight and ZeroTouchA services, which enable airlines to administer content updates remotely, greatly reducing the manual labour and physical presence typically associated with these efforts.

Stellar Kuala Lumpur celebrates birthday

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Stellar’s in-flight entertainment hub in Malaysia, Stellar Kuala Lumpur, is celebrating its 15th anniversary.

The content service provider’s site known as Stellar KL, is a state-of-the-art media hub. The facility offers a range of services including customised content curation and acquisition, screening, metadata management, and houses a production and technical department equipped with hi-tech recording studios, editing suites and media delivery labs.

The range of services even includes support for airlines using legacy systems such as VHS and Hi-8 systems.

“Stellar Malaysia is designed to offer clients a 360-degree scope of in-flight entertainment services including 24/7 support for urgent technical issues,” remarked Mervin Mathawan, Country Manager Malaysia and a big aviation and motoring enthusiast. “With 15 years under our belt, we have a solid track record of partnering with major airlines in the region who value our wide network and our cost management strategies.”

“Stellar Entertainment completely understands the importance of editorial requirements for an airline, especially for Asian and Middle Eastern carriers whose cultural sensitivities are understood inherently by our multi-cultural Malaysian team at Stellar KL,” Mathawan added. “The team has grown over the years and is now staffed by more than 25 people from various media, entertainment and technical backgrounds. An extraordinarily low staff turnover has resulted in an experienced, passionate, and dedicated team of IFE specialists who provide high client servicing standards, supported by the rest of the Stellar extended family worldwide.”

Production facilities at the hub have been upgraded, whilst a strong bandwidth connection supports airlines requiring screening facilities and Global Distribution Services (GDS), a digital method of media delivery

At Stellar KL, most operational processes are already automated and there is ongoing effort to achieve fully automated deliverables which would further expedite delivery while ensuring accuracy.

UPDATED: USPTO dismisses Gogo’s patent challenge of SmartSky

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As SmartSky Networks pursues further protection of its intellectual protection (IP) in the US courts, the company has announced the resolution of one such action.

According to a statement, SmartSky ‘has summarily defeated industry incumbent Gogo’s challenge brought before the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) nearly six months ago, proving SmartSky’s longstanding position that its ‘947 patent, which covers some of the most essential features of a 5G air-to-ground (ATG) network, like beamforming and seamless cell tower handoffs, was and shall remain valid.’

“Gogo has been proven unequivocally wrong in its challenge. We continue to believe they will have great difficulty commercialising their future 5G network without infringing on SmartSky’s expansive intellectual property portfolio,” said SmartSky Chairman and CEO Haynes Griffin. “Gogo has said many times in the past that our IP didn’t matter and wasn’t valid. The fact that Gogo bothered to challenge this patent clearly indicates that our IP does in fact matter. Moreover, the fact that the USPTO ruled in SmartSky’s favour based only on a subset of SmartSky’s opening arguments reinforces the strength of this patent since it was likely targeted due to a combination of its relevance and Gogo’s perception of their own likelihood of success. Furthermore, this ruling reaffirms the strength of SmartSky’s entire portfolio. Now everyone can know that Gogo’s assertions have been thoroughly debunked.”

“We understand that the importance of our portfolio may dictate further challenges, and we remain poised to defend both the portfolio and the intellectual property it protects,” added SmartSky President Ryan Stone.

In April 2020, Gogo challenged one (No. 9,312,947) of SmartSky’s now more than 180 patents supporting its in-deployment, next generation ATG network with 5G technologies. SmartSky had three months to respond, which it did, and the USPTO then had three months to determine whether Gogo’s challenge was worth further review.

“The market leader tried to undercut SmartSky, but justice has been served and the little guy has won this battle,” Stone said. “We are an innovation driven company and have developed key enabling technologies to transform connectivity in aviation. The USPTO ruling rightfully affirms the intellectual property protection SmartSky has earned on just one of the many patents we’ve developed critical to advancing in-flight connectivity.”

In response, Gogo issued the following comment:

“We disagree with the PTO’s decision not to review the 947 patent,” said Sergio Aguirre, president of Gogo Business Aviation. “To be clear, Gogo reiterates our strong belief that we are not infringing any valid patent held by SmartSky. Furthermore, neither the PTO’s decision nor SmartSky’s patent portfolio in any way impairs our ability to continue to successfully expand, to launch Gogo 5G or to enhance our position in the business aviation market. Today, our systems are flying on more than 5,550 business jets, including more than 1,000 AVANCE L5 systems and nearly 450 L3 systems providing connectivity to business aircraft of all types and sizes.”

Aguirre continued, “We are committed to continuing to set the standard for in-flight connectivity in business aviation as we progress toward the launch of Gogo 5G and further enhance the scale and profitability of our Business Aviation segment.”

Global Eagle announces Airconnect Go 2.0

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Global Eagle Entertainment has released its response to a post-COIVD-19 travel experience with the launch of the second generation of its Airconnect portable wireless inflight entertainment solution.

Airconnect Go 2.0 reduces touchpoints in flight as passengers do not need to engage with onboard screens, using their own smartphone, laptop or tablet to access over 3,500 hours of content including Hollywood movies, TV series, music, podcasts, digital publications, games, and the interactive flight tracker.

Mike Pigott, Senior Vice President Connectivity, Global Eagle, says: “Our upgraded solution is lightweight and robust, providing 15 hours of continuous service and expandable storage capacity, double that of the previous iteration. There is no hardware to install and it delivers instant results, offering curated content packages to relax, inform, and entertain travellers.

According to Pigott, airlines can benefit from an “affordable monthly subscription model, touchless cellular or Wi-Fi updates and comprehensive user-consumption behaviour data, enabling IFE managers to gain an in-depth understanding of passenger tastes.”

Global Eagle’s second generation of Airconnect Go has no hardware activation fee and can fit into the overhead bin of most commercial aircraft, weighing only seven pounds. Airconnect Go 2.0 uses the latest file encryption technologies to maximise content storage by 50%. Multiple units can be positioned throughout the aircraft, with only one connection point for passengers, smoothing their access to the entertainment portal.

New lower pricing for optional accessories is available, including: an aircraft powered solution, a PA Pause Dongle to automatically pause media playback during onboard announcements, a mounting tray, and a bag bin partition, enabling Airconnect Go 2.0 to be securely stored in the overhead storage bin.

Pilatus receives STCs for AVANCE L3 on PC-24 and PC-12 NGX

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Pilatus has selected Gogo Business Aviation’s AVANCE L3 system as a factory option on new production PC-24 aircraft and has secured STCs for the PC-24 and the PC-12 NGX.

“Pilatus’ selection of Gogo AVANCE L3 is a great step forward with a valued partner who recognises the value of our software-centric AVANCE platform and the reliability and performance of the Gogo network,” said Mark Sander, vice president of OEM sales for Gogo. “The AVANCE L3 enables a customised experience to best fit customers’ needs based on the number of passengers and the online experience they desire.”

AVANCE L3 allows passengers and crew to email, send text messages and make voice calls with Gogo Text & Talk and access flight apps such as moving maps, weather and flight information. The L3 system comes installed with Gogo Vision featuring entertainment and news including the latest Hollywood films, television programs, business programming from Bloomberg TV, and 30 leading magazine titles in digital format.

“The AVANCE L3 system stands out in the market because our customers can choose the in-flight Wi-Fi experience they want, as well as the additional value-added features and benefits it enables,” said Tom Aniello, vice president of marketing for Pilatus. “In-flight Wi-Fi has become one of the most important features requested by our customers, and based on the performance our PC-12 operators have enjoyed, it was an easy decision for us to add it as an option from the factory for the PC-24.”

The AVANCE platform also integrates a full range of Smart Cabin features, allowing passengers to access and use all available data, voice, maps, entertainment, and cabin management system (CMS) services.

FAI Technik completes Ku-band install on Challenger 850

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Authorised Collins dealer FAI Technik GmbH has installed its first Collins ultra-high-speed Ku-band in-flight connectivity system on a Bombardier Challenger 850 aircraft on behalf of a corporate client.

The Albrecht Dürer International Airport, Nuremberg-based MRO company collaborated with Spain’s EASA-Part 21 organisation S4A to obtain an EASA-STC for this modification.

FAI´s Chairman, Siegfried Axtmann stated: “Following this prototype installation, FAI plans to install this solution on many other aircraft to meet the specific needs of our business aviation clients. We are pleased to report that we have been contracted for a second installation of the system on another Challenger 850.”

SmartSky Networks takes legal action to protect IP

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SmartSky Networks has filed a federal lawsuit through law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough in North Carolina Middle District Court, against its former radio contractor, Wireless Systems Solutions LLC (WSS).

The complaint alleges that WSS, whose contract was terminated, misappropriated SmartSky’s intellectual property, and breached a US$30 million contract related to air-to-ground wireless network service, through the improper actions by WSS, two related entities (DAG Wireless LTD and DAG Wireless USA), and three of their senior leaders.

“We have pledged to defend our intellectual property vigorously because it is critical to our success. In this situation, WSS failed to complete what it was contracted to do for SmartSky. Simultaneously, we believe WSS attempted to sell our product as its own, including through an alter-ego company formed after we began working with WSS yet involving the same people,” said Ryan Stone, SmartSky President.

“This activity has caused a delay in SmartSky bringing our next-generation Wi-Fi network to the aviation market,” Stone said. “We’re transferring WSS’s former work scope to contractors who have performed well for us in the past on other aspects of our program.”

SmartSky now expects to launch its network in 2021.