AIX 2018: Global Eagle awarded three-year contract by All Nippon Airways

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Japan’s largest airline, All Nippon Airways (ANA), has awarded a three-year contract for in-flight entertainment (IFE) services to Global Eagle, the California-based in-flight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC) provider.

The agreement renews a long-standing partnership between the two companies, which spans decades.

“We are excited to provide the leading content for an elite global airline of the quality of ANA,” said Amir Samnani, Global Eagle’s senior VP content services. “This relationship has grown over the years and we are pleased to assist ANA in providing the best possible offerings to its customers.”

The agreement will see Global Eagle continue to provide ANA’s fleet of more than 250 aircraft with content, including movies, television and select audio features in multiple languages.

AIX 2018: Bluebox reveals product developments

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Having been declared the  winners of the IFEC category at this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards, which took place in Hamburg on Tuesday 10 April, Bluebox Aviation Systems has unveiled a number of product developments during the Aircraft Interiors Expo.

“After such incredible interest in our portfolio at AIX17 – particularly Bluebox Wow – it’s great to be back this year demonstrating that interest is converting around the world,” said Kevin Clark, CEO, Bluebox Aviation Systems.

“We’re also excited to be discussing our latest product developments,” he added, explaining that the process of evolving Bluebox IFE continues with advances across the company’s wireless and portable portfolio.

“Highlights include the development of ‘connected portable wireless’ options for linking Bluebox Wow boxes to aircraft power and/or satellite connectivity services with the support of Fokker Services; approvals from Hollywood studios for app-free Digital Rights Management (DRM); and further enhancements to Bluebox aIFE [Accessible IFE].”

Commenting on its partnership with Bluebox, Mareijn Willems, business development manager at Fokker Services, said: “Working with Bluebox as their trusted engineering partner for some time now, we know the Bluebox IFE portfolio will evolve and adapt, as demand for and the economics of connectivity change.”

Willems added that “being ready and able to offer a flexible bridge across that space between captive wireless IFE and full connectivity is what we’re making possible here.”

A major highlight for the company during the show has undoubtedly been being declared winners of Crystal Cabins’ IFEC category for its Bluebox aIFE solution.

Launched with Virgin Atlantic in November 2017, the  Accessible IFE solution is now capable of supporting 30 languages in its main user interface and can now be deployed with a combined build if required, offering both Bluebox Ai and Bluebox aIFE options on the same device.

Looking to the future, Clark enthused that “IFE platforms are rapidly evolving beyond IFE alone – they’re becoming a channel for engaging with customers in new and more personalised ways.”

Concluding that “Entertainment will never fully go away of course”, Clark added “but when a moving map gets three times the number of hits of other content, digital news is fresh, snacks and onward experiences can be ordered and booked whenever a passenger wishes to (or when an advert on screen reminds them they can), and through-the-window photos can be shared via social media mid-flight, it’s clear that our IFE systems don’t just entertain; they inform, educate, entice and connect passengers.

United Airlines adds free entertainment options across its fleet

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United Airlines has expanded its personal device entertainment option to all aircraft with DIRECTV live streaming for purchase to provide at least one free entertainment option on all Wi-Fi equipped aircraft (which is any aircraft with more than 70 seats).
Between February and April of this year, the airline installed personal device entertainment onto more than 200 aircraft that previously only offered DIRECTV. Customers can now use a personal laptop, Apple iOS device or Android device to access a library of complimentary movies and TV shows, in addition to having the opportunity to purchase DIRECTV to view live programming.
“Whether it is seatback on-demand, DIRECTV or personal device entertainment, we offer customers hundreds of hours of programming to enjoy during their travels,” said Mark Krolick, vice president of marketing at United Airlines. “We’re excited to expand our personal device entertainment offering, which has been a popular option amongst many of our customers who tend to bring their own devices when they travel.”
To enhance personal device entertainment, on select flights during the busy summer travel season, United will distribute free cardboard phone stands which prop up devices and allow hands free viewing. The airline continues installing in-seat power outlets to help customers keep their devices charged while watching their favourite movies and shows.
United is also committed to improving the entertainment options for customers with disabilities. Earlier this year, the airline began offering a new main menu category on seatback on-demand that is labelled Accessible Entertainment. This new section makes it easier for customers with hearing and vision challenges to find accessible entertainment options, grouping all of the titles that are either audio descriptive or closed captioned in one main menu category. Seatback on-demand is one of United’s entertainment options available on 757, 767, 777 and 787 aircraft. The carrier currently offers approximately 20 different movies and TV shows that are audio descriptive and more than 50 that include English closed captioning. Select DIRECTV channels also include closed captioning when the TV station makes it available.

AIX 2018: Global Eagle launches low-cost portable solution to connect regional aircraft

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Global Eagle Entertainment has launched an all-in-one wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) solution aimed specifically at regional carriers and low-fare airlines.

The latest product in the Airconnect family of connectivity and in-flight entertainment system hardware, Airconnect Go doesn’t require installation, fits into the overhead bin and enables passengers to stream content to their own personal electronic devices (PEDs) by logging on to the airline portal.

“Passengers are demanding quality in-flight entertainment, wherever they are, and Airconnect Go provides this on any flight, anywhere in the world,” said Global Eagle CEO, Josh Marks.

Marks also added that the low-cost IFE option will enable larger airlines to provide a continuous entertainment experience when passengers switch to regional partners and ultra-low-cost (ULCC) airlines, providing them with the ability to add IFE at a lower price point than installed AVOD systems.

Key features of Airconnect Go are its 15 hours of battery life while streaming concurrently to over 50 users, hot-swappable batteries to enable an even longer duty cycle and comprehensive analytics available via Global Eagle’s Airview reporting system. In addition, the hardware is bundled with entertainment products and management services.

Commenting on how passengers are able to use their own device to connect quickly to the IFE system, Per Noren, executive VP and CCO of Global Eagle, said: “We are pleased to offer the ability to integrate our Airtime Player into an airline’s mobile app to enable playback of protected Hollywood content, in addition to monitoring customer usage and fine-tuning performance via our best of breed Airview analytics product.”

She added “through our support of Apple Fairplay DRM [digital rights management] technology, we can now deliver native playback of DRM content via the Safari browers on iOS and are working with Hollywood studios for the appropriate approvals, building on an environment where native playback was previously only possible on other leading browsers on Android and laptops.”

AIX 2018: Gabon’s Afrijet to kick off Cabinstream IFE on ATRs

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Gabon carrier Afrijet is to be the launch customer for ATR’s new wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) solution Cabinstream, developed by Phitek.

A deal was signed at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, with the Libreville-based airline planning to introduce the streaming system into its fleet of five ATR turboprops before the end of the year. It operates three ATR 72-500s and two ATR 42-500s.

Cabinstream allows passengers to enhance their on-board experience by accessing a variety of multimedia content on their personal electronic devices, such as newspapers, music, films, TV series and travel guides.

ATR says the simple IFE box solution is easy to install and is an option on all new ATRs, as well as being easily retrofittable on existing aircraft.

Afrijet’s CEO, Marc Gaffajoli, said: “Being able to offer an even better on-board experience to our passengers is a key reason for us in choosing this option. We are looking forward to providing great, innovative and easily accessible content. We are proud to show that Africa is a land of innovation.”

Chris van der Loo, director of marketing at New Zealand-based Phitek, added that the system “enhances the in-flight experience by delivering rich content to passengers whilst opening up new advertising revenue possibilities for operators.”

ATR’s vice-president marketing, Zuzana Hrnkova, said: “This is a further example of how ATR’s culture of continuous development has real and tangible benefits for both passengers and operators. The deal between Afrijet and Phitek introduces another high-tech solution into the ATR cabin.”

 

AIX 2018: Thales launches two new IFE systems

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Thales has announced the expansion of its in-flight entertainment (IFE) portfolio, with Core and Prestige, which will complement its Avant IFE, catering to different airline market segments.

Both systems will be powered by InFlyt360 – Thales’ 360 digital platform – and will use big data technologies, such as machine learning and matching algorithms, to continuously optimise the passenger experience and boost IFE as a marketing engine for airlines.

Catering for the lower end of the market, Core, which will be ready for commercial service in the latter half of this year, has been designed for airlines wanting an efficient, cost-effective IFE system packaged with Thales support services. PCI compliant, it enables revenue opportunities and is delivered connectivity-ready with an extended life cycle support and upgrade options.

The system will enable airlines to reach passengers with mixed content and seamless advertising integration, specifically targeting customers with relevant advertising messages and not bombarding them with unwanted messages, explained Thales’ vice-president marketing and product policy, Richard Perrot.

The second system, Prestige, is aimed at leading airlines looking for an exclusive solution that is unique to their brand. “It is for airlines who want an exclusive experience that extends beyond the IFE system,” said Perrot referring to Prestige’s custom-built design and diverse expertise.

Describing the passenger experience as “key for airlines,” Perrot explained that the purpose of Prestige is to enable passengers to connect, engage and enjoy their flight with the latest consumer electronic devices and unique, connected apps.

The system will feature ultra HD (4K) displays, but will be lightweight, low power and highly reliable. Helping to personalise the flight for each passenger, it will also offer a unique ‘signature’ user interface that takes into account a customer’s likes, dislikes and age to target specific products and services.

One of the launch customers for Prestige is Dubai-based Emirates on its Boeing 777X aircraft that are currently on order.

AIX 2018: SkyLights tackles VR IFE safety head-on

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SkyLights, the American-French company that leverages cinematic Virtual Reality (VR) as premium passenger entertainment, has demonstrated its commitment to safety announcing DO-160 certification of its Allosky headset during this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.

Commenting on the accreditation, SkyLights’ CEO, David Dicko said: “Bringing disruptive innovation to a safety first industry is a challenge. While airlines are becoming increasingly dynamic in their approach to new technology, safety will always play a fundamental role in air travel. As such we are proud to adhere to the highest standards when it comes to passenger safety.”

The cinematic VR headsets feature cutting-edge characteristics, such as full HD (1080 pixels per eye) resolution, focus adjustment, Bluetooth and a sleek lightweight design. The new accreditation puts the headset well above the minimum safety requirements set out by the FAA and EASA regulating bodies.

Complementing this certification, SkyLights is also developing a passenger announcement integration system that enables cabin crew to engage with passengers using the headsets. When they want to make an announcement, cabin crew simply push a button to pause content and display a pre-set message.

AIX 2018: Lufthansa Systems’ BoardConnect strengthens its position in Asia-Pacific region

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Lufthansa Systems has revealed, during this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo, that it is continuing to expand its presence in the Asia-Pacific region with its BoardConnect IFE solution.

Since the beginning of 2018, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines has been providing passengers on their routes from Western Australia with in-flight entertainment (IFE) based on BoardConnect Portable.

With its 16 aircraft, this makes the Australian regional carrier the second largest customer for the portable IFE solution in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region after the Indian low-fare carrier SpiceJet which has a fleet of 55 aircraft.

“On-board connectivity is an important topic in the APAC region. Thanks to our strong partners and the flexibility of the open aircraft IT platform BoardConnect, we can offer airlines the perfect solution tailored to their individual requirements,” said Tom Vandendael, CEO, Lufthansa Systems Asia Pacific Pte Ltd.

In collaboration with 2Ku in-flight connectivity provider Gogo, Virgin Australia is also rolling out in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity based on BoardConnect Plus. The airline is also in the process of migrating to the latest version of BoardConnect – 5.0.

Explaining how his airline is “passionate” about elevating its passenger experience, Damon Stanton, Virgin Australia’s general manager of product, confirmed: “We’ve been working with Lufthansa Systems to bring a nuanced in-flight entertainment product to guests across our network.”

Meanwhile, Jan-Peter Gaense, head of passenger experience products & solutions at Lufthansa Systems, said: “Our three product variants make BoardConnect the perfect IFEC solution for a customer like Virgin Australia with its fleet and guest requirements.” He added “Keeping our customers happy is key. This project shows the diversity and flexibility of BoardConnect as well as the solution’s scalability.”

AIX 2018: Cadami’s software flying high with dozens of airlines

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The rise in popularity of Amazon Prime and Netflix has meant that airline passengers expect to be able to access pretty much any film they want to watch, wherever they are. But, says Cadami’s CEO, Andreas Dotzler, “that volume is not currently available to airline passengers and upgrading the IFE hardware is expensive and time-consuming.”

In response to this demand, Cadami’s software is helping airlines provide significantly larger libraries to every passenger without expensive hardware updates.

It’s video distribution technology is now available through one of the world’s leading Inflight Entertainment (IFE) providers and uses a unique, patented combination of the latest coded caching and transmission standards to make highly efficient use of an airline’s existing server, ethernet network and seat-back screens.

Thomas Kuehn, chief sales officer of Cadami, adds: “Airlines need to provide more choice of video content. Provided cost and aircraft downtime are not an issue, an airline could simply upgrade the IFE hardware on any plane to increase video storage and transmission capacity. However, Cadami’s pioneering technology requires only a software update to enable a higher volume of high quality video content, which is much more cost-effective.”

Kuehn also explains that Cadami’s system supports HD and 4K content and with bandwith savings of up to 80%, a big advantage for airlines is that they can use their existing hardware to make significantly more video content available to every passenger, even on the biggest aircraft without losing any quality.

Dotzler concluded: “The cost of these hardware upgrades varies from aircraft to aircraft, as would the time required, but it’s clear both would be substantial. That is the problem Cadami solves.”

 

Header image: Thomas Kuehn, chief sales officer, Cadami at AIX 2018 in Hamburg.

AIX 2018: Immfly partners with Pegasus Airlines

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Turkey’s leading low-fare airline, Pegasus Airlines, has signed a deal during this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo for Immfly to be its IFE partner, providing access to entertainment including films, TV shows and music.

The popular Turkish operator, which has 76 aircraft in its fleet, will install Immfly’s services across its entire fleet, with passengers able to access on-board digital services via their personal devices.

The partnership serves to further strengthen Immfly’s position in Europe as an IFE provider. But it also means that Immfly’s in-flight entertainment system will soon be available for the first time on flights from Turkey to Russia and the Caucasus, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.

Reinforcing its commitment to entering new markets, Immfly, which has trebled the number of aircraft its systems are installed on over the past year, has also recently created a subsidiary in Turkey to secure and promote operations coverage throughout the region.