British Airways brings award category to IFE

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In celebration of the 90th Academy Awards ceremony (the Oscars), and the British Academy Film Awards (the BAFTAs), British Airways has added a new in-flight entertainment category which offers a collection of award-winning films.

The category, called ‘Award Worthy’, features films which won 12 Oscars and 12 BAFTAs in this year’s awards season, as well as receiving 87 nominations across the two ceremonies.

Films in this category include The Shape of Water which gained 13 Oscar nominations and won four awards including ‘Best Picture’, building on the 12 nominations received at the BAFTAs and the three awards won.

Thee Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is also in the category, receiving nine nominations with five awards last month at the BAFTAs.

British war drama, Darkest Hour, has been added to the category. Gary Oldman won the Oscar for ‘Best Actor’ for his performance and also picked up the ‘Leading Actor’ BAFTA, while the film won the award for ‘Makeup and Hair’.

The category also hosts Call me by Your Name which won ‘Adapted Screenplay’ at the BAFTAS and was nominated for four Academy Awards, and Roman J Israel, Esq. which received one nomination.

“For many of our long-haul customers, being able to watch some of the latest film releases is one of the parts of the flight they most look forward to,” said Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ director of brand and customer experience. “That’s why we do everything we can to make sure our in-flight entertainment systems are loaded with up-to-date, award-winning content, guaranteed to keep customers entertained.”

A number of films which have performed successfully in previous award seasons will also be added to the channel, spanning a range of genres, from Silver Linings Playbook to the Silence of the Lambs.

Phasor unveils new London-based Technology Development Center

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Phasor has opened its new Technology Development Center in London and made key appointments to the company’s senior leadership team.

The new research and development facility will host all of the phased-array antenna innovator’s design, development and testing of current and next-generation connectivity solutions tailored to commercial mobility markets, including high-speed broadband for maritime, aviation, and land-based vehicles.

“The launch of our Technology Development Center in London and the appointments to our senior leadership team marks an important milestone for Phasor, as we approach commercial readiness”, said Dave Helfgott, Phasor CEO. “Since its inception in 2014, Phasor has quickly made the transition from the early R&D stages to mature product development and it is now poised to enable a whole new generation of mobile broadband communications.”

“This senior team brings years of rich experience to the markets we serve, and the new facility will enable an advanced level of integrated design and development, testing, certification and product release,” Helfgott noted. “We are all very excited to meet the growing opportunity that the enterprise wideband mobility market brings, with the right team and the right resources.”

Phasor senior leadership team appointees include Kevin Walsh as chief financial officer; Phil Schryber, head of R&D; David Garrood, senior vice president of business development, and Tim Esparon, senior vice president of operations.

Gogo announces new chief executive as Small steps down

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Oakleigh Thorne (pictured right) has been appointed president and chief executive officer of Gogo, in the immediate aftermath of the decision of Michael Small to step down from the role as a director of the Company.

Thorne currently serves as chief executive officer of Thorndale Farm LLC, the family office of the Thorne family, and largest Gogo shareholder, owning approximately 30% percent of the Company’s outstanding common stock.

“I am excited to work with the Gogo team as we move forward with urgency to execute on four strategic priorities: driving quality for airlines and passengers, sharpening our operational focus, achieving profitability with the money we have in the bank and driving shareholder value,” said Thorne. “We are highly confident in our ability to achieve our strategic and financial objectives as we improve execution and realise our significant growth opportunities.”

Ronald T. LeMay, chairman of the Gogo Board of Directors, said, “With our best-in-class technology and capabilities, the Board believes that Gogo has a clear path to achieving our objectives and that now is the right time to transition leadership. After a comprehensive search process, the Board determined that Oak is the best person to help Gogo achieve our next phase of growth. Oak is a seasoned executive with a strong track record and his interests are aligned with all shareholders. Oak has made significant contributions to Gogo as a member of our Board and has a deep understanding of our business, strategy and operations.”

Iridium Certus readies for takeoff

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Honeywell Aerospace, SKYTRAC, Avitek and Navicom Aviation are the first Iridium Certus service providers to be selected for the aviation industry. As Iridium Certus service providers, each company will be able to offer the new, best-in-class L-band broadband satellite connectivity to its customers.

Enabled by the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, Iridium Certus will bring broadband functionality, with enterprise-grade quality of service, to the aviation industry. It will feature a range of throughput and service options that will enable everything from graphical weather reports, multi-user internet/VPN and Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) redundancy to flight data recorder streaming, video conferencing, and, upon formal approval, safety services. The Iridium Certus high-gain antenna (HGA) solutions will provide data speed options of up to 704 Kbps, and eventually as high as approximately 1.4 Mbps following full Iridium NEXT deployment, with an antenna size of approximately 24 x 10 x 6cm, while the low-gain antenna (LGA) solutions will enable data speeds of up to 176 Kbps.

“Iridium Certus is poised to introduce a revolution in aircraft communications,” said Brian Pemberton, vice president strategic planning and general manager aviation at Iridium. “Iridium Certus leverages the inherent advantages of the Iridium network and architecture and combines that with enhanced capabilities of the Iridium NEXT constellation to redefine best-in-class aircraft connectivity. Iridium Certus not only satisfies the connectivity requirements for the flight deck but also serves as an ideal cabin connectivity solution for many business aviation users.”

Initial flight trials will take place later this year, with Iridium Certus commercial service introduction expected in mid-2019 for aviation users. Iridium NEXT is the Company’s next-generation satellite constellation. To date, there have been four successful Iridium NEXT launches, deploying more than half of the new constellation. Four additional launches are planned for 2018.

Norwegian promotes female-led IFE comedy channel

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Norwegian has launched the world’s first female-driven in-flight entertainment comedy channel in an exclusive partnership with online comedy platform PYPO (Put Your Pretty On).

The on-demand in-flight video channel will be on-board all of Norwegian’s Dreamliner-operated long-haul flights, including 45 routes from the US

The next step in the partnership includes the creation of exclusive content which will premiere on Norwegian in-flight entertainment system before it’s accessible on PYPO’s own platform.

“We could not be more excited for our comedy channel to take flight with Norwegian as comedy is truly without borders. We hope to entertain passengers on-board in a different way with our unique approach to comedy. Our partnership with Norwegian will allow PYPO to take on new opportunities on a more global scale and highlighting female comedic talent to new audiences,” said Stephanie Laing, Founder, PYPO.

“This is an exciting partnership for Norwegian as it focuses on providing even better entertainment on-board for our passengers. By joining forces with PYPO, we will be able to offer exclusive content and never before-seen opportunities, which we will be able to announce more details of in the coming months. We are thrilled that Stephanie Laing and her team will work with our creative team to create something extraordinary,” said Anders Lindström, director of communications US, Norwegian, and project manager.

A Gogo 2Ku installation takes place on an aircraft

Gogo announces strong financials; 2Ku uptake continues

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Gogo has announced its financial results for the fourth quarter and full-year ended December 31, 2017, recording record revenues for both periods.

“During the fourth quarter, we executed on our strategic initiatives: installing 2Ku rapidly, engaging more passengers, and winning aircraft,” said Michael Small, Gogo’s president and CEO. “Our continued rapid deployment of high-bandwidth technologies in 2018 is the catalyst for delivering a great customer experience and long-term revenue and profitability growth.”

“Our record financial results for the quarter lay a strong foundation for 2018 financial performance,” said Barry Rowan, Gogo’s executive vice president and CFO. “With 2Ku aircraft online scaling in 2018 and continued rapid growth of our Business Aviation division, we look forward to delivering another strong year of financial performance as we target achieving positive free cash flow in 2019.”

In North America, Gogo provided connectivity services to 2,900 commercial aircraft in the quarter, of which approximately 15% were satellite-equipped aircraft. The weighted average peak speed to an aircraft in this region increased to nearly 20 Mbps, approximately doubling from Q4 2016.

The number of aircraft online reached 2,840, up 164 aircraft from 31 December, 2016. As of December, 2017, CA-NA had more than 650 awarded but not yet installed 2Ku aircraft, of which approximately 75 are net new aircraft.

Take rate reached a record 9.9%, up 36% from 7.3% in Q4 2016, due to increased passenger adoption resulting from airline and third party paid offerings.

In the rest of the world, aircraft online reached 391, up 124 aircraft from 31 December, 2016. The region had approximately 770 net new 2Ku awarded but not yet installed aircraft as of December 31, 2017.

Gogo’s business aviation service revenue grew 25% year-over-year to US$45.5 million. ATG aircraft online increased to 4,678, up 12% year-over-year, as demand for in-flight connectivity grew across all market segments, including a 19% increase in light jets and turboprop aircraft online.

2Ku was installed on more than 470 aircraft in 2017, including more than 130 outside North America, to end the year with more than 550 2Ku equipped aircraft online.  This includes LATAM Airlines and Cathay Pacific Group.

Air Nostrum selects Immfly for full fleet adoption

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Spanish regional carrier Air Nostrum has selected Immfly’s digital services, becoming the first airline to deploy full fleet adoption and the first Spanish airline to install a plugged portable solution.

The first CRJ aircraft equipped with Immfly’s service, SkyCube, will take off in April. Air Nostrum Play, will be available as a freemium model to its passengers. Through a set of access points installed inside the planes, passengers will be able to connect to Air Nostrum Play and enjoy multiple entertainment modules among other airline services.

“Air Nostrum is a highly important client for us, it will prove a new technology and with a new business model perfectly suited for regional carries. The airline performs predominantly short-flights and therefore the services will be more oriented to TV shows, series, press & news, due to the flight duration. Bringing this services to regional carriers is a before and after in the IFE industry”, explained Vincent Tomasoni, chief customer and content officer at Immfly.

“We are very proud to announce this partnership with Immfly, which will allow our passengers to enjoy media contents during their flights, therefore enhancing their on-board experience. We feel especially satisfied for having developed, together with Immfly and Sirium, an innovative technological solution, that endows our regional full fleet with the ideal technology to bring a variety of media content on-board our aircraft”, mentioned Juan Corral, the commercial director of Air Nostrum.

Sony headphones offered in AirAsia X Premium Flatbed cabins

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AirAsia X is partnering with Sony Corporation to feature Sony’s latest noise-cancelling headphones for its Premium Flatbed seats.
From 26 February, the h.ear on 2 Wireless Noise Cancelling WH-900N wireless headphones in stylish twilight red have been available in the Premium Flatbed cabin on flights between Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo Haneda, Japan.
AirAsia X group head of Commercial Barry Klipp said, “As the only low-cost airline to offer a fully reclinable flatbed, the addition of these headphones with superb high-resolution audio and noise cancellation will take our award-winning premium product to even greater heights. Now our guests can truly immerse themselves in a broad variety of entertainment choices available on our Xcite in-flight entertainment tablets offered on-board.
“These headphones are first be made available on our Kuala Lumpur-Tokyo Haneda flights, with a view to deploying it on other routes later.”
Sony Malaysia managing director Satoru Arai said, “We are delighted to be partnering with AirAsia X to feature one of our latest and finest technology on Premium Flatbed cabin on-board the flight. We  hope our latest wearable technology would give AirAsia X’s guests a new and comfortable experience during their travel.”
To celebrate the partnership, AirAsia X is offering guests a 20% discount on all AirAsia X flights in both standard and Premium Flatbed seats. To enjoy the discount, book with the “SONY20” promotional code from now until 4 March 2018 for travel between 26 February and 31 July 2018, subject to terms and conditions.
As part of the partnership, Sony will also offer gifts to all AirAsia X guests travelling to Japan via AirAsia X Malaysia (airline code D7), AirAsia X Thailand (XJ) and AirAsia X Indonesia (XT) at the Sony store in Ginza, Tokyo, as well as discounts at Sony stores at KLCC and The Curve in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to all AirAsia X guests who present their AirAsia X boarding pass.

 

AirFi Indonesia announces first customers

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In only its third month of operations, AirFi Indonesia has signed its first airline clients – Sriwijaya Air and subsidiary NAM Air based in Jakarta.

AirFi Wireless IFE will deployed on all 40 of Sriwijaya Air’s Boeing fleet and the 10 Boeing aircraft of NAM Air.

In addition, mirroring MENA regional expansion plans revealed last month, AirFi Group has signed a second regional partner contract with a major Singapore-based in-flight caterer which will accelerate roll-out of AirFi crew and passenger digital platforms across more airlines in the world’s fastest growing aviation region.

AirFi now has three fully resourced bases serving the region: AirFi Development Hub in Banglaore, India, AirFi Indonesia in Jakarta and Regional Partner HQ in Singapore.

Inflight Dublin teams up with Travel Service for IFE roll-out

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Travel Service, the biggest Czech air carrier, is rolling out Inflight Dublin’s Everhub in-flight entertainment service under its SmartWings brand.
In October 2017 Travel Service agreed to increase its stake in the national flag carrier CSA Czech Airlines, from 44% to almost 98%.
Travel Service Group currently has a fleet of 34 Boeing 737s, and CSA an 18-strong fleet. However the Group plans to operate a fleet of 70-80 aircraft. Using Everhub SmartWings passengers in Czechia, France, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, France will soon enjoy streaming content on the airline’s complete fleet.
In the initial phase, Inflight Dublin will be offering the latest content, including movies, TV, audio, games, magazines and newspapers, provided in different languages. The second phase will include the roll-out of the extended service offering beyond content such as destination services, ground transportation services and retail services.
Peter Sujan, Travel Service’s sales director, said, “This revolutionary wireless IFE system comes at the right time for Travel Service,  who are dedicated to boosting passenger experience to the new level. We are delighted that Travel Service is one of the first Central European airlines that offers this service to its passengers. I believe that this novelty will make the flight more enjoyable to our passengers.”
John White, Inflight Dublin’s CEO, added, “This is our first Everhub partnership in the Central Europe and we couldn’t be more excited! Travel Service’s continuous dedication to elevating passenger experience sits accordingly with our strategic vision on bringing IFE to every airborne passenger.”