Lufthansa Systems and castLabs work on app-less DRM content

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Lufthansa Systems and partner castLabs are working to develop browser-based playback of DRM-protected movies on iOS devices, meaning that passengers will no longer need to pre-install an app to enjoy movies and TV series on their own iOS devices while on board a flight.

The latest version of iOS from Apple, 11.2, allows protected video content to be played on smartphones and tablets in the Safari browser. Previously, this was only possible with the help of a separate player app. “If passengers can simply enjoy our entertainment offering on their own devices as they wish, instead of having to install an app before departure, we believe this will increase the number of users,” said Jan-Peter Gaense, head of passenger experience products & solutions at Lufthansa Systems. “This not only improves the passenger experience but also creates a larger potential target audience for the airline’s advertising activities and ancillary revenue opportunities. Airlines also benefit from greater usability, as they no longer need to offer a separate app for their entertainment offerings.”

Different operating systems and device suppliers currently use different encryption formats for video file copy protection. This means that the same content has to be stored in several different formats for all passengers to be able to access it regardless of which device they are using. The new DRMtoday Onboard solution from castLabs changes that. castLabs uses the Common Media Application Format (CMAF), which has a secure encryption converter. This means that airlines will only need to store a single encrypted video file on the aircraft for each movie or TV series that can then be safely used on any device.

“We are delivering technology that makes DRM-protected movie files playable on all devices, and in BoardConnect, Lufthansa Systems has a proven and comprehensive IFEC solution with which to provide its entertainment offering – a perfect combination,” said Michael Stattmann, CEO of castLabs.

Both companies are currently working on integrating DRMtoday’s new functionality into BoardConnect to give passengers app-free access to on-board entertainment in the future. Passengers simply connect their own devices to the aircraft’s Wi-Fi and are automatically taken to the airline’s entertainment homepage. From there, they can watch all content through their browser, regardless of their device’s model and operating system.

FDS Avionics gains studio approval for streaming content on business jets

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In a first for business aviation, five of the big six Hollywood studios have approved movie content rights aboard business aircraft that FDS Avionics will offer with its do CAPSULE wireless in-flight Entertainment (IFE) platform.

FDS’ licensing agreement with Global Eagle, which itself has agreements with Hollywood studios and content distributors, was central to securing the studio streaming approvals. FDS is taking orders for the streaming content, in both standard definition and high definition, which will begin shipping shortly aboard its IFE platform.

“FDS Avionics and the do CAPSULE in-flight entertainment platform are bringing the first-ever HD streaming content to business jet passengers and a real competitive advantage to business jet operators,” said Reed Macdonald, FDS Avionics CEO. “Leading HD movies and television shows together with our high definition 3D moving maps have positioned FDS and the do CAPSULE as the inflight entertainment standard among business aircraft manufacturers, partners, and charter fleet operators around the world.”

“We look forward to bringing the exciting in-flight entertainment offerings seen throughout the world on award-winning airlines into the business jet market with this FDS agreement,” said Walé Adepoju, executive vice president of media and content for Global Eagle. “Together we are elevating the business aviation passenger experience, putting the best mix of HD movies and TV shows at the fingertips of business travellers.”

Aircraft operators simply insert the solid-state drive (SSD) containing tiered content into the do CAPSULE, enabling up to 22 passengers to simultaneously navigate and enjoy hundreds of HD & SD titles in seconds.

A trio of do CAPSULE entertainment packages include the do 360, a premium-level line-up of 360 titles, including Hollywood’s top movie releases and popular TV shows that automatically refresh every month. The do 180 and do 90 complete the robust in-flight entertainment line-up with 180 and 90 titles to meet the needs of partners and fleet operators serving business aviation.

SmartSky 4G aircraft system gets FAA PMA

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The radio and antenna manufacturing partners of SmartSky Networks have received Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) from the US’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The authorisation allows SmartSky to embark on the full-rate production of its 4G LTE aircraft system as well as STCs for numerous business aircraft models.

Avidyne has secured a PMA for the production of the airborne radio, while AeroAntenna received PMA for the manufacture of SmartSky’s aircraft antennas.

“SmartSky has examined every aspect of airborne connectivity, seeking better ways to deliver Wi-Fi performance and capacity to customers,” said Joe Klein, founder and CEO of AeroAntenna. “As their many demo flights have confirmed, SmartSky 4G LTE represents a quantum leap improvement over the incumbent air-to-ground system. Whether it’s through their advanced technical capabilities as evidenced by SmartSky’s 32 granted patents, or utilising our highly innovative, customised, and active antennas that are now ready for full-rate production, SmartSky is raising expectations for ATG capabilities and consistently delivering.”

The PMAs assure installers, such as Pentastar, Chicago Jet Group, and Clay Lacy, that each of the unique components of the SmartSky 4G LTE aircraft system are manufactured to the same exacting standards. The FAA approval through its Manufacturing Inspection District Offices further facilitates the ongoing supplemental type certificate (STC) process on many popular aircraft models by enabling SmartSky’s partners to more rapidly develop new STCs using the PMA’d components.

“This approval accelerates the full implementation of the SmartSky 4G LTE-based network,” says Brian Campbell, vice president of global sales for StandardAero. “The industry demands more options when it comes to inflight connectivity, and I’m confident SmartSky 4G LTE answers that need. It is hands-down the best performing network I’ve ever experienced. This certification is an important milestone in allowing customers to experience first-hand transformative in-flight communication services in both the cabin and cockpit.”

SmartSky’s 4G LTE-based network has been live since 2017 with the launch of nationwide service in 2018. More than 55% of the sites needed to provide US coverage are in their final stages of deployment. Sites specified as “final stage” include those currently being up-fit with production radios, production antennas, and ancillary equipment, as well as those sites already complete and on the air.

Honeywell expands Connected Aircraft options

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Honeywell has introduced the Aspire 150 and Aspire 350 satellite communications systems, which connect to the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, providing flight operators with high-speed connectivity at a low cost with new satellite communications systems.

Both new Aspire systems are also smaller than previous generations and have an embedded router, to reduce weight and boost fuel savings.

“Aspire 150 and 350 build upon the success of our previous systems in the air transport, business jet, military and helicopter markets,” said Warren Nechtman, vice-president, Connectivity Systems, Honeywell Aerospace. “These latest additions to the Aspire product line provide an easy upgrade for aircraft with or without previously installed satellite communications equipment, increasing both cockpit and cabin connectivity and enabling faster data speeds. And with an easy installation, operators can upgrade to seamless, high-speed cockpit communication that fits their exact needs and budget.”

Honeywell’s GoDirect software is an optional component that offers connectivity services to help manage bandwidth and improve cost efficiency. These services include Honeywell’s GoDirect Cabin Connectivity, which controls connectivity services and usage, potentially saving operators up to US$100,000 a year.

Operators can install a second Honeywell satellite communications solution with the Aspire 350, to give higher levels of reliability, increased network coverage, improved efficiency, and less connection downtime for pilots, crew and passengers. In the event the preferred system cannot operate, the backup system then takes over. The satcom system does not have to wait for the Iridium Certus network to operate. It can provide safety services over the current network, so operators aren’t waiting for the Iridium NEXT safety certification.

Both Aspire 150 and Aspire 350 can operate as standalone products to provide high-speed cabin connectivity to smaller aircraft that cannot be equipped with a larger satcom system. The flexibility of the Aspire products also allows for side-by-side operation with another cabin connectivity solution, providing cockpit safety services and backup cabin connectivity.

Thomas Cook expands AirFi deployment

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Thomas Cook Group Airlines is to expand the number of AirFi equipped Thomas Cook and Condor short-haul leased aircraft from 10 in 2017 to 34 for the summer 2018 season.

The announcement was made during last week’s AirFi’s inaugural Innovation Day, which marked the opening of the company’s new bespoke headquarters.

“Passenger feedback shows they want IFE on the short-haul leased aircraft we use during the summer and we have seen conversion for browser-based IFE like AirFi is a lot higher than an app-based IFE. This summer we will have an enhanced content selection, integrated sales of AirFi premium access codes through the crew’s on-board sales devices, enhanced complimentary destination content and we will be introducing new ways to drive revenues through content-related advertising,” commented Tracy Barr, head of product at Thomas Cook Group Airlines.

In addition Warner Brothers has become the first major Hollywood Studio to approve its non-App browser-based DRM technology.

Together with preferred CSP West Entertainment, AirFi introduced non-DRM content from a number of APEX distributors early last year, including independent Hollywood studios and major TV distributors like Turner, CBS, ITV, Discovery and BBC.

“We are delighted to announce AirFi will be featuring content from the iconic Warner Bros studios. We serve a great many leisure traveller-focused airlines around the world so as you can imagine there is huge excitement to offer passengers blockbuster movies and hit TV series from the WB stable such as DC Comics, LEGO, Lara Croft, Harry Potter and Big Bang Theory,” added Martin Cunnison, CCO AirFi.

Qantas awards IFE advertising to oOh!

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oOh! a leading Australia and New Zealand operator of Out Of Home advertising has secured advertising rights to Qantas’ in-flight entertainment, enabling it to provide advertisers exposure to more than 28 million domestic and international passengers annually throughout their entire journey.

From 1 June 2018, oOh!’s offering will extend beyond offering advertising in Qantas Domestic terminals, clubs and business lounges to also include International and Domestic Inflight Entertainment consisting of video on demand on seatbacks, Qantas Entertainment App, on-board free Wi-Fi as well as in-flight news bulletins.

According to oOh!’s group director of Fly, Robbie Dery, this is the first time an Out Of Home company has been contracted by an airline to provide advertising and content both at the airport and in the air.

“We can now offer advertisers the opportunity to reach Qantas flyers at every stage of their journey – from entering the airport, checking in, waiting for boarding, on the aircraft, through to baggage collection and departure,” said Dery. “The addition of Qantas in-flight entertainment combined with the company’s extensive airport portfolio, provides brands with an uninterrupted audience solution to target the premium Qantas audience.

“As a result of our multiple media touch-points and rigorous data analysis, we are transforming passenger marketing to a more holistic and targeted approach.

“Advertisers will now be able to buy exposure and reach of Qantas passengers during their more than two-hour journey preflight, in flight and post flight.

“More accurate targeting is now possible as our offering is underpinned by transactional data from more than 300 Quantium buyer segments.

“It makes it easier for leading brands to engage with Qantas flyers.”

oOh! is offering Qantas in-flight entertainment advertising packages across all TV and movie channels that can be segmented by domestic or international routes, or by economy or business class. Long term partnership packages will enable advertisers to reach more than 75% of key buyers within segments such as automotive, luxury retail and travel.

oOh!’s CEO Brendon Cook, said, “oOh!’s entry into in-flight entertainment advertising is another step forward in our strategy to not just be Australia’s leading Out Of Home company, but to be a progressive and agile media business. “By bringing together the latest in innovation, data, content and technology we continue to help advertisers build deeper engagement with audiences.”

Lanmei Airlines partners with iFREE with SIM offer

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Global mobile service provider and aggregator iFREE Group has partnered with Cambodian low-fare airline Lanmei Airlines to provide passengers with unlimited data connectivity.

According to a report by telecomasia.net, passengers travelling on daily scheduled flights between Phnom Penh and Bangkok, will be offered a free MOGO S SIM pre-loaded with a day’s worth of unlimited data.

“We have excellent connectivity in both Cambodia and Thailand, and as a global connectivity innovator we are very happy to team up with Lanmei Airlines to provide value-added solutions and convenience to their passengers,” iFREE group managing director Ricky Chia stated.

“Our commitment to providing ‘no limits, no boundaries connectivity’ to consumers and corporations is at the forefront of all that we do and we see a great future in our partnership with Lanmei Airlines and their passengers.”

Honeywell launches new router

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Honeywell is expanding its range of Connected Aircraft offerings with the launch of its newest connectivity solution, the GoDirect Router. The router is roughly half the size and weight, and one-third the current price, of comparable products. By enabling redundant connectivity in an easy-to-install package, the new router offers the broadest and most secure set of features available.

The GoDirect Router maximises available on-board Wi-Fi bandwidth and enables a reliable, in-flight wireless connection on any network, including Honeywell’s own GoDirect Cabin services. Whether it is for commercial, general aviation, business aviation or the defense market, the router helps provide access to the fast and reliable connectivity that passengers, pilots and operators expect.

Because of its much smaller size, the GoDirect Router can be installed virtually anywhere in a plane, often in less than one hour. In addition, installing two routers next to each other provides a Wi-Fi backup and improves the reliability and quality of connectivity to users. With the attractive price of this product, operators can quickly and easily install a backup router without going over budget.

“Think of it like using a brand new tablet instead of a 15-year-old laptop,” said John Peterson, senior director, Connectivity Services, Honeywell Aerospace. “The new GoDirect Router design is smaller and lighter weight, making it easier to install almost anywhere in the plane. That makes it more accessible for all kinds of aircraft. Just as important, it provides the capabilities pilots, owners and operators need to enable the Connected Aircraft. It gives them access to all kinds of unique data and services that increase safety while saving time and money.”

The new router provides the same access to Honeywell’s GoDirect software and services as on Honeywell’s larger CNX-900, no matter the connectivity provider. Honeywell’s customers will always have an industry-leading solution at their fingertips because the company provides two dedicated software releases every year. The new router will also include threat detection, increasing the security and privacy of the connection. The GoDirect Router is an upgrade for Honeywell’s existing CNX-250, CNX-200 and other Satcom Direct routers and can be easily replaced in a short time.

Gogo’s AVANCE L5 hits 100th installation milestone

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Gogo Business Aviation has reached the 100th installation of a Gogo AVANCE L5 system in six months.

The installation was recently completed by Constant Aviation on an Embraer Legacy 500 for a mid-west US-based flight department.

Gogo said more than 275 AVANCE L5 systems have been shipped with hundreds of additional systems on back order and scheduled for delivery in 2018, in total Gogo expects to have approximately 500 installations of the new system by the end of 2018.

AVANCE L5 systems are being actively installed at all MROs and aftermarket OEM service centres. To date, Gogo and its OEM partners and dealers have received type certificate and supplemental type certificate (STC) approvals for AVANCE L5 from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) across more than 35 airframes.

In the coming months, Gogo and its partners are securing STCs for more than 25 additional airframes, meaning AVANCE L5 will be available for installation on more than 55 business jet platforms.

Sergio Aguirre, president of Gogo Business Aviation said the demand for the systems has been “overwhelming” continuing: “The reports we’re receiving from those who are using L5 have been extremely positive and the system is performing as expected. Our mission now is to get our product manufacturing caught up with the demand, and we’re making tremendous progress on that front every day.”

“Flight departments, passengers and owners appreciate both the value and the enhanced inflight connectivity experience the AVANCE L5 delivers for everyone on board,” said Jay Rizzo, executive vice president of strategic sales at Constant Aviation. “In addition to the installations completed thus far for Gogo, Constant Aviation has more than 50 AVANCE L5 installations scheduled before the end of 2018. We’re pleased to partner with Gogo to help bring this technology to the cabin and improve the quality of air travel through a better in-flight Wi-Fi experience.”

Constant Aviation has secured STCs for Gulfstream, Cessna, Embraer and Bombardier airframes.

Hawaiian brings cultural education series to IFE

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Hawaiian Airlines is adding a series of videos showcasing culture-based native Hawaiian education to their on-board offering.

The new series was produced by Kanaeokana, a network of more than 50 local schools and organisations focused on strengthening Hawaiian education, and will highlight how educators are turning streams, fishponds and Hokule’a into immersive classrooms, while using traditional Hawaiian practices to empower youth.

“We are excited to partner with Kanaeokana to present stories that demonstrate the importance and depth of our culture and its powerful impact on native Hawaiian youth,” said Evan Nomura, in-flight entertainment manager at Hawaiian Airlines. “It’s a privilege to be able to showcase the authenticity of Hawai‘i and its people to guests visiting from around the world.”

The content highlights three experiences from schools statewide; ‘He Moku He Wa’a, He Wa’a He Moku: Our Canoe is an Island; Our Island is a Canoe’, ‘Ho’okahe Wai: Let the Streams Flow’ and ‘Changing Tides: Ka ‘Umeke Ka’eo’s Education Movement’.

Kanaeokana’s videos will be available through June on all of Hawaiian’s international flights operated by its Airbus A330 aircraft.

“Expanding our reach helps us bring our message to different audiences. The experiences nurturing our students are valuable not just for Native Hawaiians but have relevance to everyone,” said Ekela Kaniaupio-Crozier, a member of Kanaeokana’s Komike Ho’okele (Steering Committee) and Kamehameha Schools Maui’s Hawaiian protocol facilitator. “We all should be sharing in the kuleana (responsibilities) to Malama Honua and each other.”

(Malama Honua is a Hawaiian concept simply translated as ‘to care for our Island Earth)