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OneWeb and GDC Advanced Technology to develop next-gen in-flight connectivity terminal

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OneWeb has signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with GDC Advanced Technology to develop a new in-flight connectivity terminal that will enable airlines to connect their aircraft, passengers, and crew over OneWeb’s Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communication network.

The relationship builds upon 18-months of research completed in partnership with satellite operators and one of the industry’s leading airlines.

The new terminal based on the electronically steered antenna technology developed by Ball Aerospace, has already undergone early lab and ground testing at the GDC facilities in Fort Worth, Texas, and will deliver the much-anticipated benefits of OneWeb’s LEO constellation including high throughput and low latency to airlines and their passengers from 2023.

Initial flight testing on a Boeing 777 is scheduled for Q1 2022 with certification expected in early 2023.

“This agreement with GDC Advanced Technology represents a major milestone for OneWeb as we accelerate our plans to bring globally consistent and game-changing in-flight connectivity to aviation users everywhere – regardless of the size of aircraft they fly on,” said Ben Griffin, VP Mobility at OneWeb.

The terminal will initially be available in two sizes, a traditional ARINC 791 for larger commercial airliners, and a smaller installation suitable for regional jets, single aisle and business aviation platforms.

The GDC terminals for OneWeb are significantly lighter and smaller than existing aviation antennas. The attenuated aerodynamic profile produces virtually no drag, significantly reducing fuel burn compared with current fuselage mounted antenna types. The antenna is sealed and contains no moving parts, making it extremely reliable with no risk of fluid ingress. The system is designed for ease of maintainability, with four simple Line Replacement Units (LRUs), any of which can be replaced in less than 30 minutes.

The terminals have also been engineered to allow airlines to deploy a hybrid LEO/GEO connectivity solution. OneWeb expects this to be a key differentiator as airlines initially embrace and become confident in the benefits and performance of their new LEO technologies.

Tracy Trent, President, GDC Advanced Technology, commented, “We were thrilled by the performance of the terminal during ground testing earlier this year. The terminal was able to unlock the full capabilities of the OneWeb network. We are on track to have the system airborne in early 2022 and continue the path to certification, implementation, and ultimately to bring this game-changing technology to our aviation customers and their passengers in 2023.”

The agreement includes development of installation certification (STCs) for several aircraft types, and pursuit of line-fit offers with major airframe manufacturers (OEMs).

Left to right: Tracy Trent, GDC and Ben Griffin, OneWeb

Emirates announces major retrofit programme

Emirates announces major retrofit programme

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Emirates announces major retrofit programme

Emirates is to retrofit 105 of its modern wide-body aircraft with its Premium Economy product, in addition to other cabin enhancements.

The 18-month retrofit programme, scheduled to begin at the end of 2022, will be entirely conducted at Emirates’ state-of-the-art Engineering Centre in Dubai. It will see 52 Emirates A380s and 53 Boeing 777s fitted with a new cabin class –Premium Economy. The airline is also considering installing a brand-new Business Class product on its Boeing 777 aircraft, with customised seats in a 1-2-1 layout.

Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline, said: “Emirates is investing in this retrofit programme to ensure that we continue to serve our customers’ needs, and provide the best experiences in the sky. Since we introduced our Premium Economy seats a year back, we’ve received a hugely positive response. Customers have been amazed by the quality and comfort. As Emirates has done with our signature First, Business and full-service Economy travel experiences, we intend to further develop our Premium Economy into a distinctive Emirates experience that is unmatched in the industry. We are also considering a brand-new Business Class product. More details will be revealed in due course.”

Sir Tim added: “It is also a source of pride that the entire retrofit project will be conducted at our home base in Dubai. It demonstrates the strong aviation capabilities that has been built up within Emirates airline and the broader UAE ecosystem to support such a highly specialised and technical programme.”

At the end of the retrofit programme, Emirates will have a total of 111 Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft offering Premium Economy seats, including the 6 A380s that would have been delivered to the airline with four cabin classes by December 2021.

On the Emirates Boeing 777, 5 rows of Economy class seats located just behind Business Class will be removed to install 24 Premium Economy seats laid out in 2-4-2 configuration. On the Emirates A380, 56 Premium Economy seats will installed at the front of the main deck also in 2-4-2 configuration.

Covered in anti-stain leather with stitching details and a wood panel finishing, each seat is designed to provide optimal comfort and support with six-way adjustable headrests, calf rests and footrests. Offering a pitch of up to 40-inches, each seat is 19.5 inches wide and reclines eight inches into a comfortable cradle position with ample room to stretch out. Other thoughtful touches include easily accessible in-seat charging points, a wide dining table and side cocktail table.

The airline has also extended its partnership with Panasonic to provide a suite of IFEC solutions for the new cabin class.

Panasonic Avionics has been selected by Emirates to deliver a suite of in-flight entertainment (IFE) solutions for its premium economy cabin being rolled out across its fleet.

Emirates continues relationship with Panasonic for premium economy experience

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Panasonic Avionics has been selected by Emirates to deliver a suite of in-flight entertainment (IFE) solutions for its premium economy cabin being rolled out across its fleet.

Panasonic Avionics has been selected by Emirates to deliver a suite of in-flight entertainment (IFE) solutions for its premium economy cabin being rolled out across its fleet.

Panasonic Avionics’ IFE systems are being integrated into the premium economy cabin being introduced on Emirates’ 52 Airbus A380 and 53 Boeing 777 aircraft, with the first due to enter service in the summer of 2022.

This follows the unveiling of Emirates’ premium economy cabin in December 2020, and its initial rollout on several of its newest A380 aircraft.

Emirates’ new premium economy cabins will feature a range of the latest IFE innovations from Panasonic Avionics. Thirteen-inch HD screens will be fitted at each seat, with integrated control buttons, ultra-wide viewing angles, LED backlighting and capacitive touch helping passengers choose from over 4,500 channels of entertainment on Emirates’ ice system powered by Panasonic Avionics.

Passengers can connect their own headphones to the IFE system via Bluetooth, experience its 3D gaming options, use the screen’s high-power USB type A and C chargers, and use AC sockets at each seat to power their laptops.

Ken Sain, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said: “Emirates is a longstanding and highly valued customer, and a world leader in the passenger experience it creates. We are thrilled to be partnering with them to deliver innovations that will help put their new premium economy in a class of its own.”

Image: From left to right: Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer, Emirates Airline, and Ken Sain, CEO, Panasonic Avionics Corporation
Boeing will provide a suite of services to Saudia to improve their 787 Dreamliner and 777 fleets' operational efficiency through digital analytics, and to modify their 777 cabin interiors.

Saudia turns to Boeing for enhanced services

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Boeing will provide a suite of services to Saudia to improve their 787 Dreamliner and 777 fleets' operational efficiency through digital analytics, and to modify their 777 cabin interiors.

Boeing will provide a suite of services to Saudia to improve their 787 Dreamliner and 777 fleets’ operational efficiency through digital analytics, and to modify their 777 cabin interiors.

“As ever, Saudia is continuously focused on operational efficiency, optimal fleet utilisation, and deployment,” said Captain Ibrahim S. Koshy, CEO, Saudia. “We see our continued alliance with Boeing and these essential services as an enabler that will help to drive our progress toward this vision.”

Saudia will use Boeing’s Optimised Maintenance Program (OMP), which uses advanced data analytics to provide detailed insights for improved maintenance operations, and Boeing’s Airplane Health Management (AHM) digital solution, which applies predictive maintenance analytics and diagnostic tools to help improve the quality and speed of maintenance decisions, resulting in improved on-time performance. These services will be combined with Boeing’s OEM engineering and consulting expertise.

“Our Boeing consulting teams have partnered closely with Saudia for many years to find new opportunities to reduce costs and enhance operational efficiency. We are delighted to continue this partnership by applying our advanced digital solutions,” said Ted Colbert, president and CEO, Boeing Global Services. “Similarly, Saudia will be able to rely on our 777 interiors engineering expertise throughout the course of their fleet reconfiguration plans.”

Boeing’s interior modification team will partner with Saudia to deliver all aspects of their 777 modification, including design, certification, and the supply of parts required for completion.

British Airways is continuing with the roll out of its newest business class seat, Club Suite, as it continues to retrofit the seat across its Boeing 777 fleet, with the roll out expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

British Airways rolls out Club Suite to Boeing 777 fleet

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British Airways is continuing with the roll out of its newest business class seat, Club Suite, as it continues to retrofit the seat across its Boeing 777 fleet, with the roll out expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

British Airways is continuing with the roll out of its newest business class seat, Club Suite, as it retrofits the seat across its Boeing 777 fleet, with the project expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

The airline already has retrofitted a number of its Boeing 777 aircraft with the latest seat and will be working with Collins Aerospace to ensure the rest of the airline’s 777 aircraft are fitted with the new cabin. Collins will also perform full-cabin integration work – including engineering design, test and approval – along with program management and third-party supplier approvals.

The airline’s sophisticated Club Suite was first rolled out in July 2019 on the first A350 and since then has been installed on the Boeing 787-10 aircraft. The Club Suite is a customised version of Collins Aerospace’s Super Diamond business class seat and offers direct-aisle access, a suite door for greater privacy and luxurious flat-bed seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Boasting 40% more storage, including a vanity unit and mirror, Wi-Fi, 18.5-inch in-flight entertainment screens, high-definition gate-to-gate programming and PC/USB power, the Suite is similar to the upgraded cabin on British Airways’ new Airbus A350 fleet.

As part of its commitment to the North Atlantic, all British Airways flights to JFK from London Heathrow will be operated by an aircraft that has the airline’s Club Suite product.

Sajida Ismail, Head of Inflight Product at British Airways, said: “When we launched our Club Suite product, it was a huge hit with our customers who loved the privacy the new seat offers. We are focused on the roll out of this product and other cabin enhancements to ensure we deliver on our commitment to provide the very best British quality, style and comfort for our customers.”

Trevor Skelly, General Manager Integration Engineering for Collins Aerospace, commented: “The upgraded Club World cabin raises British Airways’ already high standards and provides commonality across their fleet of aircraft. Our Integration Engineering team has worked closely with British Airways designers for several years to bring the latest in business class comfort, style and privacy from concept to reality.”

As part of the upgrade, the airline’s Club Kitchen is also getting a makeover with new Club chillers and built-in storage for snacks, drinks and other refreshments, allowing customers in Club World to help themselves to refreshments at their leisure.

The latest generation of the First cabin including the introduction of the First suite door will also continue to be rolled out across the airline’s B777-300 aircraft. The First suites were meticulously designed based on our customers’ feedback, the cabin puts comfort at the heart of the experience and makes the very best use of the generous space designed for just a few customers at a time.  The suite includes a fixed 23-inch high-definition in-flight entertainment screen that can be controlled with an integrated handset.

Manufacturing of the new suite seat is being completed at the company’s facility in Kilkeel, Northern Ireland, while the new Club Kitchen was designed at the company’s facility in Everett, Washington.

Avianor has completed and certified temporary cargo modifications on three Boeing 767 on behalf of Chile-based LATAM Cargo.

Avianor and LATAM Cargo in modification programme

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Avianor has completed and certified temporary cargo modifications on three Boeing 767 on behalf of Chile-based LATAM Cargo.

Avianor has completed and certified temporary cargo modifications on three Boeing 767s on behalf of Chile-based LATAM Cargo.

The seats have been completely removed from three planes for this purpose in order to have a payload of up to 46 tons per flight. Two of these planes are already operational. The third one is expected to be available in the second quarter of 2021.

Having previously worked together to perform cabin reconfiguration work on LATAM’s 767 & 777 aircraft, up to ten 767 will be permanently converted to cargo in the coming years.

LATAM will operate these aircrafts with Avianor’s Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) while it gets validated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Aircraft were modified at the beginning of 2021 at LATAM’s Santiago facilities. Avianor provided the materials and work instructions which were then completed with an official virtual walk through to confirm STC compliancy.

“We are proud to work jointly with LATAM Cargo on our first temporary cargo modification on the Boeing 767, an alternate and cost-effective solution to maintain operations and generate revenues. The payback is so short that it makes it the perfect solution. We aim to continuously support and respond to the needs of airlines around the world with our effective cargo conversion solution.” Marie-Christine Huberdeau, Interiors Sales Vice-President at Avianor.

“The implementation of Avianor’s temporary cargo modification was a rapid implementation, in less than 12 weeks we materialised three aircrafts. There was an excellent and collaborative teamwork that managed to reach the success, in such difficult times as a pandemic. All modified aircraft are in operation and without complications. The road is not yet finished, and we are still working together on improvements to cabin payload,” added Kamal Hadad, LATAM Cargo’s Network and Alliances Director.

Maimi-based Eastern Airlines is nearing completion of outfitting ten of its Boeing 767 aircraft AirFi’s FASE (Fully Autonomous Semi-Embedded) wireless IFE solution.

Eastern Airlines nears fleet roll out of wireless IFE

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Maimi-based Eastern Airlines is nearing completion of outfitting ten of its Boeing 767 aircraft AirFi’s FASE (Fully Autonomous Semi-Embedded) wireless IFE solution.

Maimi-based Eastern Airlines is nearing completion of outfitting ten of its Boeing 767 aircraft with  AirFi’s FASE (Fully Autonomous Semi-Embedded) wireless IFE solution.

“Eastern was looking for an onboard solution to both improve passenger experience and generate new cross-platform opportunities,” said Steve Harfst, CEO Eastern Airlines. “AirFi allows us to achieve both while also giving our customers a touch-less entertainment experience onboard. We strive to do everything possible to make traveling a safe and enjoyable experience.”

Under the brand, Eastern Entertainment, the airline is now offering a broad selection of free in-flight entertainment through AirFi and boutique CSP partner, West Entertainment.

Through their own personal devices, passengers can watch the latest Hollywood releases, award-winning classics and must-watch TV programs, with 90% of the content available in Spanish.

Each twin-aisle aircraft uses four compact and ruggedised AirFi Venus boxes, placed in overhead storage bins to create a closed Wi-Fi network. The boxes are classed as carry-on equipment meaning no STC is required. FASE also connects the boxes to aircraft power supply and automates the power on/off function.

“We’ve installed all our planes in as little as one day, while upgrading other aspects of the cabin,” said Harfst. “Quick deployment and the quality streaming entertainment were probably the main reasons we wanted to work with AirFi, but we’ve also become very excited about the other ways we can use the AirFi platform to improve our customer experience.”

The airline sees this deployment as an important key to unlocking improved passenger experience, operational efficiency and revenue generation potential.

Eastern plans to install the AirFi solution on its first two 777 aircraft and will soon use it to launch a new buy-on-board catalogue that passengers can use to browse, order and pay for food, beverage and comfort items right from their seats.

“Ancillary revenue is an important part of our strategy and allowing our team members to collect these fees and charges more effectively using AirFi will continue to be vital to our growth. Digitising online sales significantly streamlines ancillary revenue,” commented Harfst.

Eastern is also working with AirFi America (MEKCO Group), to retrofit its aircraft with in-seat USB power solutions for charging electronic devices.

This successful installation effort, completed in Miami marks the second North American deployment for AirFi.

Qatar Airways Boeing 777 aircraft

Qatar Airways begins IFE upgrade on Boeing 777 fleet

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Qatar Airways Boeing 777 aircraft

Qatar Airways has been confirmed as the launch customer for Panasonic’s new EcoFW 10” in-flight entertainment (IFE) upgrade program.

The seatback IFE monitors on the airline’s fleet of 37 Boeing 777 aircraft will be updated with Panasonic’s new EcoFW 10” monitor upgrade – creating a next-generation HD passenger experience while extending the life of the fleet’s IFE system, and reducing operational costs.

Panasonic’s IFE upgrade program, which can be achieved on an aircraft during routine overnight maintenance, includes the installation of a new passenger entertainment server.

This provides passengers with a wider range of content and helps to modernize the airline’s offering and keep up-to-date with the demands of changing consumer preferences. This also enables the airline to achieve faster media loading times – all without any increase in weight, and with dramatically improved reliability levels.

The first aircraft from Qatar Airways’ 777 fleet has completed its IFE upgrade this week.

Qatar Airways Senior Vice President, Marketing & Corporate Communications,  Salam Al Shawa, said: “With one of the youngest and most technologically-advanced fleet in the skies, Qatar Airways is known for its outstanding onboard experience, as well as a leader of innovation within the global aviation industry.”

“We are delighted to work with Panasonic to bring the next generation EcoFW HD screens to our award-winning Oryx One in-flight entertainment system, enabling our passengers to enjoy an enhanced journey on board our fleet as part of the airline’s exceptional five-star service.”

Cathay Pacific aircraft over Hong Kong

Deutsche Telekom to provide harmonised Wi-Fi portal for Cathay Pacific

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Cathay Pacific aircraft over Hong Kong

Hong Kong carrier Cathay Pacific Airways has selected Deutsche Telekom to develop and support its future Wi-Fi portal across the airline’s whole connected fleet.

The service will be rolled out by the end of the year on Cathay’s already Wi-Fi enabled Airbus A350 – followed by its Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 fleets.

One key benefit of the service provided to Cathay is its ability to scale, with the airline’s future requirements catered for as part of the agreement. The single portal also facilitates the ongoing launch of new, up-to-date features harmonised across platforms.

“Our dedicated in-flight connectivity solution is based on our feature-rich ISP core platform,” said David Fox, Vice President In-flight & Connectivity Services at Deutsche Telekom Global Carrier. “It is designed to meet Cathay’s current as well as its future connectivity needs.”

From Cathay Pacific’s perspective, Vivian Lo, General Manager Customer Experience and Design, highlights that a highly connected world means it is important to give passengers a seamless and consistent Wi-Fi service.

Cropped image showing engine and wing of 777 belonging to Delta

Delta signals end of 777 fleet by year end

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Cropped image showing engine and wing of 777 belonging to Delta

Delta has announced the planned retirement of its 18 widebody 777 aircraft as it continues to reduce operational complexity and cost, while maintaining a modern fleet.

Last month, Delta announced plans to accelerate the retirement of the MD-88 and MD-90 fleets to June

“We’re making strategic, cost-effective changes to our fleet to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring Delta is well-positioned for the recovery on the backside of the crisis,” said Gil West, Delta’s Chief Operating Officer. “The 777 has been a reliable part of Delta’s success since it joined the fleet in 1999 and because of its unique operating characteristics, opened new non-stop, ultra-long-haul markets that only it could fly at that time.”

The Boeing 777-200 first entered the fleet in 1999 and grew to 18 aircraft, including 10 of the long-range 777-200LR variant, which arrived in 2008.

Delta will continue flying its fleet of long-haul next generation Airbus A350-900s, which burn 21% less fuel per seat than the 777s they will replace.

More specific details of the timing of the 777’s exit from the fleet will be disclosed at a later date.

It’s less than a year since Delta upgraded its Boeing 777, featuring all four branded seat products offered by the airline – Delta One Suite, Delta Premium Select, Delta Comfort + and Main Cabin, which offers Nine-abreast seating, rather than the industry-standard ten-abreast seating, with 47 cm wide Main Cabin seats, the widest Main Cabin seats of Delta’s international fleet.

Additionally, there are seatback entertainment screens throughout with Delta Studio and thousands of hours of content — free of charge across all cabins and full-spectrum LED ambient lighting with customised lighting schemes depending on phase of flight.