Monthly Archives: January 2013

Airports know the importance of delivering the best possible for customers travelling through the terminals. The effort to improve customer’s time waiting for their flight has improved during the last few years with gourmet eateries, cell phone charging stations, higher-end facilities, a wide variety of in-airport activities and other plans to upgrades.

When flying, many negative customer experiences are created because of unforeseen delays, mechanical issues, weather problems, etc. These annoyances can create delays of minutes or even hours, and in the worst case scenario cancelled. It is however, possible for these delays to decrease even further, with airlines and airports having the right technology. An iPad-based technology allows cabin crew to manage all reporting and manuals digitally, seeing and addressing unforeseen problems much earlier.

There are polls and articles dedicated to comparing the best and worst airports assisting customers and these new technologies will be a huge benefit in improving customer satisfaction and pre-flight experience, as well as improving a given airport’s reputation.

As well as improving reporting processes, iPad-based technology offers a more effective way to handle customer service issues. Aviation CRM systems are becoming more user-friendly and will be accessible via iPad systems. These CRM systems make it easier for both in-flight crew and airport staff to access customer information, process sales and address customer service issues. Currently airline crews can access corporate memos, manage internal communications, access flight data, up-to-date weather info, etc. while in-flight, from a single device. In the future, airline crews in the airport will be able to handle customer check-in, checking baggage, selling tickets, anywhere, anytime from a single, handheld device.

One of Europe’s largest business jet charter operators London Executive Aviation (LEA), based at London Luton Airport, is continuing with expansion by adding another Bombardier Challenger 300 to its fleet.

London Executive Aviation (LEA)

London Executive Aviation (LEA)

“The addition of this Bombardier Challenger 300 to our fleet highlights our dedication to offering the broadest range of aircraft options for business charter operations. We have now amassed considerable experience of operating this type and have been very pleased with its dispatch reliability. The aircraft fully meets passenger expectations for cabin comfort and space, and we have received consistently positive customer feedback” said LEA’s managing director George Galanopoulos. He continued, “Our Challenger 300s fill a niche in our fleet between the midsize Citation Excel and large cabin Embraer Legacys. Their impressive range, coupled with their modern, spacious cabins, makes these aircraft an extremely popular choice.”

The super midsize Challenger 300 has a 3,600 mile range and can operate from runways as short as 1,300 metres. Capable of making non-stop flights from London to destinations such as Moscow, Jeddah, Lagos and Dubai, it can seat up to ten passengers as well as the crew and a stewardess. It is a technologically advanced, high-performance business jet with intercontinental range. It features ‘fly by wire’ avionics, highly efficient Honeywell HTF7000 engines and a state-of-the-art cabin entertainment system.

ARINC have announced the launch of ARINC AviNet® Mail Enterprise Hub (eHub) a New Cloud Based Messaging Service for the Air Transport Community. eHub is a multi-user web-based service that gives the aviation industry a solid messaging environment for all of their communications needs.

Alexis Hickox, Senior Director, Aviation Solutions of ARINC EMEA said “As a hosted solution that is fully managed by ARINC, the entire aviation community now has the benefit of using the industry’s leading messaging service in a secure, reliable and cost-effective manner,” and continued “With its advanced functionality, eHub truly represents the next generation messaging hub for the air transport industry.”

eHub has been designed to be easily configured for either a single user or a global user with multiple divisions and departments with varying messaging requirements. Giving users a single interface that supports the full complement of the aviation industry’s messaging formats and protocols including XML, Type X, Type B, SMTP, X400, Fax and SMS. eHub supports multiple languages. Unlike other comparable systems, eHub performs Type B to SMS message delivery.

It offers simple user message management and includes free internal and local message routing, reducing costs to the customer, building on the System as a Service (SaaS) model.

The Federal Communications Commission is moving to ease restrictions on Internet use in commercial airlines as the agency attempts to enhance competition in the mobile telecommunications market and help speed the deployment of Internet services onboard aircraft. Airlines will be able to test systems that meet FCC standards, establish that they do not interfere with aircraft systems and receive FAA approval.

Rather than having to license on-board systems that provide in-flight wifi on an ad hoc basis, airlines will be able to test systems that meet FCC standards, establish that they do not interfere with aircraft systems and get FAA approval. An FCC statement explained “By reducing administrative burdens on both applicants and the Commission, the new rules should allow the Commission to process ESAA applications up to 50 percent faster, enhancing competition in an important sector of the mobile telecommunications market in the United States and promoting the widespread availability of Internet access to aircraft passengers.

While the FCC is working to speed up deployment of aircraft Wi-Fi systems in airplanes, an airplane manufacturer is also testing on improvements on wireless signals in airplane cabins, making it possible for passengers to enjoy more reliable connectivity when using networked personal electronic devices in the air.

The satellite antenna will carry the signal to and from the aircraft, and mobile technologies such as Wi-Fi will provide communications within the aircraft’s hull. In addition to promoting the economic growth and job-creating impacts of inflight broadband, the action also continues the FCC’s efforts to update and streamline regulatory requirements across the agency.

At this year’s show, the organizers moved things around a bit and now have an expansive hangar for vendors instead of the tents used in previous years. They’ve also moved the food booths and other services closer to show center, making for less walking. However, as the 2013 U.S. Sport Aviation Expo opened in Sebring, Fla., on Thursday, the industry as a whole still isn’t finding healthy sales.

Sport Expo expects about 20,000 attendees at the Sebring show and it continues to be an important venue for some manufacturers who’ve been able to reliably mine sales leads from would-be customers who come to Florida ready to kick the tires one last time before pulling the sales trigger.

John Calla of Adventure Sport Aviation said “We had a buyer come down from Michigan just to see the airplane and make a final decision,” he continued “Some buyers just have to see it, and see it again and see it one more time and then they’ve got to have it,”  The Bristell is a low-wing design that claims the largest cabin size in the field. and the aircraft can accept up to 130 horsepower. That makes it quick, but it doesn’t quite provide the power-to-weight ratio of the reigning hotrod, CubCrafters’ popular Carbon Cub. CubCrafters told AVweb that it’s now rolling a new airplane out of the Yakima, Wash., factory about every four days, the strongest sales since 2008.

Meanwhile, Tecnam’s Tommy Grimes told us the company is going in the opposite direction pricewise with a new offering based on the Echo Lite. It will sell for about $75,000, Grimes said. Like everyone else, Grimes said, Tecnam is still searching for a potential price sweet spot and things a sub-$100,000 LSA is worth trying. As reported in our video, Tecnam was also showing off something some would-be LSA buyers will love: air conditioning in a light sport. The 23-pound FlyCool system fits into the tail section of a P2008 with a minimal weight and balance hit. It chills the cabin by about 20 degrees, a welcome capability for owners flying these airplane in the broiling southern tier states.

UK and Irish airspace will shortly have a seamless data link service as a result of UK NATS and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) working together with SITA to deliver Controller Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC) services to the British and Irish area control centers.

The SITA service and systems support long haul and short haul versions of CPDLC. Long haul aircraft use a Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS) version already implemented over the Atlantic Ocean. Aircraft with FANS systems will now use the SITA network and gateway to communicate with CPDLC systems in the UK and Ireland domestic centers.

Other providers of CPDLC have also hit the headlines recently, including ARINC who now offer a compliance service for airlines.

Russia sent three military communications satellites into orbit this month aboard a converted ballistic missile launched, marking the first space launch of 2013.

The Rockot launch vehicle lifted off at 1625 GMT on a two-hour mission to put three military communications satellites in an orbit 900 miles above Earth.

The Rockot is a modified two-stage missile built to deliver nuclear payloads to distant targets.

Mission Critical Military Communications

Mission Critical Military Communications

The mission was the first space launch of 2013, and it marked the first use of a Breeze upper stage since a similar vehicle ran into trouble during the launch of a Proton rocket in December.

The Proton rocket, which launches commercial communications satellites with the Breeze M upper stage variant, has been grounded since a Dec. 8 launch left Russia’s Yamal 402 spacecraft in the wrong orbit.

Military communications across the globe continue to advance and grow with providers such as ISR offering specialist services for the industry.

It is feared that almost all Indian carriers are in the red, serving one of the world’s fastest growing economies and registered unprecedented growth in traffic. Indian aviation is the ninth largest market in the world and significantly contributed to business, trade and tourism growth in the past decade.

The transportation sector has been impacted by several factors including high operating costs fuelled by high oil and tax cost, cash crunch and soaring debts. Being one of the most important growth in any economy, and air travel has become a necessity and no longer a luxury.

The saving of sales tax on import of ATF is an attractive proposition for airlines. However, they have to use the existing infrastructure of the oil marketing companies (OMC). As India is an ATF-surplus country, direct import by airlines would necessitate finding new export markets for the OMC’s surplus stock. The sector looks toward the Government for tax rationalisation, which most of them believe would be enough for them to soar again, and fuel the growth of the world’s most promising economy.

“ATF pricing mechanism is based on import parity with a black box which currently includes irrational elements and tax on taxes. If a person travels by road or rail, he is using highly subsidised infrastructure or subsidised electricity/ diesel, thereby making a much larger hole in the exchequer. We are only requesting rationalisation of taxes,” says G.P. Gupta, Chief Administrative Officer, SpiceJet.

Passenger Service Fee and User Development Fee, collected on behalf of the Airports Authority of India, suffer service tax thereby pushing up ticket cost, which has outpaced the spending power of customers. According to Gupta, “A major portion of aviation losses is attributable to high taxation.” It is not just the tax, but also the tax on tax which becomes excruciating! For example, several airport operators charge fuel throughput fees from the OMCs. This throughput charge plus service tax forms part of the ATF cost on which sales tax is charged by OMCs, leading to a cascading tax effect.

Passenger Service Fee and User Development Fee, collected on behalf of the Airports Authority of India, suffer service tax thereby pushing up ticket cost, which has outpaced the spending power of customers.


Airport Systems for Border Security

Airport security technology has been in the news again this week with Lisbon Airport being the latest to install biometric eGates at Terminal 1.

The solution provides automated passenger checks for access to the departure lounge and has been chosen by Lisbon airport to enable faster and automated processing of passengers boarding passes in any format (paper, smartphone or PDA.

According to João Nunes, Director of Lisbon Airport: “This partnership allows ANA to offer the most advanced technologies in the implementation of self-service solutions for passengers in complete alignment with the IATA TRAVEL FAST program, which is also supported by the ACI.”

Automated passenger processing is being taken up by many airports around the world because of the increased demands being placed on resources to enforce ever tougher border security measures.

Electronic borders, airport systems and automated passenger processing systems are being offered by most suppliers but notable in the headlines have been ARINC with their electronic borders product achieving great praise.