The annual Aircraft Interiors Expo saw more than 14,000 visitors this year over its three-day airing in Hamburg, Germany.
The latest innovations in cabin connectivity were shown and discussed, in addition to some incredible interior designs.
Airlines and service providers were asking new questions this year, leading us to believe that in-flight connectivity, as a relatively new requirement for the cabin, is climbing higher on the list of priorities for passengers.
Rockwell Collins’ Jeff Standerski, senior VP, said that the term IFEC (In-Flight Entertainment and Connectivity) should be referred to in the future as IFPE (In-Flight Passenger Engagement), demonstrating that the way we are thinking about cabin connectivity is changing.
Rockwell Collins’ ARINC Cabin Connect is certainly moving with the times, offering next-generation connectivity with support for personal electronic devices, and opportunities to increase in-flight revenue and enhance customer service with AirCrew Connect.
Gogo has announced that its IFE connectivity product, Gogo Vision is improving, and has started to ‘return more interesting dollars’ at last.
The company, who supply IFE connectivity solutions for both business and commercial aircraft have admitted that a lot of its content does not get to airlines, as they offer many smaller, independent films and documentaries, and an opt-in functionality for passengers.
As passenger demand increases for cabin connectivity, providers are under pressure to provide superfast connection rates for live streaming. Other providers, such as Rockwell Collins’ Cabin Connect, also deliver the opportunity to operate IFE, and cabin connectivity for passengers and crew via a single installation, and satellite communications networks.
In a recent report from aviation analysts, it was found that the prices passengers are paying for inflight Wifi varies wildly, with some airlines offering a free service, and others charging up to £30.
So why the huge difference? Some providers say that the cost of installation of the aircraft system is a significant contributor to the high cost, yet it seems to be mostly the budget airlines offering free access, surprisingly.
Another complaint from passengers is the speed and quality of inflight Wifi. Onboard internet can be provided in two ways – via satellite communications or via air-to-ground communications systems. The air-to-ground option delivers higher speeds, but satellite is necessary for connectivity over oceanic expanses.
A growing number of airline passengers require inflight Wifi. Some commercial passengers want access to social media, or want to stream information, but others require access for business purposes. Executive travellers can often ‘charge’ inflight Wifi to their business expenses, but others are simply refusing to pay high prices that can be comparable with the cost of a monthly broadband fee at home.
Airlines need to look at their options, as it appears that the provision of inflight Wifi may become a source of competition amongst the airline community as time goes by.
Most of us realise that mobile technology is the future of communications and we see it everywhere we look. Passengers on aircraft are beginning to demand mobile functionality to continue telling our friends, family and neighbours about our great flight. Providers are finding themselves under pressure to decrease costs and increase speeds.
Now we see that passengers are not the only ones using mobile devices to improve the cabin experience. Cabin crew can now get access to passenger data in real-time, which is enabling them to increase levels of customer service like never before.
Providers of the tech and solutions, such as Rockwell Collins with their ARINC Cabin Connect suite offer solutions for both the cabin and the flight deck utilising the same hardware. Soon, with comparable ground-speeds, boarding the aircraft and using the mobile device will be the same as sitting at home or in the office.
Cabin management systems on business jets have become as important to travellers as the stylish interiors, with demand rising for comparable comforts and connectivity as those of the best hotels.
Honeywell is offering upgrades for its analogue C-series systems, which will deliver digital capabilities over a three-phase upgrade that will include updated HD monitors and surround sound systems.
In-flight entertainment and integrated cabin management systems, such as Honeywell’s latest offering and others like Rockwell Collins’ Cabin Connect, which combines options for concierge services, cabin crew applications and opportunities for enhanced revenue, are giving corporate and commercial aircraft operators far greater choice than ever before.
Virgin America’s passengers will soon be able to make the most of their Netflix membership during flights thanks to a new partnership agreement between the airline and the online media provider.
Using the aircraft’s onboard WiFi, Netflix programmes will be accessible via live streaming to passenger’s personal devices at no additional cost.
Airline connectivity is a booming market as passenger demand grows and competitive packages increase in availability across the industry. Faster WiFi via the latest satellite technology enables the opportunity for live streaming and improved access for passengers using their mobile devices.
As Inmarsat’s latest satellite constellation, Global Xpress, or GX as it is commonly known, nears completion, Honeywell Aerospace are thinking ahead, and planning to deliver equipment to airlines ready for the entry of GX into service later this year.
GX will deliver high-speed satellite broadband over the Ka-band, which is set to completely change in-flight connectivity with speeds of up to 50Mbps.
The possibilities for the use of GX include mobile technology, which is a burgeoning sector in both commercial and corporate aviation. The benefits will be felt in the cabin and on the flight deck, where real-time applications for pilots and flight crew, such as flight deck weather, flight tracking and inflight messaging will increase safety aspects across many flight operations.
As the demand for passenger connectivity soars, Gogo have announced that it has received Supplemental Type Certification (STC) for its latest 2Ku satellite service. They are hoping for a successful launch later this year for commercial aircraft.
Passengers on commercial planes today want to be able to use the internet onboard and the competition is hotting up amongst the providers.
Rockwell Collins’ Cabin Connect, powered by Inmarsat SwiftBroadband and with plans for the additional speed capabilities of GX later this year, allows for live streaming, video calling and surfing the internet from the passenger’s seat on the aircraft.
The video below shows how.
SmartSky Networks announced a partnership with Kontron this week at the AEA Convention held in Dallas. Kontron, German-based cabin WiFi access point (CWAP) manufacturer, and the relatively new SmartSky Networks, air-to-ground aviation telecommunications network provider, will team to provide a SmartSky 4G service with an expected capability of 10 times the current speed and capacity of other networks, according to the Florida-based SmartSky.
As passenger and operational expectations increase across both business and commercial aviation sectors, airlines and operators are seeking greater transfer speeds and capabilities for cabin services and flight deck options.
Other next-generation cabin services providers are utilising powerful satellite communications networks, such as Inmarsat and Iridium, to deliver aircraft WiFi solutions that can be as effective in the sky as they can on the ground.
Honeywell and Inmarsat have announced the successful completion of high-speed data performance tests of Jetwave MCS 8200 onboard aircraft hardware using the Inmarsat Global Xpress (GX) network.
Aimed at delivering high-speed aircraft WiFi to passengers, Inmarsat GX was tested for video streaming and file transfers at Honeywell’s UK facility in the West Country. The first GX satellite, launched last year is currently used for government and enterprise customers in the Indian Oceanic region, with a second satellite launched last month for the Americas and Atlantic region, and a third planned for later this year to cover the Pacific, GX aviation will eventually service and cover the entire globe, providing a seamless connectivity experience for passengers.
Honeywell and Inmarsat are delighted with the success of their testing and plan to commence higher data rate testing in the coming months.
Leo Mondale, Inmarsat Aviation president said, “Both the GX network and Honeywell’s terminal have met and exceeded our high expectations. We’re another step closer to bringing a true broadband experience to both commercial airlines and business aviation.”