PAX Tech APEX September 2023

Page 13

MRO, Interiors & IFEC MRO, Interiors & IFEC
SEPTEMBER 2023 | www.pax-intl.com ULTRA LUXE:
Safran
APEX LONG BEACH
Air NZ and
bring comfort to new heights
To find out more, please visit our IFSA EXPO booth 735, or contact info@formia.com FORMIA .COM INTRODUCING THE FIRST CARBON NEUTRAL INFLIGHT AMENITY KITS

PAX Tech

Mississauga, Ontario Canada

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Website: www.pax-intl.com

PUBLISHER

Aijaz Khan

E-mail: aijaz@globalmarketingcom.ca

EDITORIAL OFFICES

Stephanie Philp, Editor

Tel: (1 416) 822-1758

E-mail: stephanie@pax-intl.com

Alex Preston, Senior Editor

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E-mail: alex@pax-intl.com

Reedah Hayder

Editorial Assistant

Ash Khan, Advertising Sales Executive

E-mail: ash@pax-intl.com

ART DEPARTMENT

Jessica Hearn, Art Director

E-mail: jessica@globalmarketingcom.ca

PAX International and PAX Tech are published a total of 10 times a year by PAX International, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. International Distribution.

Subscriptions: $200 for one year; $300 for two years; $400 for three years. Art and photographs will not be returned unless accompanied by return postage. The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher or editor. All rights reserved. Nothing may be reprinted in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. © PAX International magazine

ISSN 1206-5714

Key title: Pax International

Life’s a beach

Before retiring to Long Beach, California, the RMS Queen Mary was one of the fastest and most luxurious ways to cross the Atlantic. The interior featured a wealth of facilities including one of the earliest incarnations of the moving map.

The Cabin-Class (First Class) main dining room featured a large map of the transatlantic crossing, with twin tracks symbolizing the winter/spring route (further south to avoid icebergs) and the summer/autumn route. During each crossing, a small, motorized model of the Queen Mary would travel along the mural to indicate the vessel’s progress en route.

Fast forward to today, and it’s the latest innovations in the aircraft passenger experience on display as the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX EXPO) returns to Long Beach, collocated with International Flight Services Association (IFSA) and Future Travel Experience (FTE).

Many of us making the long trip to the US West Coast will do so accompanied by our own personal library of content on one or more subscription services. In this issue, we talk to AERQ and the Berlin Phil Media GmbH about their recent partnership and the growing proliferation of direct-to-consumer (D2C) content.

Sustainability is always at the front of our thinking, and in this issue, Jacobo Mesto tells PAX Tech how SOISA Air-

craft Interiors and its partners are helping to breathe new life into scrap materials whilst benefitting local communities.

Elsewhere, Recaro CEO Dr. Mark Hiller discusses the company’s R Sphere initiative, which is evaluating the feasibility of using more natural and sustainable materials in aircraft seating. Instead of being cast off, the likes of fishing nets could be used to help passengers catch up with rest.

The seating theme continues as Kerry Reeves, Head of Aircraft Programmes at Air New Zealand talks to PAX Tech about the airline’s forthcoming Business LUXE and Business Premier LUXE seating developed in collaboration with Safran Seats. To be introduced next year, passengers can expect a new level of comfort on ultra-long-haul flights.

Rather than a journey of a thousand miles, we talk to Viasat and Inmarsat about the first 100 days of the acquisition and creation of a new global partner in satellite communications, and also look at AirFi LEO, the small but powerful solution from AirFi attracting interest from regional carriers, and primed to disrupt the business models for inflight connectivity.

Once again, the PAX Tech team will be walking the aisles of all three events. Be sure to say hello, and if you’re not already subscribed to the title or our weekly newsletter, do take the time to sign up.

www.pax-intl.com | PAX TECH | 3
EDITOR’S LETTER

Features

COMPANY PROFILE

10 GO WITH THE FLOW

With its Inplay Flow, IdeaNova is bridging the gaps between IFE delivered to personal electronic devices (PEDs) and seatback displays

13 IFE ON DEMAND

Direct-to-consumer media services are gaining traction onboard inflight entertainment systems, and going beyond traditional content genres

16 THE ART OF WONDERFUL

The “Waste to Wonder” program from Mexico’s Soisa Aircraft Interiors and partners is giving a second life to scrap materials from the aircraft upholstery process, and benefitting the Indigenous Tarahumara community

20 THE BEST SLEEP IN THE SKY

Air New Zealand unveils luxurious Premium Cabins with Aotearoa-inspired design and innovative seating on ultra-long-haul routes, in partnership with Safran Seats

24 SKY-HIGH REST AND RELAXATION

As aircraft seating manufacturers make greater commitments to sustainability, passengers in the future could find themselves sitting on seating materials derived from cork, cactus and other natural resources

INDUSTRY Q&A

28 BETTER TOGETHER

Don Buchman, Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Aviation at Viasat gives details of how the company is flourishing since its recent acquisition of Inmarsat

31 CONNECTIVITY FOR ANY BUDGET

AirFi LEO is an effective and attractive connectivity solution for cost-conscious airlines. As airlines gain interest in the solution, it is also gaining plaudits — including a PAX Tech Readership Award

4 | PAX TECH | SEPTEMBER 2023 28
DEPARTMENTS 3 EDITOR’S NOTE 6 NEWS 33 ASSOCIATION NEWS ON THE COVER: Air New Zealand's luxurious new cabins. Read more on page 16
IFE
SEATING
CONNECTIVITY
32 CONTENTS

Emirates marks centenary of Warner Bros. Studios

Emirates is marking the 100th anniversary of Warner Bros. Studios, with a specially curated collection of 100 films on its inflight entertainment system — ice.

The newly launched Warner Bros. 100 films collection will be available on Emirates flights from September 1, 2023. The earliest film in the collection is a remastered version of 42nd Street from 1933, while The Flash, released this year, is the latest film.

The collection will also include four Max Original documentary specials chronicling the history of the movie studio. Exploring the impact of Warner Bros. on art, commerce and culture, 100 YEARS OF WARNER BROS, features insights and first-person stories from directors, actors, executives, journalists and historians, including Martin Scorsese, Oprah Winfrey, Clint Eastwood, Tim Burton, George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres, Daniel Radcliffe, Keanu Reeves, Oliver Stone and Robert De Niro.

Narrated by Morgan Freeman, the documentaries offer a behind-the-scenes look into the studio, from its founding in the early 1920s, to the historic mergers of the 2000s that transformed the company into a global entertainment powerhouse.

The full list of films includes Earliest Endeavours, Forties and Fifties Favourites, Sixties and Seventies Smash Hits, Eighties and Nineties Nostalgia, and Noughties Movie Magic.

EDM takes SkyPeople into its fold

EDM, which manufactures and assembles training simulators for clients in sectors including civil aviation, defence and rail, has completed the acquisition of SkyPeople

The acquired business has been renamed SkyPeople Training and has gained accreditation from the Civil Aviation Authority as a cabin crew training organisation and security training provider, with a rating of “outstanding.”

SkyPeople Training has taken over a range of contracts with UK-based passenger and cargo airlines formerly held by the acquired business.

Sarah Ferguson, EDM’s group financial director, has also assumed the role of Chief Executive of SkyPeople Training following the completion of the deal. Financial details of the acquisition are undisclosed.

The new company has plans to grow the business as its eyes new contracts with a range of airlines and the opportunity to deliver cabin crew training to them at its Aviation Training Academy in Manchester. A similar facility in the south of England, could also be built, as the company expands its training offering in different areas and sectors, such as customer sales and support, leadership and management, and first aid.

EDM, which was founded in 1971, has a 100,000 sq ft facility in Newton Heath, Manchester, with manufacturing, assembly and factory testing capabilities in addition to its Aviation Training Academy. The company serves organizations worldwide from its headquarters.

6 | PAX TECH | SEPTEMBER 2023 AIRLINE COMPANY
Door trainers at EDMs Aviation Training Academy
NEWS
Emirates is the first airline to bring Warner Bros. centennial celebration to the skies with a unique collection of entertainment on its inflight entertainment platform — ice
HUMIDIFIER
PURE AIR +
ONBOARD+

Panasonic to expand connectivity footprint

Panasonic Avionics Corporation is to significantly expand its global connectivity network, introducing new and improved GEO Ku-band satellite capacity, resulting in faster inflight internet for passengers and airlines.

The expansion involves integrating High Throughput Satellites (HTS) and Extreme Throughput Satellites (XTS) into the network. This upgrade will enhance coverage across various regions, including the Americas, the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, the Middle East, the Arabian Sea, Africa, and the Indian Ocean.

The company is also expanding its current capabilities by introducing additional HTS capacity over China and Japan, building on existing connectivity investments in this region.

Moreover, the expansion brings about several advantages such as global capacity rises by 50 percent, guaranteeing dependable high-speed internet services. In addition, speeds reach up to 75 Mbps per aircraft through HTS and up to 200 Mbps through XTS satellites.

Current and future customers gain enhancements with no hardware or software changes.

“Given our unique approach to satellite capacity, and with our multi-layered, multi-orbit connectivity network, Panasonic Avionics has the unique ability to leverage a wide range of different, industry-leading satellites, rather than the

high-risk approach of relying solely on proprietary satellite technology,” commented John Wade Vice President of Panasonic Avionics’ Inflight Connectivity Business Unit. “This enables Panasonic Avionics to add new capacity quickly and easily when and where it’s needed, ensuring we can deliver an advanced and virtually uninterrupted service. The result is a better experience for passengers and higher Net Promoter Scores (NPS) for airlines.”

The phased deployment is set to conclude by the end of 2023.

COMPANY

SAS and Magnetic Creative gain EASA approval

Magnetic Group has confirmed its design and manufacturing arm, Magnetic Creative, has received Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) approval from EASA on behalf of Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).

The STC project saw the reconfiguration of the passenger cabin of Embraer ERJ 190 series aircraft into a single class 122 passenger all economy LOPA (Layout of Passenger Accommodation).

In-Seat Power in the form of USB systems were installed, requiring a comprehensive modification as the airline sought fleet-wide consistency. This turnkey solution also included manufacturing parts by Magnetic Creative’s production organization (Part 21G) and delivering part-kits for the final assembly.

“Installing this USB system on an Embraer for the first time, coupled with the introduction of these new seats, enables our passengers to enjoy the enhanced experience and a Scandinavian feeling, in line with the rest of the SAS fleet remarked Mia Jakobsson, Director of Aircraft Trading at SAS.

The airline currently has seven EJ195LR aircraft operated by its regional airline subsidiary SAS Link from its base at Copenhagen Kastrup airport.

8 | PAX TECH | SEPTEMBER 2023 CONNECTIVITY
Panasonic is adding new satellite capacity, including coverage over China and Japan
NEWS
Passengers flying on Embraer ERJ190s on behalf of SAS can now enjoy USB charging

Korean Air to outfit A321neo fleet with Viasat inflight connectivity

Korean Air has signed the largest inflight connectivity service contract in North Asia post pandemic, selecting Viasat’s inflight broadband solution for its upcoming fleet of Airbus A321neo aircraft.

By 2027, Korean Air will receive a total of 30 Airbus A321neos as part of a fleet modernization plan, all of which will be delivered linefit with the connectivity solution. The planes will be operated on short and mid-haul flights between the airline’s main hub in Seoul and destinations across the Asia region.

“Today marks an important milestone for Korean Air, as we embark on our first inflight connectivity partnership. Our selection process started in 2018 and we’ve been focused on selecting the right solution that meets our business needs and can help us realize the untapped potential of our onboard experience,” said Kenneth Chang, Korean Air’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer in an August 19 press release. “It was clear that Viasat’s technology was unparalleled and they understood our vision. The new connectivity system will be a fundamental part of our digital strategy and customer experience going forward. Coupled with the advanced features of our fuel-efficient, next-generation A321neo aircraft, we look forward to taking our passenger experience to the next level.”

The selection was secured in partnership with hardware provider Safran Passenger Innovations (SPI) to develop the solution required by Korean Air. This included combining inflight connectivity (IFC) airtime and Safran’s Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity (IFEC) hardware. This partnership will enable Korean Air to extend its digital passenger journey, providing opportunities for direct engagement with passengers as well as enhancing their inflight experience.

Out of this world first for Emirates

Emirates is to broadcast a "live" interview with UAE astronaut Dr. Sultan AlNeyadi, who spent six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The interview for Emirates ice was conducted from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) Mission Control Centre, via NASA in Houston, through a space-to-ground communication link, and will be shown via the Emirates World Channel from September 1, 2023, the same day Dr. AlNeyadi will begin his journey home to Earth.

Interviewed by Emirates SVP of IFE & Connectivity, Patrick Brannelly, the discussion sees Dr AlNeyadi describe his inflight meals, how he stays connected to family and the entertainment available onboard the spacecraft, with Brannelly drawing parallels with the Emirates experience. The live footage is interspersed with Dr. AlNeyadi enjoying his coffee in microgravity, conducting experiments and exercising.

www.pax-intl.com | PAX TECH | 9 CONNECTIVITY AIRLINE
UAE astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi interviewed from space for Emirates ice Korean Air and Viasat are working together for the first time to bring inflight connectivity onboard its forthcoming A321neos
NEWS

Go with the Flow

The rise of streaming services has changed the way media is consumed both at home and in flight. With the ability to download content onto personal electronic devices (PEDs) and watch when they like, passengers now have more entertainment options when they fly.

This has prompted some commentators to predict the demise of the embedded seat-back screen.

For some airlines, this has also meant choosing between one option over the other. But now a new software solution from IdeaNova is aiming to change the relationship between seatback inflight entertainment (IFE) and wireless IFE from competitive to complementary.

Picture this: you are a busy passenger flying across the world for an important meeting. On the flight, you have a few hours to perfect your presenta-

tion in order to land a deal. This is a common situation many frequent flyers find themselves in. With limited space, how can one best leverage the use of what they have?

Enter Inplay Flow.

Giving passengers “the best of both worlds,” IdeaNova’s Inplay Flow, which debuted during this year’s AIX 2023 in Hamburg, Germany (June 6 to 8), was developed to allow passengers to share content including movies, TV shows, pictures, or documents between their PED and their seatback screens. This includes pre-downloaded content and, if allowed by the license usage, content stored locally from popular subscription video-on demand platforms.

This content sharing can help budget-conscious airlines reduce their

costs for licensing content. Meanwhile, passengers on airlines that already provide licensed content can benefit from a wider selection that combines their own and airline-provided content.

Inplay Flow can leverage any current (LAN (local area network) or Wi-Fi) based networking or future networking

10 | PAX TECH | SEPTEMBER 2023
With its Inplay Flow, IdeaNova is bridging the gaps between IFE delivered to personal electronic devices (PEDs) and seatback displays
Juraj Siska, Co-Founder, IdeaNova
PROFILE
IdeaNova’s Inplay Flow gives passengers the best of both worlds by allowing them to share content between PEDs and seatback screens

IdeaNova’s content sharing tool can help budget-conscious airlines reduce costs for licensing content

options such as LiFi or Wi-Fi 6 technology. A special aspect is that digital rights managed (DRM) encrypted content can also be shared, as long as permitted by the content owners and studios.

Inplay Flow was developed “based on passenger feedback and our IFE expertise in customer scenarios, including back-end streaming software on headend aircraft servers, seatback displays, and customer-facing applications beyond traditional content-watching experiences,” said Juraj Siska, Co-Founder of IdeaNova, in a media statement. “Customers wanted more than an either-or scenario — seatback vs PED.”

Speaking to PAX Tech ahead of the June release, he added, “Inplay Flow unleashes greater opportunity for immersive in-cabin entertainment and the elevation of business productivity tools, while reducing infrastructure and content cost.”

Siska continued: “Inplay Flow allows business passengers to leverage the seatback as their second screen, improving the work environment while flying, thus improving productivity. Passengers can, for example, cast their

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Here is an example of what a passenger’s screen would look like while casting their own device onto a seat-back screen

AWARD-WINNING TECHNOLOGY

As a testament to its powerful potential, Inplay Flow won a PAX Tech Readership Award at a ceremony held in Hamburg this past June at the Radisson Blu Hotel. It was the second consecutive year that PAX readers recognized IdeaNova for its next-generation technology. Inplay Flow’s predecessor, Intouch Nearcast, won a Streaming Media award last year in Huntington Beach, CA. “We knew that we were on the right track after successful deployment of Intouch Nearcast with a luxury airline and receiving high marks from passengers,” Siska says.

Inplay Flow is a unique solution that bridges the gap between IFE delivered to seatback display and personal electronic devices (PEDs). It gives passengers the best of both worlds by allowing them to share content between PEDs and seatback screens.

The PAX Readership Awards recognize the efforts of airlines, caterers, and suppliers from around the world as voted by the ever-growing readership. The Readership awards have been running for 16 years.

Key-features

Key features of Inplay Flow include:

• Can leverage any current (LAN or Wi-Fi) based networking or future networking options such as LiFi or Wi-Fi 6 technology.

• Three modes of operation:

1) sharing from device native applications (e.g. photos)

2) the player can provide screen sharing options for playback of video or

3) Productivity Mode — Inplay Flow can share any screen or application (similar to web conferencscreen sharing) triggered from a web-based interface.

• DRM encrypted content can also be shared, as long as permitted by the content owners and studios.

It is important to note that none of these options require download of a native application or installation of special software on passenger devices. The pairing of a personal device and the seatback is intuitive and does not require any special tech skills. If a passenger has screenshared before with Apple Aairplay or Google Chromecast they will be quick to pick up Inplay Flow.

spreadsheet on the seatback display while working on an email from their personal laptop, cross-referencing data form the spreadsheet.”

Security is also top of mind for IdeaNova. Passengers can stay assured that the “pairing” of a personal device and a seatback screen is done in a secure way through mutual authentication to avoid the potential of displaying user content on the wrong display. The two current options available for authentication are QR codes and numerical authentication tokens — methods that are similar to Apple AirPlay screen sharing.

The implementation of InplayFlow has the potential to significantly reduce the of cost of IFE content for budget conscious-airlines. With the technology, an airline has the chance to rapidly increase its available library by allowing passenger-owned content to be displayed on the seatback.

IdeaNova has been in the industry for 15 years and has acquired many satisfied customers by understanding the intricate nature of deploying software for aviation. “We are the glue between technologies from Apple and Google, content providers such as all major Hollywood studios and airlines with their unique constrains,” Siska tells PAX Tech.

12 | PAX TECH | SEPTEMBER 2023
PROFILE
PAX Tech Publisher Aijaz Khan (left) with Juraj Siska, Co-Founder, IdeaNova (right) at the PAX Readership Awards in Hamburg in June 2023

IFE ON DEMAND

In the UK, the subscription videoon-demand (SVoD) sector generated an estimated £3.3 billion (USD4.2 billion) in 2022, up 21.5 percent from 2021, driven by a combination of price rises and overall growth in subscriptions. It’s an interesting statistic taken from Ofcom’s (the UK’s communications regulator) latest Media Nations: UK 2023 report, which shows the continuing decline in traditional linear media viewing. Linear TV programming is viewed according to a predetermined/ scheduled lineup of shows. With a linear TV, viewers must tune in to a specific channel at an exact time to watch a

particular program — think NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon which airs weeknights at 11:35 pm.

In the UK, the number of households subscribing to at least one SVoD service reached 66 percent or 19 million in Q1 2023, down slightly from the 68 percent recorded in Q1 2022 by Ofcom in 2022. While seemingly plateauing in the home market, SVoD or direct-t-consumer (D2C) continues to disrupt the content delivery model — and this includes the inflight entertainment industry.

Over the past few years, Disney+, Paramount+ and NBC Universal (Peacock) have onboarded

streaming services through several high-profile airline partnerships.

In December 2019, just in time for Christmas, Delta Airlines announced a collaboration with Disney+ that rewarded Delta SkyMiles members flying on certain routes with access to a 14-day trial of the subscription service. Subscribers were able to download films and shows to their mobile devices and stream offline, free of charge. Delta isn’t a stranger to working with streaming services. As part of an investment in its Delta Studio IFE platform, the airline has also added content from both Hulu and Spotify

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Direct-to-consumer media services are gaining traction onboard inflight entertainment systems, and going beyond traditional content genres
Paramount+ has dedicated channels on both British Airways and Qantas, with BA Executive Club members given a month-long trial on launch
IFE
IMAGE CREDITS: BRITISH AIRWAYS

More recently, Paramount+ made inroads. In 2022, the streaming service introduced content to Qantas’ IFE platform. Speaking at the time, Liz Baldwin, SVP Head of Streaming, Paramount ANZ, said: “Paramount+ is the home of the biggest names in entertainment, exclusive premium content and the most unique stories.

“Making this must-see content available to Qantas customers across the In-Flight Entertainment services with a dedicated Paramount+ category, is fabulous for travellers and further cements Paramount+ as a powerful player in streaming, delivering an exceptional consumer entertainment experience.”

Months later, British Airways launched a dedicated Paramount+ channel on its Highlife entertainment platform for long-haul flights. The airline’s Bronze, Silver and Gold Executive Club members were given a monthlong trial of the streaming service.

Peacock became the exclusive streaming partner of JetBlue this Spring, and is now streaming content to both seatback screens and passenger’s own devices. Members of the TrueBlue loyalty program have access to special offers on Peacock subscriptions which allows them to earn points for subscribing to the streaming service. TrueBlue loyalty members with Mosaic status will be gifted a one-year Peacock Premium subscription.

With Air Canada recently add-

ing Apple TV+ to their IFE content, the growing proliferation of these services onboard are helping airlines increase their onboard entertainment content, while encouraging new or returning subscribers to the service.

The emergence of D2C services goes beyond SVoD. Other areas, including live events, are on the rise in popularity.

Concerts in the air

The Berliner Philharmoniker recently partnered with AERQ to bring its Digital Concert Hall inflight. The subscription service has a unique on-demand archive with over 750 concerts and includes all the stars of classical music. It presents

famous works and discoveries across six decades. Additionally, it entails over 500 exclusive interviews and work introductions as well as portraits, documentaries and curated playlists. “In their seats, the flight passengers will be able to enjoy the Berliner Philharmoniker as if they were sitting in the concert hall,” Berlin Phil Media GmbH tells PAX Tech.

“D2C can only be achieved through meaningful collaborations between airlines, content providers and providers for digital cabin solutions such as AERQ,” an AERQ spokesperson tells PAX Tech. The company selects its collaboration partners carefully to bring innovation and add value to the industry, especially

14 | PAX TECH | SEPTEMBER 2023
Delta Airlines works with streaming services such as Spotify, providing exclusive curated playlists to passengers
IMAGE CREDITS: JETBLUE/PEACOCK, DELTA
IFE
Earlier this year, Peacock became the exclusive streaming partner of JetBlue
AIRLINES

in this area. “Our collaboration with Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall is an excellent example as our open IT platform AERENA allows Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall to be easily onboarded into the airlines’ inflight entertainment,” they add.

The portability of streaming services offers subscribers the ability to watch any content, at any time. Does this mean they compete with legacy IFE solutions? AERQ believes so.

“D2C streaming in the cabin will benefit passengers, airlines and selected partners alike,” explains AERQ. “Passengers will benefit from personalized content, as they will be able to access the D2C streaming services they subscribe to during their flight. D2C streaming services in the cabin will thus enhance and complement the content portfolio onboard, allowing airlines to offer their passengers the right content, products and experiences at the right time.”

According to AERQ, airlines and selected partners in turn will benefit from further revenue opportunities as they collaborate to provide passengers with a portfolio of targeted media content. “By collaborating with

selected content providers and focussing on D2C streaming instead of licenced content, airlines will be able to reduce their costs while enhancing their media content library,” they say.

The Berlin Phil Media GmbH further elaborates: “The Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall was created to connect and reach audiences worldwide. By collaborating with AERQ, the Berliner Philharmoniker’s Digital Concert Hall gains access to a new area of business and a new industry with many new opportunities. Integrating the Digital Concert Hall into the cabin

will significantly increase its exposure as many passengers will discover it while browsing the inflight entertainment. This high-quality content with outstanding audio and video quality will add value, meaning and joy to the passengers’ time spent onboard.”

As passengers’ viewing habits evolve, the appetite for D2C will continue to grow. Beyond the traditional home markets, the aircraft cabin — with its captive viewers — allows the providers of such services to achieve the goal of reaching new audiences at the same time staying in touch with known audiences.

www.pax-intl.com | PAX TECH | 15
In a unique partnership with Berlin Philharmonikor, AERQ is bringing the concert hall to the cabin Air Canada recently became the second airline globally to offer Apple TV+ original programming onboard IMAGE CREDITS: AIR CANADA, BERLIN PHIL MEDIA GMBH

The art of wonderful

“Sustainability is a huge issue today, not only in the aerospace industry but across the world.

Making the world a better place is part of our ethos at Soisa — we didn’t want to be a company that only talks about sustainability and does nothing towards it. We needed to act!” says Jacobo Mesta, CEO of Soisa Aircraft Interiors, speaking to PAX Tech. And act, they certainly did.

In May 2023, collaborating with the Chihuahua State Government and airline leasing company, Avolon, the “From Waste to Wonder” program was launched.

As Mesto explains, “Being an upholstery manufacturer, we knew that our scrap needed to be recycled and reused, but because of import/export regulations, it was very difficult. However, we were able to find the solution to be able to donate these materials instead.”

Second chances are nothing new to Soisa.

Originally founded in 1949 as a jeans manufacturer, the company transformed itself in 2006 to cater to aircraft upholstery, creating Sosia Aircraft Interiors. Under the guidance of the family’s third generation, the company counts over 100 airlines as customers and has recently expanded its global manufacturing footprint with a new facility in Dubai, UAE.

Under the “From Waste to Wonder” program, leather, fabric, synthetic leathers, Velcro and other products from the scraps of Soisa’s manufacturing process are donated to the members of the Tarahumara tribe in Chihuahua, Mexico. So far, over 800 kgs of leather have been donated.

Donation is key to this circular economic initiative. “We don’t sell any of the materials, they are all donated. Soisa even pays regulation fees to be able to

16 | PAX TECH | SEPTEMBER 2023
The Tarahumara are renowned for their long-distance running ability
The “Waste to Wonder” program from Mexico’s Soisa Aircraft Interiors and partners is giving a second life to scrap materials from the aircraft upholstery process and benefitting the Indigenous Tarahumara community
IMAGE CREDITS: SOISA AIRCRAFT
SEATING
INTERIORS

do a final import of the materials and be able to donate with no cost at all to the organizations,” Mesto says.

Cancelled orders, which affected the company during the pandemic, also provide a stream of left overs which are donated. These include full hides in addition to scrap parts and full synthetic leather rolls, making the produce much more attractive. Other sources include complete bottoms, backs and headrest dress covers from airlines that change their design and would otherwise throw all their dress covers away.

For its part, Avolon supports the initiative by sending scrap dress covers from all over the world. “Avolon has been participating in this project since the beginning,” says Mesto. “When Avolon leases aircraft to different clients, they need to change the dress covers. Before the initiative, there wasn’t a recycling plan in place for any excess dress covers. Yet through our Waste

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Designs often reflect Tarahumara culture with artistic motifs and details
IMAGE CREDITS: SOISA AIRCRAFT INTERIORS

to Wonder project, Avolon sends us these dress covers to be donated to the artisans, resulting in a high yield to fabricate their products.”

Avolon is also providing financial support for sewing equipment to increase production.

To date, in partnership with a government organization, more than 40 Tarahumaras have received over 30 hours of training on upholstery to produce products like wallets, bags, shoes, aprons, tablecloths, dolls, lamps, Tarahumara art design products, among others, with proceeds increasing their household income, supporting over 250 people.

Mesto says it was the Mexican government that put the company in contact with artisans from the Tarahumara tribe. When asked how tribe members benefit, Mesto is unequivocal.

“First, we are giving them work as some members didn’t previously have an income source. Second, they previously needed to buy leather, but through the initiative, they get it for free, increasing their sales margin. Third, we are giving them a store where they can sell their products, increasing their client baseline. Fourth, we are starting to focus on prisoner reform, working with women and men in jail where they have the opportunity to gain additional income — of which, at least 50 percent is sent to their families. Finally, the initiative is creating a larger community of artisans who are learning new skills and producing one-of-a-kind products, remade from waste while also increasing individual incomes.”

“We certainly don’t plan to stop here!” he adds. “We need to increase our donation base. It is our intention to continue to share the Waste to Wonder initiative with all our partners and ensure that whenever there is a retrofit or rebranding program, the leather products and materials are donated to grow the Waste to Wonder capabilities and finalize a circular economy.”

18 | PAX TECH | SEPTEMBER 2023
Bags are just one of the products sold locally, made from donated upholstery scraps
IMAGE CREDITS: SOISA
SEATING
Over 800 kgs of leather have been donated to date, upcycled into a variety of items and providing a much needed source of income for local households
AIRCRAFT INTERIORS

IN-FLIGHT CONNECTIVITY REIMAGINED

You need a connectivity partner that delivers unparalleled performance and service to meet the needs of your passengers.

Our multi-orbit network, comprised of both LEO and GEO satellites, features seamless global coverage, speeds approaching 200 Mbps, robust resilience, and the scalability to place capacity where it’s needed most. With in-flight connectivity from Panasonic Avionics, you can ensure that you’re delivering the best passenger connectivity experience.

www.panasonic.aero

© 2023 Panasonic Avionics Corporation. All Rights Reserved. 28797116 v02
Panasonic Avionics Corporation

The best sleep sky

in the

Sleep and the need for more comfort and space are the driving principles behind Air New Zealand’s new premium cabins for its forthcoming eight Dreamliner 787-9 aircraft due to enter commercial service in September 2024 and retrofitted 787-9 fleet.

According to the airline, the cabins will be introduced initially between Auckland and New York. The Chicago route will also be added at a later time.

Speaking in June 2022 as the carrier announced its investment in the passenger experience, Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Greg Foran hailed the cabins’ combination of Kiwi hospitality and innovation as a winning formula. A key component of this is the Aotearoa-inspired cabin. Aotearoa is the Māori name for Zealand.

“New Zealand’s location puts us in a unique position to lead on the ultralong-haul travel experience,” he said in the media statement. “We have zeroed in on sleep, comfort and wellness because we know how important it is for our

customers to arrive well-rested. Whether they are heading straight into a meeting or to their first holiday hotspot — they want to hit the ground running.”

In addition to a revamped Economy Class, which includes the Crystal Cabin Award-winning Skynest — billed as the world’s first sleep pods in the sky — and Skycouch, which transforms a row of Economy seats into a couch, the airline is enhancing its Business Class experience with new seating from Safran Seats Designed specifically for the 787 to create a “home away from home” experience, the seats are offered in two choices: Business Premier and Business Premier Luxe.

Speaking alongside Foran in 2022, Air New Zealand Head of Aircraft Programmes, Kerry Reeves said in the same release: “We really encouraged Safran to think differently and push the boundaries with what we can do with the Business Premier seat to optimize the configuration and customer experience.” The final design also incorporates extensive customer research over five years.

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Working with Safran Seats, Air New Zealand is enhancing its ultra-long-haul premier cabins with new Business Class seating as it seeks to offer the greatest onboard experience
ALEX PRESTON
Kerry Reeves, Head of Aircraft Programmes
IMAGE CREDITS: CHRIS TARPEY AT AIR NEW ZEALAND LTD  SEATING
The front-row Business Premier Luxe transforms into an 81-inch bed for a restful night’s sleep

Reeves tells PAX Tech that the customer research and testing highlighted some important onboard experience requirements, with the most significant being:

• Unparalleled sleep experience

• Private but still spacious

• Ability to share experiences with travelling companions

• All seats having the same experience

• Simple and intuitive seat controls

• Easy access storage options

• Future-proofed digital features

“These insights formed the basis of the design requirements for the features of the seats and the layout of the aircraft,” Reeves says.

The carrier has actively engaged with members of the Independent Living Charitable Trust (formally known as the Disability Resource Centre) on refining its processes and equipment with their input and direction. To overcome the absence of movable armrests, persons with mobility impair-

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Business Premier Luxe includes a fully-closing door for extra privacy
IMAGE
The inward herringbone configuration allows passengers to remain undisturbed as the crew conducts the onboard service
CREDITS: CHRIS TARPEY AT AIR NEW ZEALAND LTD

ments can transfer horizontally into a Standard Business Premier or Business Premier Luxe seat without being lifted over an armrest or other obstacle.

So, what can passengers expect?

According to Reeves, a consistent experience — regardless of selecting the Business Premier or Business Luxe seat. Both Business Premier and Business Premier Luxe offer simplistic operation and intuitive useability. Inherent privacy is key to both versions, with Business Premier having high shells combined with adjustable aisle and centre dividers. If travelling with a companion, the middle row allows passengers to open their suite and share their experiences. The premium front-row Business Premier Luxe includes a fully closing door.

Such features, Reeves suggests, give options for improved sleep comfort. These elements are further enhanced as the seats extend into an 81-inch bed.

Both seat versions also offer wireless charging and an active backrest (which are certified for variable Taxi, Takeoff and Landing (TTL) positions) multiple TTL-certified stowage

areas certified and multiple surfaces, including an electrically assisted large single-piece meal table.

Located at the front of the cabin, Business Premier Luxe includes all the features of Business Premier but with additional space, allowing two people to dine. For Air New Zealand, this increases the useable space for the passenger by 25 percent.

The new cabin retains the inward herringbone configuration of the previous premier cabin, with a 1-2-1 layout. Reeves says having the passenger’s head not facing away from the aisle gives the crew easier visibility of the passenger as well as providing ease of service as surfaces are more readily in reach, and the crew don’t need to reach across the passenger.

Discussing the design process in 2022, Reeves admitted that: “Working virtually throughout COVID added another layer of complexity. Without being able to travel to the Safran site to validate our ideas and concepts, we paralleled the mock-up build both in New Zealand at our innovation lab and at Safran 2 to ensure we had a com-

mon design interpretation and valid feedback on the engineering development of the layout and features.”

Reeves elaborates to PAX Tech: “The lockdown made the program more challenging. However, being already very remote from suppliers, Air New Zealand is used to the distance and remoteness through this process. We, therefore, place more emphasis on prototyping and concept development in New Zealand in parallel to the supplier activity. Having our own aircraft mock-up and model-making capability is essential to validating designs and continued user testing throughout the design and engineering process.”

The eight Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners arriving in 2024 and retrofitted current 787-9 fleet will have either eight or four Business Premier Luxe seats. For Business Premier configurations, the aircraft will have 42 or 22 seats.

As Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty commented upon unveiling the seats in 2022: “Whether we are welcoming visitors or flying New Zealanders home, we want our customers to experience Aotearoa from the moment they step onboard — and get the best night’s rest.”

Having had the opportunity to test the seat during this year’s AIX, although not sleeping on the job, PAX Tech can attest to the fact that both Safran Seats and Air New Zealand have delivered on the ambition to create the greatest flying experience yet.

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IMAGE CREDIT: CHRIS TARPEY AT AIR NEW ZEALAND LTD  SEATING
The front row Business Premier Luxe offers more space for its passengers

Sky-high rest and relaxation

When FACC presented its BIOS — FUTURE CABIN at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg in June 2022, it did so heralding new standards in terms of sustainability and passenger comfort.

In a company blog about the project, FACC revealed that nature, people and their perception were the starting point for a design process from the inside out, which also aims to create an immersive experience where passengers connect with each other, the cabin and the environment in a unique way.

BIOS, says the blog, unites BIOlogy and technology, and follows the diversity and perfection of nature. The result is the use of a resin derived from sugar cane, which has been optimized for use in aviation through intensive research work. Its surface is not only extremely robust, but also resistant to heat and chemicals.

So, if BIOS provides a glimpse of what the future of aircraft cabins will be, what does the future of aircraft seating look like?

For Recaro Aircraft Seating, it’s the R Sphere, which was shown for the first time during this year’s AIX in June. As the company notes on its website, “We cannot make the industry sustainable alone, but we can contribute by making our seats more sustainable.”

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As aircraft seating manufacturers make greater commitments to sustainability, passengers in the future could find themselves sitting on seating materials derived from cork, cactus and other natural resources
IMAGE CREDIT: RECARO SEATING
Cork could become a familiar material in seating in the future if tests prove viable

“Sustainability is an integral part of our DNA and longterm vision for not only Recaro but also for the industry,” Dr. Mark Hiller, CEO of RECARO Aircraft Seating and RECARO Holding tells PAX Tech. “We use a cohesive approach by prioritizing economic, ecological, and social initiatives. By investing in R&D and focusing on smart manufacturing, we are committed to making aviation more sustainable for customers, suppliers, and passengers.”

According to the company, R Sphere removes all barriers (costs, certification, supply chain challenges, etc.) to develop the most eco-friendly seats in the skies.

“This project stemmed from our desire to showcase what sustainability means to Recaro and the future of our aircraft seating solutions. Our Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) guided us in determining which approach is worth pursuing. The holistic approach incorporates sustainable materials, repair solutions, lightweight construction and recyclability into one seat,” says Hiller.

By reducing the weight of the seat, CO2 emissions are directly reduced. By increasing layout efficiency (more passengers per aircraft), fewer aircraft are needed. Through repair solutions, seats can remain in service longer. Through a

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Like Recaro, MercedesBenz is evaluating more natural and sustainable materials for its interiors, such as on the concept VISION EQXX Recaro is investigating the application of natural and recyclable materials under its R Sphere concept IMAGE CREDIT: MERCEDES-BENZ/DAIMLER, RECARO

recycling concept, resources can be conserved. By using sustainable (renewable, recycled) materials, the use of fossil materials is reduced.

The R Sphere concept uses a variety of recycled/upcycled materials. These include fishing nets, mattresses, cork armrests, PVC and cactus dress covers.

Outside of aviation, such unconventional materials are being tested by the automotive industry. At CES 2022, MercedesBenz unveiled its unique special research electric vehicle, VISION EQXX.

The carpets are made of bamboo, while the seats, console, and doors of the vehicle are upholstered using a combination of Deserttex and Mylo

Deserttex is a leatherlike material made from nopal cactus and biobased polyurethane, exclusively for the automotive industry, by Mexican start-up Adriano Di Marti. The company is also working with BMW.

In a first for the automotive industry, VISION EQXX uses Mylo, a sustainable leather alternative made from mycelium, the root-like system of mushrooms, and developed by Bolt Threads

“Our collaboration with Mercedes-Benz demonstrates the road ahead for Mylo. After debuting with some of the most celebrated fashion brands in the world, we knew it was just the beginning. Mylo is as versatile as it is sustainable, with the potential to have an impact from the runway to the roadway

and beyond,” said Dan Widmaier, Bolt Threads Founder & CEO.

Could Mylo find its way into aircraft seating? Time will tell.

By using fully recyclable materials, Recaro hopes to implement a closed-loop process which overcomes the typical end-of-life issues befalling aircraft interiors. Such circularity is also a key focus for long-term Recaro partner, Gen Pheonix, formerly ELeather.

“Circular thinking is critical across the entire supply chain in order to achieve truly sustainable outcomes. No company or industry can achieve this in isolation. Aviation is an ecosystem where all parties — material, seat, and parts manufacturers as well as operators — need each other in order to achieve a collective goal of reducing our impact on the planet” said Annie Gibbons, ELeather’s Head of Sustainability, ahead of the Aircraft Cabin Innovation Summit held in Atlanta Georgia in September 2022.

Regarding the R Sphere concept, the long-term goal of the project is to develop a model to collect and track feedback that will be used to make future Recaro products better. This is an admirable, achievable goal.

As Hiller explains, “All approaches have the goal to be certifiable as well. We are constantly exploring these avenues, as many of the materials and methods have a degree of maturity that are worth exploring further. However, other aspects of the R Sphere make sense in a concept form at this point in time.”

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IMAGE CREDIT: RECARO  SEATING
Recaro is using R Sphere to help shape future aircraft seating design

What do you imagine?

We master the elements. We develop designs. But only when imagination has fully spread its wings have we achieved the cruising altitude of our minds. If you can IMAGINE it, we can make it real.

Visit our website and discover our product highlights!

BETTER TOGETHER

In this Q&A, PAX Tech speaks to Don Buchman, Viasat’s Vice President and General Manager of Commercial Aviation. Since acquiring Inmarsat earlier this year, Viasat has grown to a company of 8,000 employees with offices in 24 countries. While leadership structures are changing and new strategies are being put into action to ensure growth, PAX Tech reached out to Buchman to hear all the latest. In this discussion, Buchman shares updates about how the acquisition is opening new doors and details what passengers — hungry for fast, functioning connectivity — can ultimately expect onboard.

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IMAGE CREDIT: VIASAT  INDUSTRY
Don Buchman, Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Aviation at Viasat gives details of how the company is flourishing since its recent acquisition of Inmarsat
Q&A
Viasat is working to establish the bandwidth supply to provide a high quality, consistently fast connection in areas of peak demand

PAX INTERNATIONAL: In May, Inmarsat reported that the combined assets of the two companies were expected “to increase the pace and scope of innovation in the global satellite connectivity sector, offering new and improved capabilities to customers that will address the ever-increasing speed, flexibility, reliability, coverage and security they demand.” Can you speak to some of the initial goals set early in the acquisition?

DON BUCHMAN: Yes; from the outset, the company committed to an integration plan that would proceed methodically, with a focus on stability throughout the process. Some of the initial goals included setting the organizational structure and leadership team and, of course, diving deep technically into the top opportunity on everyone’s mind — interoperability of the networks and hardware. Since we couldn’t communicate that level of information (amongst the two companies) prior to the acquisition closing, those more technical conversations started in earnest on day one, which was really exciting.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: As APEX will mark the first time the combined company exhibits at a trade show, can you give us some insight into what will be on display or being showcased as the booth?

BUCHMAN: Unlike AIX, which occurred immediately after the acquisition closed and where we had previously booked two separate booths, we are coming into APEX as a single, stronger entity — a new Viasat. It’s exciting and has breathed some fresh air into the process of preparing for the event, which

spans everything from needing more meeting room space to the design of the booth.

APEX presents an opportunity for us to showcase in a new way the breadth of services we now offer to existing and potential airlines and partners at the show. Part of the integration process has been working to take the best of our service and product offerings to offer to customers. At the show, we’ll be able to highlight that in a way we weren’t ready to do at AIX since the deal had closed just a few days prior to the beginning of that show.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: In our discussion, you mentioned that passengers onboard Inmarsat-equipped aircraft will experience no service interruptions. In that vein, can you tell us if aircraft need any hardware updates to incorporate new capabilities?

BUCHMAN: This is a great question and is the crux of how the new company will manage interoperability, which is one of our highest priorities. There has been a lot of progress made in this area since closing the acquisition.

Ideally, there are no hardware changes and customers can access either network. We are in middle of that planning, though. We will work with our customers and their unique options available to access the full breadth of the newly combined company coverage and capacity.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: How will the combined capabilities of the acquisition ultimately benefit passengers? What can passengers look forward to in terms of improving connectivity inflight?

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IMAGE CREDIT: VIASAT Don Buchman, Vice President and General Manager, Commercial Aviation at Viasat Viasat’s ground network have large antennas aimed at the satellite and serve as the intermediary between users and the internet

BUCHMAN: Well, in broad terms, the new combined company will unite immense capacity with expansive global coverage for more customer choice and flexibility. This, of course, will benefit passengers and their onboard connectivity now and into the future.

Also, I expect our combined capabilities will fuel faster innovation and new solutions for our customers and the wider aviation community. I’m positive this will lead to experiences that delight passengers and enable them to continue to do whatever data-intensive activities they would like to do onboard.

Passengers can get excited about increasingly global service as regions that do not have high penetration of inflight connectivity start to react to passenger demand. Since we entered the inflight market with JetBlue in 2013, we have worked meticulously to set the bar incredibly high for service, allowing streaming to every device on the aircraft, and now more than ever we’re in a great position to raise that bar again.

Plus, we anticipate airlines will continue to express interest in expanding connectivity across aircraft types of all sizes, and I think that will be really well received by passengers.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: Can you describe how the addition of Inmarsat accelerates your global mobility strategy? How does bringing Ka- and L-band coverage and network redundancy expand your global distribution capabilities?

BUCHMAN: Combined we have 13 Ka-band satellites in space with another eight under construction (including ViaSat-3 F2 and F3). Five of those eight are expected to launch by the end of calendar 2025. That foundation of technology enables a lot of benefit, including, as

you mentioned, important redundancy and coverage.

You mentioned L-band coverage, which opens some exciting opportunities for the new company as well. More to come on that down the road.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: You mentioned during our interview that in commercial aviation you are now are able to offer a wider variety of services to existing and potential customers. What are those services?

BUCHMAN: We’re really excited about leveraging satellite connectivity to continue unlocking algorithmic possibilities that help the airlines operationally. This can include applications for the crew, or predictive maintenance with all the data that is being derived from equipment onboard. This adds value for the airlines, and, ultimately, will benefit the passengers as well.

We’re entering a time where airlines are looking to have everything on the aircraft being connected via Wi-Fi — seat screens, coffee makers, engines — so the possibilities in this space seem endless. We’re quickly building a full digital playbook for the entire aircraft.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: How does Viasat maintain its status as a global leader for inflight connectivity?

BUCHMAN: We can do this in several ways, but a few that jump to mind are:

• Continue to lead in innovative solutions.

• Continue our focus on solving the most difficult challenges for airlines as it relates to connectivity. Specifically, providing capacity in the highest areas of concentrated bandwidth demand.

• And a third is focused on positioning our airline customers not only for the growing demand and expectations for connectivity, but for perpetually rising data requirements of the most bandwidth intensive applications of the internet — streaming video, live television, social apps and more. Just like our earth-bound lives, the plethora of new data hungry devices and applications drive more and more demands for bandwidth. The aircraft is no different.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: What new capabilities that benefit travellers are currently in the works?

BUCHMAN: I mentioned this earlier, but I think it’s worth repeating that key to our future is the combination of immense capacity with expansive global coverage. And this leads to more customer choice and flexibility.

At APEX, one way we’re showcasing this point is through and update to Viasat’s Capacity Unleashed app. This is an interactive app that visually shows our combined satellite fleet, coverage areas, etc. It’s worth coming by the booth to see it in person, or you can download it directly in the various app stores. We’re also highlighting at APEX new solutions that are evolving for our airline customers, including OneFi.

PAX INTERNATIONAL: Because the connectivity provider is not necessarily the brand or company passengers will remember, how do you build loyalty with travellers?

BUCHMAN: We strive to exceed the expectations of our airline customers. As we continue to do that, we expect our airline customers are proud to have Viasat connectivity onboard because it represents the highest quality passenger experience. And it enables value such that it can be free, or free because it’s sponsored, or is at a minimum affordable.

So, while we’re not necessarily caught up in the having a customerfacing brand name, we are proud that Viasat service has over time become synonymous with the highest quality and best value for a fast, consistent connected experience onboard.

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Viasat’s inflight connectivity service combines coverage and immense satellite capacity, and now includes Malaysia Airlines as a customer
INDUSTRY Q&A

Connectivity for any budget

AirFi LEO is an effective and attractive connectivity solution for cost-conscious airlines. As airlines gain interest in the solution, it is also gaining plaudits — including a PAX Tech Readership Award

You may have heard these maxims before: size isn’t everything; the bigger the better, right? Well, when it comes to antennas delivering inflight connectivity, size does count — and solutions with a small footprint are gaining well-deserved attention.

AirFi and its AirFi LEO connectivity platform exemplify this small-size approach.

As a result of the expert capabilities of Iridium, which provides access to its network of low-Earth orbit satellites, SKYTRAC, which produces the antenna based on its modular midband solutions, and AirFi which brings the solution together with its portable AirFi box, AirFi LEO is a simple and effective solution for regional carriers seeking to offer LEO connectivity to passengers.

The solution has been trailed by Atlantic Airlines and picked up by Suriname Airlines — the first in the Americas to do so — with AirFi CEO Job Heimerikx revealing at this year’s Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) that there are more than a dozen airlines currently testing the solution, with adoption expected thereafter.

“We can’t wait to see what airlines and passengers think of the benefits delivered by AirFi LEO as it takes to the skies in the very near future,” he said on the fringes of the June event.

While gaining interest with airlines, AirFi LEO was also recognized with a PAX Tech Readership Award for Technology during a joint awards celebration in collaboration with TravelPlus at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Hamburg on June

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The AirFi LEO antenna is smaller than a pen and doesn’t require any supplemental type certificate (STC) to be installed
IFE
AirFi CEO, Job Heimerik. IMAGE CREDIT: AIRFI

6. The award was accepted by Jalal Zriouil, AirFi’s Vice President of Customer Success.

AirFi LEO was originally unveiled back in 2018 when it was based upon the Iridium Network using Databurst technology to send small packages of data to the ground and back to the aircraft. Following a pause in development due to the COVID pandemic and encouraged by the introduction of the Certus LEO network and its availability to the aviation industry, the second generation of AirFi LEO uses an IP connection to send more data over the network. This means larger amounts of data packages, such as credit card authorisations, emails and text messages.

Those behind the solution point to its minimally invasive footprint as a key differentiator and attractive business case.

AirFi LEO harnesses the power of the Certus through a proprietary window-mounted antenna based on SKYTARC’s hardware, which is smaller than a pen. Having a 330-degree view, the antenna is always connected to a satellite. Certus is already being used as part of 6,500 maritime systems every day, and the three partners are confident it can gain significant traction in the aviation industry.

This installation is considered a minor modification — no drilling in the aircraft fuselage is needed — for which AirFi has prepared all the necessary paperwork. The solution can be installed overnight. Once installed, AirFi LEO adds no more than 1.5 lbs per single-aisle aircraft.

The product brings connectivity to AirFi’s portable inflight entertainment solution, AirFi box. According to Heimerikx, this enhancement delivers 90 percent of the functionalities that make up an airline’s business case for investing in con-

nectivity such as text messaging, payment processing and flight deck updates amongst others, at around 10 percent of the cost of traditional Ku- and Ka-band offerings.

Compared to traditional Ka or Ku-band networks, AirFi LEO delivers data between 22-88 k/bits per second. This data link allows for access to aircraft ACARS transmissions at a lower cost and electronic flight bag updates with optimized routes and improved weather forecasting capabilities. AirFi and SKYTRAC hosted live demonstrations of these features at this year’s Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) Users Forum in Calgary in June.

Flight crew can send and receive passenger information and obtain details about connecting flights — small but significant wins for passengers. Onboard services can also be enhanced by air-to-ground messaging enabling constant contact with catering and MRO teams.

The big selling point of AirFi LEO is the prospect of payment processing. Using real-time connectivity, live transaction verification overcomes rejected payments (often between two to eight percent of all transactions onboard) and removes limits on what can be sold during a flight. Now, airlines can offer a fuller product catalogue that goes beyond the traditional F&B and duty-free range. This includes onward transportation, hotel accommodation and even the ability to book entrance to events/attractions and restaurant reservations.

Costs of the solution can be offset by more targeted advertising and offering paid access to messaging services. This internet lite approach allows passengers to send and receive text-based emails (without attachments) and access live RSS feeds.

As AirFi states, AirFi LEO is part of its grand vision to connect people and enable airlines to do more for less.

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IFE
Jalal Zriouil, AirFi’s Vice President of Customer Success accepted a PAX Tech Readership Award at the 2023 ceremony in Hamburg, Germany

All-in-One Networking Solution

With the addition of FTE Global, this year’s APEX/ IFSA is a must-attend event unlike any other in the onboard sector. PAX International spoke with CEO Dr. Joe Leader to see what this partnership means for both delegates and exhibitors of the conference

When it comes to airline industry events, few can compare to the excitement and size of APEX/IFSA, the annual, dual-branded inflight tech, entertainment, amenities and cuisine showcase spectacular. Since combining their powers, the organizations have created a one-stop-shop for companies in the onboard sphere, and each year they have taken their show across North America, to the delight of insiders looking to network, wheel and deal, and of course, enjoy the hospitality of the host city.

This year, as the conference and tradeshow comes to Long Beach, California, from September 19 to 21, another exciting endeavor is on tap: for the first time

ever, a co-location with Future Travel Experience (FTE) Global, often referred to as “the CES of aviation.” With this announcement, delegates to APEX/ IFSA will be exposed to even more cutting-edge information and insightful data that will help them better shape their businesses as the airline industry continues to evolve at a breakneck pace.

For Dr. Joe Leader, Group CEO of APEX, IFSA and FTE, this partnership has been a long time coming, one that has mirrored his own journey as an expert in the sector.

“Nearly two decades ago, I switched from high-tech to aviation after becoming an airline’s most frequent flyer,” says Leader. “That gave me a very

unique perspective, as I believed that the aviation world needed to evolve as quickly as high-tech companies.”

After becoming APEX’s first CEO, and following an agreement with IFSA to create a cohesive partnership unlike any other in the onboard landscape, there was only one more piece that needed to fall into place. That happened when, in 2022, APEX/IFSA successfully completed the purchase of FTE, a move that had been stalled by the pandemic. This year marks the first that the trio has shared the same home, under the name Global 2023 — and it will undoubtedly be an event to remember.   Leader relied on his experience to deliver what the three organiza-

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On Thursday, September 21, the Thought Leadership portion of the event will bring together all three shows with leading executives focused entirely on the vision of Air Transport 2030 Dr. Joe Leader, CEO of APEX/ IFSA
ASSOCIATION NEWS

tions expected from a director: agility and ingenuity. “I learned quickly that [APEX/IFSA] wanted items that I could help deliver in short order: a more prominent profile, higher-level airline executive engagement, expanded reach, and organizational change,” he says. “While I love aviation, I genuinely thrive on advancement and change.”

Sixty-five airlines have confirmed their attendance, from large flyers like Qatar, Air France and British Airways, to smaller, lower-cost companies like WestJet, Zipair Tokyo and Allegiant Air, making it a must-attend event for companies in all corners of the industry. More than 3,000 attendees will walk the halls, making deals and shaking hands with the who’s-who of inflight activities — a record-setting gathering for the organizers.

“For the first time ever, we have a full three days of thought leadership available to attendees,” explains Leader. “IFSA has a Thought Leadership pavilion on the show floor; FTE Global has continuous thought leadership events over the entire show. In addition, for FTE Global premium pass holders, the APEX/IFSA Thought Leadership day on Thursday is available to all. This means that we will now have four concurrent tracks on Thursday perfect for every different APEX, IFSA, and FTE Global attendee.”

The Thought Leadership pavilion holds much potential for those looking to gain insight into how some of the biggest names in air travel continue to push the boundaries of the passenger experience.

As Leader explains, “In the IFSA Thought Leadership pavilion on the

show floor, I am most enthused about how we’re collaborating with global trailblazers like IATA, IFSA, ACA, ACI, and A4E in unveiling “REvolutionize” as a combination of REinvent and REcycle. This pioneering initiative will feature powerful insights from IATA, Icelandair and Alaska Airlines. For APEX/ IFSA Thought Leadership on Thursday, I cannot wait for the entire day with all three shows gathered together with leading executives focused entirely on the vision of Air Transport 2030 across four different tracks of interest.”

There are a few noteworthy presentations that Leader is keen to witness — and participate in.

“At FTE Global, I am most excited about doing the one-on-one with Qatar Airways GCEO Akbar Al Bake,” he shares. “He’s incredibly engaging and knowledgeable, covering an expansive amount of passenger experience depth.”

So, what else can attendees expect from this new, co-located experience? In short, everything — and more.

“Co-locating the events brings together every aspect of aviation from the entire passenger journey,” says Leader. “We have digital transformation, airport customer journey, lounges, biometrics, inflight service, soft products and airline passenger all under the giant expanse of the Long Beach Convention Center.”

Another exciting development is the amalgamation of all three colocated events into one app: SwapCard This update will make it convenient for those on the floor to set meetings, navigate through the conference hall and share contact information with potential partners. Even better: it’s directly integrated into LinkedIn for easier post-show networking.

In 2024, Leader says industry movers can expect an extra day added to the event, a change that will help attendees to better take in all the expo has to offer. The timing will remain the same: holding it in September this year is a strategic move, Leader adds, since it lands between FTE Global’s September dates and APEX/IFSA’s usual October timeframe. “It’s at the perfect spacing point between our events in Dublin and Singapore,” he says.

The professionals on this year’s expo floor should be prepared to be amazed, according to Leader, and badge holders can rest assured the cost of entry will be well worth it.

“Everyone is there and yet no one gets lost,” he says. “It’s the perfect size and scope to deliver the advancement needed for our industry as we design the future for 2030.”

For by-the-minute updates from the expo and insider industry events, be sure to follow PAX International on Instagram and Twitter

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As expected, APEX will offer opportunities for airlines to interact directly with tech and onboard entertainment companies from around the globe
ASSOCIATION NEWS
The IFSA show floor will once again host the biggest names in the onboard services industry, from caterers to amenity kit and comfort experts

EVENT THEME:

"The great thing about FTE Global for our team is the ability to understand what others are doing and get great new ideas. It really helps get that creative engine

Long Beach Convention Center, California HOSTED BY 19-21 SEPTEMBER 2023 NEW LOCATION FOR 2023 Andrés Conesa CEO, Aeromexico Christine OurmièresWidener CEO, TAP Air Portugal Anne Rigail CEO, Air France Campbell Wilson CEO, Air India First airline CEO keynotes confirmed for FTE Global 2023 in Los Angeles REGISTRATION NOW LIVE MORE EXCLUSIVES | MORE LAUNCHES | MORE INNOVATION | MORE STARTUPS
TRANSPORT 2030
AIR
firing."
Kirby, CEO, United Airlines CO-LOCATED WITH APEX/IFSA EXPO
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