APRIL/MAY 2022 | www.pax-intl.com
SEATING, IFE & CONNECTIVITY
MRO, Interiors & IFEC
FOR ENGAGEMENT: IFE IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION
The Life Vest Rigid Box is designed to provide an
easy life vest access to passengers with a single action by design.
The product is typically supplied in transparent color to ease inspection against any foreign object presence, however more colours and materials options are available upon request.
Dimensions of the stowage compartment and associated capacity allow installation of the most common standard single cell passenger life preservers.
The boxes are coming already equipped with provisions to allow proper interface with seat beams/bottom, however dedicated solutions may be studied and designed to allow full integration with any seat system.
The typical design includes provisions for nr. 2 tamper proof seals installation to avoid stowage of dangerous articles inside, as per TSA requirements.
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he big players in inflight connectivity made news last year. And in 2022, one of the most successful marked a significant anniversary as we went to press and European airlines began filling out their route schedules again. Since launching in 2019, Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom have supplied more than 50 million passengers with its advanced high-speed connectivity. It was just a year ago that the consortium announced its 250th aircraft installation and now the client list has grown to include British Airways, Iberia, Vueling and AEGEAN. The high-speed network has logged 420,000 flights with its customers. British Airways was the launch customer for what is known as the European Aviation Network (EAN). BA now has the EAN on 265 of its aircraft, and the service can even be accessed by passengers flying short-haul routes. The service operates in some of the most congested airspace in the world. And though it is now catching up to North America, those of us around long enough can remember that Europe, particularly Lufthansa German Airlines, was the original launch customer signing on with the Connexion by Boeing in June of 2001. To say much has changed is a big understatement. Internet for home use was not widespread at the time and surfing the web inflight was a bold experiment. Now, students around the world have relied on it for learning during the pandemic. As a result, Inmarsat’s latest survey found more than 40 percent of the 10,000 respondents believe that Wi-Fi, no matter where it is, has increased in importance.
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ISSN 1206-5714 Key title: Pax International
ECONOMY ESSENTIALS A look at Geven’s SuperEco lightweight seat which has been selected for Wizz Air’s growing fleet A CUT ABOVE Custom features and a new degree of comfort will be aboard British Airways’ 777s retrofitted with Super Diamond seating from Collins Aerospace TIME WELL SPENT TSI Seats reflects on major accomplishments through the pandemic
12 14 APRIL/MAY 2022 | www.pax-intl.com
MRO, Interiors & IFEC
SEATING, IFE & CONNECTIVITY
FOR ENGAGEMENT: IFE IN THE AGE OF INFORMATION
ON THE COVER: Panasonic Avionics says working remote has made passengers far more “tech savvy” and the demand for innovations in the home office have spilled onto the aircraft. More on page 15.
EDITOR’S NOTE NEWS
KEEPING THE WEIGHT OFF Tapis discusses how its materials can offset the rising costs of fuel for airlines PARTNERS IN CABIN ABC International has entered a strategic partnership with Job Air Technic for interiors modifications, furthering its capabilities and position as a global player in the world of cabin interior and refurbishment services
NARROW-BODY, BIG IFE Panasonic plots innovations and features in sync with the new world of tech consumers E FOR ENGAGEMENT A co-founder of a well-known group of consultants gives the company’s perspective on the top stories of last year and a look ahead
HAMBURG HOMECOMING Aircraft Interiors Expo returns to Hamburg this June as the industry winds toward a restart
Unum unveils Unum Jamco and NTT One Business Class seat Sonority partner on Unum Aircraft Seating’s first Business Class seat, the Personalized Sound Zone Unum One is made for an outward-facing herringbone layout. Other features are a full lie flat bed, direct aisle access, privacy door, table, and side furniture. Options are available for wide-body and narrow-body aircraft. Unum One offers an extensive range of adjustable seat positions, including the Zero G (Zero Gravity), a position which provides a neutral posture with feet elevated at heart level. Unum says the position gives the passenger a weightless sensation. Spaces have been maximized for side furniture and storage options, in addition to the “often overlooked and constrained” footwell area, the March 24 press release says. The narrowbody seat has a 34-inch upward pitch, 20-inch width and 80-inch length bed. For twin-aisle aircraft, the seat is 21 inches wide.
The Unum One Business Class seat
Jamco and NTT Sonority’s Personalized Sound Zone
Jamco Corporation and NTT Sonority have created a Personalized Sound Zone (PSZ) for inflight entertainment, set to launch in 2023. The PSZ technology features speakers located in the seat headrest to create a sound zone around the passenger’s head. The design limits the audio reach to only that passenger. Users can control the volume and sound settings from the speakers. By using the patented technology, the sound is contained and will not disturb others. By not wearing headsets, the passenger is still able to hear inflight announcements and flight attendants can communicate directly with them.
Tapis updates Ultrasuede designs Tapis has expanded its Ultrasuede offerings with two new products: mélange and twill. Also known as heathered fabric, mélange is traditionally made of dyed and undyed fibers weaved together inconsistently, resulting in a unique, eye-catching pattern, popular in both fashion and interiors. To create the luxurious look of mélange for Ultrasuede HP, the company employed a special screen printing. The screens allow for a consistent pattern from lot to lot. The pattern is available in five colors. A geometric pattern is most often seen in cotton or wool fabrications, the small-scale twill pattern in Ultrasuede is created with a dye print using rotary screens. Available in five colors, the pattern is evocative of a classic “zig-zag” similar to a slight herringbone textile weave used in the production of denim clothes, suiting,
or the iconic wool overcoats produced in Scotland. Ultrasuede HP is a solid fabric available in a spectrum of 97 colored and neutral hues.
Tapis’ Ultrasuede in twill is available in five colors
Panasonic appoints Chief Engineer of Software Panasonic Avionics has appointed Chris VandenBerg as Chief Engineer of Software. VandenBerg has more than 25 years in software programming, hardware design, and system architecture. He will help deliver the company’s end-to-end software to airlines, reporting to Joe Bentley, Chief Technology Officer. VandenBerg rejoins Panasonic Avionics from Safran Passenger Innovations, where he was Technical Fellow – Head of Software Architecture from 2019, managing a team of software architectures and developers.
AERQ joins Streaming Video Alliance AERQ announced it has joined the Streaming Video Alliance (SVA), a global technical association developing solutions to address critical technical challenges. SVA’s environment and interoperability guidelines will enable AERQ to develop new inflight video streaming solutions. Members of the Streaming Video Alliance include companies from across the streaming video ecosystem such as network operators, technology providers, service providers, and content owners. AERQ joins as a principal member that can lead working groups, projects, vote on documents and be voted to the board. “AERQ strives to be at the forefront of the industry at all times. By joining the SVA, we join a group of industry leaders who are shaping the future of online video,” said Sang Soo Lee, Co-Managing Director at AERQ, in a press release.
AERQ joins Streaming Video Alliance as a principal member
Chris VandenBerg, Chief Engineer of Software, Panasonic Avionics
Novair taps Inflight Dublin for IFE Inflight Dublin announced it has been chosen by Novair to provide its inflight entertainment solution, Everhub. Inflight Dublin will equip Novair’s fleet of A321 aircraft with a sixmonth trial of its Everhub Wireless solution including hardware, software and content. The user-friendly GUI allows passengers to easily navigate the system and browse the latest Hollywood blockbusters, TV shows, international content, documentaries, games and digitized publications available on board.
Inflight Dublin’s IFE solution, Everhub
SEATING ISSUE: April/May 2022 PAX Tech SECTION: SEATING
Geven’s SuperEco lightweight seat supports Wizz Air’s sustainability initiatives aimed at reducing emissions by 25 percent throughout the next decade
ECONOMY ESSENTIALS A look at Geven’s SuperEco lightweight seat which has been selected for Wizz Air’s growing fleet by JAYSON KOBLUN
SuperEco lightweight seat by Geven
even’s long-time customer Wizz Air has selected the seating manufacturer to outfit its fleet of 20 A321 XLR aircraft with its Economy Class SuperEco seat. The partnership brings the airline’s total of Geven-equipped aircraft to 232. “We are excited to be receiving Geven’s newest technology ultra-lightweight seats in 20 of our new A321NY XLR aircraft,” said Owain Jones Managing Director of Wizz Air in a November 2021 press release. “These seats will contribute to Wizz Air’s sustainability initiatives aiming at reducing fuel burn and thus reducing emissions by further 25 percent in the next decade. We are convinced that thanks to their ergonomic design and thin, however comfortable design, these new seats will also win the hearts of our passengers.” The Economy Class SuperEco seat is designed to cater to the most essential passenger needs, offering maximum comfort and living space within the cabin, reads the Geven website. The company describes the lightweight seat as simple, easy to maintain and ideal for narrow-body, high-density aircraft while offering a modern experience in the Economy cabin. “Its simplicity and basic nature do nothing to diminish either the comfort or the fresh and young twist of this new Italian design,” said Geven, adding that the seat features the most shin and knee clearance at the lowest pitch in its category. Geven said in the release that the SuperEco seat was just what Wizz was looking for as it continues to expand its fleet.
SEATING The Super Diamond seat was made at the Collins Aerospace plant in Northern Ireland
A cut above Custom features and a new degree of comfort will be aboard British Airways’ 777s retrofitted with Super Diamond seating from Collins Aerospace
British Airways plans to have its 777 Club World cabin outfitted with Collins seats by the end of the year
by RICK LUNDSTROM
ritish Airways’ third aircraft type to be retrofitted with the airline’s new Club World cabin is on track to be completed and flying out of London Heathrow by the end of this year. Cradling the passenger in comfort on the airline’s 777s is the popular Super Diamond seat from Collins Aerospace. Over the past several years, the seat has been fitted on the airline’s new A350 fleet and installed on the 787-10 as well. British Airways has branded the new seat its Club Suite. The airline is also teamed with Collins Aerospace’s galley products that form what the airline calls the Club Kitchen. For the galley, Collins Aerospace has supplied chillers, galley inserts and built-in storage areas for snacks and drinks where passengers can sample at their leisure. The Club Kitchen was designed at Collins Aerospace’s facility in Everett, Washington. “The British Airways Club Suite was the first program on which we added a privacy door to our very successful Super Diamond seat,” Alastair Hamilton,
Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Collins Aerospace, tells PAX Tech. “More generally, we redesigned the seat shells and applied a very refined CMF (color, materials and finish) to the entire seat.” In addition to more privacy afforded by the door, Collins Aerospace engineered the Super Diamond with increased bed clearance. The company says the sleep experience is enhanced by reduced distractions from the aisle and adding more space in the “turning circle” as a passenger moves from their back to their side while asleep. The seat does not have to travel far to make its way into a 777 aircraft. The Super Diamond for British Airways was manufactured at the Collins Aerospace facility in Kilkeel, Northern Ireland. The plant is massive and Stuart McKee, Managing Director for the site, says the 50-year-old plant produces approximately 25 percent of the all the aircraft seats on the global market.
Also rolling off assembly at Kilkeel is the company’s Meridian main cabin seat, its Premium Economy MiQ®, and the QSuite seat for Qatar Airways. Most recently, Collins Aerospace was picked to for the AirLounge™ product for Finnair Business Class. Other features on the BA version of the Super Diamond are what the airline says is 40 percent more storage space than previous Club World cabins, a vanity unit and mirror, and an 18.5-inch IFE screen with highdefinition gate-to-gate programming. “When we launched our Club Suite product, it was a huge hit with our customers who loved the privacy the new seat offers,” said Sajida Ismail, Head of Inflight Product for British Airways. “We are focused on the roll out of this product and other cabin enhancements to ensure we deliver on our commitment to provide the very best British quality, style and comfort for our customers.” www.pax-intl.com
TSI Seats used the pandemic to rediscover its strengths in research and development
Time well spent
Suat Sağıroğlu, General Manager, TSI Seats
TSI Seats reflects on major accomplishments through the pandemic by JAYSON KOBLUN
elebrating achievements and focusing on the future can make even the worst of times feel better and Istanbul-based TSI Seats is doing both. “We very clearly saw our innovative spirit during the pandemic,” Suat Sağıroğlu, General Manager at TSI Seats, tells PAX Tech. Last Autumn, the company’s Royalux seat received the best design award in the Aircraft Seat category at Design Et Al’s International Yacht & Aviation Awards. Designed for narrow-body Business Class and wide-body Premium Economy Class cabins, TSI Seats created the first drawings of the Royalux long before the pandemic. But the unexpected circumstances did not halt production for long. According to Johns Hopkins University of Medicine at the time of publication, Turkey has administered 147 million vaccines doses. There are approximately 53 million people fully vaccinated, or 64 percent of the population. “Our first priority at the start of the pandemic was, of course, the health of our employees. We followed the guidelines, updated our work environment, and then used that period to rediscover our strengths in research and development, engineering new products, and production,” says Sağıroğlu.
The company brought the Royalux to life during the pandemic, even while many employees were working remotely. The Royalux underwent many levels of technology integration and full scale mock up testing for comfort and ergonomics. The final product offers extra privacy to passengers with an unobstructive divider between the headrests that helps maintain living space for passengers. Sağıroğlu credits the success of the seat to the company’s relentless research and development team. It tracked industry predictions and experts to determine what airlines were demanding in Business and Premium Class seats to enhance the post-pandemic passenger experience. “When we started production again, we not only created a more efficient system but also ensured that our new product ideas and designs were formed on a solid foundation backed by industry experts,” he explains. “I can say that these predictions, which we produced at the beginning of the pandemic, were very beneficial for us.” And earlier in the pandemic TSI organized its first Aircraft Seat and Parts Design and Engineering Competition. Open for participation to university students of the 2019 to 2020 academic year, the competition aimed to introduce
students to the aviation industry and to promote and encourage the design culture in Turkey. The winning seat, designed by Mechanical Engineering Student Bazar Tuvakov was awarded for its focus on safety, comfort, weight and over potential of the technology. “In this competition, we focused on the purest form of industrial research, evaluated the innovative ideas developed by university students on aircraft seating, and had the chance to learn first-hand about their vision for the future,” says Sağıroğlu. “Together with their fresh minds, we rewarded the ideas that we found strong and sustainable and that we believe will guide the aviation industry.” After some reflection on these achievements, Sağıroğlu tells PAX Tech lightweight seating and interiors products are where the industry is headed as airlines try to produce lighter aircraft and reduce fuel costs. He says TSI’s new Economy Class seat Miligram will be “one of the lightest in the market.” “With our patent-pending unprecedented USB solution and tray table design, the sector will forget all the ordinary seat solutions. From the airlines’ perspective, you can decrease your spare part expenditures thanks to ultradurable carbon-fiber parts,” he says.
Tapis discusses how its materials can offset the rising costs of fuel for airlines by JAYSON KOBLUN
Tapis’ Ultrasuede fabrics are partially plant-based and lightweight
Jason Estes, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing, Tapis
f it seems that COVID-19 is finally subsiding, it’s not. The pandemic is ongoing and will continue to affect the passenger experience long after travel restrictions are lifted and mask mandates are removed. The pressing questions that the industry faces now are, “what’s next?” and, “how can we prepare for it?” Aircraft cabin interiors fabric developer Tapis Corporation tells PAX Tech that the rising cost of jet fuel will have the most immediate impact on the passenger experience. Tapis considers the price of Brent Crude, the name given to a relatively light crude oil made from a blend of crudes from 19 oil fields in the North Sea, as a benchmark for crude oil prices per barrel. Fuel prices play a part in many of the decisions that airlines make, including seating materials. Saving weight and developing sustainable products has Tapis busy in both fronts; and the company has set long-term goals and developed fabrics to meet immediate concerns. “You have to pay the pilots, pay the crew, put food on onboard, supply headsets. Then you’ve still got to clean the toilets and all that jazz. Those are all fixed costs per flight. But in addition, you’ve also got fuel costs — the highest cost element of any flight,” says Matthew Nicholls, Sales Director at Tapis. “What happens when the cost per barrel triples? It means either ticket prices are going to go up, or it means the margin becomes compressed, so the service gets less for the passenger.”
that by burning less gas. At the end of the day, it all boils down to cost.”
Nicholls says two or three years ago the price per barrel was around US$40. According to countryeconomy.com, the price for Brent Crude oils in February 2022 was US$97.13 and US$118.05 in March. Over the last 12 months, the price has risen 80.48 percent. Nicholls says the bell for immediate concern has not begun to ring yet, but an attentive industry should expect it soon. Allied Market Research, a market research and advisory company of Allied Analytics LLP, said in a March 30 press release that the global jet fuel market is expecting a slowdown due to the ongoing pandemic. “[The] jet fuel industry is anticipated to get directly affected for the next one or two years, if the growth of the traveling industry declines, as it is one of the major consumers of jet fuel. Moreover, companies are dealing with missing sales and disrupted supply chains as production activities shutdown,” said the release.
Keep shedding the pounds
Lauren Kenealy, Marketing Associate at Tapis, explains that sustainable innovations play a large role in the future success of commercial aviation, which the company has kept at the forefront of its product development. “We want to be small stepping stones that become a part of the big picture,” Kenealy says during a March interview on Zoom with PAX Tech. “We are in a market that is often targeted for not being the most sustainable. So, we want to create products that aid in the development of sustainability. We offer several lightweight materials that are ideal for seating and vertical surfaces. We don’t want our material to weigh any more than it needs to.” The lighter the interiors materials, the lighter the overall load of the aircraft. “Let’s say a 787 weighs a metric ton. If you decrease that weight from a metric ton to 0.8 of a ton. All of a sudden that aircraft doesn’t burn as much fuel. You’re not pushing as much ‘stuff ’ through the air,” Nicholls says. “If an airline’s fuel-related costs have increased by three times the amount, you can offset
“Tapis has always focused on saving weight and developing lightweight products and fabrics. It’s built into the DNA of our products,” says Jason Estes, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing. “But we know as technology continues to advance and the industry has a demand for it, we can make our products even more lightweight and sustainable.” Tapis also has the goal of including plant-based and renewable materials within its products by 2030. “Our Ultrasuede is already partially plant-based. TapiSuede has 88 percent recycled polymers in it. And several other Tapis products are sourced from natural resources that can be easily restored. We are taking small steps to bring renewable and plant-based products to the industry while keeping it lightweight for all the reasons we’ve already talked about,” explains Kenealy. When air travel starts returning to normal, Tapis says it hopes to see industry innovations continue to excel – and to see what lightweight products will hit the market. “Before the pandemic, there was a lot of exciting, innovative things going on,” said Estes. “There was a lot of retrofits happening, reconfiguring of aircraft. And a lot of that has been delayed or paused due to the pandemic. We are excited to see the industry continue to grow again and see positive change for our customers.”
We don’t want our material to weigh any more than it needs to” - LAUREN KENEALY, MARKETING
ASSOCIATE AT TAPIS
Vladimír Stulančák, CEO & Chairman of the Board of Directors at Job Air Technic (left) shakes hands with Rodolfo Baldascino, Chief Commercial Officer at ABC International
PARTNERS IN CABIN ABC International has entered a strategic partnership with Job Air Technic for interiors modifications, furthering its capabilities and position as a global player in the world of cabin interior and refurbishment services
by JANE HOBSON
o say the pandemic has put a strain on the supply chain is a proper understatement. In theory the pandemic is a great time to perform service updates and cabin redesign plans, but it is near to impossible for airlines to achieve these projects on the estimated timeline. It leads to delays in the facility schedules and airline operations. “When we speak about EASA Part21J services and cabin interiors parts, it is becoming more and more frequent that airlines are stuck in complex sourcing processes while the aircraft is grounded for maintenance,” says Rodolfo Baldascino, Chief Commercial Officer at ABC International. “The entire aviation supply chain is suffering from such an uncertain situation.” To help reduce these issues, the company entered a strategic partnership with Czech Republic-based maintenance organization Job Air Technic in March. Together, the two companies offer a comprehensive package of services, including line and base maintenance tasks, cabin refurbishment and modification. Combining the skills of both, Job Air Technic and ABC International will be able to serve more customers with EASA Part21J engineering services and
cabin interior products under one roof at Job Air Technic’s hangar at Leoš Janáček Airport in Ostrava, Czech Republic. A fast turn-around and the least amount of customer involvement are the cornerstone of the strategic partnership, says Baldascino. The ease of access to these complete services will avoid stressful and time-consuming coordination between external DOAs (Design Organizations Approvals) and Job Air Technic’s technical department. Also, the companies will together offer special rates to customers who access the integrated business model. The customer can make the enquiry and select the necessary cabin modification products during preliminary talks with Job Air Technic and ahead of the maintenance check programs in Ostrava. “Having the full process under control allows Job Air Technic to plan any activity in a timely manner and schedule our manpower activity in an efficient way,” said Vladimír Stulančák, CEO & Chairman of the Board of Directors at Job Air Technic. “It is extremely important to respect schedules and stay within the estimated times. A reliable planning of workforce is reflected in improved economic
conditions to the customer. Having a direct channel with ABC International for both Part21J modification approval and manufacturing of cabin interior kits reduces stand-by times and delays.” Baldascino says between the two companies, even unplanned “last second” requests will be dealt with in a timely manner. “Planning is essential to meet the clients’ expectations. However, we are prepared for any unpredictable circumstances and are organized to support our customers with a problem-solving approach,” he explains. “ABC International has distinguished itself for the capability to cover any request in very limited time. This is an indisputable advantage in tailoring packages specific to our customers.” The modification services will cover any conventional and unconventional cabin-related refurbishment needs, including engineering solutions to modify cabin configuration in compliance to the EASA standards. Such Part21J solutions include LOPA, PSU, EEL, livery scheme modification and relocation and installation of new monuments. Cabin engineering modification packages can be completed by ABC International with the supply of the related interior kit. ABC International can convert requests into a ready-toinstall cabin kits including but not limited to carpets, curtains, seat covers, partitions, movable class dividers, dog houses and much more.
IFEC Demand for the latest innovations in the living room and home office has spilled onto the aircraft
Narrow-body, big IFE Panasonic plots innovations and features in sync with the new world of tech consumers by JAYSON KOBLUN
mbedded inflight entertainment (IFE) is more than a library of music, magazines and movies. For airlines, it represents an opportunity for greater revenue and passenger engagement, from buy-on-board shopping and e-commerce marketplaces to advertising opportunities and add-ons. Panasonic Avionics has been closely tracking consumer trends and tells PAX Tech that these IFE experiences are also becoming more important for the passenger. Working remotely is the new norm and passengers expect a similar connection in the sky – with a large, high-quality screen, Bluetooth connectivity and all the conveniences of the at-home office to which so many have become accustomed.
Narrow-bodied IFE takes off
Narrow-body aircraft for long-haul routes are now living up to their predicted potential. They are competing with wide-bodies for fuel efficiency and range, causing a shift in how airlines think about the inflight experience on those aircraft. “The biggest trend we see today as our industry recovers is narrow-body aircraft, especially in Asia and the US, embracing the value of in-seat IFE solutions,” says Andy Masson, Vice President of Product Development at Panasonic Avionics, adding that connecting and working remotely has become a proven concept for many passengers.
Tech-savvy solutions for tech-savvy passengers
Masson says that people working from home has enabled passengers to become far more “tech savvy” and the demand for the latest innovations in the living room and home office has spilled onto the aircraft. Panasonic Avionics’ NEXT Series solution delivers advancements through superior cinematic displays, Bluetooth audio, high-power USB charging for passenger devices, and simplified seat integration for every cabin class. NEXT Series enhances that experience by delivering immersive entertainment to every passenger, improved operational efficiencies with hardware reliability and multiple layers of redundancy, and faster load times. It also generates business opportunities with revenue-creating service offerings. The Economy Class NEXT system features a 4K UHD screen up to 13 inches, integrated multi-pin analog audio and USB charging, AC-power options, and marketplace services with a chip-reader. First Class features the same screen up to 43 inches, digital quality HD audio, wireless charging, USB and AC-power options, and support for wellness services.
Already plugged in
Before the pandemic, having embedded IFE and connectivity on a narrow-body aircraft was a ‘nice to have’ feature for some customers, but
Panasonic’s First Class NEXT IFE solution features a 4K UHD screen up to 43 inches, digital quality HD audio, wireless charging, USB and AC-power options, and support for wellness services
today Masson says many are seeing it as more necessity than luxury, and all of its customers are re-evaluating the opportunities that IFE brings. “Whether it’s improved customer engagement, higher Net Promoter Scores (NPS), or increased revenue, the potential of embedded IFEC has become a must have,” he says. This was borne out by United Airlines in 2021 who have installed embedded IFE, including Bluetooth audio, on their new 737MAX fleet. Panasonic Avionics also partnered with Singapore Airlines and SAUDIA to provide its 4K and Bluetooth IFE on several of its new aircraft. “Post-pandemic IFE has evolved to mirror what passengers expect to do on the ground,” says Masson. “IFE is now becoming available on narrow-body aircraft. The economic consequences of the pandemic, combined with the great strides OEMs have made, have resulted in greater use of narrow-body aircraft on long-haul routes, and this has driven a shift in thinking about the inflight experience on those aircraft.” Masson says Panasonic Avionics’ approach is to always be leading the technology curve in IFE. “This is an interesting time in the evolution of inflight entertainment as we grow to a more engaging solution set.” www.pax-intl.com
A co-founder of a well-known group of consultants gives the company’s perspective on the top stories of last year and a look ahead by RICK LUNDSTROM
Craig Foster, one of three founders of Valour Consultancy
he UK-based consulting firm Valour Consultancy boasts a client list in three figures and is led by a team of close friends who share a decades-long interest and expertise in inflight entertainment and connectivity (IFEC). The company keeps its fingers on the pulse of the IFEC and cabin technologies markets, issuing regular reports on the number of installations and publishing think pieces that help the industry plot its way for the future. PAX Tech asked Valour’s Craig Foster what were three of the big highlights for 2021 and what they predict will be the three big stories talked about when 2022 ends. Foster is one of three co-founders that form the core of the market intelligence and research company which started in 2012 with friends and colleagues Joshua Flood and Daniel Welch. The three honed their experience and knowledge of the industry before forming the company. Their time together started at a market intelligence provider called IMS Research. They first began looking at transportation connectivity for maritime applications. IMS was acquired by another company and moved out of aerospace research. This left a market niche for detailed, comprehensive research – and a space for the three founders to begin amassing a client list. Now, that roster includes airlines, satellite operators, connectivity service providers, equipment vendors and a host of other companies looking for a thorough understanding of the IFEC market. “We allow companies to shape the research,” says Foster. “When we initiate a project, we always go out to the market and say, ‘Does this meet your needs or is there additional content that you might like to see.’” The company’s efforts do not end there. After a report is delivered, communication continues if the client has follow-up questions.
Looking back and looking ahead Few would argue with Valour’s contention that the top story of 2021 was the purchase of Inmarsat
by industry competitor Viasat for US$7.3 billion. When completed, the buyout will create a huge vendor with a share that is nearly one-third of the market and nearly two-thirds of the commercial aircraft under contract to receive IFC in the years to come. “It is an absolutely massive deal if that goes ahead,” said Foster. “Not just in commercial aviation, but in maritime and business aviation as well.” The next big development in 2021 was the industry’s accelerated move toward digital transformation. IFEC vendors have adopted a more open platform approach to meet the demands of airlines needing buy-on-board capability and in-seat ordering. “So, the E in ‘IFE’ is not necessarily about watching videos or movies anymore,” said Foster. “It is about passenger engagement. And that trend was taking place before the pandemic but it has accelerated because obviously airlines are looking to generate more revenue streams and become more lean and more efficient.” Valour’s third big takeaway of 2021 has a regional focus. North America has long been the home of early adopters for IFC; but why is the region still an area for growth and expansion? Foster says it is because the most saturated IFC market in the world (with 80 percent of the aircraft now wired for Wi-Fi) is ready for installation of the next generation of technology. “Despite the fact that there is a lot of IFC out there in North America, it’s sort of phase two,” Foster says. “That will lead potential suppliers to fight for a slice of the pie.” And in 2022 there will be no shortage of potential providers hunting for potential slices. Among them are some of the most wellknown companies in the world. Low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite operators will take an important place in the industry in 2022, Valour says. OneWeb, Telesat and Elon Musk’s SpaceX will continue with satellite launches. Strategies are being developed for go-to-market products with OneWeb partnering with IFC service providers
and geostationary satellite providers, while SpaceX will likely tout its abilities directly to the airlines. In 2022, Foster predicts that one of the companies will probably announce an airline customer. Related news moved in late March when OneWeb and SpaceX agreed to continue OneWeb satellite launches. The first launch is anticipated in 2022 and will add to OneWeb’s total in-orbit constellation that currently stands at 428 satellites, or 66 percent of the fleet. OneWeb’s network will deliver highspeed, low-latency global connectivity. Linked to the rise of LEO operators is the development of electronic steered antennas (ESA). Valour sees the technology taking a notable leap forward in 2022 and in years beyond. Testing and partnerships will continue with some the large players. However, in the near term, hybrid mechanical developers like Thinkom, have a product that can work with LEO and GEO satellites and on smaller airframes such as regional jets, the majority of which have not been able to take advantage of satellite capacity because of the bulkier antennas. “Thinkom could have a continuing role to play in the market and I expect they will be announcing further partnerships, and possibly with the OEMs as well on the line-fit side which is becoming more and more important,” Foster says. Another top story for 2022 is the industry consolidation that has been predicted for some time. While Foster says that the Valour was not thinking of “horizontal” consolidation, like the Viasat purchase of Inmarsat, the company sees the large players in the industry increasing their collective share in the IFC base and backlog. Not only will companies merge, but Foster sees a merger of technologies as well. Open software platforms like the one developed by Airbus will help further blur the lines between IFE and IFC. Instead of two distinct categories, IFEC will emerge as aircraft cabins with the software capability to handle any type of entertainment and connectivity product will mean greater flexibility of choices in the future.
EVENTS The industry will gather for AIX at the Hamburg Messe for the first time since the pandemic began
Polly Magraw, Event Director for AIX
HOMECOMING Aircraft Interiors Expo returns to Hamburg this June as the industry winds toward a restart by JANE HOBSON
fter a three-year interruption due to COVID, Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) is returning to the Hamburg Messe this summer from June 14 to 16. “AIX is where the cabin of the future takes shape,” says Polly Magraw, Event Director for AIX. The event is known as the world’s largest marketplace for the cabin interiors industry, bringing together the global supply chain and aviation community to network, collaborate and share the latest ideas. At the time of publishing, Magraw says there are approximately
300 exhibitors signed up for AIX, nearly 90 percent the size of the show in 2019. The 2022 event will feature the same segments attendees have come to expect, such as the Exhibit Hall, Passenger Experience Conference, networking party, CabinSpace LIVE and more. Some of the topics of focus include understanding the macro trends happening now and how they affect business, how to select services to meet changing passenger demands, and a range of issues and challenges facing the industry. PAX Tech Editor Jane Hobson will moderate the Women Behind Aviation segment that will examine the role and potential of women in the industry. “There is a huge amount of excitement building around the exhibition; people have really missed the opportunity to network, learn and share ideas during this period,” says Magraw. As a proud Media Partner for the event, PAX Tech will be in attendance and distributing editions of the AIX issue during the show.
THE DESTINATION FOR THE CABIN INTERIORS INDUSTRY Aircraft Interiors Expo is back in Hamburg from June 14–16, 2022. The world’s main marketplace for cabin interiors is where the global industry can meet to collaborate, find solutions to challenges and design the cabin of the future.
Find out more at: aircraftinteriorsexpo.com/PAX5 Co-located: