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Connectivity's live wires

Posted 24 July 2018 · Add Comment

This year’s Aircraft Interiors Middle East (AIME) event in Dubai highlighted the importance of in-flight connectivity and entertainment to airlines in the region. Steve Nichols reports.

Many of the main connectivity and wireless in-flight entertainment (IFE) providers were out in force at the two-day AIME event at Dubai World Trade Centre.
Those exhibiting included Gogo, Honeywell, Panasonic Avionics, AirFi, Astronics Aerosat, Bluebox, SITAONAIR, Rockwell Collins, Global Eagle, Inmarsat, Lufthansa Systems and Thales InFlyt Experience.
Amir Emam, senior strategic marketing manager at Honeywell Aerospace, said: “The Middle East is a high-growth region and there is a lot of focus and attention on the MRO industry.
“Given the exponential growth of the MRO market in the region, as well as aircraft connectivity, it is the ideal place to see our partners and customers and demonstrate our dedication to the market.”
The event also featured the annual Inflight IFEC Awards, with Saudia claiming the prestigious ‘Inflight airline-of-the-year’ title for the first time.
Other airline winners were Emirates (airline IFEC experience) and Ethiopian Airlines (interior retrofit project).
The 2017 winner, Panasonic Avionics, picked up another Inflight Middle East award in the “IFE system provider” category; Global Eagle took home the “content provision” award, while Inmarsat claimed the “connectivity enablement” trophy for its GX Aviation high-speed Ka-band system.
Qatar Airways plans to provide GX Aviation on board more than 130 aircraft, consisting of Airbus A350s and Boeing 777s, and Emirates intends to install the service on its Boeing 777X aircraft fleet. Airlines connect to the GX network using Ka-band JetWave terminals produced by Honeywell Aerospace.
Ben Griffin, Inmarsat Aviation vice president, Middle East, Africa and South Asia said: “Consistent, reliable high-speed connectivity opens a new world of service innovation and personalisation to today’s airlines. This latest industry recognition attests to our commitment to provide the best in-flight connectivity to passengers within the Middle East and we’re looking forward to seeing more and more passengers experiencing our award-winning broadband in the sky.”
The terminals are designed for ease of installation and maintenance to assure the lowest downtime for any cabin connectivity solution in the market, allowing installation with minimal labour and using standard tools available in maintenance hangars.
Panasonic Avionics also promoted a major evolution of its satellite connectivity service, with the introduction of its third-generation communications network.
It says the network is built to “meet the growing connectivity demands of airlines and their passengers”. Throughout the first quarter of 2018, aircraft from a number of airlines will be transitioned to Panasonic’s new network.
Today, Panasonic says more than 1,800 aircraft flying routes all around the world use its global high-speed in-flight connectivity service. The company expects more than 10,000 aircraft to be connected by 2025.
AirFi also announced it is off to a flying start in 2018, signing two new large unnamed airline clients, a major contract expansion and a landmark deal to expand and support its rapidly growing Middle East and North Africa footprint.
AirFi wireless IFE will be soon be flying on another 90 aircraft and, through a new long-term partnership with a major unnamed Middle Eastern caterer, 200 further aircraft will be operating its sister platform, Connected Crew digital cabin assistant and EPOS.
Job Heimerikx, AirFi CEO said: “Welcoming two new larger fleet operators into the AirFi client family and tripling the AirFi-enabled fleet at one of our longest-standing airline customers represents a hugely exciting opportunity for us and the level of confidence our clients have in our technologies and capabilities.”
Bluebox is a finalist in the upcoming Crystal Cabin Awards, being presented during Aircraft Interiors in Hamburg in April, with its accessible in-flight entertainment (aIFE) platform for passengers with partial or full visual impairment.
Bluebox says aIFE provides any airline with a much more advanced and radically lower-cost solution than the alternative of updating seat-back or other IFE systems, and can do so across mixed fleets with different IFE systems.
 

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