Seamless Air Alliance Advances Inflight Connectivity with New Release

Following its publication of the world’s first inflight connectivity (IFC) standard earlier this year, Seamless Air Alliance, a global community of airlines and technology leaders driving solutions to advance inflight connectivity, today announced the completion of Seamless Release 2.0.

This latest Release, available to Seamless Air Alliance members, defines the information provided by each network component, enabling suppliers to design and build OpenIFC products using the modular architecture and open interfaces from its first release. Developed by airline industry experts, the Alliance believes OpenIFC is set to become “the preferred choice” for every airline going forward.

“Seamless Release 2.0 completes the blueprint needed for the industry to scale the deployment of future-proof, OpenIFC systems,” said Jack Mandala, CEO of Seamless Air Alliance. “This breakthrough will allow airlines to purchase best-of-breed components in a multi-vendor ecosystem, improving the efficiency of deploying, operating, and maintaining inflight systems – which is especially important as recent events have highlighted the critical role of connectivity.”

Seamless roaming presents a major monetization opportunity for Mobile Network Operators. In preparation for the official launch, Mandala was invited by GSMA to share some exclusive insight at today’s GSMA Wholesale Agreements and Solutions Group meeting.

“Connectivity is a priority for countries around the world and we believe that mobile operators have an important role to provide seamless, cost-effective connectivity everywhere. Seamless roaming will allow operators to meet a far greater expectation that travelers now have for accessing robust inflight connectivity in a convenient manner,” said Hidebumi Kitahara, vice president, head of Global Business Strategy Division, Technology Unit, SoftBank Corp.

Seamless Air Alliance has grown its membership significantly in recent months, welcoming American Airlines, Deutsche Telekom, International Airlines Group (IAG), SES, Telesat and Thales Group.

Intelsat, an early member of the Seamless Air Alliance, recently announced a definitive agreement to acquire the commercial aviation business of Gogo, the largest global provider of inflight connectivity. Mark Richman, Intelsat’s director of Aero Products, said, “We have the opportunity to redefine the IFC ecosystem and passenger experience. Our open architecture network delivers unique value with the redundancy and resiliency needed to scale a premium internet service to every passenger, from gate to gate. We remain fully committed to the Seamless Air Alliance and its mission to develop exceptional standards for the commercial aero industry.”


Bosnia and Herzegovina Enhance Aviation Communication with FREQUENTIS Comsoft

Bosnia and Herzegovina Directorate of Civil Aviation, BHDCA, introduced Air Traffic Services Message Handling System (AMHS) to replace the Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network (AFTN) and enhance airspace communication.

The AMHS system enables of all types of ground-to-ground aeronautical messages such as flight plans, meteorological messages and NOTAM messages to be sent and received in accordance with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Continuous and secure flow of aeronautical messages is crucial to safe air traffic management. The system for BHDCA consists of a location-independent, redundant operating system (OPS), contingency system (CONT) and a training and testing system (TRAINING/TEST) and has been successfully operational since May 2020. The AMHS system is a process of communication system that represents a central point of access to international AMHS networks and data, linking user terminals of operational services and units of BHDCA into the world exchange of data and information.

“We are pleased to have provided BHDCA with a technically advanced communication messaging system. All three sites (Sarajevo, Banja Luka, Mostar) now have technically identical systems after the system upgrade, which can be mutually supervised and operated. If required, the operational service can, once initiated, be automatically moved to the system at the contingency site in approximately 15 minutes, including the complete data history. We look forward to working together on future projects.”, says Thomas Hoffmann, Frequentis Comsoft Managing Director.

During the implementation of the project of introducing of AMHS into the operational use, with which, after the public procurement procedure, the contract was concluded on March 29, 2019. Training of BHANSA employees was conducted and procedures for maintenance and use of new AMHS equipment were established. During the implementation of the project, an air navigation system safety assessment was conducted by Bosnia and Herzegovina Directorate of Civil Aviation (BHDCA).

“With BHDCA changing from AFTN to AMHS the ATM world becomes more modern, reliable and secure. Frequentis Comsoft’s excellent track record with 65 AMHS customers worldwide proves that our clients are pleased with our AMHS system quality, which is our priority. We’re proud to add BHDCA to our list of happy clients.” said Vaclav Sourek, Frequentis Comsoft Sales & Marketing Director.


Air Transport Services Group Selects GE Aviation for Digital Agreement

Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) selected GE Aviation for a comprehensive digital agreement including FlightPulse and eFOQA. The program gives ATSG subsidiary airlines ABX Air, Air Transport International, and Omni Air International access to advanced analytics with enriched data sets that will ultimately drive greater understanding of flight trends. This program implementation includes the Boeing 777, 767, and 757 aircraft. 

“GE Aviation’s FlightPulse and eFOQA are integral tools used by our airlines to enhance their already rigorous safety programs and further ensure that our training programs and operating policies are meeting the highest standards of operational excellence,” commented Ed Koharik, chief operating officer with ATSG.

FlightPulse is a mobile app that uses aircraft data and smart analytics to enable pilots to securely access their own flying metrics and trends. FlightPulse can be used to optimize efficiency, reduce operational risk, and improve pilot awareness through advanced flight data analytics. 

“FlightPulse will be used to put actionable and relevant pre- and post-flight information in pilots’ hands allowing them to operate at the highest level of effectiveness,” said Andrew Coleman, GM of the Digital Group for GE Aviation. “When FlightPulse and eFOQA are combined, quality and accurate data provide a major enabler to improving safety, efficiency and sustainability.”

FOQA (Flight Operations Quality Assurance), also commonly referred to as FDM (Flight Data Monitoring), is the process of analyzing and reviewing routinely recorded flight data. Airlines and operators that adopt FOQA are better able to identify and eliminate potential safety hazards in flight operations.  

eFOQA is GE Aviation’s service for helping operators around the world understand and improve safety. GE’s patented analytics software fuses meteorological information, navigation data, and terrain mapping to identify safety events and measurements on thousands of flights every day.


ZIPAIR Introduces LCC’s First Inflight Self-Ordering and Payment System with “Contactless” Experience

Passengers flying on ZIPAIR Tokyo will be able to place order for meals and products using their smartphone and tablet devices with the LCC’s first Inflight Self-Ordering and Payment System.
Passengers will be able to perform contactless purchase of meals and items from the menu right in the comfort of their seats. The Inflight Self-Ordering and Payment System is a collaboration with Collins Aerospace that empowers passengers with on-demand self-service experience and supports social distancing guidelines to keep passengers and crew healthy and safe. Passengers can browse the shopping catalog, view inventory availability, place orders on-demand, and make credit card payments using their smart devices without any assistance from the cabin crew.

“ZIPAIR’s priority and vision is to enhance the inflight experience and empower passengers with on-demand services,” said Shingo Nishida, ZIPAIR president. “ZIPAIR believes that the introduction of this system will provide passengers with a peace of mind to fly, and enhance the confidence and comfort of passengers by minimizing physical contact and touchpoints in the cabin.”

“We are honored to partner with ZIPAIR to deliver innovations that improve passenger and crew safety and experience,” said Clotilde Enel-Rehel, Collins Aerospace general manager, Commercial Aviation & Network Services.

Passengers can utilize the Inflight Self-Ordering and Payment System on all ZIPAIR flights via the free inflight Wi-Fi system available on the Boeing 787 aircraft. Using their own smart devices, passengers can have an enhanced inflight shopping experience up in the air similar to online shopping on the ground. Orders are placed on an inflight web portal by the passenger using his or her smart device. The order is processed through the system and the purchased item is delivered to the passenger’s seat by the cabin crew.


ZIPAIR Selects Panasonic Avionics for Inflight Connectivity

ZIPAIR, a new Japanese middle-long haul carrier, has selected Panasonic Avionics Corp. (Panasonic) to provide inflight connectivity (IFC) solutions for its Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

ZIPAIR’s B787s will be fitted with Panasonic’s inflight Wi-Fi service. Panasonic’s next generation connectivity enables a host of connectivity benefits, from fast internet to video streaming, all powered by its new satellite modem featuring bandwidth up to twenty times greater than previously available.

The announcement marks the beginning of Panasonic’s relationship with ZIPAIR, the new Japanese low-cost carrier which is a 100% subsidiary of Japan Airlines.

“By making the most of inflight Wi-Fi services provided by Panasonic Avionics, we hope to become an airline that gives customers the freedom to spend time on the plane in their own personal way and that makes flight time feel short,” , said Shingo Nishida, president of ZIPAIR.

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with ZIPAIR to enhance their passenger experience with our world-class inflight connectivity,” Ken Sain, Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said. “Our advanced inflight solutions will help ZIPAIR drive brand loyalty, encouraging their passengers to return time and again.”

ZIPAIR was established in 2018. It is a low-cost carrier and is due to operate medium to long-haul international flights. It currently operates a fleet consisting of two Boeing 787-8s, transferred from its parent’s fleet.


Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) Enhances Operational Efficiency with Wireless Technology Solutions from Teledyne Controls

Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) announced that its airline subsidiaries ABX Air, Air Transport International (ATI), and Omni Air International (Omni) are implementing a suite of wireless connectivity and data transfer solutions from Teledyne Controls, to further improve the safety, reliability, and efficiency of its airline operations.

As part of a three-fold approach, ATSG’s airlines first initiative was to automate its FOQA (Flight Operational Quality Assurance) process and deploy Teledyne’s GroundLink Comm+ system, a multi communication device and quick access recorder, to record and wirelessly download flight data after every flight. Using the system, the data is automatically transferred to ground stations for immediate processing and analysis, without the need for manual retrieval. This provides consistent and timely access to the data to support incident prevention and safety management, facilitate troubleshooting, and make better maintenance decisions.  The GroundLink Comm+ system, which was successfully implemented across Omni’s 767 fleet, is being expanded to the ABX Air and ATI fleets.

Secondly, to further improve the efficiency and dispatch ability of their fleet, the ATSG airlines selected Teledyne’s Loadstar Server Enterprise (LSE), a ground software tool for the configuration, storage and electronic distribution of software parts to individual aircraft, and the enhanced Airborne Data Loader (eADL) that allows software parts to be electronically distributed and loaded onto the aircraft systems. With the eADL connected to the GroundLink® Comm+ system, software parts can be wirelessly transmitted from the LSE ground system directly to the eADL, for loading onto target onboard systems. This facilitates compliance by ensuring that the latest version of software is installed, reduces data loading time, keeps human intervention to a minimum and gives ATSG’s airlines the ability to load their aircraft at multiple hubs, increasing their on-time dispatch performance. 

Last, ATSG’s airlines are implementing GroundLink AID+, an add-on solution to the GroundLink Comm+ that provides connectivity for the flight crew and connects commercial tablets and crew devices with existing aircraft onboard data systems. ATSG’s AID+ system is integrated with Jeppesen’s FliteDeck Pro, allowing pilots to quickly and easily access charts and maps on their EFB (Electronic Flight Bag) tablets. GroundLink® AID+ also provides EFB connectivity to the flight deck printer. 

“Our subsidiary Omni Air International’s success with Teledyne’s FOQA process and GroundLink Comm+ system made the decision to expand our Teledyne partnership easy,” according to Ed Koharik, chief operating officer of ATSG. “Our continued investment in service improvements demonstrates our commitment to improve our industry-leading performance and exceed customers’ expectations.” 

“We appreciate the trust that ATSG has put in Teledyne Controls and we are very happy to be a part of their forward-looking vision,” says George Bobb, president of Teledyne Controls. “The integrated approach ATSG is taking with our GroundLink wireless solutions will deliver significant operational benefits.”

GroundLink Comm+ is a versatile communication system that facilitates and accelerates data exchange between airborne systems and ground-based equipment. It supports multiple applications across an airline’s operations, such as wireless distribution of software parts and databases, automated FOQA downloads, real‑time data streaming, cabin/crew connectivity, ACARS over IP and more. These enhanced capabilities are provided through software upgrades and are approved for use on multiple aircraft types via Teledyne STCs.


SD Unveils New Network Operations Center

Satcom Direct (SD) has unveiled the completed upgrade to its Network Operations Center (NOC) at SD World Headquarters in Melbourne, FL. With an increased footprint, the addition of cutting-edge technology and installation of an impressive 72x10ft digital wall displaying real time global customer connectivity activity, the enhanced NOC provides SD customers with significantly augmented customer and product support.

The evolution of the state-of-the art operations center has been driven by the need to intelligently aggregate, collate and analyze the increasing amounts of data generated by business aircraft activity. Information collected from the SD Xperience nose-to-tail portfolio of hardware, software and infrastructure solutions ensures the NOC is fully aware of the network status of each customer’s aircraft globally. 

Using a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning, data is aggregated and displayed on the enlarged screen. The NOC optimizes the enhanced visibility into the overall health of each individual aircraft and combines it with intelligent data analysis to identify any connectivity outage, degradation or systemic issues. This initiates the implementation of corrective action, often during flight. Predictive alerting is also triggered by the service intelligence platform enabling remedial action well ahead of potential issues. 

The company says their continuous monitoring of the aircraft status underpins the SD support motto “we know before you know” as the upgraded facility delivers improved situational awareness to the global support team through the automated analysis of data trends and patterns. An enhanced average response time of below five minutes, and 24/7/365 support, ensures customer issues are handled as efficiently and effectively as possible. Cybersecurity management has also been enhanced with abnormal patterns of data behavior highlighted to stimulate immediate mitigative action. In addition to technical corrective action, SD alerts crew to advise passengers of any necessary action needed to prevent potential cyber events. 

SD prides itself on strong partner relationships and the latest NOC enhancements also bolster these connections. The upgraded technology can identify systemic issues across the partner satellite networks to support implementation of remedial measures ensuring clients experience limited downtime if an issue occurs.

“Aircraft generate large volumes of multi-faceted data that provide clear insight into aircraft connectivity. If the data is behaving differently than expected we will often be aware of it before either our customer, the end user or our partners which means we can begin to fix issues more quickly,” says SD Founder & CEO Jim Jensen“The investment we’ve made ensures we can extract meaningful information about usage and/or degradation, enabling us to be even more proactive in issue resolution. It puts our support team ahead of the aircraft for years to come.” 

“We are committed to providing the best user experience possible and are proud to find ourselves in first position once again. Maintaining our number one ranking for six years in a row requires investment, dedication and continual development of our support product. We continue to raise the bar and it’s great to know our customers appreciate this commitment,” concludes Jensen. 


SD Reaches Major Milestone with Install of 2,000th FlightDeck Freedom

Satcom Direct (SD), the business aviation solutions provider, has achieved a significant milestone for its FlightDeck Freedom datalink service by activating its 2,000th aircraft. The head-of-state customer signed for the service to take advantage of its unique configuration options, ability to integrate third-party flight planning services, evolving compliance support, and the streamlining of flight crew and ground operations workflow.

Specifically designed for business and military aviation, FlightDeck Freedom features an open architecture design to support every type of avionics and datalink-capable airframe and can be customized to meet each customer and/or aircraft platform’s mission needs.  On launch in 2007 it was the first datalink service to give customers the freedom – hence the name – to select, upload from, and communicate with preferred third-party trip planning services and today is still the only datalink service provider with a comprehensive offering of flight planning options. FDF also continues to be the only service that supports flight deck and cabin communications enabling crew to monitor connectivity and troubleshoot issues in real time to better manage passenger expectations.

In addition, FDF enhances operational safety through direct delivery of automated notifications including hazardous weather, route and security alerts, and supports real time aircraft and fleet tracking worldwide, which can be monitored from the ground and in the air. The unique GeoNotification feature details when aircraft are approaching a defined geographic area which may affect connectivity or be defined as sensitive airspace.

Integrated with SD Pro, the digital flight operations management system, data shared through FDF synchronizes flight crew with ground operations keeping team members informed about aircraft performance in real time to support improved flight operations, budgeting and maintenance scheduling. FDF also supports fleet compliancy with FANS, ADS-C and CPDLC to meet evolving Air Traffic Control safety requirements and the changing landscape of business aviation operations.

“Our focus is to always enable our customers to manage their flights and operations using the services, products and systems that best suit their needs. FDF was one of our first services built using open architecture to allow integration of third-party services,” says Chris Moore, president of Satcom Direct Business Aviation. “Reaching this milestone demonstrates the market’s hunger for integrated services that streamline the workflow. As the digitization of aviation continues to evolve, we will continue adapting and modifying our products to meet the changing requirements of flight crew, ground operations and the business aviation infrastructure.”


Collins Aerospace Brings New SATCOM Capabilities to Aviation with the Iridium Certus Service

Collins Aerospace Systems says it has reached a milestone in the development of its higher bandwidth Iridium Certus airborne satellite communications (SATCOM) system. Recently, Collins Aerospace was able to successfully connect and transmit data to an orbiting Iridium® satellite using the Iridium Certus service. The feat was accomplished using Collins Aerospace’s new Active Low Gain Antenna (ALGA) — making it the first successful airborne equipment transmission of this type over the upgraded Iridium constellation’s L-band broadband service. Collins Aerospace Systems is a Raytheon Technologies business.

“This significant achievement marks our progress in bringing our customers an even faster, seamless SATCOM experience,” said Nate Boelkins, vice president and general manager for Commercial Avionics for Collins Aerospace. “Today’s aircraft operators are looking for reliable, secure data interaction and this product will help ensure aircraft operators receive the uninterrupted and secure data feeds they need to operate most efficiently.”

Collins Aerospace’s latest SATCOM solution is currently in development and will be available to operators in 2022. Collins will provide all of the airborne hardware for the new system, including the Satcom Data Unit (SDU), SDU Configuration Module (SCM) and the antenna. Depending on the operator’s bandwidth requirements, either a low gain or high gain antenna can be included, providing L-band bandwidth to 176 kilobits per second (kbps) or 704 kbps, respectively.

In addition to faster speeds, Collins Aerospace’s system will have a lower weight and smaller antenna footprint for minimum drag and lower power usage than legacy systems.


Collins Aerospace to Bring Fast in-flight Connectivity to Four Gulfstream Platforms

Western Jet Aviation is paving the way for Collins Aerospace’s new LuxStream connectivity service to provide the fastest speeds available on multiple Gulfstream aircraft. Western Jet Aviation, based in Van Nuys, California, and Collins Aerospace anticipate the first Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this month to install the KuSAT-2000 SATCOM terminal on the G450. The G350, GV and G550 aircraft will follow shortly behind, with their STC’s slated to be complete before the end of the year.

LuxStream, launched in late 2019, offers speeds up to 25 Mbps in the United States and 15 Mbps globally via SES’s managed Ku-band satellite network. This new solution, available as part of Collins Aerospace’s ARINCDirect portfolio of services, will provide customers with additional benefits including:

• High-quality bandwidth capable of supporting multiple streams of ultra-high-definition content, all while fellow passengers are concurrently running other apps
• Flexible pricing models to meet the aircraft’s mission — whether flying daily, weekly or less frequently
• An always-on service enabled by the redundancy and resiliency offered by SES satellites
• A turn-key solution with both hardware and service provided by Collins Aerospace, giving the operator one point of contact and access to Collins’ industry-leading global support services

“With Western Jet Aviation’s STCs, Gulfstream operators can now go to any Collins Aerospace approved MRO to install the KuSAT-2000, allowing them to experience LuxStream’s unparalleled connectivity speeds and services,” said Dori Henderson, executive director, Business Aviation & Digital Solutions for Collins Aerospace. “We know in-flight connectivity is one of the most in-demand features on today’s business aircraft and we are proud to provide the market’s premier service.”

“Western Jet Aviation is committed to providing our customers with top-class products and services,” said Jim Hansen, CEO of Western Jet Aviation. “When it comes to Cabin Connectivity, we believe the KuSAT-2000 system combined with the LuxStream service meets this mark. The fast speeds and great customer service will be a great fit for our Gulfstream customer base.”

LuxStream is powered by SES’s global geostationary high-throughput and wide satellite beams, as well as a flexible, intelligent ground network. Its performance has been validated extensively with more than 25 passengers able to easily access the internet and stream entertainment content to their personal devices at 25Mbps at the same time.

Additional LuxStream STCs are anticipated by the end of the third quarter of 2020.


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