The In-flight Entertainment (IFE) Zone at this year’s Aircraft Interior Expo (AIX) (5-7 April at Hamburg Messe/Germany) had increased over 30% from last year with about 150 companies representing their products and services. This section of the Aircraft AIX has gained popularity year-over-year due to the increasing demand by consumers to be connected while on the aircraft and then the unique ability to offer new and innovative services to customers while on the aircraft (increase in revenues). The dedicated IFE Zone at AIX provides a one stop shop for any airline in the world to come and see what is available today and what is coming tomorrow from the leading content service providers & sellers, software developers and hardware manufacturers. Long story short: The AIX in 2015 continued to be an exciting show for Kontron as we met with all of our customers, discussed new product ideas we are working on and experienced the spirit of the next revolution in connecting aircraft.
It’s all about Improving and Optimizing the Productivity of the Aircraft
The connected aircraft is starting to see new services and in many cases this is now going beyond the passenger and connecting the plane and crew to flight operations. Nowadays the ability to provide operations data that helps to improve and optimize productivity of the aircraft and crew is the next obvious area of growth that the connected aircraft is going. With a connected aircraft, critical data can be accessed real-time and augmented by new software solutions to improve overall customer experience, reduce costs by saving time and operational costs, and optimizing decision making with big data analytics.
Of course, also connectivity is always of interest and what innovations are occurring to increase the bandwidth to the plane from both: the air-to-ground solutions and satellite connectivity. ViaSat promoted their ‘EXEDE In The Air’ system that they are claiming delivers 12 Mbps per passenger on the aircraft via their high-capacity Ka-band satellite network. Global Eagle announced improvements to their Ku antenna that is designed to take full advantage of Ka-band bandwidth. Inmarsat, Honeywell and Kymeta announced a new “flat” antenna that will significantly reduce weight and drag fuel costs while increasing data throughput rates to the aircraft.
A Basic Prerequisite: Maximum Performance
All this growth of connectivity is great and is typically routed through our Kontron ACE Flight Server. At the AIX we also announced some increased performance features in this platform that includes an update that now provides 4G/LTE connectivity while on the ground via an update to our integrated modem and then also the availability of data storage with 1.6TB RSSDs which allows for up to 4.8TB of total storage is now possible in the Server. Furthermore we showcased our new 802.11ac CWAP that features a performance boost of up to 1.9Gbps data rates on the dual radios which is a 6x performance increase over previous generation 802.11n CWAP. With all the growth of connectivity, new interactive content and services, a performance and technology update to the wireless access point to the client is getting more and more important. Our new 802.11ac CWAP is helping to keep customers connected and taking full advantage of all the new technology and services being provided. And this will not be the last step: For the AIX 2016 we promise to continue taking the aircraft to new heights!