‘Flight Mode’ may soon be a thing of the past!

Reflecting the continued accelerated growth in airline passenger demand for inflight broadband access to the Internet, and bringing together a comprehensive range of key inflight connectivity players, 31st October 2017 will see the second in the GVF-EMP Partnership series of dedicated AeroConnect events taking place in London.

‘AeroConnect 2017: The Inflight Online Revolution’ will be held at the Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel, comprising four interactive panel discussions dedicated to analysing “The Drive towards Fast Reliable IFEC at 35,000 feet”. (https://www.uk-emp.co.uk/current-events/aeroconnect-2017/)

Sponsored by Hughes, Inmarsat, SES Networks, Advantech Wireless, and Comtech EF Data, the conference will and will take a comprehensive view across the board of HTS satellites, the integration of GEO, MEO & LEO systems, next generation air-to-ground (ATG) networks, and the integration of space-based and ground-based networks, together with improvements in hardware technology – antennas, wireless access points, servers, routers – which are driving substantial improvements in networks connection speed & reliability.

Demand for inflight broadband connectivity, and the ability to deliver content to multiple devices per passenger, already exists on a global scale. Indeed, according to Inmarsat’s recent Inflight Connectivity Survey (involving 9000 passengers across 27 countries in Europe, Asia, Australasia, and Central and South America):

• 92% of passengers want inflight broadband

• 83% already choose their airlines based on its availability

• 54% of passengers would choose to be able to stay online during a flight over a meal

• 35% bring two devices on-board

• 34% bring three devices

• And, most passengers are willing to pay for reliable, high-bandwidth, connectivity

Martin Jarrold, Chief of International Programme Development with GVF noted, “This latest survey confirms that high-speed inflight broadband will play an increasingly important role in the overall future passenger experience and it is predicted within the airline industry that it will eventually completely replace inflight entertainment systems, as passengers use their own devices – to stream video, access apps, browse the web, send email, play games, video conference, and use social media – not only on long-haul flights but also on short-haul and medium-haul services, for which airlines often do not offer inflight entertainment systems. This strongly suggests that hearing ‘Please switch all portable electronic devices to Flight Mode’ over airliner public address systems will very soon be a thing of the past.”

David Coiley, Vice President Aviation at Inmarsat, will open the conference with a keynote address which will provide a detailed overview of the findings and implications of the Inflight Connectivity Survey. Said Mr Coiley, “The Inmarsat Inflight Connectivity Survey reveals some fascinating insights into the priorities held by today’s airline passenger and provides us with vital new data. Gaining these insights will ensure that the satellite industry remains highly attuned to meeting the evolving demands, indeed the rapidly changing needs, of the inflight customer. I look forward in my opening presentation – to be entitled ‘Online, Anywhere, Everywhere: The Passenger at 35,000 ft’ – to offering the AeroConnect event some further analysis and exploration of the implications for our industry”.

In addition to Mr Coiley, and as of the date of this release, the conference speaker line-up will include: Mark Lambert, Managing Director Europe & VP Sales & Marketing, Advantech Wireless; Andy Lucas, Senior Vice President Operator Vertical, Comtech EF Data; Jags Burhm, Senior Vice President Aero, Eutelsat Global Mobility; Michael (Miki) Barak, Vice President, Commercial Aviation & Mobility, Gilat Satellite Networks; Julian Hewson, Director Strategic Accounts Europe, Global Eagle; Greg Oliveau, International Market Development, GoGo; Denis Sutherland, Vice President Business Development, iDirect; John Finney, Founder, Isotropic Systems; David Garood, CCO, PHASOR Inc.; Robert Brown, Executive Chairman, RazorSecure; Simon Gatty Saunt, Vice President Data & Mobility Services Europe, SES; Martin Coleman, Exec. Director, sIRG, Director, CCL & Senior Partner, CENG.

Paul Stahl, Executive Director of EMP, further reflecting on the survey findings, added, “Reliability and speed are of paramount importance and passengers expect the same quality of service that they get on the ground, in the home, or in the office. Irritation caused by constantly dropped service or, quite often, no service at all, are the source of nearly all cost objections. Referring again to the Inmarsat survey, 60% of passengers would rather not use a poor-quality service at all and by the same token, 60% would willingly pay more for a fully functioning, reliable and fast service. Failure to deliver fast and reliable services is the single biggest impediment to the mass uptake of inflight broadband connectivity across the globe – with most passengers preferring nothing over second best.”

This 60% figure is noteworthy. In February 2016, in the opening keynote at the GVF-EMP organised ‘Connectivity: Air, Sea, Surface & Rail’ conference, Joe Leader, CEO of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX), cited the figure of 41% of passengers willing to pay for broadband. The more recent figure clearly flags a dramatic short-term recent increase in readiness to pay, for a guarantee of reliability and speed.

Companies registered to attend the event include: Access Partnership; Aetheric Engineering Ltd; Airbus Defence & Space; Avison Aviation; British Telecommunications PLC; Carlisle Interconnect Technologies; CETel GmbH; Comtech EF Data; Device Management Forum; Eutelsat; GEE; General Dynamics Satcom; Gilat Satellite Networks; GPS Ltd; Guy Pelham Media/BBC News; GVF; Hewlett Packard Enterprise; Honeywell; Hughes; Hunter Communications; Inmarsat Aviation; Integrasys; Intelsat; Lufthansa Technik; M2M Insights; Media Broadcast Satellite GmbH; Neuco; PCCW Global; Rockwell Collins; sIRG; Telesat; Ten Cate Advanced Composites Ltd; Thorn SDS; Zuckert Scoutt & Rasenberger, LLP.

Additionally, and as was noted at the June 2017 Global Connected Aircraft Summit in Washington DC, “we haven’t even touched the surface of operational efficiency that can be generated using IFC”. Given that major efficiencies in everything from real-time engine data generation and monitoring and cockpit navigational updates, to passenger meal requirements and duty-free purchasing patterns, to changes to cabin crew duty rosters and in-route communications among cabin crew, can be achieved with IFC, airlines will clearly be increasingly demanding of their satellite service providers when it comes to Mbps and geographical coverage.

The opening panel session of ‘AeroConnect 2017’ will focus on ‘Technologies’, covering: Satcoms: Ku-band and Ka-band in the Mix | GEO, MEO & LEO: the Hybrid Approach | Next Generation ATG Networks | The Integration of Space-Based and Ground-Based Networks.

Discussion of ‘Aeronautical Applications & Passenger Services’ will provide the substance of Session Two, including: The Cloud & Big Data from Gate-to-Gate | The Airline App Environment | The Passenger Online Environment (From Laptop, Tablet & Smartphone to Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Skype, Whatsapp, Snapchat… and Beyond) | The Airline Carrier Operational Data Environment.

‘Terminal Equipment’ themes form the substance of the third session, encompassing: Solutions Architecture, Design & Engineering Strategies | Terminal Design & Airframe Compatibilities | Terminal Capabilities for the Passenger & Carrier Requirement | Terminal Evolution & Future Proofing | Future Hardware Evolution: Antennas, Wireless Access Points, Servers and Routers.

Finally, the fourth session, ‘The Expectations & Capabilities Matrix’ will cover: The Passenger, the Airline, and the Connectivity Solution Provider | Deployment & Installation Planning: The Aircraft Manufacturer & the Airline Carrier | Broadband Bandwidth: Reconciling Supply & Demand Realities | Passenger Choice Drivers & Carrier Offerings | Future Proofing: Connectivity, Upgrades & Speed | Multiple Device Connectivity & the Second Screen.


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