This week the great and the good from the world of cabin interiors and the IFE/connectivity business have been meeting in Hamburg at the tenth Aircraft Interiors Expo which finished today.
While there is much gloom in the world over the economic turmoil facing airlines, there has been no let up in wireless and connectivity developments on the ground. Consequently, it appears interest in onboard passenger connectivity solutions in the airline sector remains strong.
Probably heading the news during the show was communications specialist T-Mobile and VT Miltope, ViaSat and TriaGnoSys formally teaming to offer a Ku-band satellite broadband and GSM telephony service for air transport. They form one of the groups looking to fill the void left after the demise of the Connexion by Boeing service, of which Lufthansa has been keen to find a replacement.
Another player in the in the sector, Panasonic plans to launch its eXconnect Ku-band satellite passenger connectivity service this autumn and revealed during the show that it has an initial customer base of five airlines. All five of these have also opted for the eXphone onboard mobile phone service – provided through AeroMobile.
Amid increased momentum this year from deployment on initial customers and airline trials, both AeroMobile and OnAir pointed to further customers for their onboard mobile phone service.
Elsewhere in the cabin, after years of investment in upgrading business class, much attention now appears to be focused on weight saving initiatives for this part of the aircraft and, given the increased gulf with economy, on improving the product offering in the back of the cabin. “Now we are starting to see the flow-through of weight saving innovations in the industry,” said Airbus head of aircraft interiors marketing, Bob Lange.
Plus Airbus, having completed the detailed definition of the A350-900 last December, unveiled a new 1:120 scale cutaway model of the XWB aircraft for the first time during the show.