Okey dokey smokey. I just booked my flight to Seattle to attend the WAEA single focus workshop on connectivity this month. This should be REALLY interesting as it comes at a time when airline and passenger interest in airborne communications is soaring.
Check out the whole agenda here. You’ll see that it boasts an incredible line-up of speakers, including IFE&C specialists, airlines and talking heads.
“On the speaker side, I’ve been organizing technology committees with WAEA for a number of years. I can’t ever remember an event that had so many speakers trying to volunteer and speak,” Lumexis chief technical officer Rich Salter, who co-chairs the WAEA’s technology committee, told me last week.
“I know we’re going to be bulging at the seams keeping people on schedule and contained. The interest is just phenomenal,” he added.
Personally, I’m particularly excited about Wednesday’s session on “regulatory and industry activities”. The session will address the woeful Hang-Up Act, which seeks to formally ban the in-flight use of wireless devices for voice communications in the USA (and which has been wiggling its way through Congress at a rapid rate).
I’m also keen to find out what people think about Professor John Hansman’s suggestion that airlines should scrap obsolete in-flight entertainment.
Hansman, who is director of the International Technology Center for Air Transport at MIT, said last week at the SITA IT conference that airlines should instead focus on providing the elements necessary to allow users to access media stored on onboard storage or the Internet through their own devices.
My colleague and friend Airline Business features editor Victoria Moores had a chance to chat with Hansman last week. Check out her video interview here.
It’s true that connectivity is making everyone think differently about IFE of late. Indeed, the “C” in IFE&C (or IFEC if you prefer) was only tagged onto “IFE” in recent years, but its new spot alongside the venerable IFE acronym is “an example of how important and prominent the communications part has become”, says Salter.
Another co-chair of the WAEA technology committee, Inmarsat aeronautical business director David Coiley notes: “We have major players Thales and Panasonic very much embracing connectivity in different ways, and looking to supplement and enhance their entertainment and infotainment.”
Like I said, this workshop should be VERY interesting. Plus, I can’t wait to catch up with my friends in the IFE&C world.