Microsoft is making its worldwide debut as an air show exhibitor in Singapore, as part of a major drive to increase its penetration of the airline market.
“We are seeing a fundamental shift in the industry as to what technology can provide to the airlines,” says Microsoft’s global hospitality and travel managing director Matt Muta. “The technology is at a stage where airlines are able to see value from a crew and staff perspective, and perhaps more importantly to engage with their passengers.”
Microsoft sees opportunities in the airline market, driven by demand for mobile devices and software applications used by staff and passengers. Also, technology platforms that enable airlines to “better engage with their staff” and “drive operational efficiencies by getting better information to drive decisions” are a priority, says Muta.
During the show, Microsoft and Lufthansa Systems are unveiling the new BoardConnect app for Windows 8. The app is designed to allow airlines to create a unique experience for their passenger in-flight entertainment systems.
The interactive software allows users to select movies, order food, shop and find out information about their destination.
Boeing company Jeppesen, meanwhile, is showcasing its FliteDeck Pro app – an electronic flightbag solution designed for Microsoft’s Windows platform and Surface 2 tablet computer. FlightDeck Pro is designed to give airlines a data-driven, interactive navigation solution which increases situational awareness through real-time access to information such as weather and NOTAMS, while reducing pilot workload by eliminating manual paper revisions.
Also partnering Microsoft is Avanade, which is demonstrating its Mobile Airline Platform at the show. The product provides crew with applications for on board services such as duty free sales.
Delta Air Lines last year decided to equip more than 19,000 flight attendants with Nokia Lumia 820 Windows handsets to process in-flight transactions, while its 11,000 pilots have been issued with Surface 2-based EFBs.
“The days of traditional in-flight entertainment are numbered,” says Muta. “It has been about pushing static content on a seat-back device. We call IFE ‘in-flight engagement’ – looking at ways to enable our clients to have a meaningful conversation with their passengers.
“The top two conversations we are having [with potential clients] are about enhancing the passenger experience and enhancing staff enablement.”
Find out all the latest news and views from this year's Singapore Airshow