A European project that promises to offer a step change in passenger service concepts is nearing completion after a key demonstration at the Airbus cabin test centre in Hamburg.
Launched in 2006 and funded by the European Commission, the so-called E-Cab or "e-enabled cabin" project is a cooperative effort by Airbus, Cranfield University, in-flight mobile connectivity provider OnAir, in-flight entertainment and communications (IFE&C) hardware manufacturer Thales, satellite communications specialist TriaGnoSys and 25 other stakeholders.
By integrating e-enabled end-to-end logistic chains, the group is working to create a "paperless information management of the future" to improve passenger comfort, crew convenience and airline and airport efficiency.
Their work has been focused on the development of improved services in four different service areas: moving people through airports, passenger services, freight handling and catering services.
Significantly, E-Cab claims it has developed the technology to interconnect all four areas to increase efficiency and thereby reduce costs. E-Cab's online services are free of charge, with participants needing only to cover their telecommunication costs.
As part of the final stage of the E-Cab project, TriaGnoSys recently gave a live demonstration in Hamburg to leading European airlines, airports, manufacturers and service providers of its in-flight 3G solution, along with its onboard communications manager.
TriaGnoSys' 3G services provide a range of passenger and crew communications applications, and the communications manager controls all satellite-based passenger, cabin crew and IFE data communications to and from the aircraft during flights.
Crucial to the success of the cabin element of the project includes the fact that the solutions developed are all accessible through the IFE system, using any mobile or Wi-Fi device. Real-time credit card authorisation is possible, as is live updating of IFE content using satellite communications.
E-Cab says travellers will benefit "from the full attention of the transportation system", which will be enabled to take better care of their travel needs. For example, passengers will receive the latest flight and airport information as well as guidance and support during their journey, while airlines and airports "gain transparency by knowing the passenger's location and process status, leading to more efficient operational processes".
The new catering experience "not only includes meal pre-selection", but also on-demand serving in-flight as well as other services.
"The rapid growth of air transport has meant that airlines and airports are frequently confronted by technology and processes that often do not work well together. E-Cab has developed the technology to connect a range of key services, each of which will make air transport better for passengers and more efficient for airlines and airports in their own right," says E-Cab project manager at Airbus, Reiner Rueckwald.
"The successful completion of this project paves the way for the European aviation industry to provide a step change in the passenger service it provides and the efficiencies it can achieve."
Adds Rueckwald: "We have successfully proved that there are significant savings to be made, and better passenger services available, through the use of an integrated information management system."
The project partners will now start to commercialize the project developments. To that end, TriaGnoSys has included its 3G solution and Wi-Fi payment portal in its airline product portfolio.