Airline Passengers Ready for Wearable Technology

Following the Future Travel Experience Global conference last week, where various industry experts in the Wearable Technology Forum indicated that passengers were indeed ready to embrace wearable tech as a part of their travel journey, SITA confirmed those claims this Monday with the release of their latest Passenger Trends Survey.

SITA‘s global survey found that 77% of passengers would be comfortable with airline or airport staff using wearable technology, such as Google glasses or a smartwatch.

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During the FTE Global conference we heard SITA’s CTO, Jim Peters, discuss such innovations as the NYMI biometric bracelet; a bendable iPad screen that could one day fit on an arm sleeve to make the device truly handsfree; and even smart contact lenses that could work similarly to Google glass. It’s no surprise, then, that SITA helped to develop the pilot program for the next speaker…

Tim Graham, IT innovation and development manager for Virgin Atlantic Airways, continued by describing their Wearable Tech trial earlier this year, in which concierge staff in the Upper Class Wing used Google glasses and smartwatches to help streamline and personalize their service. The result? Many passengers didn’t even notice the wearable tech until they were notified by the airline staff, and when the trial was over, the employees were sad to see the technology go.

Watch more about Virgin Atlantic’s Wearable Technology project here:

The panel was cautioned by Japan Airlines‘ mobile marketing and strategy supervisor Andy Fujiyama, who advised that JAL passengers were often vocal in their opposition to wearable technology. They found that if staff were using smartphones, passengers assumed they were texting with friends; and if they were using a smartwatch, it could appear to the passenger that the staff member is in a hurry.

DMD Phantom and Bluebox
Lock it In at the APEX/IFSA EXPO

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Tablets were hot on the trade show floor at this year’s APEX/IFSA EXPO. Bluebox Avionics, a partner in platform innovation with DMD Phantom had a busy trade show, showing off their new Bluebox hybrid, an in-flight entertainment (IFE) system that allows streaming to integrate with pre-loaded early window content. This highly secure functionality gives movie providers the peace of mind that their content is exclusive and passenger the freedom to be connected while still enjoying the airline perks of newly released entertainment.

Bluebox Ai is the award-winning secure IFE application for iPad and iPad mini, run on airline-owned devices, allowing airlines control of their content. Bluebox wiFE is the unique cabin streaming solution co-developed with Cobham Aerospace Communications. Together these applications offer high quality entertainment experience for passengers either fitted or portable locked in, secure content for airlines.

Kevin Clark of Bluebox took us through the application demonstrating the games, magazines, audio and visuals securely loaded onto the tablet. Airlines are able to brand the software to align with their image giving passengers a holistic experience and no shortage of entertainment options. It was a busy EXPO for DMD Phantom and Bluebox, “never a dull moment on the trade show floor,” laughs Clark.

OnAir and Philippine Airlines Renew Partnership at APEX/IFSA EXPO

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Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced their continued partnership with OnAir on September 17th at the APEX/IFSA EXPO to bring Wi-Fi and Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) onto all of their A330 and select A340 fleets. They have started removing embedded in-flight entertainment in business class on A330s in favor of the new connectivity service. Passengers can access a range of movies and television programs onboard through the wireless system using their own devices, and so far the response from customers has been positive.

PAL1Ana Leah Rodriguez, head of Marketing and Ancillary Revenue for Philippine Airlines, explained that for certain markets like the Middle East this is the right option for the company. “On selected routes and aircraft, OnAir allows PAL to give a different type of service and concept in business class,” Rodriguez said.

CEO of OnAir, Ian Dawkins, agrees with Rodriguez and believes this change is the way of the future. “I believe Philippine Airlines are setting the benchmark which other airlines will follow in coming years,” Dawkins said.

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OnAir Play, a wireless entertainment media solution, was introduced onboard PAL in May this year, and PAL’s B77-300ER aircraft are also equipped with Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir. As Dawkins adds, “There is no better proof of an airline’s confidence in your products than a follow-on fleet extension order within a short timeframe.”

APEX/IFSA EXPO: Out-of-flight Relaxation Experiences

There is no doubt flying can be a stressful experience. Not only physically stressful after sitting in the same position for hours on end, but emotionally draining due to lack of sleep and the anxiety of being away from home. As we explored the tradeshow floor there was one corner that emanated a bit more zen than some of the others.

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M’eye Mask offered delegates a 12 minute experience aimed to leave travelers refreshed, relaxed and rejuvenated by the time they reach their destination. The mask involves pulsating lights around the eyes, intended to lull travelers into a dream-like state and then through change of pulsations and brightness wake them up again in time for landing, refreshed. Audio accompaniments can include musical or spoken pieces.

Another relaxation method we explored was a product from HiDow. Their Transcutaneous (through the skin) Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) uses electrical currents to relieve pain, provide therapeutic benefits and relaxes stressed travelers. The treatment uses adhesive pads to send pulses through to sore muscles, aimed to increase blood flow and massage muscles into loosening and increased circulation.

Everyone has a method for staying relaxed and refreshed while in transit. These two methods of relaxation are battery powered and easily portable, worth a try for those travelers looking to not only relax but rejuvenate and arrive refreshed. Certainly a step away from some of the more lively corners of the APEX/IFSA EXPO – one of which included the highly popular Gogo massage chair!

Airbus A350-900 Nets EASA Certification

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Airbus’ newest widebody aircraft, the A350-900 with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, received Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) today, with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification to follow shortly.

Certification from the EASA and FAA enables the next-gen aircraft to begin flying commercially, with a delivery to the first A350 XWB customer, Qatar Airways, to be completed before the end of this year. As of May 2014, 750 orders from 39 airline customers worldwide had been placed.

Five A350 XWB test aircraft have logged more than 2,600 flight test hours in order to succeed the 7-year long certification trial process on time. “We created and successfully achieved one of the industry’s most thorough and efficient test programmes ever developed for a jetliner,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.

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The certification process follows three general phases:

  • internal testing which examines landing gear, hydraulics, electrics, flight control and other aircraft systems on the ‘Iron Bird’ flight simulator.
  • flight tests determine the structural integrity and limits of the aircraft by putting it through extreme conditions such as speed and weather.
  • route proving, or the ‘dress rehearsal’ where the aircraft flies a normal route to demonstrate it can operate in an normal environment.

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The freshest addition to the Airbus widebody family boasts a 220-inch fuselage cross-section, can accommodate 9-abreast in economy,  has high-bandwidth fibre optics, Wi-Fi capability, a quieter cabin, zone-specific temperature control, wider windows and full LED mood-lighting to enhance passenger comfort.