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Travel Technology News.

Sep 8, 2008

As the airline industry struggles in the face of skyrocketing fuel prices, the siren song of revenue generation is luring a growing number of airlines to commit to new in-flight entertainment and connectivity services. Carriers renowned for their in-flight offerings and others eager to boost high-end business traffic are investing significantly in new technology to ensure brand differentiation. In past downturns, airlines often sidelined new IFE and connectivity projects to focus on core activities and cost-cutting.

In the aftermath of 9/11, for example, three major US carriers dropped plans to equip their aircraft with Connexion by Boeing, the now-defunct high-speed internet and live television service. Such offerings were not viewed as essential. Those ambitious enough to take the Connexion leap - Lufthansa, for example, equipped a sizeable chunk of its fleet with the system - found themselves burdened with heavy fuselage-mounted antennas when the service was discontinued.

But as thousands of industry executives prepare to descend next week on Long Beach, California for the World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) conference and exhibition, and Aircraft Interiors Expo, a new found optimism is evident. Sep 2, 2008

Aeromexico

Aeromexico has launched the IMS 7-inch Portable Media Player on its Boeing 767-200 and 767-300 aircraft during the summer. Sep 3, 2008

AeroMobile

AeroMobile, the in-flight cellphone system operator, will be celebrating six months of commercial service at this year's World Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) Conference and Exhibition in Long Beach, California. Following the successful launch of the world's first authorized calls on a commercial airline in March this year, AeroMobile this also hits a century this week with the activation of services with its 100th roaming telecom partner. The pioneering provider is also in advanced talks with four leading airlines to add to its existing customer base which comprises Emirates, Qantas Airways, V Australia, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Turkish Airlines. AeroMobile is the only service provider in this sector to have advanced beyond the trial stage and now have by far the most experience in operating in-flight mobile services for airlines and their passengers. However, the most satisfying news of the last six months operations with Emirates has been the overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers. There has been so much misinformation about the potential impact in-flight calls would have on fellow passengers. Sep 8, 2008

Air France

Air France last week introduced mobile phone boarding passes on its 15-times-daily Paris Charles de Gaulle-Amsterdam service. Sep 8, 2008

Air One

Air One utilizes the IMS 7-inch Portable Media Player in business class as well as offers them for rent in economy, augmenting the overhead video system onboard their A330's on routes between Italy and the United States. Sep 3, 2008

ARINC

ARINC Direct today announced it has expanded its SKYLinkSM broadband satellite communications network to include substantial coverage of the Caribbean, Central America, and part of South America. ARINC's development partner, SES AMERICOM, is providing the new satellite coverage over its Ku-band Satellite NSS-7, and will be transitioning to its future home on SES AMERICOM's AMC-21 satellite in the fourth quarter of 2008. In combination with Rockwell Collins eXchangeTM product line, the SKYLink satellite network provides the only in-flight Ku-band broadband communication solution available to business jet operators today eXchange with Service by SKYLink. ARINC conducted extensive Beta tests of the new SKYLink coverage from the Gulf of Mexico to northern Peru. Cooperating SKYLink customers helped to map the signal strength, and during a recent test flight a customer made routine use of SKYLink Internet access enroute from Chicago Executive Airport (KPWK), Chicago, Illinois to Eldorado International Airport (SKBO), in Bogota, Colombia. Sep 8, 2008

e.Digital

e.Digital Corporation, a leading technology innovator of dedicated portable entertainment systems and patented flash memory-related technology, announced today the delivery of an opening eVU portable in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems and services order to Austrian Airlines. To date, over 30 airlines have made dedicated portable systems powered by e.Digital technology their in-flight entertainment choice. Headquartered in Vienna, Austrian Airlines is the flag carrier airline for Austria flying to 130 destinations worldwide. Austrian Airlines recently received first place honors in two categories of the 2008 World Airline Awards. Sep 4, 2008

e.Digital

e.Digital's enhanced studio-approved eVU portable entertainment system features a multi-language customizable passenger-friendly interface and an industry-leading 20+ hours of continuous video playback from a single battery charge. eVU is available in either 7" or 8" high resolution LCD screen with 80 GB to 200 GB of rugged and reliable storage for many hours of movies, television shows, music, specialty programming and games. eVU is the smallest and lightest dedicated long play portable IFE product available today and integrates the latest in battery safety features through its removable "Smart" rechargeable high capacity battery pack. Sep 4, 2008

EasyJet, Rockwell Collins

EasyJet recently debuted the first aircraft equipped with Rockwell Collins' new dPAVESTM in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The system, which entered into service on an Airbus A321 aircraft, will also be installed on up to 13 additional easyJet aircraft. The dPAVES system for EasyJet features 10-inch retractable LCD displays. In addition, Rockwell Collins' Airshow 4200 Moving Map product has been integrated into the dPAVES system server, saving space, weight and power associated with installing a separate unit. The dPAVES system provides up to an 85 percent reduction in volume, a 70 percent reduction in weight and a 75 percent reduction in power over the analog system. Additionally, dPAVES' Broadcast Digital Server (BDS) offers 160 gigabyte storage capability, with up to 60 hours of video, including encrypted content, and 128 hours of audio. The large storage capability allows easyJet to store two play periods of entertainment content, and the server automatically selects the new content when the new play period starts. Sep 8, 2008

Emirates Airlines, Panasonic Avionics

Emirates Airlines and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic), a leading global provider of in-flight entertainment (IFE) and communications systems, today introduces DVD quality MPEG-4 (Motion Pictures Expert Group) digital audio and video media in the Panasonic eX2 in-flight entertainment system. Until now in-flight entertainment systems have used either the higher compression, lower quality MPEG-1 or the low compression, DVD-quality MPEG-2 standards forcing airlines to chose between larger libraries of low quality media, or smaller libraries of high quality media. The MPEG-4 standard supports DVD-quality picture with file sizes similar to MPEG-1. This allows our customers to carry greater quantities of video with exceptional picture quality while consuming less space and bandwidth on the system, and loading more quickly during monthly updates. This advancement is a win-win for all parties and is in-line with emergent standards of media in general. Sep 8, 2008

Rockwell Collins, Airbus

Rockwell Collins' dPAVESTM in-flight entertainment system (IFE) is now offerable on the Airbus Single Aisle Program. The first system equipped Airbus aircraft completed factory testing and Airbus has officially installed and certified dPAVESsystem. The dPAVES system will now be included in Airbus' Buyer Furnished Equipment Catalog as an IFE system solution option for Single Aisle Programs. The dPAVES system provides up to an 85 percent reduction in volume, a 70 percent reduction in weight and a 75 percent reduction in power over the previous analog system. Additionally, dPAVES' Broadcast Digital Server (BDS) offers 160 gigabyte storage capability, with up to 60 hours of video, including encrypted content, and 128 hours of audio. The large storage capability allows airlines to store two play periods of entertainment content, and the server automatically selects the new content when the new play period starts. Sep 8, 2008

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines will move to a cashless cabin on Sept. 9. Flight attendants will process drink orders and other transactions using hand-held credit card scanners from GuestLogix Inc. American Airlines and Alaska Airlines also offer credit card payments on at least some flights, although both carriers also continue to accept cash. Sep 3, 2008

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Date:Sep 8, 2008
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