The first standard for inflight connectivity has just been developed by the Seamless Air Alliance – a cadre of international airlines, technology leaders and suppliers collaborating on connectivity innovation – with the aim of providing secure and hassle-free Internet in the aircraft cabin. The standard, named Seamless Release 1.0, is intended to enable long-term technical flexibility for airlines, provide a secure and easy-to-access service for passengers, and enable seamless roaming with mobile network operators.
The standard has been developed by experts across Seamless Air Alliance’s member companies, which include Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint and establishes what the alliance claims to be the world’s only modular platform architecture for inflight connectivity. By using a modular structure based on open interfaces, the system enables rapid adoption of new technologies without requiring customisation or the complete replacement of equipment on aircraft.
“Passenger demands for inflight connectivity are still ahead of the performance of systems, putting increasing pressure on airlines to find a way to meet these expectations and gain passenger loyalty,” explained Jack Mandala, CEO of the Seamless Air Alliance. “Seamless Release 1.0 changes the game by enabling airlines to take advantage of new capacity and innovations faster and more cost-effectively than ever before.”
Seamless Release 1.0 includes a set of unique, testable requirements for airlines to use when developing sourcing requests. The standards are designed to save airlines the time and money required to develop such requirements, and to eliminate the risk of trying to predict how future developments will affect their choice of systems.
Mark Cheyney, IFEC development manager at Virgin Atlantic, another member of the alliance, said, “Meeting increasing expectations for connectivity in the skies is fast becoming a driving factor in airline preference. Virgin Atlantic and the Seamless Air Alliance believe that standardisation will allow airlines to be more empowered and more in control of their connectivity service offerings, allowing them to meet their customers’ expectations.”
Additional details of Seamless Release 1.0 are available in a technology brief available to download here, titled Seamless Air Alliance Introduction to SR1 – A New Era of Inflight Connectivity.
The publication of the standard, which is available for any Seamless Air Alliance member to view in full, enables airlines and mobile operators to easily deploy, integrate and operate on-board networks by having a choice of different suppliers and open interfaces from which they can source modular parts, subsystems and software. This design means multi-supplier IFC systems can be built quickly to support future technology upgrades that do not require customisations.
Sherif Bakir, CEO of Vodafone Roaming Services, added, “While inflight connectivity is already available today, the experience of customers varies from one airline to another in terms of things like simplicity and data speeds. With rising consumer connectivity needs, this new standard is a promising first step towards a much improved and consistent inflight customer experience.”
Seamless Air Alliance members include:
Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb, Sprint, Virgin Atlantic, SES, SoftBank, Boingo, Inter Informatics, Vodafone, SITAOnAir, Safran, Adaptive, Etihad Airways, Comtech, ST Engineering, Global Reach, Astronics, Inmarsat, Panasonic, Cyient, Intelsat, Collins Aerospace, Latecoere, Nokia, GOL, Air France KLM, and Aeromexico.