Viasat Commercial Aviation Blog

ViaSat Connectivity - Flight Ops IT AMS, Future Travel Experience 2017 DUB

AMS-2017-ViaSat.jpgHuge Interest in ViaSat Connectivity, Connected Aircraft Software Platform, In-flight Entertainment and Flight Operations Services

Hundreds of delegates from airlines all over the world attended the Aircraft Commerce MRO and Flight Ops IT Conference in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, on June 7 - 8, 2017, and the ViaSat team told our compelling story.

ViaSat’s focus is on the needs of airlines, complex businesses that deliver services into very competitive markets. But we also focus on the needs of passengers. As a satellite connectivity provider with a strong aviation heritage, ViaSat is differentiated by our full suite of software applications that provide the best possible experience to passengers, flight crew and flight ops.

Flight Ops Connectivity

AMS-2017-ViaSat-3.jpgOur flight ops software is designed to deliver multiple benefits on aircraft that have yet to connect up. When an onboard network is deployed, ViaSat flight ops apps are enhanced by onboard connectivity and AID access, whilst also enabling the delivery of cached entertainment content to passengers’ own devices. When internet connectivity is added to the aircraft, all our software is enhanced, with the meaningful flow of data between pilots, cabin crew, passengers and the ground limited only by our imaginations. This is the ViaSat Flight Path to the Connected Aircraft and this enhancement of services by the addition was the main talking point of the conference.

ViaSat aviation grade apps are available as individual app solutions or a complete connected aircraft bundle. Our Connected Aircraft Software Platform is designed to deliver ViaSat apps to any mobile device. Our apps can also be deployed independently, integrating with existing systems and operating on any suitable hardware.  ViaSat’s position is that being in the air does not have to mean leaving behind your well-connected workspace and entertainment choices. Our high capacity satellite network allows us to provide a superior, connected, in-air experience to aircraft operator, passengers, and crew.

ViaSat at Future Travel Experience Dublin

FTE-2017-ViaSat.jpgJune was a busy month for the ViaSat crew, with another major event: the Future Travel Experience, held at the RDS in Dublin. When an event is held in the ViaSat Ireland hometown, it gives us a great opportunity to show delegates the real Dublin and to share our local knowledge with friends old and new. We hope that we didn't disappoint!

ViaSat's position on the travel experience of the future is that passengers will expect to have as great a connected experience while in the air as they do at home or work. With the recent launch of our ViaSat-2 satellite, which will soon deliver 300Gbps internet to airline passengers in North America and across the Atlantic, the future travel experience is actually imminent for passengers on our partner airlines. And there's so much more to come...

Michael O'Leary, CEO Ryanair, at FTE Dublin

Michael O'Leary had the capacity crowd in the palm of his hand as he spoke about Ryanair's digital vision.

“We have a vision of the future where we are the Amazon of travel,” he said. “Ryanair will become a one-stop shop, as the internet continues to disintermediate processes over the next five to 10 years.”

FTE-2017-ViaSat-3.jpgO’Leary rejected suggestions that Amazon could do this itself, because the online retail giant would not be able to duplicate Ryanair’s cost base. “Amazon can’t buy us and we’re not for sale. They can’t own us anyway because of foreign ownership rules. Until someone develops Star Trek-style travel, people will need to fly. That is not up for disruption.”

This strategy will see Ryanair first capture the hotel and car hire markets, before disrupting in-person airport retail operations, by leveraging its huge customer base and the MyRyanair app. “By doing it for nothing, that is how we will blow up the likes of,” O’Leary said.

Ryanair will "screw the airports"

FTE-2017-ViaSat-2.jpgHe added that airport shops will be downgraded to showrooms. While the shops will still pay rent, Ryanair will use its digital platforms, led by the MyRyanair app, as a payment and delivery platform, cutting out airport commissions. “Together with retailers, we’re going to screw the airports,” he said.

Despite its strong digital focus, Ryanair is still not ready to install connectivity on its fleet - yet. “We are slow to adopt. We don’t want to be explorers. Explorers get shot,” he said. O'Leary blamed the impact of radome drag on fuel costs, but he said that he never says never (having dissed the potential of an app for so long!), and a flat antenna would change his mind. He also stated that short haul passengers can live without connectivity for an hour or two, perhaps failing to connect our ever-growing need for connectivity with the fact that up to 60% of Ryanair pax buy ancillary products. Ryanair's target is for 40% of the European short haul market, 300 mn pax/year. That's a huge potential market for ancillary sales of destination products and services. And it will require a lot of bandwidth, bandwidth that only ViaSat is positioning to deliver.

IAG's Different View of Passengers' Need for Connectivity

Robert Boyle, Director of Strategy at International Airlines Group, disagreed with Michael O'Leary and said that he doesn't believe being disconnected is something that passengers will accept. IAG's new airline, LEVEL, is a strongly digital experience that aims for connectivity. It's an airline brand, not an airline per se, as it's using Iberia's AOC. Robert showed the in-flight UI, which was installed onto existing Panasonic seatback screens. And it looked pretty good. 

Wireless IFE Case Study Download We agree with the IAG view on connectivity and believe that it's only a matter of time until Ryanair and every other airline, short or long haul, agrees too. Ryanair clearly have innovated in the digital space, however, and that spirit was recognised with a win at the FTE Innovation Awards, held at the Guinness Storehouse, where Finnair was also awarded for innovation in the passenger experience.


We're already looking forward to our next big event, APEX EXPO 2017 at Long Beach, California, September 25 - 28 next. Let's meet up and talk about the passenger experience! Click here to connect up!

Learn more

In-flight internet from ViaSat:

ViaSat wireless IFE software:

AeroDocs, the Safety and Compliance Document Management System for Aviation:

Our modular electronic flight bag software:

Image credits

All photos by ViaSat crew.

Banner image: ViaSat crew at Flight Ops AMS 2017, Rory, Thomas, Bozena, Gary.

KLM B747, Queen of the Skies, Schiphol.

Gathering of airlines and aircraft on a beautiful evening at Schiphol.

The ViaSat portable W-IFE solution, which caused quite a stir at FTE. No STC required, for super-fast deployment at a remarkably low price.

View of the expo space at FTE, RDS Dublin.

Irish dancers at the evening awards ceremony at the Guinness Storehouse.