Crystal Cabin Award 2017 Shortlist Announced
Today’s announcement of the nominations for this year’s greatest cinematic achievements follow yesterday’s release of the shortlist for what many call the Oscars of the aircraft interiors industry. With 85 applicants from 21 countries on this year’s shortlist, the Crystal Cabin Award, which recognizes innovations in aircraft cabin design across eight categories, has reached a new record in its eleventh year. A 29-member jury will determine the finalists, and the winners will be awarded during the Aircraft Interiors Expo in April.
American Airlines Opts for Wireless IFE Instead of Seatback Screens on Boeing 737 MAXs
American Airlines says its upcoming Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, slated for delivery later this year, will not be equipped with seatback screens. Instead, the Fort Worth-based carrier will adopt wireless in-flight entertainment systems that offer free access to its IFE catalog and live television. Noting that 90 percent of its passengers already bring a personal device on board, the airline said in a statement that, “It makes sense for American to focus on giving customers the best entertainment and fast connection options rather than installing seatback monitors that will be obsolete within a few years.” The airline stressed that it plans to keep the seatback screens that are already installed on its wide-body fleet.
Etihad CEO James Hogan to Step Down Later This Year
James Hogan will step down from his role as Etihad Airways’ CEO in the second half of this year, amid mounting losses from investments in airberlin and Alitalia. Hogan joined the Gulf carrier in 2006, transforming it from a local operator with 22 aircraft into a global player with a 122-strong fleet, 178 orders and 26,000 employees. During his tenure, Etihad has pursued a growth plan based on purchasing minority stakes in a variety of smaller and often struggling airlines across Europe and the Asia-Pacific. In a statement released on Tuesday, Mohamed Al Mazrouei, board chairman of Etihad Aviation Group, said, “We must progress and adjust our airline equity partnerships even as we remain committed to the strategy.”
JAL to Offer Unlimited Free In-Flight Wi-Fi on Domestic Flights
Japan Airlines has been offering 15 minutes of free in-flight Wi-Fi on domestic flights since August 2016, but is now going a step further by removing the 15-minute time limit. The promotional service will be available on all 77 JAL Sky Next-equipped aircraft for a period of seven months, beginning on February 1 until August 31. In-flight video programs on topics including sports, gourmet food, music and animation are also available to passengers free of charge and can be streamed wirelessly using mobile devices. JAL became Gogo’s first customer outside of North America in the summer of 2014.
Mitsubishi Regional Jet Delivery Delayed Until 2020
Mitsubishi Aircraft has confirmed a two-year delay to its regional jet program, bringing the project seven years behind its original target of 2013. The revised deadline is the fifth in the project’s history and means the first MRJ90s will not be delivered to customers until mid-2020. “We should have done more homework about how to go about gathering information and analyzing risks before the development started,” said Mitsubishi Heavy Industries president and CEO Shunichi Miyanaga. The difficulty of aircraft development “has hit home after the eight years of development efforts,” he added.
AviIT and Bluebox Avionics Consolidate Into a New Company
AviIT and Bluebox Avionics have merged operations under a new company registered as Bluebox Aviation Systems. Scotland-based AviIT, which initially launched Bluebox Avionics as a joint venture with DMD Phantom in 2006, has now assumed full management and operational responsibility for the merged entity, with Kevin Clark appointed as its CEO. “This new operational structure will help us meet our ambitious growth plans over the coming years, building upon Bluebox’s 10 years of in-flight entertainment market success, which we celebrated last year, and AviIT’s rich history of airline industry software innovation,” said Clark. “Bluebox already has long-standing relationships with all major content providers to deliver early-window content on our systems and a range of high-quality IFE products.”