APEX TECH: Bhavini Desai from ST Engineering iDirect leads panel discussion/Q&A on OEM linefits and terminal integration


APEX TECH 2023 – ST Engineering iDirects Bhavini Desai moderated a  panel discussion/Q&A with a team of industry experts entitled, OEM Linefits and Terminal Integration and the Benefits to the Airlines. 

Featuring panelists: Anil Kumar, Technical Fellow – Offboard Communication Systems, Boeing; Yves Beaumont, Avionics Product Line Manager, Kontron Canada Inc.; Bill Milroy, Chairman and CTO, Thinkom Solutions, Inc.; and Neale Faulkner, Regional Vice President, Inmarsat Aviation, the session explored the new paths and programs airframers are taking to streamline their business processes.

Covering a wide range of topics, including the affect interoperability will have on the in-flight experience, Desai and company focused mostly on the factors and challenges involved in bringing a host of projects to fruition on the OEM front and the value of open ecosystems to the airlines. 

Taking her time to slowly role out the introductions of her panelists, Desai encouraged each of them to take a moment to discuss the unique IFEC products and services their companies have brought to market over the years, which served as an impromptu IFEC history lesson of sorts for the crowd. Particularly when industry veteran, Anil Kumar, Boeing’s Technical Fellow – Offboard Communication Systems, sagely inferred that the more things change on the IFEC front, the more they stay the same. 

“So, at Boeing, I have over 25 years of experience on all of these connectivity systems. Going back to Connexion by Boeing where we produced in-flight connectivity SATCOM systems,” said Kumar. “What I hear today is not very different from what we heard back in those days. The only difference now is we have a range of satellite networks, LEO, MEO, GEO … but I still think we have some challenges. But I also think that over a period of time that will change.” 

Desai and company also tackled topics like the need of standardization; airline requests for more flexibility and a faster time to market regarding connectivity solutions; and the migration to a software-defined modem. 

Also touched on by several of the panelists was the importance of not innovating so quickly that they get ahead of what will and won’t actually work on an airplane.

Desai seemed to agree. “There’s pros and cons, definitely. And I think that the airlines have to adapt to the customer needs quickly. So, that’s where innovation would help but then we need standardization of equipment too, because we can’t keep going in there and replacing it,” said Desai. “So, it’s almost like a hard balance.“