Former Boeing chief stars on CES first day
Former Boeing boss Alan Mulally was one of the early stars of the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, which opened yesterday in Las Vegas. Now chief executive of the Ford car company, he delivered a keynote speech revealing how the automotive manufacturers are bringing aviation flight deck and cabin networking ideas to their products.
He described the latest additions to Ford’s Sync infotainment and connectivity platform, which include provision for emergency assistance, vehicle health reporting, and personalised traffic information and navigation. He also unveiled Ford’s new concept of a totally configurable driver’s display, developed in collaboration with Sharp, Microsoft and Sony and featuring capabilities such real-time guidance on how to drive for maximum fuel economy.
Sony chief executive Sir Howard Stringer described the “CES Seven” key imperatives for the consumer electronics industry: products should interact seamlessly across industries, be service-based and multi-functional, support open technologies, advance the sharing of experiences, create new value chains and be green. He declared that his company planned to create a “total Sony experience,” with 90 per cent of its product categories connecting wirelessly to the Internet and with each other by 2011.
Today’s CES conference sessions will include the show’s first ever air-to-ground connectivity panel. Sponsored by the World Airline Entertainment Association and moderated by Inflight Online, the panel will feature some of the leading figures in the sector.
Addressing the question Using your wireless device on an airplane: all type and no talk? will be Doug Backelin of American Airlines, Patrick Brannelly (Emirates), Dave Carson (Boeing), David Coiley (Inmarsat) and Henri Broussalian (OnAir).
As manager of inflight communications and technology, Backelin is leading the first in-service trial of Aircell’s Gogo terrestrial air-to-ground broadband service. If passengers take to the service the airline plans to introduce it throughout the domestic fleet.
VP of passenger communications and visual services at Emirates, Brannelly went where most have so far feared to tread, selling the case for onboard cellphone to his management so successfully that the Dubai carrier was the first by a long way to introduce a fully commercial service. Emirates is now installing AeroMobile hardware at the rate of one aircraft every couple of weeks and plans to have its whole fleet outfitted by the end of next year.
Carson works on cabin systems integration at Boeing and also co-chairs the RTCA’s SC-202 special committee, responsible for addressing the technical questions around the use of personal electronic devices in the cabin.
Formerly with onboard cellphone service provider AeroMobile, Coiley now heads the aeronautical business at mobile satellite operator Inmarsat. In that capacity he plays a key role in ensuring that OnAir, for whom Broussalian acts as head of North American business development, has the L-band satellite capacity it needs to deliver the cellphone services currently being trialled by TAP Portugal and bmi of the UK.
Supporting the panel will be Eric Lemond of Aircell, supplier of the Gogo broadband service to American. Director of product and platform management for Colorado-based Aircell, Lemond is expected to voice his concerns about the way flight mode is being implemented in the new generation of handheld wireless devices (Inflight Online yesterday).