With advances in inflight entertainment (IFE), there may come a day when travelers prefer their flights to their homes. The market combines competitive consumer electronics and a race to space, with major satellite companies teaming with the likes of Boeing and Honeywell to offer the fastest and most seamless entertainment and connected experiences. Soon, passengers may be disappointed to arrive at their destinations after lounging with the latest movies, checking e-mails, texting friends and even ordering food from their seats.
1. View from the Plane
Company: Brussels Airlines
Specifications: Brussels Airlines recently included updates to its IFE systems in business and economy classes. The systems include 15.3- and 9-in. Rave touchscreens from Zodiac Aerospace, as well as a 3-D virtual moving map system developed by Lufthansa that is called Niceview. It includes virtual camera views from the aircraft, lifelike views through the cockpit and cabin windows, news, and information and flight data such as wind and ground speeds.
Link #: 1409
2. Optimal Weight and Energy
Company: Zodiac Aerospace
Specifications: The Rave system from Zodiac—featured on Brussels Airlines, Aer Lingus, Air France, Fly Dubai, Singapore Airlines and more than 40 other carriers—offers high-definition displays weighing less than 3 lb. and using fewer than 12 watts of energy per seat. The display systems have two line-replaceable units (LRU) and can be removed from their docks and replaced by crewmembers. The Rave broadband system is supported by Honeywell’s Global Xpress Ka-band broadband system with download speeds up to 50 megabits per second and upload speeds up to 4.7 megabytes per second.
Link #: 244
3. Waterfront Aloft
Specifications: Panasonic, with B/E Aerospace, has created the Waterfront business-class seat, which debuted at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2016. The seat connects the elements of the passenger experience from receiving a boarding pass to claiming luggage. The seat features a 24-in. ultra-high-definition display screen with edge-to-edge coverage and wireless charging ports. Panasonic also offers the X series systems, which include a suite of monitors, handsets and servers. The “eXW” from the series consists of five LRUs, resulting in shorter installation time and reduced weight in the aircraft. Panasonic builds on an open-platform architecture and is working with developers by supplying software development kits with a rack simulator, example code, developer tools and an application programming interface. In August 2016, MRO service provider SR Technics completed cabin modifications for six Edelweiss Air Airbus A320s and installed the Panasonic wireless IFE systems.
Link #: 379
4. Restyled To Feel Like Home
Company: JetBlue Airways
Specifications: JetBlue is restyling 130 of its Airbus A320s with a fully connected in-seat experience. The IFE system is supported by Thales STV+ and built on the Google Android platform. The upgrades include a 10.1-in. touchscreen, over 100 DirecTV channels, more than 300 movies, power in every seat and personal device-pairing capabilities. The restyling will begin in 2017, with a targeted completion date of 2019. The plan was announced in 2014.
Link #: 1404
5. What’s Next in IFE
Company: JPA Design
Specifications: JPA Design, headquartered in London and with an office in Singapore, provides insight, strategy, and product design and realization during aircraft cabin upgrades, including IFE systems. After the system is identified, JPA will work with the manufacturer for component information, then package those items for functionality (avoiding overheating, for example) and optimal passenger experience. “[IFE] is a serious investment,” says Managing Director Ben Orson. “The challenge is to ensure it remains a good solution.” He says that with more passengers bringing devices on board, airlines may try to optimize those experiences, instead of providing touchscreens and tablets at the seats. Passengers also could eventually see their windows turn into giant screens, see virtual-reality options on their flights (Qantas Airways conducted VR trials for three months in 2015 on selected flights) or experience seat vibrations and smell enhancers to mirror the entertainment. JPA has more than 20 aviation clients including Airbus, Cathay Pacific Airways, American Airlines and Singapore Airlines. JPA completed premium economy redesigns with 13.3-in. high-definition monitors on Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A380s for Singapore Airlines.
Link #: 1410
6. IFE, Uninterrupted
Specifications: Inmarsat is working to launch the inflight broadband service GX Aviation. The service is powered by GX Constellation, which consists of three Global Express (GX) I-5 Ka-band satellites, which were launched in 2013-15 and expected to have commercial lives of 15 years. The service is connected through Inmarsat’s hardware JetWave, a terminal that includes dual receivers and reduces interruption and downtime for users and increased performance above 40 deg. N. Lat. With this technology, passengers will be able to interact with their personal devices as they would on the ground, send real-time social media updates and videoconference while in flight. Honeywell Hardware received final certification for GX Aviation’s inflight Wi-Fi in August.
Link #: 1403
Gallery: See more on inflight entertainment developments at: AviationWeek.com/12-IFE