At Home At 35,000 Feet


When we saw the Aircraft Cabin Systems 52” LCD display, the only thought that came to mind was a saying attributed to US President, Calvin Cooledge, when he was asked to fund an air force – “Why don’t we buy one airplane and let the pilots take turns flying it.” Along the same train of thought, we asked why more airlines don’t install one big screen and let passengers watch it as they do in their own homes (Ok, almost)? For one thing, there are few, if any, aircraft certified IFE HD video players and displays available. Another is the availability of qualified networks to deliver the programming (watch Lumexis on this one). Goodrich (TEAC) showed a preproduction video player at the last WAEA Conference, it looks like Yukio Sugimoto’s ACS has the biggest, certified, video display available – 52 inches. We should note that US airlines like Delta use 32” screens as bulkhead monitors, but our focus today is big screen, HD, digital TV!

The screen on the ACS 47″ model is big, REALLY big! In use on Saudi Arabian Airlines B777 aircraft, the unit supplies overhead video to over 100 passengers in coach. In fact, as screens get this big, MPEG 1 signal sources are pushed to their limit. Standard Definition 480p images are really a baseline for good big screen television but as passengers watch HD 720p on digital televisions in their home, expect a demand for higher definition sources, higher bandwidth networks, and big screens. You can imagine how the owner of a $50 million bizjet feels when he has only small screen NTSC or PAL video. The problem is there are very few suppliers with aircraft certified Large Screen displays and none that push the 50” size…except ACS, that is. You can imagine the difficulty even finding a shake table to test the vibration specifications or vacuum chamber able to accommodate a decompression test for the 8,000 foot altitude pressure dump to 35,000 feet equivalent air pressure. These units are not cheap, but if you consider that a big screen can cost the equivalent of the expense of the IFE equipment outlay for less than that of an installed row of seats, it is a pretty good deal. Add in the weight savings for wiring, hardware and power and you have an interesting trade study. Just wait, this solution is on it’s way, first with bizjets and Very VIP aircraft and finally to the commercial aircraft space. And by the way, we have it on good authority that there is a 60″+ unit in the works! You can find ACS at

Rumor Central: Last week, if you remember, we broke the story about AeroMobile being in “administration”. We do know the administrators were shopping the assets around London. To refresh your memory, AeroMobile was originally a 50/50 joint venture of ARINC and Telenor. But since then Telenor has bought up more and more of ARINC’s interest and now owns 98.88%. ARINC holds 0.12% but has basically dropped out of the project. It is possible they could stand there and watch Telenor buy their own 99% and negotiate for better terms, but why wouldn’t Panasonic want to gain leverage? Remember, AeroMobile is connected at the hip to the Panasonic worldwide connectivity initiative. So doesn’t it seem logical that the IFE top dog should be in on the bidding war? We think so but the bidders are not talking. The product is very important to Panasonic. We would be surprised if they sat back and let OnAir walk away with it. It will be interesting. We guess we are saying one should not be surprised to find the Brunnerites in the airborne calling business!

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