digEcor: New Concepts, New Company, New CEO – David Withers!


Perhaps in summary, the digEcor company is summed up in three words: Integrated Flight Experience. digEcor is redefining the expression “IFE”. Their entertainment solutions, power, LED lighting and connectivity for customers and crew is redefining the integrated suite of products that extends the company portfolio outside the realms of IFE only. And this is what new digEcor CEO and Managing Director David Withers (2 years now) told IFExpress recently at an industry trade convention and what he told us here is for our readers evaluation. Make no mistake, David is an ambitious guy, and his personality and drive will be expressed in the products, service, and the philosophy of the “new” digEcor heralding a new era for the company and setting them up as a key market player for years to come.
Let’s look at the three pieces we mentioned in our Hot Topic title separately; New Concepts, New Company, and the New CEO, David Winters.

First, the issue here is NEW Concepts, or new products, which we note include new ideas on new products and new features on existing ideas/products. We contacted the company for help and they gave us a “running” description that we include for your edification.

Obviously Glide is our cornerstone product and it is a game changer. The lightest and cheapest seat back solution on the market today is also the easiest to install with only 3 components none of which need a rack. We are really proud of Glide, we’ve got a great engineering team and they’ve turned out a superb product at a great price. We design and manufacture everything in house so we have complete control over the functionality, quality and cost. I know others have been making noises about price but our similarly priced product is developed and ready for installation. Glide is available in 8”, 10”, 12”, 15” and 21” screen sizes. But, Glide is just part of the product range.”

One of the challenges we’ve faced is that digEcor as a brand was historically known for its Portable IFE devices. However, we are now so much more. Our integrated suite of products across the flight experience positions us in a much broader territory and we’ve had to work hard to get the message out. All of our products are either certified or on a certification path with a launch customer. It has been a busy two years!” That said, portables remain an important business for us and we’ve recently launched our fifth generation of purpose built portable media player, the NV series available in 8”, 10” and 12” screen sizes and with content storage from 64GB to 2 TB. Being purpose built they are rugged and have an exchangeable battery without losing any of the style of a contemporary tablet.”

In-Seat Power
Passenger surveys keep telling our airline clients that power is becoming essential for their customers in every class. Passengers expect power in the seat and digEcor has the right solution at the right price for both 110VAC and USB2.1A. Our USB power solution is very lightweight and fits in the audio seat box provisions on most seats making it surprisingly easy to install and certify. Airlines also have the ability to drive ancillary revenue through selling in-seat power on our system with an optional Cabin Management Panel (CM) where power is selectable at each individual seat by the cabin crew.”

Cabin Lighting
In Hamburg this year we launched our LED Lighting product range. This new feature of digEcor’s embedded Glide inflight entertainment system, allows passengers to control their in-seat lighting service by manipulating over 4 billion color settings to choose their preferred shade and intensity. It is easy-to-install, replaces existing light assemblies, operates through Glide and runs efficiently from existing power. It is configured for sidewall and ceiling use and is easily controlled by cabin crew.”

“Of course our focus is on the Integrated Flight Experience and our Engage crew connectivity solution exemplifies that. It brings the wealth of knowledge most airlines have on their frequent fliers buried away in ground systems on to the aircraft in a user friendly application for cabin crew. Qantas loves it and use it on every flight now.”

Tape Replacement Solution
digEcor’s Tape Replacement Solution is installed in place of the video control cabinet and connects to the aircraft’s existing audio/video systems to consolidate tape decks, PRAM and video controllers into a single unit. It mounts on a convenient galley or cabin wall and frees up overhead bin or galley space. It features up to 1 TB internal storage and is updated via SSD content drives, USB or 4G modem transfers. Because digEcor’s Tape Replacement Solution is the actual video control panel for Glide, our embedded IFE system, installing a seat centric system in first class, business or all seats becomes easier and more cost-effective should future needs drive such a change.”

Next, lets take a look at the New Company. In a discussion with Mr. Withers, he told IFExpress: “We pioneered portable inflight entertainment in 2003 when Bill Boyer, a baggage handler at Alaska Airlines, decided to take entertainment into his own hands. In 2004, the digEplayer 5500 won IFE Product of the Year at the IPEC Inflight Online Awards. The company was renamed digEcor and moved to Springville, UT. Over the coming years digEcor released the digEplayer XT, XLP, L7, L10 and now the new NV. It used the same innovation to develop Glide, it’s signature embedded inflight entertainment solution. In 2013 digEcor was acquired by Total Aviation Solutions and is now headquartered in Australia with offices in the Americas, Asia-Pacific and Europe.

David went on; “What the new company means and why… We now have offices in London, Australia and the US and provide 24/7 customer support. Our management structure follows our customer philosophy i.e. we are organized around our customers and we have been very successful in recruiting excellent leaders. For example Paul Thorpe our president Europe, Middle East and Africa operating from our London office has had a very successful career selling for and supporting the customers of some of the industry’s biggest players. But it wasn’t just his experience that I was looking for, it was his attitude towards the customer, his desire to take responsibility and be held accountable and above all else his ability to lead in a humble way. He is a typical digEcor employee and I love working with him and all the other members of the digEcor team.”

To give our readers an idea of the fallout of the new products and redirected team efforts here is what has been happening at digEcor HQ, here are a couple recent announcements:

  • AZUL: “digEcor is pleased to provide its L7 digEplayer solution to Brazilian carrier, Azul and Minneapolis-based Sun Country Airline. Its agreement with Azul to provide 1,100 L7 portable digEplayers also involves the provision of maintenance support and content integration services ensuring the airline can offer its passengers movie, television and audio programs from all the leading Hollywood studios and independent distributors. “digEcor is proud to work with Azul to deliver this portable IFE solution,” said digEcor Sales Director Americas Josh Rasmussen. “Azul is a leading airline in Latin America and we look forward to growing our relationship with them by providing first-class IFE service and support.”

Readers note that digEcor rents L7 portable media players for a low all inclusive daily rate, provides all the required hardware, content and a perpetual warranty. Every 60 days the players are swapped out with a fresh set containing updated content.

  • Sun Country Airlines: In further news, digEcor is very happy to be working closely with our valued customer Sun Country Airlines, who are bringing 700 portable L7 digEplayers back into service on all of their schedules services. “It’s a clear demonstration of the durability and reliability of the L7 system and a much appreciated acknowledgement of the quality and flexibility of digEcor’s content management program,” said Mr Rasmussen. “Sun Country Airlines always deliver excellent passenger service, we’re proud to help them do it.”

And finally IFExpress should mention a bit more about the NEW CEO David Withers. David founded digEcor’s parent Total Aviation Solutions in 2009 and has over 25 years’ experience in the aviation industry. He is a former President of Boeing Australia and was the Asia Pacific Managing Director for Smiths Aerospace (now GE Aviation) after completing his time with Qantas Airways. David has a Masters of Business Administration, an Honors degree in Communications Engineering, trade qualifications in aircraft maintenance and is a commercial pilot. He is a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Australian Institute of Management.

From the IFExpress perspective, it is obvious that David is passionate about building great businesses based around great teams, with great products… and all focused on delivering value to customers. Cliché? Perhaps, but it is what drives him… and he is driven. In the two years since acquiring digEcor he has brought to market a huge range of new cabin technology products all designed for a new and better passenger experience.

So where to from here? David told IFExpress; “Having achieved so much in the past two years we could be easily forgiven for taking some time to consolidate, but I’m a builder by nature and won’t rest until we’ve carved a place in history for digEcor. This is the tip of the iceberg, there is a large market to capture and we are well on our way to do so. Watch this space…

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