Last time we talked a bit about the aviation future based on recent activity at Farnborough and thus this week we thought it would be interesting to get a personal take on the aircraft interior.
So now, the question is: What can we expect in the future world of IFE, both in hardware and in content? We decided to ask two people who know as much about the future of IFE as anyone in this business, Rich Salter (hardware) and Michael Childers (content) and we chose them because in Rich’s case, the Lumexis Second Screen caught our attention and Michael because he has been on the forefront of movie sales, content development, captioning, consulting and so much more. Here’s what they told IFExpress about aircraft hardware/content future and their own environments:
Rich Salter, Lumexis’ CTO, had this to say: “Though we chose the name “FTTS Second Screen™” it also means “multi-screen” because that’s where the consumer and the technology is heading: to multiple screens in the home, office, and on the road as well. Today’s traveler wants to multitask on his/her larger embedded screen, laptop or tablet, and smartphone. But tomorrow’s generation (i.e., our young kids today) are even more into social networks and communicating (i.e., texting, tweeting, and posting photos) whenever and wherever with their friends and business groups alike – they are already adept at using multiple screens and running the app that runs best on each screen.
For high res movies, an embedded screen with fiber optic interface will always provide more capacity than streaming wireless to handheld PEDs, because no matter how much bandwidth the latest wireless standard provides, there is always another generation of higher resolution video content coming along (i.e., HD, Ultra HD (4K), 8K, etc.) that needs even more bandwidth (i.e., a bigger “pipe”). The fiber network (like the one to many homes today) enables the HD content to all the seats in the plane, and the future technologies for embedded screens will allow them to be thinner, lighter weight, and lower cost, with higher resolution and more touch gesture control and other human interfaces added.
As for passenger-owned devices, there’s going to be many screens brought onboard to compliment the main screen and make up the whole IFE system of the future. For example, “wearable technology” is now really beginning to gain momentum – I would not be surprised to see small flexible video screens begin to show up on the shirtsleeves of passengers just like the Apple iWatch and Google Glass are now creeping into our lives.
Content users are already using multiple screens simultaneously to consume different kinds of content, says Michael Childers, a longtime content management consultant, APEX Board Member, and chair of the APEX Technology Committee. “According to my friends at the Second Screen Society, watching videos on tablets and mobile devices has increased 719 percent since Q4 2011 and 160 percent year-over-year since Q4 2011. 73 percent of TV Everywhere views are on a second screen. 35 percent of first screen time is second-screened, of which 1/3 is with related content. 11 percent of the second screen experience is to interact with the TV, 14 percent involves social media related to the first screen program, and 24 percent is ‘discovery’—seeking additional information about the first screen content.”
During this year’s Academy Awards telecast, U.S. TV network ABC made major advances in second screen by including an enhanced viewing experience in its “Watch ABC” viewing app, said Childers. Users who opened the “Watch ABC” app during the Oscar telecast were given the option of going “Backstage”—sponsored by Samsung Galaxy—to enjoy a number of “companion experiences” that included video clips of the arriving stars, live camera feeds from alternate locations, and different camera feeds of the red carpet.
Oscar host Ellen DeGeneres set a second screen record by tweeting live during the telecast, including the famous selfie centered around Meryl Streep, said Childers.
Of course, live events and sports lend themselves to multiple screens, but what about second screen content in pre-recorded content and IFE? “Second screen has come to the movies,” says Childers. “Last year Dutch director Bobby Boermans incorporated a synchronized second-screen app in the storyline of his movie, appropriately titled App. Moviegoers were asked to download a free app before going to the theater, and were advised to leave their devices on their laps while watching the film. When second screen content was available, members of the audience were by their vibrating phones,” he said. There were 35 moments in the film where second screen content enhanced the viewing experience, but the movie was complete on its own for viewers not interested in carrying their PEDs into the theater.
The app for App utilized embedded watermarks and a digital watermarking technology from Civolution that was developed to prevent illegal downloads, said Childers.
More and more films are being made with second screen content, or just frame-specific metadata that can be used to create a second screen experience, said Childers. “With more and more people bringing smartphones, tablets and notebooks onboard, there are many new opportunities to use these devices to complement and enhance the IFE,” he said. Disney has been very active in second screen linking the movie to the viewer’s device through an audio cue, manual synch, or with a visual sync indicator. Disney released a second screen version of it classic Bambi on its Diamond Edition Blu-ray Disc back in March of 2011.
Devices such as Kindle Fire HD 2nd Generation, Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Fire TV, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4 are all equipped with a second screen window that opens an Amazon Instant Video app, but second screen isn’t just limited to those devices, says Childers.
Among the content enhancements coming to IFE, says Childers, are closed captions for the deaf and dynamic subtitling. “Interestingly a university in Spain developed a closed captioning system for movie theaters that involves downloading an app from Japan that enables smartphones and tablets to display captions that are synched to the image on the movie screen.”
So there you have if from the experts’ mouth, but if you want a good second screen infographic, check here.
Next, we contacted the folks a APEX and asked for a few comments for the “not to be missed” APEX Annual event in California and they told IFExpress the following:
“We can already tell that this is going to be one of our most impressive shows to date. ‘Early Bird’ registration is higher than it’s ever been, and we can feel the excitement growing. We expect more than 3,500 APEX and IFSA members from more than 100 countries – not to mention hundreds of airline representatives eager to see what’s new in the passenger experience.” – Dominic Green, chair of APEX Events & EXPO Committee
“APEX EXPO is different from any other show serving the industry because it’s driven entirely by people working within the passenger experience industry itself. These are individuals who clearly love what they do and that’s demonstrated by the energy and passion exhibited on EXPO floor, and at the educational and networking events.” – Russ Lemieux, APEX executive director
“Our educational sessions are generating a lot of buzz. We’ll hear about the connected journey from IATA, and Cisco will discuss the exciting ‘Internet of Things’ movement that could revolutionize not only the passenger experience but also our everyday lives.” – Lauren Beneri, APEX program director
Be sure to remember that Disneyland is nearby!
The folks at digEcor have a new President of Europe, Middle East, and Africa, Mr. Paul Thorpe. He will call the United Kingdom his home and direct activities from there. His background includes a stint in sales and marketing n the business aviation world, and management roles in aviation and IFE. His last posting was with Rockwell as Sales Director of Northern Europe. Welcome aboard Paul!
And lastly, Gogo announced recently that it has received regulatory approval to provide Ku-band satellite connectivity service for aircraft flying over the eastern and western regions of Russia. This approval is granted based on Gogo’s agreements with AltegroSky and RuSat to provide Ku-band satellite service.
Beijing, Shanghai and Lake Forest, CA | July 24, 2014– In a first for the commercial aviation industry in China, China Eastern Airlines (CEA) has begun offering broadband connected flights over China using China Telecom Satellite aeronautical service and Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (Panasonic) eXConnect system.
The first of 27 CEA aircraft equipped with a system and service tailored to the unique requirements of China is an Airbus A330 aircraft. Onboard, passengers will experience true broadband Wi-Fi as they surf the web, keep in touch with friends and family through their social networks, and even check their email – all at 35,000 feet. CEA has also selected China Telecom Satellite’s service and Panasonic’s eXConnect system for an additional six B767s and 20 B777 aircraft.
The first aircraft has been dedicated to routes between Shanghai and Beijing, allowing government agencies to observe operation of the service before granting full regulatory approval for operation on additional domestic and international routes.
China Eastern Airlines said, “We are very excited to offer this extremely exciting service with China Telecom Satellite and Panasonic Avionics. This is an tremendous milestone for China and we look forward to ensuring our passengers are both entertained and productive as they fly.”
Lv Junli, President of China Telecom Satellite added, “This is a momentous day for China’s commercial airline industry, and we are very confident of providing better broadband connectivity to China with our partners at China Eastern Airlines and Panasonic.”
According to Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer of Panasonic Avionics, “After years of close collaboration with China Eastern Airlines and China Telecom Satellite, we are now witnessing the next step in the evolution of in-flight entertainment over China. We are very excited to bring in-flight broadband Wi-Fi to this strategic market.”
First half of 2014 sees 30 per cent increase in connected aircraft
London | July 29, 2014– Mobile phone users can now use their own devices on more than 245 aircraft across 13 different airlines*, thanks to connectivity provided by AeroMobile.
The number of aircraft offering the AeroMobile service, which allows passengers to use their own mobile phones inflight just as they would abroad, has increased by 30 per cent in the first six months of 2014.
AeroMobile’s inflight mobile network is now available on more than 430 flights every day, including on routes operated by Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic.
The most recent additions to the AeroMobile-connected fleet include Qatar Airways and EVA Air, while existing airline partners, including Etihad and Lufthansa, continue to roll out the service across their long-haul fleets.
Usage has also shot up across the board compared to the same period in 2013, with data seeing the highest uptake of a massive 313 per cent and the number of inflight texts increasing by 48 per cent. With connections to the AeroMobile network up an impressive 56 per cent to just over 3 million connections, it’s clear that inflight mobile connectivity is more popular than ever.
Using the service is easy; once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude simply switch on your phone, making sure ‘Airplane Mode’ is off, and connect to the AeroMobile network. AeroMobile has active roaming agreements with more than 260 mobile phone operators, including all of the major mobile service providers in the UK, and covers over 150 countries worldwide.
“In partnership with the airlines we have really accelerated the roll-out of AeroMobile connectivity this year, meaning more passengers than ever can now use their mobile phones inflight,” said Kevin Rogers, CEO of AeroMobile.
“We’re expecting to see continued growth in airlines, aircraft passengers and usage as the AeroMobile inflight mobile network becomes embedded within the cabin experience,” continued Rogers.
“It’s certainly a very exciting time for the company as airlines can see more than ever that passengers are expecting the same level of connectivity they experience on the ground as up in the air, which means mobile as well as WiFi!” concluded Rogers.
Atlanta | July 24, 2014– Airlines can now offer their ultra tech-savvy passengers the chance to board their flight with a mere flick of their wrist and scan of their smartwatch. SITA Lab continues to innovate and lead in the area of wearable tech by providing boarding passes for Android watches via its API available now on developer.aero.
A simple alert via Android Wear technology will remind the passenger of their flight at the appropriate time and location. A quick swipe reveals the boarding pass and a second swipe displays the barcode allowing the passenger to get through the airport checkpoints and board the plane.
Jim Peters, CTO, SITA, said: “We have done considerable research into the use of wearable technology for the air transport industry and this is the first step to enable passengers to use their own wearable devices as they make their way through the airport.
“SITA’s boarding pass is fully compliant with international regulations, including the TSA, so can be used at airports across the world. We’ve made this available through our industry API platform so it will be interesting to see which airlines will be the early adopters.
SITA provides a selection of APIs for airlines and airports on its developer.aero platform including ones for beacons, baggage tracking and iTravel. Because the boarding passes are delivered via API a simple mark up in the code, which takes less than two minutes, enables Google Now operation and allows smartwatches to be a useful travel tool.
Peters added: “Smartwatches haven’t really taken off just yet but the predictions are very strong. The SmartWatch Group reports that 40 companies launched smartwatches in 2013 and it predicts these devices will become indispensable in the years to come. SITA has now made it possible for airlines to be ready for boarding when these wearable tech devices go mainstream.”
London | July 24, 2014– Air traffic management professionals from across the globe will be meeting in Beijing at the ATC Global exhibition and conference on 17-19 September 2014.
Running for its 24th year with full backing from China’s Air Navigation Service provider (ATMB) and China’s Aviation Regulator (CAAC), ATC Global will facilitate business partnerships and knowledge sharing between colleagues from over 100 countries, at the same time delivering an in-depth and varied educational programme offering cross-industry perspectives and the opportunity for vigorous discussion and debate.
Reflecting CAAC and ATMB’s support of ATC Global 2014, Wang Zhiqing, DDG CAAC and Wang Liya, DG ATMB will be opening the three-day conference focused on spearheading growth on 17 September.
Later that day, Dr. Joe Tymczyszyn, Executive Director, U.S.-China Aviation Cooperation Program (ACP), Ralph Riedle, Chairman, Performance Review Commission and a senior representative from Airbus will lead a session on ATM demand, capacity and efficiency across global markets, using China as a case study.
On day two, the SESAR JU, ATMB and Thales will explore how different regions from around the world are managing the transition towards global system harmonisation, using guidance from ICAO’s Aviation System Block Upgrade (ASBU) framework.
International collaboration, critical for the development of ATM is being discussed in a session later in the day. Pierre Bachelier, Head of ATM Programme Engineering, Airbus will review the impact of ATM developments in the cockpit.
On the final day of the conference, panellists from CAAC, Eurocontrol, Airbus-Prosky and SESAR will review the integral role of the airport in fulfilling key areas of the ASBU framework, in their role as nodes on the ATM system. Speakers will outline where ATM performance improvements have already been achieved at airports and will consider other initiatives underway, their impact and future plans.
The conference will also include thought-leadership sessions considering the impact of new technologies and procedures, including the introduction of remotely piloted aircraft in civil airspace, and collaboration between civil and military airspace managers.
Conference speaker Mr Frank Brenner, Director General, Eurocontrol comments “China is the fastest growing aviation market in the world and as we strive to improve the performance of the air traffic management network, we need to look beyond Europe in order to develop connections with the global network. We therefore look forward to ATC Global and the opportunities that it can offer.”
A programme of free educational workshops that feature: Single European Sky programmes; NextGen, Airport developments in China; ATM performance benchmarking and Global Air Traffic Flow Management will be running alongside the conference, in addition to an exhibitor-led seminar programme on the exhibition floor. Both will be open to visitors, exhibitors and delegates at ATC Global and will also cover topics including the introduction of centralised services; air navigation charges services and; an informal review of aircraft tracking and surveillance in context of the disappearance of MH370.
To find out more about the educational opportunities on offer at ATC Global or to register free of charge as a visitor, visit www.atcglobalhub.com.
Innovative solution responds to industry demand for improved aircraft monitoring
New Delhi | July 23, 2014– SITA, which provides IT and communications solutions to the global air transport industry, today discussed its innovative technology to track aircraft with leading members of the Indian airline community. SITA’s AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker is being introduced to allow airlines efficiently and cost effectively track their aircraft. The solution, which is currently being evaluated by several airlines for testing, will utilize technology that is already installed in aircraft to provide advanced tracking capabilities.
SITA’s new solution was discussed at the Aircraft Services Workshop jointly hosted by SITA and DGCA. The workshop was inaugurated by Shri. Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and the keynote address was delivered by Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Director General, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Leaders and executives from all major airlines and airports in India attended the workshop.
The SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution will enable interested airlines to track aircraft movement by merging SITA’s airline dispatcher center system and airline operations center system (AIRCOM) Server, with its Future Air Navigation System (FANS) ground application, which is available to Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs). The FANS system is already installed in many aircraft, so the solution does not call for extensive additional cost or investment by the airlines.
Shri Ashok Lavasa, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), said: “In the last 10 years, air passenger traffic in India has witnessed tremendous growth with the compounded annual rate reaching13%. Aircraft tracking mechanisms are increasingly important for the safety of passengers. Through this workshop, SITA has provided Indian airlines a great opportunity to discuss the global standards and developments in aircraft tracking mechanisms. With its growth in passenger traffic and new airlines and airports, the Indian aviation industry has the potential to become one of the top three globally by 2020. Adopting global standards and leading the way in important areas such as aircraft tracking will cement India’s leading position and provide comfort to those who fly and their friends who wish them safe landing.”
DGCA had recently made it mandatory for airlines and private operators to use all means to track their aircrafts’ flights on a real-time basis and ensure that necessary devices are functional before take-off.
Dr. Prabhat Kumar, Director General Civil Aviation, said: “Tracking of aircraft on a real-time basis is one of the biggest needs of the industry today not just in India but across the globe. This calls for robust technology that will work with existing systems to make it more efficient and most cost effective. Implementation of datalink based application -VHF or HF as required- along with airborne ACARS/ADS-B by Indian carriers will support the vision of DGCA regarding real-time aircraft tracking. I hope that initiatives like this joint workshop with SITA, providing valuable information on tracking solutions, will enable Indian carriers to move ahead in this important area.”
The SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution will allow end-to-end flight tracking on conditions and parameters the airline sets through their own ADS (Automatic Dependent Surveillance) contract. This in turn will help the airline to react to different aircraft events, including adapting the pace of tracking as appropriate. The solution can be fully managed from the ground and is not dependent on actions from the crew or cockpit as the data is sent automatically after initialization.
Maneesh Jaikrishna, Vice President – India & Subcontinent, SITA, said: “The strong upside of our innovative solution is that it can be developed quickly and it will only add minimal cost to the airlines as it will utilize existing systems on the aircraft. SITA has worked with its aviation industry partners to define next-generation technology for more than 65 years. This workshop is our endeavor to address the airline industry’s concern regarding aircraft tracking as well as to showcase technology solutions that can help improve efficiencies for the airline industry.”
Using the new SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution, airline flight dispatchers will be alerted to unexpected aircraft movements by using the FANS Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Contract (ADS-C) application to request aircraft position reports across the ANSPs borders. This will avoid any gaps between ANSP tracking of the aircraft and will cover areas where ANSPs do not yet have FANS ground systems. Airlines will also be able to see any unexpected loss of contact between their aircraft and air traffic control FANS ground systems by monitoring their aircraft’s use of FANS Air Traffic Services (ATS) Facilities Notification exchanges to log on to and hand off between ANSP FANS ground systems.
The catalyst for developing the solution is the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Special Meeting on Global Flight Tracking of Aircraft held in May where airlines were encouraged to use existing equipment and procedures to the extent possible to support flight tracking. The meeting resulted in the development of a Task Force led by both ICAO and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to further evaluate possible solutions to enhance flight tracking. SITA will comply with any mandated solution determined by the Task Force.
The airlines using the new SITA solution can also benefit from the latest Inmarsat proposition for aircraft tracking reports. SITA provides over 150 airlines, flying more than 10,000 aircraft, with communication services for their Aircraft Communications and Reporting Systems (ACARS) cockpit data link systems through its global AIRCOM network. This network consists of 1400 VHF radio stations and links via satellite.
Tokyo and Lake Forest, CA | July 23, 2014– Skymark Airlines, Japan’s third largest airline, has chosen Panasonic Avionics Corporation’s (‘Panasonic’) global connectivity service, eXConnect, to provide its passengers with free-of-charge in-flight Wi-Fi service.
Passengers will be able to stay on top of current events as they surf the web, keep in touch with friends and family through their social networks, and even check email and send the latest edits to their upcoming sales presentation to their colleagues – all at 35,000 feet.
For domestic routes, Skymark Airlines will introduce this free service on its fleet of new Airbus A330s. They will also expect to offer this same free-of-charge Wi-Fi experience on their international A380 fleet that will be initially flying to North America.
Mr. Shinichi Nishikubo, President and Chief Executive Officer of Skymark Airlines said, “Our customers love in-flight Wi-Fi, and today, we are taking a strategic step forward to ensure that our passengers can be both entertained and productive everywhere our aircraft fly. We look forward to launching this extremely exciting service with our partners at Panasonic Avionics.”
Paul Margis, President and Chief Executive Officer for Panasonic said, “We continue to see rising demand for connectivity from airlines across the globe because today’s travellers expect to be perpetually connected — even when they fly. We are honored to have been chosen by Skymark to support their unique business model and their vision for in-flight entertainment.”
Amsterdam and Mumbai | July 22, 2014– AirFi and Western Outdoor Interactive (WOI) have signed a partnership agreement, enabling AirFi to distribute WOI content, and offering WOI to provide their customers with a new in-flight entertainment (IFE) offering. The AirFi box can now be equipped with over 400 different magazines, games, TripAdvisor offline, newspapers and many other entertainment and concierge services.
The AirFi box is the world’s first and only portable IFE solution. With AirFi, airlines can operate the most flexible, scalable and yet most cost effective IFE solution for passengers using their own device, independent of the type of aircraft. Equipped with or without in-seat entertainment, AirFi provides a WiFi network, and is not in any way connected to the aircraft, creating an alternative in-flight entertainment solution. The AirFi Box is designed to be integrated into existing airline supply chain logistics and to comply with the latest regulatory guidelines for connected devices.
Job Heimerikx (CEO at AirFi) says, “Working together with WOI is a great step forward in enriching the user experience of AirFi. It complements the content that is already available and allows our airline customers to pick and choose the required content or upload their own content to create the right brand and passenger experience.”
V K Narayanan (Vice President, Marketing & Services at WOI) says, “AirFi provides us a great opportunity to further distribute our content and services, to both our existing and new customers. We are pleased to be part of this next innovation in in-flight entertainment and are looking forward to shaping the future together with AirFi.”
Farnborough was a big success for Airbus, who beat out Boeing almost 2 to 1, at least based on aircraft sales dollars there – $75.22B and $40.2B respectively, sort of! At show’s end, Airbus had some 496 aircraft orders/commitments from the show and Boeing chalked 201, but there were some deals in the works. There were 121 A330neo commitments, and 317 A320neo orders that included the 3,000th order of that family. Yes, Airbus beat Boeing “at the show” but a decision by Emirates in June to cancel 70 A350’s ($21B) and another decision in July to accept a Boeing deal for 150 B777x’s, with the right to purchase 50 more somewhat changes the picture. Since Emirates also cancelled the A350 orders, they might actually exercise the 50 B777 option. So where do they stand? While not technically a ‘Farnborough deal’, Emirates is purchasing 115 B777-9Xs and 35 B777-8Xs, the deal value adds over $70B to Boeing’s larder. Industry estimates say a big deal like this is only worth $31B, but if you add that to the $40.2B the show netted Boeing, it looks as if they are at least the July winner! (By the way, the Qatar 777X order announced at the show is indeed a firm order, so we are told.)
To help understand, we contacted Boeing and got this response: “There were no surprises on our end at the air show. We know that Airbus stockpiles orders specifically for the air show, while Boeing announces orders throughout the year. While the air show orders totals you list are correct, I should point out that Boeing went into the air show with more net orders for the year (Boeing 649, Airbus 290)—and we left the air show with more net orders for the year (Boeing 783, Airbus 648). The air show is simply one week out of 52″.
After reading Boeing’s Current Market Outlook we wondered how big the total IFE market over the next 20 years? Lets have some fun.
Below is the projected (20 years) airplane market in the study. We then made a seat number estimate at the average number of seats on each option. Finally, we picked an average seat IFE price of $5000 per seat with the assumption that each and every seat received IFE. Obviously our assumptions will not happen in real life; however, we wanted to get a feel for the cumulative market size, and based on a yearly IFE sale today of $2 – $3 Billion dollars, our dollar number estimate is roughly three quarters what is currently spent per year but we thought our readers would find the process interesting… and feel free to plug in your own numbers.
If you look at the total seats from the aforementioned chart and multiply each seat by our $5,000 IFE estimate, you will get $36,208,250,000 as a total value of 20 years worth of seats. Now, divide by 20 years and the yearly total is $1.81B per year estimated average.
Lets stop for a minute and talk about the $5000 per seat for IFE. First, it is not realistic to assign IFE for every seat on the plane, on every plane, and the same value for every class of seat…we know that. And $5000 is probably good for a coach seat but we have heard numbers or upper class seats of at least $20,000… and we haven’t even mentioned inflation. Further, the aircraft seat numbers were arrived as an average number of seats per plane in the categories outlined in the Current Market Outlook. Our goal was not to give readers a NUMBER that reflects the some value that is slightly real today, but rather, a “water cooler” talkable number and a system to get there. Of course, real data clouds the result but we wanted a “number’ and thought this way, you could enter your own data and installation predictions/prices and show your boss how smart you are!
We should also note that the “number” does not include connectivity and new product developments and derivatives. Nor do we consider technology developments on the ground. If you look at IFE today and the consumer demand for IFE or connectivity, our numbers 20 years ago would seem way out of place today.
Then, for 20 years of IFE sales we average about $1.81B per year! We know the price per seat is going to go up, we know that there will be a lot of wireless connectivity and in-seat power and there will be many aircraft with no IFE. We also know an “average” seat count is not correct, and on and on. So don’t send us letters about how our assumptions are out of whack… we know it, we just wanted to get an average ‘feel’ of 20 years worth of value of the IFE business!
Along with the growth of the IFEC market value there is the growth in the design of IFEC, and the change in the content used. That is to say, in twenty years, IFEC will be different, and the content used in the new hardware will be different (i.e., 3D, 4D, “n”D, hi res., and so on). Make no mistake, it will change, not necessarily because the IFEC vendors want lighter weight hardware, not necessarily because airlines want different, higher quality content, but because passenger wants and needs will change just like they have over the last 10 years. If you think airlines are looking at HD video display because they want it, you might think again. It is the passenger home entertainment quality that keeps the demand for better movie quality. Today, if they are not satisfied with the screen, out comes the laptop, iPad, and in many cases, the personal telephone handset. What we are saying is, today it is the passenger that drives the IFEC requirements. If you need more proof, consider inflight Wi-Fi connectivity. Home Internet speeds are the driver that keeps the folks like Gogo, Panasonic and others awake at night. You climb aboard the most sophisticated flying machine ever invented and bring along a handheld device that has the fastest, lowest power consuming device/processor ever invented, and you just naturally expect the rest of the experience to be sterling because at your end, you have paid your dues. Guess what, connectivity to aircraft has not grown with the airplane technology, it came 90 years afterward so expecting it to develop at the same rate is unreasonable… it just is.
In reality, the IFE answer in the future could either be full-up everything, or nothing… based on what you believe passengers will bring aboard. In reality the answer may be both, and everything in between. If the past is any indicator, the aforementioned statement is probably going to be true. Want more proof, a reader sent us a link to one of the best airline position articles we have seen. As airlines become “hybrids” the world of aviation continues to change. It’s about Southwest, but we think you will get the message.
Next week we will have a look into the future with two if the best in IFE… Rich Salter and Michael Childers… don’t miss it.
For you history buffs, we supply a link and note we received in from a reader: “On Saturday, July 12, I led a walk-around tour at the Museum of Flight – covering the history of Boeing jetliners. My thrust was perhaps a little different from that which some may have expected. For me, the success of Boeing’s jet transport line was not the designing, and building, and flying of the 707 – it was something else – a subtle but profound attitude change inside Boeing. And the critical event was not the kick-off order for the 707 from Pan Am, but rather the later order from American Airlines – Bob Bogash.” The 707 is 60