Our lead story is a reminder to all you IFE aficionados to sign-up for the WAEA Technical Committee Meeting & Single Focus Workshop (March 24 – 25, 2010) in Southern California. Day One features the WAEA Technology Committee’s Digital Content Management Working Group (DCMWG) Meeting, there will be three panels. The first will consider the proposed changes/additions made in the MPEG-4 settings covered by WAEA 0403. A panel of industry experts including hardware providers, content providers, and representatives from the post-production community will participate. The second panel will consider the possibility of adding an HD specification to WAEA 0403. A demonstration of 1080p content on 1080p native screens, versus 720p content on 720p natives screens, at different screen sizes is planned. The third panel will consider the possibility of adding a 3D specification to 0403 or as a separate document. Representatives of MPEG Industry Forum (MPEGIF) with whom WAEA has a reciprocal relationship are expected to attend and participate in the 3D discussion. Day Two is a WAEA Single-Focus Workshop (re “Connectivity Update”) sponsored in part by EMS. There is a minimal fee of $75 for vendors to attend Day 2. WAEA TC & Single Focus Workshop Information.

Perhaps the biggest news this week is from Alaska Airlines…trialed Row 44 Internet hardware on 4 aircraft and then went with AirCell’s Gogo service. Equipment/installation cost may be part of the equation but we suspect Alaska’s new management may be in there somewhere. We contacted Row 44 and CEO John Guidon told IFExpress: “We are disappointed we could not work out a mutually agreeable business relationship. But based on information we learned during their successful passenger trial, we know passengers were extremely satisfied with our service, including coverage into Canada and the far reaches of the airline’s namesake State.”– Row 44 CEO John Guidon. Check out this story in the Seattle Times for additional info and see the Aircell press release in this issue of IFExpress.

OK, we stole this from the Aircraft Interiors crowd but so did they! Actually, it is a good story on Asian Aviation…plus, you can find out what this years’ AIX show in Hamburg is all about! On the AIX website here’s what Murdo Morrison’s (Editor Flight Int’l) says about Asian Aviation: “Emerging more confidently from the global recession than other regions, the Asian aviation market is forging ahead and appears to have coped better than expected with the recent economic down turn. Could this herald a trend for airlines operating in the Asian arena to be at the forefront of the latest look in interiors as operators gear up to meet the growing demand? Seen for many years by some experts, as the great hope for the civil aircraft and aerospace industry it does seem that the Asian aviation market is starting to fulfill these predictions. Statistics at the start of 2010 show Asian aviation’s freight and passenger growth to be looking quite healthy.” With 98% of the stands sold to date, you had better hurry if you want to own your exclusive display. Here is a link to the AIX floor plan. as well as a link to Murdo Morrison’s video on Asian Aviation.

An aviation reprobate and an old friend, Robert (Bob) Bogash, sent us a link to his website outlining his experiences with, and knowledge of the lore of, the U-2 spy plane. We know, it has absolutely nothing to do with in-flight entertainment but it is really interesting! If you have an interest in aviation technology and want to learn some Skunk-Works stuff and see incredible aviation history photography – this link is for you!

Water Cooler Rumor One: An aircraft display vendor is about to roll out an amazing 65”, aviation grade (DO-160), Large Screen Monitor!

Water Cooler Rumor Two: A new Alaska digEcor Contract was signed at the end of 2009 with XT players shipped to Alaska. IFExpress has the scoop on a new agreement for about 1,000 more players for Alaska that will handle shopping, advertising, etc. just like the new Hawaiian contract. We also hear the first of the L7 “Lafeel built players” will be shipped at the end of March to a customer in Europe. This is the early model that was exhibited at the WAEA in Palm Springs. It will exceed the battery life of even the XLP – it’s battery life will now be 20 plus hours. We expect the new device to sport solid-state memory soon with chips instead of a hard drive and it could reach 25 hours of battery life. Stay Tuned on this one.