This week IFExpress features Terrence Bonar’s, AIRVOD in the ongoing Single Aisle Solutions series, with a few IFE surprises to boot. We also got wind of a new book by non other than SATCOM-famed Liz Young and snagged a review for our readers – good stuff! Lastly, our call for 2012 predictions received the first input from Thales Chief Engineer, Ken Brady. Read on, reader:

When we first ran into the AIRVOD SEATCENTRIC system at the 2011 APEX Conference we were taken a little aback at the system sophistication and seatback screen image quality. CEO Terrence Bonar told IFExpress about the genesis of his Wi-Fi-based IFE system. In a nutshell, SEATCENTRIC is a seatback-focused IFE system that features inseat memory and an 802.11n driven leaky-line network that looks to be a new beginning for the previously portable-focused IFE vendor. We understand that the 5 GHz network can also deliver 2.4 GHz streams to portable PEDS as well. It is able to support Android apps and the system appears to run on a hybrid or modified OS (LINUX, or the like). At showtime, each seat unit featured 128 GB of EMMC cards, “that can each store approximately 300 movies”, claimed Bonar. The server we saw was a minuscule 2 MCU device capable of supplying all the IFE for one single-aisle plane – around 150 seats we guess. From what we understood, the system streamed entertainment video from the seatback storage and used the network to update the EMMC card, PA interrupts, and communicate the moving map coordinates. Inseat power is delivered via one box per each 9 seats.

Q. Please describe your single aisle solution for IFExpress readers?

A. AIRVOD launched their product called SEATCENTRIC® at the AIX/APEX show in September and introduced their launch customer. SEATCENTRIC® is a self-contained entertainment and communications center at every seat. Following current consumer trends, all content is stored and processed locally at each seat. SEATCENTRIC® has three core building blocks.

1. Smart Display
2. Communications network
3. Power Network

(Editor Note: If you haven’t noted by now, the term “SEATCENTRIC” has been trademarked by AIRVOD as their product model name some 4 years ago – nuff said!)

Q. We understand the system uses a wireless network?

A. Yes, the SEATCENTRIC® product uses a wireless network and the two primary functions are to 1) Provide content updates to each display 2) To provide system control and management. When AIRVOD set out to design our system, we looked at all options and we formed a simple view that in the future, all aircraft will come with a standard wireless backbone and that the bandwidth speeds of wireless networks will increase over time. We also listened to airlines and it was absolutely clear, that they want to reduce the number of cables on the aircraft.

Furthermore, we have done an analysis of content offered by a large number of airlines and found that the majority of airlines offer less than 50 movies to their passengers. The same airlines only update a percentage of their content each month, which means that in the majority of cases less than 20 movies are transferred 12 times per year.

This equates to approx. 10GB of data to be uploaded and means that AIRVOD only needs to transfer content over their network for 12 days per year to meet the needs of the majority of airlines IFE requirements. Daily news and papers file sizes are so small that updates happen in minutes.

SEATCENTRIC® uses a multicast transfer system that was originally developed for our portable inflight entertainment products. On a single aisle aircraft we can transfer content to all displays using 1 access point and 1 leaky line.

The SEATCENTRIC® cabin wireless network offers both IEEE 802.11n connectivity in the 5GHz band and IEEE 802.11b/g connectivity in the 2.4GHz ISM band. AIRVOD is the first IFE supplier to make use of the 5GHz wireless band. All SEATCENTRIC® command and control and content transfers occur in the protected 5GHz band, thereby reserving the 2.4GHz band for maintenance, airline cabin service applications and passenger connectivity.

The SEATCENTRIC® IFE utilizes industry standard interfaces throughout for simple integration and expansion, including ARINC 763A form factor components, ARINC 485 and 628 interfaces, ARINC 809 connectors, ARINC 821 Network Services, ARINC 834 Aircraft Interface Services. AIRVOD personnel have been instrumental in the development of these standards as well as providing committee leadership in the creation of DO-294B and ED-130 for use of passenger electronic devices on aircraft.

Q. Can passengers use their mobile, Wi-Fi equipped devices to get messages? Entertainment?

A. Yes, the AIRVOD SEATCENTRIC® product can allow passengers to interact with content where the appropriate licensing agreements are in place with the respective content owner. A simple example is the ability to download a specific app like our moving map that is compatible with a wide variety of PED devices.

Q. Please explain the degree of functionality in the AIRVOD product? Memory, update capability, entertainment capacity, messaging?

A. The displays have the capability to store up to 1TB which would equate to approx. 2000 movies. This type of capacity can provide more movies than any airline offers today. We run the very latest ARM processors ensuring High Definition video playback with truly spectacular 3D app and gaming capability.

Q. How do you view the IFE market today?

A. We divide the market into 4 tiers and these companies are assigned based on the ability to address the entire market rather than technology or product offering. We believe that this is a very important distinction as all good marketing departments try to predict that one technology or product is the best but the reality is that different airlines have different needs.

“Tier 1” This is the largest segment of the market today and only 3 IFE companies can offer airlines a total IFE offering across both Line fit in all air framer catalog programs and retrofit market.

“Tier 2” – Can provide total solutions for the entire retrofit market so they can provide seatback installations, streaming or overhead options.

“Tier 3” can address a segment of the retrofit market only. For instance, offering a wireless streaming to PED devices is a perfectly credible offering and will suit certain airlines but does not address the needs of the entire retrofit market, thereby limiting the commercial opportunity. Again different technologies are used by different companies.

“Tier 4” Portable entertainment addresses the smallest segment of the IFE market but has many advantages in its own right.

AIRVOD consider themselves a “Tier 2” IFE supplier today and anticipate that the “Tier 2” IFE suppliers will continue to challenge and move towards the “Tier 1” space over the next 36 – 60 Months. It really is exciting times and we believe that the “Tier 2” providers today suffer from the problem of having too much work and certainly AIRVOD are trying to scale up accordingly as fast as we can.

Q. Have any airlines accepted/installed the AIRVOD solution? If so, how many seat installations are planned/installed?

A. Yes AIRVOD announced their launch customer for a fleet of 777-200 aircraft in September 2011 with 390 seats per aircraft. This demonstrates that SEATCENTRIC® is not just a great single-aisle product but works on any aircraft type.

Since the launch customer announcement AIRVOD has simply been overwhelmed by the response and today we have 33 more aircraft installations under contract. It is absolutely clear that 2011 has seen a remarkable shift towards the “Tier 2” IFE providers. We are very excited by the developments and we are now positioned to reap the rewards of our continued investment in research and development over the past few years.

Q. Please send alining any PDF spec sheets or data sheets of your system, we will link them to the story. Also, who is the contact (email) person for AIRVOD and a link to your website?

A. or

(Editors Note; AIRVOD did not provide requested specification or datasheets but you might be able to secure one via their website.)

Q. Will you be at Aircraft Interiors… with your demo as at APEX?

A. Yes

Q. Can you tell our readers what the weight per seat for your system is?

A. I would be happy to provide the weight per seat if we understand what basis the calculation is going to be done. There is a difference for example if we are not using PED power per seat. This sometimes gets confusing and not everyone includes everything in the calculation. What I can say is that our display is less than 1LB in weight.

Q. In your own words, can you tell us a small bit about your installation solution – we remember the guy at APEX (installation house) as a real “sparkplug” for AIRVOD.

A. Currently AIRVOD have a number of different installations programs underway. Both line fit and retrofits. The installation procedures are different in each case; however, if we look at the retrofit programs we have also formed a strategic alliance with Avianor, a leading MRO based in Montreal, Canada. As part of this relationship we can jointly offer airlines our “Pitstop” service where we can provide the IFE, modify the seat, install and have the aircraft leave with an STC on the windshield. This is an industry first and opens up the market for airlines who before may not have considered offering IFE due to the complexity involved. The other advantages are that we can dramatically reduce lead times for installations and reduce the cost. This joint approach allows us to remove old IFE systems as part of the process also.


Liz Young’s new book, “FUGO” is now available and from what we hear, her knowledge of SATCOM science comes to play in one very exciting way. You can actually read a few excerpts on…and yes, there will be a book report due at the end of the semester! Here is a plot synopsis of “FUGO”.

(Editors Note: If you wondered about the name “FUGO” like we did, remember your WW2 history. It seems that the incendiary balloons sent to the US by Japan were called “fire balloons” or FUGO in Japanese.)

Author Bio:
Elizabeth Young has worked in the telecommunications and satellite industries since starting her career in radio in Washington, DC. In the late 1980’s, she joined COMSAT, eventually running Aeronautical Services. After a brief retirement spent teaching and consulting, she became a general manager for Aircraft Communications at SITA. She maintains a consulting practice that includes clients in the US, Europe and Australia. She has held teaching appointments at The American University, The Ohio State University, Emerson College and Christopher Newport University. “FUGO” is her second novel. More about her books can be found at:


IFE Predictions 2012

1. I think in 2012 the industry will be more focused on “completion” than on “invention”. The 787 will hopefully start delivery in reasonable numbers and we will see how these long delayed introductions actually perform. The A350 will be in full scale development and test.

2. Connectivity will continue to be extremely dynamic and it will continue to be difficult to clearly see where we will be, even in the near term future. While there are some sound stable products that are being delivered today (by Thales and others), the dynamics and volatility of the approaches being promoted for the future will continue to create confusion in the industry. – Ken Brady, Chief Engineer, Thales


This Week’s Free Apps:
We hit the jackpot this week – 40 free apps on our search but you have to act fast as they go fast. Just click on the “Free App” button on the right hand tool bar of this newsletter!