RAVE ULTRA is the Third Generation RAVE System

During AIX we sat down with Zii and discussed RAVE and the next evolution of their full-up AVOD product dubbed ULTRA. Below is the fruit of that interview and several telecons since then! While at their booth, we were shown (and amazed) at the size, and we mean thinness, of the screen. You can see it in the accompanying image at the beginning of the story – iPhone thickness is not out of the question as one can see. The point here is the display, its accompanying storage, control and communication hardware electronics will not create seatback installation issues!

Next, let’s ask ourselves what problems airlines are facing today when it comes to their IFE and the burgeoning passenger expectations? On the passenger side, they want large quantities of (up to 4K) quality, varied entertainment. The airlines want to be able to provide content without a cumbersome system architecture that is laden with a multitude of boxes (which do not facilitate an easy and affordable upgrade path) that will not involve expensive certification and software development. Since the inception of RAVE by Zii, they have been dedicated to solving this problem as part of their design objectives. In fact, RAVE is an acronym that stands for: Reliable – inherently simple in its design; Affordable – committed to making IFE affordable for every airline; Very – modular, scalable, versatile; and Easy – to install, operate and maintain. In other words, RAVE!

RAVE ULTRA is Seat-Centric, not Server-Centric

Their third-generation, brand new smart system and display line, RAVE ULTRA, continues Zii’s commitment to Seat-Centric IFE and their dedication to everything RAVE has stood for from its inception. In fact, Seat-Centric, according to Zii, is the key to their dedication to ‘stress free IFE’ for their airline customers and is the third generation of that design. You may ask: Seat-Centric? How does that differ from a Server-Centric system? When Zii, formerly IMS, first addressed the issue of providing IFE to airlines they approached the problem from a different perspective than most traditional IFE hardware solutions – they elected to design a seat-centric solution, as opposed to a server-centric solution. A traditional IFE system has a head-end (consisting of several file and media servers) and multiple distribution boxes between it and the passenger display unit. “The larger (HD/UHD quality and increased quantity) content demands and logistics problems that the IFE industry is facing are amplified in the IFE Server Centric Systems, but not so with a Seat-Centric System,” said Harry Gray Zii’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing. “Seat-Centric IFE provides an elegant answer to onboard entertainment that is enhanced by its simplicity: A System Control Unit in the electronics bay connected via a Gigabit Ethernet backbone to each Smart Display at each seat – that’s it.” The bi-directional loop system architecture provides network stability and redundancy, so if there is a network break on one side of the data connection, the data communication is automatically routed through the other.  Additionally, since the entertainment content is stored at the seat, even if there was a total network failure, the passenger would have full access to all the content stored locally on the display.

RAVE ULTRA Delivers More for Passengers Because of the Cloud

In addition to locally stored content at the seat, the SCU also stores additional entertainment content enhancing the overall capacity of titles offered to the passenger.  RAVE cloud is flying today and Zii is further enhancing cloud capabilities by utilizing content file sharing between the seats thus multiplying the content capacity available to each passenger.  Because of the Cloud-based data gain, 10 Terabytes of capacity is dynamically available for content making it, perhaps, the IFE system with more data for each passenger than any system today. More data means more content and that means more happy users – it’s that simple!  It’s important to note that the content file is “transferred” (not “streamed”) to the passenger so there are no inherent network latency issues as compared to server-centric systems when streaming simultaneously to 300 passengers.   With the combination of locally stored and cloud content – passengers can enjoy HD/UHD entertainment and the airlines can more easily manage content loading without the long ground time.

RAVE System Features Two Main Boxes – SCU and Seat Display 

From a network and hardware perspective, operation via the use of Linux fast hardware is aided by Android developed apps that can be installed and played on each seat system and viewed on the RAVE ULTRA display. Content loading is fast, perhaps the fastest within the industry, via the SD card load-and-go process. Further, the SCU has 4 SD slots, so all it takes is replacing the SD cards with fresh content and the new content is loaded during normal operating times.  Content loading is accomplished in a matter of seconds (not hours).

However, the step change in the third-generation product is in the ULTRA Display itself. The smart display is virtually all viewable screen and is roughly 0.3” thick, resulting in a product that weighs a third of the current generation inflight displays. It is ruggedized with a poly carbonate lens cover and resides in a docking station inserted into the seat – it is not a portable and does not have an internal battery. ULTRA utilizes In-Cell touchscreen capability that supports multi-touch gestures, similar to smartphone devices today making it intuitive for most airline customers. Initially, there are four seatback display sizes – 27”, 17.3”, 15.6”, and 13.3”.

Integrated Bluetooth Audio is another feature built-in to RAVE ULTRA that supports wireless Bluetooth headsets at each aircraft seat; as well as, an integrated camera (another feature) that facilitates QR code scanning and payment options. Oh, and USB-A and a USB-C port all also feature options available.

RAVE Supports H.265 HVEC Compression Standards

The dockable display unit has a Solid State Drive with up to 1 TB of local content and its own IP address that provides passengers with access to 10 TBs of available content via the internal cloud. Further, the display itself is 4K and supports H.265 HEVC to facilitate the latest compression standards. “Seat content sharing is the next generation of IFE and it is being accomplished through cloud sharing,” said Harry Gray. Cloud content can be stored either in the SCU(s) or at another seat display. This provides passengers with access not only to their locally stored data but the benefit of a substantial amount of cloud-based storage. The evolution to this cloud-centric system for content truly allows Zii to keep RAVE content current with the latest storage and content demands. Check out the table below to see both where and how much content storage and access is available in the new RAVE ULTRA based on: Local data storage in memory, Cloud-based memory storage using the SCU, and finally with display memory plus the SCU memory and plus the neighboring seat data storage!

When a passenger requests content that is not resident in their seat display, there is a slight delay of not more than 3 seconds prior to viewing the content.  While the passenger is watching the movie the rest of the content is rapidly transferred (in typically less than 36 seconds) to their seatback and locally stored for the duration of that viewing. This floating cloud data solution is what makes RAVE a real winner for stored data entertainment that passengers will want, and while they may stay involved and engrossed with the airline entertainment solution, everybody wins!

RAVE ULTRA is THE Airline 4K Viewing Solution

The size of the display, the compression method and the number of languages all influence the amount of storage required for any given piece of content. High Efficiency Video Coding (H.265) is the video compression method used by RAVE. The following graph explains the amount of storage required on the RAVE system by a 2-hour feature length movie with 4 stereo language tracks:


RAVE ULTRA is in its finalizing phase and has garnered two committed customers.  It is in the midst of meeting head-strike requirements and in the certification process with a target of launch in 2019. “ULTRA is a revolution in product capability,” said Harry “And Zii is excited to continue facilitating airlines in enhancing their passengers entertainment experience.” The IFExpress team is looking forward to watching this product come to market and look for the next installation on the progress of ULTRA and Zii after APEX in Boston!

Consistent with RAVE philosophy, the ULTRA displays are backward compatible with the current generation of RAVE.  Airlines can mix and match displays on the common RAVE backbone.


  • Zodiac Inflight Innovation (Zii) is becoming a force in the world of IFEC 45 airline customers, over 550 aircraft in service, and over 650 aircraft in committed backlog

Singapore | October 24, 2016– Zodiac Inflight Innovations (Zii – a Zodiac Aerospace company) has in the past six months secured well over 200 new RAVE AVOD IFE systems to equip commercial aircraft, four new A350 customers, 150 committed B737Max aircraft, their first A380 customer as well as over 200 Global Express Connectivity equipped aircraft committed with the first installation scheduled early in 2017.

Zodiac Inflight Innovations is quietly becoming a force in the world of IFEC. Zii first hit the IFE scene with their revolutionary new Seat Centric IFE system in 2011 and just five years later they are growing with over 45 airline customers, over 550 aircraft in service, and over 650 aircraft in committed backlog.

Zii has added to their basic AVOD system (“RAVE Centric”) a wireless IFE system (RAVE Wireless) and a line fit Ka-band connectivity system (RAVE Broadband) that is available on all Airbus platforms including the A350 XWB and A380. Today, Zii is able to offer airlines a complete IFEC solution complete with all of the advanced features including 2nd screen applications and a truly personalized experience for passengers. Zii is line fit on the Airbus A320, A330, A380 and A350 and is working to become line fit on Boeing aircraft and is adding standard seat pairings with all of the major seat suppliers.

“We like to think of ourselves as different and disruptive” says Larry Girard, Executive Vice President for Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “We are disruptive by design; our seat centric architecture has fewer LRU’s, it’s simple to operate and maintain with unprecedented availability and no dark flights – ever. Coupled with a common software platform and standard parts, we are commercially disruptive as well.”

Zii has this year added an aftermarket support package to round out their portfolio of products. With RAVE Care, an airline can tailor a support package to its specific needs for a fixed price per month per aircraft. RAVE Care can include everything that an airline needs to maintain and operate their IFE systems, including spares, repairs, customer abuse and even content integration. Included in RAVE Care is a software guarantee that means airlines never have to worry about the cost of updating their Passenger User Interface and features over the lifetime of the system.

“Our RAVE systems are much easier to maintain than traditional IFE systems which allows airlines to maintain their own aircraft without the added expense of paying a traditional IFE provider for support” says Matt Smith, CEO for Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “Zii is a company that is different by design; our focus is always on putting our customers first. We want to be a company that Airlines want to work with; customer focused and innovation driven, we relentlessly pursue our core value of RAVE – Reliable, Affordable and Very Easy. It’s more than a name, it’s who we are.”

And their operational performance seems to bear this out. Zii’s on-time delivery and repair turnaround time performance is over 99%. The RAVE system reliability is over 99.5% and we are told that commercially RAVE is the most affordable system on the market today

  • World leading airline chooses RAVE for retrofit

AIX Hamburg, Germany | April 5, 2016– Zodiac Aerospace has announced at the Aircraft Interiors Expo that Air France has selected Zodiac Inflight Innovations to install its ground-breaking inflight entertainment solution as well as Zodiac Seat France seat for all classes. Air France has selected RAVE(TM) Centric IFE and Zodiac Seats for the upcoming retrofit of their Airbus A330 fleet – 15 aircraft in total.

“The world’s leading airlines are selecting Zodiac Inflight Innovations solutions, which shows how much momentum we now have,” said Larry Girard, Executive Vice President at Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “Airlines love RAVE™ Centric IFE because it is reliable, with a significant cost savings over traditional and is highly easy to maintain. RAVE Centric is very easy both to install and for the cabin crew and passengers alike to use.”

The RAVE™ Centric IFE interface mirrors the usability everyone is used to on their smartphones and tablets, from capacitive touch, high resolution screens to app-based functionality. Content includes on-demand movies, TV shows, music, radio and a moving map just to name a few. It includes an integrated USB charger, so there is no need to fear dead phones as well as traditional “PC Power” for passengers to be able to charge their laptops. On top of that, passengers’ personal electronic devices can be paired with the seat-back screen, so passengers can use their PEDs for interaction with the seatback display.

“RAVE™ Centric is an embedded modular inflight entertainment system”, continued Girard. “It provides airlines with a wide range of choices for different cabins including screen size, passenger control units and we are constantly staying on top if not ahead of the latest trends. Uniquely, each seat is independent, so a failure – and they are very rare – in one seat will not impact another. More importantly, our dockable seat display means the crew can quickly replace the seat display during the flight.”

Mr. Pierre-Olivier Kerbec from Air France stated, “Air France has watched RAVE and Zodiac Inflight Innovations grow over these past years and have noticed RAVE has caught up with its competition. RAVE Centric provides all of the expected features that a premium carrier expects from an IFE system and is backed by the creative and responsive team at Zodiac Inflight Innovations. We can hardly wait to experience RAVE on our A330s.”

APEX Expo, Portland, Oregon | September 29, 2015– Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ RAVE™ technology has now been installed on 300 aircraft.

“It is only just over a year ago since we celebrated our 100th installation so this news shows how rapidly we’re progressing,” said Matt Smith, CEO of Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “This is a very important milestone both for Zodiac Inflight Innovations and for the airline industry as a whole. The IFEC world has been dominated by two suppliers for too long, resulting in airlines not having the choice they deserve and limiting passengers’ access to the very best technology.”

RAVE™ has four elements, RAVE™ Centric, RAVE™ Wireless, RAVE™ Cellular and RAVE™ Broadband, which together make up the entire IFEC offering that any airline needs. It is modular, so each airline can select the elements that suit it best and airlines can even provide different elements for economy and premium cabins. All the products are available in one integrated package or as standalone products. Whatever the airline wants from its IFEC, Zodiac Inflight Innovations has a flexible solution to meet its needs.

“Everything Zodiac Inflight Innovations does is based around the principles of RAVE™: the technology is reliable, affordable and very easy,” continued Smith. “The RAVE concept applies as much to simplicity of use for the passenger as it does to the airline’s purchasing, marketing and maintenance teams.”

RAVE™ Centric IFE is the very best in-seat IFE.

RAVE™ Wireless uses wireless access points (WAP) to create an onboard wireless network for the distribution of films, TV, music and moving maps to passengers’ own PEDs, including smartphones, tablets and laptops.

RAVE™ Cellular is Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ inflight mobile phone product.

RAVE™ Broadband is inflight Wi-Fi and connectivity off the aircraft.

APEX EXPO, Portland, Oregon | September 29, 2015– Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ RAVE™ Centric IFE, linefit option was delivered for the first time on an Airbus A330 aircraft in September 2015. Several airlines have already specified the system. In addition, it is currently being assessed as a linefit option on the A320 family.

RAVE™ Centric IFE is flying on over 200 aircraft on airlines in every major region around the world. “Clearly its great news that Airbus is supporting our innovative approach to IFE by making RAVE linefit offerable,” said Larry Girard, Executive Vice President at Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “But what’s more important is that airlines now have a lighter and less costly alternative to traditional IFE. We have taken a fresh approach to the design of embedded IFE that takes advantage of the latest mobile and display technologies; and besides passengers – love it.

“The fact that so many airlines have already ordered RAVE™ Centric IFE for their brand new aircraft shows just how much they like the product, and our approach.” RAVE™ Centric IFE is an embedded modular inflight entertainment system. It provides airlines with a wide range of choices for different cabins including wireless 2nd screen, display size, customizable peripherals, integrated USB charging and all of the latest features including harmonization with airline mobile applications. What makes RAVE unique is the seat centric architecture where each seat is independent, so a failure in one seat will not impact another. More importantly, the patented dockable seat display means the crew can quickly replace a failed seat display during the flight.

“RAVE provides a premium IFE experience without the premium price,” continued Girard. “RAVE™ Centric IFE provides passengers with app-based browsing for on-demand movies, TV shows, music, radio, moving map and many more features too numerous to list. Our stated goal is in our name, RAVE: Reliable, Affordable and Very Easy. At Zodiac Inflight Innovations we strive to produce products that make our customers and their passengers smile, and now that RAVE™ is a catalogue option on Airbus aircraft, we fully anticipate more and more airlines will be joining our RAVE family.” concluded Girard.

RAVE™ Centric IFE’s lightweight design and low power requirements greatly reduce airlines’ fuel costs, allowing Zodiac Inflight Innovations to maintain a price tag that all airlines can celebrate.

APEX EXPO, Portland, Oregon | September 29, 2015– Zodiac Aerospace’s Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ RAVE™ Centric IFEC is now a linefit option on the Airbus A350 XWB. “This represents a key milestone in our company growth strategy enabling Zodiac Inflight Innovations, to serve our airline customers with complete IFEC offerings, said, Matt Smith Zodiac Inflight Innovations, CEO.”

Smith adds “Now our Inflight Entertainment solutions are approved as line fit on A350 XWB and A330 Long Range, coupled with the fact that Zodiac Zodiac Rave Broadband connectivity product was also granted offerability on A350 XWB, clearly shows we are on the right path.”

“This is great news for Zodiac Inflight Innovations, our innovative IFEC is now line fit offerable on the A350 XWB,” said Larry Girard, Executive Vice President at Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “But what’s more important, it is now readily available for airlines. For too long, there has been very limited choice when it comes to IFEC. We have taken a fresh look at the design of IFEC and are offering airlines a lower cost choice without compromising reliability or features; we already know airlines – and their passengers – like it.”

Twenty five airlines around the world with over 200 aircraft in service are already using Zii Inflight Entertainment which includes our award winning RAVE Centric AVOD system and our latest RAVE Wireless streaming entertainment system.

RAVE™ Centric is an embedded modular inflight entertainment system. It provides airlines with a wide range of choices for different cabins including screen size, passenger control units. In addition, each seat is independent, so a failure in one seat will not impact another. More importantly, the patented dockable seat display means the crew can quickly replace the seat display during the flight.

“This is the complete IFEC product,” continued Girard. “RAVE™ Centric and RAVE Wireless provides passengers with app-based browsing for on-demand movies, TV shows, music, radio and a moving map. Capacitive touch, high resolution screens are embedded in the seats and the intuitive Graphical User Interface mirrors the usability everyone is used to with smartphones and tablets. The integrated USB charger can be used to power personal electronic devices, which can be used as a second screen and even a passenger control device.”

“Now that RAVE™ Centric is a catalogue option on the A350 XWB, we fully anticipate more and more airlines will take advantage of our highly innovative technology,” concluded Girard.

RAVE™ Centric’s lightweight design and low power requirements greatly reduce airlines’ fuel costs, allowing Zodiac Inflight Innovations to maintain a price tag that all airlines can celebrate.

As the title mentions, we are going to explore a few more show vendors this week but we also wanted to give a tip-o-the-hat to AirBerlin, our transportation provider to/from Germany. Aside from a good food service and cheerful flight attendants, the IFE kept us entertained for nine hours each way. More importantly the IFE, RAVE from Zodiac Inflight Innovations was installed onboard and it worked PERFECTLY! AirBerlin had loaded over 1,000 songs, some of which we purchased online when we landed (iTunes take note), and over 100 movies. We cannot say enough about the system ease-of-use and we were impressed with the fact that on each flight, we saw a cabin crew member bring aboard a spare in case of a seatback issue – this is a brilliant solution to a down IFE screen – one special key click, a seatback hardware swap, and you are back in business. We decided to contact Harry Gray at Zii for input and he told us:

A couple of points on the replacement display issue.

  • IFE systems “will fail” at some point – it is a statistical fact
  • How you handle a failure is the key message
  • With a “server-centric” system architecture, there are several components in the network that could cause the problem.  Typically, a reset of sorts is the logical (and essentially only) method to try and fix a problem, which also has an impact on more than just the affected passenger(s).  The flight attendant/purser typically goes through a progression of steps to perform corrective action.  A reset at one seat (if that’s possible), a seat group (two to 4 passengers), a zone (30 to 50 passengers) or the entire aircraft cabin (300+ passengers).  Each reset takes approximately 10 – 20 minutes.  Doing the math, it could take perhaps between 10-20 minutes (for a single seat) or up to 40 – 80 minutes (for the entire aircraft).  Reset time will be dependent upon the IFE system type and will vary.  Additionally, there will likely be a lag (more time) between system resets, as the flight attendants/purser are busy with other passenger/flight services.
  • With RAVE – If there is a problem with a seat, that is the only seat that is affected.  If a reset is required, we have the “button” on the face of the display that when pressed for about 7 seconds, the display will reset.  RAVE has a reset time of about 60 seconds.  If the reset button at the seat does not fix the problem – the display can be hot-swapped during flight.  The flight attendant takes a Hot Spare from the back row, and swaps the passenger display with a good unit.  Within about a minute, the new display boots up and the passenger can continue the rest of the flight with a working IFE system.
  • Results:
    – The problem is contained at a single seat – does not affect any other passenger on the airplane
    – Reset takes about 60 seconds
    – Replacement unit (during flight) takes about 60 seconds
    – Total corrective action takes about 2-3 minutes (including walking time by flight attendant to get Hot Spare)
    – The Hot Swap of a defective unit is placed in the back row, and is automatically logged in the Crew Panel.  Maintenance can come onboard and know what occurred, and go directly to the last row to replace the unit that was swapped during flight.
    – The airline (and flight attendants) now have a simple way to fix an IFE system during flight, to maintain a high level of passenger satisfaction.  RAVE eliminates the problem of having a dark flight, and passengers having no entertainment for a 15 hour flight.

Now, back to task with a question: Are you ready for the future? The increased offerings of onboard IFE and Connectivity services we saw at AIX in Hamburg are showing how fast the industry is moving to try to keep up with the evolution of BYOD in our daily life on the ground. There are a new and continuously increasing showcase of solutions in the IFE market today that are going to motivate passenger expectations for onboard experience, and therefore, increase service uptake… and we note, most are taking place in the new generation of wireless routers. Heavy use of onboard IFE and Connectivity services is going to drive the need for a reliable wireless distribution system. A strong and reliable wireless distribution system, that can adapt to a mix of client devices, multiple service scenarios and increasing future demands, is going to help prevent in-service problems and therefore it will lead to a better passenger onboard experience. Period! The goal of the VT Miltope nMAP2 with Cognitive Hotspot Technology (CHT) is to optimize real-time performance, improve reliability and guarantee Quality of Service (QoS) for every passenger, ensuring a problem-free operation of the more demanding IFE and Connectivity systems. This is going to help systems operators and airlines to maximize the benefits of an overall better passenger onboard experience The trend is clear: broader service range, increasing system uptake and larger screen resolutions even on small screen sizes. Systems operators need to get their solutions ready for continuously increasing passenger bandwidth demand with a scalable and reliable solution that helps them to face todays and future challenges. “The answer is nMAP2,” noted Robert Guidetti, VT Miltope, VP of Marketing. IFExpress tracked down, Jose Ayub Gonzalez Garrido – CEO of Aoifes, Technology Developer for nMAP2 and he told us: “We have developed a very powerful unique product optimized to meet the most challenging requirements of the IFE & connectivity industry. Additionally we offer value-added applications that further helps integrators and operators to manage the network, analyze wireless performance in real-time, optimize and verify wireless installations, and monitor and troubleshoot the system operation. It is a win-win for everybody!”

We received some feedback about last week’s IFExpress from Steve Nolan, Gogo and we felt it useful to share with our readers: “I read the part (last IFExpress) about virtual reality and its role in IFE.  Scott Carmichael (Gogo) did a great white paper on Head Mounted Displays because we have been getting lots of questions from airlines on this subject.  Obviously, there’s also just a lot of hype about these technologies because there’s a “cool” factor here.
Scott put a lot of the technologies through their paces on our own aircraft.  I think you and your readers would find his takeaways very interesting.”

And speaking of airline inflight iPad usage, American Airlines had a Jeppesen-related App crash recently for a number of cockpit Apple iPad devices. Both pilot and co-pilot iPads crashed, in some cases rendering a stored flight plan useless. American took to Twitter to admit they had problems, further, many planes had to return to the ground for Wi-Fi to fix the problem.

So many observations, so little time!

April 10, 2015– The new dedicated Airline Services Interiors business, one of three distinct divisions under a new streamlined structure to be unveiled by Airline Services Ltd next week at Aircraft Interiors Expo (Hall 6 Stand B78), has completed the in-flight entertainment system retrofit programme for Economy class seats on 13 Boeing 747 and 18 Airbus A340 aircraft operated by Lufthansa.

Airline Services Interiors has been responsible for the design, certification, and manufacture of modification kits to install the Zodiac Zii RAVE system on Recaro 3520 seats. As part of the seat upgrade, Airline Services Interiors has also integrated a universal power socket at every seat.

Zodiac Zii RAVE is a touch screen tablet based IFE system and provides high resolution Audio and Video on Demand (AVOD). Its unique system architecture means each seat is independent so that a failure in one seat will not impact another and any failed displays can be replaced by the crew in-flight.

Contract award was in 2012 with kit delivery starting in 2013 and completed in March 2015. Physical integration was performed by Lufthansa at designated sites in Germany, Malta and China. Airline Services Interiors’ Passenger Seating Centre of Excellence in Manchester contributed to the successful programme supporting Lufthansa on the repair and modification of seats.

Headed by Managing Director Martin Barnes, Airline Services Interiors’ portfolio comprises three market focused capabilities – Through Life Services, Engineered Products and Managed Solutions, which was responsible for the Lufthansa programme.

Managed Solutions brings together Airline Services Interiors’ in-house design, manufacturing and turnkey modification with its EASA Part 21G design and manufacturing production capability. This enables it to deliver customised solutions for airlines to redesign, refurbish or upgrade their cabin interiors seating and IFE.

Brea, CA | April 24, 2014– Air Transat will soon become the world’s first airline to offer RAVE™ Wireless, Zodiac Inflight Innovations’ ground-breaking content streaming technology. Passengers flying on Canada’s leading holiday travel airline will be able to stream movies, TV shows, music and moving maps directly to their own smartphones, tablets and laptops.

RAVE Wireless will be retrofitted on Air Transat’s fleet of nine A310-300 aircraft. Air Transat is a long-standing customer of Zodiac Inflight Innovations (Zii), with RAVE™ embedded IFE being installed on the A310 fleet in business class, as well as on the airline’s A330 fleet throughout the aircraft.

“Our embedded IFE has been very popular with our passengers for several years,” said Jon Turner of Air Transat. “With the introduction of wireless streaming, we are taking our cabin service to a new level. This is an exciting development and we are very pleased that Air Transat is one of the first airlines in the world to provide content streaming.”

The technology behind RAVE™ Wireless was developed by TriaGnoSys, the expert in communications technology for the aviation industry, which was acquired by Zii in September 2013. That acquisition added connectivity to Zii’s IFE offering, meaning Zii provides the full range of IFEC technology.

“We have a very strong relationship with Air Transat and we are very pleased it will be our launch customer for RAVE Wireless,” said Harry Gray, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Zodiac Inflight Innovations. “This marks not only a step-change for Zii, but also for the whole industry. Passengers want on-demand content on their own personal electronic devices, mirroring their behavior on the ground. There is no question that wireless streaming is a part of the future of IFE for specific market segments.”

RAVE™ Wireless uses wireless access points (WAPs) to create an onboard wireless network for content distribution. Importantly, RAVE embedded IFE™ and RAVE™ Wireless can be connected to enable passengers to use two screens – the seat-back screen and their own PED – simultaneously. It includes the ability to extend content across both screens, just as people can do with dual screens at home and in the office.

Brea, CA | March 31, 2014–  Zodiac    Inflight    Innovations    is celebrating    the    100th    installation    of    RAVE™    Centric,    its    ground-breaking    passenger-centric    embedded    AVOD    IFE    system.    The  milestone    was    reached    when    RAVE™    Centric    went    into    service    on    its    100th    aircraft    today.

RAVE™    Centric    was    first    introduced    in    2008    and    is    now   flying    on    23    airlines    around    the    world,    and    with    more    being    added    every    year,    the    skies    the    limit.

RAVE™    Centric    is    qualified    to    Airbus,    Boeing    and    DO-160   requirements.    It    is    a    lightweight    modular    system,    providing    airlines    with    a    wide    range    of    choices    about    what    they    offer    passengers    in    each    cabin.    Airlines    have    a    range    of    choices    from    screen    size    to    passenger    control    units    and    customizable    jacks    that    can    be    arranged    with    various    audio    jack configurations    and    USB    charging    ports.    Furthermore,    each    seat    is    independent,    so    a    failure    in    one    seat    will    not    impact   another;    the    patented    dockable    seat    display    means    the    crew    can    quickly    replace    the    seat    display    during    the    flight.

RAVE™    IFE    provides    passengers    with    app-based    browsing    for   on-demand    movies,    TV    shows,    music,    radio    and    a    moving    map.    Capacitive    touch,    high    resolution    (HD)    screens    are    embedded    in    the    seats    and    the    intuitive    Graphical    User    Interface    mirrors    what    everyone    is    familiar    with    on    their    smartphones    and tablets.    The    integrated    USB    charger    can    be    used    to    power    personal    electronic    devices,    and    the    screen    includes    an    audio    jack    for    headphones.

“RAVE    is    going    from    strength    to    strength,”    said    Harry    Gray,   Vice    President    of    Sales    and    Marketing    at    Zodiac    Inflight Innovations.    “We    are    expanding    our    market    share    rapidly    with    more    new    airline    customer    announcements    soon.    The    addition    of    connectivity,    the    result    of    our    acquisition    of    TriaGnoSys,    means    we    can    provide    all    the    technology    an    airline    needs    for    the    complete    IFEC    offering,    putting    us    in    an    incredibly    strong    position    to    continue    our    growth    trajectory.”

Everything    Zodiac    Inflight    Innovations    does    is    based    around    the   principles    of    RAVE™:    reliable,    affordable  and    very    easy.   That applies    as    much    to    simplicity    of    use    for    the    passenger    as    it   does    to    the    airline’s    purchasing,    marketing    and    maintenance teams.

RAVE™    is    modular,    meaning    each    airline    can    select    the elements   that    suit    its    requirements    best.    It    has  four    components,    which   together    make    up    the    entire    IFEC    offering    that    any    airline needs.    RAVE™    Centric    is    the    embedded    IFE    system.    RAVE™   Wireless    enables    the    wireless    streaming    of    IFE    content    to  passengers’    own    personal    electronic    devices.    And    RAVE™    Cellular    and    RAVE™    Broadband    provide    GSM    and    WiFi    connectivity .

For you mobile device addicts, SITA announced recently that JetBlue is using the SITA Mobile Boarding Pass API for Apple Passbook. JetBlue customers can now simply check-in online and choose to store their boarding passes automatically on their iPhone to use at the airport. Passbook makes it easy for passengers to use mobile boarding passes because it automatically displays the right boarding pass on the passenger’s phone as they arrive at the airport. SITA’s Mobile Boarding Pass API, available from SITA’s API platform, developer.aero, simplifies boarding pass distribution for an airline by allowing them to send passes via email, SMS, push notification and now, Passbook. JetBlue is one of the first airlines to go live using the API and SITA’s technology research team, SITA Lab, is now working with other major airlines and ground handlers to help them offer this service to their customers. We asked Leidar’s Charlie Pryor about device capability and he told IFExpress, “Mobile boarding passes can be delivered to any mobile device. It needs some form of connectivity, typically WiFi or a cell phone network.” Enough said. Check out the opening image for an example of what you can expect on your mobile device.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) ST03276CH, which approves the installation of the Zodiac Inflight Innovations RAVE system on the Air Niugini Boeing 767 aircraft. We contacted Global Aero’s Todd Hamblin for a bit more information and he told IFExpress, “The installation and certification was made easy because of Global’s 30 years of experience doing these types of modifications.  Air Niugini wanted a cost effective cabin upgrade that would best serve their customers for years to come and Global was focused on bringing it to them. Our engineers and tech’s greatly appreciated the trust and respect Air Niugini gave us during the program and the Zodiac product really puts them in a better position to compete with other airlines in the highly competitive business travel market entering Papua New Guinea. Airlines seeking new IFE equipment need to make sure they select the IFE solution that best fits the needs of the customers but, most importantly, they need to find an integrator that puts the needs of the customer above all others. Finally let me mention that our team is very good at these complex projects because our experience and dedication sets us apart from all others.”…. no sales pitch, we note. For more information, please contact Todd Hamblin at +1 513 444 4049, thamblin@gadc.aero.

You know about our love of infographics for conveying information, check out this one on airport IT trends and note if you ask IFExpress the world of apps is upon us and if you don’t carry a mobile device in the future, you could get a surcharge on your ticket!

Regarding inflight cell calling, it would not surprise us to find a tekkie frequent flier or two with a cell phone scrambler tucked away for use on a plane. Hey, they exist and are regularly used on buses. Our tech genius has been showing them to us for years! And yes, it is probably illegal.

RUMOR CENTRAL – A small flying creature told us that the Row44 folks should probably learn some Mandarin!

And finally perhaps, the best safety video ever from Virgin, of course!

  • Focused on streamlining complicated projects!

Milford, OH | November 2013–

Global Aerospace Design Corp. (Global) is pleased to announce the issuance of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) ST03276CH, which approves the installation of the Zodiac Inflight Innovations RAVETM system on the Air Niugini Boeing 767 aircraft.

“Global is privileged to have been a part of this program,” said Rex Nystrom, Vice President of Engineering at Global. “Our focus is on safety and reliability, and we are pleased to accomplish this for Air Niugini by providing their passenger’s access to RAVETM.”

“It was a pleasure working with Global and the other suppliers on this project to provide Air Niugini with a superior IFEC product.  Their passengers can now enjoy a variety of entertainment selections on a state-of-the-art, high-definition display.  RAVE’s proven passenger-centric design goes beyond providing a simple system architecture; Zodiac Inflight Innovations also brings an innovative approach to software development that lowers cost, reduces development times and helps ensure successful product launches”, stated Harry Gray, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Zodiac Inflight Innovations.

This STC is a culmination of several months of hard work and extensive aircraft testing to ensure passenger safety and comfort. This program installed the RAVETM System Control Unit (SCU) into the existing aircraft video control center. This single LRU interfaces to the aircraft systems and loads content to each of the seats, however, each seat is able to operate autonomously during flight allowing for a high rate of reliability and an enjoyable passenger experience. With RAVETM, Air Niugini is better suited to support its growing customer base to enjoy their journey to Papua New Guinea and beyond.


Brea, CA | September 9, 2013– Zodiac Inflight Innovations, previously The IMS Company, will soon be line-fit offerable with the support of its first line-fit customer Scandinavian Airlines (SAS).

SAS has chosen Zodiac Inflight Innovations for both line-fit and retrofit aircraft. The innovative RAVE™ IFE system will be installed on 7 retrofit aircraft (A330’s/A340’s) and 4 similarly configured long-range line-fit aircraft. SAS will be flying with RAVE™ in early 2015.

“RAVE was the best choice in terms of TCO, total cost of ownership, for SAS. RAVE meets all our requirements concerning innovation, enhanced passenger experience, cost, weight and maintenance. It is user friendly both for passengers and our crew members,” says Johan Mägi, Head of Onboard Product & Services.

While Zodiac Inflight Innovations has had much success in the airline retrofit market, and currently serves more than 20 loyal airline customers, entry into the line-fit market is a new and exciting opportunity. “This will not only expand the RAVE™ product line and customer base, but will bring a fresh outlook on affordability and choice to the line-fit market,” says Larry Girard, Executive Vice President of Business Development. Zodiac Inflight Innovations is eagerly pursuing other line-fit platforms to expand its product’s reach and better serve the airline market.

Plaisir, France | September 6, 2013– Zodiac Aerospace has completed the acquisition of TriaGnoSys, the German based company specializing in inflight connectivity and wireless entertainment and cabin systems. TriaGnoSys will be part of Zodiac Inflight Innovations (ZII) providing integrated connectivity with RAVETM, ZII’s inflight entertainment system. TriaGnoSys will provide access to inflight Internet and GSM technology along with many other advanced communications technologies. With this acquisition, Zodiac Aerospace is now in a position to offer a complete cabin interior, including advances in seat and IFEC integration.

Brea, CA | July 5, 2013– Zodiac Inflight Innovations (previously The IMS Company) continues to expand its global reach, adding Transaero Airlines to the growing list of airlines that trust RAVETM for an innovative and reliable IFE experience. Transaero has always valued modern innovation and quality products and RAVE’sTM dependable system and fresh approach is just the right fit. Transaero will have the RAVETM system installed on nine of their B777-200 and B767-300 aircraft. Transaero has the largest long-haul fleet in Russia, the CIS and Eastern Europe. With Transaero’s Russian and Eastern European network of destinations RAVETM has indeed become a “global” sensation.

Numerous airlines have turned RAVETM for their IFE needs because of its trusted reliability and passenger-centric technology. Each seat is fully autonomous and removable display units are easy for crew members to replace at any time during a flight, eliminating the days of long system resets and frustrated passengers. “We are excited about RAVE’sTM continued success and are driven by the challenge to produce the best IFE system on the market” says Larry Girard, Executive Vice President of Zodiac Inflight Innovations. The RAVETM vision has always been to look at IFE differently. This out- of-the-box thinking has produced a very reliable IFE system which takes up minimal space, is low cost, and is easy to maintain. Managing five aircraft installations per month, Zodiac Inflight Innovations is ensuring that the ‘RAVE’OLUTION quickly spreads throughout the skies.

Brea, CA | July 5, 2013– Currently set for installation this summer, ECAir will have the RAVETM IFE system installed on two of its B757 aircraft.

This marks yet another victory for the RAVETM system, which has been winning the hearts of its airline customers through its unique design and innovative software. When ECAir burst on to the scene in September 2011, it was clear they were going to be new, modern, and forward thinking. The RAVETM IFE system reflects these qualities.

RAVE’sTM slim, lightweight design and “dockable” display makes the IFE system reliable and easy to maintain while in-flight. The ability to upload content with a simple SD card allows planes to spend less time on the ground and more time in the air.

With a 6-month turnaround time for a complete IFE system installation, it’s no wonder why many airlines have turned to RAVETM for their IFE needs.

Plaisir, France | July 8, 2013– Zodiac Inflight Innovations (previously The IMS Company) continues to expand its global reach, adding International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), Transaero Airlines and ECair to its list of customers that select RAVETM for an innovative and reliable IFE experience.

An increasing number of airlines have turned RAVETM for their In-Flight Entertainment needs because of its reliability and passenger-centric technology. Each seat is fully autonomous and removable display units are easy for crew members to replace at any time during a flight, eliminating long system resets and frustrated passengers. Benefits of RAVETM also include a lightweight design and low power requirements, as well as a turnaround time of only six months for an entire reconfiguration of the IFE system.

ILFC will have the RAVETM system installed on four A330’s with the first installation occurring this summer. Transaero will have the RAVE installed on nine of their B777-200 and B767-300 aircraft, and ECAir will have RAVETM installed on two of its B757 aircraft this summer.

Brea, CA | July 5, 2013– Zodiac Inflight Innovations (previously The IMS Company) is proud to announce that its RAVETM system will be soaring new skies this spring. International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC) will have the RAVETM system installed on four A330’s with the first installation occurring this summer.

ILFC will be a great addition to the RAVETM family and its airline partners will experience firsthand the benefits of this unique IFE system. RAVE’sTM groundbreaking “dockability”, reliability, and passenger centric technology has made it a powerful contender in the IFE industry. The lightweight design and low power requirements greatly reduces its customers’ fuel costs allowing RAVETM to maintain a price tag that all airlines can celebrate. In addition, ILFC will benefit from the exceedingly impressive turnaround time of six months for an entire reconfiguration of the IFE system. The standardization of RAVE’sTM technology makes this feat possible with airlines sharing the same GUI interface and hardware while still achieving a sense of personalization unique to each customer.

“ILFC views the RAVETM system as a real advancement in the always developing and increasingly important area of aircraft in-flight entertainment,” commented ILFC Senior Vice President Terry Eastley. “With a global portfolio in excess of 1,000 aircraft, we value innovation which provides advancements that benefits our airline customers and their passenger experience.”

In case you slept thru the holidays you might be the last one in IFE to hear about the news: Zodiac has issued a letter of intent (LOI) to purchase seat-centric IFE system manufacturer, IMS. The deal should conclude by year-end, and from what we hear, Joe Renton is thrilled about the company and the agreement (Note: No purchase price was announced). The large French aerospace conglomerate has had a busy year and a financially rewarding one to boot. They recently purchased Heath Tecna and Contour (seating), and IFE is even more clearly in their sight as they have already put a system forward with Sicma, a previous acquisition. We understand that IMS will stay in Brea, California and present-day thinking is to keep the 250-person company intact. Further, we believe that the leadership team will remain unchanged. No doubt, naming and branding will come to the table as soon as the deal is done. We should also note that all IMS products and services (including the Northwest service operations) are included in the deal. IFExpress understands that the sales and marketing organizations will be the first to increase headcount (wink-wink, nudge-nudge). In these kinds of deals, a careful look is usually taken at the two products currently in production (RAVE & SiT) to determine a way forward and, as one insider told IFExpress, product manufacturing locations will be based upon what makes the most sense. We like the potential of a closer proximity and business relationship to Airbus too as the possibility of line-fit operations might be in the offing, not to mention early retrofit requirement knowledge.

While the IMS company spokesman was hesitant to provide much in the way of market detail, we see great value for existing and new customers based on the successful Zodiac history of acquisition and their strong balance sheet. This fiscal year, Zodiac increased sales revenue by almost 26% (Tot: 3.4 B Euros) while current operating income was also up 26.4%. If you think that growth might be an anomaly, Zodiac has had 9 straight quarters of double-digit growth! Can your IFE company say the same? It looks to us like Zodiac is majoring in single-aisle retrofit capability and may see a spurt coming in that business market. With airline employees spread thin, a package retrofit turnaround deal could be a winner for the airlines, especially with increased passenger traffic returning to the travel market.

On another note:
In case you got wind of a good size Lumexis headcount reduction… forget it! We called CEO Doug Cline and he vigorously rejected the rumor. “In fact, if anything, we have more going on today with new content services, Wi-Fi sales and marketing, new hardware installations, and ramped-up marketing efforts around the globe. Of course,” he noted, “with our founding strategy of outsourcing most engineering and manufacturing, it may look like reductions to some in the industry as we realign to current needs. But we have continuously maintained and grown our core of talented management since opening our doors.” Doug also told us to tell our readers that there may be a few announcements soon that will nail the door shut on these rumors. Nuff Sed!

– Joins a growing list of airlines as momentum for seat-centric IFE continues to grow

Long Beach, California | September 19, 2012– The RAVEOLUTION continues as Omni Air International becomes the latest airline to select The IMS Company’s RAVE™ “seat-centric” inflight entertainment system for installation on its fleet of B777 aircraft. The first installation is scheduled to commence in early 2013.
Omni Air International brings the total number of airlines to choose RAVE to twelve and adds their B777 aircraft to the almost 200 aircraft that are currently on order.

“We wanted a system that added value to our product and provided us with a simple but innovative IFE solution”, stated David Gantner, Sr. Director Maintenance, of Omni Air. He went on to say, “We chose RAVE because it provided the most reliable solution at the lowest cost to own and operate which is a key factor for a charter airline like OAI.”

Omni Air International is part of a growing number of airlines that believe in the IMS vision for an IFE system with a completely fresh approach and an affordable price tag. Understanding RAVE is as simple as understanding what the name stands for; Reliable, Affordable and Very Easy, says Harry Gray, VP Sales and Marketing for IMS. RAVE’s architecture is different; seat centric instead of a traditional server centric model. RAVE’s seat centric architecture has only a few LRU’s which, at its core, make it reliable, light weight and low-power. Additionally, in RAVE’s unique architecture, each seat display is a fully autonomous entertainment system providing all the features of much more complex, traditional server based systems without single points of failure. IMS took the strategic anchor of reliability even further when they leveraged their past experience with portable IFE and introduced the first dockable seat display unit that could be replaced by a flight attendant – in flight – in seconds – with a simple key.

The airlines acceptance of the RAVE™ vision gives The IMS Company an opportunity to show why they are an innovation leader with 16 years of experience in the IFE industry.

Skip the cheesy byline, RAVE by IMS is the paradigm shifter we referred to last issue. Dubbed “Reliable Audio Video Entertainment,” RAVE is best described as a “seat centric” embedded IFE system that is focused on the seat display unit in front of each passenger—not the plethora of traditional distribution LRU’s through the aircraft or the head end servers interconnected by a miles of wires. The RAVE system is built from only two major LRUs compared to traditional IFE systems that require ten or more major LRUs to deliver the passenger entertainment. The RAVE System, as far as we can see, is a next generation IFE solution targeted to address current embedded IFE system shortcomings (cost, reliability, weight, crew manageability) while providing equal functionality.

IMS has been a solutions provider in the IFE industry for almost 15 years. During this time they have successfully deployed the industry-leading onboard content & data loading solution, as well as becoming the leading provider of portable in-flight entertainment solutions. They have also been providing engineering systems and software support to different OEMs for airborne connectivity and embedded IFE systems.

RAVE is a uniquely architected embedded solution that provides autonomous seat display units, operating with either a wired or wireless communications backbone, with each containing all applications and content. This means that there is no dependency on any other LRUs to deliver a full and rich AVOD experience to the passenger. Traditional IFE system store passenger application, entertainment content and playback capabilities at the head end and depend on the entire distribution chain to deliver the experience to the passenger. If one head end LRU were to fail, or if one distribution LRU were to fail, many seats are rendered inoperative.

The RAVE SDU has an input for power and an input for Gigabit Ethernet. With the wireless communications backbone option, the wired Gigabit Ethernet input is eliminated. Content is loaded to the SDUs via Ethernet from the System Control Unit (SCU). The SCU is the single head-end LRU that provides aircraft interfaces along with content loading features. This LRU is based on the very successful IMS Terminal Data Loader (TDL) with improvements and modification to integrate within RAVE.

IMS has carefully listened to airlines and addressed the inevitable seat failure scenario. They’ve heard more than once that their PMPs are more reliable than embedded solutions. With RAVE, if a SDU were to fail, the airline has the option of allowing crew members to exchange the failed unit with a spare carried onboard the aircraft—just like with PMPs. The replacement SDU will snap right into the seat back and be ready to go, with no delay. This feature alone will have flight crews used to dealing with failed traditional embedded IFE standing to cheer as they now have a remedy for unhappy customers.

The design and development of seat centric IFE system that meets all regulatory requirements is not a trivial task. Many IFE ventures in the past have tried this approach and have failed. Why will IMS succeed where others have failed? Joe Renton, IMS Founder & CEO noted, “IMS has leveraged new technology, ten-plus years of IFE experience, and years of airline feedback to design and develop an extremely reliable IFE solution. Airlines now have the choice to install a lighter, more reliable, and more cost effective IFE solution.”

The IFExpress take on RAVE is that it is targeted for that portion of the market that is not served, or has been poorly served, by the “big dogs” in the industry—that is, those airlines who can’t afford traditional embedded IFE or those who have had less than favorable experiences with traditional embedded IFE. IMS has focused on creating a highly reliable IFE system that is available at a disruptive price and from what we can tell, they have hit their mark.

RAVE Block Diagrams (Adobe PDF - Click to View)

RAVE Block Diagrams (Adobe PDF - Click to View)

Rod Farley, President and COO of IMS notes, “RAVE will support screen sizes of 8.5, 10.6, 12.1, and 15.4 inches all of which are built from common elements to further enhance system reliability and performance.” Farley comments that Rave will be available in Q1 2011.

IMS rolled out RAVE for this past WAEA and but didn’t have time to develop brochures, however we talked them into providing system level block diagrams and you can find them here.