Brea, CA | December 20, 2011 — The inaugural flight of Southern California-based solutions provider The IMS Company’s seat-centric inflight entertainment system RAVE™ took place on December 9 onboard a SriLankan Airlines A330 aircraft flying from Colombo to Male, according to IMS’ chairman and Chief Executive Officer Joe Renton. The event climaxes nearly four years of planning, development and production which began during the market downturn in 2008.

The airline will equip two A340 and five A330 aircraft, with options for more, and joins a long list of airlines opting for the IFE system.

RAVE capitalizes on airlines’ desire for increased reliability and decreased weight and complexity—circumstances exacerbated by that downturn, according to Renton. “Rising fuel costs and the need to eliminate excess weight continues to characterize IFE requirements today,” says Renton. “For a company like ours, reversing decades of a completely different system architecture at a time when airlines were reducing the amount of money spent on IFE was a calculated risk.”

“SriLankan is proud to be the Launch Customer of RAVE, giving priority to today’s industry needs by initiating the installation of a high quality audio video on demand system, which is also low-weight, on board its medium- long haul flights” said the airline’s Head of Engineering, Priyantha Rose.

SriLankan Airlines was the first of several airlines to choose the revolutionary systems architecture that stores content and playback functionality independently in each seatback display unit (SDU), thus eliminating the single-point-of-failure scenario that potentially compromises headend-centric systems, as well as eliminating distribution boxes and seat electronics boxes.

In this architecture, the headend contains the System Control Unit (SCU) which loads future content to the SDUs in the background while passengers watch current content that is played back from an SD card in each seat.

The result is an architecture that is inherently more reliable while significantly lighter. “RAVE accomplishes reliability through redundancy,” says Renton. “Every seat has its own store of content and playback functionality.

SriLankan’s award announcement was followed by airberlin, Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa German Airlines, Air Transat and Air Tahiti Nui. “We feel very encouraged by the tremendous market response and will have other award announcements to make very soon”, said Renton.

We led last week’s AIX Preview with The IMS Company because we believe that seat-centric IFE will be one of—if not the hottest—stories here in Hamburg. And it is shaping up that way. Solidifying this belief was IMS receiving the Crystal Cabin Award at AIX this year. A spokesman for The IMS Company said, “The Crystal Cabin Awards are a good reflection of the cutting edge trends in IFEC technology. We were pleased that our integrated portables concept was among the Crystal Cabin finalists a few years ago, and see this recognition of seat-centric IFE has another step in the evolution of the same process—finding new ways to build reliable and efficient IFE into the seat.”

Furthermore, The IMS Company advised us that Lufthansa German Airlines, Brussels Airlines and SriLankan Airlines have joined the list of airlines opting for IMS’ seat-centric RAVE™ system. Now we already knew about SriLankan, despite the lack of formal announcement, but with Lufthansa—Germany’s largest airline—joining airberlin—Germany’s second largest airline by passengers which announced— and Brussels Airlines, that’s some momentum! And it is not lost on us that in June 2009, Lufthansa announced its interest in the management structure and capital of the Belgian airline. Is that just coincidence?

That’s now four airlines announced for RAVE™ and we hear that the fifth—and perhaps even the sixth—could be announced by the end of the Expo on Thursday. And even if Harry Gray just keeps those other two orders in his pocket, that’s a really good start.

Among the interesting things that we see in IMS’ product line is the RAVE’s Seat Display Units (SDUs) have an atomic relationship with IMS’ new EDGE portable media players also being showcased here. The SDUs and EDGE not only share R&D, but also component parts, technologies, and even repair and maintenance operations. What’s more, EDGE can be modified for integration into the seat as a “semi-embedded” PMP. That’s a hat trick!