We first met Dr. Junkang Ma as part of the CETCA contingent visiting AIX in Hamburg. The occasion was the signing of a Thales contract to develop and manufacture the C919 IFE hardware in China. In an effort to introduce Chinese aviation information to our readers, we asked Dr. Ma to write an introductory view of arguably the worlds greatest aviation growth market, and surely the next big IFEC market. We hope he contributes more articles in the future.

China’s IFE Market Enters a Diversified Growth Phase – Dr. Junkang Ma

Following in the footsteps of the global economy, the international civil aviation market appears to be recovering as well. In support of this observation, both Boeing and Airbus have large orders for their new single-aisle aircraft, while orders for China’s C919 have risen to over 280 aircraft as well. Clearly, the Chinese civil aviation market is experiencing rapid growth, which has resulted in an explosive and diversified growth phase for China’s IFE market.

Although China’s IFE market enters the competition relatively late, it has the advantage of being new to market and utilizes many of the new technological developments and advancements that have occurred in recent years compared to some systems that are still tied to legacy architecture and hardware. With the high proportion of newly purchased aircraft that are to be rolled out in the next five years, this advantage provides a broad space for the advanced technologies and new systems that will be introduced by China’s IFE market. Furthermore, Chinese airlines perceive IFE equipment as an investment that will produce a compound yield. The anticipation is to not only utilize IFE to attract passengers and make them comfortable en route, but also introduce new business models from the highly successful, ground-based Chinese consumer market, to make new profit growth points.

For the last few years, portable consumer electronic products have prevailed. A high percentage of passengers bring numerous PEDs on-board, such as, smart phones, iPhones, tablets, and iPads – just to mention a few. China’s mobile communication and wireless network market is the largest in the world, and individual users expect to get information and entertainment by their portable electronic devices. Therefore, with passengers’ active demands and Chinese airlines’ evolving expectations, there is a rapid shift from traditional IFE to new IFE centering on mobile communication and wireless networks, i.e. IFEC (IFE & Connectivity) where passengers will not only log onto the on-board media server via a cabin wireless LAN to get their entertainment and information service, but also enjoy mobile communication and Internet service via satellite or air-to-ground broadband communications.

Today’s Chinese airlines are being driven by the new ground-based technologies to transform their onboard service to meet their passengers’ needs and expectations. Currently, most of the services are one-directional, such as, providing pre-set video programs that are not selectable. However, with the introduction of mobile communication and wireless networks into the cabin, airlines will start to provide personalized and customized services giving more freedom to their passengers. Firstly, passengers can freely select traditional entertainment, gaming and information services using their personal electronic devices. Meanwhile, Chinese airlines plan to introduce new services, drawing on the experiences especially from the mature services of the consumer market such as electronic commerce and social networking. For example, they will use TAOBAO, which competes with ebay, and SINA WEIBO which is considered ‘China’s Twitter’. Directed by those new services, new business models are beginning to take form… Additionally, airlines can merge the ground and in-air service to promote other innovative business models, such as, all-in-one customized service for VIP passengers. Additionally, working with advertising companies the airlines can develop personalized advertisements that can be pushed at specific passenger demographics.

Today’s Speaker’s Corner was contributed by Dr. Junkang Ma, Technology Manager, CETC Avionics Co., Ltd. Here is Dr. Ma’s CV.

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