Home' Asian Aviation : AAV March 2016 Contents 28 AsianAviation | MARCH 2016
Similarly, Singapore Airlines, long considered
an innovator in IFEC, is embracing both. SIA has
Panasonic Avionics IFEC seatback systems across
its international fleet, with connectivity also provided
by Panasonic. It has just committed to the competing
Thales AVANT seatback system and Thales ka-band,
Inmarsat-delivered connectivity for its new Airbus
A350 XWBs to operate medium-haul services.
SIA says: “We continue to see a need for seat-
back in-flight entertainment systems as an important
product offering for Singapore Airlines, and we
expect to continue fitting our aircraft with such
systems in the years ahead.”
Far from seeing them as separate entities, SIA is
using connectivity and passenger devices to enhance
the seatback IFEC and deliver a more personalised
experience. It is about to launch, for example, a
companion mobile app which has been developed
with Panasonic. The app allows a passenger to view
the onboard entertainment for their flight before
they get onboard, including watching movie trailers,
reading reviews and queuing movies, TV programmes
and audio for their flight.
Once onboard, the passenger synchronises
their mobile device with the seatback KrisWorld
system and calls up their selected entertainment
choices. The app also allows passengers to control
their entertainment from their mobile device which
acts as a second screen, allowing them to review
entertainment and watch the moving map without any
interruption to what they are watching.
Finnair has developed a similar companion app
and “a lot of other airlines” are interested in the tool,
according to Andy Fellows, Panasonic Avionics vice
president Asia, Japan and China regions.
“It’s a win-win situation,” he says.
Middle East carrier Etihad is also evaluating such
a move. “We are currently undergoing a digital
transformation programme, looking at the end-to-end
digital offering for our guests. IFEC is a key part of
our guest experience and we are researching this
thoroughly,” says the airline.
The majority of Etihad’s fleet is equipped with
Panasonic seatback systems – the eX2 and eX3
while 35 aircraft feature Thales seatback IFE.
Going forward, all of the airline’s Airbus A380s
and Boeing 787s will feature the eX3 system,
with on-demand entertainment on high definition,
capacitive touchscreens ranging from 11 inches in
economy up to 32 inches in the airline’s premium
The Residence cabin.
The airline also has Panasonic’s live television
service on 50 of its wide-body aircraft, offering seven
live TV channels. Panasonic’s Global Communication
Suite provides mobile connectivity and WiFi on
most of Etihad’s wide-body aircraft, while SITA
OnAir provides Inmarsat-based mobile and WiFi
connectivity on most of its narrow-body aircraft.
“We are constantly monitoring trends, not only in
IFE systems, but in content also,” says the airline.
“In line with guests’ changing expectations and
behaviours, we are adapting both the content – for
example the increase in TV boxsets which have
grown in popularity in recent times – as well as the
systems, such as video touchscreen handset on
the A30 and 787 fleets – providing guests with a
‘second screen’ to be able to double-task whilst
enjoying content,” Etihad explains.
“Streaming, and its increasing prevalence in the
airline world, is certainly something we are currently
monitoring and researching. Whilst seatback IFE is
very popular amongst our guests and forms a core
part of our offering, we are also investigating the
potential future of IFEC – of which streaming forms
a part,” it adds.
Another IFEC award-winning airline, Virgin Atlantic
acknowledges that more of its passengers are
bringing onboard their own devices pre-loaded with
content, but they still use and appreciate the airline’s
seatback offering. The majority of its fleet features
Panasonic eX2 systems (Boeing 747s and Airbus
A330s) and the eX3 (787 fleet), with the legacy
Panasonic 3000 system still flying on the airline’s
Airbus A340-600s out of London Heathrow.
Virgin’s in-flight connectivity is a mixed bag, with
Rockwell Collins Cabin Connect onboard three
A330s, Panasonic’s eXConnect onboard its new
787s and Gogo’s 2ku-band solution to be rolled out
across the rest of the fleet. Virgin will have a fully
connected fleet by mid-2017, says Debbie Hulme,
vice president of customer experience.
“We are definitely seeing more and more people
boarding their flights with their own devices pre-
loaded with their own content. However, our
customers do enjoy exploring and watching the
range of content on our IFE system,” explains Hulme.
“We see many customers ‘dual screening’,
perhaps watching a movie on our entertainment
system and then maybe browsing the WiFi on their
own devices and this is something we will take into
consideration when looking at our next generation
IFE,” Hulme adds.
Constant interaction with its passengers is a vital
part of Virgin’s future IFEC deliberations, aimed
at delivering a more personalised offering. Hulme
says: “We are always speaking to our customers to
understand how they use IFE and personalisation of
content across devices is definitely something we
are looking at. We know our customers want the
choice around how they watch, when they watch and
what they watch.”
For the leading seatback IFEC system
manufacturers, Panasonic and Thales, it means they
need a foot in both camps.
Panasonic is covering all bases with the continued
development of its interactive seatback X Series
systems, as well its eXConnect connectivity and
eXTV live television. “We embraced it [connectivity
and BYOD],” says Fellows, adding that in-flight
SIA has long been a leader in IFEC and is using
connectivity to enhance its seatback offering
3/03/2016 7:18:34 PM
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