Home' Asian Aviation : AAV May 2010 Contents 30 AsianAviation | MAY 2010
Reports of the death of traditional
seatback in-flight entertainment
(IFE) are greatly exaggerated.
Nevertheless, system manufacturers
acknowledge that the only way
to survive and prosper in today s
connected world is by adopting the old adage "if
you can t beat em, join em".
No longer are airlines and passengers satis ed
with seatback systems offering audio- and
video-on-demand (AVOD), games, news and
infotainment. Now, what s o ered on board must
mirror the connectivity services passengers are
used to on the ground, supporting personal
electronic devices rather than trying to replace
them. In today s world, if an IFE -- or IFEC, with
the C for communications, as it is now known --
supplier doesn t support connectivity, it may as
well give up.
IFEC hardware suppliers Panasonic and Thales
are embracing connectivity to retain their
markets. Panasonic s IFEC systems are ying with
over 200 customers on more than 3,700 aircraft,
while Thales says it wins approximately 45 percent
of the bids it competes for with its TopSeries ying
on over 1,000 aircraft with more than 50 airline
The two companies have adopted di erent
approaches to connectivity, with Panasonic
seeking to fill the gap left by the demise of
Connexion by Boeing with its eXConnect
EXConnect is part of Panasonic s Global
Communications Suite, which also includes the
eXPhone in-flight GSM smartphone services
and the Panasonic Airborne Television Network.
EXConnect will operate through Intelsat s Ku-
band satellites, at speeds of up to 50Mb/sec to the
aircraft, delivering Wi-Fi connectivity supporting
internet, email and telephony. EXPhone allows
passengers to use their mobile phone to make
voice calls, send text messages or use data
services in- ight.
Panasonic has ve airlines signed up for the service
-- launch customer Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and
unidenti ed carriers in Asia and Africa.
Lufthansa is planning to relaunch its FlyNet
system for in- ight connectivity -- which was
rst launched with Connexion by Boeing as the
service provider in 2003, until Connexion was
closed down in 2006. Lufthansa plans to initially
o er FlyNet on services between Germany and
the United States from the middle of this year,
with the entire long-haul eet to be equipped
with eXConnect by the end of 2011. Lufthansa
says three aircraft are now equipped and internal
testing is ongoing.
Panasonic says its proprietary ku-band
antenna delivers "superior bandwidth in a small,
light con guration that is designed for optimal
performance in all regions of the world".
Panasonic is planning a phased global roll-out
based on customer preference and regulatory
approvals, with the capacity of the system
to be increased as more use the system. The
company says it has invested signi cant research
and development resources to help airlines y
"connected airplanes" with in-flight internet
access and a variety of IFE and content options.
"The connected airplane is quickly becoming
the norm, especially for long-haul ights," says
"Increasingly, airline passengers want the
exibility to access IFE in a way that matches their
own travel styles," the company says. "A key part
of the connected airplane is allowing passengers
to use their personal devices on board to access
this content...For these passengers, Panasonic
Avionics works with the leading industry vendors
to ensure compatibility with our seatback
screens and Wi-Fi connectivity technology.
These emerging technologies allow passengers
IFE sector targets connected cabins
With passengers increasingly using their own communications and entertainment devices -- such as iPods,
smartphones, laptops and now the iPad -- onboard aircraft, Emma Kelly examines what the future holds for
in-flight entertainment and communications providers.
During a three-month trial with US Airways,
Lumexis' fibre-optic FTTS required no rebooting.
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