Home' Asian Aviation : AAV May 2010 Contents AsianAviation | MAY 2010 33
place for seatback IFE systems, the
versatility of which makes them
an integral part of most airlines
in- ight product o ering."
Seatback system manufacturers
are already looking at the next
generation of capabilities, as well
as working to make their systems
as light and "green" as possible.
"Features such as 3D and HD are
just around the corner, as well as a
few surprises that will be revealed
in the future," says Panasonic. The
company has already been at the
forefront of numerous innovations
in the industry, including the
introduction of AVOD in 1997,
MPEG-2 video quality (2000),
integrated IFE broadband passenger connectivity
(2002), MPEG-4 video content (2008) and in- ight
voice and data services (2008).
Last year, the manufacturer launched a number
of new premium-class products for its X Series
IFEC line, including a 32-inch high-de nition LCD
monitor, a HD premium seat electronics box and
the Karma touchscreen handset, which allows
passengers to watch a movie at the same time as
ordering a drink, purchasing duty-free products,
tracking the flight or chatting with another
"The X Series platform uses the very same
technology the internet is built upon, so it is
highly exible and scalable, giving us the ability
to add new features and functions without having
to reinvent the wheel," the manufacturer adds.
Likewise, Thales is exploring innovations for its
TopSeries "in all areas", including: faster, cheaper
and lighter hardware; connected, social and
revenue-generating applications; and airline
services, such as wireless data and content
loading and off-loading, or improvements in
built-in test equipment (BITE) reports and aircraft
At the same time, manufacturers have
environmental considerations in mind, striving for
reduced weight and power consumption. At last
year s World Airline Entertainment Association
show, Panasonic displayed an integrated smart
monitor with seat manufacturer Weber Aircraft s
lightweight slim economy seat 5751.
The product -- then dubbed Fusion but now
called the Integrated Smart Monitor -- "represents
the latest in IFEC seat innovation and integration",
"It is a substantial advance in IFEC design, as
the in-seat video display and passenger seat are
built with each other in mind," the company says.
"This results in a seamless seat design that holds
bene ts for both passengers and airlines."
Multiple bene ts
Benefits include improvements in aesthetics,
usability and comfort for passengers, as well as
weight, power and volume bene ts for airlines,
with no need for a special tilt mechanism for the
monitor -- required in a typical economy-class IFE
installation -- and a high-performance processor
that uses less power.
Panasonic is at "di erent stages of development
with several seat suppliers", believed to be
B/E Aerospace, Recaro and Weber, with the
technology expected to be featured at the Aircraft
Interiors Expo and announcements likely.
Panasonic and Thales are not alone in seeing
a future for seatback IFEC, with next-generation
systems under development. Lumexis, for
example, has developed the Fibre-to-the-Screen
(FTTS) IFE system to meet the low-weight, low-cost
high reliability and functionality requirements of
Unlike traditional IFE systems, the FTTS is a
fully bre-optic system that uses light pulses
to carry the audio and video data streams from
the server directly to the seat display screens,
eliminating the need for large and heavy seat
electronics boxes and other equipment required
by traditional systems. As a result, FTTS is up to 50
percent lighter than today s systems.
The FTTS o ers a simple solution that is easy
to operate, with high reliability, high bandwidth,
lower weight and less cost than traditional
systems, according to Lumexis. It can support
hundreds of on-demand IFE options, including
movies, music, games and shopping.
US Airways conducted a three-month ight
trial last year on a 150-seat Airbus A320, with the
system o ering more than 250 hours of content
with 227 entertainment options, including
movies, TV programmes, music, audio books
and games. During nearly 300 ights, lasting
over 1,000 hours, passengers watched some
40,210 videos, played 18,305 games
and listened to 224,872 music tracks.
During that time the system required
no rebooting and the only failure was
in one video display unit.
The trial was "unprecedentedly
successful", says Doug Cline, Lumexis
chief executive officer and an IFE
industry veteran. While USAirways
was "financially constrained from
retrofitting any IFE system into its
narrowbody eet", the airline remains
an "enthusiastic supporter" of the
product, says Cline.
Although it didn t secure an order
from US Airways, Lumexis has secured
a "large" order for the Boeing 737 eet of an
unidenti ed airline, which will be disclosed at
the Aircraft Interiors Expo. First installations will
take place in the second half of this year and
the systems will enter service immediately, says
Cline. The airline will use the system, not just
for entertainment, but also to support in-seat
purchases for various products and services.
With the recent appointment of regional
directors for Asia and Europe, the company is
close to a number of other orders, following
"With a demonstrated installed weight of
less than 2kg per seat for our launch customer s
narrowbodies, we expect even slightly less
for widebodies, while providing full AVOD
functionality for the many hundreds of seats of
the largest superjumbos," says Cline.
Further development of the system is
planned. "We continue to develop applications
that compete most favourably with the
most advanced offerings of our established
competitors," Cline says. "But as our platform is
completely open-source -- unlike those other
competitors -- a variety of industry hardware
and software manufacturers can independently
develop additional products, and are doing so."
The system can also support existing
connectivity solutions, including OnAir, Row 44
and AirCell. "We provide an ultra-high bandwidth,
onboard network between essentially any data
sources and its users," Cline adds.
The FTTS is more than an entertainment
system, according to the Lumexis chief. He
explains: "We view the role of IFEC as being
much more than just entertainment -- our
exible broadband network provides the carrier s
marketing and the cabin crew a full-time, direct
link to the passengers o ering the latter access
to heretofore unavailable product and service
o erings." ●
The Integrated Smart Monitor represents the latest in IFEC seat innovation
and integration, according to Panasonic.
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