Home' Asian Aviation : AAV Sept 2010 Contents 24 AsianAviation | SEPTEMBER 2010
In-flight entertainment and
communication (IFEC) systems have
been getting lighter over the past two
decades even as they o er ever-greater
functionality, as airlines strive to lure more
passengers while driving down equipment
weight and cost.
In an effort to meet airline demands, seat
manufacturers and IFEC system suppliers are
now working closer together than ever before.
To strengthen this ever-cosier relationship, the
IFEC industry association, the Airline Passenger
Experience Group (APEX) -- formerly the World
Airline Entertainment Association (WAEA) --
recently got the two sides together at a Single
Focus Workshop to further explore the integration
of seats and IFEC.
e association changed its name earlier this year
in recognition of new developments in the industry,
including the closer ties between IFEC and seat
manufacturers, and a need to better represent the
needs of a wider sector. e workshop itself covered
issues such as collaborative design of IFEC and
seats, next-generation seating and IFEC and seat-
"The integration design of seating and IFE
has improved considerably over the years and
recently there has been a tentative push to enhance
working partnerships," said Patrick Brannelly,
president of APEX and vice-president of corporate
communications for products at Emirates Airline.
The association "believes that facilitating a
workshop with this kind of interaction, in a public
forum, could potentially generate a turning point
in seat/IFE integration," he added.
e airframe manufacturers have long called for
greater integration of seats
and IFEC in order to ease some of the problems
they have faced when delivering new aircra .
"We have already reached a certain level of
integration, but co-existence of both systems was,
and is still, not without con ict," Airbus's omas
Schwarz told the workshop attendees. Despite 20
years of developments, the optimal installation is
still yet to be achieved and there is "still room for
improvement", he said.
Airbus used the forum to invite the industry to
work with the manufacturer on a series of new seat/
IFEC prototypes for a demonstrator to be available
in 2012. e concepts include : an ultra-light seat
featuring no IFEC; an "efficient seat and i.FE
module" -- i.FE being 'innovative IFE' -- comprising
a wired and robust entertainment solution in a light
seat; and a " ex-seat and i.FE module" featuring a
wireless and exible i.FE system in a light seat.
"We need your support to realise [this vision]",
said Airbus's Gerd Dueser. It is a "win-win" o er,
he said, with Airbus providing systems-integration
competence and a marketing platform, while
industry provides technolog y.
Airbus says it is encouraged by a number of
developments already occurring in the market.
"Actually, we see interesting and promising
activities in the market between seat and IFE
suppliers, regarding highly integrated systems. Seat
and IFE suppliers are commencing integration
before customer selection," said Schwarz. The
executive was referring to the integrated seat-IFEC
projects under way at leading system manufacturers
Panasonic Avionics and ales.
A prototype of Panasonic's Integrated Smart
Monitor (ISM), developed in conjunction with
Teague, was originally revealed at the 2009 WAEA
show and exhibition. e system, which was then
dubbed Fusion, represents the latest in IFEC-seat
innovation and integration, according to Panasonic.
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 manufacturer said.
e result, according to Panasonic, is a seamless
seat design that bene ts from reduced thickness
and weight, with improved comfort and reliability,
lower cost and power consumption compared to
conventional IFEC solutions. On-screen navigation,
ight attendant call, reading-light control, audio
jack and USB port are all incorporated into the
monitor, eliminating the complexity of in-seat
harnesses and additional seat components, says the
" e vision was to create an integrated product that
would decrease costs, reduce complexity and create
a premium entertainment experience for travellers,"
Panasonic said. e result was an IFEC seat that
seamlessly integrates Panasonic's next-generation,
touch screen IFEC monitor with an ultra-thin,
lightweight economy seat.
e prototype on display at last year's WAEA show
-- and the project that is at its most advanced -- is a
system under development with seat manufacturer
Weber Aircra , using its lightweight slim economy
5751 seat. However, the IFEC manufacturer is also
at various stages of development in partnership
with seat manufacturers B/E Aerospace and Recaro.
"Panasonic continues to work with all seat
vendors, including Weber on integrated solutions,"
said Marshal Perlman, Panasonic's director of
product management. "We expect to the first
integrated seat solutions to be ying in mid-2011,"
IFE systems get leaner
China's airlines are experiencing a surge in domestic
and international travel demand that will more than
double their profits this year, writes William Dennis.
Panasonic's vision with the Integrated Smart Monitor was to
create an integrated product that would decrease costs, reduce
complexity and create a premium entertainment experience.
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