Home' Asian Aviation : AAV September 2011 Contents 34 AsianAviation | SEPTEMBER 2011
ime do es not stand still in the
world of in-flight entertainment
and communications (IFEC),
with equipment manufacturers
and ser vice providers constantly
working to ke ep pace with
developments on the ground.
With the advent of personal entertainment and
communication devices, many warned that traditional
seatback IFE systems would become a thing of the past,
but hardware manufacturers are fighting back and have
embraced conne ctivity, the Android operating system
and have put their systems on a diet to ensure they have
a future place in the industry.
A number of carriers are embracing portable
consumer devices, with Jetstar, for example, conducting
an in-flight trial of Apple’s iPad – and still rep ortedly
working to implement that programme fleet-wide – and
British Airways testing the same device in its first class
cabins to complement installed IFE systems. American
Airlines, meanwhile, will offer the Samsung Galaxy
Tab in its premium cabins on Boeing 767-200 and
- 300 transcontinental flights and European and South
American ser vices flown by 767-300s from later this year.
But this doesn’t mean installed seatback systems
are dead and buried; far from it. Those leg acy carriers
testing out portable devices often do so in their premium
cabins, as a supplement to seatback IFE, while low-cost
operators, for example, g enerally do not have seatback
IFE anyway. The situation is no different from the
1990s when a number of innovative carriers offered
passengers consumer DVD devices to supplement the
still-unreliable interactive seatback IFE systems which
were entering ser vice.
Leading seatback system manufacturers Pana sonic and
Thales clearly do not believe their days are numbered ,
a s they are developing their latest products based on the
Android operating system.
Panasonic, for example, is developing the eX3 as
the latest member of its XSeries. The manufacturer
describes the eX3 as “a re volution in passenger
entertainment”. It will support connectivity, high
definition, 3D, personalisation and high-end video
games, says the manufacturer.
The eX3 is being designed with broadband
connectivity in mind, with the system able to support
GSM and smart phones, laptops and tablet computers,
allowing passengers to stay connected through live
television, news and social media .
Based on Google’s Android operating system,
the eX3 will have a highly-reliable, self-managing
software architecture that is designed for connected,
think- client networks and low-power, highly
interactive devices, says Panasonic. As it is Android-
based, operators will have access to an extensive
development community and thousands of off-the-
shelf and custom-branded applications.
Increased system reliability is promised through
the use of the Android operating system, solid-state
disc drives, fe wer components than in earlier XSeries
systems, improved BITE accuracy and real-time
system monitoring through connectivity. Panasonic
says the design of the system will be “elegant”, based on
“uncompromising industrial design that features seamless
interior integration, a home-theatre environment, HD
[high-definition] and 3D displays, capacitive touch,
proximity sensors, incredible viewing angles, next-
generation processors, in-seat cameras and more”.
Panasonic is also promising “significant weight
reduction” and reduced power use compared with
earlier generation systems. Panasonic is also offering in-
flight broadband connectivity, mobile phone ser vices
and live television through its Global Communications
Suite comprising the Ku-band eXConnect connectivity
ser vice and eXphone mobile phone ser vice, in
conjunction with AeroMobile and eXTV.
EXConnect was launched by Lufthansa in November
2010, after years of development by Panasonic to fill
the gap left by Boeing’s defunct Connexion ser vice. The
s ystem operates via Intelsat satellites, delivering internet
and e-mail access to passengers.
Turkish Airlines, SAS and Cathay Pacific Airways
are also signed up for eXConnect. Gulf Air became
the latest customer when at this year ’s Paris Air Show
in June it announced it had selected Panasonic’s Global
Communications Suite for its entire fleet. Installations
were set to start in September and are likely to take two
years, Panasonic says.
Like Panasonic, Thales is also constantly upgrading
its seatback systems. Thales’ latest TopSeries system is
the AVANT which the manufacturer describes as “a
revolutionary system” that combines the strengths of
earlier-generation systems with advanced technologies,
including HD video, solid-state hard drives and faster
AVANT is ba sed on the Android operating system
and incorporates Thales’ Touch Passenger Media Unit
(PMU), which is a menu-driven 3.8-inch touch-screen
device. The Touch PMU allows passengers to multi-
task, just as they do on the ground, says Thales. Thales
is opening an App Portal to allow airlines to access the
growing number of Android-based applications.
AVANT is based on a seat-centric design, making
it lighter and smaller than earlier systems, says the
manufacturer. Thales is aiming for a target weight and
power reduction of 30 percent compared with older
TopSeries systems. No seat electronics box is required.
The system is f ully laptop -power capable and includes
new solid-state entertainment ser vers at the head-end
providing redundancy with no single p oint of failure.
Each ser ver supports HD video and offers up to 2TB
capacity, with streaming video to 150 passengers, while
the digital ser vers can act as communications ser vers for
the TopConnect system.
No passenger control units or peripheral cables are
required, and the modular seat display construction
Connectivity and personal entertainment and communication devices have not killed off seatback in-flight entertainment and
communications systems, as some had predicted. Emma Kelly looks at how IFEC manufacturers are planning for the future.
“Many airlines are taking interest in our new systems.” – Thales
Seatback IFE forges ahead
as they do on
2/09/11 5:56 PM
Links Archive AAV July August 2011 AAV October 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page