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Other manufacturers have come from a portable
IFE system background to develop seat-centric
systems with low weight and cost principles at the
core. IMS, for example, recently saw the entry into
service of its RAVE system -- Reliable Audio Video
Launch customer Sri Lankan Airlines put RAVE into
service on its first Airbus A330 last December, with
two A340s and five A330s to be equipped in total.
Other Asian customers include Air Tahiti Nui and
Air Niugini - the latter will equip its 767 fleet next
year. The latest orders push the RAVE order backlog
to 150 aircraft.
DigEcor has also come from a portable IFE system
background, teaming with Chinese manufacturer
Lefeel Media Technology in a move towards
embedded IFEC. Gulf Air put the system into service
last year in a semi-embedded format on its A320s.
Airvod is another member of the seat-centric club,
even patenting the term for its Seatcentric self-
contained entertainment/communications system.
Seatcentric, which is suitable for all aircraft types
according to the Irish manufacturer, features all of
the applications stored and processed in the seat.
UAE-based executive jet operator Rotana Jet has
selected the Airvod system for its Airbus A319s.
Airvod also announced in Hamburg that it has
partnered communications specialist TriaGnoSys
to support the wireless delivery of content and
connectivity on the Airvod system and passengers
devices. Axel Jahn, managing director of German
company TriaGnoSys says: "Uploading of content
is much more efficient, which saves time, and there
are considerable weight savings. Wireless is the
future. By eliminating cabling and complex networks
we reduce the weight of a twin aisle aircraft by over
Another system new to the market is Thompson
Aerospace s 1Net Cabin Infotainment System. The
system was installed on a Bahrain Air A319 last
June, while a second, unnamed A320 customer is
due to be flying with the system this year, says Mark
Thompson, president and chief executive officer.
It features fewer components than earlier
generation systems and the screen uses less than
10.5 watts of power thanks to the use of an ARM9
chipset that is common in most tablet computers.
With a monitor at each seat on a 150-seat aircraft,
full system weight is around 3.3lbs per seat, says
One of the most innovative systems to emerge
over the last year is the TrayVu system developed
by Skycast Solutions. TrayVu, which made its debut
at last year s APEX show, is the first IFE system
integrated with the tray table. It uses a Samsung
Galaxy tablet with an Android Honeycomb 3 platform,
a touchscreen keypad, an 8.9inch screen, and is Wi-
Fi-compatible. It weighs in at less than 2lb per seat,
Skycast says it is the lightest seat-centric system
The system, which is the brainchild of Skycast CEO
Bill Boyer who pioneered the portable IFE market, is
yet to secure a launch customer but has attracted
considerable airline interest, particularly from airlines
for which IFE was not previously a viable option.
"Airlines face tough conflicting pressures to
lower costs, increase their ancillary revenues,
without resorting to higher fees. Today s tech-savvy
passengers expect and deserve a better onboard
experience," says Boyer.
Many players are appealing to the "tech-savvy"
passenger through the development of hybrid
systems that provide both seatback content and
allow passengers to connect their PEDs. Lufthansa
Systems wireless BoardConnect system, for
example, offers just that, providing passengers
with different ways to play, interact, connect and
be entertained - and connect their PEDs. It offers
savings of up to 50 per cent in installation costs
compared to legacy systems and weight savings
of nearly half a ton on a 767-300, according to
In the Asia-Pacific region, Virgin Australia has
selected BoardConnect and in January, Qantas
launched its Q Streaming trial using BoardConnect
wi-fi technology. The trial was conducted on a Boeing
767-300. Qantas initially provided passengers
with iPads to view the programming, followed by
passengers using their own devices. Qantas says it
is finalising plans to introduce the technology across
a wider fleet.
Norbert Muller, Lufthansa Systems head of
programme management told Asian Aviation recently
that the Qantas trial worked well from the start, with
no problems, and an "overwhelmingly positive"
response from passengers and good usage levels.
Panasonic and Thales, which have long dominated
the market for widebody installed IFEC systems, are
developing their own new solutions. The eX3 is the
latest member of Panasonic s successful XSeries
family and is based on Google s Android operating
In order to attract a wider audience, Panasonic is
also developing a new wireless system, the eXW,
as well as the lightweight eXLite system. "We
continue to see increasing demand for streamlined
architectures that offer significant improvements
in weight, power and cost," says Paul Margis,
Panasonic s chief executive officer.
Thales latest TopSeries member is the
AVANT, also described by the manufacturer as a
"revolutionary system". Likewise, AVANT makes
use of the Android operating system, as well as
solid state hard drives and faster processors than
previous TopSeries systems.
Overall Thales is aiming for weight and power
reduction of 30 per cent compared with earlier
An undisclosed Airbus A350 XWB customer
has selected AVANT for its aircraft and Thales is
working to have the system offerable on all Airbus
platforms. OEM qualification is expected in late
2012, with flight tests and deliveries set to start in
2013, says Thales.
Former competitor in the widebody IFE market,
Rockwell Collins is moving back into the in-seat IFE
market, this time for narrowbodies. Its latest PAVES
3 system allows passengers to connect their PEDs.
Airlines have never before had so many system
options, with yet more on the drawing board. While
there is a lot going on in the IFEC systems sector,
connectivity providers are equally busy working to
meet the voracious appetite for in-flight connectivity.
But that is a whole different story.
"Wireless is the future. By eliminating
cabling and complex networks we
reduce the weight of a twin aisle
aircraft by over a tonne." Axel Jahn,
managing director, TriaGnoSys
Seatcentric is the first IFEC system to use the Toshiba 128Gb eMMC
memory chip which is capable of storing large amounts of data.
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