Aircraft entertainment takes off as airlines aim to provide the best in-flight experience

Posted on 30 Sep 2015 by Aiden Burgess

Improved technologies and increasing air travel has attracted many electronics businesses into the inflight entertainment market which each company aiming to deliver the ultimate in-flight experience for passengers.

A number of airlines are trying to set a new standard for aircraft entertainment through the use of wireless streaming.

Airbus is one such company looking to utilise this technology, through the implementation of Rockwell Collins’ Paves on-demand In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system.

The Paves Wireless media distribution system will be installed on 85 new Airbus A320 aircraft, which will provide advanced capabilities for airlines including the ability to stream video content via a wireless system to more than 250 passengers simultaneously and a flexible, open-software architecture to support a wide array of apps and services.

The individual and seat-centric design of the Paves IFE system means each seat system is independent, so that if one unit has an issue or problem no other in-seat systems are affected.

The Paves IFE system is also being offered for the Boeing 737 MAX, and vice president and general manager of information systems at Rockwell Collins, Greg Irmen, said such a system was becoming a must for airlines to help provide the best possible in-flight experience.

“Airline passengers are increasingly expecting to have content available throughout their journeys, which presents significant opportunities for airlines to uniquely connect with their customers,” he said.

“Having a high-performing media distribution solution for the entire aircraft is a must as this becomes reality.”

Kontron and Netflix

Spring Airlines have also taken the lead in providing innovative aircraft entertainment.

The Chinese airline recently launched its first inflight WiFi distribution system on its A320 aircraft, which was developed by Kontron.

Spring Airlines officially incorporated the cabin WiFi distribution feature into their regular flight service, providing passengers streaming HD video-on-demand content as well as the ability to enjoy music, games, news and cabin online chat during the flight.

Virgin America is another airline looking to set the standard for inflight entertainment.

The US airline announced this week that passengers will be able to watch the entire Netflix catalogue for free while on their flights.

The new in-flight entertainment service is made possible due to a connectivity partnership between Virgin America and ViaSat, a global provider of satellite and wireless services.

The partnership will bring significantly faster WiFi to Virgin America’s 10 new airbus A320 aircraft which are being delivered over the next year.

The complimentary in-flight WiFi access will allow new and existing Netflix members to enjoy the entire Netflix catalogue.

The BAE Systems IntelliCabin system is the first IFE solution to receive early window approval to stream to passenger and airline owned devices - image courtesy of BAE Systems.
The BAE Systems IntelliCabin system is the first IFE solution to receive early window approval to stream to passenger and airline owned devices – image courtesy of BAE Systems.

BAE Systems to deliver the latest movies

And global airline passengers won’t just be able to catch up on the latest shows, but for the first time ever passengers will also be able to view the latest movies fresh from the cinema.

BAE Systems’ IntelliCabin wireless In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) solution is the first of its kind to secure approval from a major Hollywood studio to stream the latest blockbusters directly on its tablet-based system.

The approval is the first time a major-Hollywood studio has agreed to the streaming of ‘early-window content’ to to both passenger and airline-owned devices.

The latest blockbusters will be streamed from a local server installed on aircraft equipped with BAE System’s wireless IFE solution.

Director of cabin systems at BAE Systems, Jared Shoemaker, said the approval to stream the latest Hollywood films was a game changer for the airline industry.

“The IntelliCabin solution is the premium wireless IFE system on the market today,” he said.

“We are now able to provide airlines with the extraordinary capability to stream early window content to passengers devices, this is a game changer for our industry and will enable airlines to provide exceptional travel experiences to all its passengers.”