Avionics Digital Edition

What Will Disrupt the Cabin IFEC Market?

Every issue, we try to find a disruptive technology that will push aviation into a new generation of capability.

Avionics is bringing back our coverage of passenger-facing IFEC technological expansion in capabilities. We’re going behind the interiors and inside the processors of seatback screens to uncover the embedded architectures, electronics and systems that are enabling a new era where business and commercial aviation operators can be increasingly innovative in their cabin tech strategies.

One of the things we try to find and feature in every issue of Avionics is a disruptive technology: something that is going to push a sector of aviation into a new generation of capability.

For the cover story, one of the companies I interviewed was Munich-based Inflight VR, which produces a virtual reality headset capable of streaming movies, gaming and other content and applications from cabin-based servers while also still giving passengers the same alerts for seat-belts and pilot announcements as traditional systems. It is also capable of storing streaming content to the device with up to 256GB in local storage.

A major caveat to this, though, is the reality that passengers in such close proximity to each other wearing headsets that suspend them in another virtual environment is a challenge for airlines safety-wise.

Although not every airline is trialing the use of virtual reality, others that I interviewed include the co-founder of La Compagnie, who provided some perspective on their becoming the first airline to offer free in-flight internet across the Atlantic on their New York to Paris all-business class Airbus A320s, A321neo and Boeing 757s retrofitted with fourth generation IFEC technologies. Tap Portugal and LATAM Airlines’ IFEC managers also gave some updates on their progress with deployment and how they’re gauging passenger feedback and engagement with their new cabin in-flight connectivity platforms.

Something that I learned from these interviews was the trend among airlines to use wireless in-flight entertainment strategies that are flexible enough to be presented in a seatback or mobile device format.

In-line with the central focus for this issue — cabin systems and satcom — James Careless provides interviews with three different suppliers of IFEC systems embedded technologies to understand what’s actually making the growth in application-based IFEC screens and displays possible today. We also cover 4K screens for IFEC, antenna technology and how the U.S. military is investing in aircraft upgrades provided by some of the same in-flight connectivity networks used by passengers today.

As always, email me with any thoughts on what we should be covering.