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Industria Aeronáutica

The future of seatback IFE according to American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue and Aeromexico

febrero 8, 2017

Following American Airlines’ admission that it will not install seatback in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens on its new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, questions have again been raised about the future of embedded IFE systems.

American Airlines’ statement highlighted its reasoning behind the decision to opt for an extensive library of wireless IFE delivered via Wi-Fi to passenger devices, rather than seatback monitors. More than 90% of passengers now carry a personal electronic device, while vastly improved onboard connectivity supports streaming from the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime, the carrier explained. These were among the key reasons, American said, why complimentary wireless IFE was selected ahead of “installing seatback monitors that will be obsolete within a few years”.

It’s important to note that American Airlines did not question the future of embedded IFE per se. The statement highlighted the fact that all of its wide-bodies, as well as the new Boeing 737 and Airbus A321 aircraft which will be delivered this year, will feature seatback screens. However, the decision has called into question the long-term role of seatback IFE on narrow-body aircraft, especially as the rollout of high-speed Wi-Fi continues apace.

Clarifying American Airlines’ position to FTE, Brian Richardson, Director of Aircraft Interiors, Inflight Entertainment & Connectivity, explained: “The message is that the seatback monitors that are installed today are often outdated by the time the entire fleet of aircraft is delivered several years later. I don’t know if, or when, IFE screens will be phased out completely but I do still think there are certainly markets and situations where seatback IFE still makes sense. It is difficult for airlines and IFE providers to keep up as technology advances with long development, certification and installation timelines.”

Richardson admitted that the decision not to invest in a seatback IFE system on the new 737 MAXs was partly inspired by the rise of on-demand streaming services, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. “I would say that it has been shaped (by this) to some extent,” he said. “But our general desire is to allow customers to control and define their own experience. We will provide an “at home” Wi-Fi experience and still offer a large library of movies and TV shows that they can watch on their own devices. American was the first airline to offer wireless entertainment onboard, and this is an evolution of this product and experience.”

JetBlue committed to seatback IFE
When approached by FTE, other airlines were keen to highlight the importance they still place on seatback IFE screens. JetBlue’s Vice President of Marketing, Jamie Perry, said: “As we always have, all JetBlue aircraft will offer seatback televisions. Our customers love to use multiple devices and our philosophy has always been to offer customers more options while they fly. We want our customers to feel like they are at home even at 35,000 feet.”

The carrier also pointed towards its investment in a “fully connected in-seat experience”, which is centred on connecting the seatback screen to the aircraft’s connectivity system. The new IFE system is built on the Google Android platform, supports live content streaming, audio and video on demand, and personal device pairing. Importantly, passengers will continue to be offered high definition, personal IFE screens…

Imagen: http://www.futuretravelexperience.com

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