Airlines go wild for wireless entertainment

Consumer electronics developments are impacting airlines



The speedy developments in consumer electronics are impacting airlines’ in-flight entertainment (IFE). Wireless IFE is basically an aircraft’s own intranet that cuts out the need to have several kilometres of cables connecting every seat. Passengers can connect with their laptops or smart phones or tablets. American Airlines broke new ground by introducing the “initial phase” of an onboard wireless video system in early August. Passengers can stream more than 100 movies and TV shows from an onboard server. The airline wants to offer the service on every plane by the end of 2012.
Gol, a Brazilian low-cost airline, has given passengers a new wireless IFE service offering free-of-charge news, TV, sports, games and music. Condor and Virgin America are starting to provide Lufthansa’s wireless IFE system on its aircraft. Delta Air Lines is testing an enhanced version of its wireless in-flight portal Vision, streaming everything from gaming to ecommerce to social networking.
But the latest news is from Finnair, which is considering installing tablets throughout its upcoming A350s, the first of which are due to be delivered in 2014. “There would be central servers with wireless so you could download and stream movies and music to the devices,” Finnair CEO Mika Vehviläinen says. Cutting out the usual built-in, centralised entertainment systems would also save fuel by reducing weight.


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