In Flight Entertainment is about the entertainment available to passengers during a flight. It all started by the airship Hindenburg, which offered a piano, a lounge, a dining room, a smoking room and a bar in 1936, during a two-day flight between Europe and America. Nowadays, the expectations of the passengers changed a bit.
One of the main areas of development in IFE is the seating. The seats are where people will spend almost the totality of their flight, they also are a significative part of the weight of the aircraft.
A new business: Premium Economy seats
Few years ago, the biggest area of growth in terms of interior design were first and business class. Nowadays, it is all about the premium economy class. The most challenging innovation is about how to make these seats electrical at the lowest cost and with the lowest electricity consumption. In facts, the difference between eco and premium classes is basically the width of the seats, and if they are mechanical or electrical.
Commonly used for long haul flights, premium economy seats are nowadays a major part in the aircraft seating industry. At mid-range between economy and business class, premium economy offers mainly more legroom, a better inflight service, and sometimes a dedicated faster platform for booking and boarding.
What was worrying for the airlines was the downgrading risk, but they finally found out that the people who were risk were only the price sensitive people travelling in business class if they find a suitable fare or otherwise travelling in economy, which does not represent a big part in the customers and offer them an alternative option.
Another area of development Expliseat understood well is also the weight of the seats, where an effort can be put to reduce it.
As you may know, gain of weight on aircrafts significate a lot for the airlines operating those aircrafts. In facts, reducing the weight of the aircraft will also reduce the associated operating costs and decrease the impact on environment by reducing fuel consumption.
Following this quest of sustainability, Expliseat developed the “world’s lightest seat”: almost 4kg per seat, which is including all the classic features of an aircraft seat: pre-recline, headrest, footrest, USB, PED holder…
We can wonder that other seat manufacturers will soon follow Expliseat in this new trend, by increasing their R&D in this direction. From now, composites were mostly used, thanks to their characteristics, in the aerostructures, and they are more and more used on the interiors of the aircrafts.
Putting the passenger at the heart of the flight experience is nowadays the main concerns for the airlines, and it goes with a major improvement on inflight connectivity.
In flight connectivity:
Passenger’s desire for inflight internet access has never been greater. Today, only 8 airlines are offering free inflight Wi-Fi: Emirates, JetBlue, Norwegian, Turkish Airlines, Air China, Philippines Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines and Nok Air. A lot of other companies are also offering Wi-Fi services but not for free. A fact to know is that to equip an aircraft with this service, the cost may rise approximately $500k for a brand-new aircraft to $1 million for an old one.
Gogo, the major inflight internet supplier affirms that its broadband is about 3 Mbit/s which can be compared to a hotspot in a coffee for example, but as we saw before, this data is not really stable, and many customers expressed complaints about that.
This company completed the sale of its commercial aviation business to satellite operator Intelsat for $400 million in cash to focus more on the business aviation segment and let Intelsat conduct tests and improve inflight connectivity.
Intelsat Chief Executive Stephen Spengler is aware that “Demand for inflight broadband is expected to grow at a double-digit rate over the next decade” and show a real determination to go forward and develop this new segment of Intelsat: “Our ability to initiate, execute and rapidly finalize this transaction demonstrates the forward momentum that Intelsat has maintained over the course of this year.”
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