Airline Passenger Experience: PEDs, in-flight entertainment, expanding services

Stowage and Retention of PEDs: The US government shutdown will delay rules from the Federal Aviation Administration on the trend toward allowing gate-to-gate use of Personal Entertainment Devices, or PEDs. A special FAA committee sent its recommendations to the FAA on Sept. 30, the day before government operations ground to a halt for non-essential services due to the budget impasse in Congress.

The possibility of allowing expansion of the use of PEDs came up at the Aircraft Interiors Expo-US organized by Reed Exhibitions (Flight Global). We attended on behalf of APEX, the Airline Passenger Experience magazine, and filed several stories with APEX.

Here is one on the PED issue, and the factors that must be considered for the stowage and, more importantly, retention of PEDs. What’s the difference? Stowage is just that. Retention is keeping the PED where it is stowed in the event of an emergency (aka, crash) so the PEDs don’t become flying objects.

Embedded IFE or Bring Your Own? With the proliferation of Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), the question arises: how long will airlines continue to embed in-flight entertainment systems, and how long with OEMs provide them?

This was one of the questions raised at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Seattle this week. Here is a story on the subject we did for APEX magazine. Don’t look for embedded IFE to disappear any time soon, and not for reasons you would think.

Expanding passenger experience: Airlines are trying to alter the in-cabin passenger experience (not always for the better, in our view, but we digress). It’s not that easy, given regulations, different vendors and more. Industry experts answered questions about the challenges of integrating in-flight entertainment systems into aircraft. The event was the Aircraft Interiors Expo-US by Reed Publishing. We recorded a couple of short segments that give the flavor of the challenges.

L to R: Jose Pavida, VP Engineering, TIMCO; Zuzana Hrnkova, Head of Aircraft Interiors Marketing, Airbus; Alan Wan, Product Manager, Thales; Sage Secimis, Electrical Engineering Manager, Northwest Aerospace Technologies.

Recordings by Scott Hamilton

12 Comments on “Airline Passenger Experience: PEDs, in-flight entertainment, expanding services

  1. Having just returned from a brief break in Lanzarote (The Canaries) flying with a mob called Thompson Airways, an experience I do not wish to repeat.

    The saving grace of the flights were the fact that the aircraft was completely devoid of IFE which was total bliss & meant people were either forced to read, sleep or unusually these days communicate with each other.

    Casting aside the dismal Thompson Airways experience with it’s total lack of FOC refreshments & left feeling guilty for asking for a glass or water the one salvation was the chuckle raised by her indoors & me at the innovative in flight safety video, some may have seen it before, if not enjoy.

  2. Why isn’t the IFE system being considered an opportunity? Instead of handing out menu cards, they can put the meal details up there. (And they can talk up the chef, ingredients etc so passengers feel they are getting something special.) It can upsell you on a premium wine.

    They can promote hotels, ground transport and any number of other addons. Passengers could report problems with the seat/flight/equipment. Competitions can be run. Charities can be promoted. You could gamble frequent flyer miles. You could order duty free, or items to pick up at your arrival. You could buy upgrades for your return trip. There are so many opportunities to delight the captive passenger.

    Having to do these things via flight attendants doesn’t work that well nor scale very well.

  3. I’m trying to remember if it Southwest or Alaska who have small PEDs for rent on flights. That system just had them charging on a galley cart. I think OEM’s should at least offer as an option with no IFE. Less equipment and wiring.

  4. IFE[C] systems also offer challenges for airlines. These systems become obsolete in 5 years or sooner. It is difficult for an airline to have a consistent IFE(C) product over its cabins. Investment costs are high. Additional profit hard to measure, on medium range routes probably not existent.
    BYOD is convenient in this respect (you only need the server and WiFi). However, there are always the issues with streaming copy-righted content. Anything you show on a device can also be recorded on a device.

    • Is short life to obsolescence still the case? I know nothing of what is currently on offer but wouldn’t it all at heart now be Gigabit Ethernet and IP based (ie have all the bandwidth required and be non-proprietary). Choose to fit HD touch screen panels and I can’t see what really needs to change for quite a while.

      I imagine DRM issues with BYOD can be solved but the sheer variety of devices people bring on board could increase the complexity of ensuring that everyone gets a consistent experience. Depending how systems are integrated the BYOD approach might also cause security concerns.

  5. All I pray for is that there will be airlines in my area that will not allow mobile phones.
    The threats of allowing them causes sleepless nights.

  6. These PEDs use batteries. Should Lithium-ion be allowed?? Ref. the 787 problems.

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