Aero Technics Blog

Remember to pack your IFE

Posted on 13/08/12, filed under Industry News | No Comments

When Steve Jobs, the legendary CEO of Apple, made his famous “third device” speech back in 2010, you have to wonder how far reaching he thought that product – we’re talking about the Ipad and all the clones that have followed – would be.

Apple saw tablets as the ideal web browser and video-watching device, forseeing a time when we were all in range of 3g, WIFI and, eventually, 4g/LTE signals, connecting us whenever and wherever we are.

And that may also mean onboard aircraft.

Providing in-flight entertainment to passengers has always been a crucial part of the on-board experience and a revenue stream for the airlines. For those that remember the pull-down screens and air-tube headphones prevalent up to the early 1990s, the advances made have just about kept pace with on-street personal entertainment. But each generational change of IFE is expensive, requiring the sort of extensive wiring and seat changing that can only be done on major overhauls.

Except now that may all be about to change, again.

Passengers with smartphones, tablets, laptops and portable games consoles are effectively bringing their own IFE systems on board. So, is there a future where all the airlines have to do is provide them with content streamed via wifi and, of course, charging them for the privilege?

Well maybe – but it might not be that simple. Obviously, there will be many passengers who, for whatever reason, don’t have a device with them – that could be easily solved by renting out tablets at check-in.

The bigger problem will be viewable content and generating revenue from it. Passengers will bring their favourite movies, music and games with them but that’s of no interest to the airline. What they need to do is provide content that isn’t available elsewhere such as first-show movies – exactly as they do now. But, streaming high-quality prints of these movies into passenger’s personal devices would be the Studios’ worst nightmare and the stuff of dreams to the pirate industry.

Portable devices, connected to secure networks – such as AuraConnected – are clearly the future of revenue-deriving IFE but perhaps a whole new way of thinking about content is needed?

Wide-bodied Passengers

Posted on 14/07/12, filed under Fresh News | No Comments

Airbus recently announced that it was going to cater for the wider-bodied passengers on the A320s by switching 3-seat configurations from 18-18-18 (inches) to 17-17-20.

This is in response to airlines who say that travellers’ expanding size has become a major headache, not only because the numbers of large passengers are expanding rapidly, but the complaints from large passengers – and those who have to sit next to them – are also increasing.

The A320 typically flies with 50 aisle seats and the reduced pitch for the remaining seats would match the standard 17” seats on the 737, A320’s main rival.

The new configuration would allow airlines to market the extra seats as offering more comfort to larger passengers as well as, for example, mothers with small children. Airbus estimate that these seats could warrant a £6.50 premium which could generate an extra two million pounds for each aircraft over 15 years and offset the extra fuel cost required to carry overweight passengers.

According to Airbus, Airlines are improving their margins by charging for bags, window seats and food, but what most people really want is space and this idea could deliver just that.

This is undeniably a good idea, but why stop there? Could airlines charge a supplement to be nearer the toilets or for deplaning first? What about for sitting well away from other people’s badly behaved children or for ensuring that the seat in front can’t recline? Just a thought.

How to sit in Economy

Posted on 02/07/12, filed under Fresh News | No Comments

It’s worked for you before, so always worth a try – book the middle seat in the hope that the check-in assistants will leave you alone to enjoy three-seat luxury.

It’s looking good, nearly everyone’s boarded, time to sidle over to the window seat. But wait, two more passengers have appeared and are heading your way. Sure enough it’s your A and C – the game’s up.

It’s all gone horribly wrong – you’re stuck in the middle with nowhere to rest your head, no space for your arms and no escape from the idiot already reclining in front of you.

So, assuming you have a choice, where is the best place to sit in cattle class?

The exit row – a perennial favourite and the best option for most flyers. A bit of extra leg room and no one reclining in front of you. An added bonus is no kids allowed in these rows but, on larger aircraft, the exits are often near galleys which could be noisy.

Aisle seats – always favourite if you’re likely to need the bathroom or want to deplane as quickly as possible, but you’ll need to keep your arms tucked in to avoid being jostled by flight attendants and don’t expect any sort of view out.

Window – the best choice if you want a kip. A jacket is all you need to cushion your skull from the bulkhead. Not the best choice, however, if you have a weak bladder.

Wing – good for the nervous flyers as turbulence is less noticeable and you can keep a reassuring eye on the integrity of the wing and engines.

And of course, never, ever book the middle seat.