By Nick Maynard, Marketing Communications Manager of Honeywell Aerospace
Dubai. 07 December 2016. The Concorde (British Airways, of course) – unquestionably the greatest commercial aircraft ever to fly, didn’t even have it on board. But then it didn’t really need it. Today’s modern jetliners, on the other hand, can’t fly London to New York in three hours and while certainly comfortable and technologically advanced, they have big shoes to fill if they are to live up to the thrill of flying at Mach 2 and watching the curvature of the Earth from 60,000ft, whilst sipping the finest champagne.
Given the same London to New York route takes well over 7 hours to complete at subsonic speed and given our insatiable thirst for entertainment and distraction, the need for carriers to invest in it has never been greater.
What is ‘IT’, I hear you ask? Well ‘IT’ – is seatback inflight entertainment. In recent years, seatback inflight entertainment has been a critical part of airlines’ on-board service to passengers, in a bid to make those long overnight flights that bit more bearable. So it’s understandable if, when I tell you that thanks to Honeywell and Inmarsat the age of seatback inflight entertainment might be coming to an end, you may initially be somewhat displeased. Fear not, however, for you won’t now be expected to talk to your partner, or play with your children for the long hours to your destination – no you’ll be entertained like never before – and this time the content will be yours!
Imagine being able to create your own personalised inflight playlist before stepping on-board the aircraft. Imagine the choice of pulling the very best movies, TV series and documentaries from content providers worldwide – like NetFlix, BBC, Sky, HBO – as well as the airline’s own media library. And imagine being able to access this playlist via your own device or share it with friends and family using their own electronic devices or seatback screen during the flight.
Even Concorde wasn’t fast enough to guarantee you’d be back home in time to watch the big match on TV. But soon you will no longer need worry. You’ll be able to stream live coverage when flying at 30,000ft – even over oceans.
Does this all seem a little farfetched? Well quite the contrary actually. A recent survey by FlightGlobal during Aircraft Interiors Expo 2016 in Hamburg asked industry experts to select what they considered the major trend that will dominate inflight entertainment. Interestingly 19% of respondents identified the replacement of embedded IFE by personal devices as the key dynamic, whilst 25% saw the switch to streaming content rather than hosted content as the major development.
In theory then, this all sounds great. But how will it work in practice, when many of us around the world still battle with patchy phone signal on land – let alone streaming content when flying at over 500 miles per hour, six miles up in the air?
This inflight revolution is made possible thanks to Global Xpress from Inmarsat and Honeywell’s JetWave hardware. Together this ground breaking satcom solution provides truly seamless global connectivity and offers air travellers a “home equivalent” broadband experience. Global Xpress currently uses three Ka Band satellites to deliver seamless global coverage via concentrated spot beam technology resulting in constant, uninterrupted passenger connectivity wherever the aircraft is flying – even over water. With the launched of a fourth I-5 satellite planned for late 2016 / early 2017 and with a commitment of continued investment up to and beyond 2020 – GX and JetWave represent a future proof satcom solution.
Of course inflight connectivity isn’t just about entertainment, it is also about productivity. Global Xpress will also enable and empower even the most committed of executives to remain in constant communication with business matter below. Email, VOIP, Video Conferencing – all possible!
By putting high-speed connectivity in the hands of their passengers, airlines offering Global Xpress will take inflight entertainment and productivity to new levels, creating a truly electric and share worthy inflight experience with connection speeds that easily eclipse what we have had on aircraft up until now. Global Xpress is set to become the Concorde of Connectivity – and it’s about to make flights exciting again.