It sounds like a dream come true for many airline passengers. A new generation of technology promises to deliver in-seat headphones, video screens and the ability for airline passengers to use their own devices – all the time. But at what cost? Existing technology runs through miles of leg room-consuming wire threaded through seats, but the future promises great entertainment and more space too.
Right now, the trend differs. “It’s of more value for an airline to add two rows worth of seats and have a good inflight entertainment system rather than do the opposite and give passengers more legroom,” aviation writer Mary Kirby told Technology Spectator.
The new system will replace expensive, leg room-consuming technology and can provide:
- Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) mobile connectivity
- In-flight Wi-Fi
- Wireless streaming of IFE content to passengers’ own devices
“The fact it incorporates both IFE content and connectivity makes it possible to provide live updates, for example for news, sport and destination information,” said Siemens CMT vice-president of technology Gerald Schreiber in Electronics Weekly.
All the necessary airborne hardware used with the new system is small and light enough to be mounted within the ceiling panel and connects to the aircraft’s existing communications system.
The idea is that once seats are free of wires and cables, airlines can use less bulky seats.
It would be a win for airlines, enabling them to maintain the number of seats they need to make their profit recipe work out.
It could be a win for air passengers as less bulky seats give back legroom, unless airlines get greedy and add more, less bulky seats.
Flickr photo by hugojcardoso