New IFE products move closer to airframer approval

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As the quest by alternative inflight entertainment and connectivity providers to gain linefit offerability for their products continues, Lumexis says it is through the first hurdle and airlines could begin ordering next generation Boeing 737s with its fibre-to-the-screen (FTTS) system already installed by the end of this quarter.

Lumexis VP sales Jon Norris says FTTS has made it “through the first stage and into the second” of the linefit offerability process. Adds Norris: “By the end of this quarter, airlines should be able to start ordering 737-800s and 737-900s [with FTTS installed] for deliveries from mid-2015.”

A Boeing spokesman previously told us that the airframer has not defined a target date or customer for installation of Lumexis FTTS on the 737NG. “The activity to date with Lumexis is focused on the 737 program. Lumexis is working through the standard offerability process which includes airplane installation evaluation, system qualification and system integration activities,” he says.

Meanwhile, Lumexis is “working with a number of airframers to discuss single-aisle and twin-aisle linefit offerability” says Norris, though he declines to provide any further details on aircraft types or timings.

On the wireless side, Gogo believes its Gogo Vision wireless IFE service will eventually be offered as a linefit option and Lufthansa Systems sees “no reason” for its BoardConnect solution not to be listed in airframers’ catalogues.

Gogo executive VP and chief commercial officer Ash ElDifrawi says Airbus and Boeing “will eventually have [Gogo Vision] as linefit”, although he declines to put forward a predicted timeframe for when this might happen. The company certainly continues to pick up additional contracts for Gogo Vision, with Runway Girl Network now able to confirm that, contrary to a report, Alaska Air Lines intends to offer the Gogo Vision streaming solution to its passengers.

In a similar vein, Norbert Mueller, senior VP BoardConnect at Lufthansa Systems, says he sees “no reason [for BoardConnect] not to become linefit”, but this would be “very much dependent on airlines to drive the process”. He notes that it is less important for a wireless IFE solution such as BoardConnect to be linefit offerable than it is for an embedded IFE system to be installed at the factory because “we can install it in one night stop”.

However, Boeing senior manager cabin systems and connectivity Sean Sullivan recently told Runway Girl Network the US airframer currently has “no intention of working with BoardConnect”.

Boeing is working closely with Panasonic and Thales to bring their eXW and AVA wireless IFE, respectively, to production airplanes in 2014. “Further, we are open to discussions with all viable suppliers that can meet Boeing requirements,” says the airframer. 

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