By Kai-Chin Shih/ 24 JUNE 2015/ TOKYOJAPAN/talkairlines.wordpress.com
Special thanks to Alan Gallant from AirComPacific for providing the extensive information!
For a long time, we had only heard about things in Economy Class getting smaller and smaller. From the seat pitch and width to the meal portion and lavatory size, airlines around the world are busy minimising the comfort of Coach passengers to maximise profits. However, AirComPacific is planning on introducing a new in-flight entertainment (IFE) system that will give each Economy Class passenger a 20-inch screen, a significant upgrade from the typical 9-inch screens. Named “AirCinema”, the new system will provide a “true theatre experience” and make flying more enjoyable for the masses.
“AirCinema” is an in-flight entertainment (IFE) concept that was recently introduced at the 2015 Paris Airshow. Aimed at redefining personal televisions (PTV), the system will see projectors installed in the headrests of each seat to project movies, games, or live-stream TV on the seatbacks in front of each passenger. With HD 1080p screens and THX audio systems, “AirCinema” will offer unprecedented entertainment quality. Furthermore, for the first time in aviation history, passengers can enjoy 3D videos (special glasses required) during in-flight.
“AirCinema” will also lower the costs of IFEs for airlines. AirComPacific claims that its projectors are about half the weight as existing PTVs. With the light “AirCinema”, “airlines [will] see a great amount of fuel savings”. Moreover, the maintenance fee can be lowered significantly. The projectors are more “accessible” and can be “isolated for repair and reboot[ed] without affecting…other [projectors]”.
Another advantage of “AirCinema” is the wide range of screens it is compatible with. Depending on the cabin class, seat pitch and width, “AirCinema” can offer entertainment with a diagonal width of at least 20 inches (overwhelming the typical 9-inch Economy Class PTV screens) or up to 27 inches (rather competitive when compared to existing First Class screen width of around 30 inches). “Our aim is to offer a more comfortable…[and] enjoyable IFE experience…without asking the airline to sacrifice seating.”
Showing its support for the concept, Hong Kong Airlines has signed a MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with AirComPacific for the “AirCinema” product. Besides being willing to take part in the innovative project, the Hainan Airlines-subsidiary has also signed a firm deal with the supplier to offer true broadband Wi-Fi connectivity on its aircraft. The AirComPacific broadband solution will see a mixed usage of Ku- and Ka-band systems for wider internet coverage. While flying over areas that do not have Ka-band connectivity, the Ku-band disks will be activated. Also, if Hong Kong Airlines eventually chooses to install “AirCinema”, the AirComPacific Wi-Fi will play a vital role in helping “AirCinema” offer unparalleled number of entertainment choices, including streaming online content and limitless shopping options.
Since “AirCinema” is still a concept, there are many details that are confidential and impossible for us to obtain. As AirComPacific finalises designs for the “AirCinema”, we will be looking at how the system overcomes both the cabin lights and sun-rays from outside the windows. As we all know, quality of projected entertainment can be easily affected by surrounding lights. Furthermore, since bulbs of projectors are usually extremely bright and hot, we are interested in understanding how “AirCinema” can ensure that flyers and cabin crew are not affected by the bulbs.
Emirates President Tim Clark once stated that, to distract passengers from shrinking seats, airlines can offer “big meals, frequent snacks and lots of electronic entertainment“. We believe that “AirCinema” is a cheap yet extremely effective way to create a win-win situation for both airlines and passengers. The projectors are lighter and cheaper to maintain yet offers incomparable screen sizes and abundant entertainment choices. We would like to wish AirComPacific the best in materialising “AirCinema”. Once it overcomes all issues and debuts, “AirCinema” may introduce a new era of in-flight entertainment.