Now for the sexy stuff: Panasonic reveals iPod integration details

Singapore Airlines today became the third carrier to publicly discuss its decision to allow passengers to play music and video content from their own Apple iPod players over installed Panasonic in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems.


You’ll recall that late last year United Airlines started touting iPod integration when it revealed details about a $165 million, multi-tiered program to revamp its business travel offering. It looks like Singapore has actually beaten United to the punch, becoming the first carrier to officially offer the iPod – and iPhone – connectivity (starting today on the first of five Airbus A340-500s). It is understood, however, that United is quickly readying to go live on its international widebody fleet.
Also, just this week Panasonic revealed that Air New Zealand has opted to retrofit 13 Airbus A320s and five Boeing 767s with Panasonic’s X Series IFE systems, which features iPod integration. Folks, this is just the beginning. And boy is Panasonic in a sweet spot. The company says its IFE solution is the only one that can natively support Apple’s authentication technology.
“Based on my involvement with our sales and marketing team, I can tell you that just about every airline we speak with has asked us to demonstrate this feature,” Panasonic Avionics director, product line management Marshal Perlman tells Runway Girl.
“Just as in the PC world, device integration and system expandability are hot topics. And if you break it down, iPod integration is a simple and cost effective solution that helps bridge the gap between the IFE and PMP (personal media player) markets.”
So how does all this work? Here are some visuals for your pleasure, and some facts from Panasonic about the world’s biggest and highest flying iPod accessory (as someone from Apple put it).



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1) Allows audio and video to be sent from a passenger’s iPod to the IFE system while simultaneously powering and charging the iPod.


2) eXport solution consists of two main components: eXport jack (installed in the seat) and eXport cable (connects the iPod to the eXport jack).


3) Cabin crew will make the eXport cable available to passengers during the flight.


4) Solution is the world’s first Apple approved “Made for iPod” and “Made for iPhone” solution designed specifically for the commercial airliner market.


5) Natively supports Apple’s authentication technology.


6) In the near future Panasonic will introduce additional functionality that allows for two way communication between the iPod and IFE system.


7) Both iPod and iPhone (in “airplane mode”) are supported.

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6 Responses to Now for the sexy stuff: Panasonic reveals iPod integration details

  1. ikkeman May 23, 2008 at 5:42 am #

    So, does this mean regular USB – or other non proprietary interfaces – will be supported as well. Is this another apple marketing scheme, or an honest attemp from the aviation industry to integrate personal entertainment.

    BTW. How can this be safe if I even have to shut down my mobile phone because of the possibility (or fear thereof) of my phone interfering with flight contrl signals… surely an willing and able individula could use this link between their powerful electronic device and the IFE to… promote their personal goals?
    Offcourse the IFE and flight control systems are completely seperate (are they?) But I would be rather annoyed by commercials playing on my screen the whole time, or the IFE beeing set to spanish.
    The possibilities are endless. Both good and bad

  2. Mary Kirby May 23, 2008 at 11:22 am #

    Great questions. A USB port is integrated into the IFE hardware, so this does indeed look like an honest attempt to integrate personal entertainment.

    With respect to in-flight usage of mobile phones, you shouldn’t have to shut it down (but the US FCC and FAA continue to insist upon it). The avionics interference argument holds less and less credence. Check out what Europe and the Middle East have accomplished (via AeroMobile and OnAir, which use picocell technology).

    Consider fully integrated IFE with in-flight broadband connectivity. Now the possibilities for pax entertainment/infotainment are endless.

  3. Professor Sabena January 3, 2009 at 12:53 am #

    Hmmm couple of points here – Sorry Mary – I had not seen this before.

    Firstly this is a “proprietary” interface because it is not the standard USB version. So anyone wanting to use the system will have to get another cable. Stupid huh?

    Secondly – here is a thought. Actually Boeing and its contractor for Flight Control Systems designed (from what I can tell) and received FAA approval for the IFE and the Flight Control systems to be on the same physical network. So to think that something would happen is largely impossible but not inconceivable. This sparked some controversy at the time but since then no one has said Boo about it. Now this might spark some renewed debate on the subject. Here is a link to one of the stories at the time:

    Interestingly Boeing abandoned a wireless IFE design as being open to hacking.

    I hope that it doesn’t mean we have somewhere someone doing bad things.


    Professor Sabena

  4. Airline Employee June 29, 2009 at 7:10 am #

    The reason you need a special cable is that Apple does not allow you to send video over USB. I asked. They said no. The only other option would be to have 3x RCA ports and 1x AC power plug on the aircraft. This is expensive (installing a AC power system) and as someone that helps run an airlines, it is not worth the weight. Plus it takes away from foot space under your seat. To boot, 3x RCA ports introduces many “ports” in the seat (red, yellow, white) and may confuse a passenger (try it on a red-eye night flight in a dark cabin). This will only increase the workload on our cabin crews. They are there to help you with safety and comfort. They are not tech support. Also, do you always travel with your 3x RCA to iPod cable? I don’t even own one. This solution is a low cost cable ($15 I think) and has the ablity to support Apple’s security feature (you cannot send video out of the 3.5mm pin like in the old days). In either case, my fleet will have this soon and we’re looking forward to it.

  5. bubba gump September 28, 2009 at 6:35 pm #

    @airline employee

    In this economy first class is being downgraded to business class because of the recession and the fact that businesses now refuse to pay for first class. Many companies that used to pay for business class now only pay for economy seats. All the more need for business people to have power outlets in the economy sections.

    you state AC outlets aren’t worth the weight? What are you smoking?! The in flight entertainment systems aren’t worth the weight! If people would bring their own devices (laptops, ipods, psp, mini video players) then you wouldn’t need in flight systems at all. That alone would offset the weight of a power outlet system for all seats. You’re correct about one thing; flight attendants are not tech support. They are either overworked or cop an attitude when you ask simple questions. Not always the go-to people when requesting to recharge your laptop battery because no outlets are readily available. More reasons to get rid of the in flight systems? -retarded movies, 1980 atari games, and horrible electrical ground loop errors while listening to music.

    continental airlines has been adding power outlets in economy. On national flights half the outlets don’t even work (poor maintenance), however most of them seem to work for international flights. More power outlets, less people standing up, making noise and choking up the aisles and bother attendants to locate power outlets.

    If you really do work for an airline, WTF is wrong with you people and your poor decision making habits?

  6. for acne September 23, 2010 at 5:46 am #

    if you do bad you pay, I have small house in vgril they are wheat as birrd on a pole