Bluebox goes for the jugular as wireless IFE gets boost

Bluebox Avionics joint MD Rick Stuart doesn’t mince words.

Asked by yours truly why wireless IFE systems proposed by Panasonic and Thales were never deployed on the Boeing 787, Stuart said: “Perhaps they [Panasonic and Thales] weren’t up to the challenge.”


Well, well. I think the gauntlet has been officially thrown. Note to Panasonic and Thales – let’s talk!

But back to Bluebox. Fighting worlds aside, the company deserves a round of applause for getting a serious foot in the door with today’s announcement that Airbus has commissioned Bluebox to provide its wireless IFE system for inclusion in the A380 demo mock-up in Hamburg.

Read all about it by clicking this not-quite-dark-enough blue link. Are my eyes just bad? Should I start bolding these things?

As noted in my article, even though the system is being installed on the A380 mock-up, Stuart says Bluebox may have a greater opportunity to test-flight it on a new commercial aircraft.

This, of course, begs the question of whether the A350 is the ultimate aim. Stuart declines to comment.

What he does say, however, and what isn’t mentioned in my piece is this:

“Traditional systems are server based, which are fraught with many problems. They [IFE system makers] have tried to make them more reliable [but the systems] are still a nightmare as any airline would testify.”

To remedy this, he says, Bluebox “took a blank piece of paper and worked backwards from an airline perspective”. The resulting technology turned out to be “remarkably easy”.

Bluebox in March will showcase its product range at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. That will be exactly four years after Airbus revealed its first production-standard A380 mock-up at the same show.   

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3 Responses to Bluebox goes for the jugular as wireless IFE gets boost

  1. Alloycowboy October 16, 2008 at 5:32 pm #

    Hey Mary,

    In the race for wireless on airliners it is looking like the second mouse will get the cheese.


  2. Bob October 16, 2008 at 7:57 pm #

    I do hope that something gets working properly. What about what the customer wants? Have they considered that I want reruns of Andy Griffith and Mary wants Little House?
    Just what capabilities will it have?

  3. Mary Kirby October 16, 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    Amen Bob, Amen! Well, here’s what Bluebox says officially about the semi-embedded system now flying on a BBJ out of Fort Worth, Texas. I’m going to try to speak with Stuart again tomorrow (he was in a rather busy station during our conversation today).

    “We have overcome all of the issues associated with wireless or wired control of the devices and gained approval from all the major Hollywood studies to deliver first run movies on the Bluebox product.”

    Delivering the latest generation DRM compliant content, the system utilises the same hardware platform as the innovative bluebox lite portable unit but configured for full control via a Crew Management Terminal. For the Greepoint deployment in this BBJ, all control functions will be via an aircraft installed Ethernet 802.11 wireless system. Cabin PA, pause, forced playback and system disable functionality is available together with live, streamed mapping information from a Rockwell Collins Airshow system. The Bluebox units will be installed into seat arm mounts or can be removed by passengers and placed on the table if desired, with seat power being available for unlimited usage time.