Rockwell re-enters in-seat IFE game with new system

Rockwell Collins is making a re-entry into the in-seat in-flight entertainment (IFE) game with what it’s calling an “innovative seat-centric” solution for narrowbody aircraft, and says it is initially focusing on providing the solution for the Comac C919.

A long-time IFE hardware supplier to commercial carriers RockwellCollins’ profile in the sector diminished considerably in 2006 when thecompany quite famously opted not to develop IFE systems for the Airbus A380 and later the Boeing 787.

This took the manufacturer out of the twin-aisle market, andeffectively reduced competition for new aircraft models to a PanasonicAvionics and Thales duopoly, although that duopoly now faces competition from the likes of Lumexis, which is bringing fiber optics-based IFE to market, and IMS, which is focusing on a seat-centric solution with no server boxes.

One year ago, Rockwell Collins revealed to RWG that it was considering getting back in the in-seat game with a new solution for single-aisleaircraft.

Those studies have obviously borne fruit with Rockwell Collins divulging some details about its new IFE system as part of a larger announcement today that China’s Comac has selected Rockwell Collins to provide IFE systems for its C919 narrowbody.

Key par:

Rockwell Collins C919 IFE solution includes a variety of system configurations ranging from an high definition overhead video system to an innovative seat centric in-seat solution with independent control of individual media players. The available IFE options are derived from enhancements to the company’s proven digital Programmable Audio Video Entertainment System (dPAVES) with high definition capability.

Rockwell Collins says it will team with Shanghai Aero Measurement-Controlling Research Institute (SAMRI) which is based in Shanghai. SAMRI will help design, develop and integrate the IFE system solution into the C919.

Asked if Rockwell Collins will offer its new seat-centric IFE to the widebody market, a company spokeswoman says: “We’re focused on the narrowbody market.”

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