Gulp. That’s cheap. #PAS11

eXConnect.jpgGulf Air, as first reported by RWG, is poised to bring Panasonic Avionics’ eXConnect in-flight high-speed Internet solution to its fleet (could it announce the deal this week at the Paris Air Show?) but that’s not the only in-flight entertainment and connectivity news breaking about the carrier.

According to a recent online post on the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Tender Board web site, Gulf Air is upgrading IFE VCPs “to digital plug & play” players on aircraft MSN278, MSN281, MSN286, MSN287, MSN334 and MSN340.

The carrier is paying Goodrich/TEAC Aerospace a sum of just under $1.7 million for the package. In February Gulf said it would offer digEcor portable devices to premium passengers. Quite the deal, and indicative that there is some low-hanging fruit ripe for picking by providers of low-cost, retrofit-ready and portable IFE.

Heck, I hear you can kit out a widebody with certain seat-centric solutions for as little as $1 million per plane.

Gulf Air recently had digEcor’s semi-embedded IFE installed on a Boeing 737.

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5 Responses to Gulp. That’s cheap. #PAS11

  1. Cristiano June 20, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    I personally liked the idea. It is better to provide wireless access to all the passengers that will bring their electronic devices instead of installing heavy equipment on seats with lots of cables. But another good option would be the screens mounted on the armrests that could receive signals without the need of cables.

  2. jetcal1 June 21, 2011 at 9:17 am #

    Upgrades would certainly much easier and less expensive over the life of the aircraft. A little up front pain might be worth it in the long run.

    The questions:

    By deleting the weight of hardwired IFE, how much fuel is saved over 20 years?

    How much less expensive are future cabin upgrades by not having to design seats to deal with IFE specific envelopes?

    How come our domestic airlines can’t get onboard with these systems?

  3. jetcal1 June 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Hello Cristiano,

    I too at one time would have preferred the pax bring their own gear.

    Now, I think it would be better for the airline to maintain COTS units that would be tested on a regular basis for EMI/RFI and other issues that could interfere with operation of aircraft systems. Even at a few hundred dollars a pop per pax, it would still seem to be cheaper in the long run.

    Where would you store the gear in the cabin and how would you prevent theft by employees, cabin cleaners, etc?

    The problem with the in-arm screens goes back to crashworthiness and weight. It’s been done before and was not a happy system to maintain. Give ‘em an Ipod and stick in the seat pocket in the event of trouble. (Although I’m sure there would be some new reg’s covering that.)

  4. Jonathan June 26, 2011 at 6:08 am #

    It is actually far less. Gulf Air is doing IFE and Communications deals that i believe will compete with its regional comeptitors very soon. I have witnessed improvements everytime i fly with them.

    I heard that they will broadcast live football games (premiere league) on their flights!! Is this true???
    If som i know what airline i would be flying from now on.

  5. Mohamad El Assaad June 26, 2011 at 7:49 am #

    Mary, it is actually far cheaper that 1M.
    I cant list the price but we got around doing a good job with embeded PMPs.

    By 2013, almost all aircraft will be new with full AVOD and Panasonic Connectivity.

    Wait for surprises.