Airlines are queuing up to offer passengers the ability to play music and video content from their own Apple iPod players over Panasonic Avionics' latest installed in-flight entertainment systems.

Singapore Airlines last week started supplying iPod and iPhone connectivity on the first of five newly reconfigured all-business Airbus A340-500s. United Airlines is expected to soon offer this feature in the premium cabins of its international widebody fleet, and Air New Zealand has opted for iPod integration as part of a retrofit of Airbus A320s and Boeing 767s with Panasonic's new X Series platform.

 © SIA

Panasonic appears well-positioned to capture even more business. It claims to have the only IFE solution 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," says Panasonic Avionics director, product line management Marshal Perlman.

"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 personal media player markets."

Panasonic is also pressing ahead with plans to bring its in-flight broadband connectivity system, dubbed eXConnect, to market. A new service agreement with Intelsat will enable Panasonic to leverage the satellite communications operator's existing infrastructure. Panasonic Avionics director of strategic product marketing David Bruner says the firm will shortly select "a supplier or suppliers" for the Ku-band antenna. Initial customers could be announced in about two months.

Source: Flight International