Air Europa passengers will soon have access to a new streaming entertainment platform. The new solution, based on Lufthansa Systems‘ BoardConnect 5.0 platform will deliver movies, TV, music and other personalized content to smartphones and tablets. Passengers on Air Europa’s Boeing 737 and Embraer 195 aircraft will see the kit flying in early 2018.
The newest iteration of BoardConnect offers a significant upgrade in user experience, content management and personalization efforts. Jan-Peter Gaense, Lufthansa Systems’ Director of Projects & Certification, describes v5.0 as “insanely capable and flexible” to manage quick changes of content libraries, on-board merchandising and other ancillary services. BoardConnect behaves more as a platform, with content modules dropped in and swapped around rather than the historically monolithic IFE software loads. This is undoubtedly the direction of the future (witness Panasonic Avionics‘ Zero-Touch efforts) and Lufthansa Systems is ready to play today.
BoardConnect is not only about entertainment. Nor is it only about connectivity or shopping or any number of other functions. As Gaense explains, it delivers a full-featured solution to airlines, “You have to make the platform more versatile and open it for other use cases. That’s what BoardConnect 5.0 does. It delivers an IT platform in the aircraft. It is the deployment of applications without certification [challenges].”
Avoiding those certification challenges is something that Lufthansa Systems is getting pretty good at thanks, in large part, to cooperation with its sister company Lufthansa Technik. The result of that collaboration is the Power & Safe system, providing a permanent electrical supply to the BoardConnect device stored in the overhead bin. The kit does not require STC signoff from regulators, making it easier and more affordable to install. And once installed it significantly changes the way BoardConnect Portable performs. As Gaense explains:
You’re no longer limited by the battery restrictions. We can boost the capacity of the portable device, we can stream to 100 passengers because we no longer have to limit the power of the access point.
When we designed the portable for battery-operated we tweaked it for maximum battery efficiency. We had to cut back on wifi and compute power. If you power it from the aircraft that limitation goes away.
Streaming to 100 passengers from a single server is a big improvement. So is not needing to swap the hardware out on a regular basis to recharge batteries. Less hardware and fewer swaps adds up to a better passenger experience and lower running costs for the airlines, though the initial Power & Safe install does have a price tag attached.
“Product differentiation and personalized services are becoming increasingly important when it comes to offering passengers a unique onboard experience. The open architecture of the digital BoardConnect platform and seamless integration with Epteca personalized ancillary offerings makes it exactly the right choice for us,” said Alexis Capdevila; IFEC Manager at Air Europa. “BoardConnect Portable, combined with the Power & Safe solution, also offers us an IFE solution that is completely flexible yet also simple and secure to use.”
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