Passengers on two airlines will soon be able to leave their wired headphones at home when they travel. It is a product years in the making, with mentions at multiple prior trade shows. This week, for the first time, Safran confirmed that its Bluetooth headphones pairing solution will fly cabin wide on two airlines in the near future. Lufthansa and ANA will be the first two airlines to carry the hardware on board as part of their implementations of the new RAVE Ultra IFE system on new aircraft.
Lufthansa is, in theory, the first to fly with the solution. It will be part of the IFE implementation on its new 777-9 fleet. The 34 new aircraft will have the hardware installed at the factory, but the entry into service timeline remains unclear. Delivery was anticipated starting in Q3 2020 but several delays on the Boeing side now have those dates in question. In addition to the engine rework underway the manufacturer also faced a pressure test blowout last week, casting further doubt on the timeline.
With the Lufthansa delivery timing slipping it now appears more likely that ANA is going to be the first carrier to put the system in service. The Japanese carrier will retrofit 11 of its domestic 787-8 Dreamliners with the new RAVE IFE solution, including the Bluetooth connectivity.
There are some hardware and software tricks involved on the manufacturing side to help reduce potential RF interference in the crowded cabin. By reducing power to the chipset and also shaping the radio signal Safran reduced the typical ten meter range to just over one meter. This drastically reduces the number of devices potentially pairing with any one screen. The pairing selection becomes significantly easier and the potential for interference from nearby passengers is reduced.
In addition to the Bluetooth headset pairing the updated RAVE ULTRA system features new 4K screens that are thinner and lighter than the prior generation. The screens on board range in size, including 13.3, 15.6, 17.3, 24, 27, and 32 inch models. The smaller screen includes the Bluetooth hardware integration in the screen. For the larger screens the pairing hardware is in a separate module, owing to the distance between the screen and the passenger in a premium cabin seating layout.
More from the 2019 APEX EXPO
- Gogo makes a China 2Ku play
- Cabin-wide Bluetooth audio to fly in 2021
- EL AL brings USB-C in-seat power online
- Viasat extends its SAS reach with long-haul planes
- JetBlue selects Thales AVANT for A220 IFE
- Moving Maps and much more coming to Vistara’s long-haul fleet
- PaxEx Update: APEX EXPO
- Inflight WiFi for JSX slips to 2020
- AERQ wants to be more than just a Welcome Board