Launching an entirely new inflight entertainment platform is no small task. Doing in the face of a massive market retrenchment and global budget cuts adds to the difficulty. But Burrana is up to the challenge, introducing its RISE platform this week, with plans to deliver a new approach to the single-aisle market that is faster, lighter, and less expensive than the competition.
We’re here and we’re going to weather the storm. We’re going to be ready when our customer are ready to fly… Our solutions are based on modular building blocks and ease of use for our customers, with simple upgrade paths.– Burrana CEO Neal Nordstrom
RISE: A new platform for airlines and passengers
In introducing RISE VP Marketing & Sales Support David Pook made clear that it is not just an IFE solution. It is a platform, integrating the entertainment functions with in-seat power, cabin lighting, advertising/marketing opportunities, and other services from Burrana and partners. While many of those same features can be delivered by the company’s competitors, Pook believes that the focus on building RISE from the ground up with the different facets already known gives RISE an advantage in the market.
So, too, does a laser-like focus on a very specific market. “We’re not the Panasonic Avionics/Safran/Thales in this industry,” Pook opined. “We look at things more efficiently. We’re more nimble and we can take a fresh approach.” Because Burrana is so strongly centered on the single-aisle market and knew from the get-go that the platform needed to support overhead, in-seat and streaming he’s confident in the potential for success in a highly competitive market. “We’re not trying to be those guys. We’re very focused on the narrow-body, very strong in retrofit, and very quick to launch in these markets.”
Burrana expects RISE to be broadly available for retrofit installations in 2021 and line-fit (with some exceptions) in 2022. Some components in the RISE product line, such as in-seat power, are already flying today.
Mix-and-match modules on board
The foundation of RISE is the 48VDC power backbone. Everything else in the on-board environment builds from that core, with broad variety available for airlines. A common head-end unit can control 13.3″ 4K overhead screens, wireless access points for streaming IFE and the seat-back screens. It also manages integration with the crew controls, uplinks for inflight connectivity and an ARINC 429 feed for mapping and other aircraft-provided data.
The company believes it can deliver this to airlines in a package that is, like-for-like, about 30% lighter than the competition. It achieves this through an intelligent power management algorithm that reduces hardware on board, lighter displays and other tweaks to the system.
Multiple tiers, multiple options
For the airline that wants an IFE system without too much customization a turnkey option is available from Burrana. Essentially plug-and-play, it offers the core features with few choices for the carrier to dwell on. For operators with broader needs the platform can scale with them. UI customization is handled (to an extent) through templates and a drag-and-drop interface. Changes can be quickly effected by the airline staff without a need for change orders, build validation or other time-consuming and costly processes.
Similarly, Burrana will launch RISE with a custom advertising integration portal. The airline staff can manage ad units, pricing and content updates directly, managing those details separately from the content load cycles. Moreover, there are opportunities for dynamic ad placement based on passenger behaviors. Burrana is not the only IFE provider talking about these sorts of advertising opportunities, but RISE is built from the ground up to support them. That makes a difference in time to market for the offerings.
An entertainment recommendation engine is also natively part of the offering from RISE. It features a combination of Burrana-powered algorithms based on other content the passenger watched and interactive inputs from on the plane. Passengers can up/down vote movies or other content and recommendations will be tweaked based on those reviews.
Burrana is also adding what it calls a “contextual feedback” survey cycle. Rather than asking travelers to review a trip via email days after they fly, the RISE system allows the airline to query the passengers in real-time as events transpire. Pook teased the idea of a post-meal survey asking for a review of the food as an example, likely to be much more accurate and useful while the passenger is still digesting the meal.
RISE allows for integration of various partners’ apps on the platform. While the company has a history with the AirShow moving map, for example, Pook shared that the new offering can directly integrate the FlightPath3D moving maps option, for example. The Signal Lamp Entertainment advertising and content platform can similarly be integrated into RISE for airlines that prefer the SLE approach to content. The infrastructure is built to enable these partnerships to thrive, not to be shoe-horned in to an unforgiving framework.
Remembering the past, PAVESing a path to the future
With its embedded IFE legacy firmly rooted in the Rockwell-Collins PAVES IFE system, Burrana holds a reasonably large share of the market today. But those customers are anxious for a change. The legacy systems are heavy, slow, and broken more often than anyone wants, with repair costs continuing to escalate given the age of the systems. Pook says Burrana is “not forgetting about the PAVES customers. We want to give them that [upgrade] path in a cost effective way.”
With a program dubbed RISE Up, Burrana is offering an upgrade path to those airlines, with a price tag it estimates at 50% of what a replacement would cost from the competition.
Pook suggests that at least three large airlines inquired about the upgrade option so far, hoping to reduce obsolesce issues while improving the passenger experience with streaming IFE functionality. The RISE Up option can deliver that without an RFP and adding a whole new system. As Pook notes, “It is about how to modernize and reduce costs at the same time.”
Some 1300 aircraft are flying with PAVES right now, a significant market for Burrana to target with RISE Up. “We’re going to continue to pursue that. We want to be proactive with our existing install base and make sure they know we have options for them.”
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