With the launch of its A321neo fleet late last month Delta Air Lines activated one of the most frequently requested passenger features on board: Bluetooth headphones pairing. That successful “soft launch” will soon extend to other aircraft fitted with the in-flight entertainment kit developed by its Delta Flight Products (DFP) subsidiary.
The screen hardware installed on several other aircraft types include the same chipset, allowing for the Bluetooth pairing to be enabled there as well. It does require additional certification efforts, as the original electromagnetic interference testing was performed on those planes with the BT radio disabled. But the company intends to pursue that regulatory work.
Ultimately, this means passengers on the A330neo and 767-400s should have that option available in the not-too-distant future.
New hardware, new opportunities
Getting headphones paired is a nice short-term win. But the larger roadmap for DFP includes significant additional upgrades as part of developing a new generation of in-seat screens.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Future Travel Experience EMEA conference in Dublin last week, DFP’s VP IFE Dan Murphy spoke to the next generation of the IFE kit, including notable hardware improvements.
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Screens will shift from 720p to 1080p or 4K resolution, mostly because it is hard to buy the lower resolution screens today. Murphy notes that most content is still being loaded at lower resolutions, and that most passengers can’t tell the difference on the relatively small screens.
The new screens will also include an updated Bluetooth chip that allows for more efficient, directional signaling. The current version is omnidirectional, which means more potential interference with paired headsets.
Because the screens connect to the head-end server over a wireless network they are already about a pound lighter per passenger than competing products. The next generation will further that efficiency. Lighter overall weight and lower power consumption help drive improvements in the total cost of ownership for the platform.
Expanding the install base
With that new platform on the horizon, the company is also now keen to start selling the DFP inflight entertainment solutions to other airlines. It has already started some of those conversations quietly. Expect them to be much louder starting at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg.
As Murphy explained, “We’re doing it. We have some timing issues because we want to sell the new system.” Delivering the upgraded hardware is key to hitting the sweet spot on price and performance for new DFP customers.
It isn’t (only) about the revenue
Delivering DFP’s IFE to other airlines would bring revenue to DFP, for sure. But that’s not the only – and possibly not even the primary – motivation for pursuing this path.
For one thing, the company says that simply by owning and managing its own systems the amount it saves, both in CapEx to deploy and in OpEx to maintain, made up for the development costs of the system. It was not without risks at the time, but executives appear very comfortable with the numbers today.
More broadly, however, DFP also sees value in working with other airlines to help the solution evolve into a better IFE platform. When delivered to other airlines it will not be just the current DFP kit with a different logo for the home screen. Rather, DFP is looking at potential new customers as collaboration partners to help it develop a more functional, more compelling solution.
Some features might remain proprietary, either to Delta or to a different airline customer. But the company is keen to include insights from other airlines to help improve the passenger experience overall.
Combine that thought process with the next generation of hardware and Delta Flight Product’s in-flight entertainment offering has a lot of potential.
More on Delta Flight Products’ evolution:
- Delta Flight Products brings disruption to the aircraft interior market
- Delta’s premium A321neo for transcon service opens new opportunities
- More Delta planes converting to Viasat in-flight WiFi
- Delta Air Lines plans new first class seats for A321neo fleet
More news from Aircraft Interiors Expo 2022
- ThinKom targets regional jets with smaller antenna solution
- Philippine Airlines adds streaming IFE with Inflight Dublin
- AERQ brings Welcome Board to Stelia’s Opera business class cabin
- Bluetooth pairing coming to Delta’s long-haul fleet
- Carlisle delivers ESA mount kit for Gilat
- Burrana secures power line-fit access for A320 family
- OneWeb, Stellar Blu confirm successful LEO in-flight connectivity tests on 777
- The future of aircraft interiors: Winners of the Crystal Cabin Awards 2022 announced
- Inflight Dublin expands deployments with Wideroe, Drukair
- Euphony promises top-quality sound without headphones
- Astronics boosts cabin WiFi, power offerings
- Starlink Scuttlebutt: Skepticism and Support
- Airbus advances 5G ATG connections in China
- Air Canada selects Intelsat 2Ku for A321 internet service
- In-flight connectivity’s next major hurdle: Smaller planes
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