Following the earlier post today about iPads in the cockpit comes news about a company that wants to provide iPads for personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems for airline passengers.
Most airlines use built-in IFEs to keep the passengers entertained and occupied during long flights. These systems require special distribution cabling and equipment to route games and video content to each seat, all of which means extra weight in the aircraft as well as maintenance costs. For airlines, every pound saved can mean fuel savings that translate into extra revenues. There are some portable IFE solutions in the field, which add convenience and can adapt to circumstances (a broken screen, etc.) with relative ease.
Now UK-based BlueBox Avionics has announced the bluebox Ai, a portable IFE solution that combines the iPad with the company's proprietary security technology. This allows BlueBox to protect "early-window" content, such as movies that have been cleared for in-flight showings but not yet for pay-per-view, DVD or digital sales.
The company is impressed with the iPad's 10 hour battery life as well as the fact that it can be loaded with games, magazines, ebooks, custom apps, and video for each airline. Since iPads are wireless, new content can be loaded to the devices at any time. Individual iPads would also weigh less than the built-in IFE units.
The bluebox Ai is to be formally launched at the Aircraft Interiors Expo this week in Hamburg, Germany. BlueBox has announced that at least one international air carrier will begin distributing the iPads to passengers in July.