APEX Insight: Panasonic Avionics continues to notch up sales of its advanced X Series of in-flight entertainment and connectivity systems. At the same time, the company’s focus on in-seat Near-Field Communication readers for credit and debit cards and personal devices positions Panasonic to ride the growth curve as this method of onboard payment becomes commonplace.
On the opening day of the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Panasonic Avionics announced that it will provide its latest broadband-connected immersive entertainment system for Singapore Airlines’ upcoming Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-900ULR (Ultra Long Range) fleets. Singapore Airlines will be the launch customer for the two new aircraft. With more than a terabyte of onboard storage, the eX3 in-flight entertainment (IFE) system is currently flying as Singapore’s KrisWorld in-flight entertainment system.
Panasonic Avionics also announced that it will be equipping Saudi Arabian Airlines’ on-order fleet of 30 Airbus A320 aircraft with the eXO hybrid IFE system. Business-class passengers on the new narrow-bodies will have individual, 13.3 inch, high-definition monitors with video touch screen handsets, while the economy cabin will be equipped with retractable HD overhead screens.
Reflecting the continuing evolution of onboard payment processing, Panasonic’s Near-Field Communication (NFC) reader is now the first in the industry to be approved for in-seat production at Airbus and Boeing. The reader is capable of processing payments from NFC-enabled credit cards, as well as for in-flight non-payment applications through NFC-enabled personal electronic devices.
An NFC reader is integrated into Panasonic’s new Waterfront business-class seat, giving airlines new opportunities to personalize the passenger experience. Cedric Rhoads, executive director, Corporate Sales and Product Management for Panasonic Avionics, gave an example of a passenger linking his or her smartphone to the seat via NFC and the airline’s app. The seat could then be loaded with the passenger’s full slate of personal preferences, including favorite seat positions and lighting. Recognizing data privacy and protection concerns, Rhoads pointed to his smartphone, and said, “This is the trusted token, and the only way that data ever gets into the system is if the passenger opts in.” When a flight is over, all data would be cleared from the seat.
Both the Jazz economy seat, and the Waterfront business-class seat in Panasonic’s booth were surrounded by throngs of airline representatives. According to Rhoads, the Waterfront seat addresses airlines’ need to maintain seating density in a business-class cabin, while improving the passenger experience. “We have a design that was done collaboratively with BE Aerospace, Panasonic Avionics, TEAGUE, and the Formation Design Group. It is quite an immersive, extraordinary experience, and interestingly, [it] maintains density, improves passenger comfort, creates a much more functional environment, and is the first business-class seat with a sliding door for privacy.”