Etihad Airways to Update iPads with Bluebox aIFE

The “Flying for All” panel onstage at Passenger Experience Conference 2019. Pictured (left to right): Chris Wood, Lobbyist, Flying Disabled; David Brown; Business Development Director, Bluebox Aviation Systems; Martin Darbyshire, CEO, tangerine; Zuzana Hrnkova; VP Marketing, ATR; and Paul Priestman, chairman of Priestmangoode. Image: Maxim Sergienko

Etihad Airways has become the second airline customer to adopt the award-winning Bluebox aIFE. The platform for visually impaired passengers launched in 2017 with Virgin Atlantic, which helped to develop the solution together with Bluebox Aviation Systems and UK charity Guide Dogs.

Etihad Airways has confirmed that it will upgrade its Bluebox Ai iPads, which are currently provided to passengers for service recovery purposes when their seatback IFE systems aren’t working, to include the Bluebox aIFE accessible in-flight entertainment (IFE) platform for visually impaired passengers.

“We recognize the industry-wide need for a more accessible passenger experience and felt it important to make our IFE more accessible to our visually impaired guests,” said Jamal Al Awadhi, VP Product and Guest Experience, Etihad Airways.

Once the update is complete, the iPads will allow visually impaired passengers the ability to enjoy the same content provided to other passengers via the seatback system. The update will also enable cabin crew to switch between the standard IFE mode (Bluebox Ai) and accessibility mode (Bluebox aIFE) depending on a passenger’s needs.

The platform can work with any international GUI, and in Etihad’s case is available in both English and Arabic.

“Our hope is that with this announcement and more focus on accessibility during AIX, more airlines will deploy solutions like ours to address the needs of passengers with disabilities.” – David Brown, Bluebox Aviation Systems.

“Etihad’s commitment to their guests is impressive, and we’re looking forward to helping bring accessible IFE to the visually impaired among them,” said David Brown, director of Business Development, Bluebox, in the official press release. “Our hope is that with this announcement and more focus on accessibility during AIX, more airlines will deploy solutions like ours to address the needs of passengers with disabilities.”

Positively, it seems this shift towards an increasing focus on accessibility is already starting to happen, at least from a supplier standpoint. During the “Flying for All” session on accessibility at the Passenger Experience Conference, Zuzana Hrnkova, VP Marketing at ATR, told Brown that Bluebox aIFE “set the standard” for this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards, and that as a member of the judging panel, she had seen more accessibility focused entries this year.

And, according to Bluebox, two more carriers are also set to introduce Bluebox aIFE as part of their next upgrades, bringing the number of airline customers for the platform to four. The company also said a potential new customer has communicated that it wants to include Bluebox aIFE as part of its iPad deployment.

Bluebox Aviation Systems has won numerous awards for Bluebox aIFE, including a Crystal Cabin Award in the IFEC category during 2018, and the 2018 APEX Award for Best Inflight Entertainment Innovation.