Panasonic System 3000 in-flight entertainment system

Panasonic System 3000. Image via Panasonic Avionics

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of APEX EXPO this year, APEX Media is looking back at its members’ most significant achievements. Today, we explore how Panasonic’s System 3000 audio-video-on-demand in-flight entertainment system saw passengers truly spoiled for choice for the very first time.

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In 1998, when it was still known as Matsushita Avionics System Corporation (MAS), Panasonic Avionics launched its System 3000 in-flight entertainment solution for wide-body aircraft, which went on to enter service with Singapore Airlines in 2001.

The unique selling point of the system was its vast capacity. With System 3000, passengers were able to individually choose from hundreds of films and television programs, thousands of pieces of music and scores of games for the first time, thanks to the company’s innovative Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) schemes technology.

According to Gaston Sandoval, VP Product Line Management and global head of Marketing for Panasonic Avionics, QAM allowed for greater storage applications with faster processors, which also made for a better in-seat experience. “We quickly followed that up with the first fully digital distribution over copper Ethernet,” he said.

“We believe AVOD is Panasonic’s most significant milestone because it was the industry’s first step towards the personalization of the passenger experience.” – Gaston Sandoval, Panasonic Avionics

“We believe AVOD is Panasonic’s most significant milestone because it was the industry’s first step towards the personalization of the passenger experience, with truly individual choice possible for the first time, and it was also a tipping point for a range of other advances,” Sandoval continued. System 3000 also featured an upgrade path for passenger laptop connectivity, called System 3000i, which made use of an ethernet connection using a remote jack.

According to FlightGlobal, in the early 2000s, System 3000 was installed on board KLM’s Boeing 777-200ER fleet and Iberia’s A340-600s. The 3000i variant was adopted by South African Airways for six of its A340-300s and Northwest Airlines for 24 Airbus A330s.

Panasonic Avionics, which was founded as Matsushita Avionics System Corporation (MAS), was established 40 years ago in 1979 – the same year as the first APEX EXPO event (then known as the WAEA Annual Conference), and has since installed 14,700 in-flight entertainment systems in total.

See more posts from the 40 Success Stories campaign.