Safran:  Digitization, revenue generation, environmental impact key IFEC trends


Safran Passenger Innovations will once again be exhibiting at APEX/IFSA EXPO.  We caught up with Ben Asmar, Vice President, Products  & Strategy, on the future of the industry:

Ben Asmar

How are you seeing the on-going recovery of the industry?

At the moment, the signs are very encouraging.  You don’t have to look too far to find a news report where airports and airlines are struggling to keep up with demand, so the travel industry is making a strong comeback where COVID protocols have been reduced and travelers deem the risk of traveling to be low.”

This is also translating into IFEC, where we are seeing a tremendous amount of activity across most regions when it comes to new proposal requests, which is very positive news for the midterm and seems to be broadly in line with the latest recovery profile for new Narrow Body and Wide Body Aircraft.”

At this stage, proposals for Linefit are far out pacing retrofit proposals, and we anticipate that this will likely be the trend for at least the next 12 months.

What are the key IFEC features that airlines are most focused on going into the second half of this decade?

The themes we are seeing are:

Digitalization of the cabin 

This is providing passengers with a personalized experience that also goes well beyond a personalized greeting at your seat. 

It’s about linking your airline profile with your inflight experience and allowing preferences to follow you from flight to fight, incorporating loyalty, providing targeted retail experiences and of course the ability for airlines to continue engaging with the passenger after their flight. 

This is also a key pillar of Safran Passenger Innovation’s strategy over the next 3 years, we have started a new Product Line called RAVE Digital which is devoted to inflight digital experience and helping our customers meet their goals when it comes to Digitization. 

Revenue Generation

At Safran Passenger Innovations, we are totally rethinking how to approach IFEC revenue generation. 

Previous models have proven ineffective, so there is a need for something different. We are launching this effort later this year with our new Digital Advertising Platform, RAVE Advertising. 

This is not an inflight advertising solution.  Rather, it’s a digital ad platform that we are using on-board an aircraft. Our vision is that seat back screens just become another digital billboard in the digital ad ecosystem.  

In fact, some advertisers may not even know they are advertising onboard an aircraft. This is just step number one.  Our strategy also includes digital payments, ecommerce, and digital retailing.  

Environmental impact

This is a topic that has been grabbing a lot of attention recently.  As an industry we have pretty lofty goals to meet in the next couple of decades and IFEC must also play its role. 

Airlines are looking for solutions that are lighter weight, use less power and reduce drag.  This will become critically important as we start to see the next generation of aircraft being produced with significant carbon reduction targets in mind. 

At Safran Passenger Innovations, we have always been focused on reducing the impact of our system on the operation of the aircraft, while still providing a fully featured system.  In each generation of hardware, we have removed weight and reduced power consumption and we plan to keep doing that as we design next generation systems. 

Can you talk about any new IFE hardware you might have planned?

Our current generation of Hardware, RAVE Ultra, has been flying since Q4 last year and is now being installed on more and more of our customers’ aircraft, which is really exciting for us. 

This generation is what we will be deploying for the next few years.  It’s something we are really proud of, and customers love it. 

With our 4K dockable displays in 7 sizes, we continue to bring the high reliability of our Seat Centric architecture with displays that are lighter and thinner than ever. In addition to displays, we have our small lightweight head end stocked with 16TB of storage as well as a range of power supplies to suit any scenario from 60W USB-C in every seat and AC Power Outlets. Our current generation hardware is available now for linefit on both Boeing and Airbus aircraft.

In terms of next generation hardware, we have started working on this, even though our current generation has only just started flying.  

Technology moves so quickly, as soon as we finish one generation we have to start on the next. Even though I can’t tell you the details of what we are working on yet, what I can say is that we are actually working on the next two generations of hardware now. 

The next generation will be more of an evolution of our current generation with a focus on weight reduction and efficiency targeted at Narrow Body Aircraft, which we expect to see this coming to market in the 2024 timeframe. What comes next will really be revolutionary, and we expect the same type of disruption we saw when we originally introduced RAVE to the market. 

You can visit Safran at stand 1161 during APEX/IFSA EXPO.