APEX in Profile: Tal Kalderon

APEX in Profile: Tal Kalderon

Image: Sivan Farag

Tal Kalderon
Content and Media Manager
EL AL Israel Airlines

Tal has worked in the media field for more than 25 years. He began as a television producer and director, and in 2006 was invited to be El Al’s consultant for upgrading its IFE user experience. He has since developed several concepts for entertainment platforms, the latest of which is on El Al’s Dreamliners. 

Fun Facts:
Now watching: The Handmaid’s Tale
Seatback or PED? Both. Seatback for movies, PED for Internet.
Favorite social network: Facebook
Window or aisle: Window in business, aisle in economy
Location: TLV

You were part of the team that designed the graphical user interface (GUI) for El Al’s in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. What was the process like?
My dream is that when passengers touch the screen and discover the IFE system, their jaws will drop. That’s how I opened my first meeting with the team at Global Eagle, who designed the IFE interface on El Al’s new Dreamliner aircraft. 

Developing an IFE system is a long and complex process with hundreds of items to consider. Many partners are involved, so the key to success is understanding each of their roles and integrating them into the project while adhering to a tight schedule. We did not leave a single detail to chance. We could have taken an off-the-shelf interface, but I did not want to use an interface design similar or identical to that used by another airline.  

What are some consumer electronic or viewing trends you think are going to influence your decisions over the next five years?
Without a doubt, all connectivity technology will improve. The bandwidth problem will be solved and the size of files will shrink.

As viewing options expand and get closer to the viewing experience at home, content platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and the like will become more dominant on aircraft as well. I can’t say whether this will happen within five years, but it is a reasonable assumption. When it does, in-flight content will undergo a transformation, with IFE managers able to control content directly from their desks, on a day-to-day basis, integrating relevant online content. We can already see the first signs of this process. 

“The moment passengers link up to the content they like, they are more relaxed, quieter and less likely to need the attention of flight attendants.”

How do content and entertainment expectations change for people when they travel?
This is the million-dollar question: To construct content that will meet the expectations of all passengers is certainly a complex matter. Some passengers can watch several films one after another, and some (like me) don’t have the patience to watch films during a flight; they want something lighter. For all of these different passengers, you have to provide solutions. The moment passengers link up to the content they like, they are more relaxed, quieter and less likely to need the attention of flight attendants.

What did you do the first time you used in-flight Wi-Fi?
Like everyone else, I sent a selfie and then immediately started to search the IFE system. This was a good number of years ago. I wrote to my engineers at El Al: “Look, it’s so simple. So why aren’t we there yet?” I am delighted that today we are.

If you could sit next to anyone on a plane who would it be?
I would love to host Sir Richard Branson on one of El Al’s Dreamliner aircraft and would love to hear his opinion. Branson is an intriguing and exciting personality and I am certain we would find many subjects to discuss. Apart from him, I have a long list of people who I’d want to fly with: Jeff Bezos from Amazon, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Phil Collins, Adele and, of course, my wife Greti.

“APEX in Profile: Tal Kalderon” was originally published in the 8.2 April/May issue of APEX Experience magazine.