The Future for Inflight Content by Arconics

The Future for Inflight Content

Content consumption habits and business models on the ground will ultimately shift content licensing for IFE too.

The way we consume content is rapidly changing. Gone are the days of crowding around the TV at a time a network programmed a particular movie or TV show.

Even cable subscriptions with their multi-channel offerings and programs repeated around the clock to enable ‘catch-up’ on something you may have missed now seem antiquated.

The game-changer? Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) with Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) business models. Despite the technology and some products such as iTunes and Netflix being around for some years, in the last 12-18 months, SVOD delivered via IPTV has arrived globally, with force.

Many traditional network broadcasters now have their own apps for catch-up TV to allow you to watch programs already broadcast on demand on your own schedule. Combine this with the Over-the-Top (OTT) content players such as Hulu, Amazon and a variety of others and it’s clearly a very different landscape to how we now consume content. Even to the point where the OTT providers are commissioning their own highly successful productions, probably the best recently known example is House of Cards from Netflix.

No-one can deny the momentum of ‘binge-watching’ (many of us are guilty of a day spent watching multiple episodes of House of Cards or Game of Thrones, or a recent personal favourite of mine, Banshee) and with it the business models are changing.

I no longer need to sit through ad after ad on network television, watching a program when they schedule it, nor do I have to pay north of $70/month for a cable subscription. I can get a whole world of content by signing up to 2 or 3 SVOD services whilst cutting my monthly cost in half and having the convenience of watching content when I want. It helps that I have 100Mb/s internet download speed with unlimited data at home, that’s true – and those who may not enjoy such infrastructure may not be ready or able to take the leap into almost exclusive IPTV entertainment – but that will also change over time.

I should point out of course that the traditional networks have seen this coming and many are shareholders in some of the newer OTT providers. Smart move.

Back on the business models – take for example the announcement this week of an initial exclusive of HBO-GO for Apple-TV. Apple are a giant in their own right, but even they see the merit of such a marriage. As for HBO – a giant themselves – having immediate access to how many million Apple-TV’s in living rooms with their new IPTV/non-cable service is a great momentum builder. They both ‘get’ it.

So, what does this mean for Inflight Entertainment (IFE) and why am I writing about this on our blog?

I’ve long been saying that content licensing models for IFE need to be revisited.
Many of the models were developed back in the day when passengers shared an overhead screen and watched just one or maybe two movies on a long flight.

Content licensing for IFE since those days largely become a subset of new technologies but based around the older model for the overhead screen and in many cases a ‘per flight’ licensing arrangement. This was true for initial multi-channel PTV systems and then AVOD systems as well as portable and now streaming systems. It no longer makes sense in many ways.

In the distributors defence, content licensing has long been complicated with different revenues sitting in different areas of the studio not to mention geographic centric licensing, which is why airline licensing has sat in the ‘non-theatrical’ areas of studios forever. It’s just not as simple as saying you want to license a movie for an airline and then finish watching it in a hotel or at home later. The differences between what is classified as public performance and a private viewing are quite substantial.

No changes will be quick – or easy. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t due to at least look at it.  The catalyst might just be the massive momentum and business model shift we are seeing on the ground.

I’m looking forward to watching developments closely, to being a part of the future and to helping our customers along the ride. I’ll post updates when there’s something significant to share, so watch this space.

Michael Reilly, VP e-Enablement and Entertainment

Arconics Michael Reilly speaking at #PaxEx conference

Arconics VP e-Enablement + Entertainment speaking at the Passenger Experience Conference

Meet Arconics at the Passenger Experience Conference on the 13th of April in Hamburg. This one-day conference brings together thought leaders and key decision makers from the entire product and service spectrum of the industry. It is the perfect occasion to meet with your peers and network with industry leading experts and innovators, whilst capitalising on the insight and ideas presented by the foremost thinkers of the industry.

Join Arconics VP e-Enablement + Entertainment, Michael Reilly for a session on The Inflight Entertainment and Connectivity Debate: The Future for Inflight Content and learn how will early-window movies and other content fit into the evolving infotainment offer? New content options – how will YouTube, Facebook and social content…

For conference details please go to Passenger Experience Conference website. You will get the opportunity to network with top decision-makers in our industry. You will not want to miss this!

Looking forward to see you there!

Arconics CCO Fergal Murray speaking at the APEX  Conference

Arconics Chief Commercial Officer speaking at the APEX Middle East Conference

Meet Arconics at the APEX Middle East Conference where aviation’s top trendsetters are meeting in Abu Dhabi this 24th & 25th March for a one-of-a- kind industry experience at the APEX Middle East Conference. This can’t-miss event will feature exclusive access to aviation industry’s most influential players as they discuss strategies, examine the future of air travel and share insights on how they’ve increased business while infusing luxury into the passenger experience.

Join Arconics Chief Commercial Officer, Fergal Murray for a session on Wireless Streaming and Connected Aircraft Capabilities which includes overview of the current market landscape and outlook for wireless IFE. Also presented are data sources, various approaches to feature the technology and business models.

Following the overview will be an in-depth case study on Alaska Airline’s new Beyond Entertainment product. Late last year, Alaska Airlines launched an inflight wireless entertainment product that delivers entertainment to passengers own devices without connectivity onboard.  This case study will outline the challenges in launching this new product from a technology perspective and detail the benefits realized for the airline.
The session will conclude with a panel session featuring key wireless inflight entertainment players. The BYOD approach enables engagement and interactivity with passengers by offering new ways to connect and share content. Take a look at what is involved with delivering an IFE solution including security and rights management, certifications, the numerous design considerations, technical hurdles and more.

Moving from the connected passenger to the connected plane to the connected fleet.  Connected Aircraft Capabilities session with discussion on how airlines will leverage broadband connectivity to move from passenger connectivity, to flight attendant and pilot applications, to connected aircraft components to connecting an entire fleet of aircraft to improve operational efficiencies.

For conference details please go to APEX Middle East Conference website. You not only get the opportunity to network with top decision-makers in our industry, but also take part in an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of Etihad Airway’s Innovation Centre. You will not want to miss this!

Looking forward to see you there!

arconics team

Arconics at Aircraft Interiors EXPO

Arconics at Aircraft Interiors Expo 2015

Meet Arconics at the Aircraft Interiors Expo at the very front of IFE Zone in Hamburg 14th to 16th April 2015 and see how we help operators worldwide increase revenues, reduce costs and improve loyalty.

Our Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) , Inflight Entertainment and Cabin Management mobile apps provide amazing user experiences to pilots, cabin crew and passengers. Our platform securely connects everyone across the airline, from crew and ground staff to senior management, flight ops, tech pubs, retail, and marketing. Customised dashboards and big-data analytics provide granular insight and measurably improve real-time decision-making. Arconics software powers over 1,000 aircraft worldwide.

If you would like to meet at the event contact us or stop by booth 4C45. To access information on our innovative technology visit the Arconics website.

For conference details please go to Aircraft Interiors website.

Looking forward to see you there!

arconics team


Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference – AMERICAS 2015

Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference – AMERICAS 2015

Arconics will be exhibiting at the  Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference – AMERICAS 2015 on 24th & 25th March 2015 in Miami. We’re at booth E3 showcasing enterprise data management platforms and mobile app solutions for managing flight related data for the aviation industry.

AeroDocs is a hosted product suite that provides aircraft operators with a totally modular solution for EFB’s and Document Management across Web and Mobile devices as well as Class 1, 2 and 3 EFB’s in the flight deck.

PaxApp offers a paperless approach to cabin management, allowing crew to complete any process digitally be it routine or incident based. Such data can include Pax Manifests, VIP Pax Data, Loyalty Program Data, Special Assistance Needs, Cabin Defects, Medical and Incident Reports, Meal Manifests, Crew Rostering Interface, Crew Notices, Forms and Manuals and just about any other requirement to assist airlines improve efficiency and service.

We’ve been working with the world’s most successful airlines for 13 years, and we’d be delighted to show you how Arconics can sharpen your competitive edge.

Meet the Aer Lingus team presenting EFB Case Study – including iPad platform, documentation library & Aircraft Connectivity. In this case study Aer Lingus outlines its extensive EFB project including its iPad interface and explains the benefits and challenges of the project, including: managing key company documentation in an extensive library with approvals and on-going support.  Its future plans are also outlined with a focus on total aircraft connectivity.

To book a meeting with Arconics, send an email to and we’ll get in touch with you to arrange a hands-on demo.

 About Airline & Aerospace MRO & Flight Operations IT Conference – AMERICAS 2015

The Airline & Aerospace MRO & Operations IT Conference is the world’s only event to address the key issues relating to the development of IT and it’s key use for aircraft maintenance and flight operations.

It provides a one-stop solutions for airlines, aircraft operators and Independent MROs, in just 2 days to discover more about how new technology can streamline and increase their operating efficiency as well as reduce costs dramatically.

arconics team


More than an EFB project – Aer Lingus Electronic Flight Bag case study

Paul Stanley, EFB Project Manager and Capt. Eamon Kierans, Manager Flight Operations Compliance, Aer Lingus share an EFB case study with an eye to broader airline connectivity

Aer Lingus EFB case study

Aer Lingus Electronic Flight Bag implementation team

The EFB program at Aer Lingus follows in a long tradition of innovative IT applications:  Aer Lingus has always been in the vanguard of IT in commercial aviation, having been the first company in Ireland to operate a mainframe computer in the early 1960s. By  the mid-sixties the airline was part of a group of operators to develop and implement IPARS (international programmable airline reservation system) reservation and check-in system and has continued to be an innovator ever since, including being an early adopter with web presence in the early 1990s, and an early online booking engine. So it was quite in character when Aer Lingus looked at digital information systems in 2006 and, in 2007, considered the possibilities for EFB.

However, we quickly realized that even if we had been able to immediately implement EFB in the cockpits it would not have been possible to use it because we were not prepared with the necessary supporting capabilities on the ground, in the back office… in our administration functions. Of course, we knew that there would be major benefits from EFB including the paperless cockpit and improved distribution of content which, in turn, would support better compliance and the streamlining of processes: but, in light of the lack of supporting capability already mentioned, we were finding it difficult to build a business case.

It was decided that the best approach would be to break the program into different phases. This, it was felt, would minimize the risk to each phase, allow us to assess feedback for each individual phase and maximize the cost effectiveness of implementation.




The first phase, which commenced in 2007 and ran to 2011, was to implement an electronic document authoring and content management system and to assess the benefits of digital delivery. It was during this phase that we started to work with Arconics, using their applications and expertise as we progressed along the program. At the outset, we already had pilot and cabin crew portals that had been built in-house and were maintained by the airline’s Cabin Crew and Pilot section. The first decision was to replace those portals with a new content management system (CMS), implementing an XML authoring application so that we could move to electronic manuals and a simplified editing process — a number of past features in Aircraft IT have explained the benefits of XML authoring.

Before embarking on this, we went through a process to define our requirements from which an RFP (Request for Proposal) enabled us to consider a number of vendors. As a result of this process, Arconics was selected to supply two of their web based tools… Manual Manager, which is a guided XML authoring tool and PublishPort, Arconics’ content management system, from which we developed new pilot and cabin crew portals. These first implementations went live in the first quarter of 2009 and any implementation issues that arose were quickly dealt with by the Arconics and Aer Lingus teams overseeing the program.


MEL manual & Aerlingus Portal

The extent to which the implementation was a success can be judged from the fact that we soon felt able to develop additional functionality so that PublishPort is now used to support all portals in Aer Lingus and the staff intranet.

By 2011, Aer Lingus had digitized most of the key manuals including FCOM (Flight Crew Operations Manual), MEL (Minimum Equipment List), OMA (Operations Manual Part A) and ACSP (Air Carrier Security Program). A number of content types were also digitized, including flight crew notices, cabin crew notices, airfield briefing sheets, rosters and flight briefing packs. Because it’s a single content management system, we can publish content once and it becomes available everywhere through all relevant portals.

Finally, we assessed the benefits that had been achieved from this phase of the program which included:

  • Lower documentation editing costs;
  • Reduced information distribution timescales;
  • Lower Flight Crew information production costs;
  • Lower information delivery costs;
  • Lower audit costs for compliance on proof of training evidence;
  • Reduced Flight Crew community workload with information more easily available through one portal;
  • Improved staff awareness;
  • Better crew situational awareness pre-flight;
  • Lower rostering costs.

These results were very encouraging and added confidence as we moved into the next phase.




From 2011, the second phase of the program was to implement the Class 1 EFB solution using Windows. We had first needed to have a documentation system that was available on the ground, which we achieved with the new portals; by the time we set out on this second phase, every part of the airline had a portal that could be accessed through the intranet.


The next step was to bring this all on board the airplane. In 2011, we got management approval but, at the time, class 2 devices to be viewable and available throughout all stages of the flight were very expensive: as a result we opted to get approval for a class 1 project using a laptop computer. The device that we chose was the Panasonic Toughbook for a number of reasons including that we knew that the case and the shape of it wasn’t going to change.

When we built a lockable docking station in the cockpit (to store the device during take-off and landing and while on the ground, and to charge the batteries) it was unlikely that we’d have to change that for a later generation of the device. We also used a local (Irish) company called Flightman for the device management software: but more important than being local, they had a good back end system that gave us tracking facilities which pleased our EFB administrator.

Based on the successful experience we’d had with the ground portals, we wanted to introduce the Electronic Flight Bag and bring onto it the Arconics Manual Manager and viewer system.

One reason for that was that Manual Manager uses XML documents and we also wanted these devices to be able to be updated using 3G.

Arconics has a system whereby we won’t need to run around aircraft with USBs to update the EFBs – that would be tedious and labor intensive – but will be able to update everything over 3G. After discussion with our mobile provider about stability, we have opted to use a more stable 3G M2M (machine to machine) secure private network platform managed service. Arconics’ system is able to compare new issues of manuals or documents with the previous issue to identify the differences so that it only needs to send the difference, the Delta changes, over 3G which makes for much lower 3G costs.

The software on the device has the capacity to replace the old version of a manual or document with the new amended version to be viewed. We used an in-house performance application called ALPS (Aer Lingus Performance System) which is also on the Toughbook. And we have set up an EFB administration in Aer Lingus’ Flight Operations Engineering Department where the head of performance engineering is also the EFB administrator who set up the EFB manual and accompanying procedures. Furthermore, we’ve designed SOPs (standard operating procedures) for the flight crew to use the devices which are assigned to aircraft rather than to pilots. There are two devices on each airplane, on the left and on the right, and they are registered to that aircraft so that, for sections such as the FCOM, only the information applicable to that specific aircraft will be displayed.

As far as the implementation was concerned, we wanted to achieve some specific cost savings including a reduction of the cost for producing paper manuals right across the organization, a reduction in the cost of distribution of manuals and notices and some cost improvements on the performance side with the ALPS performance calculator allowing us to use, for instance, optimal flap settings and being able to get better flexible take-off thrust figures for reduced power take-off.On the corporate side we needed to address some extra details. We have an electronic journey log that records all times – ‘off-gate’, ‘take-off ’, ‘landing’, etc. – as well as letting the flight crew enter reasons for delays, to support better data gathering and better analysis tools.

Also, on the ground handling side, we have a form for the flight crew to record if all the ground handling services that they’re supposed to get at the station where they have arrived were actually available and delivered. This helps our financial department when dealing with the ground handling services providers.






On completion of phase 2, the general view was that it had been a success, so much so that we got a lot of feedback from crews including that they wanted some information to be available off the aircraft. This was largely because we had decided to fix our EFBs in the cockpit but the flight crew wanted access to items like the flight briefing packs in advance of arriving in the cockpit or even arriving in the operations area at the airport.

This is particularly useful for overnight crew stays at stations such as New York or Chicago where they can download their flight plan briefing pack onto a mobile device and even be reading it on the bus to the airport to get the information in advance.

This works really well and for that project we decided that the iPad would be the best device and we’re now feeding the information that the crew needs also onto an iPad so that they can have access to everything, on the ground, before they even arrive at the airport. We selected Arconics again for this based on their proven success with the ground operations portal. We also thought it would be best to transfer that onto a mobile platform which Arconics built for us to give mobile devices access to all of the information on the ground portal.

Based on the successful experience we’d had with the ground portals, we wanted to introduce the EFB and bring onto it the Arconics Manual Manager and viewer system. One reason for that was that Manual Manager uses XML documents and we also wanted these devices to be able to be updated using 3G: including flight plans, weather information, security information… everything coming from our flight planning system plus some extra information from engineering about defects on the airplane and where the airplane is parked.



During 2014 we issued iPads to all pilots based on a business case that saw further improvements in costs. Aircraft cost savings came from a reduced cockpit workload with improved crew awareness and preparation as a result of having more time to assimilate the information provided, plus there’s a growing body of information available digitally. The mobility aspect of the program, using iPads, started to be implemented with the third phase which commenced in 2012 and which, with the second (EFB implementation) phase is continuing in the current year.



Overall we’d say yes, the EFB program in Aer Lingus has been a success. It was a pleasant surprise for us when the crews requested the information to be available outside of the cockpit (see phase 3 above). We had decided to make the actual EFB devices ‘aircraft assigned’ to give us better control over the ships’ library and to ensure that the devices were always with the aircraft to avoid any delays in dispatching. However, we’ve revisited this to add in pilot mobility.

As with any program, this one did encounter some problems including that the docking station supplier went out of business. Fortunately, we have enough units for the whole fleet but have had to locate new sources for spares and to carry out repairs. This was a project that ran for two years until completion in 2014 and, at the start we were dealing with very new technology. There were also some teething problems with software and the 3G communications, requiring rapid team responses to deliver remediation and a re-platform of infrastructure (see above).

We worked with our suppliers on these issues and they were very supportive to the extent that we now have the regulator’s approval to remove the paper manuals from the airplane and have the confidence to be able to do that. Approval was granted during December 2014 and we are now proceeding to remove the paper manuals from the aircraft. This will remove 35-40 kilos of weight from each aircraft.

iPads, while they met one of the crews’ own requirements, were initially a cause for concern with pilots and their unions worried whether, as trackable devices, they would allow the airline to invade an individual’s privacy. We overcame this with a number of assurances from management. Other issues included working with the commercial department to release aircraft for the new equipment to be installed and we have had to extend the scope of the program to take account of new aircraft entering the fleet.



Some of the gains enjoyed by Aer Lingus and its staff from the EFB and associated technologies program have already been mentioned above. We’re also moving to optimal flap settings in early 2015, although this will be a bias rather than an absolute rule so that pilots will continue to have the final say.

And while pilots might have had reservations about the EFB at the outset (when they had to work with the old and new systems in parallel, to meet the regulator’s requirements, and were still learning the new processes) the digitization strategy now enjoys high levels of acceptance among flight crews.

Once the privacy issues had been ironed out (see above) the iPad with Arconics’ software has become completely embedded in the organization and is regarded by pilots as a given in the support they get from Aer Lingus. This will be helpful in any future additions that we make to the system on the ground or in the cockpit.




Following the program, we have made a few notes to ourselves for future projects starting with the need to spend time properly capturing the requirements that the project has to meet and to ensure adequate risk reduction on the new technology integration – to avoid exposing the operation to risk. It’s also important to be very careful when selecting suppliers to be sure that they’re adaptable and can work with an airline when its operation might generate particular needs that are not standard to, say, a vendor’s software. Don’t underestimate the effort involved in testing the software, communications and processes, and updates and processes to ensure they work well enough to replace the paper.

And remember that it will be important to work hardto bring the staff along with any changes, even if they are resistant at the outset, and to involve the regulator at every stage because, without regulatory approval, the program won’t fly.

Finally, the involvement of IT at every stage is critically important given the reliance on servers and communications systems, and for the provision of back-up and fallback capabilities.


The next development for Aer Lingus will be to move to a class 2 EFB with a tablet PC mounted in the cockpit but a Windows device not an iPad because it will be easier to integrate. We’re also going to install an interface device in the aircraft which will be able to access the ARINC (Aeronautical Radio INC) data from the data buses on the airplane.

Our ultimate objective is a fully paperless cockpit with electronic charting (including ‘own ship’s position’) to be introduced over the next two years and an electronic flight folder with the integrated information flow that will need.

The business case for this has been approved and the next phase will commence in the first quarter of 2015. iPads, while they met one of the crews’ own requirements, were initially a cause for concern with pilots and their unions worried whether, as trackable devices, they would allow the airline to invade an individual’s privacy. We overcame this with a number of assurances from management.

#PaxEx Podcast Arconics

#PaxEx podcast on Gulf Competition and Cyber Suspicions

Tune in to listen to Michael Reilly who serves as vice president of e-enablement and entertainment at Arconics, talk to Mary Kirby and Max Flight at #RunwayGirl Network #PaxEx Podcast about Gulf competition to the American carriers, FAA plans to tackle cyber security concerns and will wireless ultimately replace embedded IFE systems.

It would have been difficult to miss the recent dust up between Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson and Gulf carriers. Anderson claims Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways enjoy an unfair competitive advantage over US carriers in the form of government subsidies. And Gulf carriers have hit back, saying US carriers have been able to restructure their costs under the USA’s liberal Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. But the row begs broader questions. Co-hosts Max Flight and Mary Kirby discuss whether US carriers can compete with Gulf carriers in terms of product, and overall #PaxEx, and whether the restructuring of labor costs under Chapter 11 has, somewhat ironically, put US operators at a competitive disadvantage in terms of customer service.

Now that more and more aircraft are “e-enabled”, the FAA has announced plans to establish an industry working group to tackle cyber security concerns. While it seems inexplicable that the FAA has waited until 2015 to launch this initiative, Max, Mary and Michael agree that it’s ‘better late than never’. They talk about what the FAA hopes to gain, and Michael shares his knowledge about the challenges airlines face in keeping the bad guys at bay as they move forward with significant change in the digital space.

Last but not least, Indian start-up Vistara has announced plans to “beam IFE directly to passengers’ devices”. Michael, an expert in the field of wireless IFE, tells us why these solutions are gaining traction, and he answers the multi-billion dollar question – will wireless ultimately replace embedded IFE systems?

For more on this #PaxEx podcast click here!