ATR is continuing to upgrade the cabin of its turboprop regional aircraft by introducing wireless IFE systems, narrowing the comfort and service gap to mainline narrowbody aircraft.
Last year at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, ATR announced that the Geven Neo Classic and Neo Prestige seats would become standard fit this year. This year, it is the Cabinstream wireless IFE system from Phitek that has been added to the catalogue.
Launch customer is Libreville, Gabon-based carrier Afrijet, which will introduce the system into its fleet of ATR 72-500 aircraft before the end of the year.
Zuzana Hrnkova, vice president marketing at ATR, says one of the drivers behind the adoption of the system, aside from increased passenger expectations that they will be connected on board, is that ATR aircraft are operated across a wide range of services.
She cites the example of Air Tahiti, where inter-island sector times range from four hours to seven minutes, but the average sector time is 60 minutes, so keeping passengers amused on longer flights is a marketing advantage.
Others are operated as feeder services for major airlines, so continuity of service levels could be important. And, of course, there are opportunities for ancillary revenue. Cabinstream’s content streaming capacity can cope with both aircraft in the current family, the ATR 42-600 (from 46 to 50 seats; typical configuration, 48 seats) and ATR 72-600 (from 68 to 78 seats; typical configuration, 70 seats; high density, 78 seats).
The self-contained system is placed in a specially designed bracket in an overhead baggage bin. The bracket is designed to protect the device from environmental hazards during turbulence and luggage displacement.
The system installation is covered by an ATR Service Bulletin that does not require any structural change of the cabin. Cabinstream is powered by a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery, which has a charge life long enough to support a full day’s flying while avoiding the issues of Li-ion batteries.
If a battery replacement is required, this can be carried out during turnaround time at the gate, as can content upload. Phitek says airlines can customise the look and feel of their wireless IFE service by branding the user interface, integrating bespoke applications and frequent flyer information. Content can include:
- movies, TV series, music, digital press, eBooks, browser-based games;
- duty-free shopping, meals and beverages, child friend content, eLearning;
- airline information, airline corporate content, safety briefing video broadcast;
- flight information, airport information, airport transfer desk;
- city guides, local tourist points of interest;
- offline transaction payment services;
- passenger wish, satisfaction survey, quiz, and passenger analytics;
- advertisement platform and merchandise sales.
It is controlled by the cabin crew via a secure app, which also allows interruptions for service announcements. The system is small (120mm wide) and light (5.8 kg including adjustable bracket) and Hrnkova notes that removal of magazines and newspapers from the aircraft produces further weight savings.
As many ATR operators are smaller airlines, another potential attraction is that Cabinstream comes with flexible commercial options, from offering the product as hardware only, to comprehensive service packages.
Phitek can provide all the necessary hardware, software, and digital rights management for minimal up-front capital investment. A system is now an option on all new ATRs and an easy retrofit on existing -500/600 aircraft.
To read more about the latest trends in inflight entertainment, click here.