Virgin America announced a new partnership with Lufthansa Systems for the next
generation Red in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The system, which will be
coupled with Lufthansa's BoardConnect, is said to be unlike any other IFE in
the skies -- but Boeing is looking to give them a run for their money.
Boeing recently took 250 of its employees on a 7-hour flight in a new 787
Dreamliner prior to its commercial debut. The flight was free-of-charge, but it
wasn't just a leisurely cruise through the skies. Instead, employees were
instructed to bring as many electronic gadgets as they could and attempt to
push the in-flight entertainment system to its limits.
The 787 Dreamliner is an efficient airplane made of
lightweight carbon composites, which features a whole new passenger experience
with dimmable windows, LED lights, reclining business class seats and even
higher humidity. But Boeing wanted to test the IFE system that it developed
along with partners Panasonic and Thales to make sure it was up-to-par and
beyond like the rest of the plane's services -- and that meant allowing
passengers to use as much media as they please.
"We were testing for the worst case," said Sean Sullivan, manager of
the 787 cabin services system team. "We wanted passengers to do things
that you would never have in a commercial flight."
The 250 employees participated in group tests like everyone turning on a movie
at the same time, rewinding it at the same time, and playing games while
playing the movie all at the same time.
They took it a step further by pushing as many buttons on the IFE
system as possible.
Boeing employees also plugged in their personal electronics such as mp3
players, cell phones, tablets and laptops while using other IFE services.
After the 7-hour flight, testing was complete and the system didn't crash under pressure. It performed the way Boeing, Panasonic and
Thales had witnessed in a laboratory setting, and the team was impressed.
"It's the best airplane I've ever flown in," said passenger Dennis Mayfield.
"It's really, really nice. It really has become the dream come true."