Thales has become the first IFE supplier to deliver 4K screens to the full cabin with the introduction of a new state-of-the-art security and encoding technologies for its 4K in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems to enable streaming of premium Ultra High Definition (UHD) content.

Launch customer Emirates will introduce the system on its future 777X fleet starting in 2020.

Thales’s solution complies with the Studios highest security level standards using professional grade Digital Rights Management (DRM) and hardware level encryption within each screen. The company has worked with Hollywood movie studios to define and implement the optimum bit rates to display 4K content in an IFE environment. The solution uses Variable Bit Rates (VBR) encoding technology with bit rates up to 40+ Megabits per second (Mbps) providing exceptional video quality that is 10 times better than traditional IFE systems and streaming platforms

“The cabin environment is constantly evolving and this is a time of significant change in the industry. With continuous innovation of our products and solutions, Thales is at the forefront of new technology development. We are proud to support our airlines customers in their commitment to deliver an exceptional in-flight experience through our new 4K technologies,” commented Philippe Carette, CEO Thales Inflyt Experience.

A British Airways flight hosted a Pitch on a Plane competition using on-board Wi-Fi to give five start-ups the chance to pitch their ideas to a host of judges on board the flight including Alex Cruz, British Airways Chairman and CEO and leading tech entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs.

The start-ups were on the ground in the UK while a team of judges cruised at 30,000 feet on the flight to London Heathrow from San Francisco (12 June).

Following the pitches and a Q&A session, the judges chose three finalists who pitched their idea face-to-face at the Founders Forum in London the following day. Experts taking seats on the judging panel included the President of WeTransfer and GM of Robotics at Google X.

Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO of British Airways, said: “Being able to run a pitch process between the ground and the air is something we’d have never dreamed possible, now with the introduction of high-speed Wi-Fi at 30,000 feet it’s a reality. We look forward to harnessing the talent that exists globally to remain at the forefront of aviation.”

WestJet has unveiled a refreshed on-board experience as part of its Dreamliner launch on flights from Calgary to London (Gatwick), Paris and Dublin.

Tailored to showcase WestJet’s authentic Canadian story, enhanced service offerings and products are featured across business, premium and economy cabins on its Boeing 787 Dreamliners, 767 and 737 transatlantic service. Guests can expect to see updates continue to roll across the WestJet fleet throughout 2019 and 2020.

For the first time in Canadian music history, guests will hear a soundtrack of soulful music onboard an aircraft from Sean Jones. During boarding guests will hear original music and classic covers of iconic Canadian artists. The story behind The Boarding Sessions is available to watch onboard WestJet’s Dreamliners.

Business cabin guests departing on European-bound transatlantic flights will receive tan-coloured amenity kits, designed by Montreal’s Matt & Nat, while guests departing to Canada receive navy-coloured kits. These beautiful kits feature organic skincare products from Toronto’s Province Apothecary that use only the highest quality ingredients sourced from provinces across Canada.

“We are so excited to be a part of the WestJet onboard experience by sharing our exclusive vegan and cruelty-free amenity kits with their guests,” said Manny Kohli, President and CEO of Matt & Nat. “Partnering with a fellow Canadian brand is an honour for us and a wonderful opportunity for travellers to discover our recycled vegan line of goods.”

Guests flying on select flights in WestJet’s Premium cabin receive Rocky Mountain Soap Company kits that feature handmade products with simple, natural ingredients for healthy and beautiful skin. Rocky Mountain Soap Company lavatory products including foaming hand wash, hand cream and refreshing wellness sprays are also available throughout most of the airline’s Premium and Economy cabins.

“As a fellow Alberta-based company, we’re excited to be part of the new in-flight experience on the Dreamliner and the improved experience on other select WestJet Flights,” said Karina Birch, Rocky Mountain Soap Company, co-owner and CEO. “Influenced by the nature that surrounds us, we’re unwavering in our commitment to using only simple natural ingredients and to working with local partners. We’re thrilled WestJet travellers can now take nature with them wherever they go.”

Inflight editor Alexander Preston summarises the latest happenings across IFEC and cabin technology.

The Paris Airshow at Le Bourget, a mecca for avgeeks from around the world, opens its doors next week.

This year Paris is the stage to celebrate Airbus’ 50th birthday. The static display will feature an airBaltic A220-300 and an A330neo flight-test aircraft. In addition, on Tuesday 18 June the first A321neo single-aisle aircraft destined for La Compagnie will showcase its all-business class cabin with 76 full-flat seats on transatlantic flights.

Embraer too will celebrate its 50 year anniversary with a large exhibition area that includes state-of-the-art aircraft in static and in-flight display, as well as a pavilion dedicated to Embraer’s history during half of a century in the aviation industry.

Among the aircraft the Brazilian company will showcase is its new E195-E2, Embraer’s second-generation commercial jet family and the Praetor 600, executive jet for the super-midsize category.

With a formal launch expected later this year, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation is debuting the cabin interior of the SpaceJet M100, the latest addition to the SpaceJet family of aircraft (the commercial name for the product family that includes the SpaceJet M90 previously known by the developmental designation of MRJ90).

“The Mitsubishi SpaceJet family represents our plan to redefine the business of regional air travel,” said Hisakazu Mizutani, president, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation. “This is a commercial segment where we see great opportunity,” he added.

The SpaceJet M100 offers the most spacious and comfortable cabin in its class to drive improved passenger experience, designed to boost airline passenger loyalty through a superior experience. The aircraft features the widest and tallest cabin in its class, the roomiest economy seat and the most overhead bin capacity – one roller bag per passenger, eliminating the need for gate-check. Its cabin will feature the latest technologies and amenities, both improving passenger experience and creating more opportunity for ancillary revenue generation for airlines.

“The regional market is an attractive one, full of untapped growth potential,” said Alex Bellamy, chief development officer, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation. “Millions of people around the world rely on regional air travel to get to where they need to go. There is no reason that their experience as passengers should not be as good as or better than on a mainline flight. The SpaceJet family provides the missing link in a curb-to-curb experience for the next generation of travellers, while bringing a higher level of value to a neglected and undervalued market segment.”

If you’re attending the Airshow do look out for our colleagues from LARA magazine and be sure to check LARA’s Twitter and online news pages for regular updates as they happen.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Inflight e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.