By the end of this year, Virgin Australia’s fleet of 18 E190s will be equipped with wireless inflight entertainment systems. Passengers will be able to access hundreds of TV shows, movies and music selections on their mobile devices, laptops and tablets starting September 16. The system has been testing since August of last year during which some 200 thousand entertainment programs were downloaded.
Virgin Australia is the first operator to configure its E-Jets with the wireless system. An on-board server hosts all programming content and distributes it to passenger devices through Wi-Fi hotspots throughout the aircraft. The system is compatible with iPad®, iPhone®, iPod Touch® and Android™ devices as well as with Microsoft® Silverlight ® laptops.
Hardware installation, including the server and Wi-Fi hotspots, is simple and quick. The airline is able to configure each E190 over three nights when the aircraft is parked for routine maintenance.
In 2012, research firm Flight View interviewed 2,600 passengers about their use of portable devices when they travelled. The results showed 82% of respondents carried smartphones, 38% brought laptops and 37% used tablets on board aircraft. Only 31% were satisified with the level of inflight Wi-Fi access.
While Virgin Australia is the first E-Jet operator to introduce wireless entertainment to hand-held devices, JetBlue Airways, Delta Connection and Frontier Airlines offer Satellite TV and internet connectivity on their E-Jet fleets.