The end of seat-back screens? Qantas to try iPads for in-flight entertainment

Several industries have been trying out Apple’s iPad, with the airline business appearing to have been particularly taken by the device.

We’ve had news of several airlines trying out Apple’s tablet, with pilots and flight attendants both using them to help with the efficiency of their work. Now Qantas will be handing them out to passengers.

In a move that could signal the beginning of the end of the seat-back screen, the Australian airline will soon begin trialing the iPads on one Boeing 767-300, using wireless technology for in-flight entertainment.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald about the trial, which starts next month, Qantas executive manager of customer experience Alison Webster said: “We see this as potentially being a breakthrough capability to be able to give more choice and more flexibility to customers’ in-flight entertainment.” She added that somewhere down the line the plan would be for passengers to be given the capability of using their own devices to access streamed content.

The Qantas iPad will be loaded up with the airline’s own Q Streaming app and has been developed to offer the entire in-flight program currently available on the airline’s A380 aircraft.

Webster also said that if the wireless plan is eventually implemented on all planes, future aircraft can be built without seat-back technology, saving a significant amount of weight, thereby reducing fuel costs and damage to the environment.

“We are all focused on fuel burn being environmentally friendly and we have huge commitments to sustainability targets,” Webster said.

One can well imagine Wi-Fi on planes becoming commonplace in the not too distant future, though planes without seat-back screens? As long as the airlines can hand out tablets to those that don’t own one, then everyone should be happy.

[Image: Andrei Dimofte]

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